A Buddhist Monk's Advice On Overcoming Tech Addiction

By Carolyn Gregoire, The Huffington Post, Oct 6, 2014

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- "iPads are great," laughed the Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, a Korean Buddhist monk and global humanitarian leader. But he added an important caveat: They're only great if you can use them without becoming too attached or fixated. And as many of us know, this isn't always an easy thing to do.

Asked his advice on how to mindfully interact with technology, Pomnyun explained that technology itself is neither bad nor good.

"There's no value judgment," Pomnyun said in a discussion with Huffington Post editors last week. "The bad thing is if you're obsessed over it every day."

Technology use becomes a habit, or even an addiction, when we need to check our devices every few minutes because we are curious to see what we might have missed, explained Pomnyun.

"It is good for us to be free from habit or addiction, because you become a slave to the object or technology," he said. "It's good to take a step back to examine yourself. Test yourself, and see how you react -- from a third person -- when you go without technology for a whole weekend. If you're always curious and trying to hold yourself off, then you know that you're addicted."

Here's another experiment Pomnyun recommends: For one day, try not bringing any cash or credit cards with you and see how you feel.

If we become aware of our behavior, Pomnyun stressed, we can keep from being addicted to any habit. This kind of self-awareness is essential to finding peace of mind.

"Addiction is something natural that happens to the brain when we do something repeatedly," said Pomnyun. "That cognitive habit -- and the whole scheme of cognitive habits -- is called karma. That karma becomes your master. So it's that karma, or group of habits, that is leading you. So it's very important to practice freeing yourself from that karma."