‘Provincial’ in the Age of the Internet

Before the Internet, ‘provincial’ was so simple. Every town was a small-town. Even if you lived in a big city, your local neighborhood was your small-town, your province. You and your neighbors all had a world common to one and other.

But the world has changed. People rarely live in the same small-town, the same neighborhood, for long. At the least bit of hardship, the greener grass calls to them.

With the Internet age, we no longer even really live in our physical neighborhood. We live in the conceptual world we build for ourselves, with our links, tweets, blogs, and websites. Our province, our small-town, lives in our computer.

If the interpersonal realities of physical life become difficult, we can just pick up our laptop and leave. We can take our virtual small-town with us wherever we go. Our mentality can shrink into that virtual cloud and be reinforced every time we log on.

What a paradox. The Internet connects us to all parts and all perspectives of this earth. Yet, the tendency can be to whittle it down to a small-town, provincial-perspective collusion that is shared with our own personal small-town web of people from all over the world.

I am not saying the Internet is good or bad. It all depends upon your relationship with it. Does it reinforce a limited perspective? Does it support you by sharing your life with like-minded people? Does it deepen your understanding of your own provincial world? Does it limit your perspective, or does it provide deeper in-sight? Do the other worlds, accessible through your fingertips, call to you? Do they provide you with insight and understanding? Or do you judge them? Does the Internet undermine your personal values? Or does it support you as a unique cultural member in a diversely populated world?

Cultural and hometown integrity is in our roots. Geneticists will tell you it is even in our DNA. Yet, as we expand our understanding of others, we become members of the family of all humanity. The Internet, then, can strengthen cultural integrity or narrow it. The Internet can whitewash the world, or help us appreciate other cultures while supporting our own.

That is all up to you.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Healing Negativity

The Light of Awareness

The light of awareness heals. With so much negativity in our world, let’s take a step back and explore the nature of negativity in hopes that the exploration will illuminate the path to healing it within ourselves and our relationships. May we proceed then in the spirit of loving kindness and understanding.

Fixed Perspectives

From time to time, we all get angry, negative, and judgmental. Someone says or does something that upsets us and we react. That is normal and quite understandable. But there are some things about this that merit a great deal of earnest reflection.

First and foremost, many people hold on to their anger and resentment for a long time. It is as if a judgment is made and then, within a person’s heart and mind, it is etched in stone.

Now, please do not misunderstand me. It is reasonable and proper that we come to recognize how another behaves. Some may often be abrasive. Some may love to gossip. Some may frequently judge harshly. We all have our ways about us. To ignore or live in denial of those things is not wise. As we learn more and more about another’s tendencies, we act accordingly, and do our best to not trigger those tendencies or put ourselves in the wake of those tidal waves of negativity. However, to respond by reciprocating with negativity is neither wise nor constructive.

What I am addressing with this first point is the fixity of a negative perspective we hold toward another person and how damaging it is, not only to them, but also to ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions, and perspectives are things that have very real effects upon ourselves, others, and our environment.

It is one thing, and wise, to strive to understand others so our relationship can be healthy. It is quite another thing to inflame and feed negativity in this world. To be a good and loving person is not to be oblivious to how people behave. Rather, it is to recognize how another behaves, yet still see that there is a soul within them that is one with God. We must learn to let go of the hatred and negativity within us, while understanding such negativity does exist within people who hold on to it as their perspective, attitude, and ‘truth,’ thusly coloring their hearts and minds.

On a daily basis, the best we can do is to understand this, while striving to not lose ourselves to the negativity to which we see others so lost.

Relativity and Conflict

Secondly, it is important to understand that this is the world of perspectives. Fundamentally, this world is built upon perspectives. That is why it is called ‘the relative.’ The only ‘Absolute Truth’ transcends this relative world of perspectives. We could go deeply into the physics (Heisenberg) and Vedanta (Ishwara) of this, but for now, let’s stay on a pragmatic daily level. Where there are people involved, there are contradictory perspectives.

The question then is: “How do you respond (mentally, emotionally, and psychologically) to people with other perspectives?” Do you respond with polarization and negativity? Do you dig in your heels and judge them? Do you resent, criticize, demean, and scorn? Or do you, with humility, remain open-minded and open-hearted, as you strive to see what truth may be there for you to gain and learn from? As I am fond of saying: “To be wise is to under-stand, not over-stand.” You will never find another person with whom you will always agree with regarding everything. Love, kindness, wisdom, and peace all see much more deeply than that.

Friends and Affinities

Thirdly, where do our judgments come from? So often they are not a result of what we have directly experienced, but rather what we have heard. And what we hear and then believe is the result of affinities. We tend to believe our friends. We tend to believe our political affiliates. We tend to believe what we hear from those we associate with. And we also tend to believe what we have heard first, and have allowed it to color our hearts and minds. With so much negativity consuming our world, if we instinctively take what we hear as truth, we too become consumed by the negative. We do well to remember the poet’s words: “In war and peace the truth just twists”. We do well to rest more deeply into the ocean of our being… in a place that transcends the tidal waves of perspective and negativity.

Assumption and Fear

The fourth point involves assumptions. We often assume the worst of the intentions and behavior of others. We tend to think wisdom means being ‘streetwise’ and “streetwise” means to assume the worst of others. Such assumptions are not made because an individual is particularly negative. On some level, it serves us; it protects us. It is said that this is a characteristic of survival in the jungle: a deer walking through the jungle, not appreciating the beautiful flowers, but rather assuming there is a tiger behind the plants, waiting to pounce. However, at some point, such assumptions no longer serve, but instead compromise our life and our relationships.

Furthermore, it is not at all easy to recognize when we’ve lost ourself to the negativity and have then distorted our perception. Such assumptions are rooted in fear. So, within our Darwinian genetics is fear… the assumption that the worst dwells in others and the belief that to understand them is to believe that they are motivated by the worst within them. We are afraid the tiger will get us. We are afraid and assume we will be, or have been, betrayed, cheated, lied to, deceived, hurt, or worse. To be cautious is wise, but to be ‘streetwise’ is not wise. It is rooted in fear.

We do well to at least consider that goodness motivates other people, even though their perspectives may contradict our own. In times like this, evolving our relationship with our assumptions and fears is extremely important and largely determines the course of our lives. So we do well to take a step back when our assumptions and fears are triggered. Humility and self-reflection will then serve not only the situation and the other person, but also ourselves. Keep in mind that the assumptions and fears are deeply rooted in our physiologies, as if they determine the color of glasses through which we view others. Seeing past the color of the glasses is a challenging, but most rewarding, process.

The Squeaky Wheel

Lastly, let’s consider an old expression: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. We can play with it a bit to realize that what we hear the most is what we tend to believe. What squeaks the loudest is what overtakes us and negativity squeaks and squeals with volume and vigor. Wisdom, on the other hand, tends to remain more reflective, nonjudgmental, and silent. Wisdom prefers to not feed and support the churning ocean of conflict, judgment, hatred, and perspective.

Our Relationship with These Insights

On the one hand, all this may feel depressing. Yet, if our relationship with these insights is healthy, it can facilitate healing. If we lose ourselves to these points, we then actually become negative. But if we hold them wisely, we heal. May this light of understanding serve as a cooling balm to heal the state of our world. May we hold these insights in a manner that helps us see, understand, and live untainted by negativity. Yes, in a moment, we may lose ourselves to negativity. However, with this understanding, may we find our way out of entanglement within the weeds of negativity that consume so much of life. And may we thereby attain greater understanding, wisdom, peace, harmony, and love.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Mona Lisa Shrugs

Mona Lisa’s portrait is famous for saying so much with the slightest smile, while not saying a word. One day, I had a Mona Lisa experience from a shrug. I was telling someone that I wanted to do some yardwork (trim hedges, landscape, etc.), but I didn’t really know much about gardening. The response was just a subtle polite shrug; nothing more. Yet, it said so much. It set me free to act from my own inner knowing. I couldn’t even put it all into words. But to say a few words, it told me: It’s just common sense. If you mess up, things grow back. Just play with it for a while and it will be fine.

I tried it and it worked great. Mona Lisa says more with a smile or a shrug than perhaps can be contained in volumes. The point is that communication is an art often best achieved not with an excessive preponderance of words, but rather through a feeling in a smile, a shrug, or perhaps a look in the eye.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Wisdom, Psychology, Sociology, Mental and Emotional Health

Let’s take a step back and look. What is more important than what we think and what we feel? At first glance, we may respond with: “Nothing.” What we think and what we feel determines everything about the decisions we make and the lives we live. This includes our opinions regarding God, other people, ourselves, the world, our lives, our loved ones, our enemies… everything.

