The Hindu meme “Everyone you meet is your guru” has been at the center of spiritual living for decades, meaning that if we simply shut up and listen to the people around us, there are vast riches to be gleaned from other’s wisdom and experience, and lessons to be had via the mirrors that others hold up to our own egocentric lives.
Luckily, today the universe is providing savvy students everywhere with life lessons to be learned from one of our most profound teachers: Donald Trump.
Seriously. Rarely have we gotten the chance to see a bloated ego eating itself the way we’re witnessing with Trump. No matter what happens with the election, he’s a capitalism cautionary tale writ large, and I’m happy to have him for the moment, because every day I can wake up and look at myself in the mirror and not see signs of Trump is a good one. A low bar to be sure, but I can safely say that, despite my failings, I and most people I know bear little spiritual resemblance to the little man with the big mouth.
Along with his status as the last angry white male fighting for his dwindling entitlement as the multi-culti world passes him by, Trump will go down in history as the poster child for unenlightenment and bad listening. He is the polar opposite of someone with a rich inner life (what the Sanskrit calls a prithag-jan, or “ordinary person, commoner, fool”), so whenever I see him running his mouth, I take solace in the fact that he’s losing at a game he doesn’t even know exists (care of the soul and enhancement of the higher self) and reminds me of pretty much no one I know.
Which is to say that Trump’s hate-filled campaign makes me feel better about the choices I and so many people I know around these parts have made, away from the consumer culture and social media mania that too often drives the collective soul. Everywhere I look, I see Newton’s third law of physics “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” being played out, and so if Trump is the unavoidable action of the moment, then widespread love, inclusiveness, and thoughtfulness is the opposite reaction. Bring it.
This is not about the power of positivity in bleak times, this is about civility during wartime: Don’t be like him. Yes, Trump’s words and images are everywhere, but in another reality, far from the madding crowds, most everywhere I turn these days I see friends, neighbors and strangers who nurture not the kind of hate, greed and lust for power that feeds Trump and gave birth to the bank collapse of 2007 and the Wall Street crimes laid out in “The Big Short.”
No, I see people fostering their families and communities with kindness, good listening, collaboration over competition, a passion for small businesses and local products, goods and services, and working for inner and outer peace in an increasingly loud, stupid and angry world. I see people working for causes and their families and trying to make the world better and, in doing so, without even trying, becoming something of an organic anti-Trump coalition.
I’ve been saying it for a month or so: Donald Trump is my guru. He teaches me 24-7 that we are better than that, better than him, better than what he says we are. He teaches me to have compassion for him, and what has to be an intensely lonely life. He teaches me to be gentler, and kinder, and more thoughtful.
He teaches me that most people are not vengeful, or cutthroat, or always looking out for number one, and that sometimes a catalyst for massive good can come from the unlikeliest of corners, and comb-overs.
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org