American Institute of Vedic Studies

Transcending Our Two Dimensional Media World

 

We spend our time looking at small flat screens, which are not only limited in size but in the process of viewing them we lose the depth vision of the third dimension. We are gradually conditioning our minds to the limited perception of a two dimensional world to define the real world in which we live. We must counter this restrictive vision with the practices of Yoga and Meditation or our world view will be caught in superficial dichotomies and lack any nuanced view.

 

We live more in a two dimensional media world than in the actual three dimensional world of our senses. We seldom use the subtleties of our senses to perceive the beauty of nature. Similarly, we seldom cultivate our minds to appreciate a variety of points of view. As our minds reflect where we most commonly hold our attention, our minds are getting reduced to the boundaries of a box, and a small screen view of life. We believe what we see in the media, but media can be easily manipulated or truncated. We are beginning to think in two dimension terms in which the vastness space and subtle interconnections are lost.

 

Whatever the power of resolution, screens cannot equal the myriad nuanced colors of nature, its plants and flowers, rocks and the lichens on them, landscapes and their many components large and small, or open horizons that suggest something transcendent. We interact more with restricted screens, rather than with the world of nature, where everything is unique, not reducible to any manmade formula or run by any machine.

 

Added to this screen view of life, our urban environments made of cement, steel, paved streets, high rise buildings, polluted air and traffic noise, and the artificiality in our minds is magnified yet further. Our modern megacities and their stress take their tolls on our emotions as well. Stress has become our daily fare.

 

Our minds now reflect a narrow two-dimensional view of life in terms of divisions and dichotomies, promoted by a sophisticated media network—as if human ideas, values and beliefs, could be reduced to simplistic dualities of one group or ideology versus another as good or bad, right or wrong, to be promoted or to be suppressed in stark unbridgeable contrasts. This polarization of human thought is steadily increasing, making dialogue difficult, with conflicts getting more pronounced, with stark divides in families, communities and entire countries.

 


Expanding Our Perception

 

Most of us work today is with computer screens and smart phones and cannot avoid them. They certainly aid in efficiency and communication in many ways that there  can be no going back on. We must learn to adapt to them – but also to use them in a dharmic way rather than to be driven by them. Fortunately, there is much we can do to counter this two dimensional reduction of our lives that is the dangerous side-effect of the information technology era.

 

Simple perceptual exercises, such as we find in Yoga and Ayurveda, can be of enormous help. We can begin with going out to view the vastness of the sky suggesting the infinite, with the moving clouds and the innumerable stars, letting our minds expand beyond all boundaries into a space of higher Consciousness. We should find an unobstructed horizon at sunrise, sunset or the night sky to regularly contemplate at least for half an hour a day. Let your mind be like the sky!

 

Viewing the fluid realms of rivers, lakes or the ocean soothes the mind, including swimming and boating, dissolving any rigid boundaries. Hikes into mountains and hills are very important to widen our perspective and realize the human world is just a fraction of the universe. Looking at our human world from a mountain top helps restore a wider perspective on life, and take us out of our human fixations to appreciating our forgotten cosmic connections.

 

Regular retreats into nature can help if we live in a restricted urban realm and find it hard to move out of it on a daily basis.  We should cultivate a mind that functions in the image of nature from Earth to sky, its abundance and ongoing transformations, not a media clone. These practice are part of Pratyahara, the yogic management of sensory wellbeing and perspective. They increase artistic inspirations as well.

Pranayama helps as when our senses and minds are constricted so is our breath. Shallow breathing and fixated thoughts often go together. Don’t hold your breath before a screen, open your breath to the sky.

Mantra breaks the inertia of our dualistic thoughts in a unitary flow of attention that is centered within, not on external stimulation. Let your minds have a continuous mantric flow, not just a reactive agitation to media influences.

Meditation is essential for creating space and silence in our awareness, necessary for deep calm and peace of mind. Meditate before you react, seeing how a deeper awareness sees the world.

 

Even something as simple as gazing at a flame can help light us the flame of consciousness within us. In fact, holding our vision on any aspect of nature whether rocks, plants, flowers reveals the real truth of our mysterious universe to us. We are all of nature, not just a screen presentation.

 

Make sure to counter this dimensional limitation of our world of screens and boxes several times a day, better yet for entire days or weeks. You will find that life is much more than human competition and conflict, or social and political images.

 

Our inner Self-awareness transcends all limitations, levels and dimensions into the Infinite and Eternal. Searching that out is the path from mortality to immortality and is our true inner quest that brings us lasting happiness and bliss. Depth and abundance in life begins with depth vision and awareness of nature’s diversity in our own minds.

 

Vamadeva Shastri

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