I have to admit, I think Gregg Braden is pretty fantastic. His energy, enthusiasm and passion are contagious, in the best sort of way. And I really appreciate the way he blends research and scientific evidence with spirituality and the metaphysical world.
After seeing him speak at Celebrate Your Life in Phoenix last fall, I was floating somewhere near the ceiling. Seriously. His presentation, his presence, and the vibration of everyone in the room was quite overwhelming. Which is why I was so grateful to be able to interview Gregg in advance of the upcoming Celebrate Your Life conference in Chicago.
Here is an excerpt from our conversation, and a little bit more about Gregg: he is a New York Times best selling author and internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality. His books include Fractal Time, The God Code, and The Divine Matrix. Gregg’s work is now published in 17 languages and 27 countries.
Care2: Tell us a bit about the concept of Fractal Time.
Gregg Braden: I think anyone reading the words of this conversation knows that this is no ordinary time in the history of our planet or our civilization or our lives. And in fact the best minds of our time do tell us that we are living an unprecedented time where the greatest threats to our survival, the greatest crises and the greatest magnitude of those crises are all converged into this narrow window of time over a course of just a few years. And my question, if that’s true, is why?
As a scientist I wanted to understand why. And what I quickly began to understand was that we are in fact living a rare, precious moment in the history of our world and of our civilization that most people are identifying around a date that signals the end of a cycle on the Mayan calendar: the winter solstice December 21 of 2012. But the more I researched, what I found, and it was very clear, that it’s less about the date of 2012 and more about a window of time or zone of opportunity.
So what I’d like to do is lay out about five facts and from those facts they will lead us into everywhere that we go in our conversation. And the first fact is that it is a fact that we are living the years of a rare, mysterious cycle of time. It’s a 5,125 year long cycle that indigenous people have known as a great world age. And our great world age, the present world age, began in the biblical era in 3114 BC and it ends with a rare astronomical event on the winter solstice, December 21 the year 2012 AD.
It is a fact that we have lived at least four of the these world age cycles in the past. We are now completing the fifth and moving into the sixth world age cycle. And it is a fact that the close of each cycle in the past there have been great changes on the earth, physical changes that have been catastrophic to the people living during that time. The world didn’t end, but the way that they lived their lives changed dramatically in response to the conditions on the earth. So these are facts that we know.
And the very interesting thing to me, and one of the reasons I’m so passionate about this topic, is that it’s also a fact that some of the greatest civilizations of the past buckled and collapsed under the stress of a world age change in their time, when they reached a point in their cycle where we are in ours right now. And my question then has been, can we learn from the way they responded to their changes and can we avoid the mistakes that they made, as we go through this cycle with the number of people on the planet and with the technology that we have at our disposal? Can we learn from our past and maybe fare better at our time than our ancestors did in theirs? And that led to the research in the book Fractal Time and understanding what the cycles mean. Understanding that 2012 has happened at least four times in the past.
So if we can look at the geologic record and the archeological record it will give us a really good idea of what we can realistically expect as we move into this time of change rather than the speculation and prophesies and predictions and the fear that is being perpetuated in so much of the media. What can we realistically expect? And that is what led on the journey to understand the cycles of time and how they play out within even larger cycles. And this is the fractal nature of the cycles. If we can look into the past what we find is an example, we call that a fractal example, of what we’re living in the present right now and what we can expect in the future.
C2: There definitely is a lot of fear about 2012. There also seems to be some doubt out there that it is of any significance. And also I think, by some of the spiritual community, some hope that things might be different. What would you say to all three of those groups?
Gregg: Well, there’s three questions in that question. The first is that there’s no scientific evidence that we’re approaching the end of the world, which is what some very authoritative media specials have indicated and very authoritative people on those specials looked right in the eye of the camera and said ‘we could be looking at the end of the world.’ The truth is that no one knows for certain what the end of our world age will bring, but because it is a cyclic process and we now know how to look at the cycles of the past there’s no scientific evidence suggesting that is the end of the world. It is the end of a great world age. And by definition of the cycles it is also the beginning of what comes next, of a new cycle, of a new world age. So we could just as easily say that we’re experiencing the birth of the sixth world age of human kind, but for many people it’s more exciting to focus on the end of something, on the beginning of something.
One of the things I think is really important and very empowering to understand is that when we talk about the beginning and the end of cycles of world ages, they are marked by astronomical phenomenon. We’re talking about alignments between solar systems and planets and galaxies. And these are huge systems that move slowly over long periods of time. These systems are so huge that they look like they’re moving slowly to us. So what that means is that 2012 cannot possibly happen in a day. The alignments that we’re talking about happen gradually over a period of time rather than a heartbeat, in a moment of time. So it’s not like we go to bed December 20th in one world and we wake up after midnight on December 21st and we’re in another world.
