Thursday, December 10, 2009

What does 2012 mean?

Seven Dharmachari (WQ)

People love to fear. It's exciting. It's one of the principal mental-defilements identified by the Buddha.

There's greed or sense desire that troubles the heart (citta). There's hatred. There's the worst one of all, delusion. Then there's fear (bhava). It's usually not listed separately because it is a kind of hatred. In fear (revulsion, aversion, panic) we kill.

All four are bound up and only analyzed to treat them individually. But to work on lessening the grip of any one of them is to lessen the grip of all of them. More generosity, more love, more wisdom all mean less fear. What will happen on December 21, 2012? I'm going to go out on a limb and declare more than two years in advance that the answer is nothing. Nothing noticeable anyway. Mark my words.

What is 2012 supposed to happen? Whereas the Buddha talked about things to come in the distant future (thousands of years from now), the Mayans weren't specific. Is the world supposed to end? Yes, the old world will change into the new world (and in that way "end").

The Mayans were only marking the end of a cosmic cycle (a 26,000 year phase), because there are or were other beings who lived long enough for those cycles to matter. In the many celestial worlds, such as the six within our own realm, lifespans are incredibly long. Humans can be reborn there, and then those cycles will really matter. So this planet will enter a different zone in space. People will be different, enlightenment easier to achieve, mythologies will be re-understood as more amazing historical than laughably quaint. But for all that, what will people see as different? Nothing.

The age (yuga) to come is one of decline, but that isn't at a sudden turning point. And the age to come after that is golden. And after that? Progressive stages of decline until we come to a time like this again. It's cyclical. Nothing is coming that hasn't come before, which means many amazing things are coming. But there was a time when things were that way, and then, as now, people acclimated and took it for granted. We're taking it for granted. Live now since now is the time to live. There will never be a better time to have meditated than now. Meditation is more than cushion-warming. It's actively being engaged in cultivating:

  • generosity
  • loving-kindness
  • wisdom
  • courage (fearless love)
And how is that done exactly? The easiest and most efficient way is to begin by being mindful. That can be one of two things. It either means being wakeful, cool, clearly (and calmly) conscious, impartial, and not desperately attached to outcomes.

It also means constantly aware of our object of meditation, which we first develop on the cushion then carry around. Our object may be dhammanussati ("constant recollection of the qualities of the Dharma"), or of the Buddha, or Sangha, or devas, or love (metta), or even of death (if we're very attached to things and unmotivated in life due to neglecting their impermanence), or of some particular object of concentration -- such as the breath or a quote from the Dhammapada.

Staying aware of that as we are wakeful is very effective at making the mind serene and lucid, responsive without being reactive, watchful without being stressed. We can engage in everything as before, but we bring to it attention and happiness. Neurotic fear doesn't get the chance to dominate our minds, possess our hearts, or motivate our actions. 2012 is going to be great. Change, which is constant, is not the "end of the world" at all. But if we want our fear, here's a great History Channel "documentary" to afflict our minds with. That'll give brain scientists a reason to treat us in the future.

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