Tag Archives | Sri Ramakrishna

What Is Freedom? ~ Question and Quotes

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“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
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him –
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past,
to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [natural] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom.
And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is.
If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord.
If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you;
if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you.”
~ Osho
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,
“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings. Here we define “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit imminent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Symbolically the Book of Exodus emphasizes societal rather than individual escape from bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’; viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods – like Pharaohs or idols – to a ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us, beyond external Gods or goals.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness, beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we shall be –
“Free at last, free at last!”

NOW – ever NOW, never THEN!


Ron’s Commentary on Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare state of mind which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life.  

I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of  “freedom” during the 1950’s when I learned about Abraham Maslow’s psychological analysis of ‘self-actualizing’ people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation  lawyer I rarely reflected about inner freedom until after a memorable exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 

While residing in my apartment just prior to his 1980 return to India, Guruji told me: 
 
“Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

Thereupon, I became intensely curious about Guruji’s revelation that my body was like a prison. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. 

So I began deeply exploring spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last” were so deeply powerful. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
(Deuteronomy 6:4). 

Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32) 

And I intuited that Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us in a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what our outer circumstances.  

Thus, Rumi reminded us:

“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi


The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they help us evolve toward precious inner freedom, our common birthright.

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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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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New Paradigm-ism

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.
This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
 all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi
“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”
~ Gandhi
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
 not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi or Zen.
Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground,
not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all.
I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.
My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul.
I belong to the beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,
First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.”
~ Rumi, ‘Only Breath’
“There is only one God,
the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …
There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba
“Wherever I look, I see men quarreling in the name of religion — Hindus, Mohammendans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest.
But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well–
the same Rama with a thousand names.
A lake has several ghats.
At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. At a third the Christians call it ‘water’.
Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’?
How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance;
only climate, temperament, and name create differences.
Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him!
He will surely realize Him.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
“Follow dharma, not dogma.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If there is love in your heart you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas



Let’s get beyond
Catholicism – Protestantism – Judaism – Mohammedanism –
Hinduism – Buddhism – Taoism – Confucianism – Shamanism –
and all other belief “isms”.

It’s time to end
religious ism schisms.

It’s time to blend religion-ism
with syncretism.

So, let us transcend
Ism dogmatism

And live ismlessly as

LOVE!



Ron’s audio explanation and recitation of New Paradigm-ism

Listen to



Ron’s Commentary on A New Paradigm of Love and Equity For All

http://sillysutras.com/new-paradigm-ism/A New Paradigm of Love and Equity For AllDear Friends,Happy Abraham…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Monday, February 15, 2016

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Should We Be Seekers?

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21
“Seek and ye shall find.”
Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi
“What we are looking for is what is looking.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Remember God; forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Q. Should we be seekers?

A. Knowingly or unknowingly everyone’s a seeker.
Knowingly or unknowingly everyone seeks Self.

But seeking is then,
while Self is NOW.

So, to find Self,
be Self –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Should We Be Seekers?

Listen to


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


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

Saint Francis of Assisi by Lea Bradovich



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francis in the Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Franciscan Tau


* I later learned that this children’s fair was part of an ongoing national program called Francis in the Schools founded in 2010 by Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented.
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Amazing Grace

“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.”
~ Rumi
“Grace comes to forgive and then forgive again.”
~ Rumi



Knowingly or unknowingly we seek
Wholeness, Happiness and Love.

Consciously or subliminally,
We intuit and long for a state of being
which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering.

And there is a transcendent spiritual Force
which impels and rewards our longing.

Some call it Grace –
Amazing Grace.

Grace is to mind as gravity is to matter:

Grace is an ineluctable centripetal force
drawing mind to its Source –
To the Sacred Heart.

Knowingly or unknowingly,
we are all seekers, and

With Amazing Grace,
we shall all be finders, of –

Wholeness, Happiness and Love.



Ron’s explanation and recitation of Amazing Grace

Listen to


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Crying For God and other ‘Kundalini Kriyas’ ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world?
Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart: Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!….
When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart…”
~ Anandamayi Ma
“When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes.
If you want to know God, you must be like the naughty baby who cries till the mother comes.”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda
‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears.
As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa




My pivotal rebirth experience, sparked by divorce at age forty three, opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears. Thus, a ‘broken heart’ had opened my heart to a new life phase. And never again since that long-locked floodgate was opened have profuse tears failed to flow regularly.

Initially, with a newly a opened heart, I wondered why I was crying so much. Sadness at the divorce was not an adequate explanation for what was happening. But the puzzlement began resolving with my Yosemite epiphany.

At Yosemite, I beheld the unimaginably intense and otherworldly luminosity of “ten thousand suns” only after I had wept with extraordinarily spontaneous intensity, longing to be taken by God.

My tears then were not tears of sadness, but tears of intense longing to merge with that Light – and so to end the illusion of separation from it. I had beheld Divinity in that magnificent panorama of God’s cathedral, and with all my Heart intensely yearned to be merged with That.

This unforgettable experience gradually brought to consciousness a realization that my frequent crying was motivated not merely by worldly distress, but by an immensely deep and soulful longing for God.

But realizing why I was crying, raised a new mystery:

“How could it be that a secular lawyer who hadn’t cried or fervently prayed during his entire adult life, was now intensely crying for God?”

The Universe gradually provided answers to that question, through a series of extraordinary synchronistic events and experiences following the Yosemite experience.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji) into the Hindu tradition of kundalini maha yoga, I learned that “Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies”; that when awakened it frequently manifests through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional phenomena called kriyas; that kriyas automatically open subtle body energy channels (nadis), thereby purifying the nervous system and allowing evolutionary experience of ever subtler states of consciousness.

Also, I learned that in kundalini maha yoga my spontaneous torrents of tears – as well as many of my mystical experiences – were considered purification kriyas. And soon I further learned from repeated experiences that – beyond purification or catharsis – crying kriyas could also be manifestations of extreme joy or bliss, and even ecstasy.

Thus, Guruji has observed:

“Whenever one experiences great joy or bliss, this also manifests physically as crying or laughing. There are two kinds of kriyas, one is for purification and the other for the manifestation of joy.”

And I have been extraordinarily lucky enough to repeatedly experience both types of crying kriyas.

For many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize – after initial puzzlement – that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized not only in the Hindu tradition of kundalini yoga but also in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, such as the Sufi tradition of Rumi and Hafiz, and the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola, known as “the gift of tears”.

Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for many years have remained – a very frequent (and sometimes protracted) crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy.

And until now I have regularly experienced numerous other non-crying kriyas – spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution and through which I have manifested extreme joy and gratitude for this blessed life.

For example, when not crying, I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD’ experiences of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.

But of all my spiritual and synchronistic experiences, I continue to believe that the most fortunate was my 1978 synchronistic meeting with Guruji, whose benevolence has helped me ever since, even since he left his body in 1994.

In 1980, just before returning to India, Guruji resided in my San Francisco apartment. During that period, I once spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” He responded, dispassionately and epigrammatically, “That’s true.”

And I still gratefully agree with that exclamation, and with his response.

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Experiencing Unforgettable Divine “Shakti” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies.
It is not a material force like electricity, magnetism, centripetal or centrifugal force.
It is a spiritual potential, Shakti, or cosmic power.
In reality it has no form.”
~ Sri Swami Sivananda

 

i Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Introduction

After my mid-life awakening I began having previously unknown subtle energy perceptions from which I learned that my experiences of “reality” varied with varying states of physical vitality and subtle consciousness. [See eg http://sillysutras.com/extraordinary-energy-experiences-rons-memoirs/]

Following shaktipat initiation from my beloved Guruji – Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas – I learned that many of my new subtle energy perceptions were experiences of what Hindus call “shakti”. Since those memorable subtle energy experiences have often related to people from or places in India, in describing them here I use the Sanskrit word “shakti””. But first I’ll tell you what I mean by “shakti”, regardless of other possible definitions, since other cultures have other words to define such subtle energy.

Here “shakti” means universal consciousness manifesting as primordial life force – or subtlest vital energy. In the human body it is often called “Kundalini” or “Kundalini-Shakti”. However, as used here “shakti” life force is not confined to the human body – but is omnipresent in this ever impermanent space/time reality.

Guruji’s Shakti 

On meeting Guruji, I was immediately impressed with his extraordinarily powerful emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”. And I learned that it was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical presence. Moreover, I learned that Guruji not only emanated intense shakti but that he was one of those rare yogis who could intentionally transfer it to others not only by touch, gaze, or mantra sound, but also by thought. Thus on occasion I experienced Guruji’s shakti when not in his physical proximity. And I have experienced intense shakti emanating from Guruji’s body even when it was very weak.

While Guruji stayed at my apartment in 1980 just before returning to India, his body was exceptionally weak and his physical vitality exhausted. He was so weak that he had to be carried out of my apartment to the vehicle bringing him to the SFO International airport. But his cosmic shakti energy was as strong as ever. Afterwards, I soon discovered it was so intense that even non-animate objects touched by Guruji had become imbued with it.

While at my apartment Guruji slept at night on a large mattress brought here from the Soquel ashram. During days he often sat on a living room sofa looking out at the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. A day or two after his departure I helped carry Guruji’s mattress out of my twelfth floor apartment, via elevator to a devotee’s van parked in the basement garage to be returned to the ashram. After only a few minutes of clutching Guruji’s mattress, I became tremendously “enshakticated” – intoxicated merely by proximity to Guruji’s cosmic life-force which had amazingly permeated the mattress, rather than by ingesting some inebriating or hallucinogenic substance.

After that amazing experience with the mattress, I realized that my living room sofa where Guruji had sat had been transformed to be a holy relic imbued with his shakti. So I made it an altar. Afterwards for over thirty years I worshiped, prayed, cried and meditated at that altar, and no one sat on it. But sensitive guests and I felt Guruji’s holy energy still radiating from it.

Ron Near Sofa Altar

Ron Near Sofa Altar


In 1978 I attended Guruji’s San Francisco lectures on “Death, Dying and Beyond”, in which he told of a 1971 death experience, which foreshadowed his later coming to the United States to help people here.* [See footnote]

From those talks, I learned that even when Guruji’s physical body was apparently lifeless it continued to emit such extraordinarily intense shakti that several people had been rendered unconscious by it on trying to revive Guruji. So on returning to his body, Guruji had to revive them.


More Shakti Stories

Elsewhere I’ll tell you about memorable encounters with Guruji in India and after his 1994 “mahasamadhi” further showing that Guruji’s extraordinary emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”, was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical survival.

Especially during and since my 1982 “trip of a lifetime” spiritual pilgrimage to India, I have been blessed with many more “enshakticating” experiences, not only with Guruji but with other holy people and places, which have confirmed the transcendent power of cosmic life-force shakti. I don’t recall all of those numerous experiences. But I will recount a few which were most memorable.

Darshan of Anandamayi Ma

sri-anandamayi-ma_dNmJX_1359374288

Sri Anandamayi Ma


On arriving in India in 1982 (four years after receiving shaktipat) I still knew very little about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. But during the marvelous guided pilgrimage tour with Sant Keshavadas I had numerous unforgettable experiences from which which I learned much.

One of the most amazing of such experiences happened near Sri Anandamayi Ma (“Blissful Mother”) – perhaps the best known Indian woman saint of the 20th century. Despite her prominence I hadn’t heard about this saint before this experience. But since then I can’t forget her.

Though in February 1982 Anandamayi Ma was very feeble and ill, and just a few months from her August 27, 1982 mahasamadhi, she agreed to give darshan to our group of spiritual pilgrims at her home in the Indian holy City of Haridwar by the Ganges. As our tour van approached her residence in the Kanikhal district of Haridwar I began to experience intense shakti life-force energy even before we reached her house. It seemed as if her shakti had permeated the whole neighborhood. When we arrived at the saint’s residence we were obliged as a large group to remain outdoors, awaiting her appearance.

Finally we were granted her darshan – viz. reverent sight of the divine mother of bliss. Like Guruji on his departure from my apartment, Anandamayi Ma’s physical body was so weak and infirm that she had to be carried out and held by a devotee while she bestowed her eternal blessings upon us. Yet her emanation of indescribably intense shakti was totally independent of her lack of physical vitality in a sick and painful body.

As a Divine Being who was temporarily inhabiting a then decrepit physical form, Anandamayi Ma was in no way self-identifying with that form, but only with her true nature – SatChitAnanda – Eternal Truth Existence and Bliss. From birth she had not identified with her physical body – but only with her eternal spirit.

A description of her extraordinary state of being can be found in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”, chapter 45. There Yogananda recounts his visit with this extraordinary woman saint.

Reluctantly responding to Yogananda’s persistent questioning about her life story, she replied:

“Father, there is little to tell.”… “My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, ‘I was the same.’ As a little girl, ‘I was the same.’ I grew into womanhood, but still ‘I was the same.’ ….And, Father, in front of you now, ‘I am the same.’ Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, ‘I shall be the same.’”


Thus, notwithstanding her sick and painful temporary earth body, this saintly being continued to identify as, and to experience and emanate Divine bliss. And those of us blessed to be near her were unforgettably enveloped and blessed by that transcendent shakti life-force energy which she radiated. Never in this realm do I recall being enveloped by more intense Divine shakti than that which I then experienced.

Déjà vu at Dakshineshwar

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Another unforgettable Indian pilgrimage shakti experience happened at Dakshineshwar, the long-time residence outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, famed 19th century Indian holy man and priest of the Kali temple there. From this experience I was reminded that Divine shakti is not dependent on physical presence of its source.

Before visiting Dakshineshwar I knew nothing about Shri Ramakrishna, nor of his spiritual consort ‘Holy Mother’ Sarada Devi. As we entered the Kali temple enclave our spiritual tour leader and guide, Sant Keshadavadas, briefly told the tour group about how Ramakrishna had become “enlightened” by unrelentingly propitiating the Divine Mother as Kali, the temple deity, and ultimately threatening suicide if She did not grant him her darshan. This was the first time I’d heard that story.

Nor was I yet aware that Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s chief disciple, had often visited him at Dakshineshwar; or that, touched and blessed by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda attained highest spiritual states, became an Indian national hero and first brought Vedantic wisdom to widespread Western audiences. Nor had I yet learned that Vivekananda was very important to my beloved Guruji. ** [see footnote]

The Kali temple was closed to visitors when our group arrived. And we had limited time scheduled there. But for a while we were able to walk around the vast temple enclave and its buildings. In one of those buildings I entered a room where for many years Ramakrishna had slept and given darshan to numerous visiting devotees, including Vivekananda.

Though until then I’d known nothing about Ramakrishna, on entering Ramakrishna’s room I experienced his shakti energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu. Though almost one hundred years had passed since Ramakrishna’s August 1886 mahasamadhi, his marvelous life-force shakti still pervaded that holy place.

Mysteriously, that room felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever. Other tour companions walked in and out of that room. But I didn’t want to leave. Only with great reluctance as our tour was about to depart Dakshineshwar did I exit that place, and its unforgettably familiar shakti.

Because of that mysterious harmony and familiarity I became intensely curious about Shri Ramakrishna, and soon began reading about his life and his wisdom. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna and with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary exemplars of Divine devotion. Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar traits with which I have felt great rapport.

Pilgrimage to Assisi – More Shakti Déjà vu

st-francis-of-assisi

St. Francis of Assisi


Even before meeting Guruji, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with and great curiosity about this legendary saint. And I began and have ever since continued daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him.

Prior to my pilgrimage to India, I was already so inspired by Saint Francis that I regarded him as an archetype to be emulated. But I was unable to satisfy deep intuitive curiosity about ‘Francesco’ until ten years after that Indian pilgrimage.

Then on 1992 retirement from legal practice, I traveled to India and later to Italy to pay respects to Sri Dhyanyogi and to Saint Francis of Assisi. In Assisi I experienced unforgettable déjà vu, like that experienced at Dakshineshwar. But unlike my brief visit to Dakshineshwar, I spent over a week in and around Assisi, with intense and tear-laden emotion of devotion. During that visit I had a few of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime, which I have recounted at http://sillysutras.com/2013/10/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/.

I arrived at the Rome airport on a Spring evening in 1992. After sleeping that night at an airport hotel, the next morning I rented an auto and drove north toward Assisi. Instead of taking the fastest autostrada route, I elected a slower scenic route. After a few hours I came to a sign announcing that I was entering Assisi. Immediately after the sign there was a rightward road bend whereupon I beheld a vista of my intended destination – the beautiful Umbrian town of Assisi, where St. Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life.

Almost immediately thereafter I was obliged to pull off the road, in a turnoff place.

Assisi, Italy

Assisi, Italy


I couldn’t drive further because I began crying spontaneously and intensely, with deep emotion sparked by a mysterious feeling of déjà vu that I had returned to a beloved and familiar place. Only after shedding many tears was I able to resume driving to my destination – the Ananda Spiritual Retreat Center in the Umbrian hills outside Assisi – where I stayed during my pilgrimage there.

The Ananda center had been founded by Swami Kriyananda, a prominent direct disciple of Yogananda, who in Autobiography of a Yogi referred to St. Francis as an “apostle of humility”. So, it seemed an ideal place for me stay as a “born-again Hindu” devotee of St. Francis.

According to Swami Kriyananda:

”St. Francis of Assisi was Paramhansa Yogananda’s “patron saint.” Yogananda had at least two visions of St. Francis that he spoke of — one during a visit to Assisi, Italy in 1936, and another at Mt. Washington that inspired his beautiful poem, “God, God, God.” Yogananda admired the renunciation and simplicity of St. Francis.”


After sleeping my first night at the Ananda center, the next day I drove into Assisi. With continuing déjà vu I walked through medieval streets of that lovely town experiencing a sweet and mysteriously familiar ambience. Then I visited the giant Basilica of Saint Francis, under which the great saint is entombed. Near the crypt containing his remains there were continuing Masses being celebrated consecutively in various languages for pilgrims from places worldwide.

As a secular Jew transformed to “born-again Hindu”, who spoke only English, I had never before participated in a Catholic mass. However, irresistibly I attended several consecutive masses in various languages which I didn’t understand. But my heart knew the pervasive sweet and familiar ambience which I had experienced outside the Basilica, and which had become intense for me near Franceso’s tomb beneath the Basilica. And I was compellingly drawn to it.

Eight hundred years after Saint Francis had walked in that lovely Umbrian town it seemed for me that it was everywhere still pervaded by his sweet life-force shakti; with its emanation being especially intense at the site of his entombed remains. I will recount in another chapter how afterwards I unforgettably experienced that same familiar life-force emanation at other Assisi shrine places.

Conclusion

My experience with these great saints attests to their timeless Divine life force shakti persisting beyond death; that birth and death are virtual while Life is perpetual.


Footnotes

*In a series of San Francisco talks in November, 1978, entitled: “Death, Dying and Beyond” Guruji recounted this experience:

In 1971, during a terrible Gujarati draught and famine, Guruji became extremely sick and exhausted from selflessly helping people and animals. Guruji’s physical body died, and his soul traveled to the heavenly domain of his “Ishta-Devata” Lord Rama – the principal Divine form of his devotional practices. Though Guruji wished to remain forever in Rama’s indescribably loving Presence, he was told that he would have to return to his Earthly body because of his unfulfilled desires to help people, whose images were then shown to Guruji. Rama told him: “So long as there are any desires in your mind, … you must return to fulfill those desires.”

**Referring to his Guru Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda had said in a New York lecture entitled “The Real and the Apparent Man”:
“My whole life has been changed by the touch of one of these divine men.” . . .

Later, after his 1902 mahasamadhi, Vivekananda appeared in subtle vision to Guruji at a pivotal time in Guruji’s sadhana – before his self realization. Vivekananda blessed him, and assured him of spiritual success. Soon thereafter Guruji discovered Vivekananda’s book on Raja Yoga which became of great importance to Guruji’s sadhana.


