Climbing Mt. Improbable: The Eonic Effect
You might read this in conjunction with this later chapter on the Axial Age.
Buddhists find themselves flummoxed by modernity (along with a lot of other New Agers) but the reactionary impulse needs to be understood and avoided.
I can think of no better resource here than the material on the eonic effect, if you can understand it.
Because of its critique of Darwinism the material is marginalized, a pity, since it gives a snapshot of what ‘evolution’ (in any sense) really is, and also shows both the coherence of world history, and the plight of Axial Age religions in the modern age.
There are a lot of things to say here, but one point is important: the eonic effect shows a directional (perhaps teleological) logic, but in a fashion unexpected and hard, at first to understand.
Look, the problem with randomness is dispersion, and chaos. So the solution is directed ‘evolution’. But that has its own problems (many of them). The eonic effect (out of a host of issues) shows one solution: try to be directed, but also try to cover the ‘whole ground’, so to speak. We see the ‘mainline’ sequence turn into parallel splitter sequences!! The mainline shows a first split in the stage of Dynastic Egypt and Sumer, doubling its bet, so to speak, and in the next Axial period we see a stupendous splitter phase, dividing into five (actually more) splitter parallels.
And there we see that the Indic tradition suddenly spawns its own splitter sequence, in Buddhism (not only), for example, which suddenly and brilliantly creates a ‘global cash and carry’ version of Indic religion, in the tide of initial (not yet economic) globalization. In Israel we see a similar ‘packaging’ of the strain (very ancient, but struggling) of (underground Egyptian?) monotheism, which turns into a prodigious source of world religions (after the Israelite result is transported briefly to Persia during the Exile and re-repackaged with Zoroastrian strains, a miracle indeed!!!).
The problem with splitter sequences is that they compensate for the difficiencies of unidirecational teleology, but suffer dispersion all over again, and so in the third phase, modernity, we see a more focussed transition with an inevitable Eurocentric imbalance. But the problem is that the Axial Age spawned a set of rival worlds in parallel, in a world still too large for the independent zones to collide). But in the modern case a set of parallel ‘Axial’ transitions would only produce collision and chaos, so the single focus (made into a transcultural set of entities) is actually a different way to globalize, along a consistent renewed mainline.
Now it may be (as many Marxists suggest) that the Eurocentric focus will spoil the outcome. But the globalization of modernity has, it seems to me, been a great success, though as yet incomplete.
But the problem here is that the Axial Age parallel zones seem to be left behind, as everything starts falling into the secularist sausage machine of modernity.
In a world, we see that something like buddhism is at risk.
The solution is simple: in such a vast machine of effects, buddhists can recreate themselves with ease and spawn a new brand of their ancient lore in a new context, but only if they stop cursing this ‘eonic machine’ and its ‘modernity’ by trying to restore ancient traditions, impossible. Buddhism was a luxury made possible in the multiple lines of the splitter sequence. As the sequence starts to redirect around a mainline theme, the accidents and collisions could be dreadful.
These kinds of considerations are strange, at first, but with a little study, the eonic model and its data will show some surprising answers to some very puzzling questions.
The prodigious chaos in this system can frustrate buddhists because all they see is the destruction of the riches of ancient spirituality and a replacement with American Hamburger Idiots in the name of progress. And these American idiots are also ‘injun killers’ par excellence, now with Darwinian self-justifications.
But these perceptions miss the point: without its eonic effect, world history would still be dawdling in the early Neolithic. So we need to understand the historical machine, and compensate.