Today’s Dharma Talk (titled “Zen is Boring”) was given by Rev. Jachong.
Recently on a family vacation I realized something: we are afraid of the moment. We are addicted to not being in the moment.
Is this moment too scary?
Is this moment too painful?
Does this moment remind of us something that we don’t want to remember?
Would this moment be so overwhelming if we weren’t staring at a screen of some sort (whether phone, computer, iPad, Kindle or whatever) that we would explode into a bunch of tiny pieces?
What is the world coming to?
Why is it that no matter where I go whether it’s in my own home or store or work that we have a really hard time not looking down at our phones or escape by a screen. What is wrong with this moment that it is so bad? Or is it?
No, it’s just boring.
Silence is boring (at least according to my eldest son) when asked why he had to have music on all the time or noise of some sort. He said it’s boring otherwise. What’s wrong with boring? Why do we constantly have to be entertained or stimulated? What is wrong with quiet? Have we been reduced to mindless robots who sit there at a whim of a cat video that is produced solely for our dumbing-down pleasure? Seriously? Is this what it all comes down to – cat videos?
I don’t know, but I am guilty of this as well.
It really hit me though on vacation because here we were sitting in a beautiful location with the ocean before us for five full days and much of that time was spent looking at screens!!!! I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone want to escape this beautiful moment with a distraction created by mostly nameless faces? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that at least for some people, the current moment without some sort of stimulus is just boring, and evidently that is a bad thing.
I know for me, it is quite amazing to find anything I want on my phone at any time day or night. The amount of information is mind boggling, and I can learn about anything my heart desires, and evidently my heart desires a lot, because if I think of something new, I look up everything I can about it until I feel I am close to expert on the subject. If I have a particular hobby, then I can learn all about it. It’s endless, and I guess that is the fascination, but I know for some, it’s an addiction, a way to escape and not feel whatever is bothering them at that particular moment, a distraction that helps to deal with feelings unresolved. I, too, can relate to this. Recently I went through a very painful breakup, and one thing I did to cope with pain was to download fun, pretty games so that when painful feelings came up, I could distract myself with an app. It helped me to cope for a short time, and then when I didn’t need it anymore I deleted the app, but I can totally relate to this concept.
The present moment may be boring, but that’s okay.
It also holds whatever I choose to find in it.
It can hold a painful feeling or a happy one. It can hold the magic of a butterfly or bird or beautiful sky, but it’s what I want to see or not see that is the key.
I also think it takes a concerted effort not to be sucked into the rabbit hole of endless information. I think it takes a conscious choice to say I am going to detach from all the electronic energy and just be present in the moment in a different way. I have to want to do this, though, and I have to actively do it. I can’t just talk about it. I have to practice it because we are all so programmed to grab our phone and lose ourselves in the endless wonder.
We have incorporated “off the grid” at our house every night. About 15 minutes before bed after snacks, brushing of teeth, and showers are done, we shut off all lights, electronics, etc, and burn candles and incense and just quietly on the bed and breathe. We might chat a bit, but it’s for calming and decluttering our minds from all the screen time. It’s about relaxing our minds and our eyes and our thoughts and preparing for tender sleep. It’s something we look forward to, and it helps us sleep better.
The world has created it so that we pretty much are at the mercy of our screens and phones, but we don’t have to let it control us all the time. We can take time out of our days (if we choose to) and bring the breath of fresh air that is no electronics. Make that choice some every day for your own mental cleansing.
Zen is boring in this moment if you want it to be or it can be the most magical quiet you could imagine.