Our education, our upbringing, our life experiences all determine our thoughts and feelings. That determines not only what we think/feel but also who and what we believe ourselves to be.

So what could be more important? Can anything be more important? The answer is “yes.” It is not only important but essential. What is more important than what, is how we think/feel. How determines what we think/feel. We are speaking here, not only of our individual psychological makeups, but also the sociological realities of being human. Understanding that ‘how’ enables us to understand and responsibly deal with what lies beyond the limitations of the psychological and sociological dynamics of our lives. There is much to say about how our minds and hearts are conditioned to think/feel what we do. Maharishi Patanjali had a lot to say on the subject regarding the chit (storehouse of our impressions) as well as what lies beyond the chit.

Sociologically, we do well to consider the ‘herd mentality’ of our species. Groups sway the mentality of their members. A herd mentality, or ‘group think’, reigns. It acts like wind over a wheat field, swaying everything in its path in a particular direction. The mind and heart follow, be it in a family dynamic, a community, a subculture, culture, nation, etc. We then can, and do, justify those feelings with the intellect. The thoughts justify the feelings and the feelings justify the thoughts. Facts are twisted and spun to justify the mentality. ‘Truth’ becomes more a matter of perspective than reality. Perspective is really just a matter of the way the wind blows. The reality is denied and judged in favor of the perspective, no matter how twisted. Back in the 60s, the wind blew many in the direction of being independent, ‘a man who hears a different drum a-drumming.’ But it is not hard to see that this too was just the herd mentality of the time, a mass cry for freedom of thought that was really just another wind blowing a herd mentality in still another trance-like direction. Politicians strive to capture a herd mentality and channel it in a direction. Their unspoken war cry is: “To rule a nation, capture the herd mentality.”

Now the next step in our investigation is to consider the role of a culture. Cultures culture the mentality of the people. When the culture is unhealthy, it sways the people in an unhealthy direction. An unhealthy herd mentality ultimately leads to an unhealthy or even tragic end. We can easily see examples in history as well as current events. But the alternative is not rebellion against all culture—not anarchy. A healthy culture cultures the hearts and minds of the people in a healthy direction.

So what determines the health of a culture? Be it on an individual, small group, subcultural, local, or national level, there is only one thing that brings true health. That is harmony with the underlying source of our being which is, in fact, the underlying source of all existence. Some call it Mother Nature. Some call it the unified field. Some call it God. Some do not believe in it at all. Some simply believe in what they feel, regardless of the way the wind has blown them in whatever direction it did. Then their intellect kicks in and justifies whatever it is they are feeling. As the poet, Bob Dylan, said, “Of war and peace the truth just twists.” To digress, we can add that money sways mentalities with formidable strength.

Unfortunately, most believe in what they think/feel more than anything else. This sadly includes what they think/feel about the underlying source: God or whatever word you choose. Even religious convictions are determined by the way the wind is blowing. We believe in the way the wind has blown us beyond all else.

So what is the solution? What is the way out? Short term, the solution is humility. Self-righteous adherence to thoughts and feelings are simply full blown identity with the direction the wind blows. Humility is the flip side of wisdom. The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. After all, thoughts are what we think we know, nothing more.

The way out then, is to more and more fully rest into that level of life that lies deeper than our conditioned thoughts/feelings—lies deeper than the chit spoken of by Maharishi Patanjali thousands of years ago. For this, proper meditation is our most powerful tool. (We use the word “proper” because many, even most, meditations simply reinforce an identity with a particular mentality, regardless of how noble it may appear to the conditioned mind.) More and more fully, we live a level of life that is free from the limitation of conditioning. If we do have an identity, a belief system, around that, the limited identity melts away as we meditate. More and more fully, we live a life free from limitation and in harmony with Nature, with the Divine, with God—or however you choose to say it.

