Tag Archives | thinking

Voice In My Head?

“If you could get rid of yourself just once,
the secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
Forget who you think you are
to Know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence.
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth




Voice In My Head?

There’s a voice in my head.
It keeps talking to itself and to me,

Telling me my thoughts,
and telling me what to do,
and sometimes judging me.

What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

And someone’s always listening to that voice in my head.
What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

And someone’s always thinking for me.
What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

If I am that silent voice in my head constantly talking
to itself and to me, am I crazy?

If I was always talking to myself out loud
(without a cell phone at my ear),
I’d be committed to a psychiatric ward.

Sometimes I don’t think at all, and then there’s no voice in my head.
But, I’m still  aware and exist and can listen to other things.

So how can I be my thoughts or the voice in my head,
if I’m still here when they’re not there?

So can someone other than that voice in my head please tell me:
Who’s talking? Who’s thinking?  Who’s listening?

Who am I?



Ron’s recitation of Voice In My Head

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Ron’s Comments on Voice in My Head.

At age forty two I suddenly realized that I was not merely my physical body, its name and story, or its thoughts – the “voice in my head” – but that my true self identity is universal Awareness. That self identity experience was followed by previously unimagined, transformative and unprecedented experiences of peace, inner light, subtle energy and ecstasy.

Prior to that transformative experience, I was largely ignorant of Eastern or other spiritual teachings. But, spurred by great curiosity about what had happened to me, I gradually discovered that many spiritual teachings identified “ego” – our mistaken mental self image about who and what we truly are – as the principal barrier to spiritual “enlightenment”. And – especially from contemporary mindfulness teachings – I learned that identifying with the “voice in the head” was a major symptom of ego’s mistaken self image.

Though at midlife I temporarily transcended ego identity, it has kept recurring while steadily diminishing since then. So I have been experiencing gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. Today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming and rarely identifying with the “voice in my head”.

Eckhart Tolle.

Of all contemporary spiritual teachings I’ve read about “ego” and “voice in the head”, I especially endorse those of Eckhart Tolle in which he cogently explains how “thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence”. [see e.g. http://sillysutras.com/what-is-ego/ ]

The foregoing poem about “Voice in My Head” was based on my mystical experiences before I discovered Tolle’s teachings. But Tolle’s teachings about “ego” and “voice in the head” are especially powerful and helpful because they are based upon his extraordinarily powerful permanent spiritual awakening experience. (see http://sillysutras.com/eckhart-tolle-spiritual-awakening-story-and-teachings/)

Because often we can best assimilate and actuate spiritual principles through parables and stories, Eckhart Tolle’s awakening stories can help us comprehend the crucial transformative importance of self identification with eternal Awareness rather than with ego’s “voice in our head”.

In Tolle’s noteworthy book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Chapter Two, he observes that “Some people never forget the first time they disidentified from their thoughts and thus briefly experienced the shift in identity from being the content of their mind to being the awareness in the background.”

Whereupon he narrates his own such experience which happened several years before his dramatic permanent awakening experience. It is hereafter excerpted, with my sincere recommendation that if interested you read and reflect on Tolle’s teachings.

THE VOICE IN THE HEAD – excerpted from A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

That first glimpse of awareness came to me when I was a first year
student at the University of London. I would take the tube (subway) twice a
week to go to the university library, usually around nine o’clock in the
morning, toward the end of the rush hour. One time a woman in her early
thirties sat opposite me. I had seen her before a few times on that train. One
could not help but notice her. Although the train was full, the seats on either
side of her were unoccupied, the reason being, no doubt, that she appeared to
be quite insane. She looked extremely tense and talked to herself incessantly
in a loud and angry voice. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she was
totally unaware, it seemed, of other people or her surroundings. Her head
was facing downward and slightly to the left, as if she were addressing
someone sitting in the empty seat next to her. Although I don’t remember the
precise content, her monologue went something like this: “And then she said
to me… so I said to her you are a liar how dare you accuse me of… when
you are the one who has always taken advantage of me I trusted you and you
betrayed my trust…”
There was the angry tone in her voice of someone who
has been wronged, who needs to defend her position lest she become
annihilated.

As the train approached Tottenham Court Road Station, she stood up
and walked toward the door with still no break in the stream of words
coming out of her mouth. That was my stop too, so I got off behind her. At
street level, she began to walk toward Bedford Square, still engaged in her
imaginary dialogue, still angrily accusing and asserting her position. My
curiosity aroused, I decided to follow her as long as she was walking in the
same general direction I had to go in. Although engrossed in her imaginary
dialogue, she seemed to know where she was going. Soon we were within
sight of the imposing structure of Senate House, a 1930’s highrise, the
university’s central administrative building and library. I was shocked. Was it
possible that we were going to the same place? Yes, that’s’ where she was
heading. Was she a teacher, student, an office worker, a librarian? Maybe she
was some psychologist’s research project. I never knew the answer. I walked
twenty steps behind her, and by the time I entered the building (which
ironically was the location of the headquarters of the “Mind Police” in the
film version of George Orwell’s novel, 1984), she had already been
swallowed up by one of the elevators.

I was somewhat taken aback by what I had just witnessed. A mature
first year student at twenty five, I saw myself as an intellectual in the
making, and I was convinced that all the answers to the dilemmas of human
existence could be found through the intellect, that is to say, by thinking. I
didn’t realize yet that thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of
human existence. I looked upon the professors as sages who had all the
answers and upon the university as the temple of knowledge. How could an
insane person like her be part of this?

I was still thinking about her when I was in the men’s room prior to
entering the library. As I was washing my hands, I thought: I hope I don’t
end up like her. The man next to me looked briefly in my direction, and I
suddenly was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t just thought those words,
but mumbled them aloud. “Oh my God, I’m already like her,” I thought.
Wasn’t my mind as incessantly active as hers? There were only minor
differences between us. The predominant underlying emotion behind her
thinking seemed to be anger. In my case, it was mostly anxiety. She thought
out loud. I thought – mostly – in my head. If she was mad, then everyone
was mad, including myself. There were differences in degree only.

The above incident not only gave me a first glimpse of awareness, it
also planted the first doubt as to the absolute validity of the human intellect.

A few months later, something tragic happened that made my doubt grow. On
a Monday morning, we arrived for a lecture to be given by a professor whose
mind I admired greatly, only to be told that sadly he had committed suicide
sometime during the weekend by shooting himself. I was stunned. He was a
highly respected teacher and seemed to have all the answers. However, I
could as yet see no alternative to the cultivation of thought. I didn’t realize
yet that thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are, nor
did I know anything about the ego, let alone being able to detect it within
myself.


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Take A Banker’s Holiday

“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it;
mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past, which is memory, a conditioned state.”
“Truth is not a memory, because truth is ever new, constantly transforming itself.
(M)emory is a hindrance to the understanding of what is.
The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the `mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
To think or not to think,
that is the question!

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking and Being can’t coexist.
So stop thinking and start Being.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Forget who you think you are
to Know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Mind is a ‘memory bank’ where we keep
all past recollections and conceptions.

We are all memory bankers, using our memory banks to think –
mostly constantly and compulsively.

So thinking is always past, not present.
Thoughts are then, while life is NOW – not then.

And life is perpetual, while thinking is optional.

So to live optimally,
Let’s live presently,
But think optionally –
Not constantly or compulsively.

Let’s lock-up our ‘memory banks’, and
Take a banker’s holiday –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Take A Banker’s Holiday

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Questions and Speculations About Thought

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
~Buddha
“A man is but the product of his thoughts;
what he thinks, he becomes.”
~ Gandhi
“This world is wrought with naught but thought.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Inner infinity spawns outer reality.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Whatever we think, do, or say, changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Nothing’s either good or bad,
but thinking makes it so.”
~ Shakespeare

All thoughts,
are thoughts
about thoughts.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
When all thoughts cease,
we are at peace.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Ron’s Introduction to His Ruminations and Speculations About Thought:

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I had accepted my thoughts and rational powers of discrimination as part of life associated with my physical body and brain, but never considered or understood the miraculous power of thought or the nature and importance of the thought process, or of what we call the mind.
 
Then, on New Years Eve 1974/5, I had a life changing (out of body) OOB experience in which I perceived each of my thoughts as a separate surreal vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

Whereupon, after that OOB experience, I began to reflect deeply about the power and nature of thought.

Ultimately, from inner and outer experiences I surmised that our entire space/time/causality reality arises only from our projected thought forms; that our reality isn’t ‘real’, but merely a holographic and kaleidoscopic theater of the mind which Albert Einstein correctly described as “merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”; and with his observation that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

Mindfully watching my thoughts and learning to choose or still or them has been tremendously helpful in bringing me a happy life. And I have learned that happiness is a choice; that our thoughts can be powerfully important, and that “when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.” 

Thus I’ve become convinced that learning to choose our thoughts and mental attitude can bring us great happiness. And I encourage you to join me in attentively watching, guiding, and stilling the mind.

To inspire your curiosity about our miraculous power of thought, its origins and potentials, and how it functions, here are some of my musings.

Questions and Speculations About Thought

Q. What is thinking?

A. A process in awareness.


Q. What do we think about?

A. Past thoughts.


Q. What are thoughts?

A. Subtle energy forms arising in and from Awareness.


Q. Is all thought taught?

A. Most thoughts are taught thoughts.

Q. Is “creation” a thought process?

A. Yes, this is a mental reality.

“This world is wrought with naught but thought.”
“Inner infinity spawns outer reality.”



Q. Do we participate in “creation”?

A. Yes.

“Whatever we think, do, or say, changes this world in some way.”


Q. Can thoughts be habitual, subliminal or subconscious?

A. Yes, insofar as human consciousness is clouded and limited.

Q. Are there thoughts beyond brains?

A. Yes. Thoughts are subtle energy forms. Energy’s endless. So, thoughts can remain beyond the brain.

Q. Are thoughts “now” or “then”?

A. Thoughts are always from the past – ever “then”, never “now”;
while Life is “now” – ever now, never then.



Q. Are all your prior answers absolutely accurate?

A. God knows, I don’t.

These are Ron’s ruminations and speculations and ‘food for your thoughts’.

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Choosing Happiness: a Synchronicity Story About Rosa Luxemburg

“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.

Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,

go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.

Think of the beauty that again and again

discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”

~ Anne Frank

“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.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away.

Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably.

Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only.

Find your real Self and all else will come with it.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


Rosa Luxemburg, 1870-1919


I was writing an essay about happiness as a choice; and, saying: “Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our attitude and thoughts about those circumstances”. But, I was concerned whether SillySutra.com readers would question that statement absent some supporting confirmation. Whereupon, just as I was so reflecting, an eloquent, unexpected and previously unknown answer to my concern synchronistically arrived in my email in-box.

As I was writing, I received an email message enigmatically entitled “Breslau Prison, December 1917 — Rosa Luxemburg”. Wondering what this was about I stopped drafting the essay about choosing happiness, and opened the email. It contained an excerpt from a letter written from Breslau prison by Rosa Luxemburg, a “pacifist and revolutionary socialist, [who] was repeatedly imprisoned and eventually murdered by forces of the German Reich on January 15, 1919.” The letter excerpt eloquently fulfilled my wish for evidence that “it’s choice – not chance, free will – not destiny, that mostly determines our happiness.”

Until synchronistically receiving that mysterious message, I knew nothing about Rosa Luxemburg, so I consulted Dr. Google and Wikipedia, found an on-line copy of Rosa’s entire letter from Breslau prison, plus interesting biographies of her with photo portraits. I learned that Polish-born and Jewish “Red Rosa” had been the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and headed the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party; that she was a political and societal revolutionary who is now revered as ‘patron saint’ of the German left – a visionary icon like Che Guevara or Joan of Arc.

In 1917 after almost three years as an unjustly jailed political prisoner Rosa Luxemburg wrote from Breslau Prison to Sophie Liebknecht, a friend whose husband Karl Liebknecht was also a political prisoner. [Karl was co-founder with Rosa of the Spartacus League, the precursor to the German Communist Party, and like Rosa was later murdered by the German army.]

Instead of bemoaning her own fate, Rosa attempted to console Sophie who had been traumatically separated from Karl. Rosa expressed her motivation in writing thusly: “My one desire is to give you …. my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. ….. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”

Here are eloquent excerpts from Rosa’s extraordinary letter to Sophie:

“This is my third Christmas under lock and key, but you needn’t take it to heart. I am as tranquil and cheerful as ever. —– Last night my thoughts ran this-wise: ‘How strange it is that I am always in a sort of joyful intoxication, though without sufficient cause. Here I am lying in a dark cell upon a mattress hard as stone; the building has its usual churchyard quiet, so that one might as well be already entombed; through the window there falls across the bed a glint of light from the lamp which burns all night in front of the prison. —– I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom, and winter – and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in the brilliant sunshine across a flowery mead. And in the darkness I smile at life, as if I were the possessor of charm which would enable me to transform all that is evil and tragical into serenity and happiness.
But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause, and can only laugh at myself.’

“– I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself, this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet, if only one looks at it in the right way. The gride of the damp gravel beneath the slow and heavy tread of the prison guard is likewise a lovely little song of life – for one who has ears to hear.

“At such moments I think of you, and would that I could hand over this magic key to you also. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life; then you also could live in the sweet intoxication, and make your way across a flowery mead. Do not think that I am offering you imaginary joys, or that I am preaching asceticism. I want you to taste all the real pleasures of the senses. My one desire is to give you in addition my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. Could I do so, I should be at ease about you, knowing that in your passage through life you were clad in a star-bespangled cloak which would protect you from everything petty, trivial, or harassing.”


The letter ended with this postscript: “Never mind, my Sonyusha; you must be calm and happy all the same. Such is life, and we have to take it as it is, valiantly, heads erect, smiling ever – despite all.”

What can we learn from imprisoned Rosa Luxemburg’s “joyful intoxication” and “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”; her professed ability “at all times and in all places, … to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”?

Was such happiness her destiny or her choice? How was Rosa able to remain “tranquil and cheerful as ever” despite her unjust political imprisonment? How was Rosa able to selflessly and compassionately think of Sophie while suffering her own misfortune? Was there a causal relationship between Rosa’s selfless concern for others and her experience of tranquility and inner bliss? Can each of us – like Rosa Luxemburg – choose happiness with life “as it is”? Can each of us – like Rosa Luxemburg – find inner tranquility and an “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”?

My inner and outer experiences tell me that it is possible to choose happiness despite adverse outer circumstances; that there is within each of us an ever accessible and inexhaustible Source of eternal bliss.

What do you think?

~ Ron Rattner


Ron’s Commentary on Why Socialism? – The Politics of Spirituality and Morality:

Why Socialism? – The Politics of Spirituality and Morality Dear Friends,I respectfully suggest that controversial…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Friday, April 1, 2016


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‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quotes

“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
~ Rumi
“Love said to me,

there is nothing that is not me.

Be silent.”
~ Rumi
“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.”..
“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
~ Rumi


Silent Sunrise

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
~ Confucius

“There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters.
Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together.
Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to heaven.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“If you don’t know what God’s guidance for your life is,
you might try seeking in receptive silence.
I used to walk receptive and silent amidst the beauties of nature.
Wonderful insights would come to me which I then put into practice in my life.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself.

If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity,

then and there is silence.

She is audible to all men, at all times, in all places,
and if we will

we may always hearken to her admonitions.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“It is as though he listened
and such listening as his
enfolds us in a silence
In which at last
We begin to hear
What we are meant to be.”
~ Lao-Tzu

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
~ Mother Teresa

“One opens the inner doors of one’s heart to the infinite silences of the Spirit,
out of whose abysses love wells up without fail and gives itself to all.”

~ Thomas Merton

“My friend, I am not what I seem.
Seeming is but a garment I wear — a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
The “I” in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark.
The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“We search for Him here and there, while looking right at Him
Sitting by his side, we ask:
Oh Beloved, where is the Beloved?
Enough with such questions
Let silence take you to the core of life
All your talk is worthless when compared with one whisper of the beloved”
~ Rumi

“Each one of us is called to become that great song that comes out of the silence,
and the more we let ourselves down into that great silence the more we become capable of singing that great song.”
~ David Steindl-Rast

‎”After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.”
~ Baruch Spinoza

“Live laconically –
Speak little; say much.”
~ Ron Rattner (aka Swami Onandonananda)

Eschew pedantry, punditry, and prolixity,
and seek profundity –
in silence, simplicity and serenity.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Commentary on Silence:

‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quoteshttp://sillysutras.com/silence-sayings-and-quotes/Dear Friends,Have you ever noticed…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Friday, January 22, 2016

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What Are Illusions?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

~ Albert Einstein
“People … who believe in physics, know that
 the distinction between past, present, and future
 is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.

