IMAGE CREDITS: FRIEDRICH SAURER SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Google’s AlphaZero program starting from zero, learnt and mastered the game of chess in just under four hours by playing against itself and then beat the other world champion program which was already considered superhuman in its level of play! It remained unbeaten in 100 games it played! A similar program AlphaGo beat the world’s top human Go player, a game considered much more complex than chess. No doubt, it is an amazing feat. Many people called it the triumph of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ but that may be a misnomer. Artificial, it may be, but is that intelligence?
GPT-3 programs available in the form of chatbots have a capacity of processing hundreds of billions machine learning parameters - virtually all of world’s knowledge - and can generate high quality text, writing even poetry or haikus such that it is difficult to detect whether it was generated by a computer. They are trained to text or speak like humans but do they themselves have a feeling that they are a program? Obviously not! Similarly, DALL-E-2 is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. If I ask it to make an image of a rabbit playing football with a 3-legged horse in a Van-Goghian grassland, it will be reasonably good at it after a few corrections. But, as can be expected, since all these GPT or DALL-E-2 programmes are just imitating the knowledge of humans, they exhibit the same biases as humans do. Is that intelligence?
The spacecraft that landed on moon had thousands of precision instruments on board working in perfect tandem and they performed mind blowing brilliant tasks millions of miles away from us. While robots now routinely perform complex surgeries, one in a Japan’s monastery ludicrously gives sermons too! No doubt, all the science's achievements, the technical marvels, the communication advances, the gadgets are a stupendous feat, but it must be asked, doesn’t all this remain within a very narrow area of life? Has any of this even touched man’s inner life at all where he remains as jealous, greedy, fearful, ambitious and in sorrow as he was probably thousands of years ago! And is that intelligence?
It seems, we mistake the intellect’s capacity to be smart or solve some technical problems in a narrow area for intelligence and since science has done wonders in this field, we give undue importance to the intellect. A scientist who makes instruments for going to the moon may be smart in a small area but in his life, he may be jealous, greedy, in sorrow or frustrated and may thus waste most of his life’s energy and vitality and is that intelligence? Haven’t we unilaterally defined intelligence in terms of achievement of some goals and isn’t that a very narrow definition?
Goals can be made only in a very narrow area, say for learning a new language, a musical instrument, or some technical subject. Can nature and human life proper have goals? Isn’t a goal-oriented life, a limited and petty life? If one sees life in terms of a goal, be it the most 'beautiful' goal, won't it create a motive beforehand that distorts any enquiry, making the mind bound to a predetermined pattern, where it loses its living capacity, becomes dull, insensitive and there is no freedom to explore. Surely, that is not intelligence!
We think that we are in competition with nature as far as intelligence goes and that is why we pit it as an artificial against natural intelligence fight but that is erroneous as even the single-celled bacteria who preceded other life forms by mind-boggling two billion years had already pioneered most of the life’s processes like breathing, nitrogen fixation, fermentation and even photosynthesis. Even now, bacterial cells remain our mainstay in the immune and defence systems of our bodies. Can our so-called Artificial Intelligence despite all the medical and other advancements, stand up to that and produce even a single-celled life-form, not by genetically manipulating some already existing one, but by producing one from scratch?
Thought itself is limited and separative
Since, human thought has conceived and designed Artificial Intelligence, to appreciate its capacities and limits we need to understand the expanse and also the limitation of its creator i.e., human thought. We are starting with a tentative observation that thought, the way it exists and works today, may itself be limited, artificial and unintelligent! For, its structure is made of images, memories and reactions which are further based on past experiences, its process is based on remembrances and recognition of the past, and so thought being the response of memories, isn't it ever tied to and conditioned by the past?
First, thought about a thing is not the actual thing. The tree I see out there and the word 'tree' are not the same thing. Clearly, the thought about food is not the actual food. I cannot eat it; it is just an image, an abstraction. Also, it doesn’t matter whether the description or the image is about some ordinary day to day things like food or it is about some ‘sacred’ thing like God or goodness or whatever – the description about God is just a description, it is not sacred. Thought is thus just a description and however realistic or good – be it like 3D/4D or a Metaverse like – mere description cannot itself be the thing that is being described. This may look easy for above examples, but thinking of the things of the mind, we mostly miss this difference and get so involved in the description and identify ourselves with it so that thought of a thing is taken as the thing itself and it creates serious problems.
