Jerry Brown talks about buddhism and governing

"I have an insider's knowledge, but an outsider's mind," former California governor Jerry Brown says.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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Jerry Brown is a student, of sorts, of philosophy.

After serving as governor from 1975 to 1983 and losing a race for U.S. Senate, Brown traveled to Japan to study Zen Buddhism.

What’s Buddhism teach that might help him if he’s elected governor again?

“Illusions are endless and our job as human beings is to cut them down.”

The state capitol, Brown alluded, is full of allusions.

Brown, 71, sits in the bright light of a supporter’s Santa Monica living room. He leans forward and his foot taps, tossing the tassels on his loafers.

He is energetic and contemplative as a reporter asks him about his religious studies, including his four years as a young man in Catholic seminary.

“All great religious traditions focus on the dangers of vanity and pride and ego and that’s the continuous struggle, particularly in public life where there’s so much adulation and attention," Brown said.

The man who has run for president three times and serves as California Attorney General suggested governing in Sacramento presents challenges vanity, pride and ego.

"It is crucial that a person see through the emptiness of many of the thoughts and statements that people are given to.”

In announcing his candidacy last week, Brown said he is best suited to be governor because he is someone "with insider’s knowledge, but an outsiders mind."