Saturday, June 10, 2017

Burning down the house

“Hold tight
          Wait ‘til the party’s over
Hold tight
We’re in for nasty weather
There has to be a way
Burning down the house.”   ~  Talking Heads

“All my ancient twisted karma
From beginingless greed, hate and delusion
Born through body, speech and mind
I now fully avow.”  ~ Buddhist chant of repentance

In a way, we can be grateful to Donald Trump. He is the spokesperson, the big screen poster boy, for greed, hate and delusion. The whole world can see this darkness clearly, broadcast every day on national headlines. As a symptom of a deep disease, we can now see and address chaos and evil as never before. (Note: I almost never use the word “evil,” but now it seems appropriate.)

HATE is tearing us apart: personally, within families and nationally. Now, with Trump, it is more apparent, more blatant, more shocking. His mouth is a megaphone for hate. American politics has devolved into open, partisan contempt and hatred. There is internal warfare among families, fractured because people will say on Facebook what they will not say openly face-to-face.  Open hostility on the road has escalated. The other day I accidentally cut off a man’s car because he was in my blind spot. He positioned his car right in front of mine and continually braked, while leering in his rearview mirror.

And I am really pissed off.

Corporate GREED is ravaging our planet. We all know the evidence: anthropogenic global warming, melting artic ice caps, destruction of the Great Barrier reef, daily extinction of animal and plant species – perhaps all irreversible, perhaps a downward spiral. This catastrophe is ignored for reasons of personal aggrandizement and greed by the 1% - Trump and his club of billionaires, especially Tillerson, his Secretary of State.

DELUSION: Humans are not an isolated species with unlimited power to manipulate and control. Interconnection and codependence are reality, not some beautiful Buddhist ideas. It is worth noting that Trump’s mental pathology is malignant narcissism, which means he cares for no-one but himself. But this delusion is hardly limited to Trump. Fundamentally we all share the delusion that the only thing that really matters is ME.

So is the house being burned down, or can we burn down the house? The latter calls for a revolution. A revolution and transformation of consciousness that is beautifully called The Great Turning by Joanna Macy. She says, “Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, the world can now know itself through us, behold its own majesty – and also respond to its own suffering.”  ( see her website

I have sat vigil for the earth in Union Square, San Francisco, but a far deeper transformation is called for in me.  I need to recognize my own anger and how it is daily triggered by the news and the all-pervasive, ambient anger.

I have made it a daily practice to recognize my anger and work with it mindfully. I see how anger destroys peace of mind. I pause and ask myself Where does this anger come from? What am I trying to protect? Why am I afraid? If I can learn to be accepting and compassionate with my own greed, hate and delusion, I can move toward treating everyone in the same way through kindness and compassionate action.

If corporate America is burning down the house, I feel helpless and in despair. If I can burn down my own house of anger and just be a flowing fountain, then that is, at least, a step forward from this insanity.