My emotions have been very much affected by the 24-hour news cycle during the pandemic. The news has been grim – in America, there are constant updates about record unemployment, nasty protests, and the various insults hurled by politicians at each other. Yesterday, I asked myself, is peace possible during all this turmoil?
I remember reading an article about Buddhist meditation a while back that recommended adding Donald Trump to your meditation practice. It was a provocative title, but the article made sense to me.
The basic gist, as I understood it, was to extend love and compassion even to the people you feel threatened by or have extreme negative feelings toward. It is very hard to do, but I think it’s possible.
The article was basically talking about “metta” meditation in Buddhism. Sharon Salzberg is an American Buddhist teacher who talks of metta meditation a lot. Metta is a Sanskrit and Pali word that translates to loving-kindness in English.
Metta mediation is extending compassion and benevolence toward yourself and others. Salzberg teaches this in one of her books I’ve read – she talks about first extending metta toward yourself, then toward people you feel neutral feelings toward. Then, last but not least, extend metta toward people you have negative feelings toward.
Metta for those I loathe
So, back to my point. In this midst of all this hate and anger in the world right now, I’ve been thinking about extending metta to the people who are on the other side of the political divide. That includes the people who are angry, protesting and, most especially, President Trump.
Politics are very polarized in America now. What is most frightening to me is we longer simply disagree with each other. Now, people on either side of the political divide see themselves as bitter enemies.
For the record, I am not a supporter of Trump – I don’t care for him. I tend to lean left in my political views. But I’ve learned in recovery that resentment is a killer. Giving in to the politics of resentment will only hurt me in the long run.
So, I plan on practicing extending metta in my meditations – to those I love, to myself, and those I loathe. I have learned that when I do this, my heart softens and I feel more at peace. This may not help the world achieve peace, but perhaps every little bit of positive energy helps.
Perhaps this is naïve of me. But to me, practicing metta is much better than getting so angry – like I do sometimes – that I feel a helpless rage.