Brainwashing, Cults, and the Razors Edge

A dear friend sent the following to me just yesterday and felt I should post something about it ASAP. I have edited it only to remove names in order to protect their confidentiality:

“My father told me about brainwashing techniques from his days in the military. If you were to read down a checklist, there would be a lot of things checked off that apply to cult activities we have been confronted by in recent days. For example, separate people from their normally trusted people, create breaches in all of their supportive or close relationships, talk to them unceasingly with the ideas you want them to believe, Praise them regularly, make them feel special…Make the authority, the enemy, so any super that was there will be undermined. Yeah. It’s a whole process. Pretty creepy stuff.”

I have discussed this sort of thing in my classes a number of times through the years. I must admit that in India I met such a group and their leader. They can at first be remarkably enticing, fascinating, and alluring. At first, I wanted to hear more. But at some point early on, like a flash out of the darkness, it is as if I woke up and saw so plainly what was going on. The mind control that happens creeps in seemingly harmlessly. The techniques are powerful, yet subtle and seemingly so beneficial. In fact, they are seemingly lifes panacea… the cure all for humanity.

I have told the story of ‘mystical manipulators’ who would do miraculous ‘healings’ that changed peoples lives and seemed to immediately lift them to higher states of consciousness. The manipulations can have incredibly compelling and hallucinatory effects. People see colors, have feelings of euphoria, see God everywhere, and believe they have just been given Gods greatest gift. We may wonder how anyone of any psychological stability could be manipulated and taken in so easily. It can happen seemingly unnoticed and feel like what you have been looking for.

There is of course, such a thing as spiritual growth and even enlightenment. I remember back in the 70s when I was giving a talk about it, a guy jumped up and said he knew exactly what I was talking about and it happened to him when on one of his LSD trips. There are a myriad of ways cults induce such beliefs and feelings into their followers. Just like the guy on LSD, they think they just became enlightened!

It is important to realize that these leaders are usually not intentionally malevolent. In fact they too have been intoxicated with the very things they offer. They truly believe the things they promote are good. A powerful collusion exists with them and within their group.

Often the potential followers are coerced into believing that their current mentors are wrong, foolish, misguided, or even ill intended, etc. They are thusly segregated from their previous support group. They become convinced that their previous bonds are, in fact, their enemies.

Interestingly enough, people outside those groups when they pass by them on the street often easily and obviously see and feel the cultish ‘vibe’ and are instantly off put by those groups. They see the group followers tagging along behind the leader, hanging onto the words of his alleged sermons from God.

I have in the past mentioned how they offer ‘instant enlightenment’ or ‘enlightenment in 30 days’.

Commonly, the leader is highly charismatic, a ‘smooth operator’, loving, kind and seemingly nonaggressive, attentive, innocent, and harmless. They shower their followers and potential followers with praise, telling them what they want to hear. Perhaps, for example, telling them they are already one of the ‘enlightened few’ or if not, then they are soon to be if they just follow his lead.

The leaders often present themselves as ‘Gods messenger’. They claim to speak with God and offer their followers Gods personal messages to them. They offer to teach the followers how they too can talk with God. Those not taken in by such leaders often immediately see the masks and overlays those leaders are living. Certainly, their sugar coated behavior is not what spiritual attainment means.

Chanting is a tool they misuse to induce hallucinatory states of happiness and health. Often, they promote chanting as their primary tool of spiritual growth. The followers are indoctrinated into reaching to live ‘outside of their bodies’ in a mirage of heaven above. It creates unity and loyalty within the group and to the leader. They come to believe that nobody else knows or understands God. Enraptured euphoria is the common enticement.

This is very spooky stuff. We all do well to be very careful in our lives. As Adi Shankara said, the spiritual path is the path of discernment. Things need to make sense. As is said, things that seem too good to be true, are just that. Flashy experiences and promises of quick enlightenment can be very tempting but are to be avoided. The spiritual path is wisely likened to traversing a razors edge or passing through the eye of a needle. Think, think, think. Proceed wisely with your life.

There are many online links discussing this. Here is one example:

https://listverse.com/2016/04/29/top-10-brainwashing-and-mind-control-techniques/

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Rishis, Jiva, and God

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

Everything maps onto everything else.  To look out over the night sky is to look out to the entire universe.  Yet it revolves around a single point—the pole star (north star). Taking a closer look, the handle of the seven-starred big dipper points to the pole star.  As the seasons change, the dipper rotates 360 degrees around the pole starThe dipper’s new position in each of the four seasons creates the swastika shape (and the cross of Christianity) with the center, the pole star, being the heart and soul of the universe.  This maps onto (correlates with) the central core of each and every individual.  

The Rishi value (the central core, the Knower, you) is the finest fabric of the soul, your essence.  The Rishis can be sensed above the head.  However, if the relationship with that is not healthy, it can be a terrible distraction. More importantly the Rishi quality can be experienced deep within your being, the soul, the Jiva. The Rishis then, are the laws of nature (Dharma) that are the most refined quality of nature that comprises the Jiva (individual soul).  So it is through the Rishis within that the depth of the Self–and through that, God–are known.

Our lives revolve around that one point, the essence of our being, the depth of our soul, the Jiva.  Like a two-sided coin, the Jiva is the deepest aspect of our being still in relative existence. The other side of that coin is called the Atman, the (Bindu) point gateway to the Absolute Transcendental Source of all that is, i.e. God.  To access the Divine is to know God through the Jiva. That is the meaning of “the kingdom of heaven dwells within.” The totality of existence dwells within you. As said in the Bhagavad Gita, all the Gods dwell within you.

Yet it is the syndrome of humanity that people look outside of themselves to find God.  The mapping is that God dwells outside of us, over our heads and above. Though that mapping has validity, it leads so many astray. Such echoes of Truth, perceived as Truth, hold Truth at bay. It becomes an enticing astral level of spirituality. Worship of God then, so easily goes out of balance and becomes a life-consuming, intoxicating distraction.  Indeed, the longing for God often reaches outside ourselves. Yet as the Gita and the Bible both say, the kingdom of heaven dwells within.

To find God is to refine and strengthen our experience of the Jiva, the Rishi value, the Self.  It is an inward process, not an outward one. It is, of course, fine and feels nurturing, healing, and fantastic to sing the praise of God as outside and above us, but the evolutionary process is in the opposite direction, namely within.  Over-emphasis of the outward direction then pulls us away from the God we feel we are reaching toward. To outwardly sing the praises of God on a Sunday afternoon in your church or temple is wonderful and is one thing. To turn it into your daily practice is quite another.  God is actually revealed by the Self, to the Self, and through the Self, i.e. the Jiva.    

This is why it is taught that we repeat Mantras silently.  This directs the awareness to and through the Jiva, the Rishi value.  Within the depth of our being, we already are One with God. We already know the Rishis.  We can all sense that to some degree, though may say it in different ways. So when a Mantra is repeated silently, even if the pronunciation, rhythm, etc. are not exact, the deep physiology with the Jiva corrects it.

It is said in the Shastras that ten rules of proper pronunciation must be followed to prevent any distortion to be driven into the physiology.  In fact, the Vedangas are said to be dedicated to that topic. To sing the praises of God on occasion is beautiful and fine but the actual regular daily practice is to be done silently. Also, it is best to leave the outward recitation to trained Pandits and those raised with proper enunciation.  In fact, to hear Westerners try to speak out Sanskrit words can have a coarse feel to it. That is why in the temple, it is best to listen to those whose physiologies and dictions have been cultured from childhood to pronounce Vedic recitations properly.  Yet at the same time, reaching outward for God can fill the heart and feel so nurturing and alluring… echoes of Truth holding Truth at bay. The path to God is indeed elusive and subtle, like traversing the razor’s edge, or passing through the eye of the needle.  

We see in most every religion the reaching outside of ourselves for the Divine.  Some call it being born again. Some call it attaining enlightenment, Bhakti, or Nirvana. Some say through that, God walks with them and talks with them and heals their body, mind, and life.  They say they are saved. Unchecked, it hooks, intoxicates, and becomes the source of fanaticism foundational to so many religious practices.

With meditation and the Advanced Techniques, the experience of the Jiva (the Rishi value) is refined and strengthened.  It does not promise instant enlightenment. Human evolution is a cultivation, not an detonation. Steady hand on the rudder.  Staying on the path with distraction-free rationality is the key. The brain has two aspects… loving heart (Bhakti) and rational mind (Gyana).  As illustrated in the Gita, true Bhakti comes once Gyana is solid. Know your Jiva through the Rishi value. Know God through your Jiva. JivoDevaha means the two sides of the one coin: Jiva (the Self, i.e. the Rishi value) and the Atman (Deva, God).

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

God’s Will

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

We are but tiny ships navigating the winds and waves of Karma on the ocean of existence.
The Law of Karma is the law that determines for every action, there is an equal, but opposite, reaction. What goes around comes around. As you sow, so shall ye reap. 
Most believe their Karma is acting upon them from outside. 
Most fancy their thoughts and emotions to be their own.
Yet most of people’s Karma is between their ears and in their hearts, setting their sails in whatever direction it does.

Facts are just dots on a page.
How people’s hearts and minds connect those dots determines their image of others—of the world.
Anything can be and is justified with the intellect.
Anything can be and is justified with the emotions.
Karma weaves the webs people call life.
Karma weaves the webs people call truth.
Karma weaves the webs people call justice.
Though Karma is God’s Will, Karma is only half of God’s Will.

The other half is accessible to the extent that people’s hearts and minds are free from Karma. 
Some call it the Divine Spark within.
Some call it the Transcendent.
Some call it the Kingdom of Heaven. 

It is not enough to think you are free.
It is not enough to feel you are free.
It is usually just people’s Karma that makes them think and feel they are free. 

To find that place of Divine and True Freedom is to transcend this world of Karma.
Divinity lies beyond thoughts and emotions.
Yet, Divinity is the source of thoughts and emotions that emerge unaltered or altered by the winds and waves of Karma.

Projections of inner negativity (conviction, anger, judgement, fear, etc.) are the waves and winds of karmic currents that direct and twist the fate of people’s thoughts and emotions. 

Divinity and Karma are the two aspects of God’s Will which entwine to form the world… through people and by people, and therein act upon people.

Jyotish charts are the complex maps of Karma.
The world’s karmic map has, of late, shown severe winds and churning waves.
But the time is coming when people will live from a place within, beyond the touch of Karma.
The time is coming when people can walk through the world of Karma, but not lose Themselves to Karma.
The time is coming when people will be established in the silent Divine Depth of the ocean of existence.
True peace, harmony, love, and freedom lie beyond the choppy waves of karmic existence that most call life. 
Looking to the surface to find the Divine, though common and understandable, is an emotional fantasy. Divinity, though permeating the surface, dwells deeper.
Thoughts and emotions are, at best, echoes of Truth which, held too tightly, hold Truth at bay.

It is up to the individual to transcend:
     to access the depth within.  
     to be “without the three Gunas”, called karmic life, and “take the mind to infinity” as Krishna declared in the Bhagavad Gita.
     to no longer lose one’s self to the maze of karmic thoughts and emotions.
     to no longer behave as dictated by Karma’s polarizing convictions of good and bad.
     to stop reaching to emotional images of God as a substitute for the true Divinity of God.
The time is coming to know thy true Self.

It is called wisdom.  
It is called maturity.
It is called Divine.
It is called Good Will toward all.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Chanting

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

It is so very uplifting and beautiful when the temple is filled with people chanting. It permeates the temple and cultures the heart with an exquisite feeling of sublime spirituality and devotion to God. It is nice that some of the Mount Soma residents have been exploring and enjoying chanting. Like many things, whether or not one chooses to chant is certainly a personal choice, but if done wisely it can be beneficial. Like everything, it boils down to ‘healthy relationship with’. I recently discussed chanting with Pandit Prasad and we offer the following:

The healing benefits of chanting can be particularly enjoyed if there are psychological, energetic, or emotional blocks. Clearing such blocks through chanting can, of course, be highly beneficial and open the physiology and energy system with numerous benefits possible. Some find such benefits through other pathways… for example, dance, singing, various forms of yoga or healing, personal relationships, etc.  

When people are meditating regularly for a long period of time, impurities can get stirred up as they clear out of the physiology. Things like chanting, exercise, etc. can help clear them and the resultant experiences can then be quite desirable, even dramatic. Of course, that is an individual matter. Some will take to and derive benefit from one thing. Others will take to another based upon physiological needs and personal affinities. 

At times, the result of adding exercise, chanting, or diet change can be truly dramatic. We just need to keep them in the context of the nature and structure of life and existence, such as we have discussed in the school. In our enthusiasm, when we start a new practice, it is best to not go overboard. Of course, such enthusiasm is understandable, though it is always best when we come back into balance.  

As with all new practices, there are certain guidelines we do well to note:  

Chanting for some can result in excess emotional indulgence which can turn a person into what is often called a “bliss ninny.” Then they begin to judge another person’s level of enlightenment based upon “bliss ninny” standards. This is common in many religions and social groups. Those who behave in a certain manner are considered more ‘spiritually evolved.’ Of course, we know that another person’s level of consciousness cannot be judged based upon the surface or upon our own personal affinities.  

When the heart is overly enlivened (as described in Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine), it can distort perception.  When blocks are cleared and emotions are excessively indulged, people can blur emotions with enlightenment. That can become an obstacle to true spiritual growth. Getting emotional about union with God can be confused with deeper union which transcends emotions. In such a case, chanting (like other things) can become a distraction that pulls people away from a deeper spiritual path. Discernment can be compromised. 

We also do well to remember the elevator analogy: when you have been meditating and evolving rapidly, it is like climbing high in an elevator. If you take a moment to look at the view from that height, it is spectacular. So the inclination can be to stay with that level, be distracted by it, and hesitate to go back to what got you to that level in the first place. As a result, you can cease to continue climbing in the elevator to even higher levels.  

It is as if for many years we have been cultivating a beautiful garden with fruit trees, etc. Then, if we pick a fruit and enjoy it, we may think it is the fruit that gave the gift. Actually, of course, the real gift is the cultivation that bore the fruit, not the picking of the fruit. Years of meditation and study make many fruits available, and the physiology of meditators becomes like ripe fruit. Various practices you then employ can pick the wonderful fruits we have been cultivating. 

Excess chanting can even create a hypnotic state of euphoria. For that reason, some temples in India do not allow certain groups of people following such a path to even enter the temple. As stated earlier, those hypnotic states can lead a person to believe they are getting enlightened, when actually they are being misled. After spending time in India, many people become acutely aware of all sorts of practices done in the name of spiritual growth, that are more truly forms of mind manipulation. They could be forms of chanting, healing, or various spiritual practices. That is why I like to recommend: “Safety first!” 

Bottom line: Like everything else, it is a matter of ‘relationship with’. Better to have a good relationship with a bad thing (i.e., staying away from it), than a bad relationship with a good thing (for example, excessive indulgence in it or emphasis upon it).  

Remember that the deepest level of Bhakti transcends emotions. Bhakti is rooted in the transcendental depth of your being. Personally, I most cherish the experience of Bhakti I enjoy in deep meditation. However, I also love listening to, and being swept away by, the feeling evoked when the visitors chant at temple gatherings. When Pandits gather and chant together, it is exquisite.

So, if you enjoy chanting, do so wisely and be sure the Mantras you use, and the amount and ways you use them is done properly. If you are at Mount Soma, it is wise to take advantage of the opportunity to have it monitored. Panditji and I are asking that you allow us to do so. If you would like to chant, please let us know what you would like to do, so Panditji and I can confer with one another and offer our assistance. Then, with our blessings, if you like chanting and feel you are getting benefit from it, ENJOY!

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

One Religion?

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

A friend in India emailed me saying that there is a movement in India, saying, “a new concept is fast moving here, that is one earth one religion.” 

I responded by saying that religions are 1/2 spiritual and 1/2 cultural. The idea of ONE religion is not correct. There is one central God, worshipped differently in different cultures. Even polytheistic religions recognize that all the Gods are aspects of the One. However, whitewashing the world is not correct. Multinational corporations tried to do that decades ago. It was a huge failure.

Cultural integrity is a good thing. Yet, racism is cultural integrity gone insane. As humanity evolves, religions will honor and respect one another. They will live in harmony and mutual support, not opposition or friction. It will be the laws of Mother Nature that determine which religion flourishes in which part of the world… not the laws of men. The laws of nature differ in different regions of the world. The laws of nature, for example, differ on mountain tops versus desserts. Cultures culture the lives of the people to live in harmony with nature. Mother Nature cultures each culture. When we live in foreign lands, we honor the culture of that land, while maintaining the integrity of our personal lives.

I was born and raised Christian. Yet, I have learned of the tremendous value of Vedic wisdom, knowledge, and technology. All humanity can benefit from those Vedic principles. Similarly, all humanity can benefit from science. But it is not right thinking to believe we must abandon our cultural integrity to benefit from things Vedic or scientific.

