The theme of previous talks has been reviewing how Buddhist principles and practices can be beneficially applied to the extraordinary stresses of contemporary life. The current political conflict in the U.S. warrants a review of how mindfulness can bring clear awareness and equanimity to our social interactions which seem to be conflicted by the larger issues of partisanship as political propaganda influences us through negativity bias and confirmation bias. These biases create a divisiveness that is distorting and impeding our democratic process. Peter emphasized that we all live our lives in a relatively small “circle of influence” and how the contentiousness prevalent in Washington D.C., conveyed through the ever-present impact of mass media, intrudes on our more important social, workplace and familial relationships in distressing ways. He described recent research that proposes a focus on psychological liberalism and psychological conservatism and suggests that politically liberal people can be psychologically conservative as well as liberal, and that politically conservative people can be psychologically liberal as well as conservative. The regular practice of mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation can bring clarity and equanimity as we experience mindful investigation of mental processes and these practices can significantly reduce the distress and confusion that result from these circumstances. The clarity and equanimity supports a more creative process that can overcome the systemic disturbances that afflict current life and sets the conditions for Buddhist liberation. The explanations were followed by participant discussion regarding how mindfulness practice has benefited meditation practitioners in coping with political conflict.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: The Dharma And Political Conflict