Thursday, December 20, 2012

Goodbye. These People Are Serious.


They are waiting. Hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of people. Tomorrow is the end of the world.

I took this photo of a white-clad group in the woods of the archaeological zone of Kabah last week. They spoke Italian as they wandered through the ruins of Kabah and climbed over the ancient buildings.

As we were leaving, I noticed that the group had congregated, formed a circle and were meditating. It made a beautiful, peaceful image and I decided to take a photo. I stayed at a respectful distance and did nothing to bother them or interfere with the proceedings. But immediately a man who'd appeared to be a group leader began waving his arms violently at me. If looks could kill, my world would have ended right then and there. I turned and began to walk away. I kept my eye on the group, though. The man was not meditating. He preferred to glare angrily at me until I was out of sight.

Then I recalled the miffed looks we had gotten from other members of the group. A couple of them had chosen to sit and meditate here and there in the middle of walkways on the site, and seemed to be upset that we were walking by and talking. I tried not to bother anyone, but I feel that if their meditation skills are so feeble that a little noise is a problem then they shouldn't have chosen to meditate in such a public place. These individuals were not a good advertisement for the peace and tranquility achieved through meditation.

A friend who was with us this day emailed me later to say that she had seen an article online about this very group, which apparently is wrapped up in some sort of Armageddon cult.

The point is that although these people seemed to be having trouble reaching bliss through meditation, they are serious. Maybe relaxing is a little difficult when you believe that the world is going to end later in the week.

The Diario de Yucatán today published a brief summary of past Apocalypse predictions, of which there have been a great many over the last couple thousand years. The Jehova's Witnesses have predicted the end at least four times. Various Christian sects and cults also have predicted the end on occasion based upon biblical writings. Of course there is Nostradamus. Scientists and mathematicians, including Sir Isaac Newton also saw the end coming at one time or another. There have been plenty of others. And we're still here.

The Diario also published an article in which an expert on pre-hispanic Maya culture states that modern western culture radically misinterprets the Maya calendar. "The Mayas were not able to predict the arrival of the end of the world, among other things, because in their worldview the linear view of time, with its apocalyptic mentality inherited from the Judeo-Christian tradition, did not exist."

There you have it. The modern view of it all is so different from the cyclical, pre-European point of view that we've got it all screwed up.

I went to La Flor de Santiago yesterday to have coffee with friends. I was the first to arrive and the only client in the place, so José the waiter talked with me for a few minutes.

José asked me what I thought about the end of the world. I told him I guess that the ancient calendar makers figured they were in good shape when they were a few hundred years ahead in their work, and that had they not been rudely interrupted by the Spanish, they'd have updated the calendar and added a few more centuries by now.

José laughed and nodded. "Pretty simple isn't it?" he said. "Lots of locos out there."

I have plans for the holidays and a brand new 2013 calendar. I've also got a few blog posts in the works. Look me up the day after tomorrow.


26 comments:

  1. BoB GoaD in Sitka, AKDecember 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Great post. I'd imagine you'll REALLY get the glares on the 22nd as you point at them, wagging your finger, laughing.

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  2. People that think they have the TRUTH are always wrong, and all too often they are willing to go to extraordinary ends to defend it.

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    1. It seemed to me that this group acted as if they were the only people in the area, which is a public park. I was framing a photo of one of the buildings, camera in front of my face, when several walked in front of me and stopped to talk, just a few paces in front of my lens. When they didn't move after a few moments I moved and began again to take a photo. It was obvious what I was doing, and they had seen me the first time, but they again walked in front of me as if I didn't exist and dawdled, blocking my shot.

      They also ignored signs in several areas that prohibited climbing on fragile ruins.

      I don't quite understand this sort of behavior. Perhaps if you believe that Armageddon is only days off, you decide that ordinary civility and rules are not important any longer.

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    2. There has been street gossip for some time about an Italian group of "Enders" who had bought a tract of land, built a number of double-walled Armageddon-proof houses, set aside stores of supplies to last them... well, how long do you need when the world ends, but you survive because only your homes are correctly built?

      Perhaps their little survival-capsule community is near Kabah and they've adopted these ruins as part of their End of the World belief system? I don't know.

      I do know many cult-like groups involved in such things tend to be a bit desperate and defensive, so getting away was probably a good idea. Perhaps their meditations were intended to insure their connections to the ruins or something.

      The first thing I think of when I hear about such groups is Jonestown. I was in college when that happened and it had a big effect on all of us - the insanity of it.

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  3. Our friends were too busy with Xmas preparations, so we had to postpone our end of the world party til Monday. Hope nobody minds re-scheduling the end of the world for a few days...

