The Road to 2012 Conference, November 2004
John Major Jenkins

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The Way to 2012

A summary of my Friday night keynote address, and my 3-hour workshop on Monday

Based upon certain discussions going on within the milieu of Mayan calendar research, I wanted to accomplish a few things at the Tempe conference. First, my Friday night talk was ultimately intended to present my research at the site of Izapa, center of the early Mayan culture that invented the 2012 calendar. Izapa is the origin place of the 2012 calendar! As already published in my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, Izapa's carvings and horizon alignments clearly encode information about the galactic alignment of 2012—which is the rare alignment of the solstice sun with the Milky Way galaxy, with Galactic Center nearby. I have always seen this as the visible, empirical indicator of deeper mysteries. That we now have an identifiable empirical indicator of something profound going on today should be welcome, but other authors of books on the Mayan calendar disagree. The criticism of my work, that identifying astronomy means my views are materialistic, comes from Carl Calleman. Such a criticism is ridiculous, as is quite apparent if one actually reads my books. To give one small example: The ballcourt at Izapa contains carved monuments that encode a spiritual message about the initiatory death or ascent at the "end of time." That is why chapter 23 in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 takes the reader on a visionary, initiatory, journey into the galactic alignment, to convey a poetic sense of opening to the mysteries of higher truth. These are profound metaphysical teachings that share perennial themes with many traditions around the globe. Most tellingly, Calleman never responded to my defense of his criticism in our email exchange of mid-1999, nor in our debate of late-2001, and yet he continues to broadcast the notion.

In a related context, I wanted to convey in the Friday keynote address my early discovery of the sacred science principles that the Mayan calendar, and Mayan time philosophy, is based upon. These three sacred science principles are universal and operate in all domains of human experience, from the celestial outer realm of the planets to the inner spiritual domain. It is this union of inner and outer that makes the Mayan calendar such an incredible teaching and tool for adopting a wholistic view of the universe. If one domain is amputated from this vision, such as Calleman's "materialistic astronomy", then you just missed the first and most important teaching about the Mayan calendar. These views were laid out very clearly in my first book, Journey to the Mayan Underworld, in 1989. It wasn't until I had explored more deeply the core principles of Mayan time philosophy, as laid out in Mirror in the Sky (1991) and especially Mayan Sacred Science (1994), that a complete model emerged, which I called the Tree of Life cosmology. The model describes the union of two domains of human unfolding, utilizing the three sacred "square-root" principles: individual physical unfolding and collective spiritual unfolding. Cycles of unfolding in nature do relate to celestial, astronomical cycles, but this does not mean that spiritual change comes from physical change. Both realms unfold in resonant relationship (because everything ultimately springs from the same source), but neither, strictly speaking, determines events in the other. Many people today, including many spiritual seekers who write books, are deeply mired in a Cartesian dualism fueled by the limited scientific perspective of causality. This is especially true of University-trained science majors, who often find it difficult to conceive of non-mutually exclusive transcendence because they've been so thoroughly indoctrinated into the causal biases of science. A chapter in my 1992 book Tzolkin, "Causality and Synchronicity", explores this and its relation to free will. The important meditation here is on the relationship between time and eternity, between the finite and the infinite. These domains are not in a relationship of mutual exclusion or, as Decartes said of Mind and Body, "apples and oranges". The metaphysical and spiritual teaching to be embraced here is that transcendence is inclusive, that the finite world is embedeed within infinity as one of infinity's potential states. In the same way, historical time is likewise embedded within eternity. Good sources that elucidate these perennial teachings are Coomaraswamy's book Time and Eternity and Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Knowledge and Sacred.

So, by 1994 it was very clear to me that the Mayan calendar was all about unifying inner and outer unfolding. When I then turned to identifying the galactic alignment in 2012, which is an astronomical fact, it never occurred to me that someone might even consider unfairly pigeon holing me as a clueless empiricist. It's not that the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of my work are buried in previous books, either; Calleman or anyone else can see how the spiritual importance of 2012 is a central feature of both Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998) and Galactic Alignment (2002). As if that wasn't enough, my recent book, Pyramid of Fire (released November 2004) explores the Mesoamerican spiritual teachings about the initiatory ascent at the "end of time," in which I clearly dscribe how the metaphysics of transcendence do not require we wait until a particular date in the historical timeline before we may experience the timeless. This view is a profound perennial teaching, involves the relationship between time and eternity, between the finite and the infinite, and can be found described in other terms in my earliest poetry from the early 1980s, collected in my poetry collection called Metaphysical Speculations.

