Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Artificial World

"Robed in Royal Blue"
-a smoke tree blooms along the desert trail-

A few days ago the New York Times reported on a recently held international meeting of scientists and theologians held at the Vatican.  I was glancing through the article when I came across an excerpt of a speech delivered at the conference that really captured my attention.

Technical advancements have progressed so much that it already seems as if we are living in an artificial world. A sort of 'supra-nature' has been created, which has partly helped humankind, but which has also separated us and detached us from Mother Nature.

I've been thinking a lot about the "artificial world" in which we live our lives.   From preschool to college, the classroom has become a world of cyberspace - iPads, computer screens, software packages for every imaginable discipline have become indispensable tools for learning in this culture. And what office or workplace isn't equipped with a computer screen behind which people sit most of the day? Hospitals and banks, supermarkets and stores, every common household has become dependent on technology.  And when it's time to play, people lose themselves in the world of video games or downloaded movies from the internet.

More and more, trapped within the confines of cubicles, bound to desks and surrounded by walls, we are living in an artificial world.

I came across another article. It appears as if by next year we will all be able to equip ourselves with oPhones - little devices that you can install next to your iPhones, iPads and computers that can receive and deliver "scent messages." You will be able to send or text a picture of a rose to a friend,  and along with it you can deliver an accompanying "rose fragrance" to make it "seem" like there is a real rose right there on your screen. 

Imagine it, the sights and now the smells of gourmet meals from fine restaurants, the smell of the ocean, flowers in the garden, the fresh smell of mountain air -all right there on a computer screen or a smartphone and you won't even have to ever leave your desk or walk out the door.  

More and more we are being pulled into living our lives in an artificial world - a world that shrinks us into the individual "self," cuts us off from actual real-life contact with others, and removes us from the experience of the world of nature. 

As I see it, the road to "enlightenment" depends upon contact -  contact with others, going outside the artificial boundaries of four walls and a desk, making contact with and paying attention to the world out there - including the natural world. 

Yesterday, camera in hand, I walked along one of the wilderness trails outside my house, thinking about the "artificial world" occupied by so many people nowadays.  Paying attention to the revelations of the moment - I became aware of the pristine blue sky, gleaming sun, towering mountains and borderless desert floor. I came across a "smoke tree" on the trail and I suddenly realized it had gone into bloom -a rare sight because they don't bloom that often. But there it was right in front of me so magnificently robed in royal purple majesty. It was breathtakingly beautiful. 

I could smell the fresh air, the wafting fragrance of lavender growing wild on the trail, the subtle but exquisite fragrance of the regal smoke tree blossoms - and I felt myself melting into it all, belonging to it all, being at one with the ONE.

This would never have happened had I been sitting at a desk behind the confines of fences and walls and no matter how many artificial  oPhone "fragrance messages" I might receive, there is nothing like the real thing.

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