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Death? Afterlife? Rebirth? ~ Easter Reflections on Resurrections.

At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“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.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

As countless millions reverently commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story.  Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.

For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.

Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.

For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.

Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.

Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”


Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.

What survives physical death?

If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:

“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.” 
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2


Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

“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.”


A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar .   There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife.  [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43

Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .

“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha


Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?

Vivekananda and Einstein.

The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”


“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?
 
“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”


“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”


~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga

Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: 

“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”


Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”



“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”



“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”

“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”




“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this precious human life on our precious planet Earth – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”

AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Reflections on Afterlife and Reincarnation.

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”.

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/)

Ultimately I have 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’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.

Moreover, I’ve come to imagine that from a non-dualistic timeless ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate incarnations, emanations or appearances can be seen concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that until we become Buddhas we are challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are Infinite Potentiality in formless emptiness.

Inspired by my Guruji, I offer the foregoing quotations and essay as inspiration for our deep reflections on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, which can help us find ever expanding happiness during our precious lifetimes on planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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What Is Freedom? ~ Question and Quotes

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man, which is, that he must be completely free. As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him –
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past,
to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [natural] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom.
And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is.
If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord.
If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you;
if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you.”
~ Osho
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,
“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings. Here we define “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit imminent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Symbolically the Book of Exodus emphasizes societal rather than individual escape from bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’; viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods – like Pharaohs or idols – to a ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us, beyond external Gods or goals.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness, beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we shall be –
“Free at last, free at last!”

NOW – ever NOW, never THEN!


Ron’s Commentary on Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare state of mind which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life.  

I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of  “freedom” during the 1950’s when I learned about Abraham Maslow’s psychological analysis of ‘self-actualizing’ people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation  lawyer I rarely reflected about inner freedom until after a memorable exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 

While residing in my apartment just prior to his 1980 return to India, Guruji told me: 
 
“Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

Thereupon, I became intensely curious about Guruji’s revelation that my body was like a prison. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. 

So I began deeply exploring spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last” were so deeply powerful. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
(Deuteronomy 6:4). 

Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32) 

And I intuited that Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us in a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what our outer circumstances.  

Thus, Rumi reminded us:

“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi


The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they help us evolve toward precious inner freedom, our common birthright.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner
 

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Why Be Here Now?

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dear Friends,

In 1977, soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom by a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for various spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s title “Be Here Now!” became for me a memorable guide for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment – an idea which I later found often repeated in other spiritual books and teachings.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my beloved Guruji’s instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ gradually cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Whereupon, I realized that “to think or not to think, that is the question”, and I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

By learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I’ve found that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “That when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ. And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual opening.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a stilled or focussed mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists or athletes perform at their highest levels while “in the zone”?

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I have discovered a book passage that can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!” in a state of precious presence.

Through synchronicity I recently received from my high school friend John Rubel of West Virginia a wonderfully witty passage written by brilliant comedian Sid Ceasar in his 1982 autobiography – “Where Have I Been?” – telling how he learned that being in the “now” can “change your whole cycle of life”.

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I think this passage can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!”

So here it is:

“While people keep waiting and waiting for something big to happen in life, the “now” is passing them by. Do you know how fast a “now” passes? At the rate of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light. So no matter how much you love and enjoy a particular “now,” that’s how fast it becomes a “was.” That “now” is never coming back, and that “was” ties into some “going-to-be.”

“So if you don’t learn from the “was’s” you’re going to have bad “going-to-be’s, which completes the cycle by bringing in bad “nows.” Thus, the only time you can switch around from a negative into a positive is in the “now.” Because you have to do it now. You can’t just think of doing it now because it is rapidly becoming a “was,” and it’s too late. And “going-to–be” is you may do it and you may not. So if you do it now, you know it’s done and you’ve got it. If you have a good “now’ you have a good “was,” which leads to a good “going-to-be.”

“In other words, by taking advantage of a “now, maybe even changing a bad “now” into a good “now,” you can have a good “was” from which you can learn and change your whole cycle of life. That’s why I never use the word “if” anymore. An “if” is a “never was.”

~ Comedian Sid Caesar – “Where Have I Been?”, p271


May Sid Caesar’s wise and witty words help us remember that being present in the NOW can be a key to spiritual awakening and peak performance for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be – NOW!

Ron Rattner

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Living on ‘borrowed time’? ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“We mark birthdays annually,
but celebrate Life constantly.
For birth and death are virtual,
while Life is perpetual –
a perpetual  blessing.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Hariharanda Giri.



Introduction.

Growing up I rarely thought about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.

Not until a transformative midlife awakening to self-identity as eternal spirit, followed by inner visions of apparent other lifetimes, and meeting my Guruji, who taught about death, dying and beyond, did I begin experiencing deep reflection about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.

And eventually I even began wondering whether our lifespans might be karmically predetermined upon birth. That reflection was triggered over thirty years ago when I received a memorable Vedic astrology prediction that I would die “at age 84”, based upon my precise time and place of birth.

Here is what happened.

Story of death prediction.

After Guruji returned to India in 1980, I met and learned from many other spiritual teachers, in addition to Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma, while always maintaining my heartfelt inner relationship with Guruji – above all other teachers.

Especially after my 1982 pilgrimage to India, for many years I considered myself a “born-again Hindu” and was especially attracted to Indian spiritual teachers. Thus in August 1986 I attended programs given by Sri Hariharinanda Giri, a self-realized Kriya Yoga initiate of renowned Master and Vedic astrologer Sri Yukteswar Giri and of Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who continued a spiritual lineage beginning with “Mahavatar Babaji” – an etherial being who apparently I beheld at the 1982 Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India.

Inspired by Sri Yukteswar, Hariharinanda Giri [affectionately known as ‘Baba’] had become an expert Vedic astrologer, and offered optional readings to those receiving his Kriya empowerments. So on August 10, 1986, I had a private astrological reading with Baba in which he interpreted my Vedic chart – which I called a ‘karmic map’.

In Vedic astrology or Jyotish, the ascendant sign is often deemed the most defining element in the chart. Both my Vedic and Western astrology charts show Libra – which is ruled by the planet Venus – as my ascendent or rising zodiac sign.

And so in his reading Baba emphasized this significant aspect of my chart. But in his Indian English he unwittingly mispronounced the name of my ruling ascendant planet, Venus. In a tape recorded session, two or three times he approvingly told me: “Your Penus is rising”. And he lovingly offered enlightened advice for my skillful spiritual behavior under that auspicious rising sign.

On conclusion of his reading Baba showed me my written chart, and asked if I had any questions. I pointed to a notation at the top, and asked him what it meant. Whereupon Baba turned off the tape recorder and replied: “That shows when you will die.”

Until then I had never heard that Vedic astrology could determine time of death from a chart based on planetary configurations at time of birth. Nor had I begun to think about my time of death. So in response to this surprising revelation, I simply exclaimed, “Oh!”

Whereupon, without my asking him, Baba voluntarily told me: “You will die at age 84”.

Post-prediction death reflections.

After Baba’s surprisingly specific death prediction, I continued to reflect on death and gradually discovered persuasively apt writings about esoteric ancient Vedic philosophy, astrology and prophesy, as well as about Einstein’s revolutionary relativity science. And I found credible quotes from non-dualist masters suggesting that that not only one’s lifespan but our actions, and even our thoughts, are predetermined by natural laws of causality until we transcend the ‘wheels of karma’. [See Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation; and Indian Astrology, Free Will or Fate? ~ An Amazing Synchronicity Story ]

On my recent 84th birthday anniversary (on November 8, 2016) I completed a full 84 year Uranus cycle, of exactly 1008 months. So since then I’ve been wondering how much time is left for Ron Rattner; whether he is ‘scheduled’ to very soon say “bye-bye” to this twenty first century.

Conclusion.

Life is eternal, but human lifetimes are ephemeral. So as an 84 year old octogenarian, not knowing when this precious lifetime will end, I have decided to soon conclude my memoirs by augmenting an earlier chapter about Dealing With Death and Dying with discussion of my changing views and questions concerning physical death – a profoundly important spiritual subject.

Thereby I hope that we will soon be sharing reflections and questions about inevitable physical death which can help us live ever happier lives in the Eternal NOW.

And so may it be!

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Take A Banker’s Holiday

“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it;
mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past, which is memory, a conditioned state.”
“Truth is not a memory, because truth is ever new, constantly transforming itself.
(M)emory is a hindrance to the understanding of what is.
The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the `mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
To think or not to think,
that is the question!

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking and Being can’t coexist.
So stop thinking and start Being.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Forget who you think you are
to Know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Mind is a ‘memory bank’ where we keep
all past recollections and conceptions.

We are all memory bankers, using our memory banks to think –
mostly constantly and compulsively.

So thinking is always past, not present.
Thoughts are then, while life is NOW – not then.

And life is perpetual, while thinking is optional.

So to live optimally,
Let’s live presently,
But think optionally –
Not constantly or compulsively.

Let’s lock-up our ‘memory banks’, and
Take a banker’s holiday –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Take A Banker’s Holiday

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Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your self return to your memory.”
~ A Course in Miracles

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16




Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.

Forgiveness is particularly important in Christianity.
Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness.

Eg. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37


And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than willful) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.

If sin is considered ‘missing the mark’, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on what we should do to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.
[“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20]


And whenever Jews realize that they have erred, the Torah – the Jewish Bible – obligates them to return to a righteous path with a process of repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions. Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual goal and Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Beyond any religious or theistic terms or traditions, there is a universal and perennial evolutionary process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and from our true nature; of our returning psychologically and existentially to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness which is our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving “Sins”:

Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”Dear Friends,Posted today at…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Sunday, February 7, 2016

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‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quotes

“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
~ Rumi
“Love said to me,

there is nothing that is not me.

Be silent.”
~ Rumi
“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.”..
“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
~ Rumi


Silent Sunrise

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
~ Confucius

“There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters.
Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together.
Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to heaven.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“If you don’t know what God’s guidance for your life is,
you might try seeking in receptive silence.
I used to walk receptive and silent amidst the beauties of nature.
Wonderful insights would come to me which I then put into practice in my life.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself.

If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity,

then and there is silence.

She is audible to all men, at all times, in all places,
and if we will

we may always hearken to her admonitions.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“It is as though he listened
and such listening as his
enfolds us in a silence
In which at last
We begin to hear
What we are meant to be.”
~ Lao-Tzu

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
~ Mother Teresa

“One opens the inner doors of one’s heart to the infinite silences of the Spirit,
out of whose abysses love wells up without fail and gives itself to all.”

~ Thomas Merton

“My friend, I am not what I seem.
Seeming is but a garment I wear — a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
The “I” in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark.
The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“We search for Him here and there, while looking right at Him
Sitting by his side, we ask:
Oh Beloved, where is the Beloved?
Enough with such questions
Let silence take you to the core of life
All your talk is worthless when compared with one whisper of the beloved”
~ Rumi

“Each one of us is called to become that great song that comes out of the silence,
and the more we let ourselves down into that great silence the more we become capable of singing that great song.”
~ David Steindl-Rast

‎”After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.”
~ Baruch Spinoza

“Live laconically –
Speak little; say much.”
~ Ron Rattner (aka Swami Onandonananda)

Eschew pedantry, punditry, and prolixity,
and seek profundity –
in silence, simplicity and serenity.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Commentary on Silence:

‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quoteshttp://sillysutras.com/silence-sayings-and-quotes/Dear Friends,Have you ever noticed…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Friday, January 22, 2016

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Should We Be Seekers?

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21
“Seek and ye shall find.”
Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi
“What we are looking for is what is looking.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Remember God; forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Q. Should we be seekers?

A. Knowingly or unknowingly everyone’s a seeker.
Knowingly or unknowingly everyone seeks Self.

But seeking is then,
while Self is NOW.

So, to find Self,
be Self –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Should We Be Seekers?

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What Are Illusions?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

~ Albert Einstein
“People … who believe in physics, know that
 the distinction between past, present, and future
 is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.

~ Alan Watts



Q. What are illusions?

A. Illusions are false ideas, conceptions, or beliefs,
accumulated and aggregated in the memory bank
that we call the “mind”.

Illusions are projections from the past
which obscure or obstruct our experience of the present.

We can’t live fully in the present,
when we are living partly in the past.

Illusions are mental obscurations.
They cloud or conceal our insight into That which is Real.

But, as we clear the ‘mirror of our mind’
of old illusory ideas and paradigms of
who and what we think we are,

We can and shall become ever more present,
insightful and illuminated – about what we really are.

So let us choose to lose our illusions.

For, the less we’re illusioned
the more we’re illumined.



Ron’s audio recitation of What are illusions?

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Truth is Everywhere/ Nowhere/ Now

“Truth is a pathless land.”
~ J.Krishnamurti
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life”
~ John 14:6


kandinsky.yellow-red-blue

Truth is pathless.
Truth is mindless.
Truth is wordless.
Truth is timeless.

Truth is everywhere and nowhere –

NOW.

To know truth,
be Truth.

To know life,
be Life.

To know the way,
be the Way.

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Truth is Everywhere/ Nowhere/ Now.

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