Wherever you fall on the political spectrum (or non-spectrum, as the case may be), here is some food for thought, post-election:
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Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard posted the following quote to his blog, which upon first reading seemed like direct commentary upon the post-election jitters. But then note the source and date of the quote:
The underlying sense of uneasiness that we have now is actually a good thing: it is the expression of our sensitivity. Those who go through life without feeling ill at ease are unconscious. The uneasy feeling caused by our awareness holds tremendous potential for transformation. It is a treasure of energy that we can grasp with both hands and use to build something better. Indifference doesn’t lead anywhere.
JIGME KHYENTSE RINPOCHE (b. 1964) Oral advice transcribed by the author.
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And the staff of the Buddhist publication “Lion’s Roar” released a special roundup, titled “After the Election: Buddhist Wisdom for Hope and Healing” in which the day after the election, they asked some of America’s leading Buddhist teachers to offer their comments, advice and teachings to address how so many of us were feeling. (Thanks to Patrick Hamilton for passing this on.) The special edition is available as a downloadable PDF file. Here are some samplings:
“Cultivating the mind of love is so crucial. When love is the ground of our being, a love ethic shapes our participation in politics. To work for peace and justice we begin with the individual practice of love, because it is there that we can experience firsthand love’s transformative power.” ~ bell hooks
“It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good.” —Norman Fischer
“When we look at the world around us — our immediate world and the bigger world beyond — we see a lot of difficulty and dysfunction. The news we hear is mostly bad news, and that makes us afraid. It can be quite discouraging. Yet we could actually derive inspiration for our warriorship, for our bodhisattva path, from these dire circumstances. We could recognize the fact, and proclaim the fact, that we are needed.” —Pema Chodron
“We take our training in mindfulness with us into our everyday lives and apply it in all circumstances: on the bus, at work, when we are feeling ill, when we are out shopping. Otherwise, what’s the use of so many hours on the cushion?” P.85
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the path of the Buddha.” Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications (2001).
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Quotebox courtesy of the Facebook page of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in Highview, W.Va.
“The gradual training essentially involves learning how to quiet down and observe your thoughts and behavior and then to change them into something more conductive to meditation and awareness. It is a slow process, not to be hurried.” p16-17
~ Bhante Gunaratana
(from “Eight mindful steps to happiness: Walking the path of the Buddha.” Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.)
Quote courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page
“Meditation is offering your genuine presence to yourself in every moment.” ~ Thich Naht Hanh
“In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. The pith instruction is to stay….stay….just stay. So whenever we wander off we gently encourage ourselves to stay and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay. Discursive mind? Stay. Are fear and loathing out of control? Stay. Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay. What’s for lunch? Stay. What am I doing here? Stay. I can’t stand this another minute! Stay. This is how we cultivate steadfastness.
~ Pema Chodron
from “The Places That Scare You”
Continue reading Just stay
“There is no big difference between a spiritual friend and a teacher, because one plays both roles in spiritual matters. Someone who strives for liberation from suffering needs a spiritual friend until they attain liberation. So a spiritual friend would not say, “I have played my role. Now you are on your own.” Rather he would say to you, “Come any time you need help. Don’t forget to ask me any questions. I am available to you any time. Whenever you have any difficulty, remember, I am here waiting to help you. Don’t think you are alone. I am here.”
“Spiritual friends give you a sense of security. You always feel someone is paying attention to your spiritual needs. You feel there is somebody to help you. You don’t feel as if they will ignore you. A spiritual friend is there to help guide you in the right direction.”
~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
“Preserving the Dhamma” (page 206).
