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Faith

Dealing With Death and Dying
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Face death to live life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is in dying to ego life,
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But when I grew up it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life. They usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family. And mostly they used euphemistic language to describe death.

Though the mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue, my childhood Jewish and public school education did not encompass that mystery – nor did my non-liberal arts college curriculum.

Both my grandmothers had died before I was born. My paternal grandfather who I hardly knew died while I was quite young and I was not brought to his funeral. Not until later adulthood did I suffer loss of any other dear person or pet, or think much about death.

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

Like most other Americans, I had an innate but largely subconscious fear of death, which I discovered during college days in Madison, Wisconsin. While imprudently and unskillfully swimming too far from shore in Lake Mendota, I nearly drowned and unforgettably experienced my usually subconscious fear of death. Fortuitously, in the nick of time, I was sighted and rescued by boaters. For many years thereafter, as a (non-swimming) relatively young and healthy person, I never again consciously confronted or philosophically explored that innate fear of death.

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

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

Inspired by Guruji, I became religiously transformed from “secular Hebrew” to “Born-again Hindu”. And I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma.

Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, for example, https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/; also https://sillysutras.com/death-afterlife-rebirth-easter-reflections-on-resurrections/)

Ultimately I concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

Consequently, I became ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable (and perhaps imminent) bodily death. But, my detachment about my own demise did not negate my compassionate concern for loss of others – especially dear ones – and my wish for their auspicious transitions. This became evident when at age sixty-one I was, at long last, confronted with my dear father’s last illness and passing.

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

My dear father, Harry, came into this world on December 14, 1904, with a very strong body which served him well and without serious disease or disability until age 88. Then beginning in 1993 he had a series of ailments which proved terminal.

First he suffered an extremely painful and protracted case of herpes shingles for which he was treated with Prednisone, a powerful immune system depressant, which weakened him. Soon after recovering from that affliction, while already debilitated he had an intestinal hernia injury, so painful that he was hospitalized and suffered greatly before and after emergency abdominal surgery. Then he soon developed congestive heart disease with lungs filling with liquid and mucus. And finally he was diagnosed with lung cancer – a terminal disease which he had averted despite being a three pack a day cigarette chain smoker from teen age until age sixty. Amazingly, he had will power to immediately quit smoking cigarettes on publication of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report confirming cigarette carcinogenicity and toxicity.

My Dad had enthusiastically enjoyed his long life, especially after his retirement and move from Chicago to the California Bay Area, near his children. But he was not anxious to prolong that life while he suffered painful terminal disease. Once, when I visited him in the John Muir Hospital, sadly he confided in me: “Ron, they put dogs and cats out of misery, but make people suffer. If Doctor Kevorkian was in this area and not Michigan, he’d be my doctor.”

Though, as a law-abiding “born-again Hindu” I had mixed emotions about euthanasia, I felt great compassion for my father and wanted to do whatever would be spiritually appropriate to mitigate his suffering and assure his most auspicious possible transition. So, I consulted my Brahmin Vedic pundit-astrologer friend Pravin Jani, father of Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma.

Pravinji recommended that I recite certain Sanskrit mantras and that I make two extraordinary charitable donations dedicated to my father: first, that I give to a chosen charity a gift of actual gold – not money; and second, that I purchase and give a holy cow to an Indian ashram. So, with heartfelt compassion for my father, I began reciting the mantras and arranged the unusual donations in his honor.

First, I donated rare American eagle gold coins to New Dimensions Foundation, where I was a Board member. Then, through arrangements by my daughter Jessica who was then living on Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, I acquired and donated to the ashram a holy cow, where it was gratefully received.

“Why” you may ask “is it considered propitious to donate a cow to an Indian ashram?” Because in India cows are are revered as sacred animals by millions of Hindus. Hindus believe that their Divine Avatar Krishna incarnated 5,000 years ago as an enchanting cowherd. He is often described as Bala-Gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” and as Govinda, “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.”

I learned about holy cows during my 1982 sacred pilgrimage to India. One of my most memorable images of that trip, was of stray cows roaming free and obstructing traffic on busy Calcutta streets as our tour bus approached the downtown hotel where we were staying. Later, in the holy city of Rishikesh, I communed with and kissed one of the sacred small cows on the Sivananda, Divine Life Ashram.

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


Many Indian ashrams and rural Indian families have at least one dairy cow, using it for milk, curds, butter, ghee and dung as fuel for pujas (ritual ceremonies). Thus, the cow remains a protected animal in Hinduism today, revered by most Hindus, who do not eat beef.

