Negativity of the news as practice?

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Negativity of the news as practice?

Postby Monlam Tharchin » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:12 am

Hi, all.
I work as a captioner for the deaf and hard of hearing. A lot of my work is captioning newscasts.
As most of you know, the news is like 90% negative stories.
Shootings, murders, disasters, assaults, robberies, international strife, health scares...
This is what I listen to for sometimes six hours a day, writing it as captions for people to read about how apparently terrible the world is.

My approach so far has been to tune it out and do my job. It's just so dense with suffering, and often offhand about it.
There's sometimes some very hard things to listen to, like 9-1-1 calls.
It seems like there's a real opportunity for practice here, especially since I spend so much time doing it for work.

I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions. :cheers:
The power of buddha-dharma is revealed depending on whether or not there is effort, and is distinguished depending on whether or not it is practiced. - Dogen, "Guidelines for Studying the Way"
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Negativity of the news as practice?

Postby disjointed » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:32 am

You could view it like it was a pure land or part of a mandala.
In pure lands everything is expressing the dharma.
So you could see all these stories as a warning of the disadvantages of samsara encouraging you to leave contaminated rebirth behind.

Or you could view the sounds like they were mantric syllables. In a lot of sadhanas there are parts where the blessings come as the complete ali kali alphabet. So you could see it that way.
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Re: Negativity of the news as practice?

Postby ClearblueSky » Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:29 pm

Oof, that sounds really heavy.
I don't know what specific practices you do, but if you're going to hear about these things anyway, you can use it as an opportunity to make prayer. I remember when my teacher was giving instructions on Amitabha and phowa, him telling me that every time you see a story about someone dying on the news, do that practice and dedicate that to them and it will be of benefit.
You can of course use it as a reminder of the nature and impermanence, but it sounds like you have more than enough reminder and you don't want to dwell too much. I would try to sandwich that tough time with something positive. Go look at some story about people or animals doing something nice before work, and then something nice after. To kind of keep it all balanced, and keep yourself from always being forced to see the negative. Also, as little as it is, you are helping some deaf people be able to watch something, so that's a nice thing to do even it is sort of sucks.
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Re: Negativity of the news as practice?

Postby michaelb » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:11 am

It might be worth remembering that the news doesn't really present a balanced view of everything. Samsara is quite varied, from the highest heavens to the lowest hells and it is always changing for all of us.

I recently watched an little piece about TV news which I found interesting:
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Re: Negativity of the news as practice?

Postby ball-of-string » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:46 am

When I was working with trauma survivors, and all day long I'd hear trauma stories... I made it a point to seek out, even through volunteering, people who had inspirational stories.

I suggest the same in your case. If most of your captioning is for discouraging news programming, seek occasional gigs where you can caption nature documentaries or children's stories. Volunteer your skills to that end if your work environment does not provide those opportunities.
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