The Fourth Network: The Spiritual Network of the Internet
In almost every country in the world, the Internet has become a widely used and inseparable part of our lives. Now we can also easily connect using mobile telephones and tablet computers, the Internet is even more versatile. When we recall that it only became mainstream around 1990, it is quite amazing that this incredible technology has integrated into our lives in such a short time. Undoubtedly, the Internet provides numerous facilities, and it is common knowledge that it has saved us time. It would also not be an exaggeration to say that many people would feel very unhappy and lost if the social-media sites ceased to exist. In short, now we are so used to it, many people would find it impossible to imagine a life without the Internet.
From a certain point of view, it is true the Internet has saved us time, but it cannot be denied that the worldwide usage of the Internet has contributed to an increase in the speed at which time seems to run. During recent years, we often hear people around the world saying they feel time is running faster. They also sense the pace of life has become faster. Prior to the Internet, we actually had to go to certain places to sort out the necessities of daily life, and this took a lot of time. Now we can avoid much of this. For example, we used to need to visit various shops and markets to do our shopping, but the Internet provided the alternative of online shopping. So there is no denying the Internet enabled us to save time, but the question is, “does our materialistic way of life allow us to use this ‘saved time’ for other purposes?”
Although it may look as if people of the Internet era are able to save time by using the Internet for all their work and daily affairs, many of them are not really able to spend this surplus time on the other important necessities of life. Since human beings consist of a soul and spirit in addition to a physical body, a spiritual aspect is inherent in every human being, so we also have spiritual requirements. Therefore, aside from spending time on material necessities, people also need to spend a certain amount of time on spiritual quests and their personal spiritual development. Unfortunately, our materialistic lifestyle ruthlessly demands we spend our surplus time on other materialistically orientated work or activities. Thus, it could be said that extensive use of the Internet might help us save time, but it also has the consequence that we identify more with the materialistic side of life instead of using this spare time to delve into spiritual pursuits, such as considering the mystery of humanity’s existence in the cosmos. When we evaluate the situation from this point of view, it would be quite justified to ask, “Is any spiritual quality inherent in the nature of the Internet?” (in the present structure of the Internet) and also, “Could something be done to spiritualize the Internet?” (That is, to permeate it with a spiritual quality). In this article, we shall try to examine this subject from different angles.
Are There any Risks to Using the Internet?
While the Internet has brought some advantages to our lives, it is also known that there are some disadvantages to using it for long periods. A recent medical study on the subject has revealed that staying on the Internet for very long periods can have certain negative effects on our physical health. An incident in Taiwan confirms the conclusions of this research. In February 2012, a 23-year-old man was found dead in an Internet café. He was sitting with his arms and hands stretched out as if he was using a mouse and keyboard. No one in the Internet café realized that this unfortunate young man had died 9 hours earlier—they presumed he was just sitting there and playing a game. Not so long ago, a similar death also occurred in Japan. Such incidents make us wonder if there should be a warning sign, like “The Internet may seriously affect your health,” flashing on the screen just before connecting to the Internet!
Truly speaking, incidents like this are rare, but more common problems, such as neck and backbone pain, caused by prolonged usage of the Internet could perhaps be rectified by reducing the time we spend online. In this article, by drawing attention to a news article like “Death in the Internet Café” and problems that may be caused by extreme Internet usage, it is not intended to judge the Internet or point an accusing finger. If we did, we would also have to point out the dangers and risks of using any technological innovation.
How Should We Approach the Internet?
Every technological innovation brings both advantages and disadvantages. Similarly, the Internet has negative aspects as well as its usefulness, but it would not be right to declare the Internet faulty by only considering its negative aspects. As a matter of fact, in its neutral or empty state (i.e., if there was no content at all), there could not be a “dark side” of the Internet (which I will explain in a later part). Therefore, since we are constantly confronted with the good and bad inherent in the established content of the Internet, we have no choice but to acquire a new kind of faculty that will enable us to cope with the dark side of cyberspace. In fact, we need to approach the Internet with the faculty of spiritualized consciousness.
However, due to certain influences that effectively shape human nature, materialistic desires, ambitions, temptations, and greed are inherent in the constitution of human beings. Generally speaking, this is why human beings approach the Internet with content that is laden with these negative characteristics. Of course, these factors affect different people to different degrees. Surely, our involvement with the Internet is not limited to surfing news sites or looking up information in Wikipedia. We are more vulnerable, and we are being more exposed to more potential dangers (negative aspects) that await us on the Internet. For example, we are vulnerable when we are shopping online, banking, or having chats with strangers. Social media and email accounts can also be vulnerable. However, before we consider the problems the grown-ups might face, we need to touch upon some serious threats that involve children. There are certain situations where children are left completely exposed and vulnerable to the dangers lurking on the Internet. Upon elucidating how these dangers manifest, it might become more apparent why spiritualized consciousness is needed to protect us during our encounters on the Internet.
