Shambhala Sun | May 2014
EXCERPT / ON THE COVER
The Dharma of Distraction
It goes a lot deeper than how many times a day you check
your phone. According to Buddhist teacher JUDY LIEF, distraction is the
very foundation of ego, the way we protect ourselves against both the pain of
life and the open space of awakened mind. You could even say that letting go of
all distraction is the path to enlightenment.
everywhere, all the time. Little screens, middling screens, gigantic screens.
Instead of Plato’s cave, we each create our own little cave and live in a world
of flickering images devoid of real substance. We literally screen off our
actual world, with all its ruggedness and rawness, and fit whatever is
happening into a virtual world of sound, pictures, and videos we carry in our
We are so easily
distracted, we complain to ourselves. But what is really behind all this
distractedness? It is easy to think the relentless external stimuli are the
problem, but what we are surrounded by are just phenomena, nothing more. The
objects of our world are just there, innocently, just being what they are.
Noises are just noises, sights are just sights, objects are just objects,
smartphones are just smartphones, computers are just computers, thoughts are
That is why the
Buddhist teachings talk more in terms of wandering mind than distractions. When
we think in terms of distractions, we look outward and blame external
conditions for our jumpiness. When we think in terms of wandering mind, we look
inward for the source of our problem. We take responsibility.