Tag Archives | Ram Dass

Why Be Here Now?

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dear Friends,

In 1977, soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom by a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for various spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s title “Be Here Now!” became for me a memorable guide for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment – an idea which I later found often repeated in other spiritual books and teachings.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my beloved Guruji’s instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ gradually cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Whereupon, I realized that “to think or not to think, that is the question”, and I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

By learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I’ve found that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “That when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ. And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual opening.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a stilled or focussed mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists or athletes perform at their highest levels while “in the zone”?

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I have discovered a book passage that can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!” in a state of precious presence.

Through synchronicity I recently received from my high school friend John Rubel of West Virginia a wonderfully witty passage written by brilliant comedian Sid Ceasar in his 1982 autobiography – “Where Have I Been?” – telling how he learned that being in the “now” can “change your whole cycle of life”.

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I think this passage can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!”

So here it is:

“While people keep waiting and waiting for something big to happen in life, the “now” is passing them by. Do you know how fast a “now” passes? At the rate of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light. So no matter how much you love and enjoy a particular “now,” that’s how fast it becomes a “was.” That “now” is never coming back, and that “was” ties into some “going-to-be.”

“So if you don’t learn from the “was’s” you’re going to have bad “going-to-be’s, which completes the cycle by bringing in bad “nows.” Thus, the only time you can switch around from a negative into a positive is in the “now.” Because you have to do it now. You can’t just think of doing it now because it is rapidly becoming a “was,” and it’s too late. And “going-to–be” is you may do it and you may not. So if you do it now, you know it’s done and you’ve got it. If you have a good “now’ you have a good “was,” which leads to a good “going-to-be.”

“In other words, by taking advantage of a “now, maybe even changing a bad “now” into a good “now,” you can have a good “was” from which you can learn and change your whole cycle of life. That’s why I never use the word “if” anymore. An “if” is a “never was.”

~ Comedian Sid Caesar – “Where Have I Been?”, p271


May Sid Caesar’s wise and witty words help us remember that being present in the NOW can be a key to spiritual awakening and peak performance for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be – NOW!

Ron Rattner

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Visions of Past and Future ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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 – The Merging of Spirit and Science


Following my April, 1976 rebirth experience, and before meeting my spiritual master, Shri Dhyanyogi, I began having extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including precognition and seeing apparent ‘past lives’ and scenes.  So I started wondering what was happening, and how it was possible.

My first memorable apparent precognitive experience happened in the Yosemite Sierras.  Soon after my previously described transformative vision there of “ten thousand suns” (see Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness), I climbed to a Yosemite mountaintop.   After reaching the summit and viewing the magnificent alpine panorama, I rested sitting on a large granite rock with eyes closed.   Soon I had a fleeting movie-clear inner vision of four people unknown to me.   Twenty minutes later those four people climbed onto the summit. 

Though I experienced this event as a precognitive vision, it might be regarded by some psychic researchers as an instance of “remote viewing” whereby I clairvoyantly viewed forms distant from my physical body.  In all events, it was then an unprecedented experience for me, significantly undermining my Newtonian linear world-view about space/time.

Shortly after returning to San Francisco from Yosemite, I had another extraordinary precognitive experience which could not be considered contemporaneous “remote viewing”.   Just before awakening one work-day morning, I beheld an extremely vivid inner image of a blue-eyed blond woman who I’d never before seen.  Quite puzzled I wondered who she was and why I saw her.   Those questions were answered a few days later. 

Alone and lonely on a Saturday evening, I searched a newspaper’s weekend event calendar for something to do.   There I learned that a Tibetan bell concert was about to happen in an auditorium not far from my apartment.   Though I’d never before heard Tibetan bells, and then knew nothing about Tibetans, this concert seemed interesting.  So I made a last-minute decision to attend.

There were no reserved seats, and by the time I arrived the only remaining seats were on a small balcony far from the stage, where I sat down waiting for the concert to begin.  After a few moments, I noticed the person already seated immediately to my left.   It was undoubtedly the woman who had appeared in my vision a few days earlier.  She was a yoga teacher with whom I soon had a brief but very important romantic relationship – virtually my last romance before becoming almost totally abstinent for the remainder of my adult life – so far. 

That precognitive vision (soon followed by more such visions) convinced me that serial time perception can be synchronistically transcended in “altered” states of awareness.  (But my most significant learning from that relationship involved esoteric subjects other than precognition, which I will  later discuss.)

In addition to apparent precognitive experiences I had various spontaneous “inner movie’ visions of scenes from other lifetimes of someone other than Ron Rattner, with whom I self-identified.   Also, under hypnotic regression, I experienced details of apparent other lifetimes in Caucasian, Asian, African, and Native American male and female bodies during two past life sessions with a prominent past lives and reincarnation researcher and hypnotherapist, Helen Wambach, PhD.

Perhaps the most vivid and surprising other life experience happened quite unexpectedly and spontaneously while I was at a lecture in a spiritual bookshop on Sutter Street, San Francisco.  Together with John Rubel, a long-time friend since high school, I attended a program about prenatal experience, which featured sounds recorded in utero of a fetal heartbeat and of the fetal environment, played through a loudspeaker.  

As I sat listening to these hypnogogic intrauterine sounds, I was suddenly transported back to an apparent other lifetime, vividly envisioning myself as an indigenous native American man ecstatically dancing and singing to the beat of tom-toms.

Apart from my own extra-temporal spiritual experiences, during this period in “Be Here Now” I also read credible stories about the amazing prescience of Ram Dass’s Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba.   And I learned from other readings that some mystics have the apparent power to see past lifetimes. 

So, as my spiritual mystery story unfolded, I wondered whether some spiritually evolved beings might have extraordinary extra-temporal powers of clairvoyance unexplained by our conventional ideas of space-time reality.

Ultimately, I was soon blessed by meeting such a being with whom I learned that this was so.

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“Be Here Now”, “Rama”, and Rainbow Synchronicity ~ Ron’s Memoirs

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

~ Lao Tzu




Gandhi’s appearance as my inner guide began a synchronistic sequence of connections with Hindu teachings and teachers.

Soon after est and Silva, Allen Chase, the same friend who had urged me to take the est training, successfully importuned me to read a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Baba Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was my first memorable exposure to Hindu and other Eastern teachings. It was for me an extraordinary book, unlike any other I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me.

“Be Here Now” concluded with a sort of spiritual ‘cook book’ section, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for various spiritual practices. Some suggestions interested me though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Shortly after reading “Be Here Now”, in June 1977 I spent several days in Honolulu, Hawaii, where I was taking depositions. I stayed at a beautiful hotel on the outskirts of the city near a state park, and I decided to linger for the weekend after conclusion of the depositions.

Returning to the hotel after the depositions, I had time for a late Friday afternoon walk in the state park which was a ‘jungle-like’ hillside area of lush tropical plant-life. Dressed only in very light clothing, I began walking upward on a narrow trail into the tropical wilderness area.

As I walked up, I ‘spaced-out’ and stopped paying close attention to the trail or the environment. After a while I suddenly realized that I had left the trail and was lost in the ‘jungle’; and, that it was getting late and soon would be night-time. I unsuccessfully searched for a trail through the seemingly impassible jungle undergrowth, which would guide me down and out of the hillside wilderness area. But I couldn’t find any path. Gradually, I became more and more apprehensive, afraid of being lost there, hungry and chilled through the night, without the comfort of my luxurious hotel accommodations.

Then something extraordinary happened. For the first time in my life, spurred by fear I began, spontaneously repeating out loud “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…” – thereby urgently invoking some Divine solution to my dilemma. And soon I experienced an “Ahaa moment” providing that solution.

Suddenly, I realized that a shallow meandering mountain stream which I had been crossing was flowing down the hill and out into the ocean. I stepped gingerly into the rocky stream bed and followed its twisting path down and out of the jungle park.

As I walked downward in the stream bed I kept repeating “Rama” “Rama”, “Rama”, “Rama”…….until I was out of the nature area and back at my hotel, just before dinner time.

Retrospectively, I now view this experience as an important metaphoric message for me and perhaps others on a spiritual path, who may feel fearful or lost and unable to find or reach their Divine destination: “What you seek is in plain (in)sight. So, fear not and stop searching in all directions. Just let go, and go with the flow”.

On returning to my hotel room, I felt extraordinarily peaceful, but very “strange” and different than ever before. In this strange state, as I was about to get ready for dinner, I gazed into a large dressing room mirror and beheld in amazement my image reflected as never before. I perceived my face and head enveloped in a beautiful multi-colored aura, like auras I had seen portrayed on some ancient religious icons.

Thereupon, instead of going down for dinner in a hotel restaurant, I sat for hours virtually thoughtless on a dressing room bench intently gazing in wonder at my mirrored auric image.

On awakening Saturday morning, I immediately recalled with wonder this unprecedented experience. Whereupon, there ensued an inner dialogue between a “voice in my head” and my intuition. Every time my heart was uplifted by recalling that beautiful experience, the ‘voice’ told me that I’d been hallucinating, and hadn’t really seen anything unusual. So, I went out to the beach that morning in a state of mental confusion.

It was a beautiful calm and sunny day with a few white wispy clouds in the sky. But my mind was not calm. As I sat in the sand, I kept wondering whether or not I had really seen that beautiful multi-colored aura. But finally I intuitively resolved my inner debate, and thought: “Yes, it definitely was a ‘real’ aura, but I’m not sure I remember all its beautiful colors. What were they?”

Thereupon, I looked up and beheld a lovely rainbow, with the very same colors I’d seen in the aura. While I had been lost in thought, a couple of dark clouds had appeared with a quickly passing light tropical shower, leaving in its wake the fleeting rainbow.

I took the sudden appearance of the rainbow as Divine confirmation of my aura experience. Retrospectively, I see that the rainbow’s unexpected appearance, was one of innumerable continuing synchronicities which have blessed and guided my inner transformation process and given clues for my ever unfolding spiritual mystery story, which I will continue sharing with you.

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