The Age of Information and the Spiritual Era

Exploring the framework for a “Balanced Development” model

 

Ramses Rashidi

©2008 Center for Balanced Development  (www.cbdus.org)

 

 

The Age of Information and Communication

 

Humanity’s fascination with the computer, electronic media and the communication technology has reached such intensity that it occupies a big chunk of our daily lives across the globe and particularly in the materially developed regions. Today, for many, it’s hard to imagine being away from some sort of a gadget or electronic entertainment medium for any extended period of time. It’s not unusual to see preschoolers surfing the web with the same ease as when they had taken in their mother’s milk. The vast ocean of information that is available on the Internet, television, radio, the variety of print media, and the entertainment portals has made it possible to digest and absorb huge amounts of information, thus making it the most comprehensive education system known to man. The impact of the age of information, and the content of what we learn, however, is at the mercy of those who create the programs and these portals are often motivated by “what sells” and what appeals to man’s lower nature, and not necessarily by that which we might wish for our families, or what benefits society and its members. 

 

Truly, the advancement of information and communication technology in the past century has been magnificent. We have invented and developed electronic tools and extensions of the human brain that make it possible to perform amazing tasks.  Whether you want to write a book, create some artwork, learn a new language, make music, put together a video, construct a building, or put up a website, there are limitless forms and varieties of software and hardware that one can learn to use in just a few hours. The communication technology mediums, such as; E-mail, instant messaging, cell-phones, text messages, and telephones, have connected people across the planet, thereby eliminating many of the existing barriers and boundaries. The entertainment industry has grown by such a scale that the stars, the singers and the actors take on super human status and are adopted as role models by the young who try to emulate their every move, antic, or whim.

 

With all the incredible advancements that have been achieved in managing information and building communication tools, yet it seems like we are becoming more and more isolated from each other. The Information Age might as well be called the Age of Isolation. It seems like modern man, in order to embrace the new technology, has sacrificed close relations and equilibrium. We spend hours behind the computer or talk endlessly on the telephone because we feel safe and in control. For the most part, especially for the youth, the traditional face-to-face meeting, eye contact, or the handshake is not as popular as hiding behind the veil. In this maze of human interaction, it’s easy to leave truth, compassion and human virtues out of the picture. Yet, we know that in order to build strong and lasting relations and friendships, we need to invest all our senses, all that we possess and more.

 

Please note that we are not trying to belittle the tremendous good that the communication and information technology has brought to humanity. However, in utilizing the technology and creating the content, we need to see where we are falling short and how we can enrich our lives by properly using this platform to build communities that function in unity, where we can promote higher levels of civility, and as a result, where we can experience higher intelligence. Again, a call for balance and moderation is in place. The Internet, television and all the other mediums to which our children are exposed and so addicted to could be the source of tremendous education. We need to realize that nurturing the next generation and all that they are going to inherit from us is critical to their well-being and the advancement of human civilization. In the same way that we would not feed our children with contaminated food, feeding their souls with violence, improper content and harmful material in the name of freedom of expression does not seem either logical or wise.

 

Furthermore, given the condition of life for individuals, families and communities in modern “developed” societies, and the way human relations is being strained with rising levels of criminal behavior, increasing number of broken families and the tremendous emotional distress that permeate the lives of many people around the world, we need to array all the forces of the modern technology that could play a role in reversing this trend and establishing a firm path towards love, peace and unity.

 

 

The Spiritual Era (The Age of Relations)

 

The word “spirit” or “spiritual” has been defined in many ways, depending on one’s orientation and background.  However, as in any organic matter, when we talk about spirituality, we are really talking about  “harmonious relations”. These relations, in the human kingdom, could be with our unknowable essence, with ourselves, with our family, with friends, with community and with our planet. Therefore the more united and harmonious with others and our environment we become, the more spiritual and humane we will feel, and the higher capacity for intelligence we will eventually experience.

 

It seems that throughout history we have been trying to build higher levels of unity among people and with our environment. But we have never had the opportunity to practice the unity of the whole planet – complete and comprehensive – at a scale that is possible now.

Actually, we can see in a general observation of the history that we have been preparing to reach this ultimate stage. This is much like going through school and then entering the university where we have the possibility to learn and act upon the highest level of knowledge that is available to us. In the scientific sense, the idea of a planetary union is actually now quite possible. 

 

A very exciting phenomenon is that the successive stages of development in the course of history have prepared us to experience the ultimate stage in the growth of the human society and that is the “spiritual era” or the “spiritual civilization”. To achieve this stage we need the kind of human maturity that is balanced with our physical and mental realities. It’s a balancing act between body, mind and spirit. It’s about realizing that we are all created equal, and that we reach our highest potential by serving the body of humanity and its needs – much in the same way that each cell in our body enjoys perfect health when it contributes its share to the well-being of the whole, or the same way that the sun shines everyday and gives its warmth and love unconditionally to brighten the world.

 

   

In the next article we’ll examine some of the other characteristics of the spiritual era.

 

 

Ramses Rashidi  (ramses@cbdus.org) is the founder and director of Center for Balanced Development.

The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and services that foster global balance in social, personal, ecological and economic development.