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Free Will or Fate?

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

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

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

moving from one part of the room to another?”

A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

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

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

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

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

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






Free Will or Fate?

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

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

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

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

“God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

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


They report realizing experientially – as Albert Einstein explained scientifically – that:

“reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one;” [that] “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”, and [that our separate self-identity] “is an optical illusion of consciousness.” 

They define “freedom” as a timeless non-dual spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

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

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

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

“If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. If you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”

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


Thus, upon total transcendence of separate entity identity, there is no free will or free choice,nor is there time in which karmic fate or destiny unfolds –


Only choiceless “Freedom”,


ever



NOW!

Footnote.

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



Ron’s Reflections on Free Will or Fate.

After my midlife change of life, I reconsidered all prior paradigms about self-identity, reality, free choice or pre-destiny, and began entertaining intriguing ideas about reincarnation and karma.   After experiencing my self-identity as universal consciousness, gradually I realized that space/time reality – which previously I had considered as the only reality – is an ever impermanent projection of universal intelligence which is the essence and matrix of all worldly phenomena.

Ultimately, I concluded that  space/time “reality” is a digitally preprogrammed simulated world – a “holographic theater of the mind”; that space/time “reality isn’t really real”.

But even though it appeared to me that “reality isn’t really real”,  like all other “normal” people I’ve lived this lifetime mostly behaving as if this crazy space/time world is very real – yet  ever aware of a deep intuitive aspiration to be ‘in this world but not of this world’.  And I’ve never stopped wondering with great curiosity about how and why space/time reality was created and how it works, and why we are here.    

For example, on returning to San Francisco from a February 1977 miraculous week in New York  where I amazingly experienced many previously foreseen events, I began wondering:

“What is time?”
“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, 
or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”
“Do we really have free will as most people believe?
And if so, what free will?”

Forty years since then, I am still uncertain about answers to those mysterious perennial questions.  But I have written many aphorisms, essays and poems reflecting my theories, intuitions and speculations about them, which are posted with apt quotations on SillySutras.com. 

Thus I have posted the above quotations and Q and A essay about free will or fate, suggesting that karmically and cosmically our lives are predetermined, but that morally we must live as if we have freedom of choice to heal the world.  

I suggest that cosmically free will is an illusionary aspect of Nature’s predetermined evolutionary incentive system; that we are subjected to inevitable earthly sufferings motivating us to transcend them by choosing to improve our life’s circumstances.  Thus, I think that Nature’s determinism promotes evolution by fating us to make apparent choices, individually and collectively, which ultimately will advance human consciousness until we experientially realize our essential common self-identity beyond death as Infinite Potentiality – Universal spirit, Being, Awareness, Bliss, Eternal Life, Light, LOVE.

Mostly I agree with Einstein’s Mystical Views on Free Will or Determinism.  I believe that Professor Einstein was right in observing that what we perceive and consider to be reality “is merely an illusion”; that “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think”. And also that he correctly insisted that everything in space/time is subject to the law of cause and effect; that 

“human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”  [* See commentary footnote]

Whether or not we agree with Einstein and some rare mystics that what happens in space/time reality is karmically predestined by Natural law via mysterious causes and conditions – that earth-life is like a preprogrammed dream – I have found that assuming predestination can help us find happiness; that we can experience ever growing peace of mind by more and more accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise, and that it is happening in the best way and at the best time – as an evolutionary incentive and opportunity. 

More and more we can thereby accept inevitable difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, without remorse or regret about the past, or worry or fear of the future.  This attitude of assuming everything as predestined has helped me experience ever increasing equanimity and contentment, and to experience countless unplanned synchronistic meetings with ordinary people as ‘holy encounters’ with divine beings wearing ‘space/time soul suits’.

So, whether or not we believe in spiritual evolution or pre-destiny, I invite your careful consideration of the above quotations and essay.  I hope these ideas can help all of us find increasing happiness by accepting difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, and by finding blessings in unplanned interactions with others.  

And if we do accept predestined karma,  let us remember that when we sow love, we harvest happiness.

So, whether or not predestined,  I invite you to join with me frequently in the heartfelt affirmation slogan which appears on the header atop every SillySutras.com page.

