Swami Vishnudevananda Giri Ji Maharaj, Mahamandaleshwar of the Juna Akhara order of Hindu monks. Yoga master.
Good afternoon! Apart from the fact I am a religious practitioner and a monk I also work in the field of transhumanism. Around the years of 2001-2005 I wrote several articles on the philosophy of transhumanism. In my articles I reflected on what sort of transhumanism we need. This is how my idea of transcendental transhumanism was born.
At that time I suggested the idea that, broadly speaking, the future of humanity will be tied to the transition from humans to neo-humans and post-humans. And this transition will not be just technological and technocratic, it will be linked to the creation of the new meta-ethic, new culture. It will also be linked to spiritual practices, to harmonious integration of spiritual practices and spiritual worldviews which exist in the traditional religious systems of thought, coupled with the new understanding and application that science can afford us. I am glad to see that this Congress has taken place and that there is an interaction between scientists and religious practitioners. So in some ways my predictions that I made 10 years ago are being validated.
The idea of transcendental transhumanism is simple: the future of humanity depends on people continuing the evolutionary process, overcoming their limited organic nature. Enough of death and birth, the same acts that animals – cats, dogs, monkeys are subjected to. Enough of aging, enough of eating in the old way. We need to reach a higher state of existing. We need to change our life in all its aspects including overcoming the limitations of our physical bodies. But we should be doing this by relying not just on science and new technologies but also on the body of ethics and culture created through the centuries by religious faiths. We must simply integrate the two in a harmonious manner.
Contemporary humanity lacks an understanding of the evolutionary paradigm. Yes, the development of certain vital technologies and branches of science is taking place. Bud don’t we see what most people on the planet are interested in? Unfortunately, the questions of evolution, of evolutionary strategy are of interest to a minority of people.
My dream is that the transition to neo-humanity, the attainment of immortality would become goals number one on the agenda of The United Nations. That the leaders of G20 and G8 would come together and say: “Let’s accept that as long as people remain mortal, as long as death is inevitable, as long as we have not achieved immortality, it makes sense for us to think and solve this problem”. We don’t really need cars that much if we remain mortal.
If we remain mortal do we really need all those devices or some other machines? If we die in the end all those things become useless. This means, that the question of mortality, of overcoming and transcending mortality, the transition to immortality is in fact the most important question in the life of a person.
Religious practitioners understand this professionally so to say, as they grapple with these questions all their lives. Often, however, because we live in the context of a consumer society, a culture that entices us to want and acquire devices for fulfilling our wishes, makes us desire more and more, makes us indulge various whimsical wants, often such a culture weakens our ability to think, to deliberately contemplate the meaning of our life, to forge the right values, to set the right goals in life and achieve these goals through right actions.
I think therefore that it is not a problem of technologies. The technology involved in the project “Avatar”, the transference of human consciousness into an alternative non-protein body, which was discussed here, will surely emerge. It is only a question of efforts on the part of the scientific community and investments. I think, first of all we should declare that it is time for humanity to create a new paradigm for life, new paradigm of existence, new meanings, new values and goals. We should declare these things as much as possible and from the highest possible platform.
If we do not create such a culture of the new life and there is no political will to implement it, there is not going to be a social demand for all these achievements and there is not going be resources for their implementation. If we do create such a culture, if we create the desire for evolutionary development, for realisation of immortality in as many people on Earth, as possible this will surely create social demand. And any social demand creates a response in the form of political will, prompts investments and research, and therefore makes research create results. I see a big challenge here. And the aim of this forum is to create such a new paradigm, to create this new culture.
What is the future of humanity? I am not a scientist, I have been following the Advaita Vedatna tradition for more than 25 years and I have been learning the sacred texts of this tradition. So I am saying here is informed by the teachings of this traditions. The evolution of a person is imbedded in the spiritual Vedanta tradition. The human is a transient being. Under no conditions he is the pinnacle of creation or the king of nature. In many ways the human is an imperfect being. However he or she is imbued with the ability to develop and evolve. The Vedanta philosophy deliberates such a possibility of evolutionary development. The human must become a perfect being. And this perfect being, sooner or later, should become divine being.
