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Kalu Rinpoche, the Zen Master and the Orange

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


Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – May 10, 1989)



Ron’s Introductory Comments.

Is “reality” absolute or relative?

And how should the answer to that question influence our worldly ways?

Our phenomenal Universe is miraculous, marvelous, and meaningful.  But it is ever changing and impermanent – a “relative reality” of space, time and causality which some mystics call illusion, samsara, or maya.

It arises and appears in an unchanging mysterious matrix of Infinite Potentiality, which some call “Absolute Reality”.

When aware or awakening to this distinction between Absolute and relative reality, we may realize that while we are apparent entities in this world, our Source and ultimate identity transcends this world;  that we are ‘in this world but not of this world’.

Thus realizing the impermanence and relativity of our phenomenal reality, we may ponder on its meaning and purpose and, accordingly, on how to best behave herein: viz. what thoughts, words or deeds (if any) are most appropriate and skillful?

SillySutras.com is dedicated to raising perennial questions about how to  best be in this world.   Even spiritual masters and great scholars can disagree on answers to such questions.

So, ultimately, each of us must intuitively answer such questions for ourselves.

In the opening chapter of “Thoughts Without a Thinker”, concerning psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective, author psychotherapist Mark Epstein recounts this apt anecdote about a meeting at the home of a Harvard University psychology professor of two prominent teachers of Buddha-dharma with different ideas about dharma.

“Thoughts Without a Thinker”, by Dr. Mark Epstein – Excerpt From Chapter One.

“In the early days of my interest in Buddhism and psychology, I was given a particularly vivid demonstation of how difficult it was going to be to forge an integration between the two.  Some friends of mine had arranged for an encounter between two prominent visiting Buddhist teachers at the house of a Harvard University psychology professor.  These were teachers from two distinctly different Buddhist traditions who had never met and whose traditions had in fact had very little contact over the past thousand years.  Before the worlds of Buddhism and Western psychology could come together, the various strands of Buddhism would have to encounter one another.  We were to witness the first such dialogue.

The teachers, seventy-year-old Kalu Rinpoche of Tibet, a veteran of years of solitary retreat, and the Zen master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen master to teach in the United States, were to test each other’s understanding of the Buddha’s teachings for the benefit of the onlooking Western students.  This was to be a high form of what was being called  ‘dharma’ combat (the clashing of great minds sharpened by years of study and meditation), and we were waiting with all the anticipation that such a historic encounter deserved.  The two monks entered with swirling robes — maroon and yellow for the Tibetan, austere grey and black for  the Korean — and were followed by retinues of younger monks and translators with shaven heads.  They settled onto cushions in the familiar cross-legged positions, and the host made it clear that the younger Zen master was to begin.  The Tibetan lama sat very still, fingering a wooden rosary (mala) with one hand while murmuring, “Om mani padme hum” continuously under his breath.

The Zen master, who was already gaining renown for his method of hurling questions at his students until they were forced to admit their ignorance and then bellowing, “Keep that don’t know mind!” at them, reached deep inside his robes and drew out an orange. “What is this?” he demanded of the lama.  “What is this?”  This was a typical opening question, and we could feel him ready to pounce on whatever response he was given.

The Tibetan sat quietly fingering his mala and made no move to respond.

“What is this?” the Zen master insisted, holding the orange up to the Tibetan’s nose.

Kalu Rinpoche bent very slowly to the Tibetan monk near to him who was serving as the translator, and they whispered back and forth for several minutes.  Finally the translator addressed the room: “Rinpoche says, ‘What is the matter with him?  Don’t they have oranges where he comes from?”

The dialog progressed no further.”


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Humility ~ Quotations and Sutra Sayings

“Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5
“Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.
It is healthy to be reminded that
the strongest might weaken
and the wisest might err.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“I claim to be a simple individual
liable to err like any other fellow mortal.
I own, however, that I have humility enough
to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius





Humility grows as ego goes.
The smaller the ego, the greater the being.

Humility is next to godliness.
No one enters the highest heaven
believing s/he belongs there.

