Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bodhisattvas in an election year - Case Four

A "news fast."

Do you find your self getting angry, upset and even righteous about something a political candidate or pundit says? Or about a number of things one of the various political candidates and pundits say or do?

Some people have spoken to me about their very strong reaction and ongoing mind chatter about political candidates and political statements. These reactions occur not only the first time they hear or read these things, but are ongoing; they keep on coming to mind-body throughout the day. The anger, talk back and so forth keeps arising, being held to and generating upset at many occasions. And this effects functioning throughout the day, bleeds into various activities, effects relations with others and responses to them. Does this happen to you? Even for candidates and elections that you are not voting for any time soon, or about whom you already have made up your mind?

If so, what is skillful and appropriate so that you do not stay caught up in this, so that the stress and dissatisfaction are not perpetuated, does not result in harmful actions?

Are you able to skillfully respond, release the attachment and reactive habit? If so, please do so.

This discussion is also relevant for our reactions to wars and natural events in other places, including things such as: the current murders and tortures in Syria by the government forces for which there is little or nothing that you can do right now - other than what you might have done in terms of practice, in terms of your offering merit or contacting political entities. It also is relevant for natural events such the recent tornadoes and resulting death and injuries in the US Midwest. You can make donations and help directly but may not be able to do much more skillfully and appropriately. This is especially pertinent given the forecast of strong winds and tornado conditions for the near future.

Yes, we should always ask: Is there something that we can do, want to do, to respond to the situation? Is it skillful and appropriate, does it support this ongoing practice life? If so, please do so.

If there is nothing to do, then what? When we find that our ongoing practice efforts do not allow us to release the anger, upset and ongoing mind chatter, I have suggested to some people to have a "news fast."

This "news fast" is something I have done at times and have found that when others do it for a limited time it has positive benefits.

A news fast is: for a set period, days, weeks, a month, to stop listening to or reading media reports - or at least to limit and curtail it very significantly. This "fast" is very much like what we do during sesshin in the Zen tradition, or do during an intensive/retreat. It means not consulting the ever available internet and other virtual modalities to see the latest statements, comments, tweets, blogs and so forth. To retreat for a time from the constant input that you are caught up in, reacting to.

The "news fast" is a practice support, just as many "forms" can be a practice support, helpful when needed in the midst of this body-mind condition as it is right now.

The "news fast" makes possible the settling of the reactive body-mind habits, letting be the grasping/rejecting attachment and agitation, so that we can be where we are, see what is so and do what is called for right now; so that we can speak to whom we are speaking, do what we are doing.

If this "news fast" is appropriate for you, please try it. If you try it, see, be attentive to, what occurs.

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith