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Afterlife

Brains

“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“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
“Looking for consciousness in the brain,
is like looking inside a radio for the announcer…”
~ Nassim Haramein





Brains

Brains do not create consciousness;
consciousness creates brains.

With brains we’re ‘tuned’
to transmute Infinite Potentiality
to terrestrial “normality”.

Brains transduce and decode
‘chaotic cosmic totality’ to
ordered earth–life “reality”.



Ron’s Audio Recitation of “Brains”

Listen to

Ron’s Comments about “Brains” and Human Consciousness

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem and quotations consider a crucially important spiritual question – whether human consciousness remains beyond death of human brains. 

Upon advent of Newtonian physics in the 18th century, Western science adopted a materialistic paradigm with theories of ‘reality’ based only on measurable “objective” observations.  But because consciousness is purely subjective and immeasurable, materialist scientists have failed to include awareness in their theories explaining space/time “reality”.   Even though quantum physicists have for over a century shown that materialist paradigms are inadequate to describe or explain our “reality”, mainstream scientists have adamantly adhered to their inflexible insistence on using only measurable allegedly “objective” data to explain important phenomena.  

Unable to explain immeasurable human consciousness, which is the matrix of all experience, most mainstream scientists unscientifically assert – without any valid corroborating proof whatsoever – that human brains create human consciousness.  

Gradually, this unsupported and insupportable pseudo-scientific assertion has been rejected by non-materialist scientists based on ever accumulating empirical evidence of subtle reality beyond space/time and causality; evidence that non-locality is Reality; that everything/everyone’s is connected everywhere – NOW.

There now exists overwhelming scientific evidence that human consciousness and mind can exist independent of physical bodies.  For example observations of children world-wide with detailed memories of other lifetimes have indicated that reincarnation or rebirth can happen after death of the brain and physical body.  And especially since development of technologies which enable resuscitation of heart attack victims,  millions of people have credibly reported amazingly transformative near death experiences (NDE’s) with continuing consciousness, when according to accurate scientific instrumentation they were “brain-dead”. (See video embedded below.) 

After my unforgettable OOB experience of seeing my body from a ceiling, and seeing my thoughts manifest as separate kaleidoscopic thought-forms outside my body or brain, [See Beginning a New Year and a New Life With a New Mystery]  I began to realize that consciousness and mind are independent of physical bodies; that our physical bodies and brains are not originators of consciousness and mind, but their receptors, tuners and transducers.  Also, my visions of apparent other lifetimes and of deceased beings, like Gandhi, my father and maternal grandfather, further supported that realization, and began to convince me of eternal life after physical death, and that reincarnation or rebirth can happen after death of the brain and physical body.

These realizations have led to an increasingly happy life with diminishing fear of death and ever increasing self-identification with eternal spirit, rather than with my mortal physical form, its thoughts and its story.  Moreover, realization that we share a common consciousness with all life-forms and with our precious planet has been irreversibly transformative, and key to living an increasingly empathetic compassionate and loving lifetime. 

May the foregoing poem and quotes encourage our deep reflection and transformative realization that eternal Life remains beyond our brains; that brains do not create consciousness; but that consciousness creates brains – and all other forms and phenomena. 

And may such reflection and realization help us to live ever happier lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Video interview of Dutch cardiologist and author Pim Van Lommel about ‘Consciousness and The Near Death. Experience’  



Evolutionary Impetus

“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
“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
“Man’s highest aspiration – his seeking for perfection, his longing for freedom and mastery, his search after pure truth and unmixed delight – is in flagrant contradiction with his present existence and normal experience. Such contradiction is part of Nature’s general method; it is a sign that she is working towards a greater harmony. The reconciliation is achieved by an evolutionary progress.

 Life evolves out of Matter, Mind out of Life, because they are already involved there: Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Mind, May not Mind be a form and veil of a higher power, the Spirit, which would be supramental in its nature? 

Man’s highest aspiration would then only indicate the gradual unveiling of the Spirit within, the preparation of a higher life upon earth.”
~ Sri Aurobindo
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Cosmic consciousness is infinite evolutionary impetus in each of us.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every adversity is an evolutionary opportunity
for everyone, everything, everywhere.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


toward the Source


Evolutionary Impetus

Q. Is human spiritual evolution possible? If so, is it optional or inevitable?

A. Humankind are self conscious integral aspects of a conscious, orderly and harmonious universe.
As part of such conscious cosmic order, there is an evolutionary impetus in each of us for ever expanding universal consciousness to experience itself.

We are all “pre-programmed” to transcend ego’s “optical illusion” of seeming separation as body forms from all other forms (and so from the universe), by evolving from this separation illusion to experiential realization of cosmic Oneness of all forms and phenomena as undivided Awareness.

Our universe is an ever oscillating and vibrating energy “reality”.
So, our evolutionary pre-programming involves subtle vibratory vortices – or chakras – each potentially resonant with ever ascending vibratory levels of Awareness.   As evolutionary energy – sometimes called kundalini – is awakened and activated in each being it gradually purifies and eventually opens these subtle energy centers, until ultimate transcendence is attained.

Everything that happens to us until we transcend ego’s “optical illusion” is in our best interest, because it affords an opportunity to evolve.

Although our evolutionary “pre-programming” assures that such transcendence is ultimately inevitable, our progress rate is optional, depending on what we think, do and say – individually and collectively – while misidentifying ourselves as separate.

For example, compassionate words, thoughts and deeds hasten spiritual evolution, while selfishness deters it.
But, cosmic consciousness will eventually provide life experiences leading to transcendence.

Paradoxically, life’s most painful and difficult experiences often prove the best evolutionary opportunities, and biggest blessings,
because they most challenge and motivate surrender of ego misidentification and provide greatest transcendence incentives.

So, human spiritual evolution is inevitable, but rate of evolutionary progress is optional.



Ron’s explanation and comments about “Evolutionary Impetus”

Dear Friends,

Throughout world history, philosophers and theologians have perennially asked:

‘How could an all loving, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Divinity have created this world with so much suffering, evil, violence, and misery?’

For example, influential German Christian philosopher Gottfried Leibniz optimistically postulated that God created Earth, though imperfect, as  “the best of all possible worlds”.  In his Theodicée, published in 1710, Leibniz described a harmonious universe in which all events are linked by cause and effect, and in which apparent evil is compensated by some greater good that may not be evident to the limited human mind. 

French philosopher Voltaire sharply satirized and questioned that optimistic philosophy in his popular novella, “Candide”.  Without addressing subtleties of Leibniz’ philosophy, or possible causes of evil, karma or ‘original sin’, Voltaire’s protagonist “Candide” discovers, after many emotional ups and downs, that everything does not seem to happen for the best; and he concludes that each person must learn from past mistakes, and proceed stoically with kindness and virtue, no matter the pain and difficulties confronted. 

After many years of experience and reflection, I have adopted a philosophy more harmonious with Leibniz than Voltaire: that everything in space/time does happen for the best – to afford impetus for spiritual evolution; that human suffering, evil, and misery are not “created” by God but by mysterious karmic causes and conditions arising from unskillful Human behaviors; that what many call “God” is indescribable, impersonal and nonjudgmental Universal Awareness which is the mysterious Source and ever immanent Essence of space/time “reality”.  I have also adopted the non-dualist philosophy that our ever impermanent energy “reality” is like a mental mirage, arising only from projected Human thought; that true Reality is universal Infinite Potentiality beyond the Human mind.   

In many Silly Sutras postings I have shared these philosophies, to encourage others to decide for themselves about such perennial questions. So, my theories are not offered as expressing ultimate spiritual truths, but to inspire our intuitive and experiential introspection on ideas (often paradoxical), about who and what we are and our life’s purpose and plan, if any.

Retrospectively, I have become convinced that my life has unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing Ron’s life-plan script. Accordingly, my attitude toward life’s inevitable ups and downs became that everything happens ‘for the best’ – to promote our evolution; that in every adversity there is an evolutionary opportunity. (See e.g. I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life. )  So, paradoxically life’s most painful and difficult experiences often prove the best evolutionary opportunities, and biggest blessings, because they most challenge and motivate surrender of ego misidentification and provide greatest transcendence incentives. 
 
The above posting, “Evolutionary Impetus”,  considers whether human spiritual evolution is possible, and if so, whether it is inevitable or optional.  And it elaborates my philosophy that whatever happens to us until we transcend ego’s “optical illusion” of separateness is in our best interest, because it affords incentive to evolve.  It suggests that human spiritual evolution is inevitable, but that rate of progress is optional depending on our behaviors while misidentifying ourselves as separate entities. 

May these philosophical theories inspire our continuing intuitive and experiential introspection about who and what we are, and our life’s purpose and plan, if any.

And may they help us find ever more joy and fulfillment in our unique life experiences.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Can We Be Born-Again?
~ Ron’s Memoirs and Quotations

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is 
our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ 

Leo Tolstoy

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again,
till they return to Him.”
~ Koran

“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3

“Lord Krishna said: …. The learned neither laments for the dead or the living. Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future. Just as in the physical body of the embodied being is the process of childhood, youth and old age; similarly by the transmigration from one body to another the wise are never deluded.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“But know that by whom this entire body is pervaded, is indestructible. No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable….”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“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.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna



© Elizabeth Lyle, www.dreamingheart.com



CAN WE BE BORN-AGAIN?

We’re born –
and born-again,

And born-again,
and born-again,

Until when –

We realize
we were never ever born.

And then –
we’re never born again.



Ron’s comments and recitation of “Can We Be Born-Again?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Can We Be Born-Again?”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “Born-Again” poetic essay explores the perennial mystery of inevitable bodily death by whimsically addressing possible afterlife, rebirth or reincarnation. The poem was written only after an extended reflective process, hereafter described.

In online spiritual memoirs – tentatively titled: “From Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond”: An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from Secular Hebrew; to Born-again Hindu; to Uncertain Undo – I have told how after a midlife spiritual awakening I began experiencing gradual inner transformation.

After meeting my Guruji from India, I was soon calling myself a “Born-again Hindu”, with extreme enthusiasm about encountering such a great yogi.   (See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master )  Initially I only considered myself to be “Born-Again” psychologically – but not physically. 

Later, after much reflection, I accepted Hindu and Buddhist theories of physical rebirth or reincarnation – that all humans are repeatedly ‘born again’ in supposedly separate bodies with separate karmic destinies, until achieving the spiritual ‘goal’ of Self-realization or merger with ONE mysterious Divine Source and matrix.

Ultimately, after many amazing mystical experiences, I further accepted ancient Eastern non-duality teachings questioning the reality of any rebirth because this ever impermanent space/time duality reality is an illusory and unreal play of Cosmic consciousness – maya or samsara. Such non-dualist teachings like Advaita-Vedanta say that humans egoically and mistakenly mentally self-identify with their optical illusions of apparent separation from each other and Nature until “enlightenment” or Self-realization. Whereupon the illusion of separation and duality ends forever.

My recognition and acceptance as true Reality of spiritual non-duality was validated and corroborated when I learned of Einstein’s revolutionary discoveries about space/time that:

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

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”


“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 [quantum] field and matter, for the field is the only [manifest] reality.”


So I began believing that we were never truly born or reborn in space/time, which is merely “an optical illusion of consciousness.” But I realized that only very rare Buddha-like beings who non-dually merge with Cosmic consciousness need never be “Born-Again”.

However it seems apparent that the vast majority of humans remain karmically compelled to continue existing as space/time entities until overcoming all vestiges of our hallucination of separation from each other, from Nature, and from our sole Source and spirit.

Though still evolving, I have been experiencing ever growing happiness and ever less fear of death by self identifying as Eternal spirit rather than as a merely mortal physical body – more and more as Ram and less and less as Ron. So I consider Ron as a gradually disappearing ‘fundamentalist non-dualist’.

Because fear of inevitable physical death remains a major societal issue, impeding our spiritual evolution, I hope that my “rebirth” writings and story will help all of us transcend such fear, and thereby lead ever happier lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Afterlife?

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“It is crucial to be mindful of death —
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ Dalai Lama – From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life”
(written with Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD)
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.

~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“It is in dying to ego life,

that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”

~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)





Afterlife?

Q:  Is there an afterlife?
A:   After-life is NOW.

Q:  Is there life after death?
A:  There is no death – only Life.

Q:  Then, what is it we call death?
A:  A vacation – eternal life-force vacating a transient vehicle.



Ron’s Comments on “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

The mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue. To encourage our conscious curiosity about inevitable physical death I have posted the foregoing poetic essay, whimsically suggesting that there is no death or afterlife – only Eternal Life NOW.

Have you ever reflected on your inevitable physical death,
even if you are not old or infirm?

Have you considered the mystery of what if anything happens after bodily death?

Are you fearful of death?
If so, why?
If not, why not?

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But for many years it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Euphemistic language was used to describe death. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life; they usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

Today fear of death remains a major societal issue, impeding spiritual evolution, especially for Westerners.  Such fear arises from mistaken ego identification as merely the mortal physical body rather than the eternal life-force which enlivens the body.  But gradually millions of people are transcending fear of death, and leading happier lives after near death [NDE], out of body [OOB] and other mystical experiences.

Following my midlife spiritual awakening I came to realize that conscious contemplation of physical death can be spiritually important and helpful.
 
On meeting my beloved Guruji, 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 for Self-realization, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.   Ultimately his questions were answered through meditative experience.  Thereafter he taught that:


“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


After meeting Tibetan Buddhists I learned that they encourage frequent contemplation of physical death as a spiritual practice for optimizing opportunities of this precious lifetime, and in preparation for an auspicious next lifetime.  

Thus the Dalai Lama has written that:


“It is crucial to be mindful of death —  
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life” by Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD



Inspired by Guruji, the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans, and by numerous inner experiences, I developed deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma.  And gradually I have realized the importance of these subjects.

So on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems about these subjects, which I commend to your attention.
(Eg. See “related” posts linked below.)

Especially after being run down and seriously injured by a taxicab in 2014, more than ever before I now frequently contemplate my inevitable – and perhaps imminent – death, with unspeakable gratitude for this precious human lifetime and for the evolutionary opportunities and happiness it has brought me.
 
Gratefully I have learned from experience that life is eternal and that
“as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.”

So I hope that this posting helps us find growing happiness free from fear of inevitable physical death.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

Tribute to Betty Bethards (9/23/33 – 7/30/02)

“Life is eternal. There is no death. If people correctly understood death, they would no longer have any fear of the unknown”. . . . “What we think of as life and death are merely transitions, changes in the rate of vibration in a continual process of growth and unfoldment.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” pp. 90-91
“Overcoming the fear of death changes our whole perspective on life. Everything we do and think and feel takes on new meaning. When we realize that we are not limited by the physical, we begin to get the idea that we are really master of our own destinies and we more fully align ourselves with the eternal nature of our beings.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” p.83
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“To be afraid of dying is like being afraid of discarding an old worn-out garment.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas



Betty Bethards (9/23/33 – 7/30/02)




Ron’s Introduction.

Soon after my spiritual opening, I met Betty Bethards who then was a prominent San Francisco Area author, meditation teacher, healer and psychic/mystic counselor. For many years I had a harmonious rapport and an important friendship with Betty. And I continue to honor her because her teachings, readings and friendship were significant and helpful in furthering my spiritual evolution, and because her readings helped many friends who I referred to Betty.

So I now share this tribute to honor Betty and to acquaint you with some of her spiritual teachings, which live on and continue helping many people – fifteen years since her July 2002 transition.

Because I always appreciated Betty’s down to earth, pithy yet clear and simple language, understandable to most ordinary people, I have recommended her books and audio recordings which are still available at her foundation here.

Betty’s History.

At age 32 Betty was a middle class mother of four boys, and a professional bowler, when she experienced a transformative classic near death experience long before the term NDE was coined and widely publicized by Dr. Raymond Moody, Jr.. She described her NDE experience in her first published book, “There is No Death”, written about death and dying to comfort the bereaved and ailing.

That book was especially powerful because it came from Betty’s dramatic experience of surviving apparent physical “death” and her continuing communications with supposedly deceased souls, including her two eldest sons who later died in Viet Nam and in a California motorcycle accident. Also it recounts inspiring true stories about how people who consulted Betty transcended their fear of death. [She autographed my copy of “There is No Death” with the insightful comment: “Death is but a bridge to life!” ]

Before we met, Betty had formed the Inner Light Foundation [ILF], promoting development of individual spirituality. For many years, she spoke monthly at local SF area church venues and gave psychic readings with mystic counseling at her North Bay foundation office. Raised as fundamentalist Baptist she ultimately gave universal spiritual teachings encompassed by most enduring religious paths, and she became an exemplar and channel for the path of Love.

Rather than promoting herself as a leader, Betty tried to teach others to develop their own spiritual potentials. Thus one of her nine books was titled: “Be Your Own Guru”. Others included: “”Techniques for Health and Wholeness,” “Seven Steps to Developing Your Intuitive Powers,” and “The Dream Book,” interpreting over 1,600 dream symbols, and helping readers to remember and find guidance and inspiration from their dreams.

Once when I was invited by Betty for a private New Years Eve dinner at her home in Petaluma, I learned that she had received as a gift – apparently from the Dalai Lama of Tibet, whom she’d never met – a beautiful Tibetan hand crafted mandala scroll or thangka. Thereafter, though many people regarded Betty a teacher of ‘meditation for the middle class’, I called her a ‘Baptist Bodhisattva’, who humbly and without self-aggrandizement was lovingly dedicated to helping all sentient beings develop their spiritual potentials.

Her energy field was so palpably powerful that many people often felt uplifted just being in her presence. Often when I was talking in person or by phone with Betty (and certain other ‘high energy’ friends with whom I felt special rapport) I experienced elevated energy, as if our subtle energy fields had synergistically expanded.

Since Betty’s July 2002 transition, her teachings still bless this world. And her transformative work may be continuing ‘from the other side’.

Betty’s NDE Story and Teachings Excerpted from “There is No Death”.

Betty Bethards

1. Near-Death Experience.

My first experience with death challenged all my old beliefs about the nature of reality and why we are here in the first place. I learned that if we are ever to come to terms with the meaning of our lives here on Earth, we must understand the meaning of death. Only then can we see it with a total perspective, fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Otherwise, nothing makes much sense.

I returned home one night from a bridge game with a burning sensation in my chest and went right to bed. An hour later I awoke to find myself hovering over the bed about two feet above my body. A voice said to me, “You’re going to be very sick with pneumonia. Get to a doctor”. [After two doctor visits which did not help her, she ran a temperature of 103 to 105 degrees and was on the road to death.]

Suddenly I was twenty feet across the room. Everything I considered “Betty” to be -memory, personality, senses -was looking back at that shell on the couch. I thought, “Gee, she’s sick. I don’t want to go back.”

Then a very gentle voice said from behind me, “You don’t have to go back, but this is death if you choose to stay.”

I had a body which appeared the same, was wearing the same clothes, and was raised about two feet off the floor. I wasn’t frightened at all, but felt wonderfully enveloped in peace. I knew then how Jerry had appeared to me ten years earlier. It was as if I could see things clearly, and knew that there was no such thing as death. I realized then that one never dies, but changes vibrations, and goes on living and learning on other levels.

I really didn’t want to go back. But then I started seeing pictures of my four children flash before me. It was a tricky way to get me to make up my mind to return to the Earth plane and finish what I was supposed to do. I was fine with seeing each child, knowing they could take care of themselves without me, until I saw my eighteen month old son. I knew he still needed me, and at that point I made my decision. I had to go back.

As soon as I thought this, the voice said to me again, “Unless you take an antibiotic within the next twenty-four hours, you will no longer have a choice of whether you wish to remain on the Earth plane.”

It was after this experience that I knew there was no death and that it wasn’t the way I had been taught to believe. I didn’t know how it was, but I was determined to find out. I had to wait two years before the teachings began coming to me.
[Within this period of time, Betty became more and more psychic until she was able to communicate with her spirit guides.]

2. Not the Same For Everyone.

When the soul has been exposed to the opportunities it chose for a particular lifetime, it is allowed a release from the physical body. The soul knows when the time for release has come. Death is easy – life is hard work.

Death is not the same for everyone. It depends upon how you have prepared yourself during that incarnation, how old a soul you are, how evolved your awareness, and what lessons you chose to learn through the death experience. You may have chosen to learn courage and to build strength through a physical death with suffering. People who die slow deaths from such things as cancer or strokes are often givers who have never learned how to receive. Their souls may choose a slow death in order to allow others to give to them. But you can learn your lesson and move beyond the need for pain and suffering in dying. You may, in fact, have chosen a fast and easy death. Either way it is not a punishment, but a process of growth for both you and those around you. It allows you and others to work through difficult situations with kindness and compassion.

3. Seeing the Invisible.

When you approach the time of death, often you’re able to see relatives who have crossed over standing around you. The etheric body slips easily in and out of the physical, and many times a person near-death talks to beings who are invisible to others. Doctors for the most part think you are hallucinating, but you’re not. Whether death comes rapidly or slowly, your loved ones know ahead of time when you are coming, and are there, prepared and waiting, happy that you have been released.

4. The Tunnel and the Light.

First, you may experience your whole life flashing in front of you much as a drowning person reports this experience. Next, you will go through what appears to be a dark tunnel or dark tube which has a very bright light at the end. Most entities are just drawn to the light without anyone saying, “Go to the light.” It’s a past soul memory of having left the body many times, and knowing what to do.

This light is from higher astral levels, and you follow it to the one you have earned. However you have lived your life on the Earth side determines how high you can go into the light on the other side.

There is nothing to fear. You leave your body every night as you enter the sleep state. There is no difference. You cannot be harmed.

Fears are within, and this is why you must work to release yourself from fears on the Earth plane, because you will carry these same fears over to the next dimension. As above, so below!

5. Hanging Around the Living.

Some people may want to hang around their old surroundings on Earth rather than go on to discover for themselves the beauty and wisdom which is offered to them on the other side. This may take a long time, but they are coaxed along slowly. Nothing is forced on a soul, neither attitudes nor understandings. This is why we are always counseled here on Earth never to force our beliefs on another person until one is ready to hear them. The free choice of every individual should be acknowledged.

6. Seeing Loved Ones and Teachers.

When you die you are greeted by loved ones first so that you may understand what has happened. There is a big celebration, like a birthday party, heralding your arrival. Family and friends who have gone on before you are there to celebrate your arrival.

There is always good at the time of your cross-over. Even people who have lived lives of selfishness will know and understand the rejoicing. Whatever you have sown you are going to reap in terms of structuring your experiences and lessons which continue on the other side. But the first few days of cross-over (as you know time on the Earth plane) you are allowed to be with your teachers, and those who have loved you in the past. You are able to see those you left behind and to hear their thoughts and words. The first six weeks we stay very close to our loved ones on the Earth plane.

You are given glimpses of things you expected to see in order to bring you comfort. You may briefly see a teacher you worshipped in your lifetime: Jesus, Buddha, or another guru, according to your expectations. After the first seventy-two hours, however, you are gently brought out of many of your illusions and shown that you have not landed in an ultimate paradise with gold paved streets. Of course you could choose to create these for yourself on this plane, but once you truly understand you would most likely choose to be around that with which you felt most comfortable.

If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife, you will probably be kept in a sleep state for the first two to three day period. You will wake up in a beautiful meadow or some other calm and peaceful place where you can reconcile the transition from the death state to the continuous life. You are given teachings in the hope that you do not refuse to believe that you are dead.

On the other side you see things with a clearer, more objective nature, but you are not given total knowledge because you would not understand it or be ready to use it, any more than while you are here on Earth. We are given knowledge only as we are ready to receive it, whether we are in or out of the body.

7. After the Homecoming.

After the first six weeks the soul meets with what may be called a loving board of directors. It is composed of teachers and other higher beings who have walked with you. These beings help you review your past life, to begin to look at what was learned and not learned, and what you wish to work on or do from this point. No one judges you, and this is important to keep in mind. You are the one that judges yourself and decides what is best for continued growth.

You will be given teachings, training, and anything you need to help you prepare yourself for your next incarnation. But this is not given immediately. You can choose your own pace and need not be hurried through the realms of the next realms. It may take centuries for your soul to know what is best for your development once you return again to a physical body. It may take a great deal of reflection before you determine a purpose and direction for your next sojourn on Earth. Since we reincarnate in groups we usually wait 80 to 120 years before we come back.

Also, as part of your training, you are allowed to watch people on the Earth plane to see how they handle situations when they reincarnate. Very few people in a physical body realize that their behavior is a teaching ground for those who are out of the body.

8. Reviewing Past Lives.

As you are ready, and as you choose, you will be shown your past lives. If you do not believe in reincarnation it may take a long time before you are able to deal with this. Eventually, you must learn to understand yourself in a continuity of growth over many lifetimes. You must recognize all the strengths you have built and all the karmic ties you have created which must be dissolved.

By the time you are given the privilege of reviewing all past lives and integrating the knowledge learned, you will have reached a state of total objectivity. You will feel no remorse or condemnation, but will see it as merely a review of why situations occurred and had to be worked through.

The record of your life is very private. Only those who have walked with you as teachers are allowed to see what is called your akashic (or life) record. If during your lifetime you ask that a psychic tune into this record, he or she will only be given a minimal amount of information from it which is particularly relevant to your immediate problems or concerns.

You, too, can tune into this record through meditation and get insight and clarity on the problems you are dealing with. Your own attunement is much more accurate than asking a psychic or someone else to tell you about yourself. This builds up a dependency. We may need clarity or help at times, but should never develop a dependency on others. Our whole purpose is to gain strength and learn how to make our own decisions.

9. Religious Beliefs.

Your religious beliefs have little to do with what you experience in the transition from one realm to another, except that you would be allowed to see briefly the teacher or guru that you followed. Regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, you will have the same basic experience at death (just as mystics of all great traditions attune to the same universal energy). What counts is what comes from the heart, not what one professes to believe. It means nothing whether or not one was baptized, for example, or whether one has various other rites administered. How ridiculous to rely on meaningless words!

The true meaning of baptism is an initiation of the spirit, an opening awareness to the God consciousness. People receive this inner baptism when they are spiritually prepared.

You will not suddenly be sitting at the feet of a man with a long white beard called God. God is within, whether you are in or out of the body. Your awareness of the God force will not be greater on the other side. If you insist upon searching for God, you will do this for awhile until you get the idea that you are following an illusion. We must go through at least four more realms beyond the astral before we could even begin to understand the energy of the God force. God is love in all religions, so the more we live love the closer we are to God.

10. The Idea of Purgatory.

Catholics understand purgatory as a place or level of consciousness one goes for further understanding. It is an intermediary state that gives one the opportunity to develop further clarity. At first it is like being in fog, just as many people walk around on the Earth plane in a fog. They don’t have the clarity to understand how they are setting their lives.

If there has been much negativity during an incarnation, or a suicide, one must spend some time contemplating what has happened.
It is a holding place where souls who are confused, who do not want to let go of their earthly attachments, or who choose not to grow will remain until such time as they allow themselves to be released to flow once more into the light.

Purgatory is a place of your own making. We see souls who are punishing themselves here on the Earth plane. This continues after death just the same as it would if they were still in the physical body. Many people must suffer in order to feel worth. When they finally learn this is a negative number they are running, they can move on.

11. The Meaning of Hell.

What about the reality of a place called hell? Hell is a level of consciousness which can be experienced in or out of the body. It is a lonely place where one is not allowed to be in communication with anything other than one’s own negativity.

Souls do not enter this level unless they need to experience it for their growth. Many people who commit suicide will have to go through this hell of their own making in order to become aware that this is not what they are striving for. The soul must learn that it does not have the right to take its own life, that it cannot kill, it cannot hurt other people; nor can it judge others for we have no knowledge of what they came back to do and learn.

Many people at one time or another have experienced this plane. Alcoholics going through the DTs and people on drugs, may also see it. It is a plane of total darkness where we must confront the fears we have built within our own minds. Understand that fears have no reality unless we choose to give them reality. As soon as we are able to meet them directly, to face them, they dissipate. This lower level is not for one’s punishment, but rather to provide the opportunity to confront and move beyond the negativity created by oneself.

The hell fire mentioned in many traditions is symbolic of the “kundalini” energy (Holy Spirit, God energy, or Creative energy) that dwells within the seven energy centers or chakras within man. Fire is symbolic of the cleansing and purification of the soul.

The struggle between higher and lower self or what some call God and the Devil causes growth, until finally the negativity or the destructive elements are completely overcome.

12. Laws More Protective.

Through questions and answers I have received information about what it is actually like to be on the other side. First, my channel has pointed out that the laws are much more protective. We need no longer be exposed to both good and evil, for we have already experienced that. We see the bad only if we choose to. Those who are living in harmony will not be imposed upon by the ignorant, but can visit the lower planes to help another if they choose to do so.

For example, if you loved someone who is on a lower vibration than you are, you are allowed to visit anytime you choose by simply lowering your rate of vibration. This may help the entity greatly by encouraging self-love and growth. However, the entity will need to incarnate again on the Earth plane to test out these new lessons, because it is the Earth experience that determines your stage of evolution.

13. Marriage and Unions.

There are unions of souls on the other side, and marriage as such is optional. If couples prefer to remain together they may do so, as long as their interests and growth are taking them in the same direction. If they choose to go in different directions, there are no hurt feelings. There is no possessiveness or demands. You are free to go your own way, in your own time, at your own choosing.
Married couples will be reunited after death, and may choose to stay together if they want to, provided they are on the same level of vibration. This is free will. If you have been married three or four times, you will find that you will want to be with the one whom you truly love. It could even be someone from another incarnation. You will be with those you love, and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything you can know on the Earth plane.

This total merger is like stepping inside one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. What you know on Earth as a sexual relationship takes the form of a higher merger of souls. There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. For this merger of energies is far superior to the physical mechanics of the sexual experience. This merger is not limited to husbands and wives, but may be experienced by any two souls who are loving and caring.



Sources:

“There is No Death”, by Betty Bethards
Inner Light Foundation [ILF] http://www.innerlight.org/page4.html
PO Box 750265 · Petaluma, CA 94975 · 707-765-2200

Kevin R. Williams, Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife
http://www.near-death.com/paranormal/psychics/betty-bethards.html

Mind Your Mind: You Will Take It With You

“[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 [of] realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama




Mind Your Mind: You Will Take It With You

My friend Konrad’s beloved mother used to say:

“If I can’t take it with me, I refuse to go.”

Despite her protestations – like every other person in the history of humanity – she was obliged to leave this world without taking with her anything fiscal or physical.

But her wonderful sense of humor survived her departure.

In this phenomenal world, everything’s energy; our worldly life-forms are but gross and subtle energy vortices in a field of universal awareness.

As the Dalai Lama observes, our subtle mental forms survive the death of our dense physical forms. So when we leave our physical body, our mind persists – and we will take it with us – somewhere.

Thus it’s wise for us to prepare for future ‘mind trips’ by training and stilling our mind to cultivate compassion, love and wisdom, with a wonderful sense of humor –

NOW.

What is Reincarnation?

“Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect.”
~ The Dalai Lama
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.
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist




What is Reincarnation?

Q. What is reincarnation?

A. Cosmic bio-recycling.


Q. What reincarnates?
A. An energy vortex – a “psyche-clone”.


Meeting Tibetan Buddhists ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else  will solve their problems.  Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility:  Daily Wisdom”

 

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche  [1905—1989]

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche [1905—1989]



Introduction. I have been blessed by meeting and learning from many spiritual teachers, in addition to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. Especially inspiring and helpful have been certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers.

Soon after my mid-life spiritual awakening, I was first exposed to Buddhist teachings via radio. For many years, I regularly listened to masterful New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms of spiritual teachers and authors, often Buddhists. And on Sunday nights, while driving home from visiting my parents, I regularly heard on KPFA recorded talks by Buddhist teacher, Alan Watts, a brilliantly insightful and articulate former Episcopal priest who had ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Also for a short time I attended Sunday morning dharma talks and Zazen meditations at the beautiful and bucolic Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Guruji I mostly focussed on Hindu spiritual teachings. But I remained curious about other spiritual and mystical traditions, especially non-duality teachings which I found not only in Advaita Vedanta, but also in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. (Ultimately, beyond religion, I became most focussed on certain universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring spiritual, religious, philosophical and ethical paths – like the “Golden Rule”. And to further those teachings I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation.)

During a 1979 apparent ‘near death’ experience, I had visions of ethereal, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism – which sparked much curiosity about Tibetan Buddhists and their mandalas. Soon afterwards I was synchronistically blessed with darshan of Tibetan lamas who in diaspora had started coming to the West. Most important for me were H.H. the Dalai Lama – who remains a living inspiration for me, and Kalu Rinpoche, a very venerable Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, now deceased and reborn.

For over thirty years I have been deeply inspired by core Buddhist teachings, as practiced by the Tibetans, though I never became a practicing Buddhist. In the 1980’s I honored that inspiration by receiving refuge and taking Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche, and by receiving empowerments and teachings from both Kalu Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama, as well as other Tibetan lamas.

Taking Refuge. After meeting Kalu Rinpoche, I soon took refuge from him in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, sangha and dharma. In a brief refuge ceremony with this great yogi, I thereby symbolically committed to honor the Buddha – as my own true nature – and those teachings and communities which would advance realization of that Buddha nature.

Boddhisattva vows. Shortly after taking refuge I was inspired to take Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche to altruistically help all sentient beings end their sufferings.

In taking these vows I was deeply inspired by this selfless Tibetan Buddhist ideal exemplified by the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche and many other Lamas. Never content with only their own spiritual evolution and salvation, Buddhist Boddhisattvas postpone their own ‘nirvana’ choosing to take continuing rebirths in order to serve humanity until every sentient being has been helped to liberation. For example, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is latest in a long line of Boddhisattva Dalai Lamas, believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Taking Boddhisattva vows symbolically marked an important transition from my prior aspiration to escape through spiritual “enlightenment” from this world of inevitable suffering. Rather than yearning to leave this crazy world forever, I took those vows aspiring to stay here in ways which might help all life everywhere, as I continued to observe and clear my own mental defilements.

Enlightenment as a Process. After taking these Buddhist vows, I didn’t expect an early departure from space/time causality reality. Instead, influenced by Buddha’s teachings that conditioned existence (samsara) has been going on for so long that all beings may have been each other’s parents in some lifetime, I began regarding “enlightenment” as a virtually endless evolutionary process in which – except for Buddhas and Boddhisattvas – we unwittingly participate for eons.

The Tibetan Tulku Tradition. Tulkus are emanations of those who retain spiritual consciousness and continuity through successive births. Except perhaps for rare Buddhas and very evolved beings, on rebirth almost everyone experiences ‘instant amnesia’ about conscious details of other lifetimes and prior spiritual learning, which details remain in our subconscious memory. The Tibetan Tulku tradition, aims to facilitate fulfillment of boddhisattva vows by locating reborn Lamas at an early age and training them from childhood to rekindle their consciousness of Buddhist teachings and practices. Tibetans have elaborate tests to prove that newly reborn Tulkus are truly who the waiting elders think they are, such as checking whether the child can recognize acquaintances or possessions from his previous life or answer questions only known to his former life-experience. For example, this process is portrayed in Kundun, the classic biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Some rare Tibetans (like the Karmapa) are able to foretell before dying where they will consciously take rebirth.

Karma. The Tibetans’ Tulku tradition is inextricably intertwined with their teachings about karma, rebirth, and Boddhisattvas. Although virtually all mystical traditions accept karma, afterlife and reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhists’ karma and rebirth teachings and their Boddhisattva traditions especially helped me enhance identification with spirit while diminishing my psychological fear of bodily death.

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 rebirths as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow. [Galatians 6:7-9]

As long as we self-identify as subjects separate from supposed objects of our choice or intention, our exercise of supposed free will creates karmic causes and conditions. Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by samsaric illusion – for example, defilements like desire, hate, or passion – creates karma. On death, the unexperienced effects of karmic causes, result in unavoidable rebirths.

What is reborn? “Reincarnation” is commonly understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumcised spirit – to another body after physical death. But in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death. Yet Buddhists believe in rebirth.

So, what do Buddhists say is reborn to experience karmic causes and conditions, or to fulfill Boddhisattva vows? I will simplistically and metaphorically share my understanding.

I was once told by Swami Sivananda Radha that during a private audience with the Dalai Lama she asked, “In view of Buddhist teaching that there is no separate self or soul, what reincarnates?” And His Holiness replied: “An energy vortex.”

The Dalai Lama’s explanation that an “energy vortex” is what incarnates was consistent with Western science. Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum physicists have confirmed that in this world of space/time and causality everything is energy – every impermanent form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable.

And for millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their mental software survives, and is reusable.

Thus, just as I am able to use with my new iMac the same OS X software system that operated my old iMac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of mental obscurations and defilements.

Precious human birth. Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting Guruji, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.

Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is extraordinarily precious and rare. They persuaded me that although the unexperienced effects of karmic causes result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirths; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors we squander a rare chance to evolve spiritually.

In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalachakra empowerment given by Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.

In all events, Kalu’s teaching deeply impressed me with the preciousness and impermanence of human birth, and the importance of using it to evolve spiritually.

More memorable experiences with Kalu Rinpoche. Before receiving the Kalachakra empowerment, in 1982 I attended a public talk by Kalu Rinpoche at Fort Mason, San Francisco, about the Mahamudra experience, which he described (through an interpreter) as the quintessence of all Buddhadharma. Though I didn’t understand much of what was said, I intuited that I was in the presence of a great meditation master – like Guruji.

After talking about Mahamudra, Lama Kalu said that to help us understand Mahamudra experience he would give us a brief demonstration of that state of being. Whereupon, with ‘miraculous’ mind-power, he dramatically transformed the energy in that small lecture room. Suddenly my mind went completely still and I experienced a rare state of peace and oneness beyond comprehension or expression. By Kalu Rinpoche’s immense power as a meditation master, he briefly but unforgettably shared with us a glimpse of his rare and exalted state of clear mind.

A few years later, circa 1986-7, I had another memorable experience of Kalu Rinpoche’s powerful presence. Together with my daughter, Jessica, and friends Mark and Marsha Newman, I attended a public talk by him at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, one of the city’s largest religious sanctuaries. After waiting in a long line for some time, we managed to be seated in pews near the very back of the church.

Just as Kalu Rinpoche had ‘magically’ transformed the energy in the small lecture room where I heard him describe the Mahamudra experience, the energy ambience in that entire large church was palpably transformed upon his appearance at the pulpit. My daughter Jessica, had never before experienced such a spiritually powerful presence and was deeply impressed. Afterwards, she posted a picture of Kalu Rinpoche in her room, and though she never again saw him she was emotionally affected and cried on news of Kalu’s death in May, 1989.

After seeing Kalu Rinpoche at the Unitarian Church, I saw him again when he was interviewed by Michael Toms at the New Dimensions San Francisco radio studio. On his arrival at the studio he was introduced to staff and to me (as a New Dimensions director). Whereupon he came up to each one of us and humbly introduced himself with a friendly handshake. At that gesture, I was impressed with that great yogi’s humility – like Guruji’s. Later I was inspired to observe that: “The more we know we’re no one, the more we’re seen as someone”.

Learning to keep faith despite disillusionment. After many years of questioning, I have found a faith based life – beyond beliefs, dogmas, theologies or personalities. I was very much helped and encouraged in this process by another important and synchronistic encounter with Kalu Rinpoche, at a time of great disillusionment in my life,.

In the 1980’s after Guruji’s return to India I learned with shock that certain private behavior of a spiritual teacher (other than Guruji) with whom I had a close relationship was significantly inconsistent with his teachings and outer image. Though by this time, I knew of numerous instances in which well known spiritual teachers were credibly shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. But this was the first time that it happened with a teacher with whom I felt a close rapport and had spent much time. And I was emotionally upset and confused.

Whereupon, I learned that Kalu Rinpoche would be appearing for a morning talk and darshan at Kagyu Droden Kunchab a San Francisco Center dedicated to the ultimate benefit of all sentient beings, which he founded; that his Buddhist teachings would be followed by a question and answer session. I desperately wanted Kalu’s guidance about my crisis of faith. But I had to be in court that morning. So dressed in suit and tie, I came to the darshan with very limited time to spend there.

By the time that Kalu ended his talk, I had only thirty minutes left before needing to leave for court. Whereupon the translator announced that Rinpoche would now entertain questions, and virtually everyone in the room – including me – raised a hand for recognition. ‘Miraculously’ Kalu beckoned first to me to ask my question, which was:

“What is the proper attitude of a student on discovery of a teacher’s behaviors inconsistent with the teachings?”

Whereupon Lama Kalu gave an extremely wise and helpful thirty minute dissertation in response to my inquiry. As soon as he finished and began answering the next question, I was obliged to leave for court. I cannot recount details of what Kalu said, but the unforgettable essence of his answer was:

“Never lose faith in the teachings, even if you lose faith in the teacher.”

Only after years of introspection and more instances of disillusionment with teachers and others upon whom I had mistakenly projected flawless ethics, was I able to fully grasp Kalu’s wise teaching. During that process, I decided that “incarnation is limitation”; that no one is infallible; and, that “it is better to live the teachings, and not teach them, than to teach the teachings and not live them”.

A few years after my last face to face encounter with Lama Kalu, I was memorably reminded of his meditation mastery and his message of faith. On a beautiful week-end day while hiking in the forested higher elevations of Point Reyes National Sea Shore nature reserve, I decided to sit on a rock from which I enjoyed a panoramic view out into the ocean. As I beheld that inspiring nature scene in a meditative mood, Lama Kalu Rinpoche’s smiling visage fleetingly appeared in my inner vision. We never again met in this life, but I shall remain ever grateful for his blessings. With his encouragement I have never lost faith in this precious human life and in the infinite opportunities it affords us.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.




His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Of all prominent living people, I am most inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader (and former political leader) of Tibet. Apart from his Holiness’s spiritual attainments, which are beyond my comprehension, I am especially inspired by his universal compassion, wisdom, humility and humor.

I see him as a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics. Although my encounters with His Holiness have been impersonal – only as part of large audiences or via videos or writings – I feel a deep connection and harmony with him as a revered fellow human being.

Ever since an October, 1989 darshan, I have wondered whether that harmonious connection began in other lifetimes. At that time, I had the good fortune of being one of a limited number of people privileged to attend a ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, in a natural outdoor amphitheater. Because of limited highway access, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive by helicopter. But his flight was delayed, and so we awaited his arrival.

Instead of waiting in the amphitheater, I decided to meditate in a nearby nature place. Then, on contemplating the Dalai Lama I experienced such heartfelt affinity and reverence, that I began an intense and protracted devotional crying jag. I became so overwhelmed with emotion of devotion that I was unable to stop weeping and enter the amphitheater even when I heard the sounds of the helicopter’s arrival. Ultimately, a compassionate Buddhist woman, who on her arrival had observed me crying, came out and taking me by the hand led me, still weeping, into the amphitheater.

The Dalai Lama is the only Tibetan teacher, including Kalu Rinpoche, with whom I have continuously felt such a deep devotional rapport – like my rapport with Guruji. He is regarded by Tibetans as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and perhaps it is this subtle energy which opens my heart. In all events, though I don’t yet remember another life as a Tibetan, I intuit an important karmic connection with His Holiness, and regard him as a role model for living an ethical and compassionate life, regardless of our religious or cultural history.

Here are some of the ways in which I have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and teachings:

Compassion. In his ever inspiring deportment, talks, and writings, His Holiness manifests and emphasizes the crucial importance of compassionate behavior – even with enemies. Drawing great inspiration from him, I have gradually come to regard everyone I meet – including those with whom I have disagreements – as spiritual siblings – brothers or sisters all sharing the same aspirations for happiness and peace of mind, despite superficial cultural differences. And, despite my pronounced lawyer’s tendencies to combatively judge all adversaries, more and more I have even found compassion for those whose ignorance of their true spiritual identity leads them to egregiously harmful behaviors. For example, at a time when I considered former US President George Bush, Jr., a war criminal and mass murderer, His Holiness publicly described him as “a nice man.” Hopefully, he privately influenced Bush – with whom he shares the same July 6th birthdate – to adopt more compassionate ethics.

Humility. His Holiness is regarded by Tibetans and by many others as a living Buddha. For, example, a Tibetan emigre attending a Tibetan Losar new year ceremony conducted in Minneapolis by His Holiness told a newspaper reporter there that “for Tibetans in exile, seeing the Dalai Lama is akin to Christians getting to meet Jesus”. Moreover, especially since his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, His Holiness has become like a world-wide rockstar celebrity, attracting capacity audiences for all public appearances. Yet he remains exceptionally humble, describing himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” and member of the Human family. Despite his renown as a living sage, I have heard him several times answering questions with “I don’t know”. In my experience, this is very rare behavior for an elevated Eastern spiritual teacher. For example, I have never heard of any such humble response from elevated Hindu teachers regarded as avatars or ‘god-men’. I was especially drawn to Guruji who (despite his Hindu acculturation) was exceptionally humble, and even told my friend Joy Massa: “follow your heart, even if it contradicts my words”.

I have always felt ambivalent about spiritual teachers who pontificate as if they are infallible. For me, such behavior encourages adulation over inspiration. And I am uncomfortable with any spiritual group or tradition emphasizing adulation of the incarnate over adoration of the Infinite.

In my opinion, selfless humility is a supreme virtue. It is especially rare in prominent people who are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation, which can easily entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those like the Dalai Lama, Guruji, Gandhi and Einstein, who have resisted such ego temptations I consider inspiring great beings.

Universal morality and ethics beyond religion. In public talks and in his recently published book “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” His Holiness explains how inner values “are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek”, concluding that “the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion” which alone “is no longer adequate”. To me, this is a crucially inspiring message, which completely coincides with my philosophy and life experience. Before publication of “Beyond Religion” I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation dedicated to elevating awareness of universal principles – like the ‘Golden Rule’ – at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. And His Holiness’s book and teachings have encouraged me to continue pursuing that path.

Politics, Economics and Ecology. Just as the Dalai Lama’s views on universal morality and ethics beyond religion have paralleled my views and inspired and encouraged me to pursue them, His Holiness supports liberal political, economic and ecological views with which I have long identified and pursued as a social justice advocate.

He recognizes as “a very great thing” Mahatma Gandhi’s sophisticated political implementation of ahimsa – the ancient moral teachings of nonviolence and non-injury. As an engaged Buddhist, the Dalai Lama outspokenly endorses Gandhian non-violent and compassionate political social action benefitting the majority of citizens, especially those underprivileged and exploited.

Thus, he rejects capitalist economics, as focussed on greed, gain and profits and outspokenly endorses democratic Marxist theory of equitable access to means of production and distribution of wealth. But, he rejects as lacking compassion and encouraging class hatred the so-called Marxism of the failed totalitarian former USSR, or China, and he objects to their excessive emphasis on class struggle.

Ecologically the Dalai Lama recognizes that Earth is severely threatened by ignorant human greed and lack of respect for all life on our precious planet. Accordingly, he urges that we become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve this crisis with compassionate solidarity, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of life as we know it. (See e.g. Spiritual People in a Perfectly Crazy World)

Conclusion. Thus I am supremely grateful for the wisdom and inspiration bestowed by Tibetan teachings and teachers, especially through His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who for me is a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics.

Jessica R., Saint Teresa of Lisieux, and the Rose Petal “Miracle”

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

“I no longer have any great desires,
beyond that of loving ’til I die of love.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux
“After my death I will let fall a shower of roses…..
I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux


lovely_rose_petals

Jessica R., Saint Teresa of Lisieux, and the Rose Petal “Miracle”

On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we call them “miracles” and often attribute them to a Divine power. So some rare mystics and saints allegedly perform “miracles” for the good of humanity, and to foster faith in the Divine. Thus, after “miraculously” healing an official’s dying son, Jesus observed: “Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.” John 4:48

Here is a story about a noteworthy “miracle” involving my daughter Jessica and a mystery which I haven’t yet solved:

Following my traumatic 1976 divorce I did not share with Jessica and Joshua (my children who were then quite young) my intense new interest in Eastern religious philosophy. However, Jessica later independently became interested in Buddhism during a pre-college high school course in comparative religions. And she maintained her interest as she matriculated as a student at Amherst College, Massachusetts in the 1980’s.

In her 1983 application essay to Amherst, Jessica at age seventeen wrote:

“While I make no claim to being a Buddha –
a true master or enlightened being –
I have begun to understand that I must always be a seeker:
open and receptive to all new people, ideas, and things.
For although I have been extremely privileged
and have had the best possible education,
I haven’t yet and never will stop learning.
Having just recently discovered its spiritual dimensions,
I now know that a world of knowledge awaits me,
diverse and filled with surprises.
Fully aware of its vast potential and wealth,
I feel that I am ready to venture further into it,
and to explore what it has to offer.
‘I who do not know, and know that I do not know:
let me through this knowledge know.’
Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi”


After her admittance and enrollment at Amherst, Jessica began doubting whether she was receiving there the “best possible education”. Seeking spiritual rather than secular knowledge, Jessica enrolled in and attended a brief accredited Buddhist Studies course in India sponsored by Antioch College. In 1987, after returning from India, she resumed her Amherst studies, and practiced Buddhist Vipassana meditations at a nearby Insight Meditation Society center. During a ten day silent meditation retreat there, she experienced a profoundly transformative spiritual awakening. Thereafter, her dissatisfaction with life at Amherst and her desire to go back to India gradually became so intense that she elected to leave Amherst for India, just one semester short of graduation. (Only after spending many years in India, did she return to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College.)

In India, Jessica initially spent time with Buddhist monks and practitioners in Bodh Gaya, a shrine where the Buddha was ‘enlightened’, and in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama of Tibet lived in exile with a large community of expatriated Tibetans. Then, planning to return to the US, she decided ‘out of curiosity’ to first visit a Hindu ashram in the state of Kerala, Southern India, the home of Ammachi, a renowned woman spiritual teacher. Instead of returning to finish her college curriculum, Jessica was so drawn to Ammachi and ashram life that she elected to live and remain there as a Hindu renunciate for many years. She was given by Ammachi the auspicious sanskrit name “Yogini”, wore only white attire, and contentedly lived the life of a Hindu nun.

While Jessica was living on the ashram in India, I consulted expert Vedic astrologers to interpret her chart or “karmic map”. I was told Jessica had an auspicious spiritual destiny, and that I would some day be “proud of her” spiritual achievements. Especially because of Jessica’s prior transformative meditation experience in Massachusetts, this seemed to me a credible prediction. So, I waited with interest to see what might happen with her.

In May of 1993, Ammachi was scheduled to make a world tour, including a stay at her San Francisco Bay area ashram in San Ramon, CA. And Jessica was to accompany Ammachi as part of her entourage. Jessica’s mother, Naomi, and I eagerly anticipated Jessica’s arrival in the Bay Area. While I continued to be supportive of Jessica’s life in India, Naomi was skeptical about Ammachi and strongly disapproved of Jessica’s life with her. She wanted Jessica to return home to finish her education and lead a “normal” life. Naomi was then living in a Victorian house in San Francisco, with a small raised front porch.

A day or two before Jessica’s scheduled arrival, Naomi awakened one morning with repeated thoughts of Jessica, and irrationally thereby intuited that Jessica was arriving then – early. She came downstairs from her bedroom and opened the front door, thinking that Jessica had arrived. Jessica was not there, but Naomi beheld that her entire front porch was strewn with rose petals of various colors. Since there were no nearby rose bushes, or other apparent explanation for the mysterious appearance of the rose petals, Naomi assumed that someone (probably Jessica’s “born-again Hindu” father) was playing a trick on her. Thereafter, when Jessica arrived as scheduled, Naomi reported to her the manifestation “miracle” of the rose petals.

Soon, Jessica recounted Naomi’s story to Ammachi. On hearing the story, Amachi gathered and handed to Jessica a packet of rose petals and instructed Jessica to give them to Naomi, “so that mother will remember this mother”. Jessica obliged, and on opening the packet Naomi observed that the rose petals from Ammachi were the same colors as those which mysteriously had appeared strewn on her front porch. So, Jessica believed that Ammachi had manifested the rose petals on Naomi’s porch, while Naomi remained skeptical about the incident, thinking it was some trick.

When Jessica told me that Ammachi apparently had graced Naomi with rose petals from “heaven”, I began continuously wondering about that incident. I had never before heard of any such manifestation attributed to Ammachi or any saint. And I wondered why such a special blessing was bestowed on Naomi, who was not a devotee of Ammachi but, rather, one who remained skeptical of Ammachi and her teachings. Also, I wondered why Ammachi would send rose petals to Naomi, rather than giving her some other spiritual experience that might assuage her skepticism and her consequent concern for Jessica’s future.

“Coincidentally” or synchronistically, soon after the rose petal incident, I read for the first time the autobiographical memoirs of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, the patron saint of France, entitled: “The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul.” Teresa, who became the most popular of modern saints, entered a Carmelite convent at age fifteen and died there of tuberculosis, an unknown young nun, at twenty four. She would have remained unknown to the world but for her memoirs written at the direction of her prioress (in epistolary form) and for three volumes of her letters, all published posthumously.

In reading Teresa’s memoirs I was repeatedly reminded of Jessica. That little epistolary book reminded me of Jessica’s letters – of her way of sharing in writing her feelings about spiritual and inner matters. Also, apart from such syntactical similarities, I just constantly kept thinking of Jessica while reading about Teresa. But in no way did I then connect my repeated thoughts of Jessica, with the manifestation of rose petals on Naomi’s front porch, following Naomi’s repeated thoughts of Jessica. However, that mental/intuitive connection soon happened while I was on vacation in Northern New Mexico, visiting my spiritual author and poet friend Richard Schiffman.

In July, 1993, Richard and I journeyed to a remote Benedictine monastery calIed “Christ in the Desert”, situated in a very beautiful canyon on a wild river. Previously, I had asked Richard and others if they knew of any other examples of rose petal manifestations by saints, like Ammachi’s apparent rose petal “miracle” on Naomi’s front porch. Until then, no one was able to identify for me any such alleged manifestation by Ammachi or anyone else.

Not until my visit to the book shop at Christ in the Desert, did I find what I was seeking. At the book shop I found several books about Teresa of Lisieux, and I told Richard how Teresa’s autobiography had reminded me of Jessica. Thereupon, Richard remembered that Teresa had been associated with rose petal “miracles”; that during her life she often threw rose petals; that during her last illness she had announced: “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses”; and, that rose petal manifestation “miracles” (amongst others) were posthumously attributed to her.

Apparently, those “miracles” together with the publication of Teresa’s autobiographical diaries and letters resulted in such an outpouring of public sentiment that the Vatican “fast-tracked” petitions for her beatification and canonization in a manner unprecedented in modern times. When Teresa died, she was an unknown young nun. But for her writings about her inner life and aspirations, she would have remained historically unrecognized, and she would not have inspired millions of people to her ‘little way’ of spiritual devotion.

On returning to San Francisco from New Mexico, I began reading biographical materials about Teresa, and discovered some noteworthy parallels between Teresa and Jessica. Teresa – like Jessica – was a beautiful, precocious, sensitive and charismatic child to whom people were instinctively attracted. From childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – suffered from depression and other psychological insecurity issues without any apparent cause. Teresa – like Jessica – had hypersensitive hearing. In childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – could be obstinate about her wishes. From an early age Teresa – like Jessica – often showed wisdom and judgment well beyond her years. Teresa – like Jessica – had a simple yet elegant and eloquent way of sharing in diaries and epistolary writings her feelings about spiritual and inner matters.

On the eve of entering the Carmelite convent, Teresa wrote to her sister Agnes: “I want to be saint”, an aspiration which she often reiterated thereafter. In India, after soul searching and wondering about her life’s purpose, Jessica intuited and wrote in her daily journal her answer to that question: “I want to be saint”. (It is difficult to explain from her Jewish background, Jessica’s extraordinary aspiration to be a saint. Also it was surprising to me that Jessica assiduously kept journal diaries throughout her stay in India and prior thereto, a practice not instilled by her parents.)

The biographical materials about Teresa confirmed what Richard Schiffman told me at Christ in the Desert: that throughout her life Teresa loved throwing flowers and scattering rose petals as religious offerings; that shortly before her death Teresa proclaimed, “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.” “I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”; and that rose petal manifestations were posthumously attributed to Teresa.

Also, l learned that just after Teresa’s twenty first birthday (January 2, 1894), she abandoned the sloping handwriting style which theretofore had been imposed upon her, and began to write in the way that came naturally to her: upright. In comparing photos of Teresa’s upright handwriting with Jessica’s upright handwriting, I perceived noteworthy similarities. But most noteworthy for me was comparison of photographs of Teresa and Jessica taken at similar ages. I found great similarities in their faces, especially in the eyes. To make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, one Sunday on visiting my beloved Jewish mother, Sue, I showed her a picture of Teresa dressed in nun’s habit, and asked: “Mom does this photo remind you of anyone?” Her prompt reply was: “She looks like Jessica, especially around the eyes.”

Here are the photos of Teresa and Jessica, which I found noteworthy:



By 1995, Jessica had a change of heart about continuing her life as a Hindu nun at Ammachi’s ashram. After much soul searching, she decided that she did not want to spend the rest of her life in India as a nun; that she wanted to finish her US education, marry and have children. And so after spending many years in India – in Bodh Gaya, Dharamsala, and Kerala – Jessica returned to Massachusetts to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College. At Smith she met and thereafter married David Channer. Their first child, Uma, was born on January 2, 2000, the 127th anniversary of Teresa’s birth on January 2, 1873.

In researching Saint Teresa, I learned that Father Jacques Sevin, a priest who founded the Boy Scouts of France, was one of her early and exceptionally ardent and influential devotees. And I found in his photo on the Internet an unusual resemblance to Jessica’s husband, David. Here are photos of Father Sevin and David Channer which I found noteworthy:



After Jessica returned to Massachusetts, I reported her changed status – from Hindu nun to American householder – to my friend Pravin Jani, father of spiritual teacher Shri Anandi Ma, and expert Vedic astrologer and pundit who had predicted an auspicious spiritual future for Jessica. His brief comment was: “Very good. She needs that experience in this lifetime.”

What does this all mean? Why did it happen? How did it happen?
I don’t know.
Did Ammachi manifest rose petals on Naomi’s porch? If so, why?
Did Saint Teresa? If so, why?

Until now, Jessica hasn’t wanted to even hear or talk about this subject. But for me it raises significant questions not only about the rose petal manifestation mystery, but about prevailing Eastern views on “reality”, afterlife, reincarnation, and evolutionary transmigration of the soul from lifetime to lifetime.

What do you think? Remember, your thoughts are important:

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
~ Buddha

© Ron Rattner – ““From Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond” An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from secular Hebrew; to born-again Hindu; to uncertain Undo.


My ‘Near Death’ Experience
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




My ‘Near Death’ Experience

A few years after the death of his father, the famous 20th century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi was suddenly overcome with a powerful premonition that he too was about to die. Though he was then only sixteen years old and in good health, he became so fearful of his imagined imminent death that he felt impelled to investigate the bodily death experience. So he pretended that he was dying and introspectively contemplated his own death experience. Long afterwards in response to a devotee’s question about his “enlightenment” he so recounted this experience:

“The shock of the fear of death made me at once introspective or ‘introverted’. I said to myself mentally, ‘Now that death is come, what does it mean? Who is it that is dying? This body dies’. ….The material body dies, but the Spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. I am therefore the deathless Spirit. … Fear of death vanished at once and for ever. The absorption in the Self has continued from that moment right up to now”.

In 1979 I too had an extraordinary presumed near death experience. Unlike Ramana Maharshi’s pretended death experience, I really believed I was dying of a stroke and decided to observe the death process without resistance. Unlike Maharshi’s experience, my supposed death experience didn’t result in my instant “enlightenment” or permanent absorption in the Self. But, it was an extraordinary and unforgettable event, and it spurred my gradual transformative process of more and more identifying with spirit rather than body/mind, which had begun in 1976 with my post-divorce realization and rebirth experience.

After I received shaktipat initiation from Dhyanyogi in 1978, I began following his practices. But, also, I continued to explore spiritual mysteries by attending various other programs and lectures, with Dhyanyogi’s approval. When asked about our seeking information from other teachers, Guruji would say it was OK but unnecessary.

My near death experience happened in late 1978 or 1979, the morning after I had attended an inspiring lecture and experiential program given by Sufi master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. At the program I whole heartedly participated in a Sufi remembrance of God ritual called Zikr, featuring repetition of names of Allah. Fervently repeating in unison with other participants: “La Ilaha Illallah” , “La Ilaha Illallah”, I vigorously rotated my body, head and neck, and became quite ‘high’ and rapturous.

The next morning I awakened feeling fine, and prepared to attend an important Federal Appeals Court hearing. I had put on my grey pinstriped suit trousers, shirt and tie, and was in the bathroom, when suddenly I collapsed and fell onto the tiled floor and into a supine position. On the floor I was unable to move my head or body up or over. Then I discovered that I could inch along on my back like a caterpillar. In that manner with tremendous difficulty, I managed to move out of the bathroom and into my carpeted living room floor, still in a supine position.

I was not then near a phone and couldn’t call for help. Lying on my back, without pain, I said to myself mentally, “I must have suffered a stroke and am about to die. Now I will see what happens when I die.”
I closed my eyes and went into a deep state of relaxed awareness.

Suddenly it seemed as if I was astrally projected into the cosmos, where I was surrounded by magnificent luminescent silver, blue and gold heavenly bodies like in pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Next, my inner vision shifted from outer space to appearances of beautiful, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, only more ethereal. As silently I was sensing these celestial scenes, thought returned. First I thought that dying was quite an interesting experience. Then, suddenly, I thought: “I never took Naomi off my life insurance policies. I can’t die now.” The ethereal visions immediately ended and consciousness returned to my supine body on the carpeted floor.

I don’t remember how much time had passed before I so returned to body consciousness. But when that happened I found that I could move easier and managed to slither to a telephone when it rang. Synchronistically, it was a call from my friend Kusuma, who had been one of Guruji’s translators and cooks. I told her what happened, and she dispatched Stan, a disciple of Dhyanyogi then living in San Francisco, to come help me. By the time Stan arrived, I was able to crawl with difficulty to the front door to let him in. He called my doctor who said my symptoms sounded like extreme vertigo from an inner ear problem, not a stroke. Later, Kusuma asked Guruji about my symptoms. He told her that they came from “shakti”, intense spiritual energy activated in my head.

Following my ‘near death’ experience, the vertigo gradually abated. I developed a curiosity about Tibetan Buddhism, and the meaning of their mandalas, which lead to my receiving refuge, empowerments, and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche, a venerable Tibetan Buddhist master, and then from other Tibetan lamas, including H.H. the Dalai Lama – who became a living hero for me. Most importantly my conviction about immortality of the soul and my identification with spirit were immeasurably enhanced, while psychological fear of bodily death diminished.

But I didn’t become “enlightened” enough to transcend the lingering psychological trauma of my contentious divorce. So, long before my dizziness had disappeared, my former wife’s name was removed as a beneficiary on my life insurance policies. And I haven’t yet died – again.

After my near death experience I was quite surprised at how peaceful I felt when then facing supposed death, and began wondering whether I had transcended fear of death. That question was soon answered when a deranged young driver raced his car right at me as I was walking across Broadway, the busy four lane street where I live. Instinctively and reflexively I very loudly screamed “Jesus!” as I fearfully jumped out of the way. I shouted so loudly that I probably could have been heard for a block or two up the street. Thereafter for several hours, I experienced a “fight or flight” adrenaline rush. Moreover, since then I have had several similar though less intense precarious experiences while crossing San Francisco streets.

So, despite my serenity during the near death experience, some instinctive fear of bodily death remains for me. But I now distinguish such normal physical ‘fight or flight’ instinct for bodily self-preservation, from fear arising from ego’s illusionary self-identification with the body/mind and its story, rather than with universal spirit, its eternal Essence. And I accept inevitable – and perhaps imminent – physical death as a crucial condition of phenomenal life on this precious planet.

While yogis in other times and places could attain and maintain elevated states of awareness by taking refuge in the forests, on a mountain, or in a cave – or like Ramani Maharshi, in caves on a mountain, such stress free environments are hard to find for those living in present day US society. For me attempting to live authentically and sanely in our crazy culture has at times been quite challenging. I’ve found that in San Francisco courtrooms and environs midst societal insanity, without some ego I’d would have been metaphorically and actually run over while traversing my spiritual path as well as while crossing the streets. ….

Suzuki Shunryū, Roshi, who popularized Zen Buddhism in the United States, was once asked by a student: “How much “ego” do you need?” He replied: “Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”

So I wonder what past spiritual masters would have done when suddenly confronted with immediate bodily threat? Certainly they wouldn’t have shouted “Jesus”, with an adrenaline rush. Maybe, like Gandhi, they would have uttered “Ram” while stepping quietly out of harms way. What do you think?

© Ron Rattner – “From Secular Hebrew, to Born-Again Hindu, to Uncertain Undo – An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond.”