But what the science shows is that the alignments create what we can think of as a zone of time, or a window of time when these changes are happening. And that we actually entered into the 2012 window of change right around the year 1980. And this is now 2010 that we’re having this conversation. And the zone closes right around the year 2016. So what that means, of the many things that that implies, is that number one we are over halfway through the window of time and well into the changes, whatever changes we’re going to see, we’re well into those changes. The very changes that so many people are anticipating and fearing and preparing and waiting for, they’re already happening. So we’re already living the time of abrupt climate change, certainly, and extremes of heat and cold. We’re already seeing the rise of the sea level and super storms and mega earthquakes that are wiping entire communities off the face of the earth. And we’re already seeing multiple fires raging out of control on multiple continents and diseases killing millions of people that we have no medical cure for. Those are the worst case scenarios in so many of the predictions and prophesies that we are anticipating. Well they’re already happening.
But we all know that there’s more than that that’s happening. There’s a lot of really good things happening in the world at the same time. And I think what our ancestors said to us and what we’re discovering is, a lot of how we experience this change is determined by us and where we place our focus and how we deal with the change. So as a scientist what I have to say is I’m less concerned about the physical changes in our world. They’re tough and I think we will transcend those changes because of the ability that we have to work together to converge in one place with resources, like Haiti is a perfect example. When things are bad there and the technology that allows us to do that, our ancestors may not have had that opportunity, but also it’s the willingness to work together.
And the great danger is — it’s not in the physical phenomenon but it’s in our response to the changes of the world. How do we treat one another as individuals and as a society, as a community, between nations? And this is where we could learn from our past. Because those great civilizations that collapsed, and some of them were around thousands of years, and Western civilization has been around a few hundred years in the form that we know it. And these are civilizations that have been around thousands of years. They buckled and collapsed and disappeared under the stress of the change in their time that we’re seeing in ours. And what the studies are showing is that the reason they disappeared is because when they didn’t understand the change, they began to fight one another, and fight to sustain unsustainable ways of life. And that’s what led to their collapse. Whereas other civilizations that cooperated and worked together seem to fare much better as they went through their world age changes. So the question is, are we making mistakes of the past? And if we are, how can we live our lives differently today so that we can stack the deck in our favor and tip the scales of life and balance in our favor as we go through these changes?
This is what fractal time helps us to understand. If we know where and how to look in the past then we know realistically what to expect and we have a context. We know that our earth, our planet isn’t broken, although the changes we’re seeing are rare, they’re also cyclic. And the data shows us the changes in the magnetic fields of the earth and the energy of the sun and the melting of the ice and the rise of the sea levels, these are where we always are when we reach a point in the cycle where we are right now. And to me that’s reassuring to know that everything’s working the way it’s supposed to. I would be concerned if we didn’t see these kinds of changes and we had reached the cycle, the point in the cycle where we are today.
And the data also shows us very clearly that the changes are intense, and I’m not saying this is a bed of roses. We are definitely living a very intense time in the history of our planet. But they’re also relatively brief. They don’t last for generation after generation. So my sense — and this is the optimist in me, and I’m seeing this happen, I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing happening in the world — my sense is that we will be forced to work together as individuals and in communities and as a society and even between nations, not for a brief period of time, because the intensity of the changes is driving us to work together to survive the changes, but that we will continue working together even when the crises are no longer present because we find that we’re better people. We have a better world from working together in that way. And that when that happens we will actually have fulfilled the other side of the prophecies that the media tends to overlook from our ancestors that said to us very clearly, you will not recognize your world or your life after these changes, but that you will have a very different world of peace and cooperation. And this is the opportunity that I think that we’re all looking at right now. So this is why I’m optimistic and this is where I think that all the changes in the world are leading us right now.
C2: So this is actually a very positive thing…
Gregg: I feel it is. Once we understand that we are in fact in a rare cycle of change and that the things that are falling apart are the systems that have been put together earlier in this cycle that worked so well in the past that got us to where we are today, but under the stress of a changing world they’re no longer sustainable. So it appears that what these world age changes do, it’s like a cosmic reality check. We get to look at 5,000 years of history since the last world age, find out what works and what doesn’t. The things that work really well, we’ll probably keep doing. And the things that don’t, let’s stop. And how do we know it’s not working? The systems that begin to buckle and collapse under the stress of a changing world are the systems that are not sustainable in the long term.
So an example, here’s exactly what I mean by that. The economic system is on everybody’s mind. So we can start there. An economic system that is based on ever expanding markets where one person benefits at someone else’s loss, while it may work in the short term, that’s not sustainable in the long term. And that’s one of the systems that is buckling under the pressure of a changing world. Providing electricity and power to a planet by burning a finite source of energy that actually destroys the very planet that we cherish. That worked for a hundred years or so, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. And that’s a system that’s being stressed and taxed right now. So by recognizing the context of world change and where we are in these world ages, we get to recognize that we’re in a place, a very rare moment in time where a single generation is being asked to choose what kinds of technologies and what kind of a world we want to surround ourself with as we lay the foundation for the next 5,000 years of a world age. So when we really think about it that way it is an awesome realization and it’s kind of mind boggling but it also tells us that this is no ordinary time in the history of the planet, and this is no ordinary generation. And I think we all sense that on some level.
C2: How would you assuage people’s fears about some big disastrous end for us now?
