Friday, April 27, 2012

Bodhisattvas in an Election Year - Case Seven

Do politicians in this election year follow this adage:

"A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem" ?

If so, how should we respond when they do so, when we hear of others that we know doing so?

What to do when we notice that we are doing so?

What are we to make of this report that President Obama's campaign has an enemies list?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bodhisattvas in an Election Year - Case Six

When we hear political discourse and disagreement, do we truly see or hear those we disagree with, those who we believe are our opponents? Do we respond to them out of seeing them in terms of both our disagreements and our commonality?

In the Lotus Sutra there is a Bodhisattva who views everyone, including and especially those who oppose, criticize and attack him, as a Buddha-to-be. This is a very useful practice for all of us, and relevant to whatever faith tradition (or no-faith tradition) we resonate with. Can we see others, especially those with whom we have differences, very real differences, as at the same time being a Jesus with whom we have differences, a Muhammad with whom we have differences, as Allah with whom we have differences, as G-d right here before me with whom I, at the very same time, am still having differences?

To put it in non-religious terms, can we see them as a loved one with whom we are having differences, and respond to those differences from both the differences and the love?

The interpenetration of differences and sameness, forms and emptiness, differences with a backside of unity, or unity with a backside of differences, are an important aspect of a "deepening" of being who we truly are. This is difficult for even religious people to grasp since they often hold to their specific tradition, to the differences, and do not see the differences in the midst of the Oneness - to use an overly broad word to generalize about what is really beyond such a word, and yet we must use such a word.

How would responding out of this differences/oneness change the political discourse we are now having?

For instance, the Democratic Party adviser Hillary Rosen who criticized Ann Romney for not being a working woman, that she "never worked a day in her life," despite Romney's being a stay-at-whom mom raising five boys, how would she speak if she saw not just the differences between her ideas and the work that Ann Romney did, but also saw the shared Buddha-nature that they were, the Buddha-to-be of Ann Romney right now? Of course, after the public reaction to the Rosen comment there was retraction from her and her political allies, but my point is that if she really saw the other, the differences, as also the unity, saw the other with affection and connection, then she might not have said what she did in the first place, or at least not in the way she did.

Or those who criticize Obama for his perfidious actions towards allies such as Hosni Mubarak or Israel, or criticize Obama for his duplicity in the statement caught "off-mike" to the Russian President that, "this is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility." If, in the midst of disagreements and criticism of Obama's statements and policies, his critics also saw the Jesus in Obama, how would they speak of their differences? This of course applies to Obama himself, who one former aide says, "is putting the bully into bully pulpit" in his attacks on Romney. If Obama, in the midst of his disagreements with Romney, truly saw the Jesus Romney, the Buddha-to-be Romney, would he speak in the same way? If Romney saw Obama as a Prophet of the Latter Day Saints, how would he articulate differences with him?

So, please, be the Bodhisattva that does not abuse others, that sees all the Buddhas-to-be with whom you have real differences. Then, please respond skillfully and appropriately to these differences.

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Now Meeting Directly

When we encounter someone, whether an intimate friend or family member, an acquaintance, or even just on the media seeing, hearing a public official, do we see them as they are now? Do we see any preconceptions or beliefs we hold about them, about the so-called past and future, that hinder our ability to hear, to see, and to respond as this is now, as they are now?

To rephrase Dogen from Genjokoan, though the present encounter has its before and after, despite this past and future, the present is independent of them.

To encounter this moment as is, to encounter this meeting together, even to hear and see what is being said and done, and to be able to respond now, it is vital for us to let go of attachment to the blinders and shades that we bring along.

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bodhisattvas in an election year - Case Five

The Bodhisattva Precepts include the following 6th Precept, 
and 7th Precept,  

Is it possible to be a candidate in this election year and maintain these precepts? 

Please reflect on this. Please notice what the candidates do, those you like, those you dislike, and those you are neither committed to or against.

And of course, there is the 4th Precept, I VOW TO PRACTICE TELLING THE TRUTH.

Reflecting on candidates is one thing; another thing is to reflect upon our own life practice, and how we maintain or do not maintain these precepts throughout our life, in action, speech and thoughts. 

And when we notice that we are not maintaining these precepts, not maintaining this life that we are, what practice efforts are called for? What practice efforts do we make? And what supports us in this life practice?

(c) 2012 Elihu Genmyo Smith