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Faith

Vision Quest: From Eyesight to Insight
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“True vision is insight, not eyesight.
‘[N]ow we see through a glass darkly’,
but with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
~ Carl Jung
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight,
but has no vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind,
so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“Perception is a mirror not a fact.
And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward.”
~ A Course In Miracles
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen.
In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda


Introduction.

Dear Friends,

This is the story of how I learned from inner and outer experiences that true vision depends on our state of mind and upon imagination and insight beyond mere eyesight; that even people with no eyesight, like Helen Keller, can be visionaries.

Since childhood I wore eyeglasses for normal eyesight. And until my midlife spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my physical body. So when diagnosed and told by “expert” eye doctors that I suffered incurably defective vision, requiring corrective lenses I never questioned that diagnosis. Nor did I consider defective eyesight as improvable or curable. Nor did I understand vision as a brain function, or as possibly arising from consciousness beyond the brain.

But those beliefs changed after extraordinary inner and outer post-awakening experiences, which began a still continuing vision quest process from eyesight to insight.

My eyesight history

At about age three my parents brought me to an ophthalmologist for a misaligned eye. I was diagnosed with astigmatism and far-sightedness and prescribed thick eyeglasses – which I always required, but never liked. Gradually, I was given ever stronger prescriptions.

I became so habitually dependent on eyeglasses that I would grope for them upon awakening every morning, and wore them constantly. Once when I was a pre-teen at a YMCA summer camp, one of my cabin mates, with a distorted sense of humor, hid my glasses for several days. I still remember how lost and miserable I felt without them.

When I was eighteen years old and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a college friend, who later became a prominent Chicago optometrist, told me about corneal contact lenses, which were then newly developed. And he recommended a Chicago expert who could usually fit them comfortably. Excitedly, I became an early corneal contact lens user.

Thereafter, I continued wearing hard contact lenses for about twenty five years, even though they sometimes irritated my eyes. But eventually I needed reading glasses and couldn’t get bifocal contact lenses. So, reluctantly I resumed using eyeglasses, which I believed necessary until after the extraordinary inner and outer spiritual awakening experiences hereafter recounted.
 

Ron - age 3 1/2

Ron – age 3 1/2

 
Out of body visions

At a 1974-5 San Francisco New Year’s Eve party, I had an unprecedented and unforgettable out of body experience (OOB). While lying face down on a bed in a small dark room, “I” floated out of my body and up to the ceiling. And from the ceiling, with my glasses on a bedside table, I beheld my body lying face down on the pillow. For the first time in my life I had 20/20 vision without eyeglasses, and without even using my eyes – or maybe my brain.

The New Year’s OOB experience soon led to a pivotal rebirth epiphany at age forty three, which, opened an emotional/intuitive flood-gate closed since childhood – unleashing for the first time in my adult life numerous synchronistic inner and outer experiences which gradually but radically changed my beliefs about “reality” and self-identity.

After the rebirth experience I had other out of body experiences with perceived visions, as well as innumerable inner visions and insights. Ultimately, I associated inner visions with a mysterious “third eye” associated with the pineal gland – providing apparent perception beyond ordinary eyesight. For example, I took shaktipat initiation from my Hindu master Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas only after perceiving his extraordinary silver aura and seeing him in inner visions, one of which was as clear as a color TV picture. And I learned from Guruji that such auric perceptions and inner visions were associated with the kundalini purification process.

Bates Bioenergetic Vision Improvement Method

Shortly before meeting Guruji I attended a San Francisco ‘new age’ exposition where various ‘green’ products were displayed and sold. One of the vendors was selling pin-hole glasses and a book she had written about natural vision improvement, as originally taught in the early 20th century by unconventional ophthalmologist William H. Bates, MD.

Synchronistically she told me that possibly I might improve and perhaps even cure my defective eyesight with natural vision improvement techniques; that pin-hole glasses did not improve vision but afforded an opportunity break the ‘addiction’ to glasses via obligatory squint focus through its small apertures.

Intrigued, I bought the book and the pin-hole glasses and assiduously began learning and experimenting with natural vision relaxation techniques, such as blinking, sunning, swaying, acupressure massage and palming. Experientially, I became persuaded that just as the so-called “placebo effect” could promote healing of physical ailments through optimistic attitude, that a relaxed and positive psychological attitude could also help improve eyesight.

