Finding wisdom in a world of one-liners

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Buddhism | No Comments

We live in a world of status updates, soundbites and ‘inspirational’ quotes. Life in 140 characters or less.

Where is the room for genuine wisdom teachings in this world of throw-away cleverness? How do we spot it?

It’s difficult, that’s for sure. I can’t tell you how many quotes I get everyday on Facebook. One-liners from the greatest minds in the world. Snippets of the greatest poetry. You end up whizzing through it, looking for a funny video of a cat falling off the arm of a sofa.

I’m not saying that wisdom must be wordy. The shortest of the perfection of wisdom sutras is one letter long. Zen haiku are notably small. Often small enough to tweet! And the koans are often even smaller.

But they require space and quiet around them if they are to work their magic on us. This takes a simple life, a trained mind, and the desire to integrate wisdom into our lives – instead of just re-tweeting it.

So, try limiting the amount of information you ingest, whether consciously, semi-consciously, or downright unconsciously.

When I come back to London after several months in the mountains, I’m always overwhelmed by the number of billboards trying to get me to buy stuff. But after a while, it doesn’t bother me anymore.

That’s not the same as saying it doesn’t go in though. If it had no impact, companies wouldn’t advertise.

If you MUST have incessant noise and images around you all the time, try to choose what they are. One amazing thing about the internet is you no longer have to watch what happens to be on three channels. And you aren’t stuck with what’s on the radio. Choose wisely. And actively enjoy it. Chewing gum for the senses is not conducive to your wellbeing.

If you suffer from stress, anxiety or fatigue, simply unplugging for several hours a day and getting some quiet may help.

Choosing to spend several days without speaking (or tweeting or updating Facebook!) can also be a profound experience. You realise just how often you tell people about your experience – almost before you’ve even really experienced it. Look! A shooting star!

And when it comes to consuming wisdom – don’t. Let it consume YOU. By all means read the great texts, but don’t read them like you’d read Harry Potter. Try reading one line at a time and letting it sink in. Think about it. Maybe study it with a couple of friends and talk it through. Mountains are not there to be conquered. They’re there to be revered.

So that’s today’s wisdom. Please tweet it! 😉


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