Since the past election, there’s been a lot of bitter feelings and such, and I thought back to the story of Shakyamuni Buddha and the elephant. According to the story, Shakyamuni Buddha’s cousin and betrayer, Devadatta, sought to get rid of his rival, and drove a bull elephant named Nalagiri at the Buddha.
However, the Buddha was unfazed, and as it approached, he radiated peacefulness and calmed it down to the point where the elephant knelt down and submitted to the Buddha.
In times like this, I feel that we can learn a lot from the Buddha. I know a lot of people upset by the new President, and I see lots of sniping back and forth on social media, and toxicity. I try to remember the Buddha’s words against anger and resentment in the Kakacupama Sutta (MN 21 in the Pali Canon):
“Suppose that a man were to come along carrying a burning grass torch and saying, ‘With this burning grass torch I will heat up the river Ganges and make it boil.’ Now, what do you think — would he, with that burning grass torch, heat up the river Ganges and make it boil?”
“No, lord. Why is that? Because the river Ganges is deep & enormous. It’s not easy to heat it up and make it boil with a burning grass torch. The man would reap only a share of weariness & disappointment.”
“In the same way, monks, there are these five aspects of speech by which others may address you: timely or untimely, true or false, affectionate or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. Others may address you in a timely way or an untimely way. They may address you with what is true or what is false. They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way. They may address you in a beneficial way or an unbeneficial way. They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. In any event, you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person’s welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will equal to the river Ganges — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.
This isn’t meant to be complicit in some of the policies or words of the new president, but treat both political factions as sentient beings to wish them no harm. Eventually all sentient beings will become Buddhas when the conditions are right; it’s just a matter of conditions and timing.
Until then, may all beings be well, may they be free from harm.