“In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth …
The words are no more than signposts.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks
Eckhart Tolle is an influential contemporary spiritual writer and teacher, whose teachings have reached millions worldwide. On the brink of suicide, at age 29 Tolle had a miraculous spiritual awakening which ended his lifelong psychological sufferings and suicidal thoughts, rather than his precious human life. Thereafter he synchronistically became renowned as a spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and other noteworthy books.
I first discovered Tolle only after I had transitioned from a “born again Hindu” life phase to becoming an“uncertain Undo” – relying on inner rather than outer authority. (see e.g. “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”)
By then, I understood and appreciated the authenticity of Tolle’s spiritual awakening story, and the cogency of his teachings, which are now often quoted on SillySutras.com.
Tolle’s transformative epiphany was triggered by the profoundly simple insight that he wasn’t his constant negative thoughts, but the timeless awareness/witness and matrix of those thoughts.
Especially in this age of mental malaise when countless millions of people suffer from deep despondency and depression, and suicides are rife, Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring near-suicide spiritual awakening story can help those of us feeling despondent or psychologically challenged find inner peace by self-identifying as eternal universal awareness, rather than ego-mind’s “voice in the head”.
So Eckhart Tolle’s history and authentic awakening story are posted below to help inspire our crucially important Self discovery that we are eternal awareness; not mere mortal entities suffering from mistaken ego-mind self identification. And I enthusiastically encourage deep reflection upon it.
Tolle’s History of Anxiety, Fear and Depression Before His Spiritual Awakening.
Tölle was born on February 16, 1948 in Lünen, a small German town near Dortmund in the Ruhr Valley. He grew up in a dysfunctional household, where his incompatible Catholic parents were constantly bickering. Tölle’s early childhood was fraught with anxiety and fear, and he felt alienated from a perceived hostile school environment. Sometimes instead of going to school he would bicycle to the woods and sit amidst nature, which he loved.
Eventually his parents separated, and his father left Germany to live in Spain. Later, at the age of thirteen, Tölle moved to Spain to live with his father. In Spain, Tölle refused to go to school any longer. Though not rebellious he could no longer tolerate a hostile school environment. Tolle’s unconventional ‘open minded’ father did not insist that his son attend high school, and permitted him to elect home studies of literature, astronomy and various languages.
At the age fifteen, Tolle synchronistically received and read several books written by a German mystic known as Bô Yin Râ, which “very deeply” affected him. With an aptitude for languages, he quickly learned Spanish, English, and some French. Still, he spent much solitary time, free of the external pressures of the environment or the culture.
At age nineteen, about ten years before his “inner awakening”, Tölle moved to England, where he lived for about thirty years until emigrating to Canada in the mid-1990’s. During his first three years in England, he had no formal education, and supported himself by teaching German and Spanish at a London school for language studies.
Then, troubled by “depression, anxiety and fear”, he began “searching for answers” which he believed he could find only through intellect rather than intuition.
In his early twenties, Tolle decided to pursue his search by studying philosophy, psychology, and literature. After taking preparatory evening classes, he was ‘fast-tracked’ and permitted to enroll in the University of London. Upon graduating, he was offered and accepted a scholarship to do postgraduate research. Soon thereafter, at age twenty nine, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening and dropped out of academic studies.
Tolle’s Spiritual Awakening Story.
(Excerpted from The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment )
Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.
One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.
“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. `Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the `I’ and the `self’ that `I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”
I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I Opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.
That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.
For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.
I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me. I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind. This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that I had originally perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison. A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.
But even the most beautiful experiences come and go. More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then. Sometimes it is very strong, almost palpable, and others can feel it too. At other times, it is somewhere in the background, like a distant melody.
Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?” And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.”
Tolle’s profound awakening experience credibly demonstrates how our greatest fears and sufferings can hide our highest potentials, yet provide immense evolutionary opportunities – revealing that beyond our minds we can find intuitive fulfillment of our deepest aspirations for love, peace and joy, and realization of previously unimagined human potentials.
Tolle’s teachings focus on transforming self identity “from being the content of [the] mind to being the awareness in the background”. While Tolle says he experienced a permanent awakening to Self-identity as awareness, such one-time epiphanies are extremely rare. However, numerous people’s mystical awakening experiences – like mine – can trigger a gradual transformative process of evolutionary purification and ego attrition, with ever increasing benefits.
At age forty two – like Tolle – I experienced previously unimagined and transformative Self identity as universal Awareness, followed by unprecedented experiences of peace and ecstasy. But my mistaken ego-mind identity was not thereby permanently dissolved, and it kept recurring. Therefore,instead of experiencing permanent peace of mind, I have been enjoying gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. So today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming.
At the time of Tolle’s awakening experience he was largely unfamiliar with spiritual texts and spiritual teachers. But after exploring such literature for several years, he concluded “that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.” And that: “In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”
Intuitively I regard Tolle as authentic and well-intentioned. So I endorse his teachings as valuable and have posted them on SillySutras.com. to help others.
For example, I have especially appreciated Tolle’s humble and intriguing above introduction to his excellent second book, Stillness Speaks:
“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth … The words are no more than signposts.”
Moral of the Story and Invocation.
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
May the foregoing stories and teachings help inspire and point the way for discovery of our true spiritual Self-identity.
May everyone, everywhere be peaceful and happy!
And so may it be!
“If you could get rid of yourself just once,
the secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
“Be empty of worrying,
Think of Who Created Thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?”
Forget who you think you are
to Know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence.
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Voice In My Head?
There’s a voice in my head.
It keeps talking to itself and to me,
Telling me my thoughts,
and telling me what to do,
and sometimes judging me.
What is it? Who is it? Is it me?
And someone’s always listening to that voice in my head.
What is it? Who is it? Is it me?
And someone’s always thinking for me.
What is it? Who is it? Is it me?
If I am that silent voice in my head constantly talking
to itself and to me, am I crazy?
If I was always talking to myself out loud
(without a cell phone at my ear),
I’d be committed to a psychiatric ward.
Sometimes I don’t think at all, and then there’s no voice in my head.
But, I’m still aware and exist and can listen to other things.
So how can I be my thoughts or the voice in my head,
if I’m still here when they’re not there?
So can someone other than that voice in my head please tell me:
Who’s talking? Who’s thinking? Who’s listening?
Who am I?
Ron’s recitation of “Voice In My Head”
Ron’s Explanation and Comments on “Voice in My Head”.
The foregoing poem was inspired and composed while I was processing unprecedented experiences and observations after my midlife spiritual awakening.
At age forty two I suddenly realized that I was not merely my physical body, its name and story, or its thoughts – the “voice in my head” – but that my true self identity is universal Awareness. That self identity experience was followed by previously unimagined, transformative and unprecedented experiences of peace, inner light, subtle energies and ecstasy.
Prior to that transformative experience, I was largely ignorant of Eastern or other spiritual teachings. But, spurred by great curiosity about what had happened to me, I gradually discovered that many spiritual teachings identified “ego” – our mistaken mental self image about who and what we truly are – as the principal barrier to spiritual “enlightenment”. And – especially from contemporary mindfulness teachings – I learned that identifying with the “voice in the head” was a major symptom of ego’s mistaken self image.
Though at midlife I temporarily transcended ego identity, it’s kept recurring while steadily diminishing since then. So I have been experiencing gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. Today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming and rarely identifying with the “voice in my head”.
Of all contemporary spiritual teachings I’ve read about “ego” and “voice in the head”, I especially endorse those of Eckhart Tolle in which he cogently explains how “thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence”. [see e.g. https://sillysutras.com/what-is-ego/ ]
The foregoing poem about “Voice in My Head” was based on my mystical experiences before I discovered Tolle’s teachings. But Tolle’s teachings about “ego” and “voice in the head” are especially powerful and helpful because they are based upon his extraordinarily powerful permanent spiritual awakening experience. (see https://sillysutras.com/eckhart-tolle-spiritual-awakening-story-and-teachings/)
Because often we can best assimilate and actuate spiritual principles through parables and stories, Eckhart Tolle’s awakening stories can help us comprehend the crucial transformative importance of self identification with eternal Awareness rather than with ego’s “voice in our head”.
In Tolle’s noteworthy book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Chapter Two, he observes that “Some people never forget the first time they disidentified from their thoughts and thus briefly experienced the shift in identity from being the content of their mind to being the awareness in the background.”
Whereupon he narrates his own such experience which happened several years before his dramatic permanent awakening experience. It is hereafter excerpted, with my sincere recommendation that if interested you read and reflect on Tolle’s teachings.
THE VOICE IN THE HEAD – excerpted from A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
That first glimpse of awareness came to me when I was a first year
student at the University of London. I would take the tube (subway) twice a
week to go to the university library, usually around nine o’clock in the
morning, toward the end of the rush hour. One time a woman in her early
thirties sat opposite me. I had seen her before a few times on that train. One
could not help but notice her. Although the train was full, the seats on either
side of her were unoccupied, the reason being, no doubt, that she appeared to
be quite insane. She looked extremely tense and talked to herself incessantly
in a loud and angry voice. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she was
totally unaware, it seemed, of other people or her surroundings. Her head
was facing downward and slightly to the left, as if she were addressing
someone sitting in the empty seat next to her. Although I don’t remember the
precise content, her monologue went something like this: “And then she said
to me… so I said to her you are a liar how dare you accuse me of… when
you are the one who has always taken advantage of me I trusted you and you
betrayed my trust…” There was the angry tone in her voice of someone who
has been wronged, who needs to defend her position lest she become
As the train approached Tottenham Court Road Station, she stood up
and walked toward the door with still no break in the stream of words
coming out of her mouth. That was my stop too, so I got off behind her. At
street level, she began to walk toward Bedford Square, still engaged in her
imaginary dialogue, still angrily accusing and asserting her position. My
curiosity aroused, I decided to follow her as long as she was walking in the
same general direction I had to go in. Although engrossed in her imaginary
dialogue, she seemed to know where she was going. Soon we were within
sight of the imposing structure of Senate House, a 1930’s highrise, the
university’s central administrative building and library. I was shocked. Was it
possible that we were going to the same place? Yes, that’s’ where she was
heading. Was she a teacher, student, an office worker, a librarian? Maybe she
was some psychologist’s research project. I never knew the answer. I walked
twenty steps behind her, and by the time I entered the building (which
ironically was the location of the headquarters of the “Mind Police” in the
film version of George Orwell’s novel, 1984), she had already been
swallowed up by one of the elevators.
I was somewhat taken aback by what I had just witnessed. A mature
first year student at twenty five, I saw myself as an intellectual in the
making, and I was convinced that all the answers to the dilemmas of human
existence could be found through the intellect, that is to say, by thinking. I
didn’t realize yet that thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of
human existence. I looked upon the professors as sages who had all the
answers and upon the university as the temple of knowledge. How could an
insane person like her be part of this?
I was still thinking about her when I was in the men’s room prior to
entering the library. As I was washing my hands, I thought: I hope I don’t
end up like her. The man next to me looked briefly in my direction, and I
suddenly was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t just thought those words,
but mumbled them aloud. “Oh my God, I’m already like her,” I thought.
Wasn’t my mind as incessantly active as hers? There were only minor
differences between us. The predominant underlying emotion behind her
thinking seemed to be anger. In my case, it was mostly anxiety. She thought
out loud. I thought – mostly – in my head. If she was mad, then everyone
was mad, including myself. There were differences in degree only.
The above incident not only gave me a first glimpse of awareness, it
also planted the first doubt as to the absolute validity of the human intellect.
A few months later, something tragic happened that made my doubt grow. On
a Monday morning, we arrived for a lecture to be given by a professor whose
mind I admired greatly, only to be told that sadly he had committed suicide
sometime during the weekend by shooting himself. I was stunned. He was a
highly respected teacher and seemed to have all the answers. However, I
could as yet see no alternative to the cultivation of thought. I didn’t realize
yet that thinking is only a tiny aspect of the consciousness that we are, nor
did I know anything about the ego, let alone being able to detect it within
May our deep reflections on perennial “voice in the head” questions raised by the foregoing quotations, poem and Eckhart Tolle story encourage our insightful observations and answers, helping us live ever happier and more peaceful lives.
And so may it be!
“The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.”
~ Seng-Ts’an, The Third Patriarch Of Zen
“My teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon.
Do not mistake the finger for the moon”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, quoting the Buddha’s Teachings
“There’s nothing to say,
but words point the way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.
And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.
When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited:
Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things (your own nature)
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden
for everything is murky and unclear.
And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many.
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air –
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
such thoughts must
finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are,
of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.
In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises “not two”.
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
*Footnote re “
Hsin Hsin Ming”
The Hsin-Hsin Ming is a profound 6th Century non-dualistic perennial wisdom poem, first in the Ch’an (Chinese Zen) Buddhist tradition, attributed to the legendary third Zen patriarch, Seng Ts’an. Long regarded as a masterpiece by Zen practitioners, its essential non-dualistic message (influenced by Taoism) is that “When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state”. Thus any attachment, mental exertion or conceptual effort to characterize or distinguish impermanent perceptions precludes living an enlightened life – The Great Way, since words and concepts arise from illusion of duality and cannot describe timeless non-dual Truth, but merely point the way.
Skillfully translated from Chinese to English by Roshi Dr. Richard B. Clarke (1933-2013), founder and First Teacher of The Living Dharma Center near Amherst, MA. this version is available elsewhere on-line and in print. (Currently it is featured in “Teachings of the Buddha”, edited by Jack Kornfield, Shambala 2012, at pp. 143-9).
“In the beginning was the word
and the word was with God
and the word was God”
~ John 1:1
“And God said to Moses,
I AM THAT I AM”
~ Exodus 3:14
“An important part of the adventure of life is to get hold of the mind,
and to keep that controlled mind constantly attuned to the Lord.
This is the secret of a happy, successful existence.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda — Man’s Eternal Quest
Remember God, forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything,
you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“This separation between man and man,
between nation and nation, between earth and moon,
between moon and sun . . does not exist, it is not real” ;
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – “Jnana Yoga”
God is a Word*
Q. What is God?
A. As the Bible says – God is word:
A word used by different people
to designate their different ideas
of a transcendent power;
An omnipotence which they may
intuit, accept or reject,
but can’t ever comprehend.
Any such transcendent power
can’t ever be aptly named.
For any designation would
of the illimitable –
So, whether or not the “universe” was created by God,
“God” is a word created by man.
But, just as ‘a rose by any other name is the same’,
However humankind calls or tries to imagine it
There exists an indescribable infinitely potential and supreme Power:
An Absolute Reality and Existence, and Origin of All,
*Innumerable words – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify an ineffably infinite divine Power or any of its infinite potential aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “THAT” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.
Ron’s Comments about “God is a Word”
The word “God” is extremely common. Countless people commonly curse, exclaim, read, think , or pray to “God”. “In God we trust” appears on all US currency and coins.
But who of us has deeply considered what “God” really means to us or others? How many times have we unthinkingly uttered or heard such exclamations as “thank God!” “God bless you”, “God love you” – or even curses including the word “God” – without wondering about their significance.
Encouraged by my beloved Guruji I have spent much of my post-retirement life-period reflecting about “God”, and other synonymous words. And I’ve found that our beliefs and concepts about “God” evolve as we evolve spiritually; and that thinking about God furthers our evolution.
The above poetic essay was composed to propose that “God” is a word used by different people to designate their different ideas of a transcendent power, which ultimately is beyond words. Thus, it explains that “God” did not create man, but that man created the word “God” – with thoughts from ruminations, revelations, intuitions, and speculations, paradoxically trying to identify THAT which is beyond words, beyond all thought.
It is offered to encourage exploration of our common inner Divinity – in furtherance of our (conscious or subliminal) universal longing for a state of ONENESS with divinity – with “God” or THAT.
As observed by Mahatma Gandhi,
“A man is but the product of his thoughts;
what he thinks, he becomes.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
With our continuing reflections and thoughts about “God”, may we increasingly discover and experience our common inner Divinity. until ultimately we melt and merge as THAT – as ONE “God”.
And so may it be!
“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.
~ Lao Tzu
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
Q. What is God?
A. What isn’t God?
Q. Is it possible to see God?
A. Is it possible to not see God?
God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.
So, everyone sees God everywhere.
But few know it.
Ron’s audio recitation of Seeing GOD?
Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”
Have you ever imagined seeing God? Or wondered whether that was possible? Or heard of anyone claiming to see God?
During my early Jewish acculturation, I accepted the core Bible proclamation:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
Thereafter, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and assumed it impossible to perceive or to be enfolded in God. So I never understood Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE” [John 10:30].
But after my mid-life awakening, while crying for God with total surrender on a Yosemite mountain top, I beheld within (but did not merge with) the Divine light of ten thousand suns. Thereafter I began wondering about “seeing God” after reading the Gospel and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man who often experienced communion with the Divine.
I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India. There – almost a hundred years after Sri Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.
On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life and his teachings. I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was an ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with ‘the gift of tears’. Though Francis had lived in a vastly different age and culture seven hundred years before Sri Ramakrishna, they had similar devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport.
As an enlightened mystic Sri Ramakrishna affirmed to his principal disciple Swami Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy. At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother, or the all-loving Father. Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is Divine communion beyond human description.
Ultimately he taught that God is All – omnipresent as all manifestation, while timelessly transcendent as unmanifest Infinite Potentiality.
Thus the foregoing whimsical verses about seeing GOD were inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings.
May those verses and teachings encourage us all to ever remember – and perhaps perceive – that everyone and everything is Divine!
And so may it be!
“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“When there is harmony
between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda
“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another . . . . And over all these virtues put on LOVE,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
~ Colossians 3: 12-17
“Let us live in harmless harmony,
and stay in cosmic synchrony,
as we play in Nature’s symphony.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Ron’s introduction and explanation of “Harmonic Convergence”
Posted below is an updated version of a poem titled Harmonic Convergence about urgent necessity of our living together harmoniously with each other and Nature. It was composed in the 1990’s during my extended post-retirement period of solitude. At that time most humans were behaving fearfully and crazily, and suffering karmically, because we had forgotten our eternal Oneness with Nature and all Life on our precious planet. Since then our condition has deteriorated more than ever before.
For the first time in our recorded history, human insanity now threatens all life on Earth with omnicidal nuclear catastrophe or imminent climate collapse. So in introducing today’s updated Harmonic Convergence poetry I propose that we must avert ecological self-annihilation and human-threatened needless cataclysms by ending the psychopathic behaviors which have caused them.
As a compassionate human family we must urgently cherish or perish; and immediately live lovingly and harmlessly in harmony and synchrony with Nature and with all life on our precious planet.
Consciously and conscientiously we must at long last follow preeminent perennial wisdom common to all enduring religious, spiritual, indigenous, and ethical traditions, that above all else we do no harm to others, and do not thoughtlessly despoil our planet; but that with reciprocal respect, empathy and sympathy we compassionately treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves. (See https://sillysutras.com/go-for-the-gold-the-golden-rule-for-a-golden-age/ )
May we harmonize,
together in unity:
Unity in diversity,
Unity in equality,
Unity in integrity,
Ron’s audio recitation of “Harmonic Convergence”
May today’s poem, with preceding comments and quotations, inspire our harmonious thoughts, words and deeds to help heal the world, individually and societally, beyond illusory perceived separation from our spiritual Oneness with each other and Nature.
Ever mindful of our Oneness with Nature and all Life on our precious planet and beyond:
May we treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves; and
May we do all in our power to prevent insanely unsustainable despoliation of our precious planet.
And so shall it be!
At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.
As countless millions reverently commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story. Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.
Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.
Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.
For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.
Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.
For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.
Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.
Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:
“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”
Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.
What survives physical death?
If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?
“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.
Thus the Dalai Lama says that:
“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar . There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife. [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43
Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm
But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.
If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?
Vivekananda and Einstein.
The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.
In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:
“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”
“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go? “So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”
“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”, he said:
“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”
Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”
~ Albert Einstein
Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this precious human life on our precious planet Earth – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”
AND SO IT SHALL BE!
Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.
As an octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth. And I’ve thereby been blessed to realize that what we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.
Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.
Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first inner spiritual guide.
So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; and, that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.
Inspired by Guruji, I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma. Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays, quotes and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;https://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; https://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )
Ultimately I’ve concluded that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )
Consequently, I’ve become ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death – a great blessing.
Moreover, I’ve become persuaded that from a rare non-dualistic timeless ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate incarnations, emanations or appearances can be seen concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that until we become Buddhas we are karmically challenged to live each space/time lifetime as lovingly and skillfully as possible, while ever mindful that we are not mortal separate entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality.
To encourage our deep insights on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, like “Who am I?” and “What is death?”, I have shared the foregoing writings.
On Easter and every day, may they help us discover within ever expanding fulfillment and happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth.
And so may it be!
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
~ Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science
I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life
My life has become faith-based.
I follow my faith,
but I’m not affiliated
with any organized religion or other belief system.
After many years of questioning,
I’ve found faith beyond belief,
beyond dogmas or theology.
I’ve found faith in everything everywhere,
and in the impenetrable Mystery
beyond every form or phenomenon.
I’ve found faith in my Self and in Nature.
I’ve found the faith to follow my Heart.
Mine is not a blind faith based on fear or doubt,
or on inculcated or adopted ideas of others.
It is an abiding inner knowledge,
flowing from a long life
of reflective personal and trans-personal
experience and observation;
An insight arising from – but transcending – reason,
consistent and harmonious with
the highest welfare and unity of all Life.
My life experience has shown that our universe
is a magnificent, marvelous, miraculous and awe-inspiring “reality”;
That immanent in each life-form and in all manifestation
is an ineffable eternal Awareness:
An Intelligence or Divinity
which is the mysterious matrix,
Essence and Source of our reality.
My life experience has thus
indelibly instilled in me
an abiding faith in that Source*
As a purposeful evolutionary impetus in each of us;
A faith that from that Source
we get what we need when we need it,
Assuring that ultimately everything happens for the best,
to promote our evolution;
A faith that we are inevitably evolving toward
harmonious universal expression of greatest good –
As Peace, Truth, Joy, Love, and Compassion.
With such Faith, I am empowered to follow my Heart,
without worry, fear or doubt;
To accept inevitable and inescapable
life difficulties and uncertainties,
and yet to live openly, spontaneously and authentically.
So, without any religious affiliation,
I’ve become a faithful follower:
I follow my Faith;
I follow the Way;
I follow my Heart.
And this above all,
It is my Faith that enables me to be true to my Self.
*Innumerable names – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify that Source or any of its infinite aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “That” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.
Ron’s audio recitation of “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”
Ron’s 2019 epilogue to “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”
The foregoing poem explains insights arising from previously unimagined paradigms of “reality” and “self-identity”, experienced following a profound 1976 midlife awakening. It was composed during a post-retirement reclusive period, and first posted soon after the 2010 launching of SillySutras.com.
Since composing “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”, I’ve kept experiencing an evolutionary awakening process, and sharing further spiritual insights therefrom. And since then I have continued to be more than ever blessed with a “faith-based life”.
My miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near death taxicab rundown, has sparked subtly significant attitudinal changes, bringing unprecedented happiness and gratitude for this precious human lifetime, with evolutionary acceptance of Life beyond that described in the above original essay/poem.
With enhanced faith in the Divine, rather than mere belief, I have now given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney” to The Lone Arranger to resolve all worldly problems and sufferings, and to forgivingly ‘adjudge’ all those who ignorantly cause them.
And more than ever before, I now see this world mostly as a Divine play of consciousness – like a marvelous movie, or mental mirage or simulated holographic ‘reality’ – without fear of physical death, and with absolute Faith in its ultimate Divine denouement.
These verses are respectfully offered to inspire our ever expanding
faith-based acceptance of Life, as it is,
With ever growing Peace, Truth, Joy, Love, and Compassion.
And so may it be!
“We mark birthdays annually,
but celebrate Life constantly.
For birth and death are virtual,
while Life is perpetual –
a perpetual blessing.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Growing up I rarely thought about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.
Not until a transformative midlife awakening to self-identity as eternal spirit, followed by inner visions of apparent other lifetimes, and meeting my Guruji, who taught about death, dying and beyond, did I begin experiencing deep reflection about the mystery of inevitable bodily death.
And eventually I even began wondering whether our lifespans might be karmically predetermined upon birth. That reflection was triggered over thirty years ago when I received a memorable Vedic astrology prediction that I would die “at age 84”, based upon my precise time and place of birth.
Here is what happened.
Story of death prediction.
After Guruji returned to India in 1980, I met and learned from many other spiritual teachers, in addition to Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma, while always maintaining my heartfelt inner relationship with Guruji – above all other teachers.
Especially after my 1982 pilgrimage to India, for many years I considered myself a “born-again Hindu” and was especially attracted to Indian spiritual teachers. Thus in August 1986 I attended programs given by Sri Hariharinanda Giri, a self-realized Kriya Yoga initiate of renowned Master and Vedic astrologer Sri Yukteswar Giri and of Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who continued a spiritual lineage beginning with “Mahavatar Babaji” – an etherial being who apparently I beheld at the 1982 Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India.
Inspired by Sri Yukteswar, Hariharinanda Giri [affectionately known as ‘Baba’] had become an expert Vedic astrologer, and offered optional readings to those receiving his Kriya empowerments. So on August 10, 1986, I had a private astrological reading with Baba in which he interpreted my Vedic chart – which I called a ‘karmic map’.
In Vedic astrology or Jyotish, the ascendant sign is often deemed the most defining element in the chart. Both my Vedic and Western astrology charts show Libra – which is ruled by the planet Venus – as my ascendent or rising zodiac sign.
And so in his reading Baba emphasized this significant aspect of my chart. But in his Indian English he unwittingly mispronounced the name of my ruling ascendant planet, Venus. In a tape recorded session, two or three times he approvingly told me: “Your Penus is rising”. And he lovingly offered enlightened advice for my skillful spiritual behavior under that auspicious rising sign.
On conclusion of his reading Baba showed me my written chart, and asked if I had any questions. I pointed to a notation at the top, and asked him what it meant. Whereupon Baba turned off the tape recorder and replied: “That shows when you will die.”
Until then I had never heard that Vedic astrology could determine time of death from a chart based on planetary configurations at time of birth. Nor had I begun to think about my time of death. So in response to this surprising revelation, I simply exclaimed, “Oh!”
Whereupon, without my asking him, Baba voluntarily told me: “You will die at age 84”.
Post-prediction death reflections.
After Baba’s surprisingly specific death prediction, I continued to reflect on death and gradually discovered persuasively apt writings about esoteric ancient Vedic philosophy, astrology and prophesy, as well as about Einstein’s revolutionary relativity science. And I found credible quotes from non-dualist masters suggesting that that not only one’s lifespan but our actions, and even our thoughts, are predetermined by natural laws of causality until we transcend the ‘wheels of karma’. [See Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation; and Indian Astrology, Free Will or Fate? ~ An Amazing Synchronicity Story ]
On my 84th birthday anniversary (on November 8, 2016) I completed a full 84 year Uranus cycle, of exactly 1008 months. So since then I’ve increasingly wondered how much time is left for Ron Rattner; whether he is imminently ‘scheduled’ to say “bye-bye” to this twenty first century.
Life is eternal, but human lifetimes are ephemeral. So as an octogenarian (not knowing when this precious lifetime will end), I have been augmenting and updating my Silly Sutras postings concerning physical death – a profoundly important spiritual subject. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/dealing-with-death-and-dying-rons-memoirs/)
May these writings motivate our reflections upon our inevitable physical departure from this relative “reality”, where “however we may strive, nobody leaves alive”.
And may they hasten fulfillment of our deepest aspirations for Self realization beyond “birth and death”, as Eternal NOW.
And so may it be!
“Is all that we see or seem
but a dream within a dream?”
~ Edgar Allen Poe.
This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.
Almost every human believes that on awakening from sleep we are experiencing another day in “the real world”. But rare Buddha-like beings say that this relative “reality” isn’t really Real; that it is like a daytime dream, or a mirage, from which we are destined to awaken.
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
For millennia “enlightened” mystics and sages have likened our supposedly awakened earth life to nocturnal dream life, saying we are not truly awakened if we self-identify as entities separate from Nature and from all else in our perceived world of impermanent forms and phenomena.
Nighttime dreams are mental images arising on a ‘screen’ of formless awareness. Similarly our supposedly “real world” arises from mental images perceived and projected on the same screen of formless awareness that perceives nocturnal dreams.
Such formless awareness is the identical consciousness in which all dreams arise. It is universal and beyond time and space, beyond birth and death. (In the Bible it is called “everlasting life” [Daniel 12:1-3] and “eternal life” [e.g. John 17:1-2] ) And, from a ‘Buddha’s–eye’ perspective it is our true Self and ultimate Identity.
Purpose of Earth-life Dream Life.
So mystics say we are here to awaken from our daytime dreams of separation from Nature and its forms, to our True Self identity as non-dual eternal Awareness. And like mystics, quantum scientists have discovered that our supposed “real world” of perceived forms and phenomena is merely impermanent and non-material energy in a universal quantum field. [E=mc2]
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong.
What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses.
There is no matter.”
“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the [quantum] field is the only reality.”
~ Albert Einstein
Moreover, consistent with the ancient mystics, Einstein realized that space/time relative “reality” is merely an optical illusion of consciousness arising from [ego-mind] thought:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.”
Yet, like the ancient mystics, Einstein intuited and venerated a transcendent, incomprehensible and inexplicable Omniscience or universal intelligence beyond space/time’s relative “reality”:
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists.
Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable.
Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
Awakening From Earth-life Dream Life.
Over forty years ago, I was blessed with the immensely transformative insight that I was not merely my physical body, its thoughts or its story, but the consciousness from which they arose. Since then I’ve gradually been enjoying ever growing happiness and ever less fear of death by increasingly identifying as universal Eternal spirit rather than as a merely mortal separate physical body – viz. more and more as Ram and less and less as Ron. The stories recounted in my spiritual memoirs are all about this awakening process.
But the most unforgettable experience which has best revealed to me that we are all like dreamers awakening from illusory mortality to joyous eternal Reality, was my beloved Guruji’s parting poetic gift described at “My Miraculous Experience on Shri Dhyanyogi’s Mahasamadhi”.
On August 29, 1994, Guruji intentionally left his then one hundred sixteen year old body in India. At the same time, and unaware of Guruji’s transition, I received from him in San Francisco an inspiring poem about our awakening from Earthly dream life of supposed birth and death, to true Reality as Eternal Bliss [Sat-Chit-Ananda].
That simple ‘channeled’ poem was extraordinarily powerful because it was infused with Guruji’s blessing or sankalpa for fulfillment of our deepest Awakening aspirations. So it has remained indelibly imprinted in my heart and on my ‘mental software’. And I have often spontaneously recited it for others.
Here is the original poem, as initially titled, “Dream Life”:
When we come to Earth
they call it a birth.
When we leave,
they say we die.
But we really don’t come,
and we really don’t go.
We just dream our lives.
To awaken as Bliss
from all of this,
Joyous that all is
The poem’s verses were received and written without any title. But in the above and later writings and recitations, I added different titles: mostly, “Dream Life” or “I am THAT”.
Also, occasionally I added as concluding lines “I am THAT” or “We are THAT” [and Sanskrit translations “Soham!” and plural “Sovayam”]
Audio and video explanations and recitations of Dream Life poem
For many people, actual or audio/visual recitations of Guruji’s parting gift poem are more powerful than just reading the printed words. So I am sharing with you below two audio/visual recitations, both prefaced with brief explanations of the poem.
mp3 home recording.
mp4 film clip with Ron’s recitation beginning at 1.3m.
This happened on October 29, 2013, while I was chatting with my poet friend Hippy Dave at San Francisco’s Aquatic Beach. Dave and I were greeted by Andrey Milyayev, a Ukrainian cinematography student who was doing a school documentary film project about artistic life in San Francisco. Andrey asked Dave to recite one of his original poems, and Dave obliged. Whereupon Dave unexpectedly asked me to also recite a poem. So I spontaneously recited the Guruji dream life poem, then calling it “I am THAT”.
May all those who hear or read this poem receive Guruji’s blessing or sankalpa for fulfillment of our deepest Awakening aspirations.
And so may it be!