Love In the Time of Chaos is a five-part series featuring the collective advice of the Be Here Now Network’s teachers on dealing with the chaos of the current political climate with love, compassion, and equanimity.
In the third season of the television sitcom Community, created by Mindrolling Podcast guest Dan Harmon, there’s an episode called “Remedial Chaos Theory.” It presents us with multiple timelines for a single event, each playing out differently based on the roll of a die. The final timeline, which envisions all of the characters in a dreadful state (insane, alcoholic, dead, etc.), is appropriately deemed the “darkest timeline.”
I don’t want to be too dramatic about it, but for many Americans, Donald Trump being President of the United States feels like the darkest timeline. From the shocking turn of election night, to the continued barrage against common sense and intellectualism, it kind of feels like we’ve slipped into an alternative reality.
No matter what side of the political fence you fall on, there is anger and divisiveness everywhere – it feels inescapable at times. So how do we deal with being surrounded by anger? How do we cultivate any sense of loving awareness in the face of chaos?
The Long View
I’m for the long, long view. Every time things like this happened, Maharajji would say, “It’s perfect. It’s perfect.” Now I know that many of the listeners are feeling repulsed or apoplectic about that statement, but we’ve got to keep our quietness inside. We’ve got to keep our love. Our compassion. We’ve got to keep our wisdom during this time.
In this political scene, I don’t think we all should sit back and say, “It’s just perfect.” But I want to say you should not do social action with frustration and anger, but with love. I put Trump on my puja table. And it’s good work for me. He’s good inner work for everybody. The fear, the anger, and all those things, that’s the work. Is that inside you? Love it. Those things are thoughts, and those thoughts are not productive. If you identify with your soul, you love those thoughts. And I think it’s hard to do that. And the hardness is the work.
“We’ve got to keep our quietness inside.” This is the line I keep coming back to. In the face of so much anger, so many talking heads shrieking incoherently at each other, so much unwanted noise, we have to have that place of quietness within ourselves. We have to be the calm eye in the center of the storm.
I just think it’s important to recognize that anger, racism, war, fear, greed – these are not new things. This issue is going to go on. It was going on before we were in these incarnations, it’s going to go on after we leave these bodies, and there’s another level on which whatever we do, we have to do it believing that over time it’s going to make a difference. Short-term thinking can be a trap, and it takes you out of really doing the work of a lifetime.
Don’t Give Up, Mensch Up
Lama Surya Das, host of the Awakening Now Podcast, reminds us to look within ourselves. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “mensch” is a Yiddish term for a good, noble person.
I think the problem the country has is “mensch-opause” and we need to mensch up a little bit, and I’m not sure we have a mensch at the helm. We may have somebody with a diagnosable condition, but I’m not going to pick on the President individually. We did vote him in. We. Whether the public majority did or not, we voted him in with our democratic process and we have to live with the consequences. I think perhaps resistance and clarifying things, clarifying ourselves, is very important now. Not passivity.
Buddhist teacher Lama Tsultrim Allione says we’re in a bit of “future shock” at the moment, but implores us not to give in to our despair:
We have to just keep trying. We have to keep going with our ecological initiatives, and feminist initiatives, and anti-racist initiatives, and so on, in the face of a big wave of something that is opposing that. I don’t know if we can trust that good will triumph over evil. From a Buddhist point of view, that’s not guaranteed. For us we have to keep our motivation to do everything we do and think everything we think for the benefit of all beings. So even the upset that we might feel, or the anger, it’s for the benefit of all beings. It needs to have that motivation.
That last thought is very important, as we’ll soon explore how we can work with our anger so that it is a benefit to us, not a detriment. Until then, may we all do our best to maintain our quietness inside.
– Written by Noah Markus on behalf of the Love Serve Remember Foundation