Last modified October 11, 2006 by Nik

pt V: Electric Gaia

From: Some Thoughts on the Relationship between Technology and Spirituality, by Michel Bauwens

At the creation of the Cosmos, divine consciousness ‘fell’ in a Nature that could not be conscious of itself. Then came life in its various formations, from unicellular, through plants to animals in their various guises, and finally to Man and Woman, uniquely self-conscious beings. Through humankind, Nature and the Cosmos can become conscious of itself. But this process of increasing consciousness is a slow process. Mankind itself moved from magical to mythical to rational consciousness; from tribal through national to planetary consciousness. For such a planetary vision to arise, the right tools are needed. Hence we can make a reading of history in which technology can be seen as a necessary adjunct to making such consciousness possible. True, it can be argued that there are Realised Beings who achieved such states of Universal Awareness, but the mass of the people clearly need help. Thus it can be argued that national consciousness could not be achieved without the printing press, and that real planetary consciousness will not be achievable without the creation of worldwide communication networks. Using a proto-marxist language we could say that only such a technological infrastructure would create the necessary material conditions for such a higher collective awareness to arise.
This process of universalisation started with print, extended itself through communication technologies such as the telegraph and the telephone, and through media such as radio and television. But only now do we have a medium that combines the characteristics of both personal and mass media, that extends every human’s senses and reach of consciousness to every corner of the world. Traditional mass media were still one-way, and so expensive that they could only be operated by the powers that be, while today the fully-bidirectional internet can be used as a communication and broadcasting tool by every connected individual. The internet can thus be seen as a tool to broaden our awareness even further and for the first time allow mankind to materialise the ‘noosphere’, i.e. the collective mental space where all our cultural exchanges take place. The internet will ultimately evolve to a World Brain, which contains all connected individual brains.
This at least is the interpretation of the Positive School. To this school belong philosophers as Hegel and spiritualists such as Teilhard de Chardin and today, Ken Wilber. Their optimism is shared by many other cyberspace settlers, and it helps explain the extraordinary amount of creative and optimistic cultural energy that is generated throughout the internet. Seen in that context, cyberspace is a very important civilisational project. It can be compared to the building of the Gothic Cathedrals that were built to the glory of God and that mobilised whole communities in the late Middle Ages. Similarly, cyberspace is the creation of a new parallel world. Next to the physical world, mankind is creating a virtual world, a ‘country of the mind’ , as John Perry Barlow calls it, or perhaps even a country of the Spirit? Whether such an interpretation is correct or not, at least it should be understood that cyberspace is seen by many as a utopian social and political project, and hence as a generator of utopian energy. (Michael Grosso sees a fusion of utopian dreams and the apocalyptic fears of the end of the millennium, and calls this fusion the ‘Technocalyps’).In an epoch where all political ‘isms’ have died, and in which the authoritarian religions are either moribund or being hijacked by reactionary social forces, cyberspace is seen as a home for freedom, a place where forms of equality can be achieved, and as a organisational tool for the creation of utopian virtual communities (in this sense, the internet’s virtual communities can be seen as a revival of pre-Marxist ‘utopian socialism’, which insisted that change could happen here and now by creating communities of men of goodwill who would operate according to new social rules). Cyberspace functions as an ideal projection screen for utopian hopes for a better world. In this context, it is not surprising that Cyberspace is also a domain for the activities of spiritual movements, especially those who share the positive evolutionary interpretation of history.

pt VI: Sacralising Cyberspace