Fear of the future is a thing. Google the phrase and you get 285,000,000 results. Increasing threats to public safety from terrorism, renewed focus on nuclear capability, and climate change – things made possible by newer and better technologies – can seem like restrictions on our freedom. are we becoming robots?
“The mechanization of all that you are surrounded with has made you aware that you are also nothing but a machine. You have always been that. Buddhas have always been telling you that you exist unconsciously, that you exist like a robot, that you are not yet a man, but illusions persisted. The modern world has taken the last illusion from you, it has revealed the truth to you: that you are nothing but a machine, efficient, inefficient, but a machine.
“It had to be so because only when you live with machines, only then can you become aware of your machine-like existence. You had always lived with trees and animals and people, and it had always given you the false idea that there is freedom.
“Freedom exists only when you are utterly conscious. Only a buddha is free. Freedom is in buddhahood; nobody else is free, nobody else can be free. But people can believe… it is a very consoling illusion. The modern world has taken your illusion away from you; and it is good because now a great desire to be free will arise, a great longing to attain to something beyond the machine.
“For example, the computer has proved that howsoever efficient you are in your mind it does not make you really a man, because that can be done better by a computer than by your mind. Now the people who used to do beautiful mathematics will be offended because the computer can do it in a far better way. And the work of the computer is so fast that they say, if a problem will take seventy years of his whole life for a great mathematician to solve, working day in, day out, the computer can solve it within a second.
“Now, what is the lesson to be learned? That the brain is nothing but a biocomputer. Without the computer it would never have been revealed to you that your brain is a computer. With the computer, now, the people who think they are great intellectuals, mathematicians, scientists, specialists, are all reduced to machines. It was not possible two thousand years before: there was no way to know that the mind functions as a machine, that the mind is nothing but a machine.
“There is just one thing the computer cannot do. It can be logical, but it cannot be loving; it can be rational, but it cannot be meditative. A computer cannot meditate, a computer cannot love – and that is the hope, and that is where man can still go beyond machines. You can love. Your love will be the decisive factor in the coming days – not logic: the computer is perfectly logical, more logical than any Aristotle; not mathematics: the computer is more mathematical than any Albert Einstein.
“The computer is going to solve all problems. The computer will solve every problem that scientists used to take years to solve. It can solve them within seconds. Sooner or later science will go into the hands of computers; the scientist will be needed only to operate the computer, that’s all. The computer can do it far more quickly, far more efficiently, with less and less possibility of making any errors. This is something tremendously significant. It can make you very much frightened, it can give you the idea that there is nothing left, man is a machine; but it can also fill you with great hope that now the computer has revealed that the head is not man’s real reality.
“Now we have to search for the heart, because the computer has no heart. Only by searching for our heart, only by allowing our heart to dance and sing and love, will we be able to retain the glory and dignity of being man; otherwise it is gone.
“The future looks bleak to you because you only see the darker side of the phenomenon. You are not aware of its lighter side. I see the dawn coming very close. Yes, the night is very dark, but the future is not bleak, not at all.
“In fact, for the first time in human history millions of people will be able to become buddhas. It was very rare to become a buddha in the past because it was very rare to become aware of the mechanicalness of man. It needed great intelligence to be aware that man is a machine. But now it will not need any intelligence at all; it will be so obvious that man is a machine.[…]
“Now the greatest challenge before technology is how to maintain the balance of nature, how to maintain ecological harmony. It was never there before, it is a new problem.
“For the first time the West is facing a new problem. We have lived on this earth for millions of years. Slowly, slowly we had been growing more and more expert technologically, but we had not yet been able to destroy the natural balance; we were yet a very small force on the earth. Now for the first time our energy is bigger, far bigger, than the earth’s energy to keep its balance. This is a great phenomenon. Man has become so powerful that he can destroy the natural balance. But he will not destroy it, because to destroy the natural balance means he will be destroyed himself.
“He will find new ways; and new ways are being found. The way to regain the delicate balance of nature is not by renouncing technology. It is not by becoming hippies, it is not by becoming Gandhians, no, not at all. The way to regain the balance of nature is through superior technology, higher technology, more technology. If technology can destroy the balance, why can’t technology regain it? Anything that can be destroyed can be created.
“And now it is almost feasible to float cities in the sky, in the air, in big, enormous balloons! There is no need for man to live on the earth. And it will be really beautiful – floating cities in the air, and the green earth below you, huge forests again as the earth used to be before man started cutting forests. The earth can become the same again. You can come back to the earth for holidays.
“It is possible now to float cities in the ocean, and that will be beautiful. It is possible now to make underground cities so the earth, its greenery, its beauty, is not destroyed. You can live in air-conditioned cities underneath the earth. You can come once in a while for your Sunday prayer to the earth, and go back. It is possible for man now to be transported to another planet. The moon may become our next colony, the moon may become our habitation.
“The way is not by regressing; it is not possible to regress. Now man cannot live without electricity and man cannot live without all the comforts that technology has made available. And there is no need either – it will become so poor a world. You don’t know how man had lived in the past, always starving, always ill. You don’t know how man had lived in the past; people have forgotten. You don’t know how low the average age was in the past: if twenty children were born only two would survive. Life was very ugly.
“And without machines there was slavery. It is only because of machines that slavery has disappeared from the earth. If more machines come then more of this slavery will disappear. Horses will be free again if more cars are there; oxen will be free again if more machines are there to do their work; animals can be free again.
“Freedom was not possible without machines. If you drop machines man will again become slaves. There will be people who will start dominating and forcing. You see the pyramids? They look so beautiful, but each pyramid was made in such a way that millions of people died in making it. That was the only way to make it. All the beautiful palaces of the world, and the forts…. Much violence has happened, only then could they be made. The Great Wall of China – millions of people died in making it. They were forced, generations of people were forced, to just make this China Wall. Now people go and see it, and they have completely forgotten that it represents a very ugly chapter of history.
“For the first time electricity and technology have taken all the work; man need not do it. Technology can free man absolutely from work and the earth could be playful for the first time. Luxury is possible for the first time. There is no need to go back.
“That’s why I am against the Gandhian approach towards life, utterly against. If Gandhi is believed, then the world will again become ugly, poor, dirty, ill. The way is ahead: one has to go to superior technology that can rearrange the balance. The earth can really become paradise.
“I am all for science. My religion is not against science; my religion absorbs science in itself. I believe in a scientific world. And through science a great religion, a greater religion than ever, is going to happen to man, because when man will be really free to be playful and there will be no need to work, tremendous creativity will be released. People will paint, and people will play music, and people will dance, and people will write poems, and people will pray, and people will meditate. Their whole energy will be free to soar high.”
Abridged from Osho, The Secret, Talk #16