Robert Frost

I was originally just sending the following to a friend, but now feel like it is a nice blog also.

To be completely honest, I was not all that impressed with this poem… until I read the last line. I learned from it. I believe it will make me a better writer. So much said in just one line…

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

 

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

“How to Be Nice and Not Be Mean”

When my daughter was just a little girl, I asked her if she knew what I taught in my classes. She responded, “How to be nice and not be mean.” That was so sweet, and in a very profound sense, so right.

What’s on the inside shows up on the outside. If deep inside we are peaceful and wise, then on the outside that ‘goodness’ shines through. If on the inside, we hold anger, resentment, etc., then that is what emerges on the surface.

Decades ago, it was just considered good manners to express one’s self politely and with dignity. These days, it seems vogue to do the opposite. Some say social media is partially responsible. Accusers no longer face the accused. Social media keeps people at a distance, free to lash out and vent at will.

Some say the drug and hippie wave from the 60s and 70s inspired people to act poorly, letting whatever was inside to be openly expressed. Manners and decorum were rejected. Indignant behavior was considered being true to one’s self. I say that is not being true to oneself. That is being true to one’s issues, inner demons, and inner distortions born of unresolved emotional wounds. Negativity, judgement, anger, and rage are the result of tired darkness within the human soul. We can learn how to express ourselves, but do so constructively with dignity, honor, and respect.

In this regard, being ‘nice’ means having a healthy soul unencumbered by inner emotional wounds. As the soul heals, we spontaneously express ourselves in a positive, not negative, manner. We behave constructively, not destructively. Character assassination of those we judge gives way to wise and reflective speech and behavior. We learn “how to be nice and not be mean”.

To do this properly lies far beyond the realm of suppression of our impulses. Rather it is a matter of purification of our hearts, of our souls, of our minds. That is called by various names: human evolution, psychological health, spiritual growth, etc.

Certainly, there are times when anger may be an appropriate response. But in this world, there is far too much of it rooted, not in wisdom, but in unresolved emotional issues. Certainly, it is normal and natural to have moments of anger. However, there is a problem when life-damaging bias and negativity do not soon quiesce into helpful, positive, useful, kind wisdom, communion, and understanding—what my daughter called: “how to be nice and not be mean”.

Feeling and even expressing anger is natural at times. However, if it is used to verbally attack, offend, ridicule, gossip, degrade, or condemn another, then it has crossed the line into simply being mean. To be nice is not to suppress one’s self, but rather to constructively articulate and express oneself with supportive and loving kindness, sincerity, wisdom, and understanding. Which is to say, to be in a state of oneness with all that is—in other words, the highest meaning of the word “love”—what my daughter called: “be nice and not be mean”.

Expressed in the words of an innocent young child, “how to be nice and not be mean” is the ultimate accomplishment of human evolution.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Facts, Wisdom, Truth, and the Dots

Facts matter little. It is your relationship with those facts that makes all the difference. If you doubt that, just watch the evening news… everything from the extreme left to the extreme right, even split decisions in our Supreme Court. One may wonder why, if the court is truly supreme, the justices usually disagree. Now it is easy enough to come to conclusions about that, but just generalize this principle and then take a look at how we humans function.

Back when I was a kitchen director in the ashram, I had a standard rule: No quotes of the Master allowed in the kitchen! Why? Because people would take an isolated quote to justify their perspective on just about everything: how to prep veggies, how to behave in the kitchen, what to eat, etc., etc. So one might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” The answer: For every quote, there is an equally valid, yet contradictory quote. That is why the field of relativity is called “relativity.” It is all relative. And relative to what? Relative to your relationship with the facts.

Facts are like dots on a page. Connect the dots one way, and you get one perspective. Connect the dots another way, and you get another perspective. Like dots on a page, connect them one way and you see the face of Buddha. Connect them another way, and you see Attila the Hun.

So how do people usually connect the dots? It is generally based more on their conditioning; psychological makeup; biases; life experiences; indoctrination; provincial, social, and subcultural orientation; rather than their wisdom. This even permeates the field of spirituality. People may read and memorize the same scripture, but they connect the dots all different ways. Sadly, if a person has memorized enough spiritual facts or quotes, they may conclude they are a spiritual scholar, Master, Guru, etc. They may then conclude that they have wisdom! But that is not wisdom.

