How to Combat the Technology Trap
Technology enables instant access and convenience to foster and feed our desires. Want a new shirt? Order it now. Watch the latest TV show? Stream it now. Attend a popular concert? Buy tickets NOW! But is having so many goods and services literally available at our fingertips really in our best interest? Or is this just another way we are tempted to amass things we may want in the moment yet often don’t need? Is all this modernization spiritually conducive? Or does it simply make us prey to more impulsive decision-making?
The Master tells us that when we take anything to an extreme it will begin to cause reactions. We must be the ones controlling our gadgets, not the other way around. Yet the moment we wake up from our sleep, the first thing many of us do is pick up our cellphones and start scrolling through a black hole of content. We consume information at a rate that our mind cannot efficiently process. Then when we sit down to meditate, everything we have watched or thought about comes back to us and attacks our peace of mind. From a spiritual perspective, this clutter scatters our attention, taking us further away from our goal of reaching the eye centre.
The pace at which our lifestyles have changed due to technology is unprecedented. Just 50 years ago this world of touch-screen smartphones and lightning-quick internet would have been impossible to conceive of. We must acknowledge that we need to slow down. The life of a ‘Gen-Z’ or a millennial is markedly different from those of earlier generations. In some ways, change is good and inevitable. But are we able to adapt to these changes positively, or are we doing a poorer job of making sound decisions and delaying gratification? Teens, preteens, and even younger children are growing up playing computer games, watching TV shows online, and even studying on their tablets. These kids seek out apps for absolutely everything, be it dating, shopping, or learning. Adults are not much better off, as they spend hours browsing, watching, chatting, scrolling, sometimes wasting an entire afternoon or day. Try taking someone’s mobile phone away for a few minutes, and they will revolt vehemently. As we form such behavioural patterns, the mind becomes dependent on them and wants to hear no criticism against itself.
As the world evolves, so does our mind’s tricks for keeping us trapped in illusion. Social media in particular and technology in general, when not used within the correct checks and balances, have increasingly become nooses around our necks. We must be especially attentive to keep all our guards up and not forget our goal. We must use every minute to make our Master proud and exert full effort to rein in the mind. By now, we understand what a wild and powerful creature it is.
When it comes to reconciling modern life with spirituality, we must acknowledge that it takes a lot of self-control. In Die to Live, Maharaj Charan Singh puts it aptly:
Sant Mat teaching is very simple, but to follow it is much more difficult than it looks. It’s a constant struggle with the mind, and one has to change one’s entire way of life and one’s attitude towards life. To follow Sant Mat requires a complete transformation, so it’s not easy. One has to sacrifice a lot in life.
What are the changes we must make before it’s too late? We have been given all the necessary antidotes to come out unscathed from the fires of the world. We have the gift of simran to keep the mind in check and keep the Father in our thoughts. We have our meditation to quell the senses and have been instructed about the other moral and dietary habits that will keep our karmic burden as light as possible. More than anything, we have an unfailing friend who always gives us the right advice and holds our hand throughout this journey. His love inspires us to be loving; his kindness inspires us to be less harsh; his clear thinking makes us realize how muddled we are; and his presence electrifies us into positive action. We must sustain this inspiration and incorporate a healthy balance of meditation into our daily lives.
Ultimately peace and contentment will be achieved only by reunion with our true Father and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Let us devote the correct amount of time to our spiritual goals and not lose control of our decision-making ability in our daily life. We must put in the maximum effort possible to fulfill our promises to the Lord, and leave the rest up to his sweet will.