I often write my article a bit ahead of time, and while this article will run after the election is over, I am currently sitting here, writing this, and watching the live results on my mobile phone. I don’t often watch my television, and I suspect tonight it will be extra noisy, which for me just adds to the stress.  Admittedly, I barely slept last night, as I was filled with concern.  I’m sure I’m not the only American doing this tonight..

This article is not about politics, but rather the spirituality that has been revealed throughout the course of it.  Yes, I have very strong emotions for my candidate, and very strong feelings about the opponent.  Yes, I have voiced them on social media.  Yes, I have had heated discussions with other Americans, trying to genuinely understand their logic.  I’ve done all the obligatory posting of my voting receipt, and I even dressed my dogs in Americana bandanas.  But, what I feel is most pressing, that I have yet to hear flushed out in the hours of media coverage, is where spirituality lies in all of this.

I’ve been reading a great book for my ethics requirement to renew my massage license;  “Ethics for the New Millennium” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; the Dalai Lama is the most renowned Buddhist monk, and representative of the Buddhist religion.  His words shook me to my core:  “Actually, I think there is a really important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality.  Religion, I take to be concerned with faith in their claims to salvation of one faith traditions or another, an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of metaphysical or supernatural reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or nirvana.  Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayer, and so on.  Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit- such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony- which bring happiness to both self and others… Religious faith demands spiritual practice.  Yet it seems there is much confusion, as often among religious believers or among non-believers, concerning what this actually consists of.”

Those words express the peril I have been feeling inside regarding this current presidential election.  The concept that religion can simply be pillared by ideology, and not hold, as its internal light and source of existence, the internal, individual qualities of spirituality, is heartbreaking.

When I focus on the Dalai Lama’s descriptive qualities of embodying spirituality, “love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony- which bring happiness to both self and others,” I am confident that these are the very qualities that feel replaced by many Americans, with an overwhelming sense of fear.  So many express fear of others; fear of those different from them; fear of other cultures and religions; fear of the unknown; and there are no virtues of spirituality in that.  That fear seems to be the driving force behind many votes this cycle, and even more convoluted, is how it is offered in the name of religion.  To me, there is no true understanding of the value of a religion within the world without the components of spirituality as its very essence.

So, where do we go from here?  I believe the collective energy, or fear that has been used as propaganda, really boils down to individual development.  That collective energy only promotes a source of sorrow when it is not absorbed as truth.  All fear can be justified by a fearful mind.  Inevitably, there were moments in this campaign where your gut twinged.  Where word or acions of the candidates created uneasiness within you.  Beyond being your moral compass, it is also a marker of your spirituality.  Were you alright with sects of people being dismissed because of their beliefs or sexual preferences?  Were you alright with those with disabilities being mocked?  Were you alright accepting the FBI’s outcome of their investigation?  Were you alright with women being vulgarly discussed as sexual objects?  What I’m asking is—did any part of you feel alerted to your, “love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony- which bring happiness to both self and others?”

Whether democracy prevails tonight, or not, may you continue to seek to grow the spirituality within you, because that is truly a world where equality and love will prevail.

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