Dangers that Await Children on the Internet
One of the dangers children may face on the Internet is the computer games they can easily find and download. Many parents may consider these games harmless and believe they help their child’s intellectual development, but these seemingly innocent “virtual reality games” have harmful influences on children beyond our understanding. For example, in games involving a fight or a war where the player (the child) kills an enemy by simply clicking a button, there is a danger of eventually turning the child into a trigger-happy person. Some parents may object and say, “Well, this killing only takes place in virtual reality, so it’s only a game and not for real. No one really gets killed.” But we must ask why is it that in almost all of these games (from various Internet sites), the main scenario is based on fights and battles where killing and bloodshed take place (which also happens to be the common aim of most of these games)? If there were no fighting or killing in them, would “the aim” of the game also disappear, leaving no reason for such a game to exist? It’s true that these killings take place in virtual reality, but the main point cannot be disputed: While playing these games, thefeelings—such as hostility, hatred, and aggression—felt by the child are quite real. It also gives a certain satisfaction to the child when an opponent is destroyed, so we cannot imagine that children play these games with neutral feelings.
We can see children go through character changes while playing these video games, and it looks as if a “cocoon of negativity” is woven around them. They can become frustrated and maybe also aggressive. For example, in the Internet video below, you can see how a four-year-old girlbecomes very frustrated as she fails to score successfully while playing a popular Internet game. Her mother recorded this video, and towards the end, the little girl becomes angry with her mother. The video is in a foreign language, but this is not a handicap for the viewer. Even if you do not understand what she is saying, you can clearly detect the negativity and frustration that projects from her. (http://www.izlesene.com/video/super-mario-oynayan-kiz/1185626)
Besides the dangers already discussed, it is a medical fact that video games can trigger seizures (fits) in children, but pediatricians and child psychologists also indicate that there is no way of knowing what other problems (illnesses) may show up ten or fifteen years later because of playing video games at a young age.
Another important point concerning these Internet games is that when children are pressing buttons and killing their opponents, one after the other, their consciences are not involved at any stage of the game. They are not aware of the fact that the only reason why they are able to score points and win the game is because they have killed or destroyed a great number of their opponents. Now, because their consciences are not involved, this fact does not bother them. What’s more, there is no place for moral values, such as mercy or forgiveness, in these games—the act of killing is merely associated with numbers and scoring points. We may recall that not too long ago in the US, there was a shocking incident where many school kids were shot down and killed by another student at school. This young student had brought a shotgun with him and just kept on pulling the trigger freely with no remorse because he was not warned (or stopped) by his conscience. Shortly after this incident, a similar incident occurred in another city. Should we not wonder how it is possible that a young student (a teenager) turns into a killer? And what kind of influence guided these young boys to act in such a malevolent way?
An Unpleasant Danger that cannot be Ignored
Another danger that awaits children who use the Internet unsupervised can be concealed behind seemingly “innocent chats.” A case was reported where a small child, thinking she was chatting with a girl of her own age, was in fact chatting to an adult. This adult (pretending to be a small girl) had convinced the unsuspecting child to undress as part of a game, which he recorded on video. The fact that we come across these reports in the newspapers at all indicates the existence of a very dark and immoral side of the Internet, namely child pornography. Evidently, these videos are made for commercial child pornography. Because child pornography is immoral and depraved, it is illegal and punishable by law, but unfortunately, the virtual nature of the Internet provides the anonymity needed for child porn to continue existing on the Internet. The struggle to eradicate it seems futile.
We already mentioned that material desires, ambitions, temptations, and greed are inherently part of the human soul (to various degrees), and this is the reason why we need to enter the Internet with a spiritualized consciousness. In the given example of child pornography, it is apparent that some people definitely need to have the conscience and morality that a spiritualized consciousness would provide. If the people involved in the child porn business had the necessary amount of consciousness (and morality), they would not have been tempted with the perverted desire and greed to produce their videos. Meanwhile on the other side of the Internet, if the people seeking these videos had some spiritual consciousness, nobody would have bought these degenerate videos.
Some Online Dangers for Adults
Since many people are not worried about the dark side of the Internet and only interested in enjoying its facilities, some of them might be inclined to say, “It’s true there are some unpleasant things on the Internet, but surely it has a good and useful side to it. For example, we can do our banking through the Internet without having to go to the bank.” But would anyone dare to use Internet banking without having a reliable antivirus program on their computer? It would be very risky to do online banking without the security provided by antivirus and other security programs. If not, hackers, who are always waiting for an opportunity, could easily get the details of our accounts and transfer our money elsewhere. It seems a modern-age Al Capone or John Dillinger would not need guns for robbery—all they would need is a keyboard and Internet connection. Even if we are lucky enough not to suffer hack attacks, a hacker may hack our computer with a virus just for his personal amusement, wiping the data from our hard disks and rendering our computers useless.
For those who still underestimate the dark side of the Internet and its dangers, a final example could be given. In December 2011, newspapers reported that a group of Saudi Arabian hackers had hacked a big Israeli online shopping website and obtained the credit card information of 400,000 customers, which they later exposed on a well-known website. This group of hackers had attacked anonymously through cyberspace—the Internet had enabled them to manifest their negative emotions. Since this attack came over the Internet, it was not possible to apprehend those responsible. They later claimed their actions were an online Jihad. As we ponder all these examples, it becomes apparent the Internet can easily provide cover for ill-intentioned people. Plus, when we recall all the similar incidents that have occurred on the Internet, it also becomes clear how anonymity is a factor in tempting some people to commit a crime or project their aggression onto other people. In the real world, many of these people would not have the courage to act on their ill-willed intentions.
