Richard Harvey—Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher

Richard Harvey

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Kaliyuga: The Darkening of The Light

We find ourselves in the winter of the ages when the growth and organic processes of development take place quietly, invisibly, and internally, when the promise of the era of Truth, Love, and Divinity awaits fulfillment and invites our trust, purposefulness, and faith. Transformation awaits a sacred coupling of the human and the Divine – the intention of the soul and grace of the spirit.

The predicament of the modern era is rather well described in the Kaliyuga – sometimes known as “the age of quarrel.” This term from Hindu cosmology denotes the dimming of the light to the point of almost total darkness, the time of least spirituality, morality, and compassion.

In Hindu legend when the god Krishna is asked to explain the Kaliyuga he shoots four arrows in the four directions from his mighty bow and orders the four Pandava brothers to bring them back. Picking up the first arrow the first brother hears the sweet sounds of a cuckoo’s song, although incongruently the cuckoo is simultaneously devouring the flesh of a living rabbit that is howling out in pain. Krishna explained that in the Kaliyuga, the priests will speak with sweet voices and great knowledge but they will exploit their followers as the cuckoo was doing with the rabbit.

Picking up the second arrow the second brother sees five wells. Four of the wells were full to overflowing with sweet water, more than they could hold, but the fifth well in the middle of them was completely dry and empty. In the Kaliyuga, Krishna explained, the poor will live among the rich, who will possess an enormous amount of wealth, so much that it is overflowing. Yet they will not give a single penny to the poor, just as the four wells didn’t give a single drop of water to the empty well.

After picking up the third arrow the third brother noticed a cow giving birth. When the calf emerged the cow licked it clean and then continued to lick it until it was injured. Krishna said that in the Kaliyuga parents will love their children so much their love will spoil them and will destroy their lives like the love shown by the cow to her calf.

As the fourth brother picked up the fourth arrow near a mountain, he saw a huge boulder falling, crushing the rocks and big trees in its way down. Yet amazingly the boulder was stopped by a small plant. In the Kaliyuga, said Krishna, people will fall in quality and character like the boulder from the mountain. They will not be stopped by anyone at the end of the Kaliyuga, but like the little plant stopping the boulder, only the name of God will protect them from disaster.

How do these insights show up nowadays? Today we have smooth speaking spiritual teachers and celebrities, devoid of wisdom, deceiving their adherents; material wealth in the hands of the greedy few; parents and political leaders having no knowledge of how to care compassionately in an often loveless world, and the diminishing desire for authenticity and soulful existence, obscured by the boulder of materialism, achievement, and egoistic pursuits.

When people are centered in individualism and ego-contraction, spirit is poor, soul is lacking, and they reach out for material satisfaction and fleeting pleasures as a substitute to 9 fill their inner emptiness. Of course, outward satisfaction cannot address an inner need. Deep within us we have a longing for nourishment and that longing is aligned to the inner – to the heart, the soul, and the spirit.

This situation is not new. Over recorded history, about 5500 years, and perhaps before, from oral tradition, we can see that on occasion the intensity and sincerity of spiritual ways and means were subordinated to materialism and superficiality of one kind or another. Buddha and Christ were both critical of the religious establishments of their day and to some degree the religions they founded are a reaction to the degradation of the religious and spiritual practices of their times.

Over the last fifty years, both near enemies – in the form of insincere or shallow teachings – and far enemies – in the form of violence and desecration – of sincere spiritual practice became prevalent in this age of individualism. Although all this sounds very negative, I would like to offer a helpful perspective. In this book, I will show how working with the present predicament just as it is, without recourse to fantasy and idealism, we can turn the present seemingly pessimistic circumstances to our positive advantage and move toward optimism and in time further into the light of wisdom. The Kaliyuga is said to precede and herald a Golden Age, the Satyayuga, a spiritual era of Truth, Love, and Divinity. The cycles of the ages are in constant motion, orbits of nature on a grand scale of eons. We are now in the winter of the ages when the growth and organic processes of development take place quietly, invisibly, and internally. However, let us not forget, that in Hindu cosmology the age of truth and purity is inevitable, as predestined and sure as an in-breath follows an out-breath.

Even in the darkest period, light exists as a symbol of hope. Although this is a period of darkness, struggle, and despair, as at all times, certain people remain resolute, stand for truth, and preserve the sacred ways and means. Those who have been true to their deepest self will have helped to maintain the light of truth and consciousness for all beings. For contrary to ego-based belief, as individuals we are always a part of the collective. We have never existed outside of the context of everything else. Each and every one of our individual personal acts possesses an impersonal connotation. We are all affecting one another – directly or indirectly – with our acts, our thoughts, and our feelings… for good or ill.

Therefore, it is utterly crucial that in this present time the ground is prepared for the revolution of individual and collective consciousness. The vision is one of psychological maturity, authentic compassionate humanity, the deepening in expression and understanding of sacred spiritual truths, the true understanding of sacredness and the numinous in relation to the temporal world and to the demands of human relationships of every kind. Our task then is to grow and develop psychologically, cleanse our hearts of unworthiness and decay, and heal our minds of the unrest of perpetual conflict. We must develop respect and reverence for the gift of life by shedding our petty prejudices and judgments that lead to the persecution of others who we consider unlike ourselves, cultivate a disposition toward tolerance and cooperation, celebrate our diversity, and rise beyond reaction and bigotry, both hidden and apparent. All of this is a tall order, but humanity stands at a crossroads, a point of choice. We find ourselves amid a roaring turbulence and stultifying confusion that portends a great potential for human awakening, in almost impenetrable darkness, on the threshold of a new dawn in human consciousness. In this vision, we meet the present spiritual crisis by raising consciousness and creating a sane, spiritual foundation for an authentic, compassionate way of relating to each other and to living in the world as a precious privilege and divine opportunity.

But first, we have to go through this period of the Kaliyuga, where most importantly we must face our ego-self. The ego-self is in a sense the main actor of this era, and in order to transcend the ego, we typically have to understand its origin and growth, and penetrate into the heart of the ego-processes. As with all our limitations, the only way past is to go through.

This article is an excerpt from Richard Harvey’s book Your Divine Opportunity.


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This article was published on this site in November 2023.

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