As the Monarch Butterfly makes its journey from Canada to Mexico it sees no borders, it sees no lines of demarcation of states and countries. This beautiful specimen sees no division of races and religion or beliefs, cultures and ideologies. In its flight, it transcends all dualities that separate nations, states and peoples.
Rama Jyoti Vernon
This election season has most people “on edge.” They are watching news channels, social media and conversing with friends and strangers in coffee shops, restaurants and even Yoga classes. There is so much passion associated with election choices that some Americans are becoming almost evangelical in trying to convert those of differing viewpoints.
Wherever I travel and teach Yoga, I am asked to address the issues of the campaign before delving deeply into the philosophies and practices of Yoga. However, I am finding that our perceptions feelings and choices during this election season ARE the philosophy and practice of Yoga.
Whatever our views of the candidates may be it is a great time to practice the Yoga Sutras by staying in what Patanjali calls the Buddhi Mind.
The term Buddhi comes from Bodh meaning “to know.” This could be considered to be “the overmind” where intellect is transformed into higher intuition. The Buddhi mind is all knowing and all seeing like the exhilarating experience of standing on a Mountaintop with an unobstructed 360 view.
In the Buddhi mind, we would not judge, condemn or criticize others. We would see differences but would not compare them. We would be able to hold two or more points of perspectives simultaneously without making one wrong to make the other right. In this state of mind, we do not cut off the heads of others to make ourselves taller.
In the Buddhi state, we would be able to listen to the viewpoints of another without reacting or defending even when a friend is evangelical with a missionary approach to convince us to vote for their chosen candidate.
However, at this time in history, it is so easy to be yanked off the mountain-top into the valleys below where our vision becomes limited, myopic and turned in on itself. This is the ego part of our mind that is having a heyday in American politics right now. The ego is that part of the mind that can understand only its own perspective. If it is not secure in that perspective, it will try to convince others to join it. It is the part of the mind that divides and separates, it lapses into anger, frustration and fear. It builds walls rather than bridges.
In our practices of Yoga, we do not repress, or try to annihilate the ego. But instead we befriend it like a lost orphan child, reaching out to embrace it, love it, appreciate it and help it to transcend itself into the more expansive states of the Buddhi mind consciousness.
Can we use the tension of this election season as our practice of Yoga to develop the equal vision of the Buddhi mind that is one of the qualities of a liberated sage? As we make our choices and cast our ballot, can we remember the unifying spirit that is within and behind all names and forms, and is guiding us all in our future destiny as individuals and as a Nation?