In the midst of studying at university, I remember asking a psychotherapist friend this question – Can a Buddhist own a PlayStation?
At the time I was torn between the allure of technology like consoles, computers, hi-fi and so on, and the desire to leave everything behind and live incredibly simply – perhaps even monk-like – in the middle of nowhere.
In the years since I haven’t actually changed that much.
I still appreciate solitude and escape, and most of my photo walks are in quiet rural areas (“out in the sticks” as we say) where I rarely see many other people. The experience becomes a kind of restorative meditation.
And I still succumb from time to time to bright flashy new things (usually not brand new, just new to me).
In the past, I’ve indulged in binge-like behaviour that has led to me acquiring far more pairs of trainers, cameras and, lately, bicycles than I need.
This is inevitably followed by a purge phase.
Once I’ve found the items that suit me most (usually the best fusion of beauty, functionality and fun) I start to sell or donate those I don’t need.
So, noticing that, whilst I’m well settled with cameras now, my renewed interest in bikes (probably the fourth wave of this interest returning with a vengeance in my life so far) has highlighted the danger that I might go the way I did with cameras a few year back, and end up so overloaded and overwhelmed, I don’t enjoy using any of them.
That’s if I can even make a decision about which to use.
The single biggest catalyst for this behaviour is simple – exposure to the items available.
So the solution is just as straightforward – less, or even zero exposure.
It’s much like shopping.
If you don’t want to buy anything, it’s much easier to just avoid shops altogether (online and off) and all the temptations they might entice you with in their windows.
Here’s the story so far with bikes.
I had an old mountain bike, bought an ebike for commuting to work, then thought I might upgrade the other bike as I’m in a position now, with the inevitable depreciation of goods over time, to afford bikes I drooled over and dreamed about 20 or more years ago.
So I found an old Specialized Rockhopper with missing parts for sale locally, so I could use the frame to build up a bike. Then a Specialized FSR, fully equipped and very expensive in its day.
Now I have three full bikes, one frame, my eBay watch list still has a dozen bikes and frames on it, and my father in law just told me his employer has a bike they haven’t used in years and doesn’t want, would I be interested. I get the impression it’s pretty high end, and fully working, so how can I refuse?
I need to step away from the window.
Otherwise, the old patterns will repeat, leaving me overwhelmed with which bike to use and enjoying none of them.
As with cameras, whilst I don’t quite seem capable of being a monogamist, I only need a couple, not 10, and certainly not 25 or 50!
The best approach is the same as always, just removing the temptation.
Which on the bikes front means removing the eBay app from my phone and avoiding it on other devices, along with potential other wormholes of possibility like Gumtree.
And just using what I already have.
I still don’t know the answer to the PlayStation question.
But I’m pretty sure a Buddhist can own (or at least use) a bike. If it’s just the one.
We’ll see how it goes.
How do you resist the temptation to buy more cameras (or bikes or trainers or whatever else you’re drawn to) when you already have enough?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.