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Belief

Seek More Than Meets The Eye

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust consumes
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
~ Matthew 6:19-21
“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
~ Luke:18:25 ; Matthew 19:24
“Fools follow the desires of the flesh
and fall into the snare of all-encompassing death;
but the wise, knowing the Self as eternal,
seek not the things that pass away.”
~ Katha Upanishad 2:1:2
“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold;
happiness dwells in the soul.”
~ Democritus
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions,
but in having few wants.”
~ Epictetus
“What really counts in life can’t be counted.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The most precious things in life are not those one gets for money”. . . . . Money only appeals to selfishness and always irresistibly tempts its owner to abuse it. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus or Gandhi with the moneybags of Carnegie?”
~ Albert Einstein



Seek More Than Meets The Eye

Do not cherish
that which will perish.

Do not treasure
fleeting pleasure –

Or what you can measure.

Do not believe
what you perceive;

And do not seek
what you can speak.

Seek the ineffable
and it is inevitable

That you will know
the Unknowable –

The Inconceivable!

That you will find –
Beyond your mind –

Eternal Peace!



Ron’s audio recitation of Seek More Than Meets The Eye

Listen to



Ron’s Explanation and Dedication of “Seek More Than Meets The Eye”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem, “Seek More Than Meets The Eye” was inspired by Jesus’ teaching to lay up “treasures in heaven”, rather than earthly treasures. [Matthew 6:19-21].

Before discovering that scriptural passage, my midlife spiritual awakening had apparently revived previously subdued ascetic propensities – perhaps from other contemplative lifetimes. So, I had begun following a life-style much simpler and more reclusive than during my married years. And I became evermore convinced of the wisdom of living a simple and virtuous life, largely detached from worldly pleasures and treasures, while focusing on infinite spiritual riches within.

Hence after discovering Jesus’ teaching about forgoing worldly treasures I was inspired to poetically share its essence, which was consistent and harmonious with my deepest intuitions and tendencies. And soon I found many more inspiring parallel teachings in all other enduring wisdom traditions, like the quotations (preceding the poem) about renouncing worldly wealth.

These perennial teachings are especially important today in affluent corporate-capitalist societies where people are importuned and ‘brain washed’, via insidious advertising and marketing techniques, to greedily seek unneeded things and experiences, as our species insanely and unsustainably pillages, plunders, and poisons our precious planet’s finite resources crucial to sustaining life on Earth as we’ve known it.

But pleasures from such possessions and experiences are always fleeting, and can never bring enduring happiness and peace of mind.

As the Dalai Lama observes:

“Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely, we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy.
In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.


So the foregoing poem and quotes are offered to remind us to lay up “treasures in heaven”, rather than futilely pursuing transient earthly possessions and pleasures.

May they help us discover that the enduring happiness we all (knowingly or unknowingly) seek is never in superfluous possessions or pleasures, but ever in our sacred hearts and souls.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

2020 Epilogue

Living a virtuous life, detached from worldly pleasures and treasures, may be more important now than ever before in modern recorded human history.

On January 23, 2020 the ‘Doomsday’ clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was reset to 100 seconds to midnight, symbolizing potential human destruction by nuclear catastrophe or climate collapse as nearer than ever before.

To explain, the atomic scientists said to leaders and citizens of the world that:

“Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”

“Public engagement and civic action are needed and needed urgently. Science and technology can bring enormous benefits, but without constant vigilance, they bring enormous risks as well.”

Invocation.

May the foregoing “Seek More Than Meets The Eye” poem and wisdom teachings inspire our enhanced collective vigilance and awareness that the enduring happiness we all (knowingly or unknowingly) seek is never found in superfluous diversions, possessions or pleasures, but ever abides in our eternal hearts and souls.


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

What is the human “mind”?
Is it best friend or worst enemy?


One must elevate – and not degrade – oneself with one’s own mind, as the mind is both a friend and an enemy.
For those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends.
But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Six, Lord Krishna to Arjuna (6.05-06)



Bhagavad Gita – Krishna teaching Arjuna




Q. What is the human “mind”?

A. “Mind” is a word-concept with many meanings. In answering this question, we define the human “mind” as a conditioned egoic space/time energy process, which we also call “mortal-mind”, or “ego–desire mind”, or “conditioned mind”.

Religious philosophies sometimes equate “Mind” with God, or ultimate Reality beyond space/time. But we distinguish and exclude those concepts of ultimate Reality in answering this question about the human “mind”, as the conditioned perceiver and projector of space/time samsaric ‘reality’ .

In the Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu scripture, Divine Avatar Lord Krishna informs warrior Arjuna that the conditioned human mind


“is both a friend and an enemy”
; that “for those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends. But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.”


Q. How can the human mind be either our best friend or worst enemy?

A. The human mind can be either our best friend or worst enemy, depending on whether we use it skillfully to advance, or egotistically to deter, our spiritual evolution – to either terminate or perpetuate mistaken ego entity-identity.

