Being at Peace with Morons

As I reflect on the conspiracy nuts, racists, imbeciles, and out-of-touch elitists that Trump is inflicting on our republic, I’m caught in an old dilemma. How do you both care about the state of your country and yet not be constantly distraught?

This is a key element of Buddhist practice. People often hear Buddhist teachings on equanimity and take it to mean that Buddhists should be indifferent to the suffering of others. This is completely incorrect. Indifference is called the near enemy of  equanimity, it is an imposter.  Buddhists are instead taught to be compassionate and work for the well-being of all people.  A Buddhist can and should be indifferent to worldly things like wealth or status, but not to living beings.

On the other hand, it’s easy to think that being compassionate means that we mustn’t be happy or peaceful in the face of suffering, that we should instead feel that same suffering ourselves.  This is also completely incorrect.  Being distraught doesn’t help anyone, including yourself.  It just adds to the suffering of those around you.  In practical terms, when your world is falling apart who do you want beside you?  Do you want someone also weakened and distracted by emotional distress,  or do you want someone who can remain calm, kind, and balanced — someone who has the steadiness and strength to help you?

There is no easy way to do this, but there is a way.  You must practice cultivating goodwill (metta),  compassion, joy, and equanimity within yourself every day.  You must practice being generous and kind, being ethical, and purifying the mind.  There is no shortcut.

It is quite possible to care about the world and to work toward the betterment of the world without being crushed by the world.  It is possible to both care for others and to be peaceful and full of joy.  It’s not just possible, it is our sacred task.

If you’re interested, here is a guided metta meditation by Sharon Salzberg:

Here’s something I wrote about loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, the four immeasurables:

No Metta, No Progress


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3 Responses to Being at Peace with Morons

  1. I have some thoughts that may not be helpful to all, but which ring true for me.

    There are no morons. That was a term used by the eugenics movement to identify human beings perceived to be mentally deficient, who should be removed from the breeding population. We don’t want to go there!

    There are many with whom we disagree on many subjects. This is as it should be. The light requires the dark as the dark requires the light, two sides of the same coin. The state of our country varies from time to time, depending on the whims of human cultural variation. Some things we like, some things we don’t, regardless of the Current Occupants.

    How do we sort it out and support those things and those politicians we agree with.

    We live the change we wish to see in the world.

    It’s not that we “must practice cultivating goodwill, compassion, joy, and equanimity” within ourselves every day. Nor must we “practice being generous and kind, being ethical, and purifying the mind.” There is no “must.”

    We simply “be” goodwill, compassion, joy, and equanimity, being generous and kind, being ethical, and purifying our own minds. We be ourselves at every moment, shining clear and bright, attracting those who share our light.

    No matter what others may do, we are ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doug Holmes says:

    I can agree with all of that.


  3. Pingback: Being at Peace With Morons Part 2 – The Deep Magic | Banyan Deer

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