Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Balancing Spiritual Life, Political Activism/Anger

spencerstonespencerstone Eastern Mind stuck in the Western World Veteran

Hello folks, I came to you all about a year ago with my new-to-Buddhism story. I have been consuming as much Thich Nhat Hanh literature as my work/school schedule has allowed, but I know I do not meditate nearly enough. I think the largest change in my lifestyle has been adopting a different mindset. I think calmly, I am more level headed, more outgoing and willing to try new things.

However, these past couple years have been politically trying for any decent person in the US. I find myself more politically involved than ever, this my the first election I voted in (FeelTheBern), and I like to think I am on the right side of things. That being said, I find myself being angered by the political happenings of the day. I feel helpless watching Trump insult so many walks of life.

I want to be politically involved. There is no question about that, however is it worth adding anger into my life? Politics sometimes draw me away from my spirituality, and that scares me. If anyone has any advice, I'd love to talk!

Also, follow me on Twitter if you are into politics, @spencerstoneus

Comments

  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran
    edited July 27

    hello @spencerstone! it was my first election too. i voted for Hillary, but i like Bernie just as much. and i am with you on the meditation and mindset stuff.

    i love politics. i love political theory. i used to be very caught up in the new waves of thought in this generation. i was online for years, all throughout junior high and high school. it burnt me out so much. a lot of today's ideas are rooted in semantics and post-modernism that's basically soft nihilism.

    i can type that paragraph out objectively. it is intellectually stimulating to me. but i can also step back and remember that none of it actually matters. Trump has been president for months now. he's really messed up a lot. he's disrespected the president's office and America as a nation.

    but he's also just one person. we haven't stooped to nuclear war. no one has been assassinated. sean spicer stole a fridge, but that's neither here nor there.

    he probably won't get re-elected. if he does, it will only be 4 more years. and the next president we get, whether republican or democrat, will surely clean up shop. hating Trump is now a bipartisan issue.

    these past 2 years i've noticed a lot of hate, and i've noticed a lot of love in response to that hate. we have a choice to come together and choose the alternative. Love trumps hate. love is bigger than politics.

    remember compassion for everyone. in all situations there is an alternative. do what you intend to, do something else, or do nothing at all. each decision can be hurtful or compassionate depending on the situation.

    i have seen this book at my local library but haven't read it yet. i will check it out soon, now that i've remembered. maybe you'd like to give it a look too?

    https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Politics-Buddhist-Making-Better/dp/0861712986

    also:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engaged_Buddhism

    http://thetattooedbuddha.com/using-buddhism-to-make-america-great-again/

    spencerstonelobsterHozanVastmind
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 27

    Trump is a hysterical and historical blip/blimp (edited to encompass @vinlyn insight in next post)

    The question is really how do we make use of wrathful energy. The answer is skilfully and lovingly (yes really).
    http://www.khandro.net/deities_wrathful.htm

    Anger is an Energy
    Johnny Rotten

    Hozankarasti
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Darn you lobster. I thought you should have written blimp instead of blip. But that would not be taking the high road at all! Failed again!

    lobsterHozankarasti
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Best to give politics a wide berth I've found.

    lobsterShoshindhammachickHozan
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Best to give politics a wide berth I've found.

    Indeed. Especially at work and online I've found from personal experience.

    HozanBunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 27

    Personally if in clown central (the state formally known as dixie land) :3
    I would be pressing for suitable ceremonies at legal border points with tacoland. B)
    Here is how the Indian and Pakistan comedy troupes do it. Great show guys. o:)

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Best to give politics a wide berth I've found.

    I do consider it a responsibility to vote, but I vote with my heart. Recently I've been voting Greens, they try to do the right thing for the environment and the people and are not in the pockets of big business.

    Apart from that, I try not to spend too much time on politics. It tends to move you away from the personal focus of the dharma, getting you out into the world and the marketplace. It also encourages you to make judgments and attach to opinions, stirs up emotions and encourages conflicts.

    It's a good opportunity for practice, but i would not get too involved until I was already clear on what I needed to let go of.

    HozanVastmindkarasti
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 27

    During this election, I've had to work on/conquer one of my biggest problems....keeping my mouth shut, hahahaha,.... and letting the cluster fu&$ go on without my input and opinions/views. And through this...the anger is slowly dropping away..little bit by little bit.

    As an employee, I've always adhered to the Hatch Act, but have always been involved. Now....I just can't risk it. I need my good government job, and I'm not about to draw attention to myself. This group scares me by it's sweeping actions based on assumptions and 'alternative facts'. The health care system is so jacked up in this country, just keeping my health care is worth sitting down and shutting up for. The small group of us that normally speaks out against Christian lead activities here at work....just don't bother with it right now. I still wont be a captive audience, and I quietly stand up and leave meetings or mandatory town-halls once they break out in church stuff...but I don't protest later about it. By now, the higher ups know why I leave.

    I'm starting to get engaged in other things like prison reform and volunteer...anyway...my Engaged Buddhism is just changing topics. I'm just not going near politics any time soon. It's for the best. The anger means, to me, that it was probably time to move on....

    What's the Hatch Act? :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatch_Act_of_1939

    Hozan
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Good for you @Vastmind . Awesome post. That really resonated with me. "The anger means to me, that it was probably time to move on.." I completely feel this way too. Thank you for sharing @Vastmind ❤❤❤

    Vastmind
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I try to keep my political involvement to a local level, where I can actually make a difference and have conversations with the right people. On a higher level, I'll make calls or send emails about particular things, but my senators and reps mostly already represent all the things that are important to me so there isn't much work to be done there other than telling them I support them. Al Franken is one of my senators, so he's pretty busy taking the republicans to task, :lol:

    But being more involved on a local level has been helpful to understand politics better in general and gives me a sense of being able to help without just feeling angry and helpless. Small town politics is a whole 'nother animal all together though.

    @Kerome I line up closest with the Green party, but here they have gone a bit too far down the anti-science approach in the medical arena for me. Suggesting government health care pay for aromatherapy and crystal therapy and suggesting vaccines are evil for example. I wish they would come around on that stuff because then they'd be ideal for me. It was a really hard decision this year to stick with my heart or go with an attempt to keep Trump out at all costs. Failed at both anyways, lol.

    Several people have suggested his transgender military ban is a...what's the term. That it's a distraction from something else he's up to and that we have to stay focused on what goes on behind the scenes. How? We don't even know what's going on ON the scene. Like I told a friend, it's like watching a 100 car pileup and trying to figure out which car caused it by looking at the carnage. You can't find anything to focus on because Trump and our entire government is a disaster right now. No one knows which way to look and I'm sure that is how they prefer it.

    HozanBunks
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    You have nailed it @karasti . Worrying times for sure.

  • HozanHozan Veteran
    edited July 27

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/nyregion/justice-department-gays-workplace.html

    Is this really happening.????,, Things seem to be getting exponentially worse. Trump administration is attacking civil rights...

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I found it weird that that came up today, and is listed with all the trans ban news, but is such a different thing. The headline led me to believe they were related, but they aren't. Not saying I agree with the DoJ conclusion whatsoever, but just found it odd placement in the news I read because it was/is a lawsuit for a man who was fired for being gay and he sued. He died in an accident before the lawsuit went through, so others are now continuing it. I can't believe we still haven't moved to put orientation as a protected class. We don't choose it just like we don't choose our sex, race, disabilities or anything else that is protected. I can't believe our federal laws still allow discrimination at all, and that their argument is "it's legal to discriminate." They sound utterly ridiculous making that argument. The only reason anyone should be fired is for breaking employer policies and/or not performing their job properly. Who you are should NEVER be grounds for losing your job. I can't believe we are still arguing this. If Obama was still president, we wouldn't be. Sigh.

    Hozan
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    This administrstion is going to do huge harm and set the clock back a long way

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    I hope the American system can put safeguards in place for the future so that another "Trump- like" situation cannot happen in the same way again. What I mean by this is that effectively the President is above the law in many ways and already its proving difficult to remove somebody who is clearly unfit for office and a danger to humanity. Checks need to be in place that make it straightforward to remove such a character when they are so obviously flawed and dangerous. After Trump there cannot be another one like this.

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    I just hope "after Trump" comes sooner rather than later

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I thought I understood they were in place already, but apparently not :confounded:
    He should qualify as an unfit president, and congress (if I remember right) had the option not to instate him. But with the republican majority, even though a lot of them don't like Trump and think he's nuts, saw it as a way to have someone they could use to ram through their insane legislation. I wish we could fast forward to whenever he's out of office. I thought initially that maybe Pence might be worse because he's so religious, but I'm not sure that anyone could be worse at this point! I'm sure there is someone out there, but it's hard to imagine :lol:

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Yes thats where the billions of dollars should be spent...building a wall...I give up...I can't read any more Trump news....

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 28

    Before giving my 2 cents, I just want to kindly point out that the thread has slipped into anger over politics.

    I try to take a wider more long term view than the day to day or week to week developments in the vein that MLK talked about when he said the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. That may be easier for me because I am relatively well protected from the discriminations and policy changes that Trump wants to enact.

    Take health care for example, the ACA was put in place and was immediately and repeatedly attacked. But even if they are able to repeal it and put something else in place, the idea that health insurance is a right or something that everyone should have has largely been subtly accepted. So a draconian republican plan that drops people and leaves them unprotected could have a popular backlash and make some sort of broad single payer plan more likely. We just can't know so easily the longterm outcomes.

