High Technology Meets The Ancient Wisdom

Kenneth Reese


If you're like me, you've probably succumbed to some level of consumer electronics mania. Maybe it started innocently with a digital watch or calculator and then worked its way up to a VCR and then to a personal computer. You might even have felt some twinge of guilt when you suddenly realized these gadgets had become indispensable (when one of them breaks!). Perhaps you've felt all this runs counter to your commitment to humanistic values. However, as I see it, new age values and technology are inextricably bound together.

The fact that many people first involved with the human potential movement were later drawn into the world of high-tech (and vice versa) is a measure of the affinity the two worlds have for one another. Futurist John Naisbitt identifies it as a high tech/high touch polarity. For the majority of people who have feet planted in both the worlds of advanced technology and human potential the affinity has long been obvious, but perhaps not well articulated.

Exactly how the interests of the technology enthusiast and the person on the path merge is not in any way readily obvious. The relationship between the two can be better revealed by considering the various tools of high technology as artificial devices which magnify the human senses and human experience. With such a comparison several observations easily follow.

A classic example of this magnification of the human senses can be seen in the home video revolution. Technology is used in a straightforward fashion as an extension of the human senses of sight and hearing. This results in a thousand-fold increase in an individual's power to receive impressions. This has been made possible by television combined with more recent inventions - the communication satellite, back-yard dishes, cable, videocassette recorders, laser discs, and other breakthroughs in video and audio technology. In short, for the person in front of the enormous increase in video and audio choices, there has, in effect, been an amplification of that individual's capacity to experience reality through the medium of sight and sound. And, of course, all this choice is delivered by the exploding global network created by the news, communications, and entertainment industries.

Similarly, with the personal computer revolution there has been an amplification of the mind. An individual using a personal computer has a level of technological power that rivals that once available only to large corporations and governments. This magnification of power may be used to accomplish a variety of directed tasks or in more playful and creative ways. The net result is that the individual may greatly increase personal productivity and expand mental and creative powers by using an electronic tool.

All this potential amplification of the power of a single individual by use of these human-made artifacts greatly increases the need for a center or focus around which unprocessed information can be organized in a meaningful fashion. In other words, the individual requires more than ever a sense of purpose simply because the personal capacity for experience and action has been greatly enhanced by these new technologies. At this point, the tie-in to the new age becomes more obvious. There is no more exact a science for the processing of impressions and the discovery of purpose than the ancient spiritual traditions and their modern expressions in transpersonal psychology and the human potential movement.

It is no accident that new age people often find themselves thickly involved with new technologies. There is a real void in the midst of the silicon chip revolution for knowledge which can balance one of the effects of the information age - a communications explosion which threatens individual and cultural stability with an overload of raw, unprocessed information. This overload confuses both individuals and, more dangerously, nations and their political and military institutions. Spiritual traditions have long taught ways for maintaining a center in the face of chaos and offered time-tested techniques for controlling the senses, disciplining the mind, and discovering purpose and right action.

This knowledge is now applicable at both an individual and global level. Ancient wisdom has never been more relevant than it is today, to help guide and focus the tremendous power unleashed by the electronic awakening of the planet. Esoteric knowledge has been sought throughout the ages by a select few as a response to an inner call to discover personal meaning in life. Today, the growth of a planet-wide communications network both enervates the need and provides the means for the spiritual quest to become of vital global importance.

The enthusiasm of some futurists (such as John Naisbitt who ends his international best-seller 'Megatrends' with the line 'My God, what a fantastic time to be alive!') is a reflection of the tremendous Power for Good inherent in technological advances. But high technology is without a mind or a soul unless it is guided by an intelligence more powerful and compassionate than simple human cleverness. Ancient wisdom provides the vehicle for such an Intelligence.

Three decades after the threat of planetary annihilation was delivered to humanity on a silver platter of scientific achievement, it is gratifying that at least the instruments for planetary salvation and evolution have been delivered by the same means. However, this possible salvation is a process which can only be achieved by each one of us using the power of our lives and all the tools at our disposal in positive, creative, and purposeful ways. The myth of technology saving us from ourselves was long ago proven false. Salvation for humanity is not a scientific formula but a very human one - the individual heart in its search for God multiplied by the number of people on this planet.

Quote of the moment:
My whole life is a darkroom, one... big... dark... room.

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