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Mind

The Sacred Secret of Life

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
~ Alan Watts
Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy
“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings







The Sacred Secret of Life

We evolve and revolve
ever seeking to solve
the sacred secret of life.

But the further we go
the less we know
the sacred secret of life.

The longer our history,
the greater the mystery of
the sacred secret of life.

Yet we never stop trying –
keep birthing and dying, for
the sacred secret of life.

Tho’ we may never solve it,
we’ll ever evolve it:
The sacred secret of life.

So in Awe we bow
to the ever NOW—

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem and quotations, are about a key wisdom concept which is so important that with poetic license I’ve called it “the sacred secret of life”.

Soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was synchronistically introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom through a friend who urged me to read an extraordinary book with an intriguing title – “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book and its memorable title planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s memorable title “Be Here Now!” became for me a key slogan for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Through experience and other spiritual teachings, I began to realize the profound evolutionary importance of mental stillness.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of contemporary sage J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later I felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my experiences in following my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ finally cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me to choose whether “to think or not to think” – an option to enjoy precious moments of choiceless awareness. And by learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind”; and I discovered that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same – only proportions differ. And precious presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual opening.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a focused or stilled mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists and athletes perform at peak levels while “in the zone”?

Moreover, whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance, every human being wants happiness, with minimal suffering. And to be in a state of precious presence with a stilled mind is of critical importance to experiencing happiness.

So for me “Be Here Now!” – like “Seek relief from belief” and “Undo Ego!” – has become a key motivational motto encapsulating a crucial wisdom concept.

Thus today’s quotations and poem are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically ever here NOW.

May we all experience growing happiness by learning to live in precious presence with ever quieter minds, thereby radiating love and joy which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Seek Relief From Belief!

Q.  “Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”  
A.  “Belief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…”
“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
~  J. Krishnamurti
“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained.

In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”

~ Lao Tzu
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha




Seek Relief From Belief!

As conception is body/mind’s inception,
Its imprisonment begins with conviction.

We are shackled
by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.

So, seek relief
from belief;
and  get out of jail —
FREE.

Let us end our universal malaise –
our chronic belief syndrome.

Believing is deceiving.

To know what’s so,
Question credo.

Follow your faith,
But “dis” your belief,
Lose your illusions, and
Drop your dogmas.

Follow dharma, not dogma.

Seek relief from belief,
And find clarity beyond doctrinairity.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Seek Relief From Belief!”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Seek Relief From Belief!”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting epigrammatically encapsulates perhaps the most crucial wisdom concepts I’ve yet learned in this precious lifetime. It includes for your consideration important quotations and a pithy sutra saying poem (with mp3 recitation) which can help us find happiness.

My midlife awakening began a spiritual metamorphosis process from “secular Hebrew”, to “born-again Hindu”, to “uncertain Undo”. Gradually I began letting go of previously accepted beliefs and concepts about Self-identity and Reality.  Since it began over forty years ago, that process continues. And I’m still an “Uncertain Undo”.

Whimsically I’ve often proclaimed that I’m yet an ‘uncertain undo’ because

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

And as key motivational reminders my mottos became:

“Seek relief from belief”; and
“Undo Ego!”

I’ve discovered that ego is the greatest impediment to Self realization. So overcoming ego’s illusory self-identification as a supposedly separate entity is the key prerequisite to spiritual evolution toward Self realization, as Infinite Awareness or divine LOVE.

Illusory ego identification can’t persist without mistaken beliefs and concepts about Self-identity and Reality. And we can best learn to correct such mistaken beliefs from our experience in life.  As Einstein asserted: 

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

Thus true wisdom doesn’t come from unquestioningly accepting and believing information from others.  So Gautama Buddha taught:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
 then accept it and live up to it.

~ Buddha


On SillySutras.com there are numerous writings about experientially overcoming both “belief” and “ego”.  Thus included in the above “Seek Relief From Belief!” posting are important quotations and a pithy sutra saying poem (with mp3 recitation) encapsulating explanations and incentives for attaining a spiritual state of being which is ‘beyond belief’ and ego.

For example, when twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
 “Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he asserted:

“Belief in any form is a hindrance.
A man who believes in God can never find God.”

And Taoist master Lao Tzu epigrammatically revealed that we evolve toward attaining timeless states of being – sometimes called Tao or Zen – when gradually we give up our mistaken beliefs, saying

“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained. 

