What's a Buddhist to do? Practice metta? Send out goodwill and compassion with the outbreath while meditating? I guess it's really a matter of sending out goodwill and compassion with each breath, no matter whether in meditation or not. Everyone, in the Buddhist view, is looking for happiness, each in our own way. It becomes a matter of deciding in what true happiness consists. Keeping Barack Obama in the White House? For many of my fellow citizens, it would seem to consist in putting Sarah Palin in there. Ellie was distraught, this morning, imagining the elegant Obama family moving out to make room for the rowdy and dysfunctional Palin gang.
So what's the "truth"? Where's the "true happiness"? For me, a part of it must include the well-being of other living beings--and not only the human species, but the millions of others with whom we share breathing space and whose lives we affect with the sheer dominance of our presence. I can only be "truly happy" when my personal happiness does not impinge on that of any other being. The political agenda of those currently in power, and those coming to power in Washington does not align with that definition. It's all about money and manipulation, about who can best whom and who can accumulate the greatest power. To our great detriment, we/they have lost sight of the common good.
All evidence to the contrary, it's hard for me to accept that I am powerless. To believe it means that I become the victim, a role I adamantly reject. I think about this in my daily practice, reciting in my mind those two phrases from the Sublime Attitudes: "May I be free from animosity; may I be free from oppression." I think of these two as opposite sides of the same coin. Animosity is what I put out into the world; oppression is what comes at me from out there. I need to find that place where I am equally free from both--the blame I lay on those with whom I disagree, including the Sarah Palins of this world; and allowing myself to become their victim.
Much though I'm tempted, I cannot bury my head in the sand. That, too, will not lead me to the kind of happiness I'm looking for in my life. Denial is not the answer. Clear-sightedness is--when accompanied by the ability to find equanimity. To observe these events calmly, perhaps, without attachment to the outcome. Which is not a feat that comes easily or naturally to me. It requires hard work, assiduous application.
Thanks for joining me in my rather sorrowful reflections on this Sunday morning. May we all find true happiness in our lives. May we all find the wisdom to recognize the seriousness and profundity--and the generosity--of that wish.