I was encouraged in this belief by reading many eye improvement books, including “The Art of Seeing” by famed author Aldous Huxley, who gratefully affirmed how he improved his vision via Bates techniques. For several years I received vision improvement lessons from Anna Kaye, a former Polish attorney who had emigrated to the United States after World War II unable to see a door, and diagnosed with incurable atrophy of the optic nerve. Four ophthalmologists had recommended she learn Braille. But, unable to accept near blindness, she studied natural vision improvement with a Bates protegee in New York City and regained 20/30 vision in both eyes.

Also, I later met and was inspired by Meir Schneider PhD, a San Francisco healer from Israel whose vision improved from legal blindness and Braille to near normal sight with the Bates Method, supplemented by his own intense regimen of self-massage and movement.

Despite years of effort, I never succeeded in normalizing my vision with Bates relaxation techniques. At my present level of consciousness, relaxation did not normalize a misshapen cornea and resulting astigmatism. But I’m convinced that relaxation and other Bates methods improved and stabilized my vision, deterred cataract formation, and taught me much about my body’s energy system; that thereby they have contributed to good health. At age eighty eight, I still get a binocular 20/30 correction with progressive multifocal lenses which are not as strong as eyeglasses prescribed for me about thirty years ago, which I keep as souvenirs.

Ron’s Vision Quest: From Eyesight to Insight

On meeting Guruji, I was amazed not only by his miraculous spiritual powers but also by his extraordinary physical prowess at age one hundred, including his ability to see normally without glasses. Initially, I surmised that Guruji’s miraculous physical condition had resulted from his enlightened state of mind, and his mastery of yogic meditation, mantra, movement, and breathing techniques. So naively I began believing that “enlightenment” required not only a mind free from ego defilements, but also a healthy physical body with normal eyesight. And this belief motivated me more than ever to attempt normalizing my eyesight via Bates bioenergetic techniques.

But, gradually Guruji became physically exhausted and debilitated from his tireless schedule of selflessly helping others in the US. Yet he retained his enlightened state of mind. And soon I learned of other spiritual masters and saints with unhealthy bodies and/or impaired eyesight. So, I learned it was possible to be spiritually elevated, notwithstanding visual and other physical impairments.

For example, I noted that HH The Dalai Lama of Tibet, needed eyeglasses for near-sightedness. And after Guruji returned to India, I met and took kriya empowerments from Paramahamsa Hariharananda Giri, an Indian meditation master who also needed eyeglasses.

Also I learned that beloved Saint Francis of Assisi was almost blind at the time of his death, legendarily because he “cried his eyes out” but actually because of chronic conjunctivitis apparently contracted in Africa during the Crusades.

Thus, though ultimately I accepted my inability to normalize eyesight without glasses, I’ve never lost faith in our evolutionary potential of ever elevating inner vision through mindful identification and diligent purification of mental defilements.

Conclusion

In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12), St. Paul observes that “now we see through a glass darkly”, but that some day we shall fully know, as we are fully Known now by the Divine.  

In our illusory space/time duality world, we view “reality” through the ‘mirror of the mind’, which imperfectly refracts and reflects the unseen light of Eternal Awareness onto the screen of our human consciousness.  

But, we can evolve and transform our mind mirror from opacity to translucency to transparency.  And thereby, with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight, we can and shall ‘see’ more and more – we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

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

Sri 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? Or heard of anyone claiming to see God?

During my early Jewish acculturation, I accepted the core Bible proclamation:


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

Thereafter, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and assumed it impossible to perceive or to be enfolded in God. So I never understood Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE”  [John 10:30].

But after my mid-life awakening, while crying for God with total surrender on a Yosemite mountain top, I beheld within (but did not merge with) the Divine light of ten thousand suns. Thereafter I began wondering about “seeing God”, especially after reading the Gospel and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man who often experienced communion with the Divine.

I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India.  There – almost a hundred years after Sri Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place 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 and his teachings.  I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was an ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity.  Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna as well as with 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 in a vastly different age and culture seven hundred years before Sri Ramakrishna, they had similar devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport.

As an enlightened mystic Sri Ramakrishna affirmed to his principal disciple Swami 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 Divine communion beyond human description.

Ultimately he taught that God is All – omnipresent as all manifestation, while timelessly transcendent as unmanifest Infinite Potentiality.

