Now

Tribute to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh


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

Thich Nhat Hanh
October 11, 1926 – January 22, 2022


Introduction and Explanation.

With deep gratitude for his teachings, this posting honors Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh – renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace advocate, teacher, poet, and author.

Master Thich Nhat Hanh was particularly known in the West for teaching Buddhist mindfulness and active social and political pursuit of Truth, known as “Engaged Buddhism”.

This article includes below a culled collection of representative quotations from his voluminous writings, and an embedded recent Plumb Village documentary film – “A Cloud Never Dies”, narrated by actor Peter Coyote, a Zen Buddhist practitioner and priest.

The Plumb Village collective organization is the best online source for further information about Master Thich Nhat Hanh. And for your convenience a Wikipedia biography is both linked and attached as a pdf document.

May Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s long lifetime in the 20th and 21st centuries, continue blessing countless future generations, until we realize (as He observed) that “Reality transcends both birth and death.”

And so may it be!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner


“A Cloud Never Dies”




Quotations From Master Thich Nhat Hanh


“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

“The notion of a separate self is like a tunnel that you keep going into. When you practice meditation, you can see that there is the breathing but no breather can be found anywhere; there is the sitting but no sitter can be found anywhere. When you see that, the tunnel will vanish, and there will be a lot of space, a lot of freedom.”

“Today is the most important day of our lives.”

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

“If you think that peace and happiness are somewhere else and you run after them, you will never arrive.”

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

“Meditation is not to avoid society; it is to look deep to have the kind of insight you need to take action. To think that it is just to sit down and enjoy the calm and peace, is wrong.”

“Meditation is not meant to help us avoid problems or run away from difficulties. It is meant to allow positive healing to take place. To meditate is to learn how to stop—to stop being carried away by our regrets about the past, our anger or despair in the present, or our worries about the future.”

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

“Silence is essential. We need silence just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.”

“Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand. Understanding means to throw away your knowledge.”

“People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality.”

“Birth is okay and death is okay, if we know that they are only concepts in our mind. Reality transcends both birth and death.”

“There is no birth, there is no death; there is no coming, there is no going; there is no same, there is no different; there is no permanent self, there is no annihilation. We only think there is.”

“The heart of the matter is always our oneness with divine spirit, our union with all life.”

“You are what you want to become. Why search anymore? You are a wonderful manifestation. The whole universe has come together to make your existence possible. There is nothing that is not you. The kingdom of God, the Pure Land, nirvana, happiness, and liberation are all you.”

“Be Yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just Be.”

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.”

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”

“If love is in our hearts, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle. Because understanding is the very foundation of love, words and actions that emerge from our love are always helpful.”

“The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.””

“When another person makes you suffer,
it is because he suffers deeply within himself,
and his suffering is spilling over.
He does not need punishment; he needs help.
That’s the message he is sending.”

“You do not suffer because things are impermanent. You suffer because things are impermanent and you think they are permanent.”

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

“The desire to be a free person is very worthwhile. To be free means you are no longer the victim of fear, anger, craving, or suspicion.”

“Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body. Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion: with mindfulness, you can see that they are unhappy and suffering. You can see their wrong perceptions. You’ll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something to help the other person suffer less. This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart. And when compassion appears, anger is deleted.”

“Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

“The greatest of all miracles is to be alive.”

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”

“The buddha called suffering a holy truth, because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation. Embrace your suffering and let it reveal to you the way to peace.”

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.”

“Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”

“Often we tell ourselves, “Don’t just sit there, do something!” But when we practice awareness, we discover that the opposite may be more helpful: “Don’t just do something, sit there!””

“Human beings are not our enemy. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person. When we are armed with compassion and understanding, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit.”

“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”

“The organic gardener does not think of throwing away the garbage. She knows that she needs the garbage. She is capable of transforming the garbage into compost, so that the compost can turn into lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and flowers again…With the energy of mindfulness, you can look into the garbage and say: I am not afraid. I am capable of transforming the garbage back into love.”

“When we change our daily lives – the way we think, speak and act – we change the world.”

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

“When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight.” The Art of Power

“We are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh



Dedication 

This posting is shared with the deep aspiration and dedication that its spiritual teachings will inspire and help us live happily and compassionately – even during the current extraordinary era of warfare, deprivation, turmoil, violence and suffering.

