Beyond Duality

Photo by Sonal Patel

Duality breeds duality. Or, as the ancient Chinese put it, “yin creates yang.” Duality is the mentality of humanity. It permeates all our thinking. Our politics are all about which perspective is good and which is bad. Our legal system is all about who is right and who is wrong. Humanity even took the concept of Oneness in God to the dualistic perspective of God and devil—good and evil. For goodness sake, even our computers are based upon the binary system, the x’s and o’s of ‘yes’ and ’no.’

We all say we want peace. We all want love and harmony. But the very foundation of how we have been trained to think propagates separation, the polarization called duality. Along the lines of what Victor Davis Hanson said, we instinctively define people, countries, etc. not in terms of their majority of positive traits, but rather in terms of whatever shortcomings may exist in their history. If anybody or anything has to be perfect in order to be good, or if a country’s history has to be perfect for the country to be good, then nothing, nobody, and no country is good.

Yet, the dualistic mentality is not so easy to get past. Even what has been said here sets up the polarization of duality versus unity. This world is the world of duality (relativity). However, the root, the essence, the foundation is unity. Not just theologians, but also modern physicists tell us that. Unity can be experienced from deep within our being; not as a concept or emotional longing for love and light, but as a physiological reality.

For thousands of years, it has been called “enlightenment.” However, the dualistic hype around the word has rendered it more meaningless than meaningful, more misleading that enlightening. Suffice it to say that unity at the very depth of our being is not so easily lived day to day, moment to moment. Being in the world of duality but not of it is not understood or even perceived from the perspective of duality.

Our holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and those of religion in general) are meant to enliven our sense of unity. Every Sunday, in fact, is about Sun-day—the Sun being the One, central, unifying core that the world of duality revolves around.

Family, community, patriotism, team spirit, etc. are all principles that revive the unification, the glue thatupholds, feeds, harmonizes and strengthens all of life. Without unity, there is no peace and no love. After all, it is our sense of oneness with another that is called “love.”

The 4th of July is meant to feed the harmonizing unity of patriotism. Have a happy and harmonizing holiday everyone! 


© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Wisdom and Perspective

Relative existence is born of and constructed in perspective. For each soul, each Atman, there is a unique perspective: a unique relationship with all that is.

Life can be viewed as the pursuit of Truth. The Cosmic Joke can be then stated as: There is no Truth in the relative. The relative is the field of imperfection.

Yet, reaching for the perspective that is Truth is the way of the world. Clinging to one’s current perspective as truth is the theme that attempts to navigate the waters of life.

To understand is to see beyond the field of perspectives. To understand is to transcend relativity. Live in the world with perspectives, but not be of it… not be lost to it—not be lost to perspective, not even your own. That is the path of Wisdom. Your true Self is the Transcendental depth of your being, freed from perspective.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Christianity Reborn

As times change, people change—the way we think and process information changes. We now live in a rational age. Things need to make sense. That was not so much the case in the past when people took so much on faith.

I heard some say that Christianity is dead. That would be a shame. Religion upholds moral fiber and integrity that permeates all aspects of a culture. It is only the understanding of any religion, all religions, that must evolve over time to interface with the mentality of the times. That is not the death, but rather the rebirth, of the religion. To my experience, even Christian leaders who I have spoken with thirst for that deeper understanding. Like all religions, throughout time the understanding must be reborn.

Perhaps that is a deeper meaning of Easter: the resurrection of Christ, of Christianity, to be renewed every year.

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

Strength and Perspective

The churning waves of the ocean of life are indeed tempestuous. The conflict of opposing opinions is the warp and woof of worldly life. It plays out not only in the marketplace, not only in governmental affairs, but also as the inner heart and mind dynamic of the individual.

Who among us lives strong in such a world? What does it even mean to be strong? Does strength mean clinging to a perspective as truth and ramrodding through life in allegiance to that perspective? Is truth made of clay that is molded and contorted to support a perspective? Are the strong among us nothing more than the most vocal perpetrators of perspective? Do the strong turn their back and move on when challenges arise or perspective is blurred? When they make a mistake? When the going gets tough? When they become upset or confused? Do the strong erase and start over when the inevitable churning tides of life overwhelm them? Do the strong fight for their perspective disregarding all else?  Where is strength to be found?

