Tag Archives | Swami Vivekananda

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, for example, http://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/)

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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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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Asking Unanswerable Questions


“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.”

“Whence come I and whither go I?

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.”

“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature.

And that is because, in the last analysis,

we ourselves are part of nature

and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate 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
“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.”
~ Albert Einstein





Have you ever wondered how our space/time universe began?  

Did it just appear from nothing?  What is its source – its matrix?  Was it created?  Was it intelligently designed?  Did it begin with a “big bang”?  How? When?  What exists beyond its beginning?  Will it ever end?  If so, will it begin again?  What is its purpose, if any?  Is it really real, or just a simulated or virtual reality – like a matrix?  Is it a holographic, fractal projection of Universal Awareness – our common Cosmic Consciousness? Can it ever be explained? Can we ever discover a provable theory explaining everything [“T.E.O”]?

If you’re curious or ever have wondered about any such questions, you’re quite unusual.  Except for some theoretical scientists, most people never think about them.  Or they simply accept and believe what some authority, professor, preacher, or spiritual teacher tells them.  Or they are in a state of psychological denial about anything or anyone challenging cherished beliefs.

Only after my mid-life spiritual awakening did I begin wondering, and sometimes writing, about the supposed philosophical meaning or purpose of earth life, if any.  And sometimes I have shared such writings on-line hoping to help inspire in readers a state of curiosity and wonder beyond our everyday existence.  Like a poem called “Cosmology Mythology: From Beyond The Beginning To The Beginning And Beyond” which intuitively speculates on how and why our cosmic reality might have originated.

Or like this verse:

Life is a metaphoric metamorphosis process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,

we learn all that matters —

we learn all that matters is

LOVE!


Whether or not my intuited verses seem true for you, I hope they help inspire us to reflect with wonder and amazement about our precious lives on this precious planet.  Such a state of wonder and awe can help us transcend long outdated materialistic world-views about ‘reality’ which may deter reverential realization of ONE timeless spiritual reality beyond materiality – a Universal Intelligence beyond, imagination, conception, comprehension or description.

Albert Einstein died while unsuccessfully seeking a unified field theory – a ‘theory of everything’ [T.E.O.] – which might explain “the great Mystery into which we were born.”  Theoretical scientists are continuing to search for such a formula.  And ever more non-materialist scientists – like Einstein and nobel laureate Max Planck – are approaching acceptance of a non-dualistic universal Intelligence or cosmic consciousness as the ultimate mysterious matrix of what we call space/time causality reality.

Hopefully, they may some day fulfill Swami Vivekananda’s prescient prediction that “Science and religion will meet and shake hands”.

Meanwhile, I have become experientially persuaded by Eastern non-duality philosophy that our ever impermanent space/time duality causality reality – often called samsara or maya –  is an endless illusionary projection of a mysterious Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, comprehension, imagination, or expression.  

Nonetheless our reflection on unanswerable cosmic questions may help us experience life-changing gratitude, awe and wonder about our miraculous causality reality concerning which Albert Einstein observed:  

“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Is Earth-life Purposeful?

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence.”
~ Aristotle
“One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life?
From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness
and does not want suffering.
Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this.
From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.
Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”

~ Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self.
Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self.
Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self.
The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“What are we here for?
We are here for freedom, for knowledge.
We want to know in order to make us free.
That is our life; one universal cry for freedom.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Our purpose is process –
metamorphic process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,
we learn all that matters –

we learn all that matters is LOVE!”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. 

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

~ Richard Bach





Q. Is earth-life purposeful?

A. Yes! We are here to learn and evolve.

Though some Eastern mystics may call this ever changing “reality”
a dream, maya, samsara, or illusion,
it is a marvelous and miraculous mental creation.

So how can anyone ever imagine earth-life to be without purpose?

Our purpose is process – metamorphic process.

Like unique facets of an infinitely faceted jewel,
each earth being has a unique perspective, but a common Source* –
which transcends this world, while everywhere immanent therein.

So, our purpose is harmoniously to realize and experience,
and to actualize from infinite perspectives,
our ONE transcendent Self identity.

As long as we believe ourselves to be seemingly circumscribed
and separated from the rest of our reality,

We incarnate to realize and to actualize
our common Self identity.

We learn until we leave.

But, we don’t leave until we learn –

LOVE!

Footnote.

*Innumerable names – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify that Source or any of its infinite aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “That” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.



Ron’s Commentary on Purpose of Life.

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered whether our human life has a purpose – individually or collectively? 
  
According to the Dalai Lama “What is the purpose of life?” is the “one great question [which] underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not”. He answers that question by simply stating “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

Since midlife, I  have found that reflecting about our life’s purpose if any has sparked a very helpful process of ever expanding happiness. Therefore many quotes, poems and essays posted on SillySutras have speculated on answers to that mysterious question.

Today I have shared the foregoing apt quotations and essay/poem to help us consider the purpose of life question.  In my experience reflection on life’s purpose, if any, helps us gradually realize that we are not who or what we were taught or ‘labeled’ to be, by society or by our mistaken reification of projected-perceptions.  

We are not merely our mortal bodies – their genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories; we are not the ‘voices in our heads’.  We are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles.  But ultimately ‘under the hood’ we’re all the same Cosmic Consciousness.  

By realizing and actualizing our common spiritual identity, may we transform and transcend this world of suffering. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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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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Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life

‘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 [Jnana Yoga]
“…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
“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]
“But if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will hold no location in place or time; which will be infinite, like the God it will preach; whose Sun shines upon the followers of Krishna or Christ, saints or sinners, alike; which will not be the Brahman or Buddhist, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its Catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms and find a place for every human being … It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognize a divinity in every man or woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be centered in aiding humanity to realize its divine nature.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

 

Swami Vivekananda, January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902 *


*In September 1893 in Chicago, USA, Swami Vivekananda reverently autographed the above photo with the handwritten inscription: “One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee”.


Introduction.

Today we commemorate the 154th birthday anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, a great nineteenth century Indian sage and orator, who first brought Vedic wisdom to large Western audiences when (as principle disciple of Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa) he was Indian delegate to the 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions.

Then and thereafter Vivekananda eloquently explained to Westerners principles of Hinduism and why according to Vedic Advaita philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world of space, time and causality is an unreal illusion; that “In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.” [Reenacted audio excerpts from his speeches are linked below.]

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein’s 1905 theory of special relativity by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until first explained by Vivekananda shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science.

Vivekananda experientially had realized as impermanent and illusory the appearance of our space, time, causality reality. From his rare level of non-dualist consciousness he shared many wise perennial teachings to guide our lives on Earth, including the Fifteen Laws of Life, which follow.

Written over a hundred years ago, these Vivekananda wisdom teachings remain perennially pertinent in these critical times. May they deeply inspire us to realize intellectually and experientially their fundamental truths.


Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life.

1. Love Is The Law Of Life: All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.

2. It’s Your Outlook That Matters: It is our own mental attitude, which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful; our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.

3. Life is Beautiful: First, believe in this world – that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!

4. It’s The Way You Feel: Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.

5. Set Yourself Free: The moment I have realised 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.

6. Don’t Play The Blame Game: Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.

7. Help Others: If money helps a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.

8. Uphold Your Ideals: Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.

9. Listen To Your Soul: You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

10. Be Yourself: The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!

11. Nothing Is Impossible: Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin – to say that you are weak, or others are weak.

12. You Have The Power: All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.

13. Learn Everyday: The goal of mankind is knowledge… now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man ‘knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what man ‘learns’ is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

14. Be Truthful: Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.

15. Think Different: All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.


Reenacted audio excerpts from Vivekananda talks at 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions.





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Advaita-Vedanta* For Dummies

“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.’
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi”
“Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“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
Essence Of Advaita
E = mc2 = Consciousness
Subject = Object = Consciousness
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Ramana Maharshi


You are not what you think you are:
You are not a person, or a personality.
You are not a body, or a nobody.
You are not your mind, or your thoughts.
You are infinite Eternal Awareness.

You are the screen, not the movie.
You are Rama, not the drama.
You are the glory, not the story.
You are the Whole, not your role.

So, wake up, and  –
Transcend entity identity!

* Advaita means non-dualism: it is
the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy



Ron’s audio recitation of Advaita-Vedanta For Dummies

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Ron’s Commentary on We are not what we think we are!

Dear Friends,

We are not what we think we are!

Posted above are crucial quotations and a poem “Advaita-Vedanta* For Dummies” emphasizing a pivotal spiritual message about our common self identity – as Non-Duality Reality.

And as a special treat embedded below is an inspiring 4 minute viral video by rapper Makmantis X with over 63 million Facebook views.
It is titled: “This literally made me question everything.”

The video, quotes and poem remind us that we are not who or what we are taught or ‘labeled’ to be, by society or by our mistaken self-perceptions.
 
We are not merely our mortal bodies – their genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories; we are not 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’.  

What we call “death” is just a vacation – eternal soul vacating temporary physical bodies.   So, there is no death or time, just Eternal NOW! 

May we be transformed and transcend this world of suffering by realizing and actualizing our common identity as Infinite Potentiality, Being, Awareness, Bliss; Eternal Peace, Life, Light, LOVE!
 
And so may it be!




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Clearing Consciousness

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”
~ Carl Jung
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
‘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 [Jnana Yoga]
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Consciousness is the basis of all life
 and the field of all possibilities.
Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential.
The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“It is only through a change of human consciousness that the world will be transformed. 
The personal and the planetary are connected. As we expand our awareness of mind, body,psyche, and spirit and bring that awareness actively into the world, so also will the world be changed.”
~ Michael Toms, New Dimensions Radio introduction
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything, you are 
essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Ramana Maharshi



“Christ consciousness”
“Cosmic consciousness”,
“Enlightened consciousness”,
“Buddha nature”


All are different terms connoting
the same universal substratum –
Unconditioned Awareness.

Ordinary human consciousness is
conditioned consciousness;

It is pure Awareness
conditioned by conceptions.

And our conceptual conditioning
determines our condition.

Everyone wants
enduring happiness,
freedom and love.

And what we seek,
we shall find –

As mindfully,
we decondition the mind.

As we lose illusory conceptual constraints,
we shall experience
ever expanding awareness,

And so we shall find –
enduring peace of mind.



Ron’s audio recitation of Clearing Consciousness

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Ron’s Commentary – Bernie Sanders is Transforming the World by Raising Human Consciousness

Bernie Sanders is Transforming the World by Raising Human…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Tuesday, April 5, 2016


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Free Will or Fate?

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

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

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

moving from one part of the room to another?”

A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

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

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

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

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

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






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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Only thoughtless, timeless, choiceless, non-dual Awareness,


ever



NOW!

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


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