Trump as Zen Koan

Many Buddhists talk about two worlds — absolute and relative.

In the absolute world, form is emptiness and emptiness is form. I am empty of I-ness and you are empty of you-ness because we are all one. This absolute world is non-dual.

Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump listens to a question at the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in ClevelandThe relative world is the one we all need in order to function. I have I-ness and you have you-ness. The chair has enough chair-ness for me to be confident that it will support me when I sit in it.

It’s that relative world that Donald Trump is fucking with. I wrote last about what Trumpism is doing to my sense of being an American. Now let’s examine what Trump is doing to reality. Let’s imagine that he is a fully enlightened Buddha who has come with a Zen koan to awaken us.

When students ask this great, amazing Zen master whether a chair has chair-ness, sometimes he roars “Yes!” and sometimes, just as vehemently, “No!” He’s great! He’s really amazing!

You see, Trump has discovered another world, neither relative nor absolute. It’s a world in which we can never know whether a chair has chair-ness. Sometimes it does, and we can sit with confidence. Sometimes it does not, and we had best stand. Maybe living in that world is the jolt we need to propel all sentient beings into enlightenment.

That would be great! Really great! Amazing!

— Mel Pine (Urgyen Jigme)

Copyright 2017 © Mel Harkrader Pine

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