Bottom line is, nature knows best. That is to say, your true nature is Divine. It is not the result of your thoughts/feelings. It lies beyond thoughts and emotions. It is the source of health—healthy thoughts/feelings. As the stress and strain (chit, conditioning) is released from the physiology, we awaken to our true nature. As more and more members of society awaken more and more to that depth of being, the culture becomes healthy. Then the wind blows in a healthy direction. Then peace and harmony nurtures the health, lives, mentality, and hearts of the people. Then wisdom becomes our guiding light.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

What We Incarnate With

We may think of the issues we incarnate with as psychological in nature and healed through the personal process of inner exploration and reflection. The idea being that the ‘light of awareness’ heals. That is certainly true and personal process is very important. However, it is a deeper understanding and of great value to see what we ‘come in with’ as a tonal quality of our being, including the cells, energetics, and all levels of our individuality. The beliefs or psychology is more superficial than the tonal quality—the psychology is just an expression of the tonal quality. Trying to heal the grip that our tonal quality has upon us, via the symptom, is like thinking the tail is wagging the dog. It is not the most effective approach. However, it does have value for sure, so the analogy is not perfect.

The most effective approach includes meditation which, over time, softens the grip of the tonal quality. There are also other things that can, if properly employed, have a healing effect on tonal quality: herbs, Mantras, gems, homeopathy, movement, ‘tincture of time’, etc. It is important to realize that the grip need not completely go away. As it softens, one’s relationship with the tonal quality transforms and is less and less a consuming influence on all levels: psychologically, physically, etc. Proper meditation and personal process (inner reflection) are the foundational tools.

Yet, at any given time, various modes of healing can be effective. If one meditates, but avoids personal process, then one likely will cling to a given psychological identity which resists, to some degree, the healing influence of meditation. It is as if meditation enhances the wind that propels the sailboat forward as we cross the ocean of life. Personal process and the other various techniques reduce the drag of various aspects of our boat, be they identities or resistances emotionally, mentally, physically, etc. The sum total of all the ‘drags’ constitute the tensions held in the tonal quality we ‘come in’ or incarnate with.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

The Only True Knowing…

Over these past few years, I have wondered if the things I teach can even be taught. We all share many facts of life, but how we string them together to form a mosaic or world view of life is individual and personal, although colored and even directed by the winds of social time and place, dictating to so many their personal beliefs and convictions.

I, like so many, am fond of the Socrates quote, “The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. For years, I felt that the message of those words was self-evident, requiring no explanation or commentary. But what one feels, knows, and wants to believe are generally, and certainly in this case, three different things.

I, like so many, feel the truth in Socrates’ words. There is a depth of wisdom and profundity to it that rings true to the very depth of my being. It feels to free my soul from the confines and constrictions of social, political, and philosophical bounds. It feels to release me from indoctrination, limitation, and narrow vision.

It is such a relief to see the emperors of convention revealed as ultimately hollow and baseless. Deep inside, in a place where words and convictions cannot touch, we all sense, feel, and love the abstraction of Truth: the only true knowing lies beyond the convictions of perspective.

I, like so many, question what convention dictates as ‘knowledge.’ Yet, convention takes that Socrates quote and files it away in the shoe box of “I get it”, tucked neatly away upon the back shelf in the closet of what so many call ‘truth and knowledge’. We must remember that innovation, progress, and discovery always come as a surprise—a contradiction of what we previously knew to be the way things were. Knowledge is fluid; not a solid, rigid structure. The only true knowing is ‘no thing.’ Yet, we cling to things as what we know.

I, like so many, want to believe that, at least to some degree, my objective and subjective world views, spiritual convictions, and ‘educated’ perspectives are my gateway to Truth. However, it is seeing past those things which leads us in the direction of ‘true knowing.’

After years of teaching, I have come to realize that often Socrates’ quote is only understood as some theoretical abstraction or spiritual understanding of Ishwara—the transcendental reality or essence of all that is. The here and now applicability of that quote eludes most of us, if not conceptually, then certainly when it comes to living our daily lives. In life, all too often we swing from one branch of the tree of conviction to the next. We string the series of convictions together to weave that web, that mosaic, of a world view, forming a world of feelings, knowings, and beliefs that define us. And, we find solace and security in being so defined. That then is called “knowledge”.

Years ago, a student walked away from my discussion of this, vowing to repeatedly tell themselves, “I know nothing. I know nothing.” Essentially, striving to convert knowing nothing into a knowing. It just does not work that way. Yet, the habit of clinging to one branch of conviction to the next seems unavoidable.

