We have become masters of distraction. We are stuck in a collective delusion on a scale that we are just starting to understand. Ohh, and I should add this, since it seems to have become mandatory: science is backing this statement*. It seems that needs to be said, because sadly in these times of mass distraction, people seem to have lost their capacity to trust their own innate wisdom and intuition. Not in ourselves or God or whatever but in science we trust these days. And that is a slippery slope because science and technology go together.
How did that happen? What are we doing to ourselves? How have we become so incredibly stupid and genius at the same time? It is such a joke and we are laughing ourselves to death over it. We happily scream and laugh and film ourselves for our next instagram story — even while driving a car. And we don’t even stop doing that after we have crashed the car and people have died! Right there next to you while you die in the street someone is filming your suffering and might even be posting it online to Facebook — instead of acting to help you survive. Stuff like that happens. Not only is there a lack of empathy and compassion among younger generations, as well as fear, confusion and helplessness among the older generations, it is also true that the difference between empathy and compassion doesn’t seem to be clear at all anymore. Liking someones tragic story on facebook with a sad smiley does nothing for them. Nothing. Quite the opposite actually: they might sit alone in their apartment holding a fucking phone in their hands counting the sad smileys. There is no compassion in clicking a Like-button.
People are allowing themselves to be basically brain washed on a daily basis — and that is the new normal.
We are like children that refuse to grow up and take responsibility for this life while stubbornly holding on to keep playing with our toys… distracting ourselves more and more from the truth, while actually developing mental health issues and suffering from that very ignorance. We feel the conflict in our bodies and minds. We are restless. Always hustling for the next thing, the next bling, the next fling. It’s endless because you will be served. The “innocent mistake” (a term used by the spiritual teacher Adyashanti) is exactly the same as it always has been: we search meaning, pleasure, freedom, salvation or what ever it is you desire, outside ourselves. We always did that and it always and forever leads to the same result: suffering.
Technology always was a double-edge sword, a sword that could bring life (e.g. medical or mental health care) or death (war). That’s no news. The only problem nowadays is that especially younger generations are so distracted with the doing and the building and anxiously wanting to save the world and connecting with friends all over the world and with online dating and online shopping that they ultimately lack the focus of what is truly important to do in this mess: Investigate within. Look inside yourself for the truth, not outside. Truth arises all by itself when you allow yourself to be silent and enter into this silence.
“What is not liberating is to tell ourselves or tell each other only what we want to hear. That’s not compassionate. That’s cruelty in hidden form, because it enslaves us to an endless cycle of chasing something that doesn’t exist.” — Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing
Actually we have always been this way. It’s just that now we have invented incredibly smart tools and became worshipers of science and technology instead of Gods. Same thing, just new clothes, different make up and way more drugs that fuck with our brains. We use technology and science now the same way we have used religion: to feel better about our shitty little lives that will inevitably end with old age, sickness and death. Google it. I am sure several books and PhD’s have been written on that subject.
Younger generations are awesome and awe inspiring. So incredibly smart, driven and well educated. Some who are not even in their thirties have lived all over the world, having travelled wide and far, having done stuff that older generations will never do in one lifetime. They think and act horizontally (broad-minded, social networking, traveling nomads) but most of them unfortunately are too distracted, lack the focus to go deep in one spot and simply BE vertically (relaxing into this very moment and allowing your awareness to stay there). And it’s not to blame them. There is huge suffering behind these fake instagram smiles, beautiful bodies, brainy quotes, positive affirmations and fabulous travel stories. There is anxiety, a sense unworthiness and a nagging sense of shallowness.
“It is often said that in today’s modern and postmodern world that the forces of darkness are upon us. But I think not; in the Dark and the Deep there are truths that can always heal. It is not the forces of darkness but of shallowness that everywhere threaten the true, and the good, and the beautiful, and that ironically announce themselves as deep and profound. It is an exuberant and fearess shallowness that everywhere is the modern danger, the modern threat, and that everywhere nonetheless calls to us as savior.” — Ken Wilber
Worshipping this horizontal approach towards life while missing the vertical approach leads to deeper suffering for one simple reason: while technology is developing beyond the speed of light, there is very little time to sit with it, to breath into it, reflect and do some technology impact assessment like: “Is this really helping my life and the life of others? Oh wait… what actually is life? What actually… am I… really?” Do you sit down and reflect like this: “Am I becoming a more grounded, wiser, more empathetic and compassionate person from spending my days chatting and commenting via social media on my smartphone?”
Science says “No”, it actually makes you depressed and anxious. No AI, VR, AR will change that one fact: looking outside yourself for freedom is still the wrong direction, if you want to be free from suffering. So whats the deal here? Is it really true, that actually nobody wants to be free … really? Is it true, that Western society is mentally so fucked up that it actually uses ancient spiritual techniques such as Yoga and Meditation for selfish reasons: to feel partially better, to manage the amount of suffering to an acceptable level?
That’s like buying a real kick ass Porsche and driving it slowly along the streets at the beach to pick up girls and to show off. That’s ok. Everything is possible and there is nothing wrong with it. But why not really digging into what a Porsche is about? Why not go to a racetrack or on those lonely mountain roads and drive, and get you goosebumps by the sound and the vibration of the engine? That’s what this car is built for. Thats how you pay respect to the engineers and the designers. Thats how you connect with it.
I am afraid most people don’t even have the slightest idea about what that could possibly mean: “Freedom”. We are so proud of our scientific and technological achievements (just another distraction from the unpleasantness of the truth that actually we know nothing) and yet we can’t even control ourselves a tiny bit over our exciting toys and our endless need to distract ourselves from the demanding responsibilities that we are facing as human race. It’s overwhelming at times and it’s not helping ourselves and others when we distract ourselves from what is true and right in front of us. What we truly need is intimacy with ourselves and others. We need to create bonds. Being stuck in our smartphones while with friends and family is the absolute opposite of that.
It’s almost like as if we are collectively putting on sunglasses and decided to never taking them off again. We just get so addicted to the higher contrast that the sunglasses produce. It looks so much better than without them, doesn’t it? But that’s not what is true and if you keep those sunglasses on during the night, you might fall and hurt yourself or hurt others.
So as unpleasant as it can be at times, in the long run, only truth will set you free. That’s not just a brainy quote from the Bible.
But you might want to dig into that yourself… don’t you?
“The Truth loves. It does not judge. It holds a big sword in its hands and can ruthlessly discern what is false and what is true, but it does not hold grudges. If you are not telling the truth to yourself, you will suffer. If it was not ruthless, there would be no learning. Truth doesn’t spoon feed you. Live by truth or suffer. It’s that simple.”
— Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing