Tag Archives: social media

Facebook and the Spiritual Journey

There is something about the online spiritual community that doesn’t sit quite right with me. I am a member of a couple of different groups on Facebook; one about Thich Nhat Hanh and another about The Power of Now. And while I find the intentions of such groups are good-natured, and the vast majority of its members aim to be helpful, there is definitely some sort of mixed messaging at play simply due to the nature of spirituality and the medium itself.

On the path towards release from ego domination and the thinking mind, an online community such as the ones above can only be filled with the written thoughts of thinking minds. It is ego’s helping ego’s get rid of their ego’s. Everyone is doomed to failure!

A common trait is that every single member of these groups has likely experienced the power of the teachings from one of those respected spiritual masters. This experience has caused their ego to assign a label of specialness to these individuals. That’s why these groups pop up in the first place. To honor the person and the teaching.

But it’s like knowing just enough physics to be dangerous, and thinking you will finally create a perpetual motion machine. For there to be power and authenticity in the form of text you must be one of those few individuals who have transcended the world of form. The rest of us are simply following this path and continuously coming across false sign posts saying “Welcome to Enlightenment!” Only to find out we are not there yet.

We want to be there so badly that we can almost taste it. We harbor this hidden jealousy that Eckhart (or Thich) are there and we are not. So it’s within these groups that we get to pretend for a moment that we ARE him. That we truly understand his teachings, and that we can help you just like they helped us.

And I must confess that I have participated in such a way in those groups. And I have blogged for years about spirituality and ended many posts with a realization, or a lesson learned. The truth is that I really don’t know what I am talking about. I feel I understand it very well conceptually, but then another side of me feels like that is the very trap I am trying to avoid!

By far the greatest benefit I have received from the online spiritual community is the discovery of other spiritual masters and teachings that I had never heard of before. And honestly I never would have been exposed to them had it not been for social media.

So perhaps I should follow pretty much every teaching I have ever read and practice a little gratitude. Instead of nit picking the subtle side effects due to the modernization of the spiritual journey I should simply be thankful for the goodness I have received and shut the hell up!

Luckily, forgiveness is also primary theme in all spiritual teachings.

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Self Expression And The Purpose of Social Media

Is there any fundamental difference in expressing yourself through an opinion or through an art form? Both are gateways which allows someone else to get to know you on a more personal level. Everyone loves to argue with your opinion but people rarely argue with a painting or poem. Perhaps the only difference lies in the eyes of the beholder.

A piece of art may be much more abstract and difficult to place boundaries around so you don’t know what it is or what it isn’t. That is why it is more likely to induce quiet observation rather than any type of polarizing commentary.

When I throw an opinion out there I actually have no desire to argue about it. There’s not a single part of me that wants to engage in a battle of wits, or be forced into any kind of defensive posture. My mind may change in the future but only my own terms. I do love hearing other’s peoples thoughts or perspective, but that is quite different than an argument, or being forced to respond to an attack on my point of view.

Could we shift the way we approach opinions by instead looking at it like we look at art, as another form of self expression?

The next time someone updates their status on Facebook with a strong opinion on some topic make the conscious decision to look deeper. Take the perspective that they are simply fulfilling that fundamental human need to express themselves to the world. Our purpose then transforms from closely examining the surface level facts that were presented and preparing a well worded rebuttal, to simply allowing  their expression. And maybe, just maybe, getting to know them on a deeper level.

This is why arguments get so intense on social media. You think you are disagreeing with someone’s opinion but what you are actually doing is telling them that they are not allowed to be who they are. That they are not allowed to exist.

No one is going to change their mind in these circumstances. I am convinced that the culture of online debating that occurs on Facebook, Twitter, or even in the comment section on YouTube or news articles are a plague on society. They aren’t helping anyone and are likely causing much harm to everyone involved.

People want to find out who they are, and then express it to the world. We want to express ourselves because then it helps us find people who are just like us. Then by interacting with those like minded individuals we can dive deeper into the experience of who we are. We don’t express ourselves in these mediums to be told that we are full of shit.

Social media is phenomenal in it’s reach, but it is totally misunderstood in it’s true purpose.