Sunday, July 1, 2018

Ivan Ilyin — How to Destroy Hate, Foster Love

Ivan Ilyin was an influential nationalist political and Orthodox Christian philosopher active in the Russian Emigre movement in Europe after the revolution. He heavily influenced Solzhenitsyn. Putin, a great admirer, personally supported repatriating his remains to Russia in 2009, and attended the consecration of his grave.
For more articles on RI by or about Ilyin, click here.
For a selection of his Christian writings on the Russian Faith site, click here.
Ivan Ilyin is one of the foremost Russian philosophers along with Nikolai Berdyaev and Vladimir Solovyov (also transliterated as Soloviev), both of whom are better known in the West than Ilyin. Vladimir Putin cited these three thinkers as important reading for Russian leaders (which he has never done for Alexander Dugin).

Ilyin is now being depicted in the West as a fascist, which is complete nonsense. See Paul Robinson's takedown of Timothy Synder's hit piece on Ilyin, Book Review: The Road To Unfreedom
There are a couple of problems with all this. First, Snyder greatly exaggerates Ilyin’s influence. Second, his interpretation of Ilyin’s philosophy is decidedly odd.
Forget the Wikipedia article on Ilyin. It is completely biased.

Read the following excerpt from Ilyin and judge for yourself.

Russia Insider
How to Destroy Hate, Foster Love - Great 20th C. Russian Christian Philosopher (Ilyin)
Ivan Ilyin (excerpt from his book “Singing heart – a book of quiet contemplations)
Translated from the Russian by Edvin Buday


Konrad said...

Mystics and mediums say we are here to learn how to love unconditionally. Even to love those who despise us. (Especially those who despise us.) This learning may take a lifetime or many lifetimes. It is most efficiently accomplished here on earth, where matter is dense, visions are slow to materialize, and people occur at all levels of spiritual development. We learn by experiencing, and by making choices amid our experiences.

In the non-physical realms, life is easy. Therefore spiritual progress is much more difficult than it is here on earth. It’s like trying to be a bodybuilder without a gym and without gravity. There is nothing to “push” against, since there is no challenge.

“First, I must find and define what I could have done to deserve this hatred.”

Don’t worry about it unless you personally did something to make someone hate you. In that case you owe a karmic debt that you will have to repay or cancel in one way or another. What you did to that person will be done to you, in one form or another.

You can cancel this karmic debt by seeking out the person you wronged, asking for forgiveness, and offering to make full amends.

If the offended party rejects your advances, then you will have to offer a lot of loving service to a lot of people. Either that, or you can just go about your life and wait for the karmic billiard ball to bounce back to you painfully.

Karma is not some kind of scoreboard kept by God. You carry it inside you. You make it happen. It is not punishment or retribution. It is an opportunity to react with love. If, however, you react with hate, such that you kick the billiard ball way, the ball of karma will once again come bouncing back with a thud.

Every thought is a choice, Every negative experience is an opportunity.

“After this, I have to forgive him his hatred.”

If you wronged him, then it is up to you to make amends. You wounded him by wronging him, and you wounded him again by encouraging him to hate you.

If you did not wrong him, then there is ultimately nothing to forgive. Each of us is at his own level, struggling with his own challenges. Sometimes we do well, spiritually. Sometimes we are idiots.

It is the same with all of us.

GLH said...

Konrad; You need to read Seth. According to Seth we are hear to learn to use the power that goes through us. We create our own world and this world is our training school. Since time doesn't exist outside of our world then there is no such thing as karma. If you haven't already read them then I suggest that you read at least two of Seth's books, "The Nature of Personal Reality" and "Seth Speaks, the Eternal Validity of the Soul."

Konrad said...

I read those books many years ago. I don't recall any mention of karma in those books, but perhaps there is a misunderstanding. As I said above, karma is not a scoreboard kept by God. Karma is like a memory or imprint on our subconscious. When we die, and we are shown the effect on others of all our earthly thoughts and actions, we feel regret and remorse for the wrongs we did others. Subconsciously we had already felt this remorse while we were on earth. This subconscious regret is karma. The regret makes our inner selves create the same type of wrong doing, and have it befall us, either in this earthly world, or later when we reincarnate.

When it does befall us, we can choose to react to it with love and forgiveness, in which case the karma (i.e. the remorse) will be balanced. However, if we choose to react to it with hate or fear, then the karma (i.e. the remorse) will remain, and we will choose to create a karmic event again.

In all cases we have free will.

Our conscious mind is only the top (and very thin) layer of our overall self, whose depth is infinite.

GLH said...

Konrad: Thanks for responding. I suspected that you were familiar with Seth but just in case I thought I should suggest his books. The thing is that the idea of karma suggest a belief in guilt and punishment and if a person holds such a belief then he or she may subject himself to unneeded pain and suffering.

Tom Hickey said...

The Indian teaching on karma — "karma" is a Sanskrit word meaning "action" in English — is that the law of action and consequence is just as determinative as the laws of nature that regulate the physical universe. But this requires a appropriate mode of knowing to realize in experience rather than only intellectually and imaginatively.