In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”

~ Lao Tzu

Although elsewhere the words “belief” and “faith” are often used synonymously, they are not equated on SillySutras.com. Here “belief” means adopting or accepting ideas of others that something or someone is true or exists, whereas “faith” means intuitive trust or confidence in Life, especially in the miraculous unknown.  (See  Belief or Faith?)

So my memoirs explain that while ‘seeking relief from belief’  I’ve found a faith-based life, with ever growing gratitude and reverence for this precious life on our precious planet.  

Conclusion

May the foregoing “Seek Relief From Belief!” writings and mp3 poetry recitation encourage and inspire our deep reflection about the wisdom of abandoning mistaken beliefs regarding our perceived earthly Reality and supposedly separate Self identity, and thereby hasten our experiential discovery of eternally timeless states of being in this ever impermanent world of time and space. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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





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

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 are all 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 “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.

And so 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.



Knowing The Unknowable

When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Since no one really knows anything about God,
those who think they do are just 
troublemakers.”
~ Rabia of Basra (first female Sufi saint)
The less we think we know,
the more we really Know.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi






Knowing The Unknowable

Knowing is bliss;
ignorance isn’t bliss
– it’s suffering.

Knowing’s not mental,
– it’s existential.

If we think we Know,
we don’t.

Knowing’s not thought,
and knowing’s not taught.

Knowing’s never then or how;
Knowing’s always here and now.

So, Knowing is this:

It’s Being —
Bliss —

NOW!


Ron’s audio recitation of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Dear Friends,

In space/time duality reality we can never express ineffable Truth, but only point to it. The forgoing poem, “Knowing The Unknowable”, paradoxically alludes to our ever mysterious shared purpose as apparent Earthly incarnates.

We’ve appeared on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’ as spiritual students, to learn from experience our true Self-identity as eternal Love. Knowingly or unknowingly we all long for LOVE – which is our common spiritual essence and Source. And we’re here to find it, by consciously and conscientiously living our lives.

As unavoidable earthly evolutionary incentives, many of us need to suffer painful experiences. Inevitably we thereby learn that knowing divinity comes not from fearful or divisive egoic efforts or thoughts, but from totally surrendering to The Lone Arranger and letting go of all ideas of being separate from each other and Nature, with opened hearts and stilled minds.

May today’s quotations and poetry help encourage and inspire us to thereby realize our deepest evolutionary aspirations of so “Knowing The Unknowable”.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, Buddha taught that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Invocation

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

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


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

Dear Friends,

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish (days of awe); Moslem (Eid Al-Adha); Christian (Feast of St. Francis); – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”. Moreover, all major religions – Buddhist-Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish – teach a common message of Love as the supreme “unifying principle of Life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.” [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] 

Yet, often in the name of religion, our world remains rife with discrimination, violence and killing which must be transcended for survival of Human life as we have known it.

Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

The above essay, Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present, encourages our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we commonly self-identify as ONE Eternal spirit, which is Love – not just as separate mortals – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious human lifetime.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
“To err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your Self return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
~ A Course in Miracles

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




Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

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

Forgiveness in Christianity.

Forgiveness is especially emphasized in Christianity. Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness. Eg.

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

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
~ Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27

And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


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

What are Sins?


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

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


When sins are appropriately considered ‘missing the mark’ from ignorance rather than malevolence, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on how to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with mistaken acts or omissions.

Recognition and transcendence of “sins”.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

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


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


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

Jewish Day of Atonement for “Sins”.

In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.

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


Recognizing the inevitability of ‘sin”, the Torah enjoins Jews to return to a righteous path with a process of societal repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions.

Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality and goal beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-freedom-question-and-quotes/)

All enduring religious and spiritual wisdom traditions recognize need for human transcendence of ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and Nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Awareness – which is our ultimate Essence, and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving and Atoning for “Sins”:

Introduction.

Dear Friends and Fellow ‘Sinners’,

We are all here to evolve human consciousness by gradually realizing and actualizing – beyond our perceived separation from each other – our common Oneness with all Life. Yet, despite our common spiritual essence, each of us is unique, with unique propensities, abilities and fallibilities, which provide unique evolutionary opportunities and challenges. So ‘clearing our karma’ involves mindful identification, observation and purification of our unique mental tendencies and obscurations which impede realization of Oneness.

