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Free Will or Fate?

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end,
by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” . . . .
“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
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 
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction,
because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe,
and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation.
Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” . . . .
“This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga
“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
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man,
which is, that he must be completely free.
As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ultimate freedom is not freedom of choice,
but freedom from choice.
Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every Cause has its Effect;
every Effect has its Cause;
everything happens according to Law;
Chance is but a name for Law not recognized;
there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the Law.”
~ The Kybalion
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. 
Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. 
It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. 
If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. 
And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“It is true that we are not bound. 
That is to say, the real Self has no bondage. 
And it is true that you will eventually return to your Source. 
But meanwhile, if you commit sins, as you call them, 
you have to face the consequences. You cannot escape them.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“Nothing perceivable is real. Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.

There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Free-will is a non-entity, a thing consisting of name alone” . . . . .
“The will of man without the grace of God is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bond-slave of evil since it cannot turn itself to good.” . . . .
“For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because “free-will” can do nothing.”

~ Martin Luther – The Bondage Of The Will
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“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
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Not my will but Thy Will be done.”
~ Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42
“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Man plans, God laughs” (Mann traoch, Gott Lauch)
~ Yiddish proverb






Free Will or Fate?

Q.  Do we have free will, or freedom of choice, or is our life pre-determined or fated?

A.  Our experience of apparent freedom of choice or of pre-destiny depends on our evolutionary history and perspective.

In space/time causality/reality, most “normal” people experience freedom of choice, and make decisions and plans about ostensible options in their lives. And most people have the apparent option of determining the attitude or state of mind with which they experience life. Because each person is unique, each experiences life and apparent free will differently, depending on their unique evolutionary perspective and personality. Such apparent free will increases as powers of self awareness increase.

But according to mystics, our belief in free will is illusory. For example, both Albert Einstein and Ramana Maharshi have asserted that every detail of worldly life “is predetermined.” And Swami Vivekananda told us that “free will” is a self-contradictory concept; that with worldly will there can be no freedom, which is always constrained by the universal law of cause and effect. Similarly, Vivekananda’s master, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, taught that

“God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

Enlightened saints, sages, shamans and mystics for millennia have reported attitudinally transcending this ever impermanent reality, and experiencing it as an illusory play of consciousness, sometimes called ‘samsara’ or ‘maya’. Such masters no longer self-identify mentally only as mere mortal embodied beings, but experientially as non-dual universal intelligence or spirit which is the Source and essence of this ever impermanent world. 


They report realizing experientially – as Albert Einstein explained scientifically – that:

“reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one;” [that] “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”, and [that our separate self-identity] “is an optical illusion of consciousness.” 

They define “freedom” as a timeless non-dual spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Since free will implies separation of one who wills or chooses from the objects of his/her will, there can be no free will or free choice without an imagined or conceived doer or chooser separate from objects of his/her actions or choices. And without time there can be no destiny of any supposedly separate doer or chooser.

Thus, in space/time causality/reality, as long as we self-identify as supposedly separate entities distinct from the apparent objects of our perceptions, choices or intentions, we have apparent freedom of choice, until we transcend separate self-identity and experience existence as universal choiceless and timeless awareness, or consciousness without an object.  [*See footnote]

But, our exercise of apparent freedom of choice creates karmic causes and conditions which can keep us believing in the “optical illusion” – that we are separate entities rather than ONE universal intelligence. And with the law of karma we reap as we sow. According to Swami Yogananda,

“If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. If you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”

With Self realization there is transcendence of illusory separate self-identity; whereupon there remains only Being – only Infinite Potentiality – with no separate someone to will or intend or separately experience anything in time.


Thus, upon total transcendence of separate entity identity, there is no free will or free choice,nor is there time in which karmic fate or destiny unfolds –


Only choiceless “Freedom”,


ever



NOW!

Footnote.

*According to Eastern philosophies, Karma is universal law of cause and effect applied at subtle levels to everything we think, do or say during repeated reincarnations as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow [e.g. Galatians 6:7-9]



Ron’s Reflections on Free Will or Fate.

After my midlife change of life, I reconsidered all prior paradigms about self-identity, reality, free choice or pre-destiny, and began entertaining intriguing ideas about reincarnation and karma.   After experiencing my self-identity as universal consciousness, gradually I realized that space/time reality – which previously I had considered as the only reality – is an ever impermanent projection of universal intelligence which is the essence and matrix of all worldly phenomena.

