The End of the World is Probably Not Nigh

Dada Nabhaniilananda
8 min readJun 8, 2023

Oh, look, it’s apocalypse time again. I’m so excited! Lots of our favorite Big Tech Gods, from Sam Altman to Bill Gates, are warning us of impending doom, thanks to, you guessed it, AI!

Do bear in mind, this pessimistic view of the impact of AI is far from unanimous amongst industry experts. Marc Andreessen, for example, just published a loooong article explaining that AI might actually save the world.

Editor's note: it probably won't.

Either way, personally I’m not worried. Rather the opposite. Every time someone announces that ‘The End of the World is Nigh’ I get all warm and fuzzy. The End of the World, you see, is one of my favorite things.

Let me explain. I’ve been hearing apocalyptic predictions for more than 40 years. As testimony to my resilience, not to mention the world’s, I realized that I appear to have survived this cataclysm at least five times. The more often it happens the longer I seem to live! I could only conclude that this recurring disaster is good for my health.

Upon researching this medical miracle I discovered that it is even more miraculous than I’d imagined. It turns out that I have survived not a mere five End of the Worlds, but one hundred and five! That’s right, according to Wikipedia, during my lifetime, 105 apocalyptic predictions have failed to materialize, 13 of them occurring during the year 2000 alone! And I’m not even counting Y2K, profitable though it was, as it foretold a mere collapse of civilization, which is really more of a setback than a true end of the world. By my rigorous standards, it really doesn’t qualify.

1. Auspicious Planetary Alignment

Not to scale

My first End of the World Experience took place in Australia during the 1980’s. Back then I knew a lot of people in the New Age movement. Their whole community was abuzz with the news of an approaching planetary alignment, which would lead to a Harmonic Convergence. I never quite understood what this meant, but it did sound as if there would be music involved, so I was for it.

This was all supposed to start at the Eastern most point of Australia where those neatly lined up planets would first be visible in the night sky.

Now that's conviction!

On the night in question a huge crowd gathered at the spot on the coast, eager to witness the dawning of a new era. UFO enthusiasts, astrologers, shamanic priestesses, crop circle people and psychics waited in breathless anticipation. Darkness fell and the planets slowly crept over the horizon one by one, until finally the last celestial body appeared, completing a Cosmic pattern that would not repeat for another 3000 years. The crowd was breathless… Then suddenly…nothing happened. Could it be that Monty Python are the true prophets of our era?

Everyone waited expectantly, and sure enough, nothing happened again.

During the ensuing days and weeks nothing remarkable continued to happen and pretty soon it seemed like no-one really wanted to talk about planetary alignments any more. The faithful scattered in search of a new portent.

But I am not so faint of faith, giving up hope so easily. I have full confidence that in the future, at an auspicious moment, true believers will all start talking about planetary alignments again. I predict that this will definitely happen sometime within the next 3000 years.

2. The Amazing Foresight of Nostradamus

In 2002 I read a book about Nostradamus’ predictions, covering the period from 1970–2000. The author was a very knowledgeable scholar who was an expert in the original ancient French which Nostradamus used to record his prophecies. Incredibly, even though this interpretive book was written in the 1960’s, every cataclysm described, every prediction by Nostradamus regarding the ensuing 30 years, was completely wrong.

Once again, I’d foiled the dread hand of fate.

3. The Coming Rapture

New Guinea is a deeply Christian country, thanks to the enthusiastic work of some early European missionaries, several of whom were rewarded for their zeal by being eaten.

You can imagine my joy when my Spiritual Master in India took me aside one day and told me to go to New Guinea as a missionary. By this point, so far as I could guess, Christian Missionaries, and, to be clear, I am not one, were the only ones who didn't get eaten.

Today New Guinea’s religious community includes one modern sect whose members consider themselves Christian, but, somewhat tragically, are regarded as heretics by the other Christians. I'm talking about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Central to their dogma is the belief that the world will end in 1914, or failing that, 1975, or failing that, some future date, known officially as ‘soon’. So we are definitely living in ‘end times’. A worrying proposition, to be sure.

This enticing package of prophecy features, for the faithful, a rapture. The rest of us non-believing dolphins, humans, platypuses, giraffes etc. can enjoy our own personal apocalypse during which we get to fry in some kind of volcano/earthquake/planetary implosion, while the true believers are transported to Heaven in spaceships. Recalling this I think maybe I get the more traditional Christian’s concern about how the Jehovah’s Witnesses might not exactly fit in at parties.

In 1988, inspired by my Guru, I visited New Guinea. One day I met a young woman who seemed very bright and promising. I asked her what she was doing with her life. She said that she had been attending university, a rare opportunity in New Guinea at that time. But now she was a Jehovah’s Witness and had left her studies because these were the ‘last days’, so she didn't see the point in going to university. She’d chosen to spend her ‘last days’ at home with her mum, studying whatever version of the Bible was consistent with the Jehovah’s Witness version of heresy.

To me this seemed like a more real tragedy. Sometimes delusional prophecies are not so harmless.

4. The Incredible Mayan Calendar

At around this point you might be detecting a pattern. Speaking of patterns, have you noticed how the Mayan Calendar image that was posted all over the internet before it ended all time in 2012 is almost identical to the pattern on an Oreo cookie?

Who would have imagined that this innocent decorative biscuit was secretly plotting our doom?

5. And the Idiot Prize goes to…

Perhaps my favorite piece of delusional prophecy was brought to us by a particularly devout inhabitant of our very own San Francisco Bay Area. And it’s a doozy: welcome to Judgement Day.

I’m afraid the only judgement going on that day involved the poor deluded fools who believed this nonsense pondering their own decision to sell their homes and invest their life savings in their ‘Prophet’s’ massive advertising campaign. This really happened.

So What’s Next?

I don’t know. Nobody knows. That’s the point. Time's arrow points in one direction, just like the boy band 😬. (now there's something truly apocalyptic) The future reveals its mystery at its allotted pace.

But fear not. There are still plenty of confused souls predicting the apocalypse at some time yet to come. Some of them are considerate enough to provide us with an exact date. This might come in very handy if you are planning to reconfigure your stock portfolio. (Legal disclaimer: This is not real investment advice)

What Would Jesus Do?

It’s worth noting what Jesus himself, whom many of these ‘prophets’ claim to follow, (OK, probably not the Mayan shamans) had to say about this matter. He was very clear.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” — Jesus, according to Matthew 24:35–36

If Jesus’ Dad wouldn’t even tell his own kid what was about to happen next in the Cosmic Drama, why would any lesser mortal imagine that they know better? Hubris, my friends, pure hubris.

A Lose/Lose Proposition

Reflecting on all these ‘couldn’t be more dead wrong’, End of the World Predictions made me wonder about the intelligence quotient of these so-called prophets. Think about it for a moment. From a Prophet Career perspective, where is the upside?

If the prophet is correct, and the world ends as they predicted, everyone will be dead, so no-one will ever know what a great prophet they were.

If, as in every case up till now, they are incorrect and they publicized their predictions widely on expensive billboards, everyone will know. They will have successfully advertised to the world that they are the village idiot on steroids.

Right or wrong, there is no possible upside. If you want to build your reputation as a prophet, this is the ultimate lose/lose strategy. Clearly these people never thought this through. Nowadays, whenever I come across someone who claims to know when the world is going to end, I remind myself that I’m dealing with a person with a very small brain.

Conclusion:

In the face of this latest rash of doomsday talk, I'm urging everyone to relax. The future is famous for being unknowable. If you are fortunate enough to live in beautiful Northern California where we have fantastic weather, no threat of war, lots of interesting people, otters, redwoods and no apocalyptic boy bands in sight, trust that things will probably work out. After all, we've survived so far.

“Prophecy is an art best practiced with the benefit of hindsight.”- The Monk Dude

Post Note: I wonder if you, dear reader, could do me a small favor. If you do happen to know the exact date of the End of the World please let me know.

Asking for a friend.

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Dada Nabhaniilananda

The Monk Dude. Yoga monk for 48 years, meditation instructor, author, keynote speaker, and musician. From New Zealand. Teaches at Apple, Google, Facebook etc.