For years, observing others and seeing how groups of people behave and the myriad ways they act unconsciously, I have to analyse what’s really going on from an external perspective. (It’s not just about chilling out and eating Buddha-style chocolate mochi all day, though that’s good, too.) As an eternal optimist, I can see through the shadows into the light of any situation. But I have to wonder if this shadow — the internet, Google, Facebook, et al. — is deliberately creating a paradigm to entrap us collectively as human consciousness.
Every time I open Spotify, I am bombarded with the “buy 3 months of premium for only £9.99!” message. I don’t want Spotify premium; I have too many premiums already. In fact, my green Thai couch and listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms for the thousandth time is pretty premium… it’s all I need right now.
The more intelligent we become, the more likely it is that AI (artificial intelligence) will be created to become evermore intelligent. Every time we think we’ve “got it” in dealing with the online world, a new algorithm comes out to bring down small businesses and individuals, like artists and craftsmen, from trying to make a living off of their real talent. Now, you must pay in pounds sterling or see your “followers” dwindle; the higher the followers, which can also coincidentally be paid for and faked, the more people automatically trust them with their own time, effort, and money for goods and services. Yet, numbers are just numbers on a screen. To really be with a person is to see them for who they are, as divine consciousness, like yourself — not the celebrity, the popular person, or the “best” at this or that. Those are just images of the highest form of superficiality.
We are all just human! We have a plethora of emotions and the capacity for great strength in courage and discipline and also in kindness. We have ability to change our habits, play with our consciousness through psychadelics, and be creative in infinite ways. AI doesn’t have the chance to do that. However, once the phone companies get the devices into our hands, they have control over us by our attention spans.
“Awareness goes where attention flows.”
And we have less than optimal attention spans. That’s why, I believe, practices like Advaita Zen and short practices, like daily yoga and puja or meditation sessions, have come in modern times for truth-seekers. We yearn to wake up like never before yet lack the attention to be able to attend to activities that require focus and are sustainable: like cultivate our minds, focusing on reading or writing, and generally learning to be more open and kind. The internet does naught to compete with our instinct to flutter around endlessly, craving, addicted, and always searching for something rather than being with ourselves and each other.
When Instagram and Facebook hook us on the principle of “comparison” or “competition”, which locks us into a dual state of “this and that”, “me and you”, they are winning at taking our attention further away from the truth of absolute oneness and non-separation. It’s carving out larger egos for everyone, yet no one can ever be satisfied with this glass ceiling.
In the last generation, it was about the rat-race and keeping up a job to satisfy material desires and make sure you have what the neighbours have. Now, it’s the same, but with endless streams of online invites for activities and gossip and digital photos. That’s a bit strange… right?
We can think of the future and decide not to opt-in to navigating our lives at the push of a button. I, for example, am de-Googling myself and using alternative web browsers and blocking Google from stealing my data. I will make my life possible without being locked into a system where I have to sell myself via a Facebook page, use my phone at a concert, or even use Google maps when I’m supposed to be walking with my feet — not my head. This is not what life is about.
Life is about knowing that the sun rises and sets everyday, for you and for all beings. It’s about knowing that, this second, there are millions of mothers giving birth and feeding their babies in an act of loving-kindness that is the only reason you and I are breathing. It’s about noticing that you exist as a divine sparkle in the cosmic breath for a lifetime with unique attributes and experiences that only make you wiser. It’s about looking your friends in the eyes when they are with you and focusing on them rather than yourself. It’s about enjoying food, music, colours, movement, inspiration, and learning. It’s about reflecting on all the good work you’ve done so far and appreciating the ability to do it. It’s about going through hard times psychologically and knowing they will pass. It’s about life, as it is, right here and now.
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