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Ego

Finding Freedom ~
Question, Quotes and Comments

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man, which is, that he must be completely free. As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him –
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past,
to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [karmic] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom.
And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is.
If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord.
If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you;
if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you.”
~ Osho
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You are truly free when you are not a person.”
~ Deepak Chopra – The Book of Secrets
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


Finding Freedom

Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings.

Here we define “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our divine birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit imminent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Many Jews and Christians annually remember and ritually observe the biblical Exodus legend about God miraculously rescuing Jews from bondage as slaves in Egypt, with Christians recalling that a Passover seder dinner was Jesus’ last supper.   Some Afro-American Christians celebrate by singing the popular spiritual song “Go Down Moses

The Exodus story symbolizes humanity’s eternal quest for spiritual freedom – for societal escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity universally imminent within each of us, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, if any. So Passover rituals of lighting outer candles, can symbolically remind us of humanity’s perpetual quest for the eternal inner light of universal freedom.

Conclusion

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness; beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we are –

“Free at last, free at last!”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.”


NOW – ever NOW, never THEN!


Ron’s Commentary on Finding Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare transcendental state which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like slaves or prison inmates. 

I first deeply reflected on transcendental concepts of “freedom” during the 1950’s on learning of Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology theories concerning self-actuated people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by German-born psychotherapist Erich Fromm, who endorsed the fundamental importance of not submitting to outer-dictates from an autocratic societal system that prescribes inauthentic beliefs and behaviors.

Though I’ve always been instinctively inner-directed, after becoming a lawyer I rarely reflected about inner “freedom” until I had a memorable face-to-face exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, just prior to his 1980 return to India. 

While then residing in my apartment, Guruji told me: “Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

Thereupon, I became intensely curious about Guruji’s surprising revelation that my body was “like a prison”. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. So I began deeply exploring spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last” were so deeply powerful. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external idols, Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
 


Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32

 

So Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us within a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what our outer circumstances.  

Thus, Rumi reminded us:

“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi


The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they help us evolve toward precious inner freedom, our divine birthright.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner
 

2020 Coronavirus Epilogue

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter/Passover pandemic season!

In this extraordinarily unprecedented epochal period of pandemic panic, billions of people worldwide are fearfully keeping socially distant from one-another or are locked-down and “sheltering at home” instead of living normally. Observant Christians and Jews were barred from worshiping together at Easter services which memorialized the death and resurrection of Jesus, or at Passover seders (like Jesus’ last supper) which ritually observed the biblical Exodus legend of God’s miraculous deliverance of Jews from slavery in Egypt, to seek and find freedom in a ‘promised land’.

As a longtime social justice attorney, I’ve become extremely concerned about egregiously unconstitutional autocratic laws and regulations which prevent billions of people from democratically enjoying innate and personal, political, and economic “freedoms”. And I encourage revolutionary resistance to such autocratically immoral edicts by countless confined or restricted people everywhere.

But to fundamentally address the psychological origin of our worldly pandemic panic and fears, I’ve republished the foregoing posting about finding transcendental inner “freedom”.

Paradoxically, this is a time of both immense threat and epochal opportunity. Because pervasive panic and fear precludes us from authentically addressing current quandaries, it is crucial that we transcend such fears in order to skillfully solve our potentially disastrous problems; and, to deeply reconsider our life purposes and priorities as sentient Earth beings instinctively seeking “freedom”.

Invocation

May today’s writings (and music) help dispel our fears and panic, and inspire and encourage our democratic worldly progress toward liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all, and hasten our inner evolution, until we are

“Free at last, free at last.
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

“Go Down Moses”

Afro-American spiritual about exodus story, sung by Louis Armstrong and chorus.



Egocide

“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“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.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama
“The entire Buddhist path is based on the discovery of egolessness and the maturing of insight or knowledge that comes from egolessness.”
~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
“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
“In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”

~ Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
“As ego goes,
consciousness grows,
until it Knows
– Itself.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




“Egocide”

Ego’s attrition
is our mission;

Egocide’s our goal.

