Should Monks and Nuns Vote for Hillary or Donald?

“ Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedyErnest Benn

Yes, we monks and nuns will probably vote for one or the other, (more likely the one,) but our hearts are not into it. Few of us have been out ringing doorbells, or sending much cash, or arguing  with family and friends. Like I said, we’ll vote, but our hearts are not into it. We’re monks and nuns, after all.

For close to 30 years now I have been a lay monk (and Senior Librarian)  at

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Heart Mountain Monastery, Nunnery and Art Colony, a Buddhist-Methodist, online off-line, community of old and new friends, dharma buddies, fellow travelers.  As monks and nuns, (and/or simply practicing artists) we endeavor to gently align our daily lives, inwardly and outwardly,  to what is real, true, beautiful.

One has to be very “prayed up,” as they say in the business, to see that what is going on between Hilary and Donald, and in the political arena all together, is at root “real, true, and beautiful.”  That may, in its deepest reality, be the case, but, alas, most of us, within and without the monastery, are not so prayed up that we can see that deepest reality, see the beauty there unfolding.  (As the Zen folks say, we all still have a “beginner’s mind,” when it comes to being “prayed up.”)

Both Donald and Hilary claim to be Christian, (Hilary a Methodist,  Donald a “baby Chirstian,” of the right wing, polticial expediency type).  As Mahatma Gandhi observed, “Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.”

One of our basic games at Heart Mountain Monastery is to pretend that the whole planet is holy ground—thus, the whole planet is our monastery. We sometimes take the game a step further and pretend that every being on the planet is either a monk or a nun, knowingly or not, on a life’s pilgrimage to higher consciousness, e.g., the consistent perception of truth and beauty.

So we see Donald and Hilary as pilgrims, as a singular monk and a nun, making their way through life as best they can, with crowds,  minions and media filming, recording their every step.

Thus, as you might guess, as monks and nuns here on this holy ground, most of us at Heart Mountain Monastery have not been inspired to give much energy, much attention, to the vicious, narrow, seemingly unreal conversations, debates (sad, suicidal warfare) now ongoing between Monk Donald and Nun Hillary.   Some of us simply regard these two as a rogue monk and a rogue nun gone sadly, seriously  astray (from the reality of the good, the true and the beautiful), and influencing others to do the same.  Regarding the political arena, for many of us, “It’s not my monkey, not my circus,” as one wag nun nicely summed it.

Of course, we have a few monks and nuns at HMM who insist that no, the choice between Donald and Hilary is in fact quite real – – life and in death real, Christians and lions real,  ISIS and Boko Haram real, drowning refugees real– – and thus we should, we must, throw our energies into the ever-shifting maelstrom: Donald or Hillary? Reality demands an answer.

We monks and nuns – – those of us intent on discovering  the singular (mono- nun-o) reality on this planet, and aligning ourselves with it, with what is inclusive, sustainable, harmonious, what we can count on, even directly experience and share with others—we monks and nuns, though mostly un-attentive to Donald and Hilary, are nevertheless quite attentive, deeply dedicated  to bringing  an end to suffering.  We are not so much torn between Donald and Hillary—which one will most quickly end the suffering–  as we are baffled and saddened and, in the end, made mostly mute by the cultural, economic, educational and political systems that brought these two to the top. Such general systems failures are among the reasons we made the decision to put our life’s energies in other directions, e.g., withdraw, to an extent, where we can, from such systems, and become monks and nuns.

For us, when you ask,  Donald or Hillary? The question is akin to the old,  “have  you stopped beating your wife yet?” The question itself does not reflect our reality.

Or, more precisely, the question Donald or Hillary? is like being asked, is the sum of two plus two five,  or is it seven? Neither one we say.

That’s not a valid answer we are told. You must decide, choose: which is closer to your truth? Five or seven? Okay, five is closer to four, in some ways, But, relative to 2+2– the principle of mathematics– five is just as untrue as seven. We can’t say 2+2 = 5 is closer to the truth than 2+2 = 7.  2+2=5e is absolutely not true, just as 2+2 = 7 is absolutely not true.

For monks and nuns, neither Hillary nor Donald represent our true communal leadership. Neither of them have presented to us a workable path to peace, to economic solvency, to international harmony– to the end of suffering.  As monks and nuns we probably will vote on election day but our faith for peace on earth is not placed in the political arena.

Something is indeed happening on this planet that does inspire a devotion of our daily energies. As monks and nuns we are inspired to go beyond our cultural conditioning, our nationalist conditioning, our dualistic Democrat/Republican conditioning. We daily work for the singular light of life which is articulating itself, demonstrating itself, now revealing itself ever more clearly. We want to work for Gaia, for Kosmos, Shiva Shakti Buddha or simply more peace on earth.  You can ask us, Donald or Hillary? We do not see the answer to this question as an answer that will end the suffering.

Yes, we’ll vote. But our faith for the future is no longer placed in nationalist politics. “War is too serious a matter to leave to the generals,” to either Donald or Hilary. Leadership now must come, is coming, from we, the grass roots.

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