    It reminds me of the old Buddhist story:

    There lived an old farmer who had worked on his fields for many, many years. One day, his horse bolted away. His neighbors dropped in to commiserate with him. “What awful luck,” they tut-tutted sympathetically, to which the farmer only replied, “We’ll see.”

    Next morning, to everyone’s surprise, the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How amazing is that!” they exclaimed in excitement. The old man replied, “We’ll see.”

    A day later, the farmer’s son tried to mount one of the wild horses. He was thrown on the ground and broke his leg. Once more, the neighbors came by to express their sympathies for this stroke of bad luck. “We’ll see,” said the farmer politely.

    The next day, the village had some visitors – military officers who had come with the purpose of drafting young men into the army. They passed over the farmer’s son, thanks to his broken leg. The neighbors patted the farmer on his back – how lucky he was to not have his son join the army! “We’ll see,” was all that the farmer said

    spencerstone
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 28

    @person said:
    Before giving my 2 cents, I just want to kindly point out that the thread has slipped into anger over politics.

    Indeed. For us angry, human or political types, all too often. Being angry or experiencing some other empathic synchronicity with dukkha is often satisfying. Is it skilful, helpful or just an emotional coping mechanism?

    Dispassionate objectivity, not autistic, psychopathic or other forms of impaired emotionality, is hard. However it is a Buddhist skill set we can develop ...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I read very little concerning politics nowadays. I gloss over anything political, UK-wise, when reading a daily tabloid (if ever the occasion arises!) and I get my American dose, here, of all places....
    Don't think 'Politicians'.
    Think 'Hungry Ghosts'....

    lobsterkarasti
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    As Ajahn Brahm says "Good? Bad? Who knows....."

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @federica said:
    Don't think 'Politicians'.
    Think 'Hungry Ghosts'....

    Well said.

    That reminds me. The Thai Temple in Wimbledon I visit, when there is no tennis, has a
    depiction of the six realms with politicians added ...
    http://personal.carthage.edu/jlochtefeld/buddhism/wheeloflife/sixrealms.html

    However some politicians are r-evolving ...
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/richard-reoch/mental-health-and-meditat_b_3841923.html

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @spencerstone said:
    however is it worth adding anger into my life?

    No it isn't. However, as Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates, it's entirely possible to be politically active and not add anger. We should follow his example.

    but I know I do not meditate nearly enough.

    Thich Nhat Hanh meditates a lot. We should follow his example.

    KeromeKannonspencerstone
  • CedarTreeCedarTree Private Island Explorer

    I don't think we need anger for involvement and engagement.

    There are plenty of engaged Buddhist organizations and movements going on right now. They are based in loving kindness and equanimity :)

    Kannonlobster
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 28

    I also think taking a historical perspective on the state of the world today rather than comparing it to our utopian ideal of the world helps.

    For example I'd much rather take the worst of the republican policies of today than have to live in the world of 150 years ago. You think their healthcare plan is bad try undergoing surgery without anesthesia or antibiotics.

    Vastmindkarasti
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Even in comparison with many areas of our world today. On our worst day, we are still among the most fortunate people on the planet.

    personShoshinlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @spencerstone said:
    I want to be politically involved. There is no question about that, however is it worth adding anger into my life? Politics sometimes draw me away from my spirituality, and that scares me. If anyone has any advice, I'd love to talk!

    We are all politically, economically, biologically, socially etc. effected or involved. In a sense we are drawn into what matters to us. We choose what goes in ... GIGO B)

    vinlynspencerstone
  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran

    @person exactly. I am currently reading a book called the Better Angels of Our Time by Steve Pinkman. It is a comprehensive look at the history and future of war and violence. Really puts things in an ultimate perspective. Now I know it's just part of how things evolve. I can only work within limitations once I admit to them.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @yagr I've lived around those people (Trump supporter types) most of my life, so I've always known they were there. However, attempts to do anything about it have failed consistently for that entire time, even in trying to talk to kids my age (at that point in my life) about various topics. It seems to me that most of the time, the teachers we need to dislodge us from our deeply held convictions about things such as racism, sexism etc need to come from our close circle of friends and family. Outsiders views aren't welcome and they do not want to discuss those issues. So when you said now that we know, we can address the problem, I'm curious what you have in mind? How do you address it? As a country, we thought we had in the past, but it only resulted in pushing those people down until conditions were ripe for them to elect someone like Trump. It seems to me we need to deal with the conditions and the root causes more than just the people who believe in those things. But I still don't know how.

    yagrVastmind
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I came across an article today which explained that people basically have two thinking mechanisms in their head, one emotional and one rational. Which one is dominant is quite personal and it can switch around. Trump won the election mostly by appealing to people's emotive reasoning, and that's why many people are still standing by him (35%). It's much more difficult to abandon a standpoint once you have an emotional investment in it.

