In this post-election dharma talk from 2016, Jack offers spiritual sanctuary and human possibility to a zeitgeist of fear, anger, and uncertainty.
In this 2016 dharma talk from Spirit Rock, Jack begins by looking to the audience for topics they deem important or necessary in the post-election climate. It’s of little surprise that the zeitgeist of concerns was about leadership, equanimity, race, climate change, anger, understanding, fear, despair, totalitarianism, Trump, survival, keeping your heart open, activism, and healing. Looking at these problems with a keen and open heart-mind, Jack helps guide us to find a spiritual sanctuary within ourselves, no matter the outside situation. Only from this place of loving equanimity can we be of true service to help alleviate the issues at hand in our world, both internally and externally. For help during these trying times, Jack has compiled an ongoing catalogue of anti-racism resources, as well as a list of pandemic resources on his website JackKornfield.com
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Jack’s hope for the this talk is to create sanctuary amidst difficult political times. Furthermore, Jack beckons us to use this offering as reminder to create sanctuary within our own lives; a sanctuary of calm, a sanctuary of loving awareness to hold everything. In human incarnation there’s praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, and success and setback. Difficulties are inevitable, but, using the changing seasons as an example, Jack shares that darkness can have a purpose when we hone our eyes and heart to focus on the luminous spirit. Keeping calm and holding sanctuary amidst a turbulent reality can help light the way for not just yourself, but for the rest of the world.
“When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Primal Fear, Survival, & Politics (5:40)
How do we respond in a time of uncertainty? Upon hearing the election results, Jack noticed a fight-flight-or-freeze response in his body, at which point he began to realize that the election was also about survival. On all sides, people were worried about surviving, and the results may have moved survival fears from one group to another, but everybody who was part of it in some fashion also could feel, ‘Will I survive? Will the things that matter to me survive?’
“If you look at it from a neuroscience perspective, as well as dharma, you start to see that the way the campaign went, and the election, it somehow hijacked the limbic system, it hijacked the reptilian brain, and that was really what was operating for a lot of people, not the new neocortex looking at it thoughtfully, but it was really primitive fears for a lot of people.” – Jack Kornfield
For conversation of politics and polarization, tune into Ep. 331 of Mindrolling
Natural Metta and Human Possibility (30:52)
Jack invites us to meditate on others around us, recognizing that every single person that we have met has a gone through the same kinds of high and low experiences, just like us. Every person we look at has a body and a mind, feelings, emotions, thoughts, joy and sorrow. Just like us, they have experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, have been sad or disappointed, have been hurt or angry, worried or frightened, and longed for friendship. Through these tender reflections, we start to realize a natural Metta that arises within us, a natural care. Loving-Kindness is innate in us, and all it asks is a little bit of attention and listening.
“As you quiet the mind and listen to the heart, you also tune into the universal laws of things, the Noble Truths that suffering has its causes. Greed, hatred, ignorance; those become the cause of suffering. Prejudice, delusion, racism, the kind of fears that we carry; all those things create suffering. And their opposite, which is your birthright, which is also possible for you–and it’s one of the beautiful things with the Dalai Lama and Tutu because they keep talking about human possibility. This is the world we are directing ourselves towards–Love, clarity, wisdom, truthfulness, generosity, gratitude; these bring happiness.” – Jack Kornfield