Re: 'In Our Own Image: Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology,' by Debashis Chowdhury
DC: The closer the connection gets to what a personal interaction looks like in the Ashrama scenario, the more effective we will be in our integration efforts.
Can you expand on this? What is the ashrama scenario? Your own words in a nutshell may help. I looked at your website for the mahashrama reference, but could make no more of it than a sense of dividing the life-span into educational, professional, socially responsible and spiritually aware segments. But this is just a new structuralism, a prescription and as we know, Sri Aurobindo's fundamental tenet is that no prescription, however enlightened, can save humanity. It certainly has not saved India. And you mention that this is the pattern along which the Sri Aurobindo ashram runs. Is it? I have never heard or seen this.
Regarding technology, I completely agree with you that we cannot afford to ignore it. And it can be an aid to the development, preservation and dynamization of collective consciousness in a sense at this juncture. But the Omnipotence, Omnipresence and Omniscience of contemporary Technology has been achieved through the dwarfing of human individuality. And our collective utilization of Technology will remain a subjection to its order, nature, intelligence and being, unless we learn to be individually free from it in consciousness - freedom not in ignorance or in escape but in equality. There is a line in Savitri: The Soul and Nature stood as equal powers. Can we say: Consciousness and Technology stand as equal powers? What are the social and psychological conditions that can make this possible? DB
I can't speak to the validity of the mahasharma reference, however it seems to me one problem to consider and address is from a critical perspective, in that any reference however benign to what can be construed as a "caste system" may meet resistance.
Regards the technology question, while it certainly is true that the course of human evolution has largely been determined through a feedback loop with the tools which humans have created, there are at least two problems positing the interaction of technology and the spiritual evolution of the species.
1) Spiritual evolution requires a move inward by the individual, an intensification of consciousness through the interiorization of spiritual experience
Technological evolution however, is characterized by an exteriorization or outering of the collective being. (ex. cloths an outering of the skin, the wheel the outering of the foot, electronic media the outering of the collective nervous system)
2) The exponential evolution of technology and society are racing at lightening speed, which contrast what the Mother says about that human consciousness, namely that it is very slow, and what is required for progress is a silencing or stilling of consciousness
The following article link considers these contrasts: sciy.org/blog/_archives/2007/1/25/2683989.html
Debashish, Rich, You both make very good points. The apparent conflict between spirituality and materiality can only be resolved if we can see them as opposite ends of the same continuum – who between them encompass the reality that we know. I am working on an elucidation of this concept, combining information theory, quantum theory, and even some relativistic principles – which I hope to share with you within the next few weeks. The paper is tentatively called: ‘The Prajapati Principle – Levels of Existence across Spirituality and Materiality’ – and it is mostly Physics. Till then, let us simplify by saying that one without the other is incomplete. There is an incredible symmetry between the two, which I hope to bring out and present before you (but later)… Going back to Debashish’s question – what is the Ashrama scenario? And how is it exemplified in Pondy, in Auroville, and in other places? Let me start out by saying that during my recent visit to both, I observed many parts of the idealized system that were working well, and some that were not. Yet, qualitatively, there was no doubt that the lives of the Ashramites and the Auroville-ians were much more balanced between materiality and spirituality, probably leaning more towards the latter. So what is the basic premise of Ashrama, and how do we measure how well it is working? To me, Ashrama (and Mahashrama by extension) is a developmental engine, allowing individuals to grow their material and spiritual capabilities, all the while under the watchful eye of the ‘Guru’ – or in the absence of a guru, a collection of teachers and mentors who can guide them in the path of personal development. Following the ‘Satisfaction of Personal Needs’ philosophy of personal development developed by Maslow (original ‘needs’ marked with* below); I have expanded the concept to cover all four Ashrama segments. I will list them below, and indicate how I perceived them working in Pondy/Auroville (Ashram), vs. the rest of society (ROS). Brahmacharya Needs: 1. Physiological Needs* – Food, water, shelter Ashram: Excellent; ROS: Poor-Fair 2. Safety/Security* - Ashram: Excellent; ROS: Fair 3. Education/Skill Building - Ashram: Good; ROS: Fair 4. Individuality/Diversity - Ashram: Good; ROS: Poor - Fair Grihastha Needs: 5. Genetic Imperative (Procreation) - Ashram: Fair; ROS: Good 6. Economic Imperative - Ashram: Fair; ROS: Good 7. Esteem* - Ashram: Excellent, ROS: Fair 8. Belongingness & Love* - Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor Vanaprastha Needs: 9. Self Determination Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor 10. Yogic Empathy Ashram: Fair, ROS: Poor 11. Leadership opportunity and recognition: Ashram: Fair, ROS: Fair 12. Segment Balance Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor Sanyas Needs: 13. Spiritual Self Determination - Ashram: Excellent, ROS: Poor 14. Ananda (spiritual bliss)- Ashram – Good, ROS: Poor 15. Vision (our role in the very big picture) - Ashram: Good, ROS: Poor 16. Cultural DNA (core essence of being human) - Ashram: Fair, ROS: Poor Except for maybe the Grihastha segment, it appears to me that the development needs of individuals are better met in the Ashrama system, in spite of all its practical difficulties. It is not to say that things are perfect – and the above is my very subjective estimation based on just a week’s exposure. Improving it, and generalizing the concept to all humans seems to make a lot of sense – if only the interactions that happened in close quarters under Ashrama can be replicated in a global scale – but using what means? Just like the nervous system connects our brain to the rest of our body, the internet can become the nervous system that gives us the means to connect meaningfully to all humans. The human factor is not diminished, but amplified – and the technology does not become an end in itself, but a means of integrating the experience of all humans. Interestingly enough, Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga philosophy is probably unique in allowing for a meaningful scaling across all humans (regardless of religion, history) and across the chasm between materiality and spirituality. Apologize for the long answer, and thanks for bearing with me.