    Convincing people to think more rationally about who they elect as president is a task that I feel should fall to the older, more mature voters. It's ironic that the young voted largely for Bernie, while the old voted for more republican mainstays. But it seems a lot of people could be swayed by Trump's appeals.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/neuroscientist-donald-trumps-meteoric-rise-can-be-explained-by-4-basic-human-instincts-a7165001.html

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    A lot of the older people in the US look back and think of various decades as the best the US ever was, and they want to go back there. So they elected Trump largely on his promises to do that: to bring the US back to what it was when they were younger adults. He can't, of course. But that is what appealed to them. They don't want things to change, and in essence want not just the economy but our social structure to go back to what it was 50 years ago. Nuclear family, pretend gays, blacks, Muslims etc don't even exist, everyone goes to church and prayer in school etc etc. That is what they think "Made America Great." They aren't the entirety of who elected Trump, but a pretty significant amount of them. And then you have some others, people more my age (middle age and then their just-able-to-vote teenagers) who voted out of anger out of the non-stop namecalling. I can't tell you how many people have said things like "You keep calling us stupid racists. That's why I voted for Trump, because I'm tired of people accusing me of stuff like that." Of course their voting for his rhetoric doesn't work well to prove they aren't racist...

    But, that said, I do think a LOT of people voted emotionally for Bernie, too.

    Vastmind
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Another article on why those who think religiously tend to cling to beliefs.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/religious-people-beliefs-cling-contradict-evidence-facts-moral-compass-research-athiests-analytical-a7863446.html

    I would compare that to Buddhists - I would expect Buddhists to be quite analytical. But you have to know how to be in your emotional centre, how to feel, otherwise a lot of Buddhism's practice will be lost on you.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @yagr wonderful example, thank you! Yes, common ground on an individual basis does seem like the best way. It's tempting to want to see large, sweeping changes. But even those changes require a change of mind and heart of individuals to create the wave. Some people, experience and conversation seems to have a huge impact, like the ones you have had with the man at your work. Some people have such intense blocks that even when they seem to have a crack of light when experiencing something else, they get scared and close it off again.

    Years ago, there was a show called "30 Days" with Morgan Spurlock. Just tv, of course, so plenty of editing. But some of the people experienced such a shift that they changed their way of thinking as a result. Some, you could see they opened up just enough to let possibility enter, then freaked out and slammed the door. But I do hope that having that door opened even a little, makes it easier to open the next time they have such an encounter.

    yagr
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @yagr said:

    Understanding that he does not think the way he thinks because he is evil but because he is ignorant, and not willfully ignorant, but experientially ignorant.

    This is so true for many...
    Here in Aotearoa the Maori face similar difficulties when it comes to employment, housing etc, they also have to face this kind of experiential ignorance from some Pakeha , who seem oblivious to the plight of many Maori people... I guess it is the same for most colonised indigenous people... Thanks @yagr for such an inspiring story...

    yagr
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 31

    @eggsavior said:
    @person exactly. I am currently reading a book called the Better Angels of Our Time by Steve Pinkman. It is a comprehensive look at the history and future of war and violence. Really puts things in an ultimate perspective. Now I know it's just part of how things evolve. I can only work within limitations once I admit to them.

    I haven't read the book but I've listened to him and others talk about it. With the focus of the news being the negative happenings in the world it can seem like violence or other things are worse than ever. But when he went back and actually looked at the written records and anthropological evidence he found that in the long past the odds of dying from violence were something like 1 in 100 or 1 in 1,000 or something like that but now days it's more like 1 in 100,000 and that includes the world wars.

    Or one of the most tragic things that can happen to a person today is to have one of their young children die. But for most of human history on average only 1 in 5 children made it past the age of 5.

    Or if anyone is politically active in some sort of equal rights. Things are unequal and should be better but would you rather be in one of those groups today or 50 or 100 years ago.

    All this is not saying that we should just be complacent and accept the status quo with supreme equanimity. Rather I'm saying that a good counter to the anger generated by wanting and not having a better world is gratitude for the good things in the world we already do have.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 31

    Thanks @yagr. <3

    Such an understanding, applied inside and out, ultimately transforms our 'internal' and external 'politics'. Your approach is pragmatic and has ahimsa at its core. Bravo.
    I say internal politics because the very things we align or attach to can be let go of ...

    God Save The Queen. Vive la liberté. Vote Buddha. Free the @yagr. ;)
    http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/229.htm

    yagrdhammachick
Sign In or Register to comment.