With the election and all the hyperbole on both sides in the US, I've never seen emotions running this high.. ever.. and I've been though elections since the 1950s. Like just about everyone in the US I've gotten sucked into this incredibly unmindful sickness and it definitely has had an negative impact on my practice in the last month - I own this.

I had been trying to practice loving kindness with both candidates and felt like it was working, but realized that there is a slightly more subtle emotion than raw hate that metta practice addresses, but not head on and I was sucked in. So I wanted to comment on it - both because I suspect it may be tripping up others and see in general if anyone thinks it worth commenting on and has any advise.

It concerns this word, and its effect on one's practice:


noun: Schadenfreude; noun: schadenfreude

pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.

Though I'd felt like I wished them both happiness, health, and to be free of suffering and its causes - and convinced I sincerely felt it. I had discovered with some introspection a huge amount of glee felt when the candidate(s) not of my choice had some significant misfortune. It may sound obvious to many, but it wasn't to me.. Somehow it seemed rather innocuous to laugh when something bad happened to them and it didn't come to the forefront of my awareness like naked hatred - though it really is in a thin disguise.

I realize just how much work I need, and that there is still a lot of media I now avoid. I would appreciate any constructive advice.

Be Well!


3 Answers 3


Yes friend ...I think what you are referring to is media pollution or media puppetry ...as well as unresolved issues in your practice . the exertion if will power sometimes is not enough power to overcome ingrained emotional intelligence ie, hatred, anger ,fear all three if these go way back to when we were all in caves wondering how we would get the next meal!! So Buddhism is unique as it allows the practitioner at any level to go further I.nquire a little more and learn through observing our own efforts and inner mind so that we can effect positive change. Lastly staying away from powerful stimulus like media biast TV is not so bad after all for some its only a distraction from the real picture ...I wish you well..


Possibly you have more loving-kindness (good-will & good-hope) towards the majority of the people in the world than towards the minority made up of politicians that promote war, death & poverty.

Possibly that is why an innocuous laugh occurs when something bad happens to them. Possibly the laugh is really a celebration ('mudita') for the good fortune of the majority of the people of the world rather than hatred. Personally, I would not get hung up over it.

Having 'loving-kindness' does not eradicate the perception of 'evil'. A Buddha has loving-kindness (non-hatred) but still perceives evil as 'evil'. To quote:

'See evil as evil.' This is the first Dhamma discourse. 'Having seen evil as evil, become disenchanted there, dispassionate there, released.' This is the second Dhamma discourse.

These are the two Dhamma discourses that the Tathagata — worthy & rightly self-awakened — has given in sequence."

Iti 2.12

My advice is to distinguish between the perception of 'evil' and your mind's emotional response to that perception of 'evil'.

1st acknowledge the real & ever-present 'evil'. Then work to free the mind of the emotional response of hatred & anger towards evil & instead cultivate 'sadness' towards that evil then 'equanimity' ('upeka') towards that evil.

I doubt wishing happiness, health & free of suffering will save evil doers from 'hell'


It's obvious that people are (i.e. humanity in general is) vulnerable to having their attitudes manipulated by politicians: I think that's how wars happen. I suppose that part of it to demonize the enemy, so that you rejoice in their downfall; part of it is to create an "us-versus-them" scenario; part of it is to create a "we're on the winning side" message, or (conversely) "we're oppressed and should rise up".

It's probably good to be aware that you're vulnerable/susceptible to that kind of political manipulation or messages: although you may recognize it as an unpleasant/sick emotion, at least maybe it's better than not recognizing it as evil and allowing yourself to get swept away to wage a war against others.

Seeing anatta (as well as developing metta) might help too: because part of the root of the schadenfreude might be holding views like "I am" (e.g. "I am on the winning side", "I am against this politician") and "I have" (e.g. "I have these reasons for wanting them to lose").

If schadenfreude arises and passes away, even though you don't have a wrong view which nurtures it, you might find answers to this topic interesting: How are 'conceit' and 'identity-view' not the same?

Having learned that, if you still find it bothersome an option is to switch off the channels from which you're getting those messages (e.g. TV or wherever it is). Note that this summary of definitions of Right Speech includes this section with quotes from the suttas:

Kinds of speech to be avoided by contemplatives

"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to talking about lowly topics such as these — talking about kings, robbers, ministers of state; armies, alarms, and battles; (etc.)

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