Concern about the presidential election is running very high. With serious issues —such as climate change, terrorism, poverty, unemployment, war, racism, and violence against women—having been brought to light during the campaign season, it’s hard not to be moved by them. The New York Times reports widespread “election anxiety.” According to a Harris Poll, “Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
Don’t allow your self to become distracted by the media circus or your own fearful projections of a negative future. Remember, the only power that such fearful thoughts have is the power that you give them. Don’t feed the fears. Ground and center yourself in the heart whenever you feel off balance.
Remember, too, that the great spiritual traditions tell us that the manifest world is an effect of consciousness. Our true power lies not in resisting what is, but in changing our consciousness. What are we creating when we obsess about a negative future? Can we, instead, imagine a better world and work towards it?
One of my teachers, Alberto Villoldo, the founder of The Four Winds Society, where I studied the philosophy and practices of shamanic energy medicine, teaches that we are all dreaming the world into being. If we do not dream strong, we have to “settle for the collective nightmare that is being dreamt by others.”
“When we’re unaware that we share the power to co-create reality with the universe itself, that power slips away from us, causing our dream to become a nightmare. We begin to feel we’re the victims of an unknown and frightening creation that we’re unable to influence, and events seem to control and trap us. The only way to end this dreadful reality is to awaken to the fact that it too is a dream—and then recognize our ability to write a better story, one that the universe will work with us to manifest.” (Alberto Villoldo)
To realize our collective dreams for a better future, we need inspired vision and collective action. So, be clear about what your values are, vote for visionary leaders who most closely align with them. And, when you feel inspired to act, and it is within your power to do so, then do it. Sign a petition, make a phone call, make a donation, volunteer, or lend your talents by getting involved or creating something new.
Another way that we might better use the subtle creative power that we possess is through prayer. Pray. Not for your candidate to win. The Supreme Being doesn’t need you to spell out which outcome is best. Just pray for the highest good. “Thy will be done.” (Remember, you don’t really know for sure what is best in the long run, do you?) Pray for peace and harmony. Then, let it go.
Will your doing these things alone solve all the world’s problems? Of course not, it would be naïve to think so. But, it would be a step in the right direction. Individually, we are not solely responsible for the state of the world. But, we are responsible for ourselves. We can choose love and acceptance over fear and reactivity. If we’re in fear, we can’t bring light to our sphere of influence, family, friends, co-workers and others that we encounter each day. But, if we can be present, find inspiration to hold a higher vision and take consistent action—together with others—on behalf of the greater good, we can make a difference.
One last thing to remember, if you have read this far, is that from a nondual perspective, “[c]ircumstances in the outer world have no character whatsoever of their own, either good or bad. It has only the character that we give to it by our own thinking.” (Emmet Fox) So, even if we have convinced ourselves that the opposing candidate winning would be a disaster, we don’t really know, do we? It could be that Spirit is working in a mysterious way that we cannot see from our limited perspective. To illustrate this point, I leave you with a classic Taoist tale from Huston Smith’s book, The World’s Religions:
In the Taoist perspective even good and evil are not head-on opposites. The West has tended to dichotomize the two, but Taoists are less categorical. They buttress their reserve with the story of a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbor commiserated, only to be told, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” It was true, for the next day the horse returned, bringing with it a drove of wild horses it had befriended. The neighbor reappeared, this time with congratulations for the windfall. He received the same response. “Who knows what is good or bad?” Again this proved true, for the next day the farmer’s son tried to mount one of the wild horses and fell, breaking his leg. More commiserations from the neighbor, which elicited the question, “Who knows what is good or bad?” And for a fourth time the farmer’s point prevailed, for the following day soldiers came by commandeering for the army, and the son was exempted because of his injury.