The End of the Beginning


 

At last, we have reached the end of the classic Mayan Long
Count calendar, the 5,125-year cycle that ends on December 21 of this year. The
mainstream media has, predictably, used the occasion to ridicule the straw man
they irresponsibly helped to set up: That this was a doomsday threshold, as
silly as Y2K. At the same time, the worst and best predictions of alternative
theorists ranging from Graham Hancock to Paul LaViolette to Jose Arguelles,
Terence McKenna, John Major Jenkins, David Wilcock, and Carl Johan Calleman
have failed to materialize.

Apparently, a galactic superwave is not engulfing our planet, as LaViolette proposed. We are not confronting immediate cataclysmic earthquakes
and volcanic eruptions, as Hancock sensationally predicted in his bestselling
Fingerprints of the Gods. We are, also, not suddenly attaining collective
enlightenment as Calleman, Arguelles, and John Major Jenkins conceived. Our
pineal glands are not being instantaneously flooded with DMT, as Wilcock concocted.
We have not reached the Eschaton or Singularity, where time collapses as we
construct the final technological object at the end of history and complete the
Great Work of alchemy, as McKenna playfully projected.  We are not
ascending out of our bodies into the astral plane. But does this mean that this
threshold was meaningless? Not at all.

As a personal aside, I am delighted we are finally getting beyond this date
with destiny. Over the last months, my work has been constantly ridiculed and
put down by mainstream journalists who parrot preconceived ideas. Almost as a rule,
these journalists avoided watching the film I made with director Joao Amorim,
which is freely available on Netflix, or reading my book. Each article is a
tiny piffle of stupidity and ignorance, adding to the great vapidity. Although
I am used to it, it is still painful to be misunderstood.

As discussed in my book and film, and repeated again and again in talks and
essays, I am among those who consider this juncture to be the center — the
hinge point — in a shift of planetary consciousness that will lead to a deep
transformation of human civilization over the next few decades. The aspects of
our situation that make this inevitable include the ecological crisis unleashed
by human activity over the last centuries, the accelerated evolution of technology
that has made us globally connected, and the integration of the world's
esoteric and mystical traditions with modern scientific thought.

It is too bad that the media didn't factor in the recent reports on
accelerating climate change from the World Bank and the UN into their articles
on the Mayan Apocalypse. According to these studies, global temperatures will
rise between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in this century — but these projections
are probably conservative. We currently put more than 8 billion tons of carbon
into the atmosphere each year, and this figure keeps rising.

We are discovering there are many feedback loops in the climate that accelerate
warming trends, past a certain point. We don't know when we cross the point of
no return, or if we have already crossed it. To take one example, a vast amount
of carbon and other gasses were trapped underground and beneath the oceans
during previous epochs of geological activity. Gigantic stores of methane lie
under the Siberian permafrost — as much as 1.2 trillion tons of CO2. As the Arctic
melts, the methane gets released — apparently the arctic shelf is already
perforated, with gas leaking from it. Methane is 8 times more powerful than
carbon as a heat-trapping gas. Similarly, as the oceans grow warmer, they not
only become dangerously acidic, but begin to release CO2 in large quantities. As
the tropical climate becomes dryer and hotter, tropical forests, like the
Amazon, turn into tinderboxes. When they burn, they go from being carbon sinks
to releasing masses of stored carbon into the atmosphere. We are already seeing
an increase of forest fires around the world.

Glaciologists found that "roughly half of the entire warming between the
ice ages and the postglacial world took place in only a decade," writes
Fred Pearce in With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in
Climate Change
, with a temperature increase of nine degrees during that time.
While it is possible that nonhuman factors such as solar activity contribute to
global warming, our continued tinkering runs the risk "of producing a
runaway change — the climactic equivalent of a squawk on a sound system."

Warming by just 2 degrees will eventually cause the "complete melting of
the Greenland ice sheet, which would raise global sea levels by seven
meters," according to Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter
Planet
. A seven-meter sea level rise would inundate coastal areas around the
world, and have devastating effects on low-lying countries like Bangladesh,
Pakistan, and Holland. In the US, all of our coastal cities would be abandoned.
A 6 degree rise in temperature would have such devastating consequences that there
would be little left of the world we know now.

Climate change is only the most immediate of the catastrophic threats we face,
due to our own ingenuity and our race to material progress. The loss of biodiversity
is another one. We are currently in the Sixth Great Extinction, and it is
estimated that 25% of all organisms will be gone from the face of the earth in
the next 25 – 40 years. All tropical forests will be gone in forty years at current
rates of deforestation. The oceans are 90% fished out of large fish, and coral
reefs are disintegrating and disappearing around the world.

As with climate change, the most threatening aspect of species extinction is
that we don't know when our impact on the living world reaches a point where it
becomes uncontrollable. For instance, the loss of pollinating species like bees
and butterflies could have a disastrous effect on agriculture. Amphibians such
as frogs play a crucial role in the ecosystem, and so on. We are discovering
that the web of life on earth is an intricate mesh, and we are tearing it to shreds.

The threat of industrial and military cataclysm also remains severe. Recent examples
include the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, unleashed by
British Petroleum, which released more than 5 million barrels of oil into the
ocean before it was capped, with oil probably still seeping out; and the
ongoing Fukushima nuclear meltdown, incited by an 8.9 Richter earthquake off the
coast of Japan. The potential for the use of biological or nuclear weapons
during a military campaign or as a terrorist retaliation remains significant,
and could grow considerably as climate change impacts many areas of the world, creating
masses of refugees and enraged ethnic groups.

Most people are incapable of contemplating these threats to our immediate
future. People have been programmed by the media to remain disconnected,
cynical, and detached. They are indoctrinated to pursue their personal
ambitions, to take no responsibility for the planetary situation as a whole. A
vague faith in technological progress has become the religion of atheists and
materialists. While we create amazing things with our technology, we also
unleash negative consequences along the way. For instance, plastic not only
collects in every ecosystem and in the oceans, but also in our endocrine
system, causing reproductive dysfunctions and cancers. Our development of new technology
is oriented toward profit, with no precautionary principle in place.

The only way we will be able to confront the extreme challenges facing us is
through a planetary awakening of consciousness and a global movement of civil
society. Luckily, as we become ever more interconnected through social
networks, this awakening is taking place. We saw it last year in the Arab
Spring and in the rapid spread of the Occupy movement, which used social media
like Facebook and Twitter to coordinate protests and counter lies and
distortions of the corporate media. In the near future, it is conceivable that
social networks will replace the hierarchical and authoritarian structure of corporations
and governments with peer-to-peer and open-source systems for group
decision-making and collective action.

We are coming into the realization that our human family constitutes a single collective
organism — one that is in symbiotic relationship with the planetary ecology as
a whole. As we shift into this understanding, we will redesign our social,
cultural, political, financial, technological, and industrial systems so they
support the health of the biosphere in its entirety. This will require a
massive shift in priorities for us as individuals, as well as a new mythological
underpinning for our civilization as a whole. We will shift from quantitative
and materialist values to qualitative ones that include a spiritual or psychic
dimension. When we act, we will be mindful of the whole of humanity, and the
future of the earth — not just our own wants and desires.

What we will give up in this transition will be much less than what we will
receive. As Donella Meadows writes in The Limits to Growth: A Thirty Year
Update
, "People don't need enormous cars; they need admiration and
respect. They don't need a constant stream of new clothes; they need to feel
that others consider them to be attractive, and they need excitement and variety
and beauty. People don't need electronic entertainment; they need something
interesting to occupy their minds and emotions. And so forth. Trying to fill
real but nonmaterial needs — for identity, community, self-esteem, challenge, love,
joy — with material things is to set up an unquenchable appetite for false
solutions to never-satisfied longings. A society that allows itself to admit
and articulate its nonmaterial human needs, and to find nonmaterial ways to
satisfy them, would require much lower material and energy throughputs and would
provide much higher levels of human fulfillment."

I believe a very important aspect of this ongoing shift will be bringing our
psychic capacities into our conscious awareness, and the continuing realization
that the mystical wisdom of ancient civilizations and aboriginal cultures has
direct meaning for us now. The integration of Eastern mystical disciplines and
indigenous shamanism into the modern Western worldview is an ongoing process.
The Eastern concept of non-duality is something that more Westerners understand.
Carl Jung was one pioneer in recognizing that the psychic and physical worlds
are not separate, but form one interconnected whole.

It is possible that humanity has unconsciously willed a planetary mega-crisis
in order to force us to access our latent psychic abilities. Within a few years
we may be doing global visualizations and meditations to bring about world
peace and reverse climate change. In fact, December 21 is already the subject
of a global experiment in collective meditation, happening at 11:11 am
Greenwich Meantime, the exact moment of the solstice. You can register at
www.unify.org to be part of this initiative.

The odd fact that the moment of the solstice on 12/21/12 happens at 11:11 AM seems
a wink from galactic intelligence, reminding us that what we are experiencing is
a dream — a cosmic play, or what Hindus call "lila". We are being
invited to awaken into the dream and recognize our role as conscious dreamers
whose thoughts and actions bring this world into being. I agree with futurist
Barbara Marx Hubbard that this threshold represents the shift into
"conscious evolution." We are realizing that we have the capacity to
advance evolution in all areas of life — and in fact have no choice but to accept
this responsibility. But we can only do this properly when we adapt a
Christ-like or Buddha-like sensibility, based on empathy and compassion for all
of humanity and all of the species that share the earth with us.

As for the misconceptions of the various alternative theorists about this time,
it is in the nature of this kind of archetypal process that it is very
difficult for any individual human mind to encompass it completely. We seem to
be in a time of great destruction as well as a time of creation and renewal, as
many prophecies have foretold. We see the same tendency with the various
religions around the world, which were based on a mystical revelation of pattern,
but over-literalized what they intuitively understood, and built a fortress of
faith and belief around it. In the future, we will find a way to speak about
this archetypal process – of messianic descent, salvation or enlightenment –
that satisfies the various religions of the world, and perhaps defines a new
universal religion or spiritual impetus for humanity, as a whole.

Through their deep study of cosmological and natural cycles, combined with
their shamanic explorations into visionary states of consciousness, the classic
Maya civilization were able to accurately predict this time as the crux of a
planetary transition — which it is. They couldn't comprehend it in the way we
can, but they knew that the culmination of this great cycle meant a shift into
a new way of being for humanity on the earth. We are the ones who have arrived
at this juncture — and we are the ones who will decide whether, or how, human
civilization will continue, from here on out. It is wonderful that we have this
precious opportunity. The question remains whether or not we will choose to
make use of it.

Image by Cherrylynx, courtesy of Creative Commons license.