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Evolution

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

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

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

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

~ Swami Vivekananda





Introduction.

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

My history with “prayer”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “prayer”?

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

How shall we pray?

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

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

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

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

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

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

~ Socrates


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

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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Becoming “prayer”.

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

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


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

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

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

Conclusion.

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Season’s Blessings


“To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

“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.

“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness, a kind of prison for us. . .Our task must be to free ourselves from this [mental] prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein (edited excisions)

“The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”
~ Albert Einstein






Season’s Blessings

Dear Friends,

Season’s greetings! Happy Earth-life Equinox season!

Following the September 22nd solar equinox we’ll soon be collectively sharing a new solar season. Yet as unique beings with unique conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we are each also experiencing different evolutionary life cycle seasons and challenges. (See video embedded below.)


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun (or heaven).”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1


Though we are all ending and beginning new space/time solar/lunar and karmic seasons, we are also reminded by Ecclesiastes that paradoxically and Cosmically “there is nothing new under the sun”. (See Ecclesiastes 1:9 – sometimes attributed to King Solomon)

In this ever changing duality reality we experience time and seasons (with apparent “free will”) while learning from Nature that our true Source and self identity is Reality beyond space and time and our “will”, where all that is, was, or will be is NOW – an ultimate Infinite Reality where nothing is new or old or separate.

But as students on the ‘Earth branch of the Great Cosmic University’, while we orbit, rotate, and revolve with Gaia, the Earth Mother that birthed us all, we must harmoniously honor Nature’s blessings and limitations. As stewards of all Life forms on this precious planet we must protect and nurture them – not insanely and unsustainably pillage, plunder and destroy them.

We must


“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


So as we begin new solar, lunar, and karmic seasons, let us resolve to solve potentially catastrophic planetary disharmonies. As earthly spiritual siblings may we help solve critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life forms on our precious planet, through awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone are insanely causing these crises.

Individually and collectively, let us become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve with compassionate solidarity the immense ecological challenges facing us, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of earth life as we have known it – when the doomsday clock of the bulletin of atomic scientists has been advanced to two minutes to midnight.

With conscious concern about patently imminent dangers of nuclear or ecologic omnicide, let us politically, socially and spiritually act before it is too late.

But before acting let us first mindfully calm our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind. Rather than vindictively seeking retribution for perceived wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, may we first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable mental habits and disharmonious behaviors.

Thereby with quiet minds and open hearts may we non-violently and non-judgmentally resist injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

Thus may we help bless and transform our lives and our space/time world, until we ultimately transcend it.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” Ecclesiastes 3 – Video + Text.



Surrender: Let Go of Ego

“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”
~ The Buddha
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything
, even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”

~ Deepak Chopra


“Love is the sacrifice of will.

If you cannot leave will behind

You have no will at all.
”
~ Rumi
“Setting aside all noble deeds, just surrender completely to the will of God.
 I shall liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve.”

~ Bhagavad Gita

“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
“Knowledge is learning something every day.

Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

~ Zen Proverb
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you. 
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” 
~ William Shakespeare
“Nature is our nature;
honoring Nature is honoring your Self.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





“Surrender: Let Go of Ego”

The idea of spiritual “surrender” is encapsulated in the maxims:

“Let go, and let God”;
“Go with the Flow”
; and
“Not my will, but Thy will be done”.


Both Eastern and Western religious and spiritual teachings
stress the importance of allowing the inconceivably immense power of Nature, the Tao, or the Divine to guide our lives;

Of simply surrendering to Life, and allowing it to live us as it may.

Before surrendering, we may egoically think ourselves separate from other beings and life-forms, and that we are in ultimate control of our lives.

But, we more and more allow Nature, not ego, to guide us as we gradually realize that we are inextricably part of Nature, not separate from it, and that Nature Knows best and is in control.

Surrender is an inner process; an intuitional attitude rather than an outer act,

Arising gradually as we gain implicit trust and faith in Nature’s supreme perfection.

And as our faith in Nature grows, ego goes.

We gradually lose the ego illusion of separateness from Nature, and ever more surrender to Life.

And when we become completely surrendered to the river of life– the timeless flow of existence– ego disappears:

Revealing that our true nature is Nature;

Revealing we are THAT, to which we have surrendered.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Surrender- Let Go of Ego”

Listen to



Ron’s Explanation of “Surrender: Let Go of Ego”

Dear Friends,

In recent messages I’ve explained that our mistaken inner self-identification as supposedly separate bodies, minds, and stories is what spiritual teachings call “ego”, which they often identify as the greatest impediment to spiritual evolution and realization.

Many different concepts are used in such teachings to help us recognize and gradually end “ego” as an illusory prison of the mind. For example, the ideas of “ego” and “belief” are inevitably interrelated, because we can’t maintain ego misidentification without mistaken beliefs about who or what we are.  
So, to “undo ego”, we need to “seek relief from belief”.

“Surrender” is another key concept interrelated with ego.  To transcend inevitable karmic sufferings and attachments from ego-mind misidentification we must let go and surrender our mistaken beliefs about who and what we think we are, to realize what we truly are – Divinity or Nature incarnate. Thus, surrendering and letting go of “ego” is a key evolutionary process ultimately leading to Self-realization of Divinity as sole Reality.

So Rumi tells us:

“There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheik, 
who is an ocean for all beings.”

“How did you get here?
Close your eyes and surrender.”

“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
“The hurt that we embrace becomes joy.” 
~ Rumi


Hence, the foregoing quotations from Rumi and others and my poetic explanation of “surrender” are all about lovingly letting go and surrendering “ego”.

They are respectfully offered to remind us of our critical need to let go of who or what we think we are so can realize and BE what we really are – ONE with Nature and God. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Ascension Apprehension

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

Fear is what we learned here. 

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

~ Marianne Williamson
In silence sweet

we shall see

that everything is light.

And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace

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


Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.

The higher we go
the more we know,

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



Ron’s audio recitation of “Ascension Apprehension”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Ascension Apprehension”

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invocation

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

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner


Vernal Equinox Blessings

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna





Ron’s introduction.

I first learned of Chapter 3:1-8 of the Book of Ecclesiastes on hearing a popular 1960’s folk song written by Pete Seeger called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” quoting the biblical passages verbatim beginning with: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I then sensed the importance of those passages (attributed to King Solomon), but never deeply reflected upon them until after my 1976 midlife spiritual awakening.

Until then, I was largely insensitive to the symbolic importance of time cycles, and I had little inner inclination to celebrate or commemorate new years or new seasons. Only afterwards did I begin learning about importance of astronomical and astrological sciences with increasing appreciation of ancient pre-Christian cultures which recorded time through solar, lunar or lunisolar calendars, such as Persian, Mayan, Islamic, Vedic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Tibetan.

Paradoxically, since my midlife change of life I have become increasingly aware of the importance of Earth life seasons and cycles in time, while realizing that cosmically Albert Einstein was right when he told us: “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; and, that “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”

Thus I have realized and written that “time is how we measure NOW”.

Yet, this posting (on the March 20, 2019, vernal equinox) is sincerely dedicated to inspiring our understanding of how auspicious Earth-life cycles and seasons can help us bless and transform this world, until we ultimately transcend it.

Vernal Equinox Blessings and Opportunities.

The vernal equinox is a traditionally important astronomical event which can mark an especially auspicious new life phase for everyone everywhere, and for all Life on our precious planet.  Especially in Northern climes spring is considered a season for spiritual renewal and rebirth; a time for recognition of our cyclic transition from darkness to light – of both inner and outer illumination. And this can be an especially auspicious time for political progress everywhere on our precious planet.

Thus, as awakening spiritual siblings we can collectively resolve critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life on our precious planet, and which can be solved only through our awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone have caused these crises.

Whatever our cultural conditioning, or our spiritual, religious or ethical traditions, we can NOW join together in identifying and  symbolically discarding old defilements, so as to continue earth-life with a fresh clean slate – a process exemplified by the ancient vernal equinox New Year tradition of Zoroastrianism, which is observed by millions people worldwide as Nowruz.

Many religious historians believe that Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and that it may have influenced humankind, directly and indirectly, more than any other single faith; that it has influenced the major Asian religions, and that many beliefs of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim monotheistic religions were derived from Zoroastrianism. 

Zoroastrianism teaches that Life’s purpose is to renew the world; to help the world progress towards perfection.  And, that Happiness in Life comes to those who work for the happiness of others.

Key Zoroastrian tenets are: 

“Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”; “Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you”; and “There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.”


Like many Westerners I first learned of the wisdom of the Persian mystical tradition through the poems of the great Persian Sufi mystics Rumi and Hafiz, some of which are posted on SillySutras.com. Rumi’s poetry is so superlatively beautiful and mystically insightful – even when translated from Farsi – that he has been recently called the “most popular poet in America”, over seven centuries since his death.

And just as many Western people keep copies of the bible in their homes, many Persian and Iranian people keep copies of Hafiz’ writings which they consider the pinnacle of Persian literature.  The poems and sayings from Rumi and Hafiz quoted on SillySutras.com are the amongst the most beautiful and deeply insightful postings on the entire website, and I commend them to your attention. See here and here.

If like countless others you are inspired to help the world through infinite opportunities for transformative blessings for everyone everywhere enhanced by this auspicious equinox Earth life cycle, it is important to remember that such blessings are not automatic but depend on our loving thoughts, words and deeds. The principle was succinctly stated by Indian sage Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who reminds us that:

“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”

Conclusion.

We are living in extraordinarily turbulent times with immense dangers and opportunities. But we are encouraged by Rumi’s consoling wisdom:

“Do not be sad.
For God sends hope in the darkest moments. 
The heaviest rain comes from the darkest clouds.” 
~ Rumi


May we collectively view what is happening environmentally and politically as disintegration of an old world paradigm that has become painfully and harmfully obsolete, to make way for a more enlightened and elevated new age that can and will bless all life on our precious  planet.

And let us each from our unique perspectives, and with our unique propensities, lovingly ‘raise our sails to the winds of grace’ which will hasten a new golden age of peace on earth and goodwill for all.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


“Turn! Turn! Turn!” – Video.




Why Be Here Now?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“That which is timeless is found NOW.”

~ Buddha
“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…
Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life –
and see how life starts suddenly ..
working for you, rather than against you.”

~ Eckhart Tolle
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
~ Hillel
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,
which is what there is and all there is.
”
~ Alan Watts
The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity. Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Why Be Here Now?

Introduction.

Today’s memoirs posting “Why Be Here Now?” explains how the memorable book title “Be Here Now” became for me an inspirational spiritual slogan, encapsulating the essence of all spiritual teachings: viz. to live in thoughtless presence (as Universal Awareness) rather than in the past (as an ego-mind story of a separate mortal being); because Life is NOW, ever NOW, never Then!

This universal teaching has so significantly advanced my spiritual awakening process, that I am now experiencing life in ways I couldn’t imagine when I first learned about being in the present moment. So I often share it to help others (as hereafter explained).

Learning to live moment by moment, ever NOW.

Here is a summary of my process of learning about living NOW, as Universal Awareness:

Soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar, on the urging of a long-time friend. There I was first exposed to certain (unsourced) Eastern spirituality principles cleverly collected and presented by Werner Erhard, est’s founder, to motivate participants to radically transform their lives by ‘getting IT’.  The key est teaching was to:

Always accept “what is”. [See Ron’s Memoirs: Getting “IT” at est]

After attending est in 1977, I started to learn that for millennia there have been spiritual teachings about thoughtlessly accepting “what is” {sometimes called “letting go” or “surrender”). This began happening when I read an extraordinary book called “Be Here Now”, which told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D, psychologist, into Baba Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

Discussion re “Be Here Now” as Root Spiritual Teaching.

“Be Here Now” was my first memorable exposure to Hindu and other sourced Eastern spiritual teachings. It was an extraordinary book, unlike any other I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions or ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices, some of which I later followed, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them.

