The Wrong Lens

By Harold Stearley At Earthwalking

Radiance Sutras

There is a Place in the Heart where Everything meets.
Go there if you want to find me.
Mind, Senses, Soul, Eternity – All are there.

Are you there?

Enter the Bowl of Vastness that is the Heart.
Give yourself to it with Total Abandon
Quiet Ecstasy is there,
And a steady, regal Sense
Of Resting in a Perfect Spot.

Once you know the Way,
The Nature of Attention will call you to Return.
Again and Again,
And be saturated with Knowing,

I belong here, I am at Home here. 


As I attempt to understand the Nature of our Existence, Our Essence, I naturally try to define it with terminology.  And I then end up chasing other terminology to define that terminology.  This process repeats and stretches on into infinity . . .

At least it does for me. 

So, do we really get an answer to those time-worn phrases?  Terminology dissects and divides, which is one of the basic problems with understanding just who and what we are. 

I’ve had two careers where I was taught nothing but dissection and division – dissection of anatomy and physiology (the physical body) and the parsing of human law (humankind-imposed limitation of action).  Word by word, my mind has been programed to see everything as separate. 

Absolutely everything. 

So where is the Heart?  Where is the Soul? Where is the Unity?  How is it that we are connected to each and every thing in this Universe if we are dissected into separate and distinct Spirits?

Well, a few years ago, I stumbled upon the expression “All My Relations.”  Mitakuye Oyasin.   In fact, I wrote about it in a post titled: “Red Coral – To Feel is to Heal.”

I took comfort in the fact that we are never truly alone.  We are surrounded by All Our Relations and share the same Earth Mother as every other entity in this World.  While we have a distinct physical body, a vehicle, to complete our Earth Walk, we are interrelated with every other entity seeking to accomplish whatever their missions may be.  Even if that mission is only to hold space.

Soul contracts.

Though, as it often turns out when I engage in the journey within, I didn’t quite fully understand this concept.

As more wisdom comes, the more I affirm I really don’t know anything.  But I have learned one thing that is certain.  If we open ourselves up, open our Heart and free our Soul, then answers do come. 

Being in physical form, they often come from other physical beings.  I call these messengers “Dear Hearts,” and one recently opened my eyes to the fact that I was viewing our interconnectedness, All My Relations, incorrectly.  Quite literally.  I viewed our Spiritual connections with Di-Vision – through the wrong lens.

Her Heart directed my attention to the Three Malas.  These are three prominent states of mind, or lenses of our consciousness, through which we view ourselves and our relations with the world.  Three forms of ignorance that keep us trapped in separation.  Ignorance, not being an insult, just simply meaning that we lack knowledge.

Here “I Am,” back to parsing words.  The word “Mala” has several translations – that other terminology . . .

Mala, in Sanskrit, literally means “stain.” Although, the Malas are generally thought of as “impurities” of thought and belief.   Driven into our consciousness, these impurities cloud our Vision of our true Nature, our true Self, and create within us a pit of emptiness that we seek to fill with something outside of ourselves when the answers have always been within.

The Three Malas are: the Anava-Mala or the “Impurity of Individuality;” the Mayiya-Mala or the “Impurity of Differentiation;” and the Karma-Mala or the “Impurity of Action.”

The Anava-Mala is considered the subtlest of the impurities.  “Anava” derives from the word “Anu” meaning “atom, smallness, or finitude.” We are all particles of awareness that have split off of the central Source or the Great Soul.  And in doing so, and with becoming physically embodied, we promptly forget our origins.  We see ourselves as separate, small, limited, and dependent. We view ourselves in the singular ego “I,” “Me,” “Mine.”  We feel incomplete, unworthy, and insecure. [Unless perhaps, one is a narcissist.] Our Hearts become saddened, longing for the Universal connection with the Source.

Viewing the World through this lens of diminution, which is connected with the Heart, creates feelings of inadequacy and can be summed up with the word “Poverty.”

The impurity that constitutes the Mayiya-Mala is connected with our Mind.  It is a less subtle contamination where once we see ourselves as individuals, we begin making comparisons, distinctions, and discriminations.  The thoughts that emanate from this poisoning are, “Me versus anything Not-Me.” “Above and below.”  “Mine, and not Mine.”  “They are My Friends, they are My Enemies.”  “My Home, versus Not My Home.” 

This perception comes NOT from feeling separate from the Source as with the Anava-Mala, but from feeling separateness between Us and the rest of the World.  We make comparisons that give rise to the feelings of jealousy and anger. 

This Mala has been distilled to being called, “the Spiritual dirt of Dualistic Illusion.”

This lens of Duality, which is connected with our Mind, creates fear, and can be summed up with the word “Isolation.”  Indeed, we have now separated ourselves from the Source and from each and every other entity in existence.  We have made ourselves believe we are alone.

The final contagion, the gross impurity, is called the Karma-Mala.  The word “Karma” of course meaning “by deed or by action.”  This pollution of our consciousness is derived from the other Malas.  With the lenses of being isolated and distinct clouding our vision, we believe that it is “I alone” who is acting, when, in fact, the Universe is acting through us and in concert with us. And we believe our actions will never be enough, that we can never do enough. 

This impurity is said to harbor the impressions of pain and pleasure.  But we see those separately as “My pain” and “My pleasure.”  This separative perception is a product of “arrogation.”

Back to the parsing of words . . .

Arrogation derives from the Latin word “arrogates” meaning to appropriate to oneself.  To presumptuously seize or assume without right.  An example of which is to arrogate the right to make decisions when one lacks the power or position or the jurisdiction to do so.  Other synonyms include to commandeer, confiscate, demand, expropriate, preempt, or usurp.

I like that word “usurp.” [I was once called a usurper for trying to do my job.]

At first blush, this may seem contrary to the notion of limitation or the inability to act, but let’s break it down.   If we see ourselves as having an individual or separate agency and then, based upon our singular view, we usurp the right or power to take on the entire operation of the Universe, we are certainly doomed to failure.  Because there is no way we could possibly manage or control such vastness.  In fact, we may not see how it is possible to act enough to manage our own singular existence by ourselves, much more the entire Universe.  Filtering our consciousness through the lens of separate agency in this fashion even makes it impossible to grasp just how vast our Hearts and Souls actually are.

The lens of inability or incapacity, the feeling of never being able to do enough, which is connected to the body, and which can be summed up with the word “Despair,” gives rise to feelings of worry and fear. 


Having examined these three impurities, I can now apply them to my own inner turmoil.  What I see as my failure to view the concept of All Our Relations through the correct lens. 

I viewed All Our Relations as being interconnected, but also as being separate.  Blood Brothers and Sisters.  I sought out my Relations and myself deep within the Wilderness, in Nature, peering through the lenses of distinctions, differentiations, and discriminations.  In fact, I admired and marveled over the diversity I witnessed, and I believed I was returning “Home,” but, unsurprisingly, I never quite felt at “Home.” 

Something was always missing. 

Why do we continue to feel uneasy and unsure and alone and separate? These are all feelings of duality. The pit of emptiness, born of Poverty, Isolation and Despair, still exists, even when we realize that wherever we are at physically we are at “Home.”  That emptiness prevails because we are looking through the wrong lens.

What I must come to accept is that there is only “One.”

We are all One with the Source.  All of us One.  All of us interconnected.  All of us Related.  Mitakaye Oyasin – All our Relations.  All of us are One. 

There is only One.  

We mistakenly see ourselves as separate and incomplete so we look for what will fill the void and complete us, to join with us.  But there is no void when we realize the true Nature of our existence.  Pure Universal Energy.

A bit more terminology:

“Maya śakti is that universal energy which is owned by the individual being, the individual soul. And when that same universal energy is owned by the universal being, it is called svatantrya śakti. Svatantrya śakti is pure universal energy. Impure universal energy is maya. It is only the formation that changes through a difference of vision.”

“. . . through a difference of vision” – a different lens.

We crave validation, but to exist is all the validation we need.  Surrendering to our authentic selves, we see we are part of One.  Always connected.  A walking community.

I’ve had plenty of sad days and plenty of loneliness, yet I was seeking the Spiritual connection while separating myself from all of the communities I have always been a part of.  The Great Sky Nation, the Mineral Nation, the Plant Nation, the Animal Nation, the Human Nation, and the Spirit Nation.  All that our Earth Mother has bestowed upon us.

It is all One.  All My Relations.  

Once I open my eyes wider, view existence through the lens of One, the Void of emptiness dissipates.

Separateness was always an illusion I created in the first place.   And lifting those clouds allows us the freedom to create and find joy.  

“I belong here.”

“I am at Home here.”

In Metta

* Now is the time to re-read the Radiance Sutras at the beginning.  You will see how truly beautiful that passage is.

** Understanding concepts and putting them into practice are two completely different things and I have plenty of work to do to put this knowledge into action.

Dedication:  I dedicate this post to Christian, a Dear Heart, who pointed me in the direction of the Malas at a time when the Universe directed it.  When I needed it.  A time when I was ready to receive a broader lens, the lens of One.  She also condensed the concepts with the powerful words of Poverty, Isolation, and Despair, which she had learned along her own path of discovery.

And she introduced me to a form of compassion meditation, Tonglen, translated as “giving and taking” or “sending and receiving.” A breathing meditation focusing on taking in suffering and giving or sending out the pure light of compassion, bringing comfort and peace.

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to have any answers. As I attempt to learn and advance, and put things into words, I may get it all wrong. So feel free to share any views of your own.

Feature Photo: There were so many pictures I could have chosen for this post. All blurred images that could represent the concepts of viewing the world through different lens. I chose this one, which I had obviously edited, because looking through the layers of this image, we have Earth, Sky, Clouds, Ocean, the Sunset behind Volcanic Upheaval. Can you make it all out? Differentiate it all? And still see it as One?

Sources: I used a variety of references for this post. So many that it all kind of blurs together. I’m no longer sure where certain terminology may have originated. So if you would like further readings, check these out.

The Three Malas

What are Malas (Impurities) in Kashmir Shaivism – the Secret Supreme

Anava Mala: 1 Definition

Part 5 – Three Malas (impurities)

Avidya, Avidyā: 29 Definitions

The 7 Perceivers or Levels of Consciousness – (This one is particularly good 🙂

Svatantra Life – The Three Malas

The Three Malas/Impurities

Mala, Māḷa, Māla, Mālā: 41 Definitions

Which Lens will you choose to view your World?

12 thoughts on “The Wrong Lens”

  1. This is beautiful. I appreciate this writing and your sharing of your experience and learning. It requires deep introspection and trust to gain the deep understanding you have. We truly are all one and I strive to remember this in all moments. To be free of the illusion. Truly interesting and thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks LaDonna! I think it’s hard to put such knowledge into practice consistently, at least for me, I have to work at it. And remind myself. I’m really grateful to have been given this direction. It is quite a gift from a very advanced Soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful poem and beautiful picture. I don’t think anyone has all the answers, but I applaud your efforts to put pen down to paper (or rather fingers down to keyboard) and write what you think and feel. Enjoy the rest of your week and happy holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

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