The Spirit of Cyberspace

Anyone who hasn’t been hibernating for the past decade knows that our civilization is going through changes of unprecedented proportions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the communications revolution. Nearly a hundred million humans are now “on-line,” with the number growing ten percent per month. PC-based communications will soon become as ubiquitous as phones, fax, TV, and ground mail, and probably even more significant as a universal change agent.

The information age is upon us, and nothing will ever be the same. The fantastic dream of instant universal access to each other and all human knowledge is fast becoming a reality. Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital, calls this communications revolution “a 10.5 on the Richter scale of social change.” The “Global Village” predicted by 60’s media philosopher Marshal McLuhan is here.

While the world is shrinking, our collective consciousness is expanding; as the great new knowledge repository of Cyberspace grows, becoming the electronic nervous system through which mankind is destined to know itself on a whole new level. The Internet is a pulsating earth-encompassing net of countless millions of energetically- linked, computerized “intelligence nodes,” each directly and instantaneously accessible to all the others. This omni-distributed array allows the human minds positioned at those terminals to become potentially cognizant of the collective knowledge and ideas of everyone else.

The conception of a multi-dimensional illuminated living web is as old as the Vedic mytho- poetic image of Indra’s “Net of Jewels,” and as new as holography, the remarkable laser-based imaging technology which utilized the interpenetration of light rays to project three dimensional visions in thin air. Another ancient metaphor for the Great Matrix of Cyberspace is the Universal sensorium known in esoteric traditions as the Akashic Records. In this metaphysical realm - unlike in material, “atom-based” repositories - once information is impressed into memory, it “lives” virtually, forever something like the Mind of God. In a complex interactive feedback process between creator and creation, the knowledge-base of the digital realm is continuously being downloaded into human consciousness. How will this affect our precarious collective destiny?

What shall we do with this information-age equivalent of atomic power? Accumulate so much trivia and babble that we go into psychic meltdown? Or create a Web of Wisdom that enlightens us and, not coincidentally, saves the world? The visionary French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, posited a “Noosphere,” an emerging global super-consciousness known and experienced by all.

We may soon see the moment in history when at least most people most of the time realize their underlying Unity with everyone else and the world, and begin to behave accordingly. To quote an editorial in Scientific American: “Computer networking offers the soundest basis for world peace that has yet been presented. International computer networks will knit together the peoples of the world in bonds of mutual respect; it possibilities are vast, indeed.”

More than a few credible contemporary observers feel that the advent of the electronic intellisphere heralds a spiritual quantum leap in human evolution. Richard Thieme, a writer and lecturer specializing in the impact of technology on culture, says: “Our transition from a print culture to a digital one is as profound a shift in human consciousness as that created by the move from oral culture to written, or written to printed. Our interaction with computers has given birth to new forms of religious community.

The Net is an imagined territory with a real spirituality in it.” Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain Awakens says: “The potential marriage of science and mysticism, the growth of highly efficient methods for disseminating spiritual wisdom, the burgeoning interest in development, and the possibility of direct transference of higher states of consciousness are all combining to make it possible, for the first time in human history, for the wisdom of the perennial philosophy to take a firm and lasting hold.”

The Word Wide Web (WWW) is like the multi-media Citizens Band of Cyberspace, the quintessential omni-dimensional, people-to-people contact medium and knowledge base. Suddenly, artists, electronic publishers, home-office merchants, social critics, professionals and amateurs alike are opening home pages, their own digital open front doors to the cyberhood. The implications are historic. Ralph Abraham, author of The Web Empowerment Book, says: “The advent of the Web is a spiritual transformation in progress, a supernaturally guided’s the only sphere where we have totally unrestricted, unbridled creativity run amuck!...the WWW is one of the most important developments in centuries, if not may enable a major social transformation, and the creation of a sane future for mankind, in harmony with our environment.”

For now, Cyberspace is like the huge elephant, and we - at the dawn of the information age - are the proverbial blind men attempting to discern its nature. Hackers are fascinated with the technology of internetting. Research scientists focus on the data it accesses. Educators want to realize the promise of interactive learning and remote teaching. Business professionals network and communicate for profit.

Kids are mesmerized by the multi-media games. And of course, pornographers, swindlers and sociopaths have their own view of the limitless possibilities waiting on the digital frontier. My particular fascination is with the metaphysical side of Cyberspace. I am convinced that the info-hiway is potentially the best means we may ever have for conveying spirituality and wisdom to Everyman: more accessible than holy books, more reliable than gurus and churches, deeper and more interactive than television.

Three years ago I embarked on my own electronic vision-quest, full of questions and hopes: Who else out there is feeling inspired by the possibilities of enlightened twenty-first century communications? How can the new world knowledge base become a true source of wisdom and guidance? Does the parallel digital universe hold at least the potential to liberate individuals and enlighten mankind?

Is God on-line? In search of answers and the valuable tools of personal transformation, I visited spiritual home pages, religious electronic bulletin boards, New Age forums, mystical Gopher sites, goddess-loving Usenet newsgroups, and digitized sacred text libraries throughout the world. I found a proliferation of Buddhist networks, religious and esoteric special interest groups, and inspiring electronic newsletters.

There are numerous subsets of the Internet devoted to yoga, meditation, metaphysics, Christian and Hindu traditions, Jewish mysticism, “Good News,” channeling, philosophy, astrology, feminist theology, Wicca, transpersonal and parapsychology, community building “freethought,” “ageless wisdom” inspiration, shamanism, and much more. I’m pleased to report that here is Spirit in Cyberspace, and increasing numbers of cyber-pilgrims are accessing it.

But how can we recognize authentic spirituality in the vast full/emptiness of Cyberspace? Is there not even more room for pseudo-truth and self-deception out there in the etheric foam of the digital sea? Of course one person’s spirituality may be another’s blasphemy. The Internet approach to the quest is so democratic and so personal; all religions, sects, texts, and teachers await your consideration. You’re no longer limited to someone else’s idea of what you should know or believe. If the price of this on-line eclecticism is the potential for more dilettantism, delusion and confusion, still Cyberspace greatly accelerates the learning process.

Besides, can we have too much religious freedom? In Cyberspace as in life, we should know the genuine article by its effects: What good is it? Quite simply, something (or someone) is spiritual if his/her/its influence actually reduces human suffering and increases freedom: not only freedom from fear, ignorance, shame, guilt, hunger, and pain, but freedom for growth. It’s not enough for a teacher (or teaching) to sound good. If it’s authentic, by definition it benefits people and the planet. If it’s enlightening, the soul stirs and the spirit soars from the contact, as if lifted by angels. For the first time in history we now have the option of deliberately manifesting this dynamic fabric of mutually-interactive intelligence force.

Back to Top

Back to Health Directory