Newly arisen amid the rice paddies and cabbage fields just forty miles outside Tokyo is the city of Tsukuba, Japan's "City for Science," recently illustrated in Smithsonian magazine. Tsukuba Science City, as it's now known, was conceived twenty years ago for bringing together the most advanced technological minds in Japan. Today it has become a scientific metropolis. Thus, among many of its thirty thousand residents, Tsukuba is referred to somewhat wryly as "brain city."
A recent science expo at Tsukuba introduced several million visitors to the city's innovative developments in laser technology, robotics, and computer science. Visitors also encountered a dazzling array of futuristic architectural mock-ups.
For the more down-to-earth, Tsukuba's expo boasted the latest in high-tech tomatoes. A massive overhead rotating lens system selects and focuses the sun's most beneficial rays, causing a single plant to produce up to ten thousand tomatoes.
In spite of all the tomatoes, however, as well as the many other fascinations at Tsukuba's twenty-first-century technological wonderland, something, many residents say, is missing. Tsukuba may be a city of brains, they say, but it has no soul.
"I just don't feel at home here the way I did in Tokyo" says Dr. Srigeru Yamane, an electrotechnical research scientist. Although Tsukuba was also intended to serve as an alternative living area for Tokyo's burgeoning population, many Tsukubaites now long for the shoulder-to-shoulder togetherness they once had back in the swarming megalopolis. "It's hard to explain to a foreigner," says Dr. Yamane, "but any Japanese understands it we Japanese like being close together. Despite the space, the green lawns, the clean air or maybe because of them I feel spiritually disjointed here."
Spiritually disjointed? Most of us are probably familiar with how occupational circumstances can separate an individual from comfortable social surroundings and family relationships. We all feel a little "disjointed" at times. But we may not be so aware of how our entanglement in technological endeavors may bar us from the most important necessity of human life, spiritual realization.
From the time-honored Vedic literature, we can understand that human intelligence is meant for cultivating knowledge of our original nature as eternal, spiritual beings, part and parcel of God. A society that squanders its resources in technological competition, therefore, is misusing those resources, especially the resource of higher intelligence.
Ultimately, any truly progressive society must provide for the spiritual benefit of everyone while also providing prosperity, harmony, and unity. This is only possible spiritually, by centering all activities (from agriculture to computer science) on the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The attempt to develop society around any conception other than pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead will always fall short of providing the spiritual nourishment we require.
"But what about all those tomatoes?" one may ask. "Isn't that a wonderful accomplishment, even without God in the center?" But as Krsna explains in theBhagavad-gita, "Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor." Since the tomato plant originally came from Krsna, the sun originates from Krsna, the elements used in the elaborate lens system came from Krsna, and even the intelligence required to put it all together is also coming from Krsna, the credit, as well as the tomatoes, should be offered to Krsna. A society ignorant of the principles of God consciousness even a "brain city" is doomed to remain a society with no soul.