If I’m not careful, my discourse becomes the opposite of caring.
It’s election day in Britain.
I’m a staunch down-to-the-bones socialist and have been since I was a teenager. Looking after everyone in society and not just yourself seems to be a self-evidently good thing. And since I have taken the Bodhisattva Vow to remain in the world till every single being has been liberated from hatred, greed and ignorance – then naturally the socialist option is a good fit for my ethics.
However, I am increasingly aware that my inner discourse and my outer discourse is in danger of letting me down. If I’m not careful it becomes the opposite of caring.
If my mind is full of Twitterspeak and divisive hatred, then I am the problem
Politically speaking, the press, media and online world we live in is a world of screaming echo chambers. In the hell-realms of Twitter and Facebook, it’s increasingly acceptable to say the most dreadful things to attack your ‘opponents’. Polite and intelligent civil discourse has descended into playground bullying. Which I believe is a great catastrophe for Britain.
But, uncomfortable as it is, I see the same thing quite clearly in myself.
The one thing that meditative practice shows me is that the buck ultimately stops with me. I am the creator of my reality and if my mind is full of Twitterspeak and divisive hatred, then I am the problem. No one else. So I’ve been wrestling with the source of all this bile.
I feel the Crown Prosecutor like a freezing-fire in my chest and throat
In my work on the cushion, I am increasingly aware of a ‘part’ that is very vociferous and relentless in its rhetoric.
I call this part, (it’s a female part), the “Crown Prosecutor”, She is a relic, as so often is the case, of a childhood wounding where I needed to be completely ‘in the right’. Her job was to rehearse and re-rehearse arguments in my defence against a powerful and merciless other. She would run through all options and when she was done defending my position, she would set about destroying the other people. For hours, and days and years of my inner life, she has been devising killer put-downs, devastating arguments, annihilating speeches that reduce my ‘opponents’ to dirty dust.
I feel her rise in me like a funnel-shaped freezing fire up my chest and throat. And she can burn for hours in a very painful and hateful way.
I grew up with the Daily Mail, live among Brexiteers, so there are triggers for her
For years, I was quite unaware of many of these parts, and they would rule not only my inner world but also my outer behaviours. I have driven away a number of people by acting out the Crown Prosecutor’s ‘perfectly logical, perfectly correct’ attack. I ended up “right” but I also ended up alone.
I grew up in a Daily Mail reading household (that’s a very right-wing newspaper for the non-Brits) and I now live in a predominantly Leave neighbourhood (that’s people who want to go ahead with Brexit). The newspapers I see in my local supermarket are almost all screaming anti-Socialist propaganda day and night. So there have been lots of triggers for the Crown Prosecutor of late.
The Crown Prosecutor dances along to Radio 6 Music in the kitchen
But if I am serious about being a Buddhist and giving up this whole cycle of hatred, greed and delusion, then I have to start with myself.
Because when that white-hot freeze creeps up without my noticing, my mind becomes as divisive and hateful as the people I criticise. The same blinkered, ruthless menace emanates out of me.
I have to sit down with the Crown Prosecutor and find her something better to do. She doesn’t actually like it. It’s exhausting. She’s never really well-informed enough to win the argument, so she’s also insecure. Which creates a horrible brew of fury and futility.
Whoever wins, the country needs some love
When we sit down in the open field of meditation, with the Self engaged with her in a loving way, she is desperate to give up her grim robes and go dancing. I’ve noticed she has really good dance moves. She has been dancing along to Radio 6 Music in the kitchen on a regular basis during this election campaign.
However Britain votes today, it’s going to be a difficult few years ahead. Politicians of all stripes like to paint elections as magic cure-alls. But whoever ends up forming a government is going to struggle to get everything they want to be done. And as a member of the British people, I know that I’m going to be bounced and torn and bruised by my emotional response to either a Conservative or a Labour term of office.
All the more reason to keep the CP dancing and to refrain from harsh, angry and divisive speech. The country needs some love.