Progressive Revival

 I was a guest on The Colbert Report tv show on Comedy Central channel, and Stephen Colbert asked me why Obama should become a Buddhist now that he’s left his church.


12. Buddhists have more fun.

11. It’d be great to have a president for once who practiced right speech, right actions, right intentions and right livelihood– the  four noble truths Buddha taught.  (Religion is meant as a uniting force rather than a divisive one.)

10. I’d call him Head Lama Obama.

9. All the best people are. My religion is the best and the only way, just like yours.

8. It’s time for a change, and for 2500 years Buddhism has taught change and inclusivity.

7. Buddhist meditation and mindfulness training is good for both physical and mental health.
    (Pres. Medvedev of Russia does yoga.)

6. Nonviolence and altruism is the Buddhist way. War could be outlawed. (Are you listening, Medvedev?)

5.   Buddha was the world’s first ecological leader and protector of animals as well as human beings.
(Obama might rename 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “The Green House”, or even practice homelessness for a while in solidarity with the least fortunate among us)

4. Buddhist practices of  nowness-awareness, mindful anger management and nonviolent conflict resolution could make him an enlightened leader, like Aung San Su Kyii of Burma and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

3. I am a Buddha, and so can you– to quote a media sage and saint. (I’m not above sucking up to my sponsors.)

2. It would help the energy crisis.

My Father’s favorite answer to all of life’s big questions:


I believe that what we really need today, along with a lively broad public conversation about religion and politics, is a century of dialogue and enhanced spiritual and geopolitical literacy, not merely another era of extreme views, prejudice, bloodshed, conquest,, fanaticism and short-term thinking. A new generation seeks for and deserves common ground, beyond the old partisanships, borders and territories. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “Those who think that religion and politics are two separate fields don’t know much about either religion or politics.” 

No man is an island, as the poet says. We are all in this together; we rise or fall, sink or swim together. If we don’t pull together we’ll be pulled apart.

This is my advice to Barak Obama  as well as to the secretly church-searching Stephen Colbert: Better to become a Buddha than a mere Buddhist. And it takes one to know oneself.

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