Tag Archives | Nature

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
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“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
“People can’t be talked out of illusions. If a person believes that the earth is flat, you can’t talk him out of that, he knows that it’s flat. He’ll go down to the window and see that its obvious, it looks flat. So the only way to convince him that it isn’t is to say, “Well let’s go and find the edge”
~ Alan Watts
“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is—rather literally—to be spellbound”.
~ 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
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.

If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.”

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi




Why do we ignore who, or what, we really are?

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, or those imbued with Eastern religious philosophy, most people have been acculturated from time immemorial into societies with “an unrecognized but mighty taboo — our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are.” ( Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Preface.)

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 us free.

For countless ages sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we are not what we think we are!  That we suffer from perception-deception – with self-identity and reality not what they appear to be; that it is possible to experientially transcend the inevitable suffering of ordinary human existence through self-realization of and self-identification with an undivided eternal spiritual reality – which is the common essence of all space-time causality reality.

Mystics say that we share common Self identity – as Cosmic Consciousness or Non-Duality Reality; that we are not merely our mortal bodies – their names, genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories – or the ‘voices in our heads’.  We are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles.  But we’re all the same ‘under the hood’.  

Yet until now that greatest secret has been mostly concealed or denied: predominantly by subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain non-experienced facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusionary beliefs about “reality”; sometimes 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!


Ron’s Commentary on why we ignore who, or what, we really are.

The foregoing essay was inspired by Alan Watts’: “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, ©1966.

Watts was a brilliantly insightful, erudite and articulate UK philosopher, author, and teacher, with post-graduate degrees in Theology and Divinity. After five years as an ordained Episcopal priest, he ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and in 1951 moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Thereafter, until his death in 1973, Watts became a counterculture icon, best-known for introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Westerners.

I first learned about Watts’ teachings listening to KPFA Pacifica radio, Berkeley, which posthumously broadcast his lectures on Sunday nights, while I was driving for visits with my aged parents. Those broadcasts helped me to learn about Eastern wisdom and philosophy of spiritual evolution – of which I was previously ignorant.

Only after launching the Silly Sutras website in 2010 did I discover and read Watt’s 1966 essay “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. By that time I mostly concurred with Watts’ assertions about what causes the illusion of a separate ego self, and how that illusion is central to our ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises.

Moreover, I had already learned about how cognitive dissonance can cause subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusions about “reality”. And how powerful government and corporate institutions and psychopathic individuals insanely seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources can ‘brainwash’ and propagandize ordinary people into rejecting truth-tellers, and the factual truths which they reveal, by pejoratively ridiculing them as “conspiracy theorists” and blatantly lying about their truthful revelations.

So I sympathized with Watts’ contentions concerning a tacit taboo or conspiracy of silence against revealing our true identity and infinite potentiality. Thus I endorse Watts’ essay and have embedded it below as a recommended YouTube audio book file.

May it help us awaken to “the secret of secrets”, and to see ourselves as uniquely interdependent expressions of ONE universal and eternal reality – a cosmic Self in all life everywhere.


Youtube Audio: Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.



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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
“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, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“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

Max Planck (1858-1947)


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.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”
~ Niels Bohr

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena,
it will make more progress in one decade
than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”
~ Nikola Tesla


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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What is Faith? ~ Quotes

Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“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



“Faith is a knowledge within the heart,
beyond the reach of proof.”

“Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking”

~ Khalil Gibran
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”

“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.”

“Faith embraces many truths which seem to contradict each other.”

~ Blaise Pascal
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …
To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Faith is much better than belief.
Belief is when someone else does the thinking.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“Faith means living with uncertainty –
feeling your way through life,
letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark”
~ Dan Millman
“My faith runs so very much faster than my reason that I can challenge the whole world and say, ’God is, was and ever shall be’.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“This above all, to thy own Self be true.”
~ William Shakespeare
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Intelligence must follow faith, never precede it, and never destroy it.”
~ Thomas Kempis
“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind and darkens all its visions of other realities,
but in the end when we become used to the new light, we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
~ Thomas Merton
“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.”
~ Matthew 17:20



Ron’s Commentary on Mystical Faith.

Dear Friends,

In reviewing and revising previous SillySutras postings, as preparation for ebook publication of memoirs and other postings, I’ve been wondering about the subtle circumstances which have seemed most important in furthering my spiritual evolution from age forty two to age eighty four.

Forty two years ago, I was self-identifying as an uptight and unhappy middle-aged secular litigation lawyer on the brink of divorce, when I had an unforgettable “out of body” experience [OOB] which sparked four decades of spiritual exploration and evolution – so far.

Now I mostly self-identify as eternal spirit enjoying a brief “in a body experience” as an 84 year old retired lawyer and spiritual writer. And I feel blessed with great happiness and gratitude for this precious fleeting lifetime, despite its inevitable ups and downs.

In wondering why this has happened, I’ve decided that continuing deep faith in the mystical mystery of Divinity has been crucial to my spiritual opening with ever increasing happiness. Previously, I have explained in essays how “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life” and defined faith as distinguished from belief.

Today I have posted the foregoing profound quotations about faith to help inspire us. Please read and reflect on them.

Also I’ve embedded hereafter a beautiful youtube video performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s inspiring song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as excerpted from the film version of their classical musical play “Carousel”. The emotions we feel from that performance can also help inspire our deep realization that with faith and hope in our heart we’ll never walk alone.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel”.



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Memorial Day, 2017, Re-dedication Proclamation

“we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”
~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good,
both for oneself and others.” 
~ Dalai Lama
“Our task must be to free ourselves…
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein




Since its inception following the American Civil War, Memorial Day has commemorated the passing of men and women who died while participating in US wars against and amongst other people. But today as we enjoy passing pleasures of a long holiday weekend, many Americans have forgotten the sacred spirit with which Memorial Day was inaugurated – a spirit recognizing and honoring the sanctity of Life.

Now as humanity’s insane armed internecine conflicts continue, and as people continue dying and suffering needlessly for questionable causes instigated by sociopathic or psychopathic “leaders”, isn’t it time for us to rededicate Memorial Day to the sacred spirit with which it originated?

Today we are experiencing world-wide environmental crises against not just human life but against all life-forms on our precious planet, and against Mother Nature which birthed us all.

Unrestrained corporate capitalism coercively and insidiously exploits and injures vulnerable people and myopically plunders, depletes and corrupts finite planetary resources which sustain life. Billions of people suffer needless death, displacement, poverty, starvation, injury and avoidable disease, while obscenely privileged plutocrats greedily acquire power and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs.

Until now, much of humanity has suffered illusionary psychological separation from Nature allowing unsustainable ecological desecration of our precious planet and barbaric exploitation of vulnerable people and other life-forms.

Isn’t it now urgently imperative for us to elevate our societal awareness and to realize at long last that Nature is our nature; that Nature knows best and will have its Way; that we are not dependent upon exploitation of our planet or others but interdependent with all life thereon; that we can no longer unsustainably exploit Nature and others without dire consequences?

In solemnly observing Memorial Day 2017, let us resolutely re-dedicate Humankind to our renewed and ever elevated awareness of the sanctity of all Life – not just human life.

And with such elevated awareness let us end insane internecine conflicts and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet and of susceptible sentient beings, and let us peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other life on our precious planet Earth.

And so it shall be!



Ron’s Commentary on the Sacred Spirit of Memorial Day

At its inception over one hundred fifty years ago the US Memorial Day holiday honored those who died and was dedicated to the aspiration that the country would never again experience such devastating death and destruction, as eloquently uttered in Lincoln’s Gettysburg address that

“we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Regrettably Lincoln’s vision and aspiration have not yet been realized, and the death and destruction which he movingly decried have persisted and extended in ways he probably could never imagine.

The United States of America has become a colossal world empire perpetually involved in wars, either directly or vicariously. It is possible that the US has killed more than 20 million people in 37 “victim nations” since World War II, including millions of non-combatant civilian women and children.

Moreover, especially since the recent “red pill” election of Donald J. Trump as US President, it has become painfully evident to many Americans that their government is no longer a democracy – that US government of the people, by the people, for the people has insidiously been co-opted by a few international oligopolists who have instigated a government of, by and for multinational corporations and billionaires serving less than 1% of Humankind.

Trump’s election and his initial appointments, actions and policies apparently have triggered unprecedented worldwide social unrest and adversity, with many people believing that we are experiencing a serious regression of social progress, and even fearing a World War III nuclear holocaust or end of planetary ecology supporting life on Earth as we have known it.

Yet these critical times of immense jeopardy and suffering can afford us an extraordinary evolutionary opportunity for promoting world peace and rededicating Humanity to the sanctity of all life on Earth. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has observed:

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” 

So, inspired by the Dalai Lama, we have posted the foregoing essay and videos intended to help us rededicate Humanity to the sanctity of all life on Earth.

Whether or not we are citizens of the American empire, may we all compassionately commemorate Memorial Day by rededicating ourselves to the sanctity of universal peace and to the welfare of the World and all life thereon.

May we peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other Life on our precious planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Earth Mother’s Message: Cherish or Perish

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at the edge of the roof.”
~ Rumi
“Cherish or Perish.
Co-exist cooperatively, or
Co-expire catastrophically.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. . . “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
~ Pope Francis – Climate encyclical message





Introduction.

In 1990, when the Voyager space craft was nearly four trillion (4,000,000,000,000) miles from Earth, beyond the orbit of Pluto, NASA finally acceded to Carl Sagan’s desperate pleas and turned Voyager’s camera back toward Earth to photograph our precious planet as no human had ever before seen it.

From that distance, the Earth is just a small blue speck illuminated by sunlight.

Video.

Here is a video called “Pale Blue Dot” with Carl Sagan reading a poignant message he wrote while reflecting on that NASA photo:



Text of Sagan’s message:

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”


Concluding Comment.

In these ecologically critical times may we all cherish our precious Earth Mother – Gaia. May we thereby – each from our unique perspective and in our unique way – urgently act to help Humankind address and peacefully resolve the immense ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts threatening Earth-life as we have known it

And so may it be!

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

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


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



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

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

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What survives physical death?

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

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

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

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


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

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Vivekananda and Einstein.

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

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

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


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


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


~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga

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

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


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

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



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



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

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

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




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

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

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

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

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”

AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Reflections on Afterlife and Reincarnation.

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

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

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

Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, 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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Vernal Equinox Blessings

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna





Ron’s introduction.

I first learned of Chapter 3:1-8 of the Book of Ecclesiastes on hearing a popular 1960’s folk song written by Pete Seeger called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” quoting the biblical passages verbatim beginning with: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I then sensed the importance of those passages attributed to King Solomon, but never deeply reflected upon them until after my 1976 midlife spiritual awakening.

Until then, I was largely insensitive to the symbolic importance of time cycles, and I had little inclination to unreflectively celebrate or commemorate new years or new seasons. Only afterwards did I begin learning about importance of astronomical and astrological sciences with increasing appreciation of ancient pre-Christian cultures which recorded time through solar, lunar or lunisolar calendars, such as Persian, Mayan, Islamic, Vedic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Tibetan.

Paradoxically, since my midlife change of life I have become ever more aware of the importance to Earth life of its seasons and cycles in time, while concurrently becoming ever more aware that cosmically Albert Einstein was right when he told us: “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; and, that “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.” And I realized and wrote that “time is how we measure NOW”.

I write now on March 20, 2017, the day of the vernal equinox, after experiencing many significant Earth-life cycles and seasons, to share how they can help bless and transform us.

Vernal Equinox Blessings and Opportunities.

The vernal equinox is a traditionally important astronomical event which can mark an especially auspicious new life phase for everyone everywhere, and for all Life on our precious planet.  Especially in Northern climes spring is considered a season for spiritual renewal and rebirth; a time for recognition of our cyclic transition from darkness to light – of both inner and outer illumination. And this can be an especially auspicious time for political progress everywhere on our precious planet.

Thus, as awakening earthly spiritual siblings we can collectively resolve our critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life on our precious planet, and which can be solved only through our awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone have caused these crises.

Whatever our cultural conditioning, or our spiritual, religious or ethical traditions, we can NOW join together in identifying and  symbolically discarding old defilements, so as to continue earth-life with a fresh clean slate – a process exemplified by the ancient vernal equinox New Year tradition of Zoroastrianism, which is observed by millions people worldwide as Nowruz.

Many religious historians believe that Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and that it has probably influenced humankind, directly and indirectly, more than any other single faith; that it has influenced the major Asian religions, and that many beliefs of  the Jewish, Christian and Muslim monotheistic religions were derived from Zoroastrianism. 

Zoroastrianism teaches that Life’s purpose is to renew the world; to help the world progress towards perfection.  And, that Happiness in Life comes to those who work for the happiness of others.

Key Zoroastrian tenets are: “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”; “Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you”; and “There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.” 

Like many Westerners I first learned of the wisdom of the Persian mystical tradition through the poetry of the Persian Sufi mystics, especially Rumi and Hafiz, which I commend to your attention. Rumi’s poetry is so superlatively beautiful and mystically insightful – even when translated from Farsi – that he has been recently called the “most popular poet in America”, over seven centuries since his death.

And just as many Western people keep copies of the bible in their homes, many Persian and Iranian people keep copies of Hafiz’ writings which they consider the pinnacle of Persian literature.  I feel that various poems and sayings from Rumi and Hafiz quoted on SillySutras.com are the amongst the most beautiful and deeply insightful postings on the entire website and commend them to your attention by clicking here and here.

If like me you have become inspired to help the world by availing yourselves of the infinite opportunities for transformative blessings offered for everyone everywhere by this auspicious equinox Earth life cycle phase, it is important to remember that such blessings are not automatic but depend on our thoughts, words and deeds. The principle was succinctly stated by Indian sage Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who reminds us that:

“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”

Conclusion.

We are living in extraordinarily turbulent times with immense dangers and opportunities. But we are encouraged by Rumi’s consoling wisdom:

“Do not be sad.
For God sends hope in the darkest moments. 
The heaviest rain comes from the darkest clouds.” 
~ Rumi


May we collectively view what is happening environmentally and politically as disintegration of an old world paradigm that has become painfully and harmfully anachronous, to make way for a more enlightened and elevated new age that can and will bless all life on our precious  planet.

And let us each from our unique perspectives and with our unique propensities ‘raise our sails to the winds of grace’ which will hasten a new golden age of peace on earth and goodwill for all.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


“Turn! Turn! Turn!” – Video.


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How St. Francis of Assisi Inspires Pope Francis


“[W]hen our hearts are authentically open to universal
communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.”

“Francis helps us to see . . .the heart of what it is to be human ”

“Saint Francis shows us just how inseparable the bond is . . . .
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” 

“The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical:
a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” 

~  Pope Francis (from Laudato Si* climate encyclical message)


Saint Francis of Assisi


Ron’s Introduction.

Like millions of others worldwide I was deeply moved and inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the USA.  On conclusion of that visit I wondered why the Pope – a Jesuit from Latin America – had been inspired to become first in history to take the papal name Francis.  

I soon discovered a probable answer to this question in introductory paragraphs of the Pope’s recent profound climate encyclical message, Laudato Si, or “Praised Be” [*see footnote] specifically referring to the exemplary and inspiring life of the Pope’s namesake Saint Francis of Assisi. Those paragraphs explain why the Saint is revered not only by the Pope and countless Christians, but by numerous others world-wide for his simple life of heartfelt universal love and oneness with Nature.

To honor Saint Francis and the Pope I am sharing with you below those inspiring words of Pope Francis expressing reverence for his namesake. 

Encyclical message.

The encyclical message opens with these words:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured 
flowers and herbs”.[1] 

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.


Then, after briefly summarizing apt teachings of his papal predecessors, the Pope explicitly explains his inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi as follows:

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, 
and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is 
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. 

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with 
all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure 
tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if 
we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. 

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of 
the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

 

Later the Pope cites the Saint as inspiring us to commune with Nature in open hearted compassion for for all beings and all Life:

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the 
very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment 
to resolving the problems of society. 

92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.

221. May the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way,  we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied.

Footnote.

*“Laudato Si”, or “Praised Be.” is a refrain from “The Canticle of the Creatures,” a hymn composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

 
Conclusion.

While remembering and honoring Saint Francis, let us deeply consider and heed the Pope’s wise and profound words addressed to all Humankind, not just to Catholic hierarchy and laity. 
 
Thereby may every one of us – each from our unique perspective and in our unique way – help Humankind urgently address and peacefully resolve immense ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts confronting us internationally and interpersonally.

And so may it be!

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Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation

“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, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic “true mystic” … “of a deeply religious nature.” (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.

He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:

I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]


On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend’s family:

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”


Einstein’s rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein’s revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking special theory of relativity that “mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing”; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence: “Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time.” Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.

Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy 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”…

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, he 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.”

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

“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?”

“…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.”

“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


Einstein’s non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he 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.”



Thus, Einstein’s rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal “optical illusion of consciousness.”

Did Einstein’s psyche survive his death? Was he surprised on his demise?

Though Einstein didn’t believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don’t know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.

Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:

“[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom
realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva way


Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.


But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein’s physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple “unified field” formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of ‘the mind of God’ – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.

And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.

And so may it be!


How I See the World – PBS  Documentary Film About Einstein:



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