Science, Technology, & Spirituality Must Unite for a Sustainable & Balanced Existence ~ Amma

[Note: Spirituality has always been one of Appropriate IT’s existential questions. Is there spirituality in technology or in running a profitable business? How can we search for this elusive goal? Why search even? There were many answers to be found in a recent keynote that Amma gave at a United Nations conference that I had the good fortune to be attending. – usha]

Excerpts from the keynote address Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) gave at the United Nations Academic Impact – START/Amrita University Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development. The full speech on “Reconciling Ancient Spiritual Wisdom And Modern Technology For Societal Transformation” is available at amritapuri.org.

Spirituality

UNAI Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development (© MA Center, amritapuri.org)

UNAI Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development (© MA Center, amritapuri.org)

Many people are cynical about spirituality. What is spirituality? True spirituality is compassion in action; it begins and culminates in compassion. If we could transform compassion from a mere word into a path of action, we would be able to solve 90 percent of the world’s humanitarian problems.

Just as our right hand rushes to comfort our left hand if it is in pain, may we love and serve others as we would our self.

May the tree of our lives be rooted in the soil of love. May good deeds be the leaves, kind words be the flowers, and peace be the fruit. May the world flourish as one family, united in love. May we thus be able to create a world in which peace and contentment prevail. This is Amma’s sincere prayer.

||| lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu ||
“May all beings everywhere be peaceful and happy.”

Science & Spirituality

I often reflect deeply on the future of the Earth, the preservation of nature, and the disappearing harmony between humanity and nature. This contemplation has led me to the conviction that science, technology, and spirituality must unite in order to ensure a sustainable and balanced existence of our world. The present age and the world around us demand this transformation.

Looking at modern life, we see a society of plenty steeped in misery. Excessive greed has blinded mankind, and the incidence of inhumane actions is on the rise, as a result. Mental agitation and stress have caused new and hitherto unknown kinds of diseases.

Humanity is at a crossroads. At present, mankind lives solely depending on science and technology. However, in light of our current situation, we should at least try to incorporate spiritual thinking as well.

Spirituality is also a science—it is a valid branch of knowledge that cannot be ignored. The scientific community is researching the physical world in an attempt to discover the secrets of the universe. In reality, spiritual scriptures recount the experiences of those who performed intense inner inquiry in order to unfold the same secrets. When we try to view spirituality through mathematics, physics and logic alone, we may fail to grasp its subtleties. We need to approach it with the faith of a child, and with the wonder that shines in a child’s mind and eyes. Renowned scientists of the past viewed the universe and its subtleties with awe and wonderment. Their research had the inquisitiveness and faith of an innocent child. In fact, many past and present eminent scientists acknowledged spirituality towards the end of their lives, but by then it was too late. Amma prays that the scientific community leading the world today does not make this same mistake.

Life is a perfect combination of logic and mystery—perhaps more mysterious than logical. In all areas of life, the head and heart should go together. For example, when white sand and sugar are mixed together, it is very difficult to separate the two, even for an intelligent human being. However, the seemingly insignificant ant—representing humility—will come and easily manage to eat only the sugar.

Segregating science and spirituality has been the greatest crime against humanity in the past century. These two main branches of knowledge that should have gone hand in hand were divided and practitioners were either labeled as modern scientists or representatives of religious faiths. “Only scientific discoveries apply to logic and intelligence. They are the only truth. Religious faith is blind and misguided.” This was the ideology that was popularized. All the recent natural disasters and the alarming changes in the global climate are challenging the further survival of this beautiful earth we live in. Now, many people cannot help thinking that all this may be the result of weighing science and spirituality on opposite sides of a scale and deeming that one is much greater than the other.

Technology

Today, while lying in our bed we can order anything to eat, drink, watch or listen to, and it will be delivered right to our home. We don’t need to go to a store anymore to buy new or used things. There are websites for anything and everything. The Internet is revolutionizing the world, which is good. Now, we can buy anything with a single click of our finger—except one thing: love.

We live in the age of the Internet. Wherever we go on the planet, we need to have Internet. But along with a connection to the Internet, we also need to rediscover our “Inner-net” connection. Spirituality teaches us how to manage both our internal and external worlds. For one who knows how to swim, frolicking in the ocean waves is a delightful experience, but one who is unable to swim will quickly drown.

There is a rhythm to everything in creation, an undeniable relationship between the entire universe and every living creature in it. The universe is like a vast interconnected network. Suppose there is a net. If it is shaken in one place, the vibration is felt throughout. Similarly, whether we are aware of it or not, all of our actions reverberate throughout creation—whether performed as an individual or as a group. We are not individual islands but links of a common chain.