Second, since thought is a ‘re’-presentation, it is affected by the previous memories and thoughts. What is retained and what is left out while representing is decided by the previous thoughts and thus representation always remains conditioned. There is no independent or free thought, and a thought looking is a stream of past looking. Also, this gathering of the past creates an illusion of an artificial entity, an ‘I’ with a separate and independent existence which is supposed to be looking, though it is just a series of thoughts i.e., images only. So, when thought looks at anything including things of the mind, it is as if it separates itself out from what it is observing and then looks. It thinks, there is ‘somebody’ who does the looking, but it is the past gathered over thousands of experiences that looks creating the illusion of somebody. Isn’t it like a shadow imagining itself to be the thing itself?
It is like a hand imagining itself independent and alive entity outside the body. The hand if taken outside of the body is obviously a fragment and would not even be alive but what if this fragment projects itself to be whole and alive while maintaining its separate identity at the same time! If a hand remains at its own place, it is a part of the body and thus alive, but it will not be appropriate to call just the hand alive as only the body as a whole can be alive and not just a hand or any other part in abstraction or isolation! Thus, a hand separating itself out from the body and yet wishing to be whole, would always be illusory, it will not have any meaning even. A fragment remaining a fragment only is no issue but it trying to be whole is the birth of fragmentation! A thought thus is fragmentary at its very core because it separates out itself from the whole and yet projects itself to be whole.
When we see, listen or touch something with our senses fully awakened without the interference of thought, we are in contact with the thing. The seeing is then direct as far as the capacity of senses goes and there is no one apparently distorting anything. But, due to the separation between the thing and the thought, and because of the artificial structure of ‘I’ that thought makes out of itself, when thought sees, there is always a fundamental gap, a fragmentation, a space between it as an observer and the thing being observed and thought remains ever biased and limited.
This is because the ‘seer’ which is made of gathering of thoughts itself, is past itself has its own like-dislikes, reactions and preferences and thus distorts the seeing. This gathering has taken place and the ‘seer’ has come into existence in the first place only because the old experiences are sought to be used as a formula to understand the new. Why to waste energy in understanding something new, if we already have old experiences? Why to live every moment afresh, if we can substitute living with something of an idea of living! That seems to be the underlying reasoning and thus we stop actually living, substituting mechanicalness instead of that. What a trade-off and what a huge gap this creates between the seer and the seen! Can there be an experience which is not guided by the old experience?
Of course, the thought or the seer tries to make good this gap by working step by step, bit by bit in gathering huge amount of information about the thing from different perspectives. It also works by analysis, breaking the whole into smaller and smaller parts, going into details of each separately and then trying to integrate the parts to conclude about the big picture. But the gap can never be filled this way because the gap is not just between the seer and the seen, but actually the seer itself is the gap! Thus, bridging of the gap is not only futile and an endless process, but it misses the essence of the whole too because the whole is not just the sum of its parts! Mechanical things can be dealt with in this manner to some extent, life certainly cannot be broken into smaller parts. One cannot pluck a flower and tear it down to its petals and artificially integrate it to make a whole flower; even if done in abstraction, one will miss the life in the flower, it will be gone!
Thought being the gathering of past remains ever biased against the present and thus can never understand something living for living is always in the present. Understanding is not about having knowledge of something; it is never just an intellectual thing. Understanding means living something, being in direct contact with ‘it’ in the present and not just having knowledge about it which becomes a separative and life-less affair. Does one need to have knowledge about pain or hunger to feel them? If I gather knowledge about my own self, bit by bit, will not that limited, partial and thus biased knowledge which is dead thing prevent a clear seeing in the present and that in turn further distort myself? How can a dead thing understand something living? How can the dead follow the swiftness and sensitivity of an alive being? Thus, knowledge especially of myself, a living being is not only old, but it separates the life from the life and is thus obviously false!
For example, thought sees that it is greedy but what does it do? It separates out from its own quality and tries to either justify, condemn, or control it but it itself is greed, it is not separate from the greed. It tries to gather knowledge about the greed through experts, through scriptures, books or through its own experience. So, knowledge is thought of as a bridge that will bring the thing nearer to the observer, that will bridge the gap between them, but as we have seen earlier, all our knowing is through creating division and so, knowledge is not the bridge but the gap itself. It is like a thief looking out for the thief but never looking at himself! Any movement of thought to control itself only strengthens the very same thought. Greed trying to control greed is greediness only.
