Hinduism 2.0 – Internet and Spirituality

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Counter culture, Internet, and Hinduism

Did you know that you are participating in a divine plan this very moment that you are surfing through the infinite vastness of the cyberspace, sending and receiving information? At least, that is what some members of the founding generation surrounding Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, thought.

In the 60’s and 70’s Americans had to navigate through stormy waters: Cold War, Vietnam War, racial segregation, nuclear arms race. Besides making love, not war, the so called counter culture intended to challenge these issues through their own patchwork philosophy.

This olio of Jugendstil, Romantic, psychedelic rock and Indian philosophy, again influenced the subsequent founding generation of the internet.

Therefore, it was not farfetched for some of them to believe that the internet and its new ways of communication would enable the “homo s@piens” to connect itself to each member of its own species, which in turn would make the ego a part of the pre-broadband past. This tantra (web) of interconnected chakras meant nothing else but interweaving everything into one single entity: ātman.

Herein māyā would dissolve, alongside with time and space, by means of real time and omnipresents. Hic et nunc 2.0. Eventually everybody would realize „tat tvam asi“ (this is you) and live happily ever after as avatars. And indeed there are some similarities which cannot be denied.

Communication and religion

Besides the aforementioned tantra aspect, we can read religion as a whole as mere means of communication, too. Communication which is not possibly supplied by any other provider.

On the one hand, it is a way of communicating with the long elapsed past, with our ancestors, the dead. Every visit at a cemetery can be interpreted as a silent word to an interlocutor, whom we can never be sure of really receiving the message.

On the other hand, religion is communication aimed at the future. When we send our hopes, wishes, and thanks with folded hands in an envelope called prayers, we need an addressee. We christened that x God and anthropomorphized him, as it is easy to communicate with someone who is like us.

Problems of Hinduism 2.0

However, there are a few inherent problems concerning the idea that the internet will lead to Nirvana. Firstly, I believe it is a flagrant misinterpretation of eastern philosophy.  Among other dissimilarities, remodeling a metaphysical as well as spiritual thought and adapting it to a technical, mere empirical world is destined to fail.

Although the internet might give us the tools to overcome our self-centeredness (which still has to be proven), revolution – in this sense true change of any kind – begins inside.

“Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Koran 13.11) Just one quote among many.

This brings me to my next point: Hinduism is a highly decentralized faith. The theory of ātman, as well, is certainly not about empowering single individuals. The internet might have been intended to be the same way, but as the abuse of big data and internet-monopolies show us, this might not necessarily be the case. Only time can tell (if it still exists by then).

Lastly, I do not believe that all of us truly aspire the kingdom to come, a heaven on earth. As I have argued somewhere else, without duality and its negativity there will be no life as we know it – and even love it, despite its drawbacks.

Being human means walking through an alley, flanked by beauteous, vivacious trees on the one side and tree skeletons on the other. Do you really want a life, as the singularity movement and the transhumanists prophesy, without sorrow, aging, and death?

Certainly, the internet is not a mere Doordarshan of the 21th century. And yes, it will change the world – whether for the good or the bad is up to us to decide. Yet, it is not divine or solely as divine as everything else on this planet.

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