I am in a Buddhist Centre in beautiful Bavaria. Nshorna, my daughter, sent me a brief text. “He’s resigned.”
The ancient Chinese proverb that the rotting fish starts from the head rings true
in the UK with the scale of political confusion, disarray and conflict sweeping through Westminster and the rest of the country.
All this has occurred for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in less than three years in the top job. Three hours ago, he resigned as leader of the Conservative Party. He remains determined to stay as Prime Minister until October when he will resign as PM. The Conservative Party will have elected a new leader and PM by then.
What is the karma going on in this situation? Is it time for our hearts to reach out to Boris Johnson? We witness a Shakespearean tragedy unfold in the real world.
Photo shows the back of Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson’s three decades in public life reveal numerous scandals, narcissism, lies, prejudices, arrogance, personal police investigation, defending his friends in Parliament under police investigation, more than 20 parties in Downing Street while the rest of the country lived under lockdown.
His behaviour revealed a lack of integrity and narcissism while ignoring corruption and fraud on a massive scale in his government.
He became the captain of his sinking ship of submissive ministers, who defended the indefensible in front of cameras and press conferences week after week, month after month.
Boris lives in a bubble of praise and blame, while major national and international issues get neglected. He pursues national and international attention. That’s what matters to him.
Like a balloon, the air slowly squeezes out of it or a pin bursts it.
Our Prime Minister clings to the drug of power probably fearful of what will happen to him as a nobody, a forgotten man, a former prime minister. This may be the primary anxiety for the inflated self. He might end up charging six figure fees to give banal talks and pointless anecdotes to bored directors of corporations and senior management in the English-speaking world.
Peace of mind and happiness will elude him. One can’t help but feel sorry for his situation.
Karma often comes Round
We should not imagine that the Conservative Party has suddenly woken up to care and compassion for all sections of society. That would have happened before the election of Boris Johnson with his history of lies, deceptions, superficiality, scandals and ugly statements in his newspaper column when a journalist. In his regular column, he promoted his brand of far-right wing nationalism. He poured scorn on Muslim women for wearing the burka, African nations, refugees and others.
Boris Johnson could not handle the concerns and criticism of voices within the Conservative Party, such as the grandees and thoughtful politicians. He turned his back on their decades of experience. He showed a lack of ethics and values in his single pursuit of self-interest. His behaviour now comes to haunt him. Through dismissing others, he finds himself dismissed. In the East, that’s called karma.
The Landlord (the Government) mostly want him evicted from his home in Downing Street, as soon as possible, to replace him with a new tenant. Johnson found himself primarily subject to eviction due to illegal and insensitive behaviour in number 10. That’s another example of karma and its consequences.
Johnson employed every falsehood with the assistance of the media to break away from the EU through its Brexit policy.
Today, Scotland has growing support to break away from England and its nationalistic tendencies. More people in Northern Ireland consider re-joining Ireland. Around one in three Welsh citizens support independence from Westminster.
Is there karma in the potential for a break-up of the United Kingdom?
Parliament and the country mostly want to him out of office to end a major historical political crisis, a constitutional nightmare, with a national opinion poll reporting only 16% of the country want hm to stay on as Prime Minister. The unwritten constitution of the country runs on trust. Trust has dissolved and it will need ethics, values and a renewal of focus on public service, not on numerous politicians placing self-interest first.
The indifference he dished out to others, politicians and the public, has come full circle. He is unwelcome, unwanted and unappreciated. Asylum seekers and refugees, as well as EU citizens who left Britain after Brexit, know this kind of feeling of rejection. Boris Johnson now experiences similar painful feelings. Karma comes back.
He treated Parliament, democracy and the country with disdain. The situation has turned around to give him a sample of the same treatment. He is now under verbal and written attack one day after the next. More karma.
Boris Johnson allowed his Downing Street parties, month after month, not caring for the families whose loved ones were dying from Covid and other sicknesses in hospital or those in homes for the aged, desperately missing their family members and friends due to lockdown.
A total of 126 fines were issued to partygoers in Downing Street during lockdown including the Prime Minister who also broke the law The fines amounted to small change to these highly paid government ministers and aids. If the police had any real authority, they would have closed down 10 Downing Street as a house of unethical, discriminatory and illegal behaviour and then ordered Westminster Council to convert number 10 into a city centre for treatment of alcohol abuse.
