The Hindu’s believed that the universe has four cycles of existence. According to the Hindu scriptures, we are living in the Kali Yuga – the fourth and final stage of the Hindu cyclical calendar.
While I am not a Hindu, and for the most part I am an atheist, I will admit that I do believe mankind is living in a Kali Yuga-esque world (at least in a symbolic way).
The Kali Yuga is an age of spiritual oblivion – where mankind is obsessed with material items and consumes at an unprecedented rate. As the Kali Yuga progresses, mankind becomes more and more obsessed with material items and possessions – to the point where these material items become the new ‘gods’ and ‘idols’ of man.
Never before in the history of our species has mankind been so obsessed with material possessions. We live in a world where money, commercial products and luxury items represent the worth of a human being. A person with a lot of money is considered a success – a person with little money is considered a failure.
People with expensive clothes, big houses, fast cars or glamorous jewelry are admired and respected. The public is more interested in the opinions of a rich celebrity than an actual expert. A person with enough money can essentially commit any crime they want and get away with it (or at least have a better chance of getting a lighter sentence), whereas poor people who commit petty crimes are thrown in a metal cell for years on end with no hope of rehabilitation.
Money, which is essentially a piece of paper, has become the driving force behind the world. Money is the backbone of our modern society. Almost everything that we need to survive (food, shelter, clothes, medicine) can only come to us if we pay for it with money. If you have a lot of money, you can buy more food, a bigger house, designer clothes or even the best medical treatment. And, if you don’t have enough money, you either settle for a lesser, subpar version of the necessities or you lack them altogether (which can lead to starvation, homelessness, nakedness, sickness).
People spend their lives getting jobs that they probably dislike in order to obtain money so they can buy things that they don’t even need. They might think that they need these items – but they don’t. Society, mainly the media, has tricked these people into thinking that they need to wear these clothes, or drive this car, or eat this food, or drink this water. Advertising makes us think that if we buy this or that we can somehow become successful, or beautiful, or even happy.
Another attribute of the Kali Yuga is that mankind drifts further away from God. Now, let’s say you are a theist – a Christian, Muslim, Jew etc. Surely you can agree that the power of the church, or the power of religion, is quickly decaying. The Roman Catholic church for example once held sway over most of Europe. Now, a large portion of the European population is agnostic or non-religious. The same goes for over here in United States, where church attendance is decreasing despite a growing population. With the rise of science, many aspects of religion are no longer accepted. Even the Catholic Pope is saying that evolution and the Big Bang theory are true – something that no pope previously would have ever even considered. Now, if you are a theist, you could say the world is slowly ‘drifting away from God’. Religion is becoming less and less important to the average person. Atheism and apathy towards religion have become more prevalent.
Now, as an atheist myself, I don’t think this is a bad thing, I am simply stating that it does seem true that mankind is drifting further from ‘God’. As Nietzsche himself said ‘God is Dead’. This doesn’t mean that God was an actual living being – but rather it means that the idea of a God is dead. The concept of God and all this God stood for no longer hold sway over our lives.
However, I believe that, when the Hindu’s said the Kali Yuga would be an age where ‘mankind drifts away from God’ – they meant it in a more personal way. Hindu’s are monists – they believe that everything is ultimately one. God, or any of the 300 million gods, are really just a part of ourselves. There is no difference between you and God. The world is filled with illusions and it is because of these illusions that people think they are separate from God. When you see past the illusions, you realize that God and you are the same thing – you are God, God is you. By learning about yourself, and understanding yourself, you will come to understand God – since the two are the same.
In our modern era, the search for self-discovery seems non-existent. People care only about the opinions other people have of them. Everyone’s self-image and self-esteem is based largely on other people’s opinions. Rather than take the time and mediate on their self, people would rather read some shitty article or horoscope telling about their ‘qualities’ or ‘traits’. Young people need constant reaffirmation and praise in order to feel complete. Social media is a great example of this – where a person feels important based on the amount of attention their posts get. Snap chat is a great example of how young people have an urge to share everything they’re doing with their many ‘followers’. Young people need others to know that they are having fun, or that they just went to a concert, or that they just got wasted. It isn’t enough that the person doing the actual activity is aware that they did it – everyone else must also be aware that they did the activity.
People don’t even attempt to learn about themselves anymore. They’d rather read personal stories or gossip columns on celebrities than think about their own lives. People are always wishing they had the life of someone else rather than their current one. ‘Oh I wish I was so-and-so’ or ‘oh my life would be so much better if I was this person, or that person’.
The biggest problem is that people do not know what they really want. As I mentioned earlier, the media and commercial society has brainwashed most people into thinking that they want this item or that item. Our system teaches kids to ‘pursue their dreams’ – of course these dreams must require some sort of higher-education degree, and the dream must be ‘practical’ and ‘achievable’. If the child says they want to be an artist or singer they will probably be persuaded to chose a different career.
People are brainwashed. They believe that they have some sort of duty or allegiance to the system. They spend their lives working for a system that does not benefit them. They spend their lives chasing after material items that they don’t really want or need – but society has brainwashed them into thinking that they do need these items. The system teaches that people should be peaceful, moral, have a well-paying job, be law-abiding, get married, have a family, support your country, pay taxes, buy products, and be compliant. But is that really what you want? Maybe it is – maybe it isn’t. The point is that society has brainwashed most people into thinking that these are the only options available – or rather that these are the ‘best’ options available. People no longer live their lives as their true selves – they do what society wants them to do and believe what society wants them to believe. Thus, modern man is detached from ‘God’ in the sense that he is detached from himself. How can modern man know God if he doesn’t know himself? How can modern man love God if he doesn’t love himself? How can modern man know what God wants if he doesn’t even know what he wants?
It is sad really – because the only person that you’ll ever have the ability to really know is yourself. No one else will ever live your life, or experience exactly what you’ve experienced. Yet people don’t want to learn about themselves. They don’t want to meditate on their feelings and learn about their true self. In the Kali Yuga, no one knows who they are or what they want or even what potential they have. Everything they know about themselves is an illusion – a trick planted in their mind by the society around them.
There are many other attributes of the Kali Yuga that are prevalent in our society. Avarice will become widespread, sexual promiscuity will be socially acceptable, murder rates will rise, addiction to drugs and alcohol will increase, poverty will rise and spirituality will decrease. All of these things are very prevalent throughout our western world.
Overall, I do think that mankind is living in the Kali Yuga. Our current world is one filled with materialism and an unquenchable appetite for consumerism. Our leaders are corrupt, our world is ruled by a piece of paper, people are ignorant of God and of themselves, and the world slowly descends further and further into an abyss of misery.