We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Thursday, May 8, 2014

More Opportunities, More Distractions

It has become commonplace to observe that life today, even in a small town like Lowville, NY, is different in various ways from the way it was even two or three decades ago.  It is faster paced, more connected to the "outside" world, and brimming with opportunities and distractions.  We are constantly on the move, and the direction of society at large seems to be toward multitasking, a society where being engaged, engaged, and engaged is what is most highly valued.  One can almost feel the internal pressures that come as a part of modern living.

All of this is having a major negative impact on the place that people allow faith to have in their lives.  Faith, at heart, is about slowing down, listening, and to an extent disengaging.  It offers and invites us to live in a different reality from that of our hurry up, engaged, multi-tasking, do, do, do world.  We sit hunched over life, but faith calls on us to loosen up and to even get up and gently walk away for a bit from the hurry and get-it-done lifestyle we live.

Our interconnected world offers us more opportunities to discover such things as meditation, but we are so distracted by "reality" that we feel we don't take the time for those things.  More opportunities, but less time.  The paradox in it all is that giving a bit of our lives over to the things of faith actually does not rob us of time but allows us to live a little less frenetically, which means that we have more quality time not less.

The challenge we face in the early 21st century, then, is to "take time to be holy."  That challenge is an age-old one, but today it is filled with greater opportunities than ever yet frustrated by more distractions than ever.  We live, in sum, in a tense and distracted age, which age keeps us from embracing the spiritual opportunities more available to us than ever.