Which of the candidates would most likely follow Nagarjuna’s advice? Without partisan spirit, guided by the noblest and highest aspirations, may we apply this good counsel to our deliberations, and choose wisely.
Advice to Political Candidates from Arya Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland
Eliminating defects and acquiring good qualities are the practices of those seeking high status. Extinguishing conceptions through awareness of reality is the practice of those seeking definite goodness.
ON RELATIONS WITH OPPONENTS
Take no pleasure in worldly talk; take delight in what passes beyond the world. Cause good qualities to grow in others in the same way you wish them for yourself. When debating, do not attack to the quick. Do not talk about others with bad intent.
Individually analyze your own mistakes yourself. Considering the harm others do to you as created by your former deeds, do not anger. Act such that further suffering will not be created and your own faults will disappear.
Always care compassionately for the sick, the unprotected, those stricken with suffering, the lowly, and the poor, and take special care to nourish them. Provide extensive care for the persecuted, the victims of crop failure, the stricken, those suffering contagion, and for beings in conquered areas. Provide stricken farmers with seeds and sustenance.
Eliminate high taxes levied by the previous monarch. Reduce the tax rate on harvests. Cause the blind, the sick, the lowly, the protectorless, the destitute, and the crippled equally to obtain food and drink without interruption.
Protect the poor from the pain of wanting. Set up no new tolls and reduce those that are heavy. Free traders from other lands from the afflictions that come from waiting at your borders.
Eliminate robbers and thieves in your own and others’ countries. Please set prices fairly and keep profits level, even during scarcity.
Through your great exaltation, use all wealth such that the exalted become free from pride, the equal become delighted, and the inclinations of the lowly are reversed.
Through using wealth there is happiness here in this life; through giving there is happiness in the future; from wasting it without using or giving it away there is only misery.
How could there be happiness?
Appoint ministers who know good policy, who practice religion, are civil, pure, harmonious, undaunted, of good lineage, of excellent ethics, and grateful.
Appoint generals who are compassionate, without attachments, brave, kindly, who use the treasury properly, are steadfast, always conscientious, and practice the good.
As administrators appoint elders of religious disposition, pure, and able, who know what should be done, are skilled in governance, understand good policy, are unbiased, and are kindly.
Let there always be around you many persons old in experience, of good lineage, knowing good policy, who shrink from ill deeds, are agreeable, and know what should be done.
Continually honor in an exalted way those who are foundations of good qualities with gifts, respect, and service, and likewise honor all the rest. You should know full well the counsel that your ministers offer, and should always enact it if it nurses the world.
You should always analyze well everything before you act, and through seeing things correctly as they are, do not put full reliance on others.
ON PERSONAL CONDUCT
Without hope of reward provide help to others. Bear suffering alone, and share your pleasures with beggars.
Do not be inflated even by the prosperity of gods. Do not be depressed even by the poverty of hungry ghosts.
For your sake always speak the truth. Even should it cause your death or ruin your governance, do not speak in any other way.
Always be of exalted mind and take delight in exalted deeds. From exalted actions arise all effects that are exalted.
Just as you are intent on thinking of what could be done to help yourself, so you should be intent on thinking of what could be done to help others.
If only for a moment make yourself available for the use of others, just as earth, water, fire, wind, herbs, and forests are available to all.
You should root out completely from yourself the faults the wise decry in others, and through your influence also cause others to do the same.
Through compassion you should always generate just an attitude of altruism, even for all those embodied beings who have committed awful ill deeds.
Especially generate compassion for those whose ill deeds are horrible, the murderers. Those of fallen nature are receptacles of compassion from those whose nature is magnanimous.
Just as deficient children are punished out of a wish to make them competent, so punishment should be carried out with compassion, not through hatred nor desire for wealth.
ON TRUE FAME
Through these practices your realm will be happy, a broad canopy of fame will rise in all directions, and your officials will respect you fully.
If your realm exists for the good and not for fame or desire, then it will be extremely fruitful. If not, its fruit will be misfortune.
Others’ aims are achieved through giving and ethics. One’s own are achieved through patience and effort.
In this way, you will become the best of leaders upon the earth.