Something That We Use Rather Than Something That Uses Us

Soren Gordhamer, from “Happiness — There’s an App for That,” Buddhist Geeks Podcast #161 (March 1, 2010):

Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected There probably are people on the planet today who can actually live fully present in every waking moment of their life, right? 24/7. Like, somehow their ego and their old patterns have completely gone. But for the rest of us, we’re somewhere in the middle, right? There’s a certain level of awakening, but there’s not kind of a full level of awakening. And so for us, I think it particularly helps to have some time each day where we’re just quiet. We’re not taking in new information. We’re kind of emptying our cup. You know the old Zen story where the professor goes to the Zen master and says, “I know all this information about Zen,” and starts telling the Zen master all the information he has. And the Zen master responds by saying, “Would you like some tea?” And the professor says, “Yes.” And he starts pouring him tea, but even as the cup is full, he just keeps pouring and pouring and pouring. And the professor says, “Stop pouring. The cup won’t take any more tea.” And he says, of course, “Just like the cup, your mind is so full of information, it can’t take any more.”

So I think that for those of who are trying to balance this life of mindfulness and technology, it’s extremely important to have some time where we’re not taking in information and we’re bringing attention to our breath and our internal world. And we’re not as focused on our external world. But then the challenge, of course, is to not become a good meditator. The challenge is to become awake, right? And to bring that sense of awareness and full engagement no matter what we’re doing. And if we’re checking email, can we do that fully? If we’re tweeting, can we do that fully? Whatever it is, can we bring our full attention to that? And that whatever we imagine our life is going to be in the next moment, we never know. We don’t even know what the next five seconds is going to be like, much less the next day. And I think that if we can use or engage with technology that’s fully engaged in the moment, I think then technology can be something that we use rather than something that uses us. And I think for millions of people in our culture right now, technology actually feels like something that uses them rather than something they kind of creatively engage with.

[See also: Soren Gordhamer’s contributions to The Huffington Post]