When ego’s dead
we’ll lose all dread,

Knowing we are Soul.

Then we’ll say
that life’s a play,

Each body/mind a role;

That we’re the Glory
and not the story,

Not just parts –
but WHOLE.


Ron’s recitation of “Egocide”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Egocide”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing whimsical “Egocide” poem was composed during my post-awakening reclusive period, after I had realized the crucial importance of undoing ego to transcend inevitable karmic suffering in this space/time causality ‘reality’.

As explained in other recent SillySutras postings, “ego” is our thought-created mistaken separate self-identity, rooted in the  ‘I’ thought, which as memory originates the ‘bundle of thoughts’ we call “mind”.

For millennia spiritual teachings have identified “ego” as the fundamental impediment to spiritual evolution and realization; as “the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ); and the “number-one enemy of compassion.” (Dalai Lama). The Dalai Lama has said that all Buddhist teachings aim “to wipe out the persistence of ego.” And Eckhart Tolle believes that transcending ego “is and always has been [the] only one spiritual teaching.”

The Egocide verses are founded on the assumption that every Human – except for rare Buddha-like beings – knowingly or unknowingly is in some stage of an evolutionary process of undoing mistaken ego identity – a process indispensable to our inevitable evolution.

From childhood we are culturally inculcated to self-identify only with a restricted and disempowering mental self-image; as merely a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are, based on our limited projected perceptions of “reality”. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as separate mortal beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that beyond any mistakenly inculcated misidentity we are immortal and eternal Universal Awareness, sharing common Self consciousness with all perceived life-forms.

Accordingly, the foregoing “Egocide” verses and quotations are dedicated to reminding all of us of our critical need to let go of who or what we think we are, so we can realize and BE what we really are – ONE with Nature as Infinite Potentiality.

May they encourage, inspire and quicken our discovering and ending “ego” as an illusory prison of the mind, until we’re out of ‘prison’ –
‘Free at last, free at last’.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner



Who am ‘I’, and What is What?

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’

and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”

~ Rumi
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”
After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are.
The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’, the thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.

The question is the answer.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Ramana Maharshi


Introduction to Who am ‘I’ and What is What?

Dear Friends,

The quizzical verses written and recited below were first inspired by ancient nondualism teachings demonstrated and spoken through twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, who endorsed self-enquiry by constantly asking “Who am I?” as the most efficient way to Self-realization.

Explanations will follow the poetry.

Please enjoy!

Ron Rattner

WHO AM ‘I’ and WHAT IS WHAT?

What lives?   What dies?

What laughs?  What cries?

What sleeps?  What wakes?

What gives?  What takes?

What thinks?  What knows?

What comes?  What goes?

What’s grief?  What’s bliss?

What’s that?!  What’s this?!

The quest is in the question; and

THE QUESTION IS THE ANSWER!

The question is the answer?



Ron’s audio recitation of Who am ‘I’ and What is What?

Listen to


Ron’s explanation and dedication of Who am ‘I’ and What is What?

Dear Friends,

As stated in the introduction, “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?” was first inspired by ancient nondualism wisdom teachings demonstrated and spoken through twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, who endorsed self-enquiry by constantly asking “Who am I?” as the most efficient way to Self-realization.

I synchronistically discovered nondualism wisdom teachings only after my life was blessed and transformed by instinctively and irresistibly asking “Who am I?”.

Here is the story about how I unwittingly experienced the momentous importance of asking “Who am I?”:

Ron’s “Who am I?” Memoir

Over forty years ago, after unwittingly ingesting a marihuana-laced cake at at ‘pot-luck’ New Year’s party, I had an unforgettable out of body experience (OOB) in which from a bedroom ceiling I perceived my body and thoughts as detached below me. Thereupon, I constantly and irresistibly started wondering, if not my body and thoughts, “Who am I?”

Fifteen months later, the “Who am I?” question was amazingly answered, when I suddenly realized my true Self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my body/mind and its story, as previously believed. 