We have nothing to surrender
but the idea that
we’re someone,
with something
to surrender.

We ever evolve
As our boundaries dissolve.

The essence of nobility
 is not heredity,
but humility;
not pedigree,
but integrity.

To name and define is to constrain and confine.
So, to be free, be a nameless nobody.

The more we know we’re no one,
the more we’re seen as someone.

Be nobody nowhere –

NOW!


Ron’s recitation of Humility

Listen to

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“A Simple Monk” and a Saintly Soul ~ a Synchronicity Story

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity,
and do not let expectations hinder my path.”
~ Dalai Lama
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

 

Carol Schuldt


This is a sweet synchronicity story about the Dalai Lama and my saintly friend Carol Schuldt.

Of all living spiritual masters, the Dalai Lama of Tibet most inspires me with his exemplary compassion, wisdom, humor, and humility. [I’ve dedicated a website category to his wise quotes and wonderful images.]

My 79 year old friend Carol Schuldt, is one of the most unforgettable people I’ve known. (See: One of The Most Unforgettable Persons I’ve Known.)

Carol is a spiritual person, with her own unique path of communing with Nature while surfing, swimming, sunning, hiking, biking, and gardening, and helping troubled souls – especially young people. Though raised Catholic, she has never knowingly followed any prescribed Western or Eastern spiritual path, like Tibetan Buddhism.

Though Carol has never yet met the Dalai Lama, she recently experienced a wonderful and amazing synchronicity with him. And immediately thereafter she excitedly phoned me to tell about it.

Here is the story:

On a June Saturday morning, Sacramento videographer Paul Maska came to Carol’s house to do a pre-arranged weekend video shoot of Carol for a documentary film about sun gazing produced by Wayne Purdin, Director of the Sun Center of Phoenix, AZ.

While filming and interviewing Carol, Paul became aware of Carol’s saintly spiritual presence and her exceptional natural lifestyle. So, during a break from filming, he asked her with curiosity if she was inspired by or felt affinity with any spiritual culture. After reflection, Carol declared that she felt special kinship with the Tibetans.

Whereupon, to Carol’s surprise and amazement, Paul spontaneously clasped their hands, touched their foreheads, and with deep concentration began making very low Tibetan overtone throat sounds. Unknown to Carol, Paul was then silently invoking and experiencing a communion with the the Dalai Lama, who he first met twenty years ago.

At that time, Paul had journeyed to India where he received H.H.’s personal ‪tashi delek‬ greeting and blessing. Paul then had an unforgettable spiritual experience with His Holiness while their hands were clasped and foreheads touching. Now, Carol’s expression of affinity with Tibetans, and her saintly aura, sparked Paul’s recollection and spontaneous invocation with Carol of that experience.

About ten minutes after Paul’s spontaneous ‪tashi delek‬ greeting and blessing for Carol, he and his assistant Marc, went outside for needed equipment left in their car.

Whereupon Marc discovered and examined a box of books which someone had just anonymously left in front of Carol’s house, beneath a large mural of Saint Francis of Assisi painted on the facade. Soon he found in the box an apparently new hardcover book entitled: “A Simple Monk”, with writings about the Dalai Lama by Professor Robert Thurman and others.

The book cover jacket displayed this prominent smiling portrait of His Holiness:



Knowing of Paul’s love of the Dalai Lama, Marc quickly took the book out of the box and gave it to Paul. Whereupon Paul excitedly ran upstairs to bring the book to Carol. As he handed it to her, he exclaimed, “Hey Carol you won’t believe what just happened!”.

Immediately appreciating the synchronistic blessing of the mysteriously manifested book, Carol burst into profuse tears of gratitude as she gazed at the smiling face of His Holiness.

Because of Carol’s great interest in synchronicities stemming from her lifelong experience of meaningful ‘coincidences’, Carol had just purchased a newly published edition of “The Red Book”, the previously unpublished esoteric writings of C.G. Jung, in which Jung had written about “synchronicity” – a word which he coined.

Though Carol was anxious to read and learn more from the book about this fascinating subject, she was so moved with gratitude by her experience with Paul and the Dalai Lama, that Carol handed “The Red Book” to Paul, asking him to first read it and then return it to her.

I predict that Carol will be experiencing many more amazing synchronicities before she reads “The Red Book”. Perhaps, you’ll read about them on this Silly Sutras website.

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Indian Astrology, Free Will or Fate? ~ An Amazing Synchronicity Story

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end,
by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Every Cause has its Effect;
every Effect has its Cause;
everything happens according to Law;
Chance is but a name for Law not recognized;
there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the Law.”

~ The Kybalion




I have elsewhere shared how in February, 1977, I spent a week in New York City, so filled with amazing synchronistic and precognitive experiences, that I became convinced it was possible to mystically transcend serial time perception. ( Synchronicity Story: An Amazing Experiment With Time )

Later, on learning that Sri Yukteshwar, Paramahamsa Yogananda’s guru, was an expert Vedic astrologer, and that the father of my Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, was also a Vedic astrologer, I became interested in astrological predictions and (for the first time in my life) was opened to possible validity of astrology – both Eastern and Western – as an esoteric science.

Indian or Vedic astrology is called Jyotish, which is Sanskrit for “light”; it is an ancient tradition going back thousands of years. Commonly, Indian astrologers (like those from other traditions) cast and interpret a personal chart based on each person’s unique time and place of birth.

But, there is another very rare branch of Jyotish astrology called Nadi reading in which the astrologer, a Brahmin priest, doesn’t cast a personal chart, but through analysis of one’s thumb prints locates and interprets notations supposedly first written on palm bark or leaves thousands of years ago by Indian sage Bhrigu.

Few people in the world have ever heard about, much less seen, an Indian Nadi reader.  On first hearing of Nadi readers, I skeptically dismissed claims of their authenticity and accuracy as too “far out” and beyond my Western programmed paradigm. But gradually I heard credible reports which began changing my mind.

First, my Harvard trained friends Bizhan and Deborah recounted to me their amazing experience with a Nadi reader. Later, I learned that Swami Kriyananda, a well known Western teacher, author, and direct disciple of Paramahamsa Yogananda, was so impressed with the extraordinary accuracy of his Nadi reading, that in 1967 he had published a book about it, entitled India’s Ancient Book of Prophecy.

Last year, I was discussing questions of free will and destiny with my long-time Jyotish astrologer friend Jackie Haller, when she mentioned Kriyananda’s Nadi reader experience. Intrigued by Jackie’s comments, I soon did an extended internet search and refreshed my memory about Kriyananda’s experience.

The next day, while visiting at the Fort Mason Italian-American Museum, I was telling my friend Joy Massa about Kriyananda’s experience with a Nadi reader, when a woman near us “coincidentally” overhead the conversation and joined us to recount lucidly and in some detail her personal amazing experience with a Nadi reading in Tamil Nadu, South India. She also told us about Deepak Chopra’s amazing experience with a Nadi reader, of which I was then unaware.

Because of Chopra’s high credibility, I soon searched and found the following description of his experience, in the “Book of Secrets”, Chapter 13. For Deepak Chopra, it was a life changing experience. And, on reading his eloquent story, I wondered again:


“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”

“Do we really have free will as most people believe?

And if so, what free will?”


Perhaps you, too, will wonder about these questions after reading Deepak Chopra’s fascinating story.

“Book of Secrets”, Chapter 13, by Deepak Chopra:

SEVERAL YEARS AGO IN A SMALL VILLAGE outside New Delhi, I was sitting in a small, stuffy room with a very old man and a young priest. The priest sat on the floor swaying back and forth as he recited words inked on bark sheets that looked ancient. I listened, having no idea what the priest was intoning. He was from the far south and his language, Tamil, was foreign to me. But I knew he was telling me the story of my life, past and future. I wondered how I got roped into this and began to squirm.

It had taken strong persuasion from an old friend to get me to the small room. “It’s not just Jyotish, it’s much more amazing,” he coaxed. Indian astrology is called Jyotish, and it goes back thousands of years. Visiting your family astrologer is common practice everywhere in India, where people plan weddings, births, and even routine business transactions around their astrological charts (Indira Gandhi was a famous example of someone who followed Jyotish), but modern times have led to a fading away of tradition. I had chronically avoided any brushes with Jyotish, being a child of modern India and later a working doctor in the West.

But my friend prevailed, and I had to admit that I was curious about what was going to happen. The young priest, dressed in a wrapped skirt with bare chest and hair shiny with coconut oil—both marks of a southerner—didn’t draw up my birth chart. Every chart he needed had already been drawn up hundreds of years ago. In other words, someone sitting under a palm tree many generations ago had taken a strip of bark, known as a Nadi, and inscribed my life on it.

These Nadis are scattered all over India, and it’s pure chance to run across one that applies to you. My friend had spent several years tracking down just one for himself; the priest produced a whole sheaf for me, much to my friend’s amazed delight. You have to come for the reading, he insisted.

Now the old man sitting across the table was interpreting in Hindi what the priest was chanting. Because of overlapping birth times and the vagaries of the calendar when we are speaking of centuries, Nadis can overlap, and the first few sheets didn’t apply to me. But by the third sheet or so, the young priest with the sing-song voice was reading facts that were startlingly precise: my birth date, my parents’ names, my own name and my wife’s, the number of children we have and where they live now, the day and hour of my father’s recent death, his exact name, and my mother’s.

At first there seemed to be a glitch: The Nadi gave the wrong first name for my mother, calling her Suchinta, when in fact her name is Pushpa. This mistake bothered me, so I took a break and went to a phone to ask her about it. My mother told me, with great surprise, that in fact her birth name was Suchinta, but since it rhymed with the word for “sad” in Hindi, an uncle suggested that it be changed when she was three years old. I hung up the phone, wondering what this whole experience meant, for the young priest had also read out that a relative would intervene to change my mother’s name. No one in our family had ever mentioned this incident, so the young priest wasn’t indulging in some kind of mind-reading.

For the benefit of skeptics, the young priest had passed nearly his whole life in a temple in South India and did not speak English or Hindi. Neither he nor the old man knew who I was. Anyway, in this school of Jyotish, the astrologer doesn’t take down your birth time and cast a personal chart which he then interprets. Instead, a person walks into a Nadi reader’s house, the reader takes a thumbprint, and based on that, the matching charts are located (always keeping in mind that the Nadis may be lost or scattered to the winds). The astrologer reads out only what someone else has written down perhaps a thousand years ago. Here’s another twist to the mystery: Nadis don’t have to cover everyone who will ever live, only those individuals who will one day show up at an astrologer’s door to ask for a reading!

In rapt fascination I sat through an hour of more arcane information about a past life I had spent in a South Indian temple, and how my transgressions in that lifetime led to painful problems in this one, and (after a moment’s hesitation while the reader asked if I really wanted to know) the day of my own death. The date falls reassuringly far in the future, although even more reassuring was the Nadi’s promise that my wife and children would lead long lives full of love and accomplishment.

I walked away from the old man and the young priest into the blinding hot Delhi sunshine, almost dizzy from wondering how my life would change with this new knowledge. It wasn’t the details of the reading that mattered. I have forgotten nearly all of them, and I rarely think of the incident except when my eye falls on one of the polished bark sheets, now framed and kept in a place of honor in our home. The young priest handed it to me with a shy smile before we parted. The one fact that turned out to have a deep impact was the day of my death. As soon as I heard it, I felt both a profound sense of peace and a new sobriety that has been subtly changing my priorities ever since.


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Synchronicity Inquiry

“Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.”
~ Carl Jung
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Friedrich Schiller
“People … who believe in physics, know that
the distinction between past, present, and future
is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein





Q. What are synchronicities?

A. Synchronicities are noteworthy “premonitions” or “coincidences” in time mysteriously arising from unexplained causes and conditions which connect events, actions and thoughts; and, which show us that in Nature, there is no time and there are no “coincidences – that everything that is, was, or will be is NOW; and, that everything is inter-connected and happens in harmony and synchrony – concurrently, not coincidentally.

Q. Why are synchronicities in time often noteworthy or meaningful?

A. Synchronicities in time are often noteworthy or meaningful because as we live in linear time they remind us of our unchanging timeless consciousness – which is our true Reality. And they can show our complicity in co-creating our ever changing world “reality”.

Time is how human mind tries to measure the immeasurable NOW.

As Einstein observed:

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


Space and time are but convenient conceptions of thought.

Though convenient, time is not congruent with Nature’s way –
the timeless Tao.

As thought, time is always then, not NOW; so living in time is living in the past.

As we transcend living conceptually in past time, and begin living authentically in timeless Presence, we notice more and more “synchronicities”.

And the more frequently we see synchronicities, the more they show we’re in the Flow – the Tao; the Eternal NOW.

So, when events seeming random happen in tandem,
it’s then we’ll know we’re in the flow

the Tao; the Eternal NOW.

Thus, because humankind almost always live in time, synchronistic signs of timeless Reality often seem so noteworthy or meaningful.

Q. How do synchronicities appear in our lives?

A. Synchronicities originate in now hidden depths of mind – at transpersonal and seemingly ‘chaotic’ quantum levels of existence. The more we intuitively entrain with those higher levels of consciousness, the more we are in harmony with the natural order, and the more we see synchronicities manifesting in our lives.

We live in an ever changing participatory vibratory relative “reality” wherein creation is vibration and oscillation, and where we are creative oscillating, vibrating vortices – interconnected and interdependent with all of Nature.

Thus, everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way.

Synchronicities are resonant exteriorations or manifestations of our subtle higher vibrations – our thoughts, intentions and emanations. The higher, subtler and more focused our vibratory frequencies, the more luminous our emanations. And as we become more luminous, our synchronicities become more numerous and more numinous.

Q. How shall we interpret synchronicities?

A. Synchronicities, like dreams, can be meaningful metaphoric messages that help guide us from deep levels of consciousness; and they can present us with evolutionary opportunities, if we recognize and act on them. Even the Dalai Lama has said: “I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.”

Synchronicities also can be seen as positive “biofeedback’ signs that we are in harmony with the natural order.

Synchronicities reveal the harmonious ONENESS of the Universe – both manifest and unmanifest, implicate and explicate. And the more we see that ONENESS, the more we see synchronicity as normality.

Thus, synchronicities can be seen as significant signs and reminders that temporal linearity is a cosmic irregularity, that “reality” isn’t mechanistic, and that the universe doesn’t work as we’ve thought or been taught.

And so, synchronicities can spur an inner search for a new “reality” paradigm, ultimately leading to the transformational discovery that our ever changing world “reality” isn’t really Real; that our unchanging timeless consciousness is our true Reality.

Q. How can synchronicities inspire us?

A. Synchronicities can infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for all miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet.

As we see each synchronicity as a mysterious, miraculous and numinous sign and reminder of our interdependence with all Life, we are inspired to BE – in sympathy and harmony with all Life.


Q. Can synchronicities help us harmonize with Nature?

A. Yes. To harmonize with Nature we must intuitively and reverently commune with our natural environment. Synchronicities can help us awaken from misconceived dreams of separation from Nature, so as to honor intuitive insights over mistaken or misguided mental processes.

Mistakenly thinking ourselves separate from our observations and perceptions, we try to explain them with thoughts and logical analyses. This mental process often leads to such preoccupation with details and minutia that we lose a reverent, holistic and macrocosmic view of our miraculous space/time natural environment. And we have thereby become alienated from Nature, and have ignorantly created ecological crises.

Synchronicities can remind us of the limitations of thought, and of the dangers of alienation from an intuitively participatory way of being in this world; that as thinkers, we do not and cannot understand Nature; that we are part of a participatory natural order in which everything/ everyone is interdependent; and, that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way.

With this awareness we are spurred to harmonize with Nature.

And so may it be!