There is a teleology to karma that ensures that all beings evolve to realize their true nature at exactly the moment appropriate to their karma. Thus every moment is perfect owing to infinite correlation and spontaneous order.

The path of evolution-reincarnation-involution-realization is the "descent" of the unmanifest into manifestation and the ascent through the evolution to species to the attainment of a human form.

The human form persists until the individual enters the spiritual path and begins the process of involution from gross consciousness, through subtle and mental consciousness to realization of the source as infinite consciousness. Those in gross consciousness are aware of and experience the gross world. Those in subtle consciousness are aware of and experience the subtle world. Those in mental consciousness are aware of and experience the causal world. The realized realize infinite consciousness.

Some "mystics" on different levels report on their experience. The various spiritual teaching elaborate on the path (means) and goal.

Thus everything is always perfectly aligned for purpose, the dynamic of change being to realize the unchangeable. That which changes is not real in that it comes to be and passes away. The unchangeable, that is, the absolute is eternal. That which is changes is the manifestation in finite consciousness of infinite consciousness.

This is a very brief summary of the perennial wisdom that underlies the world's wisdom traditions in one form or another.

GLH said...

Tom Hickey: I suspect that the Indian's are much much closer to reality than any Western religion.

Tom Hickey said...

Tom Hickey: I suspect that the Indian's are much much closer to reality than any Western religion

The advantage they have is that revealing the inner teaching is not considered heretical. It's readily accessible in Taoism, too. In Western religions, the inner teaching is mostly considered heretical, is and therefore it has to be dug out. It is more accessible in Eastern Orthodoxy than Catholicism and Protestantism, and many Islamic sects consider Sufism heretical. Qabalah is not heretical in Judaism, but it is not considered appropriate for most people, so it tends to be a closet teaching. But perennial wisdom lies at the core of all wisdom traditions as the name suggests. Regardless of whether they are associated with religion — although many if not most wisdom traditions are — there is a common core that is reported as being experientially based instead of conceptual, imaginative or poetic. Expressions of it in language need to be conceptual, imaginative and poetic though.

This is not to say that all traditions and teaching are somehow the same, however. The claim is that beneath the differences a commonality of experience can be discerned. The expressions can be quite different and apparently oppositional.

This is a controversial area with many interpretations. I have summarized one particular interpretation, I have concluded that this interpretation has the most going for it. But none of this is provable other than in one's own experience, and then skeptics will claim that one is reporting such experience is bogus for a variety of cogent reasons, none of which can be shown to be logically compelling or evidence-based either, unless one qualifies what is accepted as evidence and that involves acceptance of criteria that then must be further justified. In the end, it's "turtles all the way down."

Quite a fascinating and philosophically challenging area but few pursue it. Rather most people simply presume a worldview based on enculturation or else choose one that conforms to their own cognitive-affective biases.

Konrad said...

“The Indian teaching on karma — "karma" is a Sanskrit word meaning "action" in English — is that the law of action and consequence is just as determinative as the laws of nature that regulate the physical universe.” ~ Tom Hickey

All religions become ossified and distorted over time. For example, many people have come to regard karma as deterministic, and as punishment. Likewise, Christians have come to believe in hell and eternal damnation.

I think these are errors. For me, karma is not deterministic, and it is not punishment.

As I see it, every one of my thoughts and actions (good, bad, or neutral) create an imprint on the inner me. They become part of my “story,” so to speak. They modify my spiritual “narrative.”

If I wrong someone, then I create a negative imprint on my inner self. That is, I wound myself. Because we are all naturally striving for God-realization (whether we realize it or not) I will sooner or later want to heal my wound, so that I may progress. One way to do this is for my inner Self (which assists in creating my reality) to create a situation in which I am wronged in the same way or a similar way as I wronged someone else. I voluntarily create this, even though I am not consciously aware of it.

If I respond to the karmic experience with love and acceptance, then I heal my wound. But if instead I meet the experience with hate and resistance, then my wound remains, along with the desire to heal it. I will need another karmic experience. I will subconsciously want and create another experience.

However, these wounds (i.e. negative karma) can be canceled or erased without anything “coming back at me.” One way to cancel them, as I noted above, is to apologize to the person I wronged, and offer to make amends. This may not be possible if I have wronged many, many people, in which case I may need many, many lifetimes to set things right. That is, to set myself right.

Another way to deal with karma is to practice stilling the mind through meditation, so that we become habituated to meeting every event in our lives with love and equanimity. This is colloquially known as “burning karma.” In this way we steadily heal our inner wounds, such that we do not need to create painful karmic events.

We must not fear karma, for karma is simply a process of creating and healing wounds. If we fear karma, we will resist the healing.

Instead, we must try to meet everything with love and balance. This is how we heal ourselves. The choice is ours. The only “deterministic” aspect to this is that we carry our wounds with us at all times until we heal them.

Thus, for me, karma is not “punishment.” Karma is an opportunity to heal the wounds that I created by mistreating others.

Konrad said...

