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I came across this section by chance, and read another question by a person with misanthropic feelings. I read all the answers because I feel the same as her.

I've always been spiritual with an interest in Buddhism and Taoism, but it seems to slip away. I too suffered a lot because of others, but what really got me into this misanthropic state is the suffering of so many animals at the hands of humans. It saddens me so much and I begin hating people because of it. Not all people, just a lot. It also saddens me a lot to see children suffering but because they turn possibly into cruel people themselves. The plight of animals gets me more. I find them more special and innocent than people yet they have to suffer so much. A lot anyway. Now, the responses to that other persons question helped me realize some things, but I'm still struggling with the suffering of animals. Why can't they be spared if suffering is a tool to evolve?

Studying psychology, biology, anthropology and neuroscience I can't help thinking that humans are acting based on chemical, biological or psychological reactions of the brain. There is no enlightenment, just another religious promise - like heaven, enlightenment or the 11 virgins - depending on the belief.

I feel like I have no more answers, only confusion and questions, and i also feel like I've reached a point where I'm so fed up with the suffering of animals, children or good people. I'm so tired of it all. Not in a sense that i want to hurt those cruel people, but in a sense of wanting to leave it all behind. But if i did, then I wouldn't be around anymore to help loved ones or some of the animals.

Emotionally I suffer because I can't make even a dent and physically because I work hard to help out as many as I can.

  • I did some editing to clarify stuff. If you feel the text is altered too much, please comment below. – Erik Sep 19 at 17:52
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I've always been spiritual with an interest in Buddhism and Taoism, but it seems to slip away. I too suffered a lot because of others, but what really got me into this misanthropic state is the suffering of so many animals at the hands of humans. It saddens me so much and I begin hating people because of it. Not all people, just a lot. It also saddens me a lot to see children suffering but because they turn possibly into cruel people themselves. The plight of animals gets me more. I find them more special and innocent than people yet they have to suffer so much. A lot anyway. Now, the responses to that other persons question helped me realize some things, but I'm still struggling with the suffering of animals. Why can't they be spared if suffering is a tool to evolve?

Buddhism can be rather harsh in the way it describes suffering. Bottom line is that no one is free from suffering until one reaches enlightenment. Until then, we can try to make things easier for others and not least ourselves by following the noble eightfold path.

Regarding ourselves, buddhism reminds us that people are acting cruel due to their own pain. As such, cruelty is the evidence of suffering of the person committing cruel things.

The idea is that if we can develop compassion - even for the ones committing cruelties - we are in fact going easier on ourselves for preventing the development of even more aversion towards other peoples cruelty. Everyone benefits from this, but it takes a lot of effort.

Studying psychology, biology, anthropology and neuroscience I can't help thinking that humans are acting based on chemical, biological or psychological reactions of the brain. There is no enlightenment, just another religious promise - like heaven, enlightenment or the 11 virgins - depending on the belief.

Maybe enlightenment is possible in conjunction with the fact that we are chemical, biological and psychological beings? I'm not sure i see the opposition.

I feel like I have no more answers, only confusion and questions, and i also feel like I've reached a point where I'm so fed up with the suffering of animals, children or good people. I'm so tired of it all. Not in a sense that i want to hurt those cruel people, but in a sense of wanting to leave it all behind. But if i did, then I wouldn't be around anymore to help loved ones or some of the animals.

This is true. Committing to helping others may be the least bad option for everyone.

Emotionally I suffer because I can't make even a dent and physically because I work hard to help out as many as I can.

Just don't forget to take a break every now and then.

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what really got me into this misanthropic state is the suffering of so many animals at the hands of humans

Humans mistreating animals used to bother me when I was younger. Now when I think of it, I think that animals mistreat other animals too -- there are predators, parasites, bullies in the animal world -- and if humans do the same then that's just humans being like animals, which needn't be too surprising. You can try to be "better" or to do better than that yourself, for example "kinder" -- but your being "misanthropic" maybe isn't the right way to do that.

Buddhism recommends states of mind as appropriate for social interaction -- the four brahmaviharas.

And the suttas are full of stories or examples of recommended ways to think and behave, recommended attitudes -- one that comes to mind is SN 35.88 where a monk describes a people with a reputation for being fierce and rough as being "civilised, very civilised"!

