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What Buddha Might Say To Obama Before the Election

What Buddha Might Say To Obama Before the Election

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. –Buddha

With six months to go before the election, President Obama has officially launched his campaign. This is an important time for him not to take anything for granted, but also to stay true to his beliefs and ethics.

It is extremely hard to stay balanced during difficult and challenging times, as there are always those who want to bring you down, who disagree, criticize, or act like they know better. It is obvious that it will be a nasty presidential campaign. Both Obama’s religion and his birthplace are constantly questioned yet he holds his head high, speaks calmly and intelligently, and seems to have no malice. His reaction to such dissenters has simply shown his determination to keep going forward. As he said: “What we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That’s what I strive to do, that’s what I pray to do every day.”

When people speak badly about you, you should respond in this way: Keep a steady heart and do not reply with harsh words. Practice letting go of resentment, and accept that another’s hostility is the spur to your understanding. Be kind, adopt a generous standpoint, treat your enemy as a friend, and suffuse your world with affectionate thoughts, far-reaching and widespread, limitless and free from hate. –Buddha

The Buddha’s teaching is based on our interdependence and interconnectedness. In a very broad sense, the role of the president is similar — to recognize how we all affect each other, which is our basic interconnectedness. Obama’s recent announcement of his support of gay marriage is an example of this, as it reflects the desire that all beings be treated equally. As Obama said four years ago: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

We are delighted that Obama has recognized gay marriage as a fundamental right, for the soul is neither male nor female, gay or straight. The cover of Newsweek features an image of Obama with a rainbow-colored halo above his head. The main story is: “The First Gay President.” We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat, sleep, and want to be happy. Love is not determined by gender. Why should anyone be denied the right to live the life they want, as long as they are not creating suffering for another? When we first met with the Dalai Lama at his residence in northern India we prostrated before him, as is the custom. He quickly lifted us up saying, “We are all equal here.”

But the differences between us can be huge. Although Obama pledged bipartisanship, in the last four years we have seen the worst partisanship ever, with the Republicans determined to say “no” to whatever Obama proposes. To find unity, we have to go beyond those differences; we have to surrender our own needs for the benefit of all. In the process, our enemies can teach us great patience and even compassion!

It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. –Buddha

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. –Buddha

There have been some great achievements in the last four years as well as promises that haven’t been kept. But perfection is knowing ones own imperfections, which gives us the ability to get up each time we fall.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. –Buddha

Image: Pete Souza /

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:


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7:34PM PDT on May 27, 2012

Thanks. This is very uplifting. If there was ever a time that Obama needs to know that the people need to change their nation it is now. He can only do so much on his own but the nation can change the course of their own history.

11:00PM PDT on May 16, 2012


10:43PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Nice piece and good reminders. Thank you Ed and Deb.

2:25PM PDT on May 16, 2012

Stimulating article, thanks.

1:34PM PDT on May 16, 2012


10:56PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Good article, thanks.

9:40PM PDT on May 15, 2012

enlightening stuff

9:35PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Great comments - very enlightening. Obama is the Father Against Gender Discrimination.

7:58PM PDT on May 15, 2012

A great article.

It shows us how teachings of great masters can be used for our mundane life Often they get lost in books, discussions and religious events. The masters asked us to integrate in daily lives

7:55PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Thanks for the great quotes from the Dalai Lama in the article. They are simply stated, yet so thought-provoking.

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