We could mention many other examples of cyberspace crimes, but when we consider the given examples, we can clearly see that besides the usefulness it offers, the Internet is equally usable as a means to commit a variety of crimes, which can harm innocent children and adults in diverse ways. In these examples, we also tried to point out that the popular belief of the Internet being just a “virtual reality” does not guarantee that no harm will arise from it. Although the harmless part of the Internet may be useful in many ways and provide us with enjoyment, the fact that we (and our children) can easily become victims of the Internet needs to be well understood, and some necessary precautions must be taken. By this I don’t mean just having a good antivirus program—we need to approach the Internet with much more awareness and consciousness. The degree and quality of consciousness we employ in daily life is not enough to protect us fully, so our everyday consciousness needs to be enhanced to cope with the harmful dark side of the Internet.
Could Censorship Provide Reliable Protection for Children?
Recently, some countries have considered banning certain websites to protect children from the harmful aspects of the Internet. Some have already begun the process, while some other countries still debate it. Many parents believe this precaution will offer a good solution to the existing problem. In a way, banning certain websites seems to have advantages, and surely it would protect children to a certain extent. Unfortunately, such censorship would only provide a temporary protection, because the idea of banning websites does have some weak points. As far as naive children are concerned, in the long run we need to have more reliable and enduring protection. Besides, children are not the only ones who fall victim to the dangers on the Internet. Adults are also at risk, so adults also need some protection from the unexpected threats and dangers waiting on the Internet.
Parents might feel relaxed knowing that certain harmful websites are banned, but are they able to follow every maneuver of every single harmful website? Since most parents are working (or simply absent for some reason), children spend some of their time alone at home. Can we be sure these websites will always be inaccessible? Can we guarantee children will never come across republished harmful websites or chat with an ill-intentioned stranger when they are alone? Although we know that websites are created by human beings, it might be helpful to bear in mind that, besides human thoughts, we are also confronting an “uncanny intelligence” that influences the so-called virtual reality. Therefore, even if many harmful websites are banned, this “uncanny intelligence” (which is always active and effective behind the scenes) will tempt other people to produce similar websites under different names.
In other words, blocking a number of websites will not help eradicate the immoral and unethical propensities present on the Internet. Even if all the websites were blocked, the underlying inclinations would continue to exist. Therefore, it seems we cannot change the immoral and harmful aspect of the Internet through censorship, so we must conclude that banning various websites would only offer a partial and temporary protection. It is disturbing that morally degenerate websites (as well as people with bad intentions) will continue to exist, and there is nothing we can do other than try to ignore their presence. It becomes apparent that a more reliable and enduring kind of protection is needed, and this could be achieved by bringing about a radical transformation in the structure (i.e., the underlying forces) of the Internet.
Are There any Signs of Spirituality on the Internet?
Why does the Internet have this “streak of darkness” in its nature? Could it be because an important element is missing from its nature, and this is upsetting its inner balance, enabling “evil” to act freely in virtual reality? When we consider the earlier examples of this aspect, they suggest that there is no spiritual quality inherent in the Internet and most of the activity in this virtual reality is based on a materialistic understanding of the world and oriented towards achieving materialistic gains. There is no doubt that certain areas of the Internet contain spiritual subjects, but because the basic structure of the Internet is founded on material concepts, it outweighs the smaller spiritual aspect, which remains hidden in the background. Only those who know what they are seeking, and where to look, can reach some profound spiritual knowledge. For in the deeper compartments of the Internet, specific spiritual wisdom does exist, but this wisdom remains hidden because only a few seek it.
So, it must be assumed that whatever real spirituality there is does not show perceivable signs of existence. To put it another way, the underlying forces of the spiritual aspect do not yet have the necessary potency to invigorate the Internet so its users can perceive it clearly. Unlike the obvious lack of this spiritual element, the forces inherent in the dark side of the Internet can be felt strongly. In fact, they are capable of actively finding the Internet user in the labyrinth of the Internet, such as a thief, hacker or pervert. Most Internet users probably do not understand that the absence of a spiritual aspect is a serious disadvantage, because in its present state, the Internet will continue to lack the ability to lead us to profound spiritual truths. Perhaps humanity does not demand a spiritualized Internet now, but since human beings are fundamentally spiritual beings whose innermost soul is constantly developing, more people will demand a spiritualized Internet in the future. It would not be an exaggeration to say the Earth would become a much different planet if the spiritual truths related to humanity’s existence in the cosmos’ were easily reachable and comprehendible through the Internet.
The Purpose Behind Founding the Internet
We might wonder why the intrinsic nature of the Internet is more inclined towards material rather than spiritual values, and why do many Internet users ignore the existence of a strong dark side. To find the correct answers, we need to know more about the history and inner structure of the Internet. Since there will be even more Internet users in future, to form a better understanding of the present-day Internet, we need to examine the factors that led to its present lop-sided structure. Also, we need to understand the purpose behind the emergence of the Internet and how it came into being.
