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Dealing With Death and Dying ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Face death to live life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is in dying to ego life,
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But when I grew up it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Euphemistic language was used to describe death. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life; they usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

Growing up I didn’t think about death and wasn’t obliged to deal with it. Both my grandmothers had died before I was born. My paternal grandfather who I hardly knew died while I was quite young and I was not brought to his funeral. Until mid-life I didn’t suffer loss of any other dear person or pet, and didn’t much think about death.

Though the mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue, my childhood Jewish and public school education did not encompass that mystery – nor did my non-liberal arts college curriculum.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.

Like most other Americans, I had an innate but largely subconscious fear of death, which I discovered during college days in Madison, Wisconsin. While imprudently and unskillfully swimming too far from shore in Lake Mendota, I nearly drowned and unforgettably experienced my usually subconscious fear of death. Fortuitously, in the nick of time, I was sighted and rescued by boaters. For many years thereafter, as a (non-swimming) relatively young and healthy person, I never again consciously confronted or philosophically explored that innate fear of death.

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.

Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, for example, http://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/; also http://sillysutras.com/death-afterlife-rebirth-easter-reflections-on-resurrections/)

Ultimately I concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. http://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

Consequently, I became ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death. But, my detachment about my own demise did not negate my compassion and concern for loss of others – especially dear ones – and my wish for their auspicious transitions. This became evident when at age sixty-one I was, at long last, confronted with my dear father’s last illness and passing.

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

My dear father, Harry, came into this world on December 14, 1904, with a very strong body which served him well and without serious disease or disability until age 88. Then beginning in 1993 he had a series of ailments which proved terminal.

First he suffered an extremely painful and protracted case of herpes shingles for which he was treated with Prednisone, a powerful immune system depressant, which weakened him. Soon after recovering from that affliction, while already debilitated he had an intestinal hernia injury, so painful that he was hospitalized and suffered greatly before and after emergency abdominal surgery. Then he soon developed congestive heart disease with lungs filling with liquid and mucus. And finally he was diagnosed with lung cancer – a terminal disease which he had averted despite being a three pack a day cigarette chain smoker from teen age until age sixty. Amazingly, he had will power to immediately quit smoking cigarettes on publication of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report confirming cigarette carcinogenicity and toxicity.

My Dad had enthusiastically enjoyed his long life, especially after his retirement and move from Chicago to the California Bay Area, near his children. But he was not anxious to prolong that life while he suffered painful terminal disease. Once, when I visited him in the John Muir Hospital, sadly he confided in me: “Ron, they put dogs and cats out of misery, but make people suffer. If Doctor Kevorkian was in this area and not Michigan, he’d be my doctor.”

Though, as a law-abiding “born-again Hindu” I had mixed emotions about euthanasia, I felt great compassion for my father and wanted to do whatever would be spiritually appropriate to mitigate his suffering and assure his most auspicious possible transition. So, I consulted my Brahmin Vedic pundit-astrologer friend Pravin Jani, father of Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma.

Pravinji recommended that I recite certain Sanskrit mantras and that I make two extraordinary charitable donations dedicated to my father: first, that I give to a chosen charity a gift of actual gold – not money; and second, that I purchase and give a holy cow to an Indian ashram. So, with heartfelt compassion for my father, I began reciting the mantras and arranged the unusual donations in his honor.

First, I donated rare American eagle gold coins to New Dimensions Foundation, where I was a Board member. Then, through arrangements by my daughter Jessica who was then living on Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, I acquired and donated to the ashram a holy cow, where it was gratefully received.

“Why” you may ask “is it considered propitious to donate a cow to an Indian ashram?” Because in India cows are are revered as sacred animals by millions of Hindus. Hindus believe that their Divine Avatar Krishna incarnated 5,000 years ago as an enchanting cowherd. He is often described as Bala-Gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” and as Govinda, “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.”

I learned about holy cows during my 1982 sacred pilgrimage to India. One of my most memorable images of that trip, was of stray cows roaming free and obstructing traffic on busy Calcutta streets as our tour bus approached the downtown hotel where we were staying. Later, in the holy city of Rishikesh, I communed with and kissed one of the sacred small cows on the Sivananda, Divine Life Ashram.

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


Many Indian ashrams and rural Indian families have at least one dairy cow, using it for milk, curds, butter, ghee and dung as fuel for pujas (ritual ceremonies). Thus, the cow remains a protected animal in Hinduism today, revered by most Hindus, who do not eat beef.

When I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram in 1992, the ashram had one cow. It’s limited dairy products were used mostly for feeding Ammachi and some swamis, but were insufficient to supply other ashram residents. However, with special dispensation, for a few days Jessica obtained for me one morning cup of curd (yoghurt) which helped heal the severe intestinal upset with which had I arrived at the ashram, suffering food poisoning from a Brahmin wedding feast in Ahmedabad. So the following year I was especially happy to repay that ashram cow’s blessing by donating another sacred cow to be its companion.

Apparently my bovine and gold donations and prayers did not prolong my father’s life. But I have faith that they helped his transition to a heavenly afterlife. When it became evident that Dad’s days here were numbered, at his request he was released from hospital to hospice care at home in March 1994.

To help, I started sleeping at my parents’ Walnut Creek apartment. On the night of March 10, 1994, sensing that Dad’s death was imminent, I stayed awake reciting Sanskrit mantras, especially a mantra recommended by Guruji for auspicious transitions of those destined to die. As I fervently recited mantras, I felt enhanced subtle energies and entered a clairsentient state. Then, though Dad was sleeping in another room, I felt the departure of his spirit. The next morning he was gone, and I helped my mother with required post-death arrangements.

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

That night, exhausted by the stress of prior days, I returned to San Francisco where I slept soundly in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Just before awakening, and while I was in a semi-somnambulant state, my father fleetingly appeared in a vivid inner vision. He looked as he did during the prime of his life, rather than as a debilitated old man. He assured me he was fine and then disappeared. When I reported that sighting to Indian friends, they informed me that Dad had died on Maha Shivaratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) considered the most auspicious holy night of the year by millions of Hindus.

Soon afterwards I received another extraordinary assurance of Dad’s favorable transition as I was driving to Shri Anandi Ma’s home in Antioch for a weekend meditation program. En route, I had picked up as passengers Anandi Ma’s parents and brother Umesh at their Berkeley apartment. Like his revered sister, Umesh then spent many hours daily in deep meditation often communing with Guruji’s ishta devata, Hindu monkey-God Lord Hanuman, considered an incarnation of Shiva.

As we traveled to Antioch, Umesh said to me: “Ron, I have a message for you from Hanumanji.” With extreme curiosity, I asked about that message. Whereupon, Umesh replied: “Hanumanji says, don’t worry about your father, we’re taking care of him.”

Six months later, on August 29, 1994, Guruji took mahasamadhi at age one hundred sixteen, and joined the heavenly host caring for my father and countless others. So, heeding Hanumanji’s assurance, I’m not worrying about my father. Instead, as I too approach the end of this precious lifetime, it is my heartfelt aspiration to help through self-purification and compassion not only family dear ones but all other suffering sentient beings with whom we remain inseparably connected.

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Permanent Impermanence – Sayings and Quotes

“Nothing is permanent ‘neath heaven’s vast firmament.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is ineffable, change is inevitable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“All formations and formulations are impermanent creations.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“The words “This, too, will pass” are pointers toward Reality. In pointing
to the impermanence of all forms, by implication, they are also pointing to
the eternal. Only the eternal in you can recognize the impermanent as
impermanent.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth

“Everything flows and nothing abides,
 everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”

~ Heraclitus (c.540 – c.475 BC)

“[T}he recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to
the dimension of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it “eternal life.” ….It leads to…. nonresistance, non-judgment, and non-attachment .. the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth (edited)

“All formations are `transient’ (anicca); all formations are `subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are `without a self’ (anattaa)”.
~ Guatama Buddha

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient.
And that which is transient, is subject to suffering; and of that which is transient and subject to suffering and change, one cannot rightly say:
`This belongs to me; this am I; this is my Self’.
Therefore, whatever there be of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations, or consciousness, whether past, present or future, one’s own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, one should understand according to reality and true wisdom: `This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Self’.”
~ Guatama Buddha

“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. 
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
 rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.”
~ Guatama Buddha

“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”
~ Pema Chodron

“The First thing to understand about the universe is that no condition is “good” or “bad.” It just is. So stop making value judgments. The second thing to know is that all conditions are temporary. Nothing stays the same, nothing remains static. Which way a thing changes depends on you.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch

“We are like the spider.

