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Faith

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

Synchronicity Story: Miraculously Manifesting Memories of a Spiritual Pilgrimage to India and Nepal

“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
“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
“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
~ Albert Einstein


Ron Meditating On Ganges With Sant Keshadavadas, 1982


Ron’s Introduction

As explained in other posts, during a traumatic 1976 divorce, I experienced a transformative mid-life spiritual awakening.  Two years later, I met a hundred year old Hindu guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and evolved from being a secular Hebrew, to becoming a “born-again Hindu”. Then gradually I developed ever increasing interest and curiosity about Indian spirituality and culture. After a few years, the “universe” presented me with an ideal opportunity to satisfy that curiosity.

In 1981, soon after my beloved Guruji, Dhyanyogi, had returned to India, I met Sant Keshadavadas, a devotional Indian spiritual teacher known as a singing saint. Especially in the absence of Guruji, I appreciated Sant Keshadavadas’ loving demeanor, singing, stories and teachings. So I frequently attended programs at his Oakland, California “Temple of Cosmic Religion”. Thereafter, on learning that Sant Keshadavadas would be conducting a spiritual tour of Indian holy places, I wanted to join that tour.

So after obtaining Guruji’s approval, in January and February 1982, I journeyed with Sant Keshadavadas on a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage to Japan, India and Nepal. That guided tour was, and remains for me, the most important trip of my lifetime.

Never before had I been in a land with such a palpably spiritual ambiance as I experienced everywhere in India. Our tour group crossed the length and breadth of that vast country (mostly by airplane and local buses) visiting many spiritual shrines and meeting saintly beings, like Mother Teresa and Satya Sai Baba. And I had numerous wondrous experiences. (In other chapters I have recounted some of those experiences.)


Ron with Mother Teresa, Calcutta, 1982


Sai Baba blessing Ron, Bangalore, 1982



Ten years after that trip, in 1992 I retired from law practice and returned to India to pay my respects to Guruji, who at age 114 requested that I write and publish my spiritual memoirs. Though initially bewildered by this request, I knew that such memoirs needed to describe experiences during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’. But I hadn’t kept a diary during that pilgrimage trip, and had to rely mostly on memory to tell about it.


Thereafter, many years passed during which I lived in introspective semi-seclusion, without a TV, computer, newspaper, or radio news of the “real world”, meditating, praying, seeking philosophical answers to ultimate questions, and “enlightenment”. During these years I did not yet feel ready to honor Guruji’s request that I write and publish my spiritual memoirs. But I was always mindful of the importance of fulfilling his wishes.

More than twenty years after my ‘trip of a lifetime’, while thinking about Guruji’s request, I discussed it with two long-time spiritual friends. I told them that while I was delaying in writing and publishing my spiritual memoirs they were being edited by time, as my memories waned. And I expressed concern about whether I could remember sufficient details of the 1982 pilgrimage to India, suggesting that my friends might be able to help me remember stories I had previously shared with them.

Thereafter, within a couple of weeks, the universe produced an amazing double synchronicity – two “manifestation miracles” which re-kindled memories of that momentous trip.

Synchronicity story

Here is what happened:

One afternoon while walking to the Marina Green adjoining San Francisco Bay I intended picking some dandelion and fennel leaves for my salad. But as I passed across the street from the Marina Safeway supermarket, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring a plastic bag in which to carry my ‘harvest’. After momentarily considering a detour into the Safeway, I decided instead to keep my eyes peeled for stray small bags which then commonly could be seen blowing around in the public park area where I was walking.

Soon I saw at a distance on the sidewalk ahead of me a white plastic bag, and presumed that it was just what I needed. But as I approached it, I saw that it was far too large for my purposes – a Bed & Bath bag rather than a Safeway bag. So, rather than leaving it cluttering the sidewalk where it might be blown into the water, I decided to put the plastic bag into a nearby waste dumpster.

I picked up the bag, walked a few a yards to the dumpster, and opened the dumpster lid prepared to discard the bag. But I was diverted by a surprising sight. Clearly visible, at the very top of the refuse pile in the dumpster, were about a dozen commercial VHS video tapes, which I began to examine with curiosity. If I’d come sooner, the tapes probably wouldn’t yet have been discarded; if I came later they’d probably already be covered over with much more trash, and not be visible.

As I looked at the video titles, I saw that they all seemed related to spiritual subjects that interested me, like yoga. Though never before a ‘dumpster diver’, I decided that I’d like to take all those videos home and check them out.

Thereupon, I wondered momentarily how I could carry them. Then, remembering the large plastic bag that had led me to the dumpster, I laughed as I realized that the universe had not only led me to the videos, when they were clearly visible, but also had provided me a bag perfectly sized to carry them home. So I put them in that bag, which when loaded became quite heavy.

So, unable to continue walking as planned, I returned home with the heavy bag of videos but without dandelion or fennel for my salad. At home I discovered to my amazement that the universe had just produced perhaps the most extraordinary “manifestation miracles” of my life.

On examining the videos, I found one titled “Call of the Flute – Spiritual Journey To India And Nepal”*. To my delight and amazement, I discovered that it was all about my 1982 pilgrimage to India with Sant Keshavadas.

And then I remembered that a team of professional videographers, led by a devotee of Sant Keshavadas, David Karp, had accompanied our tour group. Apparently afterwards they had produced and distributed this one hour documentary video for display on some non-network and cable television outlets. I had never acquired a copy of the video, and don’t recall ever before seeing it.

Yet somehow, over twenty years later, a copy of that video had synchronistically manifested for me in a Marina garbage dumpster which I unexpectedly visited at a rare time when videos were visible at the top of the garbage pile, and when I had just found a plastic bag large enough to carry them home.

And on viewing the video at home I found that it included numerous scenes which had been filmed when I was present, thus serendipitously rekindling memories of that momentous trip, and fulfilling my recently expressed desire for such reminders.

Concluding thoughts

Who can explain such synchronicity “miracles”? Nonetheless, despite their mysterious origins, such synchronicities can fill us with feelings of awe and gratitude for our miraculous life on this precious planet, and remind us that we are part of Nature, connected and interdependent with all Life everywhere.

Einstein once observed that: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” As I have been ever more blessed by such noteworthy and amazing “coincidences”, they ever more inspire and infuse me with heartfelt gratitude for the grace of this lucky life, and for the omnipresent but ‘anonymous’ Divine Source – The Lone Arranger – of all appearances therein.

*Videographer David Karp has generously permitted me to share with you on You Tube this documentary video, which so miraculously manifested for me just when I was trying to recall details of our 1982 pilgrimage to India and Nepal.



“Call of the Flute – Spiritual Journey To India And Nepal”




Seeing GOD?

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
 see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.

~ Lao Tzu
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa



Seeing GOD?

Q. What is God?

A. What isn’t God?

Q. Is it possible to see God?

A. Is it possible to not see God?

God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.

So, everyone sees God everywhere.

But few know it.


Ron’s audio recitation of Seeing GOD?

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever imagined seeing God?  Or wondered whether that was possible?
 
Except for those who recount amazing near death experiences [NDE’s], we seldom hear of anyone claiming to perceive Divinity.   And usually those who report being embraced by or enfolded in Divine Love are unable adequately to describe THAT experience.

Until after my mid-life awakening, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and never imagined seeing or being enfolded in God, assuming it impossible.  During early Jewish acculturation I learned of Moses’ receiving the ten commandments from an invisible nameless God on Mount Sinai, who communicated through a burning bush and decried idolatry.
 
And like many other Jews, I accepted the core biblical proclamation


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

But until after my spiritual awakening I never understood and was skeptical about Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE”  [John 10:30] .  Soon afterwards while crying for God on a Yosemite mountain with total surrender I beheld within, but did not merge with, the light of ten thousand suns.
 
Only after later encountering the life story and teachings of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man whose chief disciple was Swami Vivekananda – did I wonder about again “seeing God”.

During my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India I first learned about Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata).  There – almost a hundred years after Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his presence and life-force energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived, which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.

On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life story and teachings.  I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was a simple, ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity.  Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna as well as wth Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with the gift of tears.  Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar devotional traits with which I have felt great rapport.

As an enlightened mystic Ramakrishna often experienced communion with the Divine and affirmed to Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy.  At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother or the all-loving Father.  Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is beyond human description.

He taught that God is All – both manifest and unmanifest – while yet transcendent as Infinite Potentiality. 

As to Divine omnipresence, he declared that: 

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”

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



The foregoing whimsical poem about seeing GOD was inspired by Ramakrishna and his above quotes.

May they inspire us all to ever remember, and hopefully help us to perceive, that everyone and everything is Divine! 

Namasté!

Ron Rattner

What Choice Do We Have?

“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
“Excellence is never an accident.
It is always the result of high intention,
sincere effort, and intelligent execution;
it represents the wise choice of many alternatives
– choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
~ Aristotle
“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion,
overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief.”
~ Buddha
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life.”
~ Deuteronomy 30:19

“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Friedrich Schiller
“The only difference between a human being and a stone rolling down a hill, is that the human being thinks he is in charge of his own destiny.”

~ Baruch Spinoza
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”

~ Max Planck
“In Hinduism, the very idea of free will is non-existent,
so there is no word for it.

Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.” . .

“To be free in the world you must be free of the world.

Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.

Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”

“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”


A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

~ Ramana Maharshi

 




What Choice Do We Have?

Ego is free to choose,
But is never free.

Self does not choose,
But is ever free.

Our only choice
Is to accept or reject
“What is”.

Acceptance is pleasure;
Rejection is suffering.

Acceptance is freedom;
Rejection is bondage.

Acceptance is NOW;
Rejection is then.

So, if choose you must,
Then with faith and trust,

Say “YES” to Life –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of “What Choice Do We Have?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanations and reflections on “What Choice Do We Have?”

Dear Friends,

Like many other writings on the Silly Sutras website the forgoing poem and quotations concern the perennial puzzle of freedom of choice versus fate or destiny. They summarize perspectives which I still endorse, after composing the poem many years ago during an extended period of post-retirement reclusion.

Please forgive redundancies in this posting. Long-ago I became a non-dualist determinist. So today I had no choice but to ask again “What Choice Do We Have?”.

Except for rare Buddha-like beings who Self-identify only as Universal Awareness – as Absolute – the vast majority of Humans mentally self-identify with their “soap operas” as supposedly separate ego entities in space and time.

And as long as we believe ourselves to be such separate entities, we invariably experience apparent freedom of choice, but are subject to the law of cause and effect, with separate destinies and inevitable karmic sufferings.

We have apparent freedom of choice only until we transcend our mental illusion of separation. Whereupon we realize freedom from choice.

If there is no entity separate from Universal Awareness, how can there be any separate choice or destiny? When a mirage bubble bursts into the Ocean of Awareness, it exists only as the Ocean, without supposed separate choice or destiny.

As great beings recurrently remind us, all we call “reality” is an ever impermanent illusory mental mirage, maya or samsara. We transcend or end that mutable mirage, as we experience its Absolute Source and Essence as pure and undivided Universal Awareness.

Quantum science shows us that everything in space/time is energy (e=mc2); that all forms and phenomena are merely vibrating and radiating immaterial energies endlessly and inevitably appearing (from unknown causes and conditions) out of and disappearing into an ineffable matrix of mystery.

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

~ Albert Einstein


“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free 
but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein


“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”

~ Max Planck

For millennia mystical inner explorers have experienced that matrix of mystery through transcendentally elevated awareness, and they have realized that the sole Source of what we call “reality” is ineffable Universal Awareness – Consciousness beyond mental description, conception, or belief.

So from a non-dualist “Buddha’s eye view” our supposedly separate space/time “reality” isn’t really Real – it’s just an immaterial energy mirage; and our beliefs about it – including free choice and destiny – are mere mental illusions.

“The world, indeed, is like a dream

and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”

~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,

does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”

~ Buddha


Whether or not we can agree that whatever happens in space/time “reality” is karmically predestined – that earth-life is like a pre-programmed dream – I have found that assuming predestination can help us find happiness.

We can experience ever growing peace of mind by more and more refraining from exercising apparent freedom of choice, and accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise; that everything is happening in the best way and at the best time – as an evolutionary opportunity and incentive. 

So, I sincerely invite your careful consideration of today’s profound quotations and “What Choice Do We Have?” poem. 

May these writings help all of us find increasing happiness by accepting difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, and by finding blessings in unexpected interactions with others.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

“Miracles”

“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
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change.”
~ Buddha
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air,
but simply walking on this earth.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.
The real miracle is the love that inspires them.
In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”
~ A Course in Miracles
“All is a miracle.
The stupendous order of nature,
the revolution of a hundred millions of worlds around a million of stars,
the activity of light,
the life of all animals,
all are grand and perpetual miracles.”
~ Francois Voltaire
“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”
~ Walt Whitman
“When we do the best that we can,
we never know what miracle is wrought in our life,
or in the life of another.”
~ Helen Keller




“Miracles” ~ By Walt Whitman – “Leaves of Grass

Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?



Ron’s Reflections on “Miracles”

Dear Friends,

Miracles are phenomena which can’t be explained scientifically or through common wisdom. Depending on each person’s unique experience of “reality”, different people consider different phenomena to be ‘miracles’.

But, throughout history, spiritually evolved beings – like those quoted above – have humbly recognized and accepted that all earth life is an eternal miracle attributable to Divine Power.

Recognition that all Life is a Divine miracle, can elicit deep feelings of happiness, gratitude, awe, faith, and acceptance of whatever happens in our lives.

So Einstein wisely endorsed living

“as though everything is is a miracle.”

After many years of living more and more “as though everything is is a miracle”, I have experienced ever expanding contentment and happiness with unspeakable gratitude for every moment of life, accepting whatever happens as a Divine play of consciousness.

I now often perceive this entire space/time Universe – like a movie – as a miraculous matrix projection onto a ’screen of consciousness’, with ever impermanent forms and phenomena appearing from and disappearing into an eternally mysterious Source.

Though THAT miraculous Source is ultimately unnameable, I often call it LOVE.

Thus, for me:

“Everything comes from divine LOVE;
and everything that comes from LOVE is a miracle”.


So Divine LOVE is the ultimate miracle.

Accordingly, with immense gratitude I find harmonic resonance with Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s experiential observations that God’s love is an ever present immense gift and grace:

“Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love,

for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

~ Thomas Merton

Knowingly or unknowingly we are all graced and gifted with Divine LOVE as the eternal Source of constant miracles which bless our lives.

So – like Thomas Merton – may we experience that “every moment of existence is a grace”.

And let us:

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 – “Remember”


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner