The great Taoist sage, Laozi teaches us that the universe follows patterns and cycles, first swinging one way and then another, first contracting and then expanding, then contracting again. Once the pendulum of human affairs has swung far in one direction it will inevitably swing in the other. The momentum of that pendulum may sometimes wreak havoc with those standing in its path.
Last night we learned just how fractured America really is. We heard the voices of a heretofore relatively silent population who may or may not hold the same views we do. The effects of a new and different foreign and domestic policy profile remains to be seen. The future consequences of religious intolerance and cozying up to foreign dictators likewise remain unclear. What is clear is that our new administration, with a focus on maintaining the energy status quo and a voiced disbelief in climate change, poses a threat to our environment. This should be a concern for all of us. Without a habitable planet, all distinctions between us, all personal and group agendas, and all national ambitions become moot.
Taoism was and is the first organized environmentalist movement. Indeed, reverence for Nature is a key part of the Taoist philosophy. Early Taoists were mountain men and women with enthusiastic appetites, great energy, and a love for both revelry and solitary spiritual cultivation, preferably conducted in in wild places. While there may be those among you who are girding for a fight against misogyny, bigotry, corporatism, materialism, and projects like a wall between the US and Mexico, I hope that all of you will join the fight to protect our oceans, our forests, our tundras, taigas, deserts, and jungles, along with the sentient creatures that live within them. At times like these, we have to set priorities, and protecting the natural world against the ravages of climate-change deniers and corporate greed should top our priority list.
On a different note, our Taoist philosophy emphasizes the Three Treasures of compassion, frugality, and humility. Let’s go forward with those in mind, let’s keep our personal equilibrium, our wuji, let’s remember to discern but not to judge, and let’s see what happens. Use whatever personal practice you choose (meditation, tai chi, yoga, running, handball, swimming, cycling, religious devotion) help you through times you may find turbulent, whether you are overjoyed or dismayed by the election results. Remember, both positive and negative emotions, when overly strong, can be unbalancing.