We are living through strange and unsettling times. Perhaps it has always seemed that way, especially to those who are spiritually sensitive, but nowadays it is increasingly clear to many people, spiritually inclined or not, that a cycle is drawing to a close. Our feelings about this may manifest in different ways according to our particular interests and concerns. Thus some would say that the economies of the world, especially the Western world, have reached a breaking point, and that the recent banking crises only represent the tip of a far larger iceberg of financial malpractice and chicanery. Others point to the almost universal corruption and cynicism in politics with ideas of both left and right now equally stale and irrelevant. Still others lament the destruction of social values and traditional standards, often started, it is true, with the best of intentions in the name of freedom but that freedom has brought responsibilities to which we have not always been equal. Then there are the arts which have abandoned their mission of inspiration and, as a result, are in a state of steady decline, in terms of the heights to which they are capable of soaring at any rate. Isolated renewals here and there hardly alter the main picture. Our worries over climate change point in the same general direction and I could go on. In pretty much every area there is a (maybe not universal but) widespread feeling that things are amiss, and that the trend towards degeneration and even, possibly, disintegration is irreversible. In this post I want to examine that feeling.
Last year there was great excitement about the Mayan calendar's apparent prediction of a mass physical and/or spiritual transformation of the planet in December 2012. This reached such a pitch that I would not be surprised if many people interested in New Age or esoteric forms of spirituality (but who were otherwise perfectly sane!) felt that there could be something in it. Obviously there wasn't. Despite some face-saving attempts after the time had passed to claim that we had entered a new cycle, it is apparent that the date was without significance. In a similar way I remember that many people in the alternative communities of the 1970s were talking about earth changes that were imminent, certainly expected before the end of the millennium. They didn't happen either.
Now, I am not saying that a cycle isn't ending or that there might not be earth changes, maybe even dramatic ones. In fact, I believe both of those things to be true. But I have no idea when they will take place, and I guarantee to you that nobody else does either, whatever what may be claimed by certain spiritual teachers or communicated from the next world through channeling. When you have been around for a while you notice that no predictions of this nature ever come true. At the same time, the fact that these predictions are made with such regularity, and that there is widespread receptivity to them, does indicate something.
What it indicates, I believe, is that the future will not be an uninterrupted continuation of the past. Something is ending and some new thing is about to begin, and many people intuitively sense that. They react to this intuition, and sometimes seek a focus for it and an expression of it. Thus the psychic communications and predictions come about as attempts to give concrete form to the intuition. They are not correct in their specifics but they are correct as indicators of a more general truth. They are mentally constructed formulations, built up out of the recipient’s pre-existing patterns of thought, of a truth that exists, at the moment, only on an ideal or abstract plane.
When Jesus spoke of his second coming he said that no one knew when it would be save God alone. No man knew, and not even the angels in heaven. Note, not even the angels in heaven. So if we take his statement seriously (and I believe we should) it means that no channeled prediction of the future can be regarded as reliable. But that is not to say that we cannot view such things as warning signs on the horizon. Like most prophecy they belong more to the world of myth than reality and though myth has its own reality, that lies chiefly on a symbolic level. As usual wisdom lies in the middle course. Don’t take such things literally but do see them as symptomatic of something real, or, at any rate, potentially real.
I have been asked if the Masters who spoke to me ever mentioned the Age of Aquarius or the collapse of the world, as we currently know it. They did not. They were spiritual teachers and so they spoke only of what is directly relevant to spiritual training, and that is the development of sensitivity to the soul. How to acquire that sensitivity and how to detach oneself from possession (the word is not too strong) by the lower self. They did say that the world was in a state of great spiritual ignorance, possibly the greatest ever, which is a sobering thought, but they did not predict the future because their concern was, as ours should be, with the present. They would have regarded any kind of preoccupation with what is to come as a distraction from the true spiritual task of radical rebirth and that is the same today, tomorrow and forever.
Change is certainly coming but then change is always coming. The fundamental fact of this world is impermanence. The spiritual seeker’s aim should be to go beyond impermanence and align him or herself with the unchanging bedrock of existence. It is certainly undeniable that the contemporary world is separating itself more and more from its spiritual source. Most of humanity now accepts no light beyond that from its own mind, and this may well be a sign of impending apocalypse as predicted by various religions. There may be a dramatic collapse of society, there may be earth changes and there may be an Aquarian age just around the corner. On the other hand, there may not or, at least, it may not take the form anyone currently imagines. But if you are a spiritual aspirant concern for the future should not be at the forefront of your mind. Live out of time as much as possible because if you live in time then you live in the mind, and if you live in the mind you live in the material world. Certainly be a wise not a foolish virgin and, if you feel inwardly impelled to take particular actions, by all means do so but know that, from a purely spiritual perspective, a transcendent one in which absolutes apply, the Aquarian Age is part of the world of maya and, in that sense, an illusion.
I do not decry those who seek to bring about positive change in the world. Indeed I commend them, but there are two points to consider. Firstly, real change must always come from within for if there is not inner transformation then outer change will just be the same thing in a different guise. And secondly, when Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world" he was pointing out that even a Golden Age of peace and brotherhood will not be spiritually perfect. Nothing can be on this plane which is a plane of separation and duality. We should certainly try to establish what you might call a spiritually literate society, a society which helps and encourages people in their spiritual growth, but this can never take the place of, or remove the need for, the inner journey which we all have to make individually and alone. The most it can do is offer helpful conditions in which that journey can take place. And even this is a double-edged sword for sometimes the best outer conditions can be the least stimulating for growth. For instance, it is easier to be detached from the world when the world is crumbling. From that perspective a time of spiritual darkness can be a spiritually fecund time in which to be alive as long as you respond to it in the right way.
In conclusion let me say that I believe the future will be very different to the past and we should be ready for that. At the same time, the Aquarian Age is a myth and undue focus on it will only distract you from what truly matters. Please note, I don't say that this myth is untrue but it is not necessarily literally true either. Moreover (and this is the crucial point) even if a Golden Age dawned tomorrow that would not leave you any the more spiritually enlightened. Your task as a spiritual aspirant is to rise above identification with the world of change and becoming so whatever cycle you find yourself in is, in that sense, irrelevant. Cycles only concern the outer expression of things. You must go beyond the movement of the spheres in order to know the unmoving mover.