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I feel the frustration, @Hozan . Listened to DJT's address in real time and felt hopelessness.
And yet, we gotta step back and realize that we do not get to live in a world that aligns with our ideals. In fact, the powers that be have never been particularly enightened or moral. If anything, by many accounts, the world today (at least Western one) is at its best like ever, even if recently it seems like it is backtracking some.
At any rate, these global political shifts is not something we can control any more than we can control weather (I realize the sad pun). We are dealt some set of cards and we have to play those cards and no other. That's how that goes.
So no point in getting worked up into a frenzy by the news. If we are worked up, we cannot help even in small ways, let alone bigger ones. All we have is our immediate environment and if due to being paralyzed by negativity we can't even properly show up there, then all is truly lost for us. Let us accept that the world is a mess, step back, balance ourselves and be the best that we can be, right here, right now.
Rebirth is definitely in the classical Zen texts. In my school there is some reading during every retreat and the stuff is regularly mentioned.
However, we take it more as a metaphora for what our mind does during this very life-- that is, its propensity to recreate the same states and situations over and over again. Buddhist teaching on rebirth seems to describe quite well our cyclical ups and downs, their quality, their root and the way to move beyond them.
I don't think I know a single person who strongly believes in literal/physical rebirth. At most, I hear the "who knows what happens after we die" approach.
@Dakini : just to be clear, the alarmism I was talking about was shared by the minority of members, even though that minority was vocal and has senior members. Some folks in my Sangha seemed to also not be thrilled by the dynamics. Also, a couple of folks in the "alarmist" camp had backgrounds that make it harder for them to retain a cool head...so not being perfectly balanced myself, I have some empathy there.
Anyway, I think it is undeniable that the American Sangha has a strong Left bias politically (so do I but not nearly to that degree) As proof of that just read the reactions of Buddhist teachers to the election, published on Lion's Roar. While I fully understand why one, as an American, would wish for the other candidate to have won, most (but not all) of those reactions make it clear that their sources are strongly invested in Liberal causes mentally and emotionally.
I just feel that being strongly invested in any side politically is fundamentally not Buddhist (or spiritual for that matter). I think any spiritual practice points in a very different direction- it is about acceptance, unity and clarity. Mixing religion/spirituality and politics just seems like a universally bad idea.That is what prompted me to write here.
Looking at Europe now turning away from Right-wing ideology, I am tempted to say that we, Americans, are taking one for the West.
A part of me thinks it's all for the better in the long term. Now there is a real cause for people to care and to act. Hillary with all her elitist baggage and association with big money would not have rallied concerned citizens behind her in a positive sense as well as Trump is doing in the negative sense.
I think both the traditional Right and Left reached their obsolesence. Let us hope that once they annihilate one another, we shall have a new, sane and strong political center. This insane division of basically good people in this country needs to end.
While this will sound like magic, I really believe it, based on personal experience:
At times there is someone in my life that I perceive as being negative to me in some way. At first my reaction is: they are over there, I am over here and they are doing this bad thing to me. The instinctive reaction then is to do some other thing to them so that my discomfort from dealing with them eases. Well, that always makes the situation more confusing and the headache stronger.
Instead, when I make an effort to bring meditation stance to the interaction, the quality of the interaction changes and it is no longer a problem. By "meditative stance" I mean a combination of the following: breathing slowly and diaphragmatically (Zazen style), keeping a questioning/open mind (asking internally "what is this?" without trying to concoct an intellectual answer) and, finally, visualizing that other person, myself and all other living creatures as one ocean with many waves that thrash about without much purpose. That last one often brings about a kind of light softness in the chest, which I think is related to compassion.
Usually, the situation just falls away or appears as a part of some bigger, and less objectionable, process. In the end I end up feeling a sort of a gratitude for the encounter for opening me up. At times, I form a positive relationship with the person that feels very genuine. At times I aquire the courage to just walk away or stand up for myself un-apologetically.
I think the issue that many of us Buddhists have is that we've heard over and over again that reactive emotions are bad and we instinctively try to suppress them, which brings the feeling of fakeness and disconnectedness. Instead, I believe, we need to feel those emotions much more fully than we naturally do, really dive into them, let their energy flow. Without acting on them but being very mindful of them in our bodies and curious about them in our hearts.