By Ian Purdie

According to the ancient Mayan calendar, the fifth age of the sun ended on 21st December 2012. So did the calendar itself.

Up until then the Mayans had plotted complex cycles of days that appear to bear little resemblance to our contemporary understanding of time which we divide into months and years.

The Mayan long count began on the 11th August 3114 BC and lasted 5,126 years ending on 21st December, 2012.

For the Mayans, their mysterious cycles conditioned and controlled life in a very precise way that was clearly understood and well documented in the snippets of their literature that survived the appalling destruction wrought by Catholic Bishop Lander who considered it all to be heresy.

December 21st, 2012 , came and went without any of the predicted cataclysmic events and if a lack of natural disasters can be characterised as disappointing, the end of the fifth age of the sun was an enormous anti-climax.

But was it?

Though no spectacular physical changes marked the event, since then our world has changed profoundly in many subtle and not so subtle ways.

The old ways don’t seem to be working anymore.

Pic by Jeremy Horton of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula

Our well-established political systems are faltering. Neither communism nor capitalism are delivering benefits for most common people. In Europe we have the Brexit debacle and, in the US, the Trump impeachment fiasco. In Britain we have two royals, Harry and Meghan, who decided they don’t want to be royal anymore. In functioning democracies, we have increased polarity between ‘left’ and ‘right’ and the resurgence of white supremacy, fascism, racism and bigotry. From the inability of the Israeli democratic system to deliver a workable government, to the people of Hong Kong rioting on the streets for months on end against Chinese governance, our politics are failing.

Nor are our economic systems working like they used to. The ridiculous concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the increase in debt, both personal and national and the advent of currencies like Bitcoin, based purely on hope and faith, are all signs of impending collapse. Homelessness is a major feature of the sixth age of the sun for millions of previously middle-class people.

Then there’s the failure of our religions. Recently exposed paedophile priests are gnawing at the foundations of every denomination of Christianity on every continent. Buddhists are murdering Muslims in Myanmar while Muslims and Christians are slaughtering each other across the globe. The nuclear armed Hindus in India are threatening the nuclear armed Muslims in Pakistan and vice versa. Yet all of these great world religions have a core message of peace and love and they all condemn greed and selfishness.

The author standing in front of The Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque

The destruction of families has continued unabated since the late 20th century and is fuelling the growing scourges of drug addiction and most horrifying, the recent pandemic of youth suicide.

But some things haven’t changed. Despite our amazing advances in technology we are still living by the law of the jungle. Only now, it isn’t survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the richest. We’ve merely redefined what a top predator is in our modern world. It’s not the strongest or even the smartest. Instead our societies favour the most greedy and the most selfish.

Human rights and the rule of law have been established in some countries but most people are still born with no rights and live in abject poverty. Instead of lifting these people to share the bounties of our advancements, we exploit them. Fabulously wealthy multi-national corporations have moved most manufacturing to places where they don’t have to pay a fair price for labour or resources and funnel their immense profits to benefit people with no conscience regarding the sources of their wealth.

The sarcophagus lid of Lord Pacal’s tomb in the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque

If we are to survive as a species in the sixth age of the sun, this has to change.

According to the Mayans we are now in uncharted territory. Their predictable cycles of winals (20 days), tuns (360 days), katuns (20 tuns) and baktuns (20 katuns), no longer apply. Every day was imbued with a sacred significance, now they are not.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that the sixth age of the sun is not precisely locked into the cycles of nature, either local or cosmic. We have conquered the natural forces that conditioned our existence, from natural selection to geography and even the weather. All of these forces are now either controlled or heavily influenced by humans.

The internet has created a type of hive-mind that everyone with a connected device is a part of. However, we are not controlling it, it is controlling us and this control is driven by our primitive desire to exploit, rather than by an evolved compulsion to provide the type of empowerment that the World Wide Web has the potential to provide. We are not using our control in a way that is beneficial to ourselves or anything else.

The Papantla Flying Men perform their vertigo-inducing rituals, dancing and spinning from atop of a tall wooden pole by ropes attached to their ankles. The four flying men who descend from the pole represent the fourcardinal directions, relating each one thefour elements, earth, air, fire and water Courtesy Jaspa’s Journal.

Consider the example of climate change. This is a global issue requiring a coordinated global solution, something one would imagine our newly acquired hive-mind would be perfect to facilitate.

Instead we are using this potentially liberating technology to create confusion and obscure the reality of the dire predicaments we are facing. We have not accepted the mantle of actual leadership and the responsible stewardship of our world. Instead we are creating distraction, misinformation and a vehicle to further personal pettiness.

We have stepped outside nature without appreciating the responsibilities inherent in our new reality.

To survive in the sixth age of the sun an evolution of human nature is required.

We can no longer exploit our planet pretending its resources are infinite and they will continue to be replenished for us by our benevolent creator. This is a bronze age fantasy. Having wrested control over nature, we must now take control of ourselves.

The big question is: are we approaching a confluence of tipping points or was 2012 the one big tipping point? If so, we missed its significance, sailing through it unwittingly clinging to our now irrelevant notions that might is right and greed is good.

The time may have passed for us to renounce exploitation in all its pernicious forms and to embrace empowerment.

We live on a relatively small planet and we’ve already used up most of the free stuff. Empowering our planet to allow us to survive requires a paradigm shift that must take place within every individual person. The hive-mind has the potential to do this for us.

Ask not what our world can do for us but what we can do for it!