1. Introduction to effects of television
Television and movies are a way most people opt to both escape from their everyday problems, seek pleasure, as well as connect to the world in search for information and experiences.
Given the universal appeal of television and movies we decided to study their effects at a spiritual level, both on the viewer, and their immediate environment. Among the questions we sought to answer were:
- What is the effect of television and movies on the viewer and their closer environment?
- Does the type of programme influence the effect we experience?
2. Effects of television
While on average we rely heavily on television for news, information and relaxation, research studies have also documented the negative impacts of television. Below we list some of the more common criticisms that television faces in today’s society (Ref: CyberCollege).
- Television contributes to obesity
- Television encourages escapism from personal responsibilities
- Television sets up false images of reality and distorts reality through omission
- Television engages in economic exploitation. It utilises commercials to generate needs that uphold a culture of consumerism
- Television undermines moral standards through depictions of or allusions to sex, etc.
- Violent scenes on television instigate violence in everyday behaviour (Ref: New Scientist)
Many people nowadays experience that they cannot move away from the television, or spend irrational amounts of time thinking about, discussing or watching re-runs of television programmes. So what exactly captivates people and lures them towards television, despite all its ill-effects? To answer this question, SSRF undertook spiritual research that reveals what happens in the spiritual dimension while watching TV.
3. Spiritual effects of television
Ms. Priyanka Lotlikar, a seeker with advanced sixth sense studied what happens in the spiritual dimension when one watches an entertainment programme on television. She presented this in the form of a drawing based on subtle-knowledge.
The findings have been verified by His Holiness Dr. Athavale for accuracy.
Below is a summary of the findings:
- When an entertainment programme is being played, an activated ring of distressing energy is created around it and this distressing energy is emitted into the premises as rings of sound.
- A web of thoughts of distressing energy is created in the viewer’s mind and a covering of distressing energy is created around them. The distressing energy vibrations are emitted into the atmosphere even through the thoughts of the person watching the television programme.
- A ring of illusion-creating energy (Māyāvi-shakti) is generated around the television. This creates an activated ring of illusion-creating energy in the viewer.
- Illusory (Māyāvi) vibrations are emitted through television programmes. Most television programmes do not represent reality; as a result, illusory vibrations are emitted into the premises and atmosphere on a large scale. Moreover, the viewer starts getting more and more immersed in the fictional world, which has no existence.
- The person watching these television programmes becomes extroverted since his mind and intellect are affected and he starts behaving accordingly.
The spiritual research findings therefore explain why viewers are mesmerised by television. They also offer a foundation for explaining the ill-effects of television observed by modern science.
4. Effects of television content and programming
The findings led us to wonder if they were limited to entertainment programmes, or whether they were applicable across all programme genres or shows. We found that watching Sattva-predominant content is beneficial to us, whereas watching Tama-predominant content is harmful. The distressing energy vibrations emitted depend on the type of television programme.
4.1 Factors affecting spiritual purity of a television programme
Our seekers with advanced sixth sense analysed the impact of a variety of TV genres on us at a spiritual level.
We further found that when programming included violence, gore, killing, nudity or anything sexual in nature, it would increase the Tama component in the programme and in the viewer. Slang, profanity and Tama-predominant forms of language also have a negative impact on viewers.
4.2 Sattvik programmes
Ms. Priyanka Lotalikar then studied what happens at a spiritual level when one watches a Sattva-predominant programme. In this case, the programme was a video of a discourse delivered by a Saint, His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj, a Saint of the highest order.
Below is a summary of the findings:
- While watching the CD of a discourse of a Saint, an activated ring of spiritual emotion (bhāv) is created in the viewer.
- When a Saint speaks, rings of Bliss (Ānand), Divine consciousness (Chaitanya) and Divine Energy (Shakti) are created. These are emitted towards the viewer.
- Distressing energy from the environment is eliminated.
- The words of the Saint are of Absolute Truth and as a result, the viewer starts getting more and more immersed in Spirituality and is able to experience Bliss and Divine consciousness from within.
- The person watching these television programmes becomes introverted due to the impact of the Saint’s speech on their mind and intellect and they start behaving accordingly.
From this analysis we can see that watching Sattva-predominant programmes such as a spiritual discourse by a Saint has a spiritually beneficial effect on us. Unfortunately the frequency of such programmes on television is negligible.
5. Spiritual effects of movies
The above principles hold true for movie watching as well, with a few notable additions:
- Just as being with spiritually inclined people in the company of the Absolute Truth (satsang) increases our positivity, being in a highly rajāsik or tamāsik environment such as a movie theatre can increase negativity in us.
- Being in a dark room while watching the movie further aggravates this effect. The loud sounds and harsh lights increase this effect.
- With regard to genre, the same applies as with television, but given the movie theatre experience as described above, the Tama and Raja components in tamasik or rajasik content would be more pronounced.
We enjoy going to the movies or watching TV as a means to relax and escape our day-to-day activities. However, only spiritual practice can provide us true relief and give us the relaxation and Bliss that we seek through other means. Watching the discourse of a Saint, attending satsangs, chanting, prayer, service unto the Absolute Truth (satsēvā) and other aspects of spiritual practice will help uplift us spiritually.
Sometimes watching TV and movies is a way of socialising and spending time with friends and family, leaving us little choice. So what can we do if we don’t have a choice in what we watch, when we watch it or whether we watch it? Even the simple efforts of chanting and prayer before, during and after these activities will help go a long way to protect us. For example, praying: “Oh Lord, please protect me from any negative ill-effects from watching the movie/television show, and help me to chant throughout. Please form a protective sheath around me with the power of Your Name”.
We can try to gradually reduce the number of hours we spend in watching TV and movies. We can also avoid Tama-predominant programmes.
As we increase our spiritual practice, the Sattva component in us will increase. In so doing, the entertainment choices we make will naturally also become more sāttvik, as our ability to discern and appreciate spiritually beneficial activities will improve and in turn keep us spiritually strong.