Thus the foregoing whimsical verses about seeing GOD were inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings.

May those verses and teachings encourage us all to ever remember – and perhaps perceive – that everyone and everything is Divine!

And so may it be!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner


Honoring Nature
~ Quotes and Video

“One touch of nature
makes the whole world kin.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Nature is our nature;
Honoring Nature is honoring Self.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Introduction

Dear Friends,


In this critical era of worldwide violence and turmoil, our amazingly beautiful planet is imminently and insanely threatened (by immensely destructive technologies) with possible human caused omnicidal nuclear or climate catastrophe, ending Earth life as we’ve known it.

Therefore we must urgently awaken humanity’s instinctive primal awareness that Nature is our nature; that Nature knows best and will have its Way; that we are not dependent upon exploitation of our precious planet or its lifeforms, but interdependent with it and all life thereon; that we can no longer unsustainably exploit Nature and others without dire consequences; that we must honor – not desecrate – Nature.

The following profound “Nature” quotation collection and beautiful “Creation Calling” embedded video are offered to help awaken our minds and open our hearts to realization of Humankind’s urgent need to avert calamity by Honoring Nature, NOW!

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Honoring Nature ~ Quotation Collection

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
~ William Shakespeare

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.  
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9

“Look deep into nature, and then
you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The entire world we apprehend through our senses
is no more than a tiny fragment in the vastness of Nature.”
~ Max Planck

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention
more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature;
because in her inventions nothing is lacking,
and nothing is superfluous.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
“All art, all education, can be merely a supplement to nature.”
~ Aristotle

“If one truly loves nature one finds beauty everywhere.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh

“In nature we never see anything isolated,
but everything in connection with something else
which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Every particular in nature,
a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time
is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Lose yourself in nature and find peace.”
“Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.”
~ Rachel Carson

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth
and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”
~ Rachel Carson

“When we pay attention to nature’s music,
we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony.”
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

“Nature is the living, visible garment of God.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity;
so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein


“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things,
man will not himself find peace.”

~ Albert Schweitzer


“There are no passengers on spaceship earth.
We are all crew.”
~ Marshall McLuhan

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;
we borrow it from our children”
~ Chief Seattle


“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment
must come from the human heart,
[from] a genuine sense of universal responsibility
that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

~ Dalai Lama


“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister,
Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”

“This sister now cries out to us
because of the harm we have inflicted on her
by our irresponsible use and abuse
of the goods with which God has endowed her.”

~ Pope Francis – Climate encyclical message

“Nature is neither pleasant nor painful.
It is all intelligence and beauty.
Pain and pleasure are in the mind.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Deviation from Nature is deviation from happiness.”
~ Samuel Johnson

“Each thing tends to move towards its own nature.
I always desire happiness which is my true nature.
My nature is never a burden to me.
Happiness is never a burden to me, whilst sorrow is.”
~ Adi Shankara

“Because after all, you ARE a symptom of nature.
You . . . grow out of this physical universe
in exactly the same way an apple grows off an apple tree.”

~ Alan Watts

“I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite, which is yes.”
~ e. e. cummings

“I see trees of green, red roses too.
I see them bloom for me and you.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white.
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world”
~ Louis Armstrong


Honoring Nature ~ Creation Calls — are you listening?



Invocation

May Humankind Awaken NOW
from our long-inculcated illusion
of separation from Nature. 

So Awakened,
may we deeply realize that Nature is our nature;
that what we unsustainably do to Nature
we do to ourselves; and
that it is our responsibility
to honor, cherish and preserve
Earth-life as we’ve known it.

And so Awakened,
may we urgently honor
Nature’s uniquely precious ecology and environment,
with a “genuine sense of universal responsibility
that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.


And so shall it be!
!

Ron Rattner

Atheists Beware!
~ Verses, Quotations and Explanations

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

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




Atheists Beware!

We reify what we resist.

And as we persist in resisting,

We attract and become what we resist.

So atheists, beware!

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

And as you opine,
you’re becoming Divine.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Atheists Beware!”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Atheists Beware!”

The foregoing whimsical “Atheists Beware” verses were composed after I’d begun to sometimes see our space/time ‘reality’ as an ever paradoxical play of Divine ONENESS.