We weave our life and then move along in it.

We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.

This is true for the entire universe.”
~ The Upanishads


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Hydrologic Logic: What People Can Learn From Snowflakes

“Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.”
~ Rumi





Spiritual teachers say we can learn about ourselves by closely observing all of Nature’s manifestations and processes. As above, so below.

So, what can we learn about ourselves by studying snowflakes and hydrologic processes?

Science tells us that though countless trillions of snowflakes have fallen on earth each has a unique form; that each snowflake is an hexagonally symmetrical crystalline form which begins around a tiny speck of dust – as each pearl forms around a sand particle – but that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.

How amazing!!! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/faqs/faqs.htm

Yet, despite this wondrous and unimaginable diversity of forms, all snowflakes have a common essence — frozen water, H20.

When a snowflake melts, it returns to and merges with its watery source, which is perpetually recycled. So, each snowflake’s essence is the same – recycled water, which has formed countless unique prior snowflakes.

Not only are snowflakes unified in amazing physical diversity by their common watery essence, but science says that their common essence is indestructible. Water – a liquid – is a form of matter. Matter is merely manifest energy – E=mc2 – and energy can’t be destroyed. It just cycles from formlessness to differing forms and phenomena. So, in their essence, snowflakes are immortal energy.

Like snowflakes, each of the billions of humans who have inhabited Earth has had an individually unique form and genetic makeup. And like snowflakes, human physical bodies are composed of common elemental constituents, including mostly H20. People’s physical bodies – like snowflakes – appear for a twinkling of time, die and physically ‘melt’ back into the Earth.

But, unlike snowflakes, each of us is aware of our environment and of our life’s experiences; and this awareness is our entire existence. So, while unique snowflakes are united in glorious diversity by their common watery essence, physically unique human beings, are unified not only by their common elemental constituents but, also, by their by their common essence – awareness, which is the sole matrix and context of human beingness.

Snowflakes appear in Nature and, apparently, are peacefully at one with Nature until they disappear. Humans appear in Nature but – unlike snowflakes – we have great intelligence and we think. And through thought we identify ourselves with our perceived separate forms. Thus, we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. But we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death.

So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And, through thought, we try psychologically to “protect” and preserve our ephemeral physical forms and to deter or deny their inevitable demise. Accordingly, our lives are often marked by mental afflictions causing conflicts, problems and suffering, which disturb our peace and our awareness of at-one-ment with Nature.

Q. So, what can people learn from snowflakes?

A. To ‘cool it’ and to not worry about our inevitable disappearance; to let go and go with the flow.

We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts; that – like snowflakes – our common essence is immortal.

Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with our immortal awareness, rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and gradually we can expand our perceived boundaries, so to ever evolve ’til these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend ephemeral entity identity, often we can just be at peace – as immortal awareness.

And so,

“As we lose our fear, Of leaving life, We shall gain the art of living life.”

And – like snowflakes – maybe some day we’ll be ‘recycled’ some way. e.g. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

Or maybe not. e.g. http://tinyurl.com/mlw6erq

In all events, – like snowflakes – we need not worry about leaving. For

“It is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to Eternal Life.” ~ Saint Francis of Assisi

Here’s what Paramahansa Yogananda says:

“The dewdrop belongs to the sea. Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature; but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea. So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”

So – like snowflakes – don’t worry, be happy!

Namaste!

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Like A Waterfall

“Just as the strong current of a waterfall cannot be reversed,
so the movement of a human life is also irreversible.”
~ Buddha
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.
Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
~ Lao-Tzu



Like a waterfall
is the course of your life.

Arising mysteriously from
interdependent karmic causes,
its current flows irreversibly and irresistibly –

Out of this impermanent world
of ever changing forms and phenomena,
and into the Eternal Mystery.

You have no destination option.

So, choicelessly and unresistingly,
let go and go with Life’s flow –
Now!.

Inevitably it will carry you
to an infinite ocean of Eternal Awareness.

There – like contents of a time release capsule –
your illusion of separateness from Source
will melt and merge timelessly
in Truth, Existence, Bliss.

