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.

Peace

“Well, the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
And the beasts from the wild
Shall be led by a child…

…There will be peace in the valley… some day…”

From the Elvis Presley song, “(There’ll be) Peace in the Valley”, based on the Bible verse Isaiah 11:6:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them.”

As I look out over this world, I see such longing for peace and contentment. This is true internationally, nationally, locally, interpersonally, and individually. Yet, on all those levels, I see the seeds of unrest and conflict in the hearts and minds of the people.

Unrest is not the result of circumstance. Circumstance is the result of unrest. Unrest lies within people–within the hearts and minds of the people. As is said, in this age of Kali Yuga, the Rakshasas (the seeds of unrest) dwell within the hearts and minds of the people.

As we look everywhere, we see people striving for peace by striving to change circumstance. In today’s world, that is the deepest that people can seem to understand. It is, as is said, like trying to make a withering plant healthy by painting the leaves green. Furthermore, in those efforts, they become angry, hateful, and vile. However laudable the original intent may be, the winds of Karma still blow. It is the Karma of this age that we look not deep within, but we look outward to circumstance. That is the ultimate denial. That is the tragedy of our times.

I have dedicated my life to healing what lies within people. That is my most fundamental teaching. Few are receptive. Of those few, only a handful look deeper than emotions. Yet, the Kingdom of Heaven lies far deeper than emotions. Yet, for most, spirituality is emotionally based. Nothing deeper feels real to them. So very few hear the call and keep a steady hand on the rudder when the winds of Karma blow.

In my earlier years, I tried to talk people down from their identity with the winds of Karma. That did have a healing effect on many, but most just returned to those Karmic winds and held fast to those viewpoints which they hypnotically embraced as ‘truth.’

My commitment now is to the implementation of Vedic technology to purge the karmic winds from global consciousness—from within the hearts and minds of the people. Sthapatya Veda shows the way. We will build it.

Yet, the winds blow even more fiercely when they are faced. Nevertheless, we will persevere. In the meantime, look inward to the place where the winds of Karma can never reach—beyond mind, beyond touch, beyond emotions.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Innocence and the Whats and Whys of Life

I’ve been asked why the enlightened Gurus of history did not employ the incredible technologies described in Vedic Literature: flying machines, construction beyond modern capabilities, world peace generators, etc., etc. After all, they are enlightened and then should know everything. Right? But let’s ask the question another way: What can we learn about the state of enlightenment from the fact that enlightened Gurus of history never brought forth these Vedic technologies?

It has been said that in the Age of Ignorance (Kali Yuga), enlightened people are kicked around like footballs. There is clearly a limit to what they can do. In Kali Yuga, an enlightened individual is like sunshine on a frigidly cold snowy winter day. The snow does not melt, or melts very little. The grip of the ages is not easily brushed away with the flick of an enlightened individual’s wrist.

Now we can take this simple example and generalize it to gain insight into how our hearts and minds work. We learn not by projecting our notions upon the world. We learn by observing the world and learning from our observations. That is quite common sensical. However, it is actually quite rare. We want things to be the way we believe they are or we think they should be. People usually believe in their indoctrinations more than they believe in anything else. Often, people are unable to accept what is, and adjust accordingly. Rather, they cling to what they have been previously led to believe, and then twist and rationalize away anything that contradicts that. It is a huge step forward in a person’s development when they are able to see past their indoctrinations (conditionings, convictions, perspectives, programming, limitations, beliefs— call it what you will).

However, venturing into the terrain that lies beyond beliefs is a slippery slope. It can lead to militants, rebellion, blind alleys, and oblivion. Moving past one’s limitations responsibly requires reflection, reason, humility, introspection, time, and effort. To do so responsibly requires wisdom. After all, we have built worlds, taken sides, reinforced convictions via ‘education,’ created friendships and alliances, and invested ourselves in those identities, those limitations. We would prefer they not be messed with! Those indoctrinations become who and what we believe, not just about the world, but about ourselves.

Adi Shankara (the great Guru) said that the spiritual path is the path of discernment. In life, we do well to discern our convictions—to separate the wheat from the chaff. We must cultivate the ability to embrace what is valid and evolve past what is not. To discern is not so easy to do. The intellect can justify anything and does. Our beliefs and convictions are heartfelt and not easy to see beyond.

See what is. Then strive to understand what is seen. To truly see is to understand. To see is not just about what lies outside yourself. The ability to see is more about with lies within you. Most project onto what they see, build a case reinforcing that perspective, and call it truth. Few actually perceive what is. 

