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.

‘Provincial’ in the Age of the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is all up to you.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

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.

Mars!

I have become increasingly fascinated with engineering over the years. Back in college as a physics major, my classmates and I used to think physics was ‘above it all’, and in many ways it is. But engineering really brings things to the here and now. It is very impressive what engineers have accomplished. The application of the fundamentals of physics is astounding. With just basic classical Newtonian physics, so much is accomplished. And now another launch to Mars. Wow!

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Is It a Rocket?

Have you ever noticed a jet stream that looked like it was going straight up? Have you wondered if it might be a rocket? Due to the curvature of the earth, a plane coming in your direction just appears to be going striaght up. If the earth was flat, the jet would look more like a point getting closer rather than a jet stream line going straight up. Just imagine you were a tiny point standing on a tennis ball and looking at another point circling the ball and coming in your direction. It would like like it is going straight up, not straight at you. Our world is smaller than we may think! Using the same sort of logic with respect to shadows, the ancient Greeks figured out not only that the world was round, but also with simple trigonometry they calculated the diameter of the earth.

By the way, today (March 20, 2018) is the equinox. The sun rises due east, goes directly over head, and sets due west.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Timely Quote

Abraham Lincoln“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
– Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861

 

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Winter Solstice

Today is the first day of winter. The Sun rises in the southernmost location. Many have been feeling the challenging events of the past year with the difficult jyotish influences. You may want to take a look at the Sun today knowing that by the time it returns to this position, life will be better for many of us. In fact, by 2020, the world will likely look much different and much better. Hang in there!

Winter Solstice - Michael Mamas

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.

Political Correctness

Political Correctness - Michael MamasThere is a concept in ancient Chinese philosophy called “The Rectification of the Names” where it is socially no longer considered correct to use terms that most accurately convey the meaning of things. I wonder if, in some cases, we have succumbed to the problems associated with that concept. Of course, in some cases, re-naming is good and important, but in other cases…???

 

 

 

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.