Being a Zen student in the Korean Chogye tradition has taught me that all of my political thoughts, feelings, opinions and impulses arise by themselves like flowers in the springtime. They arise because of my family background, life experiences, education, and the influences of friends, neighbors, co-workers, politicians and the news media. They have no self-nature, they are transitory; next year or next decade I expect to have different beliefs. Therefore, I am very careful about not becoming overly attached to my beliefs or to the results of an election or legislative session.
When I push facts and data through my personal screens and sieves, I come to mostly conservative conclusions. I know this is quite different from many other sangha members, who come to liberal conclusions. However, common to both views is the desire to serve beings, and to serve beings through involvement in the shaping of public policy.
What disturbs me about the current political environment is that there is so little courtesy, respect and dialogue between political activists from opposite ends of the spectrum. It is so very toxic—definitely not Buddhist. There are opportunities for forming working coalitions focused on serving beings, but these opportunities are being lost at local, state, national and world levels.