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A Day of Grace: Rediscovering the Porziuncola ~ a Synchronicity Story


“Every feature of the Porziuncola lifts the heart and mind to God”
~ St. Padre Pio
“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
Remember with gratitude,
Life is beatitude –
Even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
Every time, every place, and
Forever (S)HE will reign!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Saint Francis of Assisi by Lea Bradovich



When I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was largely uninformed about religions other than Judaism, and knew virtually nothing about saints. Even though Saint Francis of Assisi was patron saint of my new home, I remained ignorant of his life story until after my profound spiritual opening in 1976.

Then, through a series of synchronistic inner visions and outer events I developed a deep inner rapport with Saint Francis. And his prayer became – and remained – an important part of my daily spiritual practice.

On retirement from law practice in 1992, I made pilgrimages to India and Italy to pay my respects both to my spiritual master Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas and to Saint Francis.

On arriving in Italy in Springtime 1992, I rented a car at the Rome airport and drove northward to the Umbrian town of Assisi, where Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life. As I arrived at the outskirts of Assisi, I immediately experienced a remarkable feeling of déjà vu, and was so overcome with emotion that I had to pull over to the side of the road as I began crying deeply and intensely for a long time.

My subsequent stay in Assisi and excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ – proved magical, with unforgettable spiritual experiences.

One of the most profound of those experiences happened as I visited a tiny frescoed chapel called Porziuncola [“the little portion”]. It had been restored from a ruined condition by Francis and his early followers to become first home of the Franciscan order. Here, Francesco lived, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of a female order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

As I entered the Porziuncola at Assisi, I experienced a palpable aura of love and was overcome with emotion, cried deeply and intensely and lost track of time. Ever since then, a memory of that exquisitely simple little chapel and its aura of supernal Love has remained enshrined in my heart. Although I have never since returned that holy Assisi place, which Saint Francis named and loved, my cherished memory of the Porziuncola was revived following a surprising and synchronistic ‘holy encounter’ in San Francisco, almost twenty years later. Here’s what happened.

After retirement many years ago, it became my practice to walk almost daily along San Francisco Bay. Most often I walked to the Bay following pedestrian paths beside the Fort Mason Great Meadow, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), our nation’s newest National Park.

As I arrived at Fort Mason on a beautiful and sunny June morning, I was obliged to detour from my usual path to the Bay. The National Park Service had closed the pedestrian paths around the Great Meadow for repaving. So to reach the Bay I had to walk across the grassy meadow. There I saw a very unusual sight. Perhaps hundreds of children, attended by mostly senior adults, many dressed in white, were gathered in the meadow. Many tents were set up for children’s activities, such as face painting and fortune telling. Sweet music was playing on loud speakers.

I was quite impressed by this charming scene, of sweet children and caring adults, and I sensed an especially loving atmosphere pervading the meadow. Curious, I asked the first chaperone I encountered, “what’s happening?”. A lovely senior lady told me that this was a children’s fair sponsored by the Meher School of Lafayette (a San Francisco suburb) for its students and for children from less affluent San Francisco neighborhoods, who had also been invited. [*see footnote]

Francis in the Park

Inspired by the love I perceived and felt there, I continued walking through the meadow and toward the Bay. After hiking out to the end of San Francisco Municipal Pier, I began returning home. Soon, I noticed an unopened bottle of spring water apparently dropped by a cyclist. I picked up the water bottle, determined to give it to someone at the children’s festival in the Great Meadow.

As I arrived again at the meadow, I was met by a tall friendly (and thirsty) man named Peter, who seemed to be watching out at the perimeter of the children’s gathering. Though we’d never met, he somehow seemed familiar. In greeting me Peter asked, “would you like to know what’s happening?” After I recounted what I already knew about the festival and gladly gave Peter the bottle of spring water, he told me more details of this event.

Peter explained that this gathering was like a mini-Umbrian children’s festival inspired by universal values of Saint Francis of Assisi which are similar to those of the Meher School; and, that periodically the school sponsors a play about the life of Francis performed at various venues, including at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, located in San Francisco’s oldest church in the North Beach district.

I was very surprised when Peter mentioned a national shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi located in San Francisco. Though I’d then lived in San Francisco more than fifty years, I don’t remember ever before hearing about such a national shrine. Moreover as Peter described the shrine, I was amazed to learn that it included an almost exact replica of the Porziuncola at Assisi, recently constructed at the instance of former San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto.

Peter and I then exchanged stories about our respective springtime visits to Assisi and our heartfelt affinity with Saint Francis. On parting we shared contact information.

A few days later, I received an email invitation from Peter’s friend and colleague, Terry, to tour the San Francisco Porziuncola shrine, which I quickly accepted. Terry, was both music director of the Meher School’s sponsoring non-profit organization, Sufism Reoriented, and a member of the Knights of St. Francis, a volunteer organization which helps safeguard the national shrine.

The tour proved magical for me. With Terry and Peter as guides, I beheld for the first time the San Francisco “Porziuncola Nuova”. Before entering, I noticed carved in Italian on the second marble step a quote from Francesco: “Vi voglio tutti in Paradiso” [“I want you ALL in Paradise”]. On learning what those words meant, I experienced instant heart-felt emotion and tears.

As I entered the sanctuary that emotion deepened, and soon overcome by it I was obliged to sit silently in a pew, just as I did in Assisi. And, as in Assisi, profuse tears flowed. Unable to talk, I sat and cried for a while as Peter compassionately attempted to comfort me. In the San Francisco Porziuncola I didn’t lose track of time as I did in Assisi, and after crying for a while resumed conversation with Terry and Peter.

But I continued feeling so emotional in that sacred space that I was unable to focus on details of the beautiful pictorial art and artifacts around me, which I later observed on other visits.

I did however notice a prominently displayed letter Tau, the last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet which in biblical times closely resembled the letter T. [See below.] The Tau was adopted by Francesco as his own symbol or logo which he painted on the walls and doors of places where he stayed, and used in his writings as his only signature. (Synchronistically, I had a few days earlier been discussing with a friend possible use of a Tau as a logo for The Perennial Wisdom Foundation, the new non-profit corporation which I was then forming.)

Before exiting the “Porziuncola Nuova” I gazed upon and gently touched one of the holiest Franciscan relics in the world, a beautifully displayed rock believed to have been used by Francis as a crude tool in his reconstruction of the Porziuncola.

After departing the shrine, Terry and Peter and I adjourned for lunch in a nearby restaurant, where we shared stories of how Divine Grace has continuously blessed our lives, as it did on that magical day.

And in now reflecting on that wonderful day of rediscovery, I realize that it couldn’t have happened but for my synchronistic detours through the grassy Great Meadow and desire to share a bottle of spring water which I happened to find while walking by the Bay.

It seems that Divine Grace often works through synchronicity, and that the more alert we become to such synchronicity the more it happens.

What do you think?

Franciscan Tau


* I later learned that this children’s fair was part of an ongoing national program called Francis in the Schools founded in 2010 by Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented.
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Synchronicity Story: Dr. King, Alice Walker, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and “If I Was President”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dare to be a nonconformist.
Society rewards conformers.
But, posterity honors reformers.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Let us elevate our aspirations,
from the bottom line to the highest good.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In these critical times,
we need a critical mass
to solve our critical mess.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

 

Alice Walker


 

Ron’s Introduction.

As we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 86th birthday anniversary and remember his “dream” for our society, here is a synchronicity story about Dr. King and poet/author and social reformer Alice Walker, and her poem entitled: “If I Was President”.

We still endure most of the flagrant societal injustices addressed by Dr. King and Alice Walker, including unjust incarceration of countless truth-tellers and societal reformers, like Mumia Abu Jamal.

So, again I share this story with the renewed aspiration that together we will realize Dr. King’s ‘dream’; that at long last, we will elevate our societal aspirations from the bottom line to the highest good, and use our common wealth for our common weal.

With ever enhanced compassionate consciousness let us finally end the iniquity of inequity in our society. So that as Abraham Lincoln envisioned, “under God, [we] shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Synchronicity Story.

One January morning I received an email notice of an archived lecture about departed hero Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. given by poet, author, and Buddhist peace activist Alice Walker, in Atlanta in 2006. The lecture was entitled “We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For.” [a YouTube video is linked below]

Because of my great respect for Dr. King as a national hero, and for Alice Walker’s wisdom, artistic genius and exemplary engagement in non-violent peace activism, I listened to the lecture. It was eloquent and moving.

At one point Alice Walker noted the posthumous persistence of social problems addressed by Dr. King before he was assassinated, and she cited as emblematic of our continuing societal injustices the political incarceration and threatened execution of brilliant truth teller journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, following his wrongful conviction for a crime perpetrated by someone else (who belatedly admitted culpability in an affidavit refused by the courts).

Mumia Abu Jamal


Especially, because I regard Abu-Jamal as an unjustly imprisoned ‘great soul’ who was subjected to an extraordinarily unfair trial, I have been amongst the millions world-wide protesting his political incarceration and threatened execution.

Synchronistically, a couple of hours after I listened to the Alice Walker lecture mentioning Abu-Jamal, I received a rare phone call from Prison Radio, an organization dedicated to recording and distributing worldwide weekly radio commentaries by Abu-Jamal then telephoned from death row. (If interested you can listen to those commentaries at the Prison Radio website http://www.prisonradio.org/.)

The caller, Sharyn, invited me to a house party at which Abu-Jamal’s current legal situation was to be be discussed in depth. I told Sharyn that I had just been thinking about Mumia because of Alice Walker’s reference to him in her eloquent Atlanta talk about Dr. King. In response, Sharyn told me that shortly before she called me, Prison Radio had that day just received a new poem written and sent by Alice Walker from Mexico about Mumia and other prominent political prisoners.

Entitled, “If I Was President”, the opening line of the poem says:

“If I was President/The first thing I would do/is call Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

So why did the universe decide to synchronistically communicate with me that day through Dr. King, Alice Walker and Prison Radio about Mumia Abu-Jamal? It is a mystery, and a reminder of how little we understand our miraculous world “reality”.

From space/time perspective, synchronicities are noteworthy or meaningful coincidences in time. But from a cosmic perspective serial time is just an illusory way we think. So Albert Einstein has said:

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

Inspired by Einstein I have tentatively explained such synchroncities this way:

“Synchronicities are noteworthy “coincidences” in time,
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;
that everything happens in harmony and synchrony
concurrently, not coincidentally.
Synchronicities are like Nature’s positive “bio-feedback’ or ‘radar’ signals showing when we are existing out of time and in the eternal NOW.”

And here is an interesting quote from Deepak Chopra:

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.”

How do you explain synchronicities in your life?

Whether or not we can ever really explain synchronicities, may they ever infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for our interdependence with all miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet.

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A Psychedelic Santa Synchronicity Story

 

“Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”
~ The Night Before Christmas,
~ Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston



Have you ever wondered about origins of the Santa Claus legend long associated with Christmas celebrations? Why do people associate a mythical red cheeked jolly bearded old man from the North Pole with Christmas? Why is he archetypically depicted as attired in a furry red and white suit and flying through the air in a gift laden sleigh drawn by happy reindeer? Why does he supposedly deliver his gifts nocturnally via chimneys?
I began wondering about these questions after experiencing a Santa suit synchronicity. And I found interesting esoteric answers. Many people might suppose that the popular Santa (or Father Christmas) image began in 1823 with publication of the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem. But the poem was sourced from customs and legends which long antedated the nineteenth century.

I’ll tell about that after first recounting my Santa suit synchronicity story.

