There is a story about the ancient sage, Adi Shankaracharya, that my Indian Philosophy teacher loved to tell us undergrads.
Once, on one of his many book-signings across the land, Shankaracharya was confronted by one of those annoying followers who only follow you to make wise-ass comments on everything you say.
"O Wise Man," said he, "If you were in a jungle and you came upon a man-eating tiger, would you run away?"
"Why, yes, @Disciple67456, I would," said @Shankar_ARox.
"But why? You only said everything is maya no? Then even the tiger is maya. Hehe."
"That may be so, idiot child, but so is everything else. Which makes the world my material self lives in, real for now. So, when the tiger gnaws on my ankle, it may be maya. But unless I attain moksha right about then, it will still hurt like a bitch."
Disciple67456, suitably enlightened, went on to RT Shankaracharya's words to all his tweeps. But what relevance does this story have to me & my inner peace? You see, being a Twitter whore has helped me understand the material world a little bit better.
* Hari Om Twat Sat*
1. Fresh as a freshly powdered baby bottom: When we sign up on Twitter, our profiles are pure. We can be whoever we wish to be - funny, confessional, depressed, suicidal, attention-junkies, newshounds, stalkers, leaders, individualists or cult-members. There is no desire to acquire followers. There is no desire to create virtual bonds with unknown people. The fact that our neighbours, relatives and friends are on our lists is good enough. Ah the innocence, sigh....
2. The New World: However, if your pure soul is unemployed and has access to too much free time & broadband, it begins to uncover the cliques that exist on Twitter. Soon, the Dalai Lama has been unfollowed, replaced instead by Shit My Dad Says and the descent has begun. (Which is ironic, since this 'descent' is misinterpreted by the Tweeter as an ascent up the Twitterati ladder. People, who abandoned their budding careers as rockstars to become bankers will identify.)
At this stage, as with any stage in life, one has a choice to disengage and not get sucked under the veil of illusion...
3. Part Becomes Whole: So this Tweeter has spent a couple of weeks/ months navigating this bewildering soup of 140 characters. She's sifted through thousands of Twitter profiles and what remains is a list of brilliantly funny, raging & sarcastic buggers. The idea that Twitter is a vast universe full of endless possibilites (a notion held right at the very beginning, when signing up) has now been whitled down. The Tweeter becomes further myopic. She begins to believe that Twitter, as a whole, is a brilliantly funny & raging place full of sarcastic buggers.
4. The Switch: Deep within, the tweeter is always aware that this is not real. That there is a world outside Twitter, where she is a more complete person. More loving, giving & prone to random acts of kindness (also capable of tremendous feats like giving flesh-and-blood hugs). Yet, she disregards that inner awareness. She begins to change. She begins to unleash her negativity. The more she descends into the hallucination, the more popular she becomes.
She now makes a fatal mistake.
5. But You Said You Loved Me: The Tweeter begins to believe what the 'voices' on Twitter are saying. After all, she is being discussed in third person by strangers and her brain vomit is now being tracked by some of the most respected writers she has admired in the blogosphere. The illusions of grandeur know no stopping. She believes she has discovered the meaning of love. Worse still, she stops reading books.
6. The Fall: Then something stupid happens. She becomes an object on Twitter. Others begin to sexualize her, vilify her, worship her. They, equally ignorant in this mayalicious world of Twitter, have lost the ability to see beyond the DP. (People who humiliate security guards performing safety checks at malls will identify). She realises that no matter how many times she is retweeted, she is in fact alone and this, in truth, is not reality. Bummer.
7. Enlightenment: She puts on her pants and goes for a walk. Outside.
*Hari Om Twat Sat*
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