Photo: Wikimedia Commons
This is my second interview with Daniel Pinchbeck, influential author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl and Breaking Open The Head, which detailed his exploration of shamanic initiation rituals around the world.You’re the “2012” Mayan prophecy expert — it’s certainly starting to feel a bit like the lead-up to a doomsday scenario, isn’t it? Japanese citizens within 25 km of the damaged nuclear reactor are being exposed to a year’s worth of radiation every single hour, ocean water is getting contaminated, and now the US has basically entered into a third military conflict overseas. Is any of this in line with what they predicted?
I don’t know if I am an “expert,” even though I have studied this area and written about it. Yes, sadly, all of this fits the prophecies of the classic Maya and other indigenous cultures perfectly. “Earth changes” – earthquakes, volcanoes, etc – are part of the predictions. Also, the indigenous people believe that humanity will be forced to confront our treatment of the world and one another. We will need to change direction as we experience the destructive effects of our technologies. We believed we could rise above nature: now we are learning that we have to be symbiotic with it.
According to the Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation myth which is dramatized in my film 2012: Time for Change, the end of this 5,100+ year “Great Cycle” and the start of the next are a time of destruction, regeneration, and creation. We are seeing an acceleration of all three as we move through this threshold. If the prophecies have validity, it is going to get more intense over the next year. Ultimately, humanity is being presented with a choice: it is not about an exact date but a window of opportunity.
In my book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, I developed the hypothesis that we are undergoing a transition to a new realisation of consciousness, which will be embodied by a new fundamental paradigm that takes into account what Carl Jung called “the reality of the psyche,” along with new social, political, and economic systems that mesh with this realisation. I see the rapid evolution of technology as an expression of this unfolding of consciousness. The acceleration of planetary crises can either incite a planetary awakening and a shift into a regenerative planetary culture based on sustainable principles, or a destruction of human civilisation in its current form, and perhaps extinction for our species.
What do you think of nuclear energy?
I think nuclear energy, like many of the technologies we have heedlessly developed and disseminated globally over the last century, is an extremely shortsighted proposition. The idea that we are going to be able to protect deposits of radioactive wastes for thousands of years is a bad bet, when we consider the rise and fall of past civilizations that left little trace behind them. We are trapped in this insane model of linear, exponential progress – in fact the capitalist system demands insatiable growth, as it cannot survive without finding more elements to transform into transactions. Genetically modified organisms, similiarly, in my humble opinion, are likely to prove disastrous, even catastrophic, over time. If we look back at the history of technological development, we can see that each new level of technology tends to lead to horrible unforeseen consequences: for instance, plastic once seemed like the greatest thing ever. A hundred years ago, we didn’t imagine vast plastic dumps would collect in the oceans and that its residues would seep through the food chain and collect in our tissues, leading to reproductive problems and cancers. At this point, we require a global movement of civil society to address the consequences of runaway technology, and change the direction of human civilisation. We need to redesign our social and technological systems so they mesh with the biosphere, as visionaries like Buckminster Fuller proposed. This requires a planetary initiative toward self-limitation, down-scaling, conserving, and relocalizing.
On the economic front, the Dow is back above 12,000 — so-called “Pre-Lehman” levels, just about, and the number of those filing for jobless claims is on the decline. Have Obama and the Fed somehow managed to sidestep another financial crisis? Are better times around the corner?
The Dow is only up because the central banks created trillions of dollars – virtual credits added to accounts – out of nothing, and distributed them to the financial elite. This has allowed a brief life extension for a failed system. The global financial system has become nothing but an empty Ponzi Scheme, and it seems highly probable, if not inevitable, that it will soon self-destruct. The financial elite have manipulated the creation of value and turned our society into a caste system, where a tiny proportion of the population control almost all of the resources, and everybody else is pathetically impoverished. This is not a desirable, or a sustainable, situation. Soon, we will either descend into unfettered barbarism and a total surveillance society, or there will be an awakening and overturning, leading to a far more equitable distribution of resources and the birth of a truly participatory democracy. The social technologies of the Internet that create instant groups (and spark insurrections like the one in Egypt) and the open-source movement in software development point toward our potential to create a participatory social order.
What can individuals do to improve the world around us, aside from obvious stuff like donating to the Red Cross’ Pacific Relief Fund.
People need to awaken to the fact that our current system is a suicide system, and nothing they do for the sake of self-interest will save them from the onslaught of catastrophe that is imminently on its way. Once they confront this, they may want to embark on a shamanic journey of self-transformation, in order to verify that there is a continuity of the soul and spirit after death, in other realms. I wrote about my own quest for self-knowledge through psychedelic shamanism in my first book Breaking Open the Head. Once they realise that their life transcends the alienated ego state, and they belong to a larger continuum of consciousness, they naturally shift their entire focus from personal greed to serving the evolution of the earth and helping others.
Generally, I am not a fan of charities, as I think the prospect that you do one thing to make money, then give away some of it to assuage your guilt is not an integral model. Actually, all of our actions, in business or personal life, should be in alignment with our true values, even if this requires some personal sacrifice. I believe that we need to rapidly rebuild civil society and begin mass retraining of people for a way of life that meshes with the limits of the biosphere. This means relocalizing food production and scaling back industry, ending military confrontations, etcetera. I like the models developed by Transition Town, the Zeitgeist Social Movement, 350.org, and my own company, Evolver.
Are you working on any new books or projects?
I am still running my company, Evolver, which publishes www.realitysandwich.com and organizes the Evolver Social Movement, with 45 local groups meeting around the world each month to raise consciousness, help communities self-organise, and assist in a process of global transformation. I am working on a new book proposing a systemic response to our planetary crisis; writing a monthly column for Dazed & Confused, an English fashion magazine; publishing a new line of Evolver Editions books through North Atlantic Books; and organising Evolver Intensives – live video seminars. Also, I am involved with an initiative to create a planetary “birth” event on December 21, 2012, the last day of the “Great Cycle” of the Mayan Calendar, including a synchronised peace meditation and global spectacle that will focus intention on unity and peace: www.unifyearth.com. We are currently looking for supporters and investors for this extraordinary initiative – people can email me for details: [email protected]