The foregoing essay and quotes about Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” address a spiritually important subject for all of us. For most of my adult life, forgiveness been a great challenge. So I don’t claim to be an accomplished “expert” on this subject, but now share with you as one who has long reflected on judgmentally perceived moral failings of other fallible humans.

Whether or not we are spiritual ‘seekers’, we are all spiritual ‘sinners’ who inevitably ‘miss the mark’ and make mistakes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring and learning in ‘space/time soul suits’ on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’. Except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, all humans are fallible; even Pontiffs and Prelates aren’t infallible.

I will hereafter discuss the spiritual importance of nonjudgmental forgiveness of ‘sins’.

But first to help you understand, and perhaps appreciate, my perspectives on non-judgmental forgiveness, I will summarize my long history of judging others.

Ron’s history of judging others.

After a midlife awakening, I began identifying my particular spiritual evolutionary challenges and opportunities. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and long-time ardent social justice advocate – I had long established tendencies of often being outspokenly and acerbically judgmental, and of sometimes being unforgiving and angry about perceived injustices. Also I realized that these habits were not helpful to others or me; that they were impediments to my spiritual evolution, and inconsistent with mystical realizations of Oneness with all Life, beyond our perceived separation from one another.

However, since first identifying these unhelpful habits decades ago, it hasn’t been easy to transcend them. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992, by deactivating my law license it was easy for me to stop lawyering. But it was hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others – especially if they seemed to act immorally, hypocritically or harmfully.

Only gradually have I discerned significant – but often subtle – distinctions between being unduly judgmental and unforgiving of others, and my life-long ardent and conscientious advocacy for social justice. This often has required difficult discernments and decisions about conscientious truth telling and nonviolently resisting those who unjustly harm others, without vindictively, condemning, blaming and judging them.

The most challenging behaviors for me have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of public or private trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public trust by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I personally experienced as betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.

Slowly my pain and suffering from harboring anger or bitterness, has helped awaken me to the futility and harm of blame. I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance do not change others, and are always incompatible with a loving peaceful mind. But that love and forgiveness, do not preclude – and often require – conscientious advocacy for social justice, and nonviolent resistance to harmfully immoral acts.

As inspiringly demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., love and forgiveness, are integral to such nonviolent resistance. He explained that:


“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” . . . “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” . . .”The time is always right to do what is right.”. . . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


Ultimately I have realized how hating hurts the hater; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. Thus, that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, and that any bitterness we harbor against perceived “others” separates us from our divine Oneness with everyone and everything everywhere, and beyond.

As I have slowly understood that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, I have learned to forgive it, and thereby to live an ever happier life. And thus, I have concluded that our purpose on Earth is not to judge, condemn or criticize apparent evil but to transcend it with LOVE.

Thereby, and only after many years of unsuccessfully addressing my negative judgmental tendencies, I may have now transcended them, by realizing that they arose from ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. So I’ve finally granted my irrevocable general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to judge all “sinners” – even Donald Trump, for whom I now feel sorry, as countless humans worldwide conscientiously and nonviolently resist his administration’s patently insane ecologically suicidal behaviors which threaten to catastrophically destroy all human life on Earth as we have known it.

And while so deferring to the unerring law of cause and effect, with absolute faith in the divine, I have enjoyed unprecedented peace of mind.

Discussion.

We are here to learn and to demonstrate divine LOVE. But if we behave fearfully or selfishly instead of lovingly and compassionately, we inevitably ‘miss the divine target mark’, and thereby ‘sin’. And if we miss our mark and ‘sin’, we’ll probably suffer karmically from the law of causality. So how do we avoid ‘sinning’ and atone for past ‘sins’?

First, we must become aware of how ‘sins’ happen.

On investigating, we learn that human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable while we unknowingly perceive “through a glass darkly” with conditioned ego-minds. We realize that all our perceptions are illusory projections of past conceptions, which obscure our experience of the timeless NOW. Thus, we learn that our space/time causality reality is like a persistent illusion – a mental mirage; and we discover that

“space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”, that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”, and that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” [Albert Einstein]


Such new-found awareness can reveal simple solutions to previously persistent behavioral problems, from levels of consciousness beyond those which unknowingly caused our mistaken ‘sins’. For example, the Buddha taught that:

“to understand everything is to forgive everything”.

So we may discover that a significant solution to our ‘sinning’ problems is to forgive NOW (in the precious present), all unknowing mental mistakes made by ourselves and others. That

“to err is human; to forgive, Divine.”


Then, with ‘amazing grace’ we can finally see that our non-judgmental forgiveness of mental mistakes is Divine, since ‘sins’ of the conditioned ego-mind have arisen from ignorance, not malevolence – from belief, not awareness; from fear, not LOVE.

As a rare exemplar of Divine LOVE, Jesus Christ has inspired millions with his words and deeds of non-judgmental and merciful forgiveness, of even enemies and persecutors, for their spiritually ignorant behaviors. So even while suffering excruciating pain on a crucifixion cross He beseeched:


“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Yet, without judging ignorant beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9] And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]

Perhaps, from Jesus’s supremely divine perspective, ‘mortal sin’ can be seen (with insight, not eyesight) as ignorantly believing oneself a “mortal”, rather than immortal; and, “original sin” can be seen as ego’s mistaken belief of itself as separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Awareness.

During a long lifetime of often morally judging those who betray or hurt others, I finally learned that it is infinitely easier to forgive and atone for, our ‘sins’, by mindfully recognizing how they egotistically happen, than to exist Christ-like or Buddha-like as divine LOVE. And that on becoming mindfully aware of our unwitting sins we inevitably spur our spiritual evolution process.

Conclusion.

May these teachings on “Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” help all of us to forgive and transcend ’sins’ with love. But with quiet minds and open hearts may we continue to non-judgmentally, nonviolently, and conscientiously resist social injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

And may this posting thereby help spur our spiritual evolution process, so that we may all open our hearts to forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –
and BE, eternally, what we truly are:

The unseen Source of the world we see – ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE!

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

What Are Illusions?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.”

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


“The distinction between past, present, and future
 is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

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



~ Albert Einstein

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.

~ Alan Watts
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.” “…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha
“The less we’re illusioned,
the more we’re illumined.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings






What Are Illusions?

Q. What are illusions?

A. Illusions are false ideas, conceptions, or beliefs,
accumulated and aggregated in the memory bank
that we call the “mind”.

Illusions are projections from the past
which obscure or obstruct our experience of the present.

We can’t live fully in the present,
when we are living partly in the past.

Illusions are mental obscurations.
They cloud or conceal our insight into
That which is Real.

But, as we clear the ‘mirror of our mind’
of old illusory ideas and paradigms of
who and what we think we are,

We can and shall become ever more present,
insightful and illuminated –
about what we really are.

So let us choose to lose our illusions.

For, the less we’re illusioned,
the more we’re illumined.



Ron’s audio recitation of “What are Illusions?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “What Are Illusions?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered: “what are illusions?” and “what is “real?” Spiritually, these are crucial questions.

According to dictionaries, “illusions” are misperceptions or misconceptions of reality, fact, or truth. Whereas “reality” is that which factually exists.

For millennia, non-dualist Buddhists and Vedantists have taught that our entire space/time ‘reality’ is a mental mirage or illusion, and not true Reality; that what we perceive and believe to be ‘real’ material forms in space and time, are mentally projected misperceptions from misconceptions of our conditioned ego-minds, which see “through a glass darkly”.

We assume that we are independent human beings, separated from each other and Nature, and acting based on our own free-will. But according to non-dualist mystical philosophies, all of this is mere illusion – samsara or maya. Even our supposed free will is an illusion, because we are inseparable from Nature which determines all we experience, via mysterious karmic causes and conditions. Thus, perceived worldly events or phenomena are always determined by invisible cosmic forces which are as yet unknown to our conditioned ego-minds. (see e.g. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, verses 60-61)

A century has passed since Einstein’s revolutionary relativity theory revealed that “reality” can’t be reduced to objects or entities in space/time. Since then, quantum science has confirmed that everything in space/time is energy (e=mc2); that all forms and phenomena are merely vibrating and radiating immaterial energies endlessly and inevitably appearing (from unknown causes and conditions) out of and disappearing into an ineffable matrix of mystery.

Thus, Western science has more and more shown what ancient shamans, seers, and indigenous societies have known throughout history:

That there is a cosmic web of life connecting everything and everyone in Nature from the greatest galaxies to the tiniest sub-atomic particles; that we are each an integral inter-connected and interdependent part of Nature’s web of life – not separate from it; and that, as Einstein observed:

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


Inspired by Einstein, I have composed the foregoing poetic Q & A essay titled: “What Are Illusions?”, as preceded by apt quotations.

May these teachings help us find relief from belief,  bringing us ever expanding life fulfillment and happiness.

From seeing everyone and everything as discrete, and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, may we increasingly realize that all forms and phenomena are ever-changing energies appearing from a common matrix of immutable Awareness – our true Nature, which is LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


A Reindeer Gift Synchronicity Story ~ Ron’s Memoirs

Ask and it shall be given;
Seek and ye shall find.
~ Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
“A yogi, seated in solitude and alone,
should constantly try to contemplate on the Supreme Being
after bringing the mind and senses under control,
and becoming free from desires and proprietorship.

One should sit on his or her own firm seat that is neither too high nor too low, covered with sacred Kush grass, a deerskin, and a cloth, one over the other, in a clean spot.
Sitting there (in a comfortable position) and concentrating the mind on God, controlling the thoughts and the activities of the senses, one should practice meditation for self-purification.”
~ The Bhagavad-Gita – 6:10-12, Krishna to Arjuna


Ron Near Sofa Altar

Ron Near Sofa Altar



Introduction

My life has become filled with frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronistic “Manifestation Miracles” – noteworthy manifestations of desired circumstances or artifacts without my consciously willing them. Mostly I’ve been given what I wished. But sometimes the universe sent something else, which proved better than what I thought I wanted.

Here is a story about a synchronistic ‘miraculous’ gift from the Lone Arranger that proved more useful than what I thought I was seeking.

A Reindeer Gift For Peaceful Meditations

Before my midlife spiritual awakening, I didn’t intentionally meditate and was unaware of the crucial importance of a stilled mind. Thereafter, until meeting Guruji – my spiritual master, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas – I sometimes experienced spontaneous meditative states with unprecedented inner experiences. But only after meeting Guruji did I begin regular meditation practice and learn of the spiritually supreme importance of a quiet mind.

Guruji gave us various Sanskrit spiritual practices, but his most important message was to “meditate regularly”. And inspired by Guruji I was strongly motivated to meditate.

Guruji taught that our meditations would be aided by sitting in firm but relaxed postures in places conducive to peacefulness. Also, at a meditation retreat Guruji revealed that if we sat on a deerskin its tranquil vibrations would help our meditations.

At first, I tried to follow Guruji’s meditation advice by sitting and praying in quiet places with relaxed straight spine posture. But I didn’t look for a deerskin on which to meditate.

Although Guruji and Krishna (in the The Bhagavad-Gita) recommended meditating on deerskins, I was reluctant to follow that advice. I’d always loved deer as beautiful, graceful, and peaceful creatures, not needed as a food source or as hunters’ trophies. So I questioned hunting and killing such innocent animals as a sport, or for commercial exploitation, rather than only for necessary sustenance. *(see footnote)

In 1980, my apartment was the last place Guruji stayed before returning to India. Following his departure, I had an amazing experience of Guruji’s shakti energy while carrying his mattress to a van in my garage. Thereupon, I realized that my living room sofa where Guruji had sat had been transformed to become a holy relic imbued with his spiritual energy. So I made it into an altar, where for over thirty years I worshiped, prayed, cried and meditated, and experienced Guruji’s holy energy still emanating from it. ( see https://sillysutras.com/experiencing-unforgettable-divine-shakti-rons-memoirs/)

After I set up the altar my friend Kusuma gave me a small meditation rug with artistic drawings of deer on it. So instead of sitting on a deerskin asana (sitting place) in front of the sofa-altar, I sat there on that rug with images of deer. And rather than receiving ‘spiritual tail-wind’ from subtle deer vibrations, I received it from the sofa which was infused with Guruji’s shakti.

But, with mixed emotions, I kept wondering if my meditation experience could be enhanced by a real deerskin asana as suggested by Guruji. By this time I had stopped eating all animal flesh and was reluctant to use clothing and other products fabricated from any animals. For example, whenever feasible I wore non-leather shoes.

Yet, because of Guruji’s recommendation, I finally decided to seek from a taxidermist a small deerskin on which sit in meditation. But I didn’t know how to find taxidermists. It was then long before the computer-Google-Amazon era, and no taxidermists were then listed in the San Francisco telephone directory. So I obtained a regional business telephone directory, in which I found a few California taxidermist listings.

After a couple of unsuccessful phone inquiries, I called a woman taxidermist near Yosemite national park, who pleasantly answered the phone. I explained that I wanted to buy from her a small piece of deer-hide to use for meditation.

She told me she had no deer-hide and did not foresee obtaining any soon. But then – almost as an afterthought – she told me that she had two caribou pelts which she could not use and asked if I would be interested in one of them.

At first, confused about caribou, I asked her to describe the pelts. Her response reminded me that caribou are “reindeer”, like Santa’s legendary helpers; that they are part of the same ruminant mammal family that includes deer, but with longer fur. After listening to a description of the pelts, I intuited that I might be able to use one, and asked what she’d charge. Surprisingly, she said she be happy to give it to me without charge, and she promptly offered to mail it to me if I wanted it. So I gave her my address, but insisted on at least paying her shipping costs. But she graciously declined.

A few days later, the postman delivered a bulky parcel containing a beautiful caribou pelt. But it was much bigger than I had imagined and was so irregularly shaped that it clearly was inappropriate for placement in front of my altar. With guilty conscience for accepting a gift I couldn’t use, I wondered what to do with the caribou pelt – whether I should return it to the generous taxidermist. But she had told me she had no use for it and was happy to dispose of it.

Then suddenly – Eureka! – I had a flash of insight that the reindeer pelt might be draped over an upholstered lounge chair opposite the sofa-altar. And it worked. The pelt fit perfectly and looked great on the chair! And it was so peacefully comfortable to sit on!

Thereafter, for about twenty five years, I spent countless blissed-out hours sitting on that transformed reindeer chair, when not in vajrasana pose at my altar. Only after the peace-giving reindeer pelt was disintegrating from sunlight did I reluctantly dispose of it, with great gratitude for the many blessings it had brought.

Moral of this reindeer synchronicity story

For evolution, we synchronistically get what we need when we need it, whether or not we know it or think we want it.

Such synchronicities can infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for all miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet. They show that we’re in the flow; that we are in harmony with Nature. And the more we are in harmony with the universe, the more blessings we receive.


Footnote

*To me, the senseless slaughter to near extinction of many precious species like buffalo and wolves has been brutally insane and emblematic of unsustainable alienation from Nature of many non-indigenous North Americans. So I didn’t want to indirectly participate in such senseless killings.



Addendum, 2018

Dear Friends,

Except for extremely rare Buddha-like beings, virtually all humans are caught by ego in the karmic cycle of death and rebirth. But, depending on whether or not we use our conditioned minds to satisfy or subdue ego, we can either deter or advance our spiritual evolution toward transcendence of karmic suffering. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-the-human-mind-is-it-best-friend-or-worst-enemy/.)

I’ve theorized that there is a sort of ‘cosmic law of supply and demand’ which provides what we need when we need it for our spiritual evolution – a ‘cosmic incentive system’. Sometimes we are given painful experiences to help us advance, and sometimes when spiritually motivated we may ‘ask and receive’ or ‘seek and find’ that which spurs spiritual evolution – as demonstrated by the foregoing A Reindeer Gift Synchronicity Story.

May all such synchronicities, whether pleasant or painful, infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for our miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What is the human “mind”?
Is it best friend or worst enemy?


One must elevate – and not degrade – oneself with one’s own mind, as the mind is both a friend and an enemy.
For those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends.
But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Six, Lord Krishna to Arjuna (6.05-06)



Bhagavad Gita – Krishna teaching Arjuna




Q. What is the human “mind”?

A. “Mind” is a word with many meanings. In answering this question about the human “mind” we consider it a conditioned egoic space/time energy process, and call it “mortal mind” or “ego–desire mind” or “conditioned mind”.

Religious philosophies sometimes equate “Mind” with God, or ultimate Reality beyond space/time. But we distinguish and exclude those concepts in answering this question about the human “mind”, which is the conditioned perceiver and projector of space/time samsaric ‘reality’ .

In the Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu scripture, Divine Avatar Lord Krishna informs warrior Arjuna that the conditioned human mind


“is both a friend and an enemy”
, that “for those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends. But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.”


Q. How can the human mind be either our best friend or worst enemy?

A. The human mind can be either our best friend or worst enemy depending on whether we use it skillfully to advance, or egotistically to deter, our spiritual evolution – to either terminate or perpetuate mistaken ego entity-identity.

The above Bhagavad Gita passage epitomizes the essential spiritual teaching of the entire Scripture: Attaining freedom from saṃsāra, the karmic cycle of death and rebirth, through spiritual liberation or Moksha. Metaphorically this scripture portrays (in an epic battle) the perpetual conflict between good and evil – between satisfying ego’s endless desires for ephemeral worldly gratifications, or transcending ego to achieve realization as God – the Absolute eternal spirit beyond all impermanent energy forms and phenomena.