So how do we cultivate wisdom? Certainly, learning what facts and principles we can helps. But what it really amounts to is what lies deeper than the facts and principles. It is about cultivation of the depth, the fiber, the fabric of our being. That is what evolution is all about. That is what proper meditation cultivates. There are deeply spiritual people that know few spiritual facts, yet are wise and therefore truly spiritual. There are those who know many, many spiritual facts, yet are not really very wise or spiritual.

When everything is going well and everyone likes everyone else, it is easy to be ‘spiritual.’ We find out just how spiritual a person really is when things get difficult. How we connect the dots is the best indicator of how spiritual we truly are. Yet we judge how spiritual another is by the barometer of our own level of understanding, our own level of spirituality. Basically, how we, ourselves, connect the dots. We then project our world view upon others. When wisdom is most needed, it is most often abandoned, as people revert to their conditioned responses, their conditioned ways of connecting the dots.

So the wheel of life spins ’round and ’round. As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” That is to say, you know that which lies deeper than ‘things,’ deeper than facts. After all, the Transcendent, Ishwara, lies deeper than the dots. It is being established in that deeper place that enables one to wisely connect dots.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

The Nature of Life in a Nutshell

Consciousness equals ‘Is-ness.’ There is only one Consciousness. It is called pure being, the unified field, Ishwara, etc. Every person, every being, is rooted in that Consciousness uniquely, which births individuality—Jiva.

That one Consciousness is eternal. On the deepest level of our individuality, we too are eternal. That is what eternal life means. On that very deep level… everything is one—unified. On the surface, everything is perceived as separate… the field of relativity—the field of Karma. When the surface overwhelms the depth, it is called ignorance—ignore-ance: ignoring life’s fundamental nature by being so overwhelmed by the surface, by Karma.

Just as every drop of rain gravitates back to the ocean of oneness, the natural tendancy for every individual is to gravitate back to oneness, away from ignorance and back to one’s own true nature. That tendancy is the fundamental force of the universe. It is experienced as the most profound quality of love.

When one no longer ignores, but rather is awake to the depth, one lives in a state of eternal oneness—eternal love. Such individuals live ‘in the world’, but are no longer ‘of it’. This is not an attitude, religion, or philosophy. It is the normal, natural, state of physiology—the result of evolution, gravitation back to one’s own true nature.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

President Bush

Of all that was said and done after the passing of President Bush, what had the most impact upon me was his son telling us that his dad is now in Heaven holding the hand of his wife and hugging his daughter Robin, who passed years ago. Karma separates us from the ones we love in so many ways. But Karma, though so often overwhelming in life, is, in the final analysis, superficial. Love resides deeper than Karma.

It is only the unfortunate who cling to the Karma of life. For most, at least upon passing, such superficiality drops away. The traumas, toils, conflicts, and hardships drop away. We might say they melt away. What moves to the forefront is the love we have within us. There we commune with all we love. That place within us all is called Heaven.

We love so many. We love our family, those living, and those who have passed. We love our friends and those with whom we have shared a common cause, a common community, a common stream of life. For Karmic reasons, we can, in life, find ourselves estranged from those we love. It may be due to loss of life, distance, time, misunderstanding, conflict, or circumstance. But even if, during the toil and haste of life, we are unable to recognize it, what remains after the body and story drop away, is that which underlies it all. And there, in Heaven, we all reunite through that enduring fiber of love.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving Night

The rising moon is full, bright, and gold.
The autumn air is fresh and still.
The distant luminous clouds of white silk soak up the moonlight and drape the contours of the layered mountains below.
Nearby, the occasional lamp in a cabin window outlines the neighborhood hills which cradle Nandi, softly aglow, resting quietly before Shiva’s ornamental abode, highlighted in golden light.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Universal Principles

Many of our universal principles can be succinctly represented in one sentence or phrase, e.g. “Steady hand on the rudder”, “Forward, forward, always forward”, “Positive, positive always positive”, “Being, merging, knowing and doing”, “Dare to be great”, etc. I have so much respect for great writers. So much can be said with so few well written words. Stephen Covey beautifully expresses so many universal principles with the following quotes. Enjoy!