There you will BE –
Eternally –
Wholeness, Holiness, SELF.

And so it shall be!



Ron’s audio recitation of Like a Waterfall

Listen to

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My ‘Near Death’ Experience ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




A few years after the death of his father, the famous 20th century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi was suddenly overcome with a powerful premonition that he too was about to die. Though he was then only sixteen years old and in good health, he became so fearful of his imagined imminent death that he felt impelled to investigate the bodily death experience. So he pretended that he was dying and introspectively contemplated his own death experience. Long afterwards in response to a devotee’s question about his “enlightenment” he so recounted this experience:

“The shock of the fear of death made me at once introspective or ‘introverted’. I said to myself mentally, ‘Now that death is come, what does it mean? Who is it that is dying? This body dies’. ….The material body dies, but the Spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. I am therefore the deathless Spirit. … Fear of death vanished at once and for ever. The absorption in the Self has continued from that moment right up to now”.

In 1979 I too had an extraordinary presumed near death experience. Unlike Ramana Maharshi’s pretended death experience, I really believed I was dying of a stroke and decided to observe the death process without resistance. Unlike Maharshi’s experience, my supposed death experience didn’t result in my instant “enlightenment” or permanent absorption in the Self. But, it was an extraordinary and unforgettable event, and it spurred my gradual transformative process of more and more identifying with spirit rather than body/mind, which had begun in 1976 with my post-divorce realization and rebirth experience.

After I received shaktipat initiation from Dhyanyogi in 1978, I began following his practices. But, also, I continued to explore spiritual mysteries by attending various other programs and lectures, with Dhyanyogi’s approval. When asked about our seeking information from other teachers, Guruji would say it was OK but unnecessary.

My near death experience happened in late 1978 or 1979, the morning after I had attended an inspiring lecture and experiential program given by Sufi master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. At the program I whole heartedly participated in a Sufi remembrance of God ritual called Zikr, featuring repetition of names of Allah. Fervently repeating in unison with other participants: “La Ilaha Illallah” , “La Ilaha Illallah”, I vigorously rotated my body, head and neck, and became quite ‘high’ and rapturous.

The next morning I awakened feeling fine, and prepared to attend an important Federal Appeals Court hearing. I had put on my grey pinstriped suit trousers, shirt and tie, and was in the bathroom, when suddenly I collapsed and fell onto the tiled floor and into a supine position. On the floor I was unable to move my head or body up or over. Then I discovered that I could inch along on my back like a caterpillar. In that manner with tremendous difficulty, I managed to move out of the bathroom and into my carpeted living room floor, still in a supine position.

I was not then near a phone and couldn’t call for help. Lying on my back, without pain, I said to myself mentally, “I must have suffered a stroke and am about to die. Now I will see what happens when I die.”
I closed my eyes and went into a deep state of relaxed awareness.

Suddenly it seemed as if I was astrally projected into the cosmos, where I was surrounded by magnificent luminescent silver, blue and gold heavenly bodies like in pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Next, my inner vision shifted from outer space to appearances of beautiful, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, only more ethereal. As silently I was sensing these celestial scenes, thought returned. First I thought that dying was quite an interesting experience. Then, suddenly, I thought: “I never took Naomi off my life insurance policies. I can’t die now.” The ethereal visions immediately ended and consciousness returned to my supine body on the carpeted floor.

I don’t remember how much time had passed before I so returned to body consciousness. But when that happened I found that I could move easier and managed to slither to a telephone when it rang. Synchronistically, it was a call from my friend Kusuma, who had been one of Guruji’s translators and cooks. I told her what happened, and she dispatched Stan, a disciple of Dhyanyogi then living in San Francisco, to come help me. By the time Stan arrived, I was able to crawl with difficulty to the front door to let him in. He called my doctor who said my symptoms sounded like extreme vertigo from an inner ear problem, not a stroke. Later, Kusuma asked Guruji about my symptoms. He told her that they came from “shakti”, intense spiritual energy activated in my head.

Following my ‘near death’ experience, the vertigo gradually abated. I developed a curiosity about Tibetan Buddhism, and the meaning of their mandalas, which lead to my receiving refuge, empowerments, and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche, a venerable Tibetan Buddhist master, and then from other Tibetan lamas, including H.H. the Dalai Lama – who became a living hero for me. Most importantly my conviction about immortality of the soul and my identification with spirit were immeasurably enhanced, while psychological fear of bodily death diminished.

But I didn’t become “enlightened” enough to transcend the lingering psychological trauma of my contentious divorce. So, long before my dizziness had disappeared, my former wife’s name was removed as a beneficiary on my life insurance policies. And I haven’t yet died – again.

After my near death experience I was quite surprised at how peaceful I felt when then facing supposed death, and began wondering whether I had transcended fear of death. That question was soon answered when a deranged young driver raced his car right at me as I was walking across Broadway, the busy four lane street where I live. Instinctively and reflexively I very loudly screamed “Jesus!” as I fearfully jumped out of the way. I shouted so loudly that I probably could have been heard for a block or two up the street. Thereafter for several hours, I experienced a “fight or flight” adrenaline rush. Moreover, since then I have had several similar though less intense precarious experiences while crossing San Francisco streets.

So, despite my serenity during the near death experience, some instinctive fear of bodily death remains for me. But I now distinguish such normal physical ‘fight or flight’ instinct for bodily self-preservation, from fear arising from ego’s illusionary self-identification with the body/mind and its story, rather than with universal spirit, its eternal Essence. And I accept inevitable – and perhaps imminent – physical death as a crucial condition of phenomenal life on this precious planet.

While yogis in other times and places could attain and maintain elevated states of awareness by taking refuge in the forests, on a mountain, or in a cave – or like Ramani Maharshi, in caves on a mountain, such stress free environments are hard to find for those living in present day US society. For me attempting to live authentically and sanely in our crazy culture has at times been quite challenging. I’ve found that in San Francisco courtrooms and environs midst societal insanity, without some ego I’d would have been metaphorically and actually run over while traversing my spiritual path as well as while crossing the streets. ….

Suzuki Shunryū, Roshi, who popularized Zen Buddhism in the United States, was once asked by a student: “How much “ego” do you need?” He replied: “Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”

So I wonder what past spiritual masters would have done when suddenly confronted with immediate bodily threat? Certainly they wouldn’t have shouted “Jesus”, with an adrenaline rush. Maybe, like Gandhi, they would have uttered “Ram” while stepping quietly out of harms way. What do you think?

© Ron Rattner – “From Secular Hebrew, to Born-Again Hindu, to Uncertain Undo – An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond.”



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Hallucinations or Reincarnations? ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”

~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


chinese-girl

Until my mid-life change of life, I identified solely with my physical body, its thoughts and its story and assumed that physical death ended our existence. Until then, stories of afterlife, reincarnation, ghosts or other disincarnate spirits were fanciful fiction for me.

But after my transformative mid-life spiritual awakening I became clairsentient and began having many extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including seeing apparent apparitions and visions of what seemed ‘past lives’.

So with great curiosity I wondered about this new apparent ‘reality’ of ephemeral forms and phenomena which I’d begun to perceive. Even though I had realized that my ultimate identity is pure awareness – and not my physical body or its story, I wanted to understand the nature and meaning of our apparent individuality as energy entities in space/time reality.

Through synchronistic inner and outer experiences I was gradually given answers to my questions about phenomenal ‘reality’, and became convinced of the relative reality of reincarnation and afterlife, while still realizing that ultimately all such phenomena are mental projections of universal consciousness; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”.

Hereafter I’ll tell you about some of my earliest memorable experiences of apparent afterlife and reincarnation. [See also http://sillysutras.com/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/]

The first of these experiences happened when I was alone one weekend in an attic room of our family house, where I was living separately from my wife during the traumatic divorce period shortly before moving out. Never do I recall feeling more miserable and heartbroken.

Then while seated in an armchair and gazing out of the attic window, I felt a comforting presence seemingly embracing me from behind the chair. Momentarily I glanced behind me and perceived my deceased grandfather, Morris, who had died five years earlier in 1971. He had silently come to console me. I was quite sober then, and this experience seemed very ‘real’ – not an hallucination.

Months later, I again saw Grandpa Morris in inner – rather than outer – images while in meditative or ‘alpha’ states of consciousness, after attending a Silva Mind Control seminar. [See http://sillysutras.com/silva-mind-control-rons-memoirs/ ] During and after the Silva seminar Mahatma Gandhi had begun appearing within as my first inner spirit guide. But sometimes, instead of Gandhi, Grandpa Morris also came to guide me.

During the same period of inner and outer encounters with Grandpa and Gandhi, I began having dreams and visions of apparent other lifetimes. [See http://sillysutras.com/visions-of-past-and-future-rons-memoirs/]

These visions radically challenged my prior Newtonian paradigm of ‘reality’. But still I remained skeptical about their meaning. So the universe kept giving me synchronistic experiences which answered my questions and confirmed new ideas of reality.

The first of my memorable experiences which seemed to authenticate an apparent past life vision began during the period of my traumatic divorce, when a broken heart had opened my heart.

Here is what happened:

In the early 1970’s my wife and I were San Francisco neighbors of a prominent family living across the street. Both we and our neighbors had children the same age attending the same private schools. Our youngest children attended a pre-school kindergarten. The mothers, who were both professionally busy, agreed to carpool our children to school on alternate days. I assisted in carpooling, on days when my wife was teaching at City College.

Mysteriously, while driving our children to school I kept feeling an extraordinarily strong attraction or affinity to my neighbors’ darling little four or five year old daughter Tara as she sat in the back seat of my car, especially noting her beautiful dark eyes and charismatic energy. *[see footnote] 

During this period, I had begun having many extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including precognition and seeing apparent ‘past lives’. While wondering about my mysterious attraction to Tara, I saw myself in a ‘past life’ vision as a pre-Christian era Chinese male farmer with several children, one of whom – a darling little girl – was ‘the apple of my eye’. It was Tara.

Shortly after having this past life vision, I synchronistically met Tara’s mother while attending a program at the Masonic Auditorium. Briefly I alluded to my inner experience and, at her request, afterwards I sent her a confirming note recounting the story.

Soon she sent me a reply note saying that Tara “has said several things to me that suggest she has access to information from other times” and she suggested I question Tara about my vision.

So thereafter, with her mother’s approval, I told Tara that I had a vision of her as my daughter in another lifetime in Asia. Tara’s spontaneous response, which I immediately noted, was “Yes, I know.” There was no further discussion.

As a long-time lawyer, I immediately regarded Tara’s guileless statement as ‘corroborating evidence’ validating my past life vision of her.

Epilogue

Years later, I learned that there is considerable empirical evidence of very young children with memories of other lifetimes, much of it accumulated by Dr. Ian Stevenson, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

I have elsewhere posted quotations, aphorisms, poetry and essays about afterlife and reincarnation, to help readers overcome fear of death and mitigate grief from loss of loved ones. I have learned from experience that as we lose our fear of leaving life we gain the art of living life – authentically and lovingly; that we lose fear of death as we self-identify with eternal spirit rather than our temporary space/time soul suits.

*Her name and some identifying details have been changed to protect her privacy. She is now internationally known for her artistry.
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Visions of Past and Future ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
~ Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science


Following my April, 1976 rebirth experience, and before meeting my spiritual master, Shri Dhyanyogi, I began having extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including precognition and seeing apparent ‘past lives’ and scenes.  So I started wondering what was happening, and how it was possible.

My first memorable apparent precognitive experience happened in the Yosemite Sierras.  Soon after my previously described transformative vision there of “ten thousand suns” (see Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness), I climbed to a Yosemite mountaintop.   After reaching the summit and viewing the magnificent alpine panorama, I rested sitting on a large granite rock with eyes closed.   Soon I had a fleeting movie-clear inner vision of four people unknown to me.   Twenty minutes later those four people climbed onto the summit. 

Though I experienced this event as a precognitive vision, it might be regarded by some psychic researchers as an instance of “remote viewing” whereby I clairvoyantly viewed forms distant from my physical body.  In all events, it was then an unprecedented experience for me, significantly undermining my Newtonian linear world-view about space/time.

Shortly after returning to San Francisco from Yosemite, I had another extraordinary precognitive experience which could not be considered contemporaneous “remote viewing”.   Just before awakening one work-day morning, I beheld an extremely vivid inner image of a blue-eyed blond woman who I’d never before seen.  Quite puzzled I wondered who she was and why I saw her.   Those questions were answered a few days later. 

Alone and lonely on a Saturday evening, I searched a newspaper’s weekend event calendar for something to do.   There I learned that a Tibetan bell concert was about to happen in an auditorium not far from my apartment.   Though I’d never before heard Tibetan bells, and then knew nothing about Tibetans, this concert seemed interesting.  So I made a last-minute decision to attend.

There were no reserved seats, and by the time I arrived the only remaining seats were on a small balcony far from the stage, where I sat down waiting for the concert to begin.  After a few moments, I noticed the person already seated immediately to my left.   It was undoubtedly the woman who had appeared in my vision a few days earlier.  She was a yoga teacher with whom I soon had a brief but very important romantic relationship – virtually my last romance before becoming almost totally abstinent for the remainder of my adult life – so far. 

That precognitive vision (soon followed by more such visions) convinced me that serial time perception can be synchronistically transcended in “altered” states of awareness.  (But my most significant learning from that relationship involved esoteric subjects other than precognition, which I will  later discuss.)

In addition to apparent precognitive experiences I had various spontaneous “inner movie’ visions of scenes from other lifetimes of someone other than Ron Rattner, with whom I self-identified.   Also, under hypnotic regression, I experienced details of apparent other lifetimes in Caucasian, Asian, African, and Native American male and female bodies during two past life sessions with a prominent past lives and reincarnation researcher and hypnotherapist, Helen Wambach, PhD.

Perhaps the most vivid and surprising other life experience happened quite unexpectedly and spontaneously while I was at a lecture in a spiritual bookshop on Sutter Street, San Francisco.  Together with John Rubel, a long-time friend since high school, I attended a program about prenatal experience, which featured sounds recorded in utero of a fetal heartbeat and of the fetal environment, played through a loudspeaker.  

As I sat listening to these hypnogogic intrauterine sounds, I was suddenly transported back to an apparent other lifetime, vividly envisioning myself as an indigenous native American man ecstatically dancing and singing to the beat of tom-toms.

Apart from my own extra-temporal spiritual experiences, during this period in “Be Here Now” I also read credible stories about the amazing prescience of Ram Dass’s Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba.   And I learned from other readings that some mystics have the apparent power to see past lifetimes. 

So, as my spiritual mystery story unfolded, I wondered whether some spiritually evolved beings might have extraordinary extra-temporal powers of clairvoyance unexplained by our conventional ideas of space-time reality.

Ultimately, I was soon blessed by meeting such a being with whom I learned that this was so.

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“Gandhi the Man” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“My life is my message.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.” ….. “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi




After my synchronistic “Rama” rainbow experience in Hawaii, I began feeling an affinity with “Rama” as a divine name, but didn’t yet adopt a practice of regularly repeating that Divine name. Then synchronistically I met a new friend with a “Rama” name through whom I was further intrigued by the powerful potentiality of the Rama mantra.

Soon after discovering the Rama mantra in “Be Here Now” and then spontaneously reciting it in Hawaii, I met an American woman then named – “Veda Rama” – meaning “truth of God”.* She had received that spiritual name from a teacher in New Mexico after first meeting Baba Ram Dass in New Hampshire when he was writing “Be Here Now”, and following him to New Mexico where at the Lama Foundation she helped to produce and distribute the first hand-assembled and hand-bound editions of that wonderful book.

Veda Rama* became – and remains – a very important spiritual friend with whom I have continued to share synchronicity experiences, and with whom I then shared my story of how Mahatma Gandhi had appeared and counseled me as my first inner guide at Silva Mind Control. And I told her how I was quite curious about Gandhi’s life story. Soon thereafter, as a birthday gift Veda Rama gave me a beautiful pictorial Gandhi biography called “Gandhi the Man” by Eknath Easwaran.

Upon reading that book I learned that reciting the Rama mantra had been Gandhi’s principal spiritual practice; that in childhood Gandhi’s beloved nurse Rambha taught him to repeat the name“Rama” whenever he felt afraid and so to worship God as Rama; and, that this Ram mantra became his most important spiritual practice throughout life.