Ultimately, I concluded that  space/time “reality” is a digitally preprogrammed simulated world – a “holographic theater of the mind”; that space/time “reality isn’t really real”.

But even though it appeared to me that “reality isn’t really real”,  like all other “normal” people I’ve lived this lifetime mostly behaving as if this crazy space/time world is very real – yet  ever aware of a deep intuitive aspiration to be ‘in this world but not of this world’.  And I’ve never stopped wondering with great curiosity about how and why space/time reality was created and how it works, and why we are here.    

For example, on returning to San Francisco from a February 1977 miraculous week in New York  where I amazingly experienced many previously foreseen events, I began wondering:

“What is time?”
“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, 
or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”
“Do we really have free will as most people believe?
And if so, what free will?”

Forty years since then, I am still uncertain about answers to those mysterious perennial questions.  But I have written many aphorisms, essays and poems reflecting my theories, intuitions and speculations about them, which are posted with apt quotations on SillySutras.com. 

Thus I have posted the above quotations and Q and A essay about free will or fate, suggesting that karmically and cosmically our lives are predetermined, but that morally we must live as if we have freedom of choice to heal the world.  

I suggest that cosmically free will is an illusionary aspect of Nature’s predetermined evolutionary incentive system; that we are subjected to inevitable earthly sufferings motivating us to transcend them by choosing to improve our life’s circumstances.  Thus, I think that Nature’s determinism promotes evolution by fating us to make apparent choices, individually and collectively, which ultimately will advance human consciousness until we experientially realize our essential common self-identity beyond death as Infinite Potentiality – Universal spirit, Being, Awareness, Bliss, Eternal Life, Light, LOVE.

Mostly I agree with Einstein’s Mystical Views on Free Will or Determinism.  I believe that Professor Einstein was right in observing that what we perceive and consider to be reality “is merely an illusion”; that “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think”. And also that he correctly insisted that everything in space/time is subject to the law of cause and effect; that 

“human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”  [* See commentary footnote]

Whether or not we agree with Einstein and some rare mystics that what happens in space/time reality is karmically predestined by Natural law via mysterious causes and conditions – that earth-life is like a preprogrammed dream – I have found that assuming predestination can help us find happiness; that we can experience ever growing peace of mind by more and more accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise, and that it is happening in the best way and at the best time – as an evolutionary incentive and opportunity. 

More and more we can thereby accept inevitable difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, without remorse or regret about the past, or worry or fear of the future.  This attitude of assuming everything as predestined has helped me experience ever increasing equanimity and contentment, and to experience countless unplanned synchronistic meetings with ordinary people as ‘holy encounters’ with divine beings wearing ‘space/time soul suits’.

So, whether or not we believe in spiritual evolution or pre-destiny, I invite your careful consideration of the above quotations and essay.  I hope these ideas can help all of us find increasing happiness by accepting difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, and by finding blessings in unplanned interactions with others.  

And if we do accept predestined karma,  let us remember that when we sow love, we harvest happiness.

So, whether or not predestined,  I invite you to join with me frequently in the heartfelt affirmation slogan which appears on the header atop every SillySutras.com page.

“Infuse us, enthuse us, and use us, to bless all life as Love!”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Commentary Footnote.

*Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, 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 and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.
Some quantum physicists now suggest that recent non-locality experiments show that Einstein erred in rejecting quantum uncertainty theory; that these experiments support what Einstein rejected as “spooky action at a distance”.  However, it is still possible that quantum physicists’ ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from predetermined causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived by mainstream science.


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Don’t Seize the Moment

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”
~ William Blake
“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Don’t Seize the Moment

Live moment by moment.

The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our life.

Each moment is perfect;
it expands infinitely and eternally.

So, mindfully welcome each moment,
but don’t try to seize it – or freeze it.

Trying to seize it – or freeze it, we’ll spoil it.

Say “yes” to each moment;
accept it, and don’t try to capture it.

We never can capture
the rapture of NOW.

Let each moment be –
let it go, let it flow.

And then, timeless Peace
shall ever you – KNOW.



Ron’s expanation and recitation of Don’t Seize the Moment

Listen to



Ron’s commentary on Don’t Seize the Moment

The above “Don’t Seize the Moment” poem was inspired by this insightful verse from 18th century English visionary artist and poet William Blake:

“He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”

For millennia mystics have recognized the permanent impermanence of all forms and experiences in our space/time energetic ‘reality’ – an insight now confirmed by quantum physicists.   

