Tag Archives | Belief

Belief or Faith?

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
“This above all, to thy own Self be true.”
~ William Shakespeare
“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain
“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha



Q. What is “belief” and what is “faith”; and, how are they synonymous or different?

A. “Belief” and “faith” are words used by different people to communicate different ideas about trust or confidence in Divinity or Nature. In each instance their meaning depends on the intention of the person using each word, and the context of such use.

Sometimes the words are used synonymously. For example, English language bible translations from original Aramaic sometimes equate belief in Divinity with faith.

Thus in Matthew 17:20 Jesus says:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move.”


While in Mark 9:23 alluding to faith in Divinity he says:

“All things are possible for him that believes.”


But because there can be a significant difference between experiential intuitive trust in Nature or Divinity and ideological trust in religious dogma or secular ideas, for clarity in addressing this question we here distinguish between “belief” and “faith” and do not use them synonymously.

Both belief and faith may be founded on discrimination or rationality.
But though faith may be balanced with reason, faith transcends reason. Belief follows ideas from the past which may or may not support faith – but can never negate it, for faith is beyond belief.

So, faith is transcendental, while belief mental.
Faith is NOW; belief is then.

“Faith” means intuitive trust or confidence in Life, especially in the miraculous unknown,
whereas “belief” means adopting or accepting ideas of others that something or someone is true or exists.

Faith arises from experience, discrimination and intuition and promotes our life journey, while blind belief deters it.

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment,
virtuous deeds are a shelter,
wisdom is the light by day and
right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”
~ Buddha


Dogmatic religious or other beliefs limit or preclude openness, spontaneity and authenticity;
and, they often follow and mask doubt and uncertainty.

“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.
Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Doubt and fearfulness preclude openness, spontaneity and authenticity.

Belief follows fear. Fear and faith cannot co-exist.

Fearlessness is openness. Fearfulness is closeness.

“Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
~ Alan Watts


Faith in transcendental Power or Divinity, named or unnamed, follows the Heart,
while belief follows fear of the unknown. Fear and Faith cannot co-exist.

Faith follows That which benefits everyone and everything, but belief may be inconsistent with universal good.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.
~ Buddha


Faith follows intuition; faith follows the Way; faith follows the Self; faith follows the Heart.

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

“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
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, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life.  United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


The Last Supper



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

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

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process. Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant. Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

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

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

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death. Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

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

The Dalai Lama says that:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga

Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that self-realization reveals that this entire world of space/time/causality is illusionary maya or samsara; but that reincarnation exists until self-realization. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: “Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”

But the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he’s planning to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

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

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

AND SO IT SHALL BE!

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What’s really “real”?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”;
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”.
~ Albert Einstein
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that …. consciousness is an ultimate reality and, all the possible knowledge, concerning objects can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.” ….“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe.”
~ Albert Einstein
Theory of Everything:

E = mc2 = Consciousness = Self.
 ~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Have you ever wondered what is really “real”?
Or what isn’t “real”?   

Is your “reality” only physical, measurable, perceptible, or comprehensible? 

Where does this “reality” end and ‘unreality’ begin – if anywhere?

Our ideas of reality are crucial. Knowingly or unknowingly they deeply affect our beliefs about who and what we are; and, our beliefs about who and what we are  determine our behaviors, our experiences and philosophies of life, both individually and societally.

Thus, reality paradigms which do not recognize our essential Unity with Nature and all its life-forms have proved environmentally, economically, internationally and inter-personally disastrous.

“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda


How different would be our behaviors if we truly realized and always remembered that we are part of Nature, deeply connected and unified with all life-forms; that our apparent separation from each other and Nature is a perceptual illusion?

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


As Jesus told us, with faith human potentialities are unlimited:

“All things are possible for one who believes.”
~ Mark 9:23

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
~ Matthew:17-20


But limited ideas about reality are conceptual cages confining us in a kind of psychological prison, restricting realization of our unlimited potentialities.

Culturally, our concepts of “reality” are an unspoken consensus abstraction dependent upon predominantly shared beliefs about what is “real”.

“Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.”
~ Alan Watts

“Reality is nothing but a collective hunch.”
~ Lily Tomlin


Until now, most of us have been unconsciously acculturated and indoctrinated with limiting ideas of self-identity and “reality”, without ever reflecting upon or intuiting who or what we really are and what’s really real.

Our ideas about “reality” – both individually and societally – differ with different people at different times and different places.

