Dr. Strange Dharma: How I learned to Love Donald Trump, and ISIL…

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The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

I’ve been through this all before, you see, like back in May, 2014, when I was returning from Asia via Europe, i.e. Istanbul, specifically so that I could do a side trip to the Iraq border, and make a little incursion into the northern quarter, maybe even go as far as Mosul, if things looked good, and my resources and patience were holding up, something I’d heard you could do, without ever really leaving Turkey, officially, that is, as long as you come back to the same border, and re-enter Turkey, just like nothing ever happened…

But it seems somebody else had the same idea, a then-little-known organization variously called ISIL, ISIS, IS or Daesh (not Riprock). It seems they were causing a spot of bother there, huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, all in the name of Islam, putting the fun back in fundamentalism, telling people what they want to hear, and then doing what they had always intended to do—invoke Sharia law and rule as an Islamic caliphate…

So I changed my travel plans and the rest is history. So Daesh Not-Riprock was the butterfly effect in the chaos theory of my life, and who am I to claim to know better? Has my life gone downhill rapidly since Daesh ruined my travel plans and forced me to spend two weeks in Sarajevo, instead of Mosul? Only if downhill implies picking up speed in a dash to parts unknown…

Then Donald Trump came along, and I, like most of us, simply assumed that Americans could see the carny huckster for what he is, crude and rude and just dying to make a mockery of us all. We all know how that worked out. But throughout the campaign, I said that if DJT were elected, I’d leave the USA, and maybe or maybe not go back…

So that’s what I did. I began applying to a couple of Buddhist colleges and universities, and now here I am, in southern Thailand, studying the dharma with monks and lay people from a dozen Asian countries. Is my life worse than if Donald had lost and I had been tempted to forgo these life changes in favor of something more expedient? The moral of the story is that you don’t know what the future holds, and at best plans are probably something like a 50-50, giving and taking, making plans and discarding them…

Love Your Enemy: the Lessons that only Real Jerks Can Teach us…

No, I mean really! Because that enemy just might be the one to save you, the one who doesn’t really even pretend to want you, the one who offers no protection nor possession, of you or for you, neither implied nor intended, just the cold brutal calculation that all is not right with the world. And that is correct: all is NOT right with the world. Do you think that your car is running well if it accelerates effortlessly while driving you off a cliff?

But that’s the hardest thing in the world, of course, to not just forego biting the hand of your enemy, but to kiss it. Even Jesus didn’t go quite THAT far, since turning the other cheek is mostly a neutral action, even if the outcome is certain to hurt a bit. And loving your neighbor as yourself is not exactly the same as loving your enemy…

But to love the enemy is to love the unknown, and that is the Holy Grail of life on this planet. After all, he shouldn’t really be an enemy in the first place, now, should he? So that’s the epiphany, if and when you can make your enemy your friend. Or even if that is slow in coming, at least your enemy can offer critiques that your best friends won’t dare to offer. The last thing we need right now is the false sense of security that all is right with the world, because it is not…

The imbalances in this world of human activity are palpable and impending, and this is where DJT—and ISIL—can help. Though I’d much prefer a President who could ‘smooth things over’ or ‘make things right’, well, we chose one who was assured to ‘shake things up’, and the outcome might be no different if it were Bernie Sanders up there right now. So the natural instinct of the US electorate was to ‘shake things up’ and they were probably right…

Only by totally screwing things up beyond all hope, can we have the chance to re-boot human civilization BEFORE it degenerates too far, and these painful lessons can be learned for future generations, rather than buried in time capsules awaiting future archaeologists—or space adventurers. And on a personal level, these ‘shake-ups’ and screw-ups can play a positive role, too, in making us focus, in defining objectives, even if not in favor of the protagonist, whether it be Trump or ISIL.

Bottom line: the suffering you endure WILL empower you, paraphrasing that old line by what’s-his-name: Nietzsche. AND quite simultaneously and synchronously, it might just weaken the oppressor, and maybe even enlighten him and his. All of which is to say: for the moment, at least, there is no choice, so we might as well make the best of it…