Karma, Morality, and Justice

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

The Law of Karma seems straight forward enough. It is simple cause and effect. For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. It’s just elementary, Newtonian physics. We live in a cause and effect world—a world of Karma. However, when we enter the domain of justice, things become quite obscure.

It is interesting to look up the word “justice” in dictionaries. The definitions are rather circular, using words like “righteous,” “moral,” “just,” “divine law,” “moral law,” etc. Merriam Webster suggests moral be described as: “perceptual or psychological rather than tangible or practical in nature or effect.”

I recall a man on the news proclaiming moral justice when a hurricane struck a gay community in south Florida. I recall a woman being mocked on the news when she even suggested that nature delivers moral Karma through acts or events of nature in the physical world. We are all quite aware of ‘justice’ being delivered by the courts in outrageous ‘legal’ ways, from the Salem witch trials to the nightly news.

Is justice really nothing more than, as Miriam Webster suggests, a psychological or perceptual, subjective judgement call? Do facts and reason come in at a distant second place to emotional gut reactions that vary wildly from one generation, one era, one cultural group, one country, and one state to the next? Dare we call that justice?

Can we really say there is Divine justice when we see small children suffer, aircrafts crash with over a hundred on board, and cities demolished by the random assault of a tornado? Can what actually IS be so radically divergent from what we base our lives upon and what we adamantly cling to with our convictions and perspectives?

Is there a direct correlation, a connection, between the physical cause and effect world and the delivery of moral justice? If so, can we even begin to fathom such a principle, and decide for ourselves when justice was served and why?

I dare not presume that I can sway the course of human behavior with my opinion on this matter. Yet, I do believe we can all gain by taking a step back and reflecting on this subject with an ever-broadening vision. As we do so, the mechanics of creation seamlessly merge the complexities of life, both physical and moral, into a very simple, yet profound, principle. Everything is seen to be infinitely integrated, correlated, and coherent. All the pieces of the puzzle do, ultimately, come together.

There is, as theologians and modern physicist alike have claimed, one thing that is the source of everything. All things emerge from and return to that. I liken the principle to water from the ocean becoming rain on the mountain top, and returning via a long tumbling journey down a mountain stream to that ocean. All follow the path of karmic events as we do our best to navigate the waters of life. As our vision broadens, we become ever increasingly free from the clutches that Karma has upon the very nature of our thoughts and emotions.

As we come to understand the nature of life more and more fully, our relationship with life becomes wiser: our behavior becomes less arrogant and more innocent; our convictions become more humble; our perspectives become less adamantly adhered to; our gut instincts become more reflective and tempered; and our will, actions, and reactions become more and more aligned with the nature of life. The nature of life is the nature of Mother Nature, is the nature of Oneness, the nature of God. We simply do our best to navigate the waters of the unfathomable flow of life.

Emancipation means freedom from the clutches of narrowness of vision—living in the world of Karma, but not being lost to it— awakening to that which lies just beyond the horizon of the world of Karma. In that place, beyond the horizon, beyond the narrowness of human conviction, beyond the world of cause and effect, all things unify. People sing its praises in church on Sundays. All people long for it. It dwells within us all, yet is hidden behind the curtain of Karma. We need only to see past that curtain.

Through the toils and tribulations of life, we struggle with relativity until the clouds of Karma often can part, and we see beyond relativity—we gain emancipation. Yet, even the emancipated deal with relativity and injustice when they function in this world of Karma, this world of relative justice and injustice.    

Even when a divine incarnation enters into this world of imperfection, they are dealing with imperfection. Even when a divine being, Lord Rama as an example, entered the world of relativity, his interactions were in this world of imperfection. In spite of our idealized notions, there is no True Justice in the field of relativity. That is what relativity means. It’s all relative.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Thoughts and Emotions

It is a huge step forward when you can take a step back and view the relationship between your thoughts and emotions. Unlike computers, we are emotionally based. Of course, we do have the ability to think rationally. That, in and of itself, birthed the industrial age with all the technology we have grown to be so dependent upon.

However, what underlies our behavior is more emotion that rational thought. What we think matters little. How we feel about those thoughts makes all the difference. And what determines how we feel has more to do with our inner psychological landscape than anything else. Psychologists tell us that we can track those feelings back to the first five years of our life. It is during those years that the tonal quality of our psyche is developed. There are plenty of common one-line phrases regarding this, such as, “People hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest” (from “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel).

