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Laughter: Quotes and Hafiz poem

“When you realize how perfect everything is
you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”
~ Buddha
“What is soap to the body, laughter is to the soul.”

~ Yiddish Proverb
“I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears, invited by my agonized self, into calm. 
It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter. 
Tears that purify my heart and reveal to me the secret of life and its mystery,
Laughter that brings me closer to my fellow men;
Tears with which I join the broken-hearted,
Laughter that symbolizes joy over my very existence.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Time spent laughing is time spent with the Gods.”

~ Japanese proverb
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

~ Victor Borg
“Sing because this is a food our starving world needs.
Laugh because that is the purest sound.”

~ Hafiz
“Blessed is he who makes his companions laugh.”
~ The Koran
“It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. When people ask me how I find the strength to laugh now, I reply that I am a professional laugher.”
~ The Dalai Lama


Laughing Buddha


Laughter ~ Hafiz

What is laughter? What is laughter?
It is God waking up! O it is God waking up!
It is the sun poking its sweet head out
From behind a cloud
You have been carrying too long,
Veiling your eyes and heart.

It is Light breaking ground for a great Structure
That is your Real body – called Truth.

It is happiness applauding itself and then taking flight
To embrace everyone and everything in this world.

Laughter is the polestar
Held in the sky by our Beloved,
Who eternally says,

“Yes, dear ones, come this way,
Come this way towards Me and Love!

Come with your tender mouths moving
And your beautiful tongues conducting songs
And with your movements – your magic movements
Of hands and feet and glands and cells – Dancing!

Know that to God’s Eye,
All movement is a Wondrous Language,
And Music – such exquisite, wild Music!”

O what is laughter, Hafiz?
What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?

It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!

 

Hafiz translation: I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

 

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Quotations About Religion


“If there is love in your heart,
you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Kyaikto, Burma


“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”
~ Khalil Gibran~ “The Prophet”

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.  ”
~ Albert Einstein

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“This is a time for us to remember that in the name of religion more people have died than in all the wars and natural calamities put together. Now more than ever we must understand that the purpose of religion is not to separate us. True faiths don’t preach hatred and killing, nor did any of the prophets. It is the people who interpret the scriptures who create the divisions. Division comes if we put our ego into the teachings of these religions. Let us strive to be free of that kind of egoism”
~ Swami Satchidananda

Let us accept all the different paths as different rivers running toward the same ocean.
~ Swami Satchidananda

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
~ George Orwell, 1984

“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.
Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

“. . Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“Religion is confining and imprisoning and toxic because it is based on ideology and dogma. But spirituality is redeeming and universal.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain – Autobiography, 1959

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
 not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi or Zen.
 Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all. 
I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.
 My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,
 First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi, ‘Only Breath’

“There is only one God, the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …
There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion — Hindus, Mohammendans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well — the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. At a third the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

“People often ask me, “What religion are you? You talk about the Bible, Koran, Torah. Are you a Hindu?” I say, I am not a Catholic, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, but an Undo. My religion is Undoism. We have done enough damage (with religious dogma). We have to stop doing any more and simply undo the damage we have already done.”
~ Swami Satchidananda – Beyond Words:

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”

“Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”
~ Carl Jung

 



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A Brain Scientist’s ‘No Brainer’ NDE


“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.
~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that
consciousness is an ultimate reality and,
all the possible knowledge, concerning objects
can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics

 



Introduction.

For millennia mystics and seers have realized experientially that our space/time/causality reality is but a play of consciousness; that all impermanent appearances, all apparent forms and phenomena – including human brains – are but holographic projections of timeless Universal Awareness.

But very few scientists have shared this revelatory mystical world view. Most scientists do not regard as “real” that which is beyond perception and conception.

Rather than recognizing consciousness as the ultimate and eternal Source of our reality, reductionistic and materialistic mainstream science says that brains generate consciousness, and that we see via our brains.

