Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Second Axial Age: The Rise of the Co-templative

I believe that it is time for a second Axial Age to rise up on the Earth.  German Philosopher Karl Jaspers first used the term, "Axial Age" or Achsenzeit (Axis Time), to describe the period between 800 and 200 B.C.E. when spontaneously, there was a new consciousness about humanity and its self awareness.  Professor Mark W. Muesse described one of the conditions that led to this change as a rise of "individuality" all over the world.  People saw themselves as "individuals" and started to ask questions like: Where did they go after death?  Why were they alive?  Who were they really?  Individual religious patterns emerged all over the world to answer those questions.  It was the rise of the "I." 

I believe that the work and philosophy of Ayn Rand is about as far as we can go.  Politically and economically, the "I" is a burden on most societies around the world.

It is time for a new thought paradigm.  We have already seen calls for "unity consciousness" and "collective identity."  The shift is already entering our vision range and something new has to happen.  Perhaps the "Occupy Movement" all over the world is the time to make the change.  It is time spiritually for the rise of the co-templative.  Our personal spirituality is no longer just based on the "I" of individual "salvation" or "enlightenment" or "consciousness."  Now is the time for spiritual people to see that their collective spirituality is also important to the health and sustainability of the world.  Community is as important as individuality.  This knows no artifical barriers like nationality or religious label.  If this paradigm rises up, then we are truely entering the second Axial Age.

Are you a co-templative?  Join me at:!/pages/Community-of-Co-templatives/232780583445355.

Rev. Tim Miner OUnI

.....and the response from Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

I believe we are in the early decades of a Second Axial Age.

I believe the Second Axial Age began on September 11, 1893 when Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions then held in Chicago, IL saying,

“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with  violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.” (For the full audio of his speech go to

I believe the Second Axial Age was strengthened when the astronauts of Apollo 17 turned their cameras on the earth and presented us with the icon of our time: the earth floating in the blackness of space. And I believe it was strengthened yet again with the uplifting of the Divine Mother as an archetype of divinity. But none of these should signal the end of the “I” or the ultimate value of the individual.

I disagree with Rev. Tim that the “I” is “a burden on most societies around the world.” On the contrary, I would suggest that for hundreds of millions if not billions of human beings the freedom of the “I” has not yet fully dawned. Even in our own country the fully liberated “I” is not yet realized, and our religions, schools, politics, and media-marketing-consumption-capitalism complex are doing their best to see it never is.

I also disagree that the philosophy of Ayn Rand is the logical endgame of I-focused living. There are many other ways for the “I” to develop.  Why focus on Rand when we have yet to tap the work of William James, Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, and Viktor Frankl?

As for the Occupy Movement being an example of a new unity consciousness, I just don’t see it. While I support the protest, pitting the 99% us against the 1% them does nothing but feed into the
us/them paradigm we need to overcome. Further, I wonder if the Occupy Movement (along with the Tea Party Movement) isn’t simply a distraction from the fact that we live in an oligarchy that is so
wealthy and so removed from the needs and concerns of the 99% that nothing we do within the system can impact the system.

I wonder if the model we need isn’t Occupy Wall Street but something akin to Gandhi’s general strike against the British occupation in India, and the Selma Bus Boycott. We have to stop participating in the system that is exploiting us.

What if we stopped participating in a society based on personal debt and wage slavery? What if we went back to the roots of our country and created a system of community based on the pursuit of happiness rather than wealth? What if we shifted our money from the Too Big To Fail/To Influential To Jail banks to local credit unions? What if we stopped gambling on the stock market? What if we embraced and expanded local currency movements, co-ops, and Community Supported Agriculture? What if we stopped caring about our three credit scores because we stopped buying on credit? What if we all followed the advice of Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest and Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez and Monique Tilford in Your Money or Your Life?

I wonder if we who are proposing new models of spirituality shouldn’t also promote new models of governance, economy, and community as well?

I don’t know but I look forward to hearing what others have to say about this.

1 comment:

  1. You mean I'm not the only person thinking this is another Axial Age - I'm not the only one asking the question? Cool - well met.