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Internet Addiction

From: "Daniel Bromberg" To: Subject: Internet Addiction Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 12:58:43 +0000 Baba "Toma'r saunge mor paricay, ek-a'dha yuger katha' nay..." (PS 2303) Purport: Baba, my closeness with You is not only since the last few hundred or even thousands of years. Nor is it only since the last one or two epochs or ages. Baba, from before the beginning of time You have been along with me; by Your grace I have always been in Your shelter. Baba, I have been singing Your divine glory since eternity. It is Your grace. Baba, by being ensconced in Your divine love, my heart became satiated and fulfilled. All my needs and longings got completely quenched and satisfied. Baba, by constantly ideating on You-- day and night, all the time-- by Your grace my mind may become one with You. Baba, please be gracious and do not keep me distant. Always keep me close to Your lotus feet-- under Your shelter. Baba, please remain along with me constantly-- all the 24 hrs. And please grace me and saturate my mind with Your divine nectar. Baba, make my life full by utilising me all the time in various deeds, in whatever way You like. Baba, by Your grace our intimacy and relation has been since eternity. And, by Your divine krpa', it will go on up to infinity...
Namaskar, Addiction comes in many forms: Alcohol, cigarette / nicotine, work, drugs, gambling, painkillers and now in this 21st century there is internet addiction disorder (IAD). As margiis and as parents this is something for us to be critically aware of, because this stands as yet one more material indulgence that may distract us from spiritual life and even disturb or ruin our personal and family life. In particular, we should be vigilant that our margii children not fall into this trap. In general, teenagers seem to be particularly susceptible IAD; the internet has become yet another temptation for teens. So we should be aware of the telltale signs of IAD and not allow any of our young ones slip into this gigabyte abyss. While there are innumerable benefits to using the Internet, we should not let ourselves (family, community etc) get bit by the "animal" of internet addiction disorder either.
There are numerous articles - yes(!) on the internet - about internet addiction disorder. Further information then is easily accessible. Here for your convenience is a list of some of the signature characteristics of this addiction: 1) Always in a rush to get on line; 2) Overlook life responsibilities (homework, house duties, appointments etc) in order to go on line; 3) Feel irritated if disturbed when using the internet; 4) Ignore relations with those around you in favour of "on-line friends"; 5) Always thinking of going back on line; 6) Secretive about what on line activities and pursuits; 7) Lose sight of reality, i.e. confusing fictional aspects of on-line experiences such as gaming etc with the reality of living in this world. (Note: Teenagers are particularly prone in this regard.) 8) Sad or depressed when not online, only to "recover" when back on line; 9) Say you will be off in 15 minutes, but stay on line for hours and hours longer; 10) Skip meals and lose sleep because of excessive time on line; 11) Verbally accost or even physically attack those who object to their internet habits; 12) Cannot survive without it - "gotta have it"; do everything and anything to be on line; 13) Leads to other negative behaviours including crime and unlawful activities etc; 14) And there are a plethora of other signs to watch for. So if you suspect one of your near and dear ones is suffering from IAD, please investigate the matter thoroughly. So these are some of the more common lifestyle presentations of IAD. It is important to note that one need not have all the above characteristics in order to be suffering from IAD. Needless to say, there are degrees of addiction. Also of note is that nowadays more and more doctors, psychologists, and therapists are involved in studying and researching IAD. It is a recent problem, yet already it has gained the attention of top professionals in the field.
There are certain genres of sites that are more prone to addictive behaviours. Here are sites that most lead to addiction, though not necessarily in this order: 1) Porn sites; 2) Gambling sites; 3) Social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter etc; 4) Gaming. All of the above can be highly addictive to users. So we should all be alert about this.
