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Wisdom from the Origins: The Mayan Calendar and the Future of Humanity
Glenn Aparicio Parry
December 21st, 2012 is the end of time—the end of the world! But then again, it may only be the beginning of the next world—or the next cycle. Which is correct? Are we in the end times as prophesized by certain religious beliefs— or are we at the precipice of a new age—a golden age of peace and harmony? One thing is for certain: with a rash of weather events such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the tsunamis in Japan and Indonesia, and political turmoil all over the world, something is shifting—even if we don’t know what it is.
Seeking clarity, The SEED Institute think tank sponsored a large conference this past September called: Wisdom from the Origins: The Mayan Calendar and Other Prophecies on the Future of Humanity. SEED’s board and conference organizing committee convened a group of more than 35 presenters, including six members of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, Don Alejandro Cerilo Oxlaj Perez (Head of the Maya Council of Elders of Guatemala), Mayan seer Ac Tah, Maori wisdom keeper Rose Pere, Western visionaries Gregg Braden, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson, James O’Dea and others, joined by 400 attendees at the Marriott Pyramid in Albuquerque. This momentous gathering offered many pearls of wisdom and insights, as this story will attest. But it did not offer final answers, for the rest of the story may depend upon us, the human family—on how we think, act and relate with all who share this Earth during this critical time.
The so-called end of the Mayan calendar and all that may entail was a principal theme, and Don Alejandro and Ac Tah addressed this, as did other Mayan representatives Grandmother Flordemayo, Tata Pedro Cruz, Jose Jaramillo, and Don Gaspar Xiu, the latter a legitimate heir of Mayan kings. As it turned out, the Mayans collectively refuted the idea that the world might end this Dec. 21st, but they did offer guiding principles for living in tune with the energies of the day and all our relations according to their calendar. The conference went far beyond the Mayan calendar, ultimately, featuring a wide variety of cultural views of the future of humanity, specific cultural prophecies on future events, and new paradigms of consciousness from both the presenters and attendees.
In truth, the event was not only a conference, but also “an activation of consciousness,” as Sharry Shipe, one of the key volunteers, opined. Her sentiment was quickly echoed by Sequoyah Trueblood, who spoke early on about “the knowledge that was in him for a long time before he realized it was there”—clearly implying that those who were listening had the same opportunity to awaken to what he succinctly named “Great Thanks, Great Peace, Great Love.” Many others spoke about the unique opportunity that exist at this time in human history, including Barbara Marx Hubbard. “We are part of the Noosphere, or thinking layer of Earth,” she told us, and she herself was grateful for “having lived long enough to see the noosphere almost ready to get its collective eyes.” Continuing, she urged us to “imagine for a moment that a critical mass of humans are connected to consciousness, in spirit, in love of each other and of Mother Earth” …and that “the birth of consciousness of all humanity, of all life on Earth, is connected in consciousness.”
The conference was expected to introduce a great variety of approaches—hence the name Wisdom from the Origins (plural)—but at the same time, the Mayan calendar was selected as a central theme. With all the brouhaha and misinformation surrounding the Mayan calendar, it was incumbent upon the conference organizers to formulate a clear intent. We asked all presenters to serve the people in two ways:
- by helping them prepare to be in a state of readiness for the future
- by helping them remember how to live in rhythm with the Earth
The last point is crucial, because it underlies how we see time. And how we see time is implicated in shifting paradigms of what it means to be human, prophecies on the future of humanity, paradigms of consciousness, nature and so forth. Our perception of time is an important key to understanding the Mayan calendar and much of the cultural diversity of the conference. This is both why I led a concluding dialogue on the subject at the conference and what I want to delve more into now.
It is important to realize at the outset that our current concept of time as linear is not the way humanity (even Western humanity) has always thought of time—and it is also not the only way we can or necessarily always will think of time. The way we think of time is never a given; it is always a cultural choice.
I first began to give due consideration to the subject of time during SEED’s Language of Spirit conference, which began in 1999 and continued for 13 consecutive years before giving birth to the Wisdom from the Origins conference. The purpose of those gatherings was to bring together Native and Western scientists to explore the underlying nature of the cosmos in extended dialogue sessions. In the inaugural conference, Leroy Little Bear, a Blackfoot elder and moderator, posed a seemingly innocent question. He asked: “Is it possible to have an original thought?”
A curious thing happened at that moment. The Western people in the room, with rare exception, tried to think of something brand new, something that had never been done before or said before. The Indigenous people, on the other hand, took the question as an invitation to reconnect with a deep place of origin, as in “wisdom from the origins,” or “Original Instructions” for how to live in harmony and balance with the ecosystemic changes of the Earth.
It was then that I realized what had created the divide between Western and Indigenous consciousness. To Western consciousness, the meaning of “original” has become bound up with time and progressive forward movement. Although it can still refer to a place of origin, “original” has increasingly come to represent something new that has not existed before—which is completely divorced from “origin.” The Western view of origin is about the beginning of time, not place, but to Indigenous consciousness, a divorce from origin has not occurred (at least not as much, for when it does occur, in a very real sense that person ceases to be indigenous, which literally means “connected to the Earth,” connected to place). A Native understanding of origin is much more of a place than a time.
The primary reason why the West has so much trouble understanding the Mayan calendar is not only that our way of thinking about time is completely different than the Mayans—it is also because we assume our way is correct. But the Mayans are the real timekeepers, and I mean “real” because what they measure is real nature. They keenly observed the patterns of nature to be composed of a myriad of recurring cycles on Earth and throughout the cosmos. In other words, time is a circle—something once universally understood, even in the West. In reality, the Mayan calendar can never end because time, as the ancients understood, unfolds in the energy of a circle, emergent from a particular origin and radiating outward, much like the rings of a tree or ripples in water.
What happens when you take a calendar based on natural cycles of change and then try to convert it to one based on an entirely different premise—that time is linear? You can’t do it, and here’s why. Linear timekeeping assumes that events occur in a sequence independent of the observer. Time is abstract—something that happens apart from our direct involvement. But for the Maya, the essential message of the calendar is that we are one with the cycles of the cosmos— that time is within us as much as outside of us.
We smugly think our way of thinking is superior without ever realizing how similarly we once thought to Indigenous peoples, and how recently we have adopted our current view. It was only in the Renaissance that we adopted a new way of thinking of time and space, specifically with the invention of linear perspective in art. It was only then that a linear view became the conventional or “realistic” way to look at the world. The lines of perspective literally represent the future, which is off in the distance; in other words, the future is facing forward—made up of the distance between objects in a visual field. What is between the objects is called empty space.
Before the advent of perspective, we immersed ourselves in living nature, and why not? We are as much a part of any ecosystem as any other creature. Moreover, our physical bodies are made of the same elements that exist throughout the cosmos, as all creatures are. We are the light, the air, the water, and the earth; in fact, we are 70 percent water, just as the bodies of water on Earth. This is why Native people celebrate all our relations—which means everything else, including the elements. But, with a perspective-based view, we remain detached, not in relationship, and this inadvertently sucks the life out of nature and out of us.
The way we perceive is important to think about precisely because we almost never do. Our habitual way of perceiving dismisses the vital energy of nature, leading us to think that we are somehow separate from the pulse of energies that govern the universe. But of course we are not separate; we are completely one with the energy of nature. Our very existence, our vibrational essence, is connected with the planet’s vibration, beginning with the Sun.
Mayan and other prophecies speak of a shift in vibration now upon us. And with this shift, beliefs and perceptions are now changing, often confirming the wisdom of the ancients. Here is what Ac Tah had to say during the conference:
We know that the Sun affects our bodies, and when there is a large amount of energy from the Sun, our production changes. Right now, our production is very limited. Why? Because it depends on our eyes. If there was more energy on the Earth, the center of our eyes would open more. We would realize that there were no empty places on the planet [italics mine]. The space that is in between me and you, from your perspective, it is empty. If you put on x-ray vision glasses, you would see that there is energy between us, and that there are no empty spaces anywhere on this Earth. Actually, it is the concentration of energy that lets our bodies become hard. The energy between us is also matter; it’s just that the vibration is different. We have known this for a very long time.
Today, the Sun has increased its vibration, and for this reason, many people are experiencing many perceptions. There are people who see angels. They have visions, and some smell aromas. They are connecting themselves to another world…. it is very important to realize a change in perception…
Our body is energy and generates sound and vibration. We can generate the solar energy. If you want to generate a great change, you can’t do it if you’re sick. You can’t do it if you’re depressed. You have to have enough energy to generate this great change in consciousness. But how do we generate ourselves with this energy? You should be able to wake up every morning with joy. The Sun is blocked right now. Between our bodies and the Sun there’s a block. TV and radio waves block the Sun’s energy. The majority of the sunshine comes from the Earth back to the clouds. We can generate this energy by using the wisdom of our ancestors. …We [the Maya] have a mathematical system, a geometric form, and it has frequency and sound. When the wisdom of the Maya was ending, the knowledge expanded. It was brought to Asia and Europe. This knowledge was divided. We are now beginning to reintegrate it. Why? Because this is the way we recuperate our essence of God. The world will not change if we do not change ourselves. We all here at this conference are generating a frequency that has not existed before. We can’t continue to think that the world will end because your body moves all of reality. If you think about negativity, then something negative will happen. …We need not feed the fear. Rather, use this wisdom to become more in line [with the wisdom of the ancestors].
Don Alejandro had a similar message, asking people to understand values in life and the importance of loving one another. Mostly, he shared that pollution and corruption were the worst things happening right now. He mentioned that we are at the end of the 5th Sun cycle, which happens every 26,000 years. He said:
Now we must understand that the Sun is not an enemy, but a friend that brings the Earth vital energy, as it does to our bodies and makes our own vitality. Coming from fear is only due to lack of knowledge.
