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Are We Living in the Kali Yuga?

By Jacob Devaney on Tuesday November 1st, 2016

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Ancient Wisdom on the Cycle of Time

It isn’t hard to recognize that even though we live on a planet that surrounds us with beauty, that there is a lot of darkness happening within humanity. The ancient Sanskrit teachings understood that civilization goes through distinct cycles of creation and destruction. Native traditions have similar stories to describe different ages of humanity as well. It can be easy to lose hope sometimes, but there many possibilities for spiritual growth and awakening during this time. Let’s look at the bigger picture knowing that the warm glow of dawn always follows the coldest, darkest moments of the night.

What is a Yuga?

The ancients understood time as a circle, not linear, and the circle of ages are known as the yugas. Like the four seasons in our year, there are four yugas in the full cycle (Mahayuga). Each cycle has distinct themes and spiritual lessons for humanity. Below are the four yugas in order from beginning to end. It is important to note that the first yuga is the longest with each one getting successively shorter (4:3:2:1) until the cycle starts again.

The ancients understood time as a circle.The ancients understood time as a circle.
  • Satya Yuga: First we see the time of truth and perfection, which thankfully lasts four tenths of the cycle. These humans are honest, youthful, vigorous, and virtuous. Everyone is happy, and religions live as one. Disease in non-existent, as is fear. Those living through this part of the cycle are gifted with abundance through the land, along with great weather.
  • Treta Yuga: The second Yuga lasts for three tenths of the cycle. Unfortunately, this is where human virtue begins to fall away. Leaders gain more dominance, causing wars to rise. As if to reflect the state of humanity, the weather also moves to more extremes. It is unsurprising that people’s health begins to lessen in this part of the cycle.
  • Dvapara Yuga: The third Yuga lasts for two tenths of the cycle. During this time, people become more sluggish and slow, many aren’t as strong as their ancestors, and the number of diseases increases. Becoming discontent with their lives, humans fight each other. This could possibly be because maturity decreases, with some people still possessing characteristics of youth in old age.
  • Kali Yuga: The final age lasts only one tenth of the cycle, however, that is certainly long enough as it is the age of darkness and ignorance. People slide further down the path of dishonesty, with virtue being of little value. Passions become uncontrollable as unrestrained sexual indulgences and manipulations run through society. Liars and hypocrites rise. Important knowledge is lost and scriptures become less and less common. The human diet is now ‘dirty’, and people are not even close to being as powerful as their ancestors in the Satya Yuga. Likewise, the once pristine environment is now polluted. Water and food become scarce, as do family bonds.

What Should We Do?

It could be that we are currently in the Kali Yuga stage of the cycle. If that is true, what can we do to move back into the the first, much more pleasant phase?

The Vedic Scriptures, of course, recommend meditation, yoga, and various spiritual practices as the natural antidote to the strife of the Kali Yuga. And while some scholars have attempted to tie dates of these cycles to the calendar, yet few agree on when the Kali Yuga will end. For this reason, we must not fall into fatalism (thinking that we are all doomed and there’s nothing we can do about it) or hopelessness, but instead must strengthen our personal practice and act as a light in dark times for those around us that are lost. To find peace in peaceful times is no accomplishment, to find peace in the most unpeaceful times is true spiritual attainment!

This is one of many stories that illustrate what each of us observe when we pay close attention to nature. Life goes in natural cycles of gestation, birth, growth, decay, death, and rebirth. We see it in the plants, the seasons, in the rise and fall of nations, as well as in our own personal lives. When something is pure, it can be maintained as pure but cannot become more pure, it can only become less pure. In that same regard, when things are polluted or corrupted, they can be returned to purity. The Kali Yuga is as good a time for spiritual discipline and evolution as any.

Something pure can be maintained as pure but cannot become more pure, it can only become less pure.Something pure can be maintained but cannot become more pure, it can only become less pure.

A Universal Story

The ancient Greeks called these four ages of human civilization the Age of Gold, Silver, Bronze, and the Age of Iron. The Phoenix always rises from the ashes of its predecessor. The Hopi tribe believe that a cycle when humans head and heart are disconnected (Fourth World of Separation) is followed by an era when they are in harmony (Fifth World of Peace). The Lakota believe that the birth of a White Buffalo in 1994 signified a time of great healing and unification around the world. The Pan-American prophecy of the Eagle and Condor speaks of the re-uniting of the tribes through sacred wisdom and power. For as much darkness as one might see in the world, there are endless stories of rebirth to explore. These are roadmaps for us from the darkness into the light.