One of the main reasons why teenagers are especially prone to being hooked or addicted to the internet is because this is all they know. That's to say, they have grown up with the internet and do not know life without it. From the very beginning, many of their life activities and pathways have been routed through the internet. Thus, they may have fewer off-line interests than older generations. This is one reason why they are prone to IAD. Another critical point is that kids and teenagers are highly impressionable. They have a tendency to confuse what is on their screen with the physical reality of life. For instance, when the Ramayana was first shown on TV in India, then there were a rash if injuries with youth. Why? Because just as Hanuman made the great leap from India to Sri Lanka, kids also thought they could also leap. And in their childlike ways, dozens of kids jumped from the roof of their houses etc in order to be like Hanuman. Kids are that impressionable. In contrast, not one single adult attempted such a leap. Here the point is that kids often confuse what they see on the screen with the stark reality of this world. The same problem can happen with their gaming ventures on line. Young kids and early teenagers can easily start to think that what adventures and fantasies they are doing on line is an accurate depiction of real life events. And the next thing you know, such kids are doing very dangerous things, like jumping off the roof of their house. So responsible parents and adults should be highly aware about IAD and how it can affect their kids. The best remedy is prevention - to control the situation ahead of time - and set up guidelines and rules for use of the internet. Otherwise, the situation can become quite messy. As margiis, as mothers and fathers, as acaryas, and as sadhakas, it is our combined and collective responsibility to bring each and every child of our Marga into a spiritually inspired and devotionally way of living. All should come into our AM society and become the pillars of the future humanity, averting the dark aspects of life like IAD. Baba says, "Children will become assets of society in the future to the extent that their parents or guardians discharge their duties properly." (HS-1)
In His Ekendriya chapter, Baba issues a critical warning of what will happen if one focuses on a single materialistic pursuit. If one points all their psychic energy toward one direction - and if that direction is not a spiritual one - then often that creates destruction in life. That is Baba's distinct warning. For instance, if a person dedicates all their time and energy to making money, or dating the opposite sex, or doing business, or gambling, or whatever worldly desire they have, that will lead to their degeneration. Their mind will get crudified and they will become imbalanced and ultimately fall. Baba says, "You may know some people whose minds always run after money. You might have asked them to sit down for a while and have a chat, and been surprised by their excusing themselves, saying they were so busy and had to rush off to the stock exchange. If their pursuit of money is hampered in any way, if it eludes their grasp, if they are totally severed from it, their minds will lose their base and they will die." "All crude objects on which people base their hopes and aspirations will certainly disappear one day, for the nature of this relative world is “Yah a'gacchati sah gacchati” – “Whatever comes, goes.” When people are deserted by their crude objects of desire they are eaten away by frustration and disappointment, and die a miserable death." "I heard that once, when the currency was devalued, a wealthy jute merchant suddenly died because all the aspiration of his life were based on money. He could not face the prospect of having to part with his cherished object of desire." "This is ekendriya. One should concentrate one’s mind on the Supreme One to the exclusion of all mundane objects; for they can give no lasting support." (APH-6) If one fails to chase after the true spirit of ekendriya and instead gets derailed toward mundane desires, their future is not bright. That same ominous outcome will swallow them if they uniquely pursue any crude habit including the internet. So IAD is indeed a scary matter for anyone involved. The addict will become a victim, in one way or another. They may lose their marriage or their job or their house or whatever. There are so many horror stories in this regard. I am sure we all have heard numerous stories how an addict ends up destroying their own life. This does not just happen in Hollywood and Bollywood, tragically common people also get bound in negative pursuits and degrading habits. Ultimately that addiction makes them totally blind to whatever responsibilities and obligations they have.
