In a world driven fiercely by the creation and consumption of digital content, spiritual practise can seem even more necessary than ever before: an opportunity to create a space distinct from the fleeting hurly-burly of our online communities.
Even the very content which inspires us to do this – inspirational videos, profound memes – seems to come so thick and fast that to properly assimilate all the lessons people are offering us would be impossible.
This might seem like strange forum in which to discuss this, but after spending what seemed like an eternity setting up our YouTube channel and social media accounts, I took a day off from the computer recently to meet with friends and spend time with Hema (my wife). I was pleasantly surprised at how deeply I was able to absorb a few, simple truths which I needed to assimilate into my life.
Driving home afterwards I felt compelled to stop and meditate on the view in the photograph above. I was awestruck by its stark, almost Biblical simplicity.
Then, when I got home, I opened one of my favourite books, Timothy Freke’s translation of Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching”, and read something which crystallised everything I’d just experienced.*
Seeing the obvious connection between forgoing the superficial consumption of information and receiving valuable and deep realisations, I decided to leave my phone at home on our next evening walk.
I was greeted with a truly awe-inspiring sunset, and I naturally reached for my phone to ‘Instagram it’. I was shocked at the level of frustration I felt at not being able to use this stunning view to attract people to our project. In a flash of insight my frustration melted into bliss and I fell into a fit of ecstatic laughter as I simultaneously asked and answered these questions:
What is driving our creativity? Numbers on a social media profile or a desire for meaningful exchanges?
What is driving our consumption? The needs of the heart or the fleeting demands of the mind?
“As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows my path in all respects…” – Bhagavad Gita
Hema and I have set out – both online and at home – to establish and contribute to a community where the evolution of consciousness is the common goal. If the kind of community we build – online and elsewhere – is a direct reflection of the kind of contribution we make to that community, then as we try to make positive changes to a world in turmoil we need to be very careful about what we are offering people: we need to make a conscious choice between inspiration and exploitation in everything we do.
As people become tired of the unsatisfying and superficial nature of the internet as it is today, the best social media profiles will be the ones that not only make you want to meet the people behind them, but which actively invite you to do so.
They’ll also offer people content which inspires them to put down their device and ruminate deeply on the things which really matter in life as we all prepare for the inevitable post-technological world – and it will all be created by people who practise what they preach.
If we genuinely put our hearts on the line and share real insight in a mood of service and co-operation, we may be surprised at who takes up the gauntlet and reciprocates, making these pretty exciting times, don’t you think?
*“‘Give up trying to seem holy,
forget trying to appear wise,
and it will be a lot better for everyone.’
‘Abandon trying to seem good,
throw out self-righteousness,
and rediscover natural compassion.’
‘Stop trying to be so smart,
quit being calculating,
and you won’t become a rogue.’
These three sayings are important,
But I want to add this…
and true to your own nature.
and at peace with the way things are.”