2012 : End of Days?

There is a belief spreading around, that the year 2012 is when the world either faces a major catastrophe or comes to an end. Hey, there is even a movie about ‘what might happen’ made… in advance (of course) – called, yes, ‘2012’, which is slated for release in July 2009. If the filmmakers themselves believe in the year spelling our inevitable doom, looks like they are hoping to make and spend some final big bucks before it all ends – in less than three years’ time!

As the film synopsis at http://apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/2012 describes, ‘Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. 2012 is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.’ If you catch the trailer there, you’ll see a Tibetan ‘monk’ trekking across a mountaintop to toll a warning bell of sorts – before… (Nope, no spoiler here – not even for the trailer.) Let’s have a disclaimer here – Buddhism has no prophesy about the end of days being so soon. Even if it’s so-called ‘the end of the world’, it’s just the end of this life; not the whole wide world or universe per se. Like us, the world can be reborn too.

Here’s some food for thought on the ‘end of days’. One of the main theories why 2012 is the last possible year is that the Mayan calendar stops there. Brilliant as the Mayans might be in some aspects of civilisation, they are brutal too. E.g. they carve out pumping human hearts for sacrifices to their gods. (See the film ‘Apocalypto’ for a portrayal of this.) As such, I’m not sure how wisely or accurately prophetic they are. Why do we think the end of of the world is predicted with accuracy by the Mayans? Maybe they simply stopped planning calendars ahead? The Mayans did not seem to predict the fading of their own civilisation. If so, how could they predict the end of all?

It is by default that MOST doomsday prophesies will turn out wrong – because there is only one doomsday. Needless to say, all the past prophesies that have come and passed were flukes. But even so, the ardent believers do not believe they were wrong. The usual rationale for why doomsday got postponed is that humanity pulled up its socks, which allayed disaster in time. The thing is, this might be true – so there is no argument about it – while it might also be true that the prophesies were simply inaccurate in the first place. The way I look at it, doomsday hoaxes are dangerous for two main reasons. First, being hoaxes they cause unnecessary panic for the masses…

The second reason might seem shocking… The hoaxes might prove wrong in another way – when its adherents perish of OTHER causes BEFORE the doomsday they had mentally prepared for! In other words, while doomsday prophesies remind us to pull up our spiritual socks, to take stock of of virtues before it’s too late, it can ironically still lead to complacency too, when believers forget they can die before the day they thought they will. For the truly spiritual, doomsday prophesies should have little effects for them – for they already know they are constantly living in the end of days, that death can strike any time. They are prepared not for doomsday, but dooms-moment – not in the next moment, but in the moment. To conclude, will 2012 mark the end of days? It doesn’t matter as much as the fact that sudden deaths happen all over the world, striking people of all ages, that it might strike you too – NOW!

Addendum: I met a friend for lunch after writing the above. He had just returned from Nepal, where he was helping his Buddhist teacher with some filming. He commented that most of the monks he met seemed pretty cleanly cut off from worldly concerns. They were engaged in a retreat that lasts three years and three months, where contact with the outside world is strictly forbidden to prevent distractions. If they were to practise the Dharma diligently and correctly, it is almost certain that they will attain some substantial realisation – during this round of retreat, if not the next, or the next…

My friend wondered why we aren’t engaged in such serious practices. I answered that we could if we really wanted, that we choose to occupy ourselves with worldly routines and struggles, which we ironically grumble about – as it there is really greater worth in being stuck in Samsara. He agreed, saying that we have yet to really realise the truth of impermanence. If we really see the truth (not prophesy) that we might die shortly, we would not be living life the way we are now. Our priorities would radically change – away from the worldly; towards the spiritual. This is when I told him about the review above, that as long as we still project the impermanence or transience of life ahead of us, when it is in action now, drawing us closer to death than we think, we are still too spiritually complacent. 2012 is too far away.

Related Articles (which are especially apt for today – World Aids Day):

Buddhist Review of Movie ‘2012’
Would You Prefer to Know When You’ll Die?
Always Living in the End of Days

8 thoughts on “2012 : End of Days?

  1. I only get free tix for some movies by a movie company – when there are premieres organised for film reviewers, while I pay to see the rest. If anyone has connections to more premiere invitations, I’m open to them! (2012 is not screened yet, while Apocalypto was seen on rented DVD, which is cheaper.) 😆

  2. After chatting with a friend, some spin-off thoughts came to mind.
    They are as included in the addendum and ‘related articles’ above.

  3. I guess it’s not so much that we have not seen impermanence but more of whether we truly want to accept it or not.

    We see impermanence in action every day (e.g. falling leaves) but we choose to brush it aside as something of no special significance. But when death approaches, excuses for procrastination become lame. Most Buddhists would then seriously consider furthering their spiritual cultivation. But we forget that death can come abruptly too. ;-(

  4. I hope it’s really and I hope decembel.21.2012 we will dead.a new humanbeen became on a new century.so keep smilling don’t care about it. 😉

  5. But there’s no need for us all to die just to ‘re-begin’. Rebirth is already taking place all the time when we change our minds. What we need is to encourage one another to change our minds to be more caring and more wise (I)

  6. I just attended Ajhan Brahm’s talk (a monk in the Terevada tradition) and his response is something like this:

    We should go to the those who spread the prophecy and challenge them to will their money and possession to the charity. For if they truly belief that the world will end, they would have no need for money. Of course they won’t do that because even they have second thoughts about the prophecy.

  7. One who doesn’t believe in the prophesy will do nothing.
    One who believes in the prophesy should do something.
    One who is ambivalent will hear the both argue and decide what makes more sense.

    We are always living in the end of days…
    because we we be reborn.
    The question is how are we living, and where do we plan to go.

    Pure Land for me! Amituofo

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