Thus Buddhists have realized the futility of attachments to fleeting earthly forms and experiences; and, that all such attachments inevitably lead to suffering. 

So Blake’s elegantly insightful verse is consistent with Buddhist wisdom. And it especially inspired my “Don’t Seize the Moment” line that:  

“We never can capture the rapture of NOW”.

I share this poem hoping that it might help us realize the permanent impermanence of everything/everyone/everywhere; and, thereby help us become ever less attached and judgmental, while leading ever happier lives, until ultimately we insightfully realize our essential common self-identity as timeless awareness – beyond death.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Imagining A Better World – With Faith

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein
“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”
“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind
and darkens all its visions of other realities;
but in the end when we become used to the new light,
we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
~ Thomas Merton
“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
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far,

but none comes further.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“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.”
 . . .
“Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

Imagining A Better World – With Faith

Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’, dreaming our world into being;

And, consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’.

Together, we are awakening to the greatest “secret of secrets”:

That we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”,
but also its co-creators –

That we karmically co-create our reality with our imagination, thoughts, words and deeds;

That everything we think, do or say changes our world in some way;

That our worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

As we are awakening, we are discovering that our great gift of imagination can immeasurably help us live harmonious, loving, self actuated, and creative lives.

As we are awakening, and discovering our true nature and unlimited potential,
we are becoming infused with abiding faith in Nature and our Self,

And with faith in the impenetrable Mystery beyond every form or phenomenon.

We are learning – as Einstein taught us – that
what we imagine is “the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

So, as we awaken with abiding faith and love,
together let us “imagine” – like martyred hero John Lennon – that

“Someday …. the world will live as one”.

AND SO SHALL IT BE!


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)



Ron’s Commentary on Envisioning a Better World:

Dear Friends,

The foregoing post was inspired by the recent 77th birthday anniversary of departed hero John Lennon, who – like Dr. King and Malcolm X – was martyred at age forty at the pinnacle of his powers, but who bequeathed to us a lasting legacy of unflagging aspiration for planetary peace and love, so that some day our “world will live as one.” 

The 2016 US presidential primary and general elections revealed that most Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo in US empire politics, and are concerned about societal inequity issues.  Thus, millions of Americans – especially ‘millennials’ – desire an era in which at long last the US ‘walks it talk’ and becomes democratically and constitutionally governed for the wellbeing of the vast majority of ordinary people everywhere, rather than the upper 1% – an era of true democracy, with much less plutocracy and hypocrisy.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives may be, we share overriding common needs and aspirations.  As Humankind we share the same web of life, the same precious Earth ecology, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet.
   
Accordingly, with abiding faith in Nature’s wisdom, let us join together in envisioning fulfillment of our common needs and deepest aspirations in an equitable new era for planetary politics and Human civilization.   

May everyone everywhere be happy!

And so may it be!   

Ron Rattner

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Imagine – The World Will Live As One


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





Imagine – The World Will Live As One

On John Lennon’s seventy seventh birthday anniversary,
we recall his eloquent and inspiring expression
of our shared wish for planetary peace and happiness
in his legendary and heartfelt song “Imagine”.

Let us honor him by re-dedicating ourselves
to the realization of that imperative universal vision,
for the welfare of all life on our precious planet.

And so it shall be!


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)


“Imagine”


Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today



Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace



You may say that I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one



Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world



You may say that I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one


~ John Lennon


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Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh”
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Thus, according to twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti,

“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. . [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”

Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.

“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh”

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” . . . . .
“That which is timeless is found now.”

Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present –
in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is furthered by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, quieted my mind, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness, the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated SillySutras.com to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many Jews is the religious highpoint of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult ( before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever imminent Divine Love – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

Concluding Invocation

On holy days and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember their affinity and identity with Divinity; and, may we thus wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede living in the precious present.

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar autumn/spring equinox seasons of major religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish ( days of awe); Moslem( Eid Al-Adha); Hindu (Navaratri); Christian (Feast of St. Francis) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”.

Moreover, whether or not we are ‘religious’, knowingly or unknowingly we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of transcending ego’s mental/optical illusion of our perceived separation from each other; of our returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Intelligence or Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

As gradually we mindfully observe and eliminate or change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we self-identify as Eternal spirit – not just as mortal physical bodies – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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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, over one hundred forty 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.

Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see. Though he realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of universal 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.”


Like Gandhi, may each of us be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that will bless all life on our precious planet.

And so it shall be!

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Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your self return to your memory.”
~ A Course in Miracles

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16




Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.

Forgiveness is particularly important in Christianity.
Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness.

Eg. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37


And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than willful) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.

If sin is considered ‘missing the mark’, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on what we should do to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.
[“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20]


And whenever Jews realize that they have erred, the Torah – the Jewish Bible – obligates them to return to a righteous path with a process of repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions. Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual goal and Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Beyond any religious or theistic terms or traditions, there is a universal and perennial evolutionary process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and from our true nature; of our returning psychologically and existentially to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness which is our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving “Sins”:

Dear Friends and Fellow Sinners,

“Sins” are usually considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong.  But the original Greek – and most helpful – meaning of “sin” is to spiritually miss the mark – like an archer missing the target. 

From perspective of ‘missing the mark’, expiation of sin requires that we focus on getting back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission; that we accent the positive to eliminate the negative.

From a non-dual ‘Buddha’s eye’ view, our space/time causality reality is like a mirage, where human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable because we mistakenly self-identity as imagined personalities separate from eternal Infinite potentiality or emptiness.  Similarly Einstein told us that from a quantum physics perspective “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”; that what we perceive and believe to be separate forms are ever impermant energy vortices in an undivided quantum field. 

So perhaps Humanity’s “original sin” was “ego” – the perceptual/conceptual mistake of believing that we are separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Intelligence – a mental illusion which inevitably causes continual suffering.

Thus, forgiveness and atonement of “sins” can be seen as a psychological and existential evolutionary process of transcending “ego” by consciously getting us back ‘on target’ about our true self-identity; and, thereby returning to “Godliness” – to self-identification, realization and existential actualization of our spiritual Eternal Oneness.  

Here are some ‘on target’ observations and quotations:

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha

Ego gets and forgets,
Love gives and forgives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer 

We have nothing to surrender but the idea that
we are someone, with something to surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

There is nothing to forgive or give up
but the belief that we are separate someones
with something to forgive or give up.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

It is infinitely easier to perceive our ‘sins’, than to existentially transcend them so as to exist Buddha-like as universal divine essence.

This posting is offered to help spur our self-transformation process so that we may forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –  and BE, eternally, what we truly are.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Close Out Your ‘Karma Card’ Accounts

Karma is a cosmic incentive system.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
The Book of Life is a karmic comic book.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“It is true that we are not bound. That is to say, the real Self has no bondage. And it is true that you will eventually return to your Source. But meanwhile, if you commit sins, as you call them, you have to face the consequences. You cannot escape them.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
Clear your past, to live as presence.

Clear your karma, to live your dharma.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“To go from mortal to Buddha, you have to put an end to karma,
nurture your awareness, and accept what life brings.”
~ Bodhidharma





Close Out Your ‘Karma Card’ Accounts

Coming from subtle planes to Earth
(the plane of space/time and causation)
the soul dons an “earth suit” – a human body/mind  –
as its vehicle to explore this realm.

Each such vehicle comes equipped with
a revolving “karma card” account.

The object of the visit is to clear all “karma card” debits,
without incurring new ones.

Until we close out all our “karma card” accounts,
our visits to Earth become endless revolving round trips
repeated in a different vehicle for each trip.

So, we’re here to try closing out
all our “karma card” accounts.



Ron’s Karmic Commentary:

Dear Friends,

Karma is a natural spiritual law which governs all space/time interactions.  It is the subtle or spiritual equivalent of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that for every physical action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Thus for every worldly action – every thought, word or deed – there is also an equivalent and opposite reaction on subtle or spiritual planes.  So  karma can be seen as  “a cosmic incentive system”, of cause and effect.  As explained by Paramhansa Yogananda: “Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards” – either joy or suffering. 

