“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”. – George Orwell
To understand history, you must grasp how your everyday view of the world developed, how it was created by the reality of the people who lived before you. It took a thousand years to evolve the modern way of looking at things, and to really understand where you are today , you must take yourself back to the 1000 year and then move forward through the entire millennium experientially, as though you actually lived through the whole period yourself in a single lifetime.
The first thing you must understand is that the reality of The Middle Ages, the year one thousand, is being defined by the powerful churchmen of the Christian church. Because of their position, these men hold great influence over the minds of the populace. And the world these churchmen describe as real is, above all, spiritual. They are creating a reality which places their idea about God’s plan for mankind at the very center of life. The churchmen explain that God has placed mankind at the center of his universe, surrounded by the entire cosmos, for one solitary purpose: to win or lose salvation. And in this trial you must correctly choose between two opposing forces: the force of God and the lurking temptations of the Devil. As a mere individual you aren’t qualified to determine your status in this regard. This is the province of the churchmen; they are there to interpret the scriptures and to tell you every step of the way whether you are in accordance with God or whether you are being duped by Satan. If you follow their instructions, you are assured that a rewarding afterlife will follow. But if you fail to heed the course they prescribe, then there is excommunication and certain damnation.
The important thing to understand here is that every aspect of the Medieval world is defined in other-worldly terms. All the phenomena of life – from the chance thunderstorm or earthquake to the succes of crops or death of a loved one – is defined either as the will of God or as the malice of the Devil.
The Medival world view, your world view, begins to fall apart in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. First, you notice certain improperties on the part of the churchmen themselves; secretly violating their vows of chasity, for example, or taking gratuities to look the other way when governmental officials violate scriptural laws. These improperties alarm you because these churchmen hold themselves to be the only connection between yourself and God. Remember they are the only interpreters of the scriptures, the sole arbitrators of your salvation. Suddenly you are in the midst of an outright rebellion. A group led by Martin Luther is calling for a complete break from papal Christianity. The churchmen are corrupt, they say, demanding an end to the churchmen’s reign over the minds of the people. New Churches are being formed based on the idea that each person should be able to have acces to the scriptures personally and to interpret them as they wish, with no middlemen.
As you watch in disbelief, the rebellion succeeds. The churchmen begin to lose. For centuries these men defined reality, and now, before you eyes, they are losing their credibility. Consequently, the whole world is being thrown into question. The clear concensus about the nature of the universe and about humankind’s purpose here, based as it was on the churchmen’s description, is collapsing – leaving you and all the other humans in western culture in a very precarious place. After all you have grown accustomed to having an authority in your life to define reality, and without that external direction you feel confused and lost. If the chruchmen’s descriptions of reality and the reason for human existence is wrong, you ask, then what is right?
Do you see the impact of this collapse on the people of that day? The old world view was being challenged everywhere. In fact, by the 1600s, astronomers had proved beyond a doubt that the sun and stars did not revolve around the Earth as maintained by the church. Clearly the Earth was only a small planet orbitting a minor sun in a galaxy that contained billions of such stars. This is important. Mankind has lost its place at the center of God’s universe. All the things you took for granted now need new definition, especially the nature of God and your relationship to God.
With this awareness the Modern Age begins. There is a growing democratic spirit and a mass distrust of papal and royal authority. Definitions of the universe based on speculation or sciptural faith are no longer automatically accepted. In spite of the loss of certainty, we didn’t want to risk some new group controlling our reality as the churchmen had. If you had been there you would have participated in the creation of a new mandate for science. You would have looked out on this undefined universe and you would have thought, as did the thinkers of that day, that we needed a method of consensus- building, a way to systematically explore this new world of ours. And you would have called this new way of discovering reality the scientific method, which is nothing more than testing an idea about how the universe works, arriving afterward at some conclusion, and then offering this conclusion to others to see if they agree. Then you would have prepared explorers to go out into this new universe , each armed with the scientific method, and you would have given them their historic mission: Explore this place and find out how it works and what it means that we find ourselves alive here.
You knew you had lost your certainty about God-ruled universe and because of that, your certainty about the nature of God himself. But you felt you had a method, a consensus-building process through which you could discover the nature of everything around you, including God , and including the true purpose of mankind’s existence on the planet. So you sent these explorers out to find the true nature of your situation and to report back. At this point we began the preoccupation from which we are awakening now.
What was the preoccupation? Put yourself in that time period. When the scientific method couldn’t bring back a new picture of God and of mankind’s purpose on the planet, the lack of certainty and meaning affected Western culture deeply. We needed something else to do until our questions were answered. Eventually we arrived at what seemed to be a very logical solution. We looked at each other and said: “Well, since our explorers have not yet returned with our true spiritual situation, why not settle into this new world of ours while we are waiting? We are certainly learning enough to manipulate this new world for our own benefit, so why not work in the meantime to raise our standard of living, our sense of security in the world? And that’s what we did. Four centuries ago! We shook off our feeling of being lost by taking matters into our own hands, by focusing on conquering the earth and using its resources to better our situation, and only now, as we approached the end of the millennium and started a new one, can we see what happenend. Our focus gradually became a preoccupation. We totally lost ourselves in creating a secular security, an economical security, to replace the spiritual one we had lost. The question why we were alive, of what was actually going on here spiritually, was slowly pushed aside and repressed altogether. Working to establish a more comfortably style of survival has grown to feel complete in and of itself as a reason to live, and we’ve gradually, methodically, forgotten our original question… We’ve forgotten that we still don’t know what we’re surviving for.
Do you feel as if you have a clearer perspective on the human world? Do you see how preoccupied everyone has been? This perspective explains a lot. How many people do you know who are obsessed with their work, who are type A or have stress related diseases and who can’t slow down because they use their routine to distract themselves, to reduce life to only its practical considerations. And they do this to avoid recalling how uncertain they are about why they live. Observing culture not just from the perspective of our own lifetimes but from the perspective of a whole millenium. It reveals our preoccupation to us and so lifts us above it. You have just experienced this longer history. You now live in a longer now. When you look at the human world now, you should be able to clearly see this obsessiveness, the intense preoccupation with economic progress.
The preoccupation was a necessary development, a stage in human evolution. Now, however, we’ve spent enough time setteling into the world. It’s time now to wake up from the preoccupation and reconsider our original question. What’s behind life on this planet? Why are we really here?
The Celestine Phrophecy