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Kali Yuga: The Dark Age Prophesied in Many Religions

This is a fascinating video. At 7:00, Tom Rowsell (SurviveTheJive) reads out some excerpts of the Srimad Bhagvatam(an important hindu scripture) where many if not every single prophecy comes true. The higher values are replaced by lower ones. Ones only worth in society is based upon their level of affluence and sex, people have no loyalty to their own family, culture or values. The only thing people will satisfy will be their genitals and bellies.

Everything will decay but there is a glimmer of hope. Just taking the name of Krishna would help one escape life and attain moksha.

Tom makes references from other indo european religions as well, this is not a culture war or culture war adjacent thing, mostly just something I found super fascinating given that they all were faiths that were very similar for the most part and got many things about the future right. The issue with kaliyuga is that of values, we have seen astounding technological and economical growth, the truth in many places is that many have lost values that were considered important by those who appreciate antiquity (I do at least). Many will not agree but even then, would appreciate any thots on this.

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My take on this is that human civilization is ultimately cyclical and has declines and dark ages fairly frequently. These declines often have the same or similar causes no matter where or when they happen and likewise would have similar earmarks no matter which civilization we’re talking about from the Sumerians to the Soviet Union.

What seems to be the overarching pattern is a two-fold degeneration.

The first part is the degradation of ideas of investment in the wider society at the expense of yourself. This shows up as more selfish thinking, seeking my own wealth and fame and pleasure over the good of society. It also means a decline in long term thinking, work ethic, education especially apart from the idea of it being merely a job credential. In ascending societies, you see a lot of things done for the fame or glory of the society, and those who built it are revered and their works are studied. Public works are built even if the builders themselves don’t expect to benefit directly. In descending societies, you see people cheating, lying, stealing, and manipulating systems to get ahead. Corruption is rampant, bribes are common.

The second is the denigration of long term thinking. Why work hard for years to build something, or study for decades, or think about the world I would leave behind? Instead, people choose to be hedonistic and consumeristic and choose the pleasure of today and sometimes at the expense of the future. In ascending societies you can see the opposite, people often choose to deny themselves pleasure for some greater purpose, reject hedonistic impulses and have fairly rigid social codes. And those who openly flaunt their hedonism are at best shamed and at worst are punished by the legal system. In a descending society, the rule is pleasure. If you want wild sex, no problem. If you would rather not go to school, work, or do anything useful, you don’t have to. The only thing you really can’t do is shame people.

The writers of ancient literature were not stupid, and they’d have noticed that these sorts of patterns had happened around them in local villages and perhaps in the legends of past civilizations that didn’t make it. And when writing about the future, they’d project that past onto their mythology and predictions of the future. We read them hundreds of years later and see ourselves in them because we are somewhere on the civilization sine wave there are parts of the story that fit our observations or our memories of past civilizations.

I was a Hare Krishna for something like 20 years and would still consider myself a follower even though I have fallen behind in my practice. Maybe I wasn't a good follower because I never believed that Srimad Bhagavatam should be taken literally. I don't even believe that the sages who wrote it, believed it should be taken literally. Such kind of belief is for unsophisticated, they were smarter than that.

I would say that there is definitely a higher reality behind what we can perceive and understand but because it is so much above our experience and knowledge, we have no connection to it. But if we need to think about it, then why not in a way of beautiful myths? There are many things that ancient Indian thinkers had discovered about people and their psychology that are still relevant today. One aspect is about human sexuality, what motivates men and women and what problems they have and what are solutions. Surely, Bhagavatam wraps it all in Indian cultural layers which are not always easy to unwrap. But if you do, you find that it is close to red pill philosophy. It just seems modern societies have forgotten those things because we think that we have much better science and old traditions and knowledge are useless.

It is true about material science. Ayurveda is basically bunk, I didn't find anything useful there and modern evidence-based medicine is clearly superior. But in the areas of mental health and modern psychiatry it is clearly failing. In this regard Bhagavatam insights can still be useful.

As for Vedic cosmology and yugas and Kali-yuga, I believe it is just a poetic device to convince people to put serious effort into preventing society from decay. From one hand it is the inevitability of oncoming degradation, on the other hand Bhagavatam offers methods to delay the start of Kali-yuga. They call these methods religiosity but in the past religion was basically the same as moral and legal order. Not everything we need to do can have strict evidence basis that will be understood by all people. Sometimes we just need to follow the established order (stop at the red light for example, be kind to others even without immediate benefit, etc.) We shouldn't take the western economic stability and order as granted. It can disappear at any time like in the war between Ukraine and Russia. We just look at current stability from a very limited time period. If we extend this to a century or two, then even western countries have been involved in terrible wars and genocides. We should feel so lucky to have mostly peace and economic development in the west now.

And for stability I am not a fan of dictators (Putin, Orban, Xi, or whatever) either. We need real basis for stability, coming from people. Incidentally, Bhagavatam describes a situation of a strong dictator (King Venu) who gets killed and then the country is overrun by thieves and everything gets worse. We can prevent this, by ensuring that people learn and follow certain moral principles.

My own interpretation: human superorganisms have a lifecycle, and the kali yuga describes it.

I think a root cause here is that there is, indeed, a real thing called 'good', and it its core, it's the entropy-maximizing direction through the game called "physics". Organisms increase the total entropy of the universe faster, by decreasing the entropy locally (i.e. inside of their bodies). Humans, being elaborately evovled organisms, are really good at following that entropy gradient in part because we have can exert fine-grained control of our environments, and thus can reduce the entropy not just inside our bodies, but in our physical surroundings. The net result of this entropy reduction is EVEN FASTER entropy generation. The terms humans use to describe things as 'good' and 'bad' refer to our computational approximations of the true entropy maximizing step, because we mistake our approximations of good for good itself. (see: the finger pointing at the moon, the tree of knowledge of good and evil).

Our moral consciences help us sense and intuit the 'good' direction, but we continuously go astray from that direction because we end up conceptualizing it, and do so incorrectly. Correctly computing the 'good' direction requires essentially computing the entire tree of all possible future states of the world; i.e. infinite knowledge and computing power. But, being fearful and unwilling to trust our bodies to accurately compute the 'good' choice, and unwilling to trust others to do the same, we develop conceptualizations of the good, i.e. myths about how to live. Our conceptualizations of 'good' are, in a sense, computer programs. The programs are written in the 'narrative myth' executable format, run on the mental hardware of story telling primates. The stories about what 'good' is make the primates behave in certain ways that somewhat approximate the 'good' direction, at the time and place the stories were created.

Over time, however, the environment of the primates evolves and changes. The original stories no longer fit well with the environment. Lots of people convince themselves that good and bad are meaningless, rather than merely 'very hard to compute in all purposes but not too hard to intuit in most real life situations you find yourself in'. The story-telling primates executing the older versions of the stories often seem hilariously out of touch with reality. On top of this, the stupid-horse phenomenon means that poor approximations of the original myths are simpler to spread, and still kind of work, so they outcompete the more complex approximations of Good that work better but require more intelligence to understand and operate.

So lots of people convince themselves that good and bad don't exist, the complex stories die off, the stupid horse versions become more dominant, and a feedback loop ensues until dramatic, horrific consequences convince people that good and bad are, indeed, a thing. The seeds of the new golden age are planted in the minds of idealistic young people who grow up in Kali Yuga, sensing something wasn't right, and spent their adolescence searching for answers to the questions that are considered 'big and important' for most of history, and 'naive and stupid' for the periods right before the collapse.

My thought is that it's an explanation of a low-resolution view of the modern world, which doesn't fit the facts well but satisfies some people's hate-ridden contempt for others. It thus appeals to them as a result of this prejudice rather than solid evidence. If it was a run-of-the-mill theory about the abilities of snake oil to treat the common cold ("Not everyone gets better, but many people do, within about a week") then you'd treat the evidential support with the same dismissal it deserves.

I would disagree with your sentiment. This is pretty mainstream Hindu thought and it is correct about a lot more than even what I would wish to admit, at least the parts listed here.

This is pretty mainstream Hindu thought

I don't know if that's true or not, but it's perfectly compatible with what I said. The idea that evil-doers must be punished, that supernatural agencies must punish them in this world or the next, and that there are things that you must do to be saved from punishment is one of those ideas that appeals to the worst of human nature, and like human nature, it is more or less universal.

and it is correct about a lot more than even what I would wish to admit

That's mainly a psychological fact about you, so it's hard for me to dispute it (or for you to provide evidence for it) but you can ask yourself if you really want these prophecies to be bullshit or you like their implications.

Let me put my point another way, since it may have been unclear: we can interpret the statements you refer to in your OP as universal generalisations ("All X are Y") or as something else. As universal generalisations, they are all false. Thus, the fact that they fit some facts (e.g. there are some people obsessed with money and who use it as a measuring stick for status) provides no evidence for them.

What else could they be? They aren't precise statistical generalisations, like "Coins land heads 50% of the time in the long run," because they don't provide numbers: how many people today are fitting these generalisations? The statements that you reference don't tell us.

They could be interpreted as vague statistical generalisations, like "More people today evaluate people based on money and sex than before 3000 BC." In that case, it's not clear that the evidence fits the hypothesis. Additionally, the evidential support is very weak: there are many explanations why this phenomenon could be true that are at least as plausible as the Srimad Bhagvatam.

They could also be interpreted as existential statements, like "Many people today evaluate people based on money and sex." This has the virtue of being true, but also of providing no significant support for Srimad Bhagvatam or anything else, since a basic familiarity with history would tell one that rating people based on money (and to a much lesser degree sex) is a feature of just about every civilisation that has had money. It's like saying "Lots of people took this snake oil and their colds cleared up in a few weeks! Maybe this snake oil is something really important?"

There's also the question of interpretation-fitting: it is tempting, when one wants to believe that something is accurate, to fit your interpretation of what it says to fit various predictions. Many people do this with Nostradamus: "The ship of fools stands for the Republican party, and if you interpret it that way, it predicts 9/11!"

There are reasons to study ancient religions seriously and learn from them. The predictive performances of their prophecies are not among these reasons.

It can be pretty wild to hear an ancient text describe a present trend seemingly very well. In the same vein, check out Plato’s Republic on how democratic liberty and equality yield the tyrannical soul

Maybe the prophecy is based on societal collapses in the past which informed people of where their society could be heading. In the past I've heard someone say that the Book of Revelations is only an allegory that the change of society comes after disease, war, famine and the fourth horseman is not death of people but of society. I'm trying to not overthink these things. But maybe there is a recurrence and a life cycle in societal development and we are reliving the conditions of so many before us and we can draw parallels as with this prophecy.

The thing is though, we pretend we are so much smarter than our ancestors for being enlightened rational atheists, but there have always been atheists. God even gives them shit about it in the bible - The fool has said in his heart that there is no God. Atheists have existed forever, and the benefits of atheism have existed forever, all the enlightenment did was make them sound cooler than the benefits of faith. Hedonism and narcissism (two attributes commonly present in depictions of Satan btw) which sound much better to the atomised westerner/rootless cosmopolitan/globohomo bugman than a strong and safe community, the same way they sound better to every teenager. Of course religions will predict they will consume a society if unchecked, it's what the religious always say is the problem with atheism.

Or does it just seem that way to me because the religious I know have been parroting the prophecies of the ancients?

The level of invective acceptable against atheists here is totally wild to me. Religious posters here get away with shit others never would, simply because the average atheist California software developer that posts here is vaguely self-hating and sees it as an exotic and cool worldview. Like if there were an Amish poster here he could probably say literally anything and he’d be showered in upvotes and praise.

Like at this point, yes, most posters have come around to the Peterson-style view that religion is a useful social technology that has tangible benefits. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to either start hitting my head with a hammer until I believe it, or raise my kids with an elaborately larped lie. Unfortunately the box can’t be closed and I just have to figure out how to get those same benefits another way

The level of invective acceptable against atheists here is totally wild to me.

I see this too and it's interesting to me from a cultural perspective. It's like, among the 'less wrong' crowd, religious people (i count myself as one) see ourselves as something of a persecuted minority who now has license to lash out at the main group.

Although, in this case, i think the Fruck is mocking people who say our ancestors were stupid, not antheists themselves. The author says there are 'benefits to atheism' but doesn't say what they are.

or raise my kids with an elaborately larped lie.

I couldn't bring myself to do this either.

I just have to figure out how to get those same benefits another way

This is the approach I've ended up taking: I'm honest with them.

My daughter asks, "Is god real?" I say, 'I don't really know. I can't see him or touch him or feel him. At times, i really do have my doubts. But this is true of lots of other things besides God; most things that are remotely complicated or bigger than me in size is something i basically have to take on trust. I've never seen Uranus, for example, but i trust that it's there. I've never seen the united nations, only pictures or photos or videos of it. The way we find out what is true is by experimenting and seeing what happens, trusting ourselves, and finding other people we trust to tell us about the experiments they did. I do know for sure, though, what kind of man I want to be. I also know, through my own experiments, that the more i pray, the more i go to church, the more it try to act as if God is real, the less anxious i feel, the less selfish i am, the more patient i am, and the more able i am to be patient and loving towards Mommy and you kids. I don't know any other experiment that helps me be those things."

There are times i'm really tempted to just fudge it, go all the way, say i'm certain. But I keep thinking, if any of this is true, i show more adoration for God by saying, "you are some property of reality, i know that for sure, having the right attitude towards you helps me to act better, i know that for sure, you are the wisdom inherent in all of nature and the beauty of mathematical truth, i know that for sure as well, but i don't really know what you are, if you're a preson or just some abstract tautological principle. I don't know which of man's attempts to reach you are accurate and which are wrong. I don't know what you want from me, if anything. But i'll keep striving to better understand you and live in a way that feels in alignment with that understanding, because nothing else i've tried seems effective."

This personal attempts are my evidence, by the way. At first i had very little faith. I had the peterson style view but couldn't' bring myself to play along. I studied major world religions, trying to understand them as maps of some territory including psychology and sociology. It wasn't until i felt consumed by anxiety and stressed, unable to sleep, that i started trying to 'fudge it' by thinking about my ancestors with reverence, and trying to imagine how the distant future felt about me; i felt as if i was loved by beings so far in the future that they were almost God-like in their intelligence, capabilities, and awareness. This feeling really did help.

I also noticed that my faith in bitcoin seemed to help me relax. "I dont' care what stupid thing happened in the news today, i'm confident bitcoin will be far higher in the future." ended up being a really useful thing to think. This gave me more evidence of the utility of faith. So the I sent to work trying to figure out a deeper way of articulating a faith rooted in physics. I think i've gotten a pretty decent solution that seems to line up with very recent 'far from equilibrium physics' as well as ancient religions.

Hope this is helpful for you :)

The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.

I like Isaac Asimov's reply to this:

"And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." -- Matthew 5:22.

Just nitpicking a little bit, but Matthew 5:21-22 says:

"21 You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones: 'You shall not murder, he who murders will be subject to judgment'. 22 But I say unto you, Everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment, and he who says to his brother 'raca!' will be subject to the Sanhedrin and he who says 'fool!' will be subject to the fire of Gehenna".

In context it seems clear that this text is meant to generalize the commandment against murder to acting angry and contemptuous, which if unchecked and allowed to fully come to fruition, will end in murder. It's pretty obviously not intended to be a literal rule about a specific word. In fact, Jesus himself in the end of the same speech in Matthew 7 describes those who hear his words but do not heed them as being like 'a foolish man, who built his house on the sand'.

I'm pretty sure the OP was being angry and contemptuous.

OP was quoting Psalms 14:1

Indo European descriptions are much more accurate in this regard given they all describe pretty common scenarios. What is funny is that these things happened because of Industrialization of society which is inevitable. Nick Land talks about something similar with the idea of techno capital.

True freedom in the religious sense is freedom from bodily pleasures and being a servant to the Gods and higher values whereas freedom today is the freedom from the Gods and higher values and a service to bodily pleasures. Overall, the ancients got this right. Buddhism was the atheism of India while stoicism was the atheism of the ancient Mediterranean's. Do check out the scriptures he reads from in this video. I am more interested in seeing how the things he talks about came true despite having been predicted thousands of years ago with utmost certainty.

Canonically, the start of Kalyug is supposed to cooincide with the death of Krishna. This puts it around 3000BCE (give or take 2000 BCE).

So all of recorded human history and indo-european civilization as we know it occur during the kalyuga.

Yeah, also yugas have some flexibility so the age of the great chakravartin maharaja Vikramditya was Satyug despite existing in wretched times. The idea of Kalyuga is not incorrect given my limited experience and understanding of the world.

edit - these are the words of the head priest.