It is an impossible task to make a mandala that transcends the possibility of nuclear war and the destruction of the human race. I note how this mandala seems rigid and closed (in mandala parlance, a stage 5 target mandala). The only light in at is in the North Korean flag. A scary commentary that if there is to be a way through this mess, it’s going to have to comes from the likes of Kim Jung Un.
I’ve changed the name of this series from Transforming Trump to Transcending Trump. It’s such a little change, but it acknowledges a huge truth. I do not have the power to transform Trump or the terrible divide within this country. But perhaps with this seres I can do my part to help transcend its life-draining impact.
The headline at the bottom of the mandala says it all: And suddenly it’s reality. In the wake of Charlottesville, there is no longer any possibility of ignoring the hatred and racial divide within our country. This mandala is not an effort at denial; that’s not what transcendence is. It is a way of maintaining our centers in the midst of it.
That is the gift of mandala. It draws you deep into its (and your) transcendent center and then propels you out from it into the world beyond its borders. Without this spiritual anchor, the world I’m currently living in can feel too overwhelming to cope with. With it, I’m able to rest within the quiet of its core and then get out there to make those calls, write those letters, attend those vigils and scrawl a sign I never dreamed I’d need to make: KKK IS NOT OK.
The headlines opined: “Trump v. Nixon- No Comparison.” Of course, everyone has been making the comparison, with the Russia scandal so front and center in the headlines and the growing fear that our entire Constitutional system is under attack. I remember the day Nixon resigned. I was watching TV with some friends of a friend in Paris. Reading the subtitles as President Nixon made his much-heralded announcement, one of them asked me, “Why would Americans force Nixon to step down? He was a respected diplomat. He ended the Vietnam war and opened China. He founded the E.P.A. and enforced the desegregation of schools. He was a good president.”
“But he was a liar and a cheat,” I responded.
The French speaker looked at me incredulously. “You Americans are so naive. Do you really expect politicians to be honest?”
The answer back then was yes. It still is.
As much as I am opposed to Trump’s politics and the rise of red state conservatism in America, I am far more troubled by the loss of our Enlightenment ideals- those powerful (and often conflicting) beliefs that have been the hallmark of American political rhetoric for almost two hundred fifty years: freedom, equality, democracy, individualism, hard work and the optimism that comes from a belief in progress and perfectability. Perhaps these were never actually the basis for American politics. My daughter’s Turkish boyfriend certainly scoffed at that claim. Perhaps they’ve always just been rationalizations for brute aggression and capitalist greed, and Trump is just claiming our true national birthright.
But how I hope that’s not the case. How I pray that there is still a place for a constitutional government based on these ideals and that our congressional leaders will find the courage to stand up to this President and reclaim the moral leadership that has.
This week’s Transforming Trump mandala makes use of the star of life, the paramedics’ symbol for emergency medicine. Our medical system is so clearly on life support and in desperate need of a transplant. I hope and I pray that those in power can find some way to bridge their differences and work together in the interest of our hurting nation- the same hope and prayer that people everywhere have echoed for millennia. The Flower of Life (and the promise of my faith) is that this reconciliation has already happened, if only we can open ourselves to it.
As I cut out the headlines and arrange them on a 12 x 12 inch wood block, my blood pressure starts to rise and I am overwhelmed by a sense of fear and futility. Then I paint over them a thin layer of white acrylic paint, just enough to let the headlines fade into the background. I feel myself begin to relax. I take out the compass and draw the first flower of life and my own consciousness is transformed. Slowly I come to the acceptance that all that is happening is necessary to bring both me and my country to the next stage of what we are becoming. It’s my job to both speak my truth and release my insistence that it is the only one.
Did you know that every shape there is can be found within the Flower of Life? Meditating with it can bring profound peace, even in the midst of chaos like we have today in our political life. It helps me put it into some kind of perspective.
Is this what Americans experienced as the Teapot Dome scandal erupted around Warren G. Harding?
Is it what my sister-in-law felt like as she endured eight years of the Obama presidency?
Political shenanigans are nothing new, not to the world and not to our country. Somehow we still manage to get from one end of life to the other. The Flower of Life reminds me to take a deep breath and connect with something deeper.
It was another day of gut-twisting news. I went upstairs to meditate and I saw a mandala of the flower of life floating over all the headlines that dominate so much of our collective psyche. A new art project was born.
This project is for all of us, whatever our politics. It’s for transforming the angst we all feel over the daily barrage of headlines (albeit for different reasons.)
I hope to complete a Transforming Trump mandala each week for the rest of the year and to find some place to display them all together when I am finished.