A significant area of stress in contemporary civic life is political conflict. This is not an easy topic to deal with, and has no “solution” as political matters are complex and are continuously evolving. The intention of this discussion is to foster ways of transforming the conflicts of political differences into “grist for the mill” of spiritual development.
During this talk, Peter used the conceptual and practical structure of the Four Noble Truths outlined in the two previous week’s postings to discuss ways to manage interpersonal conflict regarding politics. Participants were encouraged to investigate the physical, emotional and mental symptoms of stress as dukkha. They were then invited to be mindful of how attached he or she might be to a particular view and how easy it is to become caught in a need to “convert” the other person to their view without compassion or deeper understanding. The appropriate applications of the Noble Eightfold Path were included in discussing strategies for overcoming rigid self-righteousness in dialogue.
During the accompanying group discussions, Peter pointed out examples of heightened agitation among the participants when talking about “the others” regarding political views of climate change denial, etc., and invited mindful investigation of craving and clinging in the room.
Here are the notes prepared for this discussion: Mindfulness and Political Conflict
Next week’s discussion will use the Four Noble Truths structure to explore how to manage ecological and global warming distress and confusion, not from a political perspective, but as a form of “Right Livelihood” practice.
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During this talk, reference was made to the April 2018 National Geographic Magazine dedicated to addressing racial bias. The talk occurred on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Two contemporary social science concepts were discussed: negativity bias and confirmation bias. Using the Four Noble Truths model, negativity bias was related to dukkha regarding aversion and ill-will, a manifestation of craving, and confirmation bias as the cognitive distortion of prejudice as a form of clinging. Prejudice was described in many forms: racism, homophobia, religious conflict, and even biased attitudes towards any group or person determined to be “different” culturally. Practicing the different elements of the Noble Eightfold Path were suggested as remedies for prejudicial views and actions.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Mindfulness and Prejudice
Next week’s talk will begin an ongoing series of explorations of the Satipatthana Sutta, translated as the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which is a core teaching of Buddhist doctrine and meditative practices.
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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