Half a century ago, the Internet was only a vague idea. In other words, around fifty years ago, “the inspiration” for this highly technological system had only begun to be perceived by a limited number of trained minds that were capable of developing it. The early computers were only able to work on one task at a time. Although their performance was not effective or sufficient, it was a beginning. At those times, there were many problems with the first computers. These prototypes were massive and had serious cooling problems. For this reason, not everyone could have physical access to a computer, so the computer operators had to work on them indirectly (i.e., they used them indirectly from a remote terminal). When compared to today’s PCs, we can see the possibility of freely surfing the Internet with a laptop was still very far away. It’s not the intention to give a detailed history of the development of the Internet in this article, but it is necessary to underline the fact that the initial purpose of creating the Internet was not just “to connect people.” Some of us might recall that the initial inspiration for the Internet was driven from the necessity to store information and the fear of missiles!
The first advancements in storing information on multiple, connected computers was driven by the fear of missiles after the Soviet Union sent the first satellite (Sputnik 1) into orbit in 1957. As a security measure, the US founded a new technology agency named DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency). Later, DARPA planned a large-scale computer network in order to accelerate knowledge transfer. This network later became the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork). Next, based on the ARPANET, three other concepts were developed that were instrumental in the history of the Internet. The first was a “military network”by the Rand Corporation in America; the second was the concept of the “commercial network” by the National Physical Laboratory in England; and the third was a “scientific network” concept proposed by Cyclades in France. As a result, the united concepts of military, scientific, and commercial networks became the foundations of the modern Internet.
If we briefly put aside the first concept of a military network, we can see the second and third concepts of commercial and scientific networks have been effectively integrated into the present-day Internet. For example, the commercial network has changed in a subtle way by being available to every Internet user in the form of online shopping, but besides our online shopping, large-scale international commerce also occurs on the Internet. We temporarily put the military aspect aside, but it needs to be briefly mentioned in relation to the commercial aspect, because there is an arms trade on a global scale.
The Military Network and the Implications of the Global Arms Trade
To begin with, mentioning the amount of money involved in the international arms trade can give us an idea about why wars never come to an end! Every year, around $45–60 billion worth of arms sales are agreed. Most of these sales (approx. 75%) are to developing countries. Since a lot of information (concerning the trade items and financial issues) has to be exchanged during the process of any international trade, we can surmise that much of the arms trade is conducted over the Internet. But even more importantly, the weapons are manufactured and sold like any other commodity, even though it is well known they will be used by the buyers to kill people! This will continue to be the “black hole” of mankind’s collective conscience until this dark trade completely ends.
The enormous monetary value of the arms trade (as well as the lack of a powerful worldwide reaction against it) could serve as an indication of the level of consciousness of present-day humanity. Of course, there are occasional protests against the global arms trade, and people raise their voices on the Internet, but this matter will not be properly solved until every human being approaches this vital subject with a higher consciousness.
It is also necessary to point out that the amount of energy, expense, time, and thought that is needed to manufacture weapons (not to mention the energy that went into organizing their sale and transportation) is actually a waste of precious spiritual energy. Humanity’s precious spiritual energy is being used for completely wrong purposes. Besides the trade of heavy weapons, there is also a trade in smaller arms going through the Internet. Anyone with a liking for guns can buy any kind of gun (or rifle) through the Internet. Finding a gun is as simple as entering “guns for sale” or “arms for sale” into one of the search engines. This facility provided by the Internet is an example of how the “existing Internet” provides immediate service for all humanity’s unconscious likes and desires.
What Kind of Zone is the “Virtual Reality”?
There was a military aspect inherent at the foundation of the Internet. This has manifested itself in various other ways since, and it becomes evident the Internet was not conceived to bring peace and harmony to the world. Of course, the military issues are handled in a limited area of the network, while civilians use the remainder of the network for peaceful purposes. But let’s not forget that not every civilian enters the Internet with good and peaceful intentions. By approaching the Internet with harmful intentions, the Internet becomes an offensive technological weapon in their hands. Consequently, innocent users cannot escape the assaults of these ill-intentioned people.
We might assume military issues occupy a different area of the network, but we are all using the same Internet regardless. Therefore, it is disturbing to know that while we are on the Internet, the same cyberspace is also being used for immoral purposes such as shady military operations, trading arms unethically, distributing immoral child (and adult) pornography, emptying someone’s bank account, hacking someone’s PC just to be malicious, trading drugs, gambling, or attacking websites. It is likely also used for other malicious acts and crimes that can harm humans (or even animals). For this reason, it is disturbing to know all these things are taking place while we are also on the Internet. When we consider this situation from a moral, altruistic, and spiritual point of view, it will dawn on us that this eerie sphere of “virtual reality” is really not an innocent, peaceful, or morally pure zone.
