When the World Ends
The world ending today on December 21st, 2012 reminds me of one of my favorite songs, called “H.”
Western culture is steeped in Abrahamic cosmology, and one fundamental difference between the universe of God, the Father, and that of say, Brahman or Buddha, is that it only flows one direction. God created the things, the things did stuff, then God came back and everyone died or lived forever or whatever. That’s a fairly unusual perspective in the context of other world religions, who mostly go with the cyclical rebirth of the world.
So it’s no surprise that when a bunch of westerners hear about the end of of this Mayan K’atun (era), they focus on the “end” part.
But what comes after this fiery apocalypse? According to the Mayans, an auspicious time begins. 13 is a holy number for the Mayans, and 12-21-2012 by our notation is written by the Mayans as 22.214.171.124.0 (using their own numerals, of course).
In the song, a snake is taunting him, tempting him, and draining him. The snake wants him to close off, to turn away. He’s also tempted by his “blood” to open his heart instead of closing off.
The conflict comes over him like a storm, and both forces, he says, are killing him. He’s living in fear of his death, until he has an epiphany:
My fear begins to fade
Recalling all of the times
I have died
and will die.
It’s all right.
I don’t mind.
With all its references to religion it’s easy to think this song is somehow religious, but it’s much simpler than that. It’s not literally about death and rebirth.
The singer and songwriter is Maynard Keenan, and this song was written around the time of his son’s birth. (Devo H. Keenan, hence the song title).
He struggles with being ready for fatherhood, until he remembers all the personal apocalypses he has had, all the times his old way of thinking and being and living have “died” before. And yet here he is, alive. Ready for the next death and rebirth into a new and better version of himself.
Apocalypse can be scary because the ego works overtime to avoid change. But the apocalypse is not the end, and in fact doesn’t mean “the end.” The word apocalypse actually means “revelation.”
Whatever is revealed changes everything, its purging fire destroys what was there before, and creates it anew through the surrender of grief.
So it is with the world, and so it is with you.
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