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Your Religion Is Not Important



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:

“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.”


Here is a link to a You Tube Powerpoint presentation of this dialogue.

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Introduction to Ron’s Memoirs

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas



“Follow your heart – even if it contradicts my words”

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


During a traumatic divorce and “mid-life crisis” in 1975, I experienced what Hindus call a spontaneous awakening of the kundalini energy with sudden realization that I was much more than my physical body, its story and thoughts with which until then I had always self-identified. 

That realization triggered an extraordinary and unforgettable “rebirth” experience, accompanied and followed by many amazing mystical experiences, which forever changed my life and impelled me to begin questioning whether the universe worked the way I’d thought or been taught; and to soulfully seek answers to ultimate questions and a new paradigm guiding the remainder of my life time.  So, paradoxically, a broken heart opened me to a wonderful new way of experiencing life.

Since then my life has unfolded in ways I couldn’t previously have imagined, like a spiritual mystery story. For example, after starting life as a non-observant Jew – a secular Hebrew, I was initiated into a Hindu tradition by a venerable Hindu guru, and for many years thereafter regarded myself as a “born-again Hindu”. Though I no longer consider myself a “born-again Hindu”, but an “uncertain Undo”, I write today because of what my guru told me eighteen years ago.

It was February, 1992.   I had just retired after thirty four years of practicing as a San Francisco litigation attorney, and had come to Ahmedabad, India, to pay my respects to my then 114 year old venerable Hindu guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhasudandas (Guruji).  Guruji was living in the apartment of a local doctor.  His mental, intuitive and prescient powers were amazingly acute – as ever, but his 114 year old body was weak, and he was obliged to spend his days mostly in bed.   On one of those days, I was granted an audience together with a small group of Guruji’s closest Indian devotees, including his female successor Shri Anandi Ma, her parents and her husband, Dileepji.   Except for me, all present were Indians with whom Guruji conversed in Gujarati, while I knelt facing an altar at the foot of his bed.

After a while, Shri Anandi Ma’s father, Pravin Jani, a Vedic astrologer and pundit, spoke in English to me: “Guruji wants to know if you have any questions.” Having just retired, I was thinking of starting a daily diary of spiritual experiences as a way of promoting my spiritual progress – my “sadhana”. So I asked if this would be OK, and received an answer which astounded me, and which I’ve been considering until now.

Guruji said:  “Rasik should write and publish his spiritual memoirs. They will inspire many people”.  Rasik – meaning “one engrossed in devotion” – was the spiritual name he had given me upon my initiation in 1978. I listened in astonishment and bewilderment, thinking: “Publish my personal memoirs? Shouldn’t they be kept private?  How could the experiences of an ordinary person like Ron Rattner inspire many people?.”

Eighteen years have passed since that day in India.  Since then, I lived for many years in introspective semi-seclusion, without a TV, computer, newspaper, or radio news of the “real world”, meditating, praying, seeking answers to ultimate questions, and “enlightenment”.   Since then I’ve made many mistakes and have had many experiences and insights from which I think I’ve learned and benefited a lot. Though I haven’t stopped making mistakes and learning, I’ve now lived long enough to realize the prescience of Guruji’s instructions to me, and wish to honor them and you by sharing with you some of my spiritual stories, and their significance and lessons for me.

I feel that Humankind is now processing an extraordinary evolutionary leap in our common consciousness; that we are evolving from millennia of hierarchical dominance and constraints to an epoch of egalitarian and democratic sharing and openness; that we are democratizing and merging the spiritual and secular aspects of our lives. So, though I began my mid-life spiritual journey with an hierarchical Guru-disciple relationship, which I eternally honor, I now consider Life to be my spiritual teacher. But I am guided by Dhyanyogi’s highest teachings:  “Follow your heart – even if it contradicts my words”; and, “If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.”

Many meaningful and noteworthy experiences have revealed to me the deep and essential commonality, connection and interdependence of all life on Earth, so that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way.

This life has become like an amazing spiritual mystery story. Without yet – and perhaps never – solving the Mystery, more and more I’ve learned to honor it, with gratitude and awe. And I now gratefully experience my life as synchronistically magical and miraculous – feeling happier than ever before. So in sharing with you what I’ve learned from these spiritual experiences, I do not and can not write as a Guru, but as just another participating ‘fellow traveler’ on the spiritual path to an ever mysterious shared destiny.

My deepest aspiration is that everyone everywhere – all life forms – flourish and be happy; that all humankind be empowered to use their unique gifts to fulfill their highest potentialities, and thereby harmoniously to benefit all life on our precious planet – and beyond.  

So in now sharing with you some of my experiences and perspectives my intention and dedication is to contribute to that vision and goal.   As a ‘senior citizen’ and member of ‘Generation Exit’, I especially wish to be of help to younger people to whom we bequeath our future, as they inherit the mistakes and learning experiences of their forebears in an ever changing world.

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