Volume 14, 2007
Leaf Blowers and Antibiotics: a Buddhist Stance for Science and Technology
King’s College, University of Aberdeen
Sustainable technology, like mindfulness, requires cultivation. It is a process of constantly attending in the face of considerable distraction, a process that leads to a self-balancing wholesome state that has beneficial properties for both self and others. This brief essay begins with a consideration of science, scientism and technology. I will then use a handful of examples to consider how technologies appear to behave autonomously, often perverting the good intentions of their inventor or revealing unexpected opportunities for wholesome behavior. In many cases, it seems that apparently neutral technologies fit together with unwholesome tendencies, locking humans and machines into an accelerating and apparently unstoppable destructive dance. I will then propose a general strategy for engaging technologies which draws on traditional Buddhist practices, with two particular objectives: to gain insight into, and maintain awareness of, the actual bias of any particular technology, and to discover tactics for interrupting the destructive cycles which are the cause of the ecological crisis in our world.