However, there have been innumerable published reports of near death and out of body experiences and other mystical experiences which contradict this mainstream brain hypothesis. (*See footnote re Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].) Nonetheless, until now most brain scientists have dismissed these reports as untrustworthy “anecdotal” evidence. Rarely have mainstream brain scientists transcended their mistaken materialistic paradigm. But there have been noteworthy exceptions. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

Dr. Eben Alexander

Thus, in October 2012 Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who has taught at Harvard Medical School, went public with an autobiographical account of a life changing dramatic and vivid near death experience (NDE) of what he called “heaven” while he was in a week-long comatose state with a non-functional brain neocortex. (His best-selling first book, ”Proof of Heaven”, was published by Simon and Schuster on October 23, 2012.)

Dr. Alexander reported being told in “heaven”:

“‘You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.’ The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.”


He has written that prior to his NDE he did not believe in such experiences, and ‘scientifically’ dismissed them.

“As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.”

“According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.”

“There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”


Raised as a Christian, Dr. Alexander used the religious concepts of “God” and “heaven”, to describe his extraordinary experience.

“Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all, because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal-and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”


Apart from referring to God, he also identified unconditional Love as the the ultimate Reality and “basis of everything” that exists.

“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”


With newfound openness to “anecdotal” evidence, Dr. Alexander now expresses optimism that as science and mysticism ever more agree, humankind will evolve to wonderful new states of being.

And so may it be!

Footnote

*Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].

The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos, and in magazines and books. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)


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Surrender ~ Quotes and Sayings


We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything
even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“Setting aside all noble deeds, just surrender completely to the will of God.
I shall liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve.”
~ Bhagavad Gita

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;
nevertheless not My will, but Thy will, be done.”
~ Luke 22:42.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
~ Proverbs 3:5-6

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
~ Lao Tzu

“By letting it go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu

“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
~ Rumi

“How did you get here? Close your eyes and surrender.”
~ Rumi

“The hurt that we embrace becomes joy.” …..
“Roar, Lion of the Heart, and tear me open!“
~ Rumi

“The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”
~ William Booth

“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”
~ Julia Cameron

“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go”.
~ Lao Tzu

“He knows what He is doing with me.
I cannot always understand His way,
but I am content in the realization that He knows what is best.
That is surrender.”
~ Daya Mata

“Knowledge is learning something every day.
Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”
~ Zen Proverb



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The Emotion Of Devotion – Crying For God – Quotations


“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
~ Rumi

Tears are the solution
for dissolution
of other
into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Anandamayi Ma

 

Ron’s Introduction.

I can’t recall crying in my entire adult life, until a mid-life spiritual awakening at age forty three. Then, upon a profound Self identity realization, I cried for twenty four hours. And ever since I have often spontaneously shed profuse tears.

Soon after my awakening, I realized that I was crying for God, with intense longing. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.) Then after meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I gradually learned that I had been immensely blessed to follow the spiritual path of Divine devotion – the path of Love. And that my continual longing and crying for God was an extraordinary blessing recognized in all devotional paths and known in Hinduism as Bhakti, and in Christianity as “the gift of tears”.

I intend writing more memoirs about my experiences with “the gift of tears”. Until then, I offer the following teachings and quotations from spiritual masters and texts, which may help acquaint you with that path.

Quotations on Crying For God.


“There comes a holy and transparent time
when every touch of beauty 
opens the heart to tears.
This is the time the Beloved of heaven 
is brought tenderly on earth.
This is the time of the opening of the Rose.”
~ Rumi

“Jesus wept.”
~ John 11:35

“The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears.”
~ Native American proverb

What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.
~Jewish Proverb

“There is a palace that opens only to tears.”
~ Zohar (source of Kabbalah)

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
~ Psalms 126:5

“Weeping may endure for the night,
but joy cometh in the morning”
~ Psalms 30:5

“Man is like an onion.
When you peel away the layers,
all that is left is tears.”
~ Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Hasidic master

