Can we develop the inner Consciousness to master our powerful new information technology? Or will it come to rule over us through its artificial intelligence?
Humanity has undergone a series of continual, relentless, and powerful technological developments over the last two centuries. Each generation has had to live in a newer technological era than the previous, along with acquiring the necessary skills and information to live in a changed outer reality different from their parents.
Today this new technology has moved far from the electricity, cars, airplanes, or nuclear power of the twentieth century, and its new media devices as radio, television and telephones. Today we have a fast developing information technology and an expanding global media, through computers, smart phones, social media and international connections. Information technology dominates our work, travel, communication and even home lives. Our information technology identity though a virtual or media reality dominates over our actual physical and mental condition. The next phase in technology is an artificial intelligence, telling us what we need to do, when and how to do it, even how to think, feel and relate to others, making us dependent upon, or perhaps ruled by our new technology.
The question arises whether our inner Consciousness has evolved along with these technological developments, bringing in a more sensitive awareness, affinity with the greater cosmos and honoring of the Universal Truth? Or whether we remain by under the shadow of fear, anger and attachment, as in the pre-technological era. So far, in spite of a technology that is expanding the boundaries of time, space and local reality, we are becoming more physically based in terms of our identity and desires.
An Inner Reckoning: Who Am I?
There is no doubt that our outer lives have improved exponentially in terms of comfort, communication, transportation, even longevity. Very few of us would want to give up our technologically supported way of life to go back to the drudgery and toil of earlier centuries. Yet psychologically we remain largely the same human beings as before, with aggression, violence, uncertainty and insecurity dominating our minds and social interactions. This is often magnified by our media that promotes fear, outrage, or artificial pleasures.
While we possess more detailed information about the external world and how our bodies and brains work, we still have not answered the fundamental questions of Who am I? What if anything within us survives death? Is there something Infinite, Eternal and Immortal within us or in the universe as a whole? We are still caught in our limited transient physical existence as our ultimate reality, however expanded its movements. We have not yet understood our inner Being that transcends body and mind, birth and death, time and space. Our education has little place for such deeper questions that require meditation in order to answer, and cannot be found online or in any data base.
This is not to say we should go back to the past and renounce technology. It means we must learn to develop the higher Consciousness necessary to use our technology in the optimal manner, helping us outwardly, but not limiting us inwardly. However, to do so we need to set our technology in the background, learn how to detach from it, know how to turn it off as well as on. We must go beyond any media or information view of self and world to a direct inner experience of Consciousness not bound by the mind or senses.
Yoga and Vedanta can teach us this. This is the inner Yoga, not as asana, but as the pursuit of Unity Consciousness and Self-realization through meditation and samadhi. Vedanta is the science of Consciousness and Self-realization, the path of Self-inquiry, showing us how to discover the entire universe within us.
Yoga and Vedanta for Today and the Future of Humanity
One may ask why should we go back to older pre-technological knowledge systems to guide how to use our changing technology? The answer is simple, because these wisdom traditions directly explored the inner reality of Consciousness with total concentration, not just the outer reality of the world through information and equipment. Such wisdom traditions provide us a counterpoint, a view that can balance, encompass and help us transcend our current outer world vision bound to time and location.
There are important points of convergence between ancient wisdom and modern science as in the cosmological pursuit of an underlying consciousness behind the universe, a new medicine that recognizes a natural intelligence behind life and the healing power of meditation, a new ecology that recognizes all living beings and all ecosystems as interdependent.
Without knowing ourselves, outer knowledge remains superficial. Without inner peace and happiness, outer pleasures remain unfulfilling. Knowing our true Self alone can we transcend death and sorrow. True intelligence is not artificial but Self-aware, spontaneous and Self-arising beyond any name, form or number, or any outer means of producing it.
Let us continue to develop the best in technology but bring in the higher awareness and perception of Universal Being necessary for us to use it with humility and insight. This is the vision of the Rishis, and those who look to a future evolution of humanity in which technology is but a step towards a higher Consciousness, not the ultimate goal of our human existence.
Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)