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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Obama Karma by Russell Razzaque.

Greetings, friends and soon-to-be friends!! It has not been my intention to have been away for so long, but some trying times engulfed my wife and I this summer, which kept me away. Things are improving now and much better, so I am officially back!!

I was recently sent an interesting book titled, "Obama Karma: Lessons on Living Inspired by the 44th President" by Russell Razzaque. I don't normally talk politics on here (I have a separate blog for that) but this book intrigues me.

I voted for President Obama in 2008, but what I admire about him most isn't his politics necessarily, though many I do support. I admire him greatly for being calm under pressure, ability to listen and for his poise. Those are qualities that I can connect to from my Buddhist practice. Irregardless of his political beliefs, he is a wonderful example on how to calming deal with challenges in life, which is something I lack at times.

Mr. Obama is Christian, but he has qualities of a Buddhist who has experience with mindfulness. He seems to approach issues with an open-mind, willing to listen to other viewpoints before sharing his personal opinions. This speaks of a natural ability to practice "right speech" which hinges upon being able to listen, and truly listen, which means not just waiting for your turn to speak again. It means being mindful enough to truly absorb the intention behind each word, rather than just the words themselves. If we are listening but get caught up in our own thoughts at the same time then we miss vital pieces of information that could be gleaned from body language and intentions behind words. Being able to perceive these other signals can only come when we are truly present and aware of our partner in discussion.

This are some of but a few thoughts and lessons I learned from reading the book, "Obama Karma." The book also includes practical exercises on how we can ingrain similar traits into our personal lives. It's a book that straddles the political and spiritual without drowning in the overly political. It's a nice, short, read but deep with insights. I'd really recommend it. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5. A good gift idea for your political friends, Obama supporters or just people looking for lessons on how to be more mindful in political discussions.


~I bow to the Buddha within all~

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Kerry Brian Davidson said...

Welcome back ;-)

Anonymous said...

Is there a sutta that describes the mindful way to decide who lives and who dies, and then carry out your decrees using Predator drones, without bothering with a trial? Or is there guidance from the Buddha on how right action entails killing innocent women and children?

Perhaps he said something like, "Bikkhus, there is one who having attained poise, having attained calm, having attained the ending of self-doubt and the disregard of others, can judge within himself who is worthy of life and who is worthy of death, and can take the lives of those he deems worthy of death without experiencing self-doubt or disquiet: him we call 'an accomplished man, a poised man, a man with full self-possession'"?

They call him James Ure said...

I never said Obama was perfect, are you? I doubt it, so since no one is perfect. Maybe you should worry about your own weaknesses. Buddha also advised against judging others.

Savannah said...

Is this true though?

hosh said...

I'm not an American, and don't live in the US. The circumstances of never living in a country in which I've been a citizen have meant that I've never had the right or privilege to vote in a national election. But surely everyone who votes needs to evaluate the candidates on the basis of factors such as personal values, the candidate's likely performance, etc. The author of this piece has mentioned some, and the person with the anonymous comment has mentioned another. Those who are better versed in Buddhism than I am need to decide whether this kind of evaluation is supposed to be shunned by Buddhists as "judgmentalism". In any case, I would hazard a guess that "Anonymous" feels a degree of anguish with regard to his/her leader and the decision that he/she needs to make in the upcoming election. I would further guess that the blog author's response was not without emotion.

Today I read two articles about Obama, one in the Atlantic: "Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama" in The Atlantic ( and another in the NYT about his "disconnect" with regard to the exercise of free speech (, as expressed in his UN speech today.

Fortunately I don't need to worry about who to vote for in your election, but unfortunately everyone everywhere needs to be concerned about who Americans choose as leaders, and to hope that you will hold them to account once they are elected.

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