Another time, a student put up her hand in class and said, “I know I love my children.” I smiled and, turning my back to face the chalkboard, said, “I am not going to touch that one,” as the classroom chuckled. Then I said, “But I do have some questions: Who are you? Are you the personality that loves and identifies with your children? Or are you the transcendental truth beyond the personality? And do you love them because it feels good to you? And if so, is there a selfish component to the love? Now, I certainly do not say this to undermine what you say. My motivation is only to point out that true knowing is not a thing. It transcends anything and everything. It is, as Socrates said, no-thing.” Everyone smiled and class continued.

Now I understand that this could make someone feel ill at ease, but it highlights an important point. Living from the place of knowing no-thing is very different from conceptualizing no-thing and concluding we have tapped the quote for all it is worth. True knowing is a state of being, of physiology, not philosophy. When it comes to living our lives, deep spiritual understandings go only as deeply as we are. Our level of evolution, our level of consciousness, dictates that. Not our feelings, ‘knowings,’ or beliefs.

On some level, I have found it disheartening to see how ineffective my words have been over the past decades of teaching. On the other hand, I am well aware of the progress so many of my students have made. I understand that when life is most challenging, the teachings are most readily abandoned in the name of those convictions that have woven the web or mosaic of who we are and what we know.

After all, evolution is not an on-off switch. It is a process, like the waves of the ocean upon the shore, slowly, over time, wearing away the rough edges of the pebble, until, in time, the pebble is smooth and rounded—like the smooth and rounded surface of a Shiva linga, radiating pure Consciousness… the only true knowing.

This poet’s struggle with knowing and not knowing on the level of daily life may provide some more perspective here…
https://genius.com/Bob-dylan-my-back-pages-lyrics.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Soma and Agni

Fire and rain. Yang and Yin. The Sun and the Moon. Agni and Soma. The world needs these two poles to spin around. This is a universal principle that applies to all levels of life and existence. The moment the universe manifested, Oneness (Is-ness, pure Consciousness) birthed this duality, called relativity.

Yet everything cycles. Night turns into day. What goes up, must come down. Yin births yang, and the cycles of life go on and on.

These days, there is far too much fire, too much Agni in our world. People hate. Wars rage. Tempers are quick to judge. Self-righteousness divides the people into an ‘us and them’, right and wrong mentality. We all do well to observe how these principles emerge not only in others, but more importantly, within ourselves. This is the age of Kali Yuga, when Rakshasas dwell within the hearts and minds of the people.

The Veda is eternal at every point in creation. All verses go on simultaneously, eternally, and everywhere. One facet of that diamond of omnipresent Is-ness tells of Shiva and Vishnu in conflict. Mother Nature (Shantadurga) takes each of them by the hand and brings peace between them, peace to the universe.

Today, there is a need to bring our world back into balance. More Soma is needed for peace and harmony to reign. Soma must always be maintained as the fires of Agni eternally burn. Mount Soma was born in dedication to this eternal need, so acutely felt in our time. Soma is the nectar for the Gods: “Flow Soma in a most sweet and exhilarating stream for Indra to drink.”

Yet it is said that as the universe comes back into balance, disharmony becomes enlivened. When the red hot sword is plunged into the cool water, the caldron spits and hisses its fiery storm. Yet, the sword is tempered and stabilized.

We see this mechanic today in our world. The climate of human mentalities seems more polarized than ever. People hate, judge, take sides, dig in their heels and fight. Yet there is a deep mechanic here, as the sword of Agni is being plunged into the cooling waters of Soma.

So as we see and experience the raging conflicts of our time, take comfort in the understanding of this underlying mechanic and keep a steady hand on the rudder of your life. We will get through this. Those dedicated to the process are the front line angels of our time. The principles are there, in the Vedic literature, as they are in the laws of physics. Knowledge of the light of life, of the nature of life, illuminates the way.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Beautiful Muhammad Quote

I received this quote in an email and thought to share it with everyone:

“Acquire Knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish right from wrong, it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless, it guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery.”
~ saying of The Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace.

The difference between our modern level of wealth versus primitive humanity is not based upon money, gold, or treasure. It is based upon knowledge. Money is not true wealth. Knowledge is wealth.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.