The following is the text of a message I sent out within the Amida sangha earlier today...
This morning we awake to find out what the majority of Americans really think, just as we woke to the news of the vote of Brexit a little while ago. Realism is better than sweet illusion. The new American president-to-be won by realising that this was the case and that by expressing the fears and concerns of the people he would garner greater support than by repeating conventional platitudes. The principle is also an inherent part of the bombu paradigm. True spirituality is not a matter of generating a cozy culture of ‘we know best’, but of living courageously in the real world, including the real world of our own supposedly irrational hidden tendencies.
Today we see once again that “better together” does not win elections. The majority of people are not basically in favour of world peace and harmony if it comes at a cost to personal security and own group advantage. Humans are afflicted with greed, hate and delusion and the work of spirituality is to have the faith to transcend this and make something better, yet that work begins with a recognition of the reality, both within ourselves and around us.
My first teacher, Vajradhara Chogyam Trungpa used to talk a good deal about warrior spirit. What is meant is that those who strive for peace in the world need to be at least as dedicated, brave and heroic as those who make war. Those who wish to really practise “Love thy neighbour” have to be at least as strong and dedicated as those set on building walls. To do so one needs to have love and faith that includes "all one’s heart and soul and might”.
Laziness and complacency can be a serious spiritual obstacle. The human tendency to become slack when things are going well opens the door to them going badly again. When one looks at history, one sees recurrent phases of struggle followed by celebration followed by degeneration. What is hard won is not always kept. Often the children of those who struggled simply take what has been achieved for granted, waste it and feel smug about doing so. The same can be true with hard won spiritual truths. Who really has the spirit to transmit the Dharma?
The truly spiritual person is a ‘warrior for peace’ whether the times are easy or difficult. The way that they go about it may differ with conditions, but the vigour, patience, commitment, application and dedication remain always the same. This is the noble path, to use the Buddha’s term.
The new American president is an interesting phenomenon. One cannot, surely, help admiring how he has won in spite of vast opposition from all the established holders of power, not only in his country but even in his own party. That takes spirit. If one is one who thinks that one knows better than he, then it beholds one to show at least that much spirit oneself. We, here in Europe, have watched the election from afar and often been amazed, dismayed, stunned even, by the style of it, and this has led many to hasty conclusions that they might now be struggling to reconcile with the emergent reality. What we should take from it, however, is the ever present urgency that Buddha impressed upon us to bring love, compassion, joy and peace to the world by all means at our disposal.
Namo Amida Bu
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