The debate rages on. Are robots and automation going to take away a majority of our jobs very soon? Will Artificial Intelligence do most of our brain work in the future? Then there is the talk of education and training in newer areas and skills to meet new demands. Can people leading normal lives and earning their livelihood match the pace of change about to come upon us?
But what does the journey of meditation, spirituality, and self-improvement have to do with all this? Quite a lot, apparently. Here at Sahaja Online, our take is that most of these predictions are likely to come true. But not because the experts are saying that they will, but because we know that human beings must continuously evolve to higher states of maturity, skills, and pursuits in their lives. In fact, the very basis and foundation of Sahaja is that people must take to higher reaches human development progressively till they become almost god-like in their personality and character traits.
A lot of people are scared and the future seems blurry with a lot of opinions flying around. But we’re crystal clear about what’s going on and how this is all going to play out. Not only that, but we have a vision for how it ties into meditation and spirituality becoming a necessity and integral part of life for future generations, not just an option.
We believe that robots are going to push us towards meditation in a big way in the next 50 years.
The Big Picture – What’s Really Going On
To us, the Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs rings true more than anything else and we love to use this as a representative model to depict the evolutionary process of human beings. In the Maslow’s pyramid, we see that the basic needs (physiological needs of food, water and shelter and safety, and security needs) have been met for the most of the human civilization exceedingly well by now. At least we have the means for these and know how to fulfill them quite easily.
The psychological needs or relationships and esteem have also been more or less achieved. However, what’s seriously lagging behind in our civilization are the pursuits of higher purpose – Self-Actualization and Self-Realization, especially in the spiritual realm. The number of people in this world who are seriously involved in such pursuits is a negligible percentage even though a lot of people want to be spiritual and think that they already are.
Why does our view of the adoption of spirituality and self-improvement differ from most others? Our vision is based on the collective evolution and improvement of our civilization. We’re talking here of a world in which a majority of human beings who are self-transcending, whose behaviors are self-correcting. And they’re connected and united with each other.
In this scenario, there’s widespread peace, emotional intelligence, and maturity among people in the world. We’re talking about a situation where the human ego is and negative emotions like anger, greed and hatred are well under control at a collective level – in most human beings, communities and countries. There’s a lot more compassion and empathy for each other. You’ll obviously agree that we’re far off from this goal today. We’re fragmented in our collective quest for conquering the negative forces, even if some of us have achieved it individually.
So how does the world get from where we are today, collectively, to the scenario we envision? The journey starts by achieving Self-Actualization, Self-Realization, and Self-Transcendence at an individual level. And then in a gradual manner, the communities and nations in this world have a majority of people who are Self-Realized. And even if they actually aren’t, the awareness and appreciation of the need to be Self-Realized are very high. That’s when the scales start tipping, ushering in a world of peace and responsible behavior. That’s when the majority of the population in this world is really focusing on the higher tiers of Maslow’s pyramid. People begin focusing their attention on subtler and higher things in life, away from their baser instincts and needs.
Left to ourselves, human beings have a tendency to remain complacent and not push ourselves to evolve to higher states. Self-awareness and motivation aren’t prevalent yet in the majority of human beings. A serious push from the higher power is, therefore, inevitable. And that push comes in the form of trying to move human beings up the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At first, by gentle suggestion and showing them options and ways of achieving it, but eventually by forcibly creating circumstances where human beings are left with no choice but to evolve to subtler stages and needs.
Robotics and automation, are the beginnings of such a push from the divine. By forcing human beings to abandon mundane tasks, jobs, and things that can easily be done by machines, the higher power is pushing people up the evolutionary spiral. Or more subtly, it is creating the circumstances where human beings will choose mental, emotional and spiritual self-improvement over everything else. They will do that when their survival and livelihood is threatened. At first, they may be in denial or expect others to continue to subsidize them and their needs. Eventually, they’ll realize that there’s no option left but to train themselves with the skills and experience needed for subtler and different kinds of jobs.
Where Robots can Take Over and Where They cannot
Robots can easily take over to satisfy the majority of the basic needs in Maslow’s hierarchy. But, a lot of people are still trying to fully understand what robots and automation can really do. Most people have this limited vision of automation in a factory where most of the production is done by machines and a few humans are operating them. Perhaps they don’t want to imagine the unimaginable – that entire professions and fields of work as a whole might disappear, never to come back to need human intervention or their presence.
Fully Automated Transport – An Example
We’re all hearing news about self-driving cars. But they are only part of a larger scenario of complete automation. Say you want to travel from New York to San Francisco. First, your entire door to door journey would have been planned and booked by a single tap on your phone which has the artificial intelligence to figure out your needs and preferences and scour through thousands of options to get you the best deal. It’s debatable whether travel agents, travel booking sites, and vacation deal sites will continue to exist in this scenario.
As the time approaches for you to leave, a self-driven vehicle shows up outside your home and drives you to the airport. Cab drivers and taxis as we know them will no longer exist. The vehicle will automatically take care of depositing your baggage at the right place for your airline to pick up and check it in (getting rid of some airline and airport staff jobs in the process).
At the airport, there may be few or no people – the check-in and security check will be fully automated and you’ll simply walk through, hearing various beeps and sounds and ride an escalator to the gate. You’ll board the plane and still find no people other than your fellow travelers.
The planes will be flown automatically without any human intervention. If you’re finding this surprising, read these news articles about how driverless air taxis were recently launched in Dubai and Boeing is already working on autonomous airplanes.
On the airplane, there’ll be buttons you’ll press for vending machines to give you your drinks and snacks. Once you get off the plane, exactly the same things happen with limited or no human involvement, but in a reverse sequence till you reach the hotel you’ll be staying. There’ll be virtual receptionists or robots who welcome you and there’s no check-in involved. You simply walk to your room which senses your phone while it’s in your handbag or pocket and automatically opens the door to your room. So hospitality is fully automated with minimal hotel staff. Rooms are self-cleaning and self-restoring. (We know of robotic vacuums already, so only a few more similar tools and bots are needed to get there).
If you need to get out while in San Francisco, it’s driverless cars again because rental cars and taxis would be gone. And there may be no parking garages either, because if no one owns any cars and they drive themselves, why would there be a need to park any vehicle at a specific place? People could always hail a vehicle on demand anywhere and where these cars are parked would be irrelevant to the rider.
The best part? Maybe you’ll take an even shorter and quicker journey on your trip – an automated air taxi that takes off from the roof of a building near your home to the rooftop of the hotel you’re staying. What then happens to everyone and everything in between? Will they all be gone?
If you start drawing out similar scenarios in every field of work today, think of the number of human tasks that could be automated, it’s mind-boggling. You can see why technology experts are so actively correlating automation to job losses.
What Robots cannot Do
Here’s the good news. Robots will start struggling as they try to replace human beings in fulfilling anything beyond the bottom two tiers in Maslow’s pyramid. Everything to do with the needs of the higher tiers will be done by humans.
What are some examples of this? Robots cannot be food tasters. They cannot be life coaches that require an understanding of human feelings and emotions. They cannot do reputation management. They can never produce the creative work of artists. They cannot make human beings feel successful and fulfilled. And it’s not just these types of jobs. Every area of work has the pinnacle or the most subtle form of expertise that only human beings can provide.
Even in the above example of pervasive and extreme automation, humans only disappear on the surface. Who conceptualizes and designs the machines and the robots that will do various jobs? Who does the testing? Who designs and architects the traveler’s experience each step of the way? Who interprets the vast amounts of data analyzed by machines correctly to produce solutions that have character and emotional appeal to consumers?
You get the point. Subtlety and what appeals to human senses and emotions can never be automated or replaced.
There’s another angle. Newer types of jobs that require a different set of skills will be created in solving problems that threaten our existence and that of future generations. Take climate change and pollution for instance. A lot more work needs to be done to save our planet. The migration to green energy represents a terrific opportunity to re-purpose existing jobs.
A subtler challenge that we could strive to solve might be improving the happiness of people in the world. Did you know that there’s a happiness index that is measured this across the world? When measuring this index, researchers use data from happiness as reported by the people in a country, and other factors like GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. Those last four parameters are obviously in the higher tiers of Maslow’s pyramid of needs that only human beings can solve. It’s clear that human beings can strive to create solutions that improve the happiness of people across all the countries of the world. If greater focus and more jobs can be directed to this, it’s a win for everyone.
Cybersecurity presents another great opportunity and is an example of a subtler and complex security need even though security is in the second tier of the pyramid. Improving healthcare outcomes is another opportunity. With so much debate on health insurance and healthcare costs, the other side of the coin is whether there are commensurate quality and satisfaction from the healthcare services being provided and this represents a great opportunity for newer kinds of professions and jobs. Robots can never provide the compassion and care of a nurse to a patient.
Every major problem we face collectively represents an opportunity for us to delegate the things that are working well down to the robots, while we move on to work on creative solutions. The jobs of today will be replaced by newer jobs, but those will also be catering to the finer aspects and needs of human beings.
