The End of the World as We've Known It
by BLAIR GELBOND
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and
gravity, we shall harness...the energies of love, and then, for a
second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered
--- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
You can take the fact that you are reading these words as
proof-positive that the world did not end on the winter solstice -
The media loves to sensationalize “doomsday stories". Our news
programs make sure to set apart small segments, feeding us tidbits
as they simultaneously titillate and terrorize us - their clientele.
Without a doubt, the news media understood that reports of the “end”
of the ancient sacred Mayan would evoke feelings of curiosity,
fascination, and fear – and in the process sell newspapers, movie
tickets, etc. And, just as predictably, once our “date with destiny”
had passed, the same media personalities who had been busy selling
us their scary wares took just as much pleasure dismissing the
whole laughable business: “Can you imagine that so many gullible
people bought the whole Mayan prophecy thing?
And, as they so often do, the media missed the mark by a mile. Such
stories tend to be designed to distract us from the things that
truly matter. And, the message that the Mayans recorded – and wanted
people of our time to understand, some 13 centuries later – does
Some details: Today the Mayan people live in Guatemala, southern
Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, El Salvador and western
The simple fact is that the supposedly primitive “classic Maya”
(435-830 A.D.), who lived in Mexico and Guatemala, possessed an
advanced knowledge of the arts, astronomy, urbanization,
architecture, writing skills and social organization. They also
developed extraordinarily sophisticated mathematical systems,
cosmologies and calendars.
Dr. Jose Argulles writes:
"Unquestionably, the [classic] Maya represent one of the great
civilizational flowerings of planet Earth. Scattered across the
jungles of the Yucatan and the highlands of present-day Guatemala
are incredible numbers of ancient cities and temple sites. Towering
stepped pyramids, finely laid-out plazas, and ceremonial centers are
exquisitely adorned with sculpted stones, covered everywhere with
Also - and this is very significant - the Mayan calendar does not
end on the winter solstice, 12/21/12. Instead, this date is a marker
for the close of three converging cycles of time, each nested within
the other: one of 102,500 years, another with a duration of 25,625
years and a third lasting 5,125 years.
Here is where things get really interesting. The classic Mayans
regarded each of these cycles as an “evolutionary season.” Four
26,000-year evolutionary seasons, form the grand Arcturus cycle of
104,000 years. For us, this age corresponds to the emergence of
anatomically modern humans.
The 26,000 year era, which the Mayans described as a “grand Cosmic
year,” refers to a particular period of collective human growth and
spiritual evolution. This epoch began with the disappearance of the
Neanderthal type and the ascendance of the significantly more
sophisticated Cro-Magnon human. Artifacts strongly suggest that
Cro-Magnon culture was exemplified by fine artwork, body ornaments,
decorated and carefully worked tools, ivory carvings of humans and
animals, musical instruments, and exquisite cave paintings.
The ancient Maya also understood 26,000 year cycles to be composed
of 5 lesser eras of 5,125 years. Each of these was considered its
own World Age or Creation Cycle. Our present great cycle (3113 B.C.
- 2012 A.D.) corresponds to what we have called “civilization” or
“history” (as opposed to prehistory). This final cycle, which began
approximately 3100 B.C., refers to the initial appearance of western
civilizations – the founding of the first Egyptian dynasty and in
Sumeria, the first urban center, the city of Uruk (from which the
name Iraq was derived). The Mayan calendar indicates that this era
ended on 12/21/12.
The Mayan timekeepers believed that all evolution unfolds as a
result of precisely calibrated master cycles of time. Somehow the
multi-dimensional Maya were able to calculate the periods of time
that account for the development of multi-cellular organisms, fish,
reptiles, and the higher mammals, including human beings. Each cycle
was seen as propelling earth's lifeforms to unfold higher forms of
organization and complexity.
This knowledge reflects an astonishingly accurate understanding of
great expanses of time and human evolution – gained without the
benefit of modern archeology, paleo-anthropology, astronomy etc. We
don't know how the Mayans came to an understanding of these
patterns. Yet the reality remains that they did.
The first thing to say is that there is nothing new here. Nature is
eternally cyclic. Here on earth winter (finally!) stretches into
spring; spring unfolds into summer; summer turns a corner and
transforms into fall (all too soon, it seems!). Picture the
exuberance of spring and then summer activity: leaves and buds
appear, flowers bloom, insects busily pollinate plants of all kinds.
Think of autumn: green summer leaves start to change hue (these are
really the leaves' death colors) and begin to fall. All that was
glorious summer gradually disappears; we feel a bit of a chill in
the wind - and in ourselves.
Likewise, imagine the atmosphere at the beginning of western
civilization . The “summer”, so to speak, appears in early Egypt as
the sheer grandeur of the First Dynasty becoming the organizing
principle for entire river valleys, plains, and cities.
Fast forward five millennia - through the twists and turns of the
evolution of civilization in our world - to the present time. Now,
in 2012 it would appear that autumn is quickly transforming into
First, let's step back and have a look at what we usually think of
the achievements of modern, industrial civilization. Quite a few of
us all around the planet now have our own (air-conditioned) cars.
Modern culture gives us access to a dazzling array of foods, whether
at the local supermarket or the corner store. Even amidst our very
troubled healthcare system, many of us are blessed with
technologically advanced medical care. And, in addition to having
virtually all the knowledge in the world at our finger-tips, we
currently have the ability to communicate with someone on the other
side of the planet in the blink of an eye.
OK, now let's step back once more. When we take a courageous,
clear-headed look at the downside of modern society's development we
can see some very significant – and disturbing - negatives.
First, climate change: we already have created a situation that is
beyond what has existed for millions of years. In addition to global
warming and rising oceans, we are already dealing with factors such
as changing weather and precipitation patterns. If these undergo a
radical shift, it will be extremely challenging to adapt global
agriculture to respond to the new climate circumstances. Should this
scenario come to pass we would likely be facing countless
It is highly probable that in the near future we will add roughly
two to three billion people to the earth. In other words we will be
adding enormous numbers of people to the earth at the very time the
climate is beginning to shift and make food growing more precarious.
It has been estimated that within ten to twenty years 40% of the
world may not have enough water to grow their own food.
Species extinction: current projections are that roughly 25% of all
mammals, 12% of all bird species, 25% of all reptiles, and 30% of
all fish are threatened with extinction. This is to say that we are
drastically disturbing the exquisite – and increasingly precarious -
ecological balance of earth's biosphere at the very time that we’re
stressing it with climate change, and stressing it further with
exponential population growth. At the same time we are diminishing
the availability of critical resources like water.
To these factors we must add the impact of the rapidly accelerating
gap between the rich and the poor worldwide. Whether it is a pair of
shoes, eyeglasses, medicine or vitamins, the basics of life are very
quickly becoming inaccessible to some 60% of the world’s population.
Today, many of us are sensing these realities, even if only
subliminally. During the past 5,000 year wave of activity that we
call “history,” we have supposedly succeeded in dominating nature.
Yet, today we find ourselves surrounded on all sides by unforeseen
and potentially disastrous consequences.
Einstein said that we should not expect to solve certain tenacious,
interdependent and complex problems using the same level of thinking
from which we created them in the first place. Clearly, it is time
for a new way of being – a new way of perceiving our lives and a
fresh approach to solving the many global dilemmas we face.
It is our good fortune that scholars who are taking a fresh look at
the Mayans and their calendar are beginning to arrive at a
breathtaking realization. As mentioned earlier, it now appears that,
in calibrating great expanses of time, the Mayans were tracking what
we might consider the universal energies of evolution and
development that function in our galaxy as a whole.
In this way we are coming to understand that there are "seasons,"
not only in nature here on earth, but in our galaxy as well. And
just as on Earth, when one season ends, another begins. Now, as the
previous season is concluding, a new climate - one that is
supportive of human transformation and maturation - is in the
process of being born.
Today, just as the Mayan calendar predicted, the reality is that we
are at a crossroads and have the potential to either move into a new
season of growth and development – or to descend into chaos. To take
advantage of this unique window of opportunity we will need to
become willing to wake up and expand our consciousness. This will
surely involve re- learning how to stay attuned to the cycles of
nature – at many levels.
To do so we will need to move beyond the now obsolete paradigms of
“man over nature,” “men over women,” and “men over other men.” This
means maturing beyond the belief that we must dominate others to
survive. In fact the opposite is true: these notions are not only
outmoded – they are now putting humans on the endangered species
The Mayan calendar suggests that, with the ending of three major
aeons of time, humans currently are being offered the possibility of
choosing to create a new chapter – actually a new world - based on
respect, creativity, and caring for ourselves and the rest of the
Biosphere. There is much to learn – and to unlearn. One of our most
important lessons will be to free our hearts so that we can see the
world through the lens of wholeness and compassion.
The Mayans may have much to teach us about our present predicament.
Even so, we will need to move through – and beyond – our denial, and
apply whatever we may learn to our current problematic
circumstances. To do so we will need to join together, make this
knowledge our own, and take wise action to create a sustainable
One place to begin is with the unify movement, which can be found at
unify.org. With so much at stake, how can we delay? Each of us is
called to choose a new way – today. We will make the path by walking
Blair Gelbond is a
currently a psychotherapist in Brookline. He had an office in East
Boston for nine years.