Abstinence?

In a Moment of Introspection…..

 Abstinence has a special place in Hindu Dharma; so it is with almost all religions.  Abstinence implies eschewing all pleasures derived from five senses, i.e.,  hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste.  It is not just the fasting but withdrawing mind from sense objects so that while abstaining from these, mind does not crave for them.

In modern times, especially since the advent of social media, there has been sensory overload. What starts out like a trickle and before one knows it becomes a raging flood ,is the social media.  One gets so immersed in it, be it Facebook, twitter or a blog. We spend umpteen hours  in front of the screen;  it could be your computer, iPad/tablet or smart phone.  We start out small. First out of curiosity or peer pressure. Then we get “friends”  and “likes”; “retweets and favorites.”  We write, we read, we approve, and we argue, we share, we frown, we curse, we jeopardize live, real life relations and communications at the altar of the social media and in some sober moment, we decide to cut down or just quit cold turkey.  But alas, kicking this habit is not any easier than quitting smoking, drinking, etc.

So here is yours truly, who has abstained from the social media for 41 days (except for  four or five forwarded tweets). It started out with compulsion and then took a life of its own.  In end October I was traveling to California from New Jersey for an important meeting, so  I knew that I would not be touching Facebook or twitter for five days as has happened in past.  For a person who spends considerable time on social media not only for entertainment or self-expression but also for research and cataloging, abstinence from social media for five consecutive days is too much. But unknown to me at that time, it was a start of a new journey.  On my way to California, I developed sever pain in my leg. It was excruciating and covered length of the leg from waist to toe. Any movement- walking, standing, sitting down, lying in particular position brought nerve-wracking bouts of fresh pain signals. This was followed by blisters on the back of the leg that followed the path of the pain.  A visit to the hospital upon return home revealed that it was a case of shingles.   The doctor prescribed medicines, one of them being narcotic pain killer but he simply shrugged his shoulders and told me that I had to wait it out  and pain (which is a nerve pain) will take its own time to subside.

The medicines made me groggy and for a few days I did not know whether it was day or night when I opened my eyes.  Sitting in front of computer was out of question. One, pain would increase moment I sat down and two, I could not concentrate.  So after a few failed attempts I gave up. For someone who has always prided in good to excellent health, this illness was ego shattering.  I may take Tylenol or Advil may be four or five times in a year. Now here I was popping pills every four hours!  I have taken more of Tylenol and assorted ibuprofen in one month than what I had taken in previous 40 years.

As things started getting better, I had strong desire to get back to Facebook, twitter and my blog. However, something inside kept pulling me back.  I was supposed to travel to Bharat mid-November (did not happen) so I had lot of things to take care of.  I had not yet cleared the backlog of personal work that had accumulated during my six week trip to Bharat for election campaign.  May be I was feeling guilty that with all the pending work inside and around the house, I could/should not spend time on computer.

As I started getting better, suddenly I had this revelation- yes, I could live without social media and world would not come to an end!  So I watched inside me to see if I was thinking about Facebook, etc. Surprisingly, I was not.  I decided to keep going, almost “fasting” from social media as long as it was natural and not forced or contrived.

During this period I started reading three books. As such I have a library of more than 1000 books of all kind and in different languages. Many of the books I scan for providing reference in some of my write ups; others I refer to, to compare notes with something I might have read or where I may be getting in a debate with others on social media or in other forums and some I read for pure personal pleasure.  These three books were on my “to read” list or in the modern slang, on my bucket list. These were:

The Legend of Pope Joan, In Search of The Truth by Peter Stanford; The Roman Empire by Colin Wells and in Gujarati , Prati Nayak (anti-Hero), a book about Mohammad Ali Zinnah by Prof. Dinkar Joshi.  I am yet to complete them so someday I will write about them.

Also immediately after coming back from Bharat in May I read two books that I had bought there. Durbar by Tavleen Singh and Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths by P. C. Parakh, former Secretary, Ministry of Coal. Someday, I will write about them too.

I have few more books on my immediate reading list. These are Majority Report and three books on Narendra Modi.

I will also write about my observation of the temple complex of Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi as well as about a comment by one reader that NRIs did not have right to advise Indians about whom to vote in the election, etc.

With all that on my plate, my immediate task is to write about an uplifting experience at Denver airport on way  to San Jose, California.

Now do you see, why it is healthy to stay away from social media?

Finally,  we (yes this time, I am not alone) are leaving for Bharat tomorrow and this time it is going to be a considerably longer stay.  From mid-January onwards I will stay put in Karnavati (that is Amdavad.) Between now and January 9, I would be traveling within Gujarat with a short visit to Mumbai.  I plan to attend Vibrant Gujarat. As a matter of fact GIBV (Global Indians for Bharat Vikas)’s Forum for Global Leadership of India (FGLI) has arranged a full day seminar on January 10th on Technology which will be keynoted by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science and Technology.

You may reach me by email (vicharak@gmail.com) or by sending me a message on Facebook.

Hopefully I would be able to meet many of my friends who have traveled on the same path for bringing change to Bharat for the better.  Shubham Bhavatu!

Posted on December 10, 2014, in Musings, Unclassified and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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