Buddhist and Everyday Ignorance

When dealing with everyday ignorance, Buddhists can be quite tolerant and quite harsh at the same time. When people are sharing rude opinions and passing harsh judgements, they are acting out of ignorance, both in the Buddhist and everyday sense of the word. The difference between the two types of ignorance is that the Buddhist sense of ignorance is filled with compassion rather than condemnation. Buddhist ignorance is not really ill-mannered, or unknowledgeable, it is a lack of understanding about the interconnectedness of all things. This lack of understanding is common to everybody and creates the sense of a separate self. In Buddhism, ignorance is one of the main contributors to suffering. It’s one of the three poisons. The other two poisons are greed and anger.

If you want to practice a Buddhist approach to dealing with everyday ignorance, then you have to notice your reactions to other people’s harsh judgements and rude behaviors. If their behavior is causing you to get angry, then you work on your anger. If you are prone to express anger in ways that are hurtful to others, even those who are making you angry, then you are contributing to your own suffering and theirs. If that is happening, then it is good to limit your time around them, so that you are not acting out of anger.

When you see other people’s ignorance as a cause of their suffering, which they are spreading to you, then your awareness of that will help to protect you from becoming emotionally drained. When you have worked though your initial reactions to their behaviors, you may come to feel compassion for them. When that happens, their behavior won’t bother you so much. When you act out of compassion rather than anger you can tell people just what is on your mind. When you speak and act from a pure heart instead of ego, People will respond differently. Taking this approach could help you feel better, and it could change the behavior of those around you.

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