A.M. Bhattacharyya, Hindu adviser of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council:
In Hindu theology, there is no absolute end of time. Time is cyclical. The manifested world endures for a Day of Brahma, equivalent to 4.32 billion human years. At the end of this time, the world becomes unmanifested.
After staying in a latent state for a Night of Brahma, the same duration as the Day, the world will again be manifested, preserved and then dissolved in a potential state again. The cycle goes on through eternity.
Hindu mythology describes the evolution of time by dividing the time in four Yugas (eras), namely, Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. The end of an era marks the beginning of the next era. Four Yugas, rotated 1,000 times, make a Day of Brahma.
Virtues and moral values are most dominant in Satya Yuga. These values gradually decline and vice increases as the eras progress through the cycle. In Kali Yuga, vice is predominant.
The current era is Kali Yuga, 432,000 years long. According to some scholars, about 32,000 of those remain.
The scripture predicts, at the end of Kali Yuga, God incarnates himself to destroy evil and to re-establish virtues. In Bhagavad Gita, God-incarnate Lord Krishna said, “Whenever virtue declines and vice rises, I incarnate myself. For the protection of the good and the destruction of the wicked and for the re-establishment of virtues I come in every age.”
A new era, Satya Yuga, begins where virtues are once again predominant. And the cycle goes on.
Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center, Kansas City, Mo.:
We live on this planet Earth that is part of the Milky Way galaxy — only one of hundreds of billions of other galaxies that make up the universe.
From the Buddhist perspective, this view is vastly too small.
Buddhists believe that there are countless numbers of galactic universes that are continually going through cycles of birth, existence (for a period of time), and eventual death. And then the cycle begins again in an endless cycle that is without beginning and without end. It was Bertrand Russell who said, “There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.”
Because of the Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation, we believe that this endless cycle of birth, existence and death of everything from universes to ourselves isn’t just happening on a macro level, but it is happening on a micro level too.
Even our thoughts, feelings and emotions arise and then pass away. Everything in this phenomenal world is impermanent — nothing lasts.
Therefore, rather than being preoccupied with end times, what is more relevant and useful for us is to become mindful of the impermanent nature of our world and of our lives. By doing so, we can realize the preciousness of every moment instead of wasting it on worrying about something that we can’t do anything about.Send questions for columnists to email@example.com.