“Infuse us, enthuse us, and use us, to bless all life as Love!”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Commentary Footnote.

*Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, that ‘God does not play dice with the universe’; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.
Some quantum physicists now suggest that recent non-locality experiments show that Einstein erred in rejecting quantum uncertainty theory; that these experiments support what Einstein rejected as “spooky action at a distance”.  However, it is still possible that quantum physicists’ ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from predetermined causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived by mainstream science.


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Imagining A Better World – With Faith

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein
“You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”
“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind
and darkens all its visions of other realities;
but in the end when we become used to the new light,
we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
~ Thomas Merton
“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far,

but none comes further.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
 allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
 . . .
“Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

Imagining A Better World – With Faith

Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’, dreaming our world into being;

And, consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’.

Together, we are awakening to the greatest “secret of secrets”:

That we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”,
but also its co-creators –

That we karmically co-create our reality with our imagination, thoughts, words and deeds;

That everything we think, do or say changes our world in some way;

That our worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

As we are awakening, we are discovering that our great gift of imagination can immeasurably help us live harmonious, loving, self actuated, and creative lives.

As we are awakening, and discovering our true nature and unlimited potential,
we are becoming infused with abiding faith in Nature and our Self,

And with faith in the impenetrable Mystery beyond every form or phenomenon.

We are learning – as Einstein taught us – that
what we imagine is “the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

So, as we awaken with abiding faith and love,
together let us “imagine” – like martyred hero John Lennon – that

“Someday …. the world will live as one”.

AND SO SHALL IT BE!


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)



Ron’s Commentary on Envisioning a Better World:

Dear Friends,

The foregoing post was inspired by the recent 77th birthday anniversary of departed hero John Lennon, who – like Dr. King and Malcolm X – was martyred at age forty at the pinnacle of his powers, but who bequeathed to us a lasting legacy of unflagging aspiration for planetary peace and love, so that some day our “world will live as one.” 

The 2016 US presidential primary and general elections revealed that most Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo in US empire politics, and are concerned about societal inequity issues.  Thus, millions of Americans – especially ‘millennials’ – desire an era in which at long last the US ‘walks it talk’ and becomes democratically and constitutionally governed for the wellbeing of the vast majority of ordinary people everywhere, rather than the upper 1% – an era of true democracy, with much less plutocracy and hypocrisy.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives may be, we share overriding common needs and aspirations.  As Humankind we share the same web of life, the same precious Earth ecology, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet.
   
Accordingly, with abiding faith in Nature’s wisdom, let us join together in envisioning fulfillment of our common needs and deepest aspirations in an equitable new era for planetary politics and Human civilization.   

May everyone everywhere be happy!

And so may it be!   

Ron Rattner

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What is Perfection?

“All people are flawed;
none are perfect.
But the most flawed,
are those who think or claim they’re perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations

comes nearest to perfection.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress,
driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions.
Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,

to find out his own imperfections.”

~ Saint Augustine
“Advance, and never halt,
for advancing is perfection.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,

and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





What is Perfection?

Q. What is perfection?

A. “Perfection” is an idea;
a conception in duality reality.

Perfection implies imperfection.

So in relative reality we can not have perfection without imperfection.

And in Ultimate Reality beyond relative reality,
there is no perfection.

Ultimate Reality is beyond conception,
and so beyond “perfection”.



Ron’s Reflections on “What is Perfection?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever met a ‘perfect’ person?  Or perceived or projected “perfection” in this crazy world of ecological, political, and economic crises and constant conflicts?   Have you ever considered seeking inner “perfection” as a life goal? 

Before my mid-life change of life, I had never reflected on ideas of “perfection”.  

But soon thereafter I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar where I was first exposed to certain Eastern spirituality principles skillfully collected and experientially presented to help participants radically transform their lives. 

The key est teaching was acceptance of the present moment – emotionally accepting “what is” because it could not be otherwise.  [See Getting “IT” at est, ] Apt to this teaching was the foregoing “perfection” definition, by est’s founder Werner Erhard:  

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, 
and are not the way they are not.  
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

Intrigued by est, I began reflecting about “perfection” and sometimes wrote sutras and essays, later posted online.  Accordingly, many Silly Sutras postings deal with my evolving reflections on “perfection”. Because these reflections significantly have helped my spiritual opening process, I have shared them hoping they may help others, as they have helped me.

After est, I soon realized that in our phenomenal duality reality “perfection” is an idea, which implies it’s opposite – imperfection; that we can’t have one, without the other. So, a “perfect” person isn’t possible.

Ultimately, I became persuaded by non-duality teachings discouraging “vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative” – and impermanent.

But for a while I mistakenly believed that there were exceptions to my conclusion that an infallible “perfect” person isn’t possible.

This happened after I was blessed to meet my beloved venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. [ See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master ] and also met certain other “enlightened” spiritual teachers in the US and India. Whereupon, I became a “born-again Hindu”, and read and recited Eastern scriptures and liturgy glorifying divinity of “gurus” and awakened “buddhas”. 

Naively, I thereafter began projecting “perfection” onto Guruji and a few other “enlightened” teachers. But, ultimately, I realized from inner and outer experience that incarnation is limitation, and that however evolved an incarnate being may be s/he is fallible; that here on Earth, where we experience life in apparent physical bodies, human fallibility ‘goes with the territory’ – that “to err is human”.

With that realization, I ceased projecting “perfection” onto individuals and began relying on inner – not outer – authority. No longer a “born-again Hindu” I became, and remain, an “Uncertain Undue” , seeking relief from belief.

My devotional motto became, and remains:

“Adoration of the Infinite; not adulation of the incarnate”.

And I wrote The Law of Flaw, a poem beginning with these verses:

All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.


In reading the seemingly contradictory above quotes about perfection please remember that in this impermanent world of relativity and duality words often point paradoxically or metaphorically to Eternal truth, which is ineffable. 
 
Whether or not we may agree that “perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not”,  I hope this perfection definition helps you – as it helped me – find inner peace and happiness by emotionally accepting “what is” NOW, because it could not be otherwise. 

But let us remember that emotionally accepting the present moment need not deter us from questioning or nonviolently resisting – like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – pervasive suffering and injustice caused by human ignorance and greed, while envisioning our evolutionary transcendence thereof. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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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 imminent 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 autumn/spring equinox seasons of major religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish ( days of awe); Moslem( Eid Al-Adha); Hindu (Navaratri); Christian (Feast of St. Francis) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”.

Moreover, whether or not we are ‘religious’, knowingly or unknowingly we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of transcending ego’s mental/optical illusion of our perceived separation from each other; of our returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Intelligence or Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

As gradually we mindfully observe and eliminate or change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we self-identify as Eternal spirit – not just as mortal physical bodies – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“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.”
~ 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 is particularly important 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


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 willful) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

“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.

If sin is considered ‘missing the mark’, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on what we should do to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission.

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


“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


“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


“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

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]


And whenever Jews realize that they have erred, the Torah – the Jewish Bible – obligates them to return to a righteous path with a process of 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 goal and Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Beyond any religious or theistic terms or traditions, there is a universal and perennial evolutionary process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and from our true nature; of our returning psychologically and existentially to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness which is our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving “Sins”:

Dear Friends and Fellow Sinners,

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

From perspective of ‘missing the mark’, expiation of sin requires that we focus on getting back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission; that we accent the positive to eliminate the negative.

From a non-dual ‘Buddha’s eye’ view, our space/time causality reality is like a mirage, where human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable because we mistakenly self-identity as imagined personalities separate from eternal Infinite potentiality or emptiness.  Similarly Einstein told us that from a quantum physics perspective “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”; that what we perceive and believe to be separate forms are ever impermant energy vortices in an undivided quantum field. 

So perhaps Humanity’s “original sin” was “ego” – the perceptual/conceptual mistake of believing that we are separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Intelligence – a mental illusion which inevitably causes continual suffering.

Thus, forgiveness and atonement of “sins” can be seen as a psychological and existential evolutionary process of transcending “ego” by consciously getting us back ‘on target’ about our true self-identity; and, thereby returning to “Godliness” – to self-identification, realization and existential actualization of our spiritual Eternal Oneness.  

Here are some ‘on target’ observations and quotations:

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha

Ego gets and forgets,
Love gives and forgives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer 

We have nothing to surrender but the idea that
we are someone, with something to surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

There is nothing to forgive or give up
but the belief that we are separate someones
with something to forgive or give up.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

It is infinitely easier to perceive our ‘sins’, than to existentially transcend them so as to exist Buddha-like as universal divine essence.

This posting is offered to help spur our self-transformation process so that we may forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –  and BE, eternally, what we truly are.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Surrender and Let Go of Ego ~ Quotes and Sutra Sayings

We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.
~ Lao Tzu
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything
even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”
~ Deepak Chopra
“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
~ Rumi
Love is the sacrifice of will.
If you cannot leave will behind
You have no will at all.
~ Rumi
“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?”
~ The Buddha
Q. How much “ego” do you need?
A. Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi





Ron’s Sutra Sayings on Surrendering Ego.

We have nothing to surrender
but the idea that
we’re someone,
with something
to surrender.

Let’s let go
and
let life live us,
as Love.

Let’s leave it to the
Lone Arranger.

Let’s let go, and “go with the flow”.*

*Being “in the flow” is thought-free, effortless, and focused
merging of intention, action, and awareness
as consciousness – consciously letting Life happen through you.

Tao is Now,
Tao is One,
Tao is Doer,
Tao will be done.

Tao will be done.
So let Tao do it.

Give your spiritual
‘power of attorney’
to God.

“Let go, and let God.”*

*Unity Church maxim

Leave it to the Lone Arranger.

Ego Antidote:
The root of all problems is
I/me/mine.
End it with antidote,
Thy/Thee/Thine.

Ego: Use it to lose it!

Immolate ego
in the fire of faith.

As ego goes
consciousness grows
until it Knows –
Itself.

Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.

Our only choice
is to accept
or reject
“what is”.

Acceptance is pleasure;
rejection is suffering.
Acceptance is freedom;
rejection is bondage.
Acceptance is NOW;
rejection is then.

So, if choose you must,
then with faith and trust,
say “yes” to Life.

With radical trust
we do as we must.

The more we trust
the less we try.

Enter a state of enlightened amnesia:

Be now;
forget then.

Remember God;
forget the rest.

Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.



Ron’s audio recitation of Sutra Sayings- Surrender and Let Go of Ego

Listen to


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Permanent Impermanence – Sayings and Quotes

“All formations are `transient’ (anicca); all formations are `subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are `without a self’ (anattaa)”.
~ Gautama Buddha (563 – 483 B.C)
“All formations and formulations are impermanent creations.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Nothing is permanent ‘neath heaven’s vast firmament.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In this ever-changing space/time world,
nothing is immutable, but much is inscrutable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is ineffable, change is inevitable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





“Everything flows and nothing abides,
 everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”

~ Heraclitus (c.540 – c.475 BC)

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

~ Lao-Tzu

“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”
~ Pema Chodron

“Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.”
~ Pema Chodron

“[T}he recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to
the dimension of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it “eternal life.” ….It leads to…. nonresistance, non-judgment, and non-attachment .. the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth (edited)

“The words “This, too, will pass” are pointers toward Reality. In pointing to the impermanence of all forms, by implication, they are also pointing to the eternal. Only the eternal in you can recognize the impermanent as impermanent.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient.
And that which is transient, is subject to suffering; and of that which is transient and subject to suffering and change, one cannot rightly say:
`This belongs to me; this am I; this is my Self’.
Therefore, whatever there be of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations, or consciousness, whether past, present or future, one’s own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, one should understand according to reality and true wisdom: `This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Self’.”
~ Gautama Buddha

“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. 
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
 rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.”
~ Gautama Buddha

“A corporeal phenomenon, a feeling, a perception, a mental formation, a consciousness, which is permanent and persistent, eternal and not subject to change, such a thing the wise men in this world do not recognize; and I also say that there is no such thing.”
~ Gautama Buddha

“The First thing to understand about the universe is that no condition is “good” or “bad.” It just is. So stop making value judgments. The second thing to know is that all conditions are temporary. Nothing stays the same, nothing remains static. Which way a thing changes depends on you.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch

“In the beginning was Atman; the one without a second.” . . .
“We are like the spider.

