I am a fan of the great and wise Philosoraptor and I recently posted a Philosoraptor meme on Facebook that asked the searching question; “If the world doesn’t end in 2012 do we just assume that the Mayan calendar starts again?” My self-indulgent meme elicited a response from a friend that informed me that there was a Mayan Elder named Don Alejandro Perez Oxlaj that had explained that the end is only of the fourth Sun age and that a fifth one is of course set to follow it. I was intrigued and so I asked him if he had any references and he very kindly sent me a DVD of an interview of Don Alejandro by Carl Callemn that discusses the meaning of the calendar of the Mayans and what the end of it means for the world. Gabriel who sent me the DVD is from Uruguay and so he was more familiar with the message of the Mayan Elders, of whom Don Alejandro is the leader, and as he is an intelligent fellow not generally given to being affected by the fairy dust of new age spirituality, Gabriel’s injunction that we should listen to what these people have to tell us had piqued my interest greatly.
I have been interested in these topics since I was a kid and was hooked on Erich von Daniken’s explanation of the extraterrestrial origins of our planet’s prehistoric monuments during the 1970s just like everyone else. The fact that they have been shown to be of a more terrestrial origin has only made me marvel at them all the more as science has shown that the enigmatic statues of Easter Island were carved and put into place by islanders using simple tools and brute force and that stone age builders had put together Stonehenge based on their astronomical calculations that remain accurate to the present day. These things are the expression of human intelligence and show that it truly is by the power of our reason that we have made ourselves masters of this world and so when I see something that is so obviously the product of the reasoning ability of an entire culture I feel sure that it is far too valuable to brush off as new age hocus pocus. By the same token you can’t interpret it by the same standards as you can understand Dickens or chemistry. If we want to learn what these artifacts of the primitive human genius have to tell us we have to learn to comprehend the language that they speak to us in. In fact if we try to interpret the message of people like Don Alejandro by any yardstick of Western Culture we will fail to hear what is in the essence of his words.
In the interview Don Alejandro speaks of the material world in terms that most Westerners aren’t going to apprehend the spiritual value of, talking not of the gross elemental expressions of the world of men and of matter, but of rhythms and cycles, and cycles of cycles. He doesn’t frame his references in absolutes of beginnings and endings but into cycles of coming into being and passing away from the material expressions of being, and of their equal parts in the natural course of all life and of all matter and even of all ages. This isn’t the static description of the world that we see through our Western eyes, this is a fluid, moving dance of the essence of the elements of our world wherein we are each a unique instance of the energy that is flowing through the world that has been molded into a form that is at once an integral part of all creation and also able to stand aside and see that creation, the world seen through the eyes of a simple enlightenment of our real and essential selves.
I sat down to watch the DVD The Mayan New Dawn I had a goal, I wanted to know if when the Mayan Calendar runs out whether that is the end of everything or not. Was it heralding the approach of the final act, the epilogue of humanity, the trumpeting that announced the opening of the Apocalypse wherein the righteous would be saved and us poor sinners be cast down forever into the pit of sulphurous brimstone for our spiritual transgressions. A heads up would be nice. But as I listen to the old Mayan I realized that this was only my Western point of view obscuring my apprehension of the essence of his message as it grasped for empirical terms to hang on eternal principles. Just from Don Alejandro’s demeanor it is apparent that he isn’t the prophet of a new dark age but rather of a coming age that is filled with the potential for enlightenment.
The wisdom, skill, craft and knowledge required to develop a complex and astoundingly accurate calendar such as the Mayans have done would use every aspect of its design to express the truth of its nature. For this reason I have to assume that the circular design of the calendar can’t have been accidental and also it also implies that it is in the nature of the calendar to begin again when the years have completed their circumnavigation of it. As Don Alejandro spoke he confirmed these observations in his manner and in his examples that were a simple message of learning to see and to follow the rhythms of the natural world, that night follows day, summer follows winter and old age follows youth. Throughout the interview when Calleman tried to return to the sensationalism of the Mayan calendar’s immanent end the elder Mayan patiently began his explanation with its place on earth, between the four winds and the places on the horizon where the sun rises or sets and tried to show him how his answer, his question and even Calleman himself was all a part of that place on earth too, a part of his own question.
When Don Alejandro finally acquiesced to Calleman’s wishes and spoke of the end of the Calendar and the prophecies of the return of the 12 Baktun and the 13 Ahau it was almost anticlimactic for me as he had already revealed so many of the secrets that he had learned from his people, good common sense secrets that explain life in a way that we can all understand and the Western interviewer’s quest was almost meaningless now. He had been offered gems of wisdom and had rushed past them for the glitz that seemed shinier still. The Mayan Elder seems to laugh to himself as he tells Calleman that the world isn’t coming to an end; “Don’t be frightened” is his message, as one age passes away a new one is beginning. Even when Calleman pressed him about the Baktun and Ahau that have been foretold as coming to lead us into a Fifth Sun Age, Don Alejandro patiently explained that they aren’t coming from somewhere outside of us but rather they are already here, already among us, because they are us. Such simple common sense seems to be almost beyond the complexity of the comprehension of the Western mind now though and so such sage advice is likely to fall mostly on ears that won’t hear, rather, I suspect, like Calleman’s.
So to answer Philsoraptor’s question I must say that the answer is an emphatic yes, of course it will start again and, I suspect, it will keep running until the time that it measures runs out and not vice versa. I am sure that there will be many people that will spend this year waiting for the sky to fall, for the world to crack open and flood the world with the demonic hordes of the Armageddon and for doomsday to be upon us in an instant but the message of Don Ajejandro Perez Oxlaj that has stayed with me is that there is no dreaded hereafter on the horizon; on the contrary, we are privileged to be here to see the dawning of a bright new age.
Thanks to Gabriel Vaz for the inspiration for this post.