“Being” in the Machine

**This post was written by guest-blogger, Angela Pitts of  Zen Being ***

“The machine is now the world.  Nature is something we visit on vacations.  The Machine’s values of a consuming monoculture with its powerful teaching tool, television, have taken away our independence in making personal and collective decisions.  The leaders of the Machine proclaim that every new product is progress and that every culture, every part of the world, must have and buy what these leaders choose to supply. Diversity in the world is quickly being lost.  Whole species are becoming extinct daily. Cultural traditions are being lost…Most of us are like robots in service to a monolithic Machine. And we are in need of holy mechanics to help us reclaim our humanity.”

David Kyle, Human Robots and Holy Mechanics. Portland, OR: Swan/Raven & Co.         1993, p. 21.

I once witnessed the pausing of the Machine.  It was really only a small part of the Machine, but when the humming and buzzing of it stopped for a few hours, I was able to see the Machine. You see, it is all around us and dominates almost every aspect of our lives, but one of the reasons that it is so pervasive is that it is dim to our eyes and hums along as a background noise that we don’t notice.

I was in New York on a hot, humid summer day.  Everyone in the city had amped their air conditioners to such a degree that one cog in the Machine reached its breaking point.  Lights, TV’s, computers, air conditioners, fans, appliances, gaming consoles, radios, and anything else that plugs into the magic outlet on the wall went silent, still, blacked out.  For a few minutes, I could hear birds.  I noticed the absence of the humming of electricity, a half-deafening sound that I’d never noticed before, and which had drowned out all the sounds of the natural world that somehow survived in the City.

People started exiting their stifling towers and going out into the parks and playgrounds.  They began to relax a little.  They couldn’t buy anything, because no stores were open. They couldn’t watch TV, because the magic outlet was dead for a time.  They couldn’t distract themselves with other forms of blaring, flickering, multi-tasking media entertainment.  They could, however, just be.

Just being was alien and uncomfortable.  I heard many people complain that they couldn’t do this or that and that it was so hot and humid—“when will the air conditioner ever come back on?”  Living without the Machine for even a little while made some people jittery, nervous, restless, impatient, rude.  Just being seemed a pointless waste of precious time to some.  And, having lived in an artificial climate all summer long had so estranged them from Nature’s cycles that the summer air was a torturer to minds that focused so adamantly on when the artificial air units would turn back on.

We do live in a Machine world.  We are part of it. We contribute to it with our “productivity” and consumerism. We feed it by allowing our minds to be passive recipients of endless marketing campaigns.  And, it feeds us on high fructose corn syrup, fad diets, deep-fried sticks that are highly processed and far removed from the potatoes that they once were, meat from animals who spent their whole lives in factory farms until they were processed in plants and wrapped in cellophane packages, pesticide-sprayed fruits and vegetables from farms in the developing world, and disease-causing fillers, preservatives, chemicals, and additives.

One of the principle precepts of Buddhism is “Do no harm.”  The Machine does harm in virtually every community all over the world as it eliminates indigenous cultures, pollutes and destroys whole ecosystems, and causes extinction of species every day.  The figures in a corporate spread-sheet or the decisions made in a corporate board-room often have direct, far-reaching consequences for people, animals, and ecosystems far away.  Our planet is in real peril.

The Machine with its “productivity” rhetoric has induced us into believing that hyperactive, multi-tasking overdrive is the only way to beat out competition.  The new standard of work ethic in the Machine is, in reality, unethical and misanthropic. It does harm.  It induces stress; stress induces disease.  Scientific evidence has demonstrated that multi-tasking negatively impacts the mind’s ability to focus and concentrate.  We make poorer decisions and have poorer relationships when we are in overdrive all the time.  We pay less attention to the outcomes of our actions. We pay less attention to our states of mind. We pay less attention to the cravings/ aversions of our egoic minds that ultimately perpetuate suffering.  We simply pay less attention, and, therefore, cannot act in Mindfulness.

So, what can we do if we wish to do less harm, if we wish to lessen our participation in the Machine, and, thus, in the Machine’s destructive force?  It is so difficult, because it is all around us—it has occupied every aspect of modern life.  Our hospitals, educational institutions, institutions of law, insurance companies, corporations, restaurants, entertainment venues, gas stations, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc. etc. etc. all participate and we participate in them.  Beginning to lessen one’s participation is, I think, a good place to start.

Lessening participation begins with Mindfulness.  Becoming Mindful of the desires and aversions that living in the Machine has made one believe are real.  Becoming curious about one’s cravings and aversions and just allowing the mind to observe the beginning, middle, and cessation of them is really useful.  Noticing how many desires from the egoic mind come out of nowhere in a day and somehow manage to persuade you that if you only had this gadget or the newest version of that shiny object life would be better and you would be happy.  Just noticing without acting on impulse helps one to notice the impermanence and unreality of the cravings and aversions that try to persuade one of their reality. With practice, one can detach more and allow more of those cravings and aversions to rise, pass, and fall away without jumping into action. Meditation helps. It helps a lot.

Things that may come with Mindfulness:

  1. Living more simply.
  2. Getting rid of harmful habits.
  3. Limiting exposure to media.
  4. Being out in nature more, where the soul longs to be.
  5. Slowing down.
  6. Doing what one loves and loving what one does.
  7. Buying less.
  8. Spending more time in awareness.
  9. Spending more time with family and friends.
  10. Eating better and honoring the whole being.