There is no enlightenment

I find that Buddhism suggests that "suffering" -- not physical pain, but mental anguish -- arises from a sense of loss: for example, losing loved ones (family and friends), losing wealth, health, reputation, losing pleasurable feelings, etc. That was the type of problem for which I found Buddhism especially effective.

I'm not sure what you think "enlightenment" is.

I'm pretty sure from my own experience that there is such a thing as there being more, or less, (mental) suffering; better or worse (more or less ethical) behaviour; more or less mental concentration or absorption (not distraction) in the task at hand -- and looking back, remorse or no remorse resulting from your intentions.

I feel like I have no more answers, only confusion and questions, and i also feel like I've reached a point where I'm so fed up

There are a couple of Buddhist doctrines that might be relevant. One is expressed the opening verses of the Dhammapada:

  1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

  2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

So you ought to cultivate a "pure" state of mind -- both for your welfare and for the welfare of others.

Another thing is that Buddhism identifies many types of mental "impurity" -- see for example:

I think that you're meant to be aware of these states as they arise, or aware of the suffering associated with the state -- and let it pass somehow (perhaps by figuring out what's causing it, and not attaching to or identifying with it, not viewing it as "right").

You may find it difficult or at least non-trivial, more specifically Buddhists tend to describe it as "gradual": it takes practice; and perhaps other factors like some knowledge of the doctrine, good friends (role-models) to learn from, and developing good mental habits and insight.

Emotionally I suffer because I can't make even a dent and physically because I work hard to help out as many as I can

I think a big part of it might be recognising these mental impurities as being problems in themselves. For example, you might think that mental confusion is the result of inability to alleviate the suffering of animals, and that the suffering of animals is the problem -- and that to solve the confusion you need to solve the problem of cruelty to animals, which is currently beyond your ability. Instead you might need to recognise confusion itself (if and when it arises) as being a problem to be solved (or a state to be let go of), after which you might be more effective in doing whatever you can.

As for "faith" I'm not sure how that relates the question -- i.e. how faith used to motivate you and what you no longer have faith in. I guess I have faith in that the doctrine as I understand it seems intellectually sound (so it's understandable), and usable, effective.

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You are the cause of your stress due to clinging, craving, desire and aversion.

The Four Noble Truths by John Haspel

You desire for everyone else to adopt your "do no harm" philosophy. This craving for how things should be causes self-harm. Other lives matter, but not more than your own.

Again, these are our choices when we want to stop choosing a painful behavior like depressing: (1) change what we want, (2) change what we are doing, or (3) change both.

→ Choice Theory by William Glasser

Instead of trying to end suffering externally, you can try to end it internally.

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I've always been spiritual with an interest in Buddhism and Taoism, but it seems to slip away. I too suffered a lot because of others, but what really got me into this misanthropic state is the suffering of so many animals at the hands of humans. It saddens me so much and I begin hating people because of it. Not all people, just a lot. It also saddens me a lot to see children suffering but because they turn possibly into cruel people themselves. The plight of animals gets me more. I find them more special and innocent than people yet they have to suffer so much. A lot anyway. Now, the responses to that other persons question helped me realize some things, but I'm still struggling with the suffering of animals. Why can't they be spared if suffering is a tool to evolve?

Look at it this way, if all humans are terribly cruel beings, then odds are that we wouldn't be able to sit here casually relaxing and typing away. We'd be doing exactly what the animals are doing right now: the weak ones constantly seeking hiding places to avoid being eaten alive, while the strong ones are busy hunting and... eating the weaker ones alive! There's absolutely nothing special and innocent about living the life of an animal, which is a constant perpetual struggle to stay alive, to kill, or be killed. Sure, humans are notorious for doing unimaginably horrific things to everything around them, but beside the Gengis Khan, the Hitler, the Pol Pot, there're also the Buddha, the Gandhi, the Mother Teresa, etc. So to be fair to humans, while there's no animal that can match the cruelty of Genghis, Hitler, or Pol Pot, there'd neither be any that can match the wisdom, love, and compassion at the levels of the Budddha, Gandhi, or Mother Teresa! So, be grateful of this precious human life for we're truly are a unique class of animals that can think and self-contemplate, hence have the only shot at putting an end to this endless cycle of Samsara.

