Gods Gumshoe  S.D., R.S., W.I.

Spiritual Detective, Religious Scientist, Wisdom Investigator

Sacred Community at the Dawn of the Second Axial Age

THE  Axial Age:   

The philosopher Karl Jaspers had coined the phrase

“The Axial Age” 

To refer to the period from 800 BCE to 200 CE, when virtually every major civilization witnessed the appearance of key religious figures, prophets and sages ..and SCIENCE,






The Second Axial Age denotes the revolution in Western thinking from 1600 on....  produced by the Enlightenment and the rise of modern science, including the discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin and now Stephen Hawking.

The last one hundred years mark ours as the start of a new historical period: the “postmodern” era." that we can now call


The New Age

Humankind has always been “in transition,” as it were.  We are however, able to identify some “transitional demarcation points.”  We started out as hunters and gatherers, but with the invention of the plough, we moved into “The Agricultural Age”; an age that forever changed the way we do things on Urantia.  With the invention of the steam engine, we moved from the Agricultural Age to “The Industrial Age,” with its two systems for the distribution of goods and services, Communism and Capitalism.  Now with the invention of the computer were have moved from the Industrial Age to ‘The Information Age,” as most are calling it.  The Urantia Book identifies these times on page 910 - §1 “At first life was a struggle for existence; now, for a standard of living; next it will be for quality of thinking, the coming earthly goal of human existence.”  The transitional times between these great ages are a time of great turbulence, as witnessed by “The Industrial Revolution.”  We are in the middle of just such a “Transition” now.  Again the UB says this about the prevention of transitional breakdown on P.911 - §6, “Society is the offspring of age upon age of trial and error; it is what survived the selective adjustments and readjustments in the successive stages of mankind's agelong rise from animal to human levels of planetary status. The great danger to any civilization--at any one moment--is the threat of breakdown during the time of transition from the established methods of the past to those new and better, but untried, procedures of the future.”


Today, in an attempt to discover new ideas and a new vocabulary for the spiritual life, a new and “untried” search for meaning and Truth has emerged called “The New Age Movement.”  This “New Age,” is a time of exceptional speculation, an enormous experiment in personal and cultural transformation.  Beginning in the 1960 with a spiritual renaissance and then with the psychedelic revolution, the popularization of Yoga, mysticism, astrology and the influx of Eastern masters, the New Age entered its present generation as a force to be reckoned with.  A mixed bag of rich insights and vulgar counterfeits, trapped between the cathedral and the carnival, the New Age is certainly assuming its own distinctive character as an infra-culture, rather than a counter-culture.  What is needed now is Spiritual Intelligence, the power to tell the Greater from the Lesser reality.  For while so many are shopping in the holy aisles of the new spiritual supermarket, it still appears that tradition is far more appealing that innovation.  But can there actually be any such thing as innovation in humanity’s spiritual life, anyway?  Is it really possible to teach an old God new tricks?


Arriving right on time to answer these questions, as if for its appointed rendezvous, the Urantia Book becomes the “inward-arching bridge” joining and stabilizing these two historical “Aquarian Frontiers” of “The New Age” and “The Information Age;” thus providing the epoch-making information and background philosophy, the exploration of which creates nothing less than a transformation of human consciousness as significant.... as the development of life on our oceans, the appearance of speech, or the development of civilization.  And it tells us on P.1863 - §3  “The prospect of the more perfect fulfillment of the will of God, the advance toward the dawn of a new social order in connection with improved spiritual living—(is)  the next age of man.”


Crossing the bridge from patriarchy to solidarity will be, after the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, the third major transition in the history of human civilization. For lack of a better term, let's refer to this third transition as The Ecological Revolution.

Revolutions are seldom smooth. There is an old Chinese saying: "Before the beginning of brilliance, there must be chaos." Revolutions often entail severe crisis situations. But the Chinese word for "crisis" is the juxtaposition of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity" -- a sign of both caution and hope.

Here is an excellent list of the "seven key relationships that make up our lives":

1. Our relationship with ourselves

2. Our relationship with our spirit

3. Our intimate relationships
4. Our workplace and community relations
5. Our relationship with our national community
6. Our international and multicultural relationships
7. Our relationship with nature and the living environment

This work is about scenarios of the future, not about predicting the future. The scenarios now include possible paths of transition from unsustainability to sustainability, and suggest "tools" to be used for the transition to sustainability (specifically, the following "phases" for all projects during the transition: "visioning, networking, truth-telling, learning, and loving"). Perhaps "processes" would be a better term than "tools." Nobody knows exactly how this global transition is going to unfold, but this complex process will not be amenable to mechanical manipulation by "tools."


The first Axial Age occurred some 2500 years ago when the centrality of ritual gave way to the crucial role of morality and subjective religious experience. Today a new Axial Age seems to be emerging. What are its characteristics? What implications might it have for world politics, for environmental consciousness, for new models of inter-religious dialog? What kind of backlash is developing to oppose the new directions in which religion is moving? What are some of the problems the new Axial Age will have to face? What specific form will this new Axial Age take in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism? These are some of the most crucial concerns this web-site will address.



Sacred Community at the Dawn of the Second Axial Age

We are rapidly entering an axial time, a new age which may well be decisive for humanity and the Earth. It will be an age unlike any other in the issues it will resolve, in the direction it assumes, in the consciousness that guides it, and in the truly global civilization it will fashion. Nationalism and fanaticism will evaporate before the human family's discovery of a more universal identity. Humankind will come of age, and will outgrow these forms of association as doubtful luxuries no longer desirable or affordable.

Curiously, it is the religions that are playing a central role in leading the world into this new age. It was Mahatma Gandhi who first observed so prophetically that there would never be peace on Earth unless there was first peace among the religions. Hans Kung has reiterated this truth in our time, particularly at the Parliament of the World's Religions. A subtle shift is occurring in how the religions relate to one another. Often antagonists in the past, their rivalry produced tens of thousands of wars throughout recorded history. Suspicion, competition, and conflict have characterized their relationship. Their cultures developed in splendid isolation, occasionally influencing one another. Now, a new paradigm of relationship is emerging as the barriers dividing the world's religions collapse. Faced with the same critical issues threatening all of us -- the ecological crisis, escalating violence, economic instability, hunger, poverty, disease, the population explosion, racism -- the religions have found a new mode for cooperation, and through collaboration, the possibility of genuine community among the traditions.

Living in community was always a potential because of the deeper reality out of which we have all come, but the dark forces of fear, insecurity, and ignorance led us into patterns of competition and bloody conflict. When we see this tragic history in the light of our profound and primordial unity (AND FROM A COSMIC PERSPECTIVE), then these conflicts resemble the petty squabbles of children on a playground where cruelty and mean-spiritedness take over.

The cultural transformations that are occurring are global in scope, comprehensive in extent -- affecting everything -- and radical in their depth. A new awareness of our interconnectedness but also of our fragility and the fragility of the Earth is changing how we look at the planet and one another. The media are an important tool in breaking down the old exclusivistic attitudes that each society, culture, and religion has followed. It was television that brought us the breathtaking image of the Earth from Apollo. In that precious image more like some ethereal jewel, a new consciousness was born, the fruit of an enlightening revelation that compelled us to confront our essential interdependence and our inescapable fragility. It is this realization that is the basis of the new age we are now entering.

This approaching period, which is singularly important to the survival and well-being of our planet and its species, has the character of an axial event. Thus far in human history only one other Axial Age has been identified. This term was popularized by the German philosopher Karl Jaspers to designate the time frame from 1,000 BCE up to and including the time of Christ. This millennium is called the "Axial Age" because it was the golden age of so many spiritual geniuses whose insights became the foundations of all the great ancient civilizations, and which are enduring even into our century. These figures include Mahavira, the Jain saint, Gautama the Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates and Plato in Greece, Lao-Tzu and Confucius in China, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah in Israel, and numerous sages in India who inspired the Vedas and Upanishads. These extraordinary beings provided the axis of our cultures up until the present, and their influence will continue till the end of time because of the perennial nature of their wisdom.

Now, the radical changes taking place around the globe are propelling us quickly into what can be called the Second Axial Age. Like the first period, the second will provide the foundation for culture, but this culture will be universal in scope. The coming age will never dispense with the spiritual, psychological, and moral wisdom of the First Axial Age. It will build on the experience, wisdom, and insight of the great sages of the first period of humankind's awakening.

Parliament was a transcendent moment in history animated by a spirit of genuine openness, mutual listening, and respect. Aside from a few minor exceptions greatly exaggerated by the media, it was as if there had never been any religious wars and other struggles. During those momentous days at the end of summer 1993, a revelation was given to humanity. The veil was parted for the brief period of eight days, and a new awareness became evident among the participants, those with and without a religious tradition or a spirituality. This extraordinary awareness revealed some of the attributes we will need for our planet to survive and flourish. These skills include: dialogue, sustainable economic and social life, conflict resolution, a Global Ethic, a Universal Spirituality, a willingness to share, mutual openness, trust, respect, and the capacity for profound listening to others, to ourselves and to the planet itself.

These attributes also encompass the values and practices we need in order to actualize the deeper, more inclusive type of community which was glimpsed during the second Parliament. The Parliament gave us a vision of sacred community that includes all religions, nations, Science, Community groups, organizations, species, the Earth with the entire cosmos. If we want this dream to be, then we must exercise these skills. We must always be willing to dialogue or communicate in an authentic manner; no one should be excluded! Our economic and social life has to be in harmony with the natural world; sustainability with the Earth and with one another demands genuine justice: for the planet itself (eco-justice), for other species, and for members of our own species. How we utilize resources affects justice and peace.There can be no actual peace unless there is true justice which is both ecological, that is, towards the Earth, and social, or within our communities. More and more this will be the case, so it is imperative that we embrace the practice of sharing our resources. Sharing will create the conditions for justice and will contribute to a sustainable economics.

The ecological crisis has emerged as the most pressing of the critical issues and the chief moral concern of the coming age. The Earth has become the matrix of interfaith dialogue just as it is the medium in and through which we live. For far too long we have abused the natural world unaware of what we were doing. Now we neglect it to our own peril. We need a whole new vision of human life as part of and in harmonious interaction with the natural world and the cosmos.

The Second Axial Age is also the Ecozoic Age, the shift away from an exclusively anthropocentric culture to a geocentric and Cosmo-centric one. Such a momentous and radical alteration of culture, and the evolution of a global society or civilization that is friend to the Earth, requires the active participation of the religions. For just as there can be no world peace unless there is first peace between and among the religions, there can be no new vision of life, culture, and the human family's relationship to nature unless all the religious traditions support it and realize its critical necessity.

Because there already exists a community of the faith traditions within the larger identity of the Earth Community, spiritual interdependence is a growing insight, and with this realization is the further creative possibility of inter-spiritual wisdom. These truths are also explicit developments from the consciousness of the Parliament event. They are now integral to the process of self-awareness and vision of the Parliament as it continues its self-defining and self-reflection. The notes of interfaith community, spiritual interdependence, and inter spiritual wisdom are equally axial in significance. They represent good news for the planet as a whole in all its glorious variety.

The document signed by most of the 250 members of the Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the Parliament is entitled "Towards A Global Ethic (An Initial Declaration)." This kind of document represents the first indication of a consensus on ethics among the religious and spiritual traditions. The "Global Ethic" contains general norms of behavior which are universally acceptable and applicable. It is one thing, however, to recognize and outline these norms and quite another to implement them around the world. Something further is required to inspire humankind to live this more mature expression of moral life, and to actualize fully the human adventure in contemplative consciousness. What is needed is an understanding of a universal spirituality. (See "Elements of a Universal Spirituality" in Chapter 25.)

The great religions, indeed all the religions and all organizations concerned in any way with human responsibility, must work together in forging such a vision. Collectively, the spiritual heritage of humankind is deposited among the traditions. This heritage belongs to each one of us and is accessible to all in differing degrees. The religions possess enormous psychological, moral, educational, and spiritual resources. These may now be marshaled in the Olympian task of creating and expressing the new vision; it can and will happen eventually. The Global Ethic and a tentative, emerging knowledge of universal spirituality are but two examples of what can be achieved by drawing on these vast inner resources, the treasures of humanity's religious consciousness.

The members of the community of religions have a sacred responsibility to create the conditions for formulating, spreading and implementing the new vision. They have been groping forward now for more than a century, since the first Parliament of 1893. The second Parliament, possessing the necessary awareness and consensus, has the duty to help create the permanent platform for the religions in collaboration with the other international interfaith organizations, like the World Conference on Religion and Peace, the Temple of Understanding, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the World Congress of Faiths, and many other groups. This new global community will only be achieved if the world's religions and other organizations and groups accept together their universal responsibility for the planet. Together, however, we can inaugurate the vehicle that will inspire a new global culture and civilization, one that will be a mature expression of humankind's collective wisdom: a civilization, a society, and a spirituality with a heart!