Those who suffered during lockdown might well say: “Boris Johnson, you didn’t care about us and the deaths of our loved ones. Why should we care about you suffering a political death?”
That’s the karma again rebounding into the mind of Boris Johnson. Karma does not always rebound but it certainly appears that way with the Prime Minister. In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 19:21), Jesus said: “You take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.” In simple English, some say the PM got his just deserts.
Chain of Conditions, Compassion and Boris Johnson
The Buddha pointed out that in the chain of conditions – contact leads to problematic forms of desire which leads onto grasping and clinging to forms of existence. Unless examined and changed to wise intention and wise action, this chain of behaviour will end up in suffering for the many and suffering for the perpetuator of his or her desires, grasping and clinging.
We now have a chaotic government. Far too many of his Ministers show an immature loyalty. As one former Minister for Culture quipped: ”Few cabinet ministers could do joined-up handwriting.”
Doesn’t the Buddha teach compassion for all beings? Yes.
Does that include Boris Johnson? Yes.
We may have to dig deep to find empathy and compassion for the current occupant of 10 Downing Street, who will receive notice soon to end his tenancy.
The Prime Minister is a product of his conditioning. To a certain extent, his past shapes his present making him a victim – to a degree. He has never explored ways to change it and has consistently justified his behaviour. Jocular mannerisms, eccentric hair, stunts, phony friends/advisors, and those wielding wealth and power secured the attention he desperately craved.
His political death can occur any day.
As an everyday human being, he will experience the total absence of power, domestic and international. Boris Johnson might well feel empty inside. Within weeks, he will no longer see himself on television or in the newspapers. World leaders and influential figures in the UK will move onto the next Prime Minister. With his political death, he will experience the loneliness similar to the loneliness of millions he neglected during two years with much lockdown.
One feels for the man. No wonder he clings to his political life. Being on the backbenches in Parliament will be like being in a hospital ward on oxygen witnessing what goes around but unable to say anything. This is suffering for a persona like his. Former Prime Ministers keep quiet to let the new PM get on with the job.
Boris Johnson needs to start the journey to inner change so he can have a rebirth to a new, fulfilling way of life. He will need daily support to get him through this period of political death.
Let us send him loving kindness and compassion, even though he will hate such a response. He craves admiration or rejection from powerful voices to give him a sense of self-worth.
His family and friends need to take care of him, encourage him to start a journey of inner change with wise counsel. Boris Johnson is vulnerable to his inner demons if he does not receive attention, kindness and therapeutic support. He might find himself in a dark well. He cannot climb out alone. People will need to provide the ladder and hold the ladder steady.
Will he take hold of the ladder to get himself out of the darkness of his self-aggrandizement? We shall see. Otherwise, unresolved karma continues in other ways,
He could start reading a little bit about the life and teachings of the Buddha. Prince Gautama saw the emptiness of power, addiction to pleasure and identity as heir to the throne. Prince Gautama walked out on it. He woke up fully (became a Buddha) six years later. Boris needs insights and understanding into himself so he can be reborn again – become emotionally mature, well integrated and trustworthy in his communications with others. He will no longer have to resort to lies, denial and avoidane whenever he is questioned about his behaviour.
Parliament slowly passes the political death sentence on Boris Johnson. Can he understand why he had to step down or will the Boris of old react with blaming others for the seeds he sewn.
The culmination of the last few days reveals the best thing that has happened to Boris Johnson in his entire life.
“You have the opportunity for deep, inner change.
“Seek wise counsel on the condition of your personality.
“You will have the time to free yourself from the demons of the past.
“Don’t waste the opportunity.
“Many of us wish the best for you.
“A reborn Boris will have much to offer.”
PS. I wrote a 5000-word essay on the influences from childhood, young adulthood and political career on the personality of Boris Johnson. I sent a PDF copy of the critique to all 650 Members of Parliament.
In his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson said: “We’ve seen at Westminster, the herd is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves and my friends in politics no one is remotely indispensable.” He still blames others and finds it impossible to take full responsibility for the political chaos around him. It is a tragic unfoldment and expression of delusion in the mind.
Others government ministers need to take full responsibility for their unquestioning support for the delusions of Boris Johnson.
Christopher Titmuss is the author of The Political Buddha.