@ Tom Hickey:

“None of this is provable other than in one's own experience, and then skeptics will claim that one is reporting such experience is bogus for a variety of cogent reasons, none of which can be shown to be logically compelling or evidence-based either.”

Yes. Items associated with ordinary intellectual life can be learned, explained, and intellectually proven. However, items associated with spiritual life can only be experienced. If a man does not experience something, then for him it is not spiritually true.

What we learn intellectually we can and do forget.

What we learn spiritually we never forget, for it permanently changes us inside.

The gurus tell us, “Don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s word. Go experience it for yourself, by doing these techniques and practices.”

Q. But how can we trust in the techniques and practices if we have no proof?
A. You do not need proof. You only need an open mind. Give it a try and see what happens.

Q. I need more proof before I start.
A. If you want experiential proof before you have any experience, then you are not ready right now. Eventually you will be ready.

Tom Hickey said...

@ Konrad.

I am in general agreement with your statements. Your view of karma is a part of the overall system as set forth in perennial wisdom. (I don't want to pretend that aren't apparent difference of expression among various sources that contribute to perennial, but a pattern is discernible.)

Then why is karma deterministic overall?

First, because all remain on the "wheel of karma" until the impressions that drive action are fully and finally resolved, that is, they are bound by the law of cause and effect, action and consequence.

Secondly, because all on the wheel must act in terms of the uppermost impressions operative at any particular point in time. All that are in time are subject to this dynamic.

Thirdly, and the most significant factor, there is a primary and primeval impression that arise in the eternal now that underlies the entire dynamic of "creation," similar to the the initial singularity whose symmetry was broken at the time of the "big bang" in theoretical physics.

Just as the entire universe is the subsequent unfolding of the big bang in terms of space/time, mass/energy according to physics, so too, the initial impression at the "creation point" or "om point" is asserted as the origin of emanation from the source, which is "beyond the beyond."

The cycle is impression > desire > thought> speech and deed.

Impressions (Skt sanskara, vasana) are not available to ordinary consciousness. Modern psychology is just scratching there surface of this, since the karmic residue is constituted of the accumulated deposit of the consequence of past action extending back through the evolution of forms to a human form, and then those impressions gathered in the human form.

There are three levels of karma according to the teaching.

The total accumulation of "mountain" of past impressions is one's is called sanchita in Sanskrit.

The "bundle" of this that one brings into the present lifetime is called prarabdha.

The karma that one gathers in the present lifetime through action — thought, word and deed — becomes the prarabdha of the next lifetime, along with something of the past appropriate for one's development. This future karma is called agama.


Tom Hickey said...


The teaching is that until one realizes the eternal, one remains time-bound and the effects of karma apply according to the law of action and consequence — "As you sow, so shall you reap."

On the other hand, humans operate under the illusion of being completely free to think, choose and act even though the past determines the future. The teaching is that this subjective conviction of freedom implies responsibility. As long as one is on the wheel one must choose action — thought, word and deed — as if free and take responsibility for it accordingly. This is called dharma.

Dharma means that which upholds. Dharma is the law that uphold karma by ensuring that it is evolutionary and life-supporting. Lower forms of life operate on natural tendency rather than apparently free choice. But humans have a greater degree of freedom in the engineering sense. Thus they need self-control, self-discipline and self-mastery.

The teaching is also that law of love is superior, indeed supreme. Love is inclusive, and it is the great unifier.

Depending on the level of one's action wrt to responsibility the impressions generated are productive of impression that fructify as different degrees of happiness and suffering.

According to the teaching all action is binding, but the quality is different. Saints are bound with "chains of gold" which they admire as bracelets and bangles. Less advanced people with "chains" of low quality —silver, copper, etc. Those that have not acted responsibly are bound with "chains of iron."

The various wisdom teachings set forth the means of acting responsibility, that is, in accordance with dharma, to upgrade one's karmic account and increase happiness while reducing suffering as the fruits of action.

In addition, it is possible to change one's karma in the sense of the fruits that it will bear. The wise have also elaborated the means of doing this, such as counter-action.

Moreover, there is also "grace." Grace means "gift." Since grace is a gift there is no way to "get" it, but one can make oneself deserving of it.

"The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it." — Bayazid Bastami

As Krishna says in in Bhagavad Gita 4:14 (verse 4): gahana karmanyo gatih, which means regarding action and its consequence (karmanyo), the unfolding (gatih) is deep (gahana), and it is unfathomable by those that are not yet liberated from the wheel of karma. The message is to heed those that have transcended the wheel or at least upgraded their karma sufficiently to be of use to those coming along in improving theirs.

At the same time, the "law" (dharma) is written in the hearts of all, and as long as one doesn't harden one's heart, conscience is the inner guide, as well as reasoning. But here the heart (intuition) trumps the head (reasoning)

While this is found in various places in the perennial teaching, Meher Baba gather it together and explains all this in some detail in Discourses. Meher Baba's works are available for online reading or free download here.