From time to time, we have all been wounded in life. The sun does not shine every day. When wounded, we are not at our best. Or are we? At those times, what does “being our best” even look like? At those times, what does “strength” even look like? Surely, it cannot be conformity to some superficial Hollywood notion of strength. Yet, is such conformity what we strive for at those times? Do we live in service to such idealized preconceived perspectives of life? Can we learn, or does our notion of strength preclude learning? Only the strong can truly sit with their weakness.

While the street mentality might believe that strength is unswerving allegiance to perspective, doesn’t strength include the ability to overcome current perspective? To acknowledge mistakes? To not walk away, but rather clean up the damage one perpetrated?

Whatever one’s perspective, these words can be used or abused. They can fuel one’s adherence to a current perspective, or they can facilitate one’s ability to evolve one’s relationship with situations, large and small. For strength is not concrete. Strength is fluid—open, dynamic, and movable. Strength can be yielding, transformed, powerful, noncommittal, or even ambivalent. Ultimately, strength is wisdom. Strength does not judge, yet can act decisively. Strength is not rickety, yet can rest with not knowing. Strength is righteous, but not self-righteous. Strength is not meek, but is humble. Strength resigns not to the unknown, but salutes it. 

Find strength not in the surface of worldly convictions. Find strength in the ungraspable depth of the soul.

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

On Truth

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”  – Oscar Wilde

Seems everybody is looking for the bottom line or decides they have already found it. This applies to everything from the deepest most profound issues, like the purpose of life, to the most mundane like, “What should we have for dinner?”

This is the world of opinion. Opinions are just perspectives. Even the ‘laws’ of physics are not really true. Newton’s laws are ultimately just approximations. That is what special relativity is all about! Even mathematics is just an approximation. One plus one equals two? Show me a perfect ‘one’ of anything. Plato got that right a long time ago with the notion of Plato’s Theory of Forms.

But let’s take it down to the grassroots, real world, daily life, practical level. Who has the real story on anything? We are all juggling between this and that: Pragmatic vs. idealistic, what you saw vs. what they saw, half empty vs. half full, the endless paradoxes of this vs. that. There is no end to it.

Wisdom just isn’t black and white. Yet, we are all faced with ‘this or that’ decisions from moment to moment. For every decision you make, there is someone out there who would judge it as wrong. Chances are, given enough time, you too will end up judging yourself.

Wisdom is really a fascinating thing. What is it really? What is its basis? Where does it come from? What perspective does it hold? Does it ever have a solid conviction about anything? Or are the ‘wise’ just a wishy-washy benign and nebulous cloud of ‘not knowing’ anything for absolute certain?

If we insist upon the notion of ‘Truth,’ then we must understand that Truth is not concrete. Why? Because Truth transcends perspective. Truth transcends relativity. “Truth,” by its very definition, is Absolute. It is an abstraction. It is not of this material world. It is unbounded by opinion or perspective.

Yet we live in a world that is relative. So, even the wise must act in a relative world, even though they see beyond it… even though they know better! Oscar Wilde said that truth is rarely pure. He got that right. Truth is only pure (Absolute) when it is not relative, not of this world. The wise live that. It is not just a notion for them. It is a living reality. Yet, even for them, life is an ongoing sequence of one decision after another. Often those decisions come with great conviction and commitment. But more often, they come with the understanding of multiple perspectives. They do not over-stand life. They under-stand life. Humility is built right into the word ‘understanding’.

Now, it is easy enough to comprehend this notion of Truth and wisdom. But to understand it is quite another thing. To understand it is to live it. To live it is to understand it. To live it is far more than to just comprehend it as a concept. And to live it? That is not so easy to do. In fact, it cannot be simply comprehended and then done. If it could, we would all have been enlightened many years ago. Living Truth, while living in this world of relativity, is a state of being. It is a state of physiology. It is a state that is not understood by those who are of this relative world. In fact, those who are of this world judge Truth as just another relative perspective. To live Truth is to “be in this world but not of it”. Truth lies beyond this world. Find Truth within the depth of your being. Over time, integrate the polar opposites of the Absolute and the relative. To do so is to see beyond the horizon. To do so is to become wise.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.