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Zen and the art of tech in the valley

Tom Kaneshige | April 4, 2014
Zen-like meditation is all the rage in the tech industry. But senior writer Tom Kaneshige thinks that a Zen Buddhism approach is an ironic twist in the fast-moving, for-profit Silicon Valley.

Competitive advantage? I don't think I've ever heard "mindfulness" and "competitive advantage" used in the same sentence before. You could argue that the most popular tech products with the biggest competitive advantages produced by companies with soaring profits are the polar opposite of the higher purpose of meditation — that is, finding meaningful happiness.

In truth, much of today's technology output is superficial and somewhat meaningless.

This sentiment apparently wasn't lost on Thich Nhat Hanh. According to The Guardian, he advised senior Google engineers and the tech industry at large:

"When they create electronic devices, they can reflect on whether that new product will take people away from themselves, their family and nature. Instead they can create the kind of devices and software that can help them to go back to themselves, to take care of their feelings. By doing that, they will feel good because they're doing something good for society."

Of course, this isn't what the tech industry does; it makes products that appeal to the impatient American consumer who doesn't look inwardly but outwardly, expressed with a social networking-styled narcissism. However, there are signs that even the most always-on consumers are reaching gadget fatigue and experiencing regrets about the loneliness of today's mobile culture.

Instead of staring into our iPhones and watching funny cat videos on YouTube or working at all hours because, you know, time is money and time is best spent when there's a financial return on investment, maybe we can take a moment and just breathe in silence — for free.


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