October 13, 2013

Awakening Connections without Gadgets. ~ Silas Rosenblatt

How do we create a culture of connection in an age of distraction?

We live in interesting times for human relationships.

Change is the norm; and, many of today’s changes are driven by the break-neck speed of technological innovation and the free sharing of information.

The internet has brought us together as a virtual global community; however, the proliferation of gadgets has also isolated us behind computer screens.

Connectivity has effectively replaced connection.

Gone are the days when being social meant conversation with a stranger on the bus or dropping in on a friend unexpectedly. The intrusion of technology into all aspects of personal life has subtle, but real consequences for us as individuals and beyond.

As humans, we naturally want to communicate our felt experience. We all have something to bring to the table, to share with others.

In Buddhism, this natural impulse to connect is called bodhicitta, or awakened heart. Underneath the confusion and speed of contemporary life, there is a warm beating heart, but it needs to be discovered.

Historically, it was common for people to withdraw temporarily from the complexities of life and society to meditate and focus on spiritual development. Out of this deep practice many of the great wisdom traditions of the world were born. The discipline of monastics and yogis is inspiring; however, it is completely impractical for the majority of westerners. Our attention is needed in the world now.

Everywhere we see signs of a breakdown of the social and ecological fabric of life. It is important to study and meditate, but it is equally important to be fully engaged in our ordinary day-to-day life.

Attending to our everyday relationships can be a yogic practice of joining spiritual vision with the earthly realities of human affairs.

Rethinking the nature of society.

Our future depends on re-envisioning and creating a culture rooted in the deep human need for connection—and there isn’t an app for that. 

Technology for better or worse is shaping our lives in radical unseen ways. For many of us, the balance of the day is spent in front of a computer or smart phone. Fixation on our devices has become a modern meditation.

However, rather than the mind becoming more open and available, one’s outlook can become increasingly narrow the more time we spend in the company of machines.

One of the tragic results of the times is that despite tremendous comfort and wealth, many people walk around feeling fundamentally poverty stricken, broken and unworthy. Feelings of disconnection have become the norm and it may take considerable effort to reverse feelings of isolation so long as the current cultural minutiae continues.

With sitting meditation we tune into a natural sense of contentment, healthiness and joy that we can use to uplift the people around us. 

When we engage with another person an important exchange of energy happens beyond the words spoken. The simple act of making eye contact acknowledges and validates another person’s existence.

We are at a turning point when a renaissance in the ways we live is desperately needed. Technology can be an enabler of connection and transmit important information; yet, it is up to us to reclaim space in the modern landscape where genuine human warmth can be transmitted.

Social spaces are an essential component of culture building and can happen in the home, at work or anywhere in the wider community where there is the wish to communicate some truth.

Far from being frivolous, socializing with intention is an important practice for awakening the heart of society.


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Assistant Ed: Jes Wright/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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