What does it say in the text called “Mokshadharma”? This is a part of a famous epos called Mahabharata. “Neither death, frightening in its might, nor suffering, oh Tsar, have no power over the splendid yogi. Having multiplied his entity many thousand times, in all these bodies, the yogi wonders the Earth, he, who has attained perfection. In one of those he can use the objects of feelings, in another perform mortifications of the flesh, he can collect himself in one entity again as the Sun collects all its rays.”
I also want to quote a famous Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadksy: “ The Biological structures of Man, first of all, the structure of human brain will radically change and this organism will leave the confines of the Earth and the Solar System. The man of the future will free himself from the slave-like dependency on the plant and animal world, that cause him, in his struggle for sustenance, so many hardships and often result in his premature death from hunger and illness. Man will defeat death in himself, he will potentially become immortal.”
So how does the evolution of humanity and the evolution of every person look? According to the yogi teaching it looks more or less like this: the person becomes immortal. More than that, instead of one body he or she acquires the possibility to live in different bodies. While developing, the person will necessarily become multi-bodied, his or her consciousness acquires a choice in which carrier to be and trough which carrier to act. Next important point: the outer universe becomes subjective, from the outer reality the person emerges in what the scientists call amniktive reality. The outer universe become the subjective controllable reality.
The future of every person and the future of humanity as a whole are connected to the transition to the divine, to God-like beings. If now, we declare the intention to create a distinct paradigm for our further evolution for the third millennium, and we declare, that yes, the scientists recommend that all the world leaders, all the politicians, all the government officials who are sitting at The United Nations think seriously about human evolution and that this evolution should lead us towards becoming God-like, toward immortality, ability to inhabit different bodies, to live in various realities.... If we create such an intention now and start developing technologies that would allow us to realise this intention, it will create a turning point in the life of humanity.
In my thoughts I would like to support and join the “Movement 2045’, as in fact it expresses a lot of values and meanings that many of us are contemplating.
In our tradition there is a long heritage line of thinking about a principal possibility of the transference of consciousness into another carrier. Such techniques are called “Parakaya Vidiya’ in Sanskrit, and ‘Tron Dzhuk’ in Tibetan. What does this mean? It means that a yogi who has achieved a certain level in his practice has already realised the techniques of transference into an alternative body that the scientists are talking about nowadays. A yogi can leave his physical body and enter someone else’s body. This he can do, potentially, indefinitely, as long as there is a suitable carrier.
I have personally known an Indian great saint Mahasiddha Pilot Baba. Pilot Baba on many occasions performed the various techniques of separating consciousness from physical body and transferring of consciousness to another body. His fellow yogis did the same. When they got old and frail, they continued their lives by finding another ready body, and if that body was vacant, they could transfer their consciousness in that body. So in fact the technologies of immortality, the technology of consciousness transference are already realised in some cultures, in some ancient traditions. However they are ignored by the scientific community. And if the scientific community takes a close look at the existence of such technologies and tries to use them it will make them accessible not just to those people who are engaged in spiritual practice but make it a common technology that will benefit the whole of humanity.
We don’t have much time, I would like to answer your questions if you have any.
Woman1: What is a free body?
Swami: It’s when someone had died and if this body is suitable a yogi can enter his body into it.
Woman1: And the body arises?
Swami: Yes it arises. A yogi can live in it for hundreds of years.
Woman2: I have a question
Gubin: Please take turns if possible.
Woman2: Can I ask a question as I have the microphone now?
Swami: OK microphone owner!
Gubin: At least not a new body owner!
Woman2: Great! This is my question: Could you tell me, the very idea of transference of consciousness in a new body, does this idea not stem from the materialistic conception that it is necessary to have a physical carrier in order to possess consciousness?
