Buddhist Perspective on Schadenfreude

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Definition of schadenfreude:

Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.

Satisfaction or pleasure over another’s misfortunes.

Feeling happiness when someone fails, makes a mistake, or is humiliated.

There are people who make us suffer. We often feel that our lives are more difficult, stressful, painful, and so on, because of what they have said and done. These people may harm those we care about, help our enemies, or support ideas we disagree with.

It is easy to wish those difficult people misfortune and then take pleasure when they fail. It is easy to water the seeds of judgement, comparison, and sadism.

We must be mindful of how we think and not reinforce ideas of division, resentment, bitterness, and discrimination. Instead we need to look at ourselves and see our own suffering, so that we can find compassion for everyone. Even those who do us harm.

When we take pleasure in another’s misfortune, we lower ourselves. We fall into darkness in our condemnation, in our judgement, of another’s suffering.

What kind of human beings are we when we wish suffering on others?

We may feel a temporary satisfaction over a false sense of revenge, but we are degrading ourselves. We are watering the seeds of hatred, separation, and envy. Instead we need to water the seeds of compassion and loving-kindness.

Instead of looking outward in comparison, we need to know ourselves intimately.

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