How the Buddha would Facebook

There is a tendency to see spirituality and technology, and health and work as in opposition. We escape to “nature” to rejuvenate, have a “job” and “play” and bemoan the time we spend on e-mail and social media. This is problematic as I would like the time I send on such technology to not be wasted or harmful, but beneficial. It is part of modern life so why not make it into a healthy, even spiritual experience? I’ve blogged before about how work can be a spiritual practice and now I’d like to playfully ask, “How would the Buddha use Facebook, Twitter and e-mail?” If you prefer another spiritual tradition to Buddhism simply replace “Buddha” with “Jesus”, “the tao”, “mother earth” etc, as while these are not the same, they do tend to point in a very similar direction – the perennial philosophy. Here’s the update. Forgive my wild presumption here these are just some guesses as to how the Buddha might Facebook, tweet and e-mail were he alive today, and some suggestions for making our own online activity more in keeping with this:
It all starts with awareness. You can’t change what you are not noticing so bringing some more attention to our online activities is a good beginning. This may simply mean pausing for a breath before pressing send or posting “nooooobbbb fail” or whatever.

For a day why not try making everything you write online either compassionate o at least harmless. Sometimes it’s easier to be mean when we can’t see the effects of our actions or have embodied empathic resonance with our victims. This was less of an issue in Buddha’s time when most communication was face-to-face, and I’m curious how he may have addressed this.

The information-heavy modern world is very different from 500BC when most people were engaged in manual labour. These conditions create a disembodied state where most office-workers have lost contact with their bodies and therefore themselves. Regular brief body scans or centring while on the computer can be one solution.

Sometimes described as “enlightenment in a box” ethics have sadly become almost old-fashioned sounding which is a shame as they are a powerful tool. What would it be like to e-mail according to Buddhist ethics or perhaps the ten commandments for example? (do not covert they neighbours’ broadband” may be an addition).

Spirituality and ethics go hand in hand. What might a beautiful tweet be like? Haiku are a similar length and letter writing was once considered an art – how can we make


I have a little heart sticker on my Macbook to remind me to be kind when I type, and the current Dali Lama said simply that “kindness is my religion”. And “how can we be kind online” is a major question for me? These are some ways we can start to bring technology and spirituality together and I look forward to hearing more at Wisdom 2.0 Business shortly, and sharing some of these ideas at an upcoming workshop I’m co-leading with a Buddhist teacher in London in the near future too.
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