Restraining Television

March 15, 2013 Comments Off on Restraining Television

Television provides so much of the mental diet of so many people today that it deserves special attention, lest it become a deterrent to a balanced, contemplative life. Television at its best is the extension of storytelling. We used to sit around and tell stories. The best storyteller, who could paint pictures in people’s minds, was the most popular person in town. Television is also the extension of the little theater, and as soon as it became popular, the little theater groups all over the country became unemployed. It is the extension of the stand-up comedian, of vaudeville, drama, opera, ballet, all of which have suffered since television has become a popular mode of entertainment. In every country, at every point in time, humans have sat down and been entertained, and entertainers have stood up and entertained them.

Today, television has become an instrument to convey knowledge and bring the world together, set new standards of living, language, styles of dress and hair, ways of walking, ways of standing, attitudes about people, ethics, morality, political systems, religions and all sorts of other things, from ecology to pornography. This vast facility unifies the thinking–and thus the actions–of the peoples of the world. Today, at the flick of a finger with the magic wand, one can change the mental flow and emotional experience of everyone watching for the entire evening.

Saivites know that our karmas are forces we send out from ourselves–creative forces, preserving forces, destroying forces, and a mixture of either two or the three–and they usually come back to us through other people or groups of people. Television has afforded us the ability to work through our karmas more quickly than we could in the agricultural age. On TV, the “other people” who play our past experiences back to us, for us to understand in hindsight, are actors and actresses, newscasters and the people in the news they broadcast. Saivites know nothing can happen, physically, mentally or emotionally, but that it is seeded in our prarabdha karmas, the action-reaction patterns brought with us to this birth. Therefore, on the positive side, we look at television as a tool for karmic cleansing.

Saivites know that the object of life is to go through our experiences joyously and kindly, always forgiving and compassionately understanding, thus avoiding making unseemly kriyamana karmas in the current life which, if enough were accumulated and added to the karmas we did not bring into this life, would bring us back into another birth, and the process would start all over again. The great boon that television has given humanity, which is especially appreciated by Saivites, is that we can soften our prarabdha karmas very quickly by analyzing, forgiving and compassionately understanding the happenings on the screen, as our past is portrayed before us, and as we work with our nerve system, which laughs and cries, resents, reacts to and avoids experiences on the TV.

Television can be very entertaining and helpful, or it can be insidiously detrimental, depending on how it is used. Therefore, fortify your mind with a thorough understanding of what you are watching. Television works on the subconscious mind. This is an area of the mind which we are not usually conscious of when it is functioning, but it is functioning nevertheless, constantly, twenty-four hours a day. Television works strongly on the subconscious minds of children. If they watch TV for long periods of time, they begin to think exactly as the programmers want them to think. Responsible parents have to choose just what goes into their children’s minds, as well as into their own minds. It is advisable to prerecord the shows you wish to watch, avoiding sexual scenes, obscene language and excessive violence; and even then be ready to fast-forward through inappropriate scenes that are found today even on PG-rated programs. – Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami from:Living with siva


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