Apart from the book’s contents, its “Be Here Now!” title gradually became a memorable guide for my spiritual awakening process; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Gradually, I found this reminder repeated so often in other spiritual teachings and books that, ultimately, I considered it to be the root essence of all spiritual teachings. I deemed this teaching so crucial that (with poetic license) I once called it “The Sacred Secret of Life”. (See https://sillysutras.com/secret-of-life/)

“Be Here Now” by Ram Dass



My realization about the crucial importance of living as thoughtless presence, was especially advanced by the teachings of world renowned spiritual philosopher J. Krishnamurti, that

“Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Much later I approvingly concurred with the writings and lectures of contemporary author/teacher Eckhart Tolle, which skillfully emphasized “The Power of Now.” (Another memorable book title which became a popular spiritual slogan.)

Probably I best learned about living with a stilled mind by faithfully following for many years my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”. Ultimately, after thus meditating regularly, my ‘monkey mind’ finally ceased its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness.

These chosen moments of living with a stilled mind changed my experience and deep understanding of incarnate human life, in previously unprecedented ways. For example, they bestowed new insight into Patanjali’s root aphorism that

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”
~ Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras


Also I realized that many people (like French philosopher René Descartes) have mistakenly confused “thinking” with “being”. So I wrote an essay critique of that mistaken belief, to remind us that “being” as Awareness exists and persists perpetually, whether or not we are thinking. (See https://sillysutras.com/cartesian-critique/)

And precious moments of thought-free awareness confirmed and validated spiritual insights from other mystical experiences. For example, they were reminders that human consciousness remains beyond death of human bodies and brains; that consciousness creates brains and subtle thought bodies which inevitably survive death of physical bodies. (See https://sillysutras.com/brains/)

Whereby I observed that most people (like Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet) mistakenly believe that death of the physical body and brain, ends all consciousness and thought.

Thus Prince Hamlet incorrectly equated physical mortality with timeless Awareness in his famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy contemplating his possible suicide. (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

And to share this realization about Hamlet’s confused suicide speculations,
I composed this sutra:

“To think or not to think, that is the question.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

which implies that Being is perpetual, not optional, whereas thinking is optional and does not end on bodily ‘death’; but that paradoxically the less we think, the more we are Being (‘here now’) as perpetual Awareness.

Essential Message of “Be Here Now”.

Through the process of learning to live with a stilled mind in the present moment, I’ve discovered that:

Being is timeless. But thought is time (and space). So, when we egoically think of ourselves merely as entities separate (in space) from each other and Nature, we mistakenly preclude or deter our realization of spiritual Freedom as eternal Being beyond space/time.

Instead, we experience our existence only as an ever impermanent past illusion, or mental mirage, but never NOW. However as we self-identify moment by moment as thoughtless, choiceless awareness, we are Being NOW.

And we learn that

“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives;”
and that
“When all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ultimately we discover

“That which is timeless is [only] found NOW”

~ Buddha

Conclusion.

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique karmic ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ.

And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just for spiritual aspirants. For example, being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a stilled or focussed mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists or athletes perform at their highest levels while “in the zone”?

Thus today’s quotations, memoirs and discussion are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all (knowingly or unknowingly) seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically immanent ever here NOW.

Peanuts by Charles Schulz

Dedication.

May everyone everywhere experience ever expanding happiness by increasingly living moment by moment in precious presence, with ever quieter minds.

Thereby may we all radiate love and joy, which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

The Truth That Sets Us Free

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space.

He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein ( N. Y. Times , March 29, 1972)





The Truth That Sets Us Free

Trapped in earthly domain
of fear, death and pain,
we long for liberty.

Jailed in cages we’ve wrought,
with hoary thought
that mere body/minds are we,

We’re deceived by perceptions,
and caught by conceptions,
of supposed mortality.

But prison’s illusion,
and we suffer confusion
of our true identity.

For we’re beings of light
Eternal and bright,
and so shall ever be.

We shall know this Truth,
and it shall forsooth,
release and set us Free.



