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Chapter 4: The Internet as a Chaotic Attractor (continued)

The Dawn of a New Era

     There is an ancient Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." I have never understood the curse part about that expression. I want to live in interesting times. In fact, it appears that we now are living in some of the most interesting times ever experienced on this planet. Without belaboring the point, technology is advancing at rates never before seen. At the beginning of the 20th century there were no cities filled with automobiles, no airplanes, no space stations under construction, and no production of electricity by atomic energy, just to name a few of the technologies most of us take for granted today. The changes that will be brought about by technology in the next three decades promise to be even more breathtaking. Whether or not such rapid change is good is open to debate, and, of course, dependent upon one's definition of "good." What is not debatable is the fact that we are in a period of great and rapid change.

     For example, consider the speed of change in computer science. In 1975, the cost of one megabyte of computer memory was over one half of a million dollars. Today, a megabyte of memory for a personal computer costs only a few dollars. The speed of the CPU for personal computers at the end of the 20th century was over 100,000 times as fast as it was when integrated circuit technology was first invented in the 1950s. If these trends continue, and most experts agree they will, before the first three decades of the 21st century have passed we will see single, affordable, desktop-sized computers with truly incredible capacities. According to Ray Kurzweil, "your personal computer will be able to simulate the brain power of a small village by the year 2030, the entire population of the United States by 2048, and a trillion human brains by 2060." (11) The cost of building these machines most likely will be no higher than the cost of building one of today's home computers.

     Many technically informed people now believe that our machines will reach and/or exceed levels of human intelligence before the 21st century is half over. With the price/performance ratio of personal computers constantly improving, it will not be only the large businesses and governmental organizations who own these super computers that match or exceed human intelligence. These computers will most likely be available to a large number of moderately affluent people, and, of course, these powerful machines will also be connected to the Internet. These are indeed interesting times. Is it any wonder then, that there has been a resurgence of interest in the possible advent of a new world age-one that was long ago predicted by the Mayans?

The Mayan Calendar

     In the mid-16th century, a Franciscan bishop, the infamous Friar Diego de Landa, took it upon himself to burn every Mayan book he could get his hands on. While the full extent of his defilement of the human species will never be known, it is well documented that de Landa destroyed a significant number of valuable codices of Mayan history, as well as most of their chronicles of advanced astronomy. Fortunately, recent scholarship has brought to light enough information about the Mayan calendar for us to arrive at a good understanding of the advanced astronomical knowledge these ancient people possessed. Of particular interest to us here is the Mayan calendar, which is based upon the precession of the equinoxes.

     As most of us once learned and then quickly filed away somewhere in the dim recesses of our minds, the Earth wobbles slightly as it spins on its axis, somewhat like a child's top does as it begins to lose its momentum. While this effect is physically unnoticeable to us, this wobbling is the reason we see changes in the night sky over millennial periods of time. Technically referred to as the precession of the equinoxes, this effect has been known at least since the days of ancient Egypt. However, few cultures possessed as deep an understanding of the mathematics involved in the precession of the equinoxes as did the Mayan. In fact, some scholars now believe that it was equinoctial precession that provided the underlying basis for the Mayan world view.

     Over time, precession causes the meridian of each seasonal equinox, in turn, to come into alignment with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The period between these seasonal alignments with the galactic center is exceedingly long by human measure. In fact, only once in approximately 25,800 years does the meridian of the Winter Solstice come into direct alignment with the center of our galaxy. The next date on which this alignment will take place was thought by the ancient Mayans to be the harbinger of a major turning point for the human species. That date is December 21, 2012.

     Unlike our present age, when a 30-second sound-bite on television sometimes seems long, the Mayans had a truly cosmic sense of time. Accordingly, their long count calendar measures not just a single year, but what they called Great Cycles, each consisting of one World Age. According to John Major Jenkins:

The much-discussed 13-baktun cycle is completed 1,872,000 days [13 baktuns] after This period of time is the so-called Maya Great Cycle of the Long Count and equals 5,125.36 years. The Maya conceived of the Great Cycle as one World Age, one growth cycle, at the end of which humanity reaches the next stage in its spiritual development. As the life of an individual goes through distinct stages, so too the collective lifewave of humanity grows through several distinct phases. These phases are the five World Ages, or "Suns," spoken of in Mesoamerican mythology. (12)

     By the Mayan's reckoning, we are now within a few years of the end of a Great Cycle that began over 5,000 years ago. What this may mean, of course, is open to debate.