Especially since my mid-life spiritual awakening, some circumstance or artifact has often fortuitously or synchronistically appeared in my life fulfilling a wish or perceived need. In my spiritual memoirs, I call these experiences “manifestation miracles”. Such “miracles” have been much too numerous for me to totally recall and recount. But, I will be sharing some memoirs stories about them, including this story about manifesting a Santa Claus costume.

On a Friday afternoon, I experienced a blissful spinal healing session at “SoulWorks”, the office of San Francisco healer and chiropractor, Dr. Melanie Hernand. During that session I was continuously and spontaneously laughing a lot. Maybe that laughter sounded to Dr. Hernand like “Ho! Ho! Ho!”. For afterwards, she asked me if I would come as Santa Claus to the “SoulWorks” holiday Christmas party, a benefit for The Healing Hearts Project and children of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  With little hesitation I told Dr. Hernand that I would be Santa Claus at the SoulWorks party, if she helped me find a costume. She agreed.

So, joyously I exited SoulWorks that Friday afternoon knowing that I needed a Santa Claus costume.  Miraculously the costume manifested that very night without any further thought or effort.

On Friday night I returned home after happily attending a program given by Visionary Activist astrologer Caroline Casey at The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) where I was Board chairman during the 1980’s. It was my first visit to CIIS since leaving there twenty five years ago.  And I very much enjoyed and appreciated Caroline’s presentation there.

I returned to my apartment building still in a blissful mood, and stopped in the lobby to get my mail.   There I met my neighbor Ronelle Strand who was about to walk her dog, Cali, before retiring. Since Ronelle was one of a few people to whom I had given a SoulWorks gift certificate, I mentioned to her that I had just agreed to be Santa at the SoulWorks holiday party.  Whereupon she told me that her Bay Music entertainment booking service business had some rental costumes, including a Santa suit which had been in storage and unrented for many years.   She offered it, and it was perfect.

Then, awaiting the Santa suit party, I began wondering about the origins of the Santa story. Whereupon, I fortuitously happened to notice on Caroline Casey’s Facebook page, a You Tube link to this two minute BBC video entitled, “‪Magic mushrooms & Reindeer – Weird Nature‬”

I watched the video, was intrigued, and wanted to learn more. So, I consulted Dr. Google and fortuitously found interesting esoteric answers to my questions about the Santa Claus myth in a detailed article entitled “The Influence of Fly Agaric on the Iconography of Father Christmas” , also published by BBC.

Apparently, the Santa Claus legend arose from shamanic traditions of tribal peoples in pre-Christian Northern Europe, whose sacred psychedelic source was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as “fly agaric”, a fungus found in pine and birch woods of western North America, northern Europe, and Asia.



Red-robed Chimney Climbing Santas

Apparently, Siberian shamans have used amanita muscaria for recreational or ritualistic purposes for thousands of years. During mushroom-induced trances, they would twitch and sweat before falling into a deep coma-like sleep. During this coma, the shaman’s soul consciousness left his body and ascended to the ‘spirit world’ where it communicated with the spirits about major health problems, such as outbreaks of sickness in the village.

On awaking, with new knowledge from subtle sources, the shamans found their muscular systems had been so stimulated that they were able to perform spectacular physical feats with seemingly little effort – like making a gigantic leap to clear a small obstacle. The mushrooms similarly affected reindeer, and mushroom intoxicated reindeer traditionally guarded each shaman.

The shamans lived in yurts, tepee-like shelters made of reindeer skin, with roofs supported by birch poles and smoke-holes at the top. During midwinter festivals of renewal, the shamans gathered the mushrooms from under sacred trees. While harvesting the toadstools, they would wear special attire, consisting of red and white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots, very much like the modern day depiction of Santa Claus. They’d then enter their yurts through the smoke-holes, carrying sacks full of dried fly agaric mushrooms, descending the birch pole to the floor. Once inside, the shamans performed ceremonies and shared the toadstool’s psychotropic gifts with those gathered inside. Then they left as they entered, climbing up the pole and back through the smoke-hole.

Flying Reindeer

Reindeer, known as caribou in North America, are deer found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe and North America. They feed on grass and lichens, but also crave the fly agaric toadstool, Amanita muscaria, because of its intoxicating and euphoric effects.

The Sami have a custom of feeding fly agaric to their deer and collecting the urine to drink. The reindeer’s digestive system metabolizes the allegedly poisonous components of the toadstool, leaving urine with the hallucinogenic and psychotropic elements of the fungus intact. Drinking the urine gives a ‘high’ similar to taking LSD. Under the hallucinatory effects of the drink, the Sami thought their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world. The reindeers’ so crave the toadstool hallucinogens that they have been known to eat snow on which intoxicated humans have urinated, creating a reciprocating cycle.

Apparently, when the first Christian missionaries reached Lapland and heard stories of such reindeer flight, they integrated those tales into Western folklore concerning Saint Nicholas. So, the association of reindeer with Christmas was well established for centuries before the 1843 publication of the The Night Before Christmas poem, and the 1949 hit song, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ popularized it with masses of people.

And to All a Good Night

Thus it seems probable that the traditional image of Santa Claus originated in shamanistic rituals involving the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom gathered by shamans wearing red and white fur-trimmed coats. From climbing into chimneys and gift giving, to dressing in red and white and flying through the air with reindeer, travelers and storytellers have fused these ancient customs with other pagan traditions and imagery. And these pagan customs have pragmatically been adapted and integrated by Christianity into its Christmas traditions.

Ho! Ho! Ho! And to All a Good Night.




Source: “The Influence of Fly Agaric on the Iconography of Father Christmas”

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Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
~ Socrates
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”  After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
 
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one.  How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life.  It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch

Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?

Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process has proved an enormous blessing which has changed my life forever. It has convinced me that “Who Am I?” is the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.

And so it shall be!

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Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present


“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Thus, according to twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti, “Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. . [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”

Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only 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”

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” . . . . .
“That which is timeless is found now.”


Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present –
in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is furthered by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic mid-life spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, quieted my mind, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness, the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated SillySutras.com to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

For example, during Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’” ] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many Jews is the religious highpoint of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult ( before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until recently receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research for answers to these questions, here are my conclusions:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an eternally present inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever imminent Divine Love – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

On holy days and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember their affinity and identity with Divinity; and, may they thus wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede living in the precious present.

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!

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From Blanked Out to Blissed Out: A Disguised Blessing Synchronicity Story

“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.”
“… joy and sorrow are inseparable. . .
together they come and when one sits alone with you . . .
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.”
~ Kahlil Gibran




After a period of many overcast and rainy San Francisco days, I awakened on a Monday morning gratefully beholding the sun shining on the City and the Bay.  So, I decided to enjoy the day with a brisk morning walk in the sun before my noon appointment at Soul Works chiropractic.

But first, I went on-line and attended to current emails and SillySutras.com website issues.   Consulting ‘Dr. Google’, I discovered a suggested code change which might correct a non-functioning website plugin that had stopped working months ago.   Then, shortly before I planned to begin my walk in the sun, I decided to try correcting the faulty plugin, and made the suggested code change.  But when I pushed the “save” button at the bottom of the plugin edit page, everything went blank – both SillySutras.com and my WordPress administrative dock.

So, it appeared that my website was down and blanked out, and that – unable to access my administrative page – I needed immediate help from others to fix it.   But I realized that if I then tried getting help, I wouldn’t have time for a walk by the Bay, and my noon chiropractic appointment.    Nonetheless, instead of postponing my walk and appointment, I decided intuitively to walk in the sun and to my chiropractic appointment leaving the website blanked-out. That spontaneous decision was contrary to my long-time lawyer’s habit of quickly and compulsively correcting any such problems.

After a delightfully brisk walk through Fort Mason open space and onto the SF Municipal Pier jutting into SF Bay, I arrived at Soul Works chiropractic in a very happy mood.   But I was still wondering about my blanked-out website.  So I asked Adriene, the lovely new Soul Works receptionist, if she would check SillySutras.com on her computer to see if it was visible or down.

Adriene told me that “synchronistically” she too had a WordPress website, and she immediately understood my problem.  She checked my website on-line and found that it was blank – just a white page with absolutely no public display or data. So, she recommended that I contact my web hosting service as soon as possible.

At other times I might have become tense or upset and postponed my chiropractic session until after arranging to fix my crashed website.    But, somehow, through all of this I stayed calm, and I felt that the synchronicity of talking to Adriene who had her own website using the identical WordPress platform that ran SillySutras.com was a sign from the Universe that I was in the right place at the right time. Moreover, after my wonderful brisk walk beside the Bay I was feeling especially happy and peaceful.

So in that happy state, I stretched out on the chiropractic table, stilled my mind, and began deep relaxed breathing.  Then, while lying prone on the chiropractor’s table with a ‘blanked-out’ mind, I suddenly saw the day’s ‘blanked-out’ website incident as a ‘cosmic joke’, testing whether Ron would witness it non-reactively and respond peacefully and appropriately – or whether he’d react reflexively, emotionally and impulsively.   Thereupon, with that realization, I went into a state of bliss and was laughing continuously – sometimes singing – for half an hour.

Over thirty years ago, while driving home to San Francisco from a retreat with my beloved Guru, Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I was suddenly taken out of my body and into a very subtle higher spiritual realm from which this world appeared as a mere play of consciousness – a sort of cosmic joke – where every appearance and happening was causally pre-determined by Cosmic Consciousness.

Though that experience was life-changing and unforgettable, it is difficult for me to mindfully remember it in daily life, especially when viewing with compassion, and sometimes with tears, the disharmony and terrible suffering of Humankind and other life in this crazy world.   But on the Soul Works chiropractic table with a blanked-out mind, I remembered the ‘cosmic joke’ blissfully, and laughed continuously.

Emerging from Soul Works, I realized that it was infinitely more important for Ron to access his inner bliss with a ‘blanked-out’ mind, than his Silly Sutra writings on a ‘blanked-out’ website.   So that Monday’s website emergency proved a disguised blessing, affording Ron an opportunity to witness his website crash dispassionately and non-reactively, and, hopefully to learn from that experience.

Moral of the story:   Every adverse experience may be a disguised blessing – an opportunity to learn something important. And synchronicities seen during such experiences can be signs that we are “in the flow” at the right time and place, despite apparent problems. viz. “When events seeming random, happen in tandem, it’s then we know we’re in the flow.”

Life on earth has its unavoidable ‘ups and downs’ – its inevitable difficulties.   So learning to experience life’s adversities skillfully and with equanimity helps us live happier lives and furthers our evolution.

Here is a previously posted silly sutras poem which encapsulates the inevitability of life’s ‘ups and downs’: 


In duality domain
ev’ry pleasure’s
wrapped in pain.

Within each joy
is an oy/oy/oy.

So, when you’re feeling forlorn,
remember this:

Misery is the mother of Bliss.



PS.  If you are reading this posting on SillySutras.com, you know that it is no longer blanked-out, and that Ron’s editing mistake was completely corrected after he enjoyed a few blissed out hours with a blanked-out mind. Hurray!

On returning home from Soul Works I found an email from Lana Walker, my professional website advisor. I immediately replied telling her of the website white-out problem, which she quickly fixed a few hours after it began. And more people accessed the website that Monday, than any other day that week.

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My “Miraculous” Experience on Shri Dhyanyogi’s Mahasamadhi ~ Ron’s Memoirs

At my death do not lament our separation
…
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Introduction

On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we sometimes call them “miracles” and may attribute them to a Divine power.

Like other rare saints and mystics my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi,  (“Guruji”) occasionally demonstrated  “miracles”  to foster faith in the Divine.  In his writings and lectures, Guruji explained that yogic powers (siddhis) might be attained via control of life-force energies, but that they were seldom displayed; that such powers are used “sparingly and on occasion for humanitarian and other discretionary ends,” but not “for self-aggrandizement.”

Previously, I told you my belief that Guruji has helped me from subtle planes, like a ‘guardian angel’, ever since I met him when he was approximately one hundred years old, and even after he died in India sixteen years later.

I believe that Guruji left his body consciously and intentionally, using his yogic powers; that his mental body survived the death of the physical body; and, that from subtle planes he continues to help humanity.

I’d like to explain to you my reasons for this belief.

In the Hindu tradition, when a yogi who has previously experienced the highest state of samadhi intentionally leaves his body, this is not the same as death of an ordinary person who has not attained self-realization. Such a passing is called a Mahasamādhi (great and final samādhi) and is the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body at the time of physical death.

When I received shaktipat initiation from Guruji in 1978, I had already witnessed his yogic power to influence this level of reality from subtle planes. He had clearly appeared in my subtle inner vision when we were physically distant. Thereafter, I had other experiences of Guruji’s subtle powers, which I elsewhere share with you.

In 1980 just before Guruji returned to India from four years in the USA, he stayed in my apartment for several weeks. At that time Guruji’s American attendant and driver, Lackshman, recounted to me a brief conversation with Guruji following a sparsely attended public meditation program. Driving home, Lackshman had remarked to Guruji that it was too bad so few people had attended this event. Whereupon Guruji replied, “It’s not important. Most of my work is on other planes.”

And, once when we were alone in his room, Guruji told me that he came and went from his physical body as he pleased. [See Human Body – A Precious “Prison”? ]

Also, at Guruji’s meditation programs, I heard amazing stories from others who had experienced his extraordinary yogic powers. Perhaps the most memorable of these stories was that of Rudy, a Chicago teacher who decided to travel on his motorcycle to spend time with Guruji in California. But before reaching California, and while he was in Colorado, Rudy had an unexpected and “miraculous meeting” with Guruji.

On a curvy mountain highway in Colorado, Rudy’s motorcycle skidded off the road and careened three hundred feet down a steep incline. Just before hitting bottom, Rudy called out Guruji’s name, remembering Guruji’s assurance that “I’m always with you.”

Gravely injured, Rudy became comatose. In that comatose state he had a “near death experience” (NDE), which miraculously he survived, and later recounted in detail.

There on ‘the other side’ to greet and guide Rudy, and to save his life was Dhyanyogi. Thereafter, at a California retreat Guruji explained to Rudy that he had saved his life because Rudy still had much more work to do in this world.

Rudy’s vividly credible description of this amazing incident compellingly impressed me with Guruji’s power to manifest at will on subtle planes of “reality” and to thus influence what happens in this “reality”.

Besides my own extraordinary experiences with Guruji, and hearing of Rudy’s experience, I learned about numerous other “miraculous” experiences of Guruji’s devotees. (See eg “This House is on Fire, The Life of Shri Dyanyogi”, as told by Shri Anandi Ma.)

My Experience on Guruji’s Mahasamadhi

One of my most memorable mystical experiences of Guruji happened just after he left his physical body. At the end of August 1994, when Guruji was in India and I was in San Francisco, I was home asleep when I was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night.

With eyes open, I beheld in amazement an extraordinary and unprecedented vision – an otherworldly, multi-colored bird, translucent with a peacock-like tail and human-like eyes. Nothing about the bird appeared like any ‘real-life’ bird I had ever before seen, or might have imagined.

As I gazed in awe at this ethereal apparition, I was enveloped and transformed by a supernal aura of supreme Peace, which emanated from the bird’s radiant dark human-like eyes. I awakened in the morning puzzled, and wondered about that extraordinary apparition which had enveloped me with ‘peace that passeth understanding.’

The next day, still wondering about the vision, I was sitting at my dining room table when an ‘inner voice’ dictated to me a poem about death, a subject I hadn’t then been thinking about.

Listening to my muse, I quickly and spontaneously “channeled” this poem about death:

When we come to Earth
They call it a birth
When we leave,
They say we die.

But we really don’t come,
And we really don’t go.
We just dream our lives
But why?

To awaken as Bliss
From all of this,
Joyous that all is
“I”.



Thereafter, within a day or two, I received a rare call from one of Guruji’s early US disciples, Elyse (Indu) of Sacramento. She informed me of Guruji’s death – his Mahasamādhi – on August 29. Only then did I understand why I had been given this profound poem about death. And I immediately recognized it as a parting gift and message from Guruji.

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

So I recited the poem for Elyse. Then I told her about my puzzling otherworldly bird vision. She promptly and aptly interpreted that vision as a mythical Phoenix bird, symbol of immortality, resurrection, and life after death.

Thereupon, I realized that the bird’s human-like eyes emanating supernal Peace were Guruji’s eyes; and, that this unforgettable vision with experience of celestial peace was another parting gift and message from Guruji.

Epilogue

Many years have passed since that miraculous experience of Guruji’s Mahasamādhi, but I still continue to feel his subtle presence and often shed tears of devotion and joy, when I think of him or gaze at his photographic image.

Recently, almost twenty years after Guruji’s transition, I had a home visit from my friend Michael O’Rourke, a talented spiritual cinematographer who helped me launch SillySutras.com. I was chatting with Michael about Guruji and feeling his subtle presence, while seated in a reclining chair. After a while I had to excuse myself for a bathroom visit. When I returned several minutes later Michael reported to me his extraordinary experience of Guruji’s appearance.

As Michael was gazing at me while I talked about Guruji, he went into an altered state of consciousness. He then perceived another face morphing into mine – a face without glasses and with a longer white beard. It was Guruji!

Michael said that amazingly after I got up to go to the bathroom he still perceived the image of Guruji seated in the chair, until after I returned and sat down again.

Guruji once said: “All those who came to me for Shaktipat …. are my spiritual heirs. For my energy works through them.”

With utmost gratitude, I deeply feel that my continuing experience of Guruji validates his statement and supports my faith that he continues to help humanity, including Ron, even after his Mahasamādhi.

