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Lions Roar : May 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 67 We have made this world into an unpredictable, fearful monster because we’ve refused to work with it intelligently. And the ultimate sacrifice is the future. Thinking forward is impossible for those reacting fearfully moment by moment. Tibetan cosmology includes a class of beings who “hurl the future away from themselves,” as far from their awareness as possible. Seems they saw us coming. The only antidote to this culture of interruption tech- nologies is for us to take back control of ourselves. We cannot stop the proliferation of seductive technolo- gies or the capacity-destroying dynamics of distrac- tion or the techno-speed of life. But we can change our own behavior. In the eighth century, the Buddhist teacher Shantideva admonished, “The affairs of the world are endless. They only end when we stop them.” Goodness knows what was so distracting in the eighth century, but he speaks well for our time. To restore good human capacities—thinking, meaning-making, discerning—we need to develop discipline. We need to be mindful of distraction, and disciplined enough to shut off the computer, put the phone down, make time for casual conver- sations, sit patiently, and listen—all without getting anxious that we’re wasting time, that we won’t get through our to-do list, that we’re missing out on something. The practice described in the Buddhist lojong (mind training) slogans as the “three diffi- culties” can restore sanity and capacity to our daily lives: 1) You notice the behavior. 2) You try some- thing different. 3) You commit to practicing that new behavior until it becomes natural. Deciding to practice nondistraction is quite difficult. At least that’s my experience. We become aware of the frantic, anxious lives of those around us. We see just how many distractions there are and how addictive our behavior has become. Then we apply the antidote: we notice our distraction, we commit to try new behaviors, and gradually we regain memory, thinking, focus, meaning, relationships. And, hopefully, we avoid the iceberg looming dead ahead. o We cannot stop the proliferation of seductive technolo- gies or the capacity- destroying dynamics of distraction. But we can change our own behavior. PHOTOBYJAMESSEBRIGHT/MILLENNIUMIMAGES.UK