As a teacher, I have to believe I can help people with their relationship with their thoughts and emotions. I really want to believe that we can together take a step back and look and how we behave and why. I have to believe that in so doing, we can heal our wounds, distortions, and biases. And, I still do believe there is truth in that. However, our psychological dynamic is rooted deeply in the physiology of the mind. Working with that can be likened to massaging a muscle. It can relax and get better. But under the stress of daily life, it returns to its habitual state. It takes time and regular massage to keep it healthy.

So many times, people have heard my teachings and sworn they would never forget them. But it is not so simple. Like a massaged muscle, the old distortions quickly return. Yet, over time, if we stay with it, things do heal.

Of course, the greatest tool of all to help calm, settle, relax, and heal the psyche is the Surya Ram Meditation. The technique is known in various circles, but various Mantras are used with various results. The Surya Ram Meditation employs the knowledge of Mantra held by our Vedic Pandits for thousands of years as healing, natural, and evolutionary. Deep inside, deeper than any distortions of the psyche, we are all eternally healthy. Our path of evolution is simply to rest into that—to heal.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

My Bedroom Window

Most every photograph I take is from my same bedroom window.  How the view touches my heart in the moment determines the time to capture the scene.

Weather, like life, covers a full spectrum of possibilities.  Sometimes the sun shines brightly over the beautiful landscape.  Sometimes the stormy winds blow.  

After each photo is taken, it never seems to adequately convey the personal experience with the feel of the weather against my skin, the scent in the air, the flow of the clouds and the motion of the wind.  Yet months later, each photo acts as a portal that carries me through space and time to an appreciation of the moment somehow more poignant than the moment itself.  

Perhaps it is all in the context of the greater whole.  Perhaps it is when we take a step back to reflect upon the numerous scenes and episodes of life that our experiences gain their deepest meaning.

Photo by Michael Mamas
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Wisdom’s Call

Everyone, it seems, loves wise quotes. When we hear wisdom, it touches a place deep within us that is one with the Divine, that is eternally wise. Though that inner wisdom calls to us, so few are able to live wisely. People are behaving foolishly and lashing out everywhere. Let’s consider why this is so.

Though deep inside we are eternally one with the Divine, there are many psychological, intellectual, and emotional distortions on the more superficial levels of our being. When we are calm, settled, and reflective, those more superficial levels are still. So, at those times, the wisdom within shines forth and permeates all levels of our lives. At those times, wise quotes resonate with our depth and well up through our being. To experience this is to experience Bliss, Divinity. 

However, when in life we are disturbed, that deeper wisdom level of life is overshadowed. At those times, when we need wisdom most, we are unable to embrace it. We act instead from the superficial distortions. Sadly then, all too often, it is the superficial distortions that determine the course we follow as we navigate the waters of life.

This can be likened to the ocean. In the depth of the ocean, everything is still, quiet, and serene. Nothing is agitated. Yet on the surface of the ocean, storms rage. As we navigate those waters, we take on water, tip, churn, and perhaps even crash upon the rocks off-shore. Yet, when we are anchored to the depth, we weather the storms.

As we meditate, we become more and more fully anchored to the depth, the wisdom within us. Through proper meditation, the spiritual, mental, emotional, energetic, and physical levels of life are purified, as the distortions are healed. We more and more live in harmony with the Divinity and wisdom that eternally dwells at the depth of our being. 

But do take note: Living in harmony with the Divine does not look the way we may think it should look! People identify with their distortions, mistake them for the Truth, and thereby judge the wise as unwise or worse. History tells us that quite clearly. After all, they crucified Jesus. Some hated Lord Krishna (by which it is said some attained liberation because all they thought about was the Lord!). But I digress.

Contemplation, inner reflection, is also a valuable tool along the path to living wisely. That has a purifying value. However, it is a highly elusive path. You can justify anything with the intellect, and people do. Often, our reflections can simply be justifications of poor behavior: rationalizations. Few are willing to contemplate their behavior, other than to seek a way to justify it. So, we do well to be humble in our reflections. Humility is the flip side of wisdom. With the loss of humility comes the loss of wisdom. 

When the waters on the ocean of life are undisturbed, people generally behave quite honorably, quite wisely. But only the truly wise behave honorably when the daily disturbances of life arise. So, we do well to pick our friends based upon how they behave in troubled times, not how they behave when everything is calm and serene.  But, after all, we are all human. As illustrated in the Ramayana, even the wise may behave improperly from time to it. Yet, it is the wise who are able to acknowledge their imperfect behavior to themselves and to others. Only the wise can acknowledge, regain their balance, and move forward wisely. We will all act out from time to time. How we deal with that makes all the difference.