“The fruits of the inner man begin only with the shedding of tears.
When you reach the place of tears, then know that your spirit has come out from the prison of this world and has set its foot upon the path that leads towards the new age.”
~ Saint Isaac of Nineveh

“Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world?
Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart:
Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!…. When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart….”
~ Anandamayi Ma

Q. “Under what conditions does one see God?”
A. “Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him. People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. They swim in tears for money. But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa

“When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes. If you want to know God, you must be like the naughty baby who cries till the mother comes.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation.”
“The state that we attain by calling and crying to God is equal to the bliss that the yogi experiences in samadhi.”
~ Mata Amritanandamayi  (Ammachi)

“He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy. He rises to
transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his higher emotional
nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes, his hair stands on end, his heart
melts in love. The bliss in that state is so intense that, forgetful of
himself and his surroundings, he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs, or
sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole
universe.”
~ Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 (Lord Krishna to His disciple Uddhave)

“As a [thirsty] hart* longs for flowing streams,
so longs my soul for thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night.
~ Psalm 42.1-3

*The word ‘hart’ is an old alternative for “stag” (male deer”).

“You know, if you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna (to Sivananda)

“When, hearing the name of Hari or Rama once,
you shed tears and your hair stands on end,
then you may know for certain that you do not
have to perform such devotions as the sandhya any more.
Then only will you have a right to renounce rituals;
or rather, rituals will drop away of themselves.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna

‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears. As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for”
~ Sri Ramakrishna

“Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna

“The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as ‘I am such an important man’ or ‘I am so and so’. Level the mound of ‘I’ to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna

“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. ….. Look at Ramakrishna.
How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”
~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236

 

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Inner Illumination

“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7



Beyond duality “reality” of darkness and light –
of outer light casting shadows –

There glows within each of us
a timeless shadowless effulgence;

The invisible Source of all visible light.

Knowingly or unknowingly,
but irresistibly,
we seek to emerge from all shadows

And to merge with That
shadowless inner effulgence

Which is our own true Self –

The light of universal Awareness:

Ever glowing,
Ever growing,
Ever knowing –

Itself.


Ron’s audio recitation of Inner Illumination

Listen to


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Synchronicity Story: A Spiritual Experience on Bernal Heights

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Fred Rogers
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself.”
~ A Course in Miracles (ACIM)

Bernal Heights view


Lately, I have been blessed with ever more magical moments and with ever increasing gratitude for this precious and lucky life. Usually these magical moments have happened synchronistically and unexpectedly. And often they’ve involved spiritual experiences with people, creatures or Nature, which I call “holy encounters”.

Just before the recent solstice holidays, I was blessed with a magical visit to a beautiful San Francisco view place which I had never before seen. And there I met a lovely man, Daniel Raskin, who shared with me a haunting story (which follows) of his unforgettable spiritual experience in a remote Utah desert canyon.

Here’s what happened, and the story Daniel told me:

I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, attracted by San Francisco’s climate, physical beauty and ambiance. Within its boundaries are more than fifty hills, several islands, and significant stretches of Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.

So, while living in San Francisco I have visited and enjoyed almost all of its best known view places. But until recently I never had known about or seen the spectacular view from atop Bernal Heights a hilly neighborhood above San Francisco’s outer Mission and Bay View districts.

Then, just before Christmas, I was invited to attend a beautiful holiday dinner party hosted by Shelley Cook, a very talented and intuitive massage therapist who has been skillfully helping heal and realign my body since it suffered a painful lower back yoga injury.

At the party there were many lovely artistic people, all much younger than me. One of the other guests, Audrey Daniel, a professional photographer/videographer, told me she had lived for many years in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights district, which she regarded as San Francisco’s most charming and typical neighborhood – like a village within the city. Whereupon, realizing that I had never yet visited Bernal Heights during my 50+ years as a San Franciscan, I became curious about seeing what Audrey was describing.

