Have you ever thought of meditation as a political act?
I invite you to turn to Jack Kornfield’s book, ‘The Wise Heart’ especially chapter 22 ‘Tending the World’ when the world feels unsettled, violent, hurting and unwell.
Here, Jack Kornfield talks about the Buddhist approach to dealing with politics in the world and looks to meditation as a political act. It’s not, as some people may think, a cop-out to talk about compassion, kindness and meditation.
Here’s why, in Kornfield’s words …
‘What can we do in the face of poverty, disease, war, injustice, and environmental devastation? With the torrent of world news, it is easy to despair, to become cynical or numb … We are all affected by the suffering of the world and … the Buddhist approach to this collective suffering is to turn toward it.’
Mindful Meditation to break habits
We’re all humans and we behave through habits. We react along well-worn routes of anger, retaliation and fear, feeling ourselves separated from Source and from one-another.
This is a form of sleepwalking. To stop and acknowledge our divinity and see ourselves with awareness is a powerful way to exist. And so becomes meditation as a political act.
Being mindful encourages us to: pause, observe, then make our choice. If we give ourselves a daily 10 or 15 minutes to mindfully meditate, our brains can be transformed so we don’t constantly react in the same old ways.
It’s like tending our own hearts. This is radical! We learn more about ourselves, our beliefs and responses to anything happening in our lives.
The World Peace Flame has been burning in Snowdonia since July 1999 when 7 flames, lit by eminent peacemakers on five continents, were flown to the UK. On 31 July they were brought together into one flame in Bangor, N. Wales. Their website shares projects and the history.
‘Every wisdom tradition tells us that human meaning and happiness cannot be found in isolation, but comes about through generosity, love, and understanding.’
Love, acceptance, kindness and compassion
When we see governments retaliating aggressively to terrorist acts, ignoring the plight of people in need and acting with personal greed and a rigid political agenda, some believe that this is the only way to behave.
Yet if hatred, judgment, anger and aggression appear to be so powerful, how much more can love, acceptance, kindness and compassion achieve? Meditating is the way forward to this. Meditation as a political act.
During the years when the British Empire held control of India, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence. He meditated to quiet his mind and listen to the deepest wisdom of his heart. From this place he was able to stay true to his beliefs during peaceful change.
The Dalai Lama, too, wakes up about 3.30am and meditates for hours before going about the rest of his day. These peaceful leaders placed huge value on their meditation.
We need leaders and politicians who are self-aware.
The British Government created a Mindful Nation UK, to encourage mindfulness in the classroom, the workplace and the NHS. However, I am not sure of its impact among the politicians themselves.
We need leaders who make decisions from a centred place of balance and calm. It means dropping down from quick, reactive and knee-jerk reactions, to deeper, wiser responses.
‘The quieting of our mind is a political act’
So here is a further reminder of what we can do. Kornfield stresses:
‘The quieting of our mind is a political act… through meditation and inner transformation, we can learn to make our hearts a place of peace and integrity. Each of us knows how to do this … It is our inner nobility and steadiness that we must call on in our personal and collective difficulties.’
This approach goes further than simply finding a place of peace. It also means being truthful and honest as Jack Kornfield says:
‘We deliberately turn toward the difficulties of the world and shine the light of understanding … ‘delusion’ blames others, creates enemies, and fosters separation. The truth is that we are not separate … When we look truthfully, we can also see that no amount of material and scientific advancement will solve our problems alone … Economic and political change will fail unless we also find a way to transform our consciousness. It is a delusion that endless greed and profit, hatred and war will somehow protect us and bring us happiness.’
Meditation as a political act
Meditation as a political act also means using our vision to help create a better, peaceful future. We need to be pro-active in creating the world we want. It doesn’t just happen. While others are so determined to spread hatred and aggression, we need to decide where we stand, with peace and love.
We can all do that, as we each become more conscious, and approach meditation as a political act!
If you agree, share this post and spread the word!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide
This updated blog post was first published in November 2015
Newsletter & Blog Sign UpSign up if you would like to receive Place of Serenity blog posts in your email.