Ron’s audio recitation of “The Truth That Sets Us Free”

Listen to


Ron’s Commentary on “Truth That Set’s Us Free”


Dear Friends,

Today’s posting “The Truth That Sets Us Free”, is a sutra poem (with voice recitation) about Spiritual freedom as a fundamental evolutionary goal. This poem’s title and subject were inspired by Jesus’ teaching “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.

For millennia mystical teachings of all perennial wisdom paths have identified spiritual Freedom or Self realization as an ultimate evolutionary objective.

Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare state of mind which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life.  Knowingly or unknowingly everyone/everywhere longs for Freedom as our divine birthright. 

I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of  “freedom” during the 1950’s when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation  lawyer I rarely thought about about inner freedom, until after a memorable exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 



While residing in my apartment (just prior to his 1980 return to India), 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 extremely curious about Guruji’s 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.  (See https://sillysutras.com/human-body-a-precious-prison-rons-memoirs/)


So I began exploration of “spiritual freedom”, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Whereupon, 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. 



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

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”

~ Deuteronomy 6:4

 
Also I believed that Jesus prophetically alluded to such spiritual freedom by teaching:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

~ John 8:32

 


I intuited that Jesus was teaching we find freedom (from mentally self-imposed imprisonment) only when we transcend entity-identity to 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-mind ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us within a sort of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  



However, the mystic masters teach and demonstrate that we can psychologically transcend that mental “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter 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 verses and quotations. 

May they advance our spiritual evolution toward realization of precious inner Freedom, our divine birthright.



And so may it be!



Ron Rattner

Sunrise, sunset

“Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
~ Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock – “Fiddler on the Roof”
“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
~ Crowfoot, 1890
“Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
~ Buddha: Diamond Sutra
“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”

~ Buddha

Fiddler on the Roof


Dear Friends,

As students on the Earth branch of the great Cosmic University, we are commencing a new year and new season of human matriculation, rotation and revolution in our space/time solar system.

In these critical times, our species has caused imminent ecological and nuclear threats to all life forms on earth. Yet we have gained unprecedented opportunities for technologically transcending our most critical problems.

Can we avert catastrophe and enter an enlightened ‘new age’?
How can we best live with the inevitable ‘ups and downs’ of space/time duality “reality”, which are always “laden with happiness and tears”?

To encourage reflection on these perennial philosophical questions, I have embedded below a poignant video performance of “Sunrise, sunset” a classic song from Fiddler on the Roof, (with lyrics and music composed by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock).

May this affective song inspire transcendence of our ‘up and down’ lifetime problems and realization that what matters most during our fleeting earthly lives is, as the Buddha taught:

“How well did [we] love?
How fully did [we] love?
How deeply did [we] learn to let go?”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner



Fiddler On The Roof – “Sunrise sunset”



Imagine – The World Will Live As One


 “Imagine… the world will live as one
”
~ John Lennon
 (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein





Imagine – The World Will Live As One

Dear Friends, 

Almost forty years ago our great ex-Beatles visionary ancestor, John Lennon was too soon taken from us (at age forty).  But the luminous light of his eternal soul continues to bless and inspire us.  

In this holy season of Eternal Light, it is especially appropriate that we remember and honor him. 

So I have posted below lyrics and two live video performances of John singing “Imagine”,
his inspired and inspiring expression of our shared aspiration for enduring planetary peace and happiness. 

May these classic performances inspire us to remember that together we can and must 
“live as one” with compassion for everyone everywhere, while never forgetting that 

“All we need is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.”

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)


“Imagine”


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


Healing is Wholing

“Life is a healing/wholing/gnosis/process.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Happiness heals.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Feeling hastens healing.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Medicine Buddha


Healing is Wholing

Healing is Wholing.

Healing is revealing,
Not re-covering.

Healing is un-covering;
Healing is dis-covering:

Wholeness,
Holiness,
SELF!



Ron’s audio recitation of HEALING

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Healing is Wholing”

Dear Friends,

We live in an age of mental malaise – in an extremely stressful, disharmonious and crazy world, with widespread psychological and physical sickness and suffering; a world so crazy that we are on (or beyond) the brink of human caused ecological or nuclear cataclysm.