Part I The Cessation, the Wearing Out, and the Unwinding
of Sanskaras
Part II The Dispersion and Exhaustion of Sanskaras
Part III The Wiping Out of Sanskaras

Part I The Significance of Death
Part II Hell and Heaven
Part III The Existence and the Memory of Past Lives
Part IV Specific Conditions of an Incarnation
Part V The Need for Male and Female Incarnations
Part VI The Operation of Karma Through Successive Lives
Part VII The Destiny of the Reincarnating Individual


Konrad said...

“All remain on the ‘wheel of karma’ until the impressions that drive action are fully and finally resolved, that is, they are bound by the law of cause and effect, action and consequence.”

Perhaps we live in two different universes. My universe is a conscious, living, organic, and loving being, not a mechanical “wheel,” or a kinetically impersonal billiard table.

In my universe, karma is a gift, not a mechanical reaction. It presents us with opportunities to balance the spiritual scales, and to overcome our fears, delusions, and ignorance.

I don’t worry about karma. Our task is to meet every experience with love, patience, and affirmation, whether or not an experience is karma-related.

Hindu and Buddhist teachings may speak of eternal truths, but their terms, analogies, and cultural backgrounds are not appropriate to today’s America. Sanskrit terms in the Rigveda (3,500 years old) are meaningless to modern Americans. Today we need updated analogies, as when we compare our earthly lives to a character or “avatar” in a video game. Our character is in the game, but we, our consciousness, is outside the game, enjoying the show. Our task is to remember this. 3,500 years ago, no one could imagine video games. Today they are ubiquitous.

I was initiated by a guru in India, and I told him that I had trouble “resonating” with some of the archaic terms he used. He said this was to be expected, since I came from the USA. Just do the practices, and I would eventually go beyond culture and vocabulary, which are mere window dressing in any case.

“Impressions (Skt sanskara, vasana) are not available to ordinary consciousness. Modern psychology is just scratching the surface of this, since the karmic residue is constituted of the accumulated deposit of the consequence of past action extending back through the evolution of forms to a human form, and then those impressions gathered in the human form.”

This may be over-complicating things. When we do an action with focused intent, we leave an imprint on our mental “hard drive,” so to speak. That "imprint" is a sanskara, and it may be positive or negative, or even neutral. If we do the same action enough times, we deepen the sanskara into a deeply ingrained habit. The sanskara alters our mind’s BIOS system, to use a computer analogy. Eventually the habit can color or tint our entire “hard drive” (vasana means “coloring agent”) such that we do not remember how we even started the habit.

I agree that sanskaras are not available to the ordinary mind, since our ordinary mind is heavily influenced by our sanskaras. However it is possible, with sufficient meditative practice, to address our sanskaras directly, and correct them one by one. This may take more than one lifetime.

“The karma that one gathers in the present lifetime through action — thought, word and deed — becomes the prarabdha of the next lifetime, along with something of the past appropriate for one's development. This future karma is called agama.”

Again, this does not resonate with me. I do not say this is wrong. In my universe we each choose the main events of our future lives according to what will bring us the maximum possible advancement, given our current capacity. We choose (with the help of guides) who we will spend most of our time with on earth. Our spouses, friends, parents, siblings, and so on. Car accidents? Major illnesses? Birth defects? We choose all these so we can evolve via experiences. Everyone in the astral realm can feel infinite love just out of their reach, and they all have a constant craving to get closer to that love by evolving. The fastest way to evolve is via physical incarnation.

Therefore I think in terms of choices, rather than karmic determination.

Regarding Meher Baba, I am very familiar with him, but I don't know if my interpretation of him matches yours.

Oh well. We’re all here to learn by experience.

Tom Hickey said...

It is useful to discuss things to further understanding but intellectual understanding alone is devoid of substance.

To paraphrase Kant, understanding without experience is empty, and experience without understanding is blind.

Intellectual understanding is helpful to a point, but it cannot substitute for experience.

Moreover, on the way to gaining experience, intellectual understanding is influenced by one's cognitive-affective biases so it is relative.

This, too, is perfect, since understanding is plays a necessary role in unfolding full potential based on individual disposition.

There can be no greater folly than that the aspirant quarrel with another over the pros and cons of this way or that, instead of concentrating on his own onward march. — Meher Baba, Listen, Humanity, ed. by D. E. Stevens, p. 186.

There is a sutra attributed to Buddha on a similar theme:

The Parable of the Poisoned Arrow

I have simply put forth a general summary of the theory of karma as it appears (to me) particularly in the wisdom literature of India and is reflected in perennial wisdom. Others would likely summarize it differently.

Based on such understandings, individuals will come up with their own interpretations of a wisdom teaching in terms of a perspective on reality and working hypotheses for dealing with it personally. We learn as we go. This involves making implicit perfection explicit in awareness.

Tom Hickey said...

I thought I was including the parable but it didn't appear in the comment. Here goes another try:

It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

Tom Hickey said...

Just happen on this.

Although the whole universe is illusion, yet it is governed by a law, a definite law; and that law deals with every detail. We cannot escape from the law of karma. But when we transcend illusion, the law does not bind us any longer.

