Tag Archives | Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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

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


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



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

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

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What survives physical death?

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

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

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

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


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

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Vivekananda and Einstein.

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

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

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


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


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


~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga

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

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


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

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



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



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

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

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




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

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

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

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

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”

AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Reflections on Afterlife and Reincarnation.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.

Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., http://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;http://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; http://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )

Ultimately I have concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. http://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )
Consequently, I’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Free Will or Fate?

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end,
by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” . . . .
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or

moving from one part of the room to another?”

A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

~ Ramana Maharshi 
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction,
because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe,
and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation.
Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” . . . .
“This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga
“In Hinduism, the very idea of free will is non-existent, so there is no word for it.
Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.” . . . .
“To be free in the world you must be free of the world.
Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man,
which is, that he must be completely free.
As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ultimate freedom is not freedom of choice,
but freedom from choice.
Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every Cause has its Effect;
every Effect has its Cause;
everything happens according to Law;
Chance is but a name for Law not recognized;
there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the Law.”
~ The Kybalion
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. 
Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. 
It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. 
If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. 
And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“It is true that we are not bound. 
That is to say, the real Self has no bondage. 
And it is true that you will eventually return to your Source. 
But meanwhile, if you commit sins, as you call them, 
you have to face the consequences. You cannot escape them.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“Nothing perceivable is real. Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.

There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Free-will is a non-entity, a thing consisting of name alone” . . . . .
“The will of man without the grace of God is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bond-slave of evil since it cannot turn itself to good.” . . . .
“For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because “free-will” can do nothing.”

~ Martin Luther – The Bondage Of The Will
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“The only difference between a human being and a stone rolling down a hill, is that the human being thinks he is in charge of his own destiny.”
~ Baruch Spinoza
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Not my will but Thy Will be done.”
~ Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42
“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Man plans, God laughs” (Mann traoch, Gott Lauch)
~ Yiddish proverb






Q.  Do we have free will, or freedom of choice, or is our life pre-determined or fated?

A.  Our experience of apparent freedom of choice or of pre-destiny depends on our evolutionary history and perspective.

In space/time causality/reality, most “normal” people experience freedom of choice, and make decisions and plans about ostensible options in their lives. And most people have the apparent option of determining the attitude or state of mind with which they experience life. Because each person is unique, each experiences life and apparent free will differently, depending on their unique evolutionary perspective and personality. Such apparent free will increases as powers of self awareness increase.

But according to mystics, our belief in free will is illusory. For example, both Albert Einstein and Ramana Maharshi have asserted that every detail of worldly life “is predetermined.” And Swami Vivekananda told us that “free will” is a self-contradictory concept; that with worldly will there can be no freedom, which is always constrained by the universal law of cause and effect. Similarly, Vivekananda’s master, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, taught that
“God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

Enlightened saints, sages, shamans and mystics for millennia have reported attitudinally transcending this ever impermanent reality, and experiencing it as an illusory play of consciousness, sometimes called ‘samsara’ or ‘maya’. Such masters no longer mentally self-identify only as mere mortal embodied beings, but as non-dual universal intelligence or spirit which is the Source and essence of this ever impermanent world. 


They report realizing experientially – as Albert Einstein explained scientifically – that: “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one;” [that] “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”, and that our separate self-identity “is an optical illusion of consciousness.”  They define “freedom” as a timeless non-dual spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Since free will implies separation of one who wills or chooses from the objects of his/her will, there can be no free will or free choice without an imagined or conceived doer or chooser separate from objects of his/her actions or choices. And without time there can be no destiny of any supposedly separate doer or chooser.

