possible single origin for all of the known major human languages, which existed somewhere around 15,000 years ago just after the last major Ice Age ended.
Understanding that all languages probably shared a single cultural root, we can also see that almost all religious understanding stems from much more ancient times than we appreciate. Some of the earliest cultures derived from these linguistic roots appeared in the Indus River Valley civilizations; here, as well, we see some of the earliest roots of what undoubtedly evolved into yoga practice. (See Thomas McEvilley's The Shape of Ancient Thought.)
When we speak of ancient schools that taught the inner sciences, we aren't speaking of schools that existed 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Babylonian "origins" of middle eastern culture. By the time Babylonian culture appeared on the landscape, mankind's religious practices had been evolving from a common root and within even more ancient societies for many thousands of years. To me, it's entirely plausible that religious practices which might be recognizably familiar to us today — including the form and order of services, the nature of hymns and prayers, and so on — may stretch back between 10 and 15,000 years. Human beings that long ago were not just dirty, unshaven persons wearing animal skins — already, they were building temples and engaging in sophisticated religious practices that laid down the foundations for the inner sciences we study today.
Every modern religion comes down through history as an inheritor of all those traditions. Perhaps it can engender more respect in us to recognize that our collective spiritual practices extend back through time in an unbroken chain from individual to individual over many hundreds of generations. Mankind has been on a search for the spiritual seed within his Being ever since he acquired an awareness capable of understanding that such a seed existed; our culture's steadily evolving abandonment of that search in favor of materialism and technology can only end badly, since it is never possible for materialism and technology to create the inner conditions that feed a truly civilized society.
In a certain sense, the reliance on materialism and technology is in itself a form of barbarity. These forces teach no respect whatsoever for the inner life, and are incapable of suggesting or imposing a sound and responsible morality. They only feed the lower parts of man, and the more ascendant these forces become, the more we betray our heritage, our parents, grandparents, and every right-thinking man or woman down through those hundreds of generations who made a real inner effort to be a human being.
Materialism and technology does not make human beings; it makes things.
I frequently ponder this in the midst of my business life, which is a life in which I participate in the manufacture of things. It often seems as though human beings get forgotten during that process; it's all about thinking up the things, making the things, selling the things to people who want things.
It's much more interesting to pay attention to the people; yet so often, all of the people are forgotten. They are only measured by their desire for things; and they even measure themselves accordingly.
The human journey through time is supposed to lead to a landscape with much richer features in it; yet even the map for that landscape is being steadily erased. Google can't find it for us.
I think we need to help one another remember what is important.
May your soul be filled with light.