A friend just told me that the Republicans are winning by 36,000 votes in this great state of Colorado. It gave me pause, again!, as so many times I have been wondering of late, hey, what’s going on?!
(Apologies to my subscribers for popping a second article into your inbox so soon after the last one, but I thought it a civic duty to put one out about the election today 😅 And it’ll still be relevant tomorrow, I’m betting.)*
Yes, I’m writing this slap bang in the middle of election day 2016, November 8th, 3.56pm MST. It is also Tara Day, thank goodness. For everyone everywhere has the jitters, or almost everyone, ordinary beings at least – whereas Buddha Tara & co. of course do not. This is on account of their fully mastering their hearts and minds.
My hair stylist (yes, why not have a haircut on election day) just told me that the reason he thinks visits to doctors for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and the like have spiked by 25% during this election season is because the world is more complicated than ever before and people feel more and more like they are losing control, that they are powerless. And I agreed with him. I also told him I would be putting him in my blog, so here you go Jason, I am a woman of my word.
If there is anything this confounding reality show of an election is showing it is that everything depends on the mind. Problems or non-problems, happiness and suffering, and ugliness and attractiveness – these all depend on the mind.
Problem, no problem
That thing about outer and inner problems is never demonstrably more true than during elections. I’m sorry to break this to you, if you haven’t heard, but we will never ever have full control over the outer problems in life — no one throughout history has ever accomplished this and we are not going to be the first. However, we can learn to control how we react and therefore avoid the inner problems. This is always going to be the case.
Where we feel helpless, also, it is helpful not to forget the power of prayer – one prayer suggested on 9/11 by Geshe Kelsang, and seemingly always applicable, is for our world leaders to have compassion and wisdom.
UK Election 2019
*Yes, another year, another day, another election that is crushingly disappointing to some and a relief to others. Today, Friday Dec 13, I want to add a pertinent quote I read from a Kadampa friend:
For as long as those in power commit to the belief that full spectrum dominance over the external world and its people will satiate their unending desire for control and materials, they will continue to follow paths bereft of meaning and full of untold sadness and destruction. It is the responsibility of those in the fortunate position of being less deluded to cultivate the opponent forces of wisdom and compassion to help facilitate all living beings’ deepest wish … to feel love and to be happy.
For me, it is the people who are less deluded, who show the forces of wisdom and compassion, who are the greatest leaders, for they show us how we can recognise and nurture those same qualities and, then, help others do the same. It is leadership by example, not through spectacle.
As Mickey Rourke says to Matt Dillon in the film Rumblefish:
If you’re going to lead people, you have to have somewhere to go.
Happiness and suffering
Happiness and suffering depend on the mind – people with just the same amount to win or lose from the results of this election still vary in how happy or sad they are today, for example, depending on their state of mind and perceptions. Some people are feeling very depressed whereas others are figuring a way through it while remaining relatively peaceful.
Some people of course have more at stake than others in these elections, as it more immediately impacts their lives. At times like these, samsara shows its true colors. But, if we are still in samsara, we are all one way or another in this together. And we could all probably use this opportunity to remind us to take deeper and deeper refuge in the restorative power of our own mind and potential, as explained here, and the foolproof Dharma medicine, the methods for fulfilling this happiness within. This election has been showing me the need for more refuge, not more dependence on externals.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Ugliness and attractiveness also depend on the mind. And there is a lot of that going on right now – including incomprehension on both sides as to how anyone cannot see through the quite obvious undesirability of the other candidate. Yes, I have my preference and my own incomprehension, and I voted carefully on every point on the ballot; but from a spiritual point of view it doesn’t make much difference who wins this election, for tomorrow our main opponents are still going to be ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Our real work is still going to be cut out for us, either way.
Search for the hero inside yourself
It is wrong to hate Hilary. It is wrong to hate Trump. (Attachment for one would also appear to lead to more aversion toward the other, so best not to succumb to deceptive attachment either.) And it is also wrong to hate both of them! It is short-sighted, and it doesn’t come from any real compassion.
There is much at stake during this election season, no doubt — such as my ability to go to the doctor and, more ominously, the legitimization of fear and hate. Still, there is no justification for our own aversion because, as Buddha pointed out and we can discover for ourselves, living beings are not our enemies, they are our kind mothers. Only our delusions are our enemies. As Geshe Kelsang says:
We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions, or by society, but in reality it all comes from our own deluded states of mind. ~ Introduction to Buddhism
And it is not as if Geshe-la has not put this to the test – he had to flee Tibet with just his robes, and before that he lived in a feudal dictatorship.
He has also suggested that we vote in order to keep creating the causes for living in a democracy.
We are the change we’ve been waiting for
So we can canvass and vote to try and stop the most dangerous delusions taking power, trying to solve the outer problem as best we can; I am all for this and, in fact, Bodhisattvas have a vow to “go to the assistance of those in need”. But let’s not kid ourselves that our real enemies are either of those two people, or any other politicians for that matter. Even if both of them were to vanish into thin air, the world will still be in a mess for as long as we are all enslaved by the master race of the delusions.
I wonder why we have allowed delusions to ruin our lives since beginningless time and counting?! Why are we so wholly consumed by finding the threat to our happiness always outside ourselves? As Shantideva puts it:
The inner enemies of hatred, attachment, and so forth
Do not have arms and legs,
Nor do they have courage or skill;
So how have they made me their slave?
No other type of enemy
Can remain for as long a time
As can the enduring foes of my delusions,
For they have no beginning and no apparent end.
The only way to be free and stay free is to free the mind – by removing our delusions, and particularly by getting rid of self-grasping ignorance. I reckon that if I had put a fraction of my formidable energy and righteous indignation since beginningless time into rebelling against my own delusions, I’d probably be enlightened by now. And so would you. This election is reminding me of this, so for that at least I am thankful to all concerned.
Have a nice rest of election day, what’s left of it! See you later.
Definition of red herring: S
My conclusion: This divisive and disappointing (was always going to be for half the country and now is for much of the world) election has shown, yet again and quite resoundingly in my opinion, that trying to make samsara work is a red herring. The arc of forward progression — of tolerance, human rights, international security, climate protection, and global connectivity for example — is not an inevitability. While we let the obstructionist delusions stay in our hearts, it is a pipe dream.
But there is also little point in panicking or scare mongering because, lets face it, we wouldn’t have known what was around the corner whoever was elected.
As Buddha said over 2500 years ago, the places, enjoyments, and bodies of samsara are deceptive. Nowhere on this planet is great to live, so let’s instead give up entirely on the hallucinations that come from our self-grasping and self-cherishing. It is about time, and it won’t be a minute too soon. And meantime, as we work on pulling the plug out on the ocean of samsaric suffering by abandoning its causes, let’s not underestimate the power of prayer, “our main job” as Geshe Kelsang once said.
Heruka’s mandala, the appearance of bliss and emptiness, awaits us all, is just a trick of the mind away. Get your Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments when you can.
Perhaps you might join me in trying even harder to rely on the armor of wisdom and compassion, becoming a true refuge for ourselves and others as soon as possible, while we still have health care … I mean this precious human life 😝
If you can, please add to the comments below any inspiring words or quotes that are helping you heal and deal with what is going on, and might help others. The more wisdom, the better.
Lost and (un)Found ~ includes Brexit musings