This is not a political essay. This is an effort to see beyond what’s happening on the surface and align my intentions with a clearer perspective. I begin with the political only because the moment is so full of the political.
The DNC is over and the expected outcome manifested. Some of it was good, some of it was really inspiring, but taking a moment to reflect on all the rhetoric, it is clear that though there’s a huge difference in the perspective of the two parties, there is not a lot of real understanding in either of them. While I clearly will do all I can to ensure the election of Clinton, given the alternative, I kinda admit to the clothespin analogy the Bernie supporter invoked last night. But let me be clear on that: I don’t really think even Bernie would be that much different.
I know, there are “yuge”, even VAST, differences, and significant impacts on millions of people, but I’m taking a longer view here. What all of it, including the fascist impulses rampant in our society today, arises from is a profound disconnect that has buried itself in our consciousness so deeply that we are generally unaware of it.
As many of the speakers pounded home in the last few nights, ‘this is about more than party differences, it’s about people’! Yes, it’s about people, how people live and think, this dualistic mindset that insists on breaking everything down into a “battle” that must be “won”. Like Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever”, it’s a sickness born down deep within our souls.
Beneath all the philosophical and religious views and all our notions of right vs. wrong, there’s this one thing we agree on, and that is that there is such a thing as right and wrong, us and them, good and bad. It’s only in the definitions that we differ, only in the who is what, which usually means “they” are wrong and “we” are right.
And therein lies our essential problem.
Although in Buddhism as a religion there is as much dualism and right vs. wrong as most anywhere else, somehow there’s a core there, somehow the process of meditation itself – and this core is probably to be found in many other places as well, it’s just that Buddhism is where I found it – helps one break through the surface and experience things that make it clear – in a way that words can’t truly express and ideas can’t negate – that this ongoing process that I identify as “me” or “us” is just a point of light in great explosion that has likely been going on forever and will continue forever, because that’s really all there is –forever.
This deeper level of experience (wherever one finds it), replicated and deepened throughout life, tends to snap all this political/social bullshit into some kind of relief. Tends to reveal it all as a transparent, shimmering facade.
Because really, in some way that’s impossible for me to explain or show outside of the experiencing of it, everything is all connected to everything else. Truly. Deeply. All the things we do in denial, or ignorance, or in spite of, this connectedness — all the insanity, the delusion, is the real reason for human suffering and ecosystem destruction, the real reason for all the fucked-uped-ness of this world.
Thus the great, egregious monstrosity that is American Empire and all that entails is built on the foundation of the monstrous way that humans have constructed “civilization” on top of the ruins of billions of lives, and that edifice itself is built on the notion that each individual human is somehow discrete. Separate. Disconnected.
Until we find ways to help everyone heal from that profound disconnect, born in the illusion that “I” am a real, discrete separate individual and what I do only affects me, we will go on making war on ourselves, on the rest of life, and on the entire inanimate cosmos.
Charles Eisenstein lays out this case much better than I, and in a recent essay – Of Horseshoe Crabs and Empathy – makes a brilliant argument that the implications of all this are that our energies are better directed toward the development of love for the world and action at local levels than great political or even environmental battles.
It’s in those experiences of love for the particulars of the world that we know the truth about the whole of the cosmos, he argues, and only in those kinds of “seeing” do we come to understand the connection we have lost. Feeling those losses, rather than following some set of rules or beliefs, is what can motivate and guide us to authentic action.
If everyone focused their love, care, and commitment on protecting and regenerating their local places, while respecting the local places of others, then a side effect would be the resolution of the climate crisis. If we strove to restore every estuary, every forest, every wetlands, every piece of damaged and desertified land, every coral reef, every lake, and every mountain, not only would most drilling, fracking, and pipelining have to stop, but the biosphere would become far more resilient too.
Wonderful! Non dual politics.
By the way, did you know Hilary meditates (she and Bill also invited Jean Houston to the White House numerous times to learn a form of contemplative meditation, a kind that is common in Tibetan Buddhism, to take a person you admire and reflect on their qualities with the aim of learning to embody them – I think they spent a good deal of time on Eleanor Roosevelt – too bad it wasn’t more time on the Buddha or Rumi)?
Sri Aurobindo was jailed as a suspected terrorist by the British, and is thought by many to have inspired the noncooperation movement which Gandhi later made into a more black and white nonviolence. In “The Ideal of Human Unity” he wrote of the movements in the West, from early democracy to the anarchists of the 19th century, the distortion of the original spiritual impulse behind socialism into the rationalist, state socialism of the early 20th century, and ultimately wrote of “spiritual anarchy”, a world wide confederation of local, sustainable spiritual communities governed by love and Divine Wisdom (last chapter of “The Life Divine.”
They’re not doing such a good job of it in Auroville, but there is an explosion of such communities. Jan and I are sitting in the upstairs loft of a cabin belonging to a community member of Southern Dharma in Hot Springs, NC. Jan has Reverend William Barber talking about a brown skinned Palestinian Jew (Jesus, in case it’s not obvious) on her computer – “When religion is used to camouflage meanness, you know you have a heart problem in America”
I’m more optimistic than ever. People are getting it, the need for radical change – as Baba Ram Das used to say, it’s all perfectly fine as it is and it all has to change, right now!
Thanks! Very interesting comments, as I have come to expect from you! I know very little about Sri Aurobindo, but sounds interesting. Especially the spiritual anarchy… local sustainable communities is the wave of the future. Barber was great! He rocked the house, had them in call-and-response mode! His remarks on the heart clearly came from his. Yes, I’m inspired by the spreading call for radical new directions in our civic life… tho the course of that is not very clear. Interesting you have connection to Southern Dharma… I’ve been there twice, first in the 90’s and again last April, as you may have seen in my blog. I don’t know any of those folks that own the nice cabins, but I’ve walked up the mountain there… Nice.
…and no, I never heard of Hillary’s meditation practice. A bit weird, but interesting. Yes, she could have used a little mellowing influence.