Training Humans for the Robot-Driven World
In every debate on robotics and automation, there’s an inevitable discussion on the skills of the future and what kind of training is required. I’d say that approaching this big change with a “jobs of the future” and “training” mindset is rather inadequate. Instead, we need to view this migration to the world of robots as a “transformation to the subtler economy” and “evolution of humans to subtler states of existence”. It’s not learning and training, in other words, but evolving through experiences.
Subtler skills can’t be taught and learned easily. We will need experiential learning, subtler analysis and interpretations and some form of development of the subtler faculties within us, for example, emotional intelligence. In fact, experts in the field of technology and training are already pointing out that social-emotional intelligence, social consciousness, empathy, compassion, subtler perceptional skills, and creativity are going to be vital for career success for the future generations of workers. Physical activity, analytical and logical reasoning are likely to be heavily automated requiring fewer and fewer humans.
Getting to the Peak of the Pyramid – Self-Actualization and Self-Realization
As we move to the new world where the focus of jobs will be to solve the major problems facing humanity rather than the routine and mundane tasks, we are likely to become largely problem-free at some point. What happens then?
At some point, we will have the time and inclination to truly immerse ourselves in spiritual pursuits and in a collective fashion. This may be in 100 years from now, but it’s definitely coming our way. Having a lot of time to conquer the peak of the Maslow pyramid will be a boon. In fact, the biggest impediment to higher pursuits today is that we are caught up in our regular, mundane lives trying to satisfy our most basic needs.
But will we have the means to fulfill our higher pursuits when everyone will have time on their hands? Of course, Self-Realization is the answer and it’s already available even right now. It’s just that most people don’t see it because they haven’t yet felt the need for it. And they will when the subtler economy of the future begins to show up.
Self-Realization is the individual journey of a human being from material and mundane things towards subtler and higher things in life. The wonders of nature in this world that need to be appreciated through a fine and subtle sense of appreciation. This develops only when we get subtler and turn our attention inward.
Eventually, the subtler pursuits keep exposing us to the precious beauties of nature and the divine creations and we begin to realize how limited human intelligence and its creations are. The threat and fear of robots and artificial intelligence gets smaller and smaller with our expanded vision of the power of nature and its beauty.
Meditation – The Ultimate Source of Evolutionary Skills
We’re absolutely overjoyed and fully committed to something like Sahaja which is unique in its ability to grant Self-Realization and also enable the practitioner to pass it on to others, thereby making the migration to subtler states accessible to the whole world.
We’re excited about the prospects of this 21st century changing in a big way towards subtlety in human beings, thanks to robots and automation. We believe that meditation and self-improvement will be automatically inculcated in students, families and in our lives. Creativity, emotional intelligence and practically every one of the self-improvement topics we’ve listed on our website are going to be sought after by the current and future generations of students and our children.
The greatest thing about Self-Actualization and Self-Realization is that it allows for innate manifestation and growth of these abilities rather than mere cognitive absorption or learning. Only true meditation can do that.
From A Stress Relief Provider to a Full-blown Self-Improvement Vehicle
Meditation is also going to transform itself, alongside the subtler economy created by robots and automation. The 5-minute and 10-minute stress relief and relaxation-based meditations will be replaced by those forms of meditation that are deeper and have benefits at multiple levels. From a practitioner’s standpoint, meditation will become a lifetime journey and pursuit rather than a short-term course for a narrow benefit like stress or anxiety. We will need something a lot more than the meditation that merely makes us mindful.
Those who get in early on this journey of long-term self-improvement using meditation as a vehicle will have a decisive edge in future generations. That’s because meditation with deeper and broader benefits, such as Sahaja meditation, actually makes changes to our brain by altering its structure.
A 2016 Sahaja meditation study using the brain structure imaging techniques of MRI and Voxel-Based Morphometry (Hernández et al, 2016 ) found that long-term Sahaja practitioners (compared with non-meditators) had significantly larger grey matter volume not only throughout their brains overall but also specifically in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and left insula — regions associated, in part, with emotional intelligence — as well as in right hemispheric regions (insula, ventromedial orbitofrontal cortex, inferior temporal and parietal cortices) associated with, among other traits, aspects of socio-emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, feelings of empathy, compassion, and altruism.
The future generation of children born to meditator parents is likely to have a head start when it comes to the subtler traits and skills. So, in 20 years, while your neighbor, friend or colleague is complaining to you about how difficult life is in being able to adapt to the changes being brought in by the technology revolution, you and your family will already have the skills necessary for the subtler economy.
By joining Sahaja Online, you have signed up for something that’s going to be part of people’s lives at large in this century. But remember, the journey doesn’t start when you sign up with us, it really only starts when you get your individual Self-Realization. And the simple step for that is to join our online meditation programs.