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camerata

Why You’re Addicted to Your Phone

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Why You’re Addicted to Your Phone

The nonstop novelty of cell phones distracts us from the true root of our suffering.

 

Long before the Internet, early Buddhists coined a term—prapanca in Sanskrit—to describe the tendency of our thoughts to proliferate like “entangling vines,” as Zen teachers say. Mahayana Buddhists expanded the term to include not only words and ideas but also images, memories, and other mental fabrications. Now, the time has come for us to add everything streaming into our heads from our new prostheses: YouTube videos, online news, music, selfies sent from far away.  

  

The trouble with prapanca, the Buddha taught in the Madhupindika Sutta, is that the nonstop novelty prevents us from uncovering the sources of our suffering. We shuttle from one screen to the next, trying to allay our nagging sense that something’s missing or not right. But nothing we find satisfies for long, and so we start Googling again.

 

Instead, we need to turn our devices off. When the screens in front of us go blank, we have a better chance to become aware of another screen “behind our eyes,” the screen of the mind. Then, if we sit quietly, watching the breath or reciting the Buddha’s name, that inner screen will empty out until it appears formless and radiant. And once we make contact with this bright, empty mind, our craving for fresh screens comes to a stop.

 

Full story: Tricycle

 

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I agree completely with this Tricycle article, Camerata. The attachment to the iPhone seems to have become a religion in its own right.

Towards the end of the Tricycle article, the following quote reminded me of a recent experience I had.

 

"Phones come in handy if your car breaks down or you get lost in Brooklyn. But when I’ve found myself in those predicaments, I’ve had to reacquaint myself with two often overlooked dharma practices. The first is giving a person on the street the chance to offer me assistance. The other practice goes to the very heart of our real, not virtual, connectedness. That practice is asking for help. "

 

Just a few weeks ago, whilst I was driving along a road in the countryside, my car's rear tyre struck a sharp object and became deflated. I've never changed a car wheel in my life before, and unfortunately I didn't have the Queensland, Australia, RACQ insurance. I wondered what I should do, having parked my car by the roadside.

 

I decided to ring a friend using my iPhone, whom I knew did have RACQ insurance, and ask her to contact RACQ to come to my assistance.

Whilst I was standing by the roadside with iPhone in hand, about to make a call, a passing motorist stopped to ask me if there was a problem. I pointed out the flat tyre, and he offered to help. I had a station wagon full of stuff which the guy suggested I move to the ground. He located the spare tyre and wheel, jack and spanner, and replaced the flat tyre and wheel within a few minutes. Problem solved. I thanked him profusely.

 

I also learned how to change a wheel, so if this problem occurs again, I'll be able to fix it. :smile:

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The same thing happened to me as a teenager. It was late evening, raining,  and I had a car full of friends on the way to a club. A kind stranger stopped and sorted it out for me.

 

As for cell phones, the problem - as with everything else - is one of self-discipline. There's nothing wrong with phones as tools - to be used when needed - the problem starts when they are used to feed the monkey-mind. Anyway, the phones just mobilise the problem, which is in reality the addictive apps.

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Relating to Buddhism, the other problem with mobile phones is that selfies promote narcissism, which is antithetical to Buddhism. It isn't so much of a problem in the West, where radical individualism is the norm and not particularly in conflict with Christianity or Atheism, but in groupist Buddhist cultures the new focus on self is against the existing culture and traditions.

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On ‎16‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 2:58 AM, camerata said:

Relating to Buddhism, the other problem with mobile phones is that selfies promote narcissism, which is antithetical to Buddhism. It isn't so much of a problem in the West, where radical individualism is the norm and not particularly in conflict with Christianity or Atheism, but in groupist Buddhist cultures the new focus on self is against the existing culture and traditions.

Good point, Camerata! When travelling in recent years I've been amazed at the number of tourists who have their mobile phones attached to a 'selfie stick'. This allows them to get their iPhone further away from their face so they can include more of the background, and/or include more faces in the shot.

Everything that is of interest to the tourist, such as scenes inside a temple, Buddha statues, ornaments and artifacts, ancient ruins, are all photographed with the face of the owner of the iPhone camera in the foreground. The self portrait seems to be always more important and more significant than anything in the background. The message always seems to be, "This is ME! ME! ME!"

 

About 3 years ago, when visiting a temple in Ubon Ratchathani, taking photos with my Nikon DSLR, I noticed a Thai lady sitting in front of a Buddha statue, taking a selfie with the Buddha statue in the background. I thought at the time that such behaviour seemed unusual and contradictory to Buddhist principles, so I photographed her.

 

Here's the shot.

Selfie and Buddha.jpg

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