Gregg: That’s the first part of our conversation. We’re living those changes right now. We’re already living them. If our ancestors 5,000 years ago were living the changes that we’re living now, they may not survive some of those changes.
And this is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about this material, because the cycles tell us clearly that the civilizations in the past that collapsed also collapsed because of war. They fought one another at the end of the cycles for reasons and there are texts and myths and stories about what the battles were all about. One of the most famous is the 100,00 line epic of the Hindu bible, the Mahabharata, which was believed to be a fairy tale until the archeological sites started revealing that a great battle did happen in the place and is now being dated at a time when we thought no history existed. And we find this in other places as well. We find it South America. We find it in the deserts of Egypt and Turkey. Great wars in the past that have ended these civilizations.
So we have control over whether or not we have that final battle or not. And some people couch it in a religious perspective. Some in a spiritual or cultural perspective. But for me the bottom line is that it’s all about honoring life and our relationship to one another in our world. And recognizing that there is actually a continuity that links our modern world with the past. Although we’re thousands of years separate, there is an experience that began 5,000 years ago as a cycle that we’re now completing. And when we see the world from that perspective it makes perfect sense to marry the best science of the day with the wisdom of our ancestors into a greater knowledge that is kind of like a spiritual science, where the science exists but it brings us closer to the natural world rather than trying to dominate the natural world which is actually the charter of science. If you look at the definition of science it’s about understanding and harnessing the forces of nature. So maybe it’s less about harnessing and controlling and more about working with it in a sustainable way.
C2: I had the opportunity to sit in on one of your sessions at Celebrate Your life, and it was fabulous. You mentioned ancient cave drawings, and that there were two different scenes in that drawing, predicting the way the future could be depending on how individuals handle things. Could you tell our readers a little bit about those drawings and how that relates to everything else you’ve been talking about today?
Gregg: They were images on a rock in northern Arizona in the Hopi reservation that is called the Hopi prophecy or Hopi map of time. And the theme is, almost universally, our indigenous ancestors have known that this time was coming. It’s like the great secret everybody knows except in the modern, technological Western world, because we no longer think of the world in terms of cycles. But our ancestors did.
So it’s on this prophecy rock in northern Arizona that one of the Hopi elders actually traced out an ancient map of life and the physical possibilities of life, but also embedded in the possibilities are references to a way of being that helps us to deal with the changes in life. And what the map was showing was that at the end of the last world age, the end of the last cycle, almost immediately our ancestors began writing to us and telling us what they just lived through, as I’m sure that we’re doing right now. We’re talking about the uniqueness of our time in history. And it’s interesting to me that the great spiritual traditions emerged out of the change from the last great world age and one of the things I questioned as an aside, I wonder what spiritual traditions will emerge from this world age and will they still be here 5,000 years from now? I don’t know the answer to that.
But what the map is showing on prophecy rock is that immediately after that last world age, they were shown two paths that people may choose to walk until the next world age. In the beginning both the paths looked very similar, but at one point it becomes obvious that one path becomes very rough, very rocky and it ends abruptly and goes nowhere, while the other path continues much longer and actually goes around the corner of this boulder and continues, and that corner is interpreted by the Hopi as being the world age. So the other path continues through the world age, and people that choose the other path live to be advanced ages and there’s plenty of food and the things they need to continue their lives. And there’s a third path that connects these two. It’s a vertical line that’s called the choice point. And that choice point, what they say is that before the choice point people can move between the two paths. They can try one for a while, and if they don’t like that they can try the other one. After the choice point they say it becomes difficult, not impossible, but it becomes difficult to move between the two because we’re so entrenched in one way of being or the other. And the hallmarks of the two paths, the path that goes nowhere is the path of comfort, greed and profit. And when I heard the word ‘profit,’ I asked the elders about that, I said ‘does that mean we’re not supposed to make money?’ And they said ‘no it’s not profit of money, it’s the kind of profit where one person benefits at another person’s expense.’ So it’s that kind, so the path that goes nowhere and doesn’t get us through the change is the path of comfort, greed and profit. The path that continues and that appears to be sustainable is the path of love.
C2: This is all so fascinating and it’s been such a pleasure to talk to you today to hear about your research, to hear about your latest book. And I know you’ll be speaking at Celebrate Your Life in Chicago in June, which again is very exciting and a great opportunity to see you live. What is the one message that you would leave our audience with, our readers with as we wrap up today about 2012 and beyond?
Gregg: 2012 is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a great world age. And I’d like to thank everyone who hears or reads this for the lives that they’re living and all that they’ve done to bring us to the point and to help us make this transition into a powerful life affirming, sustainable way of being and the legacy that we can be proud to leave for our children and for those who call us their ancestors 5,000 years from now. I think they’ll look back to this time and they’ll say this is a generation that chose really well. And I’m proud to be part of that generation and invite everybody to follow their hearts in whatever way they can to contribute in whatever way they can to make this a better world.
C2: A fascinating time indeed and a fascinating hour spent with you, so thank you so much Gregg.
Gregg Braden will be speaking at the Celebrate Your Life conference in Chicago in June 2010. This is the seventh of nine author interviews appearing on Care2 as part of the Celebrate Your Life series.