Samsara and the After Dark Toasters

This week, I worked at the Computer History Museum in Los Altos, CA. It dawns on me that every piece in here was once a modern masterpiece. It had its premiere, use and time and then it was deemed obsolete. The military supercomputers gave way to 8 bit technology gave way to the IThing, then the IThing5, and so on and so forth. It dawned on me as a beautiful reminder.

Everything has its cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.

In Hindu and Buddhist terms, this is called Samsara. It means continuous flow. The life cycle of everything under the cosmos, including the cosmos itself. To everything, turn turn turn, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. What we are aware of as time is a constantly changing cycle in which we are constantly a part of as living moving beings.

Take for example, the flying toaster. It’s the first exhibit that you see when you enter the museum, in reference to a screen saver called After Dark. These screensavers were popular when Apple Computer systems first came out. They exhibited an animation for your sleeping computer while you were away from the screen – flying toasters would pop toast out of their winged backs like majestic Valkyries.

But what I learned today, was these flying toasters were inspired from an album cover. Jefferson Airplane, who has winged coasters on the cover of their album. The toasters on the cover, unlike the ones on the screen saver, have a clock face on them. Almost as if they knew their time was not quite up, that they were not quite ready to disappear into obscurity.


So what is present in this history lesson? Passage of time on the wheel can be illusory. I’m sure those toasters on their original album cover had no idea the immortality they would achieve. The influence of their flight was not seen by anyone, least of all Jefferson Airplane, who I’m pretty sure sued the software company at one point.

What we don’t know about our passage on this wheel of time could fill volumes – we are constantly moving entities of magic and the more we grow aware of our smallness the bigger we become.

What I imagined my life would be at this point is a far million miles from the life I am living at present. I read a bio of a friend of mine, who three years ago was hoping to do something creative with her life. She is still trying that. I hear her voice, and I echo it as my own. Sometimes I feel like my creative energy is lost in translation – from what I hear we both are trying to make a living and a life.

May the wheel of Samsara prove all of the talents you thought fruitless are glorious reflections of the soul. May your cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth have echoes of your true self in all of it. May you trust the wheel knows where it is going. May you bow to the universal divine consciousness inside you and follow that no matter what the cost. May you be whole in your knowledge that you are working with time and it will never crush you. May your Samsara carry you to beautiful places you never thought possible. May you be.

Sat Nam


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