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Spirituality in the age of high-end technology and modern life
Author Acharya Prashant
आचार्य प्रशांत
7 मिनट
64 बार पढ़ा गया

Questioner (Q): Namaskar Acharya Ji. Modern life has created conditions that privilege material over the spiritual. In your view, is it possible to reconcile the best practices of spiritual mind with the high-tech material and super-modern life? If so, how?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Life has always been high-tech, according to the age you live in. When has life not been high-tech, you tell me? Even the caveman, when he first used a sharpened piece of stone, was really going high-tech. And then, think of the one, who got an axe. The axe was the equivalent of the fusion bomb today.

So, you say as if technology is something that has happened just today. Given man’s intellect, technology has always been there. And technology is a function of times.

Two hundred years from today, if man survives till then, given the climate catastrophe and other things, all the technologies that you have today, will be considered of the Bullock-cart category. Two hundred years from today, all of today's technologies will not merely be obsolete, but actually laughable. Just as today you look at the ENIAC computer of the 1940s, and wonder, of what use it could have been. But when that computer first came, it was absolutely high-tech. Was it not?

We fail to see beyond the limitations of time because we are so identified with time. We are products of time, so we think according to our times. We do not allow our thought to have a bit of expanse. You are calling these times as modern, and then you look at all the people who have been, and you want to call them dinosaurs. Right? We take great pride in calling all those people as savage cavemen- “Oh! The primitive barbarians and we are modern people.” And every generation that thinks of itself as modern, and here I do not use the word ‘modern’ in its technical sense. In the technical sense, modernity is something that is defined by a particular era, by a particular century.

But every generation that thinks of itself as ‘modern’, is brought to its knees, is brought to some humility, by the successive generation, that terms it backward, regressive, obsolete.

So, technology has always been there. Man has always been trying to do a few things. Think of the first car, think of the internet, when it first came. Then think of the man or the community that first discovered fire. Do you know how modern ‘fire’ would have been? Think! And language; language would have been an utter revolution. Man has never come upon anything as significant as language, the discovery of language would have been in those times.

Now, we will take the rest of the thing. So, the questioner says that this is a special, modern, high-tech age and how is it possible to reconcile spiritual practices with modernity, is that so? What are the two things he (the questioner) wants to reconcile?

Q: In your view, is it possible to reconcile the best practices of spiritual mind with the high-tech material and super-modern life?

AP: I think I have answered. Spirituality is not a reconciliation. All technology is just the mind, right? All technology is just mind-stuff.

Spirituality is light that shines upon the mind.

Spirituality is to look at the mind and the mind’s innovations, inventions, all the technical stuff, the new gadgets, new technologies and see the mentality behind them.

What do I need these things for? What is man trying to do when he is trying to colonize Mars? What is man trying to do really, when he is trying to clone a sheep and then clone a human being? When you look at something like cryptocurrency or blockchain, for example, you should ask yourself, “What is really going on?” Because what is happening is not just something in the outer gross space. What is happening outside is a representation of something inside man. What is it inside man that is bringing these things into the world? What is it that we really want?

And if we do not know what we really want, then obviously no technology, no invention is going to help us. Knowledge is a double-edged sword.

Knowledge, with knowledge of the knower, will lead to salvation. Knowledge, without knowledge of the knower, will lead to deeper slavery.

Are you getting it?

And that is what the sages have been telling us. Let your knowledge lead to salvation because knowledge in absence of ‘self-knowledge’ will not lead to salvation, it would rather lead to slavery.

Technology can be a useful tool to assist man's salvation, it can be. When books are printed, the great books are printed, does not the very existence of those books depend on the innovation called the printing press? So, technology can assist in salvation, right? The great meditative words of the sages wouldn’t have reached us, had man not invented language, right? Even right now, what we are talking of here, is reaching thousands of people online, in real-time, through technology.

So, technology can assist in salvation, but for that, your worldly knowledge must be combined with self-knowledge; then knowledge equals salvation or liberation. But if you just have knowledge of the apparent Universe, without any self-knowledge then the technology that would be created would be used in the most foolish and destructive ways, right?

So, the question needs to be modified a little bit. It is not about the special technology that we have in this age. It is not about combining old spiritual practices with modern technical environment. It is about asking whether all the knowledge that we have today, is in the environment of self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, the more worldly knowledge that you have, the more pathetic your condition would be. And that is the reason why today, man is in a worse condition in many ways than he ever was.

Hypothetically, just think of a tribe, that has very little worldly knowledge. And that tribe has been living in its own particular way, with even language that is only semi-developed. So, the members of that tribe have very little self-knowledge as well. But their condition would not be so bad. Because, if they do not have self-knowledge, they also do not have worldly knowledge.

So, they are living at least as happily as the animals. They are living in the jungle and they are living like the other citizens of the jungle; the animals and the trees. They won’t be deeply unhappy. They don’t have self-knowledge, but they also don’t have worldly knowledge. So, they will not be able to produce destructive technology at least. So, they will be all right. They won’t be experiencing any kind of bliss of liberation, but they won’t be experiencing the depths of depression either.

Man [has] a lot of worldly knowledge and very little self-knowledge. Therefore, man's condition is worse than that of the beasts. Because, so much technology, I won’t say too much, and let there be more technology, let there be more knowledge, but the more knowledge you have of the Universe, of the material, equally, proportionately, you should have deep ‘self-knowledge’.

Otherwise, be warned! Your knowledge will eat you up.

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