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Dalai Lama

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, Krishna to Arjuna
“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 Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.

Dear Friends,

As an octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth.  And I’ve thereby been blessed to realize that what we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.

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 Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; and, 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, quotes 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’ve concluded 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 become persuaded that from a rare 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 karmically challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are not mortal separate entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality.

To encourage our deep insights on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, like “Who am I?” and “What is death?”, I have shared the foregoing writings.

On Easter and every day, may they help us discover within ever expanding fulfillment and happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My “Miraculous” Experience on Shri Dhyanyogi’s Mahasamadhi ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
At my death do not lament our separation
…
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Ron’s Introduction

On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we sometimes call them “miracles” and may attribute them to a Divine power.

Like other rare saints and mystics my beloved “Guruji”, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, occasionally demonstrated  “miracles”  to foster faith in the Divine.  In writings and lectures, Guruji explained that yogic powers (siddhis) might be attained via control of life-force energies, but that they were seldom displayed; that such powers are only used

“sparingly and on occasion for humanitarian and other discretionary ends”,
but not “for self-aggrandizement.”


In prior memoirs, I’ve explained how Guruji has helped me from subtle planes, like a ‘guardian angel’, since before I met him when his body was approximately one hundred years old, and even after his supposed bodily death in India sixteen years later.

I believe that Guruji left his body consciously and intentionally, using his yogic powers; that Guruj’s subtle bodies survived the physical body; and, that from subtle planes he continues to help humanity.

I’d like to explain to you my reasons for this belief.

Why Guruji Survived Supposed Physical Death.

In the Hindu tradition, when a yogi who has previously experienced the highest state of samadhi intentionally leaves his body, this is not the same as death of an ordinary person who has not attained Self-realization. Such a passing is called a Mahasamādhi (great and final samādhi) and is the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s gross body at the time of physical death.

Before I received shaktipat initiation from Guruji in 1978, I had already witnessed his yogic power to influence this relative reality from subtle planes. He had clearly appeared in my subtle inner vision when we were physically distant. Thereafter, I had other memorable experiences of Guruji’s subtle powers, which are shared in other memoirs chapters.

In 1980, just before Guruji returned to India from four years in the USA, he stayed in my apartment. At that time Guruji’s American attendant, Lackshman, recounted to me his brief conversation with Guruji following a sparsely attended public meditation program. Driving home, Lackshman had remarked to Guruji that it was too bad so few people had attended that event. Whereupon Guruji replied,

“It’s not important. Most of my work is on other planes.”


And, once when we were alone in his room in my apartment, Guruji told me that he came and went from his physical body as he pleased. (See Human Body – A Precious “Prison”? )

Also, at Guruji’s meditation programs, I heard amazing stories from others who had experienced his extraordinary yogic powers. Perhaps the most memorable of these stories was that of Rudy, a Chicago school teacher who decided to travel on his motorcycle to be with Guruji in California. But before reaching California, and while he was in Colorado, Rudy had an unexpected and “miraculous meeting” with Guruji.

On a curvy mountain highway in Colorado, Rudy’s motorcycle skidded off the road and careened three hundred feet down a steep incline. Just before hitting bottom, Rudy called out Guruji’s name, remembering Guruji’s assurance that “I’m always with you.”

Gravely injured, Rudy became comatose. While comatose he had a miraculous “near death experience” (NDE), which he survived and later recounted in detail.

On ‘the other side’ during the NDE, Rudy was greeted and guided by Shri Dhyanyogi, to save his life. Thereafter, at a California retreat, Guruji explained to Rudy that he had saved his life because Rudy still had much more work to do in this world.

Rudy’s vividly credible description of this amazing incident was convincing testimony of Guruji’s yogic power to influence what happens in this relative “reality”, and to manifest at will on subtle planes of “reality”.

Besides my own extraordinary experiences with Guruji, and hearing of Rudy’s experience, I learned of numerous other “miraculous” experiences of Guruji’s devotees.
(See “This House is on Fire, The Life of Shri Dyanyogi”, as told by Shri Anandi Ma.)

My Experience in San Francisco on Guruji’s Mahasamadhi in India.

One of my most memorable mystical experiences of Guruji’s yogic powers happened just after he left his physical body in India and I was at home in San Francisco. In late August, 1994, I was home asleep when I was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night.

With eyes open, I beheld in amazement an extraordinary and unprecedented vision – an otherworldly, multi-colored bird, translucent with a peacock-like tail and human-like eyes. Nothing about the bird appeared like any ‘real-life’ bird I had ever before seen, or might have imagined.

As I gazed in awe at this ethereal apparition, I was enveloped and transformed by a supernal aura of supreme Peace, which emanated from the bird’s radiant dark eyes. I awakened in the morning puzzled, and wondered about that extraordinary apparition which had enveloped me with ‘peace that passeth understanding.’

The next day, still wondering about the vision, I was sitting at my dining room table when an ‘inner voice’ dictated to me a poem concerning death, a subject I hadn’t then been thinking about.

Listening to my muse, I quickly and spontaneously “channeled” this poem about death, which I later titled Dream Life:
:

When we come to Earth
They call it a birth
When we leave,
They say we die.

But we really don’t come,
And we really don’t go.
We just dream our lives
But why?

To awaken as Bliss
From all of this,
Joyous that all is
“I”.



Thereafter, within a day or two, I received a rare call from one of Guruji’s early US disciples, Elyse (Indu) of Sacramento. She informed me of Guruji’s death – his Mahasamādhi – on August 29. Only then did I realize that I had received this poem (about life and death as a waking dream) as a ‘parting’ profound message and treasured gift from Guruji.  

So I recited the poem for Elyse. Then I told her about my puzzling otherworldly bird vision. She promptly and aptly interpreted that vision as a mythical Phoenix bird, symbol of immortality, resurrection, and life after death.

Whereupon, I realized that the bird’s dark human-like eyes emanating ineffable supernal Peace were Guruji’s eyes; and, that this unforgettable vision and experience of celestial peace was another parting gift and message from Guruji, for which I am eternally grateful.





Epilogue, 2019

Almost twenty five years have passed since that miraculous experience of Guruji’s Mahasamādhi, but I still continue to feel his subtle presence and often shed tears of devotion and joy, when I think of him or gaze at his photographic image. And other devotees entering my high-rise hermitage have also experienced his life-force energy (shakti).

Almost twenty years after Guruji’s transition, I had a home visit from my friend Michael O’Rourke, a talented spiritual cinematographer who helped me launch SillySutras.com. I was telling Michael about Guruji, and feeling his subtle presence, while seated in a reclining chair. After a while I had to excuse myself for a bathroom visit. When I returned several minutes later Michael reported to me his extraordinary experience of Guruji’s subtle appearance.

While Michael was gazing at me as I talked about Guruji, he went into an altered state of consciousness. Michael then perceived another face morphing into mine – a face without glasses and with a longer white beard. It was Guruji!

Michael said that amazingly after I got up to go to the bathroom he still perceived the image of Guruji seated in the chair, until after I returned and sat down again.

Guruji once said:

“All those who came to me for Shaktipat …. are my spiritual heirs.
For my energy works through them.”


Not only were Michael and others blessed by Guruji’s extraordinary energy in my apartment, I believe that (like he blessed Rudy) Guruji saved my life while I was comatose and near death after a taxicab rundown in June, 2014. (See https://sillysutras.com/another-near-death-experience-rons-memoirs/) So that it is only through Guruji’s grace that I have miraculously survived to gratefully still share these memoirs.

May those reading these stories receive Guruji’s continuing blessings, notwithstanding his Mahasamādhi almost twenty five years ago.

And so may it be!

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




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


Quotations About Religion


“If there is love in your heart,
you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Quotations About Religion

“My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect
of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.”
“The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics
that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“This is a time for us to remember that in the name of religion more people have died than in all the wars and natural calamities put together. Now more than ever we must understand that the purpose of religion is not to separate us. True faiths don’t preach hatred and killing, nor did any of the prophets. It is the people who interpret the scriptures who create the divisions. Division comes if we put our ego into the teachings of these religions. Let us strive to be free of that kind of egoism”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“People often ask me, “What religion are you? You talk about the Bible, Koran, Torah. Are you a Hindu?” I say, I am not a Catholic, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, but an Undo. My religion is Undoism. We have done enough damage (with religious dogma). We have to stop doing any more and simply undo the damage we have already done.”
~ Swami Satchidananda – Beyond Words

“The great religions are the ships,

Poets the life boats. 

Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”

~ Hafiz

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

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
 not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi or Zen.
 Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all. 
I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.
 My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,
 First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.”
~ Rumi, ‘Only Breath’

“I have learned so much from God

That I can no longer call myself

a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.”
~ Hafiz

“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Let us accept all the different paths as different rivers running toward the same ocean.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”
~ Khalil Gibran – “The Prophet”

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.  ”
~ Albert Einstein

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think.
Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
~ George Orwell, 1984

“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.
Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

“Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”
~ Karl Marx

“Religion is confining and imprisoning and toxic because it is based on ideology and dogma. But spirituality is redeeming and universal.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain – Autobiography, 1959

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“There is only one God, the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …
There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion — Hindus, Mohammendans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well — the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. At a third the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

“Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”
~ Carl Jung

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

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 be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

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”

 



Ron’s comments on urgent necessity of reciprocal empathy,
beyond religion-based behaviors


Dear Friends,

The foregoing quotations about religion have been posted to help us avert worldwide catastrophe from false religious interpretations of prophets’ teachings about peace and unity.

