October 6, 2010

What The Buddha Might Say To Christine O’Donnell.

The Great Bronze Buddha at Kamakura

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. The Buddha

These words are depicted in a story of an old monk sitting happily in the sunshine outside his cave when suddenly a beautiful young woman comes running up to him, obviously very scared. “Please,” she cries out, “a man is after me who is going to kill me! Let me hide in your cave!” Without waiting for a reply, she runs in and hides in the darkest corner. A few minutes later a man on a horse comes riding along. He is brandishing a sword and looking very angry as he asks the old monk, “Have you seen a young woman? She was running this way.” Now, the monk was taught never to touch women or to tell a lie. So he calmly says to the man, “What would an old monk like I be doing with a woman?” The man accepts his answer as true and rides off. The monk did not tell a direct lie, but in this way he saved three lives: the woman, himself, and the man who would surely be killed for killing them.

No one is comfortable telling a lie. We usually feel more at ease when what we say is honest and truthful. But, as we see above, there are times when telling a lie, or at least not being entirely truthful, can protect someone’s life

Christine O’Donnell has vowed never to tell a lie, even if it means harm is caused to another, such as when she was asked on the Bill Maher show in 1998 if she would tell demanding Nazi’s if she were hiding any Jewish people in her house. O’Donnell refused to even entertain the notion of concealing the truth, because “you never have to practice deception.”

And yet she has, according to recent news, deceived her followers about two colleges she has said she went to. Claremont Graduate University, a school that O’Donnell claims she attended, told Talking Points Memo that they have no record of her being there. She has also said that she attended Oxford University, when she was just a student of a Phoenix Institute course that had simply rented out space at the school.

Along with her other misconceptions and sweeping statements—about masturbation and de-sexing America, or how come monkeys are not evolving into humans—none of this would really matter other than it shows us how deeply deluded O’Donnell really is.

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction. The Dalai Lama

When ignorance and ego-centeredness are displayed in such an overt way, it creates the perfect reason for this blog: the opportunity for us to develop ever-greater compassion. As the Dalai Lama says, If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Obviously compassion in O’Donnell’s case is not so easy as such ignorance can be extremely damaging: ignorance invariably begets delusion and further ignorance. However, we all contain some measure of dark and light, of good and bad; we all have the potential to hurt each other as much as we have the capacity to love. Within each being is also the potential for kindness, generosity, and selflessness. It may not have manifested yet, but it is there! And, ultimately, compassion is the most useful response.

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity. The Buddha

As she seems to have no idea what she is doing, the one thing we can do is to hold Christine O’Donnell with compassion. She is immersed in her own self-centeredness and lost in “me-ism.” In such a state the ‘me’ stops us from being real and compassionate to others. There is a reservoir of basic goodness in all beings, but it is easy to lose touch with this vital expression of caring and friendship.

“We have taken a number of journeys to the monasteries in the highlands of central China and Tibet,” says Gregg Braden in our book, Be The Change. “In one monastery, we had the opportunity to have an afternoon audience with the abbot and I asked him, ‘In your experience, in your teachings, and in your world view, what is the stuff that holds the universe together? What is it that connects us all?’ I asked the translator, and he asked the abbot, and they had this banter going back and forth about how to answer this question. Finally, the translator turned to me and he said one word. That was his answer, one word. I thought it was a mistranslation, that I had heard him wrong, so I asked again. And he came back with the same word.

“He said that the force that holds the stuff in the universe together is compassion. ‘Wait a minute,’ I said. ‘Are you telling me that compassion is a force of nature that exists everywhere in the universe, or are you telling me that it is an experience that we create in our bodies?’ The abbot and the translator went back and forth again, and then the translator just said, ‘Yes.’ He was telling us that we have the capability to create within our own being the very experience that aligns and attunes us with our world. It opens the doors to the truly miraculous experiences of healing and peace, because they are all linked through this field of compassion.”

Photo: The Great Bronze Buddha at Kamakura

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