Vol. 14 No 4 (August 2020)
from NewDawnMagazine Website
This totality includes a
spiritual kernel of which we are for the most part unconscious, and
yet is nevertheless the foundation of our being, and our
relationship to it is the secret of true happiness.
But where we today differ
from cultures of the past is that not only do we suffer from the
forgetfulness that is part of the human condition, but we also pay
scant attention to the wisdom traditions that seek to rouse us to
The Digital Revolution has carried this tendency to an extreme, so much so that if we had deliberately set out to design technologies to induce the distractedness and self-forgetfulness that traditional spirituality has always endeavored to save us from, then we could hardly have done better.
This in turn has led to
many of us failing to notice just how corrosive these developments
can be to the essential human task of remembering the totality of
who we are...
Lyotard had the sensitivity to understand its profound importance, and hence the need to raise it to conscious awareness.
The question that he formulated is this:
By the 'inhuman' we should understand that which is essentially hostile to the human.
Lyotard distinguished two kinds of 'inhuman':
It is this latter kind of inhumanity that is the more insidious of the two, and it is this that, as our relationship with our digital devices becomes ever more intimate, poses the greatest danger to us.
This susceptibility has been exploited by the direction that our digital technologies have taken, which has been unwaveringly towards accommodating themselves within the sphere of the human.
At each stage the
interface between them and us has become more 'human friendly',
while at the same time humans have inwardly adjusted to relating to
them on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour and even minute-by-minute basis.
In this evolving symbiosis, in which we have become ever more intertwined with the computer, we have also become more dependent on it.
Biological integration is
not far away. It is the logical next step.
How are we to characterize this specter of the inhuman?
Human beings have always had the tendency to fall away from their essential nature.
Both tendencies live within us, and both work to undermine the possibility of realizing our true human potential, but today it is the peril of the inhuman that we must especially guard against.
Its aim is to totally supplant the human, and it will surely succeed, should we fail to ground ourselves in the authentically human.
We must wake up to the prospect of the colonization of the human by the inhuman and, in full awareness of the gravity of the threat posed by the inhuman, consciously take on the challenge of living humanly.
If the totality of who we are includes a spiritual kernel of which we are for the most part unconscious, then it follows that to live humanly must be to live in greater consciousness of it.
It is incumbent on us to strengthen our sense that this spiritual kernel is our deepest and truest self, and therefore the part of us with which we should seek to identify.
This requires that we
engage in the arduous work of inner transformation, so that those
desires, inclinations and deep-seated habits of thought, which draw
us away from that essential remembrance, are slowly changed, and
become inwardly aligned with what the wisdom traditions tell us is
the true centre of our being.
This shift is from reliance on a result-oriented, discursive thinking that runs along from one thought to another, towards giving more value to the stillness and open receptivity of the act of contemplation.
Boethius gives the beautiful image of the seekers of truth having to bend their wandering consciousness into a circle and teach their souls,
For there they will find
a light, stronger even than the light of the sun, which will
illumine their minds from within.
Our technologies are based on the automation of logical analysis, calculation and problem solving, and are fundamentally discursive and result-oriented:
By contrast, the act of contemplation brings the mind to a standstill:
These insights can well up from the imaginal world as powerful archetypal images, for contemplative thinking borders on imaginative vision.
Equally they can take the
form of ideas or intuitions that, like rays of light, illumine a
question or life situation from a more comprehensive standpoint.
This more interior source of knowing, which is unconditioned by habits of thought and opinion, could also be described as entailing an opening of the 'inner ear' of the soul to the voice of conscience.
Aristotle maintained that an action is only fully our own,
Once it has been carried
back to this source, then the action is entirely free because it has
been chosen from the centre, rather than from the periphery, of
Freedom belongs to the essence of human nature.
This movement back to the centre is the premise of true freedom.
It is not given to us on a plate:
To become free, we must engage in the work of inner transformation previously referred to, which involves permeating the everyday self and its fantasies, obsessions and desires with the clearly conceived aims that spring from the inmost source of who we are.
In christian mysticism this inner work is called theosis, or 'making divine'.
Another word used to describe it was coined by the Italian poet Dante, who called this inner work,
The verb 'to transhumanise' well expresses the fact that,
It is a sign of our times that today 'Transhumanism' is a materialistic ideology that seeks to technologically 'enhance' the human being.
Transhumanists fail to grasp that to go beyond the merely human
can only be achieved by grounding ourselves in the transcendent, and
this requires dedicated soul-work, sustained by the spiritual
discipline of coming back to the still point at the centre of the
As a result, not just human beings but all living organisms are exposed to levels of electromagnetic radiation far in excess of natural background levels.
It would be unwise to assume that this does not have any adverse effect on the wellbeing of living organisms and the ecosystems to which they belong.
A growing number of studies show that many organisms are highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields, and that increasing their exposure to them can indeed have demonstrable negative effects.
It seems appropriate, at the very least, to extend the remit of the question originally posed by Lyotard to nature and ask:
The rollout of 5G is premised on a further significant increase in the overall amount of radiofrequency radiation to which the planet will be subjected.
5G will help to establish a global 'electronic ecosystem' that, in addition to servicing the technological desires and aspirations of city-dwellers living in their 'smart homes', will also enable greater monitoring and control of natural ecosystems and living creatures.
It involves the insertion
of the electronic ecosystem into these natural ecosystems, in order
to create a 'smart planet'.
The physical forms that we perceive in the world around us arise from non-perceptible creative and formative forces, which must be taken into account if we are to grasp things in their wholeness.
One of the challenges we
face today is to overcome our collective de-sensitization to these
A different kind of consciousness is needed - more receptive, open and empathetic.
Regarding this different kind of consciousness, Goethe advised:
All of creation speaks of a transcendent spiritual intelligence at its source, if only we are able to hear it.
The mystical path to union with God has long been understood to lead from the loving contemplation of creatures to the contemplation of this greater spiritual intelligence from which they issue, and on which they, like we, ultimately depend.
For human beings to forget or neglect this relationship of nature to the divine is as serious a failing as it is for us to forget our relationship to the spiritual intelligence that dwells within us.
To put it in christian terms,
Contemporary conditions make it very difficult for such perspectives to be taken with the seriousness they deserve.
The incursion of the inhuman has allowed the utilitarian mind to break free of the moral and spiritual constraints that once kept it in bounds. But with the burgeoning electronics industry and the drive to forge a 'smart planet', a force hostile to nature insinuates itself into nature's heart.
These developments make nature vulnerable to increasing technologization, one example of which is the fabrication of completely new synthetic organisms using computer programs.
Another example is,
Such interventions are only the beginning of a vastly ambitious project to redesign the world to satisfy the requirements of a ruthlessly technological consciousness that has lost all connection with its spiritual roots.
Foremost amongst these responsibilities is the obligation to know things in the truth of their being.
Of all creatures on Earth, it is human beings alone who have the possibility of selflessly entering into the inner nature of another creature, without seeking to use or exploit it for our own ends.
We alone can place ourselves imaginatively and empathetically into the being of another and, through opening the inner eye of the mind, or heart, we have the possibility of beholding the other in their truth.
If we can regularly practice this, then we can help to build up a 'spiritual ecosystem' that can counterbalance the deathly 'electronic ecosystem' currently being established, for our mode of knowing can contribute something positive and life-affirming to the world.
Just as we depend on
nature for our survival, so too does nature depend on the quality of
our knowing and relating, through which we may bring spiritual light
to the world...