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@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.
I used to go insane over American politics. Paralyzed, unable to go through life.
Then I realized that there is a medicine against Trump anxiety-- and that medicine is doing something personally to stir my country in a better direction. So I have made it a habit to weekly donate money to organizations/people who are working on that.
In my case, I feel, the cause of the anguish was not Trump but rather my confusion with regards to the role I have to play. Once that role becomes clearer, Trump is percieved more like crappy weather rather than this terrible demon from which there is no hiding.
Don't worry, do something instead!
I have the same struggle. News overwhelms me too easily and makes me a nervous wreck.
The most success managing this I have achieved is choosing one high quality news source and sticking with it (as an American, I can rely on NPR radio). It is really the act of following links one after another that carries me down the rabbit hole mentally and emotionally.
The really hard question is really this: what can I actually do about the direction of the country? At times it seems that it is most constructive to approach this purely as an external circumstance beyond my control, like a bad weather event or an illness in the family. In which case indeed, news intake should be minimized to the bare minimum so I can better attend to my "real" life.
But then what if there is something I can do to slow or stop the de-volution of our country pushed by our new government (beyond voting which I always do)? If that were the case, should it not be my first responsibility? ...this is really about that wisdom of knowing the difference between the things I can and cannot change.