We All Want to Be Heard
Facebook is a wonderful resource for observing people's nature. And one thing that has become abundantly clear to me recently is that we all just want to be heard. We want our voices to count for something, to be noticed, to be cared about. Whether it is making others laugh with a funny picture that we post, think about a political statement that we support, or care about a cause that is dear to our hearts, we all want to know that we are not alone. We are looking for the support and encouragement that we get from friends and social connections. I suppose this is really more about validating our existence. Avoiding that fearful thought that we are alone in this World. Hoping that we have value, and are not merely some grain of sand in a vast ocean.
Unfortunately, one less than obvious repercussion with this self-centered behavior is that we tend to create a bubble that we live in. This bubble serves to protect and shelter us, while at the same time numbing us from so many others to whom we should be paying more attention. It can seem far too painful to observe the suffering and pain in this World, and cause us to easily feel helpless, hopeless, and frustrated. But of course living in this bubble does not make the World go away. It does not feed the hungry child, it does not rescue the abandoned dog, it does not offer clean water to those who have none. It's simply our way of making an alternate reality like the type created in The Matrix.
It's perfectly natural to want to be valued and loved, and this is simply part of our human condition. And I also understand that we live in a society and culture that encourages self-promotion. Just look at the current fad of "Selfies," or the recent spectacle that Miley Cyrus made of herself on the MTV Awards show. She is certainly not the adorable little Hannah Montana that most of us remember, is she? But this recent display on stage is nothing more than her way of screaming, "Look at me!" And while I don't exonerate this, I do understand that this is our nature. Miley simply did it in a way that garnered far more attention than most of us are capable of generating.
More and more I am coming to find that being the silent observer is the Nobler path whenever I am skillful enough to take it. This gives me many more opportunities to accept others without judgment, let go of my ego just a little bit, and become increasingly comfortable with being that "grain of sand."
But please understand that the irony of my blog has not escaped me. I am hard-pressed to justify how this is any less of a "look at me" scenario than any post that we might put on Facebook or Twitter.
And I do take this awareness seriously, and often consider giving up my blog for this very reason. But that is a bit of a conundrum, as putting these words into a semi-lengthy post is helpful for me to crystallize my thoughts, and your feedback has told me that some of you find it of benefit as well.
I suppose I consider my writings more of a personal journal that I just happen to make available to the public. And I do my best to include links to suttas that may be helpful to others.
I remember several years ago when a friend encouraged me to create a Facebook Fan Page for Well Happy Peaceful. I had a strong aversion to this idea because it was clearly self-promotion, and this was never my intention with writing a blog. But my friend was persistent, explaining to me in several ways how making a fan page was beneficial to others and not self-serving. I obviously caved in and created the fan page. Perhaps I need to remove that; I'm really not sure right now. But what I do know is that each of us must be our own gatekeeper. Do not look to your friends, family, monk, or priest to reel you back in when you have gone astray. It's up to each of us to observe ourselves and our own minds. Ego is an insidious creature who lurks around every turn.
Liberate yourself by being mindful and humble my friends! And I promise I will do my best to do the same.
David "Nissarana" Schmidt has worked in retail sales and corporate management and now runs his own online guitar business. Born and raised Roman Catholic, Schmidt left those roots to experiment with a religion of his own creation before becoming a Christian and then journeying into several Eastern philosophies including Sufism, Taoism, and Buddhism. He has published in his local temple's newsletter, and studies under Bhante Sujatha, recently named Chief Sangha Nayaka (Patron) of North America. David blogs at Well Happy Peaceful, a blog intended to share what he continues to learn as a student of the dhamma.