18.22: The monomania of machines, mechanistic thinking and mechanical behavior
Our lives are becoming increasingly dominated by machines, mechanistic thinking and mechanical behavior.
Machines: As technology pervades our life, we spend more time with machines than with people. Machines encroach even into the time that we do spend with people; the thoughts of the ringing of the cellphone or the beep of a message are never far away from our minds. At home, the TV consumes more of our attention than do our family members.
Mechanistic thinking: The more we interact with machines, the more that interaction tends to make our thinking mechanistic. We extrapolate subconsciously from our experience with machines and expect conscious people to function like mechanical entities that respond predictably to standard inputs. When people fail to behave according to our expectations, we turn off from them; our relationships becoming superficial and unfulfilling at best or disrupted and wrecked at worst.
Mechanical behavior: Our mechanistic thinking also makes us mechanical in our own behavior, as we, like robots, act as if run by stimulus-response programs: allured by seeing a new gadget, tempted by seeing a sexually appealing form and so forth. We feel frequently titillated, rarely touched. Our brain cells fire continuously, but we feel emotionally dead – or at least deadened.
This mechanization of life, the Bhagavad-gita (18.22) states, characterizes knowledge in the mode of ignorance, which makes us mistake one fragment of reality – the material level – to be the full reality. Beyond the material level lies the spiritual level that invites us to a real life of authentic emotions and genuine reciprocations with Krishna and all his children.
If we wish to break free from this monomania of materialism, Gita wisdom stands ready to guide us along the journey from ignorance to transcendence.