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Meeting Tibetan Buddhists ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else  will solve their problems.  Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility:  Daily Wisdom”

 

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche  [1905—1989]

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche [1905—1989]



Introduction. I have been blessed by meeting and learning from many spiritual teachers, in addition to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. Especially inspiring and helpful have been certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers.

Soon after my mid-life spiritual awakening, I was first exposed to Buddhist teachings via radio. For many years, I regularly listened to masterful New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms of spiritual teachers and authors, often Buddhists. And on Sunday nights, while driving home from visiting my parents, I regularly heard on KPFA recorded talks by Buddhist teacher, Alan Watts, a brilliantly insightful and articulate former Episcopal priest who had ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Also for a short time I attended Sunday morning dharma talks and Zazen meditations at the beautiful and bucolic Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Guruji I mostly focussed on Hindu spiritual teachings. But I remained curious about other spiritual and mystical traditions, especially non-duality teachings which I found not only in Advaita Vedanta, but also in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. (Ultimately, beyond religion, I became most focussed on certain universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring spiritual, religious, philosophical and ethical paths – like the “Golden Rule”. And to further those teachings I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation.)

During a 1979 apparent ‘near death’ experience, I had visions of ethereal, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism – which sparked much curiosity about Tibetan Buddhists and their mandalas. Soon afterwards I was synchronistically blessed with darshan of Tibetan lamas who in diaspora had started coming to the West. Most important for me were H.H. the Dalai Lama – who remains a living inspiration for me, and Kalu Rinpoche, a very venerable Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, now deceased and reborn.

For over thirty years I have been deeply inspired by core Buddhist teachings, as practiced by the Tibetans, though I never became a practicing Buddhist. In the 1980’s I honored that inspiration by receiving refuge and taking Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche, and by receiving empowerments and teachings from both Kalu Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama, as well as other Tibetan lamas.

Taking Refuge. After meeting Kalu Rinpoche, I soon took refuge from him in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, sangha and dharma. In a brief refuge ceremony with this great yogi, I thereby symbolically committed to honor the Buddha – as my own true nature – and those teachings and communities which would advance realization of that Buddha nature.

Boddhisattva vows. Shortly after taking refuge I was inspired to take Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche to altruistically help all sentient beings end their sufferings.

In taking these vows I was deeply inspired by this selfless Tibetan Buddhist ideal exemplified by the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche and many other Lamas. Never content with only their own spiritual evolution and salvation, Buddhist Boddhisattvas postpone their own ‘nirvana’ choosing to take continuing rebirths in order to serve humanity until every sentient being has been helped to liberation. For example, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is latest in a long line of Boddhisattva Dalai Lamas, believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Taking Boddhisattva vows symbolically marked an important transition from my prior aspiration to escape through spiritual “enlightenment” from this world of inevitable suffering. Rather than yearning to leave this crazy world forever, I took those vows aspiring to stay here in ways which might help all life everywhere, as I continued to observe and clear my own mental defilements.

Enlightenment as a Process. After taking these Buddhist vows, I didn’t expect an early departure from space/time causality reality. Instead, influenced by Buddha’s teachings that conditioned existence (samsara) has been going on for so long that all beings may have been each other’s parents in some lifetime, I began regarding “enlightenment” as a virtually endless evolutionary process in which – except for Buddhas and Boddhisattvas – we unwittingly participate for eons.

The Tibetan Tulku Tradition. Tulkus are emanations of those who retain spiritual consciousness and continuity through successive births. Except perhaps for rare Buddhas and very evolved beings, on rebirth almost everyone experiences ‘instant amnesia’ about conscious details of other lifetimes and prior spiritual learning, which details remain in our subconscious memory. The Tibetan Tulku tradition, aims to facilitate fulfillment of boddhisattva vows by locating reborn Lamas at an early age and training them from childhood to rekindle their consciousness of Buddhist teachings and practices. Tibetans have elaborate tests to prove that newly reborn Tulkus are truly who the waiting elders think they are, such as checking whether the child can recognize acquaintances or possessions from his previous life or answer questions only known to his former life-experience. For example, this process is portrayed in Kundun, the classic biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Some rare Tibetans (like the Karmapa) are able to foretell before dying where they will consciously take rebirth.

Karma. The Tibetans’ Tulku tradition is inextricably intertwined with their teachings about karma, rebirth, and Boddhisattvas. Although virtually all mystical traditions accept karma, afterlife and reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhists’ karma and rebirth teachings and their Boddhisattva traditions especially helped me enhance identification with spirit while diminishing my psychological fear of bodily death.

According to Eastern philosophies, Karma is universal law of cause and effect applied at subtle levels to everything we think, do or say during repeated rebirths as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow. [Galatians 6:7-9]

As long as we self-identify as subjects separate from supposed objects of our choice or intention, our exercise of supposed free will creates karmic causes and conditions. Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by samsaric illusion – for example, defilements like desire, hate, or passion – creates karma. On death, the unexperienced effects of karmic causes, result in unavoidable rebirths.

What is reborn? “Reincarnation” is commonly understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumcised spirit – to another body after physical death. But in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death. Yet Buddhists believe in rebirth.

So, what do Buddhists say is reborn to experience karmic causes and conditions, or to fulfill Boddhisattva vows? I will simplistically and metaphorically share my understanding.

I was once told by Swami Sivananda Radha that during a private audience with the Dalai Lama she asked, “In view of Buddhist teaching that there is no separate self or soul, what reincarnates?” And His Holiness replied: “An energy vortex.”

The Dalai Lama’s explanation that an “energy vortex” is what incarnates was consistent with Western science. Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum physicists have confirmed that in this world of space/time and causality everything is energy – every impermanent form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable.

And for millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their mental software survives, and is reusable.

Thus, just as I am able to use with my new iMac the same OS X software system that operated my old iMac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of mental obscurations and defilements.

Precious human birth. Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting Guruji, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.

Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is extraordinarily precious and rare. They persuaded me that although the unexperienced effects of karmic causes result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirths; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors we squander a rare chance to evolve spiritually.

In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalacakra empowerment given by Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.

In all events, Kalu’s teaching deeply impressed me with the preciousness and impermanence of human birth, and the importance of using it to evolve spiritually.

More memorable experiences with Kalu Rinpoche. Before receiving the Kalacakra empowerment, in 1982 I attended a public talk by Kalu Rinpoche at Fort Mason, San Francisco, about the Mahamudra experience, which he described (through an interpreter) as the quintessence of all Buddhadharma. Though I didn’t understand much of what was said, I intuited that I was in the presence of a great meditation master – like Guruji.

After talking about Mahamudra, Lama Kalu said that to help us understand Mahamudra experience he would give us a brief demonstration of that state of being. Whereupon, with ‘miraculous’ mind-power, he dramatically transformed the energy in that small lecture room. Suddenly my mind went completely still and I experienced a rare state of peace and oneness beyond comprehension or expression. By Kalu Rinpoche’s immense power as a meditation master, he briefly but unforgettably shared with us a glimpse of his rare and exalted state of clear mind.

A few years later, circa 1986-7, I had another memorable experience of Kalu Rinpoche’s powerful presence. Together with my daughter, Jessica, and friends Mark and Marsha Newman, I attended a public talk by him at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, one of the city’s largest religious sanctuaries. After waiting in a long line for some time, we managed to be seated in pews near the very back of the church.

Just as Kalu Rinpoche had ‘magically’ transformed the energy in the small lecture room where I heard him describe the Mahamudra experience, the energy ambience in that entire large church was palpably transformed upon his appearance at the pulpit. My daughter Jessica, had never before experienced such a spiritually powerful presence and was deeply impressed. Afterwards, she posted a picture of Kalu Rinpoche in her room, and though she never again saw him she was emotionally affected and cried on news of Kalu’s death in May, 1989.

After seeing Kalu Rinpoche at the Unitarian Church, I saw him again when he was interviewed by Michael Toms at the New Dimensions San Francisco radio studio. On his arrival at the studio he was introduced to staff and to me (as a New Dimensions director). Whereupon he came up to each one of us and humbly introduced himself with a friendly handshake. At that gesture, I was impressed with that great yogi’s humility – like Guruji’s. Later I was inspired to observe that: “The more we know we’re no one, the more we’re seen as someone”.

Learning to keep faith despite disillusionment. After many years of questioning, I have found a faith based life – beyond beliefs, dogmas, theologies or personalities. I was very much helped and encouraged in this process by another important and synchronistic encounter with Kalu Rinpoche, at a time of great disillusionment in my life,.

In the 1980’s after Guruji’s return to India I learned with shock that certain private behavior of a spiritual teacher (other than Guruji) with whom I had a close relationship was significantly inconsistent with his teachings and outer image. Though by this time, I knew of numerous instances in which well known spiritual teachers were credibly shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. But this was the first time that it happened with a teacher with whom I felt a close rapport and had spent much time. And I was emotionally upset and confused.

Whereupon, I learned that Kalu Rinpoche would be appearing for a morning talk and darshan at Kagyu Droden Kunchab a San Francisco Center dedicated to the ultimate benefit of all sentient beings, which he founded; that his Buddhist teachings would be followed by a question and answer session. I desperately wanted Kalu’s guidance about my crisis of faith. But I had to be in court that morning. So dressed in suit and tie, I came to the darshan with very limited time to spend there.

By the time that Kalu ended his talk, I had only thirty minutes left before needing to leave for court. Whereupon the translator announced that Rinpoche would now entertain questions, and virtually everyone in the room – including me – raised a hand for recognition. ‘Miraculously’ Kalu beckoned first to me to ask my question, which was:

“What is the proper attitude of a student on discovery of a teacher’s behaviors inconsistent with the teachings?”

Whereupon Lama Kalu gave an extremely wise and helpful thirty minute dissertation in response to my inquiry. As soon as he finished and began answering the next question, I was obliged to leave for court. I cannot recount details of what Kalu said, but the unforgettable essence of his answer was:

“Never lose faith in the teachings, even if you lose faith in the teacher.”

Only after years of introspection and more instances of disillusionment with teachers and others upon whom I had mistakenly projected flawless ethics, was I able to fully grasp Kalu’s wise teaching. During that process, I decided that “incarnation is limitation”; that no one is infallible; and, that “it is better to live the teachings, and not teach them, than to teach the teachings and not live them”.

A few years after my last face to face encounter with Lama Kalu, I was memorably reminded of his meditation mastery and his message of faith. On a beautiful week-end day while hiking in the forested higher elevations of Point Reyes National Sea Shore nature reserve, I decided to sit on a rock from which I enjoyed a panoramic view out into the ocean. As I beheld that inspiring nature scene in a meditative mood, Lama Kalu Rinpoche’s smiling visage fleetingly appeared in my inner vision. We never again met in this life, but I shall remain ever grateful for his blessings. With his encouragement I have never lost faith in this precious human life and in the infinite opportunities it affords us.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.




His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Of all prominent living people, I am most inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader (and former political leader) of Tibet. Apart from his Holiness’s spiritual attainments, which are beyond my comprehension, I am especially inspired by his universal compassion, wisdom, humility and humor.

I see him as a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics. Although my encounters with His Holiness have been impersonal – only as part of large audiences or via videos or writings – I feel a deep connection and harmony with him as a revered fellow human being.

Ever since an October, 1989 darshan, I have wondered whether that harmonious connection began in other lifetimes. At that time, I had the good fortune of being one of a limited number of people privileged to attend a ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, in a natural outdoor amphitheater. Because of limited highway access, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive by helicopter. But his flight was delayed, and so we awaited his arrival.

Instead of waiting in the amphitheater, I decided to meditate in a nearby nature place. Then, on contemplating the Dalai Lama I experienced such heartfelt affinity and reverence, that I began an intense and protracted devotional crying jag. I became so overwhelmed with emotion of devotion that I was unable to stop weeping and enter the amphitheater even when I heard the sounds of the helicopter’s arrival. Ultimately, a compassionate Buddhist woman, who on her arrival had observed me crying, came out and taking me by the hand led me, still weeping, into the amphitheater.

The Dalai Lama is the only Tibetan teacher, including Kalu Rinpoche, with whom I have continuously felt such a deep devotional rapport – like my rapport with Guruji. He is regarded by Tibetans as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and perhaps it is this subtle energy which opens my heart. In all events, though I don’t yet remember another life as a Tibetan, I intuit an important karmic connection with His Holiness, and regard him as a role model for living an ethical and compassionate life, regardless of our religious or cultural history.

