Many people are not aware of the fact that they are almost constantly distracted. We tend to have an almost addictive need for some kind of emotional engagement and smartphones fill this need on a number of different levels, very effectively. In fact they have been designed with just this need in mind.
We almost never think to question our story or to investigate the nature and origins of our inmost sense of self. As a result, our attention remains locked onto the drama of our unfolding life and we remain none the wiser right up until the time it is about to end. Most of us are not even aware that we are fixating on a drama which is neither true nor real and we are accustomed to living almost all of our lives this way. For us, what is nearest and true, as our inmost nature, has become but a distant dream and what is dreamlike and passing is the obsessive focus of our day to day attention.
Day after day we can witness around us acts of callousness and cruelty of which most people are not even aware, because they simply do not acknowledge that other life forms are sentient and therefore feel and respond to energy, moods and pain. This is an extremely crucial point to understand if we are ever to come into greater harmony with all other life forms with whom we share this world.
We may not call them addictions or think of them in that light and yet habits, what ever they may be, have a hold upon us. Addictions imply that we are not free, that we are not unfettered. Whether we are addicted to TV, to being in love, to running in the park, to smoking, to our mobile phones, to music, to anything whatsoever. Yes, we can even be addicted to meditation.
No matter how complex a situation may appear on the surface, when we break it down we find a series of simple guiding posts. In this regard we can speak of two sign posts; relative reality and absolute reality. From the latter perspective we must remain just as we are. That is, as we really are; the changeless, ever present self from which all of this display arises.
In previous articles we looked at how the digital technologies of our modern world are affecting us physically and emotionally and now we come to their psychological impact. On each level; physical, emotional and psychological the affects are pervasive and widespread but perhaps their impact on our mind space is in most urgent need of our consideration.
Cyber technologies and social media have enormous potential for reaching out in a way that previously was never possible, but there is also a shadow side. They give us a degree of on-line anonymity that makes it easy to enter into relationships in which our normal responses and responsibilities can be evaded. What might this mean to the younger generation who are being brought up within this kind of environment?
While we appear to be more easily contactable more and more people are actually alone with their devices than not. Take the ever increasing instances of when family or friends are sitting together in a restaurant, or at home, ostensibly to share a meal together and yet all the while busily tapping out messages or fiddling with something on their smartphones and quite oblivious of one another.
Chadral Rinpoche encouraged us to recognize our ‘true nature,’ because absolutely nothing else will be of any use to us in the long run. This and this alone is the chief and crucial point. In recognizing and practicing, one brings into balance all other factors in one’s life.
There can be no doubt that our digital age has extraordinary and beneficial advantages but nothing in the material world comes to us without a price. What is the price of digital technology? Can we offset the dangers by being more aware or are we all inextricably caught up in this seemingly unstoppable electronic tide?