The above Bhagavad Gita passage epitomizes the essential spiritual teaching of the entire Scripture: Attaining freedom from saṃsāra, the karmic cycle of death and rebirth, through spiritual liberation or Moksha. Metaphorically this scripture portrays (in an epic battle) the perpetual conflict between good and evil – between satisfying ego’s endless desires for ephemeral worldly gratifications, or transcending ego to achieve realization as God – the Absolute eternal spirit beyond all impermanent energy forms and phenomena.

When it identifies and perpetuates itself as ego, the human mind can be our worst enemy.

For millennia spiritual sages have identified “ego” as the greatest impediment to spiritual evolution and Self realization. Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us that “Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ) And the Dalai Lama says that in Buddhism ego is the “number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Ego” is conditioned mind’s mistaken self-identity as an entity separate from God – as a separate mortal perceiver of a supposedly objective world. But this is an unreal illusion – a mental mirage. Nonetheless ego-mind fearfully and constantly attempts to perpetuate its unreal existence. But such attempted self-preservation is ultimately futile. What never was can never be preserved.

Thus, while conditioned-mind attempts to perpetuate itself as illusionary ego-mind it impedes spiritual evolution, and thereby becomes “our worst enemy”.

When used skillfully to transcend ego, the human mind can be our best friend.

Except for rare Avatars and Bodhisattvas virtually all incarnate humans have not yet completed the process of spiritual evolution from humanity to divinity. So they remain subject to the karmic cycle of death and rebirth through ego misidentification. But the human mind can skillfully be subdued and used to transcend and conquer ego, and thereby to advance spiritual evolution toward achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha .

Ultimately, such transcendence happens when mind and thought cease and Universal Awareness which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as its Self, and is not mentally divided.

Thus, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”


“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,

though boundless and unchanging,

appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”


“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [mistaken] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”


“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience,
the senses receive no impressions from sense objects,
and awareness rests in its essential nature.”


“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”

~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras


Similarly, when twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti was asked

“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”,  he replied (in part):

“Belief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God.
If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality.
If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“The mind is the product of the past.”
“There can be reality only when the mind understands the total process of itself and comes to an end.
When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
“Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”


Conclusion.

Until the human mind is psychologically de-conditioned and emptied, and no longer confuses projected pure awareness as a separate objective world, it can be gradually subdued and used skillfully to advance spiritual evolution. We can use it to lose it. Like using a thorn to remove another thorn’s sliver, we can use ego-mind to end ego-mind. We can quiet, control and dis-identify with the ‘voice in the head’, and we can behave dharmically and compassionately.

Thereby the human mind can become our ‘best friend’, by hastening transcendence of illusionary ego identity to allow Self realization as timeless thoughtless Universal Awareness.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

2020 Epilogue.

As we consider the nature and function of the conditioned human mind process, the following further information may be helpful.

Body, mind and soul are inseparable abstractions.

Every conditioned human incarnation necessarily includes body, mind and soul as concepts which cannot be separated, without destroying their spiritual significance.

They all connote an entity or energy process seemingly separate from its Source. Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita “body”, “mind”, and “soul” are all denoted by the same Sanskrit word: “atma” or “self”. So in investigating the human mind it is imperative to consider it as only one connotation of “atma” or “self” and, in all events, to consider it as a conditioned subtle energy process experienced as separate from its Source.

Metaphorically, each incarnate person can be described as a systemic earthly energy process (or vortex), with enveloped mysterious layers of perceptible and subtly imperceptible energies. What we call the “mind” includes both conscious and subconscious energy processes. When subconscious, the mind autonomically operates and regulates countless systemic functions. Consciously, conditioned mind is like a subtle energy processor of conceptual thought, intellect, memory, intention, and communication.

Death of physical bodies and brains does not end consciousness and conditioned mind. They remain to perpetuate the karmic cycle of death and rebirth.

All mental perceptions, memories and tendencies associated with physical bodies are stored in subtle mental energy bodies which survive death of those physical bodies. Contrary to pseudo-scientific materialist beliefs, brains do not create consciousness and mind; consciousness creates brains and mind to function like tuner/transducers decoding karmic cosmic energies for human interpretation.

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 reused.

Thus, just as I am able to use with a new iMac the same OS X software system that operated an 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 conditioned mental obscurations and defilements.

Like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

Thus twentieth century sage J. Krishnamurti, has declared:

“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past,
which is memory, a conditioned state.”
“The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the`mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Transcendence of past mental conditioning is essential to achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha as the Eternal NOW.

The goal of all enduring spiritual traditions is to transcend past mental conditioning.

Such transcendence is achieved only when thoughts cease and Universal Awareness, which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself as Self, and is not mentally divided.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

A Psychedelic Santa Synchronicity Story

“Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”
~ The Night Before Christmas, by
Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston




Introduction

Have you ever wondered about origins of the Santa Claus legend long associated with Christmas celebrations? Why do people associate a mythical red cheeked jolly bearded old man from the North Pole with Christmas? Why is he archetypically depicted as attired in a furry red and white suit and flying through the air in a gift laden sleigh drawn by happy reindeer? Why does he supposedly deliver his gifts nocturnally via chimneys?

I began wondering about these questions after experiencing a Santa suit synchronicity. And I found interesting esoteric answers. Many people might suppose that the popular Santa (or Father Christmas) image began in 1823 with publication of the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem. But the poem was sourced from customs and legends which long antedated the nineteenth century.

I’ll tell about that after first recounting my Santa suit synchronicity story.

Santa Suit Synchronicity

Especially since my mid-life spiritual awakening, some circumstance or artifact has often fortuitously or synchronistically appeared in my life fulfilling a wish or perceived need. In my spiritual memoirs, I call these experiences “manifestation miracles”. Such “miracles” have been much too numerous for me to totally recall and recount. But, I will be sharing some memoirs stories about them, including this story about manifesting a Santa Claus costume.

On a Friday afternoon, I experienced a blissful spinal healing session at “SoulWorks”, the office of San Francisco healer and chiropractor, Dr. Melanie Hernand. During that session I was continuously and spontaneously laughing a lot. Maybe that laughter sounded to Dr. Hernand like “Ho! Ho! Ho!”. For afterwards, she asked me if I would come as Santa Claus to the “SoulWorks” holiday Christmas party, a benefit for The Healing Hearts Project and children of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  With little hesitation I told Dr. Hernand that I would be Santa Claus at the SoulWorks party, if she helped me find a costume. She agreed.

So, joyously I exited SoulWorks that Friday afternoon knowing that I needed a Santa Claus costume.  Miraculously the costume manifested that very night without any further thought or effort.

On Friday night I returned home after happily attending a program given by Visionary Activist astrologer Caroline Casey at The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) where I was Board chairman during the 1980’s. It was my first visit to CIIS since leaving there twenty five years ago.  And I very much enjoyed and appreciated Caroline’s presentation there.

I returned to my apartment building still in a blissful mood, and stopped in the lobby to get my mail.   There I met my neighbor Ronelle Strand who was about to walk her dog, Cali, before retiring. Since Ronelle was one of a few people to whom I had given a SoulWorks gift certificate, I mentioned to her that I had just agreed to be Santa at the SoulWorks holiday party.  Whereupon she told me that her Bay Music entertainment booking service business had some rental costumes, including a Santa suit which had been in storage and unrented for many years.   She offered it, and it was perfect.

Then, awaiting the Santa suit party, I began wondering about the origins of the Santa story. Whereupon, I fortuitously happened to notice on Caroline Casey’s Facebook page, a You Tube link to this two minute BBC video entitled, “‪Magic mushrooms & Reindeer – Weird Nature‬”

I watched the video, was intrigued, and wanted to learn more. So, I consulted Dr. Google and fortuitously found interesting esoteric answers to my questions about the Santa Claus myth in a detailed article entitled “The Influence of Fly Agaric on the Iconography of Father Christmas” , also published by BBC.

Apparently, the Santa Claus legend arose from shamanic traditions of tribal peoples in pre-Christian Northern Europe, whose sacred psychedelic source was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as “fly agaric”, a fungus found in pine and birch woods of western North America, northern Europe, and Asia.

“Amanita muscaria”


Red-robed Chimney Climbing Santas

Supposedly, Siberian shamans have used amanita muscaria for recreational or ritualistic purposes for thousands of years. During mushroom-induced trances, they would twitch and sweat before falling into a deep coma-like sleep. During this coma, the shaman’s soul consciousness left his body and ascended to the ‘spirit world’ where it communicated with the spirits about major health problems, such as outbreaks of sickness in the village.

On awaking, with new knowledge from subtle sources, the shamans found their muscular systems had been so stimulated that they were able to perform spectacular physical feats with seemingly little effort – like making a gigantic leap to clear a small obstacle. The mushrooms similarly affected reindeer, and mushroom intoxicated reindeer traditionally guarded each shaman.

The shamans lived in yurts, tepee-like shelters made of reindeer skin, with roofs supported by birch poles and smoke-holes at the top. During midwinter festivals of renewal, the shamans gathered the mushrooms from under sacred trees. While harvesting the toadstools, they would wear special attire, consisting of red and white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots, very much like the modern day depiction of Santa Claus. They’d then enter their yurts through the smoke-holes, carrying sacks full of dried fly agaric mushrooms, descending the birch pole to the floor. Once inside, the shamans performed ceremonies and shared the toadstool’s psychotropic gifts with those gathered inside. Then they left as they entered, climbing up the pole and back through the smoke-hole.

Flying Reindeer

Reindeer, known as caribou in North America, are deer found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe and North America. They feed on grass and lichens, but also crave the fly agaric toadstool, Amanita muscaria, because of its intoxicating and euphoric effects.

The Sami have a custom of feeding fly agaric to their deer and collecting the urine to drink. The reindeer’s digestive system metabolizes the allegedly poisonous components of the toadstool, leaving urine with the hallucinogenic and psychotropic elements of the fungus intact. Drinking the urine gives a ‘high’ similar to taking LSD. Under the hallucinatory effects of the drink, the Sami thought their reindeer were flying through space, looking down on the world. The reindeers’ so crave the toadstool hallucinogens that they have been known to eat snow on which intoxicated humans have urinated, creating a reciprocating cycle.

Apparently, when the first Christian missionaries reached Lapland and heard stories of such reindeer flight, they integrated those tales into Western folklore concerning Saint Nicholas. So, the association of reindeer with Christmas was well established for centuries before the 1843 publication of the The Night Before Christmas poem, and the 1949 hit song, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ popularized it with masses of people.

And to All a Good Night

Thus it seems probable that the traditional image of Santa Claus originated in shamanistic rituals involving the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom gathered by shamans wearing red and white fur-trimmed coats. From climbing into chimneys and gift giving, to dressing in red and white and flying through the air with reindeer, travelers and storytellers have fused these ancient customs with other pagan traditions and imagery. And these pagan customs have pragmatically been adapted and integrated by Christianity into its Christmas traditions.

Ho! Ho! Ho! And to All a Good Night.


Source:“The Influence of Fly Agaric on the Iconography of Father Christmas”

Cartesian Critique

 “When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” …… “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“I think with intuition. The basis of true thinking is intuition.

Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity.”

~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

~ Albert Einstein
“The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.”
“We know truth not by reason only, but by the heart”
“It is the heart which feels God, not the reason.
This then is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
~ Blaise Pascal
To think or not to think,

that is the question!

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking and Being can’t coexist.

So stop thinking and start Being.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Forget who you think you are

to Know what you really are.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is only the innocent mind . . unclouded by experience, totally free from the past; . . that can perceive what is reality.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity. Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.”
~  J. Krishnamurti


J. Krishnamurti



Cartesian Critique: On Confusing Thinking With Being.

Descartes deduced his presumed separate existence with thought.
He reasoned: “I think, therefore I am”.

But wasn’t that putting Descartes before his Source?

Isn’t it apparent that we exist when not thinking?

Isn’t thinking optional, while Being is perpetual?

Why are we called human “beings”, and not human “thinkings”?

Isn’t existence much more than just thinking?

Don’t we exist in thoughtless states?

Doesn’t Being encompass conscious and subconscious
phenomena beyond thought – like emotions, feelings, sounds,
tastes, sensations, moods, dreams, autonomic processes, etc.?

Don’t all thoughts comprise and concern past ideas,
whereas life is ever lived in the Now,
never in the past or the future?

Aren’t we most aware of our existence
when we are thoughtlessly/choicelessly mindful?

What might Descartes say,
if he were here today?



Ron’s Commentary on Confusing Thinking With Being.

Dear Friends,

This essay/poem questioning René Descartes’ famous philosophical proposition: “I think therefore I am.” was written during an extended period of inner reflection following my midlife change of life. Not until then did I ever wonder about how we mistakenly self-identify dualistically with the body/mind’s thoughts and story rather than its existential awareness.

Prior to my spiritual opening, I was most influenced and impressed by the world’s “great thinkers”, such as learned philosophers, professors, authors, authorities, and PhD ‘experts’.  

But after my spiritual opening and discovery of Eastern non-dualistic mysticism – and especially after meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas – I became and remain most inspired by the world’s greatest non-thinkers:  mystics, intuitives and shamans from indigenous spiritual traditions, and those who in secular life acted humbly, intuitively, and authentically – like my heroes Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein.

Guruji dropped out of school as a child and read very few books during his long life as mostly a wandering sadhu.  Yet he was amazingly enlightened, pragmatically wise, intuitive, and prescient and could explain a wide variety of esoteric issues well beyond ordinary scholarly learning.   Once when I asked him about an Indian pundit/professor then lecturing in the Bay Area, Guruji replied that the pundit was a very nice man – a “book yogi”.

Guruji’s “book yogi” comment piqued my curiosity about the difference between ‘book yogis’ and meditation yogis like Guruji.  Soon I began learning to distinguish experiential learning from conceptual learning and belief; and I prioritized learning from life’s experiences rather than from beliefs, concepts or customs inculcated or acculturated by others.  Thus I began to seek relief from belief.

By following Guruji’s instructions to ‘meditate regularly’ I learned that our existence is not dependent upon thinking; that by being “here NOW” with a stilled and thoughtless mind, we can intuitively access inner wisdom ordinarily obscured by ‘the voice in the head’; and, that our intuition facilitates and allows important insights not otherwise attained through worldly logic.

Today’s post is offered to remind us to not confuse thinking with being; that Life persists perpetually whether or not we are thinking. And to help remind us to honor and to prioritize our heart’s “sacred gift” of intuition over the rational mind – our “faithful servant”.  

May we may thereby be enabled to experientially confirm Blaise Pascal’s foregoing insightful assertion that 


“It is the heart which feels God, not the reason.” 


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Reflections on Religious Beliefs

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew”
~ Hafiz
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all.

I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.

My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the Beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,

First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.” 


~ Rumi, ‘Only Breath’
“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
 it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.”

~ Alan Watts
“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”

~ J. Krishnamurti
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.
So, we seek relief from belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Follow dharma, not dogma.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .
“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama






Reflections on Religious Beliefs

Q. What is religion?

A. “Religion” is a word with many meanings.
Here we define it as “any belief system about Divinity or immortality often including rules, rituals, codes of ethics, and philosophies of life.”

Q. Why do we have religions?

A. There is a subtle Cosmic law of ‘supply and demand.’ Religions have arisen in response to our perennial quest for lasting peace and happiness, and our desire to transcend inevitable earthly psychological sufferings.

Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone seeks Happiness, Wholeness, and Love. Consciously or subliminally, we intuit and long for a state of Being which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering. Knowingly or unknowingly we seek timeless Truth.

Religious belief is a form of attempted life guidance, and psychological self-protection from fear of inevitable physical death and uncertain life experience before death. Though many find transient consolation in accepting religious beliefs about divinity and immortality, such beliefs can’t permanently provide such protection. We can’t find freedom from fear of death and from life’s uncertainties through theories, thoughts or beliefs, but only through direct experiential Knowledge.

Thus, the Buddha who realized such freedom while meditating beneath a Banyan tree, counseled:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

When twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he said:

“[B]elief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” …… “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”

Similarly the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,
though boundless and unchanging,
appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”

“The [mistaken] identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
causes the apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”

“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience,
the senses receive no impressions from sense objects,
and awareness rests in its essential nature.”

“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras

Q. Why is a silent mind important?

A. Through thought we self identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world. But this is an ego illusion. So, attempted psychological self-preservation through perpetuation of an illusionary self-image is futile. What never was can never be preserved. Thus, religious beliefs that seek psychological self protection from identification with an illusion of separateness from Self are ultimately futile.

The object of all spiritual practice is to transcend such illusionary ego identity. Such transcendence happens only when thought ceases and the universal intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided.

Q. What about instinctive physical acts of self-protection, as distinguished from religious beliefs aimed at psychological self-preservation?

A. According to J.Krishnamurti:

“Physical self-protection is sane, normal and healthy but every other form of self-protection, inwardly, is resistance and it always gathers, builds up strength which is fear.”

Q. Are religious beliefs important?

A. Our ethical behaviors – not our religious beliefs – are most important.

As the Dalai Lama reportedly has said:

“There is no religion higher than the Truth. … What really is important is our behavior with peers, family, work, community, and in the world. …. Whether or not we follow a religion, what is important is that we become more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsible, more ethical.” https://sillysutras.com/your-religion-is-not-important/

So grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate:

“[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

Ron’s Comments on Urgently Necessary Ethical Behavior Beyond Religious Beliefs

Dear Friends,

Without universal ethical behavior beyond conflicting religious beliefs, humanity cannot survive.

As explained in the foregoing essay, throughout human history, people have adopted or accepted “religious” beliefs, practices and institutions, in exploring the mystery and meaning of life and existence. About 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or with some form of folk religion. Also there are now an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.

Paradoxically, some leaders and devotees of religions organized to teach universal “Truth” realized by Great Beings have perpetuated and acted on mistaken egoic ideas of separateness, which the sages transcended. Thus, throughout human history countless people and other precious life forms – all manifestations of that same Universal “Truth” – have been victims of demonic wars, crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and ‘terrorism’ initiated and perpetrated in the name of “true” religion or God.

Although religious beliefs and practices have also inspired immeasurable good, advances in technological and scientific knowledge now reveal that Humankind urgently need to transcend such behaviors which have spawned immense misery and even threaten all Earth life as we have known it.

But how can this happen?

Inspired by the wisdom of Dr. Seuss that “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple,” I have long reflected on on this question, seeking simple answers to the immensely complicated crises confronting us.

Perhaps one of the simplest but most powerful answers I’ve found is:

“There is only one God,

the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;

There is only one language, the language of the Heart;

There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”

~ Sathya Sai Baba

But most people are not yet sufficiently evolved to understand and act in accordance with that profound observation.

So I was delighted when His Holiness the Dalai Lama published an important self-help book – “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” – which H.H. introduced with this important insight:

“[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 (2011)

And I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by similar sentiments addressed to all Humankind by Pope Francis, e.g.:

“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

“[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”. . . .
“[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk

And so we must realize that

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama

Invocation

With silenced minds and opened hearts may we practice the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy, do no harm, and compassionately view and treat all sentient beings as spiritual siblings.

May everyone everywhere treat all beings and all Life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Let Life Live Us As Love

“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.
~ Hafiz
In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”

~ Buddha
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion,
and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [ego] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras
“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
 all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi
“Love Is The Law Of Life:

All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. 

Love is therefore the only law of life.

He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. 

Therefore, love for love’s sake,

because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

Maitreya – The Next Buddha

“Let Life Live Us As Love”

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his groundbreaking theory of relativity establishing equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e=mc2.

Since then, for over a century, Western science has more and more shown what ancient shamans, seers, and indigenous societies have known for millennia:

That there is a cosmic web of life connecting everything and everyone in Nature from the greatest galaxies to the tiniest sub-atomic particles; that we are each an integral inter-connected part of Nature’s web of life – not separate from it; that as Einstein observed:

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

Though Einstein’s insights revolutionized quantum physicists’ views of space/time “reality”, most humans haven’t yet changed our way of thinking about such “reality”.  Until now, most people mistakenly keep behaving as if we are separated from each other and from Nature, and not part of it.   This behavior has resulted in continuing selfishness, cruelty, wars and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet.

But gradually we are awakening.  From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are more and more realizing that everyone and everything are ever-changing energy phenomena appearing from a common matrix of immutable Awareness, which is LOVE.

All of our selfish, disharmonious and unsustainable behaviors have arisen from human ignorance of the true non-dual nature of the Self and all phenomena as Love; and from consequent mental mis-identification with the illusion of physical separation from each other – called “ego”.

Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us in the Rig Veda that

“ Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.”

Only rare Buddha-like beings, are said to totally transcend ego identification.  So we all experience some degree of separate self-identification.   But all humans are in various stages of an ultimately irresistible evolutionary process of ego attrition and transcendence.

In this world of cause and effect, Nature – not ego – is in charge and determines everything.   But, while believing ourselves separate from Nature, we exercise apparent free will and seemingly make non-predestined choices.

Depending on whether we are in harmony or disharmony with Nature, these apparent choices hasten or impede our evolution, and create or mitigate crises, sufferings and problems.   So, let us ever aspire to be harmonious with Nature:

Ever mindful of our common Self-identity as Awareness with all Life on our precious planet, let us live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

Ever mindful that in space/time Nature is our nature,
let us see and cherish Nature in everything and everyone everywhere.

Ever mindful that Awareness, as Love, is the ultimate Doer,
let us let go of ego,
and

 

Let Life Live us as LOVE.

 

And So It Shall Be!

 
Ron’s comments and explanation about “Let Life Live Us As Love”

Dear Friends,

On moving from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was ignorant about spiritual subjects, or religions other than Judaism. Growing up in Chicago, I had become familiar with Judaism’s core teachings:


“ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One”;  and
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

But initially, I had no idea of the supremely profound esoteric importance of those teachings, or of devotional Love as crucial in all enduring religious and spiritual traditions. Not until my 1976 spiritual awakening and rebirth did I begin experientially learning about spirituality.

Whereupon, gradually I became inspired by “love of God” as a key spiritual tradition, with which I had instinctively joined in frequently crying and calling for the Divine. And ultimately I became convinced that our true nature and identity is LOVE.

That in space/time “reality” everyone, everything, everywhere is an ever-changing energy phenomenon appearing from a common matrix of immutable Universal Awareness, which is LOVE.

So as Rumi profoundly tells us we need not “seek for love, but merely .. seek and find all the barriers [we] have built against it.” Those barriers are mistaken ideas about our true identity, which we can discover and transcend by looking within.

This process of finding and letting go of mental barriers to experiencing ourselves as LOVE is explained in the foregoing profound quotations and essay.

May they remind us of our common Self-identity as Love with all Life on our precious planet.
And may they inspire us to live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Thus, according to twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti,

“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. . [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”

Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.

“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” . . . . .
“That which is timeless is found now.”

Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present – in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is furthered by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, quieted my mind, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness – the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated SillySutras.com to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us. [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many Jews is the religious highpoint of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult (before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful, even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever immanent Divine LOVE – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

Concluding Invocation

On holy days and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember their affinity and identity with Divinity; and, may we thus wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede living in the precious present.

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish (days of awe); Moslem (Eid Al-Adha); Christian (Feast of St. Francis); Hindu (Navaratri) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”. Moreover, all major religions – Buddhist-Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish – teach a common message of Love as the supreme “unifying principle of Life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.” [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] 

Yet, often in the name of religion, our world remains rife with discrimination, violence and killing which must be transcended for survival of Human life as we have known it.

Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

The above essay, Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present, encourages our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we commonly self-identify as ONE Eternal spirit, which is LOVE – not just as separate mortals – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious human lifetime.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”

~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda





Introduction.

After a midlife spiritual awakening at age forty three, prayer became essential to my spiritually conscious life process. So my spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following description and explanation of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening.

My history with “prayer”.

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing. But gradually I ceased praying for specific outcomes, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.

Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It is best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for our perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Becoming “prayer”.

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Self Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny.

Conclusion.

May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward realization of that ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
“To err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your Self return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
~ A Course in Miracles

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16




Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.

Forgiveness in Christianity.

Forgiveness is especially emphasized in Christianity. Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness. Eg.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
~ Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27

And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than malevolent) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

What are Sins?


“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.

“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


When sins are appropriately considered ‘missing the mark’ from ignorance rather than malevolence, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on how to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with mistaken acts or omissions.

Recognition and transcendence of “sins”.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Jewish Day of Atonement for “Sins”.

In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]


Recognizing the inevitability of ‘sin”, the Torah enjoins Jews to return to a righteous path with a process of societal repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions.

Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality and goal beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-freedom-question-and-quotes/)

All enduring religious and spiritual wisdom traditions recognize need for human transcendence of ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and Nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Awareness – which is our ultimate Essence, and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving and Atoning for “Sins”:

Introduction.

Dear Friends and Fellow ‘Sinners’,

We are all here to evolve human consciousness by gradually realizing and actualizing – beyond our perceived separation from each other – our common Oneness with all Life. Yet, despite our common spiritual essence, each of us is unique, with unique propensities, abilities and fallibilities, which provide unique evolutionary opportunities and challenges. So ‘clearing our karma’ involves mindful identification, observation and purification of our unique mental tendencies and obscurations which impede realization of Oneness.

The foregoing essay and quotes about Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” address a spiritually important subject for all of us. For most of my adult life, forgiveness been a great challenge. So I don’t claim to be an accomplished “expert” on this subject, but now share with you as one who has long reflected on judgmentally perceived moral failings of other fallible humans.

Whether or not we are spiritual ‘seekers’, we are all spiritual ‘sinners’ who inevitably ‘miss the mark’ and make mistakes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring and learning in ‘space/time soul suits’ on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’. Except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, all humans are fallible; even Pontiffs and Prelates aren’t infallible.

Before hereafter discussing the spiritual importance of nonjudgmental forgiveness of ‘sins’, I will summarize my long history of judging others, to help you understand, and perhaps appreciate, my present perspectives on non-judgmental forgiveness.

Ron’s history of judging others.

After a midlife awakening, I began identifying my particular spiritual evolutionary challenges and opportunities. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and long-time ardent social justice advocate – I had long established tendencies of often being outspokenly and acerbically judgmental, and of sometimes being unforgiving and angry about perceived injustices. Also I realized that these habits were not helpful to others or me; that they were impediments to my spiritual evolution, and inconsistent with mystical insights of Oneness with all Life, beyond our perceived separation from one another.

However, since first identifying these unhelpful habits decades ago, it hasn’t been easy to transcend them. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992, by deactivating my law license it was easy for me to stop lawyering. But it was hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others – especially if they seemed to act immorally, hypocritically or harmfully.

Only gradually have I discerned significant – but often subtle – distinctions between being unduly judgmental and unforgiving of others, and my life-long ardent and conscientious advocacy for social justice. This often has required difficult discernments and decisions about conscientious truth telling and nonviolently resisting those who unjustly harm others, without vindictively, condemning, blaming and judging them.

The most challenging behaviors for me have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of public or private trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public trust by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I personally experienced as betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.

Slowly my pain and suffering from harboring anger or bitterness, have helped awaken me to the futility and harm of blame. I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance do not change others, and are always incompatible with a loving peaceful mind. But that love and forgiveness, do not preclude – and often require – conscientious advocacy for social justice, and nonviolent resistance to harmfully immoral acts.

As inspiringly demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., love and forgiveness, are integral to such nonviolent resistance. He explained that:


“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” . . . “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” . . .”The time is always right to do what is right.”. . . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


Ultimately I have realized how hating hurts the hater; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. Thus, that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, and that any bitterness we harbor against perceived “others” separates us from our divine Oneness with everyone and everything everywhere, and beyond.

As I have slowly understood that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, I have learned to forgive it, and thereby to live an ever happier life. And thus, I have concluded that our purpose on Earth is not to judge, condemn or criticize apparent evil but to transcend it with LOVE.

