These are times of important political changes that also have big economic implications. Sometimes it seems that 'being spiritual' implies distancing oneself from current affairs. One aims to rise above such things. It is certainly true that a spiritual life should give one an ability to remain more stable, to not be capsized by changing circumstances. Changes of fortune come and go.

I live as something of a hermit at the moment, but I still do my best to understand what is happening in the world. Thus, in effect, we can talk about different levels. At one level, one is involved. At another level one is detached. However, within the level of detachment, there are again two sub-levels. One can be detached yet interested, studying the playing out of social forces, as if one were a visitor from another planet, and/or one can see that all of this is ultimately empty. So really we have three levels.

These three levels apply to many things. We can even see them in the doctrine of the three bodies of Buddhas - one in the world, one in the spirit of things and one ultimate and beyond. True spirituality involves all three. It includes an ability to rise above vicissitudes - that is certainly very important - but if one only does that one loses compassion for those immersed in the struggle. What is needed is empathy.

Again, while it is important to have empathy for all the participants in the great drama of life, it is not so good if this leads to paralysis and inability to make any decision. Thus, for instance, one sometimes sees the media constrained to maintain 'balance' but what they are presenting as equal may not be so. Perhaps on one side is misinformation. A reality check is also needed. To be a force for compassion in the world one has to act and to act one has to make an assessment.

So this teaching is a plea for us to remain engaged at the same time as cultivating compassion and equanimity. To do both is sometimes quite a challenge, but a challenge that is worth rising to.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thankyou Dharmavydia, and yes - this seems especially pertinent when we find ourselves facing a situation which provokes a sense of dismay, anger, futility. I assume the basis of the stability you speak of has to be one that doesn't require us getting our way. I take the 'spiritual' in spiritual engagement to be a rootedness in a sense of unconditional value, one not negated by failure, unravelling, or disappointment. (Love and its Disappointment, as you once put it.) Even if all that ecological pessimism I was spouting turned out to be true, whats curious to me is to see what it doesn't change. What really matters now, will still matter then. Its been helpful to pick up your posts amidst all the turbulence in the UK at the moment. NamoAmidabu.

PS Re your last point, I found myself quite shocked at the BBC's 'balanced' appraisal of Nigel Farage at his exit from the UKIP stage. The BBCs tone seemed to amount to a tacit endorsement of his great many divisive and damaging comments, not least the explicit racism of his Brexit campaign.

Mat Osmond said:

Thankyou Dharmavydia, and yes - this seems especially pertinent when we find ourselves facing a situation which provokes a sense of dismay, anger, futility. I assume the basis of the stability you speak of has to be one that doesn't require us getting our way. I take the 'spiritual' in spiritual engagement to be a rootedness in a sense of unconditional value, one not negated by failure, unravelling, or disappointment. (Love and its Disappointment, as you once put it.) Even if all that ecological pessimism I was spouting turned out to be true, whats curious to me is to see what it doesn't change. What really matters now, will still matter then. Its been helpful to pick up your posts amidst all the turbulence in the UK at the moment. NamoAmidabu.

I can see that the media have to do their job and are in a difficult position, but it is not a model for universal application. Of course, there are other branches of the media that go to the other extreme and are scurrilously partisan.

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