Until now, we have looked at the Internet from different perspectives and tried to point out facts related to the dark side of the Internet. Some of us would probably prefer not to hear about these things, because becoming aware of them could spoil our enjoyment of the Internet. Therefore, some people may prefer to ignore the existence of the dark side of the Internet and not do anything about it. But when we analyze the present-day Internet from an objective point of view and make an honest evaluation, it becomes apparent that although the Internet is an abstract reality, it needs to be transformed into a “healthier invention” (in a spiritual sense). In fact, effecting some positive changes and instilling “real spiritual content” into the Internet is within the power and capability of the people who use it. If this could be achieved, the Internet would be transformed into an invention that is more harmonious with the dignity of the human soul.
What are we Actually Confronted with on the Internet?
Since the Internet exists now with its positive and negative aspects, and since it will most likely continue to have a major place in our lives, let us examine this high-tech system from yet another perspective. Previously we stated that “in its neutral or empty state (i.e., if there was no content at all), there could not be a “dark side” of the Internet.” This means the network of the Internet does not generate any negative aspects (such as greed, aggression, malice, etc.) by itself. Imagine for a moment that the Internet was completely emptied. Now that there is nothing in it, nothing will be projected towards us from this emptiness. There is no military aspect, no abstract scientific knowledge, no advertisements, no hostility, no aggression, and no immorality projecting out of it because it isa completely “neutral space.”
So where does the current content of the Internet come from? Let us try to answer this by way of analogy. Just as a movie screen is a neutral vertical plane, all kinds of images (good or bad) can be projected on it. The technologically created neutral space of the Internet has been filled in with all kind of good and bad things by humanity. The problem is, in terms of their souls, humans are still immature beings. To put it another way, the human soul has not yet had the necessary time and experience (on Earth) to become fully spiritualized or purified. We can see this because humanity has been greatly identified with the material world (especially during the last two centuries) and consequently a part of the human soul has become degenerate and debased. Therefore, what confronts us in the content of the Internet is a reflection of humanity’s unspiritualized and impure soul.
How are we to Understand the Spiritualization of the Internet’?
Let us recall the questions we asked at the beginning of the article: “Is there any spiritual quality inherent in the nature of the Internet?” and “Could something be done to spiritualize the Internet?” The explanations above show that, at least in its present state, no spiritual quality can be found in the Internet. A possible reason why a spiritual quality could not exist in its intrinsic nature is because the Internet did not originate from a divine, spiritual source, but was rather founded by thoughts originating in the physical plane. But are there not things that could be done to spiritualize it (or at least a part of it)? Some people might object to this by saying, “On the Internet, you can find the Old Testament, the Gospel, the Quran, as well as the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Dhammapada and many other books with spiritual content. Therefore, you cannot claim there is no spirituality on the Internet.” Sure, all these religious books (and others related to spirituality) can be found on the Internet, but when we speak of “the spiritual content of the Internet,” we do not mean a spirituality based only on religious books, teachings, and beliefs. Many people already believe in the existing religious teachings, and as we know, they only adhere to their own religion, which means their understanding of spirituality is limited to the teachings of their own religious belief. This also means the teachings of other religions (which are also spiritual teachings in their own right) do not have any value for them. Nobody is impressed by other religious teachings. Besides all this, some adherents of these religions even regard followers of other religions as enemies. Adopting an attitude that does not offer heartfelt good wishes to members of other religions cannot be regarded as “true spiritual understanding.”
Furthermore, there are websites that try to introduce religious beliefs with the intention of convincing other people to accept their religious faith, but this approach is totally against the concept of freedom of belief. Since none of the existing religions are able to embrace the whole of humanity in a nonjudgmental and loving way, religious books or introductions of religious beliefs on the Internet cannot be regarded as true (and convincing) representatives of the spiritual aspect of the Internet. So, looking at the present world situation, where religious beliefs do little to bring peace and harmony to humanity, we cannot expect religious beliefs to help spiritualize the Internet. We should also mention that many kinds of Far Eastern teachings that promise an “easy enlightenment” and attainment of Nirvana cannot be considered to be real reflections of the Internet’s spiritual aspect either.
The Fourth Network: The Spiritual Network
Since we’ve established that the existing religions cannot have a role in spiritualizing the Internet, it becomes necessary to clarify the concept of spiritualizing the Internet and how we should interpret this concept. By the “spiritualization of the Internet,” we are referring to the endeavor of permeating the Internet with a deeper spiritual understanding together with profound qualities such as brotherly love, goodwill, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, morality, warmness and kindness of heart, altruism, tolerance for other beliefs, and consideration for the well-being of animals. In addition, we also refer to the removal of lies, egoism, aggression, hostility, and any other factors that lead humanity away from the profound “truth of our existence on Earth.” If we could manage to permeate the Internet with real spiritual qualities, an actual spiritual aspectwould form in the Internet, and through this great change, it would be possible to balance the lop-sided materialistic (nonspiritual) nature of the Internet. Therefore, the spiritualization of the Internet may be considered to be our conscious endeavor to reflect our purified and spiritualized thoughts and feelings into the Internet with the intention of forming a fourth network (the Spiritual Network) besides the existing three networks.
In What Way is Humanity Related to Materialism and Technological Products?