“Bhikkhus, suppose that this great earth had become one mass of water, and a man would throw a yoke with a single hole upon it. An easterly wind would drive it westward; a westerly wind would drive it eastward; a northerly wind would drive it southward; a southerly wind would drive it northward. There was a blind turtle which would come to the surface once every hundred years. What do you think, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole?”

“It would be by chance, venerable sir, that that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, would insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole.”

“So too, bhikkhus, it is by chance that one obtains the human state; by chance that a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One arises in the world; by chance that the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata shines in the world.

“You have obtained that human state, bhikkhus; a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Perfectly Enlightened One has arisen in the world; the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata shines in the world.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’” ~~ SN 56.48 ~~

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There are two reactions when encounter the reality of suffering, samvega arises: Saddha (faith) or getting cracy and act like a fool. So importand to get it right, good householder!

It's, good householder, to speak straight forward, simple ignorance and hypocrisy which leads good man to significant aversion toward others, especially because not seeing ones own cruel. Whom could, did good householder actually help (even out)? All being depend on food, and all food has suffering of beings in advance. The most cruel killer is desire for sense pleasure. It's because of it that being harm and kill each other. And as the Buddha told: it's impossible that one stuck in mud (attached to pleasure of the senses) could help others out.

While the idea of leaving all behind - since whom to help: the rat or the snake - is actually a wise, one shouldn't do it with thoughts of aversion and ingratitude, but with the insight of the 1. Noble truth, Dukkha, and it's cause, imbedded in all common beings heart, and having come in touch with the teachings of the Buddha, with certain joy at the other side as well, that there is actually a way out of this nonsensical wheel of cruel for those with eyes and arosen effort.

It's a total waste live to try to fix something that can by nature not fixed since ones pleasure requires always dukkha before or after, the own and that of others. It's a total wast of live, one of an wordly hero, since their success would only please some and increase suffering for others as well. For some the fool Ghandi seems to be a hero, for others Pol Pot, but non of them, the beloved likely the current unbeloved, didn't at least cause even more suffering. Today the world is in the largest war eversince, but hardly is somebody aware of the killing fields around and burning, driven by the refuge of the fools, the most fatal hero, science and technology...

So may good householder be able to drop his foolish hypocrisy, himself still feeding on pain of others, and blessed to got known the Sublime Buddha, go and become not only free of suffering himself but also ending harming others right at the beginning till the end of the path.

Real heros, at least in all cases are making things not even worse, are really missing in this world and it's already more the full of those "heros" bond to home, stand, house, householders, attached to world, depending on satisfaction of the five sense.

For indeed the greatest fools are hypocritical people not seeing their back. So stopp this foolish way of thinking and go for and become a real hero, not another stacks & exchange fool nourishing on reputation and wasting merits away.

So here: Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life

My person leaves also a very good talk from Bhante Thanissaro on the topic here behind: Affirming the Truths of the Heart: The Buddhist Teachings on Samvega & Pasada:

Popular interpretations of Buddhism today often ignore the importance of two powerful emotions, emotions that propelled the Buddha — and all those who have sought Awakening since — towards the goal of Awakening: samvega, a sense of urgency to escape the round of meaningless existence; and pasada, a clarity and serene confidence that allows one to proceed confidently towards the goal without lapsing into despair. In this short essay the author explores the meaning of these essential emotions and how we can encourage them to blossom in our lives.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades, but bond for an escape from this wheel, for use of those not blind]

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The difference between the heaven of other religions and the "promises" of buddhism is that the results of the buddhist practice can be seen in this life, be it on the short term, or in the long term of practice.

All results will depends on your level of commitment and effort (not only in knowing the theory, but putting it in practice), and definitively the practice does not requiere to shut down your critical thinking: it can even support your practice by showing you where to focus, what to improve, what to keep doing and what to change, and to provide useful reasons and justifications for doing it so.

Kind regards!

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I am glad that you care about animals and children but the world is way more cruel than you think. Humans are slaughtered. I guess you have not given a thought to it but sometimes head is taken away sometimes breath is taken away sometimes pride is taken away. It makes all the more necessary to spread the Truth of nibbana. Suffering of others and myself doesn’t make me disillusioned rather it makes me more enthusiastic about the teachings of Lord Buddha.

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