By Anupama Bhattacharya July 2002 Our singing shall build in the void’s loose field; A world for the Spirit of Wisdom to wield; We will take our plan from the new world of man, And our work shall be called the Promethean.– P. B. Shelley Changes in the near future · By the year 2010, regular offices will be passé. Most of the work will be telework, and those who don’t work from home will go to telework centres in their own locality, reducing work and travel stress.· Computer controls will be handled by voice commands. · At the end of 2010, contact lenses will use laser beams to draw pictures straight onto the wearer’s retinas. · Home décor will include screens hanging on walls. You can program these to display works of art, virtual fish tanks, or windows looking out onto a Bahamas beach. · Insect-like robots will keep your carpets clean, trim the grass, tidy up, or monitor household security. Robotic pets that look like kittens or teddy bears will be the craze. · Electronic glasses can be worn for work, or for simulated games. You could participate in the plots of television programmes and interact with other viewers. · With the increasing reach of cyberspace, friendships may get confusing with computer programmes masquerading as people and vice versa. But this socialising with people in other countries will create a mixed culture. It may lead to more loyalty towards network-based communities than local geographic community. · The power of the government will decline as the cyber communities grow. · New surveillance technologies are likely to reduce crime at the price of a loss of privacy. · Age will be an added asset, since experience will count. We can expect to live longer, but also remain healthier. · Nanotechnology will allow us to put micro-machines living inside our bodies, reinforcing the body’s own defences and maintenance systems. · Commuting will be easier with advanced road traffic navigation systems. All we’ll have to do, is tell the computer about our destination and the time when we want to reach there, and it will chart out the best course.With every car having automatic systems that communicate with those in other cars, it will be possible to more than double the capacity of the roads. Taking the human out of the system will increase safety enormously. Source: British Telecom’s Technology Calendar First things first. Evolution, as we know it, is over. We are what we are, for good or for bad. ‘If you want to know what utopia is like,’ says Professor Steve Jones, of University College, London, ‘just look around. This is it.’ So, we can forget about growing wings, enlarging our heads, exhibiting an extra digit on our hands a la David McCallum of the sci-fi serial The Outer Limits, getting superhuman strength, disappearing into thin air in one blast of psychic energy or generally doing away with encumbrances such as the appendix, wisdom teeth and body hair. From here till all eternity, we will remain as we are, as human as human can be! Dismal? You bet. Except for the rider. We will not evolve unless we choose to. ‘I don’t think we are going to see any changes,’ says Peter Ward in his book Future Evolution, ‘apart from the ones we deliberately introduce.’ Because, when we decided to play God and took over divine concerns such as diseases and survival of the fittest, we also allowed the weak a chance to distribute its gene-pool into humanity at large. Result? We changed nature’s preset course, and began to chart our own evolutionary path. Thus, nature washed its hands off us, and gave us what we always desired: free will to decide our destiny. Unless, of course, gods step in. Most visions of human evolution also have a role for a highly developed, benevolent alien race-be it beings from another universe, or ascended masters from higher dimensions. And the gods can always return. Perhaps to tighten a few screws. Pull out some wires and modify the design. Where does that leave us? Helpless in the throes of a cosmic tug-of-war. Masters of a new world that we have the potential to create, if the will were willing. Or somewhere sandwiched between the two, not quite helpless, but unsure of what lies ahead. WHEN THE GODS RETURN And because, in all the Galaxy, they had found nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere. They became farmers in the fields of stars; they sowed, and… they reaped. And sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed.-Arthur C. Clarke Perhaps this is where science fiction and spirituality meet. Arthur C. Clarke, sci-fi author, had a poignant vision of the end of humanity-and its beginning, in Childhood’s End, where the Overlords, guardians of races that have the potential to unite with the Overmind (a kind of universal consciousness), come to earth, and prepare humanity for its leap into the infinite. There lay the Overmind… bearing the same relation to man as man bore to amoeba. Potentially infinite, beyond mortality… Now it had drawn into its being all that the human race had ever achieved. This was not tragedy, but fulfillment. -Childhood’s End The same theme plays in Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey where a man is pulled into a cosmic vortex and is metamorphosed into the Starchild by a superior, almost omniscient, alien consciousness, paving the way for humanity’s evolution. Erich von Daniken, author of Chariots of the Gods, believed that humanity is a hybrid species created by alien intervention. ‘The spacemen artificially fertilized some female members of this species,’ he wrote, ‘put them into a deep sleep, and departed. Thousands of years later the space travelers returned and found scattered specimens of the genus Homo sapiens. They repeated their breeding experiment several times until finally, they produced a creature intelligent enough to have the rules of society imparted to it.’ Whitley Strieber, author of Communion and Majestic, and a self-proclaimed alien abductee, believes that alien beings are even now trying to create a hybrid race that will unleash the hidden human potential. If that sounds too much like X-Files, replace the aliens with angels or ascended masters, and you’ll have the same story repeating itself in New Age terms. The 2012 Unlimited, a website on human evolution from the New Age perspective (www.2012.com.au), has this to say about Lady Agape, an entity apparently from the 800th dimension who oversees all aspects of evolution: ‘Lady Agape has recently been anchored on Earth and is overseeing the evolution of all species on Earth at this time, including the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms along with conscious species such as humanity and the dolphin and whale kingdoms.’ Or, the gods could come from within. Somewhat like Colin Wilson’s Faculty X. An innate superconsciousness latent in all humanity, Wilson believes that it is, ‘the key not only to occult experiences, but to the whole future evolution of the human race’. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, theologian and paleontologist, had a somewhat similar vision: ‘The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the superhuman-these are not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others. They will open only to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth,’ wrote de Chardin in his book The Human Phenomenon. He believed that humanity has already entered a new phase of evolution, which will culminate in the creation of a collective higher consciousness, what he calls the ‘noosphere’. This will happen when humanity reaches its Omega Point, and experiences ‘an ecstasy transcending the dimensions of the visible universe’. Life, according to de Chardin, ‘represents the goal of a transformation of great breadth, in the course of which what we call matter turns about, furls in on itself, interiorises the operation covering the whole history of the earth. The phenomenon of spirit is not therefore a sort of brief flash in the night; it reveals a gradual and systematic passage from the unconscious to the conscious, and from the conscious to the self-conscious. It is a cosmic change of state’. Perhaps like the advent of the Aquarian Age. FROM MATTER TO SPIRITThe world was a conception and a birth; Of Spirit in Matter into living forms, And Nature bore the Immortal in her womb; That she might climb through him to eternal life.-Sri Aurobindo When 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer argued that the true nature of man is volition and his will to live, he hit the bull’s eye of the evolutionary spirit. For, in a world where Darwinian evolution of natural selection is fast giving way to volitional evolution, choice is the only faculty that is likely to dictate our future. ‘Evolution,’ wrote Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian evolutionist, ‘need no longer be a destiny imposed from without: it may conceivably be controlled by man, in accordance with his wisdom and his values.’ And though the choices are many, from blowing ourselves out to letting entropy set in, it is conceivable that we may yet break free from the limitations that nurtured us. ‘Man himself,’ wrote Sri Aurobindo, Indian sage and philosopher, ‘may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom, and with whose conscious cooperation, nature wills to work out the superman… to manifest God.’ And when we do that, we will reach our childhood’s end. ‘That which is above the mental being is the superman. It is to b
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