This week’s talk continues to explore how Buddhist principles and practices can support developing wisdom in the current political environment. Racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnophobia were described as themes woven into the fabric of political divisiveness. The intention regarding this presentation is to support being able to stay presently aware and compassionate when confronted by political “true believers” and prejudicial beliefs in either political party. A model for this practice is found in the Tibetan practice called “Lojong Mind Training”, the core of which is the practice of compassion.
The cultivation of mental clarity and emotional non-reactivity through regular meditation practice was emphasized; this provides the foundation for compassion, transforming fear-based contentiousness into compassionate interpersonal dialogue.
Peter reviewed some of the pertinent lojong training aphorisms to foster discussion about how these practices can be applied during our social encounters.
This talk follows on the previous talk entitled “Mindfulness And Political Judgment” from July 6. Peter again emphasized the intention of the talk is to demonstrate that rigid thinking and the potential for aggression, psychologically termed “conservatism” is evident in the current political conflicts, whether the conservative is a republican or democrat. The psychological terms negativity bias and confirmation bias were associated with the Buddhist concepts of craving and clinging, respectively. The neuroscientific evidence that differentiates psychological conservatism and liberalism was described. Peter pointed out that the neurological changes fostered by mindfulness and lovingkindness practices, combined with the principles of the Four Noble Truths, can be termed as liberal, that is, inclusive, open-minded and tolerant of different views. The qualities of liberalism just mentioned are very important for resolving the interpersonal hostility and fear that seems to dominate current social commentary.
This talk continues to explore how Buddhist principles and practices can be beneficially applied during this contentious U. S. political season. There is a phenomenon called “negativity bias”, which predisposes a person to unconsciously be stimulated by potential dangers towards negativity in response to the circumstances. This applies to both Democrats and Republicans. Within both parties, negativity bias orients individuals and groups towards conservative positions, that is, becoming defensive/aggressive, with rigid thought processes. Liberal orientations promote more open-minded, adaptive and integrative dynamics, and these orientations can exist in both political parties, as well as those inclined towards registering as Independents or Libertarians.
This conversation will be continued with next week’s topic, provisionally entitled “How Mindfulness Cultivates Political Wisdom”. Here are the notes prepared for this discussion: MINDFULNESS AND POLITICAL JUDGMENT
This seems to be a very conflicted year in our culture–economic and ecological upheaval, political divisiveness and hostility abound. This talk begins a series of explorations of how the Four Noble Truths are relevant to current circumstances. Peter proposed that as soon as tribalism developed in early human development, politics emerged, focused in two ways: between tribal groups and hierarchical structures within tribes. It seems that these more primitive functions still operate in contemporary society. Buddhist emphasis on training the mind to be presently aware of how environmental circumstances are represented in consciousness, combined with an emphasis on empathic attunement in the form of lovingkindness, represents an effective way to “turn poison into medicine”, that is, political turmoil into deeper, more adaptive wisdom.
Next week’s talk will continue to explore these topical areas, with emphasis on how neuroscience suggests certain traits are associated with political orientations and how mindfulness practices are beneficial in supporting more effective responses to political pressures.
This week’s talk is dedicated to grieving the massacre at the Pulse nightclub on June 12. During the talk, Peter read a rendering of the discourse on lovingkindness, the Metta Sutta, and described how Buddhist concepts counter the human tendency towards hatred and aggression. Another quote from the Buddha’s teachings was written on the dry erase board: “Hatred isn’t resolved through more hatred; lovingkindness and compassion provide the solution. This is an ancient and comprehensive principle”. This was followed by opportunities for those attending to voice their grief regarding this and similar events in recent memory, along with how Buddhist principles and practices support “turning poison into medicine”.
Next week’s talk will begin and exploration of what Buddhist principles and practices can offer during this divisive political season.
During this talk, Peter reviewed last week’s topic, “The Selfing Story” and added to the concept of the Five Aggregates the additional concept of paticca sammuppada, typically translated as “dependent origination”. He substituted the term “contingent provisional emergence” as a more contemporary rendering of the concept. This revised meaning conveys the importance of recognizing that […]
During this talk, A Buddhist understanding of anatta, the absence of an enduring, autonomous self was described. The Western term “ego” was presented as a process that winnows through all the sensations stimulating the 5 sense doors, creating a dynamic flow of experience that, through inattentiveness and ignorance, is misperceived as something substantial, a separate […]