Some Kind of Consolation

“Feelings of grief and anxiety are a natural human response to a loss. But if feelings are left unchecked, they can lead to a kind of self-absorption. A situation where the focus becomes your own self. You become overwhelmed by the sense of loss, and you get a feeling that it is only you going through this. Depression sets in. But, in reality, there will be others who will be going through the same kind of experience…It may help to think of the other people who have similar or even worse tragedies. Once you realize that, then you no longer feel isolated, as if you have been singlepointedly picked out. That can offer you some kind of consolation.” The Dalai Lama


Could you please tell us from which book by The Dalai Lama this is taken?

This quote is from The Pocket Dalai Lama by Shambhala Pocket Classics pp 94-95 from the “Suffering, Impermanence and Death” Section

I’ve never really hurt because of a loss. All the members of my family who died, except my dad, lived long and productive lives, and we figured they were due for a rest. I feel kind of bad about the way my family treated my dad, though.

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I mean the loss you have at knowing you are condemned to a life of SZ.

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That quote is kind of like the founding premise of peer support groups, isn’t it?

from what I know, peer support was started by the influence of eastern beliefs like Buddhism and Taoism.

In the old days, with just western religions, people who dwelled on death were cast out or just avoided, because it was thought to be contagious to or something. That’s why in western culture, we have graves, but before the eastern world began influencing us, graves rarely had markers and were rarely maintained. It wasn’t until the Asians and such brought their respect of ancesotrs thing that the majority of westerners started caring about bodies after death.

There are exceptions of course. The Norse respected their dead, and so did the Celts and Druids, but the way the catholic church used to do things, the dead were only handled certain people and those people were avoided. Families rarely knew where loved ones ended up buried. But as the Church did throughout the ages, it absorbed the concept of honored dead from other beliefs and started using grave markers with names and such so people could visit. It was always told to people before that, that to visit a cemetery if you were not at a funeral was bad luck.


I do kind of feel that. I’ve resigned myself to taking the med’s, but I hate taking them.


I spend some time each year, especially during the warmer months, in the local cemetery. It’s quiet in there. I like noting the myriad different names. Our cemetery begins in the early 19th century. No feeling of the dead there. I don’t know where it is???

I would have expected better from such an enlightened man. The kind of advice he is offering is one we can get every day from friends and relations. It is the ‘things-could-be-worse, there-are-others-far-worse-off-than-you’ mantra, and I loathe it, particularly when it comes from a ‘spiritual mind’. A true enlightened person would say there is nothing you can do about the human condition. We are Spirits incarnated into a hostile environment, co-opted by a planetary Logos into helping his planet evolve. There can be no consolation for any awakened spirit who realises that the putrid well (commonly called Earth) is not his or her’s true home. It is why many people feel they simply do not fit in or belong here.

Best wishes,


I thought the quotation was saying, you are not alone in your suffering. So there would be less of a sense of unfairness and isolation.

I agree with you, Padster, that telling someone their suffering is somehow not legitimate because other people experience worse suffering is weird and unhelpful. I often want say the inverse to people about their happy stories when I am feeling cynical. I just don’t think HH is saying that.

From the books I have read by the Dalai Lama, I am just going to say my personal interpretation: suffering is real and all over the planet; the response is to try to be kind to ourselves and each other in the midst of all this sorrow and confusion.

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The mantra is “You are not alone.”

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No it wasn’t. The Dalai Lama, this supposedly enlightened man, was basically telling people to ‘suck it up, things could be worse’.