As long as there is this gap between the artificial 'me’, and the greed, the greed will continue. Similarly, If I separate myself from fear, greed, jealousy or sorrow to act on them, these will continue because these are produced by this separation, and these get the energy to sustain themselves through this separation only. Without this energy, these are mere sensations with a limited time span and so bound to fade away soon. If I am not separate from these, then I cannot act on these and so these cannot sustain themselves without the energy of opposites.
It is not that thought deliberately does this hara-kiri. It seems the thought lacks the bodily ability of proprioception. If I move my hand, I have the sense that my hand is moving presently even if I cannot see it moving at the back of my shoulder. Expressing it in terms of body, it would be apt to say that thought's one hand does not know that it itself is moving, not to talk of knowing what the other hand is moving or not! Thought moves and does not sense its own movement in the present. It comes to know about its movement only through the end-result. Thus, most of our thinking happens in kind of reflexes which operate automatically and mechanically. This inability of the thought to perceive its own movement while it is happening leads to major problems for thought.
Man became man over time because of his accumulation of knowledge in the outer world, using that knowledge for his security against other predators and for planning his needs of food, shelter and things like that. The outer world is a real world, the trees, the implements, the water, air, fire, the predators are all real and existing independently of the man and man can act on them through gathering of knowledge and by being superior in making of life saving implements. The outer body form makes a kind of boundary, and it is helpful in the outer world to know one’s boundary so that one can protect the body. It gives one security. But since thought is unable to see its own movement in full and as a whole, it seems the same outward movement of accumulation was mistakenly carried inward, and man started accumulating knowledge of his psychological world too and thus came to call himself 'me' as against 'you' or 'them' for others i.e., he identified himself as a separate psychological entity, with an ‘inner-self’ just like the physical outer form, the body. The thinking was that as the physical outer body form becomes a boundary and protects the body, similarly the inner self will make a kind of boundary and protect!
But what is his ‘inner-self’? Is not this ‘inner-self’ a clever jump, a projection of man’s thoughts and has no independent reality apart from his thoughts as against the physical body which of course has independent existence! Our thoughts ‘think’ us into existence rather than the other way round! Thus, all the knowledge, of the inner psychological self is of the images only, images the man himself has created and are illusory. What does the knowledge of an illusion mean? It remains ultimately an illusion and the knowledge is also illusory.
Do a simple experiment. Try sitting alone by yourself for just ten minutes without any phone, book, TV or any other work and just watch your thoughts. Do not control anything, let the thoughts come but do watch them, let them move from one object or topic to other to another, let the thoughts wander, do not react and you will see how difficult it is to sit still for even a few minutes! You will see that this inner self or 'I' is not some fixed structure but is a process of the past continuing itself. It lives in constant motion like a movie. If there is no past, 'I' is not there. If the movie slows down, it is not a movie, then there are still photographs left. Probably afraid of dying in absence of any reaction, our minds constantly react, they constantly engage themselves, they constantly remain busy even if it saps our own energy and vitality. Self or ‘I’ is thus born out of reactions. If it had some real essence, a tangible existence just like the tree out there, it need not be afraid of the slowing down or being completely still. It is deeply fearful of not existing, fearful of the ‘emptiness’ in the absence of any movement of the self!
As against real and tangible security of the physical form in the outer world, man’s solution for his psychological security has thus caused him to become fearful and so itself has become the biggest source of his insecurity. It has created millions of other separate and illusory entities against him who also call themselves 'me' and others as 'you'. They all compete, they all fight with one another, for they all are ambitious, and they all want to become better and more of something because all are essentially tethered to their own little experiences and feel very limited. All these limited entities thus seek identification with something supposedly bigger like a family, a clan, caste, region, language, race, religion or a nation but all these identities are basically projections of the same fundamental division between ‘me’ and ‘you’ but on a larger scale. It is me only projecting a larger or bigger ‘me’ which takes the form of sometimes a family, sometimes a clan, a religious group or a nation. But it is still ‘me’ as against ‘you’!
Man’s essential problems are thus self-made; worries of security of something non-existent thus illusory but since our thoughts are controlling our bodies through many neural and chemical feedback loops, our bodies get entangled in this psychosomatic web and feel all the pushes and pulls of this stressful roller-coaster ride. So, the illusory problems become the real problems with real consequences.
