Meditating on the Media
The Bali Times, March 26, 2010
The media is the most powerful entity on earth,” said the American black militant leader Malcolm X, popular in the 1960s. For, in his own words, “They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
How does the media do this? How does it control the minds of the masses? By repeating one thing over and over. In the words of my very dear friend the late Dr Setiawan, a neurosurgeon par excellence, “The mind can be manipulated and controlled by intensive repetition.”
The word “mind” here is used for the “common mind.” A common mind is a dull mind. When it is bombarded with a certain idea – whether constructive or destructive – it begins to believe in it. A dull mind cannot differentiate between the two.
Now, a dull mind is not necessarily an illiterate mind. A highly intellectual mind can also be dull, and therefore destructive. On the other hand, an illiterate mind can be sharp, and therefore constructive.
The number of books we have read, the number of degrees we have acquired or the number of awards we have received – all these do not necessarily sharpen our mind. Our mind is sharpened by varied kinds of experiences. A sharp mind is an all-rounder mind. It is holistic and expansive. A sharp mind is a borderless mind, infinite and as limitless as the sky.
Modern-day scientists, scholars, specialists and experts tend to have “concentrated” minds. In Nicholas Murray Butler’s words, they know “more and more about less and less.” Such non-expansive minds can never be sharp.
A deeply religious mind that is not aware of the latest developments in the fields of science and technology remains dull. Similarly, a scientific and technocrat mind shall have no depth without religious experience.
A sharp mind is an all-rounder mind.
And a mind that is not all-rounder is dull.
Unfortunately, our present-day society consists of more dull than sharp minds, and this situation has been fully exploited by a handful of people. Someone has rightly said, “In day-to-day commerce, television is not so much interested in the business of communications as in the business of delivering audiences to advertisers. People are the merchandise, not the shows. The shows are merely the bait.”
A handful of people not only control our media, but also our politics and economy. They are the actual rulers, not the elected heads of states and governments.
Management expert Teresa Stover writes: “The news media has become an aspect of show business, offering merely infotainment. It has evolved into an entity that tends to function as public relations for the wealthy and powerful … The news media is being utilised as a political tool of suppression and propaganda by those in power, and propaganda is psychological in nature. Full of half-truths and utter misinformation, it’s an arrogant and very commercial strategy that is implemented because it appeals to emotions…”
There is no way to stop them.
However there is a way to remain unaffected by such media propaganda and promotion profiting the immoral. The way is: Meditation.
A meditative mind can never, ever be manipulated or exploited. For a meditative mind is an inquiring mind. It is the mind ever in search of truth. It begins such a search by first understanding its own nature. Self-inquiry is the first step in meditation.
It should not surprise us, therefore, if the manipulators are against meditation. In Teresa Stover’s words, “Manipulators rarely advise you to seek new and diverse information or to ‘learn and research for yourself.’ It tends to be safer for exploitative and irresponsible leaders to keep their citizens in the dark; in their view less independent thought is better. Independent thought leads to an inquiring mind.”
An inquiring mind is an awakened mind. It is the mind of people like Socrates, busy exploring life in all its diverse dimensions. It is the opposite of an indoctrinated and non-inquiring mind.
The Sufis speak of fiqr or tafakkur – this is the way to meditation. This is the way to sharpen the mind. This is the way to ensure that your mind is not indoctrinated, manipulated and exploited.
When a disciple follows a Sufi Murshid, Guru or Master, he actually follows the lead set by him to freedom. It is not “following” in the sense that the word has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, but “walking” side by side to enlightenment.
Unless and until this happens – our minds are sharpened, and its inherent intelligence is brought to the surface – the human mind remains very, very vulnerable to outside forces.
Be meditative, free yourself first of the negative influence of the media and society, and then undertake the task of reforming both, the media and society. The world today is in dire need of true reformers. The media must be owned and directed by people who are meditative – those who are not led by their lower instincts to create sensation for the sake of silver.
I am reminded of one important topic discussed at the Global Forum on the Power of Peace held in Bali in January 2007, hosted by UNESCO and the government of Indonesia. This was: “The media should broadcast what is in the interest of people, and not what interests people.”
More than 300 media magnates attending the forum did applaud the idea, but alas, its realisation is still a far cry. Pounds and pennies weigh heavier than ethics and morals.
Alas, the very people connected with media are unaware of the power of the media. They do not realise that “real” power. The power of truth and righteousness does not depend on pounds and pennies.
Media that supports truth and righteousness shall be supported by the very power of truth and righteousness. Let no one doubt this. Media has the power to change this world, to ensure that peace prevails in society, nations and the world. An awakened media owned and run by enlightened and meditative men and women – this is the need of the hour.
Anand Krishna is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books, several in English (www.aumkar.org, www.anandkrishna.org). His organisation runs Holistic Health/Meditation Centers, a National Plus/Interfaith School, a Charitable Clinic and a Public Reading Room in Bali. For more information, call Aryana or Debbie at 0361 7801595, 8477490.