There’s a lot of talk in this world that says the way to be is to be with “what is.” Of course, “what is” is open to a radical range of interpretation. What is is only what we can collect through our senses. The moment we add interpretation, laying mental constructs over it all, we are not being with what is; we are being with what we know. And we know that what we know is the product of a lifetime of accumulating experience which tends to orient us, like a cloud of bees, around the honeycomb of a permanent and separate identity. And that honey does taste good, doesn’t it? We don’t ever want to leave it.
So what is for me is not what is for you. In fact, when we drill down to the bedrock reality of what is, we get something like what is described by the renowned 13th century Dzogchen master, Longchenpa: “delusive perceptions that have no reality, mere images of synchronicitous karmically conditioned assumptions, in this very moment, empty, insubstantial, ungraspable, and we recognise them now to be beyond dualistic identity.”
Would that we all had such crystalline mental clarity and unsurpassed bodily repose with which to view this world. We might then truly know that though the colours of the unceasing parade of transient phenomena are not simply some LSD flashback, but representations of an increasingly bizarre and tortured struggle of real beings, ourselves included, who are merely responding in the best way we know how to a stripping of ever deeper layers of costume and camouflage, revealing reality itself.
All of which, oddly enough, you might say, brings me to Donald Trump. From where I sit, he, like everything else, is a mere reflection of the moon upon the still lake. He cannot be touched. He cannot be changed. His energies and pronouncements pass through me. There are layers of response, surely. In any given moment of contemplating these energies, there may be a simple or complex, prolonged or instant resolution. But in essence, I am untouched. He is “what is,” arising from the deeper reaches of profoundly conflicted, morally destitute, insatiable self-orientation that appeals to similar psycho-energetic configurations in others. They flock around him as if he is a leader. But he is merely a voice expressing pre-existing murmurations constantly driving a human cloud of starlings playing with the wind. If we dared to look hard enough, we could each find Donald Trump in the mirror, because, after all, that’s what he is.
The idea that our deepest proclivities, the finest possible level of decision-making that we undergo in every instant, that the thought-free instantaneous impulses that take us into our immediate life-circumstances are entirely driven by karma is not one that is known or shared by the vast majority of people on this earth, perhaps Americans least of all. But whether it’s from a karmic, a moral or any other ethical view, we are all engaged in an emergence in which the whole is reflected in all the parts.
Is there not some place within you that can feel the icy Greenland runoff coursing its way to the sea, that can sense the underpinnings of the West Antarctic ice sheet loosening and coming undone? Does the disappearing Amazon not burn within? Are the floods in Baton Rouge not threatening to sweep away everything you know? The weather is extreme. Like the diatoms in the deepest regions of an acidifying ocean, our fragile shells are thinning. In the media universe in which everything becomes us in every moment, we are no longer protected within our sacred impervious personal space.
Or at least, I’m not. If we did not have Donald Trump to stir action, it would be something else. In fact, he’s just one more motivation on top of everything else. Our cover is permanently blown. There is no safe and secure place in which to ride this out. Every storm is now every other storm. In fact, there is no “other” storm. Donald Trump is not Other. He is our very disturbed inner child running with scissors. If what I sense is true, there is no one save the most remote and uninformed who is not moved to act. We are all refugees. Thus, we have a defining moment in which there can be no neutrality. Neutrality will not protect anyone or anything now. It will save no one. The seas will continue to rise. Iconic species will continue to disappear. The wrecking ball of individualistic, materialistic sanctimonious belligerence will continue its march. Unless we stand in its way. It’s “what is,” and it’s not okay.