Friday, May 7, 2010

British Elections as Dharma Lesson



I woke up in the middle of the night to a cold room and the beginnings of a cold. A few years ago, I started the practice of immediately taking some elderberry tincture at the first signs of a cold or sore throat. It's a powerful plant, and usually does the job.

After taking my medicine, it was clear I'd be awake for awhile, so I turned on the radio and listened to commentary on the British elections. One might say that I'm a bit of a political junky, although I'd just call it an interest in what's going on in the world, knowing it will impact us all in some small or great way.

Anyway, for those of you who don't know, Britain isn't used to trying to cobble together a coalition government, which is what they have to do now. The BBC reporters repeatedly spoke of how people are used to having an election one day and a "smiling new Prime Minister" the next. What was so interesting to me was how the coverage was so dramatic, and felt similar to that of the disputed Presidential Election in the U.S. ten years ago. In addition to the "smiling Prime Minister" comments," there was also repeated efforts to distinguish Britain from the rest of Europe. "We're not used to European-style elections." "This happens in Europe, but not in Britain." Statements like this. Eventually, I fell asleep again, but obviously an impression was made that I can write about now, six hours later.

This morning, I thought: Isn't this just like how our minds work! Always making everything into some special case that has to do with who we think we are. People often accuse the United States of being a nation filled with self-absorbed people who know little about the world around them. There's some truth to that, but I think it's also true that every nation or large body of people reflects to some degree the very "illnesses" Buddha saw afflicting all of us as individuals, namely that we think we are special, better or worse than, and completely separate from others around us.

The drama currently unfolding in Britain, including the potential negative economic impact, is both a real issue in the relative world and also a grand example of the kinds of disturbances that arise and fall in our minds everyday. It's a little bit like getting a sore throat - maybe it will lead to a long, terrible hardship, but probably not. And really, when you look at the long view, that hung parliament or sore throat are just manifestations of something that's been developing for a long time. Karma coming to fruition.

Every single event is both a blossom of the past and a life of it's own.

3 comments:

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

Buddy, EVERYTHING is a Dharma lesson... Then again, NOTHING is a Dharma lesson as well....

Nathan said...

ha, ha! true.

Algernon said...

Yup! Everything that manifests is "we now present -- your karma! Already in progress!"