Axial Age and meditation??
This quote (and article) shows a series of confusions: 1. the Axial Age was more than a period of the founding of religion, 2. meditation existed from the beginnings of homo sapiens, implicitly, if not explicitly, as the potential of consciousness. In any case, ‘meditation’ is much more ancient than the Axial period.
In general the complexities of human consciousness didn’t evolve by a Darwinian method!
This is where meditation comes in. Meditation was invented during the founding of the Axial religions, around 500 BCE. Before that, I suspect that people had little need for it. Life had been simple enough and still natural enough to allow the brain the down time it needed. But with the construction of massive city states, civilizations, new technologies, and highly interconnected modern societies, people’s ability to cope with the novelty overload they were experiencing began to break down. Siddhartha Gautama (the historical person now known by his title, the Buddha) said that suffering was caused by tanha which is usually translated as “desire,” but which could easily be alternatively translated as “seeking.” Seeking causes suffering. Constantly on the lookout for novelty, you cannot rest. You get caught in a hyperactive feedback loop that eventually rags you out. To combat this affliction of modernity, the Buddha prescribed meditation.