We weave our life and then move along in it.

We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.

This is true for the entire universe.”
~ Aitareya Upanishad



Ron’s Comments on Permanent Impermanence.

Only in the past century have quantum physicists confirmed what the Buddhas, saints and sages discovered and have revealed for millennia: that in this world everything is impermanent.

Every appearance is in a constant state of flux or ‘flow’; so everything that appears, disappears; every form eventually melts into mystery.  [Not even ‘diamonds are forever’.]

Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum scientists have confirmed that in this world of space/time duality and causality everything is energy; that every form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable, is ephemeral; so, that this is a world of permanent impermanence.

Yet, paradoxically, in our polarity/duality ‘reality’, it is only the immutable Eternal – ever imminent in all manifestation – which can recognize and realize that every appearance is impermanent, and that eternal Cosmic consciousness is Ultimate Non-duality Reality.

Hence the worldly Persian adage “This, too, will pass”, reflecting on the evanescence of the human condition, contradictorily points us toward ultimate Reality, because it is only That unchanging Eternal Awareness invisibly imminent in each of us which can recognize that everything which appears will pass.

Only after my spiritual awakening, and gradual exposure to Eastern mystical philosophy, did I begin to reflect on the crucial importance of experientially realizing the dream-like impermanence of this world; that Earth life can be likened to an ephemeral mental mirage from which we suffer until awakening to our true Eternal self identity and the non-dual essence of all phenomena.

Such philosophy teaches that we unavoidably suffer in this transient world of samsara or maya until realizing the true nature of self and all phenomena. Knowingly or subconsciously everyone seeks eternal peace and happiness. But that is impossible in this world where no pleasure is forever. So our unavoidable suffering – from unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which are subject to law of karma – is a cosmic ‘incentive system’ impelling us to overcome ignorance and discover our true non-duality self-identity and ‘reality’ – Eternal LOVE.

Suffering ends when ignorance ends; ignorance ends with experiential Self knowledge that we are Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, rather than ego-identified mortal and limited entities.

While meditating on these ideas, I began discovering, appreciating and writing about apt scriptural and other authoritative quotations, like those cited above.

May they help us find ever expanding happiness as we less and less identify as mortally ephemeral entities and more and more identify as Eternally immutable Awareness ever imminent in everything/everyone everywhere.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

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Awakening to the “Secret of Secrets”

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise
of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“You cannot teach an ego to be anything but egotistic,
even though egos have the subtlest ways of pretending to be reformed.
The basic thing is therefore to dispel, by experiment and experience,
the illusion of oneself as a separate ego.”
~ Alan Watts
“People can’t be talked out of illusions. If a person believes that the earth is flat, you can’t talk him out of that, he knows that it’s flat. He’ll go down to the window and see that its obvious, it looks flat. So the only way to convince him that it isn’t is to say, “Well let’s go and find the edge”
~ Alan Watts
“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is—rather literally—to be spellbound”.
~ Alan Watts
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.

If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.”

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi




Why do we ignore who, or what, we really are?

For millennia there has been a tacit taboo or ‘conspiracy of silence’ against disclosing to all Humankind our true spiritual and immortal identity.  

Except for those raised in so-called ‘primitive’ or indigenous societies, or those imbued with Eastern religious philosophy, most people have been acculturated from time immemorial into societies with “an unrecognized but mighty taboo — our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are.” ( Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Preface.)

From childhood we are taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal common consciousness with all life-forms.

Nor are we ever taught the greatest “secret of secrets”: that we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”, but also its co-creators – that we co-create our reality with our thoughts, words and deeds; that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way; and, that this worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

To experientially realize that greatest “secret of secrets” is to Know Thyself. And to Know Thyself, is to know the Whole – the Truth that will set us free.

For countless ages sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we are not what we think we are!  That we suffer from perception-deception – with self-identity and reality not what they appear to be; that it is possible to experientially transcend the inevitable suffering of ordinary human existence through self-realization of and self-identification with an undivided eternal spiritual reality – which is the common essence of all space-time causality reality.

Mystics say that we share common Self identity – as Cosmic Consciousness or Non-Duality Reality; that we are not merely our mortal bodies – their names, genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories – or the ‘voices in our heads’.  We are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles.  But we’re all the same ‘under the hood’.  

Yet until now that greatest secret has been mostly concealed or denied: predominantly by subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain non-experienced facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusionary beliefs about “reality”; sometimes by institutions and individuals seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources.

Until now ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in our hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive insanity, selfishness and suffering.   

But now, facing ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises which cannot be resolved from the same levels of consciousness which created them, we are at long last being awakened from our delusion of separateness and powerlessness. Spurred by increasing suffering and awareness of imminent catastrophe, we are finally dispelling the ignorance which has spawned these crises.

And we shall soon reach a tipping point, when a critical mass of Humankind will have awakened to the “secret of secrets”, uplifting all human consciousness and resolving harmoniously and compassionately the critical mess created by our prior unawareness of that “secret”.

Thus awakened, we shall harmoniously, cooperatively and lovingly resolve our common crises for our common good.

And so it shall be!


Ron’s Commentary on why we ignore who, or what, we really are.

The foregoing essay was inspired by Alan Watts’: “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, ©1966.

Watts was a brilliantly insightful, erudite and articulate UK philosopher, author, and teacher, with post-graduate degrees in Theology and Divinity. After five years as an ordained Episcopal priest, he ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and in 1951 moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Thereafter, until his death in 1973, Watts became a counterculture icon, best-known for introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Westerners.

I first learned about Watts’ teachings listening to KPFA Pacifica radio, Berkeley, which posthumously broadcast his lectures on Sunday nights, while I was driving for visits with my aged parents. Those broadcasts helped me to learn about Eastern wisdom and philosophy of spiritual evolution – of which I was previously ignorant.

Only after launching the Silly Sutras website in 2010 did I discover and read Watt’s 1966 essay “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. By that time I mostly concurred with Watts’ assertions about what causes the illusion of a separate ego self, and how that illusion is central to our ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises.

Moreover, I had already learned about how cognitive dissonance can cause subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusions about “reality”. And how powerful government and corporate institutions and psychopathic individuals insanely seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources can ‘brainwash’ and propagandize ordinary people into rejecting truth-tellers, and the factual truths which they reveal, by pejoratively ridiculing them as “conspiracy theorists” and blatantly lying about their truthful revelations.

So I sympathized with Watts’ contentions concerning a tacit taboo or conspiracy of silence against revealing our true identity and infinite potentiality. Thus I endorse Watts’ essay and have embedded it below as a recommended YouTube audio book file.

May it help us awaken to “the secret of secrets”, and to see ourselves as uniquely interdependent expressions of ONE universal and eternal reality – a cosmic Self in all life everywhere.


Youtube Audio: Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.



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Advaita-Vedanta* For Dummies

“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“You will know the truth, 
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise 
of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
Essence Of Advaita
E = mc2 = Consciousness
Subject = Object = Consciousness
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Ramana Maharshi


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

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

So, wake up, and  –
Transcend entity identity!

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



Ron’s audio recitation of Advaita-Vedanta For Dummies

Listen to


Ron’s Commentary: “We are not what we think we are!”

Dear Friends,

We are not what we think we are!

The foregoing crucial quotations and “Advaita-Vedanta* For Dummies” poem emphasize a pivotal spiritual message – that we share common self identity as Cosmic Consciousness or Non-Duality Reality.

And embedded below is an inspiringly important four minute viral video by rapper Makmantis X with over 83 million Facebook views – titled: “This literally made me question everything.” I urge you to carefully consider it!

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

We are immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory ‘space/time’ vehicles. 
But we’re all the same ‘under the hood’.  

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

May all our sufferings be transformed to universal happiness as we realize and actualize our common identity as Infinite Potentiality, Being, Awareness, Bliss; Eternal Peace, Life, Light – LOVE!
 
And so it shall be!




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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

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