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A “Holy Encounter” – Synchronicity Story

In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
“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)
“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
“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven
is my brother and sister and mother.”
~ Matthew 12:50
Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.
~ Matthew 7:7




Have you ever met a stranger who seemed familiar, or with whom you felt an effortless instant rapport?     If so, did you wonder why?

Buddhists might explain such meetings as reencounters with people we’ve known in other lifetimes. They say that our mind-stream incarnates so many times that we may have familial connections with all other beings.

In all events, however we may explain such encounters, we can view them as synchronistic evolutionary opportunities. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches that every encounter can be a “Holy Encounter”, enabling us find “salvation” by transcending our illusionary self identification with seeming separation and by discovering our true wholeness and Holiness – our true self identity with Universal Spirit.

In recent years I have had many synchronistic meetings with strangers which have become “holy encounters”. One such meeting happened on a late September afternoon.

While walking by the Bay, I stopped and sat at a picnic table in a beautiful Fort Mason nature place. Soon a stranger named Nick appeared, and we engaged in an extraordinary and extended dialogue about perennial spiritual questions, the kinds of questions that motivated me to launch Silly.Sutras.com. While we talked, Nick’s energy seemed familiar, even though we’d never before met.

The next day Nick sent me an email asking to be added to the SillySutras circulation list. Also, he expressed appreciation for our meeting (in which he had asked many questions), and he asked one more question, which he said he’d forgotten to previously ask, viz:

“Throughout the days, there is a witness who watches all the events of my life; whether in calmness or through the most frantic events he remains unperturbed. Who is this observer?”


I replied to Nick, an observant Christian, as follows:

“The answer to your question is – like the Kingdom of Heaven – within.  Seeking it you shall find it.

Do you equate your word “witness” with “awareness” or “consciousness”?  If so, here is an apt quotation from Ramana Maharshi, a renowned mystic master from the past century:

‘Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness. If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.’
~ Ramana Maharshi”


More than six months after our synchronistic encounter and exchange of messages, I was surprised by an email from Nick, telling about his experience when we met.

In reply, I asked Nick’s permission to share his letter on-line. He agreed, and explained:

“I wrote because I felt the need to express my gratitude, to you, of course, but above all to our celestial Father, for this blessing.”


Here is Nick’s letter:

Hi Ron,

My name is Nick; I don’t know if you remember me. We met last fall. I had just lost my beloved mother. I was walking along the shore in dazed despair. At one point, near the Municipal Pier, I thought: “If there were just one person, one soul in this whole city that I could talk to!”

I think it an odd paradox that it’s precisely death, the ultimate “limiting factor”, that should, perhaps more than any event, bring humans face-to-face with the Infinite.  It was precisely this quandary, more than immediate injury and loss, that pained and perplexed me that day.

When I got to the top of Fort Mason, at Black Point, I walked toward the picnic tables. There, at the spot where my mother and I used to gaze out upon the Bay, I saw a small figure, sitting silently at a table; it reminded me of a heron or some other seabird I had spied, in stillness on the shore.

At that point, I felt I had “arrived” and had the urge to speak. But, at a loss on how to engage the conversation, I remember instead awkwardly staring out at the water. You broke the ice with these words:

“It’s good to be here!”

A little startled, I asked whether this was intended as a geographical or metaphysical statement. Your answer, I believe, was that it could be understood as either (I rather agreed with the first; less with the second interpretation; though, of course, the two seem difficult to separate).

I don’t remember too many of the particulars of the wide-ranging conversation that followed across the picnic table (St. Francis, Buddha, the Kaddish, suicide, the apocalypse..) . What I do recall is that it precisely addressed all the points that caused me such perplexity that day, and that in its course my wounds seemed to get bandaged up, my pains assuaged.

Most vividly, I remember you asking me whether I knew the meaning of the term “synchronicity”, which, in answer to my avowed ignorance, you proceeded to define. In truth, I required few explanations: a while earlier, down by the Maritime Museum, when I’d exclaimed “God, if there were just someone in the world to talk to!”, this hadn’t been a prayer in any formal sense, not even a request with any expectation of fulfillment, but a simple cri du coeur.* [*cry from the heart; heartfelt appeal]

Now I understood what synchronicity meant.

I’m afraid I detained you longer than reasonable, as twilight settled over the trees.

You gave me your card, I checked out your website and signed up for your episodic postings.

Whether freezing my ass off in my mother’s drafty old farmhouse in Burgundy in the dead of last winter, hiking some warm canyon in the Southwest, or just sitting in my room here in San Francisco, scratching my head and wondering what’s next,  these have proved a reliable source of comfort and elevation.  Most often, as I read them, I can’t help but repeat “Yes, yes, yes!” ; sometimes I disagree, or don’t understand. They’ve made a difference for the better in my life, and I eagerly look forward to them.  All and all, they have the effect of a gentle voice enjoining me to wake up from an overlong nightmare. Which brings to mind [this verse from Pedro Calderon De La Barca’s play La vida es sueño – Life is a Dream ]:

¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.*

I’m still confused ; still sorely miss my mother, angel of beauty; but I’m very grateful to have made your acquaintance. And when I take a walk at Fort Mason, I always hope I’ll find you sitting at the table. No luck, so far. I reckon you just can’t force synchronicity…

Cheers,

Nick
*
[ English translation:

What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest profit is small;
For all of life is a dream,
And dreams, are nothing but dreams.]


Moral of this story:

Heartfelt calls to the Divine will  be answered and rewarded.

Every encounter with others; especially each synchronistic encounter, can be a “Holy Encounter”.

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More Manifestation Miracles: From New Balance to Asics – Ron’s Memoirs

How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
 see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.