Seeing all this confusion, one naturally asks, is there a way of looking at the life as a whole, our mind, its joys, its insecurities, fears and sorrows instantly, not fragment by fragment, step by step, piling up knowledge, i.e., without thought? Because a fragment of something living is not truth, for life cannot be divided into bits and pieces and if we start from a bit, a fragment, we start from the false and it will never lead to truth! It is like reading the book of your own life as if it is your living body – you cannot read it chapter by chapter, reading about your hand first, then next chapter of heart, next of feet, then of brain, liver, kidney, blood, nervous system or breathing system and so on. None of these organs or tissues or cells is alive in itself without the whole of the body. So, the only way to read or understand a live thing is see it in its liveliness, i.e., see it as a whole, in one go! And this can be done precisely because you are that yourself! You are your life; you are not separate from it and so you do not need to read it chapter wise like for some technical subject.
That remains the fundamental limitation of the thought and of the so-called Artificial Intelligence algorithms based on it – they cannot see the whole and so they miss the life because they themselves are mechanical and not living.
Intelligence has the quality of ‘living presence’
Is not a ‘living presence’ then a necessity for the intelligence to operate? We saw earlier that any gathering of past as happens in knowledge and thought displaces the present and then, no direct contact is possible with anything and the seeing is distorted. So, for intelligence for minded beings like humans will mean not just being alive but having a ‘living presence’ too i.e., being present with the body and mind both such that there is awareness and attention. But surely for a living presence, life is necessary as only life can be in the present, be whole, see the whole, be aware and attentive to understand the realm of life. We are raising this question because there have been attempts lately to portray newly developed Artificial Intelligence as being capable of being sentient. Recently Google sent an engineer on leave after he claimed though embarrassingly for Google that LAMDA, a language model developed by Google was sentient and capable of consciousness because it understood what it was!
Many cheerleaders of Artificial Intelligence actively discuss this possibility, which poses another fundamental question: what do we think of life, is it some kind of an algorithm and are we then like machines? In earlier paras we have already debunked this premise with an observation that despite thousands of years of science and technology’s progress man has not been able to produce even a single-celled life-form which nature could produce two billion years ago. And science based on knowledge will never be able to do so because life is produced by life only, it is not just a permutation-combination of atoms, or molecules arranged in a particular way through some complex algorithm!
Life has that quality of wholeness, which is not just the sum of its parts, it is a web of life with organic relationships where each part produces and is in turn produced by the other, where every microcosm enfolds a kind of whole macrocosm! So, none of the species could have life and vitality on its own not to talk of any individual member of some particular species without this complex web of organic relationships which spans different geographies, species and generations. There is such an intermingling and inter-dependence that it must be said that life is a property of the whole system of relationships and that means whole of our planet! And these relationships are not of knowing but of being and experiencing and man’s gathered knowledge of thousands of years and its so-called Artificial Intelligence will never be able to understand it! That is why we probably do not care for these connections and break them at our fancies and will, but that is happening at our own life’s peril as all life is one.
We are saying thus, consciousness and awareness are only possible in a living organism who is alive to not only whatever is happening around itself but more importantly to whatever is happening within itself. A major part of mind in an organism is concerned with the state of the life throbbing in the organism and its homeostatic regulation for its continuity. The connections between the mind and body’s physiology are very robustly hard wired and there is a continuous dialogue between body chemistry and the bioelectrical activity of neurons in a nervous system to produce consciousness and feelings, and so these are not generated in the brain alone.
In fact, a feeling is a feeling of what happens in the body ultimately. An external object, a thought in the mind or a physiological-chemical-neural change in the body itself may trigger a transient change in the body which causes an emotion and a feeling. Without the body, which is sensitive and alive, there is no feeling. Feelings provide organisms with experiences of their own life and make that knowledge conscious. When we store an information or a thought, it is stored with a corresponding feeling like a musical store accompanying our thoughts. We know that we know only through feelings generated in the body. When we see something, it is not just through eyes only, the whole body is involved in the act of seeing, as it moves to come to know the distance of the object, the depth, its outline, size, so seeing is accompanied by movement of the body. All these interconnections co-evolved through countless experiments of nature over billions of years as we mentioned earlier. A computer or a robot, because it lacks these organic connections of a living body and so feelings and emotions, cannot even know whether it knows or does not know; it just repeats, or 'parrots' the information.
A computer cannot have an insight because it has no mind, it is not part of the web of life; it is not life and is thus not sensitive in its wider meaning. Sensitivity relates to life only and to be sensitive is a necessary condition for being intelligent. Do whatever you can do to a dead or an artificial flower, put howsoever brilliant artificial colours on it, use any method to put some pigmentation, some artificial nutrition from outside, the artificial flower will remain artificial, one cannot make it come alive! Similarly, a robot may have been fed on words like ‘food’ and it can provide a very informative summary on all the cuisines of the world, but it itself cannot eat. It can deliver a most illuminating lecture on awareness, and it can quote from any of the scriptures, but it cannot be aware itself! It has no relationship with the sky, the tree, the bird, the butterfly, the river, the water, the earth, the life except in a very outward mechanical sense. It is not living, throbbing with life.
Reading the above lines about a robot's limitedness, does not one get that uncanny feeling that even we humans may not fare better here, for in this mad rush to eulogize successes of a limited part of our mind we ourselves unwittingly may have become mechanical like robots! The moot question is thus not about computers becoming sentient over time but rather we possibly losing our sentience and in-built bodily intelligence!
Yet, in the external world of material things, thought can still do wonders and all of science and technology has been the result of thought. But even here, the previous knowledge needed to be suspended at crucial moments for the new to come into being. An Einstein was not possible, if he was merely following in the footsteps of a Newton!
So, what is intelligence? Instead of asserting this or that, let us find out. The moment you conclude as to what intelligence is, intelligence is not that. And so, we are approaching it very openly, hesitatingly with a great deal of caution and being mindful of the words and knowledge because we are alert to their limitations now. We have earlier brought out, what it cannot be and in the strictly living field, in our relations, this seems to be the only approach to any learning, since the authoritative approach of stating positively is obviously self-projected. Here, we are passively watching and seeing the facts only.
Intelligence merely confined to a limited field is not intelligence
We have already seen that to live in a very small part of the mind, to use only partial capabilities of the brain like intellect, and thus to be fragmented is not intelligence. In short, to be whole and to be able to see the whole is necessary condition for intelligence. Knowledge has brought in gadgets of ease and convenience but did not transform man’s psyche at all. The overall mind remains petty. The goodness, the love or compassion it seems have nothing to do with thought or knowledge, for how can one have tremendous progress in science and yet pollute the air, and cause severe climate change seriously threatening even the existence of life on mother earth? It becomes a fundamental contradiction.
So, we have found out that intelligence cannot be confined to a limited field because that will be contradictory. Also, if the mind is occupied and not free, be it occupied with anything, even with ‘God’ or awareness, or in the effort to be free of any occupation, you are dealing with a self-centred and petty mind because such a mind has no space in it, it is cluttered with past and is not fresh! So, only a quiet mind, which is attentive, and thus not occupied can be free to be an intelligent mind. Intelligence thus cannot be separated from goodness, love, quietness, awareness, attention and compassion. One may say, we are giving a new definition for intelligence, but this is as per its own movement. We have found out it as a fact, it is not just an opinion.
Dealing with the present challenges through past images especially in life proper or relationship is not intelligence. When we make images of each other in our minds, there is no actual relationship between us; mostly it is images relating with each other. We then live in ideas, theories, symbols or in abstraction which is no life. One image competes with other and there is always conflict and hence no peace. Since the rivers, the trees, the air, the sky, the soil and water are also images for us, we have no relationship with them and no relationship with even ourselves. We do not care for them, and thus do not care for ourselves also. All world's problems and conflicts essentially stem from this. Yet we treat these as external and objective problems and try to solve them technically which obviously fails. Then we accept conflict as necessary part of life. Is war and killing intelligence? Man has been at war with man, and with nature since millennia. Internally also, he has been at war with himself controlling one part, encouraging another, following one part, suppressing another. This is obviously not intelligence.
Merely having the skills, or knowing the techniques of machine learning, abstracting, categorising, naming, and recognising is not intelligence. Intelligence is not a formula, a pattern, concept or an ideal. It is not algorithmic or goal oriented, it cannot be gathered or stored; one cannot have a practice of attention or intelligence. In fact, trying to become intelligent is stupidity. We saw this in the example of greed earlier, when our wanting to be non-greedy, itself turned out to be greed. If you see clearly, all the above statements are approaching the question of intelligence in a ‘negative’ way, alluding to what it is not rather than saying what it is! Now, this perception is not reached in a logical sequence, is not based on some previous knowledge and so, a computer which works algorithmically based on the past knowledge through a set of rules can never perceive this!
Let us see some other perceptions or insights which a computer or a robot cannot even come near to. (a) One who says he is virtuous is not. (b) When you avoid a ‘problem’, only then is it created. (c) Without understanding the root of fear, merely cultivating courage is also a form of fear. (d) Observing inattention is attention. Obviously, an algorithm cannot understand these insights because these are not ‘assembled’ like knowledge. These are the seeing of facts with a living presence and their truth cannot be recognised through a set pattern!
Being free of the past is intelligence
Observing, listening, and learning about ourselves in freedom and to see ourselves as we are without any distortion or illusion are greatest acts of intelligence! Observing ourselves is not obviously thinking about ourselves. Let us take the example of greed, we discussed earlier too. The action of thought about greed was to separate itself from the greed and then trying to control it as something external to us. We saw that it does not help but only increases greed for any movement of mind to control greed takes the form of desire which is still greed! The same applies to our control of fear, desire, sorrow or any other thing of the mind.
Now, what is the action of observation here? We saw earlier that actually there is no separation between ‘me’ and greed and ‘me’ trying to separate myself from greed, recognising the feeling and naming it from past only strengthens the feeling. Without this separation, and without the effort to analyse, oppose or control it, the greed cannot have the energy to sustain itself and is bound to fade away on its own. Observing the fact of ‘greed’ thus means, not analysing it through thought, not resisting it but observing every movement of thought, not trying to control it, not moving from there, and so, not letting past recognise it and call it by its name! And, doing it all obviously not by effort or intention because that will still be greed! This way the past momentum does not work, and the feeling, which we would have normally recognised from past and given the name ‘greed’ then loses its energy. So, this non-action, this staying with ‘greed’ lets the fact work on the ‘greed’ and end it rather than other way round. This is intelligence.
Observation or seeing is the key. The observation is complete action in itself at least in the things of the mind. When you see a snake about to jump on you, anybody asking you to run is superfluous because if you have really seen the snake jumping at you, you are already on the move, making a run. You do not think about that! That is seeing which is action itself. Similarly, when there is observation and it reveals not theoretically but you actually see that you are greed yourself, that you are not separate from it, then the action of running away stops because it too is not only superfluous but also gives it more energy. You cannot run away from yourself. Full stop! So, seeing this actually, the action has happened. The observation reveals that thought is a movement to run away from the present to some imagined state and this movement is superfluous.
The observation and learning require that the senses be fully awakened and work at their peak and the mind is sensitive, alert yet totally quiet. That means being fully present with the heart and mind which is possible only if the movement of the thought and the ways of the self are understood as a whole and negated. Then the heart and mind work in tandem. That is also the meaning of the world ‘health’ with its root meaning as whole or holy. The Hindi word ‘swasth’ has a similar meaning – to be in the present such that the body and mind are one. Even a living being who is not present in the present moment, in the above sense and most humans are not, is not intelligent not to talk of a computer or a robot who can never be able to feel the joy of being healthy and intelligent because it is not even alive.
So, is there an approach, an art of living where the past does not act in our relations, in our essential movement of life, because it distorts though in day-to-day functional life, technical matters, and in communication it can still act! If the past is operating in our psyche and relationships, then nothing new and creative whatsoever can happen in life. Life becomes totally mechanical and artificial with no freedom. Then the sorrows, fears, frustrations, ambitions, jealousies rule, and there cannot be love, compassion and intelligence and consequently we will destroy this beautiful world of nature and may be whole life! Can one see the unequivocal and absoluteness of the above fact not just intellectually but in one’s very blood and what happens to a mind which sees that?
Let us see this in another way. Suppose we really want to understand the reasons for the existence of sorrow or fear in our lives. We normally indulge in step-by-step explanations, in easy questions-answers where all the answers come from the past in terms of further explanations. At the end of it all, we still find ourselves grappling with the sorrow or fear! So, we see that knowing the reasons does not end the sorrow or fear, because the explanations themselves are thought, they come from the same past and are thus devoid of life and the whole exercise loses its immediacy of action in this mere intellectual pursuit! What will then, change man, what will make him see the urgency of change?
Do we see the trick of asking the above question at this very moment of putting this question? Is not the very question originating from our desire to not face the question but to postpone it, may be in the garb of asking the question? For, the question will be asked, and we will wait for the answer to come through past, through some analysis and in the meantime, we will continue to be the same old beings grappling with fear and sorrow! Being sensitive and alive now, we see through the trick and so, neither ask any questions nor wait for the answers because that will be again living in the past and continuing the same habit of becoming. That does not mean in-action or the acceptance of the situation but is the only intelligent action possible and it requires a living presence! Doing something ‘positive’ to solve the problem is a trick of the mind because it is still not facing the problem. And how can it face the problem, it being itself the problem? So, it just wants to run away or escape from it by becoming something else.
