The web: An ocean of wisdom?

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Buddhism | 6 Comments

The great thing about the web is that every man and his dog can publish their thoughts.

The bad thing about the web is that every man and his dog can publish their thoughts.

It’s tough to find the good stuff. But it’s great that you don’t have to sign up to some big corporation’s idea of what good is before you can get your stuff out there.

Choose your news

Because of this, there is a greater need than ever before to be discerning – both in the quantity and quality of the information we take in.

This need has always been there – the Buddhist texts from a couple of thousand years ago talk about the need to ‘guard the gateways of the senses’. The senses being the gateways to your mind.

You are therefore a doorman, tasked with keeping out anyone dodgy looking, so as to avoid problems later on.

The content you let into your mind has a dramatic effect on how you think the world is.

And it’s a bigger effect than you might think.

All English people are polite

You saw a film when you were 12. In it, an English person was polite. You make a mental note: ‘English people are polite.’

It will probably take about five rude English people to change your mind on this.

Because there’s so much going on all the time, our minds are built to generalise, based on relatively little information.

You work out what a door is. You turn the handle, it opens. You close it, it keeps the draft out. All doors are like that.

You come to this conclusion after maybe experiencing two doors. Two doors becomes ‘all doors are like this’.

At that point you have (very usefully in this case) significantly narrowed your view of the world.

Violence for breakfast

When I get the train into central London, there are free papers stacked up at each station. A MASSIVE number of people read what’s in them every day.

They’re just passing the time, avoiding the unpleasantness of the train journey.

The newspaper is full of stories of murder, rape, child abduction, corruption, violence… and things to buy to take your mind off all the other stuff.

Imagine. Five days a week, 50 weeks a year. All that fear and pain. It’s no wonder we’re all nuts.

Of course, I’m not saying these things don’t happen. But we get a distorted view of the world if we focus and give emotional energy to these stories disproportionately on a regular basis. It affects our view of the world and consequently our behaviour.

So choose your reading material wisely – and tell your friends how awesome this blog is! We need to fill the brains of the world with sense, so there’s no room left for rubbish.

(P.S. ‘Ocean of wisdom’ is a translation of ‘Dalai Lama’. So my clever headline is saying ‘Is the web the Dalai Lama?’ Answer in the comments below. The most interesting comment gets a free…)


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