In the first three posts of this series, I outlined different ways the current presidential campaign offers great opportunities to apply the skills and values learned from a sustained practice of meditation.
The suggestion last week was to make the effort to offer positive wishes, or prayers if that is your preference, for the well-being of all candidates.
Please see the last week’s post for more background on this point (the archive of posts is on the lower right hand corner of the home page). I want to emphasize again that for most people, it may take a while before they become willing to offer positive wishes for those politicians and/or media figures they strongly dislike.
But, as I mentioned last week, you can start with the politicians you support, or at least do not dislike too much. For the language of these positive wishes, I have adapted and expanded the language of the Buddhist saying, “May they be happy, may they be well.”
Here is my expanded version: “May they (the candidate) know the joy, health, and prosperity that all men and women want for their own life, their family and their community.”
Please feel free to develop your own language as you wish to.
Here are a few more of the specifics of the process:
The first stage is to be mindfully aware when you are reading about or hearing some story of a politician or a comment by a media figure. Pay special attention to whether you notice if they are someone you like, or someone you really think is a “bad guy” or a “bad lady.”
The second stage is to be mindfully aware of any feelings of hope, or sense of triumph, or optimism that arises if it seems like things are going well for “your candidate” or “your side.” In a few simple words make a mental note such as, “feelings of optimism or hope.” See how these feelings affect the mind and heart.
For the third stage of this effort: offer a sincere and positive wish towards whomever you have been thinking about. “May they know the joy, health, and prosperity that all men and women want for their own life and family and their community.” Once you get the hang of it, take a moment to see how these efforts affect your mind and heart.
On the other hand, if the news is about a candidate you do not like and do not trust this three stage process is still pretty much the same.
1-Be mindfully aware of any feelings of anger, harsh judgement, resentment, sense of disgust or despair that arise when you think of politicians or media figures you do not like or trust.
2-In a few simple words make a mental note, “feelings of anger and fear.” See how these feelings affect the mind and heart.
3-Then, if you are able to, offer the sincere and positive wish towards whomever you have been thinking about. “May they know the joy, health, and prosperity that all men and women want for their own life and family and their community.” Once you get the hang of it, take a moment to see how these efforts affect your mind and heart.
As you develop the ability to step outside the usual reflexive judgements of others, and to wash away the knew-jerk reactions of anger and fear, the benefits of this work will become clear. Your mind will continue to settle into deeper states of calm and clarity. From this clarity, insights will arise that will allow you to see the true underlying causes of social conflict and injustice. You will also begin to see more creative ways to deal with deep-rooted problems.
Whether you are conservative or progressive in politics, whether you are a spiritual person or an atheist, you can adapt this practice to your personal experience and views.
Call to mind the candidates and their wives husbands and children. Call to mind the campaign workers and their wives or husbands and children. Call to mind the billionaire donors seeking to steal democracy, as well as the apathetic who refuse to vote. Call to mind the media figures and imagine what is running through their mind as they contrive and strain to find ways to boost their ratings and career by saying needlessly inflammatory comments and softly say within yourself:
“May they know the joy, health, and prosperity that all men and women want for their own life and family and their community.”
If you can pray for your candidates and the opposition candidates, we will all be better off. If those you oppose pray for their candidates. and those on “your side,” we will all be better off.
If enough people embrace this simple practice, we will reach an important tipping point. We will be able to shift the tone of the current, acrimonious national debate.
It will become possible to build meaningful new alliances between groups and to forge a new consensus across the broad middle of the society.
We can break through the dangerous stalemate we are in now. This simple practice will help with all of this.
Please let me know what you think. I will be glad to get back to you.
Author of the Simple Path of Holiness. Host of Meditation practice dot com.
will at meditation practice dot come (Spelled out to limit spam)