arijitmitter wrote:Does following the Dhamma mean that I should ignore / tune out some parts of the news so as not to get agitated.
I think so, yes. What is meditation if not tuning out some parts of the world? We sit in silence so we can notice the noise we make in our own heads. Then we silence that noise as well. This is the way to insight and peace. However, if you tune out the world merely so it doesn't upset you, so you can go on with your own pursuit of pleasures unbothered by other people's problems, this is not helpful to you nor anyone else.
In other words, if I switch off the distressing news channel and instead switch to the funny entertainment channel then this is not practicing the Buddha's teachings. It is simply substituting what is undesirable for what is desirable. If I switch off bot the distressing news channel AND the funny entertaining channel and instead focus on stilling the mind then this is practicing the Buddha's teachings.
That said, it is sometimes useful to "step back into the world" to see how you are doing. If you encounter desirable or undesirable things and still feel agitation then you know you still have more work to do.
Am I harming my progress by distracting myself with other people's pain ? After all Buddhist monks live in a cocoon.
If seeing other people's pain is distracting you then yes you are harming your progress. If seeing other people's pain inspires you to practice harder then you are helping your progress. Conversely, if you are hiding
from other people's pain to avoid feeling like you need to practice then you are harming your progress.
To put it another way, I think seeing other people's pain should motivate us to want to help. The Buddha teaches us the best way to help others is to first still one's own mind. A popular analogy is to first get yourself out of the quicksand before you then try to help others get out of that quicksand. Or as they say on airplanes, "Please secure your own oxygen mask before helping those next to you."
I hope this is helpful.