In this following teaching from the discourse 'Vya'tireka-1', Baba is guiding us that the best way to cure addicts from their negative behaviors like IAD is not to remind them directly of their addiction but to engage their mind in healthier and higher pursuits. Baba says, "The best psychological cure for addicts is to put them in an environment where they will be unable to think of their object of addiction for any length of time. To proclaim, "Don't do this, it's bad," is futile, for it is a negative approach. If you say, "Don't drink wine", you are still injecting the concept of wine into the alcoholic's mind, thus making it impossible for him to forget it and kick (quit) his bad habits. You are giving alcohol negative publicity, and it again becomes his mental object. Thus whenever he gets the opportunity he will certainly drink it again. And it may be that this negative approach encourages the alcoholic to become even more addicted. It is a defective approach." "These days the sign "No smoking please" is placed in many public places, but it will not reduce the amount of smoking. If society wants people to stop smoking, its approach should be to divert the smoker's mind to other objects. A chain smoker should be encouraged to get involved in various pursuits such as music, dance, songs, culture of fine arts, etc., for if the mind remains engaged in these things it will forget its object of addiction. But the person who thinks, "I'll stop drinking wine the day after tomorrow-no, let me see, why not tomorrow" can never kick the habit,for wine remains the mental object. The mind will try to materialise whatever it thinks about in the external world - this is its nature." (APH-6, p. 373-74) So if a child has a computer in their room or if an adult spends all their time in their office where they have internet access, the best remedy and cure is for the addict to go places where they do not have on-line access and instead involve in other pursuits like music, sports, art etc. If they surf the web using an i-Phone of palm top etc, then they should intentionally stay away from that device for hours at a stretch. The mind needs to be free and ultimately goaded toward a more benevolent pursuit. One great way to overcome addiction and depression is to engage in service. One should volunteer to help others. That has a real healing effect on the person doing service. And of course other are benefited as well. Sadhana, kiirtan, and svadhyaya are also, of course, get practices for cleaning and clearing the mind of an addiction. Instead the mind will get pointed toward a spiritual ideal.
By Baba's grace He has given us all the teachings and warnings in life to overcome all the negative trends and habits in society, like internet addiction disorder. We should all be vigilant and watch and care for others, especially teenagers. Baba says, "There are certain common and natural tendencies in human life. Those tendencies are of either a degenerating or an exalting nature, that is, they are either of a depraving or an elevating nature. We should encourage the elevating tendencies and discourage the depraving tendencies. In certain portions of this world, depraving tendencies such as pornography exist. Protesting will not stop or check it unless we also do something positive to check it. If we do something positive, it will create a new stir in the human mind. Pornography and other depraving tendencies will be completely discouraged and checked. That will be our course of action. We have to create new literature, new books, new music, new songs...we have to create a cultural stir. These are our immediate duties. We have to chalk out a programme and act accordingly." ('Rule of Rationality', PNS-12) Namaskar, Dharma
One other important point to be aware of is that Baba tells us not to think about past misdeeds. We should forget about them. That is why HE has designed human beings to have both eyes in the front-- so that we may look forward and march towards the Goal. Thinking about past negative events will cause those things to come again and again; this is the concept of AM. So to think over and over that "I am sinner -- I am sinner", this psychology is not good. If any negative habit is there then one should try to avoid that and engage in higher pursuits. That is why we have seen in Dharma Samiiksa that if anyone committed something negative then always Baba first gave atonement. And then guided their mind toward different social service activities. Only if HE found that after this still people also went on thinking and engaging in those same negative things, then He became very furious. Because according to AM philosophy the human mind has tremendous quality: What way the mind thinks, the whole personality can metamorphose in that direction. So if an honest person thinks about his past misdeeds like stealing then that negative habit will again appear. That is why Baba has given the system of pratyaha'r, 'offering of one's mental colors'. And this is exactly what we do in Guru Puja, so this also one of the important practices. All along His teaching in countless places BABA has guided the entire society on this very point because in certain religions like Christianity they give a lot of preference to remind about their past sins. And most of the time that sin is unknown-- what they did they do not know. This thing is present in small or big form in most of the religions. Because of this also AM has given completely new ideas. So our way in AM is not to condemn people for their sins or wrong actions. Baba says, "In ancient times people were made outcastes on trivial charges of social crimes. We do not subscribe to such beliefs." (AV-5) Rather our viewpoint is to rectify people and free them of their old habits so they may progress.
*************************************** WT Conduct Rule: 360 Degrees
Baba says, "Always remain united and organised. Solve all problems big and small in a united way. Advise every Ananda Margii to remain united at all times." (Point #31 of '32 Rules for Avadhu'tas') Note: Alas where are those workers whose mind is saturated with this Baba's golden teaching. They exist, but are in a minority. Because of such margiis and Wts the earth is saved.

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