When I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram in 1992, the ashram had one cow. It’s limited dairy products were used mostly for feeding Ammachi and some swamis, but were insufficient to supply other ashram residents. However, with special dispensation, for a few days Jessica obtained for me one morning cup of curd (yoghurt) which helped heal the severe intestinal upset with which had I arrived at the ashram, suffering food poisoning from a Brahmin wedding feast in Ahmedabad. So the following year I was especially happy to repay that ashram cow’s blessing by donating another sacred cow to be its companion.

Apparently my bovine and gold donations and prayers did not prolong my father’s life. But I have faith that they helped his transition to a heavenly afterlife. When it became evident that Dad’s days here were numbered, at his request he was released from hospital to hospice care at home in March 1994.

To help, I started sleeping at my parents’ Walnut Creek apartment. On the night of March 10, 1994, sensing that Dad’s death was imminent, I stayed awake reciting Sanskrit mantras, especially a mantra recommended by Guruji for auspicious transitions of those destined to die. As I fervently recited mantras, I felt enhanced subtle energies and entered a clairsentient state. Then, though Dad was sleeping in another room, I felt the departure of his spirit. The next morning he was gone, and I helped my mother with required post-death arrangements.

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

That night, exhausted by the stress of prior days, I returned to San Francisco where I slept soundly in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Just before awakening, and while I was in a semi-sleep state, my father fleetingly appeared in a vivid inner vision. He looked as he did during the prime of his life, rather than as a debilitated old man. He assured me he was fine and then disappeared. When I reported that sighting to Indian friends, they informed me that Dad had died on Maha Shivaratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) considered the most auspicious holy night of the year by millions of Hindus.

Soon afterwards I received another extraordinary assurance of Dad’s favorable transition as I was driving to Shri Anandi Ma’s home in Antioch for a weekend meditation program. En route, I had picked up as passengers Anandi Ma’s parents and brother Umesh at their Berkeley apartment. Like his revered sister, Umesh then spent many hours daily in deep meditation often communing with Guruji’s ishta devata, Hindu monkey-God Lord Hanuman, considered an incarnation of Shiva.

As we traveled to Antioch, Umesh said to me: “Ron, I have a message for you from Hanumanji.” With extreme curiosity, I asked about that message. Whereupon, Umesh replied: “Hanumanji says, don’t worry about your father, we’re taking care of him.”

Six months later, on August 29, 1994, Guruji took mahasamadhi at age one hundred sixteen, and joined the heavenly host caring for my father and countless others. So, heeding Hanumanji’s assurance, I’m not worrying about my father. Instead, as I too approach the end of this precious lifetime, it is my heartfelt aspiration to help through self-purification and compassion not only family dear ones but all other suffering sentient beings with whom we remain inseparably connected.

Presidents’ Day, 2019

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain –
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom –
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”

~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863
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“With malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,
to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations.”
~ Abraham Lincoln – Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
“I am a firm believer in the people.
If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.
The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

(Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12, 1809 – Apr 15, 1865)

Dear Friends,

Happy U.S. “Presidents’ Day”, 2019!

Whether or not we are U.S. citizens, we share overriding common needs and aspirations jeopardized by possibly imminent disastrous world crises, often involving the vast American empire. So it seems appropriate for us to reflect together about the current state of world politics on U.S. Presidents’ Day, 2019,

Today, as Americans honor their popular ancestor presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, others peacefully protest current U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, whose actions appear to threaten peace and justice worldwide.

In his famous post Civil War Gettysburg address, Abraham Lincoln inspiringly invoked divine providence and called for a rebirth of US equal rights, liberty and democracy, proclaiming

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain –
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom –
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”

~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

But, contrary to Lincoln’s vision and deep aspiration, the USA has become a colossal world empire perpetually involved in wars, either directly or vicariously, in ways Lincoln probably could have never imagined. It is possible that the US has killed more than 20 million people in 37 “victim nations” since World War II, including millions of non-combatant civilian women and children.

Moreover, especially since Trump’s election as 45th US President, it has become painfully evident that the American government is no longer a democracy – that US government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ has insidiously been co-opted by a few sociopathic billionaire oligopolists who have instigated a government of, by and for multinational corporations and international plutocrats representing much less than 1% of Humankind. Even ex-president Jimmy Carter has publicly recognized that the US is no longer a democracy.

(See https://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/jimmy-carter-is-correct-t_b_7922788.html
https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/13/jimmy-carter-speaks-out-against-us-oligarchy-and-trumps-diplomatic-failures)

Furthermore, Trump’s election, actions, appointments, and policies have coincided with unprecedented worldwide social unrest and adversity, with many people experiencing serious deprivations or repressions of human rights and regression of social progress, while justifiably fearing an imminent nuclear holocaust or ecological end of life on Earth as we have known it.

