May 24, 2017

Guess Which One Will Awaken more People?

How to Live Your Mindful Life in the Middle of Political Purgatory.

The other day, a friend confessed to me that she’s been having anxiety attacks over the onslaught of scandalous news about Donald Trump.

She stays up late at night watching the latest CNN dispatches on YouTube and wakes up with a daily existential hangover.

What surprises me is not that she feels uneasy, but that she is a successful mindfulness coach who can’t seem to find her own center in the middle of the whirling soap opera that is American politics.

And I admit that I am also not immune. Donald Trump’s antics have gotten under my skin in a way I could never have anticipated, even in the early immigration ban days of his presidency—and I’m known by my Awakened Dreamer blog readers as someone who supposedly has a depth of awakening that allows me to rise above the mortal fray.

Well, good luck with transcendent chill these days. I too find myself distracted by the dukkhathat nagging feeling of dissatisfaction with the way things are.

This roiling sense of political wrongness is what I am calling purgatory.

If you are not familiar with purgatory, it’s the zone in the Catholic tradition where souls get shunted to atone for their sins before they can gain entrance to heaven. It’s the washing machine for the soul where those dark karmic stains get scrubbed clean.

The thing is, the purgatory wash-rinse cycle is not only an afterlife gig. It’s here now—and always has been.

So, back to politics.

Donald Trump is here to awaken far more folks to their inherent interconnectedness and goodness than the Dalai Lama will ever reach.

You heard me right. It’s a fairly simple truth, but agreeing with it is hard.

Donald Trump is here to wake us up—largely through providing stark contrast—to a deeper reality based on soul-level values of compassion, cooperation, kindness, inclusivity, and willingness to trust that even the chaos has a divine intelligence to it.

If the Dalai Lama is the heroic role model of these higher values, then Trump is the anti-hero running the anti-script. And it is often far more effective to know what we truly want when we are faced with a larger-than-life version of what we do not want.

In this sense, Trump is not just the main character of a scary political drama. He is also a massive catalyst for deep soul searching (you gotta admit, when members of his own party have begun distancing themselves from him, there is a whole lotta soul searching going on). And soul searching is one of those reality-changing rabbit holes. Once we start to question events “out there,” we can begin to investigate the reality “in here”—namely, the big questions of who we are and how we can serve.

So, how to live our mindful life amidst political purgatory? We breathe deeply. We speak our hearts, not just our minds, so that we engage in dialogue with dignity and respect. We act in accordance with our deepest, most compassionate knowing.

And we trust.

We trust that everything is okay as it is. This does not mean we don’t march for human rights, or protest when those rights are violated. But we also know that this whole shebang is a divinely scripted play in which we are actors, directors, and co-writers, working alongside others and the divine.

In the meantime, if we love Donald Trump as much as some despise him, we might ask ourselves, with deep curiosity, “What is all this division over?” When polarization happens to such extremes, it’s often a sign that a beautiful third option is on the horizon.

Something new is trying to be born into the collective destiny.

Let us midwife it with tenderness, compassion, and yes, trust.


I did a short video blog on this subject in the first days after Trump was elected. Despite my current unease, my words here still stand:


Author: Lori Ann Lothian
Image: Composite by author: Ninian Reid/FlickrWikimedia
Editor: Callie Rushton

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