The Galactic Center

     While poets have often rhapsodized about our being made of stardust, it now appears that science is backing up this claim. Modern physics has discovered that all but the lightest elements on Earth were originally forged in the great cosmic furnaces we call stars. Therefore, as creatures that are physically composed solely of atoms from this planet, we can trace our material lineage directly to the heart of an ancient star. Furthermore, it is possible that the entire Milky Way Galaxy sprang from the colossal explosion of one or more gigantic stars. Interestingly, modern astronomers have confirmed that there is a black hole, densely packed with matter, at the center of our galaxy. It is probable that this black hole still contains the remnants of that gigantic star or stars, which supplied the atoms that now make up our bodies. The poets are correct, we are all made of stardust.

     In their own way, did the Mayans know that this black hole at the center of our galaxy exists? What is it about the alignment of the Winter Solstice meridian with the galactic center on December 21, 2012 that captured the Mayan imagination to such a degree that they may even have anchored their long count calendar to this event? Again, I defer to John Major Jenkins:

The "energy" field emanates from the Galactic Center and includes the entire electromagnetic/ photon field in which our planet exists. There are dimensions of subtlety within this field-the telluric or astral realms-extending beyond the physical forces of science to include spiritual planes of being. If we imagine this field as being similar to the lines of force surrounding a magnet, we can understand that our changing orientation to this field has immediate consequences, and has little to do with cause-and-effect transmission of energy between us and the Galactic Center. We are, instead, in a relationship of resonance with our source, one that connects us deeply within to each other, and, in fact, to all other beings in this Galaxy. (13) [Emphasis original]

     As electrical engineers who have studied the work of Nicola Tesla (14) know, unimaginably strong forces can occur when a system reaches a state of resonance, or perfect tuning. Here is what Erik Davis says about resonance:

Not so much a law of nature as a deep habit, resonance pops up across the board, emerging in electrical systems, steam engines, and molecular dynamics, as well as Tuvan overtone changing and the tuning of TV sets. Everything vibrates, and when the oscillating vibrations of different systems coincide, or resonate, large quantities of energy can be exchanged from one system to the other. That's why powerful singers can shatter wineglasses; by energetically belting out a tone that matches the resonant frequency of the container, they are able to amplify the vibrations until the vessel explodes. (15)

     In his article "The Formation of the Noosphere," Teilhard de Chardin also discussed the importance of resonance:

In becoming planetised, humanity is acquiring new physical powers which will enable it to super-organise matter. And, even more important, is it not possible that by the direct converging of its members it will be able, as though by resonance, to release psychic powers whose existence is still unsuspected? (16) [Emphasis added]

     While the Maya most likely knew nothing about the resonance of electronic circuits, who is to say that they did not understand what it means for conscious beings to be in spiritual resonance with the source from which the matter supporting their consciousness sprang? In the Mayan world view, the alignment of the Earth and Sun with the center of our galaxy will be the event that precipitates the most significant transformation we have seen in the human species for thousands of years.

The Next World Age of the Maya

     From what we now know, it appears that the ancient Maya believed their long count calendar measured, among other things, the amount of time required for the human species to evolve to each succeeding level of awareness. Accordingly, they believed that when our planet and sun come into a resonant alignment with the galactic center, humanity will step over another threshold of consciousness and begin the next great World Age. In essence, the Maya believed the alignment of December 21, 2012 would provide the resonant catalyst for the next quantum leap consciousness takes as our cosmos continues to awaken.

     Unlike the fanatical groups who frequent the airwaves with apocalyptic predictions of a shift in the orientation of the Earth's magnetic poles, the pole shift foretold by the Mayans is one of a shift in the collective psyche of our species. As they saw it, we are headed for a fundamental change in the way we relate to one another, as well as for a change in the ways in which our species relates to the rest of the biosphere. Such a change in world view, of course, will come about when a sufficient number of people consciously elect to adopt a more humanitarian and planetary view of life. For many people, this will require a complete revision of the way in which they relate to the environment and to each other. As most readers of this book already know, what is required is both an intellectual and an emotional understanding of John Donne's (17) admonition that "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . ." Or, as modern physics is proving, every person is a part of a unified cosmos.

     Given the perspective of 21st century science, there does not appear to be any physical event that is going to occur when (or if) our planet is aligned with the center of our galaxy. Although there are some people who eagerly anticipate some such grand physical transformation, I believe the Maya were being more metaphysical than physical in their anticipation of a great change taking place at the end of their current calendar. Of course, one may ask why it is even necessary for the Earth to go through an entire cycle of precession before humankind is ready for its next great evolutionary leap, and no satisfactory answer can be found. However, I see this as no reason for not championing the idea that it is time, once again, for our species to move to some higher level of awareness. The 2012 date, which is not an end-date that is exclusive only to the Mayans, is as good a time as any for such a transformation. In fact, what is wrong with beginning to effect such a change today?

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