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What the Buddha Might Say to President Obama

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The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. -- Buddha

With six months to go before the election, President Obama has officially launched his campaign. This is an important time for him not to take anything for granted but also to stay true to his beliefs and ethics.

It is extremely hard to stay balanced during difficult and challenging times, as there are always those who want to bring you down at any cost, who disagree, criticize, or act like they know better. It is obvious that it will be a nasty presidential campaign. Both Obama's religion and his birthplace are constantly questioned, yet he holds his head high, speaks calmly and intelligently, and seems to have no malice. His reaction to such dissenters has simply shown his determination to keep going forward. As he said:

"What we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That's what I strive to do, that's what I pray to do every day."

When people speak badly about you, you should respond in this way: Keep a steady heart and do not reply with harsh words. Practice letting go of resentment, and accept that another's hostility is the spur to your understanding. Be kind, adopt a generous standpoint, treat your enemy as a friend, and suffuse your world with affectionate thoughts, far-reaching and widespread, limitless and free from hate. -- Buddha

The Buddha's teaching is based on our interdependence and interconnectedness. In a very broad sense, the role of the president is similar -- to recognize how we all affect each other, which is our basic interconnectedness. Obama's recent announcement of his support of gay marriage is an example of this, as it reflects the desire that all beings be treated equally. As Obama said four years ago: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

We are delighted that President Obama has recognized gay marriage as a fundamental right, for the soul is neither male nor female, gay or straight. The latest cover of Newsweek features a picture of Obama with a rainbow-colored halo above his head and the heading: "The First Gay President." As Arianna Huffington said in her Sunday Roundup: "... this week's top story was obviously President Obama's 'I do' on gay marriage -- a groundbreaking move that aligned him with Dr. King's evocative suggestion that we be the headlights of history, not the taillights. Thank you for your bold leadership, Mr. President."

We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat, sleep, and want to be happy. Love is not determined by gender. Why should anyone be denied the right to live the life they want, as long as they are not creating suffering for another? When we first met with the Dalai Lama at his residence in northern India we prostrated before him, as is the custom. He quickly lifted us up saying, "We are all equal here."

But the differences between us can be huge. Although Obama pledged bipartisanship, in the last four years we have seen the worst partisanship ever, with the Republicans determined to say "no" to whatever Obama proposes. To find unity, we have to go beyond those differences; we have to surrender our own needs for the benefit of all. In the process, our enemies can teach us great patience and even compassion!

It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. -- Buddha
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. -- Buddha

There have been some great achievements in the last four years, as well as promises that haven't been kept. But perfection is knowing one's own imperfections, which gives us the ability to get up each time we fall.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. -- Buddha

So what are your views? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every Thursday by checking Become a Fan at the top.

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See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our three meditation CDs: Metta -- Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi -- Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra -- Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com .

For more by Ed and Deb Shapiro, click here.

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