IF A growing body of speculation is to be believed, then December 20, 2012 (20/12/2012), is a date with destiny.
Google 2012 2012 and you get a phenomenal 197 million results. Scroll down the subheadings and click on "2012 end of world" and you get a similar number of entries.
So why does the date 20/12/2012 arouse such interest? Does it really spell the end or the end of time as we know it?
Certainly, there is little by way of concrete scientific evidence – aside from what is forecast about the impact of climate change and global warming – to suggest that civilisation is in its death throes.
So what's all the fuss about?
The genesis for much of the 2012 2012 material revolves around the ending of the Mayan calendar. Archaeological records indicate the Mayans were a highly advanced civilisation who seemingly appeared in the remote areas of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico more than 1500 years ago, built an advanced agricultural-based society and then abandoned their greatest cities around the ninth century.
Although much about the Mayans remains a mystery, we do know they were master stargazers, who devised one of the most sophisticated calendars for tracking galactic time based on a traditional 260-day count intertwined with a traditional 365-day calendar.
The two cogs of the Mayan time wheel mesh every 52 years. Their dual calendar was based on the Earth's rotation around the sun and our sun's rotation around the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.
According to the Mayans, every 26,000 years or so there is a grand cosmic alignment, when our sun and its planets line up with the equator of the Milky Way. This calculation roughly correlates to the Kali Yuga (the passing of one age into another) of Hindu philosophy, and the grand cycle represented by the sun moving through all of the heavenly constellations, which is the basis of astrology.
If this is the end of a so-called great cosmic cycle, what are the theories we are at a tipping point? Among the trends used as indicators are:
The ecological crisis, including accelerated climate change, species extinction and the depletion of resources.
The collapse of organised society through terrorism, fundamentalist wars, religious intolerance and the growing disparity between those who have and those who don't.
The speeding up of time. One, albeit disputed, theory, referred to as Schumann Resonance (referred to by some as "the Earth's heartbeat"), suggests the natural electro-magnetic frequency of Earth has increased since the early 80s from 7.83 cycles per second to over 12 cycles per second. So the theory is that the equivalent of a 24-hour day is now a 16-hour one.
The wobble effect, based on the theory the Earth's magnetic centre of gravity is being affected by a) the effects of climate change, b) the movement of our planetary system through what is known as the photon belt, and c) the rotational velocity of our sun and its planets through the spirals of the Milky Way. Theorists argue that as stars approach the spiral arms, they slow down and cause "a stellar traffic jam". They pass through and accelerate on the other side.
A somersault in the Earth's magnetic polarity. About every half a million years or so, the Earth's magnetic field flips upside down. At present, magnetic north is heading out of Canada into the Arctic Ocean around 16km per year.
Solar minimum was in 2006. According to a Nasa report published that year, "the next solar maximum should be a real doozy – 30% to 40% stronger than the recorded solar maximum in 1958". The Nasa forecast puts the next solar maximum at 2012.
Irrespective of how these indicators are interpreted, environmentalists say we cannot sustain life on planet Earth if we maintain our current survival mentality habits – mass consumption and unfettered capitalism, which is extremely efficient at creating products and services but has caused damaging effects on society and the environment.
Any of the above trends, on their own, could have a catastrophic impact to life on the planet but does that mean we are about to experience what futurist John Peterson describes as "another punctuation in the equilibrium of human nature"?
Evolution theorist Ervin Lazslo – the founder of systems philosophy and author of The Chaos Point – says the challenges we face from environmental disasters, global epidemics and the collapse of financial and political alliances are culminating in a chaos point in which "we can either choose a more sustainable world or see our civilisation and ecological systems break down".
His view mirrors that of former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel, who in an address to the US Congress in 1991 said: "Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better... and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed, the ecological, social, demographic or general breakdown of civilisation, will be unavoidable."
Although sceptics might justifiably question where the science is in all of this, one of the most referenced 2012 2012 authors, Mayan expert and self-described visionary Jose Arguielles, says our science is fatally flawed and offers only a linear view of reality, which is multi-dimensional.
In a recent book by Stephanie South, 2012: Biography of a Time Traveller, he argues that modern science is based on matter and therefore falls short of accurately defining the nature of reality.
"It does not admit that there could be other realities, other dimensions co-existencing with this reality.
"Mayan science assumes that the key factors in universal operations are factors of resonance – vibratory cycles or vibratory waves."
Certainly, all of our great spiritual and religious traditions do allude to our capacity to vibrate or resonate at a frequency or state of consciousness that supersedes our current frames of reference.
It doesn't matter whether we actually believe Jesus walked on water, thus defying scientific laws, or whether there really are holy men
and women in India who can materialise things out of thin air or whether the state of enlightenment that Siddhartha Gautama Buddha referred to is real.
The intrinsic message behind all spiritual principles is that the power of causality lies within us.
And while this seemingly contradicts the belief that cause and effect is solely the province of science, the spiritual principle of karma, which is in essence the Christian creed of "as ye sow, so shall ye reap", was well-known before it was documented as Newton's law of motion – every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
From a philosophical point of view, it is obvious that despite the advances mankind has made over the past 500 years, the progressive denial of our inner reality at the expense of external gratification has resulted in an external world that is fast becoming uninhabitable.
We do know we are a world divided by factionalism and greed.
In order to evolve out of our current self-centredness, we might well need to embrace a new kind of consciousness, a new norm, a more universal approach to life.
If the 2012 2012 predictions and prophecies infer anything, it is that we are at an evolutionary point where we need to take a quantum leap in a spiritual, rather than religious sense, or face the seemingly inevitable consequences of a way of living that destroys rather than supports.
Whatever transpires on December 20, 2012, civilisations have risen and fallen in the past and will continue to do so. We might be approaching a turning point, as some would have us believe, but it's still game on and how we play it is – as it always has been – up to us.
The Secret is out: 2012 is in
According to the Association of American Book Publishers, there have been more than 280 books published on 2012 prophecy-related material in the past three years.
That almost triples the number of titles in the Mind Body Spirit field that Australian Rhonda Byrne's bestseller The Secret has generated since its publication in 2006.
And it's not just the so-called new age visionaries who are leading the publishing phenomenon. There are titles by academics, Bible scholars, environmentalists, psychics, futurists, occultists, philosophers, shamans and social scientists. There's even a dummies guide (The Complete Idiots Guide to 2012), which is a readable and easily digestible handbook for beginners.
The five biggest-selling titles listed on amazon.com are:
Fractual Time: The Secret of 2012 and A New World Age by Greg Bradden.
The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles and Belief by Greg Bradden.
The Mysteries of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies and Possibilities (Essays by 24 leading authorities on the 2012 phenomenon).
The Great Shift: The Co-Creating of a New World and Beyond by Lee Carroll, Tom Kenyon, Patricia Cori.
Serpent of Light: Beyond 2012 by Drunvalo Melchizedek.
All titles available through amazon.com and, in New Zealand, through pathfinder.co.nz
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