Using technology on a Buddhist retreat

Buddhist monk, taken by Stuart Forster.
Buddhist monk, taken by Stuart Forster.
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So here we are in 2016 and back to normal routine. Looking for some quiet time I spent New Year at the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in Ulverston.

I had expected a digi-free couple of days but I realised for certain that digital technology is now fully integrated into our lives when the Buddhist retreat centre uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, when I saw a Buddhist monk on his iPad and Tim Peake sent us a New Year’s greeting from the International Space Station.

Jane Binnion

Jane Binnion

Part of the teaching of the retreat was that while our knowledge of modern technology has massively increased over the past two decades, leading to many more gadgets in homes and work places, we haven’t managed to reduce human suffering, or even the number of problems we face in a day.

In fact, much of our daily stress is directly related to those ‘must have’ shiny objects. Which does lead me to think that, in some instances, we are fixated on developing technology for its own sake, for example the latest iPhone, and not for actual advancement.

I obviously appreciate the benefits of technology in my life, but I do think we’ve lost the balance along the way and taken our eye off what’s really important.

Being an optimist when the New Year sky was clear and starry, I thought it had finally stopped raining. But if there’s an upside to the prolonged rain and storms of the past few weeks it’s that people have had an opportunity to research, write and share good information about the causes of floods.

Social media is now full of important articles sharing information about flooding being as much about environmental policy as increased rain fall. Let’s hope the planners and decision makers have taken time over their holiday to read it.