My curiosity was soon satisfied synchronistically by The Lone Arranger, my ‘appointments secretary’.

A few days after the party, at Shelley’s request, I unexpectedly rescheduled my regular afternoon appointment with her to morning, so she could accommodate some people from Santa Cruz who’d just been injured in an auto accident.

Upon finishing our morning massage therapy session, Shelley had extra time before her afternoon appointments. Generously, she offered to show me a nearby Vedanta healing center and shrine which she had long been urging me to visit. So we went to the shrine.

There, as I gazed at an image of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – a nineteenth century Hindu saint with whom I have long felt special affinity – I experienced a deep Divine mood, and cried copious tears of devotion.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Thereafter, when Shelley and I left the shrine, it was lunch time. And instead of returning home to eat, I unexpectedly went with Shelley to a restaurant which she recommended. At first she suggested a nearby Asian restaurant, but then she suddenly intuited that we would probably more enjoy going to a place on Bernal Heights.

So, four days after hearing from Audrey Daniel about the Bernal Heights district, I visited that area for the first time in my life, and there enjoyed a delicious Mexican lunch with Shelley. After we ate and before returning to her studio, Shelley urged me to hike atop Bernal hill to enjoy the magnificent panoramic view of San Francisco, instead of taking my usual daily walk by the Bay.

So, still in spiritual mood from my experience at the Ramakrishna Vedanta shrine, I walked up steep streets to the base of Bernal hill. There I approached the first person I encountered, seeking directions to the hilltop trail.

But instead of a quick encounter about directions, we had an extended dialogue. It was Daniel Raskin, with whom I enjoyed a long spiritual chat and experienced a ‘holy encounter’, before we parted and I beheld the spectacular panoramic view from atop Bernal Hill.

Synchronistically, Daniel identified himself as a photographer living in the Bernal Heights vicinity, like Audrey the photographer responsible for my curiosity about that neighborhood. And when I mentioned Audrey, Daniel said he had participated and appeared in her documentary film The Owls of Bernal Hill.

As we chatted, I told Daniel of my interest in mysterious spiritual synchronicities. Whereupon, he shared with me a wonderful story of an unforgettable spiritual experience. Here is Daniel’s story as he wrote it for a diary in 1998, just after it happened:

A Spiritual Experience
By Daniel Raskin *

July 15, 1998, Cottonwood Point, Arizona
Sierra Club Trip: Locating Petroglyphs

Utah Box Canyon


Today we visited the end of a box canyon where there were complex and intriguing ancient petroglyphs and small ruins. After breakfast we drove a short way to our trailhead and hiked a few miles along a sandy path. The plants were mostly a bluish
aromatic sage; also juniper, cacti, local grasses and, here and there, a late blooming flower. The sky was perfectly clear, deep blue, and the sun fierce. Most of the hike was in full sun; the temperature in the nineties by ten or eleven.

The end of the canyon was a spectacular place, a high semi-circular vertical cliff. It was concave and beautifully banded, brown, light brown, reddish brown and yellow. A broad waterless wash wove through the flat valley floor. There, in the
shade of the canyon, oaks and plants with red berries grew.

As soon as I got into the shade of the canyon walls, I began to breathe rapidly. I did not feel I had over-exerted myself, and did not understand why I was breathless. I began to feel slightly nauseous, faint and dizzy. I also felt very moved by the beauty surrounding me. I began to feel very emotional. My heartbeat was rapid and my breath uncontrollably fast and deep. I began to feel like I had taken LSD.

I sat down. My condition intensified. I began to cry, copious tears. I was simultaneously relieved, frightened and confused. My thoughts and feelings wandered freely. As I continued to cry, I felt over-joyed to be alive. I felt blessed to enjoy the relative security of my middle class existence. I thought about my partner Ann. I thought about her ovarian cancer. It almost killed her, but now she is healthy again and stronger in new ways. I thought about Jesse, my twenty-one year old, and how he is now thriving after a difficult adolescence. I thought about Sam, my sixteen year old. He has survived a risky and chaotic early adolescence, and is stronger and more mature. I felt my love, my powerful love for my family. All this time I was crying and breathing deeply.