And I learned that as an adult, Gandhi often walked constantly repeating his Rama mantra in rhythm with his steps; and that he wrote extensively about his repetition of the name “Rama” – viz. the Ramanama. E.g.:

“When a child, my nurse taught me to repeat Ramanama whenever I felt afraid or miserable, and it has been second nature with me with growing knowledge and advancing years. I may even say that the Word is in my heart, if not actually on my lips, all the twenty-four hours. It has been my saviour and I am ever stayed on it.” “The mantram becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal….” “Each repetition … has a new meaning, each repetition carries you nearer and nearer to God.”


Even as Gandhi fell to an assassin’s pistol fired point-blank into his heart, in forgiveness he uttered nothing but “Rama, Rama …” his last words from the eternal depths of his heart.

From “Gandhi the Man” I also learned that Gandhi had been a British trained barrister who for over twenty years had practiced as an idealistic and extraordinarily effective civil rights attorney in South Africa before returning to India, where he became that nation’s most beloved modern hero. And – like countless others – I became inspired by, and identified with, Gandhi’s non-violent pursuit of justice.

In the absence of an apt existing word, Gandhi called this path “Satyagraha”, a Sanskrit neologism which he coined – roughly meaning the non-violent and resolute pursuit of Truth; and, he often equated “Truth” with “God”. Gandhi’s non-violence [Ahimsa] was active – not passive – with steadfast remembrance that Divinity [viz. “Truth”] is imminent in all creation, including one’s oppressors.  In addition to satyagraha and ahimsa, Gandhi, a vegetarian, lived a non-materialistic, simple life, and practiced aparigraha, non-attachment to possessions. This was significant for me since I, too, had become a vegetarian living with increasing non-attachment to worldly possessions.

The more I learned about Gandhi the more he inspired me, and the more I identified with him, both as a lawyer and as a spiritual truth-seeker. After Gandhi’s inner appearance at Silva Mind Control, I had wondered why the universe had chosen him to counsel me. But, retrospectively, it is now evident that such choice was absolutely appropriate; that Gandhi has been a continuingly important inspiration for the unfolding of my spiritual mystery story.

Gandhi’s history as a nonviolent civil rights lawyer and Rama devotee relentlessly pursuing secular and spiritual Truth has been especially inspiring and significant for me. As a lawyer I always had a strong devotion to the pursuit of justice. Spiritually, Gandhi’s inner appearance began for me a synchronistic sequence of connections with Hindu teachings, and ultimately to a beloved Guru, emphasizing meditation upon and devotion to the Divine name “Rama”. Initially inspired by Gandhi, “Rama” became – and remains – enshrined in my heart as a constant impetus to my ever evolving spiritual mystery story.

Even now, I frequently and spontaneously invoke that Divine name, sometimes in surprising ways and at completely unanticipated times. Thereby, since discovering Rama over thirty years ago, I have been blessed to self-experience ever less ‘Ron’ and ever more ‘Ram’.

Thus, Gandhi synchronistically became and remains an important influence on my life, as well as on lives of countless others. He taught not so much by his words, but by his exemplary way of living.

Once when asked his teachings, he aptly replied: “My life is my message.” Upon deeply realizing the universal wisdom of Gandhi’s statement, I was inspired to write this “Silly Sutra” verse:

Living Life, Teaching Peace

On the Earth branch
of the great Cosmic University,

We are all students
and we are all teachers.

We are all learning love.
And, as Gandhi observed,
our lives are our teachings.

So, as we live
and as we learn,
we each may teach –
peace, love, and compassion.

And so it shall be!


May Gandhi’s exemplary life, ever inspire and motivate ever more of us everywhere to live life peacefully and compassionately in constant remembrance of and harmony with Divinity.

*Later, Veda Rama was initiated by Shri Dhyanyogi, my beloved Guru, as “Ram Dassi” – the feminine equivalent of Ram Dass, meaning “servant of God”.

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The Truth That Sets Us Free

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein ( N. Y. Times , March 29, 1972)



Trapped in earthly domain
of fear, death and pain,
we long for liberty.

Jailed in cages we’ve wrought,
with hoary thought
that mere body/minds are we,

We’re deceived by perceptions,
and caught by conceptions,
of supposed mortality.

But prison’s illusion,
and we suffer confusion
of our true identity.

For we’re beings of light
Eternal and bright,
and so shall ever be.

We shall know this truth,
and it shall forsooth,
release and set us free.



Ron’s audio recitation of The Truth That Sets Us Free

Listen to

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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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