Meher Baba in Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, American Edition, Vol. 14, pp. 5017
Revised Online Edition, p. 4030

GLH said...

I am certainly not qualified to discuss the Bhagavad Gita with you but I have enjoyed your discussion. Most of the things both of you have said are reasonable although I do disagree with several points. I can say that reading this was much more enjoyable than trying to get anything reasonable out of two Christians. I do think that the world is in dire need of a new religion, one based on reincarnation and the idea that we make own reality. I suspect that most of the world's problems are due to religion.

Tom Hickey said...


I don't think that "creating your own reality" is incompatible with a nuance theory of karma that is deterministic.

What appears to be contingent is realized as necessary when the entire system is grasped by getting beyond the system.

Einstein felt this to the end in his conviction that the probabilistic theory of QM was based on ignorance of the whole story, and that deterministic equations would eventually be forthcoming. In the meanwhile, quantum physicists are making do with what they have, just as the classical world made do before Newton. One could way that in Einstein's estimation, the Newton of QM had not yet appeared and QM was still around the Galileo stage comparatively.

A similar development takes place in the theory of karma, both evolutionarily wrt to individuals and socially in cultures. Science has already discovered the subconscious that influence the conscious level, social embeddedness and social construction, and the perspectival nature of epistemology based in physiology. But it is still not understood how identical twins can be different dispositionally, for example. And science has not yet even scratched the surface of life and consciousness, even though life and consciousness even though both are apprehended with minimal mediation.

There are many levels. There was a saying in Medieval philosophy, "Knowledge is in the mode of the knower." This is reflected in the saying of perennial wisdom, "Knowledge is structure in consciousness; thus, knowledge is different in different states and stages of consciousness, and this result in reality being experienced differently in different states and stages." since change is effected by agency, human agent have varying degrees of control depending on their level of consciousness, which changes depending on their agency.

The theory of karma prioritizes the subjective construction of "reality," which as long as one is the domain of change is illusion, since what is actually real doesn't change. One doesn't become fully aware of the determinism until one is beyond karma.

The extremely ancient teaching on karma as action and consequence is a coherent and nuanced theory (conceptual model) but explaining it in any detail is beyond the scope of a comment section like this.


Tom Hickey said...


Here is quote about the comprehensiveness, coherence and nuance.

The mystery of the universe is hierarchic in structure. There are graded orders, one supervening upon the other. The spiritual panorama of the universe reveals itself as a gradient with laws upon laws. Superimposition of one type of law over the other implies elasticity and resilience of lower laws for the working out of higher superseding laws. Instead of lawlessness, it means a regime of graded laws adjusted with each other in such a manner that they all subserve the supreme purpose of God, the Creator.

The lower laws are subsumed under the higher laws. We have first the law of cause and effect reigning supreme in Nature. Such natural laws seem to be mechanical, rigid and inexorable. But by acting and reacting with life-force, they lead to higher laws of sanskaric or impressional determination and become superseded by them. Impressional determination is not an exception to causal laws but is their finer and higher forms. It supervenes upon mechanical causal laws.

Let us take an example to illustrate the functioning of supervening orders in the spiritual panorama. The days of every incarnate soul in the gross world, and what they bring, are both definitely determined by the accumulated impressions of past lives. But this impressional determinism does not work itself out independent of, or in defiance of, ordinary causal laws. On the contrary, it works through established causal laws. For example, wrong diet or gluttony or any other disregard for natural physiological laws will definitely affect the duration of the life-term in the gross body. In the same way, intelligent use of known laws will affect happenings during this term of life. But whether or not there is going to be a disregard of such laws on the part of some particular soul, is itself impressionally determined; i. e. it is dependent upon his gathered dispositions.

Thus physiological and other causal laws are subsumed by higher karmic laws and lend themselves as pliant fabric-work for them. The law of karma supersedes and uses the other laws of Nature without violating them.

Meher Baba, Beams From Meher Baba, pp. 33-35


GLH said...

"We have first the law of cause and effect reigning supreme in Nature."
According to Seth, there is no law of cause and effect, there only seems to be. Cause and effect are only physical constructs that don't affect psychological action. One incarnation doesn't affect another unless the same beliefs are held. We live our lives by our beliefs and if we change them then we change our lives regardless of what we have done before. As I understand karma it depends on the law of cause and effect which doesn't exist except in dogma. If an act is done in the mind and the mind is changed then there is no such thing as punishment unless beliefs such as karma are held. If I commit an offense against someone and I truly realized the consequences of my actions then there is no punishment unless I believe in guilt and punishment then the punishment
will come because of my belief, not because there is a law of karma.
By the way, I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this.

Tom Hickey said...

By the way, I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this.

This is what I do. MNE is a sideline.

Here I write in terms of the commonly held view even though I regard it as so deficient as to be deceiving about what is really going on.

Tom Hickey said...

This is a long one, so it will be broken into parts. It's only for the interested.

