I’ve been to Asia several times. I’ve spent several weeks in Buddhist countries. I’ve also been to a variety of Asian restaurants and without stereotyping, it is quite common to find a small altar to Buddha. Typically these altars have some food or flowers, incense, a candle or a variety of other offerings.
One purpose for the Buddhist Altar is to allow your five-senses to be completely absorbed in the Buddhist practices purifying the practitioners mind. Let’s see…engaging all the senses, absorbing the mind…hmmm, anyone want to watch some TV?
Think about it. Every house you enter has placed in the position of honor (high on the wall or shelf) a powerful box. That box consumes many of our evenings, mornings, afternoons…Did you know according to one study, the average American watches 2.7 hours of TV PER DAY! By the way, that doesn’t include video games, internet, social media, etc.
What is the cost?
Are we entertaining ourselves to death?
I know I’ll be criticized for being judgmental here, so let me make it personal. On average, every week: I watch about 6-8 hours of TV, spend 4-6 hours in church services (I’m a pastor after all), read and study God’s Word 3-4 hours and spend 12-15 hours with family and friends.
Honestly, I’m not sure anything will change after writing this. Maybe I’m “above the line” and it’s OK. Something deep in my soul is irritated. I can look at it time and time again and rationalize my way out of it. I can’t get the image of a Golden Buddha encased Television hanging on my wall out of my head!
So I continue to ask myself one simple question.
What is the cost?
Am I entertaining myself to death?
Have I ‘optioned’ myself out of life to the fullest?
Did you know the average American has more than 200 television channels to choose from? Plus, online shows, YouTube, OnDemand Movies, Netflix…ahhhhh!!! It’s all a bit overwhelming…so overwhelming I think I’ll go sink deep into my couch while being lulled into an entertainment coma by the sparkling images before me.
The other day our family was out to eat. My son turned to me at the beverage counter and said, “Dad, there’s only 6 things to choose from.” Only six! The next day my kids were playing Hide & Seek. My daughter (who is supposed to be doing the seeking) comes into the kitchen and proclaims “I have nothing to do.” I reminded her to be counting so she could go find her brother. She said, “That’s what I mean, I have nothing to do until then.”
Do you remember when you put your head down and slowly counted and that was the fun part of Hide & Seek? Do you remember when Coke wasn’t an option, it was a drug (OK, just kidding).
We need to be honest with ourselves. What is the cost of all this entertainment? Do you worship your TV? Or maybe what’s on your TV? Hopelessness comes quickly as we sit and soak in the entertainment. Over time, nothing else satisfies.
I had a friend in college (ok, I had more than one). This particular friend drove a late seventies model American made sedan. He had painted it himself with a paintbrush and leftover exterior house paint in multiple colors. It was a sweet ride. Plastered on the bumper was a plain black and white bumper sticker that read:
Kill your television.
Maybe we don’t need to be so violent about it, but…if you find yourself troubled by the fear in your life…if you HAVE to catch the latest Survivor…can’t wait to get home to get caught up on American Idol…you can hear the newscasters voices in your head as hopelessness creeps up your spine…turn off the TV. Leave it off. Clear your head, your heart and your mind.
Try it and see what happens.