~ Lao Tzu





Introduction

In prior posts I have told how after my spiritual awakening my life became filled with ever more amazing synchronicities, some of which I called “manifestation miracles”. (See http://sillysutras.com/synchronistic-manifestation-miracles-rons-memoirs/ ) Sometimes manifestation synchronicities respecting particular things – like plants – have happened to me recurrently. Here is a story of how the universe repeatedly provided comfortable running shoes for me when I needed them.

Synchronicity Story

On living alone after divorce, I began jogging almost every morning before walking to work. So I started wearing running shoes for the first time. After trying on many different shoe brands, I discovered that New Balance (which were then sold in narrow widths) fit me best. Thereafter, for many years I only bought narrow New Balance running shoes.

But gradually my feet widened and expanded with age. And in 1988, my jogging days were ended when my left leg, knee and ankle were injured in an auto accident. But I kept walking regularly and continued wearing New Balance running shoes to absorb impact of walking on hard surfaces.

After the accident my lower left leg and foot often became swollen. The New Balance shoes then sometimes felt tight around the ankle area, but from habit I continued wearing them without exploring other brands. And I wore different New Balance shoes on different days, with colors matching my clothes.

About seven years ago, I was contemplating replacement of a very worn pair of blue running shoes. But for the first time, I didn’t have to buy needed new shoes.

One afternoon, as I was taking my regular walk toward the San Francisco Marina and Golden Gate, I noticed a pair of almost new blue running shoes on a Marina park bench. (*See footnote) I walked past the shoes without examining them, assuming that they had been placed there for a few minutes by someone who was about to emerge from a boat moored at the adjoining Marina.

But on returning from the Golden Gate Bridge over an hour later, I saw the same blue shoes still on the park bench. After momentarily walking past them, I went over to the bench and examined them with curiosity. They were barely worn Asics shoes, a brand with which I was then unfamiliar.

I looked into the shoes and saw that they were a size larger than I had ever before worn. So I didn’t think they would fit me. But then I placed them beside the shoes I was wearing, and they appeared to be about the same length.

Then, I sat on the bench, tried them on, and found them quite comfortable – even more comfortable around my swollen left ankle than my New Balance shoes. So, I took them home and began wearing them regularly, though I had never before worn a pair of previously owned shoes.

They were much more comfortable than the worn out blue New Balance shoes which they replaced. And the more I wore them, the more I liked them. I liked them so much that I continued obliviously using them for many years, long after their soles were completely worn and uneven.

Then two years ago, I told the story of how the universe had manifested those shoes to Rob Tobias, a singer/songwriter musician and videographer, who is making a documentary film about me called “Walks With Ron”. When I showed him the Asics shoes, Rob expressed amazement that I was still wearing them in such a worn-out condition. Tactfully, he suggested I should replace them. And I realized that he was right; that I needed to buy a new pair of blue running shoes.

But before I looked for a new pair of blue shoes, the universe provided them.

Very soon after Rob Tobias advised me to replace my over-worn Asics, I was returning from an afternoon walk to the SF Municipal Pier when I saw a pair of blue running shoes, which apparently someone had disposed of at a curb-side near my apartment. I picked them up, saw that they were in very good condition, and that miraculously they were Asics, and exactly the same size as the comfortable blue Asics I had found years ago which now needed replacement.

So, I put them in a plastic bag and carried them home. Of course, they proved quite comfortable and I began wearing them regularly. I have so far logged in many miles in those shoes, and am still contentedly using them.

About a year after the universe provided that second pair of blue Asics shoes, I needed a new pair of neutral colored running shoes to wear with brown shade clothes. For many years, I had been wearing a neutral colored New Balance pair with soles that had become completely worn out.

So, I went to a nearby store looking for new neutral colored shoes – either New Balance or Asics. But I didn’t find anything that I liked. I left the store planning to look elsewhere. But soon that became unnecessary.

For the third time the universe presented me with exactly the shoes I was looking for.

Within two weeks, on a ledge near my apartment building, I found an almost brand new pair of neutral colored running shoes. Again they were perfectly comfortable. And again they were Asics – a third Asics “manifestation miracle”. I regularly wear them with pleasure, when not wearing my blue Asics.

Conclusion

I confess that, while I haven’t become blasé about these miracles, I am no longer so surprised when they happen. But, with utmost gratitude, I accept them as signs and reminders that I am living a very lucky and blessed life, and becoming ever more harmonious with Nature and ‘in-sync’ with the unseen implicate order of the universe.

Footnote

*The shoes were located very near the same place where I later fortuitously discovered (in a dumpster) a rare video showing my 1982 trip to India. See http://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-story-miraculously-manifesting-memories-of-a-spiritual-pilgrimage-to-india-and-nepal/


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Vision Quest: From Eyesight to Insight ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“True vision is insight, not eyesight.
‘[N]ow we see through a glass darkly’,
but with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
~ Carl Jung
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight,
but has no vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind,
so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“Perception is a mirror not a fact.
And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward.”
~ A Course In Miracles

Vision Quest

Introduction.

This is the story of how I learned from inner and outer experiences that true vision comes from imagination and insight beyond mere eyesight; that even people with no eyesight, like Helen Keller, can be visionaries.

Ron’s Vision Quest.

Since childhood I needed corrective lenses for normal eyesight. At about age three my parents brought me to an ophthalmologist for a misaligned eye. I was diagnosed with astigmatism and far-sightedness and prescribed thick eyeglasses – which I always needed, but never liked. Gradually, I needed ever stronger prescriptions.

I became so dependent on eyeglasses that I would grope for them upon awakening every morning, and wore them constantly. Once when I was a pre-teen at a YMCA summer camp, one of my cabin mates, with a distorted sense of humor, hid my glasses for several days. I still remember how lost and miserable I felt without them.

When I was eighteen years old and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a college friend, Sorrel Rosin – who later became a prominent Chicago optometrist, told me about corneal contact lenses, which were then newly developed. And he recommended a Chicago expert who could usually fit them comfortably. Excitedly, I became an early corneal contact lens user. I continued wearing hard contact lenses for about twenty five years, even though they sometimes irritated my eyes. But eventually I became presbyopic, needed reading glasses and couldn’t get bifocal contact lenses. So, reluctantly I resumed using eyeglasses.