Thus, in space/time causality/reality, as long as we self-identify as supposedly separate entities distinct from the apparent objects of our perceptions, choices or intentions, we have apparent freedom of choice, until we transcend separate self-identity and experience existence as universal choiceless and timeless awareness, or consciousness without an object.  [*See footnote]

But, our exercise of apparent freedom of choice creates karmic causes and conditions which can keep us believing in the “optical illusion” – that we are separate entities rather than ONE universal intelligence. And with the law of karma we reap as we sow. According to Swami Yogananda,
“If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. If you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”

With Self realization there is transcendence of illusory separate self-identity; whereupon there remains only Being – only emptiness – with no separate someone to will or intend or separately experience anything in time.


Thus, upon total transcendence of separate entity identity, there is no free will or free choice,

nor is there time in which karmic fate or destiny unfolds –


Only choiceless “Freedom”,


ever



NOW!

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


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Synchronicity Story: Disguised Blessings

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


On retiring one Saturday night, I planned going to Trader Joe’s first thing in the morning, for bananas and other needed provisions. But I was unexpectedly delayed for over two hours.

From 6:30 to 9:30 I experienced recurrence of traumatic post-colonoscopy diarrheal episodes. Finally, by 10 a.m., I was pooped out and showered and ready to go to Trader Joe’s. But when I got into my garaged Prius, the battery was dead. Almost another hour passed before AAA had responded to my emergency call and jumped the Prius’ battery to get me going. But instead of heading straight to Trader Joe’s, I needed first to drive for twenty minutes to recharge the battery. So, I finally arrived at TJ’s a couple of hours later than planned.

There I discovered that two important items on my shopping list – gluten-free rice bread and blackberries (which are anti-diarrheal) – were not on the shelf. Disappointed, I was about to check out empty carted when a smiling TJ employee offered to look in the stock room for the missing items. So, instead of checking out, I waited for longer than expected.

While I was waiting, a special friend from my Aquatic Beach kook group appeared in the store. It was Hippy Dave, the singing, cycling, sadhu who is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. (Dave’s birthday is May 8th, horoscopically exactly opposite my November 8 birthdate.) Because of cold and inclement weather at the beach I hadn’t seen Dave for a couple of months.

But there in Trader Joe’s, Dave and I had our usual wonderful synergistic ‘satsang’, greatly recharging our spiritual and psychic batteries. And while we talked the smiling Trader Joe’s man finally emerged from the stock room, triumphantly holding up my non-glutenous bread and anti-diarrheal blackberries.

The diarrhea, the dead battery, and the empty bread and berry shelves, together proved to be consecutive disguised blessings. But for their unexpected sequential occurrence, I wouldn’t have met Sri Dave and enjoyed our great Trader Joe’s satsang. And but for the smiling TJ man, I would have checked out empty carted before Dave’s arrival.

Moral of the story:

Look for the disguised blessing in every experience, especially in every difficult experience.

Hippie Dave and Ron reciting poetry at Aquatic Beach, 10/29/13

To satisfy possible curiosity about Hippie Dave, here is a rare video of him spontaneously reciting from memory one of his many extraordinary poems:

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That Lives in Us ~ by Rumi

Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful
for the evolution of your consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“From wonder into wonder existence opens.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Consciousness is the basis of all life
and the field of all possibilities.
Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential.
The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross





If you put your hands on this oar with me,
they will never harm another, and they will come to find
they hold everything you want.

If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer
lift anything to your
mouth that might wound your precious land –
that sacred earth that is your body.

If you put your soul against this oar with me,
the power that made the universe will enter your sinew
from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm
that lives in us.

Exuberant is existence, time a husk.
When the moment cracks open, ecstasy leaps out and devours space;
love goes mad with the blessings, like my words give.

Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and the future?
The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond its capacities
will find no rest.

Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies.
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance.

You will come to see that all evolves us.

( Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky )


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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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Disguised Blessings

“Consciousness is the basis of all life
and the field of all possibilities.
Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential.
The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross




There is an evolutionary impetus in each of us
for unfolding Consciousness to ever experience itself.

Cosmic harmony assures that, knowingly or unknowingly,
everything that happens to us is in our best interests,
because it affords us an opportunity to evolve.

Paradoxically, life’s most painful and difficult experiences
often prove the biggest blessings,
because they provide greatest evolutionary
incentives and opportunities.

Studs Terkel tells here how the Great Depression
proved a transformative blessing for him:

“I never liked the idea of living on scallions in the left bank garret. I liked writing in comfort. So I went into business, a classmate and I. I thought I’d retire in a year or two. And a thing called Collapse, bango! socked everything out. 1929. All I had left was a pencil … There was nothing else to do. I was doing light verse at the time, writing a poem here and there for ten bucks a crack. It was an era when kids at college were interested in light verse and ballads and sonnets. This is the early Thirties. I was relieved when the Crash came. I was released. Being in business was something I detested. When I found that I could sell a song or a poem, I became me, I became alive. Other people didn’t see it that way. They were throwing themselves out of windows. Someone who lost money found that his life was gone. When I lost my possessions, I found my creativity. I felt I was being born for the first time. So for me, the world became beautiful. With the Crash, I realized that the greatest fantasy of all was business. The only realistic way of making a life was versifying. Living off your imagination.”
Studs Terkel: Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression


Moral of the story:

Look for the blessing in every experience, especially every painful experience. And

“When you’re feeling forlorn, remember this:
Misery is the mother of Bliss.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


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Einstein’s Mystical Views & Quotations on Free Will or Determinism

”All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
~ Buddha
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise. What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm: there are no isolated things or events. Underneath the surface appearance, all things are interconnected, are part of the totality of the cosmos that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,
such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,
or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”
A.  “Everything is predetermined.”
~  Sri Ramana Maharshi 
“Nothing perceivable is real.
Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.
There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj 
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Nothing in the universe happens by chance or accident.  The universe is a coherent concurrence and interaction of innumerable conditions attendant on the infinite number of energy patterns.  In the state of Awareness, all this is obvious and can be clearly seen and known.  Outside that level of awareness, it could be likened to innumerable, invisible magnetic fields which automatically coalesce or repel one’s position and which interact according to the positions and relative strengths and polarities.  Everything influences everything else and is in perfect balance.
~ David R. Hawkins
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. .
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Everything happens through immutable laws, …everything is necessary… There are,  some persons say, events which are necessary and others which are not. It would be very comic that one part of the world was arranged, and the other were not; that one part of what happens had to happen and that another part of what happens did not have to happen. If one looks closely at it, one sees that the doctrine contrary to that of destiny is absurd; but there are many people destined to reason badly; others not to reason at all others to persecute those who reason.”
~  Voltaire
“The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)


Introduction

On Albert Einstein’s March 14th birthday anniversary, we honor him not only for his extraordinary scientific genius and moral integrity, but for his mystical wisdom and intuitive realization of ineffable Reality beyond human comprehension.

In other posts (linked below) we have shown that although Einstein rejected conventional views about God, individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death, he was not an atheist but a deeply religious mystic. Though Einstein did not believe in formal dogmatic religion, his views on religion were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, like Indian Advaita Vedanta philosophy, as well as with his revolutionary non-mechanistic science. So he was an exemplar of the inevitable confluence of Western science with Eastern religion.

Here we highlight Einstein’s unconventional views about free will and determinism and show how they were also largely consistent with highest Eastern non-duality mystical teachings.

Discussion

Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, 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 and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.

In a 1929 interview, when the argument about quantum mechanics “uncertainty” was at its height, Einstein modestly said: “I claim credit for nothing”, explaining that:

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
[Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, Page 422.]


Though theologians have mostly believed that people choose and are morally responsible for their actions, Einstein agreed with medieval philosopher Baruch Spinoza that one’s actions, and even one’s thoughts, are determined by natural laws of causality.

Spinoza said:

“In the mind there is no absolute or free will;
but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause,
which has also been determined by another cause,
and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.”