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    1. Don, it's about the same around here. I am too busy enjoying life right now for this sort of thing. Maybe later.

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  4. Thanks for the info, from the Diario de Yucatan, Marc.

    Yes, El Fin has generated some fun as well. My Spanish teacher, who has a wonderful sense of humor, sometimes helps me articulate "mis frustraciónes." For instance, he recently reminded me that I need not worry about such and such, because the world will have ended!

    If we're still here Sunday, remember--there are alternate interpretations of the Maya prediction that we can still look forward to.

    There is a wonderful journal-type magazine, ARTES DE MÉXICO. A recent edition (#107) is titled: "El Arte del Tiempo Maya." (I bought my copy at Sanborns, and it does not seem to be widely available here in Mérida.) This issue contains many references to this topic. AND, although the journal is in Spanish, there is an English translation at the back (for those of us that need some help with this.)

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    1. Thanks, Alinde. Artes de México sounds like something I would enjoy. I hope to visit with you soon.

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  5. On the evening of Dec 11 and again on the morning of Dec 12 there were groups of white clad people on the beach in Progreso. 12/12/12 must be an ominous date as well! On the 11th they were in a circle around a fire on the beach and were chanting. On the morning of the 12th they were on the beach, at times in a circle and at other times in rows, chanting and bowing to the north and the south. I immediately thought they must be the Italian doomsday group. They have not been back since.

    I wonder what will happen to them on the 22nd? Will they drink the Kool Aid or will they look around sheepishly and the group slowly dissolve?

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    1. Good question. I've recently read an article that talks about what these groups do when they wake up on "the day after" and nothing has happened. Some groups break up, but most continue with revised predictions, or else believe that the power of their prayer caused the apocalypse to be postponed.

      It's an interesting phenomenon. Belief and the need to belong are powerful things.

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  6. I had completely forgotten about all this. But we tend to live in an alternative universe over here on the Pacific.

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    1. Well I tend to think that a lot of these apocalypse-believers are the ones living in the alternative universe, but your point is taken.

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  7. So much for peace and enlightenment...

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    1. Well I have concluded that's not what some of these particular folks are about, in the final analysis.

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  8. I find all of it just astonishing. I figure my world might come to an end some day when I fall down the hill while heading to the jardin for a coffee.

    Otherwise, why worry? I often remember a phrase from Dwayne Dyer that says, "Guilt never changes the past and worry never changes the future". Therefore living in the moment is my way of life..........

    Feliz Navidad Marc

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    1. Precisely.

      I've always liked the way Dyer cuts to the heart of the matter.

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  9. I wonder if that group of white-clad folks will actually be disappointed when they wake up tomorrow? I have heard that strong belief can accomplish wondrous things, so maybe they won't wake up tomorrow, in which case, they will not be sorely missed by those to whom they've been so rude.

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    1. Well, it's now that day. I wonder how they all are doing today. I imagine many are on their way home, unless they neglected to make return reservations.

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  10. I went to an end of the road type ruin for the calender roll-over last night. I was the only Gringo there from what I could tell, maybe 300-400 people over the 24 hours I was there. Very peaceful, the parents of the little ones kept asking my wife and I if they could have a picture taken with one of us with their kids. It was a gender thing, boys with me, girls with Linda. I'm wore out today but it was worth it. The message was peace from start to finish-they erected a new slela and the writing was all about peace.

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    1. Sounds like a good time was had by all...a little nicer than this group I ran into.

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  11. The truly amusing thing about this particular end-of-the-world was the fact of how many otherwise sensible people were sucked into paying any attention at all to it. I have a good friend who is otherwise quite rational who spent some energy trying to get me worked up over it.

    I didn't take the bait.

    But I did text him earlier today to say that time was running out for the world to end today. I also noted that it was already tomorrow in Japan, and as far as anyone could tell, the Japanese were going about their daily routines.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the one thing that did come to an end was Fall. Winter beckons.

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    1. Yes, here we are. It's a nice day today in Yucatan.

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  12. "Lots of locos out there" pretty much says it all.

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    1. Good Saturday morning, Dec. 22, 2012 to you, Felipe. We are here and the world remains in about the same state as yesterday.

      Yes, it's amazing how many people get wrapped up in these things, and a lot of other equally-strange stuff. I guess the truth is that we sometimes seem pretty weird to them, too. It keeps life interesting, at any rate.

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  13. You know how Americans are, any reason to drink. I did in fact attend a end of the world party. My step-father is Mayan and I'm sure he's been pissed about all the hub-bub because from some views, it is a bit disrespectful. As I've felt as a Christian when weirdo Christians swore the world was going to end.

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