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Dalai Lama

Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

“Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.
I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends
and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that.
That’s what’s insane about it.”
~ John Lennon 6/6/68
“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

~ Dalai Lama (From “Humanity and Ecology”)
“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
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
~ Luke 23: 34
“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha


Dalai Lama


Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

Introduction

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why there is so much suffering in our world; why we are facing extraordinary ecological, financial, international and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet?

Is is possible that these crises have been precipitated by sociopathic world “leaders” – obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious oligarchs – who without apparent remorse amorally acquire and misuse power, and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs; people so insane that they are unjustly and brutally harming countless people and creatures, and myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth, destroying the life support systems which sustain us?

As more and more studies emerge demonstrating the corrosive effect of psychopathy on governments and corporations, researchers have begun to explore how our society seems to have been afflictively molded in the psychopaths’ image.

One of these psychopathy researchers, Canadian author Stefan Verstappen, believes that we live in societies shaped and ruled by psychopaths – people in positions of great corporate and political power who without conscience, empathy or remorse, act to promote their delusionally perceived self interests, amorally and often violently.

Verstappen says that psychopaths often attain positions of power because, unlike the vast majority of people, they don’t play by the rules and have no qualms about cheating, lying or doing anything to anyone that gets them what they want.

Here are two recommended You Tube videos of Verstappen explaining his theories about psychopaths.


(15 minutes)


(38 minutes)

Ron’s comments:

From a limited earthly perspective, it appears that psychopaths do indeed rule the world (as Verstappen contends). As an octogenarian I have long wondered about psychopaths in power, especially because the twentieth century was blighted by over 300 million democides – government instigated or perpetrated killings of mostly non-combatant civilians – far more than in any previous century.

In my student days I learned of maniacs like Hitler in Nazi Germany, Mao in Communist China, Stalin in the U.S.S.R., Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and numerous others who were then bestially causing untold murders and misery.

Naively, I then believed that my country the USA, and its Western allies, represented only virtues of good and democratic decency, and that after the demise of World War II era psychopaths, the world would be restored to an age of peace and prosperity. But I was wrong.

Officially instigated and perpetrated amoral wars and killings – many directly or indirectly attributable to the US empire and its allies – have continued. Complicit with official governmental sanctions and support, international corporate oligarchs are insanely developing and selling weapons of mass destruction more than capable of destroying all life on earth, and insidiously and unsustainably pillaging and poisoning our precious planet’s ecology. Such insanity is impoverishing the vast majority of humankind, and pervasively harming human health, with countless chemically, genetically and radiologically polluting products – even including foods, drinks and pharmaceuticals.

After the traumatically shocking 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the soon ensuing deranged Viet Nam war devastation, I became aware of the prescience of President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 valedictory caution against dominance of the “military-industrial complex” with “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power”.

Despite Eisenhower’s warning, it seems now apparent that ruling power has indeed been misappropriated by the military-industrial complex which, in complicity with billionaire financial, political and corporate sociopaths, is ruling and ruining the world.

As Hitler in Nazi Germany molded an insane society to support his pathological pretensions and plans, since 9/11/2001 sociopathic Western leaders have contrived and fomented alleged “terrorist” enemies as a fraudulent pretense to create an insane society which has fearfully condoned or acquiesced in outrageously immoral wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and deranged plans for attacking Iran and other Moslem countries, with radically expanded US military budgets and executive powers, and obscenely enriched entrenched vested interests, all accompanied by serious curtailments of US constitutional protections and civil liberties.

But how can humanity solve this planetary life and death problem of societal insanity and irrational fear fomented by psychopathic authorities? For many years I have been inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, one of the world’s wisest incarnate sages, for guidance on how we can evolve beyond the critical problems stemming from governance by sociopaths and psychopaths.

Addressing our ecological crisis His Holiness has said:


“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”


Rather than vainly appealing for heartfelt compassion from psychopaths lacking empathy, I optimistically propose that we can solve and transcend current crises by intuitively following our hearts to achieve a spiritual tipping point – a ‘critical mass that will solve our critical mess’. Moreover, we can study and emulate pre-industrial societies that have instinctively lived for millennia in sustainable harmony with Nature.