The teaching on karma is not correctly understood if it is taken as being about reward and punishment. It is simply a statement of consequences. As it was put to me, if one takes poison, then one will get ill or even die. If one takes small amounts of poison over time, the system will weaken and one will suffer chronic illness owing to accumulated toxicity. Conversely, if one chooses a good diet, exercises, lives in balance, etc., one will enjoy good health. One can view this a the way nature works in "rewarding" that which is life-supporting with happiness and “penalizing” that which is life-damaging with suffering, the quotes indicating anthropomorphism. In addition, if one has accumulated toxicity, one can take steps to remove it from the system, or at least reduce it, in order to prevent further consequences.

In making choices, one is simultaneously choosing the consequences, even though one may not be aware of them at the time. If you take poison accidentally, it will kill you anyway. This is not punishment but rather how nature operates. Before the law, “Ignorance is no excuse.” On the other hand, those that are advanced enough can take poison or whatever else because they have gained enough power to counteract it. This is a short summary of the "theory," which the wise regard as proven by experience.

As the perennial teaching on karma implies, cognitive-affective biases influence subliminally. One of the strongest biases is confirmation bias, and another chief one is anchor bias.

But this too is perfect, since everyone is placed exactly where they need to be at each moment of time in order to take the next step. One's biases keep one in the channel that leads most efficiently and effectively to realization. But these channels are not like railroad tracks either. Humans have a greater degree of freedom (in the engineering sense) than beings lower of the evolutionary scale.


Tom Hickey said...


However, the wise report that it is useless to argue over what is necessary and what is contingent before one is far enough above the process to be able to know the whole. The teaching is that as long as one believes that one is free, then one must act responsibly.

Since everyone's way is unique to them alone, the wise also warn it is folly to argue about the way rather than tread the path as best we can "one-pointedly" and with diligence. At a certain point one realizes that life is a "pilgrimage" rather than a tour. While everyone's pilgrimage is uniquely one's own, we travel in caravans, too, and individual biases meld into social biases also, as groups form, e.g., based on attraction and repulsion, which are affective biases.

This involves many choices along the way. These, too, are based on cognitive-affective biases that demarcate the various currents and channels through which all move on the route.

The process of awakening involves transcending cognitive-affective bias completely to realize reality as it actually is "in itself, by itself and for itself."

Seth's teaching is not wrong, from the vantage of perennial wisdom, despite the apparent contradictions. Rather, it is a lot subtler than many realize. Being perspectival, it is an aspect of dialectic in the course of the march to the whole, that is, reality as it actually is, which must be realized directly and immediately. Perennial wisdom is riddled with paradoxes.

From the vantage of perennial wisdom, the teaching about changing beliefs is only partially correct when applied to limited individual mind, and it is only fully correct from the vantage of the higher self, which goes beyond intellect, reasoning, belief, supposition, and assumption. It is misunderstood if applied only to the lower self. Most identify themselves with the "lower self" as limited individual mind. Intellectual "enlightenment" effected by the lower self through the mind can be freeing to a degree, but only to the degree of the limitations of individual thinking and reasoning mind.

For those that have realized the whole as absolute, that which is relative and changing is known to be the product of imagination, which those capture by it take as reality. In imagination there are many states, stages and “worlds,” all of which are insubstantial when viewed from the vantage of the unified whole. The quest and path leads though different state and stages of imagination that appear real, as in a dream. Thus, it is possible to affect “the dream” if one becomes a lucid dreamer, so to speak.

The higher self is the bridge, so to speak, between limited individual mind and reality as such. The individual listed mind cannot get far across the bridge without the "heart," if it can step on the bridge at all. "The heart" is not the physical heart, of course, but rather a metaphor for the "spiritual heart" that lies at the core of everyone's being and is the inner guide that is always available to everyone. The "voice" of the higher self is subtle and "speaks" through feeling and intuition. This voice whispers and is difficult to hear unless one is attuned to it. The wise recommend various means to culture this, while the natural means are love and sensibility.


Tom Hickey said...


My personal method since childhood has been to hang out with people who know more than I do. I came to realized pretty quickly that there is a vast range of knowledge and it is ordered. People of heart "know" more deeply than head people. As a result, I "upgraded" my contacts and serendipitously met some pretty amazing beings. From this I realized the distinction between horizontal knowledge, where most operate, and vertical knowledge, which only a few are aware of.

The second thing that I came to realize is that the heart people are generally considered wise. I also found that the wise and people of heart don't have to be in the body at the time to learn from them. Their consciousness is embedded in their works, whether they be works of literature or art. They still communicate through those works. Thus, I worked my way "up" a ladder to the study of perennial wisdom, which is a form of hanging out, as it were, with the wise of past ages.

Here it is important to realize that truth as the whole can never be completely captured and communicated through intellect, imagination, predication. or any type of symbolism, all of which can only point to the whole but not grasp it completely so as to communicate it fully. Thus, everything one encounters must be treated as perspectival and needing therefore to be supplemented by its complement in the whole. Thus, the unfolding of potential within the finite is always dialectical, a precess of successively exploring alternatives. However, "the way out" is through transcending all limitation, and that requires direct, immediate experience. Thus, grasping and holding one perspective on perennial wisdom beyond its usefulness isn't wise.

