We have just passed winter solstice 2012, the date that some were predicting the end of the world. Some of us may have felt a sense of impending doom, while others treated this prediction as a cosmic joke. Now that this infamous year is almost passed, many of us scoff at the idea that a pre-industrial culture from so long ago could have known anything about a time so far in the future.
The ancient Mayan calendar which had 2012 as its end was not foreshadowing a sudden disappearance of our world as we know it. Rather they were describing the end of an era. I like to think of this as the end of a paradigm. A paradigm is to your thinking mind as the operating system is to your computer. It defines a whole reality within which we operate, based on a set of assumptions and beliefs that we rarely notice. In other words, a paradigm defines our world.
Our mental paradigm enables us to do an amazing array of things such as imagine, create, remember, think, and plan, just as our computer’s operating system enables it to do everything that it does. Yet a paradigm is also limited, as a computer program is limited, and cannot work outside of its prescribed format. I take the Mayan prophesy around 2012 to mean that our familiar paradigm is ending. While this may seem to be a relatively small event, like getting a new computer with a new operating system, the impact on us can be enormous.
Paradigms do not usually fall away easily. Normally the old belief systems that we cling to and define our lives by have to collapse before we discover a new way. And this is usually experienced as our world falling apart. Many of us know what this is like on a personal level, especially if we have been through a deeply traumatic event such as illness, injury, violence, betrayal, or divorce. This changes we are about to go through now will have some of the same characteristics, except it will be on a global level.
As the world around us appears to disintegrate, in whatever form that takes, it may help to remember that the old has to pass away before the new can be born. It seems obvious if we are honest with ourselves that our current way of being in the world is not sustainable and does not make sense on a fundamental level.
The modern industries that enable the lifestyle that many of us enjoy now are systematically undermining the ecosystems of our water, air, and soil that we absolutely depend on for our survival. We also face a troubled financial system and extreme inequality in incomes within our society, an epidemic of obesity and growing dependency on pharmaceutical medication, our continued reliance on war and the proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons, and our inability to get along with each other on the most basic level, as indicated by the ever-increasing rate of divorce and family separation.
I do not wish to point fingers of blame here, but merely to suggest that a pivotal change could be a very good thing for us. We have forgotten how to live in a way that makes us happy and fulfilled, and in our desperate attempts to address the endless needs and fears of our ego we are pitting ourselves against each other and tearing apart the very life systems that support us.
I welcome the ending of this paradigm as I have spent much of my life becoming aware of its limitations and toxic side-effects. I believe there is an entirely different way to experience life which enables us to feel joy, gratitude, love, and forgiveness rather than resentment, fear, anger, and despair. Didn’t many of us just celebrate the birthday of a great teacher who tried to tell us just that?
Blessings to all for a New Year and a New Era,
Miles Sherts – Sky Meadow Retreat – December 2012