Before my midlife awakening to Self identity as Awareness, I don’t remember thinking about existence (or non-existence) of a creator “God”. However, I tacitly accepted the core Hebrew precept: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” (Deuteronomy 6:4), and considered “God” as ONE universally immanent, nameless, formless, nonjudgmental Supreme Power. And I rejected ideas of a humanoid, personal or judgmental God. Hence, after childhood I always interpreted Bible legends metaphorically – not as ‘the word of God’ explicitly spoken through special messengers.

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

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

Curiosity about “God” soon sparked interest in “atheism” and “atheists”. (See Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity) Also, I soon realized that – as the Bible says – “God” is word – used by different people to designate their different ideas of a transcendent power; that, whether or not the “universe” was created by God, “God” is a concept created by man. (See God is a Word.)

And ultimately I irreversibly accepted and honored the perennial mystery of Divine Reality beyond space/time duality.  
(See e.g. Mystery of Divinity)

Thus it paradoxically appeared to me that worldly people who adamantly professed with certainty to be most religious – or atheistic – were usually most intolerant of those with other religious, spiritual or philosophic views; that their professed fundamentalist certainty about superiority of their philosophy – masked deep doubt, ignorance or insecurity about the transcendent Divine mystery.

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

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

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

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

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

Dedication and Invocation of “Atheists Beware”

Inspired by deep curiosity, reflection and intuition about “God”,

may we gradually discover and experience our common inner Divine Source,

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

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

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

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.

And so may it be!

Reincarnation
~ Quotes From Famous People

“The entire universe is God’s cosmic motion picture, and . . individuals are merely actors in the divine play who change roles through reincarnation; mankind’s deep suffering is rooted in identifying too closely with one’s current role, rather than with the movie’s director, or God.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“We are born and reborn countless number of times,
and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  
Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear ?
 When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
“I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.” 

~ Mark Twain





Reincarnation ~ Quotes From Famous People

“Lord Krishna said: …. The learned neither laments for the dead or the living. Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future. Just as in the physical body of the embodied being is the process of childhood, youth and old age; similarly by the transmigration from one body to another the wise are never deluded.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“But know that by whom this entire body is pervaded, is indestructible. No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable….”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, till they return to Him.”
~ Koran

“Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of 
bodies of the world.”
~ Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia

“Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect.”
~ The Dalai Lama (Preface to “The Case for Reincarnation”)

“Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind. The concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that, when one is incarnated or born, one is able, potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences, and that these existences were one’s own, ie, they had the same ego form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth in a human body.”  
~ Carl Jung

“Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil – coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“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.” “The greatness of the human being is not in the reincarnation of the world but in the reincarnation of ourselves.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand 
times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the 
amplitude of time.”
~ Walt Whitman

“I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. 
We shall rise refreshed in the morning.” And, “Finding myself to 
exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always 
exist.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of 
millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, 
promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”

~ Jack London

“The theory of Reincarnation, which originated in India, has been welcomed in other countries. Without doubt, it is one of the most sensible and satisfying of all religions that mankind has conceived. This, like the others, comes from the best qualities of human nature, even if in this, as in the others, its adherents sometimes fail to carry out the principles in their lives.”
~ Luther Burbank

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is 
our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives”..“To me this is the most beautiful, the most satisfactory from a scientific standpoint,
the most logical theory of life. For thirty years I have leaned toward the theory of Reincarnation. It seems a most reasonable philosophy and explains many things.”
~ Henry Ford

“I am certain that I have been here as I am now a thousand times before,
and I hope to return a thousand times.”
~ Goethe

“Live so that thou mayest desire to live again – that is thy duty –

for in any case thou wilt live again!”

~ Freidrich Nietzsche

“The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.” “It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals… and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Celts were fearless warriors because “they wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another…”
~ Julius Caesar

“Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.”
~ William Wordsworth

“My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing.

I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries 
and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer;
 that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”
~ Carl Jung

“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the
 dead are in existence.”

~ Socrates

“As a man, casting off worn out garments taketh new ones, so the dweller in the body, entereth into ones that are new.”
~ Epictetus

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once;
everything in nature is resurrection.”
~ Voltaire

“He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships become newly born. Each one was mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory. Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually had a new face: only time stood between one face and another.”
~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies.”