So how can we “heal” this crazy world to avert human caused catastrophe?

The foregoing verses and sutras describe “healing” as a universally holistic process. All humans and other earth-world life-forms are deeply connected. So to heal our planet’s pervasive pathologies and disharmonies, our ills must be viewed and addressed holistically and systemically, not separately or symptomatically. Identifying and treating separate symptoms may afford temporary relief, but it cannot cure their systemic causes.

To permanently cure our disharmonies and sufferings, individuals and societies must be healed holistically.

Cosmically all human insanities, disharmonies and worldly sufferings originate from conditioned “ego-minds”. They can only be “healed” mentally by ending ego-minds. “Ego” is our mistaken mental self identification as perceived physical entities separate from Nature, and from eternally Infinite Awareness, our sole spiritual essence.

Healing as revealing spiritual wholeness

During a ten year post-retirement reclusive period, I often reflected about healing this crazy world transcendentally by evolving from illusory “ego” separation and suffering to joyous Self realization as Infinite Awareness.

Today’s “Healing is Wholing” posting. which was composed during that reclusive period, epigrammatically expresses the essence of my ideas about spiritual healing through evolutionary realization of SELF. The poem was inspired by the following synchronistic circumstances:

After I retired from all other professional and pro-bono legal activities, I continued serving on the Board of Directors of New Dimensions Foundation, an independent producer of spiritual radio interviews. While we were both serving on the New Dimensions Board, I became friendly with Dr. Anne Wilson-Schaef, a renowned best selling spiritual author, and well known PhD psychologist, whose books are described at http://livinginprocess.com/books/.

After many years as a practicing psychotherapist, Dr. Schaef decided that conventional psychotherapy didn’t work. So she originated and began leading worldwide ‘workshops’ based on 12 step therapy principles which she called “living in process intensives”. She described her “living in process” ideas in her controversially popular book: “Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science: A New Model For Healing The Whole Person”.

In this book Dr. Schaef described society as addictively and psychologically alienated from the whole universe and its spirituality. And she asserted that traditionally dualistic Newtonian sciences and psychotherapies co-dependently enabled an “Addictive Society”, just as individual enablers co-dependently fostered addictions (like alcoholism). So to heal and spiritually transform our alienated society she proposed going beyond conventional dualistic psychotherapies to a natural evolutionary process of experiential transformation, which she called “living in process”.

At Dr. Schaef’s request for comments, I carefully read a galley proof of her “Beyond Therapy” book before its publication in a new edition. In reading that text I recognized that many of her then controversial conclusions and proposals, were completely consistent with my views about materialistic science and secular psychology as impeding our experiential earth-life evolution. For example, Dr. Schaef’s proposals were harmonious with my view that secular psychology merely attempts to alleviate ego’s inevitable mental suffering, whereas spiritual psychotherapy aims at ending our psychological imprisonment. (See https://sillysutras.com/spiritual-psychotherapy/)

Dr. Schaef’s text often used both the concepts of “recovery” (as from addictive habit patterns) as well as “healing” ( as in the subtitle “A New Model For Healing The Whole Person”}. Though I understood Dr. Schaef’s proposals, I became concerned that other readers might mistakenly conflate the “recovering” and “healing” concepts; that “recovering” implied returning from addiction to a prior condition of adjustment to a sick society, whereas “healing” meant being uplifted beyond habitual dependencies to a higher and freer state of being.

So, to tactfully communicate this concern to Dr. Schaef, I ‘channeled’ and sent her the above verses about about life as an evolutionary process revealing a new state of spiritual wholeness, beyond recovering a prior adjustment to a sick society.

Conclusion

May today’s verses and sutras help inspire our transformational transcendence of ego-mind’s evolutionary impediments, and so hasten our human “healing” process to psychological health and freedom – our universal evolution from “nescience, to gnosis, to apotheosis”

May we thus, while “living in process”:

“Heal systems – not symptoms,
with tonics – not toxics;

with Love and Light –
not stress and fright.”


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner