When differences of belief are dealt with violence, when inequalities and discrimination are rampant. when livelihood depends on laughing and ridiculing others, I say to myself it must be the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, a time when humanity lives in the darkest of all the ages.
The ancient Hindu religion describes a cyclic system of time starting with the Golden Age, followed by the Silver Age, the Bronze Age and finally the Iron Age. These are ages when civilization and human consciousness go through different stages of development. In spite of our modern belief that our values have evolved through time, this cyclic system talks about a progressive deterioration of morals and a dimming of human consciousness. Different sources vary in the duration of these ages but they all last many thousands of years. According to this count of time all our recorded history would fall within the last of these ages, the Kali Yuga, a time when ignorance is dominant. This ignorance has nothing to do with lack of information, in fact we live at a time when it is difficult to keep up with so much information and so many scientific discoveries, but the ignorance of who we really are. The yogis remind us that we are not the body, the mind or the emotions, that we are Satchitananda, existence, knowledge and bliss absolute. Yet, our present predicament is the constant identification with our body, our ideas, beliefs and emotions. This way we live fully immersed in duality and we draw a bold line between good and bad, light and darkness, you and me. The basic impulses of fear and aggression direct how we relate to the unknown, the different and as a consequence we suffer caught up in a pattern of action and reaction, the wheel of samsara.
We feel the pain that acts of terrorism cause, the senseless deaths and it is difficult to imagine at the same time the desperation of those that commit such suicidal acts. They are all young, men and women, lost somehow in the crowd of the forgotten, the unemployed, the unwanted, caught and manipulated by dark forces that in the name of an ideal steal, plunder and invade for the sake of revenge, freedom, justice and profit. Our recorded history has indeed been a continuous series of violent confrontations for the sake of power and gold. This has been the trend for the last thousands of years. So, nothing new even though our weaponry is more sophisticated than in the Middle Ages. Now we don’t even have to be present in the battle field, we can just send a drone.
It is easy to despair when faced with so much violence and to make sense of it we might put the blame on this side or that side. As a yogi it is very difficult to witness painful events with equanimity, compassion and wisdom and keep remembering that these are indeed the qualities of our True Nature and that anger and hate are the veils that obscure that reality, the only reality.
If there is any consolation in living at this time of degeneration, the sages tell us that those following a spiritual path now will accumulate a lot of merit because of the difficulties of practising in such an unfavorable time. It’s like accumulating points! But do not laugh at this idea. It seems that we need merit or good karma for everything: being born in a loving family, having the means and the time to practise the Dharma, meeting auspicious teachers and companions, choosing a job or profession which accords with right livelihood, having a peaceful disposition, etc… In time, however, the Kali Yuga will end and, according to this system, a new cycle will start with a new Golden Age, a lost paradise found again, but that, alas, is in the far future.