- Language Tips
According to some readings of the Mayan calendar, the world will end on Friday, Dec 21. China Daily canvassed the views of a popular Buddhist monk, a student who invented a clock that tells people how much longer they have to live, an astrologer, a best-selling science fiction writer, and an entrepreneur.
Master Yancan is the abbot of Shuiyue Temple in Cangzhou, Hebei province, and also vice-chairman of the provincial Buddhist Association. Renowned for his easygoing personality and lively sense of humor, the abbot has more than 4 million followers on Sina Weibo.
A1: There is no such concept as Doomsday in Buddhism. This is a word from Western culture. I see it (Chinese people talking about it) as a result of East meeting West, and some people are confused by that idea. Personally, I don't see any sign of doomsday approaching; it's just a joke the Mayans left us. People have never thought the Mayans were humorous. However, they were good at black humor and that humor has frightened a lot of people.
I suggest we nominate Dec 21 as World Humor Day to commemorate the humor of the Mayans. If you don't feel happy, just make fun of yourself; that is something human beings have always done.
A2: Dec 21 will be a carnival for office workers. The kids are just behaving as usual, while seniors are indifferent. But one thing is for sure: The Internet is full of talk about doomsday coming on Friday.
A3: I haven't made preparations, but I am busy answering people's questions about doomsday online. Some of the "little apprentices" (orphaned children adopted by the temple) have asked me to stay with them on the day, so that they will feel safe. They also asked me to save seats - on Noah's Ark! - for their friends and teachers at the kindergarten. Actually they have no idea what doomsday is; they just think it's another holiday and they can all travel together.
A4: Buddhists should be completely indifferent to worldly temptations. If I had any regret, it would be that the few TV programs that featured me haven't been broadcast yet, and I wish I could have the opportunity to watch them.
A5: Doomsday is the most horrible thing I can imagine. I can't think of anything worse.
A6: When Dec 21 finally dawns and you open your eyes and see the world, you will better understand that the world is always there for you and there are so many beautiful things to treasure. The sun will rise again and it will strengthen your faith in the world and your respect for life. Why bother to believe in rumors such as this? Just enjoy your life.
Master Yancan was talking to Tang Yue.
Alexey Nikolaev, 24, is a PhD student of hydrography at the Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy in St Petersburg, Russia. He has invented a clock that runs backward and tells people how many days they have left to live.
A1: There have been repeated warnings of an impending doomsday throughout human history. I think that there will likely be a global change in people's lives, but life will definitely continue.
A2: It's probable that there are extraterrestrial civilizations somewhere that have a higher level of technological development than humankind. When we approach them, we will be destroyed.
A3: For me, it will be an ordinary day. But a long time ago, the thought occurred to me that too many people spend their time trying to solve problems that are inconsequential in terms of their overall happiness.
I started to ask people: "Would you live your life differently if you got up in the morning and went into the kitchen where you had a clock that didn't show how many hours you had left before you finish work, but told you how many days you had left in this world"! With this in mind I was inspired to start making this type of clock.
I also created an application for mobile phones called The Clock of Life where any human being can see that his or her life is not endless and they should appreciate and enjoy this precious moment. Every 24 hours, the clock shows that you are one day closer to passing over. On Dec 21, I will probably be preparing for the upcoming Christmas.
A4: Everything in this world is temporary, so we should do our best and let it be.
A5: Wars and famine are more terrible than any doomsday. In today's world, around 1 billion people are hungry and there is always a war going on somewhere.
Alexey Nikolaev was talking to He Na.
Eskey (Liu Hongchen), an astrologer and occultist prophet in Beijing, who has more than 210,000 followers on Sina Weibo.
A1: I don't believe in it. I once participated in a conference supported by a nonprofit group in the United States and devoted to ideas worth spreading. I talked with some historians who said the Mayans didn't say Dec 21 would be the end of the world. Instead, they actually wrote on the stone that the day would be humanity's new start. There are many prophecies about doomsday, but I think most lack scientific validity.
A2: The year 2012 has witnessed some astrological positions that only happen once every 100 years, such as annular eclipses and the transits of Mercury and Venus. It rarely happens that they all occur in the same year, and this is an indication that that human society will experience big changes.
A3: I will stay at home and watch The Big Bang Theory. I don't believe in doomsday, so there's nothing for me to prepare. But I offered a discount for students who entered their names for my astrology class in January before Dec 21, as an encouragement to say "No" to doomsday.
A4: There would be many "big" regrets; the children in the orphanage would not receive the gifts that I prepared for New Year, for example.
A5: Poor international relations in some areas and the economic downturn in Europe. Both will bring more horrible problems to people than some doomsday that will definitely not arrive.
Eskey was talking to Yang Wanli.
Liu Cixin is the author of the best-selling sciencefiction trilogy Three Body, which describes how the entire solar system is flattened and becomes two-dimensional during an apocalyptic battle between earthlings and aliens.
A1: The human system on Earth is as unstable as a swirl in a river. The Earth will end someday, like everything else. Doomsday will come anyway, but the date will not be Dec 21 as the Mayans predicted.
A2: Science fiction writers have imagined at least 18 ways in which the Earth will disappear and human beings will be destroyed. In my opinion, the most likely scenario will be a sharp drop in temperatures. Ice ages actually happen periodically and the last one was only 10,000 years ago. I am fully confident that another will hit the Earth and kill billions. By then, some people may have starved to death, anyway.
A3: I have not prepared anything. My mission is to change people's perspective so they can face their destiny. Many people take the Mayan prophecy as a joke, but they have to understand the day will come, for sure. If the end of the world comes, I will store as much food as possible to improve my chances of survival. When the planet is extremely cold, as in an ice age, the agricultural system will be crushed and we won't stay alive without sufficient food.
A4: If we all die on the same day, I won't have any regrets.
A5: Doomsday will be the most frightening moment for me. Nothing could be more horrible.
A6: People nowadays are probably too busy with their work and don't seriously believe in disasters that can lead to the destruction of the planet. It wouldn't be acceptable to see doomsday survivors boarding an ark, like in the movie 2012. Therefore, I must tell them that they have to be prepared psychologically. When the catastrophe occurs, all existing moral standards and modes of thinking will collapse. A new system will be built in its wake.
Liu Cixin was talking to Hu Yongqi. (Guo Shuhan contributed)
Deng Xiangyun, 23, general manager of Chengdu Higgses Internet and Technology Co, will give his employees two days off (Dec 20 and 21), so that they can spend "doomsday" with their loved ones.
A1: I am a materialist and do not believe in any religion, so I don't believe there will be a doomsday.
A2: Everything will happen quietly if doomsday does occur. People will remain calm and use the precious time left to hug and kiss their family members. A bolt of lightning will light up the sky and all the creatures in the world will wither following its disappearance.
A3: I do not believe in the doomsday scenario, but many people around me do, including some working for my company. Even if they come to work on "doomsday", their minds will not be on their work. It's better to give them the days off, so they can be with the most important people in their lives, rather than having them sit in the office and be absent-minded.
Some of my business friends agree and have offered their employees two days away from work.
I often make surprise decisions, so my colleagues are used to it. When I announced the days off, they did not react too much.
On Dec 21, I will stay at home with my parents; they are the most important people in the world to me.
A4: My company has been operating for three years and is on the right track. My greatest regret would be that I would never see my company's name in the list of the world's top 500.
A5: I think people's feelings and relationships are very complicated. They are more horrible things than doomsday to me. When doomsday arrives, no one will escape. But if you live in the world, you have to deal with these relationships.
A6: If no one is alive, why would we need a tomb and a gravestone? No words are needed.
Deng Xiangyun was talking to He Na.
(China Daily 12/17/2012 page6)