At present, most psychologists and psychiatrists are devoting research efforts and treatments to individual mental pathologies. Perhaps we need first to address societal pathologies attributable to stress caused by psychopathic and sociopathic authorities complicit with the military-industrial complex. How can people avoid individual psychological problems while they are insanely and unnecessarily subjected to constant societal stresses concerning their health, life necessities and human rights?

Recently inaugurated at the Dalai Lama’s suggestion is a “Center For Investigating Healthy Minds”, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, my undergraduate alma mater. Similarly, wouldn’t it be helpful to establish scientific centers for the study of sane societies?

Weren’t there indigenous societies whose peoples lived sane and happy lives by prioritizing sustainable harmony with Nature over it’s unsustainable exploitation, cooperation over competition, respect for prophets over lust for profits, democracy over authoritarianism? Isn’t it crucial that we learn from their experience?

Conclusion

President Eisenhower in 1961 deemed essential “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to prevent “the disastrous rise of misplaced power”. These comments are respectfully offered in furtherance of that goal. May they help inspire “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness” which will promote our heartfelt, sane and nonviolent transcendence of current planetary insanity.



Epilogue, Veterans Day 2018:

November 11, 2018 marks the centenary anniversary of the end of the first World War – “the war to end all wars”. To commemorate this memorable event, ‘leaders’ from 70 nations, including the US empire and its allies, gathered in Paris, France, at the Arc de Triomphe, purportedly to honor the millions who died in that insane conflict. Their ceremony happened precisely 100 years after the 1918 armistice agreement, at the spiritually auspicious 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

But paradoxically many of those ‘leaders’ represented nations which for the past century have continued to perpetrate many more “crimes against peace”, including wars of aggression, the supreme international crime violating international treaties, agreements or assurances recognized and followed by the post WWII Nuremberg Tribunal.

November 11, first became a US federal holiday as “Armistice Day”. But, with no “end to all wars” yet in sight, the US federal holiday morphed from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”.

Since Donald J.Trump’s 2016 ‘red pill’ campaign and election as 45th US President the world has experienced exceptionally tumultuous times. Many US and world citizens are experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions, rather than “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness”.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives, we share overriding common needs and aspirations. As humankind we share the same common Cosmic consciousness, the same web of life, the same precious Earth biosphere, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just democratic societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet. Yet until now virtually all of us in varying degrees have been suffering from an illusory sense of separation from each other, from Nature, and from our ONE common spiritual essence.

Although armed conflict is behaviorally as old as humankind, for the first time in our recorded history we are being forced to realize that more wars can trigger a nuclear or ecological catastrophe insanely ending earth life as we have known it. Yet we have gained the previously unprecedented technical capacity to end all human starvation and poverty. And in these ‘red pill’ critical times of immense suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are awakening to our infinitely unlimited human potentiality.

So as we honor and remember all those who have been conscripted or enlisted into military services fighting endless wars, let us urgently and lovingly envisage and intend imminent inception – at long last – of an era with no more war on our precious planet. 


Together let us join in imagining our precious planet cooperatively ruled bottom-up by humble and compassionate societies, rather than top-down by oligarchic or plutocratic billionaire sociopaths or psychopaths.

And as we envision lasting peace, let us be guided by the Dalai Lama’s wisdom that 

“Our lives are conditioned by karma. They are characterized by endless cycles of problems. One problem appears and passes, and soon another one begins.”

“Try to consider as transitory all adverse circumstances and disturbances. Like ripples in a pool, they occur and soon disappear.”

“The essence of all spiritual life is your attitude towards others. Once you have pure and sincere motives all the rest follows.”
~ Dalai Lama – Little Book of Buddhism


And so may it be!