Whereupon, I experienced an unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth, which completely and irreversibly changed my prior ideas of Self-identity and Reality, and began a previously unimagined and continuing new life phase of ever increasing peace of mind, happiness, gratitude, and faith in the mystery of Divinity: a continuing process of increasingly incorporating into my daily life the realization of Self-identity as universal awareness, rather than as a body/mind and its thoughts.

As a secular Jewish lawyer, I had been ignorant of any spiritual or esoteric teachings which might explain my extraordinary awakening experience. But afterwards I was soon synchronistically led to profound nondualism teachings of twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, who endorsed constantly concentrating on the key question “Who am I?” as the most efficient and direct way of discovering the unreality of the ego-mind
I-thought, and attaining Self-realization.

Identifying and Transcending “Ego”

In explaining the benefit of this self-inquiry (vichara) process Sri Ramana identified “ego” as the source of all human unhappiness, and taught that by transcending “ego” we are freed from all unhappiness and suffering. He defined ego as mistaken self-identification, and equated it with mind and memory. And he identified the ‘I’ thought as root of the ego-mind and, hence, source of all suffering. For example, he said:

“All bad qualities centre round the ego. .. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only.”

“The mind is only a bundle of thoughts [with] their root in the I-thought. Whoever investigates the True “I” enjoys the stillness of bliss.”

“All unhappiness is due to the ego. With it comes all your trouble. If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it you would be free.”

And he taught that

“By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’, the thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”

Sri Ramana recognized that the “Who am I?” question could never be answered rationally, but only through the inconceivable and ineffable experience of Self-realization. He explained that:

“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer; the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”

Ultimately, I realized the supreme wisdom of Sri Ramana’s ancient non-dualistic method for efficiently dissolving ego, while I’ve remained mostly engrossed in the emotion of devotion, as a frequent crier for God, while ever mindful that I’m only calling and crying to universal Self; that

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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Moreover, I’ve also realized that since “ego” is the apparent sole source of all human suffering, all enduring spiritual paths, scriptures and teachings are aimed at ending ego; that for millennia spiritual teachings have identified “ego” as the fundamental impediment to spiritual evolution and realization; as “the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ); and the “number-one enemy of compassion.” (Dalai Lama). The Dalai Lama has said that all Buddhist teachings aim “to wipe out the persistence of ego.” And Eckhart Tolle believes that transcending ego is the only spiritual teaching. He says:

“In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”

~ Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

And after decades of observation and experience, I still see “Who Am I?” as a key path to be considered by those with spiritual aspirations;  that persistently asking “who am I”, with constant curiosity, patience and acceptance of inevitable uncertainty can significantly enhance and advance spiritual evolution.

Accordingly, many SillySutras quotations, essays and poems are dedicated to furthering our happiness by recognizing and transcending “ego” through various paths, including the nondualism path of self-inquiry, addressed in today’s “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?” posting.

Invocation

May the quotations, quizzical verses and memoirs stories in today’s Who am ‘I’ and What is What? posting, significantly advance and enhance our spiritual evolution by encouraging our constant discernment of, and dis-identification from, infinite ego illusions.

Thereby may we live ever happier lives leading to ultimate Self-Realization that

“The end of all wisdom is love, love, love.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner.

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


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



Bhagavad Gita – Krishna teaching Arjuna




Q. What is the human “mind”?

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”


“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,

though boundless and unchanging,

appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”


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


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


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

~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras


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

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

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

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


Conclusion.

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

2020 Epilogue.

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

Body, mind and soul are inseparable abstractions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus twentieth century sage J. Krishnamurti, has declared:

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


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

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

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

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Problems?

“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.”
~ Erich Fromm
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
~  Erich Fromm
“The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another.”
~ Dalai Lama
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Freedom from the desire for an answer
is essential to the understanding of a problem.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“If we can really understand the problem,
the answer will come out of it, because
the answer is not separate from the problem.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is not a problem to be solved,
but a reality to be experienced.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard




Problems?

Q. 

What causes problems?
And how can we solve them?


A.  

Ignorance spawns them;

Intelligence solves them;

Wisdom averts them;

Truth transcends them.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Problems?”:

Listen to



Ron’s Comments about seeing and solving “Problems”

Dear Friends,

As sentient beings on planet Earth, we share innate yearning for uninterrupted happiness. But there aren’t utopian Earthly societies inhabited by perfectly happy people without problems.

Thus, individually and societally, all humans inevitably experience problems and limitations which interfere with their happiness – no matter who we are or how we are self-identified or categorized.

Though – like snowflakes – each of us is physically unique with a unique story and history, we are all inextricably interconnected and interdependent – existentially sharing a common spiritual Self identity and common cosmic matrix.

Problems preclude lasting happiness

So solving our societal and interpersonal problems is crucial to fulfillment of our inborn wish for lasting happiness. And just as curing disease normally requires diagnosis of its cause, to solve Earthly problems we need to see their source.

To help us “diagnose” our problems I have posted the foregoing quotations and enigmatic sutra poem – composed many years ago – about seeing, solving and transcending “problems”.

Seeing and solving psychological problems

This poem mainly addresses mental – rather than physical – “problems”, since physical pain is inevitable, while mental suffering is optional.

As to such psychological problems, His Holiness the Dalai Lama teaches that

“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion” because “the need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence;” and because without “love and compassion . . .humanity cannot survive”.

Psychological problems and suffering inevitably arise when we are ignorant of our true spiritual self-identity – which is LOVE – but futilely seek happiness from ephemeral worldly satisfactions. So the poem identifies “ignorance” as the source of “problems”.

Thus Rumi tells us:

“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

Mental Problems are Ego Problems

Those mental ‘barriers’ which we have ‘built within’ all arise from ego, to which Buddhist teachings often refer as ‘self-cherishing thought’.

Through ego we mistakenly mentally self-identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world.

But this is an unreal ego illusion – samsara. And our self-cherishing beliefs and behaviors seeking psychological self-preservation and protection of that ego illusion of separateness are ultimately futile.

What never was, can never be preserved.

To promote lasting happiness and compassion, most spiritual practice has been aimed for millennia at transcending illusionary ego identity. For example this intention has been mentioned in ancient Vedic and Taoist texts such as Rig Veda and Tao Te Ching, as well as in Buddhist scriptures:

Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”

~ Rig Veda

“The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”

~ Lao Tzu

“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.”

~ Dalai Lama

Thus, according to perennial spiritual teachings, ego must be recognized, renounced and transcended.

No thought, no ego.

Ultimate overcoming of ego happens only when thought ceases NOW, and Universal Intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided and projected.

Happiness grows as ego goes

Only very rare ‘awakened’ Buddha-like beings have completed the metamorphosis from Humanity to Infinite Intelligence – from human consciousness to superconsciousness. So the overwhelmingly vast majority of Humankind are incarnate because we are limited by illusionary ego entity-identity, and we inevitably suffer “problems” in space/time causality/duality.

But all of us can gradually evolve and achieve ever growing happiness by seeing and solving our ego problems from ever elevated mental states of consciousness, subtler than those which created them.

Initially we may use our instinctive intelligence to “diagnose” and abandon the beliefs and behaviors causing our experience of such problems. Later, with wisdom we may avert problems by observing mistakes of others and not emulating such mistakes.

Invocation/Conclusion

May we overcome our sufferings from earthly ‘problems’, and experience ever growing happiness, compassion and fulfillment of our deepest aspirations, by gradually recognizing, renouncing and transcending ego-beliefs and behaviors.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

The Way In, Is The Way Out

“The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.”

~ Buddha
“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
“As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it …it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. …..
As long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.”

~ Rig Veda
“As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body, a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straws to feed the flames of vanity.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Undo ego!
As ego goes,

consciousness grows,

until it Knows
– Its Self.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Beyond Ego



The Way In, Is The Way Out

In this crazy age
of mental malaise,
we’re caught
in a mental maze.

Without a doubt,
to find our way out
we must know
the way we got in.



Ron’s Audio Recitation of “The Way In, Is The Way Out”

Listen to


Ron’s Explanation and Dedication of “The Way In, Is The Way Out”

Dear Friends,

The above poem is dedicated to furthering our conscious spiritual evolution, thereby helping us live ever happier lives.

Upon birth as human lifeforms we experience amnesia about our true spiritual self-identity. Then we are acculturated to perceive and believe ourselves to be mere mortal physical bodies separate from each other and nature. So egoically we think and mistakenly behave as unconnected entities, and become subject to the universal law of cause and effect – karma.

Every Human – except for rare Buddha-like beings – knowingly or unknowingly is in some evolutionary stage of undoing mistaken ego identity – a process indispensable to our inevitable evolution. So for millennia spiritual seers have recognized “ego” as the greatest human “enemy” and impediment to our spiritual evolution.

Thus, because of ego’s supreme significance, numerous SillySutras.com writings describe “ego” and ways to transcend it. (See e.g. website archives linked here.)

In writing about ego I’ve sometimes used fanciful metaphors. For example, I have written that ego identification causes each soul to become ‘encapsulated’ and ‘entangled’ in a “self-woven karmic cocoon” arising from our unique behaviors – through which we often bring about personal and planetary sufferings. And that each “karmic cocoon” becomes a kind of “psychological prison” which restricts realization of our unlimited potentialities and makes karmic suffering inevitable.  But I’ve written that by “undoing ego” we can each mentally transcend our “psychological prison” and emerge “free at last”, no matter what our outer circumstances,.

My midlife awakening sparked a spiritual metamorphosis process from “secular Hebrew”, to “born-again Hindu”, to “uncertain Undo”. Gradually I began letting go of previously accepted beliefs and concepts about Self-identity and Reality. Thus whimsically I’ve long proclaimed that I’m an ‘Uncertain Undo’ seeking relief from belief; and that “on the path of Undo, we’ll never be through, ’til we’re an undone ONE”.

In Rob Tobias’ YouTube documentary film about me, titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)”, I’ve explained how butterflies are powerful symbols of our human potential to undo inevitable earthly karmic sufferings and emerge from chrysalis-like self-woven “karmic cocoons”. And I recited the above mental maze lines about how (until then) we’re karmically caught “in a mental maze” seeking the way out.

I hope you’ll enjoy the poem online and in the video. And that it may help all of us who are still “caught by thought” and longing to escape from suffering while psychologically imprisoned in our self-woven karmic cocoons.

Invocation.

May “The Way In, Is The Way Out” help remind us all
of how we can emerge from “karmic cocoons” and transcend earthly sufferings
by letting go of who or what we mistakenly think we are,
and BEING what we really are –
ONE with Nature as its Eternal Source.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Knowing The Unknowable

The less we think we know,
the more we really Know.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Since no one really knows anything about God,
those who think they do are just 
troublemakers.”
~ Rabia of Basra (first female Sufi saint)
“When the mind is completely empty –
only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
“Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still –
only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“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.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi






Knowing The Unknowable

Knowing is bliss;
ignorance isn’t bliss
– it’s suffering.

Knowing’s not mental,
– it’s existential.

If we think we Know,
we don’t.

Knowing’s not thought,
and knowing’s not taught.

Knowing’s never then or how;
Knowing’s always here and now.

So, Knowing is this:

It’s Being —
Bliss —

NOW!


Ron’s audio recitation of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Dear Friends,

In space/time duality reality we can never express ineffable Truth, but only point to it. The forgoing poem, “Knowing The Unknowable”, paradoxically points to our ever mysterious shared purpose as apparent Earthly incarnates.

We’ve appeared on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’ as spiritual students, to learn our true Self-identity as eternal Love. Knowingly or unknowingly we all long for LOVE – which is our common spiritual essence and Source. And we’re here to find it, by consciously and conscientiously living our lives.

As unavoidable evolutionary incentives, many of us need to suffer painful experiences. Inevitably we thereby learn that knowing Divinity comes not from fearful or divisive egoic efforts or thoughts, but from fearlessly surrendering to The Lone Arranger, and – with opened hearts and stilled minds – letting go of all ideas of being separate from each other and Nature. Thus

Invocation

May today’s quotations and poetry help inspire realization
of our deepest evolutionary aspiration – of “Knowing The Unknowable”.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Uniquely The Same

“You are the light of the world.”
~ Matthew 5:14
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One –.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 12
Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.
~  Mahmud Shabestari, Sufi Mystic, 15th century.
Into my heart’s night

Along a narrow way
 I groped;
and lo! the light,

An infinite land of day.
~ Rumi
And this is the reason the cosmos first
needs to be divided into the tiniest parts,
and enormous shatterings must take place
in order to separate the smallest particles.
And after they are polished up and clarified, behold:
each speck will contain the whole of all existence,
and it all is filled with God’s light and his glory.
~ Rabbi Avraham Kook
“There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe. 

The horizontal threads are in space.
 The vertical threads are in time.

At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual.

And every individual is a crystal bead. 

And every crystal bead reflects not only the light 
from every other crystal in the net,

but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.”
~ Indra’s Net – from the Vedas of ancient India, 7000 years old




Uniquely The Same

We are all
uniquely the same.

In form we’re unique,
but in Essence identical:

Spirit, Light, Life, Love.

Deeply, but subconsciously,
we share common Cosmic Consciousness –

Common “I”ness.
Common “I am” ness.

As ever more we experience our Universality,
We shall ever more transform our “reality”.



Ron’s audio recitation of Uniquely The Same.

Listen to


Ron’s Comments on “Uniquely The Same”

Dear Friends, 

Today’s posting coincides with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and is dedicated to our true Self-identity as “the light of the world”

As long as we misperceive and believe ourselves separate from everyone and everything else, we inevitably suffer karmically from ‘perception conception deception’.

Though we appear separated, spiritually we are ONE. Beyond space/time’s projected world mirage of countless impermanent and ever changing energetic appearances, we share common Self-identity as timeless non-duality Reality.
   
Thus, as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reminds us, we “are the light of the world”  – a world in which the law of the Prophets must persist “until heaven and earth disappear” [Matthew 5:14-18]
 
Mystically this means that until we transcend our misperceived and misconceived separate entity-identities, we are bound by space/time duality/reality’s karmic causality law; and, we are mentally ‘shackled” by illusory bonds of belief. But ultimate spiritual freedom is beyond causation, beyond belief.

“Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.” . .
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” 

~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga


Thus to be free spiritually we must experientially realize our collective non-dual Self-identity beyond karmic causes and conditions, as “the light of the world”.      

Invocation

May the above quotations and poem help remind us that we are
“the light of the world.”

May they help inspire our ever increasing happiness and fulfillment
“until heaven and earth disappear.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Atheists Beware!

“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that
it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer,
the good and the bad, the real and the unreal;
that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep;
and that He is beyond all these.” …
”God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“I don’t try to imagine a personal God;
it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world,
insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.”
~ Albert Einstein
“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Atheism is a disease of the soul,
before it becomes an error of the understanding.”
~ Plato
“Small amounts of philosophy lead to atheism,
but larger amounts bring us back to God.”
~ Francis Bacon
“The Atheist is God playing at hide and seek with Himself;
but is the Theist any other?
Well, perhaps; for he has seen the shadow of God and clutched at it.”
~ Sri Aurobindo
The worst moment for the atheist
is when he is really thankful
and has nobody to thank.                    
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti
“Atheism is a non-prophet organization”
~ George Carlin
“Since no one really knows anything about God,
those who think they do are just troublemakers.”
~ Rabia Basri (8th century female Sufi saint)


Atheists Beware!

We reify what we resist.

And as we persist in resisting,

We attract and become what we resist.

So atheists, beware!

In vehemently denying Divinity,
you are reifying and deifying “God”.

And as you opine,
you’re becoming Divine.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Atheists Beware!”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Atheists Beware!”

The foregoing whimsical “Atheists Beware” verses were composed decades ago during an extended reclusive period after I’d begun to sometimes see our space/time ‘reality’ as a sort of Cosmic joke; an ever paradoxical play of Divine ONENESS.

Until spiritually awakening at midlife to Self identity as Awareness, I’d hardly thought about “God” or related concepts. Though probably influenced by the core Hebrew precept: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” (Deuteronomy 6:4), I don’t recall ever reflecting before midlife about existence (or non-existence) of a creator “God”.

Nonetheless, I always considered “God” as ONE universally immanent, nameless, formless, nonjudgmental Supreme Power. And I rejected ideas of a humanoid, personal or judgmental God. So I interpreted Bible legends metaphorically – not as ‘the word of God’ explicitly spoken through special messengers.

Until my midlife awakening, I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But upon awakening to a new life at age forty three, I cried for twenty four hours. Thereafter, while others were frequent fliers, I became a ‘frequent cryer’. And I wondered why I was crying so much, until experientially realizing with utter amazement that I was crying with intense longing for “God”. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.) 

Since then, I’ve spent much time reflecting about “God”, and other related or synonymous concepts. And I’ve found that my beliefs and ideas about “God” have evolved as I’ve opened spiritually; that my curiosity about God has emanated from a universal human longing (conscious or subliminal) for a state of ONENESS with THAT.

My curiosity about “God” soon sparked interest in “atheism” and “atheists”.
I learned that most “atheists” reject belief in, or existence of, deities,
in contrast with “theists” who believe in at least one deity or Creator.
(See Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity)

Also, I soon realized that – as the Bible says – “God” is word; a word used by different people to designate their different ideas of a transcendent power; that, whether or not the “universe” was created by God, “God” is a concept created by man. (See God is a Word. )

And more and more I accepted and honored the perennial mystery of Divine Reality beyond space/time duality.   (See e.g. Mystery of Divinity ) Thus it paradoxically appeared to me that worldly people who adamantly professed with certainty to be most religious – or atheistic – were usually most intolerant of those with other religious, spiritual or philosophic views; that their professed fundamentalist certainty about superiority of their philosophy – masked deep doubt, ignorance or insecurity about the transcendent Divine mystery, recognized for millennia by rare mystics, saints and sages from every enduring religious or spiritual tradition.

Ultimately, my reflections about “God” resulted in my living a faith-based life. After initial years of questioning, I found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology. I found faith in everything everywhere, and in the impenetrable Mystery beyond every form or phenomenon. I found faith in my Self and in Nature. And faith to devotionally follow my Heart. So I became a non-dualist lover of God – a Bhakta – especially inspired by by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who taught and demonstrated that:

“[A]ll one’s confusion (about God) comes to an end if one only realizes that
 it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, 
the good and the bad, the real and the unreal.”

(See I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life and Discovering and Honoring Devotional “Holy Fools”)

So the foregoing whimsical “Atheists Beware” verses were composed from a faith-based perspective that views all space/time manifestation as a play of Divine ONENESS; that “it is God who manifests …. as [both] the atheist and the believer.”

The poem ironically reveals that in adamantly resisting “God” worldly atheists are unable to realize their ultimate divinity – that paradoxically they are what they resist; a realization that is egoically unthinkable, but transcendentally Knowable only by rare beings, like Ramakrishna.

Dedication and Invocation of “Atheists Beware” Verses

Inspired by deep curiosity, reflection and thoughts about “God”,
may we gradually insightfully and experientially discover our common inner Divine Source,

Until ultimately our ego-minds melt and merge with THAT Divine Source: as

Universal Spirit, Being, Awareness, Bliss;
Eternal Peace, Life, Light, LOVE

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Reflections on Religious Beliefs

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama






Reflections on Religious Beliefs

Q. What is religion?

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

Q. Why do we have religions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

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

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

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

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

Q. Why is a silent mind important?

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

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

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

A. According to J.Krishnamurti:

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

Q. Are religious beliefs important?

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

As the Dalai Lama reportedly has said:

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

So grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

But how can this happen?

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

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

“There is only one God,

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

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;

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

There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”

~ Sathya Sai Baba

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

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

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2011)

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

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

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

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

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk

And so we must realize that

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama

Invocation

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner