Meditation

A Vedic Journey Through No-time: Chapter 5, Kali Yuga, The Age of Ignorance and Hope

Moon over snowcapped mountains

Follow along with Roger Gabriel, Chopra's Chief Meditation Officer, in this new article series on the Vedic Yugas.

Read previous articles in the series:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Beginning

Unfortunately, very few heed Krishna’s or the other teachers' advice. Morality continued to decline and it is said that Kali Yuga was crouched like a demon, impatient to be loosed upon the earth.

This current time period began approximately 5000 years ago when the vibration of the world had become dense, giving rise to darkness, ignorance, lies, materialism, chaos, destruction, pollution, focus on the physical and separation. This is the Iron Age of Kali Yuga. If the whole of creation is God’s dream, we have now entered what is often referred to as “God’s nightmare”.

The subtle or energetic body of the planet is inverted in relationship to its physical body, causing chaos, confusion, wrong thinking, destruction of the environment and each other.

The bull of dharma emerges balancing precariously on one leg, truthfulness. Austerity, cleanliness and kindness still existed but to a much lesser degree. When the body and mind are weak, it’s difficult to follow one’s spiritual practices. When people are poor and struggling to survive, it’s hard to be charitable towards others. Even truthfulness soon began to decline, as honesty often led to quarrels and conflict. Now, less than a quarter of the people live righteous lives.

Lifestyle

The Bhagavad Gita mentions the six Enemies of the Soul or the Gateways to Hell as excessive desire for sensory pleasures; anger; greed; delusion and infatuation; pride; jealousy. As we look around at the world today, we have to assume that most of these gateways are open and much of what the great spiritual leaders of the previous age predicted, are already with us

  • Anger and ignorance will grow.
  • Religious practices, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory will diminish with each passing day.
  • People will have thoughts of violence and stealing and will see nothing wrong in it.
  • Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable .
  • People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs, human beings will behave like asses.
  • Spiritual leaders will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to denounce them. Their teachings will be insulted and misinterpreted. There will be extreme hardships for people with ideals and values.
  • Weather and the environment will degrade with time and frequent and unpredictable rainfalls will happen. Floods, fires and earthquakes will be common.
  • Many diseases will spread.
  • Many fake ideologies will spread throughout the world and the rich and powerful people will dominate the poor people.

Kali Yuga will last 432,000 years and by its end lifespan will have diminished to fifty years and the height of the average person will be four feet. If allowed to run its course, Kali Yuga will continue to deteriorate and the challenges that we see around us every day will continue to grow and multiply. Not something to look forward to.

Teachings

The Vedas and other ancient traditions, which enshrine the supreme knowledge of the integration of life, have been upheld in their purity by a long history of custodians. As in the other Yugas, when darkness looms, great teachers have come to help guide us back to truth and righteousness. Great religions and traditions have been founded on the words of these teachers but, in an era of moral decay, these can often been misinterpreted, leading to further chaos and confusion. Many of the original practices were lost, neglected or were retreated into the mountain caves and forrest hermitages of the few who still knew Truth. While the Upanishads advise us to, Follow the path of the great, ancient sages, for they have left their footprints for others to follow, they also warn us to, Seek the company of those who seek enlightenment, but run from those who claim to have found it.

For those who are spiritually open, the darkness of Kali Yuga has been illuminated by the wisdom of many great teachers including, Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, Muhammad, Patanjali, and Adi Shankara. Each one has left footprints for those who wish to return home. As the Buddha said, If you are facing in the right direction, all you need do is keep walking.

The Buddha gave us the Four Noble Truths - there is suffering, the causes can be identified, there is a way out, the way out to enlightenment is the Eight Fold Path of right view, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and attention.

Mahavira taught the principles of Jainism and that ahimsa, non-violence to all living beings, is the highest moral value.

Jesus Christ taught to love God, to love others as ourself, to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Some say that he spent time in India studying with the Himalayan yogis.

Muhammad, as a messenger of God, taught that Allah is one and he is the God of all. God is to be worshipped by all and God is the final judge.