What is the state of mind that is still with the fact, not reacting, not resisting or accepting the fact of becoming, but just watching without any gathering of knowledge? if there is just a watching that 'I' or 'me' is the knowledge, image or past itself, not that it uses knowledge or past, but this structure of 'me' is itself the past, does not all positive action stops, it being understood that this would be only past acting? Is not then something already happening which is going beyond the past?
It is not that what you learnt 40 years back, 4 years back or 4 months back, only is past but what you learnt 4 days, 4 hrs or 4 minutes back is not past. No. We are saying, what you learnt even one moment back and gathered for future use also is past and bound to interfere in watching further! So, watching oneself is learning at the same moment, not watching and making knowledge out of it and then learning. Learning about oneself then itself means learning every moment fresh and not gathering the past learning!
Learning, love and Intelligence exist together
Is not watching the same as living presence and sensitivity? Watching oneself one learns that any movement, any reaction for or against what is being watched and any gathering of even one moment back will distort the watching because what is being watched is living and changing every moment. This sensitivity, this alertness is then not allowing any division to be created between the watcher and what is being watched, because only gathering makes the watcher and without the gathering there is no watcher! Hasn’t that state of watching already wiped out the whole past, the known and with that the becoming also, making the mind fresh and innocent? Isn’t this watching and that silence of ‘not-knowing’, itself then love and intelligence because there is no division anywhere created by the watcher?
Something happens when a human being means and says that he does not know! The thought and things based on thought work with the known, searching out for what is not-yet-known but still can be made known; but they leave out a whole dimension of the unknown which can never be made known, and that is the realm of life. Thought is fundamentally unfit for life proper because life means living in the present, which is the unknown and the past is all known! When I meet a friend or a foe, a relative, my mother, brother, wife, husband or a neighbour can I meet the person without any past association of may be one month, five or fifty years? Can I meet the person afresh as if for the first time without any image or knowledge from past affecting my relationship? That applies to my relationship to myself also. Can I look at my past without the past? Is there any past then? That is the meaning of a living relationship!
So, the state of 'not-knowing' may have a deep resonance in man’s being and can be a very creative action because not-knowing makes the mind free in the real sense. When one knows already, there is no learning. Learning needs a living presence without any direction. A mind that is empty of its past and is thus unconditioned and free to enquire in the real sense is an intelligent mind. But an empty mind is not the same as a computer with no memory. A computer with no memory just idles, it cannot wipe out all its programming and start afresh!
In future, all manual or even brainy work may be taken over by robots and machines and they may become kind of autonomous or sovereign in themselves and acquire general artificial smartness way surpassing humans in all functional and technical day-to-day matters. But will they ever be able to just feel one with life and universe, to look at the clear night sky filled with different hues of galaxies, stars, and planets, look in wonderment at the birds in their flight, listen to the pitter-patter of rain falling, walk the woods alone or sit at the bank of a clear water stream in silence, doing that not for any purpose, but just like that! For, that is life and intelligence and there is no explanation for it.
And yet even we humans are hardly living this life! Let us go deeper in this. What is recognition? Isn’t it a movement of the past, identifying something as having happened earlier? Can a computer look at something without recognising? Obviously, it has no meaning for the computer because it has been created for a purpose by a human being and it need to recognise. But apart from technical or day to day things, can even a human being look at the brilliant sky, the silent waters of a lake, a majestic tree or their own friend without any word, without naming and recognising, as if seeing for the first time? Because only then, his mind can be innocent and fresh! Without this freshness, as we brought out earlier, his life will be in the same rut, mechanical and hardly vibrant and alive. We are saying, to be able to look and not name or recognise means looking in freedom, without any strings attached and that is a creative and intelligent act. This can come only when we have understood the whole limiting movement of thought and gone beyond that.
