This Election is Important
Of course, every election is important, but somehow this upcoming election has acquired greater significance.
For Rishi Aurobindo, the great Yogi pictured in the title of the blog, nation building was a part of his mandate. So we too present our Yogic perspective of this forthcoming election.
Greater vs Lesser evil is a poor choice
Neither of the two candidates are appealing from the perspective of a Yogi. In fact, appalling would be a more fitting description! Both are beholden to corporate interests and violence that feeds the endless war machine.
Wouldn't it be better to vote for the Greater Good instead?
Patanjali's yoga sutras mentions Ahimsa as the very first qualification of a true Yogi. Both of the leading candidates have done their own share of Himsa - a mindless violence - and are threatening to perpetuate this mindless violence if brought into office.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Shri Krishna makes multiple attempts at diplomacy to persuade the Kauravas to part with even a small portion of the empire to the Pandavas, finally asking them for only five small villages. But the Kauravas refuse to concede even a pinhead's worth of land. Only at this point does war to save Dharma become inevitable. Dharma is one of those Sanskrit non-translatables described here. Dharma cannot be sustained if we are always meek and passive in every situation.
Shri Krishna is the embodiment of the ultimate Yogi, yet he advocates the application of force in this particular context. So if Himsa is mindless violence, then Ahimsa could span the range from complete non-violence all the way to the mindful application of force.
This mindful definition of Ahimsa assumes that humans are actually intelligent and able to apply the appropriate force at the appropriate time. It further assumes that in our logical system we have a multi-valued Truth system that can weigh multiple outcomes.
Life does not have to be Binary
Unfortunately the American system suffers from a binary approach that stems from following monotheistic religions - the bane of human society for the last 1,700 years on Earth. Either you are a follower or you are an outsider. You are either a good guy or a bad guy. You are with us, or you are not. You are either a Republican or a Democrat! With the fundamental thinking being so binary, this has and will continue to lead to more and escalating violence in the world.
I hope you are following the logic thus far.
This was never the case in the Hindu Dharma which has a unique architecture that embraces millions of different ways to the Divine, and likewise reflects in the Indian political system with its myriad parties each with its constituent groups. Of course, those constituent groups have been divided up artificially, thanks to colonial education, but that is an issue to take on separately.
Can we not have more than just two choices in the American Political Market?
A longer term View
The typical answer is that a third party candidate will never win, so why even bother - let's just vote for the lesser of the two evils and be done with it. Just like most of us are unable to think beyond Quarterly results in the Stock Markets, similarly we are unable to think beyond this one upcoming election and work towards creating a multi-party competition.
But a good Yogi has the energy to shift a million people by the sheer force of intention.
A good 3rd party candidate is Jill Stein of the Green Party. If she gets 5% of the popular vote then the Green Party will get federal campaign funds for the next election. And will likely be included in future Presidential debates. That's a huge shift for next-generation Americans, to be given more than a binary choice of representatives.
And then there's another burning, so to speak, topic which was raised in today's class about Proposition 64 - to do with Legalizing Marijuana.
The Yogi's Perspective
From a Yogi's perspective, Marijuana is an advanced technique, hinted at in Patanjali's yoga sutras as written here and described here. Since time immemorial "Ganja" has been associated with Hatha Yogis, and even with Shiva himself. As one of our Yoga teachers clarified, working with Ganja is like doing heavy duty weight lifting for the mind. Unfortunately most users are not taught the specific Yoga (meditation) technique and end up getting stoned into euphoria which then leads them into a lethargic daze. They are not a menace to society, like alcohol drunkards, nor are they a cost to society like tobacco addicts who get cancer. But they do pay an individual price if they get addicted.
Impact on Society
Of course, younger folks should be encouraged to stay away from Marijuana as it could impact crucial brain development at this stage. Yet, it is available in plenty in every high school and even middle school in the US. This is undeniable and there will be no hiding our children from its reach.
Marijuana is not physiologically addictive but it is definitely psychologically addictive. But then Tobacco and Alcohol are both physiologically and psychologically addictive - so why are they legal? For that matter, Sugar is also addictive and is definitely carcinogenic - and that industry is even subsidized! Marijuana on the other hand has plenty of medical uses and has been shown to help chemotherapy patients in rehabilitation.
Follow the Money
When industries such as Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco go underground as in during Prohibition, then this leads to crime which furthers the huge Prison-Industrial Complex. Most of the so-called "criminals" who are caught for using drugs are from poorer parts of society and the jails are filled with such non-violent offenders for whom we pay $35,000/year in their upkeep! What a waste of money when it could be used for rehabilitation purposes. Drug addiction is not a crime, it is a behavioral health issue. But the Prison-Industrial Complex lobbies to keep it a crime so that they can profit. And society pays the price.
Marijuana was originally outlawed when the cotton industry discovered that the hemp (weed) was a fantastic and much cheaper replacement. As a bonus, making it illegal could let paranoid lawmakers subtly implement a racist policy because it was being used by Mexicans, Blacks, and anti-establishment Hippies who could then be jailed and thus furthering the Prison-Industrial Complex. You can do your own research on this.
Setting an Example
We set the best possible example for our children by not indulging in any form of addictive toxic substances like wine (interferes with spiritual practice), or even sugar (causes cancer). Children observe that their parents are hypocrites when they throw a party and offer wine to guests. Even if the hosts don't drink they are sending drunk drivers home for the night, while lecturing to the kids about its evils. At that point the kids just tune out the parents completely, and you might as well be talking to a stone(d) wall - pun intended :-)
Loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu
(May all beings in all worlds be in a good space)