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Self Inquiry

Is Earth-life Purposeful?

“One great question underlies our experience,
whether we think about it or not:
what is the purpose of life?”
~ Dalai Lama
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence.”
~ Aristotle
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“What are we here for?
We are here for freedom, for knowledge.
We want to know in order to make us free.
That is our life; one universal cry for freedom.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Our purpose is process –
metamorphic process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,
we learn all that matters –

we learn all that matters is LOVE!”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. 

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

~ Richard Bach





Is Earth-life Purposeful?

Q. Is earth-life purposeful?

A. Yes! We are here to learn and evolve.

Though some Eastern mystics may call this ever changing “reality” a dream, maya, samsara, or illusion,
it is a marvelous and miraculous mental creation.

So how can anyone ever imagine earth-life to be without purpose?

Our purpose is process – metamorphic process.

Like unique facets of an infinitely faceted jewel,
each earth being has a unique perspective, but a common Source* – which transcends this world, while everywhere immanent therein.

So, our purpose is harmoniously to realize and experience,
and to actualize from infinite perspectives,
our ONE transcendent Self identity.

As long as we believe ourselves to be seemingly circumscribed
and separated from the rest of our reality,

We incarnate to realize and to actualize
our common Self identity.

We learn until we leave.

But, we don’t leave until we learn –

LOVE!

Footnote.

*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 Commentary on Purpose of Life.

Dear Friends,

Have you ever reflected on whether human life is purposeful – individually or collectively?
Or have you wondered:
“Why was I born? Why am I living?” Or “What is the meaning of life?”

According to the Dalai Lama “What is the purpose of life?”  is the “one great question [which] underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not”.  And since midlife, I  have found that reflecting about our life’s purpose, if any, has sparked a very helpful process of finding ever expanding happiness. 

So today I’m sharing the foregoing quotations and essay/poem to help us consider perennial  questions about ‘purpose’ or ‘meaning of life.  

Not until my midlife change of life did I ever wonder whether Earth-life is purposeful.  But since then I’ve continued to reflect and write about it.

Tentatively, I’ve hypothesized that, as students matriculating on the ‘Earth branch of the great cosmic University’, we’re learning to let life live us as LOVE, until ultimately we realize that LOVE is our common Self-identity and Universal Reality; that beyond this conceptual space/time relative reality, there are no philosophical questions or concepts or purposes, just infinitely potential Cosmic Consciousness as a ‘maha-matrix’ of all samsaric illusory mirage-like ‘realities’.

While growing up in 20th century America – like millions of others – I greatly enjoyed popular New York musical theater songs.  Many of my favorite lyrics were composed by Master lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II, mostly in collaboration with great musical talents like Richard Rodgers with whom he wrote Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.   

Until midlife I understood Hammerstein’s lyrics to encompass worldly subjects, like romantic love.  But, after spiritually awakening, I began to realize that Hammerstein’s lyrics often esoterically encompassed mystical perspectives. And I started referring to him as “Sri Oscar Hammerstein”.  

When I was born in 1932, one the “top ten” popular songs was Why Was I Born, for which Hammerstein, with composer Jerome Kern, had written lyrics in 1929, beginning with these perennial questions:

“Why was I born? Why am I living?” “What do I get? What am I giving?”  

And they concluded with this enduring answer:
  
“Why I was born? To love you!”  

Fifty years after Hammerstein’s composition of Why Was I Born  lyrics, I began to realize that they could refer to Divine LOVE, beyond just romantic love – e.g. to the ecstatic devotional spiritual path exemplified by Sufi-Persian Mystic Masters Hafiz and Rumi, as an ultimate goal of Human life.  

And so with poetic license I pluralized Hammerstein’s lyric questions and edited his answer: 

Q.  Why were we born? Why are we living? 
What do we get? What are we giving?  

A.  Why were we born? To love THEE!  

Reflecting on life’s purpose, if any, can help us gradually realize that we are not who or what we were taught or ‘labeled’ to be by society, or by our mistaken mental reification of our projected-perceptions: 

That we are not merely our mortal bodies – their genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories, or the ‘voices in our heads’.  We are nondual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles.  But ultimately ‘under the hood’ we’re all the same Cosmic Consciousness.  

By realizing and actualizing our common spiritual identity, may we help transform and transcend this world of suffering. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Let Life Live Us As Love

“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.
~ Hafiz
In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”

~ Buddha
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion,
and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [ego] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras
“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth.”
~ Lao Tzu
“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
“Love Is The Law Of Life:

All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. 

Love is therefore the only law of life.

He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. 

Therefore, love for love’s sake,

because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

Maitreya – The Next Buddha

“Let Life Live Us As Love”

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his groundbreaking theory of relativity establishing equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e=mc2.

Since then, for over a century, Western science has more and more shown what ancient shamans, seers, and indigenous societies have known for millennia:

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

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

Though Einstein’s insights revolutionized quantum physicists’ views of space/time “reality”, most humans haven’t yet changed our way of thinking about such “reality”.  Until now, most people mistakenly keep behaving as if we are separated from each other and from Nature, and not part of it.   This behavior has resulted in continuing selfishness, cruelty, wars and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet.

But gradually we are awakening.  From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are more and more realizing that everyone and everything are ever-changing energy phenomena appearing from a common matrix of immutable Awareness, which is LOVE.

All of our selfish, disharmonious and unsustainable behaviors have arisen from human ignorance of the true non-dual nature of the Self and all phenomena as Love; and from consequent mental mis-identification with the illusion of physical separation from each other – called “ego”.

Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us in the Rig Veda that

“ Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.”

Only rare Buddha-like beings, are said to totally transcend ego identification.  So we all experience some degree of separate self-identification.   But all humans are in various stages of an ultimately irresistible evolutionary process of ego attrition and transcendence.

In this world of cause and effect, Nature – not ego – is in charge and determines everything.   But, while believing ourselves separate from Nature, we exercise apparent free will and seemingly make non-predestined choices.

Depending on whether we are in harmony or disharmony with Nature, these apparent choices hasten or impede our evolution, and create or mitigate crises, sufferings and problems.   So, let us ever aspire to be harmonious with Nature:

Ever mindful of our common Self-identity as Awareness with all Life on our precious planet, let us live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

Ever mindful that in space/time Nature is our nature,
let us see and cherish Nature in everything and everyone everywhere.

Ever mindful that Awareness, as Love, is the ultimate Doer,
let us let go of ego,
and

 

Let Life Live us as LOVE.

 

And So It Shall Be!

 
Ron’s comments and explanation about “Let Life Live Us As Love”

Dear Friends,

On moving from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was ignorant about spiritual subjects, or religions other than Judaism. Growing up in Chicago, I had become familiar with Judaism’s core teachings:


“ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One”;  and
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

But initially, I had no idea of the supremely profound esoteric importance of those teachings, or of devotional Love as crucial in all enduring religious and spiritual traditions. Not until my 1976 spiritual awakening and rebirth did I begin experientially learning about spirituality.

Whereupon, gradually I became inspired by “love of God” as a key spiritual tradition, with which I had instinctively joined in frequently crying and calling for the Divine. And ultimately I became convinced that our true nature and identity is LOVE.

That in space/time “reality” everyone, everything, everywhere is an ever-changing energy phenomenon appearing from a common matrix of immutable Universal Awareness, which is LOVE.

So as Rumi profoundly tells us we need not “seek for love, but merely .. seek and find all the barriers [we] have built against it.” Those barriers are mistaken ideas about our true identity, which we can discover and transcend by looking within.

This process of finding and letting go of mental barriers to experiencing ourselves as LOVE is explained in the foregoing profound quotations and essay.

May they remind us of our common Self-identity as Love with all Life on our precious planet.
And may they inspire us to live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, Buddha taught that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Invocation

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

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”

~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda





Introduction.

After a midlife spiritual awakening at age forty three, prayer became essential to my spiritually conscious life process. So my spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following description and explanation of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening.

