The Paradigm Shift of Our Time
by Mariamne Paulus
In the spring of 2017 we did a class called “Paradigm Shifts.” We began by defining paradigm shifts as major changes in the way we think about things and how we believe things should be done. Then we explored the various paradigm shifts we have lived through in our own lifetimes. They are too many even to enumerate, and the longer we live, the longer the list becomes.
Here’s an example. When I was a child, we had telephone service in our home, but the calls went through a switchboard with a live operator. Long distance calls were a very big deal and seldom made. In my adult years, we took good telephone service for granted, but if we were out of our homes we had to use pay phones and you couldn’t always locate one.
I remember one time in my thirties. OSO and I were in New York. I had gone out to visit friends in Scarsdale and was to meet OSO on Time Square at 5:00 p.m. On my way back to Manhattan I got on the onramp to a bridge and found the traffic absolutely stopped. I could not move forward, backward or sideways. And of course there was no way to make a phone call. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway because where would I have called? OSO did not have a phone when standing on Time Square.
When I finally got into Manhattan I found a pay phone and called OSO’s sister to see if she had heard from OSO. She had, which was a good thing except that there was no way to reach her until she Sheila again. It took us over an hour of phone calls relayed through Sheila before we were able to make an arrangement for where to meet.
When we bought our first cell phone it was huge (in size). We bought it so that if either of us was out alone in our car we could call for help if needed. It was hardly portable it was so big, but it served as an emergency hotline.
By today most of us would not be without our cell phones, but not just for making phone calls but because we store all our data on them: phone numbers, addresses, calendar appointments, photos, etc. The only people making phone calls, for the most part, are salespeople or robots making political calls. Other communication by cell phone is increasingly made by texting.
That whole history of the use of telephones represents a huge paradigm shift, and we could mention many others. Just ask yourself what is different from when you were young and the list will be very long.
Even the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency represents a paradigm shift: he was not a politician, had no experience outside of the realm of business, was not known for his stands on foreign policy or domestic programs, and seemed to have no interest in currying the favor of politicians who might help him to put through an agenda as president. He has not disappointed those who elected him who basically wanted him to upset the apple cart. He has overturned one paradigm without yet defining a new one.
A Wider View
I have found it helpful to step way back from our current situation to take a broader view as provided by Eastern philosophy. The Vedas divide the history of the world into four ages. The first can be called the Golden Age, the Satya Yuga. In Western lore it is comparable to the Garden of Eden.
Beings who lived in that first age were one with God. They lived in harmony and perceived Truth directly. Their essence was very subtle; they had no physical bodies. Beings were measured and evaluated by their quality of being. The feminine (Yin) polarity predominated and most “societies” were organized as Matriarchies. This era is called the World of Atziluth in the Qabalah, the Archetypal World.
The Golden Age lasted for many millennia before the Silver Age, the Treta Yuga, came into being. In this age the Lunar faculty of memory developed, followed by creative imagination and higher reason. This was an age of great Beauty, a universal quality that was the mark of essence. Subtle forms were developed to express essence. As humans developed they could see the subtle forms and the essence behind them. This was, in effect, a time to awaken consciousness of what is. In the Qabalah this age is called the world of Briah, the Creative World. It lasted only three-quarters as long as the Golden Age, but nevertheless millennia.
The third epoch was called Dupara Yuga, or the Bronze Age (not to be confused with the Bronze Age of archeologists). This was a time of development of language and art. In the Qabalah this is called Yetzirah, the Formative World. The development of language made it possible for concepts to be formed and mental formulations began to shape the outer world. This epoch was shorter than the Treta Yuga, but human beings began to participate more consciously in the creating process.
The fourth era is called the Kali Yuga. In this case “Kali” means strife, discord, quarrels and contentions and it is called the Iron Age because it is ruled by Mars, the god of war, whose metal is iron. This is the briefest of the four eras said to last about 6,000 years and we are already five or six thousand years into it. In many religions this is called the “latter days” because when this era ends, the cycle begins all over again with another Golden Age.
In the Qabalah, this epoch is called Assiah, the Active World of matter, the Physical World. It is during this age that a truly materialistic life became possible. Humans took on physical bodies and began to measure progress in terms of material gains. Things began to be measured quantitatively rather than qualitatively. It is the era of the Patriarchy, of horizontal structures and hierarchies. It is the time of human beings killing each other.
In Eastern philosophies they view time as moving in cycles rather than horizontally, on a straight line, as we tend to see things in the West. I value this view of things because it explains a lot to me. I have often wondered why so many movies and books are focused on the end of time or the end of life as we know it. I have also wondered why humans are so focused on war and killing each other. Thinking of this as the end of this cycle puts things in a different perspective, which not only explains the sense of dread so many people live with but also gives hope, because when this cycle ends another will begin. In fact, it is already beginning, according to the Vedic philosophy.
Evolution of Consciousness
The challenge for those of us living in this era of conflict and competition is to choose whether we want to continue to align with the values of the Kali Yuga or to move forward in our own evolution to help prepare the way for a new cycle. The new cycle will be based on harmony and cooperation, rather than competition; it will focus on simplicity of living rather than on accumulating wealth and possessions; it will value the diversity of human beings and their cultures rather than viewing some as of greater or lesser value; individuals will focus on being of service to others and on the value and importance of communities of shared interests; beauty, harmony and unconditional love will be of highest value.
The four ages as described above are called the “Involutionary Process.” It is as though the nature of the Original One is downloaded into the external world, many would say so that that Original One could be conscious of Self and the potential that resides in the Creative Force.
The Evolutionary Process is a reversal of the original creating process. Individuals become the vehicles for awakening to what is. As Individuals become self-aware and eventually Self-aware (that is, aware of the Original One) they incorporate into their awareness the vastness of what is and of what can be. These awakened ones will not perish when the Kali Yuga ends. They will, instead, be pioneers in establishing the next Golden Age of peace on earth and good will among all humans.
Consciousness evolves in both individuals and in groups as people awaken to their potential to be co-creators with the Original One. As consciousness awakens and expands, it gains an understanding of the nature of the world we live in and of the purpose human beings are meant to fulfill.
This means that we live our lives focused on the future that is unfolding before us rather than on the devastating events that mark the completion of the old cycle. We band together in heart and consciousness with others who recognize that changing the quality of our lives now will impact the future far more than the collapse of our current economy and way of life. There are groups forming all around the globe focused on what is often called “The Transition.” They are being the change they want to see happen now rather than waiting to see what happens at a later time.
Those of us focused on expanding our own consciousness and growing spiritually will be a stabilizing force for others less prepared for major paradigm shifts. We will hold strong in the force of unconditional Love, welcoming all who choose to move forward in evolution rather than continuing to struggle against the forces of change at work all around us.