Technology or Spirituality: Which One Will ‘Save’ Us?
by: Jesse S Somer
Many people these days believe that technology, and in particular Information Technology, is the key to attaining a future world that is both ecologically and environmentally sustainable, as well as being socially stable. Are they right? Others believe that a balanced spirituality, one that focuses on generosity, peace, and compassion will have to be the main ingredient in a recipe for true human evolution. What do you think? Is this a black and white issue? It seems that most challenges that humanity comes across these days are solved by thinking laterally, often with multiple answers and solutions being utilized. This diverse approach to solving problems may be the ‘angle’ that we need to take in order to become the safe, healthy, happy world that we have always dreamt about. Could technology and spirituality one day combine to form one mighty force? Some might even ask, “Is it already happening now, right beneath our noses?”
Working for an Internet company I am pretty much surrounded by ‘technical’ people; analytical people, problem solvers. When I first arrived in the office I was shocked by the complete lack of biological and aesthetic life here. No plants, no photos or paintings on the wall. It was definitely not a place one would think of when contemplating spirituality. Spiritual places are forests, oceans, ancient temples, art galleries-definitely not I.T. offices. I wondered how my fellow species could survive in an environment so devoid of beauty, nature, and creativity-ironically the one power we need to develop new technologies. They all looked so content staring into their blue computer monitors, fingers ticking softly and speedily on their keyboards. It was actually frightening; a horror film where the soft, constant, monotonous ticking is the only sound filtering through the empty silence.
After studying and reading about many different religions and cultures one gets a pretty good picture of what a spiritual person looks like. Or do you? Are people that transparent that you can tell what their intentions are just by observing their material/physical self? Are all priests generous? Are all tech-heads oblivious to the larger pictures of the Earth and the infinite Universe that we are part of? The answers are starting to reveal themselves.
Bill Gates is an excellent example of a tech-head who has crossed over (unless his intentions by building software were always altruistic, were they?) into a more spiritual world of compassion and generosity. The world’s richest man and his wife now run an organization (www.gatesfoundation.org/) that invests huge amounts of money into medical research so that human children of the future needn’t die of disease. They are focusing in particular on helping poor children in developing nations. Strangely enough, Bill has been strongly criticized by colleagues who don’t see these ventures as being profitable. However, many others have been inspired by such generosity and so have invested billions in the same schemes.
On the other hand, a friend of mine told me the other day about how one of the most famous spiritual leaders in the world, Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama, has just put a website on the Internet at www.dalailama.com. Now people interested in Buddhism all over the world can read about and even communicate with this renowned peaceful human being. On the Internet: and he’s not the only one sharing wisdom on the web, let me tell you. Do you see the picture slowly materializing in your frontal lobe? There’s something going on here.
Some people think that technology will ‘save’ us. Others think we need to go back in time, back to tribal ways of living in order to create the social cohesion necessary for our species to grow together and survive as one. The answer could be more simplistic than we ever may have imagined. Building software is great, but if the maker’s sole intention is for personal gain and immense wealth, well, be careful if you’re investing. I’ve read that if one builds a fence with anger and suffering (yelling at the planks of wood when they don’t line up properly), relations with neighbors may deteriorate. If one cooks a meal with love and enjoyment through the meal-making process, your family and friends will enjoy the flavors more, and show more gratitude for your efforts.
Sound like superstition? Attitude is everything. Technology may be a major factor in our world’s survival, but only if it walks hand-in-hand with an attitude that is truly focused on the betterment of humankind. What better thing to work for? We all spend a lifetime chipping away at our goals and dreams. Why not build your next program with the intention of evolving our species to the next level? Or, is that what you’ve been doing from the start?
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