The Zen Question of the Presidential Debate

“What don’t you know and how will you learn it?”

I watched the Presidential debate hoping it will generate some ideas, thoughts, associations etc, something to write about or comment. But nothing. The political ping pong went on and on going someplace close to nowhere. It felt to me like both candidates could not say what they really wanted and therefore resorted to slogans, repeated statements and recycled jokes. I would like to suggest a new type of debate where the candidates are forced to take a truth drug before they begin. I promise the network much higher rating and America a better future…

But like in any good story, there was a twist at the end to save the day. The last question came from the internet. I love it! It is as if this collective body of knowledge, this cyber entity called www came up with a question. Tom Brokaw warned the candidates that the question had a somewhat “Zen like” koan quality: What don’t you know and how will you learn it. I think the internet is living up to its name. The internet speaks a binary language of yes – no, true – false, 1-0, no wonder it produced a question that is both true and false and illogical in its logic. If there is something the candidates do not know, how will they know it? And if they do not know what they do not know, how could they possibly know what they need to learn? But that was not the question. The internet came out with a rhetorical question which can be rephrased: Do you two guys recognize the fact that there are things you do not know, and if so, are you OK with that? Both candidates failed to answer the oracle of the internet. But, an interesting chain of events and synchronicities followed the question. Senator Obama started answering the obscure question by referring to his wife, Michelle, who was sitting dressed in a Republican red dress. Hmmm, I thought to myself at last, the plot thickens…

McCain did not do any better in his attempt to answer the koan. His response would probably have earned him a beating from a seasoned Zen master, which in Western term might come across as lowered rates of approval in polls. But the answer came to those who did not close their TV right away but watched the action around the debaters as their friends and family came down to the arena. I was struck by the color scheme. There is Cindy, McCain’s wife, wearing Democratic blue while Michelle, Obama’s wife, is wearing red. McCain and Obama remained partisan as ever in their color choice for their ties. Obama blue and McCain wore red.

But their wives? Their Eves!

What a classic switcharoo! Was the Zen question bringing forth a Yin Yang dance between red and blue? A little McCain red tie in the sea of Cindy blue? A little Obama blue point in the wave of Michelle red? Hmmm… internet is a wise teacher indeed…

This intercourse between the Merciful blue and the Sever red became more and more intense. It felt to me that the Yin Yang manifested in the debate as Obama the merciful tried to look more sever while the old warrior McCain, took effort in appearing more compassionate by saying “my friends” every sentence or two…

The room where the debate was held looked like some futuristic virtual lab; the floor was red the walls and ceiling blue. It was a little hard on the eyes. It reminded me of the movie Tie Me Up Tie Me Down by Almodovar. A magical duet of the merciful blue and the sever red. But more then the movie I kept seeing the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the two spheres: red Severity and blue Mercy. These two spheres, just like the political parties they represent, are on opposite sides of the aisle, of the pillar of balance.

Mercy is in the center of the pillar of expansion while Severity is located in the center of the pillar of constriction. And we are not talking only budget and ideology here; we are talking archetypes, energy generators and containers. Even though they are located on the opposite sides of the pillar of balance, they do have a path of wisdom, a highway of light, or in Hebrew, Nativ, that insures the two extreme are connected. That path is called Strength and is associated with the zodiac sign Leo which happens to be the sign of Senator Obama. It is called the path of Strength because true power comes from the wedding of Compassion and Severity, Mercy and Security.

So the answer to the Zen question: there is none. Like I said, the Zen question by definition has no answer. I think the internet generated closing question was designed to make us ask more questions. According to the Tree of Life as well as the stylists who chose the dressed to the hopeful first ladies, the Zen question brought up the need to recognize the fact that true strength which America needs now more then ever has to do with putting together the blue and red, the mercy and severity of God’s creation. But this is true also to each one of us. If in our lives we can put these two archetypes together, be active and receptive, outgoing and deep, masculine and feminine, powerful and gentle, we will create the perfect harmonious life we all wish for ourselves and others.

Amen and thx the Lord for the Internet…