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Lions Roar : March 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MArcH 2010 92 Another friend who has embraced tech- nology as a way of exploring the nature of mind is John Tarrant, author of Bring Me the Rhinoceros and other Zen books. For years, John has been evaluating various ways of including online life in his stu- dents’ field of practice. I recently shared with him a concern that the web could act as a jungle gym for “monkey mind,” the restless part of our ego that hops from one potential source of gratification to the next, chattering internally all the while. How is it possible to stay grounded in the face of perpetual distraction? It may just be a matter of acquiring new skills, John observed. People first learn to meditate while sitting, then while walk- ing. Eventually they learn to cultivate the mind of awareness while talking or prepar- ing a meal. Why should websurfing be any different? At the same time, he said, “The Zen take would be that there isn’t a ‘right way’ to be online. There’s a kind of freedom deeper than the right way—an awareness that’s al- ways happening while all this other stuff is going on. I woke up with a splitting head- ache the other night, but this awareness knows it wasn’t really a problem. It’s calm and having a good time, noticing, ‘He’s got a headache,’ or, ‘He’s online now and he thinks his attention is scattered.’ The rela- tionship between this foreground creature that you think you are and this vast back- ground is the question. When there’s a rela- tionship, most people feel their experience is more nourishing.” In THE 1980s , when few people outside the Pentagon and university computer sci- ence departments were even aware of the internet, Gary Snyder wrote a poem called “Why I Take Good Care of My Macintosh Computer.” The choice of subject may have startled some of Snyder’s fans, who think of him primarily as a spokesperson for the timeless values of wilderness and tribe—one of Thoreau’s heirs, perhaps even a bit of a Luddite. But Snyder has no inherent distrust of Steve Silberman continued from page 49 A Buddhist Monastery in the Shambhala tradition cultivating wakefulness, fearlessness and gentleness Gampo Abbey Residential Monastic Training