Ancient Spiritual Technologies


Published in Psychic Reader, Berkeley, California, August 2001.

Copyright 2001.
by John Major Jenkins, author of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012


The ancient Mayan civilization understood the universal principles that create and sustain the world. These “first principles” underlie the physical laws that modern science has partially mastered and used to create technological miracles, but the first principles of  Mayan sacred science embraced a much larger universe in which human beings were seen to be multidimensional and capable of traveling beyond time and space, beyond the confines that limit modern science with its “laws” that are valid only in the physical three-dimensional plane. But human beings, with our capacity for supra-sensory spiritual vision, are more than three-dimensional.


We are amazed by the ancient Maya and their baffling, complicated calendar science, and how they built their huge stone cities without using beasts of burden. Writer Colin Wilson chastises the Maya for creating toys with little wheels while failing to build wagons and harness animals into slavery for the benefit of hauling stones. We sift through their documents, carvings, and fragmented traditions looking for something that our modern mentality can grab hold of and appreciate. We look for a bolt, or a gear, or something that would prove to us that the Maya did indeed have a civilization. We have been indoctrinated into a materialistic mindset, and even among more open minded and conscious seekers our biases run deep. We should beware of examining ancient cultures with physics-colored glasses. Perhaps we are being ethnocentric in looking for evidence of what our own culture values. Perhaps the value of ancient civilizations lies not in a hope that they, at times, struggled up to the same technological level that we recognize as evidence of being civilized. Perhaps for the Maya, as with the Kogi or the Australian aborigines, material technology was briefly flirted with, recognized as an ego-dominated deathtrap, and was quickly abandoned to pursue the higher yearnings of the human spirit in realms that we might call metaphysical, imaginal, or shamanic. There among the ruins, perhaps, lies an inner technology of personal transformation that our civilization lost long ago, leaving us cast adrift in a reduced world ruled by matter, machines, and marketing gimmicks peddling pre-fab paradigms. And perhaps this is what we seek in looking for “artifacts” among the debris of ancient civilizations.   


The ancient Vedic civilization is not particularly celebrated for material achievements and yet, like the Maya, they enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of celestial cycles as well as a deep understanding of human spirituality. In fact, the Hindu-Vedic sages  mastered magical techniques or siddhis with which they projected their consciousness into animals, inanimate objects (which also contained a soul), and into distant times and places. We can only hope that someday we will create a cultural context in which human beings might once again cultivate this kind of “inner” technology. In the light of these spiritual  achievements, the so-called “miracle” of television appears to be an unnecessary joke, useful only to those whose consciousness has been seriously downsized.


Modern historical investigation continues to push back the dating of the origins of civilizations and the advent of material technologies. And we may be able to identify hardware technology inside the Great Pyramid of Egypt, at Stonehenge, and at other perplexing ancient sites. However, that doesn’t deny the deeper metaphysical significance of, for example, the Great Pyramid, as intended by its builders. The arguments of modern independent researchers for advanced technology in ancient times is important, as it increases respect for these ancient cultures among those who value these kinds of achievements, but it somewhat misses the point: It’s like celebrating Einstein for working in a patent office. The problem is similar to the quest for lost Atlantis or the Himalayan Shambhala that disappeared into the shadows as humanity descended into an increasingly dense and materialistic age. It’s not that Atlantis or Shambhala lies hidden in some remote valley or underwater grave. The point is that humanity has forgotten how to be in that place where Atlantis / Shambhala did and always will reside. These clarifications form a significant part of my next book, Galactic Alignment: The Transformation of Consciousness According to Mayan, Egyptian, and Vedic Traditions, to be published with Inner Traditions International in 2002. Here’s an advance excerpt:


The Primordial Tradition is a state of mind rather than a distant Golden Age or ancient location. As a state of mind, the Primordial Tradition is accessible to any person or culture, at any time or place, without the aid of direct transmission through lineage or Atlantean antecedent. The current pop-culture quest to trace fragments of compelling "evidence" back to some Atlantean Ur-civilization misses the point, and is evidence of the over-literal preoccupations of Western “modern” consciousness. An incredibly low-minded manifestation of this is the mass-media’s treatment of Maya and Egyptian archaeology, revealing an inability to see anything beyond treasure hunting, gold artifacts, and scary mummies. The deeper truth of our search for lost “artifacts” is our desire to make visible a knowledge or mindset which is more comprehensive and fulfilling. As with Shambhala, which faded into invisibility as humanity lost the ability to see it, the Primordial Tradition fades but reemerges in places conducive to discovering and appreciating its profound depth and wisdom. This explains the ancient Maya's isolation and independent genius which nevertheless had tapped into the same doctrines also found in ancient Vedic and Egyptian cosmology. Trans-oceanic voyages are not required for this simultaneous non-local emergence. 


We may find engines in the sands of Egypt, computers in the jungles of Guatemala, and  gears in Paleolithic encrustations of lava, and this may—indeed, should—create awe and wonder among scientists and the interested public in general. But it shouldn’t distract us from laying aside our own civilization’s faulty assumptions to truly learn from the high metaphysical teachings offered by ancient civilizations, including the Egyptian, Vedic, and Mayan.


My work, as published in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (Bear & Company, 1998), has been to reconstruct ancient Mayan cosmology, to sift through millennia of eroding ideas, sorting through layers of garbage, to emerge with an understanding of what the ancient Maya considered to be important. For the most part they didn’t care about wheels, calendar gears as envisioned by modern scholars, or anything close to a material technology. But they were clairvoyant engineers of time travel and architects of hyper-dimensional wormholes in space-time. They were masters of the structure of the universe and they were astronomer-mathematicians who could perceive and calculate the timetables of human unfolding. All this without ironworks, telescopes, microwave ovens, light bulbs, or re-sealable plastic bags. The greatest achievement of the Maya, and the greatest knowledge their living representatives can offer us today, is in the field of spiritual technology, so that we can develop or rediscover our full human potential.


Back to