And so may it be!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner

Finding Freedom ~
Question, Quotes and Comments

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man, which is, that he must be completely free. As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul.
I am a son of God who can bind me’
free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him–
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past, to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [karmic] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You are truly free when you are not a person.”
~ Deepak Chopra – The Book of Secrets
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


How can we find “freedom”?

Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings.

Here we define “freedom” as ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our divine birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit immanent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Many Jews and Christians annually remember and ritually observe the biblical Exodus legend about God miraculously rescuing Jews from bondage as slaves in Egypt, with Christians recalling that a Passover seder dinner was Jesus’ last supper.   Some Afro-American Christians celebrate by singing the popular spiritual song “Go Down Moses

The Exodus story symbolizes humanity’s eternal quest for spiritual freedom – for societal escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity universally imminent within each of us, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, if any. So Passover rituals of lighting outer candles, can symbolically remind us of humanity’s perpetual quest for the eternal inner light of universal freedom.

Conclusion

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness; beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we are –

“Free at last, free at last!”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.”


Ron’s Commentary on Finding Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare transcendental state which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like slaves or prison inmates. 

I first deeply reflected on transcendental concepts of “freedom” during the 1950’s on learning of Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology theories concerning self-actuated people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by German-born psychotherapist Erich Fromm, who endorsed the fundamental importance of not submitting to outer-dictates from an authoritarian societal system that prescribes inauthentic beliefs and behaviors.

Though I’ve always been instinctively inner-directed, after becoming a lawyer I rarely reflected about inner “freedom” until I had a memorable face-to-face exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, just prior to his 1980 return to India. 

While then residing in my apartment, Guruji told me: “Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

Thereupon, I became intensely curious about Guruji’s surprising revelation that my body was “like a prison”. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. So I began deeply exploring inner spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last” were so deeply powerful. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external idols, Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
 


Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32

 
So Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from psychologically self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us within a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what our outer circumstances.  

Thus, Rumi reminded us:

“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi


The ultimate possibility of getting out of thoght-jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they encourage our evolution to precious inner freedom, our divine birthright.

And so may it be!

2022 Post-Pandemic Epilogue

Dear Friends,

Happy Easter/Passover/Ramadan/ et al. post-pandemic holiday season!

Two years ago, we entered an extraordinarily unprecedented “new normal” period of fearful pandemic panic. Billions of people worldwide have fearfully kept socially distant from one-another, wearing government-prescribed masks, or have been locked-down and “sheltering” instead of living normally. Observant Christians and Jews were at times barred from worshiping together at Easter services which memorialized the death and resurrection of Jesus, or at Passover seders (like Jesus’ last supper) which ritually observed the biblical Exodus legend of God’s miraculous deliverance of Jews from slavery in Egypt to seek and find freedom in a ‘promised land’.

As an expert retired longtime social justice attorney, I’ve become extremely concerned about obviously unconstitutional authoritarian edicts, laws, regulations and prescriptions for harmful genetic experiments which have prevented billions of people (individually and societally) from democratically enjoying innate and personal, political, health and economic “freedoms”. Especially because such edicts threaten imminent tyrannical enslavement of humanity I urgently encourage worldwide revolutionary resistance and refusal to obey them.

Additionally, to address the psycho-spiritual origins of our worldly pandemic panic and fears, I’ve also edited and republished the foregoing posting about finding transcendental inner “freedom”.

Paradoxically, this is a time of both catastrophic threat to Earth-life as we’ve known it, and unprecedented opportunity for a wonderful new era of peace and prosperity. Because pervasive panic and fear precludes us from resolving current quandaries, it is crucial that we now deeply reconsider our life purposes and priorities as sentient Earth beings instinctively seeking political, social, health, and spiritual “freedoms”.

Invocation

May today’s writings (and embedded gospel music)
inspire and encourage our democratic worldly progress
toward liberty, equality, fraternity and justice for all,
and hasten our fearless inner spiritual evolution,
to a wonderful world where we are 

“Free at last, free at last.”

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

“Go Down Moses”

Afro-American spiritual about exodus story, sung by Louis Armstrong and chorus.




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

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


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



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

As countless millions traditionally commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus Christ 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.

Thanks to the ‘leading edge’ work of Dr. Kubler-Ross and Dr. Stevenson, and of distinguished non-material scientists inspired by them, there now exists overwhelming scientific evidence 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.  And that until we evolve beyond space/time duality reality, apparent reincarnation or rebirth may happen after death of the brain and physical body.

What survives physical death?

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

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

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

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


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

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Vivekananda and Einstein.

The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principal 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


Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.

Dear Friends,

As an 89 year old octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth. And thereby I’ve been blessed to realize that consciousness we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only as my mortal physical body, its thoughts and its story, and believed that inevitable death of the body ended life. I had no opinion, knowledge 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 began to realize that I was not merely my mortal body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I started seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, who I now regard as my first perceived inner 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” and that “as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.” (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 less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death, and often witness Earth-life like an illusionary play or movie, rather than Reality – which I now consider timeless LOVE as Infinite Potentiality beyond comprehension, imagination or description.

Moreover, I’ve become persuaded that from a Self–realized ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate lifetimes, incarnations, emanations or appearances can be Seen timelessly and concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that (except for rare Avatars or Buddhas) we are karmically challenged to live each supposed space/time lifetime as lovingly and empathetically as possible, while ever mindful that we are not separate mortal entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality as LOVE.

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!

2022 Epilogue.

Dear Friends,

Since the 2019 equinox holidays we have entered an unprecedented “new normal” era of post-pandemic social, psychological, political, and economic turbulence, violence, and polarity, with possibly imminent nuclear war or other omnicidal catastrophe ending earth-life as we’ve known it.

More people than ever before are suffering fears of death, illness, impoverishment, or imminent calamity, and are unable to live normally. They’ve been deprived of God-given human rights and necessities, and prevented from engaging in customary economic and social activities. Some are homeless or ‘sheltering’ unable to reverently commemorate the equinox holidays with others. 

More than ever before our species is ignorantly, insanely and unsustainably plundering, polluting and pillaging our planet’s precious resources and destroying it’s precious ecosystem and climate.

But, paradoxically, this is also a time of epochal opportunity, not only a time of immense suffering and potentially imminent catastrophe caused or condoned by our species. Thus, this an especially appropriate time for us to deeply reflect upon our fundamental life purposes, priorities and responsibilities as sentient Earth beings.

Because ignorance of our immortal Self-Identity causes continual fearful sufferings which impede evolution and progress, it is crucial that we transcend fears. So to help us overcome our fears and enter an unprecedented new era of peace and prosperity, I have today posted the foregoing writings and reflections.

Dedication

These writings concerning life and death, afterlife and reincarnation, and Ultimate Reality as timeless LOVE, are deeply dedicated to encouraging our continuing curiosity and reflections about our common and non-dual eternal and Infinite Self-identity.

May they help us discover ever expanding fulfillment and inner happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth, whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth.

Invocation.

May we – in this precious human lifetime
on our wonderful planet Earth –
realize together our common dream for a new reality,
where everyone everywhere is happy.

May Everyone Everywhere Be Happy!
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”


And so shall it be!!

Ron Rattner

Prayer For At-One-Ment

“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
~  Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“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
“Beyond atonement theology,
Let us BE at-one-ment Reality –
as Eternal LOVE.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Saint Francis Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon



Introduction to “Prayer For At-One-Ment”

Dear Friends,

The following a prayer-poem is dedicated to our realization of “At-One-Ment” – a goal central to all enduring spiritual and theistic religious paths. It was composed during a reclusive period of inner focus. In Ron’s sutra lexicon –

“At-One-Ment” is realization of Wholeness, Holiness, Self;
“At-One-Ment” is the purpose of Life;
“At-One-Ment” is LOVE.


This prayer-poem and the following explanatory comments are shared to inspire and encourage our attainment of “At-One-Ment”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


“Prayer For At-One-Ment”

In the deepest part
Of each being’s heart
Perfect peace pervades.

May we plumb these depths
And share percepts:

At-oned in common calmness,
Common being,
Common “I”-ness;

At-oned in timeless
LOVE.



Ron’s explanation and audio recitation of Prayer For At-One-Ment

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of Prayer For At-One-Ment

Dear Friends,

Beyond any religious or theistic terms or traditions, returning to “At-One-Ment” is a universal and perennial process of knowingly or unknowingly transcending ego’s optical illusion of imagined separation from each other and from our true nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of self-identity with Nature, or Universal Intelligence or Awareness which is our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny – a process of gradually living more and more as timeless presence, not just as mortal physical bodies or their stories.

It is a process which responds to Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this space/time world beyond inevitable human fallibility, mortality and suffering; beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

Knowingly or unknowingly we are all here to remember and to honor our Self-identity and affinity with Divinity; and, thus to wipe clean the karmic slate of past behaviors or attitudes of imagined separation which impede living in and as precious presence. Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

Thus, as Socrates advises, we most beneficially pray for everyone everywhere, leaving satisfaction of our prayers to God. Also those of us following the devotional path find greatest fulfillment in only praying to be instruments of the Divine.


“Father, . . not My will, but Thy will, be done.”

~ Luke 22:42.

“Make me an instrument of Thy Peace”
~ Saint Francis


“Surrender everything at the feet of God.

What else can you do?

Give Him the power of attorney.

Let Him do whatever He thinks best.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


After beholding each of my thoughts as an amazing kaleidoscopic form during an out of body experience at a 1974-5 New Year’s Eve party, I came to realize that ‘thoughts are things’ and the subtle genesis of all other energy forms that comprise our space-time ‘reality’. Thus our loving thoughts and prayers, can manifest.

Especially when our prayers are heartfelt, they can be – as Mahatma Gandhi observed – “the most potent instrument of action.”

So, as Divine instruments, may we dedicate our Earth-life prayers to exemplifying Gandhi’s view that:

“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart.
You may express yourself through the lips;
you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public;
but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…
~ Mohandas K. Gandhi


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

How can we choose happiness?

“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives
by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.

Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,

go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.

Think of the beauty that again and again 
discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”

~ Anne Frank





Introduction to “How can we choose happiness?”

Dear Friends,

The following essay about choosing happiness was composed and published ten years ago. Since then we’ve begun experiencing an extraordinarily stressful post-pandemic period, when it’s more difficult than ever before for many of us to feel happy.

Accordingly I’ve updated this happiness essay, and supplemented it with a large collection of key spiritual quotations (mostly from Rumi) with deep insights about experiencing happiness, even in traumatic times.

These writings are deeply dedicated to our choosing happiness by elevating our behaviors and attitudes, beyond prevailing polarized and fearful levels of human consciousness.

They are intended to encourage us to gratefully cherish our lives as gifts of God and Nature, and thereby to help bless the world and all Life everywhere as LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Quotation Collection About Choosing to BE Happy


“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives
by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery
that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds,
can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
~ William James

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”
~ William James

“If you have made up your mind to find joy within yourself,
sooner or later you shall find it. Seek it now, daily,
by steady, deeper and deeper meditation within.
Make a true effort to go within and you shall find there
your longed-for happiness.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.

Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,

go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.

Think of the beauty that again and again 
discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”

~ Anne Frank


“The root of joy is gratefulness…

We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands.

For it is not joy that makes us grateful;

it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“Whatever happens to you, don’t fall in despair. Even if all the doors are closed, a secret path will be there for you that no one knows. You can’t see it yet but so many paradises are at the end of this path…
Be grateful! It is easy to thank after obtaining what you want,
thank before having what you want.”
~ Rumi


For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


“If you want to be happy, BE.”

~ Leo Tolstoy

“Always be joyful. That is the only truly saintly state.”

~ Saint Teresa of Avila


“True happiness is to enjoy the present,

without anxious dependence upon the future.”

~ Seneca

“Do not look back,
No one knows how the world ever began.
Do not fear the future, Nothing lasts forever.
If you dwell on the past or future,
You will miss the moment.”
~ Rumi

“Except for Love, nothing you see will remain forever.”
~ Rumi

“Love is not written on paper, for paper can be erased.
Nor is it etched on stone, for stone can be broken.
But it is inscribed on a heart and there it shall remain forever.”
~ Rumi

“In every religion there is love,
yet love has no religion.”
~ Rumi

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi

“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”
~ Rumi

“Don’t dismiss the heart, even if it’s filled with sorrow.
God’s treasures are buried in broken hearts.”
~ Rumi

“Every leaf that grows will tell you:
what you sow will bear fruit,
so if you have any sense my friend,
don’t plant anything but Love.”
~ Rumi

“It’s your road, and yours alone.
Others may walk it with you,
but no one can walk it for you”
~ Rumi

“Yesterday I was clever,
so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
~ Rumi

“We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.”
~ Rumi

“One of the marvels of the world:
The sight of a soul sitting in prison
with the key in its hand.”
~ Rumi

“While the mind sees only boundaries,
Love knows the secret way there.”
~ Rumi

“Love said to me,

there is nothing that is not me.

Be silent.”

~ Rumi

“Last night
I begged the Wise One to tell me
the secret of the world.
Gently, gently, he whispered,
“Be quiet,
the secret cannot be spoken,
It is wrapped in silence.””
~ Rumi

“There is nothing outside of yourself, look within.
Everything you want is there.
You are That.”
~ Rumi

“You are not just the drop in the ocean.
You are the mighty ocean in the drop.”
~ Rumi

It’s not our longitude

Or our latitude,

But the elevation of our attitude,

That brings beatitude.

***

So an attitude of gratitude

Brings beatitude.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Remember with gratitude,

Life is beatitude –

Even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

Every time, every place, and

Forever (S)HE will reign!

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


How can we choose happiness?


Q.  Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m sad.
Why aren’t I always happy?



A.  Even if our basic needs are satisfied and we are not suffering physically,
we aren’t always happy because of our state of mind– thoughts and moods which are ever changing and always alternating between happiness and unhappiness.



Q.  How can we be happier?



A.  By uplifting our mental and emotional attitudes.
Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life,
we are always free to choose our inner attitudes and thoughts about them.
Because we karmically ‘reap as we sow’,
our free will –not destiny– mostly determines whether we experience happiness.



Q.  Can we choose happiness?

A.  Yes!
We can choose happiness by mindfully discarding our thoughts of unhappiness.
And by gratefully accepting our lives as precious blessings.
So, we can choose happiness by gratefully saying “yes” to life.



Q.  It’s easy to advise that, but not easy to follow that advice.



A. Choosing happiness can be much easier said than done –
but it’s definitely doable.


Just as we can always choose to put a smile on our face, however we may feel,
we can always choose to replace unhappy thoughts
with attitudes of acceptance, gratitude and compassion.
Thereby, we eliminate the negative by accentuating the positive.

By thus choosing happiness, we can radically improve our lives.

So let us:



Remember with gratitude,

Life is beatitude –

Even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

Every time, every place, and

Forever (S)HE will reign!



And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


There’s Nothing Ahead ~ Rumi


“Come out of the circle of time
And into the circle of love.”
~ Rumi

“The Past, the Future, O dear, is from you;
you should regard both these as one.”
~ Rumi

“Fling me across the fabric of time and the seas of space.
Make me nothing and from nothing-everything.”
~ Rumi

“The Eternal looked upon me for a moment with His eye of power,
and annihilated me in His being,
and become manifest to me in His essence.
I saw I existed through Him.”
~ Rumi

“I am an ark in the swift flood of time,
and my companions, a fellowship.
Who throws in with us sails into light.”
~ Rumi

“Forget the future.”
“The day is conscious of itself.”
~ Rumi



There’s Nothing Ahead ~ Rumi

Lovers think they’re looking for each other,
but there’s only one search:
wandering this world is wandering that,
both inside one transparent sky.
In here there is no dogma
and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself,
not what he said or did about the future.
Forget the future.
I’d worship someone who could do that.

On the way, you may want to look back, or not.
But if you can say, There’s nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms
and take hold of the cloth of your clothes
with both hands.
The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed.
If you don’t have both,
you don’t belong with us.

When one of us gets lost,
is not here, he must be inside us.
There’s no place like that
anywhere in the world.


Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi,
Translation: Coleman Barks

There’s Nothing Ahead ~ Rumi



Voice: Md Taufikur Rahman
background Music:
🎵 Song: ‘Juan Sánchez – Now The Silence’ is under a Free for YouTube license.
https://soundcloud.com/juansanchezcom…

Time Cycling

“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think.”
“The distinction between past, present, and future
is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha
Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time
because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“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
“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.”
~ Buddha


Introduction to “Time Cycling”

Dear Friends,

The following “Time Cycling” sutra poem was composed long ago as a reminder that in space/time duality “reality” serial time is an unavoidable mental illusion. It is today republished (written and recited) on Black Friday, the beginning of an unprecedented 2021 year-end holiday season, when more than ever before many people are consciously suffering and worrying about their Earth-lives.

Many people with remaining money or credit are shopping in stores and online for Black Friday bargains. Others are protesting and demonstrating because of politically instigated divisiveness, turbulence and violence. A much smaller but growing number of spiritually aware humans (like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Catherine Austin Fitts) are determined to nonviolently disobey unlawfully evil edicts of our “leaders” and “rulers”. which they see as giving us a choice of “slavery or freedom”. (e.g. “We’ll Never Give Up” – Protests Erupt Across World over Government COVID Tyranny)

The “Time Cycling” poem is not intended to disrupt anyone’s enjoyment or perspective of this year’s holiday season.

As explained in comments after the poem, it has been published as a reminder for all of us to always be grateful and happy, as we remember our true spiritual immortality and Reality as ONE timeless LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Time Cycling

Beyond time

In time

Take time

Make time

Fill time

Kill time

Find time

Lose time

Spend time

End time

Out of time

No time

NOW!




Ron’s audio recitation of “Time Cycling”

Listen to



Ron’s comments on “Time Cycling”

Dear Friends,

Over forty years ago, I began questioning the ‘reality’ of serial time after experiencing many ‘mind-blowing’ pre-cognitive synchronicities during a 1977 week in New York City. (See  Synchronicity Story: An Amazing Experiment With Time )

Ultimately after reflecting on these and many more amazing synchronicities, and upon teachings of mystic masters, I became persuaded that Einstein accurately described space/time/duality reality as “merely a persistent illusion” arising from our thoughts rather than “conditions in which we live”.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned that it’s impossible for us to live timeless Earth lives, but that we are often reminded by synchronicities that time is a cosmic illusion, because the synchronicities are emblematic of Reality beyond time.

The above “Time Cycling” poem arose from the insight that common English vernacular ‘programs’ our unthinking mental acceptance of the supposed reality of time.

I hope you’ll enjoy its whimsical words without being ‘brainwashed’ by them as you read and listen to my mp3 oral recitation of “Time Cycling”.

The “Time Cycling” poem is not intended to disrupt anyone’s enjoyment or perspective of this year’s holiday season.

As explained in above introductory comments and quotations, it has been published on an unprecedented “Black Friday” as a reminder for all of us, whatever our unique perspectives about these times, to always be informed, grateful and happy.

May this poetry, and above quotations and explanations about illusory temporal “reality”, inspire ever more timeless happiness and gratitude in our lives as we remember our true spiritual immortality and Reality as ONE timeless LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present
~ Ron’s Memoirs

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

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Introduction

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ we are often reminded that our spiritual goal is returning to “godliness” – to Ultimate Reality. This memoirs posting explains how we can advance our evolution toward attainment of that goal, by clearing past mental conditioning to increasingly be here NOW in the precious present.

Because this posting coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days, it recounts my positive experience with Yom Kippur communal practices of: (1) non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us; and of (2) annulment or rescission of obsolete and unhelpful private intentions, resolutions, or vows to ourselves or God. Thus it explains my perspective that such practices, which are premised on societal awareness of inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.

Also it explains why our spiritual evolution can be furthered by other practices or activities which help us quiet the mind and clear mental pre-conditioning to increasingly live moment by moment in the precious present, with Love as the supreme unifying principle of Life.

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

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

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

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

Thus, Buddha taught that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jewish High Holy days practices

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

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

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

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten ‘Days Of Awe’ emphasizing religious introspection and repentance, and concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement” and “at-one-ment”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

My perspectives on “Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present”, encourage our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

Conclusion and Dedication

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

Thus, today’s posting is dedicated to advancing our spiritual evolution on ‘holy days’ and every day by encouraging us to fearlessly forgive the past, and thoughtlessly live in the precious present, as LOVE

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Afterlife?

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“It is in love that we are made; in love we disappear.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“It is in dying to ego life,

that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”

~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)
“It is crucial to be mindful of death —
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ Dalai Lama – From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life”
(written with Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD)
Whence come I and whither go I?

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.

~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ 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
“Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never Then!”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Introduction to “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

The mystery of bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue.

Since midlife I have gratefully realized from previously unimagined mystical experiences that inevitable physical death does not end our conscious lifetimes, and that we can enjoy ever growing happiness and soul fulfillment as we lose all ego/mind fears and worries about death and dying.

My profound mystical realizations are explained and discussed in the following Q and A sutra essay verses and comments thereon.

These writings are shared to help inspire our Self realization that beyond ego illusions there is no time, no death or afterlife; that on transcendence of conceptual life, there is only eternal mystery of indescribable and unimaginable Infinite Potentially.

May these writings thereby advance humanity’s ever growing happiness free from fear of inevitable physical death, and all other fearful and negative earthly emotions, and elevate us to harmoniously live together with kindness and compassion, as LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Afterlife?

Q:  Is there an afterlife?
A:   After-life is NOW.