~ Josephus (Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)

“All human beings go through a previous life… Who knows how
 many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be 
brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of
 spiritual worlds?”
~ Honore Balzac

“Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

“What is of particular importance . . is conviction with regard to reincarnation and karma. This conviction, will essentially transform modern life, will create new forms of life, an entirely new social life, of the kind that is necessary if human culture is not to decline but rise to a higher level. Experiences in the life of soul … are within the reach of every modern man, and if only he has sufficient energy and tenacity of purpose he will certainly become inwardly convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma.
~ Rudolf Steiner

“When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives.
It then takes on another body.”
~ Paul Gauguin

“Friends are all souls that we’ve known in other lives. We’re drawn to each other.
Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know.”
~ George Harrison

“Know, therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return…
Forget not that I shall come back to you…
A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind,
and another woman shall bear me.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead?
The soul never dies and the body is never really alive.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stories from Behind the Stove




Quotations About Religion


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

Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Introduction

Throughout human history, countless beings have died and suffered in the name of religion, which is often asserted to hypocritically justify immoral partisan political or economic desires.

Because of advanced technologies, wars and other violent behaviors which for centuries have caused immense misery, now threaten all planetary life as we have known it.
So – at long last – humans urgently need to abandon wars and warlike behaviors,
including those waged in the name of religion.

The following quotations and comments about religion, are deeply dedicated to helping us achieve that urgent necessity.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Quotations About Religion

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

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

~ Dalai Lama

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

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

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

“The great religions are the ships,

Poets the life boats. 

Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”

~ Hafiz

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

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

“I have learned so much from God

That I can no longer call myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There is only one God,
the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

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

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

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

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

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”


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


Dear Friends,

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

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

For example,

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

~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity

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

~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism

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

~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism

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

~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam

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

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


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


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

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

~ Dalai Lama

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

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama


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

With opened hearts let us stop treating others as we don’t wish to be treated ourselves,
by practicing the ‘do no harm’ “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy.

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

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Belief or Faith?

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith is a knowledge within the heart,
beyond the reach of proof.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
“This above all, to thy own Self be true.”
~ William Shakespeare
“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain
“Faith is much better than belief.
Belief is when someone else does the thinking.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha


Belief or Faith?

Q. What is “belief” and what is “faith”; and, how are they synonymous or different?

A. “Belief” and “faith” are words used by different people to communicate different ideas about trust or confidence in Divinity or Nature. In each instance their meaning depends on the intention of the person using each word, and the context of such use.

Sometimes the words are used synonymously. For example, English language bible translations (from original Aramaic} sometimes equate belief in Divinity with faith.

Thus in Matthew 17:20 Jesus says:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move.”


While in Mark 9:23 alluding to faith in Divinity he says:

“All things are possible for him that believes.”


But because there can be a significant difference between experiential intuitive trust in Nature or Divinity and ideological trust in religious dogma or secular ideas, for clarity in addressing these questions we here distinguish between “belief” and “faith” and do not use them synonymously.

Both belief and faith may be founded on discrimination or rationality.
But, though faith may be balanced with reason, faith transcends reason. Belief follows ideas from the past which may or may not support faith – but can never negate it, for faith is beyond belief. So,


“Faith is transcendental,
while belief mental.
Faith is NOW;
belief is then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


“Faith” means intuitive trust or confidence in Life, especially in the miraculous unknown,
whereas “belief” means adopting or accepting ideas of others that something or someone is true or exists.

Faith arises from experience, discrimination and intuition and promotes our life journey, while blind belief deters it.

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment,
virtuous deeds are a shelter,
wisdom is the light by day and
right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”
~ Buddha


Dogmatic religious or other beliefs limit or preclude openness, spontaneity and authenticity;
and, they often follow and mask doubt and uncertainty.

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

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


Doubt and fearfulness preclude openness, spontaneity and authenticity.
Fearlessness is openness. Fearfulness is closeness.

“Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
~ Alan Watts


Faith in transcendental Power or Divinity, named or unnamed, follows the Heart,
while belief follows fear of the unknown. Fear and Faith cannot co-exist.

Faith follows That which benefits everyone and everything, but belief may be inconsistent with universal good.

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

Faith follows intuition;
Faith follows the Way;
Faith follows the Self;
Faith follows the Heart.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dedication

This essay is deeply dedicated to inspiring us to find ever growing happiness, as we

Follow our Heart, and
Follow our Faith –

As LOVE!