I thought about the miracle of being alive, of experiencing existence in the midst of infinite eternity. What explains my chance to experience life? Who or what, ultimately, gave me and all of us this miraculous gift?

As I thought and cried, I slowly began to calm down. My breath slowed. After a while I felt stable enough to get up. I took photographs of the canyon and the beautiful oaks and wild currents growing there. Then I joined the group. They had
dispersed about the headwall to view the great array of petroglyphs. There were animals, human figures, designs and scenes pecked into the rock. The most impressive was a figure of a one-legged person. People with deformities were sometimes holy people in Native American cultures.



After looking at the rock art I investigated the remains of a kiva. A coyote had made a lair in its recesses. I found a small rodent’s jaw. I climbed down to the canyon floor. Datura, a hallucinogenic plant was growing there. I wondered: “am I in a sacred place?” After a while we left the canyon, had lunch, visited more rock art sites and returned to camp. I felt light-headed for several hours.

What happened to me? Did I become delirious from the heat? Was I freaked out by the rigors of this trip, lonely for my family? Maybe. But why did this happen today, rather than on another hot, hard working day?
And, why did this happen in a place with a petroglyph of a one-legged person, a kiva and hallucinogenic plants growing?
I’d like to say I had a vision, if saying that didn’t feel arrogant and presumptuous. Who knows? Fortunately, life is full of mysteries.

After returning home: I shared my experience with Ann. She said that I had had a spiritual experience about the gift of life and the power of love, as she had had when she was sick with cancer.

* Daniel Raskin is a retired San Francisco preschool teacher and photographer.


******

Do you agree (as I do) with Daniel’s partner Ann that he “had a spiritual experience about the gift of life and the power of love”?

And didn’t Daniel’s spontaneously copious tears express more eloquently than any words the heartfelt depths of his joy and gratitude for this blessed life?

Ron’s moral of the story:

Daniel’s deep spiritual experience, shows us that we don’t need religious rituals, beliefs or dogma to experience Divinity; that, beyond religion, our grateful communion with Nature can be an equally powerful spiritual path.

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Your Religion Is Not Important




Introduction. The following is a brief dialogue between  the Dalai Lama and Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff, one of the renovators of the Theology of Freedom, as recounted by Boff:

Boff’s Narative.

“In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which 
Dalai Lama and myself were participating, at recess I maliciously, and also with interest, asked him: 
“Your holiness, what is the best religion?”

“I thought he would say:      “The Tibetan Buddhism” or “The oriental religions, much older than Christianity”

“Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes ….which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.  “He answered: 

“The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. 
It is the one that makes you a better person.”


“To get out of my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked:

 “What is it that makes me better?”

“He responded:

“Whatever makes you
more Compassionate,
more Sensible,
more Detached,
more Loving,
more Humanitarian,
more Responsible,
more Ethical.”

 “The religion that will do that for you is the best religion”


“I was silent for a moment, marveling and even today 
thinking of his wise and irrefutable response:

“I am not interested, my friend, about your religion 
or if you are religious or not.

“What really is important to me is your behavior in 
front of your peers, family, work, community, 
and in front of the world.”

“Remember, the universe is the echo of our actions and our  thoughts.

“The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics.  
 It is also of human relations.
 If I act with goodness, I will receive goodness.
 If I act with evil, I will get evil.

“What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. 
 You will always have what you desire for others. 
 Being happy is not a matter of destiny. 
 It is a matter of options.”


Finally he said:

“Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.
Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.
Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.
Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,
and your Destiny will be your Life
     … and …
“There is no religion higher than the Truth.”


You Tube presentation of this dialogue:



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