Losing our way 3

Aquarius – the water bearer

It has been pointed out that each generation throughout the ages have believed they were living in particularly crucial times – but it is also the case that some historical periods are more decisive than others – not only in shaping a particular nation, but for humanity as a whole.

Karl Jaspers a German philosopher and psychiatrist called the period between 500-800 BCE across Europe and Asia the ‘axial age’ when ‘thought turned back upon thought’. It was characterised by the flourishing of a new self-reflective attitude towards human existence, and with it an awakening to the concept of transcendence. Most major religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism can trace their roots back to this era, or were actually founded during the axial age, while others such as Hinduism began to reform to become more like those axial age religions. This was the era of thinkers such as Confucius, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Zoroaster, Heraclitus, Plato, and Socrates.

In the West this period also gradually led to the development of what Georg Feuerstein, who writes about yoga and Hinduism, sees as,

‘the enthronement and autarchy [autocracy] of cold reason and the subsequent suppression of nonrational modes of consciousness. … this …lies at the root of today’s moral and spiritual bankruptcy, and its disastrous effects can be witnessed all around us (and in us if we care to look).’

Feuerstein sees that we are well into the ‘dawn phase’ of what the Hindu pundits call the ‘dark age’ or the kali-yuga – the last of the four world ages. According to Hindu mythology the dark ages began on February 18, 3102 BCE – the date of the huge battle recorded in the Mahabharata epic. ‘At that time- just as today – the evil machinations of a few power-hungry individuals with no regard for the larger good had created an intolerable situation demanding to be redressed.’ The kali-yuga dark age is a sinister time where the moral order is reduced: ‘plagues, disease, sloth, blemishes such as anger, as well as calamities, sickness and afflictions prevail’. Perhaps even more daunting is that it lasts for 360,000 years!

Apparently, and hopefully there is not total spiritual darkness as the darkness is pierced with shafts of light – there are counterbalancing influences – partly because the Divine has critically intervened in human affairs. In Hinduism this is in the form of the God-man Krishna. Later, Christians would see that the incarnation of Jesus Christ enters as light in the darkness. Feuerstein writes: ‘… all spiritual teachings affirm that we must do our utmost to cultivate spiritual values in the midst of the great darkness surrounding us … by an inward act.’

In contrast to the Hindu time frame, Western astrologers see the age of Aquarius as ushering a new age symbolised by the Water bearer who irrigates and fertilizes nature, there is something new trying to emerge. The Hindu philosopher Sri Aurobindo and the French priest Teilhard de Chardin were also optimistic of the spiritual evolution of humanity with a tendency to a more benign future. The message is to choose to increase the light in the world.