But beyond our ever changing and relative ideas of manifest “reality”, is there is a transcendent ultimate Reality – which is the eternal Source of relative reality?   Beyond thought can we experience such ultimate Reality?

In universally seeking happiness, doesn’t everyone knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, remember and intuitively long for the experience of Divine Oneness?

Mystical  “inner explorers” have answered all of the foregoing questions affirmatively. Mystics – from both East and West – have for millennia reported their discovery of ONE ultimate, unchanging non-duality Reality; THAT which is beyond definition, comprehension or imagination – yet, everywhere invisibly imminent in and source of our space/time polarity/causality relative reality.

“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

“Though One, Brahman is the cause of the many… Brahman is the unborn (aja) in whom all existing things abide. The One manifests as the many, the formless putting on forms.”
~ Rig Veda

“All things come out of the One and the One out of all things.”
~ Heraclitus, 500BC

“Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another.”
~ Leibniz, 1670

“We are a part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow.”
~ Spinoza, Ethics, 1673


And now more and more scientists are agreeing with the mystics.  Matter has melted into Mystery. Physics and metaphysics are merging.
Both science and spirituality agree that the universe is undivided Wholeness.

And for some Quantum physicists – like Nobel laureate Max Planck – beyond “uncertainty” about reality of “matter” there is only consciousness and Divinity.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
~ Max Planck, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)

“There is no matter as such.  All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

“Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist – Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184


Thousands of years ago, Eastern seers called this permanently impermanent and ever changing world of countless forms and phenomena a dreamlike illusion, maya or samsara; a mere projection of the One Reality – of Infinite and Eternal Existence.

“The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage! Like the apparent distances in a picture, things have no reality in themselves, but they are like heat haze.”
~ Buddha

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


Einstein intuited that:

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


And now other scientists are agreeing with mystics and affirming Einstein’s observation about the illusion of physical “reality”.

For example, distinguished quantum physicist David Bohm has questioned any objective tangible reality. Bohm theorized that the universe is fundamentally like a gigantic hologram; that underlying apparent reality is a deeper order of existence, from which all the objects and appearances of our physical world arise and appear in much the same way that a two dimensional holographic film gives birth to a three dimensional hologram in space.

What appears to be a stable, tangible, visible, audible world, is an illusion. It is dynamic and kaleidoscopic — not really “there”. What we normally see is the explicit, or unfolded, order of things, rather like watching a movie. But there is an underlying order that is mother and father to this second-generation reality.
~ David Bohm


Until his death in 1955, Einstein maintained his intuitive view, consistent with ancient mystical insights but challenged by quantum physicists, that “God does not play dice with the universe”; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes not yet recognized or perceived.

Since Einstein’s death, some physicists like David Bohm have advanced theories which reconcile apparent contradictions between universal “causality” and quantum “uncertainty” and “non-locality” and they are thereby ever narrowing remaining apparent disparity between scientific and mystical views of “reality”.

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”
~ Swami Vivekananda, London talk, 1896


As presciently envisioned by Swami Vivekananda, science and religion will ultimately agree on the ONENESS of phenomenal “reality”. And realizing such ONENESS, Humanity will at long last – as it must – discard destructive illusionary beliefs and behaviors which have brought it to the brink of ecologic, economic, inter-personal and international disaster.

Thereupon, Humankind and all other life-forms on our precious planet, will harmoniously and peacefully flourish and evolve with Nature.

And so it shall be!

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Synchronicities and Coincidences?

“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
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




Q. Why do coincidences and synchronicities in time often seem so noteworthy or meaningful?

A. They are emblematic reminders of Reality beyond time.

Time is how mind measures the immeasurable NOW.
Time is but a convenient conception of the mind.
Though convenient, time is not congruent with Nature – the Tao.

Tao and Zen are NOW, not then.
In Nature, all that ever is, was or will be is NOW,
and there are no “coincidences”.

But, because time is a product of thought,
time is always then, not NOW,
and in time there are conceptual coincidences.

As we transcend conceptually living in past time,
and begin authentically living in the timeless present,
we notice more and more so-called “synchronicity” or “coincidence” in our life stream.

These are Nature’s ‘bio-feedback’ or ‘radar’ signals
that we are existing out of time and in the eternal NOW,
where there are no coincidences, just natural harmony and synchrony.

Without time, there can be no “synchronicity” or “coincidence” in time.

Because humankind lives mostly egoistically in time,
coincidences and synchronistic signs of timeless Reality
often seem so noteworthy or meaningful.