And so it shall 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




Introduction to “Seek Relief From Belief!”

Dear Friends,

Today’s “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting epigrammatically encapsulates many crucial wisdom concepts with key quotations, comments, and sutra verses (with mp3 recitation) which can help us find ever expanding happiness.

Please consider and enjoy these writings.

Ron Rattner

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 of “Seek Relief From Belief!”

My midlife awakening started 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 learning as an “Uncertain Undo”. In this posting I’m sharing some of my most important discoveries, so far.

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!”


So far I’ve discovered that “ego” is the greatest impediment to Self realization. Thus overcoming ego’s illusory self-identification as a supposedly separate entity is essential for realization of Absolute Reality.

Egoic misidentification can’t exist and persist without illusory beliefs about separate self-identity and perceived “reality”. And transcendance of ego requires learning truth from life experience.  As Einstein asserted: 

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


Thus Gautama Buddha taught that to Know Truth, we must each observe and investigate; that true wisdom can’t come from unquestioningly accepting and believing information from others: 

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


So today’s “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting includes important wisdom writings about experientially overcoming “belief” and resulting “ego”.  For example, when twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked “Is belief in God necessary or helpful?” ,  he responded:

“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 often the words “belief” and “faith” are used synonymously, they are not so equated on SillySutras. In these writings, “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 and mysterious Unknown. (See  Belief or Faith?)

Thus, 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 beautiful planet.  

Dedication

May today’s “Seek Relief From Belief!” writings (and mp3 recitation) encourage and inspire our deep reflections upon mistaken beliefs about our perceived earthly Reality, and illusory separate Self identities, and thereby hasten our experiential realization of eternally timeless states of being, beyond this ever impermanent world of time and space. 
 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What’s really “Real”?

“Reality is merely an illusion,
albeit a very persistent one.”;
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think”.
~ Albert Einstein
“I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that consciousness is an ultimate reality and, all the possible knowledge, concerning objects can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness”; “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”.

“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.” ….“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe.”
~ Albert Einstein

What appears to be a stable, tangible, visible, audible world, is an illusion. It is dynamic and kaleidoscopic — not really “there”. What we normally see is the explicit, or unfolded, order of things, rather like watching a movie. But there is an underlying order that is mother and father to this second-generation reality.
~ David Bohm, Physicist and Einstein protegé
Theory of Everything:

E = mc2 = Consciousness = Self.
 ~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Introduction to What’s really “Real”?

Dear Friends,



Have you ever wondered what’s really “Real”? Or what isn’t “Real”?   
Do you see “reality” as only physical, measurable, perceptible, or comprehensible? Where for you does earthly “reality” end, and ‘unreality’ or illusion begin – if anywhere?

Mystics say that we’re experiencing life on Earth to learn what’s really Real; that experientially we discover that in this always changing three dimensional world only unchanging consciousness persists; that our inner I AM observer is Absolute Reality and Source of all our thoughts, experiences and perceived forms and phenomena.

Thus the nature of “reality” is a spiritually crucial question, addressed for us herein, with numerous quotations and detailed explanatory discussion.



May these writings and reflections help inspire our ever increasing happiness, as we lovingly and harmoniously ascend spiritually toward THAT which is really “Real”.


And so may it be!



Ron Rattner

Explanation of What’s really “Real”?

Our ideas of reality are spiritually crucial. Knowingly or unknowingly they deeply affect our beliefs about who and what we are; and, our beliefs about who and what we are determine our thoughts, behaviors, experiences and philosophies of life, both individually and societally.

Thus, human reality paradigms which do not recognize our essential Unity with Nature and all its life-forms have proved environmentally, economically, internationally and inter-personally disastrous.

“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation – – – comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda


How different would be our behaviors if we truly realized and always remembered that we are part of Nature, deeply connected and unified with all life-forms; that our apparent separation from each other and Nature is a perceptual illusion!

“Our separation of each other
is an optical illusion of consciousness.” .
~ Albert Einstein


Jesus legendarily told us that with faith human potentialities are unlimited:

“All things are possible for one who believes.”
~ Mark 9:23

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
~ Matthew:17-20


But limited beliefs about “reality” are conceptual cages confining us in a kind of psychological prison, restricting realization of our unlimited potentialities.

