Originally Posted by GermanStar
That relies entirely on how you define "the human cause", does it not? You have embraced a very Western notion, that doesn't make it right or wrong, only Western. How does knowledge and technology translate into day to day peace and contentment for the masses?
Have you ever seen the film, The Emerald Forest? It's an engaging story, with the Amazon rain forest as a backdrop for the culture clash between the Invisible People (the good guys), the Fierce People (the not-so-good guys), and the Termite People (us). It's as intriguing an exploration of technology and progress as the movie Contact is of "faith". Highly recommended.
Note that I have not used language such as "intellectual boobs trapped in their ivory towers" or any other disingenuous description to color either side of the discussion. Is it your belief that the path toward calm is so difficult as to be unattainable for mere mortals (you seem to suggest otherwise -- 'anyone can do it'), or are you simply trying to enhance your argument by unfairly suggesting that lengthy (or permanent) seclusion is a requirement of attaining a healthy and positive emotional state, along with your equation of this emotional state to an "introverted mind-fuck of an existence"? If you don't believe that Stephen Hawking's enormous intellect is in part due to his "introverted mind-fuck of an existence", you are fooling yourself.
I made no secret of the alien nature of the "universal love" concept.
I'll answer your questions chronologically.
Advancing the "human cause", to me, is that which serves to help us lead healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives - that which helps us not only understand the things that cause pain and suffering, but which help us eliminate them.
Being an earth sign, I view these advancements as largely tangible in nature. Science & technology that help people live free of disease in poor countries; discoveries that lead to development of a civilization that is (at least) able to harness all the energy of our home planet. That kind of stuff.
When we have the low-hanging fruit taken care of, I think probably just about everyone would enjoy the opportunity to pursue lives of enlightenment, or whatever else tickles their fancy - it'd be appropriate to do so when one's own psyche was the last source of pain & suffering on the planet.
Question two - I don't know that the "peace and contentment of the masses" is really the goal technology aims to reach, is it? Peace and contentment may be attribtues of an advanced society, but I don't think that's the sole aim. Intellect will address half of that equation - contentment. Enlightenment would address the other.
Question three - I've not seen the movie, but if it's on-par with Contact, I've plainly missed out. Sounds fascinating.
On your assertion regarding the path the Dalai Lama and his kind have chosen to follow, I've basically been trying to pin you down on what you're playing at. Apparently, calm and inner-peace aren't altered states, attitudes, personal choices, or emulatable by the average man, yet this indescribable manner of being is somehow the key to untold, "Bill & Ted's" like harmony on mother earth.
I maintain that *anyone* could
retreat into the Himalayas, clam up, let their mind and thoughts wander, challenging the truth of all they know and all there ever was, because one needs no special gifts to do so. That means people who've done so are certainly unique, but not necessarily special or gifted, and that's why they're not as fascinating (to me) as people gifted with a superior intellect.
Furthermore, I still maintain that short of acting with indifference to everything around you and that happens to you, you cannot immerse yourself in the world as it's known to 99% of it's population, and reach this state of "universal peace and love". Were that the case, the Buddhists wouldn't retreat to the remotest mountains of Asia and stop speaking for years on end. If that's not an introverted mind-fuck of an existence, I don't know what is.
You won't believe me, but I honestly have no animosity toward them. To the contrary, I respect their dedication to their calling. In the grand scheme of things, I think it's kind of laughable, but I don't begrudge them doing what they do.
I'm glad for those who have the freedom to pursue such lofty, if not utterly impractical goals, but I find nothing of use to mankind in doing so. The results of your poll indicate more people than not would tend to agree with me.
I don't believe that lengthy or permanent seclusion is required for one to achieve a healthy and positive emotional state; I don't think an absence of passion, emotion, principle, etc. to be negative, nor do I find them to be exclusive of a healthy and positive emotional state. I do think seclusion to be necessary if you're to find a place in your soul where 1) you love everything and everyone, 2) you're invested in that which happens around you, 3) you're not being purposely obtuse or wearing an artificial facade to maintain the illusion of #1 while supporting #2.
Of course, this is strictly the opinion of a westerner, chasing westernized goals, living a westernized life, doing right by his maker, and to whom the Buddhist monk's lifestyle is a fairy tale flight-of-fancy rooted in a culture with which I'm not even remotely familiar.