Social Media and Yoga

Tias,

I have a burning question for you relating to social media, the direction of our culture and citta vrtti. I have several young people who help me manage the studio and they are frustrated in my lack of interest with facebook, twitter, linkedin or whatever else is out there. Yoga is about connection, right? I know I am supposed to keep up with the times but how do we traverse through these waters that intuitively run counter to our body/minds.
~Viki

Dear Viki,

I understand your hesitations on the social media network. On the one hand it is impersonal, far from the skin. And we lose nuance of meaning and the feeling of intimacy, the “taste” of connection. Yet twitter, facebook, groupons are what is current, in the here and now. I recall the Parable of the Raft in the ancient record of the Buddha, where the two wayfarers must build a vessel to get across the river to the other side. And so they use what is available to them, in order to construct it—branches, hay bale string, pieces of Styrofoam. And so they get across and the teaching is that the raft is a construction. There is nothing inherently significant or sacred about the raft. In Sanskrit this is called upaya, that may be translated as “action that is relevant to the situation”. So I think if the Buddha were alive today, he would use the internet and its various streams in order to spider out his teachings. People today who reject the common currency of facebook, twitter and the like are adhering to some ideal version of a more superior or spiritual means to relate. This has its own real limits. So I would view the social media as rafts. Significant in that they help communicate, but impermanent and short-lived. In the next decade their will be a new set of media outlets that we will be required to learn to network. So mindfully and with integrity, we must build our raft according to the passing times….

So be like a chameleon and keep changing according to the surrounds. This strikes at the very nature of the dharma and the teachings on inter-being.

Tias

4 Responses to “Social Media and Yoga”

  1. Kerri Noto

    I love this. Thank you, Tias!

  2. Anne

    I very much appreciated this entry and the comments. I myself have been experiencing the same reluctance about the social media, also in anticipation of what I believe to be its short-lived life. And yet, I appreciate Tias’ insights. Also, as with everything, the TV, the computer, the internet – you name it – I believe that we still have a lot of ‘power’ in determining how we use it. We can use these social media to let the world know that we are cooking kale, munching a cookie, or spread other useless information (unless we have found an innovative way of cooking kale and are sharing this also), or we can use these media to share profound insights, inspire reflection, trigger contemplation etc. It’s up to us.

  3. Mary McDermott

    Thanks Tias, I appreciate your wisdom on this too. I empathize with you Viki. Yet I’d like to add that living somewhat out on a limb (in Saudi Arabia) with few resources in terms of Yoga and Dharma Teachers, social media has proved invaluable to me as a means of learning, inspiration and connection (that there is so much FREELY available is a remarkable thing). Cultivation of the middle way seems to be my practice with all this – availing of the rich fruits disseminated via social media without getting sucked into the high fructose (empty & time thieving!) content that streams out…

  4. Kathy Albers

    Ahhh the raft…. wonderful metaphor for all the “materials” we use to keep us flowing down the river. As always Tias, the raft brings a smile to my face and in my heart.

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