It is quite distressing to hear the banter about our polarized society and the starkly competing views of our shared values and beliefs as filtered through the mid-term election process in the USA. In November, we will be voting to re-elect or elect a new member of the Senate and the House of representatives amongst other les important government positions. In this country we have a two-party system and there is usually an “independent” candidate that occasionally breaks the 10 % vote getting mark. In any case, the Democrats believe that we build our world through cooperation and inter-dependence, and that we all need a safety net at one time or another. The Republicans seem to have espoused Ayn Rand’s views that humans are separate individuals, and an end onto themselves. No self-sacrificing for the sake of others and no expectations to be rescued. Rand actually stated that our lives’ highest moral purpose was to pursue our own rational self-interest and happiness. Distinctly opposite pictures indeed that will eventually translate into policies that will affect us all quite profoundly. I am not taking sides or aim to influence anyone’s vote. I like instead, to offer the values of Chintamani as a filter for making sound choices. Chintamani is the wish-fulfilling jewel, the luminous pearl that enables us to access truth. It is found in a pure and loving heart. A close relative of the Philosopher’s Stone, Chintamani is a symbol for three of the most important qualities we can live by. A high lama counseled a soon to be ruler of a large kingdom in Eastern Tibet that in order to become successful in this world, he needed three qualities: wisdom, compassion, and courage. “These three will lead to a successful, happy, and fulfilled life.” In this watercolor and mixed media painting, called Chintamani II, I am depicting the very essence of these qualities for your contemplation.Wisdom implies awareness of what brings us true happiness. Like the “fish” in the painting, we go through the water of life with our heads down and focused only on ourselves and our needs. We behave in the same way and get the same unfulfilling results. We crave new things, new loves, new happiness and believe that these transient attachments will deliver eternal joy. In experiencing pain, we apply old remedies. It is called traveling the ocean of Samsara, where we collect the karma that we carry throughout our existence. One day we discover a pearl. Something we’ve seen many times and didn’t notice. We experience someone suffering and we recognize it. We are moved to alleviate the other’s pain. Maybe we do this because their pain appears deeper, larger. As the other heals, we notice that we are healed, we feel happy, useful, grateful to have discovered this previously unknown excitement. We are changed by it. It is in this noticing that we first experience the wisdom of a loving and kind heart. We learn to reflect on the sheer fact that in helping others to heal their own wounds, they can now heal others, in fact they can build large healed societies. They are aware of this more sustaining kind of happiness. It is called compassion.Courage comes into play when you make decisions from the same place of love and kindness. You encourage others to access their own wisdom and compassion. You relinquish attachments based on preserving relationships, looks, ideas, beliefs, and you begin to live in the present moment, taking each event and each circumstance as it really is, in the now and subject to change. What is important is your relationship to whomever and whatever in the now and take care of what is now. That is the wish-granting jewel, and like many other Buddhist jewels, it is all within and it depends on an awakened heart-mind.
Look at the two political platforms and decide with that heart-mind. Use your own pearl of wisdom. Romio Shrestha wrote that when you seek prosperity for all humanity, the realm of Chintamani opens before you, offering an abundance of wish-granting jewels. When you seek wealth only for yourself, you compete against all other human beings. I voiced Deepak Chopra last week when I said that we are Spirit in human form.
Chintamani embodies the wisdom and the power to access new truths. Be courageous, be a humane spirit and see the luminosity of your kind heart. Vote your heart-mind!