I found it challenging to witness the negativity of election campaigns, particularly after a congressional session of polarized politics.
Yet I am grateful for the freedom of being able to vote, and recognize it includes the responsibility to use it or risk losing it. I need to have opinions in order to vote but find it difficult to always have confidence in my perspective when I often do not fully understand all the issues. In “The Art of Spiritual Dreaming,” Harold Klemp, the spiritual leader of Eckankar states, “Detachment is something we know about in the spiritual life. It does not mean not to get involved; it means to not let outer circumstances throw off your inner balance.”
Politics is one of life’s classrooms for many of us to learn about appropriate (for the good of the whole) or misuse of power. I do not know how many politicians it takes to change a light bulb; I only know that without the spirit of compromise, change can be difficult. Yet as a voter, perhaps the key is to have opinions but not to cherish them; that is, not to be obsessed with my own viewpoints or fear election results not in harmony with those viewpoints.
Klemp references the relationship between detachment and fear in “The Spiritual Laws of Life.” “The word detachment is too cold. What is meant in spiritual terms is this – we, as one with all, will have a certain amount of pleasure and pain, but will not let it affect our emotional balance too greatly to throw our minds into the extremes of joy or sorrow. The real control is detachment from fear. Once you have gained this important attribute of God, then you can enjoy greater life. Yes, you can have a joy mixed with pain and not be affected to the same extent as previously. Only when fear is in control of those two poles is your life attached to its physical, mental and spiritual possessions. Give up fear and you need never give up another thing in your life. Great joys physically, mentally, and spiritually can become yours, balanced by what sorrows there need be in your life.”
Detachment is defined in the same book as, “Giving up strong affection for the environment and possessions, but not ceasing to identify with them; becoming independent of them; mentally free from the love of the world and all worldly desires.” I choose not to fear the ramifications of election results that are contrary to my votes. The consequences of all elections could be in divine order with the greater lessons we all need to learn.
I remember an earlier time in my life when I knew for certain we only had one lifetime to find God and earn heaven. I evolved to exploring different viewpoints and trying different spiritual exercises other than my previous prayers. These experiences answered my own question of why bad things happen to good people. For me it all makes sense in the scheme of karma and reincarnation. Rather than dwell on the polarization of the pendulum’s opposite side, I choose to accept we will all discover the truth of life after death in our own way and find a common ground based on detached love for each other.
The ancient Persian poet Rumi said, (as translated by Coleman Barks in “Essential Rumi”) “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there.”Rheo Aieta is local cleric of Eckankar, www.eckankar.org. Perspective is coordinated by Interfaith Works in cooperation with The Olympian. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Interfaith Works or The Olympian.