Interface: the place at which independent and often unrelated systems meet and act on or communicate with each other.
It used to be our senses and mental processes were the only interface between ourselves and our environment. With the advent of so-called “smart” phones and accompanying social media, individuals seem to now access their environment through the window of technology. I notice awareness is becoming limited to the length of one’s arms. Humans walk on streets or trails and drive vehicles while engaged in their devices like they have invisible tethers—unaware of passing real-time faces and natural beauty.
I weep for this loss of real connection. Studies show a decrease in social skills among the cell phone addicted. The loss of interpersonal skills has resulted in higher rates of depression and suicide, especially among the young. Retail stores have now developed programs for new hires to help them unplug and actually talk to customers. The Dharma suggests we deal with these phenomena by noticing the mind’s involvement in distractions.
We are distracted by thoughts anyway, but technology adds another layer that is also driven by habitual thinking. It feeds on our need to exist in a virtual world over which we have the illusion of control, creating a kind of myopia in the name of expanding our connections. In this moment, I am aware of ranting about something that has no more inherent existence than a facebook profile or instagram account.
The mind is too wonderful an interface to waste in this way. Our ability to process what we see, taste, touch, smell, and hear is a sacred gift. It allows the mandala of awareness to expand beyond the length of our arms, to feather out beyond concepts and ego needs. Pure awareness, our Buddha nature, transcends limited desires and erodes our angry defenses. It is an interface of immeasurable interconnection. Maybe there’s an app for that … (laughter) …