Given these clarifications, I should correct Mads Larsen's assessment in his report on the conference. He writes of my current views: "Having earlier expected a more physical event, he now leans to a more inner revolution." This statement suggests that I have only lately come around to adopting a spiritual interpretation of the Mayan calendar. In reality, the truth is diametrically opposite to this implication, for I have never excluded spirituality from my interpretations of the Mayan calendar, and from my earliest writings I have never not perceived the Mayan calendar as a spiritual tradition, path, or model. As I summarized above, the actual content of my Friday night presentation emphasized how universal principles (that is, principles spanning both astronomical and spiritual manifestations) are at the core of the Mayan calendar, and this view was fleshed out by 1994 and presented in the Tree of Life model (in my book Mayan Sacred Science). The impetus of my work on these topics was inspired by Tony Shearer's poetic and spiritually-oriented books on the Mesoamerican calendar, which I became acquainted with at a young age in the mid-1970s. Although Tony is the genius behind the Harmonic Convergence date in August 1987, very few people remember him. My Friday night keynote address was dedicated to his memory, with thanks to Amaurante Montez in Denver for continuing to preserve Tony's work and vision. Despite the minor mis-statement above, Larsen's concluding assessment of my work conveys a truth that many miss: "Anyone waiting for pole shifts, floods or other catastrophes will be disappointed as the main event will take place inside of all of the ones ready for it." One can also read certain section in my 1989 book Journey to the Mayan Underworld, or chapters 22-24 in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment, as well as the final pages of chapter 6 in Pyramid of Fire: The Lost Aztec Codex (2004) for a more detailed explication of my long-held "trans-physical" interpretation.

I feel it is necessary to be clear about these topics, because Carl Calleman somehow succeeded in having an information flyer distributed in the official folder that everyone received at the conference, in which he stated, in bold font, that professional astronomers proved that the Mayan calendar has nothing to do with astronomy. (By the way, Calleman should have informed the modern star-gazing calendar priests of this before going into print with it, as they may disagree with the "proof".) Of course Calleman jumped on this item, as it supports his desire to criticize my work as being aspiritual; however, the astronomer and the page in question engaged in a simple deception. I'm not making this up! Please view the web page itself and my response to the page's author. It is lamentable that we cannot get beyond a basic level of agreement about what the Mayan calendar is. Calleman says it has nothing to do with astronomy (in other words, that is only a non-physical system, theology, or teaching). I think a truer explanation would say that the Mayan calendar is the universal key that manifests, or can be found operating, in all domains of experience. It unites inner and outer experience, spiritual and physical domains. That teaching is what you learn on the first day of Mayan calendar kindergarten. If we don't understand that, then we will tend to create, as Calleman has done, a Cartesian dualist theology which will require the denouncement of one-half of reality in order to accentuate its exclusive spirituality, superior to and having nothing to do with mere physicality. Sound familiar?

Monday workshop

On Monday, my intention was to share the spiritual teachings about the visionary ascent that can be made to transcend time and access the higher wisdom. This is the subject of my new book, the Pyramid of Fire, co-authored with the late poet, philosopher, and translator Marty Matz. Before I began the readings from the text of the Pyramid of Fire (which is from a previously unknown Aztec pictographic book), I summarized how the galactic alignment is a core idea in many of the world's spiritual traditions—especially Mithraism, the Vedic Yuga doctrine, and Neoplatonic philosophy, all the way up to William Blake. Really interesting, and completely new, perspectives, first explored in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment. The Blake connection is very recent, however (based on the amazing two-volume Bollingen study by Kathleen Raine called Blake and Tradition—wow!). In a sense, Blake's "Circle of Destiny" model is basically the same as the Tree of Life model.

In my Monday workshop, I also emphasized how the three universal sacred science principles are not to be limited to discussions of abstract mathematical concepts, but manifest anthropomorphically in triad deities, such as the three Kalevala heroes in Finland, the Logos-Eros-Dios triad, or in the three cosmic avatars in Mesoamerican cosmology, associated with the three astronomical/cosmic centers:

Zenith Center / Pleiades = Quetzalcoatl

Polar Center / Big Dipper = Seven Macaw

Galactic Center / December solstice sun = One Hunahpu.

These ideas were first presented years ago, in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998).

JMJ December 5, 2004.