Digital Karma

I am getting ready for a Google Meet connection with Redmond High School to offer a presentation on Buddhism for a World Religion class. I get a dialog box that my browser is incompatible. So I try to download another browser. Now my desktop computer locks up. I try my iPhone and iPad and it seems I need to get the Google Meet App. I download the App and still need to create a Google account. (I was told I did not need any of this). Now my phone locks up. I let the teacher know—and let it all go. Students would not get a real experience anyway.

We have lost the simplicity of raw experience in this technological era—compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. When it comes to the Dharma, it is even more pronounced. We cannot chant together. We are unable to track the shared non-verbal communication of our sangha via Zoom. And our brains are staring to fritz out. Although I am grateful for what we can virtually share during this time of enforced distancing, the long term effect, I think, is not so good. We need to be more respectful of our minds.

The mind is, after all, a mass of energy interconnections. It is a vehicle for our curiosity to discover the world of our senses. When our sense of touch, taste, and smell is severed, we no longer get a full experience. Sight and sound is only part of the picture—and even those senses are stifled online. They say 70% of our communication is non-verbal. My experience is 100% of our real communication is also not limited to the visible. We are energetic beings interacting in the Quantum soup of awareness.

Quantum physics suggests that matter does not matter. Everything is energy. Boiled down to the sub-atomic level, all matter arises from the same energetic process. It is organized by the perceiver into the form we call physical reality. When we are cut off from sensory data, our link to the perceived world becomes limited. We risk making assumptions based on incomplete data. Of course, we do this anyway through the habits of our perception. Now we have a digital veil.

All veils lift the moment we experience the world through raw moments of sensory bliss. When I pick up a shovel and turn the soil, all my senses bring me to the moment. This sweet simplicity is lost in the virtual world. I cannot garden with a smart phone—nor experience the sacrament of love. An ancient saying in India suggests, “Eating food with utensils is like making love thorough an interpreter.” Our digital diet leaves us feeling incomplete and hungry.

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