One hat I have worn is that of a counselor/mentor, and a lot of what I did involved validating people to enable them to take the next step they they felt appropriate. Anchor bias in belief systems is particularly strong, and inner turmoil and conflict can arise when one's inner life impels one in a different direction. Moreover, belief systems are not only personal but also social, and this can involve not only behavioral change personally but social disruption.

Thirdly, I came to realize that the most powerful voice is the voice of silence. The mind must be still to hear it in the heart. That involves cultivating peace.

An extremely important thing to realize (to the degree one is capable) is that everything is always perfect at every moment in the sense of everything being on track and on time for everyone to realize at the exact moment they become ripe. Then, do your best, and don't worry, be happy. This is the way that Meher Baba put the perennial teaching in this regard. By now, just about everyone has heard, "don't worry, be happy" after Bobby McFerrin made it famous. But few know the inner meaning.


GLH said...

"don't worry, be happy" I agree, that is a good teaching.

jrbarch said...

Always interesting!

I would say Ilyin is a mystic – highly sensitive, thoughtful and well, mystical - because the self is still a mystery to him, although he feels its presence.

In esotericism, the student is taught to keep the human constitution and therefore the plane on which consciousness is acting, in mind. The lotus flower (self) bathed in the sunlight (Universal Self) has pushed its way up from the mud (physical life) through the waters (emotional life, sensitivity) and air (mental life) growing always towards the light, warmth and freedom (heart of the Spiritual Sun). Earth, water, air, symbolise the nascent personality, bound in ignorance in the three worlds; fire the plane of the soul. Ilyin, for me, is a personality conscious of an inner passion, but not yet brought face to face with the self. It is personality that reacts to personality in the lower worlds; to the self a human personality is but an earthbound vehicle: - further, the Universal Self (teaches the Himalayan school) is about as conscious of us, as we an atom in our body! Hence Tathagata’s ‘poisoned arrow’. Man lives mainly in the three worlds, and personality reactions, ambitions and pursuits, society, are reality to him; in that world, he creates for himself a personal God, as recipient of his hope.

Karma, teaches the same school, begins with ceaseless movement (Fohat) in the Boundless Principle, bringing forth from itself Spirit, Space, and Being (Consciousness). Even God as Being, as Creator, is finite in the Ageless Wisdom. All creation comes from manifest Being, all Being is One – from the tiniest fiery lives of the atoms, to the lives that are composites of many lives (like humans, trees and rocks) to the atom that is the universe; and all action is either aligned with that initial movement (sattva) responding well to it (rajas) or is slow and heavy (tamas – in the personality cruelty, greed, lethality, ignorance etc) – ‘free will’ is integral with the Will (direction of this movement we call evolution).

I think Ilyin is expressing emotion (a personality force). The emotions oscillate, positive to negative, pleasure to pain, attraction ~ repulsion, around the apparent pivotal point of the ‘I’; but in reality the pivotal point of the self, of which the ‘I’ is but a symbol. In so far as mind, intellectual functions, ‘I’ are tied to these emotional currents, the thought life follows. The energy of the heart brings this oscillation to an end, replacing it with an inner sensitivity and awareness, through which much learning can flow.

How far above the personality dwells the energy of the self (?): - I would say from the street lamps to the stars is not a bad allegory. The sensitive personality wonders why there should be so much violence in the world, when (s)he can feel kindness and love, peace, streaming down from some higher point, within them. Why cannot the rest of the world feel it too? Feeling the ‘magnetic pull’ and ‘radiation’ of the heart, the mystic strives to elucidate, harmonise the polar opposites swinging back and forth within him (emotions) through application of the intellect. He knows love is the ultimate answer, but cannot quite transcend the personality reactions – struggling in a world where the less sensitive are not so motivated and would ridicule his pursuits. The more the heart is absent, the more mind (like a one-legged duck which made Kabir laugh), quacks and swims in circles - of greed, revenge, concepts, illusory rule and pride – trapped in the swirling waters and murky atmosphere of mind until erased by Yama, to await a new day when the samskaras stir. The mystic understands the intelligentsia do not have the answers because intellect is not enough; and that the heart must become a reality before an enlightened mind can formulate the good life.

jrbarch said...


‘Where the elephant walks’ (the Master) ‘the dogs bark’ (his critics).

The self knows the world of the personality is illusory, an ‘appearance’; it also knows the personality evolves: - on the ladder of life the true mystic carries within him all of the intellectual powers of the intelligentsia, but leavened by a new energy from the heart. The self knows when the personality is ready. Then the bridge is built and the mystic is the living symbol of that process. More than any other personality stage, the mystic feels the pain of the world – the heart his only hope and solace. He cries out for greater understanding, aghast at an unfeeling, unconscious world; without yet knowing, face to face, the certainty and reality of the self. He faces with ultimate courage the dweller on the threshold (everything left negative in him that only love can heal) and total surrender of the personality life: - when the hour comes, ,his heart bursts open to what is revealed to him on the mountain top. His story is written down in all of the old fables of the world. He is first of all Hercules, then Arjuna, living on, enduring, patiently, in you and I.

