The Problem of Technology?

Dr John Alroy, from the Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science at Macquarie University, New South Wales, said the debate about whether humans contributed to widespread extinction should “be over now”.

“But it has dragged on for nearly a half-century now because the idea that stone age hunters could cause such utter havoc across three entire continents over very short time spans strikes many people as incredible.

“Like it or not, though, it’s the truth, and it’s time for us to all confront it.”


It has always struck me as curious that most people have a warm fuzzy feeling for human beings from earlier times, especially ‘indigenous’ peoples such as those from North America and those referenced above from Australia. It is as if we moderns see these peoples as in some sense completely different from ourselves, we give to them an aura of belonging to the earth that we perhaps feel we’ve lost.

The story above suggests otherwise!

It is quite true that we have developed the technology now to raze mountains and drain seas, but the direction of our desires remain the same. Yet, has not technology also given us the means now to see what is happening everywhere in every moment so that we can see, as the hunter-gatherers could not, just what we do does?

We turn to scientific advances, to technological development and condemn what they are doing to the world. But the use of spears and arrows and especially the use of fire, as the story above suggests, might not be technologically advanced but can rapidly change whole continents!

Why do we not see what is obvious? It is not techniques or technology that destroys but the destruction of fragmented desire.

Through the practice of zazen we connect with the living pulse of our desire and respond to the call – only then do we become what we’ve always been and can respond with clarity to the ever-changing flow of existence using whatever we find to hand: scientific, technological, religious, spiritual, philosophical…


About Jamie Nicol

Living in the forested hills of Catalonia, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Zen teacher, recovering philosopher, small-scale natural farmer. Writing just what comes.
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