How do we find inner peace and wellbeing in the maelstrom of a world?

In my experience, mindfulness practice leads to increased interest in the well-being of other beings on the planet, due to awareness of our interconnectedness. We are living in trying times, with wars in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and in other less-reported on regions of the world. Moreover, in the United States as well as most other countries, domestic issues abound. Needless to say, it can be difficult to be present with all of this, especially when we have countless problems in our own lives.

In my view, reality consists partly of dukkha (the experience of unsatisfactoriness; suffering), anicca (transience, the experience that all conditioned things arise, stay awhile, and then pass away), and anatta (non-self, the experience of interconnectedness and the transience of all constituents that even resemble our concept of a self). We humans (including at times some of those running for office) typically have yet to come to terms with these aspects of reality. We try to solidify the self (ego) through obtaining more and more of anything we can call “me”, “I”, “mine” in order to escape dukkha and anicca. This cartoon, titled “Something to hang our hats on,” is a simplification of common political tropes that illustrates dukkha, anicca, and anatta.

MAGA folks seem to me to be experiencing difficulty with dukkha, not recognizing that their ego-driven candidate usually seeks more power, more attention, more fame, more money, unsatisfied with and maybe ungrateful for the power of interconnectedness, the power of presence with what is. Generosity is also sorely missing from the platform. Why do you want to build a wall to keep humans out when for the most part we are awash in plentitude?

Biden folks are perhaps having difficulty with anicca, impermanence, since it seems well-known that Biden is approaching advanced age and may well pass away while in office.

And, renewable energy investment seems to be an obvious way forward, given that solar and wind and water are likely to be less transient than fossil fuels, as a part of our interconnected planet. Yet, there are arguments about who is going to foot the bill for these investments.

Back to the original question of how we maintain even a semblance of inner peace and well-being amongst all of this. I am grateful to my own teachers who have taught that we need to care for ourselves and carefully limit news consumption so as not to be overwhelmed and lose our minds. Granted, this can be difficult, since by practicing we automatically begin taking interest in the wellbeing of our fellow earth inhabitants. It is doable to spend time just being, restoring ourselves, as often and for as long as needed. Please, take care of you and loved ones first, and when a generous impulse arises,

“do the good that’s in front of you” – Sharon Salzberg

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