Religious prophets have always preached against killing and violence. And every enduring religious, spiritual or ethical tradition has endorsed the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy and kindness.

For example,

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
that is the whole of the Torah;
all the rest of it is commentary.”
~ Rabbi Hillel – Judaism
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”

~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity

“Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.”

~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism

“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”

~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism

“Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam

Yet, countless people have died and suffered throughout human history in the name of religion, which is often cited to hypocritically justify immoral partisan political or economic desires. Because of advanced technologies, wars and other violent behaviors which for centuries have caused immense miseries, now threaten all planetary life as we have known it.

So – at long last – humans urgently need to abandon wars and warlike behaviors.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
~ Albert Einstein


Humanity can no longer survive, without practicing universal ethical behaviors which transcend divisive religious beliefs cited to justify immorally violent activities.


“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect
 of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.”

“The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama


To end wars and warlike behaviors, it is imperative that we honor our hearts’ inner wisdom over divisive religious, political or economic beliefs, so as to transcend problems of violence created from lower ego levels of human consciousness.

With opened hearts may we stop treating others as we don’t wish to be treated ourselves, by practicing the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy.

May we begin treating all sentient beings with kindness, compassion and empathy – with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Life is For Giving


“For it is in giving that we receive.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, peace prayer

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” …

“For in truth it is life that gives unto life –
while you, who deem yourself a giver,
is but a witness.”
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“You can give without loving,
but you can never love without giving.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson and/or
~ Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
The value of a man resides in what he gives
and not in what he is capable of receiving.

~ Albert Einstein
The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.

~ Lao Tzu
It’s not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
~ Mother Teresa
“If you wish to experience peace,
provide peace for another.”
~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama


St. Francis of Assisi



Life is For Giving

Life is for giving, not getting;

For Being, not having.

Love gives and forgives.

Ego gets and forgets.

It is in giving that we receive.

So, let us end our obsession with possession,

And live to give, and to be –

LOVE.



Ron’s audio comments and recitation of “Life is For Giving”

Listen to


Ron’s Commentary on Giving Not Getting:

Dear Friends,

For many years I have regularly recited [with amendments] the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, declaring in conclusion that:

“it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and, . . it is in dying – to ego life – that we are reborn to Eternal Life”.


Those oft-repeated lines have inspired many of my writings, including the above “Life is For Giving” poem. In the above posted quotes about giving, I have excerpted these lines from Kahlil Gibran’s perennial wisdom in “The Prophet”:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
“For in truth it is life that gives unto life –
while you, who deem yourself a giver, is but a witness.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, “On Giving”

As we consider and reconsider those wisdom quotes and prayer lines, more and more it seems that each human lifetime is part of a cosmic process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other, and from our true spiritual nature; a mysterious process of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness, as our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

In that evolutionary process, as we transcend mistaken ideas of who we think we are, we gradually realize what we truly are. We learn that apparent separation of ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’, or ‘pardoner’ and ‘pardoned’, or ‘I’ and ‘others’, is a persistent perceptual delusion – like a mirage.

And we find that by spontaneously giving of ourselves and forgiving others with LOVE our spiritual Self-awareness process is furthered, bestowing ever-more fulfilling life experience.

Today’s writings about giving and forgiving are offered with the aspiration they will help us realize – like Kahlil Gibran – that “it is life that gives unto life”, not “I” or “me” giving to others. And that we may so live ever happier lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Humility: A Supreme Virtue

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius




Humility: A Supreme Virtue

Q. What is “humility”?

A. Authentic humility is a core virtue and a sign of spiritual evolution.
It is a state of modesty, free from pretension, pride and arrogance;
a state that intuitively recognizes the Divine equality of all beings as blessed with the same Eternal Essence, and their Oneness with Nature; a state which opens us to learning by allowing us to acknowledge our limitations and fallibilities, and to experience with awe and wonder how little we know about the miraculous magnificence of this Creation.
Yet, it is not a state of powerlessness or of low self esteem, but of powerful inner security, inner knowing, and inner-directedness.

Q. How does humility happen?

A. Humility grows as ego goes.  As we ever more realize that we are part a vast universe and not separate from it, we gradually become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate and humble.  As Einstein says, this is a process of “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Q. Why is humility considered a virtue, especially in prominent people?

A. Prominent people are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation which can entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those who have resisted such ego temptations have been lauded as truly great beings.  Eg. Gandhi was called “Mahatma” a Sanskrit word meaning “great soul”.