Yet these critical times of immense jeopardy and suffering afford us an extraordinary evolutionary opportunity for promoting world peace and justice, and rededicating Humanity to the sanctity of all life on Earth. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has observed:

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”

Whatever may be our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives, we share overriding common needs and aspirations. As humans we share the same web of life, the same precious Earth biosphere, the same aspirations for health and happiness, and for just democratic societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet.

So, together let us join in envisioning our precious planet cooperatively ruled bottom-up by humble and compassionate societies, rather than top-down by billionaire sociopaths or plutocrats.

Whether or not we are citizens of the American empire, may we all compassionately commemorate Presidents’ Day 2019 by rededicating ourselves to the sanctity of universal peace and justice, and to the welfare of the World and all life thereon through “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

With “malice toward none, [and] with charity for all”, may we peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other Life on our precious planet Earth, with which we share common Cosmic Consciousness.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

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

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

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


Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Ron’s Introduction

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

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

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


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

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

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

Why Guruji Survived Supposed Physical Death.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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





Epilogue, 2019

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

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

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

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

Guruji once said:

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


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

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

And so may it be!

Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
~ Cicero
“To be a presence of perpetual thanksgiving may be the ultimate goal of life.  
The thankful person is the one for whom life is simply one long exercise in the sacred.”
~ Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB from The Psalms: Meditations for Every Day of the Year





Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

“Be grateful for whoever comes,  because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
~ Rumi

“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.”
~ Rumi

“Join me in the pure atmosphere of gratitude for life.
Join my eyes and soul in their divine applause.”
~ Hafiz

“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.”
~ Buddha

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
~ Meister Eckhart

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled  by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
~ Buddha

“I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
~ Helen Keller

“O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
~ William Shakespeare

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
~ Aesop

“Gratitude is heaven itself.”
~ William Blake

“No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
~ Psalm 100


“When you allow your heart to open to the universe’s flow of love, gratitude comes with that flow. Gratitude for the people that you love, and for those who share your life. Gratitude for the Creation of the beautiful Earth as our home in this great cosmos. Gratitude for the Sun that gives us life. Gratitude for being alive, for just existing, for being in the flow of the wonder of life.”
~ Owen Waters



“Gratitude flows unimpeded from an open heart. When you allow it, gratitude will flow as freely as the sunshine, unobstructed by judgments or conditions.”
~ Owen Waters

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love,
every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.
For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
~ Thomas Merton 


“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”              
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I thank you God for most this amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky,
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes….
I who have died am alive again today
and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings…
~ e. e. cummings

“When we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude,
we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
***
So an attitude of gratitude
Brings beatitude.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Remember with gratitude,
Life is beatitude –
Even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
Every time, every place, and
Forever (S)HE will reign!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Happy Thanksgiving Day – Every Day!


Beautiful Gratitude Video




Ron’s explanation and dedication of
“Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving”

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving day! 

I wish you utmost happiness on Thanksgiving, and every other day. May your every day become a Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving day became my favorite holiday long ago, when I realized that thankfulness is a universal blessing which uplifts everyone everywhere, regardless of their cultural, spiritual, secular or religious attitudes or beliefs.  

Especially since miraculously surviving a recent near death taxi rundown, I am unspeakably grateful for still being alive, aware, ambulatory and interdependently-independent.  So every day in this precious human lifetime has become a day of thanksgiving – a bonus, with every breath a blessing.  

Thus, I have realized that a state of thankfulness can become a state of Divine Grace – not just during thanksgiving holidays, but constantly.  

Hence to encourage our continuing attitude of gratitude, I have traditionally posted the foregoing  inspiring thanksgiving quotes, together with the above exceptionally beautiful six minute embedded video narrated by Brother David Steindl-Rast, which I gratefully encourage you to view. 

May we deeply reflect upon and become inspired by these treasures of perennial wisdom.  May they guide us to ever expanding fulfillment and happiness on Thanksgiving day and every day.

Always remembering that ‘we reap as we sow’,


May we sow Love,
cultivate kindness,
and harvest happiness –
until ultimately we reap
Eternal Joy.


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Seek Relief From Belief!

Q.  “Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”  
A.  “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…”
“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
~  J. Krishnamurti
“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained.

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

~ Lao Tzu
“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




Seek Relief From Belief!

As conception is body/mind’s inception,
Its imprisonment begins with conviction.

We are shackled
by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.

So, seek relief
from belief;
and  get out of jail —
FREE.

Let us end our universal malaise –
our chronic belief syndrome.

Believing is deceiving.

To know what’s so,
Question credo.

Follow your faith,
But “dis” your belief,
Lose your illusions, and
Drop your dogmas.

Follow dharma, not dogma.

