Through technological achievements we try to compensate for our inner deficiencies. Unconsciously we even attempt to emulate advanced psychological and spiritual levels of human development, levels which can’t be reached by the conceptual mind. Technology is the contemporary method for the will to infinity. Quoting Alan Watts:
The sense of isolation and loneliness of the ego is one of deep insecurity, manifesting itself in a hunger to possess the infinite. . . . This will take the form of trying to make the finite infinite through technology, by abolishing the limitations of space, time and pain. In terms of philosophy it involves giving the human ego the value of God. . . . By the exercise of his brilliant reason he will abolish the painful finitude of being an ego. He will forget his loneliness in crowded urban life, in an orgy of superfluous communication and social agitation (Watts, Alan, The Supreme Identity, New York: Pantheon Books, 1950. pp. 101–3).
And in the ’50s the amount of superfluous communication was just beginning! We want to render the finite infinite because we believe we are separate from the infinite and from the divine. We’ve been told that human beings can’t reach the divine, at least in their earthly lifetime. Technology, then, promises redemption from limitation, imperfection and the original sin, fixing what has gone “wrong.”
Ken Wilber (1980) wrote:
Every individual correctly intuits that he is of one nature with Atman, but he distorts that intuition by applying it to his separate self. He feels his separate self is immortal, all-embracing, central to the cosmos, all-significant. That is, he substitutes his ego for Atman. Then, instead of finding actual and timeless wholeness, he merely substitutes the wish to live forever; instead of being one with the cosmos, he substitutes the desire to possess the cosmos; instead of being one with God, he tries himself to play God (Wilber, Ken, The Atman Project, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing, 1980. p. 120).
And Aurobindo: “Every finite being strives to express an infinite which is perceived as being its real truth” (Satprem, 1974). Through technological advancement we try to grasp the infinite with the mind, then download the mind’s contents to the Net. Technology simulates the drive toward the spiritual plane, stepping beyond identification with the body – but prematurely, and in a withdrawn, schizoid way. It achieves the opposite result, however, of inhibiting the soul’s evolution. We cannot go beyond the body by bypassing full engagement with our body.
The body, being body-mind, holds our mental conditioning as much as the mind does. There is nothing like pure mind. Every belief, emotion, and conditioning is as much in the body as in the mind. Freedom from the identification with and limitations of body and mind begins with becoming aware of and inquiring into both.
excerpt from Chapter 13 of “The Digitally Divided Self : Relinquishing our Awareness to the Internet“