I was recently chatting with someone about a situation they found themselves in, when they said they were committed to “not attaching negative stories to it all.” I was instantly impressed with that phrase. For me, the implications were vast regarding the human mentality: how we think and function.
Everything in relationships tends to be about the story we attach to it. This applies to our personal relationships as well as how we view relationships between others. It all becomes about the story we assign to the relationship. That is simply how we think. Even television shows and movies are all framed in terms of the story we create around the happenings. The story creates white knights and villains, good guys and bad guys, the noble and the evil, the victims and the perpetrators. Conflicts, disagreements, and judgements arise, not so much as a result of the occurrence of events, but rather due to the stories attached to those events. Even our legal system is more about the story we can paint the events with, rather than the events themselves. Opposing sides paint the events with contradicting stories. Individuals then cling to, and impose upon others, the story, the bias, of their choosing.
Imagine a world where events were not framed in stories. Opposing viewpoints were not etched in the stone of opposing stories. People were not defined in terms of a story. Stories tend to assign black and white absolutes to the shades, hues, and perspectives that life is composed of. Imagine a mentality that is free from the imposition of the confining, defining, and crucifying limitations of a story. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is good? Who is bad? Opposing groups each cling to the story they lose themselves to. Remarkably, that is the way people function. It is the way this world compels people to function.
To understand one another is to see beyond the stories. For there to be peace in this world, good versus bad must be replaced with love and understanding. Needless to say there are extreme cases that can be considered black and white. However, in the case of our lives, such things are very rare, if they occur at all. Yet we tend to frame things in a story that assign black and white to our ongoing interactions. We then try to convince others to believe our story. Alliances are thusly created. An ‘us against them’ world becomes the global consciousness we immerse ourselves in. Animals attack one another and fight to the death. Chickens select the weakest in the pen and peck it to death. We humans must learn to see and live beyond that.
Imagine a world free from such narrow vision. I have said this in so many ways throughout the years:
Simultaneous, yet contradictory realities
The only true knowing is knowing you know nothing
To understand is to stand under, not to over-stand
The flip side of wisdom is humility
Freedom from identity with perspective
This means freedom from the stories we attach to our lives, to others, to everything. “Not attaching negative stories to it all” means emancipation, freedom, and peace. Peace and wisdom is something that happens within us as we see beyond the stories.
I hope the previous blog, “Mindsets vs Belief Systems,” offers a sense of the all-pervading depth and breadth of the concept of ‘mindset.’ Through the years, we continue to explore the nature of life from more and more different angles. The foundational understanding was given in the very first weekend class I ever offered. It can even be summarized in a single sentence. However, there is no end to the exploration. Indeed, life is not so much about learning new facts, as it is about gaining an ever-deepening understanding of the facts we already know. The concept of ‘mindset’ is a powerful example, pointing in the direction of that principle.
Everything can be condensed down to a buzzword or a quote. Yet in doing so, the deeper meaning is lost. That we have referred to as the “I-get-it Syndrome.” As we continue to explore anything from additional angles of view, wisdom grows. True Knowledge dwells not in facts, but deep within our souls. There we under-stand everything. There, with humility, we stand under everything and over-stand nothing. Nothing is fully graspable. The essence of everything expands to infinity… to Oneness… to the transcendental Ishwara.
I have been teaching, on average, eight long-weekend classes plus retreats, and giving multiple lectures every year, for twenty-five years now. I do not plan my classes or lectures with any detail. I prefer to get a feeling for the group and go from there. I do, however, have thoughts on my mind the few days or morning before the lecture, and start with that. Because Knowledge with a capital ‘K’ permeates all aspects of life and existence, any topic will open the door, connect with, and shed light on universal (transcendental) Knowledge. Perhaps illustrating that by talking about whatever comes up demonstrates that truth more convincingly than a canned or preplanned lecture.
Though I have employed that principle for over two decades now, this last class illustrated the principle even more fully. As I write this, I am flying home to Asheville from San Francisco, and sharing my reflections on the recent long weekend. I walked into the classroom the first day, Friday, as a blank slate. None of my thoughts that morning felt right to start with, whereas usually I have so many things to share that I do not know where to even begin.
We usually save ‘personal process day’ for Sunday. But Friday morning, I sat down in the classroom and before class even began, I asked a woman in the group how she was doing. What ensued determined the topic of the entire three-day weekend. I would like now to share some aspects of the weekend that I feel are most valuable.
