As most people are aware, December 21st of this year marks the end of the ancient Mayan calendar, and for some people this is a special date, marking the arrival of the apocalypse, the end of the world, a great transformation, or a new beginning.
For others, it’s simply a reason to party. Whatever it is or isn’t, it’s almost here.
I suspect that December 21st will come and go, and that the “coming apocalypse” and the “great transformation” will continually appear to loom ever larger on the horizon.
To many people the term “apocalypse” has come to mean the complete and total destruction of the world. However, the religiously-charged term comes from the Greek word apokálypsis, which actually means “revelation” or “lifting of the veil.”
In other words, the original term means a “disclosure of something secret that has been hidden from most people and is finally revealed.”
I see no reason why both the contemporary and the archaic meanings couldn’t be describing the same event, as a sufficiently powerful revelation can mean the end of an old world and the beginning of a new one.
Ecological disasters, technological malfunctions, and terrorist nightmares aside, there are some people who simply believe that an end to humanity’s reign on Earth is inevitable because this is God’s predetermined will.
Some say that humanity lies on the brink of Armageddon, the end of the world is near, and that we are currently witnessing the “Last Days” prophesied in the Judeo-Christian Bible.
However, in Yuri Rubinsky and Ian Wiseman’s book A History of the End of the World they demonstrate how some people have proclaimed that “The End” was near throughout all of human history.
But, throughout the ages, that’s not all that people have said was near.
Just as there have always been people who thought that the end of the world was close at hand, so too it seems, there have always been people who have proclaimed the opposite--that humanity is on the brink of a prosperous New Age, a planetary-wide spiritual awakening, or a quantum leap in evolution.
The Human Potential Movement, transhumanism, and a lot of popular books on mysticism and technology claim that we are evolving into a higher species and headed into a golden age of enlightenment.
There is nothing new about these predictions either--the mystical artist and poet William Blake, and the founder of the Theosophical Society Madame Blavatsky, began talking about the dawning of a New Age in the 1800s. The Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno made similar claims back in the 1500s, as have many others throughout history.
I suspect that every day forward in time from today will seem progressively more and more like the foretold nightmare apocalypse or the promised utopian paradise is faster and faster approaching--with neither event ever quite fully arriving.
It appears that seeing the world as being on the edge of total destruction, or on the verge of a blossoming renaissance, are both, in reality, states of mind that could be accurately describing the world at any time.
All throughout human history people have claimed that we stand on the brink of total chaos or utopia.
I think that both of these views originate from the same source--the dualistic nature of how we perceive the universe, as composed of ever-rearranging dark and light forces.
From our personal perspectives, one force always seems ready to completely devour the other, because they are forever shifting.
However, in actuality, they always remain in perfect balance because they are really both parts of a unified whole, what the Taoists refer to as Yin/Ying.
Nonetheless--because complexity builds upon complexity--cosmic, biological, and cultural evolution all appear to be ever-accelerating processes.
As a result, the darkness seems to be growing darker, the light seems to be glowing brighter, and more and more seems to be happening in less and less time.
This tends to give people the impression that good and evil are headed towards some kind of ultimate showdown--Armageddon--where one force will clearly prevail over the other.
But I suspect that this impression is an illusion, a shifting mirage created from seeing the world dualistically, as everything that we create (with our perception, our language, and our hands) simultaneously creates its own opposite.
However, whatever it is that’s happening on this wayward world--evolution, development, order, growth, decay, or chaos--it’s happening faster and faster, and getting weirder and weirder all the time.
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