When it identifies and perpetuates itself as ego the human mind can be our worst enemy.

For millennia spiritual sages have identified “ego” as the greatest impediment to spiritual evolution and Self realization. Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us that “Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ) And the Dalai Lama says that in Buddhism ego is the “number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Ego” is conditioned mind’s mistaken self-identity as an entity separate from God – as a separate mortal perceiver of a supposedly objective world. But this is an unreal illusion – a mental mirage. Nonetheless ego-mind fearfully and constantly attempts to perpetuate its unreal existence. But such attempted self-preservation is ultimately futile. What never was can never be preserved.

Thus, while conditioned-mind attempts to perpetuate itself as illusionary ego-mind it impedes spiritual evolution, and thereby becomes “our worst enemy”.

When used skillfully to transcend ego, the human mind can be our best friend.

Except for rare Avatars and Bodhisattvas virtually all incarnate humans have not yet completed the process of spiritual evolution from humanity to divinity. So they are still subject to the karmic cycle of death and rebirth through ego misidentification. But the human mind can skillfully be subdued and used to transcend and conquer ego, and thereby to advance spiritual evolution toward achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha .

Ultimately, such transcendence happens when mind and thought cease and Universal Awareness which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as its Self, and is not mentally divided.

Thus, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”


“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,

though boundless and unchanging,

appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”


“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [mistaken] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”


“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience,
the senses receive no impressions from sense objects,
and awareness rests in its essential nature.”


“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”

~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras


Similarly, when twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti was asked

“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”,  he replied (in part):

“Belief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God.
If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality.
If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“The mind is the product of the past.”
“There can be reality only when the mind understands the total process of itself and comes to an end.
When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
“Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”


Conclusion.

Until the human mind is psychologically de-conditioned and emptied, and no longer confuses pure awareness as a separate objective world, it can be gradually subdued and used skillfully to advance spiritual evolution. We can use it to lose it. Like using a thorn to remove another thorn’s sliver, we can use ego-mind to end ego-mind. We can quiet, control and dis-identify with the ‘voice in the head’, and we can behave dharmically and compassionately.

Thereby the human mind can become our ‘best friend’, by hastening transcendence of illusionary ego identity to allow self realization as timeless thoughtless Universal Awareness.

And so may it be!

Epilogue.

In considering the nature and function of the conditioned human mind, the following further information may be helpful.

Body, mind and soul are inseparable abstractions.

Every conditioned human incarnation necessarily includes body, mind and soul as concepts which cannot be separated, without destroying their spiritual significance.

They all connote an entity or energy process seemingly separate from its Source. Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita “body”, “mind”, and “soul” are all denoted by the same Sanskrit word: “atma” or “self”. So in investigating the human mind it is imperative to consider it as only one connotation of “atma” or “self” and, in all events, to consider it as a conditioned subtle energy process experienced as separate from its Source.

Metaphorically, each incarnate person can be described as a systemic earthly energy process (or vortex), with enveloped mysterious layers of perceptible and subtly imperceptible energies. What we call the “mind” includes both conscious and subconscious energy processes. When subconscious, the mind autonomically operates and regulates countless systemic functions. Consciously, conditioned mind is like a subtle energy processor of conceptual thought, intellect, memory, intention, and communication.

Death of physical bodies and brains does not end consciousness and conditioned mind. They remain to perpetuate the karmic cycle of death and rebirth.

All mental perceptions, memories and tendencies associated with physical bodies are stored in subtle mental energy bodies which survive death of those physical bodies. Contrary to pseudo-scientific materialist beliefs, brains do not create consciousness and mind; consciousness creates brains and mind to function like tuner/transducers decoding karmic cosmic energies for human interpretation.

For millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their ‘mental software’ survives, and is reused.

Thus, just as I am able to use with a new i Mac the same OS X software system that operated an old i Mac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of conditioned mental obscurations and defilements.

Like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

Thus twentieth century sage J. Krishnamurti, has declared:

“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past,
which is memory, a conditioned state.”
“The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the`mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Transcendence of past mental conditioning is essential to achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha in the Eternal NOW.

The goal of all spiritual practice is to transcend past mental conditioning.

Such transcendence is achieved only when thoughts cease and Universal Awareness which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself as Self, and is not mentally divided.

And so shall it be!