The developing presidential campaign offers a great opportunity to use the skills gained from a sustained practice of meditation.
After all, meditation is not just about what you do on the cushion or at the retreat center although the times of stillness and silence and retreat are important. Focusing your clear mindful awareness moment by moment on the normal activities of each day and year is also important. Being a responsible citizen and making intelligent decisions with your vote and civic contribution are both good examples of such efforts.
In general this is how a well-established meditation practice will help:
Over time, (probably more slowly than you want), your mind will become more calm and lucid.
The intuitive channels of the mind will become much more open and clear.
Effective compassion will be easier to summon; at least most of the time.
Your faculties of reason and analysis will also become much more highly refined and effective.
It is simple, your mind will gain the ability to investigate more deeply, and from broader reference frames, the root causes of complex problems. As a result, the solutions you arrive at will generally be more creative as well as more practical and effective.
Here is one suggested way to apply these skills.
Look clearly at the leading candidates without the knee-jerk reactions and biases that all of us are prone to have to one degree or another. Specifically, consider, with a reasonable level of attention to detail, the present tax and budget proposals of all the leading presidential candidates.
Whether you favor the Republicans or Democrats, or others, once you clear the mind of the various biases of both of the tribes, you will be able to see one simple truth.
None of them has a plan that will actually work to balance the federal budget.
None of them have a credible plan to address the significant budget pressures which will get steadily worse over the next two decades as greater numbers of seniors retire and draw on Social Security and Medicare and as other major budget pressures mount.
None of them has a credible plan that outlines exactly how America’s over-extended, and overly militarist, involvement in foreign affairs can be carefully and successfully recalibrated.
Whether it is Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, none of them have a plan that even comes close to getting to a balanced budget.
Whether you favor the Republicans or Democrats, or some independent party, look carefully at the plans all the candidates have for the federal budget and tax plans.
Some current candidates propose solutions that have historically proven under Ronald Reagan and George Bush the II to make the budget deficits much worse for at least 15 years in each case (see federal budget acts 1981 and 2001). Some propose radical solutions that are akin to substituting a meat cleaver for a surgeon’s scalpel to the federal budget. Most propose very expensive new programs without a clear means as to how they will pay for them.
Understanding that certain core challenges facing the country are not being addressed in a meaningful way by any of the major candidates is both freeing and disturbing.
The liberating part is the sense that comes from seeing through all the various illusions and breaking through your own denial as well as that of others in the society. I feel it still makes sense to work and to vote for whichever candidate you feel is the least worst of the field. But penetrating through the political spin and lazy-thinking of all the candidates is still better than being caught up in believing that somehow “your candidate” or “your party” or your “preferred media commentators” have a point of view that really create a balanced budget in a reasonable amount of time.
The first disturbing part is realizing that one’s country is in real danger, and most likely heading towards worse trouble. What is even more troubling is that the very notion that democracy itself, so much better than all the other choices, is itself heading towards the predictable fate that people such as Plato predicted for it in his book “The Republic” (see Book 8).
There have been many attempts over the centuries to come up with a plan to create societies that are more stable, just, and peaceful (I am certainly not saying that Plato succeeded in this task.)
Progressing far enough in meditation so that the mind is able to penetrate through all the denial and illusions within you and around you will help. Cultivating the compassion to earnestly pray for the well-being of all the candidates and all the “good guys” and all the “bad guys” is another very, very good place to start.
More next week on this “compassion for political candidates thing.”
Please let me know what you think. I will respond.
Will Raymond Author of the Simple Path of Holiness and host of Meditation Practice dot come.
774-232-0884 or will at meditation practice dot com (Spelled out to limit spam).