Seek relief from belief,
And find clarity
beyond doctrinairity.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Seek Relief From Belief!”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Seek Relief From Belief!”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting epigrammatically encapsulates perhaps the most crucial wisdom concepts I’ve yet learned in this precious lifetime. It includes for your consideration important quotations and a pithy sutra saying poem (with mp3 recitation) which can help us find happiness.

My midlife awakening began 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.  Since it began over forty years ago, that process continues. And I’m still an “Uncertain Undo”.

Whimsically I’ve often proclaimed that I’m yet an ‘uncertain undo’ because

“on the path of Undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE”.

And as key motivational reminders my mottos became:

“Seek relief from belief”; and
“Undo Ego!”

I’ve discovered that ego is the greatest impediment to Self realization. So overcoming ego’s illusory self-identification as a supposedly separate entity is the key prerequisite to spiritual evolution toward Self realization, as Infinite Awareness or divine LOVE.

Illusory ego identification can’t persist without mistaken beliefs and concepts about Self-identity and Reality. And we can best learn to correct such mistaken beliefs from our experience in life.  As Einstein asserted: 

“The only source of knowledge is experience; … learning is experience, everything else .. just information.”  

Thus true wisdom doesn’t come from unquestioningly accepting and believing information from others.  So Gautama Buddha taught:

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


On SillySutras.com there are numerous writings about experientially overcoming both “belief” and “ego”.  Thus included in the above “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting are important quotations and a pithy sutra saying poem (with mp3 recitation) encapsulating explanations and incentives for attaining a spiritual state of being which is ‘beyond belief’ and ego.

For example, when twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
 “Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he asserted:

“Belief in any form is a hindrance.
A man who believes in God can never find God.”

And Taoist master Lao Tzu epigrammatically revealed that we evolve toward attaining timeless states of being – sometimes called Tao or Zen – when gradually we give up our mistaken beliefs, saying

“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained. 

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

~ Lao Tzu

Although elsewhere the words “belief” and “faith” are often used synonymously, they are not equated on SillySutras.com. Here “belief” means adopting or accepting ideas of others that something or someone is true or exists, whereas “faith” means intuitive trust or confidence in Life, especially in the miraculous unknown.  (See  Belief or Faith?)

So my memoirs explain that while ‘seeking relief from belief’  I’ve found a faith-based life, with ever growing gratitude and reverence for this precious life on our precious planet.  

Conclusion

May the foregoing “Seek Relief From Belief!” writings and mp3 poetry recitation encourage and inspire our deep reflection about the wisdom of abandoning mistaken beliefs regarding our perceived earthly Reality and supposedly separate Self identity, and thereby hasten our experiential discovery of eternally timeless states of being in this ever impermanent world of time and space. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Saint Francis of Assisi
September 26, 1181 – October 3, 1226 [*See footnote]


Saint Francis of Assisi is one of history’s most beloved saints. For almost eight hundred years since his canonization by the Catholic Church (in the year 1228), he has been remembered and revered not only by Christian denominations, but by countless others world-wide, who have been inspired by his life of universal love, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. More than three million people come every year to his tomb in Assisi.

He is patron saint of Italy and of many other places, like San Francisco, a city blessed with his name, his spirit, and a national shrine including the Porziuncola Nuova, the only papally declared holy place in the USA. Also, he is patron saint of birds, animals and ecology. Francis loved peace, communed with all living creatures, and lived a life of kindness, simplicity and poverty in contrast to the wealth and apparent corruption of the Church. He was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and inspired founding of the Poor Clares order for women, and a third secular order for laity sworn to peace.

After living a worldly life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis volunteered to fight in a war between Assisi and neighboring Perugia. He was captured during a bloody battle at Collestrada, and was imprisoned and chained in solitude for a year in a dark Perugian dungeon, until ransomed by his wealthy father. Beginning during this time, and thereafter, he suffered a period of protracted physical and psychological illness, remorse and reflection. After fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, Francis ultimately decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him, and as a traumatized battle survivor he came to abhor war. Whereupon, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, helping the poor, caring for lepers, and promoting peace. Seeing himself as God’s troubadour or fool, he lived in absolute poverty, patterning his life after the life of Jesus and dedicating himself to God.

On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at Church doors for the poor, Francis received a mystical message from Jesus while praying in the ruined church at San Damiano outside of Assisi. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches.

Though Saint Francis took literally that mystical message from the crucifix, its true meaning was metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his orders had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church.

Francis’ exemplary lifestyle inspired and attracted followers who joined with him in his in his Divine mission and life of poverty. Clad in ragged, gray robes with rope belts, they went out barefoot in pairs to spread the Gospel. When they needed food or shelter, they asked someone for it. It was against their rules to “own” anything. Thus, they were known as the “begging brothers”.

In 1209 Francis received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a brotherhood, a religious order of the Church called the “Friars Minor,” (littlest brothers). As “friars” they worked in communities, actively preaching and helping residents, as distinguished from “monks” who then usually lived alone in isolated places. They soon acquired the name “Franciscans”, proliferated and today remain important international symbols and instruments of Francis’ legacy.

The Franciscans’ first headquarters was a simple, tiny chapel near Assisi which Francis received from the Benedictines, and personally restored, naming it “Porziuncola” [“a small portion of land”]. The Porziuncola became Francis’ most beloved and favorite place. Because of his presence and prayers there, it was and continues to be one of the world’s rare holy places. Here, Francis lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of “the poor Clares”, a female religious order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

In 1216, while Francis was fervently praying in the Porziuncola, a light filled the chapel and he beheld above the altar a vision of Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis replied: “Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [I wish all in heaven!] And Francis then asked that all those persons who shall come to this church, may obtain a full pardon and remission of all their faults, upon confessing and repenting their sins. The request was granted based on Francis’ worthiness, and the indulgence was later officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III, and became known as “The Pardon of Assisi”.

Francis was extremely democratic and humble. He referred to himself as “little brother Francis” and called all creatures “brothers” and “sisters”. He loved Nature and pantheistically considered it to be the “mirror of God on earth.” He spoke of “Sister Water” and “Brother Tree” and in one of his writings, he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”. There are legends about sermons he preached to trees full of “Sister Birds” in which Francis urged them to sing their prayers of thanks to God. And it is said that rabbits would come to him for protection.

In another legendary story, Francis spoke to a wolf which had been terrifying the entire village of Gubbio, scolding “Brother Wolf” for what he was doing. That wolf not only stopped his attacks but later became a village pet, and was fed willingly by the same villagers, who missed “brother wolf” after he died.

Francis was determined to live the gospels and was strongly influenced and motivated by Jesus’ teachings. “Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven” were his frequent teachings.

Also as a traumatic battle survivor and war hostage Francis cherished peace. So, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9 and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 were often recited by him.

According to a recent biography, Francis was “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” On a mission of peace, Francis journeyed to Egypt in 1219 idealistically hoping to end the 5th Crusade by converting the Egyptian leader – Sultan Malik al-Kamil – to Christianity. Though his visionary peace mission did not succeed, it proved nonetheless a miraculous portent and important symbol of potential reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and others.

At a time when most Christians demonized Muslims as enemy “infidels”, Francis regarded and treated Muslims with respect, never echoing the negative comments or conduct of his contemporary Christians. Moreover, in Egypt Francis – a devout and gentle peacemaker – was appalled by the crusaders’ sacrilegious brutality.

Francis arrived in Egypt during an ongoing violent and bloody conflict at Damietta, an important city on the Nile, besieged by the Crusaders. There, in the midst of horrible bloodshed, Francis miraculously crossed battle lines totally unarmed and vulnerable, and was able to reach the Sultan’s encampment unharmed and welcomed. Moreover, Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan, who was nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the ill-fated Third Crusade.

The Sultan was a wise and pragmatic devout Sunni Muslim, influenced by Sufi mystical teachings. He was ready to make peace, and reciprocated Francis’ peaceful and respectful attitude. For at least several days Kamil hosted and dialogued with Francis as an honored guest, before having him safely escorted back to the Crusader encampment. The Sultan – who was amenable to philosophical conversation, but not to conversion – probably noted and honored Francis’ sufi-like appearance and peaceful demeanor, and his regular greeting – “may the Lord give you peace” – uncommon for Christians, but similar to the Arabic “salam aleykum” greeting.

Reciprocally, Francis was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer – call of the muezzin.

On returning to the crusader camp Francis desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagio, whom the pope had authorized to lead the 5th Crusade, that he should make peace with the Sultan. But the cardinal who was certain of victory would not listen. His eventual failure, amidst terrible loss of life, brought the barbaric age of the crusades to an ignominious end.

In 1224, near the end of his earthly life, according to legend, Francis became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata. It happened after he had been taken to Mount Alverna, a wild nature place in Tuscany, to be in solitude for a forty day retreat.


Though already in a very feeble state, he fasted and prayed intensely with deepest longing for God. In the midst of his fast, while he was so praying he beheld a marvelous vision: an angel carrying an image of a man nailed to a cross. When the vision disappeared, Francis felt sharp pains in various places on his body.

In locating the source of these pains, Francis found that he had five marks or “stigmata” on his hands, feet, and sides—like the wounds inflicted with nails and spears on Jesus during His crucifixion. Those marks remained and caused Francis great pain until his death two years later.