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Certainty ~ by Tukaram*

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning.
Uncertainty is the very condition
to impel man to unfold his powers.”
~ Erich Fromm
“Since no one really knows anything about God, 

those who think they do are just 
troublemakers.”
~ Rabia Basri (first female Sufi saint)
The fewer our certainties, the greater our possibilities.
With complete uncertainty, we have infinite possibility.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Everything is possible when nothing is inevitable.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
When questioning begins, certainty ends.
When certainty ends, wisdom begins.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.
So, we seek relief from belief.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




CERTAINTY

Certainty undermines one’s power, and turns happiness
into a long shot. Certainty confines.

Dears, there is nothing in your life that will
not change – especially your ideas of God.

Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do:
crusade and maim thousands
in wanting to convert that which
is already gold
into gold.

Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and
greed.

God once said to Tuka,

“Even I am ever changing –
I am ever beyond
Myself,

what I may have once put my seal upon,
may no longer be
the greatest
Truth.”

~ *Tukaram

(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, interpretation by Daniel Ladinsky)
*Tukaram was a 16th century Indian devotional poet who is still widely regarded as one of India’s greatest and most influential poet saints.
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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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God is a Word

“In the beginning was the word
and the word was with God
and the word was God”
~ John 1:1
“And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM:”
~ Exodus 3:14


"In the beginning was the word  and the word was with God  and the word was God"

Q. What is God?

A. As the Bible says – God is word:

A word used by different people
to designate different ideas
of a transcendent power;

An eternal force which they can intuit
but can’t ever comprehend.

Any such transcendent power
can never be aptly named.

For any designation connotes and constitutes
some limitation of the illimitable –

THAT.

So, whether or not the “universe” was created by God,
“God” is a word created by man.

But, just as ‘a rose by any other name is the same’,
However humankind calls or tries to imagine it

There exists an indescribable infinitely potential and pervasive Power:

A Substantial Reality and Existence underlying All, as

THAT.


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Be An Auto-Iconoclast

“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
~ Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. Dalai Lama


H.H. Dalai Lama



Who are you? Who do you think you are?

You think you’re only an entity –
a person separate from all other entities.

With such thinking you’ve created
a false ego image of what you really are.
And you’ve mistakenly identified yourself as that ego image.

But you’re not that ego image.

You can never be what you think you are:
Thinking and Being can’t coexist.

So stop thinking, and start Being.

Don’t be an ego-image maker.
Be an ego-image breaker.

Be an auto-iconoclast.
Break your ego image.

End ego identity,
and be ego free.

BE what you really are –

Thoughtless Awareness

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Be An Auto-Iconoclast

Listen to


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Awakening to the “Secret of Secrets”

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise
of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
“To Know Thyself is to know the Whole.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“You cannot teach an ego to be anything but egotistic,
even though egos have the subtlest ways of pretending to be reformed.
The basic thing is therefore to dispel, by experiment and experience,
the illusion of oneself as a separate ego.”
~ Alan Watts
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi




For millennia there has been a tacit taboo or ‘conspiracy of silence’ against disclosing to all Humankind our true spiritual and immortal identity.  

Except for those raised in so-called ‘primitive’ or indigenous societies, most people have been acculturated from time immemorial into societies with “an unrecognized but mighty taboo—[a] tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are.” ( Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Introduction.)

From childhood we are taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal common consciousness with all life-forms.

Nor are we ever taught the greatest “secret of secrets”: that we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”, but also its co-creators – that we co-create our reality with our thoughts, words and deeds; that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way; and, that this worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

To experientially realize that greatest “secret of secrets” is to Know Thyself. And to Know Thyself, is to know the Whole – the Truth that will set you free.

But until now that greatest secret has been mostly suppressed and hidden, often by institutions and individuals seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources.

Until now ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in our hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive insanity, selfishness and suffering.   

But now, facing ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises which cannot be resolved from the same levels of consciousness which created them, we are at long last being awakened from our delusion of separateness and powerlessness. Spurred by increasing suffering and awareness of imminent catastrophe, we are finally dispelling the ignorance which has spawned these crises.

And we shall soon reach a tipping point, when a critical mass of Humankind will have awakened to the “secret of secrets”, uplifting all human consciousness and resolving harmoniously and compassionately the critical mess created by our prior unawareness of that “secret”.

Thus awakened, we shall harmoniously, cooperatively and lovingly resolve our common crises for our common good.

