Over the past year, we’ve had much political commentary on Views from Eagle Peak. Some of it has been rather polemical. Some, seriously satirical. Some, more observational and some intentionally humorous in an effort to lighten the mood of those afflicted by our current situation. The objective is to create and retain a sense of optimism. We’ll skip the clichés that describe that in contemporary America and perhaps around the world.
As a Buddhist, I don’t shun observations about what I see as the reality of politics in America. With regard to optimism, a phrase from the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin you may have seen here before, reads:
“When great evil occurs, great good follows.”
It’s not a foregone conclusion that such should happen, but rather it is through the efforts of practitioners that it will. Thus, Nichiren goes on to say in this short missive (possibly an excerpt; the date and recipient are unknown):
“What could any of you have to lament? Even if you are not the Venerable Mahakashyapa, you should all perform a dance. Even if you are not Shariputra, you should leap up and dance. When Bodhisattva Superior Practices emerged from the earth, did he not emerge dancing?”
Hardly seems pessimistic, does it? But, have any of you felt like dancing amidst the chaos created by America’s White House occupant? Probably not, I suspect. Yet I find Nichiren’s words both convincing and encouraging that wonderful things will happen in time. This despite the evils of America’s so-called President. I am confident that the country and the world will not only survive but can thrive. But let’s be clear, it will take effort on the part of many. Consider what Daisaku Ikeda, president of the international Buddhist organization says about Buddhist optimism, in Buddhism Day by Day.
“Buddhist optimism is not the escapist optimism of those who throw up their hands and say, ‘Somehow or other things will work out.’ Rather it means clearly recognizing evil as evil and suffering as suffering and resolutely fighting to overcome it. It means believing in one’s ability and strength to struggle against any evil or any obstacle. It is to possess a fighting optimism.”
Whether you practice or believe in Buddhism as I do, the explanation and admonition of Daisaku Ikeda is valid for anyone. Pollyanna’s need not apply. Only those willing to work for the results they hope for will validate optimism.