To comprehensively understand why we need to have a spiritualized Internet, it is necessary to refer to the radical changes by which humanity completely lost its connection to the divine–spiritual World. We also need to investigate whether the Internet has also contributed to this process. As we recall, the Internet was founded on three separate networks (the military, commercial, and scientific networks). Since the Internet came into existence, the combined content of these three networks, which exist in myriad ways and forms, have been influencing humanity by continually promoting information that depicts a materialistic view of the world, coaxing us to focus on a materialistically oriented way of life. The Internet immediately informs us about the latest technological advancements and gadgets that always offer additional capabilities. So, even before these products are released, we have an idea of their impressive new functions. This way, the consumer is always kept expectant of something new. Remember, all the previous “high-tech” devices are today nothing but junk. So the question is, do all these new technological gadgets continuously come into being because humanity demands or needs them, or is this “impressive” technology being constantly imposed on humanity despite the lack of any specific demand for it?
If we think about all the latest technological gadgets, we become aware that this “dazzling multifunctional technology” is superfluous and unessential to our lives. However, because we are constantly told these technological products are indispensable, we have gradually become more dependent on them. We have become convinced that we cannot carry out our daily lives without them, and we consequently adjust our lives according to the new functions they offer (or actually impose on us). Therefore,it should be noted that the “way” in which the Internet has affected humanity is very similar to that of other radical changes that previously took place in the history of humanity.
Radical changes that influenced humanity’s world-view
To clarify a very significant fact about humanity’s excessive indulgence in materialism, let us imagine for a moment that the Internet had come into being (with its present content) in the 8th century AD. People living at the time would have been shocked at the extent of materialism being projected on them. They would have refused to adopt the “materialistic outlook” promoted by its content (as opposed to the people now who readily adopt it). This extreme materialism radiating from the Internet would have disturbed them tremendously and made them feel insecure! Because humanity in the 8th century had not yet experienced the preliminaries (which would change mankind’s worldview completely), a way of life founded on being so obsessed and fascinated by materialism would have been repulsive for these people.
The radical changes in question (which transformed humanity’s soul and spiritual constitution, as well as its understanding of the world) began in the 15th century. This also coincided with the Renaissance, which had already begun to unfold in Europe in the 14th century. Although these major changes reached a peak at the end of the 19th century, everything that humanity experienced prior to the 19th century was actually part of a preparatory period leading to the final radical changes of the 19th century. As we recall, the 17th century was the time when the Scientific Revolution began, and all the remarkable scientific discoveries of the time greatly influenced how humanity perceived and understood the world. Scientific findings, coming one after the other, also influenced humanity’s religious beliefs, and as a result, these also experienced radical changes. Next came the Industrial Revolution during the late 17th and early 19th centuries, which led to the introduction of various steam-powered machines and engines (which were later followed by internal combustion engines and electrical power generation). All these developments were very important factors that contributed to the significant changes humanity went through, prompting them to make radical changes in how they assess the world. In other words, ever since science began to have a prominent role in our lives, flooding us with scientific discoveries and filling the world with all sorts of mechanical and technological products, humanity had no other choice than to adopt this new materialistic understanding—the new-world outlook.
The Loss of the Concept of Spirit and its Consequences
To summarize the radical changes humanity went through: When mankind’s gaze completely focused on the material world, they began to judge and evaluate everything on Earth according to weight, measure, and number, and they completely lost their connection to the divine-Spiritual World. In other words, they lost the inner knowledge that man originated from the divine-Spiritual World. There was another important consequence of being identified only with a materialistic definition of the world and adopting certain abstract scientific explanations: Humanity lost the meaning of the profound concept of Spirit. Because of these vital losses, part of humanity readily adopted the conviction that man was merely an intelligent physical being who originated in the physical world as a result of suitable coincidences and favorable conditions. During this time, Darwin published his theory, which became increasingly accepted in the world. Consequently, a large number of people became convinced man was actually an evolved, intelligent animal. It is not intended take a side in this old debate, but we could consider that the existence of human beings can only have meaning (and significance) when they are individuals, not when they belong to an animal species (who exist as a group soul). The fact that human beings are able to say “I” (and refer to his or her individual self) is a very significant demarcation that cannot be superficially explained by a theory based on the “physical evolution of the species.”
Actually, the problem we are unaware of is that the more we fix our attention on the material world and continue enjoying lives of financial wealth (as well as being surrounded by technology), the more we delay our long-term goal of becoming divine-spiritual beings. The prevalent and effective materialistic concepts influencing humanity have made us believe that achieving material gains is the most important thing in life. This “global paradigm” is one of the main reasons why present-day humanity focuses only on material values and gains. As a result, humanity is constantly bypassing the fact that the endeavor to acquire spiritual wisdom is infinitely more important to their lives, because it relates to their spiritual development, determines their future reincarnations, and affects their ongoing spiritual evolution. Therefore, we can see that humanity has inevitably ended up with a materialistic view of the world, and the Internet has quite an important role in upholding this.
Has Humanity Created a Vicious Circle on the Internet?