“The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveals itself in nature. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.”
~ Albert Einstein


Culturally, our concepts of “reality” are an unspoken consensus abstraction dependent upon predominantly shared beliefs about what is “real”.

“Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.”
~ Alan Watts

“Reality is nothing but a collective hunch.”
~ Lily Tomlin


Until now, most of us have been unconsciously acculturated and indoctrinated with restrictive ideas of self-identity and “reality”, without ever reflecting upon or intuiting who or what we really are and what’s really Real.

Our ideas about “reality” – both individually and societally – differ with different people at different times and different places.

But beyond our ever changing ideas of relative “reality”, isn’t there an ultimate transcendent Reality – which is the eternal Source of all relative realities?   Beyond thought can we experience such ultimate Reality?

In universally seeking happiness, doesn’t everyone knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, remember and intuitively long for the experience of Divine Oneness?

Mystical  “inner explorers” have answered all of the foregoing questions affirmatively. Shamans and Mystics – from both East and West – have for millennia reported their discovery of ONE ultimate, unchanging non-duality Reality; THAT which is beyond definition, comprehension or imagination – yet, everywhere invisibly immanent in and Source of our space/time polarity/causality relative reality.


“Though One, Brahman is the cause of the many…
The One manifests as the many,
the formless putting on forms.”
~ Rig Veda, 1500–1200 BCE

“All things come out of the One and the One out of all things.”
~ Heraclitus, 500BC

“Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another.”
~ Leibniz, 1670

“We are a part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow.”
~ Spinoza, Ethics, 1673

“We did not weave the web of life.
We are merely strands in it.
All things are bound together. All things connect.”
~ Chief Seattle

“At the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit and —
this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”
~ Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…
In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda


And now more and more scientists are agreeing with the mystics.  Matter has melted into Mystery. Physics and metaphysics are merging.
Both science and spirituality agree that Reality is undivided Wholeness.

And for some Quantum physicists – like Nobel laureate Max Planck – beyond “uncertainty” about reality of “matter” there is only consciousness and Divinity.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
~ Max Planck, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)

“There is no matter as such.  All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

“Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist – Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949)


Thousands of years ago, Eastern seers called this permanently impermanent and ever changing world of countless forms and phenomena a dreamlike illusion, maya or samsara; a mere projection of the One Reality – of Infinite and Eternal Existence.

“The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
“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


Einstein intuited that:


“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”


Now many other scientists are agreeing with mystics and affirming Einstein’s observation about the illusion of physical “reality”.

For example, Einstein protege and distinguished physicist David Bohm has questioned any objective tangible reality. Bohm theorized that the universe is fundamentally like a gigantic hologram; that underlying apparent reality is a deeper order of existence, from which all the objects and appearances of our physical world arise and appear in much the same way that a two dimensional holographic film gives birth to a three dimensional hologram in space.

What appears to be a stable, tangible, visible, audible world, is an illusion. It is dynamic and kaleidoscopic — not really “there”. What we normally see is the explicit, or unfolded, order of things, rather like watching a movie. But there is an underlying order that is mother and father to this second-generation reality.
~ David Bohm


Until his death in 1955, Einstein maintained his intuitive view, consistent with ancient mystical insights but challenged by some quantum physicists, that “God does not play dice with the universe”; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes not yet recognized or perceived.

Since Einstein’s death, some physicists like his protege David Bohm have advanced theories which reconcile apparent contradictions between universal “causality” and quantum “uncertainty” and “non-locality” and they are thereby ever narrowing remaining apparent disparity between scientific and mystical views of “Reality”.

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”
~ Swami Vivekananda, London talk, 1896


As presciently envisioned by Swami Vivekananda, science and religion will ultimately agree on the ONENESS of phenomenal “reality”. And realizing such ONENESS, Humanity will at long last – as it must – discard destructive illusionary beliefs and behaviors which have brought it to the brink of ecologic, economic, inter-personal and international disaster.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”
~ Niels Bohr

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena,
it will make more progress in one decade
than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”
~ Nikola Tesla


Thereupon, Humankind and all other life-forms on our precious planet, will harmoniously and peacefully flourish and evolve with Nature with ever increasing happiness, until we spiritually ascend to transcend this wonderful world, as Universal LOVE.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner