But if you follow the teaching and have the intent to embrace all aspects of your being and experience so nothing offends, if you see all things through the eyes of your true Buddha nature, then you will have a path to see the light and have a peaceful and happy new year.
There are several different levels on which to have a happy new year. First, there is the personal, internal. This is something you have complete control over. It’s a question of being aware, saying no to the guidance of your ego-mind or any guidance that disturbs your peace and happiness, and returning to your heart and its light and joy.
Then there’s the immediate external. If you listen to your heart, you will hear that you have nothing to prove. Your only purpose in life is to offer others joy. And every time you offer someone joy, whether it’s just by smiling at someone or speaking kindly to a person, you will feel joy in return, regardless their reaction. Sometimes you will get a lovely positive response. Often you will get no response whatsoever; it passes right by them. And that’s ok because you’re not doing it for the response; you’re doing it because it expresses your heart. This is also something you have complete control over.
Then there’s the larger external world. One way of dealing with the current political situation is to extend yourself and offer joy and help to those less fortunate, to those being attacked. By reaching out to others, whether through volunteer work or otherwise, you let such people know that they are not alone, that there are people in American society who care about them. And that in turn brings joy back to you. That’s again something you have complete control over.
But how to deal with the presence of the new president in the White House? The first thing is to say, “Things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is.” And that is the truth. Be aware of the facts, don’t hide, but be in a spiritual space where you don’t react to the facts by getting agitated or upset. Again, embrace all aspects of your being and experience. Also, take comfort in the only thing of which one can always be certain … that all things change, that nothing is permanent. This too shall pass. Here again, you have complete control because it is all a question of your attitude, your reaction to events.
All of this is putting the serenity prayer into practice: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can … which is how I relate to myself and others, the thought I think, the words I speak, the actions I take … and the wisdom to know the difference.
Finally I want to share another thought with you. I read a teaching a while ago that without darkness we cannot find the light. I have certainly experienced personally that until I hit rock bottom with my addiction, a very dark place, I was not able to have the motivation and discipline to climb out of that hole. I have seen that in others. It also applies I believe to countries (I’m writing a post on this).
We as a country celebrate a myth about our values, what we stand for. And yet at no point in our history have we come even close to being true to those values. Even under the best of leaders, while government policy certainly ameliorated people’s suffering, the basic facts of their life … the discrimination, the poverty, the lack of equal education opportunity … continued regardless because no effort has ever been made to change how our society, how we as a people, deal with each other. The elephant in the room has never been discussed.
I truly believe that the current political situation offers America a once in a lifetime, perhaps once in history, opportunity to, by experiencing vividly the darker side of our history and attitudes, to say, “enough,” and respond with light, rather than with our own darkness. To come together as a people and truly for the first time implement, both personally and through government, our founding value that all are created equal and all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as is so eloquently stated in our Declaration of Independence.
If the situation arises where you can or need to interact with someone of opposing views, speak to them with loving kindness. Hold no one as evil or bad or stupid. Every person deserves respect; they are all a product of their life experiences but still have the true Buddha nature inside them, regardless how buried.
There is no such thing as a bad person, just people who do bad things. If you deal with people with respect, there is at least a chance that their defenses will drop and they will respond in a like way. Then a conversation can take place.
But know that this is an iffy proposition. Many people are so high on their emotions, so full of anger, that they will not respond in kind. But nothing is lost. You have acted with equanimity, spiritually. And the more people encounter others who do not devalue them, who respect them, their anger will lessen and a conversation can take place.