Here are some of the ways in which I have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and teachings:

Compassion. In his ever inspiring deportment, talks, and writings, His Holiness manifests and emphasizes the crucial importance of compassionate behavior – even with enemies. Drawing great inspiration from him, I have gradually come to regard everyone I meet – including those with whom I have disagreements – as spiritual siblings – brothers or sisters all sharing the same aspirations for happiness and peace of mind, despite superficial cultural differences. And, despite my pronounced lawyer’s tendencies to combatively judge all adversaries, more and more I have even found compassion for those whose ignorance of their true spiritual identity leads them to egregiously harmful behaviors. For example, at a time when I considered former US President George Bush, Jr., a war criminal and mass murderer, His Holiness publicly described him as “a nice man.” Hopefully, he privately influenced Bush – with whom he shares the same July 6th birthdate – to adopt more compassionate ethics.

Humility. His Holiness is regarded by Tibetans and by many others as a living Buddha. For, example, a Tibetan emigre attending a Tibetan Losar new year ceremony conducted in Minneapolis by His Holiness told a newspaper reporter there that “for Tibetans in exile, seeing the Dalai Lama is akin to Christians getting to meet Jesus”. Moreover, especially since his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, His Holiness has become like a world-wide rockstar celebrity, attracting capacity audiences for all public appearances. Yet he remains exceptionally humble, describing himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” and member of the Human family. Despite his renown as a living sage, I have heard him several times answering questions with “I don’t know”. In my experience, this is very rare behavior for an elevated Eastern spiritual teacher. For example, I have never heard of any such humble response from elevated Hindu teachers regarded as avatars or ‘god-men’. I was especially drawn to Guruji who (despite his Hindu acculturation) was exceptionally humble, and even told my friend Joy Massa: “follow your heart, even if it contradicts my words”.

I have always felt ambivalent about spiritual teachers who pontificate as if they are infallible. For me, such behavior encourages adulation over inspiration. And I am uncomfortable with any spiritual group or tradition emphasizing adulation of the incarnate over adoration of the Infinite.

In my opinion, selfless humility is a supreme virtue. It is especially rare in prominent people who are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation, which can easily entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those like the Dalai Lama, Guruji, Gandhi and Einstein, who have resisted such ego temptations I consider inspiring great beings.

Universal morality and ethics beyond religion. In public talks and in his recently published book “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” His Holiness explains how inner values “are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek”, concluding that “the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion” which alone “is no longer adequate”. To me, this is a crucially inspiring message, which completely coincides with my philosophy and life experience. Before publication of “Beyond Religion” I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation dedicated to elevating awareness of universal principles – like the ‘Golden Rule’ – at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. And His Holiness’s book and teachings have encouraged me to continue pursuing that path.

Politics, Economics and Ecology. Just as the Dalai Lama’s views on universal morality and ethics beyond religion have paralleled my views and inspired and encouraged me to pursue them, His Holiness supports liberal political, economic and ecological views with which I have long identified and pursued as a social justice advocate.

He recognizes as “a very great thing” Mahatma Gandhi’s sophisticated political implementation of ahimsa – the ancient moral teachings of nonviolence and non-injury. As an engaged Buddhist, the Dalai Lama outspokenly endorses Gandhian non-violent and compassionate political social action benefitting the majority of citizens, especially those underprivileged and exploited.

Thus, he rejects capitalist economics, as focussed on greed, gain and profits and outspokenly endorses democratic Marxist theory of equitable access to means of production and distribution of wealth. But, he rejects as lacking compassion and encouraging class hatred the so-called Marxism of the failed totalitarian former USSR, or China, and he objects to their excessive emphasis on class struggle.

Ecologically the Dalai Lama recognizes that Earth is severely threatened by ignorant human greed and lack of respect for all life on our precious planet. Accordingly, he urges that we become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve this crisis with compassionate solidarity, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of life as we know it. (See e.g. Spiritual People in a Perfectly Crazy World)

Conclusion. Thus I am supremely grateful for the wisdom and inspiration bestowed by Tibetan teachings and teachers, especially through His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who for me is a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics.

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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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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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