Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Technological Induced Simplicity

I can't think of a verse that sums up my outlook on life these days. "give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." - Proverbs 30:8

Over the last couple of years, I've been seeking more simplicity in my life; not only physical simplicity, but mental and spiritual spiritually as well. I was as if I came to a point in my journey where the "things" of life became frustrating distractions and I began to pursue the old adage, "More is less". Or maybe I just began to understand what that phrase really means. Through simplicity, I've found more peace than I ever imagined possible. As I focus more on obtaining less and getting rid of what I don't need, I find that the things I once zealously pursued, I don't really want after all. The lure of accumulating unnecessary possessions doesn't drive me as much as it once did, and because of that, I feel that a liberating burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

Now, I am by no means perfect. There are still times when a certain "thing" will catch my attention and I hear that subtle little voice whisper, "You GOT to have that!". And I admit that I give into it from time to time. But often these days, I find myself rejecting the materialistic attractions and moving my focus on to things that will actually bring me more peace. It's not always easy. We live in a culture in which we are endlessly inundated with advertising messages that are geared toward breaking the resolve of even the most ascetic among us. From the moment we wake, we are selected, targeted, marketed and most of the time, sold. You can begin your day feeling completely content, only to end the day feeling that you are somehow incomplete because you didn't buy this or that.

But physical things are not the only distractions that clutter our lives and increase our stress levels. We can inundate our lives with mental and spiritual junk as well. In fact, a case could be made that this form of accumulating is more dangerous that the former. The seemingly endless pursuit of more knowledge can exhaust us just as effectively as buying things for the sake of possession. Think about this for a minute. With an increasing technologically advanced culture, knowledge has become just as much of a commodity as the things you can see, touch and smell. The pursuit of a seemingly endless stream of information forces us to slip into the false sense that we have to be "connected" 24/7.  We wake up with out iphones resting beside our beds, powering up for another full day of access.  We turn on of computers before bushing our teeth and carry our laptops or tablets with us wherever we go, as to not loose one second of informational access. If we're not "connected", we're out of the loop, and that means someone else is "connected" and downloading junk into their brains before you. Keeping up with the Jones is not just a an issue of having what your neighbor has, but it extends to cyberspace and has become a desperate need to know what they know.

Spiritual accumulation can be a problem as well, although this one might be a bit more difficult to overcome.  After all, why would it be such a bad thing to become more spiritual and accumulate more spiritual wisdom than the next guy? Well, I think this one goes hand in hand with the accumulation of information. As technology advances and information becomes more easily accessible, our accumulation for the spiritual things increases as well. Don't get me wrong. This is not necesassily always a bad thing. But the problem arises when we subconsiously begin to equate more information with more spirituality. We all know that the accuumulation of more information does not guarentee more knowledge. Consequently, more information does not always mean a deeper spiritual life. In fact, many times the opposite it true because our focus rests on the means and not the end.

Sometimes I think that the pursuit of accumulation, whether it's physical, emotional or spiritual, is simply a distraction from ourselves and dealing with the realities that confront us each day. Being disconnected from ourselves creates a false emotional, spiritual and comfortable disconnect. When we face ourselves, we sometimes begin to feel isolated, and when we feel isolated, we feel uneasy and sometimes afraid. We feel as if we're out of the loop because we don't have what someone else has or know what they know. When we feel disconnected, our spiritual life becomes disconnected because we feel that we're somehow spiritually inferior to others.  In reality, when we face ourselves, our fears, angers and frustrations, we inadvertently delves further into the spiritual and grow more in wisdom and security. I believe that these are the times when we experience the most intimate communion with God.

When our focus is driven outside ourselves, toward others, possessions and position, we actually find ourselves serving masters that have no real control over us. The apparent control is in actuality nothing more than a phantom. In reality, our souls cry out for God in all of His simplicity, and through complete communion with Him, we actually find complete communion with ourselves. God is Spirit. (See John 4:24), and as we worship Him in Spirit, we realize that we are one with ourselves. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16)  Complete union with God. Complete union with self.

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