On October 3, 1226 A.D. Francis died in a humble cell next to the beloved Porziuncola, his favorite holy place where the Franciscan movement began. He was blind from trachoma, suffering from malaria and other illnesses, emaciated and racked with pain from the stigmata and other wounds. As he lay dying, the brothers came for his blessing. They sang “Song to the Sun”, a song which Francis had composed.

Sometime before he drew his last breath, he said, “Let us sing the welcome to Sister Death.” Francis welcomed ‘Sister Death’ knowing that “it is in dying that we are reborn to eternal life”, the concluding line of a beautifully inspiring and best known peace prayer mistakenly attributed to him. (**See Footnote)

In conclusion, we offer that prayer in grateful tribute to his blessed life and legacy. May he ever inspire countless beings to become instruments of Divine peace and love, in perfect harmony with Nature and the kingdom of heaven.

“Vi vogliamo tutti in Paradiso”; “We wish ALL in Heaven”.


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
despair, hope;
darkness, light;
discord, harmony;
sadness, joy;

Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.

 


Footnotes

* This narrative is based on Ron Rattner’s intuitive interpretation of many disparate and sometimes conflicting historical accounts of the life of Francis of Assisi. The reader is free to accept or reject any part of it.

**This inspiring peace prayer does not appear in any of Saint Francis’ known writings. According to researchers, the first appearance of this prayer was in a French language magazine, La Clochette, in 1912; it was probably then first written by a forgotten Catholic Priest, Father Bouquerel. Later, the prayer was translated into English and widely distributed on cards with a reverse side picture of Saint Francis, without any claim that he wrote the prayer. But, because of his picture and because it invokes his spirit, the prayer thereafter became commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis. The foregoing version of the prayer has been edited by Ron Rattner.



Ron’s audio recitation of the Prayer of Saint Francis Of Assisi

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Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mohandas K. Gandhi
(October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948)


Introduction

Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, almost one hundred fifty years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.

During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.

Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:

“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”

“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say,
 and what you do are in harmony.”

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer. With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.

“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…

“It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”

“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”

“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”

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

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”

“Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”

“Nonviolence is not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society. To practice nonviolence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of nonviolence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favored position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life.”

“It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.” (From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)

“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.”

Ahimsa is not the crude thing it has been made to appear. Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its least expression. The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.”

“I do not believe…that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”

“I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.”

“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”

“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”

“What do I think of Western civilization?
I think it would be a very good idea.”


Conclusion

May we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life.  Thereby, like Gandhi, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.  

And so shall it be!

Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

“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
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
~ Socrates
“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
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
 
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one.  How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life.  It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch





Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

Introduction.

Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?

Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever. It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Historical overview.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

Conclusion.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.

And so it shall be!


Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking the Ultimate Question”.

Dear Friends,

For millennia, seers, saints and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”; and, to ask persistently the supremely crucial question – “Who am I?”.

But few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennially advised investigation.  

Until mid-life, like most other Westerners, I unthinkingly self-identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Then, following an extraordinary out of body experience, I irresistibly began wondering “Who am I?”.  Finally, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences.  Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth.

Thereafter, I began having numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy experiences, and became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed to sleep. Only then did I begin learning about teachings of Eastern mysticism, including non-duality. 

Afterwards, I synchronistically met my beloved teacher, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable Hindu Guru then 100 years old, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.  Guruji lived until age 116, and has remained my teacher since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994.  After shaktipat initiation, I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.

But I also learned that – unlike  Guruji and other rare Buddha-llke beings – on realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I had not yet become ‘instantly enlightened’.  Rather, that this realization had triggered an evolutionary process of awakened kundalini life-force energies which were manifesting via  spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional experiences [ called kriyas]  and thereby purifying the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.

Ultimately, I realized that this evolutionary kundalini purification process was gradually undoing or eliminating eons of accumulated subtle karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas]  causing unconscious habitual behaviors and emotional patterns, and precluding or inhibiting spontaneously skillful behaviors.   

Soon after this revelatory discovery I declared myself to be an ‘uncertain Undo’ [rather than ‘born-again Hindu’] and began writing whimsical sutras like:


“On the path of undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE.”


Today, over forty years since realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness  (rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences),  I’m still not fully ‘undone’, and ego attrition continues.  But as I continue to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than as physical body there seems to be ever more Ram than Ron in my life. 

Thereby after many years of questioning, I’ve found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, more than ever before I regard “Who Am I?” as a  supremely crucial question to be persistently investigated for those with spiritual aspirations.  So today I have posted the above  important quotations and brief essay.

