10. Eschatological Overview
Eschatology refers to the theological study of the end times. In some religions, this involves a complete destruction of the earth as we know it and in others a transfiguration of life into something greater, while in some it involves a combination. Below, we look at eschatological teachings from major world religions, and also at the profound human interest in the end of the world as a whole which is still seen expressed to this very day. Even many atheists and agnostics find the concept intriguing, often linking international arms races and anthropogenic activities resulting in climate change and its consequences to dark days to come.
9. Buddhism and Maitreya
The doctrine of the Maitreya is associated with the "cycles of creation concept", and was first well described in Hinduism and later in Buddhism. Therein, each cycle has a name, a cycle being a "Yuga", and now we are living in the Kali Yuga. The completion of any cycle is accompanied by a cataclysm, but also the arrival of a Savior, able to hold all living through a transition period. Maitreya, the future great prophet, is to be the Buddha of the future world order. Maitreya Bodhisattva is the only one which is acknowledged by all directions of Buddhism, and his coming was predicted in the "Visuddhimagga", Shakyamuni’s "Tripitaka", and in the early works of Mahayana. In China it is called the Mile, in Japan the Miroku, and in the lamaist mythology Maidar, Maidari, and/or Jampa. Maitreya is the secret name of the Fifth Buddha and Kalki Avatar or the Absolute, the last Messiah who will come at the end of the Great Cycle. In Buddhist scriptures, you can find a lot of predictions about the coming of the Comforter and the prophecies of Maitreya, and the name Maitreya presumably is the name of the Hindu Mother goddess. Shankaracharya pointed out in his writing that she is at the same time the mother of three gunas, or forces of life, and therefore the Mother of Three, or Maitreya in Sanskrit *'tri' or 'traya' meaning three and 'Ma' mother).
8. Christianity and the Book of Revelations
The Apocalypse, from the Greek for Revelation, of St. John the Divine is the only prophetic book of the Christian Bible's New Testament. It foretells of impending fate of mankind, the end of the world and the beginning of eternal life. Perhaps it was a reason for the book to be placed at the end of the Holy Scriptures. The Apocalypse is a revelation mysterious and difficult to understand, but at the same time the mysterious character of this book has attracted so much attention. Despite the perplexity of understanding this scripture, teachers of the Christian Church have always treated it with great reverence as a book inspired by God. It describes the events preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, to be followed by numerous disasters and miracles, such as fire from heaven, the resurrection of the dead, and phenomena involving angels. The word "apocalypse" is often used as a synonym for the end of the world or to disaster on a planetary scale.
7. Hinduism and Kalki
Among the ancient Indian scriptures, the Kalki Purana described the origin of the dark age. In the last part of the work, Bhavishya Purana, there is a mentioning of Kali Yuga, which is the time in which we now live. It is described as the era of evil, where people are born only to suffer. Kali Yuga is the age of darkness, suffering, sorrow, century-long conflicts, and the reverse reflection of the Golden Age. It is called the Iron Age and the Age of Possession. Kalki Avatar or the "White Horse Avatar", is considered the last or tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He will come as the Savior at the junction of the two yugas, seeing the end of Kali Yuga and the beginning of Satya Yuga. When he appears, the heavens will be torn asunder and Vishnu will be sitting on a milk-white horse with his sword raised, glittering like a comet, for the final destruction of the wicked, renewal of creation and the restoration of purity. This horse is a shell of evil spirits and Vishnu will ride on it, remaining invisible to everyone, as long as overcome the spirit for the last time. In the opinion of some Brahmans, Vishnu would appear in the form of the horse Kalki itself because the end of each yuga is marked by the destruction of the world as the planet and at the same time changing its appearance, flooding of some continents, and the raising of some other. Kalki combines two magnificent functions: those of a a spiritual dominion and temporal power.
6. Islam: Yawm al-Qiyāmah and Yawm ad-Dīn
In Islam, the end come with Yawm al-Qiyāmah "the Day of Resurrection" or Yawm ad-Din "the Day of Judgement". On this day, everyone except for prophets, angels and a special category of believers will be questioned in regards to their earthly deeds. The horn Sur shall be sounded twice by the angel Israfil. After the angel shall sound his horn a second time, all the dead will be resurrected, and led to the valley of Arasat. Those who did good deeds over the worst will receive entry of their earthly acts to their right and in front, and those whose bad acts exceeded the good will be sent to be left behind. After the doom, there will be a need to cross the Sirat bridge, which is "thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword blade." The Sirat Bridge passes over the abyss of Hell and leads to Heaven. Depending on the earthly deeds, people will pass the Sirat with different results, and some of them will fall from it and be devoured by fire. Before doom, the Small and Big signs of the approaching judgment day should appear. Among them are the appearance of the Dabbatul-Arzi, the animal able to distinguish between the believer and the atheist, the sun would rise in the West, the emergence of acrid smoke, and the emergence of an auspicious fire.
5. Judaism: Aḥarit Ha-Yamim
The concept of the last days in Judaism (aharit Ha-Yamim) includes everything that will happen to the people of Israel and the world in the days preceding the coming of the Mashiah, or the Messiah. The expression "Future Days" or "Coming Days" (aharit Ha-Yamim) occurs at the very beginning of the 49th chapter of the Book of Genesis, in the words of Jacob: "… Gather yourselves, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the days to come." The idea of Coming Days is revealed in speeches of the prophets, who spoke about what will happen to the nation and to humanity in the distant future and, on a special day, the Day of the Lord, which is to come before it. After the Lord would hide the sun, the Israelis will return to their home, leaving the places around the world where they lived separately. But in spite of the great disaster, the house of Jacob, or the Jewish people, shall not perish. Prior to that, there will be tests. The war of Gog and Magog will begin before the coming of the Messiah (Prophet). There would not be a single blow to defeat the enemy, and it will fall gradually. After the arrival of the Messiah, judgment will come, which will result in the establishment of justice and the renewal of the world.
4. Taoism and Li Hong
The Tao messiah, Li Hong, is destined to come during the breaking times. Li Hong is considered as a future incarnation of Laozi. Li Hong is the Messiah, the prophet of the new times in religious Taoism (in the West often referred to as Daoism), which gave people a promise to appear at the end of the world cycle to save the chosen ones, and to distinguish between those who favored good deeds and performed meditation. In the treatise Scripture of the Divine Spells of the CavernousAbyss (Dongyuan Shenzhou jing), Li Hong is described the supreme leader, who appears on earth in the end times to establish a new heaven and a new earth, and to attain perfection of synergy. Authorities of the Han Dynasty used the image of Li Hong for intimidation and the suppression of uprisings in the 5th Century AD.
3. Zoroastrian Frashokereti
Frashokereti, a Zoroastrian doctrine, does not indicate the destruction of the world or the disappearance of humankind. While in both the inner and in the outer world an eternal struggle between light and darkness is going on, the coming of God is accompanied by the arrival of its antipode. Frashokereti indicates the Ultimate newness blossom of the whole universe when evil will be destroyed, and all things will come into perfect unity with God, Ahura Mazda, described as a spirit in the Old Iranian religion, which did not exclude the possibility of its manifestation in the material world among men. Unity with the highest could not be possible without improvement and purification of the thoughts, speech, and actions of man. As a term, Frashokereti could also be interpreted as something done perfectly, or to mean the world without sin. It will also a return to the initial, ideal state of the world. Words, thoughts, and human deeds must ultimately triumph over evil, and make available for the perfect harmony of man.
2. The End of the Earth In Other Religions
In this new millennium, with the development of the Internet and telecommunications, the ubiquitous ancient Mayan Indian scholars received renown for their prediction regarding the end of the world to come in 2012. In this connection, novels were written followed by feature films and TV series. The news agencies have not been reluctant about news of signs of the coming end of the world. When the specified date of Apocalypse has passed without incident, new dates have always been proposed by individuals, religious groups, and some other communities. Some astrological predictions are still very popular, as well as the works of 16th Century French Nostradamus, who offered different interpretations of future cataclysms. In Eastern Europe, the famous Bulgarian prophetess Baba Vanga, who was blind and died in 1996, is still widely respected up to the present date. She did not speculate on predictions of the end of the world but, according to her, there are indications of major disasters in the future, which will push the people to change their way of thinking and begin to live and work together as one family.
1. Human Fascination With The End
Apocalypticism is a doctrine that tells about the imminent end of the world, followed by the resurrection from the dead, and the final judgment, or equivalent, in which people will be forced to answer for their deeds. Although Apocalypticism does not belong to any particular religion, the indication of the last judgment and resurrection, either in the form of a previous body recovery or in the form of spirit, is a common element for several religious beliefs. Unlike religions, Apocalypticism often addresses specific end date of creation, and the tell-tale signs pointing to it. Not having a common source, or interpreter, as well as due to the fact that Apocalypticism, as a doctrine, is not tied to a particular historical interval, there are many versions of the coming end. Most often it refers to the destruction of the planet Earth in the cataclysms and natural disasters, as well as the extinction of a large part of the biosphere, including humans.
Scientific researchers of Apocalypticism state that the people from time immemorial and, regardless of age, religion, and political system, tend to expect, and sometimes hope, to end the imperfections of the world by way of an event destroying all life. The Apocalypse book predicted that Judgment Day will come soon, and early Christians believed it literally. Followers of the preacher Montana expected Armageddon in the middle of the Second Century AD, and then the year 666, or "the beast year". The next stage of panic expectations accounted in the year 1000 from the Christ Birth followed by another, the anniversary of the crucifixion in the year 1033. Once again the Judgement was spoken about during the Crusades, which saw the conquering of Jerusalem from Muslims by Western European Christians, and it was a clear sign of approaching the fateful moment. The year 1492 was named as 7,000 years of the Creation of the World anniversary, and in the 20th Century the years 1908, 1945, 1960, and 1984 were alternatively prophesied to be Apocalyptic.