As long as Congress will not increase wages for workers, I will go and talk to every business in America if I have to. There’s no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise, and if you work full-time in this country, you shouldn’t live in poverty. That’s something that we all believe.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me. Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.
The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. You hear some of them — “sue him,” “impeach him.” Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.
I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don’t do your job.
This is an incredibly important facet of human life with which to aspire for balance. I also lost my father to cancer and found myself asking similar questions of life.
Peace is not an emotion in the way we have come to understand emotions. Many people hear the teachings of Buddhism or other spiritual paths and interpret the wisdom regarding detachment as something that encourages a kind of robotic relationship with human emotions. However, that is not the truth of the matter.
Peace means being unconfused, unconfounded by the play of emotions. That is the real meaning of detachment. And because your emotions no longer have the power to confuse you, you are given the opportunity to take your attention into them deeply.
That is the result of meditation and mindfulness. You sit with your thoughts, you sit with your sensations, you sit with your emotions, and you abide as the witness to them. Sooner or later it becomes evident that you are just you, regardless of the content of your moment. Then the matter shifts from trying to manage emotions according to your preferences to questioning the actual identity of the witness. If you are the witness to the mind, body, personality, and all of human experience, then who are you as that changeless witness?
Practicing daily meditation, therefore, is one such way to give space to all of these sad and otherwise challenging emotions. In meditation, you neither indulge emotions nor push them away. It is the same with thoughts. You do not witness them in such a way that you analyze or take them apart. You just witness without intellectually comprehending that which you are witnessing. You feel without shielding, buffering, or rationalizing that which you are feeling.
Neither clinging nor avoiding; that is the practice of peace.
Another thing I found extraordinarily helpful was Tonglen. In tonglen, you inhale your suffering and your father’s suffering. Then you exhale love, gratitude, compassion, and healing. You continue in this way for a little while before extending your practice to a larger group. You inhale the suffering of anyone who has ever lost a father, and you exhale compassion and love to them. Then you can even broaden that to anyone who has lost a parent, anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer, anyone who has experienced loss, and so on.
By practicing tonglen, not only do you learn to recognize and meet with the suffering in you, around you, and in the people of this world, but you also discover how much space and compassion you have within that you can bring forth.
The book that really introduced me to and taught me the practice of these approaches regarding suffering was The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron. I recommend it to people almost every day.
Namaste :) Much love, my friend.