So, please do more than relish wise quotes in your quiet moments. Look beyond the mountains of judgement and negativity that consume you and your world. Look beyond that mountainous horizon to the light of the Sun, to the Divine. Meditate. Reflect and ponder. Strive to live a life of wisdom.

Photo by Michael Mamas
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Current Jyotish

This is just a reminder that we are in the midst of very difficult Jyotish for the next month or so. Some specifically intense dates include June 4-5, June 12-14, and June 17-18. So, if you are having a hard time or see others having a hard time, just put it in this greater Jyotish context and give the winds of Karma time to calm down. The Mars/Rahu transit ends on June 22nd, so hopefully we will get some relief after that. There is, however, a solar eclipse on July 2, so it may take some time for the intensity to simmer down. Of course, how all of this affects you depends upon your personal chart. There will be different peaks and valleys for all of us.  

Photo by Sonal Patel
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

The Secret to Balanced Living

Recently, I asked the Pandit here at Mount Soma’s temple if he knew the one thing that was the sole problem with the world today. Sensing that I had something specific in mind, he looked at me inquisitively. I told him, “The imbalance between the Transcendent and the relative.” From what felt to me like the depth of his soul, he nodded in agreement.

The relative world is seductive. It pulls at you. It demands attention. It compels you to turn your back on the depth of your being (the Transcendent) and look to the surface, the relative. Even to the degree that you can even have a hard time sitting to meditate, you are compelled to turn your back on your true grandeur, your wisdom, the root of life, the anchor, the Transcendental depth of your being. That unbalancing, overwhelming compulsion toward the relative is, in and of itself, the problem with not only individual life, but also with global consciousness.

The relative calls you away from your wisdom. It compels you to cling to a paradigm, a perspective. It forces you to keep loading your plate with relative obsessions until the plate spills over and overtakes your being.

Do not allow that to happen. Regular meditation brings balance to your life and to the world. The rest is polarizing, relative identity. The foundation of balanced living is the Transcendent. It is the root that brings fulfillment to relative life.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Confidence vs. Arrogance

You can afford to believe in yourself. I mean really, really believe in who you are, deep inside. And, you can learn to come from that place within you. All too often people do not do that. There is an underlying doubt that undermines people’s confidence in themselves. 

If the underlying doubt is there, it will manifest and compromise your life in every arena. Life will reflect that doubt back to you as a confirmation, a validation, that such doubt is the truth. Of course, we all have doubts. The trick is to not allow it to overcome the deeper reality, which is that you can believe in yourself. Sure, you will make mistakes. Sure, you will have failures. But those things do not say who you are. Who and what your are is much deeper and more exquisite. It is only when you give in to the doubt that you compromise your life. Believing in, and coming from, that deeper place of inner knowing, that deep inside you are more than just okay, more than just good, is a key to life. Mistakes and failures do not determine who you are. Do not lose yourself to the doubts those things try to tell you about who you are. That deeper place inside is who you are. Stay loyal to it. Believe in it. Maintain your allegiance to it.  

I am not speaking of denial here. Lack of self-confidence is often shrouded under the cloak of arrogance and ego. That is just denial. People do not want to admit to their lack of self-confidence, and put on a facade of arrogance. They pretend to be smart, tough, wise, or powerful in an attempt to convince not only others, but also themselves. 

Confidence has no need for that sort of denial. Confidence in one’s self has no fear of weakness, foolish mistakes, etc. Confidence knows full well that those things are superficial and can be surmounted by coming from a deeper place inside. Now, for some practical examples: 

Some overweight people feel that they can simply not lose weight. Some people feel they can simply not gain muscle. Some people feel they cannot succeed in school or in business. They convince themselves that there is something wrong with their physiology or psyche… or perhaps resign to the idea that it is just ‘their Karma’.  More often than not, the problem is lack of confidence.  With confidence, we find a way. We do not accept that we are failures. We just realize that we may have failed at something, but it does not define us. We find a way. It is self-confidence that leads. Believe in yourself. Again, that is not denial in the form of arrogance. It is, in fact, a humble commitment to finding a way that is true to and consistent with the Divinity within. That lies far deeper than petty ego. It is not faith either. It is an inner knowing of the nature of life, your life, and all life. Deep inside we are all Divine. Stay loyal to that goodness within. You rest into that place when you do the Surya Ram Meditation. As you awaken to it, you live it more and more. 