When we consider the above explanations, we may wonder how we could reduce the amount of materialism we transfer to the Internet. This would help counteract the powerful influence of materialism that this technological cyberspace projects back on humanity. We must understand how the existing mechanism works, otherwise it could turn into a vicious circle. Let us consider the nature of the human soul (regardless of nationality, race, or religious belief). Could we say that during their time on Earth, human beings have acquired a perfect spiritual maturity? Or, do we need to admit that many negative traits are still inherent in human nature? We add that human beings are basically motivated by a myriad of worldly desires and ambitions in their daily lives. As was indicated earlier, the Internet functions like a “virtual mirror” that absorbs humanity’s negative traits, and it is capable of reflecting all these defective and degenerate qualities back at us. Since everything we find on the Internet is nothing but what mankind has projected (and continues to project) to it, this is how materialism (impure desires and thoughts concerning material aims) is able to live and acquire power on the Internet. But how can we remedy this situation?
What is Needed to Counterbalance Humanity’s Indulgence in Materialism?
We mentioned earlier that because the Internet has originated from the material sphere, it cannot reflect any spiritual quality by itself. Similarly, in real life, the spiritualization of the soul does not automatically happen. To attain any spiritual virtue, we must consciously work on the debased and degenerate side of our character (on the ego, the “I”) and go through a spiritual transformation where our soul will be purified to a certain degree. Only then can the soul achieve a spiritual quality. As the Internet only reflects whatever people put on it, to succeed in spiritualizing it, we need to consciously project the spiritualized part of our soul (i.e., our purified thoughts, feelings, and understanding) onto it as much as we can. If we can succeed in permeating the Internet with this kind of spiritual quality, the evil threats and dangers lurking there will, most probably, cease to exist, and a part of the Internet will become much safer for children and adults. Furthermore, humanity’s material values will also go through a radical transformation, inhibiting the powerful influence of materialism through the Internet. In short, to successfully neutralize the influence of materialism projecting from the Internet and establish a counterbalance, we need to start with transforming part of our human nature (the soul).
Is the Concept of Spiritualizing the Internet a Utopian Idea?
When we think about the negative aspects of the present-day Internet, we realize it will not be an easy task to alter it and successfully bring improvements. We might then wonder if this is not a utopian idea and say, “To imagine something like spiritualizing the Internet sounds like wishful thinking. Is there really any hope of achieving something like this?” Integrating a fourth network (the “Spiritual Network”) into the Internetwill not be an easy task, and it would also be unrealistic to hope the Internet could be fully spiritualized, because this would only be possible if everyone on Earth went through a spiritual transformation and engaged in spiritualizing the Internet. Since many people on Earth would not agree that spiritualizing the Internet is necessary to create a better world, it would be more realistic to speak of a partially spiritualized Internet. Nevertheless, if other reasons for a spiritualized Internet become clear, it will become apparent that it is not just a utopian idea or wishful thinking. If we recall, the dynamics of the Internet have become so powerful and influential (and effective) in a very short time. We may sense something must be done to avoid being engulfed by this weird and ever-expanding force (yet which exists in a latent form).
In What Way are Dark Demonic Forces Related to the Internet?
It is also necessary to understand that introducing a contrasting element to restore the uneven balance of the Internet is a vital necessity. Otherwise, if a certain force (manifesting in materialism) continues gaining power at the same rate, the Internet may gradually turn into a sphere containing very powerful ”dark forces” beyond our imagination. In other words, the dark aspect, which is presently reflected from the Internet, will not just be limited to the negative traits of human beings. In addition to this, evil demonic beings could begin to manifest in cyberspace, and if they succeed in making the Internet their new abode, they could continuously exert evil influences on humanity. Since cyberspace has direct contact with the “I” (the ego) of man, these demonic beings could influence the human ego to such an extent that they could guide human beings into much darker regions of cyberspace. Therefore, we should point out that it is most probably the dark materialistic aspect of today’s Internet that will prepare the sphere (the space) that will accommodate beings capable of projecting influences of true evil.
We may not currently be conscious of the existence of such beings or have an idea about how such devilish machinations function, but if we recall that these “forces of darkness” have influenced humanity in diverse ways through the Internet from the start, it becomes apparent that they can entice human beings in subtle, indirect, and suggestive ways. Since the Internet is a portal that opens up directly into every person’s “I” (a direct link to the ego), these beings can lure people to use the Internet often and for a long periods, so they can permeate the Internet user, who will be unaware, with all kinds of malicious influences. Therefore, it must be emphasized that the influences instilled in humanity by these beings of darkness (also by other means besides the Internet) are much more effective than we can anticipate. So, if we do not want our reality to be gradually substituted by some kind of demonic virtual reality, we might want to consider creating a spiritualized zone (a spiritualized sphere) on the Internet to neutralize the beings of darkness and prevent them from manipulating Internet users to achieve their concealed aims.
How are We to Understand the Concept of Demonic Beings?
Perhaps it is necessary to discuss demonic beings further to bring some clarity to the subject. Surely many people do not believe in demonic beings, and they would be reluctant to accept a premise that seems to take for granted that demonic beings exist. However, the demonic beings in question have nothing to do with the well-known image of the Devil that belongs to medieval times. Besides his sinister appearance, this medieval demon was supposedly able to exist in our physical dimension and was therefore capable of harming human beings physically. In our time, although many people may not openly admit they believe in demons, they may be inclined deep down to acknowledge their existence. Actually, many people today would smile at the idea of demonic beings waiting behind dark corners to assault their human prey. While demonic beings do not exist in any physical form, this does not mean they cannot exist in more subtle forms.