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What is Life? – Quotes

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night. 
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. 
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
~ Crowfoot



“Life is like an onion; you peel off layer after layer
and then you find there is nothing in it.”
~ James Gibbons Huneker

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life.
‘It goes on.’”
~ Robert Frost

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ……
To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.”
~ Havelock Ellis

“In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.”
~ Charlie Brown

“If A equals success, then the formula is:  A = X + Y + Z,
where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keep your mouth shut.
~ Albert Einstein

“Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust –
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.”
~ Joseph Campbell

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
~ James M. Barrie

“..the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
~ Walt Whitman, “O Me! O Life!”, Leaves of Grass

“Life is the hyphen between matter and spirit.”
~ Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

“Life is a whim of several trillion cells to be you for a while.”
~ Author Unknown

“When we remember we are all mad,
the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
~ Mark Twain


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Synchronicity Story: A Spiritual Experience on Bernal Heights

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

Bernal Heights view


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Spiritual Experience
By Daniel Raskin *

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

Utah Box Canyon


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


******

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

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

Ron’s moral of the story:

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

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Your Religion Is Not Important




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

Boff’s Narative.

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

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

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

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


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

 “What is it that makes me better?”

“He responded:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Finally he said:

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


You Tube presentation of this dialogue:



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Introduction to Synchronicity Sutras and Stories

“There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe. 
The horizontal threads are in space.
 The vertical threads are in time.
 At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual.
 And every individual is a crystal bead. 
And every crystal bead reflects not only the light 
from every other crystal in the net,
 but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.”
~ Indra’s Net – from the Vedas of ancient India, 7000 years old
All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
~ Buddha




Have you ever wondered about mysterious meaningful or noteworthy “coincidences” or ‘synchronicities’ in your life, or in lives of others known to you? Countless people experience such strange “coincidences” without recognizing them as miraculous spiritual experiences, and often without paying much attention to their possible significance.

What are synchronicities? How do they happen? How shall we interpret them? Why are they noteworthy or meaningful? How can they inspire us? Can they help further our spiritual evolution?

Since synchronicities are often defined as meaningful or noteworthy “coincidences” in sequential time, what can they tell us about the nature of time? Without sequential time, there can’t be a “coincidence” in time. Do synchronicities originate beyond time, in the eternal NOW?

The word “synchronicity” was coined by Carl Jung  to describe “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events”.   Jung also variously described synchronicity as an “‘acausal connecting principle'”, “meaningful coincidence” and “acausal parallelism”.

But ancient Hermetic teachings, say – and we accept – that in this world:

“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.” ~ The Kybalion

And according to Buddhism, “All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” Thus, Buddhism recognizes that all phenomena and events arise from coinciding causes and conditions.

Apart from coincidences in time, the word “synchronicity” is sometimes also used to describe inner premonitions which later happen in the phenomenal world. (E.g. Before 9/11, 2001, many people had ‘synchronistic’ premonitions of the destruction of the World Trade Center.)

Thus, the concept of synchronicity — when seen in a wider context — raises strong doubts about existence of “coincidence” at all. Before the concept was known by this name, people often referred to such synchronistic events as portents or omens.

On SillySutras.com we accept that nothing in space/time escapes the law of cause and effect. But synchronicity indicates that there is much to the Universe beyond our understanding of cause and effect; that the subtleties of the mind and matter are somehow mysteriously interconnected.

So here we define synchronicities as:

“Noteworthy ‘premonitions’ or ‘coincidences’ in time mysteriously arising from unexplained causes and conditions which connect events, actions and thoughts; and, which show us that in Nature, there is no time and there are no “coincidences – that everything that is, was, or will be is NOW; and, that everything is inter-connected and happens in harmony and synchrony – concurrently, not coincidentally.”

According to Deepak Chopra, although the term “synchronicity” was coined in the twentieth century by Dr. Carl Jung, it may correspond to concepts described by ancient Indian Rishis or seers thousands of years ago. If so, how? Why?

By exploring synchronicity and by recounting synchronistic experiences and stories, this silly sutra site is dedicated to our co-creating an ever better reality by awakening us to our infinite potentialities and by furthering our wondrous experience and appreciation of our mysterious and miraculous world.

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