 

Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:

“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free
but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”


Einstein’s belief in causal determinism seemed to him both scientifically and philosophically incompatible with the concept of human free will. In a 1932 speech entitled ‘My Credo’, Einstein briefly explained his deterministic ideology:

“I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.”


Einstein’s 1931 essay “The World As I See It” contains this similar passage:

“In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.
Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with
inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not
will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth, and a continual
consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships
of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of
responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking
ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in
which humor, above all, has its due place.”


Schopenhauer – who had studied Buddhism – postulated that human experience is but a reflection and manifestation of universal law – not human “will”; that humans must adhere to the imperatives of natural laws (like gravity and magnetism) which harmoniously rule everywhere without exception. Thus Schopenhauer said:

“The fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him—this is something that surpasses our powers of comprehension, and can only be conceived as possible by virtue of the most wonderful pre-established harmony.”


So in rejecting “free will” and other prevalent theistic religious ideas while humbly expressing his awe, reverence and cosmic religious feeling at the immense beauty, harmony and eternal mystery of our Universe, Einstein was influenced by both the philosophies of Spinoza and Schopenhauer and by his intuition and his science.

But despite his deterministic philosophy and science, Einstein realized that people’s belief in free will is pragmatically necessary for a civilized society; that it causes them to take responsibility for their actions, and enables society to regulate such actions.* So he said:

“I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”*


Thus Einstein dedicated his life to going beyond the “merely personal” and acted morally with a self-described “passion for social justice”. In a letter to his sister, Einstein stated that “the foundation of all human values is morality”. And in addressing a student disarmament meeting, he said:   “The destiny of civilized humanity depends more than ever on the moral forces it is capable of generating.”

But, like the non-dualistic mystics, Einstein believed that morality was for humanity not divinity. He said: “Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”

Determinism versus morality and social justice questions

Since acting morally implies human freedom of choice, how can we reconcile Einstein’s passion for social justice and morality with his deterministic ideology that “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” ?

How would Einstein explain the apparent contradiction between his many idealistic efforts as a social justice activist, pacifist, and democratic socialist and his deterministic philosophy and science? Would he attribute his efforts and passion for a peaceful, civilized society to a pre-destined causal compulsion?

We can only speculate. But it is quite possible that Einstein would have agreed with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s statement that “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”

According to Eastern non-dualism, as long as we self-identify as limited persons within space/time/causality we have apparent free choice but are inescapably subject to the law of karmic causality. Thus our every thought, word or deed inevitably reaps its corresponding reward of either suffering or joy in this or another lifetime. Only when we self-identify with spirit or soul, do we transcend this illusory impermanent world of samsara and its inevitable causal sufferings.

This was explained by Swami Vivekananda as follows:

“[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga


Conclusions

Like ancient non-dualistic mystics, Einstein had realized – through his revolutionary non-mechanistic science – that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; and that “Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.” Consequently, he knew that from an ever mysterious Cosmic perspective, our apparent phenomenal reality is but an illusionary play of consciousness.

But, Einstein’s acceptance of the necessity for recognizing humanity’s freedom to choose a moral rather than evil destiny was also consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings that we ‘reap as we sow’ until we transcend this illusionary world, as well as with prevalent Western religious ideas that we are morally responsible for our actions.

Thus, Einstein’s insistence that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception and that morality is for Humanity not Divinity was consistent with ancient non-dualistic mysticism as was his rejection of a personal “God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation”.

Though Einstein had not achieved the mystic goal of attaining “freedom” from causality while living, his mystical wisdom and professed behaviors in not “taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper” were consistent with a very evolved – if not “enlightened” – state of being.

*Einstein’s views on pragmatically living with supposed free will notwithstanding a belief in universal determinism, were similar to those of Leo Tolstoy, whose epic War and Peace novel reflected Tolstoy’s view that all is predestined, but that we cannot live without imagining we have free will. Like Einstein, Tolstoy was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer and, also, he was later enthralled by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.







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