Hi Gary, There has been a lot of speculation on the doomsday theory of 2012 that many say was prophesized by the Mayans and other ancient cultures. Seeing as you would know more about Mesoamerican civilizations I was wondering if you can offer some insight on this theory or the significance of 2012 on the Mayan Calendar. Thanks, Adam.
The cycle of the Mayan Calendar and the 2012 Apocalypse. What does it mean?
The end of one of the cycles for the Mayan calendar is in 2012. It was customary in the ancient Mesoamerican tradition to periodically let go of all the old traditions, beliefs, and myths, of the past at the end of each cycle. Collectively as a culture they dropped all their baggage. They took a careful look at everything in their culture to determine what worked the best and what didn’t work. With scrutiny and skepticism they tossed outdated theories, methodologies, customs and practices and adopted a new way of life.
In this way their entire society took a leap forward in culture, science, architecture, agriculture, medicine, and spirituality. Most civilizations creep along in growth, attempting to keep the old structures but making changes to them. The result is out dated systems, bureaucracy, red tape, and superstition with changes built on top of them.
We often build systems to last but not with the flexibility to change and adapt with the circumstances, or new discoveries. The wise men and women of ancient time understood that everything changes. They understood that to evolve their society they would have to change their systems also.
Imagine doing that today. Imagine a periodic overhaul of the legal system, education system, environmental policy, health care, and energy policy. Imagine taking the best of what we know about what works in these areas and applying it 100%. Most importantly this means dropping what doesn’t work well without any resistance from the old paradigms. This is what they did. They were masters of detachment and it allowed them to make giant leaps forward in their society.
To outsiders it would appear as the end of the world. It would appear to be the end of the world of beliefs that people operated by. It would mean dramatic change by letting go of all the beliefs, ideology, habits, and customs that you were accustomed and attached to. Your world and your life would change dramatically.
When people describe Mayan prophecy of 2012 and refer to an apocalypse I have to wonder what the fears in their mind are projecting. In letting go of the world of habits that we are familiar with it is uncomfortable. We get comfortable with the familiar, even if it involves inefficiencies, hardship, and suffering. But dramatic changes in your world doesn’t mean that it has to be bad.
What if you did this same process in your personal life? Would the end of your virtual world of beliefs and emotions of suffering be okay with you? Would the end of what doesn’t work about your relationships, career, attitudes, internal dialog of thoughts, and unhappy emotions be a challenging shift? Certainly it would but the Mayans and Toltecs were not afraid of change. They knew they would adopt the best of what worked in these areas and continue on.
One of the difficulties of letting go of our old world of beliefs is that it is very difficult to imagine life with out them. In fact, in many ways it is impossible. While we are enmeshed in old paradigms we are unable to see how our new life will work. The wise men and women of ancient Mexico knew this, and so they didn’t even try. They consciously challenged and overcame their fears that would have them cling to habits of the past. They practiced letting go without knowing exactly what their future would be. It was an act of faith. It was a supreme act of detachment that ensured their freedom from fear and emotional suffering caused by attachments to their past.
In this approach to change we do not know what the coming world will be. We could even say that it does not exist because it hasn’t been created yet. With this perspective we more completely dissolve the past and live in the moment. We sidestep the mind’s tendency to project beliefs from the past into the our mental future. By saying that the world will end as we know it, we free our self from these projections of the mind and the limiting paradigms they contain. This gives us greater freedom to create with more choices in our new life.
To help accomplish this supreme act of detachment the Mayans and Toltecs even structured their language to describe it as the end of the world. They refrained from talking about or even imagining that another world would exist… until they built it for real. This is one of the artful processes of their language and spiritual practices that helped them be present and live in the moment.
The truth is that we have an opportunity to do this kind of change ritual everyday. Each night we lay down to sleep and let go. However, most people live the next day in just about the exact same patterns as previous days. How many patterns of emotions, thoughts, and relationship drama, do you live out today that you have done before? The Mayans, Toltecs, and other traditions set times and created practices to consciously make these changes so they did not fall asleep in old habits like these.
The prophecy of the Mayan calendar that the world will end in 2012 is a metaphor. However if your mind is fertile ground for fear, you will use the idea to create fearful stories and beliefs. To be aware of how your mind generates fear with stories of the end of the world is an opportunity to detach from them. And you don’t have to wait until 2012 to do so.
The audio program in Self Mastery provides a series of exercises to help you identify and change old patterns of behaviors, emotions, and beliefs.