Why then we who can so look and not recognise and thus be always fresh, are not doing that and instead getting bowled over by this pattern recognising ability of so-called Artificial Intelligence? Won’t this way we even lose the capacity of our natural intelligence? It is increasingly becoming clear now that all sickness somehow germinates in man's moving away from original nature and trying to artificially build a duplicate ‘nature’ of closed concrete structures which also essentially means artificial food, artificial pleasures, substitute indoor games and so on. This duplicity, as we saw earlier first of all starts in the mind. Mind which tends to be closed down in itself substitutes images for the real things and then forgets which is which, making in the process an illusionary make-believe world.
The natural corollary of this increasingly artificial world is that they are planning to hack the brain directly by implanting chips in the human brain such that our body-mind system is tricked and stops giving any symptoms which are otherwise part of nature’s intelligence response system. For example, during some unbalance in the body, we get symptoms of pain or diseases and that is a healthy response and in things of the mind too, when we live our lives unintelligently, the life responds by giving us symptoms of anxiety, fear, jealousy, sorrow, frustration etc. and we must respond by taking real remedial action. But what if we do not get any symptoms? Won’t we become artificially ‘contented’ and ‘peaceful’ then, even while living unhealthily?
No doubt, we were always programmed since centuries with ideologies, with moralities and all that but there was always a possibility of an awakening, of a seeing, of a crisis triggering a change somewhere within and the life’s intelligence asserting itself somehow. What if there is never a crisis, never a discord or discontent, never a ‘dull’ moment because we are neurologically hacked by a computer that controls us for virtually everything! No boredom, or anxiety and as submissive as a machine, won’t we become just a data point in a large algorithm?
This very well can happen soon because we are already living life of a zombie, getting impressed with so called Artificial Intelligence and thus giving more importance to mechanical aspects of our life. The brain has otherwise immense capacity, but this conditioning, this programming has made it very limited. One may be termed too alarmist, but the research is on for bringing together genetics and computers to change our biology and minds. Who knows, very soon, we may have mandatory jealousy app, sorrow app, fear, or anxiety app controlling us! So, the real worry is not about robot getting the better of us intellectually or otherwise but rather we turning into robots ourselves!
Approaching the end of the article, we are not concluding anything because conclusion will not be a fact, it will be a deduction or induction based on previous paras. We are aware of this and so, are only summarising here!
We saw that there have been countless achievements of thought and its creations the science & technology and so-called Artificial Intelligence, some of them really mind-blowing and yet all these achievements remain in a very narrow field of the outer material world. The case is not against science or even artificiality. In fact, we are saying by being scientific in a very narrow area and not being rational in his life proper, man is actually not being scientific enough.
We saw that things of thought dominate man’s life and yet thought and its artificial creation ‘self’ itself remain not only very limited, but also divisive, biased and thoroughly unequal to the task of understanding life. In fact, all problems of man’s relationships and thus of his life have in the first place been created by the self itself by being not rational enough, by being an isolated pool of stagnant water which has severed its connection with the proverbial river of life.
This isolation makes man feel very lonely, empty and incomplete inside and within a psychosomatic setting, his body is also affected adversely. The momentum then is to run away from this situation through some pleasurable escapes like creating an ideal, getting occupied in entertainment or work, creating more amenities and things of so-called Artificial Intelligence. But these become his crutches and he comes to depend upon them and loses his freedom. He then tries to fight against these attachments by effort and practices of detachment but as we saw earlier, these are just tricks of the mind to again get occupied in fighting and so his attachment and loneliness continues.
So, this becomes a vicious circle – loneliness - escape or running away – pleasure – dependence on escapes – fighting the escapes – creating another occupation – loneliness. The main thing thus is to see that the self itself is separative and lonely and so running-away is like running away from oneself! The escapes are thus a trivial and temporary affair and at the end of it all, the ache of loneliness and isolation is still there.
Intelligence thus is in not following this momentum of the vicious circle of escapes created by thought itself. We saw that when the man is attentive to the facts of loneliness, sorrow, or fear, fully realizing that he is loneliness, fear or sorrow himself, and running away will be futile and thus stops, it releases immense energy. This is a miracle of perception whence the heart and the mind are free from the past momentum which only creates the possibility of his touching the unknown or connecting with joy, creativity, freedom, beauty, goodness and intelligence. By saying this, we are not repeating some un-scientific mumbo-jumbo, but we are inviting the scientists and rational people to see this for themselves by experimenting and not just being only ideological about it without experimentation with oneself.
Understanding oneself as one is, and not trying to change it through effort quietens the mind, creating space in it which then opens the door to the understanding, love, freedom, and goodness. This understanding is intelligence itself; it is a living quality and can never be replicated artificially.