Ron Rattner

Life’s in the Balance

“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”
~ Thomas Merton
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi
“As long as you live, you will be subject to change, whether you will it or not – now glad, now sorrowful; now pleased, now displeased; now devout, now undevout; now vigorous, now slothful; now gloomy, now merry. But a wise man who is well taught in spiritual labor stands unshaken in all such things, and heeds little what he feels, or from what side the wind of instability blows.”
~ Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
“As it acts in the world, the Tao is like the bending of a bow. The top is bent downward; the bottom is bent up. It adjusts excess and deficiency so that there is perfect balance. It takes from what is too much and gives to what isn’t enough. Those who try to control, who use force to protect their power, go against the direction of the Tao. They take from those who don’t have enough and give to those who have far too much. The Master can keep giving because there is no end to her wealth. She acts without expectation, succeeds without taking credit, and doesn’t think that she is better than anyone else.”
~ Lao Tzu *





Life’s in the Balance

Our life is in the balance,
Ever < NOW >,

‘Twixt our hopes
and our history,

On a fulcrum of Mystery,

Our life is in the balance,
Ever < NOW > !



Ron’s audio recitation of “Life’s in the Balance”

Listen to


* Lao Tzu, translation by Stephen Mitchell



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Life’s in the Balance”


Dear Friends,

The foregoing quotes and sutra poem address an important philosophical and practical question: “How can we live a “balanced life”?”

Have you ever considered what it means to live a “balanced life”?  If so, what did you decide?  Have you considered eating a balanced diet, or balancing and prioritizing your time spent with work, recreation, meditation, relationships, rest, etc.?

Each of us is unique with a unique earth life history and perspective.  So there can be no specific answer or definition for each of us about what constitutes “a balanced life”.  Moreover, everything is in constant flux, precluding any unchanging answer.  Yet this is an issue of considerable importance for all of us, individually and societally – pragmatically and spiritually – on which I have reflected since my mid-life inner awakening. 

Since then, I have learned that – just as our bodies naturally tend toward maintaining a state of homeostasis – there is a strong tendency throughout Nature to maintain homeostatic equilibrium, and to energetically compensate for any disruptions or deviations from that balanced state.  And that “Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature.”

Yet it appears that we Humans are the only earthly species responsible for significant ecological imbalances. Forgetting that Nature is our nature; that we are interdependently ONE with Nature; and, that Nature ‘bats last’, we have mistakenly believed and behaved as if we are separated from each other and from Nature.
 
This behavior has resulted in disharmonious cruelty, wars, and insanely unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet, with widespread psychological suffering and unhappiness. Our mistaken self-identification as supposedly separate entities is what spiritual teachers call “ego”.  And most spiritual teachings are intended to help us transcend such limited ego consciousness. They remind us that


“Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.”

~ Dalai Lama

Because we have forgotten the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life everywhere, we have degenerated into insanity – unconsciously committing mass suicide by ecocide, and threatening nuclear catastrophe. So these are critical times of immense jeopardy and suffering, yet immense opportunity.

The human species has developed amazing new technologies, which if wisely and unselfishly used could foster a wonderful new enlightened age. And paradoxically we can advance toward such a new age by emulating past pre-industrial societies.

Isn’t it now crucial that we learn from the wisdom of indigenous people who have lived sane and happy lives by prioritizing sustainable harmony with Nature over it’s unsustainable exploitation; cooperation over competition; respect for prophets over lust for profits; democracy over authoritarianism?

Since Nature is our nature and is in charge of our lives, to live a “balanced life” we must self-identify with Nature, and consciously cooperate with our precious planet’s interdependent ecosystem.  We must behave mindfully without disrupting the crucial homeostatic harmony of our body-minds with our environment.

The foregoing “Life’s in the Balance” sutra poem was composed during an extended period of post-retirement hibernation. May the poem and preceding quotations help us discover innate happiness in our interdependent ONENESS with Nature and all of its lifeforms, and encourage us to give ‘power of attorney’ to Nature as The Lone Arranger of our lives.
 
Realizing that Nature is in charge of our lives, may we learn to leave it to The Lone Arranger in order to live interdependently with all life everywhere in homeostatic balance and harmony. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


A Precious Human Life ~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism



A Precious Human Life



“Everyday, think as you wake up:

Today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive,
I have a precious human life,

I am not going to waste it,
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.

To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,

I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.

I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama



Ron’s Dedication and Comments about “A Precious Human Life”

Dear Friends,

Today is the 83rd birthday anniversary of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In honor of His Holiness, and as a special blessing for all who read his deeply inspiring words, I am privileged to share online His Holiness’s above advice about how we should greet and live each day with mindfulness of our fleeting precious human life. 

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

Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is amazingly precious and rare. They persuaded me that, although the not yet experienced effects of mysterious karmic causes and conditions result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirth; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully, with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors, we squander an extraordinarily rare chance to evolve spiritually.

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

These Tibetan Buddhist Kalachakra teachings deeply impressed upon me the extraordinary preciousness of fleeting human birth, and the utmost importance of our honoring it by living skillfully and mindfully to evolve spiritually.  

So I feel especially privileged to share the foregoing crucially important advice from the H.H. Dalai Lama, our contemporary world’s most renowned exemplar of Buddhist teachings.

May these deeply profound teachings inspire us to gratefully and constantly honor our precious human lives by ever expanding our heart of compassion for the benefit of all beings.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner




Interdependence Way, On Independence Day

“Everything depends on everything else. Nothing exists on its own. On account of all the influences that come to bear upon them, things appear, exist, and disappear, and then reappear again. But they never exist independently.”
~ Dalai Lama – Little Book of Inner Peace
“When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government.”
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
Independence is illusion:
Everything is interconnected and interdependent.
Nothing exists independently.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
With malice toward none, and with empathy for all,
Let us end the iniquity of inequity in our society,
So “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth”.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings – inspired by Abraham Lincoln
“Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We are all cells in the body of humanity — all of us, all over the world.
 Each one has a contribution to make,
 and will know from within what this contribution is,
 but no one can find inner peace except by working,
 not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.”

~ Peace Pilgrim
“I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind.”
~ Dalai Lama
“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.
~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk


Interdependence way

Interdependence Way, On Independence Day

On July 4, 1776, thirteen American colonies declared their independence from British rule, in an historic document written by Thomas Jefferson. The philosophy of their Declaration of Independence was that under “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” government is established by people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown as illegitimate if it no longer does that. The US founding fathers recognized, that governments and their chartered organizations do not exist by Divine right; they are established by people to serve people – not to exploit or oppress them – and they are illegitimate unless they serve human rights and happiness.

Since 1776, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” still prevail, but the world has changed immensely: The thirteen North American colonies have become the richest most powerful nation in world history – an American empire much vaster than the British empire which it succeeded. Human population has grown meteorically, from approximately 800 million (with 2.5 million people inhabiting American colonies) to over 7.6 billion and growing rapidly. Through amazing technological and scientific advances the world has become much smaller and most people have become part of an instantly interconnected and largely interdependent global community, sharing critical information in an unprecedented new age of world-wide ecologic, economic, political and social crises and opportunities.

Most severe global crises have been caused by inequitable governmental laws and policies which do not serve human rights and happiness, and by powerful transnational corporations which unsustainably exploit our precious planet, while prioritizing profits over people and often evading equitable taxation. Within the spirit of the 1776 Declaration of Independence such laws and policies are illegitimate and must democratically be ended through societal recognition of the oneness of humanity and universal responsibility to benefit all humankind and all life.

Thus, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said:

“In our world, we need a clear awareness of the interdependent nature of nations, of humans and animals .. Everything is of interdependent nature. .. [M]any problems, especially man-made problems, are due to lack of knowledge about this interdependent nature.”

“Today’s world requires us to accept the oneness of humanity. In the past, isolated communities could afford to think of one another as fundamentally separate. Some could even exist in total isolation. But nowadays, whatever happens in one region eventually affects many other areas. Within the context of our interdependence, self-interest clearly lies in considering the interest of others.

“I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind.”


As Americans commemorate their past political independence from tyrannical rule, it is appropriate that we deeply reflect on current planetary tyranny, crises, inequities, and opportunities, in light of the egalitarian principles which launched the US nation in 1776. Such reflection will reveal that in today’s small world, we can best promote our own lives, liberty, and happiness – individually and corporately – by recognizing our “universal responsibility to work not just for our own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind.”

To that end, let us join with our wholehearted intentions and appropriate actions to end unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet and the iniquity of global inequity, in the spirit of the following global declaration of interdependence sponsored by We The World:

We, the people of planet Earth,
In recognition of the interconnectedness of all life
And the importance of the balance of nature,
Hereby acknowledge our interdependence
And affirm our dedication
To life-serving environmental stewardship,
The fulfillment of universal human needs worldwide,
Economic and social well-being,
And a culture of peace and nonviolence,
To insure a sustainable and harmonious world
For present and future generations.


You tube link to Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview: Our urgent need for a new interdependent worldview – how we need to collectively change our minds to change our world – is expertly explained and portrayed in this excellent one hour documentary movie, already viewed online by over one million concerned people.



Ron’s Comments on “Interdependence Way, On Independence Day”

For everyone concerned about obviously imminent dangers of nuclear or ecologic catastrophe arising from the American empire’s alleged ‘exceptionalism’ and its very violent and politically polarized actions, this is an opportune time for deep reflection on our ideas and ideals of independence – societally and individually. Such reflection is especially appropriate in these troubled times of worldwide turmoil and violence, with the doomsday clock of the bulletin of atomic scientists recently moved to two minutes to midnight.

The foregoing essay is dedicated to promoting our deep reflection and realization that independence is impossible; that everyone/everything is interconnected and interdependent; so that no-one/nothing exists permanently or independently.  Please consider it.

Ignorantly believing ourselves to be separate and independent entities, we mistakenly act fearfully and selfishly – rather than lovingly and generously – and thereby we create disharmony with Nature’s way, and critical problems for all life on our precious planet. 

Individually and collectively, we urgently need to embrace an interdependent worldview, as explained and portrayed in the foregoing “Crossroads” video.  

We cannot change others.  But by revolutionarily transcending and compassionately replacing our mistaken beliefs of separateness and independence, and our consequent harmful  behaviors, together we can and will democratically change the world.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence.”
~ Aristotle
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
~ Dalai Lama
“From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
~ Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi.
“The purpose of religious lectures and sermons is to awaken in you that irresistible soul-longing for Him.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The desire to be one with God is the greatest of all.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The soul of man has been separated from its source, wandering in exile in a strange land – “I am stranger on earth” (Psalm 119:19-20) – ever yearning to return to that from which it first sprang, and cleave to the Soul of all souls.”
~ Ba’al Shem Tov, Hasidic master
“O God, you are my God – for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless and without water.”
~ Psalm 63:1
“The longing to go back to the source is present in each being from the very time that it is separated from the source by the veil of ignorance.”
~ Meyer Baba




Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?

Q. Why do all people want to be happy?

A. In seeking happiness, everyone is really seeking Self.

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 It.

No matter how spiritually evolved we may become, all incarnate human life-forms experience limitation and separation from Source. Though rare beings in deep meditation may transcend this state of seeming separation and limitation, it recurs when they are impelled to return to physicality or subtle form.

Thus great devotional beings like Rumi and Hafiz constantly yearned to return to the Beloved; ever longed for eternal transcendence of the inevitable limitations and sufferings of physical existence.

Rumi said:

From my first breath I have longed for Him –
This longing has become my life.
This longing has seen me grow old. . . .


Hafiz expressed his endless longing thusly:

“My soul endures a magnificent longing. … My pen does not have the ability to describe my condition of intense longing due to separation.”


Sri Ramana Maharshi, renowned twentieth century non-dualist sage, even after attaining self realization, reported regularly shedding tears of longing and devotion during visits to the ancient Meenakshi temple in Madurai. In recounting his experience, Maharshi explained that:

“The spirit therefore longed to have a fresh hold and hence the frequent visits to the temple and the overflow of the soul in profuse tears.”


This phenomenon of infinite longing of even “enlightened” beings was explained by Mother Meera in dialogue with spiritual author and teacher Andrew Harvey, and recounted as follows:

“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. ….. Look at Ramakrishna. How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”
~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236


Thus, incarnation is limitation, and knowingly or unknowingly all beings – even sages – long for transcendence of that limitation. For most humans longing for transcendence is subliminal and experienced as wanting worldly contentment. But what we really seek is return to a soul-remembered state of timeless Oneness beyond any state of mind, beyond conception or imagination.

So, in seeking happiness, what we really seek is Source or Self.


Ron’s Comments on “Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing quotations and essay help explain why (knowingly or unknowingly) everyone wants lasting happiness.

For millennia wisdom teachers have counseled that
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” (Dalai Lama). 
 
And to find timeless happiness they tell us e.g. to 
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven, which is within.”  (Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21)

Most incarnate humans perceive and project self-identity/reality only as beings supposedly separate from Nature and eternally indivisible inner Self-awareness.  And thus we futilely seek – but cannot find – lasting happiness through ever impermanent worldly pleasures and satisfactions, rather than through inner identity with immutable eternal spirit.  

“Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?” suggests that all beings at least subliminally long for eternal happiness and transcendence of inevitable earthly limitations; that knowingly or unknowingly what we all really seek is return to a soul-remembered state of timeless Oneness as LOVE – beyond mental description, conception or imagination.
 
Thus, even elevated mystics like supreme Sufi poet masters Rumi and Hafiz tell us of their life-long tearful yearnings and longings for return to God.  

Perhaps such life-long yearnings can help us explain why inevitably incarnation may be experienced as limitation by even the most  elevated mystics or sages.  

And, perhaps such longings will inspire a new earthly era, as envisioned by Indian Sage Sri Aurobindo, who said:

“The goal is not to lose oneself in the Divine Consciousness.
 The goal is to let the Divine Consciousness penetrate into Matter and transform it.”

~ Sri Aurobindo – The Mother 15: p.191

As each of us is drawn by irresistible inner longing toward Oneness with Eternal Light, may we become instruments of Divine Consciousness on Earth.

And, may we envision and exemplify an era of lasting happiness for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

Pursuit of Happiness?

“We hold these truths to be self evident:
that all men are created equal:
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
~ U.S. Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence”
~ Aristotle



Introduction.

Everyone wants lasting happiness; no-one wants to suffer.

For millennia great mystics have revealed that ever abiding Happiness is our true inner nature – our Self.

So how do we discover and experience such Happiness?

Should we seek lasting happiness –

By maintaining an attitude of gratitude for our blessings, while accepting life’s inevitable challenges? or
By seeking impermanent worldly pleasures? or
By looking within to discover the Source of lasting happiness, and impediments to our experience of such happiness?

Or, rather than pursuing Happiness, would it be best for us to let go, and “go with the flow”, consciously letting Life happen through us?

The following quotations include differing perspectives about seeking happiness. They are offered to help each of us from our unique perspective find our most suitable path to lasting happiness.


Pursuit of Happiness?


“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”
~ Dalai Lama

“The root of joy is gratefulness…
We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands.
For it is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21

“The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase;
if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.”
~ C. P. Snow

“Don’t seek happiness.  If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.  Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is, rather than making up stories about it. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well­being  and inner peace, the source of true happiness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu

“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”

~ Lao Tzu

“What is the worth of a happiness for which you must strive and work?
Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.
~ Ramana Maharshi

“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

“I am happy even before I have a reason.”
~ Hafiz

The word “happiness” would lose its meaning
if it were not balanced by sadness.
~ Carl Jung

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

Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,

go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.

Think of the beauty that again and again 
discharges itself within and without you
, and be happy.”

~ Anne Frank


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!

Is Earth-life Purposeful?

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence.”
~ Aristotle
“One great question underlies our experience,
whether we think about it or not:
what is the purpose of life?”
~ Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“What are we here for?
We are here for freedom, for knowledge.
We want to know in order to make us free.
That is our life; one universal cry for freedom.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Our purpose is process –
metamorphic process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,
we learn all that matters –

we learn all that matters is LOVE!”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. 

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

~ Richard Bach





Is Earth-life Purposeful?

Q. Is earth-life purposeful?

A. Yes! We are here to learn and evolve.

Though some Eastern mystics may call this ever changing “reality” a dream, maya, samsara, or illusion,
it is a marvelous and miraculous mental creation.

So how can anyone ever imagine earth-life to be without purpose?

Our purpose is process – metamorphic process.

Like unique facets of an infinitely faceted jewel,
each earth being has a unique perspective, but a common Source* – which transcends this world, while everywhere immanent therein.

So, our purpose is harmoniously to realize and experience,
and to actualize from infinite perspectives,
our ONE transcendent Self identity.

As long as we believe ourselves to be seemingly circumscribed
and separated from the rest of our reality,

We incarnate to realize and to actualize
our common Self identity.

We learn until we leave.

But, we don’t leave until we learn –

LOVE!

Footnote.

*Innumerable names – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify that Source or any of its infinite aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “That” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.




Ron’s Commentary on Purpose of Life.

Dear Friends,

Have you ever reflected on whether human life has a purpose – individually or collectively?  Or have you wondered: “Why was I born? Why am I living?”

Not until my midlife change of life did I ever wonder whether Earth-life is purposeful.  But since then I’ve continued to reflect and write about it.

When I was growing up in 20th century America – like millions of others – I greatly enjoyed popular New York musical theater songs.   Many of my favorite lyrics were composed by Master lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, usually in collaboration with great musical talents like Richard Rodgers with whom he wrote Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. 

In 1929 Hammerstein in association with composer Jerome Kern wrote lyrics for Why Was I Born, which became and has remained an American classic; it was already one the “top ten” popular songs when I was born in 1932.  

The song’s lyrics began with these perennial questions:

 
Why was I born? Why am I living? What do I get? What am I giving?
 


And they concluded with this perennial answer:


Why I was born? To love you!
 


Until midlife I believed that the song was only about romantic love.  But after spiritual awakening I began to realize that  Oscar Hammerstein’s  lyrics often esoterically encompassed mystical perspectives.  And I began referring to him as “Sri Oscar Hammerstein”. 

For example, I realized that Why Was I Born could be interpreted to refer to Divine LOVE, beyond just romantic love – to the ecstatic devotional spiritual path exemplified by Sufi-Persian Mystic Masters Hafiz and Rumi, as ultimate goal in life.  

And to confirm that realization, with poetic license I pluralized Hammerstein’s lyric questions and answer: 

Q.  Why were we born? Why are we living? What do we get? What are we giving?  
A.  Why were we born? To love THEE!  

  
According to the Dalai Lama


“What is the purpose of life?”
is the “one great question [which] underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not”.


He answers that question by simply stating


“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”


Since midlife, I  have found that reflecting about our life’s purpose if any has sparked a very helpful process of finding ever expanding happiness.

Today I have shared the foregoing apt quotations and essay/poem to help us consider the purpose of life question.  In my experience reflection on life’s purpose, if any, helps us gradually realize that we are not who or what we were taught or ‘labeled’ to be, by society or by our mistaken mental reification of projected-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 non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles.  But ultimately ‘under the hood’ we’re all the same Cosmic Consciousness.  

By realizing and actualizing our common spiritual identity, may we help transform and transcend this world of suffering. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Death? Afterlife? Rebirth? ~ Easter Reflections on Resurrections.

At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life.  United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

As countless millions reverently commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story.  Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.

For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.

Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.

For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.

Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.

Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”


Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.

What survives physical death?

If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:

“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2


Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”


A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar .   There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife.  [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43

Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .

“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha


Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?

Vivekananda and Einstein.

The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”


“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?
 
“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”


“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


Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: 

“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”


Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:

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



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



“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”

“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”




“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this precious human life on our precious planet Earth – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.


“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”


AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Reflections on Afterlife and Reincarnation.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.

Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;https://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; https://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )

Ultimately I have concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )
Consequently, I’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.

Moreover, I’ve come to imagine that from a non-dualistic timeless ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate incarnations, emanations or appearances can be seen concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that until we become Buddhas we are challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are Infinite Potentiality in formless emptiness.

Inspired by my Guruji, I offer the foregoing quotations and essay to encourage our deep reflections on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, which can help us find ever expanding happiness during our precious lifetimes on planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner