“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
“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”:
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.
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.
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!
“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.”
“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?”
Ron’s explanation of “What Are Illusions?”
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!
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
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.
*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.
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!
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)
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.”
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!
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!
“What the caterpillar calls the end,
the master calls a butterfly.”
~ Richard Bach
Butterflies are living
metaphors for metamorphosis.
They symbolize our
knowing or unknowing
quest for transformation;
for transcending inevitable
earthly miseries and mortality.
We are inspired by the butterfly’s metamorphosis:
from creeping, crawling caterpillar,
to cocooned chrysalis,
transformed by amazing imaginal cells
to beautifully winged wonder.
Butterflies can inspire and symbolize
not only human aspirations and potentialities
for transforming our life on Earth,
they also can remind us that there is much more
to our ever changing “reality”
‘than meets the eye’.
Some butterfly wings which appear to us in colors,
are actually transparent.
Their iridescent scales overlap like shingles on a roof,
refracting light – like rainbows –
so as to give the wings the colors we perceive.
But in some species, like the Glasswing (pictured above),
we can observe the transparency of the butterfly wings.
With such transparency,
we can see what normally we don’t see.
In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12),
Paul observes that “now we see through a glass darkly”,
but that some day we shall fully know,
as we are fully Known now by the Divine.
Now, we view our “reality”
through the ‘mirror of the mind’,
which imperfectly refracts and reflects
the unseen light of Eternal Awareness
onto the screen of our human consciousness.
But, with meditation and other mind-stilling methods,
we can evolve and transform our mind mirror
from opacity to translucency to transparency.
And thereby, with ever expanding
human consciousness and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.
So, beautiful transparent butterflies
can symbolize and inspire our highest aspirations:
our aspirations for elevating and expanding human consciousness
so as to transform life on our precious planet.
And butterflies can remind us that Reality
is much more ‘than meets the eye’;
That beyond this phenomenal world
of ever passing appearances is one changeless Reality –
One unseen Source and Essence of
all appearances, all phenomena, and all ideas:
Infinite Potentiality – our Eternal SELF.
“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.”
~ Rig Veda
As ego goes,
until it Knows – Its Self.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”
“As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it …it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. …..
As long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
“As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body, a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straws to feed the flames of vanity.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Way In, Is The Way Out
In this crazy age
of mental malaise,
in a mental maze.
Without a doubt,
to find our way out
we must know
the way we got in.
Ron’s Audio Recitation of “The Way In, Is The Way Out”
Ron’s Comments and Explanation of “The Way In, Is The Way Out”
The SillySutras.com website is dedicated to encouraging our conscious spiritual evolution, thereby freely helping us live ever happier lives.
Upon birth as human lifeforms we experience instant amnesia about our true spiritual self-identity. Whereupon, perceiving and believing ourselves to be mere mortal physical bodies separate from each other and nature, we mistakenly think and behave as unconnected egos, and thereby become subject to the universal law of cause and effect – karma.
Every Human – except for rare Buddha-like beings – knowingly or unknowingly is in some evolutionary stage of undoing mistaken ego identity – a process indispensable to our inevitable evolution. So for millennia spiritual seers have recognized “ego” as the greatest human “enemy” and impediment to our spiritual evolution.
Thus, because of ego’s supreme significance, numerous SillySutras.com writings describe “ego” and ways to transcend it. (See e.g. website archives linked here.)
In writing about ego I have sometimes with ‘artistic license’ used memorable or whimsical metaphors. For example, I have written that ego identification causes each soul to become ‘encapsulated’ and ‘entangled’ in a “self-woven karmic cocoon” arising from our unique behaviors – through which we often bring about personal and world sufferings. And that each “karmic cocoon” becomes a kind of “psychological prison” in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our unlimited potentialities. But that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last”, no matter what our outer circumstances, by “undoing ego”.
“As ego goes, consciousness grows, until it Knows – Its Self.”
A YouTube documentary film titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)” (See https://sillysutras.com/walks-with-ron-a-brief-film-about-ron-rattner/ ) includes dialogue, with visual and musical segments about my song We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World. In it I explain how butterflies are living metaphors for human metamorphosis, and powerful symbols of our human potential to gradually emerge from “karmic cocoons” to transcend inevitable earthly sufferings.
Similar to our dilemma of being metaphorically imprisoned in “self-woven karmic cocoons”, I have sometimes whimsically said that we’re “caught by thought – in a mental maze” and “lost in a lingual labyrinth”. But until now none of my ‘mental maze’ metaphors were posted or linked on the SillySutras website except for a sutra reading in The Walks With Ron documentary.
So I’ve posted above “The Way In, Is The Way Out”, the whimsical ‘mental maze’ poem which appears in that video. I hope you’ll enjoy it. And that it may help all of us who are still “caught by thought” and haven’t yet found the way out of our ego created “mental maze” or escaped from – our self-woven karmic cocoons.
May this whimsical poem help remind us all of our critical need to let go of who or what we mistakenly think we are, so can realize and BE what we really are – ONE with Nature as its Eternal Source.
And so may it be!
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”
~ Carl Jung
“It is only through a change of human consciousness that the world will be transformed.
The personal and the planetary are connected. As we expand our awareness of mind, body, psyche, and spirit and bring that awareness actively into the world, so also will the world be changed.”
~ Michael Toms, New Dimensions Radio introduction
Everything we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams, together we are a ‘dream-team’, karmically dreaming our world into being; and, consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’.”
“As we ever awaken, we shall consciously and cooperatively participate to co-create an ever better reality – as we intend, intuit, and imagine it to be.”
~ Ron Rattner, SillySutras.com Home Page Dedication
All are different terms connoting
the non-dual universal Absolute –
Ordinary human consciousness is
It is pure Awareness
conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning
determines our condition.
freedom and love.
And what we seek,
we shall find –
we decondition the mind.
As we lose illusory conceptual constraints,
we shall experience
ever expanding awareness,
And so we shall find –
enduring peace of mind.
Ron’s audio recitation of Clearing Consciousness
Ron’s explanation of “Clearing Consciousness”
We are all part of a participatory natural order in which everything/ everyone is interdependent; and, wherein everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way. (See, e.g.. https://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-inquiry/) Even without words or thoughts we can powerfully communicate through our tears, smiles, music, and other arts.
Thus, we can all share LOVE, kindness and compassion, which are ‘contagious’ blessings. (See, e.g. https://sillysutras.com/true-communication/) But our fears, anger and negative emotions can also ‘contagiously’ darken this world.
So by our positive or negative thoughts, behaviors and emotions each of us (in our own unique way) is either blessing or harming life everywhere. As part of a divine ‘design plan’, we are graced with infinite potentiality to collectively advance all life on planet Earth, through our loving and compassionate thoughts, words, and deeds, even while we still experience illusionary separation from Universal Awareness – our shared essence and ultimate identity and Reality.
Spiritually awakening people are helping to transform the world by clearing “human consciousness”. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/human-conciousness/) So the SillySutras website and all writings thereon are dedicated to inspiring our ‘conscious and cooperative co-creation of an ever better reality’. (See SillySutras.com home page dedication)
The foregoing poem and quotes suggest our unlimited human potential to transform the world. May they inspire and encourage our active participation in “clearing consciousness”, each from a unique perspective and in unique ways, to ever expand infinite human potential.
And so may it be!
“This whole creation is essentially subjective,
and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once:
scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung
“Objectivity is an illusory impossibility.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Objective reality does not exist” ….
“the universe is fundamentally a gigantic … hologram”
~ David Bohm, quantum physicist
“All concepts are mental projections of Cosmic Consciousness.
But for name – subject and object are same.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Those who know how to think need no teachers.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
How Can We Think More Objectively?
Q. How can we think more objectively?
A. We can’t. Objectivity is an illusory impossibility.
Thinking objectively is an oxymoronic misconception.
All thought is subjective; so everyone thinks subjectively.
All concepts are mental projections
of Cosmic Consciousness.
But for name – subject and object are same.
To transcend thinking in the ‘subject-object’ box,
we can intuit our wholeness – as both subject and object.
And realizing that Cosmic Consciousness is our eternal essence,
We can more and more think intuitively, holistically, compassionately and authentically – but sparingly.
So, with our Heart, not our head,
let’s think less, and BE more –
Ron’s comments about thinking “objectively”.
If you believe, as I once did, in the possibility of individual or institutional “objectivity”, you may have been surprised and informed by today’s posting about thinking objectively.
Like most Westerners I grew up culturally imbued with ideas and ideals of honesty and “objectivity” of our scientific, academic, journalistic and judicial institutions – of which as an adult I was soon disabused.
But only after my midlife spiritual awakening, did I begin to realize that spiritually objectivity is an illusory impossibility; that the idea of objectivity refers only to the Newtonian measurable material world of apparently separate forms and phenomena, which mistakenly excludes the quantum field and Cosmic consciousness – the ultimate immeasurable Reality and source of all our conceptions of ‘reality’.