Because humanity is very much identified with the physical world and consequently only believes in what it can see with physical eyes, it has become hard to accept there are beings in the cosmos who are not visible to human eyes, but nevertheless, they exist in noncorporeal forms. The thing is, these beings have the capability to coax human beings into believing that demons could only exist physically, and as a result, human beings end up reasoning that, “If something cannot be seen with eyes, it must not exist. If demons cannot be seen by human eyes, it means they do not exist!” In fact, inspiring human beings into believing that demonic beings can only exist in physical bodies gives them a great way to hide their real identities and intentions. We can only begin to understand these demonic beings if we realize that they are trying their utmost to conceal the “Spirit” (what is spiritual) just behind the material existence that surrounds us. Suffice to say, they intend to keep humanity’s attention on the physical world and make sure its connection with the divine-Spiritual World remains severed.
Therefore, the demonic beings in question exist in a rarefied form, but as we observe from the gloomy state of the world, it is apparent they have a very powerful influence on humanity. We should also bear in mind that because these beings cannot manifest in physical bodies, they try very hard to create the means to influence the physical world, and the cyberspace of the Internet would be a very suitable matrix for them.
Some Thoughts Regarding how to Approach Virtual Reality
It might be helpful to bear in mind that the destiny intended for humanity (by its divine- Spiritual Creators) was not to become captives of a “virtual reality” created within the sphere of the material world, because this would divert humanity from reaching a higher state of spiritual consciousness. Actually, humanity’s real goal is to become highly spiritualized beings, and this goal will be achieved sometime in the distant future. In order to not lose sight of this goal, we need to continue our real-life experiences and real-life meetings with our friends (and other members of the human race around the world) rather than limiting ourselves to only having a virtual connection with them through social-media sites. We should not be diverted from having real relationships with other human beings. Ensuring our connection with the real world surrounding us is not severed would make a significant contribution to the development of our souls and spirits. A serious danger lays in the fact that we are already spending considerable time on the Internet, and we are gradually becoming more identified with it.
It might be also helpful to consider this: The time we spend on the Internet does not really belong to us! Since the Internet is not reality but only an abstract reality, and since we enter this abstract (or virtual) reality with our egos, the time our egos spend in this space does not produce an objective reality. In a way, it is like losing part of our given time on Earth by yielding it to the Internet. It could also be compared to feeding the abstract reality of the Internet by pouring into it the “real time” that actually belongs to us and the real world. In fact, due to certain reasons (which are beyond the scope of this article), this “real time” that belongs to the real world should always remain in the real world; it should not be lost in virtual reality. It might be helpful to remember that the beings of darkness always expect that we surrender “our time” to their sphere, because they thrive on any time they swindle from us.
Looking at our growing interest in the Internet, we could surmise that humanity’s “close encounter” with the Internet will continue for some time. Let us remember that this eerie, electrically powered network was originally founded on three separate networks. Its founders were not concerned about instilling spiritual values into it, probably because it never occurred to them that a virtual reality would need a spiritual aspect. Consequently, from the very beginning, this combined network never had a substantial spiritual aspect in it. A majority of the Internet users may not be disturbed by the negative dark aspect of the Internet, since it only seems to affect a virtual reality. On the other hand, they might be very disturbed and worried about the present gloomy state of the real world upon witnessing the localized battles that never end, the constant threat of large-scale war, and the numerous crises (such as financial or oil crises). These distressing events might encourage them to take action against the negative aspects in the real world. However, because of the governmental politics that hold sway over civilians in almost every country, it is not easy for civilians to take effective action and bring about rapid positive changes to the real world. Because civilians have more freedom to act on the Internet, we might consider working from this direction, starting with transforming the Internet. Since people from all over the world are already connected to each other through the Internet, a great number of people with the intention to spiritualize it would be able to gather the energy needed to accomplish the task. Remember how effective the social-media sites can be in certain situations when people unanimously support a certain idea.
This attempt could greatly help restore peace and harmony to the world. Because of this development, another significant change might occur: Although the people of the world have a virtual connection with each other through the Internet, this virtual connection could be transformed into a real connection—a true meeting of all alienated members of the human race. This could help us realize that other human beings are not our enemies, but in fact, our brothers and sisters. Consequently, the Internet could help “connect people” in a spiritual sense. This way, the endeavor of spiritualizing the Internet could be combined with the mission to bring peace and harmony to the world, because the latter is also closely related to humanity’s goal of becoming “divine-spiritual beings.” It may not be an easy task, but it is up to us to permeate the Internet with a distinctive spiritual quality, because such a quality can only be provided by the joint effort of human beings. Undoubtedly, it is everybody’s choice whether they agree with this suggestion or not, but to consider taking action towards the spiritualization of the Internet with the aim of forming the fourth network (the Spiritual Network) is indeed a spiritual responsibility of humanity.