Melvin McLeod edits the volume Mindful Politics: “Politics is really about how we live together as human beings, and all spiritual practices point to one simple but profound truth about human life — that only love leads to peace, hatred never does. This is as true for nations as it is for individuals.”
McLeod's proposed Buddhist-inspired political platform is (that is, if the Buddha were a politician he might have based his politics on the Four Immeasurables):
May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.
May they dwell in the great equanimity free of passion, aggression, and ignorance.
Politics is emotions gone awry — vengeance, war, persecution of difference. As Buddhism, particularly through mindfulness, promotes emotional and social intelligences, it might have something to offer the world as an antidote to hostility, inequity, and damage. The dualistic and false sense of “us” versus “them” underlies much of the conflict. If everyone does not work together then there is the risk of being divided one against another. According to McLeod, the keys to change are: forgiveness, awareness, kindness, and selflessness. Politics is ultimately about relationships, and all relationships brook in power and conflict. How will these conflicts be resolved? Will they be resolved with mindful awareness or through the perpetuation of the Three Poisons?
Individual transformation is the prerequisite for societal transformation. The first step is not to save the world, but to save yourself. If each individual works to limit or even eliminate hatred, greed, and ignorance, the world will be a better place through the aggregation of this absence.
“When we talk about preservation of the environment, it is related to many other things. Ultimately, the decision must come from the human heart. The key point is to have a genuine sense of universal responsibility, based on love and compassion, and clear awareness.” — The Dalai Lama
Consider this statement from Buddhist monk and Vietnam veteran Claude Anshin Thomas, in his book At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace. “Peace is not an idea. Peace is not a political movement, not a theory or a dogma. Peace is a way of life: living mindfully in the present moment… It is not a question of politics, but of actions. It is not a matter of improving a political system or even taking care of homeless people alone. These are valuable but will not alone end war and suffering. We must simply stop the endless wars that rage within … Imagine, if everyone stopped the war in themselves — there would be no seeds from which war could grow.”