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Was Einstein an Atheist?

“Atheism is a disease of the soul,
before it becomes an error of the understanding.”
~ Plato
“Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism,
but larger amounts bring us back to God.”
~ Francis Bacon
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” ….”God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramansa
“The Atheist is God playing at hide and seek with Himself;
but is the Theist any other?
Well, perhaps; for he has seen the shadow of God and clutched at it.”
~ Sri Aurobindo
“Atheism is a non-prophet organization”
~ George Carlin
“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Albert Einstein



Introduction

This essay reveals that Albert Einstein was not an atheist or a monotheist; that he was annoyed by anti-religious atheists who selectively quoted him to support their erroneous contention that Einstein was an atheist.

Einstein explicitly denied that he was an atheist. But he revered and did not deny or disbelieve the existence of an impenetrable supreme universal power – which he called Universal Intelligence. He was a modern Western non-dualistic mystic whose religious views paralleled the most elevated non-dualistic ancient Vedic and Buddhist philosophies.

Discussion

Albert Einstein was not only an acclaimed 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 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 became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

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


Because Einstein repeatedly rejected all conventional theistic concepts of a personal “God”, atheists often eagerly have claimed that Einstein was one of them, selectively citing Einstein quotes.

Thus, prominent atheist/scientist Richard Dawkins, devoted an entire section of his book “The God Delusion” to Einstein. And atheist author Christopher Hitchens cited many Einstein quotations in “The Portable Atheist”, mistakenly claiming Einstein rejected all belief in “God”.

Often cited by atheists is a 1954 letter, sometimes called Einstein’s “God” letter, which recently sold for $3 million dollars in an eBay auction. Handwritten by Einstein – a non-observant Jew – to German-Jewish philosopher and author Eric Gutkind, the letter explained Einstein’s rejection of theistic Jewish “God” concepts, superstitions and religious exceptionalism, despite his great appreciation of Jewish culture. It said:

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” …….. “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality ..than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”


Though Einstein rejected the concept of “God” as it has been defined by most theistic religions, he also clearly rejected atheism, which he associated with mistaken certainty regarding nonexistence of a Supreme Power. Thus, he said:

“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. … But I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

“There are people who say there is no God, but what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.” “I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what that is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the most intelligent human toward God.”

“[T]he fanatical atheists…are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot bear the music of the spheres.”


When once asked by an atheist whether he considered himself religious, Einstein responded:

“Yes, you could call it that. Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything we can comprehend is my religion.”


Despite his rejection of any personal God, Einstein suggested that he would never seek to challenge orthodox religious belief in the existence of a supreme universal power, because “such a belief seems to me preferable to the lack of any transcendental outlook.” Also at times Einstein used the “God” word to explain his reverence for Universal Intelligence.

Thus, he said:

“That deeply emotional conviction of a presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”


And throughout his adult life, Einstein repeatedly affirmed his religious awe of that mysterious eternal power which reveals itself in “the lawful harmony of all that exists.”

Conclusion

Albert Einstein was not an atheist; he did not deny or disbelieve the existence of a supreme universal power. He was a modern Western non-dualistic mystic whose religious views paralleled the most elevated non-dualistic ancient Vedic and Buddhist philosophies.

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

But Einstein’s mystical views – like his non-mechanistic science – have been very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because they question the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality.

Like those ancient non-dualistic mystics, 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”


And like non-dualistic Eastern mystics, he was reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe, whose Source he venerated, saying:

“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 was a non-dualistic mystic who venerated a supreme universal power which he called Universal Intelligence. He was not an atheist or a monotheist.

Thousands of years ago mystics were able to solve the deepest mysteries of physics with only their power of mind. Einstein made great strides in at long last reconciling modern physics with ancient mysticism.

May he ever inspire contemporary scientists to transcend mechanistic mental blinders and to merge physical science with mystical science, bringing us out of the darkness of ignorance into a bright new age of peace and harmony on our precious planet.

And so may it be!


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



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