A Parable

Once a king asked his wise men to give him something that would make him happy when he is sad, and sad when he is happy. The wise men spent days thinking about it in silence and watching the clouds go by. On the fourth day, they wrote on a piece of paper and handed it to the king. When the king read it, he thanked them. What did it say?

“This, too, shall pass.”

The Phoenix always rises from the ashes of its predecessor.The Phoenix always rises from the ashes of its predecessor.

The Big Picture

Whether you take this information as literal or metaphorical, you can gain much value from considering it. Destruction is part of creation, we live in a world of endless cycles. Sometimes things have to fall apart in order to come back together stronger than before.

If we are actually living in the Kali Yuga now, then any and all behaviour that is wholesome, honest, generous, virtuous, happy, authentic, is emulating behaviors that bring us closer to the Satya Yuga. Satya Yuga is the next phase in the cycle, a golden age of abundance. Knowing that the Kali Yuga can end abruptly at any moment, observe what is happening around you, grow your compassion, and learn what you can from this precious time!

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

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Jacob Devaney

Founder and director of Culture Collective, creative activist, musician, and producer.

 

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7 Responses to Are We Living in the Kali Yuga?

  1. We are clearly in the dawn of Satya Yuga. The incredible pace of inventions and change throughout the world shows that we are entering this golden age, in the wake of the coming of the long-awaited Kalki Avatar. The troubles we still have are the birth pangs of this new age as the old world order disintegrates and a new one rises up to take its place. The good news is that this will happen and peace on earth will reign!

  2. “Only the Individual can rise to the height of consciousness and awareness…The more you belong to the crowd, the deeper you fall into darkness ” -Osho-

  3. We are indeed in the age of “Kali Yuga”. If one has read the Hindu scripture “Shreemad Bhagwad”, the exact span of Kali Yuga has been mentioned in Chapter 12 (i.e. 1,32,000 years). At present (i.e. in year 2016) we have crossed about 5,200 years into Kali Yuga.

    I agree with the author that “…For this reason, we must not fall into fatalism (thinking that we are
    all doomed and there’s nothing we can do about it) or hopelessness, but
    instead must strengthen our personal practice and act as a light in dark
    times for those around us that are lost. To find peace in peaceful
    times is no accomplishment, to find peace in the most unpeaceful times
    is true spiritual attainment! ”

    May good sense prevail !!

  4. The four ages of the Mahayuga represent approximately 24,000 years. The next phase is not Satya Yuga; its the ascendance into Dwapara. Sri Yukteswar and his disciple Yogananda, made some “modern” adjustments to the current understanding. For a good overview of their work, read The Yugas by Joseph Selfie and David Steinmetz. According to Sri Yuteswar The descending Kali Yuga age began in 700 BC, had its zenith in 500AD, starting its ascendant path which transitioned to the Dwapara age in 1700, and fully entered Dwapara proper in 1900 (200 year transition period). Humanity will ascend (develop) to the Treta age in 2000 years, and then to the Satya age in another 3000 years (each age changes with a corresponding period of transition). Sri Yuteswar wrote about this in 1894 in The Holy Science. Emerging from the darkest of all ages, Kali Yuga fittingly called the Material age because humans could comprehend only gross matter. Dwapara Yuga can be called the Energy Age because humanity can comprehend “fine matters and electricities” that comprise matter. Treta Yuga can be called the Mental Age because humans will be able to comprehend the “divine magnetism” that underlies all energy with their advanced mental abilities. The most advanced age, Satya Yuga, is called the Spiritual Age in which humans can “comprehend all, even the spirit beyond this visible world.”

    I think more of what we are experiencing today is related to the corresponding cosmic changes shifting from the energies of the Piscean Age to the energies of the Aquarian Age. It appears that the transition of these zodiacal ages somewhat corresponds with the transition into the Dwapara Age.

    In the esoteric philosophy, the Piscean Age is ruled by Ray 6, the energies marked by the qualities of Idealism and Devotion resulting in the Age of Religious domination with fanatacism as an unfortunate downside . Ray 6 is in descendance as are the power of the great religious institutions. The Aquarian Age is ruled by Ray 7, the energies marked by qualities of Order, Balance, Synthesis, and Beauty. These are very different kinds of energies and the resulting clash of consciousness related to each (conservative vs progressive) in this transition period is resulting in oppositional distress.

    Together I think these three models explains a lot about the age we live in and the challenges we face.

  5. all I know is as I grow older life gets better if you shed what you don’t need. Trust your mind and shy away from beliefs you were domesticated with since you came here

  6. Please stop hating on darkness. Darkness represents the feminine aspect of the yin yang, so when we hate on darkness we are hating on women, dark-skinned individuals, and mother earth. By hating on darkness we are making the patriarchy stronger. Please stop!

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