The Morning After (The Election)

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this blog, the day after Trump was elected President of the United States.  Up until now I’ve restrained myself from combining dharma teaching and politics. I don’t want to use my position to lay my views upon you. I hope you’ll be tolerant and not acquiesce when my expression and perspectives differ from yours.

I teach a meditative process of exploring our views while respecting differing views. But today it seems like if I didn’t share the same country with folks who hold Trump’s values, respect would be easier. I wonder if Portland could join California and “Calexit”?  I tried separatism in the 1970’s; it strengthened me, but was sometimes arrogant. Still today secession seems like good idea, but this is an example of how staying in the present moment can get us in trouble. I wish I could find the morning after pill that would abort all of this.

I need to hold the long-view now, but how does that work when everything is so uncertain and foreboding? I teach about how to “hold our seat” in meditation in the face of uncertainty and with what is “hard to bear”. Seems like great advice right now. Taking reactive action leads to unimagined problems. We never can be certain where our actions will lead, though a deeply examined path is more reliable.

Woke up this morning feeling yucky, was it something I ate?  No, it’s the outcome of the election. Reminds me of the three poisons in Buddhism: greed, hatred and delusion. It’s easy to imagine a toxic Trump presidency, harder to perceive how these poisons operate inside of me. Relief comes from considering how we are driven by these harmful tendencies.

Easy to see the delusion, I was deluded to believe that Trump was surely going to lose, and he seemed like a loser to me so I was prone to believe this. I believed the pundits and the pollsters; I wanted to believe them. Trump postured like he would be the winner, turns out I was the deluded one.  What’s more true is that future predictions help us plot a path forward, but we must remember that there are myriad causes and conditions that we don’t know.

Trump Towers and Trump University seem embedded in greed. It took a while to perceive my own greed in this situation. I feel entitled to live in a country with decent and caring leadership. Probably most people throughout history haven’t had this: I take refuge in knowing they’ve endured.  As I see this greed, my outrage stops gnawing me so painfully.

The election cycle was steeped in hatred, entangled by fear. Buddhism speaks of moving beyond seeing others as the “enemy”, though this seemed impossible during an election cycle brimming with meanness.  Blond dyed hair atop Trump’s head shivers echoes of the Aryan Nation. I feel better when I remember that values and actions are dangerous; people are more multi-faceted.

Afternoon, crafting a ceramic vase, these words reverberate repeatedly in my mind. “Create like your life depends upon– and it just might.” People are looking for hope today. Our best hope might be in what we create that is motivated by kindness and dignity, not by hatred, greed or delusion. I urge you to “take your seat” and deeply consider how to best respond, how and when you want to fight, rather than who you want to fight. And what impulses are best restrained.

My aspiration for the day and the years to come is that inner stillness awakens creative and skillful words and deeds– in each of us.

How speak of enemies?  Strong emotional response.  Not equanimity.

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