Paramhansa Yogananda sometimes remarked that in the future mankind would see innumerable changes in its ways of thinking, living, and behaving — changes involving countless new ways of dealing with reality.
An amazing degree of change
Since 1900 A.D., we’ve been in the ascending age of Dwapara Yuga and we find, amazingly, just in one century, how much people have advanced. Everything we know of modern times — airplanes, cars, electronics, radios, television, computers— started after 1900. And we’re just at the beginning. The discoveries that lie ahead of us are enormous, but all of them will be based on an awareness of energy as the underlying reality of matter.
A very different kind of world and universe will open up as we advance into this age. Before the end of Dwapara Yuga in 4100 A.D., mankind will conquer the delusion of space, and people will realize that the most distant galaxy is just as close as our present surroundings. (See sidebar below for explanation of the yuga cycles, and diagram at right.)
The start of interplanetary travel
According to science, it’s not possible for people to go from one solar system to another because of the distance and time involved. In 1949, however, there was a worldwide “stir” of sightings of “flying saucers” or UFOs (unidentified flying objects). The newspapers generally made light of the reports, but Paramhansa Yogananda’s brief comment was: “What people have seen is true. Those phenomena are not imaginary.”
There’s a movie about what happened in Roswell, New Mexico, where a flying saucer crashed in 1949. Local residents and military personnel saw the beings on the ship — some of whom survived briefly, and examined the bodies. The beings looked similar to us, only smaller, and they didn’t have the same cardiovascular system that we have. Theirs was more like that of plants. We have a carbon-based system, but there’s no reason why other physiological and biological systems couldn’t work just as well.
Modern science declares it would be impossible for the inhabitants of planets situated many light years away from Earth to make such a journey. Yogananda’s answer was that science is still in its infancy. He said: “Modern man thinks that everything must be accomplished by physical force. There are many subtler forces in Nature. These will come to light as the general sensitivity of man becomes more refined. Someday it will be a simple matter to travel from Earth to Mars, or to other planets.”
In the different yugas, mankind transcends certain aspects of maya or delusion. By the end of Dwapara Yuga, mankind will know how to bypass the laws of physics that say you can’t go faster than the speed of light. People will be able to go, not only to other planets, but to distant galaxies.
Treta Yuga: the power to manipulate events
As planetary consciousness continues to evolve, people will become more aware of the power of consciousness. They will understand that consciousness precedes energy and that with their own minds they can direct energy to accomplish things. This understanding will be the hallmark of the next age, Treta Yuga, or “The Age of Mental Power,” which will start in 4100 A.D.
We know this principle to some extent even now. This is what Yogananda’s Energization Exercises teach us — that by will power we can send energy to the body. When we do the Energization Exercises, we’re directing energy through the power of consciousness, and that energy acts upon the muscles by tensing them. As we go deeper into that thought, we realize we can ultimately send energy to manipulate the events around us.
A woman in India told me about her guru, who lived very simply in the forest. Once, when a number of his disciples were with him there was a heavy downpour of rain, but it remained completely dry around them. It was as if he had created an astral umbrella. When you have that kind of inner power, it’s a very small thing to ward off the rain. You can prevent rain or cause rain, or even change the seasons. In Treta Yuga most people are aware enough to be able to manipulate energy with will power.
If you could put all your will into making something happen, and not have any conflicting doubt, you would find that your will is enormous. Will power isn’t just generating the energy — it’s also removing the obstacles that prevent that energy from being effective. Masters are able to perform miracles because they know that when they will something, they must send out all their energy, and there’s no conflicting energy blocking it.
I saw an ad in a magazine once for somebody who was supposed to be channeling an entity. I had to laugh when I looked at his picture because his face was all screwed up with the effort. When Yogananda did miraculous things it was effortless, because there were no conflicting thoughts. He just sent out a thought, and even though he had tremendous will, there was never any sense of struggle. It’s not as if God had to get all worked up to project the universe — it just happened very naturally.
Yogananda described Treta Yuga as an “age marked by common knowledge of telepathic communications and other time-annihilators.” Mental telepathy will occur naturally as mankind’s mental control, intuition, and knowledge of the universe evolve.
By the end of Treta Yuga, most people will understand that time, like space, is a delusion, and that the most ancient civilizations exist, not in the distant past, but right now, in the eternal present. Certain writings penned back in Treta Yuga, five thousand years ago or so, discuss the lives of individuals living today. In one such writing, The Book of Bhrigu, I found a page discussing my own life, and accurately describing events that had not yet occurred.
Nonetheless, there is still warfare well into Treta Yuga because people don’t yet have the degree of mental control that enables them to act in attunement with God’s will. By Satya Yuga, the highest age, people will have learned that.
A portal of entry into subtler realms
With the arrival of the golden age of Satya Yuga, the Age of Truth, in 7700 A.D., mankind will live more perfectly in the realization that all is Spirit. In Satya Yuga there will be a much greater degree of Self-realization, and the majority of people will understand that the universe is simply a projection of the Divine Consciousness.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be people whose consciousness is negative or dark. Even in the depths of Kali Yuga there are still a few masters around, and in the heights of Satya Yuga there are still a few evil people. It’s rather that in Satya Yuga relatively more people have an enlightened awareness, so that warfare is no longer a problem.
During Satya Yuga, most people are no longer interested in using energy as a means of manipulating and controlling matter. For them, matter is merely a “portal of entry” into higher, subtler realms. They live in effortless communion with angelic beings, and with the pure nature spirits that bring life, order, and beauty to this physical world.
These enlightened souls are interested not so much in creating beautiful forms as in achieving beautiful states of awareness. Whatever they create materially, however, is effortlessly beautiful, graceful, and beneficial to themselves and to others. They have little need to construct grand edifices, or even sturdy homes. They prefer the “shelter of trees”—as the great master Babaji, one of Yogananda’s teachers, once put it — for Nature herself becomes temperate when mankind projects thoughts of love and harmony. Even today there are saints who don’t need houses.
Descending Dwapara Yuga: incantations and black magic
We have now entered the upward swing of Dwapara Yuga. It’s interesting to think what was happening at the point when Dwapara Yuga was descending into Kali Yuga, the darkest age. What would be the natural tendency of a civilization that was coming down from higher levels of spiritual awareness and losing its ability to use mental power? It would be to turn toward magic. People would still have the memory of past civilizations when one could influence everything with the power of the mind, but they wouldn’t understand how to do it. Eventually they would try to recapture this lost power by doing everything with incantations and magic.
I went on a pilgrimage to Egypt in the early 1980s. I felt very strongly while there that the entire civilization at the time of descending Dwapara Yuga had fallen into black magic. There was a darkness over the land. But I was able also to feel the consciousness of Egypt further back in time during a higher age, and I felt something much more uplifted. When I visited the Aswan Dam area, I had the very strong feeling that I’d lived there long before in a higher age. I could imagine lush greenery everywhere and that it had been a very simple, harmonious time.
Eternal rounds of maya
What are the lessons we can personally draw from understanding the yuga concept? Paramhansa Yogananda described these cycles as the “eternal rounds of maya.” With the progression of the yugas, mankind gradually escapes from duality, and awakens to realize its unity with God.
To devotees, in a sense, it doesn’t matter what yuga we find ourselves in. We need to tune in to the higher octave of the time in which we live, and to use it for our spiritual development. Dwapara Yuga is the Age of Energy, and Paramhansa Yogananda came at this time to give us techniques of energy to help us achieve Self-realization. Let’s use these techniques well, and transform our inner world into a higher age of divine truth.
Sidebar: The Cycle of the Yugas
Swami Sri Yukteswar is the first person, to my knowledge, to give an explanation for the cycle of the yugas, a teaching that was known back in ancient times but lost during the dark age of Kali Yuga. The cycle of the yugas represents the progression from the time our sun and solar system are the farthest from the center of the galaxy, to the time when they are the closest.
The explanation that Sri Yukteswar and the ancient seers give for the progression of the yugas is that our sun has a dual, and that the two revolve around each other. Along with this revolution, our sun and solar system move in a great elliptical orbit toward, then away from, the center of our galaxy, a tremendous vortex of energy. Rays of spiritual energy pour out from this galactic center, and as our sun and solar system come closer to it, more energy floods our planet. Because of this increased energy, human consciousness becomes more aware.
When our solar system moves away from that center of energy, human consciousness becomes duller, not able to understand things as well. Our solar system reached its farthest point from the galactic center in roughly 500 AD, during the heart of the dark age of Kali Yuga.
Our solar system is now moving again toward the galactic center, and human consciousness, since it’s receiving more energy, is able to understand things better. People have begun to recognize, for example, that matter is not essentially solid, but that it’s really energy. In fact, it’s only because we’ve moved into the more enlightened age of Dwapara Yuga that mankind is even able to understand the concept of the yuga cycle.
When our solar system is closest to the galactic center, mankind becomes increasingly enlightened. The two highest ages are Treta Yuga, “The Age of Mental Power,” and Satya Yuga, “The Age of Truth.”