Despite revolutionary discoveries in quantum physics, most materialistic mainstream scientists have remained reluctant to recognize the impossibility of scientifically ‘objective’ accuracy in describing Nature through measurement, without reference to immeasurable consciousness. And as yet only rare visionary scientists are beginning to recognize that everything perceived everywhere is merely an impermanent holographic energy form of projected consciousness.
May the foregoing explanation of how “objectivity” is an illusory and erroneous abstraction causing mistaken belief in the supposed accuracy and ‘reality’ of what we subjectively project and perceive, help encourage our evolutionary realization that space/time is merely a subjective mental projection of Cosmic Consciousness, our eternal essence.
And so may it be!
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“I think with intuition. The basis of true thinking is intuition.
Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity. ”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
~ Albert Einstein
“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
~ King Solomon – Proverbs 23:7
When and How Shall We Think?
Q. When and how shall we think?
A. The power of rational thought is a great gift.
But, like a tool, it’s best to not use it until we choose it.
Before thinking rationally, if we still the ‘voice in our head’,
we can feel and listen to our Heart – our intuitive mind and soul.
Then we can think first with our Heart, not our head.
As stated in ancient Vedic scriptures:
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, … beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
In our metaphoric Heart shines the Eternal light of Truth –
the light of Love.
Logic has its limits. But Truth and Love are boundless and timeless.
So, it’s best to honor our Heart, over our rational mind –
To use our intuitive mind to serve and follow our Heart.
Related Post: How Can We Think More Objectively?
“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“Looking for consciousness in the brain,
is like looking inside a radio for the announcer…”
~ Nassim Haramein
Brains do not create consciousness;
consciousness creates brains.
With brains we’re ‘tuned’
to transmute infinite potentiality
to terrestrial “normality”.
Brains transduce and decode
‘chaotic cosmic totality’ to
ordered earth life “reality”.
Ron’s Audio Recitation of “Brains”
Ron’s Comments about “Brains” and Human Consciousness
The foregoing poem and quotations consider a crucially important spiritual question – whether human consciousness remains beyond death of human brains.
Upon advent of Newtonian physics in the 18th century, Western science adopted a materialistic paradigm with theories of ‘reality’ based only on measurable “objective” observations. But because consciousness is purely subjective and immeasurable, materialist scientists have failed to include awareness in their theories explaining space/time “reality”. Even though quantum physicists have for over a century shown that materialist paradigms are inadequate to describe or explain our “reality”, mainstream scientists have adamantly adhered to their inflexible insistence on using only measurable allegedly “objective” data to explain important phenomena.
Unable to explain immeasurable human consciousness, which is the matrix of all experience, most mainstream scientists unscientifically assert – without any valid corroborating proof whatsoever – that human brains create human consciousness.
Gradually, this unsupported and insupportable pseudo-scientific assertion has been rejected by non-materialist scientists based on ever accumulating empirical evidence of subtle reality beyond space/time and causality; evidence that non-locality is Reality; that everything/everyone’s is connected everywhere – NOW.
There now exists overwhelming scientific evidence that human consciousness and mind can exist independent of physical bodies. For example observations of children world-wide with detailed memories of other lifetimes have indicated that reincarnation or rebirth can happen after death of the brain and physical body. And especially since development of technologies which enable resuscitation of heart attack victims, millions of people have credibly reported amazingly transformative near death experiences (NDE’s) with continuing consciousness, when according to accurate scientific instrumentation they were “brain-dead”. (See video embedded below.)
After my unforgettable OOB experience of seeing my body from a ceiling, and seeing my thoughts manifest as separate kaleidoscopic thought-forms outside my body or brain, [See Beginning a New Year and a New Life With a New Mystery] I began to realize that consciousness and mind are independent of physical bodies; that our physical bodies and brains are not originators of consciousness and mind, but their receptors, tuners and transducers. Also, my visions of apparent other lifetimes and of deceased beings, like Gandhi, my father and maternal grandfather, further supported that realization, and began to convince me of eternal life after physical death, and that reincarnation or rebirth can happen after death of the brain and physical body.
These realizations have led to an increasingly happy life with diminishing fear of death and ever increasing self-identification with eternal spirit, rather than with my mortal physical form, its thoughts and its story. Moreover, realization that we share a common consciousness with all life-forms and with our precious planet has been irreversibly transformative, and key to living an increasingly empathetic compassionate and loving lifetime.
May the foregoing poem and quotes encourage our deep reflection and transformative realization that eternal Life remains beyond our brains; that brains do not create consciousness; but that consciousness creates brains – and all other forms and phenomena.
And may such reflection and realization help us to live ever happier lives.
And so may it be!
Video interview of Dutch cardiologist and author Pim Van Lommel about ‘Consciousness and The Near Death. Experience’