My history with “prayer”.

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing. But gradually I ceased praying for specific outcomes, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.

Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It is best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for our perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Becoming “prayer”.

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Self Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny.

Conclusion.

May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward realization of that ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Choosing Happiness: a Synchronicity Story About Rosa Luxemburg


“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

“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self.
Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self.
Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self.
The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it,
he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away.

Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably.

Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only.

Find your real Self and all else will come with it.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Rosa Luxemburg, March 5, 1872–January 15, 1919




Choosing Happiness: a Synchronicity Story About Rosa Luxemburg

I was writing an essay about happiness as a choice; and, saying: “Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our attitude and thoughts about those circumstances”. But, I was concerned whether Silly Sutras readers would question that statement absent some supporting confirmation. Whereupon, just as I was so reflecting, an eloquent, unexpected and previously unknown answer to my concern synchronistically arrived in my email in-box – a “manifestation miracle” .

While I was writing, I received an email message enigmatically entitled “Breslau Prison, December 1917 — Rosa Luxemburg”. Wondering what this was about I stopped drafting the essay about choosing happiness, and opened the email. It contained an excerpt from a letter written from Breslau prison by Rosa Luxemburg, a “pacifist and revolutionary socialist, [who] was repeatedly imprisoned and eventually murdered by forces of the German Reich on January 15, 1919.” The letter excerpt eloquently fulfilled my wish for evidence that “it’s choice – not chance, free will – not destiny, that mostly determines our happiness.”

Until synchronistically receiving that mysterious message, I knew nothing about Rosa Luxemburg, so I consulted Dr. Google and Wikipedia, found an on-line copy of Rosa’s entire letter from Breslau prison, plus interesting biographies of her with photo portraits. I learned that Polish-born and Jewish “Red Rosa” had been the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and headed the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party; that she was a political and societal revolutionary who is now revered as ‘patron saint’ of the German left – a visionary icon like Che Guevara or Joan of Arc.

In 1917 after almost three years as an unjustly jailed political prisoner Rosa Luxemburg wrote from Breslau Prison to Sophie Liebknecht, a friend whose husband Karl Liebknecht was also a political prisoner. [Karl was co-founder with Rosa of the Spartacus League, the precursor to the German Communist Party, and like Rosa was later murdered by the German army.]

Instead of bemoaning her own fate, Rosa attempted to console Sophie who had been traumatically separated from Karl. Rosa expressed her motivation in writing thusly: “My one desire is to give you …. my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. ….. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”

Here are eloquent excerpts from Rosa’s extraordinary letter to Sophie:

“This is my third Christmas under lock and key, but you needn’t take it to heart. I am as tranquil and cheerful as ever. —– Last night my thoughts ran this-wise: ‘How strange it is that I am always in a sort of joyful intoxication, though without sufficient cause. Here I am lying in a dark cell upon a mattress hard as stone; the building has its usual churchyard quiet, so that one might as well be already entombed; through the window there falls across the bed a glint of light from the lamp which burns all night in front of the prison. —– I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom, and winter – and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in the brilliant sunshine across a flowery mead. And in the darkness I smile at life, as if I were the possessor of charm which would enable me to transform all that is evil and tragical into serenity and happiness.
But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause, and can only laugh at myself.’

“– I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself, this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet, if only one looks at it in the right way. The gride of the damp gravel beneath the slow and heavy tread of the prison guard is likewise a lovely little song of life – for one who has ears to hear.

“At such moments I think of you, and would that I could hand over this magic key to you also. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life; then you also could live in the sweet intoxication, and make your way across a flowery mead. Do not think that I am offering you imaginary joys, or that I am preaching asceticism. I want you to taste all the real pleasures of the senses. My one desire is to give you in addition my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. Could I do so, I should be at ease about you, knowing that in your passage through life you were clad in a star-bespangled cloak which would protect you from everything petty, trivial, or harassing.”


The letter ended with this postscript:

“Never mind, my Sonyusha; you must be calm and happy all the same. