It is the Time of Tribulation and Tragedies

by Stephen Lampe

It has become clear to more and more people, regardless of religious orientation, that natural disasters and catastrophic events are increasing worldwide. It is true, as some cynics have always argued, that from time immemorial the world has experienced disasters, and that any given kind of disaster (except those resulting from new technologies, such as nuclear accidents) has probably been recorded at some time and in some place in the past. But there is a quantum difference in our time. Catastrophes, natural and man-made, have increased both in frequency and in intensity. Moreover, there is a much greater convergence of different kinds of disasters. In contrast to the past, there seems to be no respite. It has been one flood disaster after a severe drought; one fire disaster after a devastating earthquake; one hurricane after a tornado; social and economic catastrophes, wars of oppression and liberation, etc. No country has been spared.

No less a personage than the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has publicly taken notice. Writing in the September 10, 1999 issue of the International Herald Tribune, he was emphatic about the extraordinary increase in the number and extent of natural disasters and described the phenomenon as “one of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

The earthquakes in Turkey and Greece had triggered his article.

Between then and now, there have been other devastating earthquakes and other natural disasters in many other places.

The more frequent occurrence and increasing intensity of disasters are observable and are facts that can be documented; they are not the mere imaginings of religious or superstitious people propagating the idea of a Last Judgment (also called the World Judgment).

The United Nations’ Secretary-General laid out what he called the startling facts in the following words: “The costs of weather-related disasters in 1998 exceeded the costs of all such disasters in the decade of the 1980s. Tens of thousands of mostly poor people died during the year, tens of millions have been temporarily or permanently displaced. In the Caribbean, the hurricanes designated George and Mitch killed more than 13,000 people, with Mitch being the deadliest Atlantic storm in 200 years. A much less publicized cyclone in India in June caused damage comparable to Mitch and an estimated 10,000 deaths. Major floods hit India, Nepal, Bangladesh and much of East Asia, with thousands killed. Two-thirds of Bangladesh was inundated for months, leaving millions homeless. More than 3,000 people died in China's catastrophic Yangtze River flood, millions were displaced, and the financial cost is estimated at an astonishing $30 billion. “Fires ravaged tens of thousands of square kilometers of forest in Brazil, Indonesia and Siberia, with devastating consequences for human health and local economies. In Afghanistan, earthquakes killed more than 9,000 people…”

The United Nations Secretary-General added that there were three times as many great natural disasters in the 1990s as in the 1960s, while disaster costs increased more than nine-fold in the same period. And now there is the phenomenon of global warming. While the earth has always experienced natural cycles of warming and cooling, the 14 hottest years since consistent measurements first began in the 1860s have occurred in the past two decades. The year 1998 has been reported to be the hottest year on record and the year 2002 has recently been confirmed as the second warmest. The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1987, nine since 1990. Some countries have been particularly hit by drought in the last one year or so; they include several countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, which are experiencing severe famine as a result. The worst drought in Australia’s history occurred in 2002 and it has been experiencing catastrophic wildfires since last year.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that human activities have contributed to some of the disasters. These include massive logging operations and the destruction of wetlands, which reduce the soil's ability to absorb heavy rainfall, making erosion and flooding more likely. Other contributory factors include urban and related developments that completely ignore environmental considerations. In this regard, we are reminded of the massive land reclamation and the greedy over-development of coastlines in major cities around the world. It is simply a matter of time; the disregard of the environment will wreck tragic retribution. Indeed, human activities account for a lot of the disasters, but there are deeper causes for the mounting catastrophes and tragedies.

Something new is happening to our world. The very special nature of our times lies in the convergence of some physical and spiritual phenomena. For the first time, the change of an Age coincides with the great Cosmic Turning Point, marking the beginning of the End-Time in the great cycle of our Universe. The earth is thus simultaneously undergoing two major physical (and quite natural) transitions. As a result, new types of radiation are able to appear on earth, and these are producing strong tensions in the cosmos and on earth. In addition, an unusual “comet” bearing primordial spiritual power is approaching the earth and sending forth its radiation. This comet is quite unlike ordinary comets because its origin lies outside the physical universe and its core is full of spiritual power. Even though it is a spiritual comet, it will eventually become visible to human eyes because it will be encased in material substance as it enters the physical universe.

The new types of radiation bring about the events associated with the Last Judgment. They compel an acceleration of events, resulting in unprecedented, dramatic, and baffling changes in the affairs of individual human beings and of groups --- families, ethnic groups, countries, and the global community. Because of the nature and pressure of the new spiritual radiation, the interval between our actions (good or bad) and their consequences is being considerably shortened. In other words, the period between the act of “sowing” and the “reaping” of the appropriate fruit is getting shorter and shorter. Thus, we will increasingly observe, “before our own eyes”, the rewarding of good thoughts, words, and deeds and the punishment of evildoers. Moreover, at this time, the fruits of our past deeds dating far back into our previous earth-lives are also ripening for us to reap. But some of the changes have to do with matters in which human beings have only an indirect role. The intensified spiritual pressure is, for example, bringing about changes in the weather with consequent increases in the number and diversity of catastrophes on earth.

We should expect that natural disasters will continue to increase for many more years. However, natural disasters need not take heavy human toll. Every country and, indeed, every city ought to have carefully thought out plans of action to be executed before and shortly after a disaster, natural or man-made. We need well-trained persons to carry out emergency operations and relief when disasters occur. But our greatest protection is a spiritual orientation, and the starting point is to strive for purity in our volition, thinking, words, and actions. This would ensure help from the invisible servants of God’s Will.

Moreover, as individuals, we should recognize that we can no longer get away with evil, whether perpetrated publicly or in secret, whether in our personal or official capacity. It is the time to proactively seek to understand and do the true Will of God. We will come to know the true Will of God if we make genuine effort; for various events and our individual experiences facilitate recognition of errors in our inherited faiths and philosophies. We should note, however, that at this time false prophets abound; in their struggle for material wealth and earthly influence as well as the survival of their earthly organizations, such false prophets strive strenuously to drown out the quiet and gentle voices of the real truth.