There will, and should always be, differing affinities and faiths throughout the world. That is natural and good. Peace, love, and harmony will only arise from Unity in the midst of diversity. We must learn to live together in harmony on all levels of life: family, neighborhood, community, society, nation, continent, and world.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Kaivalya

This started out as a private personal letter to a friend, but I decided to offer it in an open blog:

Dear _____,

You asked the other day if I was still experiencing kundalini changes as the Jyotishis predicted would happen this autumn. When I told you ‘no,’ I was being honest in the sense that it is not like in times past when kundalini energy flared up and was moving through my body, etc. However these recent nights have indeed been eventful.

You, of course, know how it feels to meditate. It is a state of being. Well, to try to explain what is happening to me, I would say that it is as if that state is sourced in a place beyond all that is… pulling me to it. It is not that I am afraid to go. Rather, it feels that if I let myself fully go there, I would not return. I would no longer be part of the world we share. Instead, I would go to another place that was not connected with, not a part of, not integrated with, had nothing to do with, this world. It has been said that the Krishna value is the highest value that has anything to do with the relative. I believe that is true. This world is such a tiny virtual window in the diamond of all that is.

This world we share is just a dance of illusory perspectives. There is no Truth here. Only contradictory perspectives poking, pushing, and pulling at one another. Only hollow perspective identities seeking space, recognition, validation, commonality and communion with others. It seems so futile, yet at the same time, so precious, so beautiful, and so much in need of peace and harmony, that currently, it feels necessary for me to stay here. However, at the same time, we know it will only be Shanta Durga who, in time, takes Hari and Hara by their hands to bring peace and harmony to this world. Yet, to put it frankly, in spite of that pull I feel at night, I know I still have something I am to do here. That feels as inevitable and as right as rain. 

The night time pull of that place inside feels almost overwhelming, yet in the mornings and during the days, I feel more normal. Yet, still, that place deep inside that calls me feels like where I belong. It is just not time to go there yet. Maharishi once told a group of us that he will take us deep into Kaivalya. Feels like now, all these decades later, I have a better understanding of what he meant. There is no end to how deep Kaivalya goes.

If all happens according to plan, when my time comes, I believe it will be because I finally know I have done what I came here to do and it is time to just let it go.

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

Refining the Physiology Question

I was recently asked the following question:

I saw “What is Genius? – Bruce Lee #1” again, and there you said like Bruce Lee refined his physiology through Martial Arts, and there are many different ways to do it. Last time I didn’t even notice that when I saw it, but I always felt there were more ways to grow.

There is one poet they say, and he himself says, it was his breath, his life, his therapy to create poetry and rhymes.

So things like art, sports, etc, can evolve you in a major way, like Bruce Lee did for himself?

To which I respond:

Every field of pursuit can be a path to enlightenment.  However rapid evolution through some is more likely than through others.  Yet the approach to any field can be constructive or destructive.  That of course includes the field of spirituality.

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

In God We Trust

In a recent poll, nearly half of college students said they would like “In God We Trust” taken off of our currency. This, to me, screams out one thing more than any other: The popular understanding of “God” from the past no longer works for the current mentality.

A couple hundred years ago, for most people, spirituality and religion were all about faith. In today’s world, “faith” implies “blind faith.” Today, things need to be based upon logic. If something does not make sense, if something cannot be justified rationally and scientifically, then it is rejected.

With the advent of modern physics, we can make sense of spirituality: There is a unified field—one thing out of which all things emerged—one thing that is the essence of everything. Vedic Knowledge goes deeply into not only the subjective, but also that objective, understanding of spirituality. That is why so many modern physicists (Oppenheimer, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, etc.) all honored and studied Vedic science.

In my classes and writings, I include the rational basis of spirituality. It is not a refutation of devotion and heartfelt Bhakti, but rather (particularly in the world today) an essential component of Bhakti. If we want our youth to honor “In God We Trust”, then we need to offer the rational understanding first. Only then will they have a spiritual foundation they can accept.

Of course, the rational component also deepens our understanding and purges spirituality of much superstition and confusion. Spirituality must have two feet to stand upon—Bhakti and Gyan (heart and mind). Each supports, deepens, and moves the other forward.

If college youths compel us to bring out rational spiritual knowledge more clearly and fully, then in the end, they will have done spirituality and the motto “In God We Trust” a great service.

Photo by Joy Anna Hodges

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.