Q:  Is there life after death?
A:  There is no death – only Life.

Q:  Then, what is it we call death?
A:  A vacation – eternal life-force vacating a transient vehicle.



Ron’s Comments on “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever considered what if anything happens after bodily death?

The mystery of what happens upon bodily death is an enduring philosophical and religious issue. It is therefore addressed in the above quotations and Q and A sutra essay verses, and in many other SillySutras postings revealing that beyond ego/mind illusions there is no death or afterlife – only Eternal Life NOW.

Background Discussion.

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But for many years it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Euphemistic language was used to describe death. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life; they usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

Today fear of death remains a major societal issue, impeding spiritual evolution, especially for Westerners.  Such fear arises from mistaken ego identification as only a mortal physical body rather than the eternal life-force which enlivens the body.  But gradually millions of people are transcending fear of death, and leading happier lives after near death [NDE], out of body [OOB] and other mystical experiences.

Since my midlife spiritual awakening I’ve realized that conscious contemplation of physical death can be spiritually important and helpful.
 
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?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing for Self-realization, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those enduring questions.   Ultimately his questions were answered through meditative experience.  Thereafter he taught that:


“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Also I’ve learned that Tibetan Buddhists encourage frequent contemplation of physical death as an important spiritual practice for optimizing opportunities of this precious lifetime, and in preparation for auspicious future lifetimes.  Thus the Dalai Lama has written that:


“It is crucial to be mindful of death —  
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life” by Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD


Inspired by Guruji, the Tibetan Buddhists, and mystical experiences, I developed deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation, and karma.  And gradually I have realized the importance of these subjects.

So I’ve shared many stories, essays and poems about these subjects, which I commend to your attention. (Eg. See “related” posts and audio files linked below.)


Especially after suffering a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, more than ever before I now frequently contemplate my inevitable – and perhaps imminent – death, with unspeakable gratitude for this precious human lifetime and for the evolutionary opportunities and happiness it has brought me.
 
Gratefully I have learned from experience that life is eternal and that “as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.”

So this posting is dedicated to helping us find growing happiness free from fears and worries about inevitable physical death, and related fearful and negative emotions. So that we instead accentuate optimistic and compassionate feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, which bring us ever growing happiness and further our spiritual evolution.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

Life Is NOW, Never Then!

“That which is timeless is found NOW.”

~ Buddha
“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Introduction to Life Is NOW, Never Then!

Dear Friends,

After my mid-life spiritual awakening, which began a new life phase of previously unimagined interest in spiritual evolution, I began to regularly and reflectively walk alone by San Francisco Bay, as an informal spiritual practice.

While walking by the Bay, I synchronistically began “channeling” spiritual sayings, rhymes and poems. Often, too, I’d spontaneously sing original melodies to accompany my poems and rhymes. As I walked, I regularly wrote the words that came to me. But, mostly I forgot the melodies, which I couldn’t write.

One of the few songs with melody that I remembered, I called Life Is NOW, Never Then!

It was telepathically transmitted and received as I joyfully experienced being in the precious present moment – the NOW.

After composing the Life is NOW song I rarely sang it, and it wasn’t otherwise performed or known to others, except for a few of my friends. Later, upon launching the SillySutras website, I recorded and posted an mp3 version of the song.

Also, Rob Tobias, a talented Oregon musician/songwriter/singer and videographer, and longtime partner of my niece Janice Medvin, started filming me for a biographical documentary record of eccentric Uncle Ron’s spiritual journey from litigation to meditation and beyond, which he titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)” . During the filming process, Rob heard and liked the Life is NOW song, and ultimately this year he professionally performed and recorded his version of the song.

Embedded below are both my original recording and Rob’s current professional recording of the Life is NOW song. Please enjoy the written and recorded versions of the song, and reflect deeply on their fundamental spiritual message.

May they inspire our spiritual evolution and growing happiness in life, by encouraging our being Here NOW in each precious present moment.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Life Is NOW, Never Then!

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Past is history,
Future’s mystery;
But, life is never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Time is how
We measure now.
But, life is never when.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.



Ron’s singing of “Life Is NOW, Never Then!”

Listen to


Rob Tobias’s professional performance of “Life Is NOW”

Listen to


Dedication

May the Life is NOW song lyrics and recordings inspire our spiritual evolution and growing happiness, by encouraging our being Here NOW in each precious present moment.

And so may it be!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner