Resistance is futile; we have no choice but to live with dukkha
in our lives. Doesn’t it sometimes as it feel as if the Borg has already assimilated us into their cyborg hive of dukkha? But is resistance futile? Even Shakyamuni Buddha said, in the First Noble Truth, that life is suffering - we suffer pain, frustration, agitation, jealousy. But then he adds three additional Noble Truths: the understanding of the origin of suffering; that we can end suffering and finally, the Path, the how-to manual, to end dukkha.
But these ancient teachings date back to a time when life was different. Is still possible to use the Buddhist teachings to end dukkha today? After reading a 2018 Harvard University blog titled “Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time”1 I began to wonder.
A short excerpt states
“Dopamine is a chemical produced by our brains that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behavior and motivates us to repeat them.”
On first reading, I was disheartened recalling times I was speaking with someone, and their phone sounded an incoming text and, unconsciously,
on their part, you no longer exist. The cell phone must be checked, resistance is futile.
Then it hit me, successful social interactions is the key. The blog suggests successful social interactions included about 125 people for each of us. With social media, that number has a potential of tens of thousands, if not more. In my opinion the nature of social media social interactions may not be defined the same as in-person social interactions. You and I both know they are not the same. But the algorithm of the digital one makes it more seductive, and harder to resist.
The Buddha gave us three treasures: the Buddha himself who awakened to the teachings; the Dharma and the Sangha. In Shin Buddhism we believe, to our bones, we are all embraced to “come as you are.” The sangha is a fellowship where we walk a path that has already been paved for us by those who came before us.
We are told that in today’s world people are not interested in “belonging.” That no one is interested in becoming a member of anything and they have no time for in-person groups. But soon enough, we turn around and find time has almost run out. We relinquished that time to virtual groups. Groups that never delivered the goods, only brought greater anxiety, depression and poor sleep quality.2
The Shin Buddhist temples offer time to experience time in reality. It offers time to take a breath, to sit quietly, to chant the ancient chants, to hear the Buddha Dharma. It allows the space to understand how the teachings heal the frustrations and loneliness of the heart.
Yes, it is possible to resist. While the social media Borg assimilates then eradicates our distinctiveness, Amida Buddha accepts us when we chose to entrust. Amida Buddha accepts us as we are. Amida Buddha is of service to you and to me, not the other way around.
This world view has kindness, compassion and freedom. Resistance against cultural pressures works. But the work is mine and must start with me. Our Sangha is a place that reminds us that we already have the wings to fly, we just need to entrust we can, just like the little bird in the Nightstand Buddhist below.
Namo Amida Buddha
Namo Amida Buddha
Namo Amida Buddha