Adi Shankara travelled widely in India teaching advaita, non-dualism. He established four seats of learning to preserve Vedic knowledge, which still exist today.

Patanjali gave us the Yoga Sutras, which include the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the foundation of Raja Yoga. He recommended that we, have friendship to those who are equal to us, have compassion for those who have less than us or who are suffering, have delight and happiness for those who have successes and more than we do, have indifference to those who are hostile towards us.

Not too long ago, if you had wanted to learn to meditate, you would have had to travel to India, search for a teacher and perhaps spend months waiting before receiving instruction. Fortunately, in recent times, enlightened teachers have brought the wisdom of meditation to the West and with today’s ease of communication, anyone can learn these practices anywhere. We owe these teachers, past and present, a deep debt of gratitude.

Hope

Even though Kali Yuga might seem like doom and gloom, it is also a time for hope. The mystic Osho said, In your hopelessness is the only hope, in your desirelessness is your only fulfillment and in your tremendous helplessness suddenly the whole existence starts helping you. True Reality is ultimately timeless. Therefore, if time doesn’t exist, Sat Yuga must still be here right now. It’s all a matter of awareness or what we put our attention on. It’s up to each one of us to decide if we want to continue to live in the chaos and confusion of Kali Yuga or the joy and bliss of Sat Yuga. It’s all about trusting existence and making that shift in awareness.

The world is a reflection of the collective consciousness of all of us. If the majority of the collective consciousness is focused on anger and greed, we will remain in the dark ignorance of Kali Yuga. As Swami Vivekananda said, All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark. However, if the collective consciousness embraces peace, love and compassion, the glorious light of Sat Yuga will dawn again in our lives.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gave us the Four Paths of Yoga, any one of which or a combination of them, will lead us out of suffering. Learn your own truth. Raising yourself out of delusion, false hopes, and misapprehensions, reconnecting with your own essence, the field of Infinite Possibilities and Pure Love, hidden deep within, is your dharma or true purpose in life.

Meditation has been present since the beginning of time when the primordial sound OM emerged from the infinite silence. However, it has been up to us as to make use of it or not. As the Buddhist text the Dharmapada tells us, The conquest of oneself is better that the conquest of all others. Meditation draws our awareness away from the noise and activity to the silence within. Meditation frees us from wandering lost and confused and brings us home to the peace, harmony and love that we truly are. While we appear to be in the darkest period of human existence, the way out has never been more easily available. Meditation is the tool that allows us to take that journey effortlessly. It’s our choice.

According to Hindu cosmology, it is predicted that at the end of the Kali Yuga, Lord Shiva will dissolve the universe and the physical body will undergo a great transformation. After the dissolution, Lord Brahma will recreate the universe, and humankind will become the Beings of Truth once again. Kali Yuga can end tomorrow or continue for another several hundred thousand years. We can descend in fear or rise up in the light of love.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who did more than anyone to bring meditation to the West shared,

Love shall forever shine on our way and the light will guide our steps, whether we go slow or fast. The light of love shall forever be with us on our way. Love shall forever be the anchor of life. We shall be in love and love shall be in us. We shall live in love, shall grow in love and shall find fulfillment in love eternal.

Being born on earth at this time is a great blessing, a great opportunity. We have the darkest of times and the highest spiritual awareness, both here with us right now. Concentrate all your desires into the one desire for Self-awareness and let your spiritual journey home begin.

If I don’t see you again in this world, I’ll see you in the next. Don’t be late. - Jimi Hendrix

Silently repeat the following Mahavakya a few times.

Ahum Bhramasmi

I am Brahman, I am the totality. Who I really am, is that absolute reality.

I am not only a wave, I am made of the ocean. I am the ocean

Reflect on the Oneness, Brahman


Continue your journey with the four Yugas and the history of Vedic meditation in From OM to Home: A Vedic Journey Through Time, a four-part series with Roger Gabriel, available now on the Chopra App.