THE BLOG
08/02/2011 08:19 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2011

What The Buddha Might Say To Politicians

"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways."
-- Buddha

Seems like the Buddha got this one right, as there is no doubt the majority of politicians appear sleazy, selfish, stubborn and focused only on what they think is right, regardless of anyone else. As John F. Kennedy said: "Mothers may still want their favorite sons to grow up to be president, but ... they do not want them to become politicians in the process."

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
-- Abraham Lincoln

The political arena right now can make any sane person feel sick and angry because of the few selfish leaders imposing their own egocentric whims. As we have seen in the last few weeks in Washington, politicians appear to enjoy butting heads, creating chaos and getting close to ruining millions of people's lives while they're at it. Granny may not get her Medicare or Ginger be able to pay her college tuition, but do they genuinely care about this, about the pain and suffering of others? How many lobsters, fancy cars, houses or private jets do they need? The awful horror is that these things can never make anyone happy, but they certainly can pay for a hospital bed, overdue bill or foreclosure. We're pretty sure they didn't include such greed in their election campaigns.

"Dangerous consequences will follow when politicians and rulers forget moral principles. Whether we believe in God or karma, ethics is the foundation of every religion."
-- The Dalai Lama

However, this is actually a wonderful opportunity to take all politicians, as difficult as it may be, into our hearts -- yes, our hearts -- as it will free us from negativity. When we hate someone it is in ourselves that hate is felt; the other person feels nothing.

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
-- Buddha

We need to recognize that such selfish behavior arises from ignorance. If politicians genuinely understood we are all equal here and in it together, they could not behave like this. Therefore, we can have compassion for them. Although challenging, caring unconditionally makes us more decent individuals and allows us to open our hearts even more. It is easy to love someone we care about, but can we be at peace with someone who may cause us suffering? This is not easy, but it is liberating. Only then can we be free. We don't have to approve or accept their actions, but we can care about the being inside.

Despite being a wondering mendicant living without paying a mortgage, without health care expenses and without having to work a regular job, the Buddha had remarkable insights into the intricacies of human nature and how best to live a more balanced life.

He extolled his followers to tell the truth, to be honest with both themselves and others: "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." And, "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."

He expressed the power of words and the importance to use them wisely: "Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill." And, "Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace." And, "Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world."

He also stressed the need for skillful behavior. Unskillful behavior is harmful, hurtful and creates unhealthy circumstances and suffering. Skillful behavior generates positive outcomes, treats others with respect and dignity and ensures that all the needs of all are met.

In particular, the Buddha emphasized that it is man's own mind that is at the root of our difficulties: "All wrongdoing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrongdoing remain?"

The Dalai Lama, often considered to be a modern day Buddha, recently retired from the head of the Tibetan government, while remaining their spiritual leader. In a current article in "Rolling Stone" he says, "I often tell people that this century should be a century of dialogue. Peace will not come from thought or from Buddha. Peace must be built by humans, through action. So that means, whenever we face a problem -- dialogue. For peace we need inner disarmament ... It will not come immediately, but we have to make the effort."

If only a few of the people in a position of power were to follow some of this sage advice, perhaps our country and even the world would not be in the state it is in.

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