When Donald Trump was elected President, I vowed never to look at a video or photo of him for the next four years. I couldn’t stand to see the visual that went with the arrogant bulldozing bully. I kept to that intention until the inauguration, when I actually did see a photograph of him and Melania and the Obamas together, in which he looked like a terribly unhappy and disturbed man (she looked “absent” entirely). The Obamas, on the other hand, looked joyful, alive. I felt real sadness looking at that picture—that some people could live such miserable lives, and make others miserable in the process. Still, the fear and depression I experienced as he began to implement his destructive campaign promises grew ever stronger. I knew I had to come to terms with my reaction to him. I had no idea the form it would take, however.
Background: In some Buddhist traditions, the monks take part in a practice that would appear odd and repulsive to many: meditation on a corpse. The reasons behind what may seem like macabre behavior are two-fold: 1) to overcome one’s aversion to death and the loss of the physical body; and 2) to realize that the external aspects of the physical form are not who we truly are. It apparently has a powerful affect on the monks who practice it.
At the end of January, I flew cross-country for a spiritual gathering in California. On the six-hour flight, for some reason I suddenly remembered that Buddhist practice and thought that perhaps my strong aversion to Donald Trump would make a good focus for a similar meditation (picturing him alive, not dead!). I closed my eyes and began. I didn’t feel much of anything for a while, but then slowly a softening began to occur within me as I pictured his face—a movement to a greater non-reactiveness. A remembrance that beneath every physical form there is a soul. These weren’t conscious insights—more like an opening of a closed door within.