A Disturbance in the Force

October 17, 2012

Unlike years past, I’ve found the current political season to be downright repellant.  And I don’t think that’s too strong a word.  Literally, over the past few months I’ve felt an increasing repulsion from the entire Presidential campaign process, almost like two magnets at polar opposites.  Yes, I have my beliefs about which candidate will take our country in the most nourishing and evolutionary direction, who will help make our country strong again, and who will best represent this country as President for the next four years.  Despite these beliefs, I can’t get around the fact that this Presidential campaign has become a bloody battleground strewn with lies, accusations, character assassination, and wholesale negativity unlike we have ever seen before.  Our current political paradigm endorses libel, slander, hate speech, and a total disregard for factual information.  The truth literally doesn’t matter anymore.  What does matter is who can raise the most money, scream louder, hurl more accusations, and contrive the most destructive attack ads.

Ultimately, we can’t blame the candidates, their organizations, the pundits, or the political parties they belong to.  The face of these campaigns ultimately reflects the state of our consciousness as a nation.  The fact that two opposing parties can act this way shows that we live in a country in which this type of behavior has become acceptable.  This should give us pause.  Ask yourself a question – are the values demonstrated by the race to the White House the values you would teach your children?  If you’re like most people, the answer is a resounding “No!”  But if that’s the case, why do we stand for it on a national level?

Perhaps it’s because we’ve become complacent, perhaps it’s because we sense a futility in trying to fight such an intractable paradigm, or perhaps we’ve settled into apathy and assumed that we can’t make a difference.  Or maybe we’re just afraid to be the change we want to see in the world.  But for whatever the reason, we can’t afford to allow ourselves to slip further into darkness.  Every negative exchange, commercial, internet meme, or political talk show creates ripples in the entangled field of consciousness of which we are all a part.  Even the debates themselves generate a polarizing effect, deepening the shockwaves of negativity and creating collateral damage in consciousness.  I know I’m not alone when I say that after watching a debate or reading an article about the current political climate, I feel drained and emotionally overwhelmed.  The shift may be subtle, but it’s unmistakably real and it stands poised to undermine so much of what we have attainted as a nation. 

So what’s the answer?  In a word, awareness.  When asked how end suffering in its multiple forms, the Buddha always had the same answer – awareness.  With greater awareness we see the world with clarity, understanding, and compassion.  The lack of awareness or ignorance hides and clouds the true nature of reality, like a dirty mirror.  But through awareness we can wake up from the sleep that allows the negativity I’ve described above to exist.  Whether it’s through educating ourselves, consciously choosing not to propagate the negativity through posts or mindless comments, removing our attention from the status quo of the political campaigns (A.K.A. turning off the TV), or through the grand-daddy of all awareness building tools, meditation, we can continue to shine our light amidst the darkness of these times.

In the Indian spiritual classic, The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna (higher consciousness) councils his disciple Arjuna in the ways of yoga and awareness as they overlook the battlefield of Kurukshetra.  Before them are two great armies, equally dedicated to the other’s total destruction.  Arjuna is overwhelmed with fear and grief because he knows the warriors on both sides of the conflict and does not want to have to fight them.  Krishna teaches Arjuna the path of yoga, higher awareness and the way of action, giving him the ability to transcend the conflict and act as a warrior of light, performing his duty and serving the world in the process.

In a similar manner, through expanded awareness, we can transcend the current political battlefield and view it with compassion and clarity.  We can then make the most nourishing and evolutionary choice for the course of the next four years.   What we cannot afford is to sit back passively and let someone else take action.  This is a participatory universe.  But the good news is that the action you take comes from a shift in perception.  To quote Dr. Wayne Dyer:

 Become a mystical being by simply changing your mind from one that created and experienced problems, to one that resolves them.

As warriors of light we can transform ourselves, but at the same time create a transformation in consciousness that will bring light to the darkness of our current political discourse.  When this happens, we cast our vote not only with the ballot we use at the polls, but with our awareness.  And one vote with awareness has the power to shift the world.

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