Cellular Samsara

I am one of those rare folks who walks around without a cell phone. My (and the Dharma Center’s) primary phone is a landline. I do have an emergency flip phone that lives in my vehicle. It serves for travel emergencies since they have removed roadside pay phones. It also allows me to be available to Tarn and for mom care if needed. Otherwise, I wander through life blissfully free of the wireless tether to which most people are affixed.

I suppose I hold a bit of pride about my freedom and many phone-tethered folks have expressed some envy. But I am now faced with a technological dilemma as I need to replace my aging phone with one that will text. Most people prefer to communicate this way. As for me, I would be happy to forgo texting were it not for some responsibilities I choose to honor. So, I am researching a skillful way to enter the ‘smartphone’ era—with much trepidation.

I have noticed smartphones make most people a bit numb to the life in front of them. The features of ‘selfie’ culture—addiction to social media and various self-indulgent apps—act like magnets to draw attention away from being present. This is similar to being distracted by our constantly chattering mind but with technology that has some serious health and environmental issues (social aberrations, toxic wave lengths and materials, poor recyclability, etc.)

So, I admit to being dumb founded regarding smartphones. I am astounded at how much it costs financially, environmentally, and sociologically. We pay a lot to be distracted! Who needs this much ‘data’ at the expense of earth and life? All I want is a way to communicate with loved ones and mom’s care givers. But I will surrender to the status quo and pray I have the skills to use this technology for the benefit of others.

I wonder how the Buddha would communicate today. I think he would use language and presence. He would want technology to be of benefit to everyone. As for smartphones, I suspect he would not make such a big deal about it. After all, this is samsara (look it up on your phone).

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