Facebook and the Four Nutriments

Last month, Tricycle Magazine, the online Buddhist magazine that I follow, did an online retreat on the Four Nutriments. The Buddha taught that nothing can survive without food, and also taught that there are four types of food: edible food that we eat to fuel our body, sensory impressions that come through our eyes, ears, nose, body, and mind, intent/volition, and consciousness. The online retreat was divided into four videos for each nutriment. The video on the second nutriment, sensory impressions, really stuck with me. The idea that I consume not just edible food, but things like TV shows, music, and Internet sites was rather eye-opening. I started trying to be mindful of what I watched on TV, and more importantly, what I read online. I’m not much of a TV guy, but I’m always online. Especially on Facebook.

Immediately after the Orlando massacre, I found myself deep in the middle of some nasty online fights. I couldn’t believe the anger and negativity that I was seeing on my Facebook feed. I read posts and comments where people were condoning the deaths of the victims, defending firearms, and attacking gay people and Muslim people. Some of my own friends were doing this. I admit that I got so caught up in it all. The toxicity was so much that I went to bed Wednesday night shaking in anger and woke up the same way. I knew that wasn’t right. Here I am supposed to be practicing Buddhism now and I’m caught up in all the shit and reacting to it badly. That’s when I remembered the Four Nutriments. I knew then what I needed to do.

So, after sitting to meditate, I wrote a lengthy post on my Facebook letting my friends know that I leaving the site for a while. I knew that to continue fighting online in an attempt to make others change their minds was an exercise in futility. Not only that, every time I did I was feeding my mind a heaping serving of anger and toxicity. I never would have thought like this before. But I’m really trying to be mindful in Life now. I think it was worth it.

Two days Facebook free and I feel fine.

Side note: there’s a great article on tnhaudio.org about the Four Nutriments. If you want to know more, I recommend it.

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