Tag Archives | Thought

What is Ego?

“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“I hold three treasures
 close to my heart.

The first is love;

The next simplicity;

The third, overcoming ego.”
~ Lao Tzu
“When I let go of what [I think] I am,
I become what I might be.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama
“A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


Q. What is ego?

A. Ego is what you think you are –

If you don’t self-identify with Universal Awareness, Nature or Divinity.

And your body is your ego incarnate.

As you learn what you really are,
you’ll change what you think you are –

Until without thinking what you are
or who you are,

You just ARE.

Here are some helpful quotations:

“When you think or speak about yourself, when you say, “I,” what you usually refer to is “me and my story.” This is the “I” of your likes and dislikes, fears and desires, the “I” that is never satisfied for long. It is a mind-made sense of who you are, conditioned by the past and seeking to find its fulfillment in the future. Can you see that this “I” is fleeting, a temporary formation, like a wave pattern on the surface of the water?”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

“As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it …it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. …..As long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtained what you wanted, when a craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness. From an experiential point of view, what is ego covering up? It’s covering up our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are, so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience. Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well being, unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.”
~ Pema Chodron

“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is—rather literally—to be spellbound.
~ Alan Watts

“When the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but
as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious.”
~ Alan Watts

“The ego says that the world is vast, and that the particles which form it are tiny. When tiny particles join, it says, the vast world appears. When the vast world disperses, it says, tiny particles appear. The ego is entranced by all these names and ideas, but the subtle truth is that world and particle are the same; neither one vast, neither one tiny. Every thing is equal to every other thing. Names and concepts only block your perception of this Great Oneness. Therefore it is wise to ignore them. Those who live inside their egos are continually bewildered: they struggle frantically to know whether things are large or small, whether or not there is a purpose to joining or dispersing, whether the universe is blind and mechanical or the divine creation of a conscious being. In reality there are no grounds for having beliefs or making comments about such things. Look behind them instead, and you will discern the deep, silent, complete truth of the Tao. Embrace it, and your bewilderment vanishes.”
~ Lao Tzu

“The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth. Understand this if nothing else: spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao are not randomly bestowed gifts, but the rewards of conscious self-transformation and self-evolution.”
~ Lao Tzu

Q: “How much “ego” do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Ron’s audio recitation of What is Ego?
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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

Zen image004
by Seng-Ts’an,
The Third Patriarch of 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.

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.

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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How Can We Become Immortal?

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
What is birth? Is it of the “I-thought” or of the body?
Is “I” separate from the body or identical? How did this “I-thought” arise?
Is the “I-thought” your nature? Or is something else your nature?
The “I” of the wise man includes the body but he does not identify himself with the body.
For there cannot be anything apart from “I” for him.
If the body falls, there is no loss for the “I”. “I” remains the same.
If the body feels dead, let it raise the question. Being inert, it cannot “I”.
“I” never dies and does not ask. Who then dies? Who asks?
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Q. How can we become immortal?

A. To become immortal,

BE more than a mortal.


What lives? What dies?

What exists? What persists?


That every thing and every phenomenon
that arises and appears on the screen of our consciousness

Is but a fleeting mirage projected in space/time,
by and within the Light of Eternal Awareness;

That nothing is permanent in the ever changing universe,
where all that appears, disappears.

Be aware:

That only Eternal Awareness
exists and persists beyond time.

So, to be immortal, don’t just be a mortal –

BE Eternal Awareness –


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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!

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What Is Life?

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
~ Crowfoot, 1890
“Life is everything. Life is God.
Everything changes and moves and that movement is God. . .
To love life is to love God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. 
If you’re alive, it isn’t.
~ Richard Bach

Throughout human history philosophers have speculated on perennially puzzling questions of life’s meaning, if any.

Especially following my 1992 retirement from legal practice,
I sometimes ‘channelled’ different theories about the meaning of life.

I share some with you now, not as spiritual truths but as mental speculations, in case you may – as I did – sometimes wonder why we’re here.

In reading them please remember that with a silent mind there are no questions and no answers – just choiceless awareness.

Life is a word – an idea – with many meanings which are mental, not fundamental.
As beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
the meaning of “life” is what we think it to be.

But beyond our space/time/causality “reality” Life is not mental,
but Transcendental:
Life is Eternal Mystery.

Life is awakened Awareness.

Life is infinite experience
Of Infinite Potentiality
From infinite perspectives.

What is death?
In space/time polarity/causality reality,
life implies death;
life is the opposite of death.

So to know the meaning of life,
we must know the meaning of death.
When we Know the meaning of both life and death,
we shall know no death –
only awakened Awareness.

Life is aliveness.

Life is an “in a body” experience.

Life is a continuous identity crisis:
An endless opportunity to transcend
entity identity.

Life is an idea game
in which we’re challenged
to make ideal
our ideas of what’s “real”.

Life is endless exploration of NOW.

Life is an experience/experiment in space/time.

Life is a semantic space/time sojourn.