Hence, knowing the law of karma can help encourage us to do good and be good – even if we are motivated initially by what the Dalai Lama has called ‘enlightened selfishness’.   Rare Buddhas and sages say that by doing good we may ultimately transcend identification with this space/time world of inevitable suffering, which mystics see as unreal illusion – maya or samsara

But, as Yogananda observed, “those who cling to the cosmic illusion must accept its essential law of polarity: flow and ebb, rise and fall, day and night, pleasure and pain, good and evil, birth and death.”  [Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 30]

Sometimes humor helps us remember serious ideas that we might otherwise forget.  So I have shared with you the foregoing whimsical sutras and poem about karma. May they remind us that in sewing kindness and compassion, we help harvest happiness for ourselves and all others everywhere.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner


Ron’s audio comments and recitation of Close Out Your ‘Karma Card’ Accounts

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Human Potential Differential?

“The winds of grace are always blowing, 
but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. 
Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. 
It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. 
If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. 
And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“Cultivate compassion; harvest happiness.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Evolution is an endless process –
from nescience to gnosis to apotheosis;
from bestial to celestial.
We ever evolve as our boundaries dissolve.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Human Potential Differential?

Q. Can humankind transform:

From bestial to celestial?

From infernal to supernal?

From barbarians to Buddhas?

From atrocities to altruism?

From selfishness to selflessness?

From sinners to saints?

From immorality to immortality?


A. YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!

As medieval alchemists transmuted lead into gold, God inevitably transmutes suffering into Love; Humanity into Divinity.

Transformation is inevitable, but progress depends on karmic causes and conditions.

We ‘reap as we sow’. As we cultivate compassion; we harvest happiness.



Ron’s Human Potential Differential Commentary:

Dear Friends,

In these crazy turbulent times I steadfastly remain a ‘cockeyed optimist’ despite dire predictions of cataclysmic end of human life as we have known it.  

During many years of relative solitude, I deeply questioned and reflected on whether human ignorance was leading us to unavoidable ‘end-times’; whether human evolution was inevitable, or just optional.  Ultimately, I concluded that human evolution is inevitable while our pace of progress is optional.

Soon after George W. Bush, Jr. became 43rd US President, I learned with amazement that Bush shared the same July 6th birth date with HH The Dalai Lama of Tibet.   Whereas I tremendously admired his Holiness as a paragon of wisdom and compassion, my view of Bush’s behaviors was exceptionally antithetical.  From my perspective the Dalai Lama was a Buddha, while Bush was a barbarian. 

The foregoing poem was inspired by the apparently paradoxical behavioral differences between George Bush, Jr. and the Dalai Lama, who has praised Bush as a human being though not as President.

Inspired by the Dalai Lama and convinced by the unerring law of karma,  I have given to The Lone Arranger my eternally irrevocable ‘power of attorney’ for judging Bush and other “leaders” who instigate or condone official acts of aggression responsible for countless avoidable deaths and immense sufferings of innocent civilians, women and children.

May today’s poem and quotations help inspire us to hasten inevitable human progress from gnosis to apotheosis.  Remembering that we reap as we sow, let us ever more cultivate compassion and harvest happiness for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Surrender and Let Go of Ego ~ Quotes and Sutra Sayings

We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.
~ Lao Tzu
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything
even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”
~ Deepak Chopra
“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
~ Rumi
Love is the sacrifice of will.
If you cannot leave will behind
You have no will at all.
~ Rumi
“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”
~ The Buddha
Q. How much “ego” do you need?
A. Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi





Ron’s Sutra Sayings on Surrendering Ego.

We have nothing to surrender
but the idea that
we’re someone,
with something
to surrender.

Let’s let go
and
let life live us,
as Love.

Let’s leave it to the
Lone Arranger.

Let’s let go, and “go with the flow”.*

*Being “in the flow” is thought-free, effortless, and focused
merging of intention, action, and awareness
as consciousness – consciously letting Life happen through you.

Tao is Now,
Tao is One,
Tao is Doer,
Tao will be done.

Tao will be done.
So let Tao do it.

Give your spiritual
‘power of attorney’
to God.

“Let go, and let God.”*

*Unity Church maxim

Leave it to the Lone Arranger.

Ego Antidote:
The root of all problems is
I/me/mine.
End it with antidote,
Thy/Thee/Thine.

Ego: Use it to lose it!

Immolate ego
in the fire of faith.

As ego goes
consciousness grows
until it Knows –
Itself.

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.

With radical trust
we do as we must.

The more we trust
the less we try.

Enter a state of enlightened amnesia:

Be now;
forget then.

Remember God;
forget the rest.

Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.



Ron’s audio recitation of Sutra Sayings- Surrender and Let Go of Ego

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