Throughout history, “humility” has been recognized and appreciated as a supreme virtue manifested by great beings from every tradition and culture, who chose to lead non-pretentious, simple lives dedicated to helping others, and who have thereby  inspired countless others.  Today, for example, H.H. the Dalai Lama who is  revered by millions worldwide as a great sage and religious leader, often describes himself as a “simple monk”, and sometimes publicly responds to questions with “I don’t know.” *

[*According to Buddhism, ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.  No “enlightened” Buddhist can acknowledge “enlightenment” because any such acknowledgment would necessarily imply an ego-identity, a personality, a being, a separated individuality. ~  Diamond Sutra, Chapter 9]


The Bhagavad Gita [13:8-12], perhaps the most important Hindu scripture, recognizes humility and lack of pride as virtues essential to Self Realization.

In the Tao Te Ching the great Taoist sage Lao Tzu states that

the Master’s “constant practice is humility.”; and that: “Humility means trusting the Tao, thus never needing to be defensive.”


Various bible passages attest to the humility of Jesus.  Jesus once said of Himself,

“I am meek and humble of heart”
~ Matthew 11:29.


And in the Sermon on the Mount,
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5.


Jesus claimed no special powers but attributed all to God.  eg.

“I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works.”
~ John 14:10;  

“..I can of mine own self do nothing…I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
~ John 5:30.


And Jesus counseled humility: 

“Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
~ 1 Peter 5.5.


Of Moses the bible says: 

“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
~ Numbers 12:3.


Albert Einstein remained simple and self-effacing despite the world’s “genius” label and immense flattery, using his great prestige to advocate for social justice and controversial causes, like pacifism.  Einstein was a very humble man who regarded himself as just an ordinary person, with certain abilities in theoretical physics. [eg. see Synchronicity story: Analyzing Einstein’s Autograph]

For example, he disclaimed the ‘genius’ label, saying:

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”


Einstein explained his humility, thus: 

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”


The great Gandhi, whose example of non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth and selfless service to humanity continues to inspire countless others, remained a humble man despite his immensely important accomplishments.  His humility was evidenced by these Gandhi statements:

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” . . . . 
   
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”


Conclusion

Authentic humility is a supreme virtue which ever expands as we become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate, thereby “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”


Epilogue

Spiritually, the supreme virtue of “humility” is inversely associated with “ego”. Thus humble people – like the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein or Mahatma Gandhi –– are often regarded as great beings, because they are not egotistic.

From childhood we are acculturated to identify only with a limited and disempowering self-image.  We are taught to believe that we are born into Nature as limited and separate mortal beings; but not that Nature is our nature, or that essentially we are Beings of Light, sharing limitless immortal Cosmic consciousness with all life-forms.
 
Such restrictive self-image is what spiritual teachers call “ego” – as distinguished from Freud’s salutary psychological definition of “ego”. Spiritually, “ego” refers to fundamentally mistaken human self-identity as personalities separate from eternal Infinite potentiality; our restrictive self-identity which causes us endless karmic suffering from unskillful thoughts, words and deeds.
 
Thus the ancient Rig Veda called “ego”:


“the biggest enemy of humans.”

  
Since “ego” arises from mental activity – from thoughts and beliefs – it cannot continue without persistently mistaken thoughts about who or what we are.  Through an evolutionary process of conscious psychological self-transformation, we can transcend mistaken egoic ideas of who we think we are, and gradually realize and remember that ultimately we truly are ONE with Universal Intelligence – with Eternal Spirit. 

As gradually we transcend our illusory ego identities as merely separate mortals, and increasingly self identify as Eternal Spirit, we inevitably become ever more humble.  Our Humility grows as ego goes. The smaller the ego, the greater the being.

In these critical times of immense suffering and jeopardy, yet immense opportunity, let us join with utmost love and humility in envisioning our precious planet democratically ruled bottom-up by humble, peaceful and compassionate citizens, rather than top-down by insensitive and egotistic purported “leaders” who  are emotionally sociopathic or psychopathic.  

May these biblical passages prove prescient:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
~ Proverbs 16:18 


God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.     
~ James 4:6


And so may it be. 

Ron Rattner

Afterlife?

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

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

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

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.

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

that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”

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





Afterlife?

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

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

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



Ron’s Comments on “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following my midlife spiritual awakening I came to realize that conscious contemplation of physical death can be spiritually important and helpful.
 
On meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing for Self-realization, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.   Ultimately his questions were answered through meditative experience.  Thereafter he taught that:


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

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


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

Thus the Dalai Lama has written that:


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



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

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

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

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

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner