Editor’s Desk: THE WAYS OF COMPUTERS ARE PERFECT AND MUST NOT BE QUESTIONED

In a recent interview, meditation teacher Tara Brach led me through a guided meditation to help me work on a particular issue that often triggers a negative reaction on my part.

I get triggered when technology is not working causing me to make a phone call to try to get tech help. More often than not I get connected to a bot (an artificial intelligence) that is asking me questions that don’t really apply to my issue. I’m then on an endless loop trying to get to a “live” person. Frustration is building and it’s really, truly hard to not just lose it.

Brach was very helpful and you’ll hear the whole process in the interview when it begins airing on March 11.

Somehow all of this reminds me of one of the oldest myths that has ever been documented: the Sumarian myth of Gilgamesh and Inanna. When Inanna, Queen of Heaven, has the need to descend to the underworld to meet her sister Erishkigal, who is ruler of the underworld, Inanna has to travel through seven gates. At each gate there is a sentry, Neti, who orders her to remove a piece of her royal garments that symbolize her power such as her crown, her breastplate, her bracelets, rings, her measuring rod, and robe until she’s defenseless and bowed low.

With each item she challenges the gatekeeper and asks, “Why?”

And with each gate Neti says, “Hush, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect and must not be questioned.”

This story reminds me of how precise and unbending the rules of technology are. In fact, in a dialogue with Joseph Campbell he once described computers as an old Testament God. “Lots of rules and no mercy.”

I’m truly proud of the skills I’ve had to develop in working with technology as I sit all by lonesome in my little office working virtually with my team. Since we are no longer working out of a central office, I cannot call out to a to a teammate who has good skills with technology to come and fix my computer screen.

For the most part, I work well with people and am seldom triggered by untoward actions on their part. However, when it comes to technology gone awry or I’m learning some new app, I’m quick to be triggered. This is definitely my edge. I can hear the screen insisting, “Hush, Justine, the ways of technology are perfect and must not be questioned.”

Sigh. Now that I’ve identified the trigger, hopefully I’ll be more quick to choose to interrupt this downward spiral and use it as an opportunity to take a moment to practice grounding myself in a “Kindness Meditation” and send love to myself and then to those close to me (including the computer screen and the phone loop), out to my community, and finally include the whole world.

-Justine Willis Toms