Swami: What does materialistic concept mean? That there is a spiritual side of life and there is a material side of life. We should not separate them, we simultaneously live in the two worlds. We are developing our consciousness and we are developing our body. We cannot say that we can evolve without the body. The saints, beings that have entered higher realms, can exist without bodies. But in this case we are not talking about saints but about ordinary people, of which there are currently 7 billion on Earth. There is a dichotomy of consciousness and the body. We should develop consciousness through spiritual practices. As for the body, at the moment it is impossible to perfect it for ordinary people. The body gets old, gets ill and dies, and has to go to the toilet, it gets cold, it depends on the temperature in the outside world, it is unable to live in the outer space. We are the slaves of our bodies. Everyone who is approaching an eighty-year-old threshold feels that. Here the distinction between material and immaterial is not important. "Black cat or white cat, if it catches mice it is a good cat" - as they say in China. It is important to resolve the problem of controllability of the body and get rid of the organic limitations of the body. Look at life in a simpler way. Do you want to get ill? Yes or no?
Swami: No you don’t! No one wants to be ill.
Illness is an uncontrollable process in the body. It means we should be able to control our bodies. The question is: can we control our biological bodies? The answer is "no". Can medicine control this body? No. Medicine, unfortunately, todays’s medicine is the medicine of 100% mortality. In the end, it has not cured anyone from death. Is this so or not? This is so. We should create new medicine – the medicine of immortality.
Woman1: I have already asked the question about the search for a new body, but I want to make it more specific. Do you personally know cases when consciousness transported itself into a free dead body and than the body arose?
Swami: Yes I do.
Gubin: This is a definitive answer. I promised a microphone to someone? Who wanted to speak? Lets keep gender equality here one, one man, one woman.
Woman3: As a Russian person I wanted to turn to the words of St Paul, as our country is Orthodox, and we all read the New Testament: “Not all of us shall die, but everything will change”. How do you understand these words? Does it mean not the transference of consciousness into a new body, least into a dead body, but the changing of the flesh through changing of the consciousness itself?
Gubin: Thank you.
Swami: I think we should look at both variants. What can we say about the humans of the future? If these humans of the future attained immortality, it means they would have several carriers. For example they would transfer their consciousnesses into “lightbodies”, as it is shown in the science-fiction film "Clay". Apart from that, they would be able to transfer their consciousness into an artificial body made up of a cluster of nano-robots. Moreover, they would have other bodies, and their consciousnesses could use those bodies as you wear your suits. This is the principle of invariance that a Russian professor, transhumanist Alexander Bolonkin who currently lives in America, was talking about.
If we talk about ordinary humans, perhaps, for the time being this will be the end of it. But yogis who reached a high level of training, are able to realise thinner, divine bodies through meditation and visualisation. Further development, the evolution of every person will result not to people becoming just immortal and multi-bodied. The creative forces of consciousness would be awoken and form a whole individual tunnel of controllable reality. So the material, physical universe will become a psychological reality. So every person will live in the consciousness created tunnel of reality, like Creator God.
The ideal of a person as Creator God has been described on numerous occasions in the traditional texsts of Vedanta philosophy. Such existence is called "Mandelishvara". That is –"Mandala" reality created by consciousness, and "Ishvara" – a lord or master. A lord of psychological reality. The immortal person, the person as Creator God is the ideal of Vedanta philosophy and Vedanta practices. I believe this an ideal of any religious faith. However, nowadays religious faith is often understood as a religious, political or denominational institution, but this mystical side of any religious tradition, unfortunately is not understood in contemporary society. If the science turned to religious traditions not as political or ritualistic institutions, but as an esoteric and mystical tradition, it would discover many such things.
Gubin. Svami, if you let me, lets have the last question otherwise we will be stealing time from Professor Stepin.
Man. Based on what you have said, would you recommend the creation of a unified religion?
Swami. I think, we should be thinking not about the creation of a unified religion but of common principles which would be a basis for all religions. The existence of many religions is not a bad thing, it is like different schools in martial arts. Let the many schools of martial arts exist, they are all valuable. Let us have many religions. If you go to a garden and see only roses, it is a bit dull, right? If there are many different flowers but on the on the same platform so to say, this will probably be better. So it’s worth talking about a unified worldview for all religions.