As the idea of “techno-paganism” is still not a mainstream concept, the definition itself is loose, and synonyms abound. “Techno-shamanism” is a word that also pops up in studies of technology and spirituality:
Technology and spirituality are finally meeting in what is now being recognised as technoshamanism, where technological advances and gadgets help stimulate spiritual experiences, and see science as part of the holistic evolutionary process of humanity
At the dawn of the new millennium, humanity is trying to take charge of its evolutionary future by leveraging technology, and the most popular mode of this initiative involves neuro-technology. This branch covers a range of technologies that work on the brain, influencing positive consciousness enhancement and brain growth.
Devices such as Light and Sound (L/S) machines, Psychoacoustic tapes, Ganzfeld units, Cranial-Electric-Stimulators (CES), Bio-acoustic software and hardware, along with various psionic machines, are ‘Mind-Machines’ that empower the individual to create a ‘Virtual Reality for the Mind’-a reality created by the proactive utilisation of Mind-Tech methods.
This leads to personal transformation that results in harmony between the subtle realms of the inner psychic nature and the more concrete sensory intellectual consciousness of our outer nature. Neuro-tech gadgets help people enter meditative states. Studies have demonstrated that these machines can relax people, invigorate them, and even relieve them from substance abuse, clinical depression and anxiety.
Michael Hutchison, author of the bestseller Megabrain, is a famous proponent of mind-machines. According to him: ‘We’ve convinced businesses to use these devices for stress reduction, schools for better learning curves and doctors for drug rehabilitation.’
The era of techno-shamanism is emerging. The name may be new, but the idea is ancient. Drums, geometric paintings, flickering flames, and echoing spaces have been used for this purpose for millennia. Now technology has taken over. About 2,000 years ago, it was noticed that a rapidly flashing light could put one in a meditative state.
Around 1940, scientists found that this works because the watcher’s brain waves become synchronised with the flashes. They also discovered that some sounds have the same effect. This led to the development of Sound and Light Entrainment Devices (SLED), also known as mind-machines.
Biofeedback is another form of modern neuro-tech. A machine measures a body activity, say blood pressure, and by observing the machine you develop the ability to control that activity. Hutchison argues that these machines do not make meditation and yoga obsolete. Meditators can, however, use these devices to control the frequency and synchronicity of their brainwaves, and enter meditative states more rapidly.
This is likely to enable everybody to experience transcendental, mystical states of consciousness. The result is the democratisation of bliss. Somewhat like the moksha medicine, a hallucinogenic mushroom, in Aldous Huxley’s book Island, which is used by the residents to get closer to this ‘oneness’. A shortcut to bliss, certainly. But beneficial? That’s debatable.
Another prominent neuro-tech promoter is M.C. Cannon (Master Charles). A disciple of Swami Muktananda, and a contemporary American mystic, he is the originator of the Synchronicity Experience. He is considered a pioneer in the field of vibrational entrainment technology in relation to holistic states of awareness.
His Synchronicity Contemporary Meditation is the interior experiential foundation of The Synchronicity Paradigm Lifestyle Model. This meditation utilises vibrational entrainment technology to bring precision to the meditative experience. It balances the two brain hemispheres, resulting in whole-brain synchronicity and holistic awareness.
TECHNOSHAMANS WITH RATIONAL VIEW
Transhumanists aim to improve humanity through purely technological means. They even dream of achieving immortality by creating a postbiological humanity. For example, in cryonic suspension, you can freeze your body or head just after death until technology catches up with whatever killed you and brings you back to life.
Artificial intelligence prophets such as Hans Moravec have proposed that in the future it may be possible to download consciousness into computers. Extropianism is another specific version of transhumanist thinking. Extropianists see humanity as a transitory stage in the evolutionary development of intelligence and advocate using science to accelerate to a transhuman or posthuman condition.
Their ultimate aim is to create a sort of electronic Gaia consciousness on Earth and then colonise space, which will lead to the emergence of Omega Point-omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient intelligent life encompassing the universe.
WHEN SCIENCE MEETS SPIRITUALITY
The transhumanist branch of technoshamans swear by rationalism and dismiss mysticism and spirituality as superstition. But ironically, the rationalistic technology they admire seems to be bringing us closer to the mystical and transcendental aspects of reality.
Technoshamans such as Hutchison are open-minded about the importance of spiritual awareness. ‘Humans are genetically planned,’ says Hutchison, ‘to seek altered, awakened states. I believe that a key to human evolution, to our species’ rapid growth in brain size, and to our unique creative capacities, has been our intuitive desire to experience these meta-normal or exceptional realms of consciousness and performance.’
In spite of the limited transhuman fundamentalism, a growing number of technoshamans are beginning to believe that technology is only a crutch that humanity may use to make the quantum leap to become true spiritual beings. It is possible that the cocoon of technology will fall away when humanity emerges into the transcendental light, fully spreading its spiritual wings.
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