And so it shall be!

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Einstein’s Belief In God as Universal Intelligence

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns Himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
~ Albert Einstein, Telegram of 1929
“The harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
~ Albert Einstein, The World As I See It
“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.”
~ Albert Einstein [As quoted in Dukas, Helen and Banesh Hoffman. (1979). Albert Einstein – The Human Side, Princeton University Press.]


Albert Einstein


“There is something about the universe — an elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds, an inexplicable beauty in its living patterns, and the mysterious depth and expressiveness of it all — that reminds us of the brilliance we see in the works of great artists, scientists, engineers, and saints.

Some people believe that human intelligence is the pinnacle of natural evolution and can outdo anything nature has to offer — and that there is no God, and that nature has nothing remotely resembling consciousness or intelligence. Others say that nature’s (or God’s) brilliance is greater than any human intelligence — ultimately awesome in its scope and endlessly surprising in its details — and that human intelligence is a small but elegant expression of this larger intelligence and has much to learn from it.

More often than not, I find myself in this latter group — those who sense some kind(s) of universal intelligence. To some degree, this is a matter of faith. To some degree, it seems that the evidence surrounds us. For those of us who see things this way, I suspect it honors universal intelligence more if we contemplate it, share our sense of it, and tap into it rather than argue about it with others who see things differently. In any case, this article describes how I see it.

Christians see a higher intelligence they call God’s plan, or the will of God. Taoists see a higher intelligence they call the Tao, the Way of Nature. Meditative traditions speak of cosmic consciousness. Most indigenous peoples consider all of nature to be intelligent and alive. Scientists speak of natural laws — and some are now researching what they call complex, adaptive systems — systems that respond to the world around them, in ways that look a lot like learning. The whole process of evolution is clearly a learning process, a developing of new variations that work better, or work in new environments. Some people see evolution as the dynamic unfolding Great Story of the Living Universe and consciously celebrate and learn from it.

I bundle all these phenomena into one package and label it “universal intelligence.”
When I’m feeling esoteric, I might describe it something like this:

We live in a sea of information, a web of interconnection, a field of what some Buddhists call inter-being — a dynamic state of interactive, resonant existential communion. There are universal patterns, powers and wisdom at the core of our being, and the universe vibrates with our every act and thought. What happens in one place and time is linked to everything else far more intimately than we could ever imagine. Synchronicities and analogs abound. Certain patterns keep cropping up: We see BRANCHES in trees, rivers, roads, fields of study, computer circuitry. We see CYCLES in planets, electrons, food chains, wheels, the flows of water and carbon through the biosphere, and the recycling bin. It is no accident that we use the word VISION to describe perception, imagination, insight and prediction. Patterns like these (branches, cycles, vision, etc.) are alive with useful meaning. At every level, the universe is rich with lessons and resonances as it in-forms itself, intimately co-being and co-evolving, learning and remembering. Intelligence is everywhere. There is information and wisdom here we can tap into. There are flows and textures and energies, resistences and assistances, that we can join and follow, or grow stronger and wiser wrestling with.

Among those who see such intelligence operating in the world around us, there is endless speculation about its nature. Is universal intelligence built into nature by a human-like Creator and then left to unfold — or a sign of a Creator’s continual, contemporary engagement in creation? Are the natural patterns that we think of as intelligent merely analogs of our own intelligence, or are they somehow the same thing, writ large? Are we anthropomorphically projecting our experience of consciousness into the dumb matter of the world, or is our own intelligent consciousness somehow an expression or facet of some larger intelligent consciousness? Are we dreaming God, or is God dreaming us? I, myself, entertain several seemingly contradictory beliefs at once about all this, and keep it all balanced with a generous ballast of “maybes.”

For my purposes here, though, we don’t have to agree on the nature of universal intelligence. Despite all the disagreements about that, few will disagree that there is something ultimately mysterious and creative about the order of the universe. Even top scientists who see nothing “spiritual” in the world around them agree on that. At the very least, the word “intelligence” provides an excellent metaphor to describe that reality. So for now let us not argue over the exact nature of this thing I call universal intelligence. Rather, let us explore our relationship to it.

In the explorations that follow, I simply assume that there is an order that is larger than us, which has its own logic and direction which we are not in charge of. If this is true, then working against this higher power will demand more effort than working with it, and will generate little, if anything, of lasting value except learning — which is always available — and sometimes catastrophe. This would suggest that we subjugate ourselves to this higher intelligence. However, experience suggests that we can, to a certain degree and with great caution, manipulate this higher intelligence for our own ends — which we do through science and engineering by applying natural laws and through religion by praying. But natural order is complex beyond our capacity to know fully, and if our manipulations are at all arrogant — presumptuous that we know what we’re doing — we will likely end up creating a mess like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A third — and, to me, more satisfactory — strategy than total submission or manipulation is to respect, befriend, cooperate with and creatively move in harmony with this infinitely powerful and complex intelligence, to the best of our ability.

Humility is, naturally, an excellent place to begin in our efforts to cooperate with universal intelligence. Humility in this case simply means an honest appreciation of our own limitations and a real respect for the ancient and awesome wisdom of the greater intelligence(s) in which we’re embedded. Humility means starting from a place without arrogance, with flexible certainties, a place of respect, curiosity, wonder and willingness to learn — in every situation we can manage it.

“Letting go” is another part of cooperating with universal intelligence — being unattached to outcome, realizing we’re not in control. Not being in control doesn’t mean that we don’t have a significant role. Indeed, our influence is part of what shapes the unfolding of whatever happens next. But that is influence, and not control — sometimes more, sometimes less, and always participatory, not unilateral. (This also means leaving behind blame and shame and reconceptualizing responsibility as our [or another’s] actual role in events in which all of us have roles. Taking responsibility for the past would mean consciously acknowledging that what we did — whatever we did — played a role in what happened. Taking responsibility for the future would mean consciously choosing a role and playing it out as best we can, knowing that we are only one of many players.)

In what I experience as my best times, I feel more like a conduit for a larger, all-inclusive intelligence, or like my life is an active part of something larger that is trying to happen. When I’m in that state of awareness, there is a sense of being guided. It isn’t so much that I’m told what to do in so many words (although that has happened occasionally, too), but rather that I can feel when I’m “on track” or “off track.” It is a gut feeling that what I’m doing is the right thing (or not) at this time. Often it is more than a feeling of “being in the flow,” but an apparently objective fact. Ideas, resources, opportunities, and other openings inexplicably appear in ways that facilitate rapid progress in a particular direction — as if someone or something were clearing the way for me.

But sometimes “the way opens” (as the Quakers say) in directions that seem to me wrong. So I end up having to make judgments and choices anyway. How do I know that this impulse is aligned to universal intelligence while that other one is not? I’m not even sure we can talk about universal intelligence as something we can “know.”

So I certainly don’t believe that any of us can legitimately claim to know what its marching orders are, even if we wanted to follow its dictates. I see our challenge as more complex. In the spirit of co-intelligence — as noted above — I prefer to view what seem to be the patterns and promptings of universal intelligence not as something to submit to or manipulate, but as something to join in partnership with, in a sort of dance, as one would with a good friend or lover or comrade. We influence each other. My intentions have a role in shaping The Plan, and my actions have a role in realizing The Plan, but I never know exactly what The Plan is, although I often think I sense its patterns in my life and in the life of the world around me. I open myself to universal intelligence, and let my inevitably limited perception of it inform — but not control — my reason, my passion, my intuition, my action.

One part of that Plan — that intelligence — is crystal clear: Universal intelligence is definitely concerned with more than me. It is concerned with the operation and well-being of the Whole — a Whole so large I can’t fathom it. So opening myself to universal intelligence automatically influences me to keep my intentions for myself in perspective. And from that perspective, I know that when I try to benefit myself at the expense of someone or something else, it’s not going to work out as neatly as I think, because the Plan simply doesn’t operate that way. On the other hand, the closer I get to benefiting The Whole, the more aligned I become with the operations of universal intelligence.

And, since I can’t know The Whole, that translates into doing the best I can while giving universal intelligence lots of space to do what it does. In fact, I can become an ally with universal intelligence by providing contexts in which things can co-creatively self-organize, rather than forcing them into pre-determined outcomes. That doesn’t mean just standing back (although that’s often what’s called for); it means going with the grain of life, not against it. This can be quite active, like helping children learn what they really want to learn instead of forcing them to learn what they’re not interested in (or neglecting them) — or creating an open space conference where all the issues hidden inside the participants can emerge and get dealt with, rather than organizing a conference where experts tell people what to think. This is working with universal intelligence, giving universal intelligence the space it needs to do its thing through whatever aliveness is present.”

~ Albert Einstein, The World As I See It


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