It would seem to be part of human nature to ignore instruction manuals. Already too distracted by the shiny stuff of life, we think we don’t need them, and we’d much rather play and enjoy than spend time reading, even if reading means getting more out of our toys, tools and gadgets. Furthermore, as technology becomes more and more intuitive, our conviction strengthens that we can do without the instructions. However, when those manuals relate to ourselves – who we truly are and how to master ourselves – maybe it would be wise to pay more attention to them.
As a child opening a new toy, the instructions were never a part of the process. Instead, my eagerness to get started overwhelmed any common-sense pleas to read anything. The joy of playing couldn’t wait; and besides, instructions make much more sense once we have played around for a while. It was the same when the more sophisticated platform video games came along. The tendency was to rush through the early levels, eager to discover more and more, only to realise that I couldn’t get past level three without some sort of key which was hidden in depths of level one. So back I went to the beginning of the game to begin a painstaking search for the way forward.
That’s how life is. We rush headlong down the most exciting pathways possible, only to find that we are ill-equipped to deal with what happens at those later levels. Fascinatingly, the stuff we really need, we already have (but never bothered looking for). Yet we strive for the things we don’t need, believing that they hold the key to our happiness. Just like those platform games, the key is hidden on level one. It was there all the time. If only we had read the instructions.
These days, there is even less reason to consult user manuals. The technological minds behind the design of today’s gadgets have an intimate knowledge of human behaviour. They study us; and they do a good job because now when we pick up a new piece of technology for the first time, we expect it to work in accordance with how we think it should work. Intuitively.
It’s ironic that we study human behaviour in order to create technology to augment human behaviour, when actually we could just practise being human more often. One good way to do that is to read the instructions which have been around for thousands of years; written and passed down through the generations by realised, enlightened beings who have completed all levels, know how the game works, and consistently tell us what we need to be doing in order to be everything we say we are looking for.