Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I joined it 9 years ago, first as a place to share pictures of my new baby with my family, and over time my use of it has evolved into a forum for social interaction and sharing of ideas or events.
Many people can tell you how social media is a time waster, a sucking hole that takes away from the richness of our real lives and relationships. It can be used to promote some of the worst qualities of our society.
My question is: can Facebook be a spiritual practice?
In a satsang I recently heard, Adyashanti spoke about personal identity and how we create separateness in a way that resonated for me. The question of study was “Who are you if you do not reference any thoughts?”. When I contemplated that, my experience was briefly one of Being-ness. I felt what it means to say I Am. My mind took over too quickly, but I was left with a sense of what it would mean to let go of separateness. I feel a desire to return to that feeling, nurture it, expand it and never be in a space of separateness again.
Fast forward about 10 hours later while I am on Facebook: a former school mate posts a video that goes against many of my non-violent values and beliefs. I delete the post. I send out a Facebook question about how others handle it when someone posts something you are strongly against. I engage in non-violent dialogue with others who think it is no big deal, or that there is nothing I can do about it. I feel strongly that I have an ethical responsibility to do something and begin posting counter-stories all over my feed. I begin posting memes with quotations like “The only thing evil needs to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. I contemplate deleting people from my Facebook account who do not share in my “vibration” and therefore are not attracted in to my current life. I remind myself that there is a reason why we lose touch with people in life and feel satisfied that I have set up a strong boundary between me and everyone who is not me. Temporarily, I feel the happiness of the righteous.
Then I wondered what Adyashanti would say about what I had done. I imagined he would note that I had created a great story to justify my differences with others. That story of differences was energized as far as possible for me to define a separation from others, justify it, and turn away from even being curious about if our differences were real. I could feel myself realizing that as much as I earnestly claim a desire for oneness and awakening, my energy and story had moved me in a different direction.
I do not beat myself up over that. Doing so would be replacing one story with a new one. I feel peace in the idea of releasing this pattern. I feel peace in opening a new possibility for myself. I celebrate that this whole thing has led me one step closer to letting go of an illusion keeping me from knowing awakening and oneness in me as a truth right now.
So, Facebook, I will contemplate how to incorporate you into my practice, and be a place of love every time I go on.