This does not mean that anyone can succeed at anything. True self-confidence is not that limited. True self-confidence knows that you do not need to succeed at everything to be great. True self-confidence keeps on going until one finds their greatness, and lives it.  

To find your greatness, overcome arrogance, overcome petty ego, know that greatness is who you really are, and remain committed to that. It is an exquisite reality of existence that everyone, in their essence, is great, Divine. Regardless of what may occur in life, regardless of what may be reflected back to you through life experiences, stay loyal to that greatness, to that Divinity within. That, in and of itself, is the key to greatness.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Seeing Beyond the Stories

I was recently chatting with someone about a situation they found themselves in, when they said they were committed to “not attaching negative stories to it all.” I was instantly impressed with that phrase. For me, the implications were vast regarding the human mentality: how we think and function.

Everything in relationships tends to be about the story we attach to it. This applies to our personal relationships as well as how we view relationships between others. It all becomes about the story we assign to the relationship. That is simply how we think. Even television shows and movies are all framed in terms of the story we create around the happenings. The story creates white knights and villains, good guys and bad guys, the noble and the evil, the victims and the perpetrators. Conflicts, disagreements, and judgements arise, not so much as a result of the occurrence of events, but rather due to the stories attached to those events. Even our legal system is more about the story we can paint the events with, rather than the events themselves. Opposing sides paint the events with contradicting stories. Individuals then cling to, and impose upon others, the story, the bias, of their choosing.

Imagine a world where events were not framed in stories. Opposing viewpoints were not etched in the stone of opposing stories. People were not defined in terms of a story. Stories tend to assign black and white absolutes to the shades, hues, and perspectives that life is composed of. Imagine a mentality that is free from the imposition of the confining, defining, and crucifying limitations of a story. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is good? Who is bad? Opposing groups each cling to the story they lose themselves to. Remarkably, that is the way people function. It is the way this world compels people to function.

To understand one another is to see beyond the stories. For there to be peace in this world, good versus bad must be replaced with love and understanding. Needless to say there are extreme cases that can be considered black and white. However, in the case of our lives, such things are very rare, if they occur at all. Yet we tend to frame things in a story that assign black and white to our ongoing interactions. We then try to convince others to believe our story. Alliances are thusly created. An ‘us against them’ world becomes the global consciousness we immerse ourselves in. Animals attack one another and fight to the death. Chickens select the weakest in the pen and peck it to death. We humans must learn to see and live beyond that.

Imagine a world free from such narrow vision. I have said this in so many ways throughout the years:

  • Understanding
  • Simultaneous, yet contradictory realities
  • The only true knowing is knowing you know nothing
  • To understand is to stand under, not to over-stand
  • The flip side of wisdom is humility
  • Freedom from identity with perspective

This means freedom from the stories we attach to our lives, to others, to everything. “Not attaching negative stories to it all” means emancipation, freedom, and peace. Peace and wisdom is something that happens within us as we see beyond the stories.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Prayer

In prayer, I said I would like to know what the future holds. 

The response came back swift and clear:
“You are not supposed to know.”

I do believe that applies to us all.

~

Meditation is the highest form of prayer, but deals with the transcendental Self.

Prayer with words deals with worldly events.

It has been said that, generally, it can be preferable to ask only for the best, and not be specific.

What is best is often not how we envision it.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Specious

In my younger years, I did not much care to have a big vocabulary. I felt I could express myself with the words I knew, so why bother with additional words? I have done a total reversal in that regard. A single word can capture the essence of a thought poignantly, while in a paragraph, the essence can slip through the fingers. Particularly in today’s world of the 30-second soundbite, few take the time to dissect a paragraph to find the underlying truth.

“Specious” is one such word. It means plausible, but false. “Specious” conveys a concept seemingly so simple, yet so incredibly profound:

The one thing that is, Consciousness (Oneness), speciously viewed itself as other and the universe manifested.

Based upon conditioning, an individual speciously views the world as they do, and considers it to be “Truth.”

Perspectives are specious, all except inside the Gates of Eden, the Transcendent.

Like most arguments, the law too often pits one specious perspective against another. 

Psychotherapy, in a nutshell, can be ideally viewed as the exploration of, and consequential liberation from, one’s specious thoughts and feelings. 

Speciousness makes the world go ‘round.

Enlightenment means seeing beyond the specious—in the world, but not of it. “The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing”… No thing—beyond the specious world of perspective. Wisdom means not being lost to perspective.

There are so many great words. The roots of language reach deep.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges
© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.