Bhavana Society Forest Monastery (2007). www.bhavanasociety.org
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(Quote courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page)
“Treat your actions as experiments. Then, if you see the results aren’t good, you are free to change your ways!”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
From “The Joy of Effort”
“We can’t wait until the world gets straightened out before we straighten out our own minds, because the cause is in the mind. The world out there is the realm of effects. The realm of causes is in here: That’s one of the basic lessons of dependent co-arising. All the causes of suffering come prior to your engagement with the world. If you want other people to change their behavior, you’ve got to straighten out your behavior. You have to walk your talk, so that your talk is compelling. You can’t force other people to follow your example, but at least you establish that example here in the world. It’s good to have these examples in the world. Otherwise the world would be a totally depressing place.”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
“True Protection for the World” (Dhamma talk)
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(Quote and link courtesy of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s Dhamma Talks Facebook Page)
“States of fear sometimes arise during meditation for no discernible reason. It is a common phenomenon, and there can be a number of causes. You may be experiencing the effect of something repressed long ago. Remember, thoughts arise first in the unconscious. The emotional contents of a thought complex often leak through into your conscious awareness long before the thought itself surfaces. If you sit through the fear, the memory itself may bubble up to a point where you can endure it. Or you may be dealing directly with the fear that we all fear: “fear of the unknown.” At some point in your meditation career you will be struck with the seriousness of what you are actually doing. You are tearing down the wall of illusion you have always used to explain life to yourself and to shield yourself from the intense flame of reality. You are about to meet ultimate truth face to face. That is scary. But it has to dealt with eventually. Go ahead and dive right in.”
~ Bhante Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English,” p. 101
“It is psychologically impossible for us to objectively observe what is going on within us if we do not at the same time accept the occurrence of our various states of mind. This is especially true with unpleasant states of mind. In order to observe our own fear, we must accept the fact that we are afraid. We can’t examine our own depression without accepting it fully. The same is true for irritation and agitation, frustration , and all those other uncomfortable emotional states. You can’t examine something fully if you are busy rejecting its existence. Whatever experience we may be having, mindfulness just accepts it. It is simply another of life’s occurrences, just another thing to be aware of. No pride, no shame, nothing personal at stake — what is there is there.”
~ Bhante Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English” (Wisdom Publications)
“Let not a person revive the past
Or on the future build his hopes;
For the past has been left behind
And the future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let him see
Each presently arisen state;
Let him know that and be sure of it,
Today the effort must be made;
Tomorrow Death may come, who knows?
No bargain with Mortality
Can keep him and his hordes away,
But one who dwells thus ardently,
Relentlessly, by day, by night —
It is he, the Peaceful Sage* has said,
Who has had a single excellent night.”
~ The Buddha
from the “Bhaddekaratta Sutta”
(A Single Excellent Night),
Sutta 131, “The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha,”
translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi
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* The “Peaceful Sage” (santo muni) is the Buddha
Contemplate the mind;
This king of emptiness
Is subtle and abstruse.
Without shape or form,
It has great spiritual power.
It can eliminate all calamities
And accomplish all merits.
Though its essence is empty,
It is the measure of dharmas.
– Master Fu (497-569)
(Quote courtesy of DailyZen.com)
“Ethical action shifts our focus from what we personally want to what will most benefit us and others. When we are obsessed with our own desires, we are motivated primarily by hatred, greed, envy, lust and other selfish preoccupations. Then we have neither the self-control nor the wisdom to act rightly. But when we abstain from negativity, our mental fog clears a bit, and we begin to see that loving-friendliness, compassion, and generosity genuinely make us happy. This clarity of mind helps us to make ethical choices and to progress on the Buddha’s path.”
~ Bhante Gunaratana
from p. 113 of “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path” (Wisdom Publications)
“… The mind is very powerful. There’s a tremendous strength there, and it makes such a big difference how this mind, this will, this intention is being steered. And everything depends on whether it allows itself to relax and be serene, or whether it allows itself to get caught up in anxiety, grasping, and fear; it makes a difference if you do something with a relaxed, easygoing frame of mind, or if you do it in a harried and distracted way.
“In past times, people used to walk from eastern Tibet all the way to Lhasa, in central Tibet. Some types wanted to get there really fast, so they’d walk as quickly as they could. They’d tire, or get sick, give up and have to return. But other people, they would just walk at an easy pace, and they’d sit down, take breaks, pitch camp for the night, have a good time. And then, the next day, continue. And in that way they would actually reach Lhasa quite quickly. Thus the Tibetan proverb, “If you walk with haste, you do not reach Lhasa. If you walk at a gentle pace, you will make it there.”
~ from a Tricycle interview with Mingyur Rinpoche