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Life and Death

Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

“Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.
I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends
and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that.
That’s what’s insane about it.”
~ John Lennon 6/6/68
“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

~ Dalai Lama (From “Humanity and Ecology”)
“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
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
~ Luke 23: 34
“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha


Dalai Lama


Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

Introduction

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why there is so much suffering in our world; why we are facing extraordinary ecological, financial, international and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet?

Is is possible that these crises have been precipitated by sociopathic world “leaders” – obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious oligarchs – who without apparent remorse amorally acquire and misuse power, and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs; people so insane that they are unjustly and brutally harming countless people and creatures, and myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth, destroying the life support systems which sustain us?

As more and more studies emerge demonstrating the corrosive effect of psychopathy on governments and corporations, researchers have begun to explore how our society seems to have been afflictively molded in the psychopaths’ image.

One of these psychopathy researchers, Canadian author Stefan Verstappen, believes that we live in societies shaped and ruled by psychopaths – people in positions of great corporate and political power who without conscience, empathy or remorse, act to promote their delusionally perceived self interests, amorally and often violently.

Verstappen says that psychopaths often attain positions of power because, unlike the vast majority of people, they don’t play by the rules and have no qualms about cheating, lying or doing anything to anyone that gets them what they want.

Here are two recommended You Tube videos of Verstappen explaining his theories about psychopaths.


(15 minutes)


(38 minutes)

Ron’s comments:

From a limited earthly perspective, it appears that psychopaths do indeed rule the world (as Verstappen contends). As an octogenarian I have long wondered about psychopaths in power, especially because the twentieth century was blighted by over 300 million democides – government instigated or perpetrated killings of mostly non-combatant civilians – far more than in any previous century.

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 others 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 an age of peace and prosperity. But I was wrong.

Officially instigated and perpetrated amoral wars and killings – many directly or indirectly attributable to the US empire and its allies – have continued. Complicit with official governmental sanctions and support, international corporate oligarchs are insanely developing and selling weapons of mass destruction more than capable of destroying all life on earth, and insidiously and unsustainably pillaging and poisoning our precious planet’s ecology. Such insanity is impoverishing the vast majority of humankind, and pervasively harming human health, with countless chemically, genetically and radiologically polluting products – even including foods, drinks and pharmaceuticals.

After the traumatically shocking 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the soon ensuing deranged Viet Nam war devastation, I became aware of the prescience of President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 valedictory caution against dominance of the “military-industrial complex” with “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power”.

Despite Eisenhower’s warning, it seems now apparent that ruling power has indeed been misappropriated by the military-industrial complex which, in complicity with billionaire financial, political and corporate sociopaths, is ruling and ruining the world.

As Hitler in Nazi Germany molded an insane society to support his pathological pretensions and plans, since 9/11/2001 sociopathic Western leaders have contrived and fomented alleged “terrorist” enemies as a fraudulent pretense to create an insane society which has fearfully condoned or acquiesced in outrageously immoral wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and deranged plans for attacking Iran and other Moslem countries, with radically expanded US military budgets and executive powers, and obscenely enriched entrenched vested interests, all accompanied by serious curtailments of US constitutional protections and civil liberties.

But how can humanity solve this planetary life and death problem of societal insanity and irrational fear fomented by psychopathic authorities? For many years I have been inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, one of the world’s wisest incarnate sages, for guidance on how we can evolve beyond the critical problems stemming from governance by sociopaths and psychopaths.

Addressing our ecological crisis His Holiness has said:


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


Rather than vainly appealing for heartfelt compassion from psychopaths lacking empathy, I optimistically propose that we can solve and transcend current crises by intuitively following our hearts to achieve a spiritual tipping point – a ‘critical mass that will solve our critical mess’. Moreover, we can study and emulate pre-industrial societies that have instinctively lived for millennia in sustainable harmony with Nature.

At present, most psychologists and psychiatrists are devoting research efforts and treatments to individual mental pathologies. Perhaps we need first to address societal pathologies attributable to stress caused by psychopathic and sociopathic authorities complicit with the military-industrial complex. How can people avoid individual psychological problems while they are insanely and unnecessarily subjected to constant societal stresses concerning their health, life necessities and human rights?

Recently inaugurated at the Dalai Lama’s suggestion is a “Center For Investigating Healthy Minds”, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, my undergraduate alma mater. Similarly, wouldn’t it be helpful to establish scientific centers for the study of sane societies?

Weren’t there indigenous societies whose peoples lived sane and happy lives by prioritizing sustainable harmony with Nature over it’s unsustainable exploitation, cooperation over competition, respect for prophets over lust for profits, democracy over authoritarianism? Isn’t it crucial that we learn from their experience?

Conclusion

President Eisenhower in 1961 deemed essential “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to prevent “the disastrous rise of misplaced power”. These comments are respectfully offered in furtherance of that goal. May they help inspire “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness” which will promote our heartfelt, sane and nonviolent transcendence of current planetary insanity.



Epilogue, Veterans Day 2019:

Dear Friends,

Happy US Veterans Day!

November 11, first became a US federal holiday as “Armistice Day”, the anniversary of the end of the first World War – “the war to end all wars”.
But, with no “end to all wars” yet in sight, the US federal holiday morphed from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day” .

Since Donald J.Trump’s ‘red pill’ campaign and 2016 election as 45th US President the world has experienced exceptionally tumultuous times. Many US and world citizens are experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions, rather than “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness”.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives, we share overriding common needs and aspirations. As humankind we share the same common Cosmic consciousness, the same web of life, the same precious Earth biosphere, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just democratic societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet. Yet until now virtually all of us in varying degrees have been suffering from an illusory sense of separation from each other, from Nature, and from our ONE common spiritual essence.

Although armed conflict is behaviorally as old as humankind, for the first time in our recorded history we are now forced to realize that more wars can trigger a nuclear or ecological catastrophe insanely ending earth-life as we’ve known it.

But paradoxically we have gained unprecedented technical capacity to end all human starvation and poverty. And in these ‘red pill’ critical times of immense suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are awakening to our infinitely unlimited human potentiality.

So as we honor and remember all those who have been conscripted or enlisted into military services fighting endless wars, let us urgently and lovingly envisage and intend imminent inception – at long last – of an era with no more war on our precious planet. 

Together let us join in imagining our precious planet cooperatively ruled bottom-up by humble and compassionate societies, rather than top-down by oligarchic or plutocratic billionaire sociopaths or psychopaths.

And as we envision lasting peace, let us be guided by the Dalai Lama’s wisdom that 

“The essence of all spiritual life is your attitude towards others. Once you have pure and sincere motives all the rest follows.”
~ Dalai Lama – Little Book of Buddhism


And so may it be!


Ron Rattner

Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

”Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2




Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

Life is perpetual;
Happiness is optional.

God gives Life eternal.
Humankind makes it sublime or infernal.

Timeless delight,
or endless night:

However we choose it,
we never can lose it.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Listen to



Ron’s commentary on “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why the world seems so crazy? Why billions of people worldwide suffer unnecessarily from wars, poverty, illness, lack of basic life-sustaining necessities? Why even in the richest nation on Earth, suffering is ubiquitous? Why even materially rich people are often depressed, addicted or mentally ill?

Long before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I attributed societal suffering to societal insanity. But only afterwards, did I begin deeply reflecting on root causes of such societal insanity and unhappiness. With continuing curiosity, I began asking many new questions about our true identity and reality. That process of constant questioning has proved immeasurably helpful.

Thereby, I’ve often been blessed with simple spiritual answers to seemingly complicated questions about crazy behaviors in a crazy world; answers which have brought me ever-increasing happiness. Like Dr. Seuss, I’ve discovered that: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”; that seemingly complicated questions about living a happy life often can be resolved with simple answers from elevated levels of inner awareness.

I have found that societal suffering arises from ignorance of our true nature and spiritual Self-identity; that we inevitably suffer karmically while seeking happiness through satisfaction of ephemeral worldly desires, because lasting happiness can only be found within; and, that our experience of happiness depends upon our self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as only impermanent mortal bodies and their stories.

So inspired by my beloved Guruji, I’ve shared many SillyStutras writings about happiness, to help us discover within that eternal happiness is our true nature.

The foregoing pithy poem “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional” and preceding quotations emphasize the crucial truth that Life is eternal, though suffering is optional. I hope you’ll reflect upon them.

May these writings help inspire us to experience ever more inner happiness in a seemingly insane world.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Season’s Blessings


“To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

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

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness, a kind of prison for us. . .Our task must be to free ourselves from this [mental] prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein (edited excisions)

“The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”
~ Albert Einstein






Season’s Blessings

Dear Friends,

Season’s greetings! Happy Earth-life Equinox season!

Following the September 22nd solar equinox we’ll soon be collectively sharing a new solar season. Yet as unique beings with unique conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we are each also experiencing different evolutionary life cycle seasons and challenges. (See video embedded below.)


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun (or heaven).”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1


Though we are all ending and beginning new space/time solar/lunar and karmic seasons, we are also reminded by Ecclesiastes that paradoxically and Cosmically “there is nothing new under the sun”. (See Ecclesiastes 1:9 – sometimes attributed to King Solomon)

In this ever changing duality reality we experience time and seasons (with apparent “free will”) while learning from Nature that our true Source and self identity is Reality beyond space and time and our “will”, where all that is, was, or will be is NOW – an ultimate Infinite Reality where nothing is new or old or separate.

But as students on the ‘Earth branch of the Great Cosmic University’, while we orbit, rotate, and revolve with Gaia, the Earth Mother that birthed us all, we must harmoniously honor Nature’s blessings and limitations. As stewards of all Life forms on this precious planet we must protect and nurture them – not insanely and unsustainably pillage, plunder and destroy them.

We must


“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


So as we begin new solar, lunar, and karmic seasons, let us resolve to solve potentially catastrophic planetary disharmonies. As earthly spiritual siblings may we help solve critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life forms on our precious planet, through awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone are insanely causing these crises.

Individually and collectively, let us become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve with compassionate solidarity the immense ecological challenges facing us, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of earth life as we have known it – when the doomsday clock of the bulletin of atomic scientists has been advanced to two minutes to midnight.

With conscious concern about patently imminent dangers of nuclear or ecologic omnicide, let us politically, socially and spiritually act before it is too late.

But before acting let us first mindfully calm our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind. Rather than vindictively seeking retribution for perceived wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, may we first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable mental habits and disharmonious behaviors.

Thereby with quiet minds and open hearts may we non-violently and non-judgmentally resist injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

Thus may we help bless and transform our lives and our space/time world, until we ultimately transcend it.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” Ecclesiastes 3 – Video + Text.



Memorial Day, 2019, Re-dedication Proclamation

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good,
both for oneself and others.” 
~ Dalai Lama
“Our task must be to free ourselves…
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein





Memorial Day, 2019, Re-dedication Proclamation


Since its inception following the American Civil War, Memorial Day has commemorated the passing of men and women who died while participating in US wars against and amongst other people. But today as we enjoy passing pleasures of a long holiday weekend, many Americans have forgotten the sacred spirit with which Memorial Day was inaugurated – an antiwar spirit recognizing and honoring the sanctity of Life.

Now as humanity’s insane armed internecine conflicts continue, and as people continue dying and suffering needlessly for questionable causes instigated by sociopathic or psychopathic “leaders”, isn’t it time for us to rededicate Memorial Day to the sacred spirit with which it originated?

Today we are experiencing world-wide environmental crises threatening not just human life but all other life-forms on our precious planet, and against Mother Nature which birthed us all.

Unrestrained corporate capitalism coercively and insidiously exploits and injures vulnerable people and myopically plunders, depletes and corrupts finite planetary resources which sustain life. Billions of people suffer needless death, displacement, poverty, starvation, injury and avoidable disease, while obscenely privileged plutocrats greedily acquire power and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs.

Until now, much of humanity has suffered illusionary psychological separation from Nature, allowing unsustainable ecological desecration of our precious planet and barbaric exploitation of vulnerable people and other life-forms. But more and more people are awakening to our sacred connection with all life on our precious planet.

So isn’t it now urgently imperative for us to elevate our societal awareness and to realize at long last that Nature is our nature; that Nature knows best and will have its Way; that we are not dependent upon exploitation of our planet or others but interdependent with all life thereon; that we can no longer unsustainably exploit Nature and others without dire consequences?

In solemnly observing Memorial Day 2019, let us resolutely re-dedicate Humankind to our renewed and ever elevated awareness of the sanctity of all Life – not just human life.

And with such elevated awareness let us end insane internecine conflicts and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet and of susceptible sentient beings, and let us peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other life on our precious planet Earth.

And so it shall be!


Peter, Paul and Mary performing Bob Dylan’s classic peace song,
“Blowin’ in the Wind”


Ron’s Commentary on the Sacred Spirit of Memorial Day, 2019

At its inception the US Memorial Day holiday honored those who died and was dedicated to the aspiration that the country would never again experience such devastating death and destruction, as eloquently uttered in Lincoln’s Gettysburg address quoted above.

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

Moreover, especially since the 2016 “red pill” election of Donald J. Trump as US President, it has become painfully evident to many Americans that their government is no longer a democracy – that US government of the people, by the people, for the people has insidiously been co-opted by a few international oligopolists who have instigated a government of, by and for multinational corporations and billionaires serving far fewer than 1% of Humankind.

Trump’s election and his appointments, actions and policies apparently have triggered unprecedented worldwide social unrest and adversity, with many people believing that we are experiencing a serious regression of social progress, and even justifiably fearing a World War III nuclear holocaust or end of planetary ecology supporting life on Earth as we have known it.

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

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

Whether or not we are citizens of the American empire, as a worldwide human family, may we all compassionately commemorate Memorial Day 2019 by rededicating ourselves to the sanctity of universal peace and to the welfare of the World and all life thereon.

May we peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other Life on our precious planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Please Call Me by My True Names
~ Thich Nhat Hahn

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
~ Thich Nhat Hahn
“When another person makes you suffer,
it is because he suffers deeply within himself,
and his suffering is spilling over.
He does not need punishment; he needs help.
That’s the message he is sending.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. “No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”

~ Buddha
“And Jesus said,
‘Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.’”

~ Luke 23:34


Thich Nhat Hanh



Thich Nhat Hahn’s Introduction and Explanation.

I have a poem for you. This poem is about three of us.

The first is a twelve-year-old girl, one of the boat
people crossing the Gulf of Siam. She was raped by a
sea pirate, and after that she threw herself into the
sea.

The second person is the sea pirate, who was born
in a remote village in Thailand.

And the third person is me.

I was very angry, of course. But I could not take sides against the sea pirate. If I could have, it would have been easier, but I couldn’t. I realized that if I had been born in his village and had lived a similar life – economic, educational, and so on – it is likely that I would now be that sea pirate.

So it is not easy to take sides.

Out of suffering, I wrote this poem.
It is called “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have many names, and when you call me by any of them, I have to say,
“Yes.”

Please Call Me by My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.

And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.

And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.

And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.

And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.

My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn


Source.

http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/44/1/Thich-Nhat-Hahn-Poetry-Collection/Page1.html

Song Inspired by Passage From Please Call Me by My True Names.



Death? Afterlife? Rebirth?
~ Easter Reflections on Resurrections.

At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life.  United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

As countless millions reverently commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story.  Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.

For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.

Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.

For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.

Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.

Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”


Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.

What survives physical death?

If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:

“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2


Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”


A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar .   There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife.  [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43

Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .

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

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha


Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?

Vivekananda and Einstein.

The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”


“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?
 
“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”


“Your 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


Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: 

“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”


Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:

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



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



“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”

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

“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”




“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this precious human life on our precious planet Earth – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.


“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”


AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.

Dear Friends,

As an octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth.  And I’ve thereby been blessed to realize that what we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.

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

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

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

Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays, quotes and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;https://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; https://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )

Ultimately I’ve concluded that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )
Consequently, I’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.

Moreover, I’ve become persuaded that from a rare non-dualistic timeless ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate incarnations, emanations or appearances can be seen concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that until we become Buddhas we are karmically challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are not mortal separate entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality.

To encourage our deep insights on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, like “Who am I?” and “What is death?”, I have shared the foregoing writings.

On Easter and every day, may they help us discover within ever expanding fulfillment and happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?

Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ..
“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” 
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell
“Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
~ Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act III, scene II
“When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power





Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?
~ Ron’s Questions and Reflections.


On April Fools’ day 2019, I am deeply concerned that our precious planet Earth is being insanely ruled and ruined by fools and foolishness. So this day is for me a time for serious reflection on current crises and perennial problems, rather than merely a day for tolerably frivolous thoughts or behaviors.

Recently I have written that we are facing extraordinary ecological, financial, international and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet because the world is being ruled and ruined by psychopaths.

In my opinion, current crises have been precipitated by world “leaders” – obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious oligarchs – who without remorse amorally and ignorantly acquire, abuse and misuse power, and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs; people so crazy, ignorant and insensitive that they are unjustly and brutally harming countless humans and creatures, and myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth, psychopathically committing ecocide/omnicide/suicide by corrupting and destroying the life support systems which sustain us.

Bucky Fuller and “Spaceship Earth”

Buckminster Fuller



In the mid-1960’s visionary American architect, inventor, and author R. Buckminster Fuller [Bucky] popularized the term “Spaceship Earth” to explain how our precious planet is a single system with its apparent separations inextricably interrelated and interconnected.

Bucky foresaw that to ensure our long-term viability and to avert global catastrophe humanity must wisely and cooperatively inhabit and operate our amazing ‘Spaceship’ – like skilled astronauts.

He said:


“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”


So now I am also wondering whether “Spaceship Earth” has become a “ship of fools” not only because of those insanely commanding and ‘steering’ it but also because we its crew foolishly tolerate such insanity without immediately mutinying and claiming command.

Recent turbulent times

Since the 2016 US presidential campaign and election of Donald J. Trump, many people worldwide are experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions.

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

However, until now virtually all of us in varying degrees have been suffering from an illusory sense of separation from each other and from our ONE common spiritual essence. According to many mystics and non-material scientists we suffer from perception deception, mistakenly believing as ‘reality’ all we perceive as separate. But, as Albert Einstein reminds us:

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


Similarly, Alan Watts suggests we’ve become ‘spellbound’:

“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is — rather literally — to be spellbound”.
~ Alan Watts


Perhaps each of us has known subliminally that we are participating in a great cosmic hoax about our supposed separate reality and identity.   And perhaps April Fools’ day has been an unknowing spontaneous expression of that subliminal awareness, until now.

Suggested solutions

However current turbulent times require our compassionate courage and wisdom to consciously realize, and nonviolently assert, Humanity’s urgent need to take charge of navigating “Spaceship Earth”.

“We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

And for conscious realization of our true common identity, we need to heed our heart’s wisdom of loving/kindness and compassion, which cannot be imparted to us by others.


“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man
attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone
else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”
~ Euripides

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell

“Love is wise; hatred is foolish.

“In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like.

“We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”
~ Bertrand Russell


Conclusion

In this critical age of immense jeopardy and suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are collectively awakening from a long-inculcated illusion of separation from each other and Nature. 

As common ‘crew’ of “Spaceship Earth”, we must awaken to immediately take charge of guiding our precious planet, assuring that it is cooperatively and democratically guided bottom-up by and for compassionate societies, rather than ruled and ruined top-down by and for a few psychopathic billionaires.

May we so “live together as [sisters and] brothers” rather than “perish together as fools.”

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Living on ‘borrowed time’?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“We mark birthdays annually,
but celebrate Life constantly.
For birth and death are virtual,
while Life is perpetual –
a perpetual  blessing.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Hariharanda Giri (5/27/1907-12/03/2002).



Introduction.

Growing up I rarely thought about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.

Not until a transformative midlife awakening to self-identity as eternal spirit, followed by inner visions of apparent other lifetimes, and meeting my Guruji, who taught about death, dying and beyond, did I begin experiencing deep reflection about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.

And eventually I even began wondering whether our lifespans might be karmically predetermined upon birth. That reflection was triggered over thirty years ago when I received a memorable Vedic astrology prediction that I would die “at age 84”, based upon my precise time and place of birth.

Here is what happened.

Story of death prediction.

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

Especially after my 1982 pilgrimage to India, for many years I considered myself a “born-again Hindu” and was especially attracted to Indian spiritual teachers. Thus in August 1986 I attended programs given by Sri Hariharinanda Giri, a self-realized Kriya Yoga initiate of renowned Master and Vedic astrologer Sri Yukteswar Giri and of Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who continued a spiritual lineage beginning with “Mahavatar Babaji” – an etherial being who apparently I beheld at the 1982 Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India.

Inspired by Sri Yukteswar, Hariharinanda Giri [affectionately known as ‘Baba’] had become an expert Vedic astrologer, and offered optional readings to those receiving his Kriya empowerments. So on August 10, 1986, I had a private astrological reading with Baba in which he interpreted my Vedic chart – which I called a ‘karmic map’.

In Vedic astrology or Jyotish, the ascendant sign is often deemed the most defining element in the chart. Both my Vedic and Western astrology charts show Libra – which is ruled by the planet Venus – as my ascendent or rising zodiac sign.

And so in his reading Baba emphasized this significant aspect of my chart. But in his Indian English he unwittingly mispronounced the name of my ruling ascendant planet, Venus. In a tape recorded session, two or three times he approvingly told me: “Your Penus is rising”. And he lovingly offered enlightened advice for my skillful spiritual behavior under that auspicious rising sign.

On conclusion of his reading Baba showed me my written chart, and asked if I had any questions. I pointed to a notation at the top, and asked him what it meant. Whereupon Baba turned off the tape recorder and replied: “That shows when you will die.”

Until then I had never heard that Vedic astrology could determine time of death from a chart based on planetary configurations at time of birth. Nor had I begun to think about my time of death. So in response to this surprising revelation, I simply exclaimed, “Oh!”

Whereupon, without my asking him, Baba voluntarily told me: “You will die at age 84”.

Post-prediction death reflections.

After Baba’s surprisingly specific death prediction, I continued to reflect on death and gradually discovered persuasively apt writings about esoteric ancient Vedic philosophy, astrology and prophesy, as well as about Einstein’s revolutionary relativity science. And I found credible quotes from non-dualist masters suggesting that that not only one’s lifespan but our actions, and even our thoughts, are predetermined by natural laws of causality until we transcend the ‘wheels of karma’. [See Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation; and Indian Astrology, Free Will or Fate? ~ An Amazing Synchronicity Story ]

On my 84th birthday anniversary (on November 8, 2016) I completed a full 84 year Uranus cycle, of exactly 1008 months. So since then I’ve increasingly wondered how much time is left for Ron Rattner; whether he is imminently ‘scheduled’ to say “bye-bye” to this twenty first century.

Conclusion.

Life is eternal, but human lifetimes are ephemeral. So as an octogenarian (not knowing when this precious lifetime will end), I have been augmenting and updating my Silly Sutras postings concerning physical death – a profoundly important spiritual subject. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/dealing-with-death-and-dying-rons-memoirs/)

May these writings motivate our reflections upon our inevitable physical departure from this relative “reality”, where “however we may strive, nobody leaves alive”.

And may they hasten fulfillment of our deepest aspirations for Self realization beyond “birth and death”, as Eternal NOW. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Dealing With Death and Dying
~ Ron’s Memoirs

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


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


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

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

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

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

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

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

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

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

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