A number of people attending the group experienced great distress at the process and the outcome of the election in 2016. In this section, I am posting a “morning after the election letter” which I wrote to the group at the time. Following that are excerpts from an article by Patricia Pearce about “Donald Trump as a Spiritual Teacher,” with some of my comments on the application of the Lojong trainings to her thoughts. (Of course, her words can apply to any politician for whom you have negative feelings.)
Morning after the election letter:
Many people are experiencing very difficult feelings this morning, perhaps you are one of them.
Please, take a moment, now, to be with these feelings. It is so easy to avoid really being with them. Having the “oh my God, this is awful, I guess I really will move to Canada” conversations with friends is one way of dispersing them without really being in touch with them. Another is to drown it all out with consumption and escapism- with food, movies, substances of various kinds and so on.
Please just take a moment to sit quietly with your feelings. If you are feeling despair, rage, grief, whatever the emotions are, allow them to be there. Recognize them clearly and individually for what they are, call them by their true names. Accept them without reservation, even embrace them, hold them and look with eyes of compassion at those feelings, at yourself, at all those who are experiencing this with you. Explore the feelings you are having in your body- where are they? what form do they take in your body? Tightness, tension? Feelings of emptiness in the body? Is pain present in some bodily form? As thoughts arise, rather than following the story they will unfold if you allow them to (all of it fabricated), just turn and look at them- what are they? What are they made of? When you hold a thought connected with your distress and just look at it, what happens to it?
Spend some time just doing this, recognizing, accepting, investigating, and seeing that these feelings are not who you are. Become aware that there is a spaciousness present that can hold them calmly, can allow for this acceptance of the feelings simply for what they are at this moment.
With that acceptance, it might be helpful to spend a little time just breathing and relaxing for a few minutes- “breathing in, aware of my body, breathing out, relaxing my body, breathing in, aware of my feelings, breathing out, calming my mind.”
I am aware this morning that almost all of the things for which I was grateful yesterday are still present in my life today. Perhaps there are even some previously unrecognized reasons for gratitude present for me today. Take a moment to be with all for which you are truly grateful, (perhaps take that moment several times today!), stopping consciously, and looking at those things for which you are grateful, things that can make you smile. Look at them very specifically, carefully, with full attention to their effect on your body, your thoughts, your feelings.
In the practice with you,
from “Donald Trump: Your Spiritual Teacher in Disguise” by Patricia Pearce
the full article can be found at: http://www.patriciapearce.com/donald-trump-spiritual-teacher-disguise/
As I believe the article touches on several points of our lojong slogans, I’m passing parts of the article along to you.
Some obvious opportunities for practice provided by the election are: #9- In all activities, train with slogans. #11- Transform adversity into the path of awakening. #21- Always maintain a joyful mind.
There is also wonderful opportunity for the practice of Tonglen in the context of the afflictive emotions being experienced by everyone (including Donald!). (#7- Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath. #10– Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.)
Other slogans apply, and I have noted some in the text of the article. Perhaps you will discover some I haven’t thought of. Here’s the article:
“With this election cycle, you may feel you are in the midst of a nightmare. (#2- Look at all experience as a dream. #6- In post meditation be a child of illusion.) Whether you experience it as a frightening curse or as a great blessing depends on whether you are willing to listen to and own the information it brings…
“…On center stage of this nightmare stands the character of Donald Trump, whom you can see as an arch-nemesis, or a supreme spiritual teacher. My guess is you don’t need much help seeing him as the former, so I’ll focus on the latter: Donald Trump as a supreme spiritual teacher.
“…This spiritual teacher, Donald Trump, has made an appearance in your dream to show you in blatant terms what ego looks like. (#13- Be grateful to everyone. (No, really.))
“The ego is nothing but a part of your mind that inverts reality, like a lens inverting the light that passes through it so that an object appears upside down. Of course, reality can’t truly be inverted—only your understanding of it can—which means ego is simply an idea you believe in, a lens through which you choose to observe yourself and your world. (I put this section in bold type- Ken)
“Why do I say ego inverts reality? Because it upholds illusions while denying all that is true. The ego believes in separateness and denies oneness. The ego believes in fear and denies love. The ego believes in death and denies the permanence of life. The ego believes in hierarchy and denies the truth of reciprocity.
“Thanks to Donald Trump you are able to witness the ego in a caricatured, exaggerated form. You are able to see how the ego seeks attention, how it perceives itself to be greater than everyone else, and how greatness for the ego rests on wealth, fame, influence, and the ability to dominate others.
“By depicting the ego in such an unbridled fashion, Donald Trump is giving you the tools you need to detect these same ego tendencies within yourself, even though they might be present within you in subtler forms. (Be grateful to everyone. Again.)
“But he doesn’t stop there. Your spiritual teacher is also helping you see where the ego eventually leads: to animosity, division, blame, projection, violence, disregard for others. He is presenting you with a rare opportunity to decide for yourself whether you really want to elect the ego to sit in the Oval Office of your own executive function.
“Now here is where Donald Trump’s teaching, blessed be his name, becomes truly sublime, demanding that you really step up to the plate of your own spiritual maturity. He isn’t simply giving you the chance to decide whether you want ego sitting in your own personal Oval Office. He is pushing the envelope so far that he is practically begging you to see through the ego act entirely. Let me explain what I mean by that.
“Only the ego attacks, and the only thing it can attack is another ego. In fact, outside of the ego’s inverted, illusory world attack doesn’t even exist. So if you attack your spiritual teacher, who is so graciously showing you what you need to see in yourself, if you respond to him with anger, hatred and blame, you have in fact elected, inaugurated and installed ego in your own Oval Office.
“But if you can see through your teacher’s ingenious, theatrical ego-charade and see the divine radiant Being that he truly is, a Being who perhaps for your own benefit has been willing to cloak itself, even to itself, in order to help you awaken, and if you can begin to see that the same divine radiant Being is your own true Self, then you will have learned what this nightmare has come to show you. When that happens, have no doubt, the angels will rejoice…”
by Patricia Pearce. From “Donald Trump, Your Spiritual Teacher in Disguise”
May all beings be free.