Harmony exists when man, nature, and the power beyond both of them function as one. However, now we only give importance to human beings and their discoveries. Our lives today have no place for values. The general belief is that values are irrelevant and superfluous.

In order for any engine to function smoothly, it needs oil. The “oil” that helps us live without much friction is our values. These values are developed through spiritual thinking.

Sustainable Development

There have been problems in the world from the beginning of time. For ages, society has suffered from war, conflict, discrimination based on caste, creed and social position, as well as disharmony in the family. But our ancestors had a different outlook on life. They had an inherent awareness of three factors: humans, nature, and the invisible power that harmoniously unites them.

Their vision of life did not only take into account the physical existence of individuals and nature. They believed in a power that forms the foundation of nature and every living being—an invisible power that connects all beings with nature. They recognized this power as the most important part of life. They also believed that all of nature and each and every living being in the universe are like beads of variable forms and sizes, strung on a single thread of creation. This is why they gave so much importance to sharing, caring, consideration and empathy. Today, we have labeled this mentality as “primitive,” rejecting their way of living.

The current gap between the haves and the have-nots is the bane of the entire world, and this disparity is increasing daily. A mountain on one side and an abyss on the other—such is the current situation. On one hand, there are those who live, squandering millions upon millions on luxuries. On the other hand, there are those who struggle in hunger and pain to make enough for just one meal—to make enough for just one day’s medicine. If we postpone reducing this gap any longer, it will culminate in violence, even widespread riots. A bridge of love and compassion joining these two groups is desperately needed.

Poverty is a terrible plight upon humanity, destroying all goodness and talent. It is the cause of all moral degradation.

When we try to love or serve without understanding those whom we are serving, we often end up harming society and ourselves. In order for service to be beneficial, it needs to go hand and hand with discernment. This is the essence of sustainable development.

A fish was splashing about in the river. A monkey that had come to quench his thirst noticed the fish. He thought, “That poor fish is suffering, trapped by the current. I must save it!” In his impulsive sympathy, the monkey rushed over to catch the fish, and placed it on the riverbank. The fish started gasping for air and died soon after.

What if the monkey had tried to understand the fish before removing it from the water? What if he had asked, “May I take you out of the water?” The fish would have replied, “Oh, no! If you do that, I’ll die!” Acting without understanding is akin to the monkey’s attempt to save the fish. The heart and intellect must come together in all of our actions.

People ask, “What is the significance of spirituality?” Spirituality helps us to develop the discernment to differentiate between what is essential and what is excessive. For example, we need a watch to tell time. Both a $100 and a $50,000 watch will do that. If we buy the $100 dollar watch and use the remaining money to help the poor, it would be a great service to society.

There are two types of poverty in the world. The first type is due to the lack of food, clothing and shelter. The second type is the poverty of love and compassion. We need to tackle the second type of poverty first. For, if we have love and compassion, we will wholeheartedly serve and help those who lack food, clothing and shelter.

Children, whether or not God exists might be a source of debate. Whatever be the case, no rational person can ever say that suffering humanity does not exist; we can see suffering with our own eyes. Amma considers service to such people to be worship of God. Amma prays that this self-sacrificing attitude awakens in her children. May the world come to realize through all of you that the waters of love, compassion, selflessness and sacrifice have not dried up in human hearts.

Excerpts from the keynote address Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) gave at the United Nations Academic Impact – START/Amrita University Conference on Technology for Sustainable Development. The full speech on “Reconciling Ancient Spiritual Wisdom And Modern Technology For Societal Transformation” is available at amritapuri.org.

Tags:
Categories: solutions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Featured Posts
  • Krishi Janani: Stepping Out Into the Great Unknown

    Krishi Janani: Ag Tech Network

    So…Appropriate IT is working on a new sustainable agriculture technology platform – Krishi Janani. We have been at it for a while now, launching a partially working prototype earlier this year. Before I go into the ‘Great Unknown’ parts of the story, a quick summary:

    Krishi Janani is an ag tech network (online platform + young women-led rural ag tech centers) enabling organic and sustainable

  • Pay It Forward: A Training in Namakkal

    Namakkal Training 6

    A three day technology training in building websites with WordPress at PGP college in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu

    By Alexandra de Vogel, Assistant Trainer

    With a background in Industrial design and innovation management, being part of this training was a first experience for me. But now I know that it will definitely not be my last experience in this field. These three days in Namakkal

  • Learning is a Mindset

    AIDA Inauguration 5

    (Guest blog by Heather A. Moore)

    Usha recently invited me to share some words of advice with the inspiring young women that had recently graduated from the pilot program of AIDA, Appropriate IT’s Development Academy, and with those from the community. Having gathered some sage advice from a few wise and generous mentors throughout my career, as well as the hard earned wisdom that comes

Archive