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Science and technique, industry, machines

Science, like the machine, has reversed the roles, turning its creators into its own creatures; it escapes the control of intelligence as such from the moment that it claims to define the nature of intelligence from the outside and from below. Our timeless cosmic environment has been deprived of its teaching function in being replaced with a "stage setting": the stellar vault has been turned into the extension of a laboratory, bodily beauty is reduced to the mechanism of natural selection.

People no longer sense the fact that the quantitative richness of a knowledge - of any kind of knowledge - necessarily entails an inward impoverishment, unless accompanied by a spiritual science that reestablishes unity and maintains equilibrium. The common man, if he were able to travel through interplanetary space, would come back to earth terribly impoverished - if his reason had not succumbed in terror.

This brings us back to the forbidden tree of Genesis, the drama of which goes on repeating itself at wide intervals down to our own times; "decentralized" man whose mind is surfeited with discontinuous facts is prey to a hopeless poverty and this moreover explains those nihilistic and anguished philosophies current nowadays. The ancients doubtless did not know how to prolong lives which however had a meaning; the moderns know how to prolong lives which have none; but the ancients, by the very fact that they gave a meaning to life, also gave one to death.

If life is but a faint glow between two nights or two naughts and if we are only biological accidents devoid of interest in an absurd universe, what then is the use of all these efforts and, more especially, what is the use of this scientistic faith even more absurd than the senseless universe that men explore without ever a hope of coming out of it? And of what profit to us are accurate observations if in fact - for in principle they are innocent(1) - they deprive us of all that is essential, namely the knowledge of that whereof natural phenomena are but fragile exteriorizations? [Treasures of Buddhism, p. 44-45].

(1) This point must be stressed. No science is evil on account of its contents; but a demonstration of anatomy, possibly very useful to an adult, might ruin a child's soul.

In our day, it is the machine which tends to become the measure of man, and thereby it becomes something like the measure of God, though of course in a diabolically illusory manner; for the most "advanced" minds it is in fact the machine, technics, experimental science, which will henceforth dictate to man his nature, and it is these which create the truth - as is shamelessly admitted - or rather what usurps its place in man's consciousness. It is difficult for man to fall lower, to realize a greater mental perversion, a more complete abandonment of himself, a more perfect betrayal of his intelligent and free personality: in the name of "science" and of "human genius" man consents to become the creation of what he has created and to forget what he is, to the point of expecting the answer to this from machines and from the blind forces of nature; he has waited until he is no longer anything and now claims to be his own creator. Swept away by a torrent, he glories in his incapacity to resist it.

And just as matter and machines are quantitative, so man too becomes quantitative: the human is henceforth the social. It is forgotten that man, by isolating himself, can cease to be social, whereas society, whatever it may do - and it is in fact incapable of acting of itself - can never cease to be human. [Stations of Wisdom, p. 38].