Thereby, and only after many years of unsuccessfully addressing my negative judgmental tendencies, I may have now transcended them, by realizing that they arose from ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. So I’ve finally granted my irrevocable general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to judge all “sinners” – even Donald Trump, for whom I now feel sorry, as countless humans worldwide conscientiously and nonviolently resist his administration’s patently insane ecologically suicidal behaviors which threaten to catastrophically destroy all human life on Earth as we have known it.

And while so deferring to the unerring law of cause and effect, with absolute faith in the Divine, I have enjoyed unprecedented peace of mind.

Discussion.

We are here to learn and to demonstrate divine LOVE. But if we behave fearfully or selfishly instead of lovingly and compassionately, we inevitably ‘miss the divine target mark’, and thereby ‘sin’. And if we miss our mark and ‘sin’, we’ll probably suffer karmically from the law of causality. So how do we avoid ‘sinning’ and atone for past ‘sins’?

First, we must become aware of how ‘sins’ happen.

On investigating, we learn that human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable while we unknowingly perceive “through a glass darkly” with conditioned ego-minds. We realize that all our perceptions are illusory projections of past conceptions, which obscure our experience of the timeless NOW. Thus, we learn that our space/time causality reality is like a persistent illusion – a mental mirage; and we discover that

“space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”, that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”, and that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” [Albert Einstein]


Such new-found awareness can reveal simple solutions to previously persistent behavioral problems, from levels of consciousness beyond those which unknowingly caused our mistaken ‘sins’. For example, the Buddha taught that:

“to understand everything is to forgive everything”.

So we may discover that a significant solution to our ‘sinning’ problems is to forgive NOW (in the precious present), all unknowing mental mistakes made by ourselves and others. That

“to err is human; to forgive, Divine.”


Then, with ‘amazing grace’ we can finally see that our non-judgmental forgiveness of mental mistakes is Divine, since ‘sins’ of the conditioned ego-mind have arisen from ignorance, not malevolence – from belief, not awareness; from fear, not LOVE.

As a rare exemplar of Divine LOVE, Jesus Christ has inspired millions with his words and deeds of non-judgmental and merciful forgiveness, of even enemies and persecutors, for their spiritually ignorant behaviors. So even while suffering excruciating pain on a crucifixion cross He beseeched:


“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Yet, without judging ignorant beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9] And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]

Perhaps, from Jesus’s supremely divine perspective, ‘mortal sin’ can be seen (with insight, not eyesight) as ignorantly believing oneself a “mortal”, rather than immortal; and, “original sin” can be seen as ego’s mistaken belief of itself as separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Awareness.

During a long lifetime of often morally judging those who betray or hurt others, I finally learned that it is infinitely easier to forgive and atone for, our ‘sins’, by mindfully recognizing how they egotistically happen, than to exist Christ-like or Buddha-like as divine LOVE. And that on becoming mindfully aware of our unwitting sins we inevitably spur our spiritual evolution process.

Conclusion.

May these teachings on “Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” help all of us to forgive and transcend ’sins’ with love. But with quiet minds and open hearts may we continue to non-judgmentally, nonviolently, and conscientiously resist social injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

And may this posting thereby help spur our spiritual evolution process, so that we may all open our hearts to forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –
and BE, eternally, what we truly are:

The unseen Source of the world we see – ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE!

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”
~ Socrates
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. 
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Love is what we were born with.

Fear is what we learned here. 

The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear
and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.

~ Marianne Williamson
In silence sweet

we shall see

that everything is light.

And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace

there’s naught to fear but fright.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.

The higher we go
the more we know,

That our highest highness
is our common “I-ness”.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Ascension Apprehension”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Ascension Apprehension”

Dear Friends,

Did you know that most humans fail to achieve their highest potentials and suffer unnecessarily because of mistaken fear of the unknown  – especially fear of inevitable bodily death? 
 
Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown. But, knowingly or unknowingly, most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and don’t know what if anything happens after physical death.

Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown.

Countless survivors of what we call near death experiences, credibly report vastly transformed, happier and more fulfilling lives following experiential realization that bodily death does not end life; that in dying to physical life we can be ‘reborn to eternal life’.

By identifying only with our mortal physical bodies we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. And we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death. So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And futilely we try to ‘protect’ ourselves by psychologically denying inevitable demise of our ephemeral physical forms.  So our lives are often marked by suffering from conflicts and problems which disturb our peace of mind and awareness of our eternal at-one-ment with Nature. 

Yet it is possible for us to transcend suffering from fear of the unknown. We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts; that our ultimate common essence is immortal.  Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with our common immortal awareness, rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and gradually we can expand our perceived boundaries, so to ever evolve ’til these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend ephemeral entity identity, often we can just be at peace in the present – as thoughtless immortal awareness – NOW.

Invocation

May the foregoing Ascension Apprehension verses and quotations help us realize that “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.” and thereby inspire our discovery of ever less fearful and ever more fulfilling lives.  

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner