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Intuition

Einstein’s Mystical Views & Quotations on Free Will or Determinism

”All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
~ Buddha
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise.
What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm:
there are no isolated things or events.
Underneath the surface appearance,
all things are interconnected,
are part of the totality of the cosmos
that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
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.”
~  Sri 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 
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 
“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
Nothing in the universe happens by chance or accident.  The universe is a coherent concurrence and interaction of innumerable conditions attendant on the infinite number of energy patterns.  In the state of Awareness, all this is obvious and can be clearly seen and known.  Outside that level of awareness, it could be likened to innumerable, invisible magnetic fields which automatically coalesce or repel one’s position and which interact according to the positions and relative strengths and polarities.  Everything influences everything else and is in perfect balance.
~ David R. Hawkins
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. .
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Everything happens through immutable laws, …everything is necessary… There are,  some persons say, events which are necessary and others which are not. It would be very comic that one part of the world was arranged, and the other were not; that one part of what happens had to happen and that another part of what happens did not have to happen. If one looks closely at it, one sees that the doctrine contrary to that of destiny is absurd; but there are many people destined to reason badly; others not to reason at all others to persecute those who reason.”
~  Voltaire
“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck – Nobel Laureate Physicist
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)



Introduction

We honor Albert Einstein not only for his extraordinary scientific genius and moral integrity, but for his mystical wisdom and intuitive realization of ineffable Reality beyond human comprehension.

In other posts (linked below) we have shown that although Einstein rejected conventional views about God, individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death, he was not an atheist but a deeply religious mystic. Though Einstein did not believe in formal dogmatic religion, his views on religion were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, like Indian Advaita Vedanta philosophy, as well as with his revolutionary non-mechanistic science. So he was an exemplar of the inevitable confluence of Western science with Eastern religion.

Here we highlight Einstein’s unconventional views about free will and determinism and show how they were also largely consistent with highest Eastern non-duality mystical teachings.

Discussion

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.

In a 1929 interview, when the argument about quantum mechanics “uncertainty” was at its height, Einstein modestly said: “I claim credit for nothing”, explaining that:

“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.”
[Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, Page 422.]

Though theologians have mostly believed that people choose and are morally responsible for their actions, Einstein agreed with medieval philosopher Baruch Spinoza that one’s actions, and even one’s thoughts, are determined by natural laws of causality.

Spinoza said:

“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.”

Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:

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

Einstein’s belief in causal determinism seemed to him both scientifically and philosophically incompatible with the concept of human free will. In a 1932 speech entitled ‘My Credo’, Einstein briefly explained his deterministic ideology:

“I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.”

Einstein’s 1931 essay “The World As I See It” contains this similar passage:

“In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.
Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.”

Schopenhauer – who had studied Buddhism – postulated that human experience is but a reflection and manifestation of universal law – not human “will”; that humans must adhere to the imperatives of natural laws (like gravity and magnetism) which harmoniously rule everywhere without exception. Thus Schopenhauer said:

“The fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him—this is something that surpasses our powers of comprehension, and can only be conceived as possible by virtue of the most wonderful pre-established harmony.”

So in rejecting “free will” and other prevalent theistic religious ideas while humbly expressing his awe, reverence and cosmic religious feeling at the immense beauty, harmony and eternal mystery of our Universe, Einstein was influenced by both the philosophies of Spinoza and Schopenhauer and by his intuition and his science.

But despite his deterministic philosophy and science, Einstein realized that people’s belief in free will is pragmatically necessary for a civilized society; that it causes them to take responsibility for their actions, and enables society to regulate such actions.*[see Footnote] So he said:

“I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”*[see Footnote]


Thus Einstein dedicated his life to going beyond the “merely personal” and acted morally with a self-described “passion for social justice”. In a letter to his sister, Einstein stated that “the foundation of all human values is morality”. And in addressing a student disarmament meeting, he said:

“The destiny of civilized humanity depends more than ever on the moral forces it is capable of generating.”

But, like the non-dualistic mystics, Einstein believed that morality was for humanity not divinity. He said:


“Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”


Determinism versus morality and social justice

Since acting morally implies human freedom of choice, how can we reconcile Einstein’s passion for social justice and morality with his deterministic ideology that “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” ?

How would Einstein explain the apparent contradiction between his many idealistic efforts as a social justice activist, pacifist, and democratic socialist and his deterministic philosophy and science? Would he attribute his efforts and passion for a peaceful, civilized society to a pre-destined causal compulsion?

We can only speculate. But it is quite possible that Einstein would have agreed with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s statement that “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”

According to Eastern non-dualism, as long as we self-identify as limited persons within space/time/causality we have apparent free choice but are inescapably subject to the law of karmic causality. Thus our every thought, word or deed inevitably reaps its corresponding reward of either suffering or joy in this or another lifetime. Only when we self-identify with spirit or soul, do we transcend this illusory impermanent world of samsara and its inevitable causal sufferings.

This was explained by Swami Vivekananda as follows:

“[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”

“[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.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga

Conclusions

Like ancient non-dualistic mystics, Einstein had realized – through his revolutionary non-mechanistic science – that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; and that “Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.” Consequently, he knew that from an ever mysterious Cosmic perspective, our apparent phenomenal reality is but an illusionary play of consciousness.

But, Einstein’s acceptance of the necessity for recognizing humanity’s freedom to choose a moral rather than evil destiny was also consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings that we ‘reap as we sow’ until we transcend this illusionary world, as well as with prevalent Western religious ideas that we are morally responsible for our actions.

Thus, Einstein’s insistence that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception and that morality is for Humanity not Divinity was consistent with ancient non-dualistic mysticism as was his rejection of a personal “God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation”.

Though Einstein had not achieved the mystic goal of attaining “freedom” from causality while living, his mystical wisdom and professed behaviors in not “taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper” were consistent with a very evolved – if not “enlightened” – state of being.

*Footnote

Einstein’s views on pragmatically living with supposed free will notwithstanding a belief in universal determinism, were similar to those of Leo Tolstoy, whose epic War and Peace novel reflected Tolstoy’s view that all is predestined, but that we cannot live without imagining we have free will. Like Einstein, Tolstoy was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer and, also, he was later enthralled by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.



How I See the World – PBS Documentary Film About Einstein:




Seekers Beware!

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21
“Follow your heart – even if it contradicts my words.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
”We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
“It’s better to be a seeker with many questions,
than a Guru with all the answers.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory
answer to the problem of human existence.”
~ Erich Fromm
“Honor your Heart, over your rational mind;
use your mind to serve and follow your Heart..”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Path of devotion:
“Adoration of the Infinite,
not adulation of the incarnate.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Introduction

The following poem, which cautions about cults, was composed after I’d begun questioning rigid religious belief systems and dogma, and certain hierarchic spiritual or religious organizations. As explained in comments following the poem, this disillusionment led to my mostly looking within for life guidance, and to regard myself as an “Uncertain Undo” seeking relief from belief, rather than as a “Born-again Hindu”.

Seekers Beware!

Do not seek wisdom
of the occult
in a cult,

Lest cult inculcation
into cult culture
leaves you a cult captive.

Seek liberation, not cult approbation.
Seek illumination, not cultivation.

So seek and pursue
the one path that’s true;

Seek and follow
your Heart.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Seekers Beware!”

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Ron’s Explanation of “Seekers Beware”:

Background

After my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, returned to India in 1980, I met and learned from other spiritual teachers, in addition to Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma. But I always maintained my heartfelt inner relationship with Guruji – above all other teachers.

For many years I considered myself a “born-again Hindu” and was mostly attracted to Indian spiritual teachers. But gradually I began questioning rigid religious belief systems and dogma, and certain hierarchic spiritual or religious organizations.

Beginning in 1987, I was especially attracted to the devotional path of Amritanandamayi (Ammachi) of calling and crying to the Divine. And for seven years I attended many of her US darshans and regular programs at her San Ramon ashram.

At first I experienced an exceptionally powerful devotional ambience around Ammachi. And I was much moved by her soulful singing of bhajans calling to the Divine. However, my experience of devotional blessings around Ammachi, and my enthusiasm for her darshans, gradually diminished and eventually ended in distressing disillusionment.
( See https://sillysutras.com/other-teachers-mata-amritanandamayi-ammachi-rons-memoirs/; and https://sillysutras.com/from-mata-amritanandamayi-to-amma-shri-karunamayi-rons-memoirs/ )

I was especially distressed on learning facts about Ammachi’s organization revealed in a spiritual memoir published by Gail Tredwell (aka “Gayatri”) entitled “Holy Hell, A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness” containing many shocking but truthful revelations.

On learning those facts, I realized that I’d been naively projecting purported perfection and infallibility, upon Ammachi and a few other Eastern teachers, rather than seeing them as limited humans, though perhaps further evolved in spiritual awareness. That realization was an important learning experience, which motivated me to emphasize following my heart for life guidance, and to regard myself as an “Uncertain Undo” seeking relief from belief, rather than as a “Born-again Hindu”.

Moral of the Story

Some of us may be blessed to meet inspiring spiritual teachers, gurus or saintly people on whom we may project and, accordingly, in whom we may perceive perfection.  I have done this with my beloved and venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and with a few other “enlightened” spiritual teachers.  But Guruji humbly taught:

“Follow your heart – even if it contradicts my words.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


And I have realized the wisdom of Albert Einstein’s observation that

“The cult of individual personalities is always . . unjustified.”
~ Albert Einstein


So my devotional path has been:


“Adoration of the Infinite,

not adulation of the incarnate.”


~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Thus, ultimately, I’ve learned from inner and outer experience that “incarnation is limitation”, and that however evolved an incarnate being may be s/he is fallible.  Here on Earth, where we experience eternal life via mortal physical bodies, it seems that human fallibility ‘goes with the territory’ – that “to err is human”.

I’ve realized that we need to rely vigilantly both on our powers of discrimination and on our divine intuitive insights. But, that whenever in doubt, it is wise for us to to honor intuition over intellect, and to find guidance in our heart – not our head.

If a spiritual teacher (or other expert authority or pundit) speaks or behaves in ways that don’t make sense to us, we should listen to our heart, and not the pundit. We should act without fear or concern for opinions of others, who may disagree.

Also I’ve learned that we must still our ego-mind to hear our heart, instead of heeding the ‘voice in our head’. Thereby, accessing our inner wisdom helps us transcend many earthly limitations and so resolve problems created by astral entities or lower levels of human consciousness.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Seeing the World as Nothing But Movies
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“This earth is nothing but movies to me. Just like the beam of a motion picture. So is everything made of shadow and light. That’s what we are. Light and shadows of the Lord. Nothing else than that. There’s one purpose. To get to the beam.” 
~ Paramahansa Yogananda-Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 30
“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
“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.” 
~ Carl Gustav Jung
“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 Prize-winning physicist
“Objective reality does not exist” ….
“the universe is fundamentally a gigantic … hologram”

~ David Bohm, quantum physicist


Swami Paramahansa Yogananda


Introduction.

As an octogenarian, I now often experience this life like a movie, with scenes of continuing harmonious synchronicities enigmatically arising from ever mysterious karmic causes and conditions. But this life-stage has arrived only after many decades of difficulties and experiential evolution, beginning before my mid-life spiritual awakening.

During childhood my entire life seemed very dreamlike, and – like my nocturnal dreams – I’ve forgotten most of it.   

Thereafter, and until midlife, Earth life became my sole “reality”.  Then following a profound midlife spiritual awakening and previously unimagined mystical experiences, I more and more have been blessed to self-identify as non-dual eternal spirit inhabiting a mortal body, in an illusory world.

Thus my life again seems quite dreamlike and synchronistic – often like a masterfully pre-scripted movie, in which I am currently playing a fleeting role as retired lawyer and spiritual writer, who is still learning and evolving.

Retrospective realization of the apparent perfection of my lifetime’s evolutionary history has instilled in me unshakable and irreversible faith in God and Nature, and unspeakable gratitude for its blessings – especially since my miraculous survival and recovery from near death injuries sustained six years ago on being run down by a taxicab.

At age 88 as I contemplate my inevitable (and possibly imminent) physical death, I keep wondering how we can best ‘be in this world but not of this world’ while remembering that we are immortal spirit – not mere embodied mortals – experiencing unique lifetimes, karmically predetermined to help us learn and see our true self-identity. And how we can keep alert for constant potential lessons and blessings in our lives.

I have been blessed with unforgettable fleeting ‘peek’ spiritual experiences demonstrating that earth life is like a ‘light show’ – an illusory play of consciousness. Yet, I’m often deeply moved by the insanity, violence and suffering now rife on our precious planet, and often wonder how we can best address it.

Questions.

As we awaken from the illusion of our apparent separateness from each other and Nature, is it possible for us to live in this impermanent world of inevitable suffering, without responding compassionately and emotionally to the immense miseries and apparent injustices experienced everywhere by countless sentient beings?

How can we most skillfully and compassionately address ubiquitous world misery, injustice and suffering?

Discussion.

Each of us has a unique perspective with unique karmic causes and conditions. So I am unqualified to offer specific spiritual advice to anyone else. But, encouraged by my Guruji to share spiritual learning experiences, I offer the following views, in case they may help others.

I believe that even highly elevated incarnate beings cannot always live emotionally detached from ubiquitous misery and suffering. But that we can all best respond compassionately and intuitively, rather than react reflexively, while peacefully remaining self-identified as incarnate universal spirit, rather than as separate ego-minds.

Recently I learned that – even while experiencing transcendent states of consciousness – Indian Holy Man and Avatar, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, suffered bereavements on deaths of a nephew, older brother, and beloved attendant. Similarly Swami Paramahansa Yogananda experienced deep bereavement on death of his mother, and significant emotional trauma following a betrayal and lawsuit by his former trusted childhood best friend and assistant, Dhirananda.

Yet, Yogananda later explained in Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 30, his view that:

“This earth is nothing but movies to me. Just like the beam of a motion picture. So is everything made of shadow and light. That’s what we are. Light and shadows of the Lord. Nothing else than that. There’s one purpose. To get to the beam.” 

But (except for psychopaths) aren’t we all often autonomically emotionally attuned with others when thinking of them, and even in viewing videos, movies and plays?

In my student days I learned of maniacs like Hitler in Nazi Germany, Mao in Communist China, Stalin in the U.S.S.R., Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and numerous other dictators who were then bestially causing untold murders and misery. Naively, I then believed that my country the USA, and its Western allies, represented only virtues of good and democratic decency, and that after the demise of World War II era psychopaths, the world would be restored to a utopian age of peace and prosperity. But I was wrong.

I slowly realized that the USA was becoming a violent and hierarchical police state, rather than a socially benevolent democracy – especially beginning with the legally unprecedented and undemocratic Supreme Court selection of George W. Bush as 43rd US President (after patently flawed Florida elections).

Bush’s inauguration was soon followed by outrageous false flag terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which purportedly justified a preplanned series of unprovoked and unlawful US invasions of sovereign middle East countries on the fraudulent pretense that they threatened us with further “terrorism” via (non-existent) alleged “weapons of mass destruction”.

So, like Professor Howard Zinn, I began feeling that I was living in an ‘occupied country’; that the so-called “American dream” of Ronald Reagan, et.al. had become a global nightmare of a rapaciously violent hegemonic empire threatening all life on Earth.

Current perspectives.

Never before did I imagine how far purportedly democratic world societies and the US government ‘of by and the for the people’ would degenerate during the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Nor until recently did I realize that neither of the two dominant US political parties provides an alternative to a rapaciously violent worldwide American empire threatening possible nuclear or ecologic or biologic catastrophe.

Optimistically I believe that the Trump era has been a “red pill” portent of end of empire; that it is awakening a critical mass of concerned humans who will no longer tolerate unjustified American exploitation and current global insanity; and that we will at long last democratically and compassionately avert human caused calamity, by ending autocratic governments by and for psychopathic billionaires, and replacing them with democratic governments by and for all people and all life on our precious planet Earth.

Aspirations.

May current global insanity and suffering soon awaken humankind to a new democratic era of compassionate concern for all life everywhere. Yet may it also inspire us to realize, like Swami Yogananda, that this world is “nothing but movies” ; that it is an unreal and illusory matrix mirage – a Samsara 3.0.

Invocation.

Whatever happens in this ever impermanent illusory world of inevitable suffering, may we never forget our eternal oneness with Nature and all earth-life, and may we ever emanate universal peace and happiness, while realizing that this world is “nothing but movies”.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Spiritual Paths

Q. “What is the path?”
A. “Everyday life is the path.”
~ Zen Master Nansen
Q. “Sir, shall I ever leave the spiritual path?”
A. “How could you?
Everyone in the world is on the spiritual path.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire,
men cannot live without a spiritual life.”
~ Gautama Buddha
“The spiritual path –
is simply the journey of living our lives.
Everyone is on a spiritual path;
most people just don’t know it.”

“The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear
and the acceptance of love.”
~ Marianne Williamson
“Truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
“In a conflict between the heart and the brain,
follow your heart.”

“You have to grow from the inside out.
None can teach you, none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
~ Swami Vivekananda





Spiritual Paths

There are as many spiritual paths as people.

Each person is unique,
with unique evolutionary challenges
arising from unique karmic causes.

To find and follow your spiritual path –

Look within.

And find and follow your Heart.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Spiritual Paths”

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Ron’s 2020 Comments and Dedication of “Spiritual Paths”

Dear Friends,

Inspired by key perennial wisdom quotations from mystical masters, and from Dr. Seuss, the foregoing Spiritual Paths posting poetically suggests a simple and universal method for us to resolve current complex worldly problems and dire threats, to help save ourselves and the world.

We are living in unprecedented and exceptionally troubled times. Word-wide a majority of humans are troubled and polarized. Some are violent. Most are suffering from top-down domination by a few international oligopolists and technocrats unconscionably representing super-billionaires and transnational corporations, to benefit far fewer than 1% of Humankind.

Moreover, our world is threatened by possible proverbial “end-times” or Armageddon instigated by psychopathic world ‘leaders’. Life on Earth as we have known it can be ended by catastrophic nuclear, radiological or biological warfare, or by omnicidal climate collapse fomented by a few ‘leaders’. And, even if we survive those dire threats, but allow continuance of rapidly deteriorating social conditions, we may soon devolve into a world-wide Orwellian/dystopian police state.

Alternatively, we can collectively enjoy unprecedented bottom-up elevation of the human condition by democratically replacing existing “leaders” and their self-serving top-down societal institutions and enterprises, which are causing immense misery and dire threats.

So, how do we quell current violence, avert imminent catastrophe or Orwellian devolution, and choose to improve? What can we do, individually or collectively?

These urgent questions raise worldly problems so complex that they seem virtually insoluble.

Yet Dr. Seuss reminds us that

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

And Albert Einstein advises:

“Out of complexity, find simplicity!”
“When the solution is simple, God is answering.”
~ Albert Einstein


Also Einstein observes that we cannot solve our problems from the same level of consciousness which created them; that

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein


Similarly, renowned sage Swami Vivekananda wisely advised that:

“In a conflict between the heart and the brain,
follow your heart.” “You have to grow from the inside out.
None can teach you, none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
~ Swami Vivekananda


Each human is unique, with a unique perspective and unique karmic history, like snowflakes and all other Nature forms. And each of us creates our own reality with our personal thoughts.

But though our mental perspectives are unique, we always share a universal matrix of deep common consciousness. And when we access our common consciousness we can resolve seemingly insoluble individual and societal problems from intuitive levels of awareness above and beyond the mental levels which created them.

Thus this Spiritual Paths poetic posting offers us a universal, but simple, spiritual method for resolving our complex dilemmas: The method of living and growing from inside-out, by always following the wisdom of our heart, and simply living our every-day lives mindfully guided by our inner intuitions, instincts and impulses.

Invocation.

With abiding faith in ourselves, Nature, and Divinity,
may we always follow the wisdom of our Heart
by simply living with love every day,
according to our inner intuitions, instincts and impulses.

May we thereby resolve
our seemingly insoluble personal and planetary problems,
and help bless ourselves and the world
as LOVE.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Follow Your Heart ~
Treasure Hunt Instructions

“The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.”
~ Buddha
“As far, verily, as this world-space extends,
so far extends the space within the heart…”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 8.1.3
“Follow your heart – even if it contradicts my words”
“If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas






Follow your heart ~ Treasure Hunt Instructions

Follow your heart
to find what you wish.

Follow your heart
to seek what you miss.

Follow your heart
and you shall know this:

You are your heart,
you are your bliss,

You are what you seek,
you are what you miss.

So follow –
and find –

Your Heart.



Ron’s audio explanation and recitation of “Follow Your Heart ~ Treasure Hunt Instructions”

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Ron’s Explanation of “Follow Your Heart ~ Treasure Hunt Instructions”

The foregoing brief but profound “Follow Your Heart” poem was first written and mailed to my daughter Jessica for her twenty ninth birthday anniversary, on May 27, 1995.

At that time Jessica had returned from seven years in India and re-enrolled at Amherst College to complete the curriculum from which she had dropped out one semester short of graduation. Since she was much older than other undergraduates she was feeling out of place, uncertain and somewhat depressed.

As fatherly advice, I had previously counseled both Jessica and her brother Joshua to:

‘Follow your heart; don’t harm other beings; and if possible try to help them.’


And Jessica already had courageously followed her heart in dropping out of Amherst to seek wisdom of the East, even after her distinguished Professor of Buddhist studies, Dr. Robert Thurman, had recommended that she stay and graduate before going to India.

But in 1995 I wanted to assuage Jessica’s concerns, cheer her up, and encourage her to keep following her inner guidance. So I intuitively composed and sent her this ‘follow your heart’ poem which I first titled: “Birthday Treasure Hunt Instructions” (Later, in publishing the poem’s timeless advice, I excised the word “birthday”)

I don’t remember my thoughts about the poem when I intuitively wrote and sent it to Jessica. Perhaps, my fatherly advice was supposed to summarize one of my favorite Shakespeare passages, in which Polonius emphasizes to his embarking son Laertes:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any [person].”
~ William Shakespeare ~ Hamlet, Act I, Scene III


And maybe my poetic advice to Jessica, was mindfully intended to encompass the essence of the Golden Rule of reciprocal empathy that:

We do no harm and treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves.


Nor do I recall whether in 1995 I was already aware of the profound scriptural passages which I have cited above. But this poem can be read as consistent with them.

Only recently did I discover Mark Twain’s humorously memorable observation that

“The two most important days in your life
are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.”
~ Mark Twain


Perhaps I was unknowingly sending Jessica a message on the anniversary of the ‘first most important day of her life’ about how to discover and celebrate the ‘second most important day of her life’.

In all events, we can all find perennial wisdom meaning for ourselves and others, in reflecting on “Follow Your Heart ~ Treasure Hunt Instructions”.

Ultimately, by following our sacred heart we will be in harmony with all life everywhere.

So as my beloved Guruji revealed:

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


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

 

To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”

“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
~ Socrates
“Know thyself and thou wilt know the universe.”
~ Pythagoras
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”
“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer, the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?” After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.

The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”

Historical overview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron’s “Who Am I?” Story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined question, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever.

It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Here’s what happened:

After irresistibly wondering “Who am I?” for fifteen months, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. 

Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth, which irreversibly ended my prior paradigms of Self-identity and Reality. But this awakening didn’t result in ‘instant enlightenment’. Instead, my epiphany began a continuing process of increasingly remembering that beyond this space/time world, we all are eternal spirit and universal awareness, not just mortal bodies and their thoughts.

Thereby I’ve enjoyed a previously unimagined new life phase of ever increasing peace of mind, happiness, gratitude, and faith in the mystery of Divinity. And since that awakening, I’ve been blessed by constantly learning from my life’s experiences.

For example, after the rebirth event, I began experiencing numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy phenomena. And I became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed sleep. I was puzzled and wondered what was happening to me. Only then did I synchronistically begin learning answers in teachings of Eastern mysticism, like nondualism.  However, in daily life I continued to consider myself as a secular Hebrew lawyer, and remained unaware and uninspired by any supposed spiritual goal, until meeting my teacher.

Becoming a “born-again Hindu”:

Then at age forty four, after repeatedly seeing inner visions of a bearded elderly man, I synchronistically met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable 100 year old Hindu meditation yogi, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.   Guruji lived until age 116, and since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994 his guiding presence has remained in my heart.

After meeting Guruji, I declared myself to be a “born-again Hindu” and first began learning of the spiritual ‘goal’ sometimes called Self-realization or “enlightenment”. And, that upon Self-realization the spiritual ‘practitioner’ is dissolved into yogic union with the mystery of infinite divinity; rather than becoming a supposedly separate “enlightened” person.

According to Guruji, shaktipat initiation and his prescribed practices awakened and enhanced an evolutionary purification process of kundalini life-force energies which purify the subtle bodies and nervous system by gradually removing accumulated karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas], which cause undesirable habits and patterns. Sometimes these awakening life-force energies manifest through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional actions or behaviors, which Guruji called kriyas.

Since my awakening experience, for over four decades I have continued to spontaneously experience unpremeditated tears, behaviors, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution, and through which I have joyfully attained utmost gratitude for this blessed life.

From “born-again Hindu” to “uncertain Undo” :

For many years, I attended public satsangs and followed Guruji’s prescribed practices to advance the purification process of undoing negative karmic conditioning. Then soon after Guruji’s transition, I mostly stopped relying on outer spiritual authorities and events, and reclusively focused within to intuitively advance the evolutionary kundalini purification process sparked by my shaktipat initiation of undoing negative karmic conditioning.

Whereupon, I declared myself to be an “uncertain Undo”, rather than “born-again Hindu”. And I began writing aphorisms like “Undo Ego” and composing whimsical sutras like:


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


Benefits from undoing ego:

Today, over four decades since asking “Who Am I?”, and realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I’m still not fully ‘undone’. So ego attrition continues. 

But as I’ve continued to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than body/mind, I’ve experientially found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, I’ve found that nondualism self-inquiry to “Know thyself” by asking “Who Am I?” can be supremely rewarding.

So today’s posting is dedicated to encouraging such self-inquiry, with discovery and undoing of our mistaken ego-mind self-identity propensities, thereby ending consequent karmic sufferings.


Invocation:

By persistently questioning “Who Am I?”,
May we constantly undo ego illusions,
And thereby live ever happier lives,
Until ultimately as “An undone ONE!”
We “Know our Self”
as Eternal –

LOVE.

And so it shall be!


Ron Rattner

True Vision

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is,
infinite.”
~ William Blake
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential, is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
~ Michelangelo
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
~ Jonathan Swift
“Nothing’s impossible for the Invisible.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Perception is a mirror, not a fact.
And what I look on is my state of mind,
reflected outward.”
~ A Course In Miracles
“For light I go directly to the Source of light, not to any of the reflections.”

~ Peace Pilgrim
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

~ Carl Jung




True Vision

True vision is insight,
Not eyesight.

Eyesight is mind–sight.
Insight is soul-sight.

Eyesight is from mental movement.
Insight is from mental stillness.

Eyesight is then;
Insight is NOW.

Eyesight sees separation;
Insight reveals unity of Reality.

Enlightened vision is –
Eyesight with Insight.



Ron’s audio recitation of True Vision

Listen to


Ron’s 2020 “True Vision” Epilogue –
Explanation, Dedication and Invocation


Dear Friends,

Ron’s Vision History.

Soon after my 1932 birth, I learned that “20/20” referred to visual acuity; that if you could discern certain eye chart symbols at a distance of twenty feet your visual acuity was deemed “normal”. Never then, nor until very recently, did I ever imagine living until now as an 87 year old octogenarian, when “20/20” also means the first year of the third decade of the 21st century, during an extraordinarily turbulent era of human history.

At age three, an ophthalmologist, testing a misaligned eye, diagnosed me with astigmatism and farsightedness and prescribed thick eyeglasses – which I’ve always needed, but never liked. Gradually, I grudgingly accepted ever stronger lens prescriptions for correction to “20/20” acuity.

But forty five years ago, on New Year’s Eve, 1974-5, at a San Francisco ‘pot luck’ 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 experienced 20/20 vision without eyeglasses, and without even using my eyes – or maybe my brain. [See https://sillysutras.com/vision-quest-from-eyesight-to-insight-rons-memoirs/ ]

The New Year’s OOB experience soon led to a pivotal rebirth experience 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 radically changed my beliefs about “reality”, “self-identity” and “vision”. [See https://sillysutras.com/vision-quest-from-eyesight-to-insight-rons-memoirs/ ]

Thereafter, during a ten year post-retirement reclusive period, I continued to philosophically reflect, pray and sometimes write about my newly awakened world-views.

Today’s post and “20/20”epilogue.

Today I’ve published the above brief poem (composed then) titled: “True Vision”, and the foregoing deeply insightful quotations which encapsulate my transformative discovery of “Vision” as “insight, not eyesight”; insight revealing fundamental unity of “Reality” beyond illusory human perception of our supposed separation.

My recent “Happy New Year” message proposed that we join as a global family to envision, imagine and see our precious planet as we wish and intend it to be, rather than accept this extraordinarily turbulent era of human history merely as supposedly separate powerless perceivers of our “reality”. 

Consistent with that recommendation, I’m today supplementing the True Vision poem and quotes with this “20/20” epilogue, explaining and dedicating the poem’s insights for resolving our common crises for our common good.

Invocation.

In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12), 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. Now, we view our “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 and shall evolve and transform our mental mirror from opacity to translucency to transparency.  And thereby, with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight, we shall ‘see’ more and more – we shall see what we couldn’t see before.

Thus, with ultimate insight, may we collectively realize that “Reality” is much more ‘than meets the eye’; that beyond this phenomenal world of ever passing supposedly separated appearances is one changeless Reality – 
One unseen Source and Essence of all appearances, all phenomena, and all ideas:
 Infinite Potentiality – our Eternal SELF.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

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

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

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

~ Swami Vivekananda






My Life of “Prayer”

Introduction.

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

My history with “prayer”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is “prayer”?

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

How shall we pray?

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

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

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

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

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

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

~ Socrates


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

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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Becoming “prayer”.

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

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


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

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

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

Conclusion.

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Eckhart Tolle ~ Spiritual Awakening Story and Teachings

“In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching,
although it comes in many forms.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth …
The words are no more than signposts.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks

Eckhart Tolle.



Ron’s Introduction.

Eckhart Tolle is an influential contemporary spiritual writer and teacher, whose teachings have reached millions worldwide. On the brink of suicide, at age 29 Tolle had a miraculous spiritual awakening which ended his lifelong psychological sufferings and suicidal thoughts, rather than his precious human life. Thereafter he synchronistically became renowned as a spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and other noteworthy books.

I first discovered Tolle only after I had transitioned from a “born again Hindu” life phase to becoming an “uncertain Undo” – relying on inner rather than outer authority. (see e.g. “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”)

By then, I understood and appreciated the authenticity of Tolle’s spiritual awakening story, and the cogency of his teachings, which are now often quoted on SillySutras.com.

Tolle’s transformative epiphany was triggered by the profoundly simple insight that he wasn’t his constant negative thoughts, but the timeless awareness/witness and matrix of those thoughts. 

Especially in this age of mental malaise when countless millions of people suffer from deep despondency and depression, and suicides are rife, Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring near-suicide spiritual awakening story can help those of us feeling despondent or psychologically challenged find inner peace by self-identifying as eternal universal awareness, rather than ego-mind’s “voice in the head”.

So Eckhart Tolle’s history and authentic awakening story are posted below to help inspire our crucially important Self discovery that we are eternal awareness; not mere mortal entities suffering from mistaken ego-mind self identification. And I enthusiastically encourage deep reflection upon it.

Tolle’s History of Anxiety, Fear and Depression Before His Spiritual Awakening.

Tölle was born on February 16, 1948 in Lünen, a small German town near Dortmund in the Ruhr Valley. He grew up in a dysfunctional household, where his incompatible Catholic parents were constantly bickering. Tölle’s early childhood was fraught with anxiety and fear, and he felt alienated from a perceived hostile school environment. Sometimes instead of going to school he would bicycle to the woods and sit amidst nature, which he loved.

Eventually his parents separated, and his father left Germany to live in Spain. Later, at the age of thirteen, Tölle moved to Spain to live with his father. In Spain, Tölle refused to go to school any longer. Though not rebellious he could no longer tolerate a hostile school environment. Tolle’s unconventional ‘open minded’ father did not insist that his son attend high school, and permitted him to elect home studies of literature, astronomy and various languages.

At the age fifteen, Tolle synchronistically received and read several books written by a German mystic known as Bô Yin Râ, which “very deeply” affected him. With an aptitude for languages, he quickly learned Spanish, English, and some French. Still, he spent much solitary time, free of the external pressures of the environment or the culture.

At age nineteen, about ten years before his “inner awakening”, Tölle moved to England, where he lived for about thirty years until emigrating to Canada in the mid-1990’s. During his first three years in England, he had no formal education, and supported himself by teaching German and Spanish at a London school for language studies.

Then, troubled by “depression, anxiety and fear”, he began “searching for answers” which he believed he could find only through intellect rather than intuition.

In his early twenties, Tolle decided to pursue his search by studying philosophy, psychology, and literature. After taking preparatory evening classes, he was ‘fast-tracked’ and permitted to enroll in the University of London. Upon graduating, he was offered and accepted a scholarship to do postgraduate research. Soon thereafter, at age twenty nine, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening and dropped out of academic studies.




Tolle’s Spiritual Awakening Story.
(Excerpted from The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment )

Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.

One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.

“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. `Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the `I’ and the `self’ that `I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.

I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I Opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.

That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.

For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.

I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me. I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind. This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that I had originally perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison. A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.

But even the most beautiful experiences come and go. More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then. Sometimes it is very strong, almost palpable, and others can feel it too. At other times, it is somewhere in the background, like a distant melody.

Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?” And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.”


Ron’s Comments.

Tolle’s profound awakening experience credibly demonstrates how our greatest fears and sufferings can hide our highest potentials, yet provide immense evolutionary opportunities – revealing that beyond our minds we can find intuitive fulfillment of our deepest aspirations for love, peace and joy, and realization of previously unimagined human potentials.

Tolle’s teachings focus on transforming self identity “from being the content of [the] mind to being the awareness in the background”. While Tolle says he experienced a permanent awakening to Self-identity as awareness, such one-time epiphanies are extremely rare. However, numerous people’s mystical awakening experiences – like mine – can trigger a gradual transformative process of evolutionary purification and ego attrition, with ever increasing benefits.

At age forty two – like Tolle – I experienced previously unimagined and transformative Self identity as universal Awareness, followed by unprecedented experiences of peace and ecstasy. But my mistaken ego-mind identity was not thereby permanently dissolved, and it kept recurring. Therefore, instead of experiencing permanent peace of mind, I have been enjoying gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. So today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming.

At the time of Tolle’s awakening experience he was largely unfamiliar with spiritual texts and spiritual teachers. But after exploring such literature for several years, he concluded “that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.” And that: “In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”

Intuitively I regard Tolle as authentic and well-intentioned. So I endorse his teachings as valuable and have posted them on SillySutras.com. to help others.

For example, I have especially appreciated Tolle’s humble and intriguing above introduction to his excellent second book, Stillness Speaks:

“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth … The words are no more than signposts.”


Moral of the Story and Invocation.

“Your task is not to seek for love,

but merely to seek and find
 all the barriers within yourself

that you have built against it.”

~ Rumi


May the foregoing stories and teachings help inspire and point the way for discovery of our true spiritual Self-identity.

May everyone, everywhere be peaceful and happy!

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Voice In My Head?

“If you could get rid of yourself just once,
the secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
Forget who you think you are
to Know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence.
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth




Voice In My Head?

There’s a voice in my head.
It keeps talking to itself and to me,

Telling me my thoughts,
and telling me what to do,
and sometimes judging me.

What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

And someone’s always listening to that voice in my head.
What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

And someone’s always thinking for me.
What is it? Who is it?  Is it me?

If I am that silent voice in my head constantly talking
to itself and to me, am I crazy?

If I was always talking to myself out loud
(without a cell phone at my ear),
I’d be committed to a psychiatric ward.

Sometimes I don’t think at all, and then there’s no voice in my head.
But, I’m still  aware and exist and can listen to other things.

So how can I be my thoughts or the voice in my head,
if I’m still here when they’re not there?

So can someone other than that voice in my head please tell me:
Who’s talking? Who’s thinking?  Who’s listening?

Who am I?



Ron’s recitation of “Voice In My Head”

Listen to


Ron’s Explanation and Comments on “Voice in My Head”.

The foregoing poem was inspired and composed while I was processing unprecedented experiences and observations after my midlife spiritual awakening.

At age forty two I suddenly realized that I was not merely my physical body, its name and story, or its thoughts – the “voice in my head” – but that my true self identity is universal Awareness. That self identity experience was followed by previously unimagined, transformative and unprecedented experiences of peace, inner light, subtle energies and ecstasy.

Prior to that transformative experience, I was largely ignorant of Eastern or other spiritual teachings. But, spurred by great curiosity about what had happened to me, I gradually discovered that many spiritual teachings identified “ego” – our mistaken mental self image about who and what we truly are – as the principal barrier to spiritual “enlightenment”. And – especially from contemporary mindfulness teachings – I learned that identifying with the “voice in the head” was a major symptom of ego’s mistaken self image.

Though at midlife I temporarily transcended ego identity, it’s kept recurring while steadily diminishing since then. So I have been experiencing gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. Today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming and rarely identifying with the “voice in my head”.

Eckhart Tolle.

Of all contemporary spiritual teachings I’ve read about “ego” and “voice in the head”, I especially endorse those of Eckhart Tolle in which he cogently explains how “thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence”. [see e.g. https://sillysutras.com/what-is-ego/ ]

The foregoing poem about “Voice in My Head” was based on my mystical experiences before I discovered Tolle’s teachings. But Tolle’s teachings about “ego” and “voice in the head” are especially powerful and helpful because they are based upon his extraordinarily powerful permanent spiritual awakening experience. (see https://sillysutras.com/eckhart-tolle-spiritual-awakening-story-and-teachings/)

Because often we can best assimilate and actuate spiritual principles through parables and stories, Eckhart Tolle’s awakening stories can help us comprehend the crucial transformative importance of self identification with eternal Awareness rather than with ego’s “voice in our head”.

In Tolle’s noteworthy book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Chapter Two, he observes that “Some people never forget the first time they disidentified from their thoughts and thus briefly experienced the shift in identity from being the content of their mind to being the awareness in the background.”

Whereupon he narrates his own such experience which happened several years before his dramatic permanent awakening experience. It is hereafter excerpted, with my sincere recommendation that if interested you read and reflect on Tolle’s teachings.

THE VOICE IN THE HEAD – excerpted from A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

That first glimpse of awareness came to me when I was a first year
student at the University of London. I would take the tube (subway) twice a
week to go to the university library, usually around nine o’clock in the
morning, toward the end of the rush hour. One time a woman in her early
thirties sat opposite me. I had seen her before a few times on that train. One
could not help but notice her. Although the train was full, the seats on either
side of her were unoccupied, the reason being, no doubt, that she appeared to
be quite insane. She looked extremely tense and talked to herself incessantly
in a loud and angry voice. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she was
totally unaware, it seemed, of other people or her surroundings. Her head
was facing downward and slightly to the left, as if she were addressing
someone sitting in the empty seat next to her. Although I don’t remember the
precise content, her monologue went something like this: “And then she said
to me… so I said to her you are a liar how dare you accuse me of… when
you are the one who has always taken advantage of me I trusted you and you
betrayed my trust…”
There was the angry tone in her voice of someone who
has been wronged, who needs to defend her position lest she become
annihilated.

As the train approached Tottenham Court Road Station, she stood up
and walked toward the door with still no break in the stream of words
coming out of her mouth. That was my stop too, so I got off behind her. At
street level, she began to walk toward Bedford Square, still engaged in her
imaginary dialogue, still angrily accusing and asserting her position. My
curiosity aroused, I decided to follow her as long as she was walking in the
same general direction I had to go in. Although engrossed in her imaginary
dialogue, she seemed to know where she was going. Soon we were within
sight of the imposing structure of Senate House, a 1930’s highrise, the
university’s central administrative building and library. I was shocked. Was it
possible that we were going to the same place? Yes, that’s’ where she was
heading. Was she a teacher, student, an office worker, a librarian? Maybe she
was some psychologist’s research project. I never knew the answer. I walked
twenty steps behind her, and by the time I entered the building (which
ironically was the location of the headquarters of the “Mind Police” in the
film version of George Orwell’s novel, 1984), she had already been
swallowed up by one of the elevators.

I was somewhat taken aback by what I had just witnessed. A mature
first year student at twenty five, I saw myself as an intellectual in the
making, and I was convinced that all the answers to the dilemmas of human
existence could be found through the intellect, that is to say, by thinking. I
didn’t realize yet that thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of
human existence. I looked upon the professors as sages who had all the
answers and upon the university as the temple of knowledge. How could an
insane person like her be part of this?

I was still thinking about her when I was in the men’s room prior to
entering the library. As I was washing my hands, I thought: I hope I don’t
end up like her. The man next to me looked briefly in my direction, and I
suddenly was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t just thought those words,
but mumbled them aloud. “Oh my God, I’m already like her,” I thought.
Wasn’t my mind as incessantly active as hers? There were only minor
differences between us. The predominant underlying emotion behind her
thinking seemed to be anger. In my case, it was mostly anxiety. She thought
out loud. I thought – mostly – in my head. If she was mad, then everyone
was mad, including myself. There were differences in degree only.

The above incident not only gave me a first glimpse of awareness, it
also planted the first doubt as to the absolute validity of the human intellect.

A few months later, something tragic happened that made my doubt grow. On
a Monday morning, we arrived for a lecture to be given by a professor whose
mind I admired greatly, only to be told that sadly he had committed suicide
sometime during the weekend by shooting himself. I was stunned. He was a
highly respected teacher and seemed to have all the answers. However, I
could as yet see no alternative to the cultivation of thought. I didn’t realize
yet that thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are, nor
did I know anything about the ego, let alone being able to detect it within
myself.



Invocation.

May our deep reflections on perennial “voice in the head” questions raised by the foregoing quotations, poem and Eckhart Tolle story encourage our insightful observations and answers, helping us live ever happier and more peaceful lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner