Normally I don't follow the politics too closely nor do I talk about them openly unless someone asks (in which case I'd just shrug my shoulders and give a polite smile). However, as I delve deeper into the Yoga Sutras (think of it as the holy book of scriptures, the study of the human mind/psyche, the code of conduct in living, and the study of yoga practice, all combined into 196 concise lines of poetry) in my Yoga Therapy training course, I came upon one gold nugget of a sutra that I believe we can all use a little bit more of in the midst of this political chaos and the tension building up towards the election.
Yoga Sutras I.33:
Maitri karuna muditopekshanam sukha duhka punyapunya vishayanam bhavanatas citta prashadanam
"To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes: kindness to those who are happy, compassion for those who are less fortunate, honor for those who embody noble qualities, equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values."
(Translation by Nishala Joy Devi)
The last phrase, in particular, is one that surfaces in my practice again and again recently: "equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values."
I thought about how to apply this particular sutra to the ups and downs of the political chaos we are in right now: the bad-mouthing, the tension, the "I'm-right-and-you're-wrong's."
And don't for even a second think I don't criticize the "wrong party."
I am just like the rest of you. I watch TV and listen to the radio. I hear biases, I see subjectivity. I hold my own personal beliefs of what needs to be done for this country, and disgust at those who can't seem to pierce through their own ignorance.
Just the other day my husband and I were watching a short clip of Trump's tour at a red state. I watched in disbelief as the crowds cheered on some absurd words that Trump said.
"I can't believe how stupid and ignorant these people have to be to follow along every word that Trump says!" I said to my husband.
Yes, me, the "yogi." I said that.
He quickly turned around, looked at me, and replied (paraphrased here): "I don't think it's right to call them stupid, because you don't know where they're coming from, what obstacles they've faced and are facing. You don't understand the belief system they've been brought up in, and it is not their fault that they are surrounded with this belief system. They have fears just like we do, but their fears are different from ours, and they are responding to Trump because he speaks their language, he understands their fears and is providing solutions, albeit not the most logical ones."
Surprised and amused at his remark, I blinked a few times before I asked: "Are you sure you've never read the Yoga Sutras? Because you literally took a particular sutra out of the book and applied it in this real-life situation. While I was sitting here retorting and blaming, you were speaking like a true yogi, with compassion, equanimity, and objectivity."
Curious enough, my husband pulls that number quite often on me. He'd pull something right out of the sutras, though he had never read them, and use them on my judgmental, self-pitying nature.
Ever since that incident, I pay more attention to my thoughts and words regarding the political mess. Discrimination is what drove this country into separation; let's not practice that anymore. Instead, hold equanimity, space, and equal consciousness for all. We don't know the opposing party's whole story just as they don't wholly know ours. Our hurt, fear, and miscommunication have cut so deep that it will take a long, long time to bridge this gap, but it's never too late. We can start with:
Equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values.