INTERNET, TRADITION AND MEDITATION
A few reflections, By Dr Jacques Vigne, MD Former psychiatrist,
living for the past eleven years in India, and following a sadhana in the line of Ma Anandamayee.
Much has been said on the Internet revolution, in good or bad; here will be found a few reflections on the subject, seen from the point of view of a spiritual seeker and meditator, who has been a professional of mental health before in the West (Paris).
The first thing to see clearly is that the functioning of the Internet closely follows and mimics the working of the mind : both are based on associations, on links. This is why the Internet has an addictive power on the mind. On the contrary, meditation regularly cuts the automatic associations to leave room for the true presence. It detoxifies from the habitual background noise of the 'connecting mind'. The latter has an outward tendency, which is called in yoga psychology avritti; meditation reverse this flow and corresponds to an inward tendency, nivritti. Mind is a natural webcrawler, meditation cleanse these crawling, teeming bugs called automatic ideation, erroneous opinions, and even, with advanced meditator, calm down completely the wavelets of sensations, allowing a glimpse of the 'bottom of the lake', i.e., the Self.
A form of psychosis is schizophrenia, 'schizo' meaning separation and 'phren' mind; this is to say that the mind is separated of the outer world and at the same time divided against itself. But another form of psychosis could be termed 'interphrenia', when the individual becomes just exhausted by being too much linked. The outward tendency (avritti), is maximum, this is a sort of hemorrhage which sucks away the blood of inner life. In fact, even
in scientific research, concentration of mind is needed : we have to get a clear idea about what we are searching for, and we must follow a thread, if not we are lost. This is so, and all the more in the inner life. The mind of an ordinary person is like the usual light, that of an advanced meditator is like a laser beam, not only concentrated, but also coherent with itself. It can work wonder. Practically, this is why in this spiritual website we have refrained from putting too many links. The best indeed is trying to keep one's mind for a long time on the same text or book to become impregnated, permeated with it. Of course, at the beginning, this is normal to go here and there to see if one feels to deepen the subject. On the other end of the spiritual evolution, an advanced meditator may just be aware of his own mind without any interference, as it is, what Krishnamurti for instance used to call 'choiceless awareness'. But the problem of this method is that very few are really capable of it, hence the risk of self-deception. Anyhow, whichever method one follows, meditation really means plugging off the screen, not only of outward object, but of the mind itself, and resting happily and without care in one's own Self.
The Internet is a powerful media, and like an effective medicine, it may have serious side effects, the main one being reinforcing the outward tendency of the mind. In our period especially, the latter receives too much rubbish information, it is in a constant state of 'spaming' to use the Internet jargon. The radical way to finish this spaming is to change one's address, i.e. to stop one's identification with the ego. The messages coming from outside will rebound with the mention:'does not live anymore at the aforesaid address', and they will decrease gradually.
Interesting enough, the Internet revolution leads us back to the traditional teaching of Indian philosophy : what we call outer, objective reality is much more virtual that we believe, and in fact the mind likes to revel in virtual reality as long as it finds pleasure in it. Hence, the real source of addiction is the mind itself, and thus we comes to the fundamental question of the spiritual quest : if the mind sees both the outer and the inner world, who is, or what is 'that' which sees the mind? Who is the one who can see the eye without eye? Who is the one who can hear the ear without ear? And so starts the inner quest.
If we leave now the field of psychology to look to the religious and spiritual history of humanity, the Internet is certainly a golden opportunity. During the Middle-Ages in Europe, the Christian intolerance has manifested itself through the control of the writings : it was not only tragic, but symbolic that 'heretics' which proposed new ideas were burnt along with their books. The culture was transmitted by the clerks and the monks who had the material structure and organization to copy the manuscripts. Then the printing press came, everyone became able to access the Bible and the Reformed Churches were able to emerge, assert themselves and challenge Rome's monopoly. I see the development of Internet as another important step to challenge the religious - or commercial- monopolies and favor the pluralism. Just as Rome had conquered Greece and Israel materially, but was conquered by them on the cultural and religious level, even so the West may be conquered spiritually by the East. Though this schema is probably too simplistic and the reality will be more complex with many two sides exchanges, it may be something to ponder. This possibility of putting almost the whole literature of a typical exponent of the Indian tradition like Ma Anandamayee for instance, available to the world audience almost for free was unthinkable only a few years ago. It will definitely favors pluralism and incite people to get an idea by themselves while reading the source books of various groups and schools and to choose their spiritual path more independently. This is not only a challenge to the power of big religious institutions, but to that of commercial publishers too. The understandable preoccupation of a publisher to find enough readers to recover his investment in a book, and even to make some gain out of it limits more often than not the communication of messages too good to be popular, if we want to tell things abruptly. In general, the easy communication of spiritual texts will again establish a balance between individual mystics and big institutions, a balance which may have been lost in Europe around the XIIIth century when the hermits were gradually deprived from the right to teach the people. The danger is that people will hear of teachings which are too advanced for them, like pure Vedanta or Tantra, and will misinterpret and misuse it. But book publication has indeed the same risk.
When we study the history of spirituality, there have been regular warnings by the Elders about bookish knowledge, without the following inner experience and the fecundation by the contact with a spiritual master; these warnings are all the more important now that the quantity of available information has increased at a breathtaking speed; more information means more confusion, hence the importance of real spiritual contacts with real 'spiritual friends', 'kalyana mitra' as the spiritual masters used to be known in Theravada Buddhism. They say in India that if the stone is to be polished, it needs a real contact with the sandpaper. A genuine spiritual progress, 'polishing', will be difficult without the concrete contact with a spiritual friend, i.e., without the too comfortable protection, cushion of a book or a screen. Anyhow, it is also said that a good book is better than a bad guru; this is why spiritual people does not hesitate to publish books or, as it is the case here, to build websites...
|Redactor: Nathalie MASIA|