He made it clear that the Mayans are giving us information, not predicting the end of the world. He said that “the family is the unit of oneness, and we must see each other as that family. This in turn will reflect into the Earth itself, and we can live the way we have always been meant to.”
The Western visionaries at the conference had a similar view. Gregg Braden confirmed that one of the key false assumptions of Western science has been the idea of the “empty space” between objects—that “there are forms of energy that occupy all space.” Braden also acknowledged that the basis of Western thinking of history and civilization is linear, that we are taught civilization begins with the primitive and builds to the pinnacle of (you guessed it) us— Western civilization. Braden respectfully points to the achievements of the Mayan, Hopi and other Indigenous societies as proof positive of its falsity. During his presentation, he spoke about the Hopi “Prophecy Rock” and the stark choices it represented—a return to living in harmony with the Earth or an abrupt end to civilization—and was pleasantly surprised to be interrupted by a Hopi elder, Jerry Honawa, who later addressed the subject in detail in his own talk.
The conference was also distinguished by copious amounts of prayer and ceremony. Beginning with all-day ceremonies near Santa Fe and concluding with post-conference workshops, ceremony and prayer were incorporated throughout the conference. One of the benefits of ceremony is that it allows the group to come to one mind in doing an activity in a sacred manner. Each day was embraced as a blessing, beginning with first light ceremonies outside on the hotel lawn. On the last evening, there was an outdoor Mayan fire ceremony that went late into the night. Each morning session inside the hotel also began with a prayer to set the intent for the day, reminding us of the energy on the Mayan calendar for that particular day. Even the regular talks were in a form of ceremony, because the entire room was set in concentric circles of relationship. The same was true for a group dialogue session on the concluding day.
One of the most moving ceremonies at the Wisdom from the Origins conference was the presentation of the Declaration of Commitment to Indigenous Peoples, a document that was created through the Shift Network in partnership with SEED. I served on the committee that drafted the document, but the main author was James O’Dea, who read it out loud to the entire conference on the opening morning. Many tears were shed because of the power of the words and the power of those who were hearing them. At the moment the reading concluded, the crowd burst into a loud ovation, holding hands, crying in joy for some time—until the inimitable booming voice of Dr. Rangamarie Rose Pere, penetrated the room. Her song was one of spontaneous celebration, and she needed no microphone as she took over the room, sending chills down my spine.
One reason the song was so powerful is that the document was so powerful. It went beyond apology, to include four aspects, of which apology was the first. Apology was followed by Responsibility for past actions, including formulation of truthful historical narratives and educational materials; Reconciliation, which referred to the healing that comes with shared ceremony, as was embodied at the conference, and Collaboration in multiple contexts of health, environment, sustainable economies and educational opportunities. The presentation of the document was intended to partially fulfill prophecies that spoke of a coming back together of ancient wisdom with contemporary science at this critical time in human history. This coming together of old and new is what we at SEED call “original thinking.” To experience the power of this event, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYkTLxmeaW4 for a 15-minute video produced by SEED board member Joyce Anastasia. To sign the Declaration itself go to http://declarationofcommitment.com/
There were many other moments that were captivating at the conference, particularly from the women, who were plentiful and strong. We have already spoken of Barbara Marx Hubbard, who even in her 80s, completely captivated the audience. Other powerful women at the conference included Ohki Simine Forest, Woman Stands Shining, Marianne Williamson, Szuson Wong, Michele Rozbitsky and the aforementioned Dr. Rangamarie Rose Pere. Marianne Williamson, in the heat of the election season, spoke of the need to bring spiritual energy into politics. Ohki Simine Forest spoke of the emergence of feminine energy now coming into manifestation, and Woman Stands Shining specifically addressed the rebalancing of the feminine and masculine energies. Many of the men did as well. This theme was so powerful that SEED intends to use it for the next Wisdom from the Origins conference. A working title is: The Dance of The Sacred Feminine and Masculine: The Evolution of Consciousness Post-2012, slated for fall 2013.
During closing remarks, Ac Tah took the opportunity to remind us that it is not enough to love the person next to you at the conference and then go home and act the same way we were acting beforehand. He encouraged us to go home and continue to love our neighbors and all the strangers we encounter as the other you. This was a fitting announcement, as on every conference badge we imprinted the words: “In Lak’ech,” the Mayan way to say: “I am the other you.”
Glenn Aparicio Parry, Ph.D., a writer, psychologist, educator and entrepreneur, is the founder and president of the SEED Institute based in Albuquerque, NM. Parry earned his doctoral degree in Humanities with a concentration in Transformative Learning from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has organized and participated in conferences that have brought together Native and Western scientists in dialogue since 1999. Parry is the author of the forthcoming book Original Thinking: ReThinking Time, Education, Humanity and Nature. For more information, visit www.seedinstituteabq.org, call 505.792.2900 or email email@example.com
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