If ever you have wondered or aspired about spiritual evolution, I encourage your deep consideration of today’s posting.

May it help us live  happier lives by consciously participating in an irresistible evolutionary process which is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ever changing ephemeral energy forms.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Tuned Out, To Turn On

“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





Tuned Out, To Turn On

Once, I found an artesian well
of bubbling bliss
deep down – within;
way below what I knew
before I found it.

Like a Divine bovine udder
it had several spigots.

Spigots for tears, for laughter,
for songs, and for sutras.

It flowed from different spigots
at different no-times,
but never at no no-time.

I often drank and bathed at that well.

Then Bush* was [s]elected.
What a turn-off!
What a spigot stopper!

I was looking for a turn on –
a spigot restarter.
Any spigot would do.

Then, Eureka! I found it!

I tuned out Bush, and it turned on bliss;
bubbling Bliss
from deep down – within.

Now, I’m a blissful old man

[or am I?] .

 

Ron’s recitation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

Listen to



Ron’s Explanation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

Dear Friends,

On the 17th anniversary of the notorious September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, I have posted the foregoing metaphorically whimsical spiritual poem, “Tuned Out, To Turn On”, inspired by those events.

On 9/11/2001 I was living a reclusive life without any TV, computer, or daily newspaper, while praying and meditating in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Hence, I was one of very few Americans who didn’t then witness the disturbing TV images of utter destruction and disintegration WTC twin towers, killing over 3,000 people. So I wasn’t as psychologically traumatized as most others.

However, as a constitutionally trained social justice attorney, I’d already become distressed and angry about the egregiously unjust and unprecedented US Supreme Court selection of George Bush jr. as 43rd US president, after the Court arbitrarily and prematurely ordered cessation of the official Bush-Gore Florida vote recounting, which would have confirmed a Gore victory.

Only after later going online with my first computer did I synchronistically begin carefully investigating the true facts concerning 9/11/2001 terrorism. Thereby from indisputable factual evidence I became (and remain) irreversibly convinced that our government had intentionally misled its citizens and covered up the truth about alleged Moslem 9/11 terrorism; while such alleged terrorism became the primary false pretense justifying severe civil liberties deprivations and insanely incessant wars that have followed 9/11. And, moreover, the name “Bush” became for me metaphorically emblematic of a corruptly unrepresentative US two party political system characterized by little democracy, but much hypocrisy.

Yet, while deeply concerned with worldly planetary crises and suffering arising from insanely undemocratic official decisions, spiritually I gradually began seeing this space/time ‘reality’ like a mostly pre-scripted movie and play of incarnate Cosmic Consciousness. And I longed to BE free, as Oneness/Awareness, beyond inevitable world suffering – even beyond bliss.

With such longing (though not realizing Oneness/Awareness), I frequently found inner peace and happiness. Whenever (with a silent mind) I tuned out “Bush” and deeply focused on ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ within, I often experienced inner Bliss – even ecstasy.

From that experience, (long after 9/11/2001) I was ultimately inspired to compose today’s whimsical poem about such “discovery” .

I offer this poem as a reminder for all of us that we can help solve critical world problems by behaving from inner loving and compassionate levels of consciousness, beyond those which have created such problems.

May we thereby transcend all fearful, vengeful or judgmental behaviors, knowing with faith that all “sinners” reap as they have sown through unerringly mysterious karmic causes and conditions, and that thereby all “sins” are divinely and justly redressed.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

You’ve Got Mail – a Manifestation Miracle Synchronicity Story


“When events seeming random happen in tandem,
It’s then we know we’re in the flow –
the Tao; the Eternal NOW.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“According to Vedanta, there are two symptoms of enlightenment. They are indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher level of consciousness.
The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things do not bother you anymore. You become lighthearted and full of joy.
The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities – and this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.”
~ Deepak Chopra




Ron’s Introduction.

Since my midlife awakening over forty years ago, I have experienced many synchronicities and serendipities, which I’ve deemed divine blessings and meaningful signs of spiritual evolution. After launching SillySutras.com I posted various amazing synchronicity stories. But soon my synchronicities began happening so frequently that I’ve hardly found time to describe them online.

Almost always I have quickly recognized these synchronicities as meaningful. Many of them have been “manifestation miracles”, noteworthy manifestations of intended circumstances or desired objects.

But recently I’ve experienced a mysterious DVD manifestation miracle, which didn’t provide a desired object or fulfillment of intentions. Statistically, the odds of this DVD’s appearance at that time and place were probably zero. However, I couldn’t quickly understand it as a meaningful divine blessing. Now, after much reflection, I may have finally solved that mystery.

So to help us all discover blessings in our synchronicity experiences, I’ve decided to share this synchronicity story online.

Ron’s “You’ve Got Mail” DVD manifestation miracle story.

On June 29, 2014, I experienced a near-death taxicab rundown, from which with divine grace I miraculously survived and slowly recovered. Almost four years later, on June 9, 2018, I suffered a painfully disabling trip and fall ‘accident’ on a concrete sidewalk near my apartment. Thereafter, for the first time since miraculously recovering from the taxicab rundown, I could hardly walk, and needed a cane to move about, even indoors. But again with divine grace I slowly regained ability to walk without a cane and disabling pain.

On Saturday afternoon, June 29, 2018, exactly four years after the taxicab rundown incident, I asked Brian Uyeno, long-time lobby attendant in my large condominium building, whether the US mail had been delivered. Brian, a movie enthusiast, promptly responded “You’ve Got Mail”. And then, gratuitously he recommended that I watch a pleasantly enjoyable twenty year old romantic comedy titled “You’ve Got Mail”, co-starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Surprised, by Brian’s unexpected movie endorsement, I explained to him that twenty years ago (as a “high-rise hermit”) I rarely watched movies; that I’d never heard of “You’ve Got Mail” or Meg Ryan, though a few years ago I much enjoyed a legendary Tom Hanks film, “Forrest Gump”.

Thanking Brian, I told him that except for classic films, I still had little desire to watch movies. As we parted, I had no intention whatsoever of seeing “You’ve Got Mail”, despite Brian’s friendly recommendation.

A few days later, on the afternoon of July 4th, I drove to Fort Mason, San Francisco, intending to walk by the Bay. But, because of officially anticipated large attendance at scheduled holiday fireworks displays, parking was only available to permit holders. So US Park Rangers turned me around at the gate. I then futilely looked for holiday street parking, but was obliged to return home, without an intended walk by the Bay.

It was a lovely summer afternoon. So I decided to take a short walk near my apartment, for fresh air. Momentarily, I began walking westward toward the setting sunlight. But suddenly I decided to turn around, and walked eastward to the place where (on June 9th) I tripped and fell, thinking that maybe I could discover what had caused that sudden fall.

Soon I arrived at and inspected the sidewalk where I fell, without solving the trip and fall mystery. So I began to resume my eastward walk. Only a few meters from the accident site, I observed an object upon an adjacent building ledge which attracted my curiosity. So I approached it, and found a flawless “You’ve Got Mail” DVD, in an apparently brand new container. (See above photo scan).

Immediately, I assumed that the universe had miraculously produced that DVD to give me a meaningful message. So, despite my previous disinterest, I soon attentively watched “You’ve Got Mail”.

A manifestation miracle mystery.

On viewing “You’ve Got Mail” I found the film to be (as represented by Brian) an entertaining romantic comedy story, with excellent acting, graphics, musical background, and a cleverly written script. But I was unable to discern any divine or meaningful message from the universe. So the reason for the miraculous manifestation of that DVD remained an unsolved mystery, on which I continued to reflect.

In so reflecting, I initially wondered whether the “You’ve Got Mail” incident, was associated with my miraculous survival and healing from the taxicab rundown and later trip and fall injuries, which I deemed divine blessings. But I couldn’t readily discern any such connection.

On further reflection I realized that I had become so accustomed and attached to receiving miraculous manifestations of intended circumstances or desired objects that I was beginning to forget the fundamental spiritual significance of such amazing synchronicities.

Whether or not otherwise ‘meaningful’, all miraculous synchronicities in time are emblematic of Reality beyond time, and are noteworthy reminders that all earthly lives are enfolded and guided by such Reality, which is divine LOVE.

So I now see this DVD manifestation miracle as a noteworthy reminder of a blessed new life phase, which began with my miraculous survival and recovery from the near-death taxicab rundown:

For the past four years I have been experiencing subtly elevated awareness, with a very stilled mind; so that I am mostly seeing the world as movies, without fear of death, while gratefully enjoying unprecedented FAITH that divine LOVE is determining and guiding all that happens to all of us in this precious human lifetime.

Moral of the “You’ve Got Mail” mystery story.

Regardless of whether miraculous synchronicities in time involve meaningful manifestations of intended circumstances or desired objects, they are emblematic of Reality beyond time, and are noteworthy reminders that our earthly lives are enfolded and guided by divine LOVE, to which we can fearlessly surrender.

May they help us remember that

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great,

pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature,

and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”

~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

Dedication.

Especially for those of us who’ve ever wondered about ‘miraculous’ synchronicities, this story is dedicated to our growing remembrance and realization that our synchronicities or coincidences in time are spiritually significant signs of Reality beyond time. (See https://sillysutras.com/synchronicities-and-coincidences/ )

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner