It’s a myth that technological progress is a barrier to spiritual growth. And it’s baseless that technology can substitute for spiritual fulfillment.
Science and technology do not lie outside of man’s mind. It is man’s mind that is primal. If the mind is at the proper place then whatever it does, any technology that may arise from it, would be auspicious. And, if the mind is not in the proper place then even if you take away all the technology, and send man back to the stone ages, man would still remain restless, and harmful to himself and others.
Knowing and exploring is man’s nature. Even if no technology is made available to man, the urge to know will still remain. Hence, the particular channel of knowledge is irrelevant, what is relevant is that the mind’s natural urge is to know. You will not be able to stop that. There have been people who have termed scientific progress as being a cause of human unrest. Even today there are certain areas that are being prevented from the touch of scientific development. You may ban the urge of the mind to know, to discover for a while, but you will not be able to banish it forever.
So, more than the particular action, it is rather about the actor: the acting mind. What is the quality of mind that is entering this technology? Depending upon the quality of the mind, the technology will be put to use.
You can have nuclear energy go to devastate a city and you can have nuclear energy to energize the city. Now, do you want to say that nuclear energy is evil or would you rather say that we need to take care of the mind that deals with nuclear technology?
The technologies that are prevalent now weren’t there a few decades before and won’t be there a few decades hence. But, the inquisitive urge of man is ancient and is going to continue as long as man exists. Hence, instead of resisting knowledge, we must, with discretion, look for right knowledge. We must look at the very structure of man’s mind and explore whether it is possible to gain knowledge without forgetting why we need knowledge in the first place? Is it possible to have knowledge of a kind that would actually dissolve the existing mental patterns of restlessness, peacelessness, lovelessness? Is it possible to have knowledge that returns the mind to its peaceful state of freedom and rest?
Yes, such knowledge is possible. It’s a very special kind and it can come only from a very special quality of mind. It is that knowledge which helps you see the limitations of your existing knowledge base. This knowledge tells how how inadequate the entire dimension of knowledge is. That is why many realized ones will call this special knowledge as Truth, revelation, or in simple words, understanding.
This knowledge shows to you the inadequacy, the limitation, the harm that is associated with knowledge itself. Not only that, it also does not harm you by itself sticking to you.
It arises from the mind, it reaches the listener, it cleans and purifies, and it disappears. And what has become of the mind that this knowledge reached? It has attained to, it has rediscovered, it has returned to, the same quality of mind that this knowledge firstly arose from. It’s from a very clean, very pure mind that such knowledge can arise from.
So, can we use any means of technology to have this kind of knowledge?
No! It is difficult.
Here science accepts it’s limitation and spirituality starts shining.
Scientific knowledge is based on an exploration of worldly objects. Technology is a utilization of scientific knowledge about objects, for the welfare of the subject. Spirituality is about exploring the subject himself, and finding out what the nature of this subject is, and hence, what is really good for this subject.
The means of worldly knowledge is observation and experimentation with objects. The means of spiritual knowledge include scientific observation objects, but more importantly, meditation, and devotion.
The means to attain spiritual knowledge are therefore a superset of the means to attain scientific knowledge. Now, we come to the usefulness of objective science and technology for spiritual purposes. If the Upanishads or Ashtavakra can reach the world through internet, then why not use technology? Reading the Upanishads online is far better than letting the humbug internet occupy your mind.
So, we have said:
- Man’s mind is continuously seeking knowledge. Most of the knowledge it gathers is just about the worldly objects. So, man’s restlessness continues.
- There is a special kind of knowledge attained through special means that helps man get rid of his restlessness. It can be called spiritual knowledge, or meditative understanding, or devotional dissolution.
- Science and technology cannot substitute spirituality. But they can be used to serve the essential spiritual quest of man. All the scientific technologies must be utilized to spread spiritual knowledge far and wide.
(The author is the young mystic and voice of intelligent spirituality in today’s age. Advait Learning Camp: The Learning Camps led by Acharya Prashant are rare and blissful experiences, giving one a unique opportunity to come close to the Saints, the Scriptures, nature, and in the process, to the Self. Held in the lap of the Himalayas, twenty-four Learning Camps have been held till now.)