Don't feed the trolls

Sunset rendering

Sunset rendering

Living and dying by social media

I like Facebook. I check in with friends from all the periods of my life, sending mazletov to my old bandmate who just got married in Brooklyn, sending happy Diwali messages to my friends in India. Birthdays are great now, both giving and receiving. I can learn facts about dear friends that I may not otherwise know, like their losing a parent or recovering from cancer.

What I don't find so charming about Facebook are political posts. They can be divisive and insular. I may gravitate to those whose views I already agree with. This is counterproductive to a loving, inclusive Vedic worldview.

And then there are the trolls.

I let my guard down and posted a response to a news story. The tone of my post was less than friendly. It generated an almost instant response of astonishing vitriol and anger from those who apparently disagreed. The tone of these responses was so toxic and insulting that I laughed. It seemed like an atom bomb explosion in retaliation to a peashooter. I posted a single response: "Whee!"

I did a little research and discovered that trolls lie in wait, using key words in search engines. This includes publicly shared content on social media. The key words or phrases they are searching for identify the user as being from a target demographic. That demographic identifies the target as liberal, feminist, animal rights defender, or environmentalist, or any combination thereof. When the troll gets a hit, they go to work, unleashing a torrent of abuse on comments pages. This serves to discourage free expression by people they disagree with, and gives them a chance to vent anger and get attention (albeit negative) from an audience.

Sometimes these trolls are paid by partisan idealogues and corporations with a "culture war" axe to grind. In my instance, I was lucky. Facebook has excellent blocking options. Also my one word response dampened the enthusiasm of the trolls. The torrent stopped immediately. I didn't engage them the way they wanted, which was to offer a counter-argument. I went about my day, suffering very little from the negative energies on display, and I learned a valuable lesson.

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.
Proverbs, New American Standard Bible

“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.” 
― Neal Stephenson, 

Super powers?

Statue of Shiva at rest, Rishikesh, India

Statue of Shiva at rest, Rishikesh, India

Arrive without traveling

The Vedic world view posits that there is only one thing. There are not two things. These statements may seem simplistic, and to the more intellectually accomplished of us, redundant. There is a subtle distinction between the two sentences.

There is only one thing. We are all part of creation itself and of the creator.

There are not two things. We are not separate from each other or from the creator.

This oneness means that to place oneself in opposition to others or to nature is counterproductive and misleading.
If we share identity with our creator, it follows that we can share our creator's characteristics. The characteristic of omnipresence indicates that it is possible in consciousness to be everywhere at once.

The Rishis of the Himalayas were said to close their eyes, and while in a meditative state, travel vast distances. We meditators in the West have only scratched the surface of what can be accomplished by removing the inner boundaries we cling to so fervently in our ego-driven identities. We are able to gain not by grasping but by releasing.

Daily meditation gently trains us to do this, again and again. It is a gift we can give ourselves. It only requires a steady intent and resolve to get to the chair as our teacher taught us when we first learned meditation.

Without going out of my door
I can know all things on Earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of Heaven

The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows

Arrive without traveling
See all without looking
Do all without doing

Excerpt from The Inner Light - George Harrison
©1968 Northern Songs

Clouds over LA basin

Clouds over LA basin

The Body (part two)

Southern Oregon sunset.

Southern Oregon sunset.

Miracle on loan

Our ego tells us that we have the right to behave with impunity regarding the maintenance and treatment of our bodies in this life. We may smoke cigarettes, believing we have a right to make that choice, because we hurt only ourselves.

If we look again at the situation from the point of view of nature itself, our "ownership" of the body takes on a different aspect. We receive these bodies for a finite amount of time, and the mistreatment of this rental can cause a great deal of spiritual unrest and discomfort. As a result we "act out" in irritation or take a sour view of our fellow humans. The spiral of negativity feeds on itself, we suffer ourselves and cause the suffering of others.

If we treat this beautiful body as God's creation, ours for a while to use, but not to abuse, we become happier spiritually as well. Nature gave us this gift to experience all its joys, to be in the moment and to get our share of "heaven on earth."

Some believe the body is sinful or dirty, to be neglected and discounted. They are under the illusion that separation of the spirit and the body is possible, and the ways of the flesh are to be shunned in favor of some lofty idea of holiness. 

The Veda tells us there is only one thing. Our earthly temporary bodies are also a part of this one thing, therefore holy and good. The illusion of separateness is just that.

A mistake of perception.

Corporations manufacture and market chemically untested and unstable "foods" to Americans, compromising the consumer's health and well being to enhance their own bottom line. Part of learning to respect our bodies may entail re-thinking the status quo as regards nutrition as well.

Young peach tree, Ashland, Oregon.

Young peach tree, Ashland, Oregon.