Wisdom is innocence. Innocence is not oblivion. The lack of innocence is oblivion—over-standing, not understanding. Innocence simply means honestly and humbly seeing what is and acting accordingly. That is not so simple. Strive for wisdom.

© 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.

Iswara and the Candle Flame

One of my students recently had a doctor’s appointment. When the subject of spirituality came up, the doctor commented that every spiritual group claims to have all the answers. Yet, the spiritual groups disagree with one another. They each claim to have the one valid knowledge. I think we can all agree there is a degree of truth in the doctor’s point.

So who is right? Are all of the spiritual groups wrong? What is going on here? So many are so adamant that their knowledge is the correct one. It ranges from the atheist to the devoutly religious. Is this a commentary on the spiritual oblivion of our time? Is there a way out of this dilemma? Isn’t it interesting that people generally believe what they believe, simply because they were born in a certain country, to a certain family, and grew up with a certain group of peers? How can that be the proper foundation for one’s perspective on the nature of life and existence? Furthermore, life seems to be permeated with paradox… irreconcilable facts. How can we sort all of this out?

Personally, as a young man, I was compelled to take a step back, look, think, and feel before I went along with any particular viewpoint. I needed to figure it out for myself. To me, it was about understanding the nature of life and existence. All the pieces of the puzzle of life needed to fit together. All paradox needed to be reconciled. I needed to use all of my resources to do my best to fathom the mystery of it all. I had to think rationally. I had to feel deeply. I needed to see how physics, anthropology, the arts, linguistics, and all aspects of life come together in a unified and harmonious manner. After all, isn’t that the nature of Truth? If something is true, shouldn’t it hold up to all forms of scrutiny? This path of exploration has spanned a lifetime. A brief overview of my conclusions follows. I believe they will provide some insights we all share.

Watching moths dance around a candle flame at night seems to say it all. Every moth is drawn to the candle flame, but no moth is able to grasp it. They simply dance around it. Similarly, in physics, the unified field is the non-tangible essence of all that is. It is the one thing that is the source of everything. Similarly, Iswara (God) is understood to be beyond fathomability—intangible, undefinable, ungraspable. We all sense that there is something called Truth. We all long for it. We all try to grasp it. We all try to define it. We all try to fathom it. We all feel the need to grasp it. Yet, physics, like Iswara (the Transcendent) tells us it is ungraspable. Everything, all of us, dances around it like moths around a candle flame.

However, the ancients tell us that there is a state that can be attained, where all of the pieces come together at the depth of one’s being. All paradoxes resolve. But even then, we, like the moths, continue to dance around the candle flame that some call Iswara, or the Transcendent, or God, or the unified field. We remain in the dance, but see beyond it. We are in the world, but no longer of it.

That state is not perspective, religion, philosophy, attitude or belief. To think you understand that state is to “understand” it too soon… for it is not just an understanding. It is a state of consciousness. Like the candle flame, it cannot be grasped. It cannot be fathomed. It cannot be defined. Yet, the pursuit of it is inherent in the nature of life… all life. From the amoeba to the human, we all reach for that undefinable something.

There are certainly levels of understanding of science, of every religion, and of every field of life. Personally, I searched to find whichever offered the deepest understanding with the most rigor and clarity. That turned out to be most readily available through Vedic Knowledge. At the same time, like the candle flame, the beauty of that knowledge is that it is ungraspable. When those living from that place speak, their words join in the dance. Those words immediately cease to provide the deepest meaning, and become what the listener heard, as the dance, ’round the light of life, goes on and on.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Amazing Grace

With this song, I have always imagined an old woman living in a cabin tucked away in the woods of the Appalachian mountains, among the oldest mountains in the world. Everything maps… parallels… limitless levels of awakening. She attained full enlightenment in these mountains and wrote this song expressing her love and describing her experience. That is what I imagine with this song.

Grace is the nature of Oneness, of the Transcendent, in other words, of God. Awakening to That is so sweet. Regardless of what has occurred in life, That is always there, eternally sweet within the depth of your soul. Through all of life’s toils, That is present, underlying all that is… supporting us and guiding us Home.

The moment of first awakening to that is so precious, so tender, so profound. In that moment, one truly believes… because one then knows.

After that ultimate awakening, it never leaves. Even after ten thousand years, even for eternity, that Grace is felt and Known and praised… in eternal wonder, awe, devotion, and adoration… just as it first was Known.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see

Amazing grace, oh amazing grace
That saved a wretch like me
Oh amazing grace, amazing grace

© 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.

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.