Hey, what’s going on?!

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.)*

delusional unicorn.jpgYes, 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

delusions-godzilla-still-only-a-cloudHappiness 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

remove-delusionsIt 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.

on-top-of-the-world-above-clouds-of-delusionI 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.

Update 10.55pm

Definition of red herring: Something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue.

reflection of mind.jpg
“What we see is a reflection of our own mind.” ~ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

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. 

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Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

23 thoughts on “Hey, what’s going on?!”

  1. There is no sense in feeling attached to someone who appears attractive, feeling aversion toward someone who appears unattractive, or feeling indifferent toward someone who is neither attractive nor unattractive. Someone who appears attractive to me can be an object of aversion to others, someone who appears unattractive to me can be an object of attachment to others, and someone to whom I feel indifferent can be an object of attachment or aversion to others. There is no certainty. The appearances of attractiveness, unattractiveness and indifference are only my own mistaken projections, and they make my mind unbalanced and unpeaceful and destroy my happiness. Having repeatedly contemplated these points, we make the strong determination: “I must stop these unbalanced minds and develop and maintain equanimity — an equally warm and friendly attitude towards all living beings”. With this determination we generate a warm and friendly feeling towards all living beings without exception.

    Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

  2. I think that now that we are all devastated by the results of the election, we can realize that we need to take personal responsibility and be more kind, loving and productive in bringing humanity to this suffering world. We as collective individuals have more power then one president.

  3. Don’t panic, I say! As much as I would have voted for Hillary over the Donald any day of the week, here are five reasons why I believe that popular panic about Trump’s unexpected victory is misplaced:

    1. It is well known that Trump has identified himself as a Democrat in the past, and has said, for example, that the economy has tended to work better under Democrat presidencies; as recently as 2015, he even stated that he preferred Bill Clinton’s presidency to either of the Bushes’ respective presidencies! This indicates that he is nowhere near as ‘far-right’ in his views as he sometimes pretends.

    2. Though he appears to have wavered on the issue, Trump is now unequivocally opposed to the Iraq war. And as inconsistent as his foreign policy positions have been, his most considered judgement seems to favour a more isolationist America. In foreign policy terms, I would argue that that is no bad thing.

    3. Based largely on (1), I am convinced that Trump will be far less extreme in his policies than his recent rhetoric might suggest. He is an entertainer, and he is good at demagoguery and saying what his fans want to hear. But I think that he is actually much more smart, and moderate, than he has recently painted himself to be (his policy-preference-switches at least indicate that he is a reflective thinker), and he also likes to please people. I believe that, faced by the prospect of having to please an entire nation (rather than just the 50% of the population who are inclined to the right) he will try his best to do so.

    4. Trump will be constrained by (the Republican) Congress; and Republicans have been very clear in their rejection of many of the more concerning positions that have been peddled by Trump. It seems reasonable to assume that they would continue to constrain Trump if he were to try to pass legislation that was clearly ridiculous, harmful or discriminatory.

    5. What of the worry that Trump has control of the nuclear button? Well, so do the respective leaders of Russia, Pakistan, and possibly (or perhaps imminently) North Korea. How much does Joe Average worry about them? Not very much; and I see no good reason why we should be any more concerned by Trump’s control of the nuclear button.

    Closing comment: I also don’t think that believing, arguing, or trying to spread the word that Donald Trump is a ‘bad guy who is going to destroy the world’ will do any good; if anything, I suggest that it will only stoke the sort of political antipathy which, supposedly, we are all so averse to. Instead, we can ‘be the change we want to see’, and try our best to cherish the Donald 😉

  4. (The Trump Trauma at least inspired a poem):


    If logic and reason spit in our eyes
    No one gives an answer when we ask why
    Look in the mirror of cause and effect
    The image we see is completely correct

    We deserve what we see in our silly screen
    We direct the play that we see every day
    There is no one to blame for our sorry script
    We wrote it ourselves, our names are on it

  5. I’m sad but I have the armor of wisdom.
    It’s all a illusion… We must purify…
    It’s Karma it was going to ripen one way or the other.

    For a Lojong practicioner Samsara is the Pureland

  6. Thank you for sharing the wisdom through your always-thought-provoking blog! We need it now, more than ever. Thank you also, for keeping it light and full of humor, even in the images that you so craftily chose to represent the topic at hand. (My favorite so far, is the clawfoot tub swimming pool in your post “How to feel less busy all the time”.)

  7. Thank you for reminding us of our real enemies of attachment, hatred and ignorance! I really appreciate your article, Luna. I’d like to also offer this view of this election for those of us who rely on the Buddhadharma:

    Clinton wins = a great opportunity to practice Dharma
    Trump wins = a great opportunity to practice Dharma
    Bernie/Jill/etc… wins = a great opportunity to practice Dharma

    Do we believe there is an inherently existent world/election/country/Trump out there, separate from our mind? Do we believe that our fellow Americans are our kind mothers? Is our love conditioned on their behavior?

    These are questions I am asking myself…

    1. It’s never NOT a great opportunity to practice dharma yet we need to recognize that our conditions are degenerating. The threat of fascism is upon us . History has shown us that in many countries the opportunities to practice dharma has all but vanished. Buddhadharma cannot be taken for granted. Like our civil liberties, it may soon disappear from the world.

  8. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha. What a sad day for USA and for the rest of the world for that matter. We need to overcome his hatred with love and we will.

  9. Thank you Luna – Your humor, wisdom and warmth are a balm to me. Last night I too fell off my Unicorn. Ouch! Thank you for reminding us to go for refuge and to accept that we have not yet created the causes for the liberation we crave. Samsara is not a fixable thing yet we don’t believe it at all! Samsara is a unicorn with a really crazy hairdo. Sorry Jason.

  10. Why is it so often after something this big happens in our world we turn to what we can control even if its temporary? I woke today thinking I am going to focus on the day to day and do what I can. A feeling reminiscent of how I felt on September 12, 2001. I like to think this is the seed of wisdom and compassion, my Buddha nature arising with might. I rejoice in the Three Jewels, and in particular today, my Sangha. They are my caregivers, my support and can help me remember what is real in desperate times, that to focus on the path and live with bodhichitta in my heart can be the only option. How wonderful!

  11. Still reeling from the results tonight when you posted this. Another eloquent article reminding us to steep our minds in dharma regardless of what’s arising. Direct and purposeful. Thank you, Luna!

  12. I am joining you lovely Luna! ……..donning the armor of wisdom and compassion as we type 😉

  13. Great article. I think that on a conventional level, relatively speaking, political things have been going well for a while now and sometimes we need to lose the attachment to things going well and experience more of the spectrum for our own personal growth and development.

    1. Yes i agree. For us things have been going relatively well and we forget too that for much of the world they have not been going at all well. So it can help our renunciation and our compassion.

  14. L posted this afternoon. I’ve only read first half but it’s good. She’s responding to election

    Sent from my iPhone


  15. Thank you for this post. Even though I don’t live in the United States it matters as this election will affect Canada in some way.

    After reading your enlightening words I am doing my best to not get embroiled in my delusions and keep a peaceful mind.


  16. I love the picture of the giant Godzilla cloud! The best thing in this election so far.

  17. Reblogged this on Into the Crevasse and commented:
    Thanks do the timely article, Luna Kadampa! Let’s keep calm & carry on! “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.”

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