Cyclic vs Linear Time

“Up until now,” explains author Devamrita Swami, “ The prevailing notion of human civilization has been a slow linear progression—up from primitive Neolithic beginnings to the technological wonders of today. History—as moderns like to read it—begins with the Greeks. The greatest drama of the 21st Century may be the decline and fall of this fundamental belief,” he suggests:

The Vedic histories, called the Puranas, regard European history as insignificant. India has its own vision of world history, a unique and highly articulated view that seriously questions whether modern man is the crowning glory of creation.  In contrast to the Western concept of linear time, the sacred texts of India view time from the perspective of cycles called Yugas.

Our current cycle of history, called Kali-yuga, is seen as one of many stages of history that recur eternally. Ages turn into ages, and then back again.  This cyclic worldview is a game changer. It throws the old notions of sustainability into a tailspin. Obviously, it begs the question of whether true sustainability is achievable in a place that’s destined to deteriorate on a fixed time table. Why bother trying?