Birds and thoughts fly through the sky of mind. When they are gone we’re left with the sky of wisdom and compassion.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Hitting the bullseye.
Going to the root cause.
In light of the recent explosion of potentially catastrophic events around the world, it’s tempting to be diverted from what is foundationally important, speak reactively and directly to these matters and avoid, what may seem obscure to many. I do so only because I’m persuaded that until (perhaps an unrealistic long-shot) we plunge to the depth of our human essence we will never cease to find ourselves in collective nightmares. Far too often we treat symptoms (that never end) instead of finding and ripping out the root of woe. The father of Zen (Bodhidharma) said, “The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included.” Such a thing seems apparent, but what is ordinarily considered the mind, turns out not to be, It is indeed worth the investment to plunge to that root and if we did (collectively) we wouldn’t be chasing our tails. So I carry on, trying, again and again, to identify and communicate, with as many as I can reach, concerning the core of all catastrophes.
I’ve lead an eclectic life and been exposed to many different cultures and perspectives. One of my stops along the way was a career in the advertising business. A lot has changed since those days but some of the vital principles have remained guiding forces. There are fundamentally three that count the most: (1) reaching the people with whom you want to communicate, (2) with messages that are considered relevant and compelling by those people, and (3) do it time and time again with a variety of connected messages. Two of those are matters of media (reach and frequency) and the third concerns message.
Back before, and during, the 80s, the advertising business was influenced by the guru of the moment, Marshall McLuhan, (a Canadian philosopher of communication theory and a public intellectual). He is best known for his philosophy of communications saying: “The Medium is the Message.” The Internet, as we know it today, with the likes of social media and Cambridge Analytica, was just beginning when McLuhan died but his principle still stands and the ability to locate your intended audience, while critical, is very different.
Now, due to multiple points of global contact (blogs, podcasts, ebooks, social media in various forms, email and multi-media such as YouTube), we have entered a new era that enshrines, more than anything else, generating a demonstrable “Like” response. It ain’t what it used to be. Now, more times than not, the message in sometimes bizarre and air-headed forms, drives the process and those who are interested can find you through search engines. I know this personally since over the fifteen years I’ve been posting to Dharma Space, the vast majority of my readers have found me, rather than me finding them. After all of these years, roughly 78,000 spiritual seekers have become followers of Dharma Space (a mere pittance compared to hundreds of thousands of “Likes” on a single day from superficial, frivolous material, which is disturbing to me). However, I guess I shouldn’t despair but rather follow the wisdom of Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Even though, I’m troubled by having no clue who these seekers are. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks but just maybe if I learn a few, I can generate “Likes” for something more profound than bathroom popularity.
Thanks to Google Analytics, I know where Dharma Space readers reside (continent, country, province, and city), how often they visit, how long they stay, their gender, and even the genre of postings to which they are most attracted. However, I also know that only a tiny few ever respond or comment (and I don’t think I’ve ever received a “Like”) so consequently I am left to guess about many important matters: backgrounds and levels of spiritual maturity; why they are attracted to Dharma Space and to whom they refer Dharma Space posts; how frequently they prefer to receive my messages (some have told me they look forward to them every day while others say they are annoyed when they do) and are my readers intellectual dilettantes or serious folk? These and many other important bits of knowledge, if I knew about them, could make my communications better and enable me to find and hit hearts of arising empathy and compassion. However, short of such information, I must use my judgments to deliver what I do and hope that a positive force results.
Honestly, I wish I didn’t attract dilettantes for entertainment sake. If that is the motivation in mulling through Dharma Space articles, people could do a lot better spending their time watching “The Bold and the Beautiful ” or some idiot sharing YouTube videos of their daily hygienic habits.
Why am I writing this blog? Because I want my readers to know that regardless of how different we are on the superficial, perceptible level, at heart (where it matters; in the real mind spoken of by Bodhidharma) we are One: as different as individual snowflakes on the outside but essentially indiscriminate snow on the inside, and my sustained motive is to spread the dharma as broadly as possible. As you go about your complex and anxiety-ridden lives, try to bear this single thought in mind. United we stand, divided we fall. And a closing note: being air-headed is not such a bad thing, since emptiness (Śūnyatā) is a close, kissing cousin, and that my invisible readers is the point of the whole “Megillah Gorilla.” Google it.