Stephen Covey: 10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Psyochophysiological Basenote Revisited… Where Are You Coming From?

When the physiology and psyche are clean and pure, all experiences move from the surface to the depth of one’s being, undistorted. What then reflects back as the individual’s perspective is in harmony with all of nature.

However, each individual has what is called their unique “psychophysiological basenote.” The psychophysiological basenote is a distortion resulting from the sum total of one’s life experiences. For some, it is anger. For others, sadness, fear, distrust, self-doubt, or a longing for peace and love. The psychophysiological basenote can be likened to the color of glasses one is wearing. It determines the nature of one’s perceptions. So, when an impression or experience comes in, it reflects off of the psychophysiological basenote to some degree, coloring one’s viewpoint, perception, thoughts, and feelings. You could say it is the psychophysiological basenote that creates friction in one’s life, thusly creating Karma.

It’s interesting to note that even Vedic principles or principles that I teach in my classes are heard through the individual’s psychophysiological basenote. The intellect then rallies around the distortions. In that way, even knowers of the Veda or my teachings are not true Knowers. Over time, as the distortions clear, the vision and understanding becomes clearer. But that is a process that takes time and is facilitated through meditation and humble reflection. However, identification with the psychophysiological basenote is not easily brushed away. It is held firmly as one’s truth, one’s knowledge, one’s perspective.

There is a principle in psychology that a client’s positive transference (positive perception) of the therapist inevitably, at some point in time, becomes negative transference. That is as certain as a ball tossed up in the air will at some point come down. This principle also applies to the relationship of a student with their spiritual teacher. For that reason, traversing the path of that profound relationship with their teacher is sometimes viewed as the razor’s edge. In other words, one very easily slips off of that path in allegiance to one’s psychophysiological basenote.

Generally, the spiritual teacher first provides the student with fundamental principles about the nature of life and existence. For the student, that is a very inspiring and life-transforming period. During this phase of positive transference, it is often experienced as a time of euphoric infatuation with the knowledge.

The next step is more challenging, for that is when the teacher holds up the mirror to the student, showing them their distortions, in order to help them purify out their distortions. It is then that the student must remain steadfast. It is then that their anger, sadness, fear, distrust, self-doubt, or longing for peace and love can become triggered. If they are not careful, it is then that they enter the time of negative transference and remain there, and thereby lose their way along the razor’s edge.

Similar to what is said in psychotherapy, the real work with the spiritual teacher begins after the student moves through positive and then negative transference. As has been said, it takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond. The key then, as one progresses, is to keep a steady hand on the rudder.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Our History Held Humbly

It’s been said of war that history is written by the victors. I would expand that to say that the present defines the past. Our present mentality is very different than the mentality of the past. Just think how differently we think now than we did in the 80’s, the 60’s, the 50’s, and so on. Just try to imagine how differently people thought 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or 30,000 years ago! And it is not just human mentality that is so malleable. It is also the earth herself – earthquakes, climate change, consuming rain, fires, and natural disasters. Some say even the constants in the laws of physics change over time. All these changes mold our history.

To get some insight into the diverse nature of mentalities, we can even look at the same moment in time in different parts of the world. The whole field of international law is so incredibly complicated due to conflicting mentalities. As some have said, “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

Now enters the field of archeology. Though I tip my hat to them for trying, we can hardly venture a guess as to how limited archeologists’ perspectives on ancient cultures might be. A rather classic example might be the Egyptian Sphynx. I understand that archaeologists date the Sphynx at several thousand years, while geologists point out that water erosion dates it at 10,000 years. What happened to the missing 7,000 years? It seems we have no idea.

The salient point here can be summed up in one word: “humility.” We do well to view our history not through the judgmental eyes of current perspective, but rather through the eyes of humility. We can only barely begin to understand our history. The further back in time we go, the less accessible it becomes. Paradoxically, we can benefit a great deal by trying to understand our history: who we are and how we got here.

We do well, though, to not forget the humility inherent in true understanding. We can’t judge our past, we can’t put it in a box, or frame it in a rigid manner. We hold it dearly, but lightly.

We can even generalize this further. Do we really understand the other person sitting across from us and their history? It seems that Socrates had it right: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” The unbounded nature of the field of pure no-thing-ness that dwells within us as us, as our true Self, the unknowable.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.