We've all heard the pronouncements--ancient Mayans predicted the end of world by December 21, 2012. Perhaps you've read the books, sat through the documentaries, saw the movie.
Now it's 2012 and I can categorically state: this is not the end of the world. According to my friend, the Irish American storyteller Michael Meade, the world can't end. Humans are the makeweight of history. While life and all its elements and energies are the foundation of who and what we are--evolving, pulsating, nested, chemically bound, split and united by opposing and complementary forces, with both mystery and certainty--humans give all this its significance.
Was Jesus the seed of the world's renewal more than 2,000 years ago? Yes, and so was Buddha 500 years before and Mohammed 500 years after. So were Karl Marx and Black Elk. In fact each of us carries the seeds of what's possible for the world to re-awaken and regenerate each historical period, every epoch, to become fuller each time--with greater beauty (art), good (morals), and truth (science).
For forty years, I've studied the science of society as a revolutionary thinker and activist. For close to twenty years, I've been a Native American/Native Mexican spiritual practitioner. My tribal roots are Raramuri (also known as Tarahumara) and Mexika (so-called Aztec) with Spanish and African into the mix. I'm also a water pourer and co-founder of the San Fernando Sweat Lodge Circle with ceremonial forays into other tribal lands of the U.S. as well as Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Guatemala, and Peru. My teachers include Mexico's Tlacaelel, the Dine Road Man Anthony Lee, and Lakota spiritual leader Ed Young-Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horses.
One concept that has influenced me--used by traditional Mayan/Mexika elders in older times as well as today--is In Lak Ech (you are the other me; I am the other you). It's similar in content to the words of the early 17th century English poet John Donne: "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." Conversely the songs, stories, and dances of others tend to embrace us, lift us, linking our realities.
For traditional native peoples--and this includes from throughout the American hemisphere as well as in Europe, Asia, the Mid-East, Pacific lands, and Africa (the mother of all of us)--there is no separation between spirituality and science. They are two sides of the same coin, two fonts of knowledge and awareness. The more information we gain of the world, the more mysteries abound. All things are knowable, and yet we are unable to grasp everything. Still human consciousness of the biological and spiritual forces at play does get complex over time, a spiral dynamic that has been with us since the dawn of human existence. Although it seems we carry most of this knowledge in our bones if not in our minds.
So what do my bones tell me?
That every person, every "common" being, not just the so-called shamans, "special" ones or chosen, carry the capacity to think, to dream, to create, and remake whatever is dying, fractured, unable to continue as we unfold into a new age, new levels of consciousness. Today most aspects of our lives are in crisis--the economy, politics, religion, the family, even revolution and change. This is the kind of time ancient storytellers speak about, that many indigenous people have prophesized--the end of a long cycle and the beginning of a new one, like the seasons, like the flowering of our lives, like water streaming from the top of mountains to thirsty soils.
We've been here before... but it's also true, we have not stepped into this particular moment. To expand on Joseph Campbell, we are reaching a "pathless path" as humanity, a process that each person should reach in his or her lifetimes. This is when we enter the path nobody else has trod, that we have to make ourselves, with no markers, no postings, only the teachings, the mistakes and successes of previous times and peoples, to guide us. We have all stood on the shoulders of giants to get here, and there have been great scholars, heroes, martyrs, warriors, poets, and revolutionaries who've ensured we've made it this far. It's time to step off those shoulders and go our own way.
But the darkness is also deep. In the darkness we may stumble, perhaps get lost, but it's also where we'll find our traction, our new legs, and the beacon that will shine on the final truths of who we are, where we're going.
Why are there "blank" pages after 2012, why no more "calendar"? Because we must now make our own history, instead of just being pushed, impelled, at times derailed, by previous motive forces, largely based on necessity--survival, natural selection, practical "choices," wars and conquests. Wars have made us--do we not know that war today can destroy us? Technology has made us, do we not know that more technological advances have led to this fact--the world is abundant and inexhaustible, as are our imaginations and internal gifts?
Is this a time for people to gain wealth, to oppress or exploit, to amass more possessions, power, or fame? Is this a time for the narrowing of belief systems and politics, or establishing more privileges, borders, and empire?
Yes, this happens, will happen, but this is a time about something else: To develop further into ourselves, to become integral in body, mind, emotions, spirit, and psyche, to see the expansion of the world and of our best ideals in the proper relations, as Native peoples see this, to Creator and Creation (respectful and meaningful relationship with our earth, our environment) and between each other (respectful and meaningful relationships within the whole human family). Alignments the cosmos lay bare, regardless of what spiritual path--or lack of one--has guided you. For Christians this is how Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments, all of God's laws before His walk--honor God and what God created and to treat one another as one wants to be treated. Most spiritual practices, religions, and ideals are bound up in these two laws.
The year 2012 then is not to be revered, feared, demonized, or exalted. It's not really a date. It's a presence we are all in. Present to this basic truth: the healthy and adequate development of each is dependent on the healthy and adequate development of all. If we are to restore this world, if we are to reconfigure and re-align our relationships, ecosystems, and governance, let's do it for the love, fullness, and joyful growth of everyone. Not one better, not one less (even if we are not all the same), holding up the mirror that shows and invites the uniqueness of every breathing soul--and also how we are all intertwined.
In Lak Ech.