Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Temptations of Buddha Revisited

The short story is the Buddha was a prince who renounced his royalty to become a spiritual seeker. He sampled all the spiritual practices of the day and found them all wanting. And so he sat himself down under the Bo Tree and vowed not to arise until he found the truth he was seeking. During his meditation, he was assailed by demons feeding his fear, by three beautiful women trying to seduce him into the world of desire and refused it all, finally achieving what became known as his enlightenment. And thus, Buddhism was born and a meditation practice began that continues over the long span of some 2500 years to my morning zazen sit on my zafu pillow. 

 

It was the demon Mara the Tempter who tried to throw Buddha off of his game and failed. But now Mara is reincarnated and has a new strategy of temptations— the i-Phone. I wonder if Buddha could have resisted.

 

Imagine if Buddha’s story began today.  The Noble One is deep in profound meditation and his phone is dinging with texts. Should he stop and check them? When he takes a break from meditating, should he check Facebook to see how many responded to his Group Event Lecture? Should he look up his breathing ap to see if he fulfilled his quota of 10,000 breaths during the day’s contemplative work? Should he download the Upanishads on his Audible Account and listen for a bit? Could he indeed have resisted all of that? 

 

I think not. I also think that Newton wouldn’t have discovered gravity checking his messages while sitting under the apple tree and completely ignoring the dropping fruit. Moses would have missed a few of the Ten Commandments when he told God, “Hold on, I need to take this call. “ Thoreau would have missed out on his love affair with a scrub oak while on hold with the IRS trying to explain why he didn’t pay his poll tax. 

 

And so I’m thankful that we had a few thousand years without the Demon of Distraction. 

I wonder if I can post this from my i-Phone?

 

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