“Do no harm. Do good.”  These are the Buddha’s teachings.  We can’t always see the ends of our actions—whether they do harm or do good.  But, we can become more conscientious of the values, products, and activities that dominate our attention and our way of life.  Becoming more Mindful is a starting place for experiencing the Bliss that arises from just Being; and, in just Being, we do less harm and  more good.

Angela Pitts, 2012


About istopforsuffering

A page created to help spread love and kindness and positivity. Dedicated to making this world a better place, and making a difference in people's lives.

20 responses to ““Being” in the Machine

  1. THIS IS SO GOOD. 🙂 I couldn’t agree more. I like “Machine” it’s a great way to describe modern society. Yay!

    • Thank you so much for that lovely comment :-). Angela’s blog is so wonderful – she writes so beautifully and has such wisdom.

    • Thanks Zen and the Art…appreciate your comment. Do you have any thoughts about how to live ethically in the machine? Lots of love and thanks for reading.

      • I think we need to go back to a more natural way of living, less machine, more nature. ♥ I don’t know if I could add more to your post. Being mindful of everything we do comes to mind, but that’s basically what you said. 🙂 Living for ALL, not just ourselves. Love to you, too! I am all for equality and I so hope that this is just the beginning of the age of higher consciousness that we’ve been hearing about so much lately.

      • I have to agree with your post Zen and Art. I have spent some time thinking about it, and I can’t really add anything to Angela’s brilliant and insightful suggestions either. But I totally agree. For some time now I have refused to be part of the machine – one if it’s ‘workers’. I don’t watch TV. I no longer have a car (which wasn’t through conscious choice). I walk everywhere. I cook from scratch, I don’t buy packet ingredients. I spent time outdoors in the fresh air. I talk to people – in person. And it’s surprising how that makes me the “odd one out”. So many people follow it blindly without questioning it. It’s the norm, and it’s what is expected of us.

  2. Wise advice. Reminds me of several science fiction books I read along time ago about machines taking over our lives. And we have easily become used to them being there, and dependant on them. Great stuff.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! That is very similar to my thoughts when I first read it too.

    • Wonderful observation, mgert123. I grew up with the Terminator films, the Cyberpunk novels of William Gibson and George Orwell’s 1984. How prophetic these dystopic renderings were. We have gotten used to them, haven’t we? A bit like the warnings of the blind prophet Tiresias who knew who Oedipus was and cautioned him that though he had eyes, he could not see himself. Your comment is much appreciated.

  3. Thank you so very much, Megan, for inviting me to provide a guest-post for your deliciously positive, mindful blog. I’m really quite honored.

    • I am reading your posts on each other’s posts today!!! And I’ve been doubly blessed with two excellent posts. Thank you ladies! Many hugs, Shaz

      • This is such a powerful piece of work Angela and one which lies at the core of how I lead my life unstained by the sweeping force of the Machine. My husband is a Development Advisor and he told me this incident on one of his work trips to check on a project in a remote village in The Philippines.The funding of this project was to provide electricity. This was the findings of the team.

        The minute the village was connected to the power lines, the villagers trekked to the nearest township to get a television. And within five years, these little band of natives were beseiged by social problems never before encountered in centuries past. Their whole identity and cultural values were wiped out in one generation. They became alchoholics and adultery (a completely new phenomena) became rampant. Their simple lifestyle in one moment was corrupted by a force they didn’t have any frame of reference or means to defend themselves against. One television was all it took to wipe out an entire civilisation.

        And so, what was meant to bring progress in actual fact did more damage than good. The Machine, this rampant materialism that mankind is now sunk deep in and spend all its waking hours pandering to the needs of the material self while ignoring man’s truest nature and attributes. And so, yes, this is my life’s work to raise up a new generation, an awakening to life’s great purpose and ultimately salvation is freedom from our own prisons of self isn’t it? First, do no harm. Thank you again Meg & Angela!

      • Thank you so much for that beautiful comment Shaz! It’s really been an honour being a guest blogger for Angela, and having her write for mine. I hope that we can do it again in the future :-).

      • Thank you, Shaz!! Blessings and love to you!!

      • Wow, Shaz–Thank you so much for sharing this intimate, first-hand story. It is humbling and ever so haunting. I wanted to just sit down and weep for these fellow human beings who have lost so much….And, what a beautiful way of life both you and Meg live. Your sons will, no doubt, help lead the next generation to sanity and simplicity.

      • And, Meg–I do hope that we can do it again, too!! Let me revise that–we shall, we shall, we shall!! xoxo

  4. Just re-reading this. Angela it truly is the most brilliant piece of writing. It’s hard to absorb just how profound this is, and true. Thank you so much for writing this piece xxx

    • oh may I just insert the very crucial word “Attempt” to the first line of my comment??!! 😀 “One which lies at the core of how I attempt, try very hard, struggle sometimes and fight against and oftentimes fail to lead my life unstained….” That would be a more accurate sum up! Thanks again to you both!

    • Thank you so much, Meg. I’m so honored to have been invited to do so. And, I’m really moved by the comments that you shared on how you consciously dwell outside the machine. I love the simplicity, elegance, and mindfulness of your life. A lesson to us all!!

  5. Stillness, simplicity and contentment 🙂

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