Life is a round trip metaphoric journey,
on which we are destined to return to point of origin.
On return, we learn – we never left.

Life is a journey: an ego trip.
Life is a journey: a mind trip.

Life is a workshop for ego addicts; an ego trip.

Life is a healing/wholing gnosis process.

Life is a metaphoric metamorphosis process.
Gleaning meaning in matter,
we learn all that matters —
we learn all that matters is

Life is a mind field –
a field of dreams,
where all we ever see or seem
is but a dream within a dream.

Life is a cosmic game of hide and seek.
Self hides in plain insight
and, knowingly or unknowingly,
we seek Self.
We seek and seek until we find
beyond the mind,
that we are what we seek –
that what we seek is the seeker.

Life is a learning laboratory
for discovering immortality –
experimentally and experientially.

Life is suffering;
Life is mystery.

Life’s miseries are mental,
while it’s mystery is Transcendental.

Life is a cosmic masquerade;
an endless comedy/tragedy/mystery drama.
The masquerade play continues with countless acts and scenes.

Each actor must participate in innumerable roles,
until each is ultimately unmasked,
with true identity revealed as
Common “I-ness”.

Life is a mystery school
in which knowingly or unknowingly
we are all students –
each learning about,
and  seeking to solve,
the same Mystery –
the mystery of Divinity.

Though we may never solve it,
we shall ever evolve it –

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Memory is “Maya”

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
Mind and memory are then,
while life is NOW.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Memory is “maya”*.
Memory is mind.
Memory is mentality,

Not Reality.

Memory is then,
Life is NOW.

So transcend “maya” memory.

Forget what you think you are, and
Be what you really are:

Eternal Life

Ever NOW!

* “Maya” is a Sanskrit word meaning illusion; not THAT which is beyond illusion

Ron’s audio comments and recitation of Memory is “Maya”

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Beyond Being: Infinite Awareness— Ever NOW

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein ( N. Y. Times , March 29, 1972)

Humans are but blips
in a boundless Ocean of Infinite Awareness.

Individuated humans are limited by thoughts:

Thoughts that create the “universe”;
Thoughts that divide Awareness
as a prism divides light.

Mind is matrix; consciousness is context.

“Human consciousness” is an idea –
a thought which seems to limit boundless Awareness.

But in Reality consciousness can’t be contained.

Time and space are mere modes of thought,
as are matter, energy, and spirit.

Time is how we measure Now,
and space is for the places where we
think we are in time.

So, in space/time, human body/mind/souls
are seemingly separate and circumscribed beings.

But in Reality,
we are ONE.

Beyond being:

Eternally boundless
Infinite Awareness –
Ever NOW.

Ron’s audio recitation of Beyond Being- Infinite Awareness— Ever NOW

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Harmonic Resonation: Sutra Sayings

“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda

Quicken and be
in harmony.

The higher your entrainment,
the greater your attainment.

Don’t disrupt and polarize,
but syncretize and harmonize.

Live harmlessly
in harmony.

Stay in cosmic synchrony,
as you play in Nature’s symphony.

How can there be harm in me
when I am perfect harmony?

As harmony we stay
out of harm’s way.

Let us consciously live conflict-free
as constant cosmic Harmony.

Lovingly let us ever Be
thought-free perfect Harmony.

Ron’s audio recitation of Harmonic Resonation- Sutra Sayings

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“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think”

~ Albert Einstein
“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung
‘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]
“All concepts in consciousness are Consciousness.
But for name – subject and object are same.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Objectivity is an illusory impossibility.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Essence Of Nondualism:
Consciousness = Subject = Object = Self
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Q. Where does subject end, and object begin?

A. Nowhere.


Everything’s energy everywhere.

Energy’s endless,
So everything’s endless.

But we mistakenly believe what we perceive.

Thus, as Einstein observed:

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

Subject and object are mere ways of thinking –
perceptual/conceptual projections of Cosmic Consciousness,
which is our true Self.

As twentieth century Indian sage Sri Ramana Maharshi observed:

“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything,
you are essentially conscious of yourself.”


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From Role Life To Whole Life

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:”
~ William Shakespeare – As You Like It 2/7
In the theater of life, personality is not reality.
Reality is the whole, while personality is a role.
So, play your role passionately,
but don’t take it personally.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“You are awareness, disguised as a person.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks
“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
~ Albert Einstein

William Shakespeare


In the theater of life we each play a role
with which most people identify themselves.

Each role is a mere bundle of thought forms:
Self identification ideas conceived in and from the past,
which we call our personality or life story.

So if we identify with a role,
we identify with and live in the past.

But life can never be lived in the past,
only in the present – the NOW.

And we can never be NOW
while thinking we are then.

So to live as the NOW
we must identify as the NOW –

As Eternal Awareness – Presence –

And not as our past personality role.

Identifying as Awareness,
we live authentically –

A Whole life, not a role life.

Ron’s audio recitation of From Role Life To Whole Life

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