The Junction of Political Awareness and Mental Health
The world is a crazy place, even more so since the great real estate crash a few years back. There are many more people suffering without jobs and with great insecurity about current employment. People are losing their homes to foreclosure and moving to different parts of the country to find a better way of life. All of this is a huge stressor and a major cause of despair.
As a Buddhist, I am always faced with the juxtaposition of my practice and my avid interest in politics and current events. Should I renounce the "world" and commit myself to my work and my Buddhist practice or should I become more of an activist for the sake of saving our Democracy. My own answer is to do both, but the operative word here is TITRATION. It is important to maintain a balance between activism and spirituality.
Many become so down by what is going on in the world that they renounce it and shut off their TV's and computers and in essence put their proverbial heads in the sand and stick their fingers in their ears and say LALALALALALALAL in an effort to avoid the unhappiness of the world. Unfortunately, what we Buddhists know is that avoidance is a primary cause of suffering. This pathological state of intentional ignorance is very dangerous because a lot can go down in the world due to lack of participation in it!
Others take their activism too seriously and become obsessed and fold into current events. They allow themselves to become angry and depressed by what is occurring in the world to the point of real pathology. They are hard to be around and have difficulty experiencing joy. They suffer more physical ailments and tend to turn to substance and addictive behaviors to cope.
Titration means that we control our exposure to both current events and to our spiritual lives. As a Buddhist, I call myself a "householder". This means I make my daily life my practice. I do my best to maintain a balance between my spiritual and civil life. For this reason I have two Facebook pages. My Happe Talk page is about my Buddhist path and my personal Facebook page is mostly political and news oriented interspersed with pictures of my beautiful granddaughter Iris. (I will talk about Facebook in another entry, I promise). If I am uninformed I cannot participate with knowledge in my society. If I am not aware of spiritual principles I will suffer more from my addictions and from depression and ennui.
My awareness of suffering as a part of human life is also helpful. Thank the Buddha impermanence will require that change happens. We are in the midst of a paradigm change from and oil based world to one that utilizes renewable energy. All shifts are painful and marked by resistance to change, anger and violence(including war). A wonderful wonky read about this is by Thomas Kuhn. It is called, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Mindfulness of the big picture enables me to be both an activist and a spiritual person. Since I am a recovering addict I have to be very careful to balance the two. If I go far either way, I stop and readjust.
So there you have it. Please join me on Facebook! On Happe Talk, I share lots of wonderful Buddhist teachings from some of the great Masters. On my personal page you will see just how adorable Iris is!