Hate, darkness, is not an entity; you cannot shovel darkness out of a room – you simply bring in some light. Even one little candle will do. Hatred is an absence of love, an absence of that energy, that ‘light’ from the higher worlds in the lower, and the only cure for the hater and the one being hated, is to feel love, feel the presence of the self; no one can engineer that. Love is the great healer, unifier and growth agent – just as light brings forth everything in the lower world! It elevates and expands the consciousness, to the point where the bonds of the emotions and mind break free; it brings the awareness of a Supreme Life - beyond the wildest dreams of the personality.

To the self there is no such thing as my soul and thy soul; there is just the Universal Consciousness (Self) of which we are a part. Hate is not possible at this elevation; personalities hate and fear, plan and scheme, trying to have their way – and Yama laughs. One day even the Moon, the Sun and Stars will be no more. The self is free of these forces, even though if embodied, the personality is still working the vestiges of them through.

When someone does you or the people you love an emotional injury, nothing can change that. What’s done is done. You cannot un-drop a stone into water. The ripples will bounce against the boundaries of the three worlds and come back to affect you; it will cause other ripples to arise from other beings affected, until the whole personality life is like an ocean storm. But you can decide within yourself, that you will never let that person have that power over you, to injure you, ever again. You can decide to make every effort, to lift your consciousness above that plane; the higher the better. The ripples will then bounce off you in the lower world, be sent back, perhaps even modified for the good; or at least be harmless. It is an assertion of the Will, utilising the energy of Love and Active Intelligence, over your own personality leaving others free to do what they think best (am not meaning a psychopath should not be restrained, or that a Justice System should not exist, or harmlessness is not the way of Dharma). For me, a criminal personality is often created by the society; and the best way to treat tamas activity is with rajas activity, pointed in the right direction (education); a criminal personality is a dis-eased personality and needs healing, not revenge. The best medicine is Love + Wisdom + Intelligence. It delivers human Dignity, human Sovereignty – the reign of the self over its own manifestation. Even the most hardened personality will bloom with self-knowledge (PEAK). You do not have to forgive or condemn the perpetrator, because to the self no crime has been committed. A personality has strayed and the consequences are already set in motion.

jrbarch said...


If you have ever lived in isolation for any extended period, you will know that everything that is negative comes from you, and everything that is positive comes from you – and, you have an incredible power called Choice; and yet another called Responsibility. Force in the lower world, is always transmuted transformed, transcended, before it can rise into the world of energy where it is transfigured. When the human being is transfigured, the mystic becomes the true occultist (aware of the hidden world). We are asked to do no harm so that we may lift ourselves, everyone and everything, with us. Warriors should act in defence; never aggression or predation. People write their own script for themselves every day, as do aggregates like countries. Revenge is not necessary and serves only to propagate a cycle. The whole story of the Mahabharata is taken up with the story of revenge - because for many ‘I’s in this world, awash as they are in the waters, gasping for air, that is their story.

Everything is perception, and perception comes from Being, working through an instrument, on some plane. If even a modicum of the commentary, similar above, is true – then mankind is the most deluded being on the planet. Think about that quietly for awhile. The animals work within instinctive mind with no ‘I’ to muddle things; the human works with lower mind and makes everything up – at the centre of it all the dramatic ‘I’. This ignorance is what people with self-knowledge label ‘mind’ – people without self-knowledge think they are the mind. Mind needs ‘light’ (understanding).

The mystic, ushered into and transfigured within the hallowed halls of the self, begins to work with occult law (love-wisdom): - his personality adopting the outlook of the self, unperturbed and as human as he can be, working through the bodies of the integrated personality - regardless of what is happening in the three worlds (with all of its farce, fiasco, ignorance and miasma). In days gone by, even with Yama’s karmic conscripts like Hannibal or Alexander driving down from the mountains with senseless armies, slaughtering everything in their path; even today with nuclear Armageddon looming on the horizon – there is Hope. Real change comes from the inner worlds. Man takes one step toward the divine and the divine takes ten steps towards man. With the infinite patience he learns from this Divine and the wisdom and Grace of his Teacher, every student faithful to his dharma, in their own way, attends to the real work at hand. Check your map and compass!

Tom Hickey said...

Wait, there's more.

The theory of karma as summarized above would be incomplete without adding the important role of "grace."

"Grace" is a gift that is freely given. It is not a consequence of believing anything or doing anything and it cannot be compelled by anything either, although pure love makes one eligible for it. While it generally falls on the deserving, this is a rule with many exceptions. The best and surest way of making oneself eligible for receiving this gift is by cultivating expansive love.

What is grace? Suppose one becomes one hundred percent prepared and then realizes himself as God; that is not grace.

If the worst sinner were before me and I got the whim, I could make him realize God in a flash. This is grace.

— Meher Baba, in Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, 1st ed, Vol. 13 & 14, p. 4370;
Revised Online Edition, p. 3791Revised Online Edition, p. 3701.