Firstly, language and definitions are flexible. The meaning of words change over time. We are free, then, to use words. Otherwise, they use us—they force us to speak and think within the bounds of tiny definitions that limit and narrow our awareness and stifle our creativity. After all, who has the right to evolve the meaning of words? There is no overlord with such authority. Yet, meanings do change. When need be, we must have the boldness and confidence to mold and contour words to fit our insights and progressive understandings. We are free to do so. We must do so. Otherwise, life itself stagnates.
As the woman explained what was going on in her life, she opened the door to an arena we have not spoken of. Perhaps it is an arena others have discussed and defined with a word—perhaps not. So, in the moment, I defined the term “mindset” to generalize her experience into something universally applicable and not only valuable, but tremendously important and profoundly healing.
A mindset is a mode of function of the physiology of the brain. It is the ‘infrastructure’ or circuitry of the manner in which all life experiences are processed intellectually, as well as emotionally. A mindset determines not just what a person thinks or feels, but more importantly, how one thinks and feels. It is deeply foundational to everything one thinks, feels, and experiences. Every mindset has multiple facets—some positive, some negative. Anger, kindness, self-doubt, reflectiveness, etc. can all be facets of a mindset. Mindset goes far beyond attitude, temperament, belief systems, mood, or personality. It defines the very mode of function, the vessel, that holds all of those things and more. In the past, we have spoken of how the color of the glasses one is wearing determines what is seen and experienced: rose-colored glasses, grey-colored, etc. That points in the direction of mindset, but mindset is far more complex and multifaceted. It reaches deeply into the hidden channels of the heart and mind.
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.
“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.
As a teen, I used to say that Dylan would go down as the greatest poet of the twentieth century. Now, many say that. Interestingly, Dylan himself has said he no longer has that ability. In a way, genius is elusive, even though a person may be brilliant. Also interesting, it has been said that most brilliant works came about like Dylan’s, when the genius was in their twenties or early thirties.
I believe the key to understanding Dylan’s lyrics often is in feeling how the words make you feel… how he must have felt to write them. He captures subtle, elusive, abstract, yet often universal feelings with his words. He makes compelling points not just with reason, but by conveying shades, hues, as well as passions and convictions with the feelings he conveys. That is just my perspective on his genius. I’ve enjoyed going over various lyrics of his in some of our classes.
Crimson flames tied through my ears Referring to his young idealized ‘crimson’ notions… passions, convictions, and black and white ‘clarity trips’. Dylan starting with the word “crimson” is, in itself, a good example… feeling of noble, god-like, royal, passionate, lofty, superior. Sarcasm is common in his lyrics. It’s source, I believe, is that he conceptualized the Transcendent (for example, his song “Gates of Eden”), but had no clear and direct experience of it. So, the dichotomy of relativity verses the Absolute, the resolution of paradox, eluded him.
Still today, people cling to their clarity-trip, belief system perspectives as truth. Even to the extent that they wage war and devote their lives to them, limited as they are. Life is paradox. It is one thing to understand that intellectually. It is quite another to live it, to be unbounded—free of limitation.
Rollin’ high and mighty traps Realizing now that his thoughts were narrow, belief system traps.
Pounced with fire on flaming roads Referring to how he attacked world events with his perspectives.
Using ideas as my maps His perspectives led him by the nose.
We’ll meet on edges, soon, said I Cutting edges of debate, confrontation, etc.
Proud ‘neath heated brow He was ready to fight proudly for his perspectives.
“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.
Have you ever noticed how the mentality of the times seems to shift through the decades, sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly? We have all seen videos from space of global ‘winds,’ weather currents flowing over our earth. See one here.
Winds (currents) of human mentality, of consciousness, flow in a similar manner. Waves of mentality move over our planet carrying with them the mental and emotional dispositions of the people. Individuals are far more susceptible to these currents than they we would like to believe. Some currents are sunny and bright.Others, not so much. Awareness of this phenomena can help us steer clear of the currents we would prefer to avoid: judgment, hostility, and polarization. Instead maybe: loving, caring, nurturing, peace and harmony? The full spectrum of mental/emotional currents are there. We can be carried by them, or we can create positive ones.
Perhaps this brief video along with the comments can offer some feeling for, some insight into, the nature of those winds. See it here.
We can heal this planet. We can quiet the torrents of conflict. Let not your mentality be determined by the winds, the Karma, of time. Underlying it all is a stream of harmony and Divinity. We can bring that forth. Vedic technology illuminates the path. Mount Soma is dedicated to watering this root of life. Rise up! Free yourself from the dark clouds that sweep through humanity. Be great! Coming together shoulder to shoulder, we can bring forth the Enlightened Age. It is up to us!
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.
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.