Who doesn't suffer from the modern human affliction called "convenience?" It's a hard reality that can’t be ignored. I’m guilty of it too. Personal computers, mobile devices, 24/7 cable television, vehicles, appliances, air conditioning, power tools, online banking, frozen meals, paper towels, antibacterial soap, the works! One-click phone calls, flip-switch controls, junk food drive-thrus, instant movie watching.
Life overall is more efficient and pleasurable. We can schedule tasks around our personal calendars. Modern conveniences provide an extra measure of safety and security through the use of firewalls, anti-virus software, login ids and passwords, video surveillance, baggage scanning, biometrics, smoke detectors, monitoring systems, encryption systems, and the like. Volunteering, globetrotting, literature research, even business deals can transpire from the convenience of our homes.
Modernities sometimes present minor nuisances—difficult-to-use gadgets, annoying cell phone ring tones, or disruptive app notification on an iPod—but we are very tolerant of them. From commerce to communication, convenience has lit and launched global economies on a phenomenal scale, transforming nations’ fortunes at unprecedented rates. India and China are prime examples of the past decade, with Brazil, Chile, Russia, Malaysia, and several others following in this decade.
The downside of convenience, of course, is the myriad passwords and login ids that we have to remember! On the serious side, we have so taken these modernities for granted that we can't live without them. Imagine a scenario when one of these conveniences breaks down or quits working altogether. We’d struggle because we'd have no idea what to do or how to do it!
Modern conveniences have wrecked human health and degraded the environment. Stress is the most prevalent ailment of modern times. Poor judgment, irritability, memory problems, anxiety, and a host of other physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disorders have plagued the populations.
Our dependence on technology detracts from our time with family and friends in the real world, resulting in the loss of traditional values and relationships. People’s growing experiences of isolation, loneliness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, and emptiness marks an aberration from the pre-convenience days. Convenience is a fetish that has diluted our moral and spiritual values, encouraging us to be materialistic, fat, lazy, stupid, pompous, and complacent. As a society, convenience has dismissed our sense of trust, bolstered our defenses, and diminished the importance of gratitude.
So, convenience might give you a definite sense for your likes and preferences, but does it also give you a definite sense for your strengths and vulnerabilities? Convenience might motivate you to be a better user/worker, but does it also motivate and inspire you to be a better role player (boss, employee, parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend, neighbor)? Convenience might put information at your fingertips, but does it also strengthen your power to act? Convenience might connect you to the world, but does it also connect you to yourself? Is convenience a measure of fulfillment?
Questions are for you to ask; the answers will come find you. Vipassana teaches mindfulness, the art of being present, to pay complete attention to bodily functions, feelings, thoughts, and perceptions—a conscious engagement that reduces stresses, fills up calm reserves, boosts feelings of joy and serenity, harmonizes the mind-body connection, shatters preconceived impressions, develops emotional maturity, and enhances overall wellness.
May the force of silence be with you.
Until we meet again...