Until my midlife spiritual awakening, I had self-identified only with my physical body and believed my defective vision was due to an incurably misshaped cornea, and to unavoidable physical degeneration associated with aging. Never did I consider defective eyesight to be improvable or curable. Nor did I believe vision to be a brain function, or as possibly arising from consciousness beyond the brain. But those beliefs changed after extraordinary inner and outer mid-life experiences.

 

Ron - age 3 1/2

Ron – age 3 1/2

 

At a 1974-5 San Francisco New Year’s Eve party, I had an unprecedented and unforgettable out of body experience (OOB). While lying face down on a bed in a small dark room, “I” floated out of my body and up to the ceiling. And from the ceiling, with my glasses on a bedside table, I beheld my body lying face down on the pillow. For the first time in my life I had 20/20 vision without eyeglasses, and without even using my eyes – or maybe my brain.

The New Year’s OOB experience soon led to a pivotal rebirth experience at age forty three, which, opened an emotional/intuitive flood-gate closed since childhood – unleashing for the first time in my adult life numerous synchronistic inner and outer experiences which gradually but radically changed my beliefs about “reality”.

After the rebirth experience I had other OOB experiences with apparent out of body vision, as well as innumerable inner visions and insights. Ultimately, I associated inner visions with a mysterious “third eye” associated with the pineal gland – providing apparent perception beyond ordinary eyesight. For example, I took shaktipat initiation from my Hindu master Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas only after perceiving his extraordinary silver aura and seeing him in inner visions, one of which was as clear as a color TV picture. And I learned from Guruji that auric perceptions and inner visions were associated with the kundalini purification process.

Shortly before meeting Guruji I attended a San Francisco ‘new age’ exposition where various ‘green’ products were being displayed and sold. One of the vendors was selling pin-hole glasses and a book she had written about natural vision improvement, as originally taught in the early 20th century by unconventional opthamologist William H. Bates, MD. Synchronistically she told me that possibly I might improve and perhaps even cure my defective eyesight with natural vision improvement techniques; that pin-hole glasses did not improve vision but afforded an opportunity break the ‘addiction’ to glasses via obligatory squint focus through its small apertures. Intrigued, I bought the book and the pin-hole glasses and assiduously began learning and experimenting with natural vision relaxation techniques, such as blinking, sunning, swaying, acupressure massage and palming. Experientially, I became persuaded that just as the so-called “placebo effect” could promote healing of physical ailments through optimistic attitude, that a relaxed and positive psychological attitude could also help improve eyesight.

I was encouraged in this belief by reading many eye improvement books, including “The Art of Seeing” by famed author Aldous Huxley, gratefully attesting to his improved his vision via Bates techniques. For several years I received vision improvement lessons from Anna Kaye, a former Polish attorney who had emigrated to the United States after World War II unable to see a door, and had been diagnosed as suffering from atrophy of the optic nerve. Four ophthalmologists recommended she learn Braille. But, unable to accept near blindness, she studied natural vision improvement with a Bates protegee in New York City and regained 20/30 vision in both eyes. Also, I later met and was inspired by Meir Schneider PhD, a San Francisco healer from Israel who improved from legal blindness and Braille to near normal sight with the Bates Method, supplemented by his own intense regimen of self-massage and movement.

Despite years of effort, I never succeeded in normalizing my vision with Bates relaxation techniques. Apparently, relaxation could not normalize a misshapen cornea and resulting astigmatism. But I am convinced that relaxation and other Bates methods improved and stabilized my vision, deterred cataract formation, and taught me much about my body’s energy system; that thereby they have contributed to good health. At age eighty one, I still get a binocular 20/20 correction with progressive bifocal glasses which are not as strong as glasses prescribed for me over twenty years ago, which I keep as souvenirs.

From Eyesight to Insight.

On meeting Guruji, I was amazed not only by his miraculous spiritual powers but also by his extraordinary physical prowess at age one hundred, including his ability to see normally without glasses. Initially, I surmised that Guruji’s miraculous physical condition had resulted from his enlightened state of mind, and his mastery of yogic meditation, mantra, movement, and breathing techniques. So naively I began believing that “enlightenment” required not only a mind free from ego defilements, but also a healthy physical body with normal eyesight. And this belief motivated me more than ever to attempt normalizing my eyesight via Bates relaxation techniques.

But, gradually Guruji became physically exhausted and debilitated from his tireless schedule of selflessly helping others in the US. Yet he retained his enlightened state of mind. And soon I learned of other spiritual masters and saints with unhealthy bodies and/or impaired eyesight. So, I learned it was possible to be spiritually elevated, notwithstanding visual and other physical impairments.

For example, I noted that HH The Dalai Lama of Tibet, needed eyeglasses for near-sightedness. And after Guruji returned to India, I met and took kriya empowerments from Paramahamsa Hariharananda Giri, an Indian meditation master who also needed eyeglasses. Also I learned that beloved Saint Francis of Assisi was almost blind at the time of his death, legendarily because he “cried his eyes out” but actually because of chronic trachoma apparently contracted in Africa during the Crusades.

Thus, though ultimately I accepted my inability to normalize eyesight without glasses, I have never lost faith in our evolutionary potential of ever elevating inner vision through mindful identification and diligent purification of mental defilements.

Conclusion.

In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12), Paul observes that “now we see through a glass darkly”, 
but that some day we shall fully know, as we are fully Known now by the Divine.  
Now, we view our “reality” through the ‘mirror of the mind’, which imperfectly refracts and reflects the unseen light of Eternal Awareness onto the screen of our human consciousness.  

But, with meditation and other mind-stilling methods, we can evolve and transform our mind mirror from opacity to translucency to transparency.  And thereby, with ever expanding 
human consciousness and ever deepening insight, we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.

And so it shall be!

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