~ Alan Watts



Q. What are illusions?

A. Illusions are false ideas, conceptions, or beliefs,
accumulated and aggregated in the memory bank
that we call the “mind”.

Illusions are projections from the past
which obscure or obstruct our experience of the present.

We can’t live fully in the present,
when we are living partly in the past.

Illusions are mental obscurations.
They cloud or conceal our insight into That which is Real.

But, as we clear the ‘mirror of our mind’
of old illusory ideas and paradigms of
who and what we think we are,

We can and shall become ever more present,
insightful and illuminated – about what we really are.

So let us choose to lose our illusions.

For, the less we’re illusioned
the more we’re illumined.



Ron’s audio recitation of What are illusions?

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Transformation

“All things are vibrating energy fields in ceaseless motion. ….
What we perceive as physical matter
is energy vibrating (moving) at a particular range of frequencies.
Thoughts consist of the same energy
vibrating at a higher frequency than matter,
which is why they cannot be seen or touched.
Thoughts have their own range of frequencies,
with negative thoughts at the lower end of the scale
and positive thoughts at the higher.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth
“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 both for the field and matter, for the [Quantum] field is the only reality.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.
If you’re alive, it isn’t.”

~ Richard Bach
“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations

causes the [mistaken] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”

~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras
“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
Lofty intentions fuel our ascensions

to higher dimensions.
So, always aspire to be ever higher.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Transformation and
transfiguration
– like creation –
are vibration.

So, elevation
of vibration
of creation

brings transformation
and transfiguration
of manifestation.


Ron’s audio recitation of Transformation

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Ron’s Commentary on Transformation:

Transformation Dear Friends,Sillysutras.com was launched in May 2010 as a non-commercial spiritual website…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Saturday, December 12, 2015


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Go For The “God” Spot

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“The mind is like an elastic band.  The more you pull, the more it stretches.  Every time you feel limitations, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I am the Infinite,” and you will see what power you have.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer




Don’t complain
about your pain,

or of what you have,
or have not.

Just get into your brain,
and find the spot

where all you want –
you’ve got.




Ron’s audio recitation of Go For The “God” Spot

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Hsin Hsin Ming: Verses On The Faith Mind ~ by Seng-Ts’an, The Third Patriarch of Zen*

“My teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon.
Do not mistake the finger for the moon”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, quoting the Buddha’s Teachings
“There’s nothing to say, but words point the way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

HSIN HSIN MING:
VERSES ON THE FAITH MIND
Zen image004
by Seng-Ts’an,
The Third Patriarch of Zen*

Zen

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.
And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited:
Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things (your own nature)
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden
for everything is murky and unclear.
And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.

There is one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment
there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air –
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
such thoughts must
finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are,
of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.

In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises “not two”.
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.

So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

*The Hsin-Hsin Ming is a profound 6th Century non-dualistic perennial wisdom poem, first in the Ch’an (Chinese Zen) Buddhist tradition, attributed to the legendary third Zen patriarch, Seng Ts’an. Long regarded as a masterpiece by Zen practitioners, its essential non-dualistic message (influenced by Taoism) is that “When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state”. Thus any attachment, mental exertion or conceptual effort to characterize or distinguish impermanent perceptions precludes living an enlightened life – The Great Way, since words and concepts arise from illusion of duality and cannot describe timeless non-dual Truth, but merely point the way.
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Masterfully translated from Chinese to English by Roshi Dr. Richard B. Clarke (1933-2013), founder and First Teacher of The Living Dharma Center near Amherst, MA. this version is available elsewhere on-line and in print. Currently it is featured in “Teachings of the Buddha”, edited by Jack Kornfield, Shambala 2012, at pp. 143-9.

YouTube recitation by Ben Bigelow:



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Life Is NOW, Never Then!

“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Past is history,
Future’s mystery;
But, life is never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Time is how
We measure now.
But, life is never when.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.



Ron’s audio singing of Life Is NOW, Never Then!

Listen to


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