“Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”[i]
For years I struggled looking for alignment between a practice rooted with what my teacher Enkyo O’Hara, roshi called “living a life of zen”[ii] which for me was a commitment to daily meditation, sutra and scripture study, lay vows, and keeping refuge in a lifestyle grounded in this eight fold path: right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration, and a longing towards magic, mythic phenomenon. I had a narrative in my mind that Buddhist practice was a stripped bare practice, with an aesthetic that in the commitment to non attachment resisted anything that could be translated as “all acts of love and pleasure.” That all began to change as I came to better understand the sutras of Buddhist teachings, and that life wasn’t a zero sum game. That in the vast language of the Diamond Sutra for example was Prajñāpāramitā, the great mother (one of her many aspects) in the center of a compelling lesson about the cosmic law of dharma, supreme wisdom, and the coalescence of enlightenment. As study begat more study, and wisdom traditions expanded across many teachers, I began to see a wider scope of what could be possible.
It’s election day here in the United States, and most Americans are glued to their news sources of choice to see who will guide this nation for the next four years. In addition, control of our Senate, and the outcome of several local ballot initiatives will decided this day, making for an exciting evening for those invested in our democratic republic. Many American Pagans, like every other group in this country, also find themselves deeply invested in our political process if my Facebook wall is any indicator, and so they should, as the very notions of democracy, of a republic, originated in pagan thought, in pre-Christian societies. Thomas Jefferson, a key architect of America’s religious freedoms, was proud that our country, in principle, encompassed “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.”
So on this election day, as we wait for the results to roll in, let’s focus on some electoral/election stories of interest to, or involving, modern Pagans. The ever-politically active Starhawk shares some final thoughts on the election, making her endorsements, but also stressing the importance of voting in general. Quote: “Still need inspiration? Consider the sixty years women struggled to get the right to vote. Think of those suffragists on hunger strike, force-fed through tubes, lying in rat-infested prisons—they want you to vote! Think of the civil rights workers in the South, risking their lives to register voters, think of the three who were murdered in 1964, Shwerner, Chaney and Goodman. They want you to vote!”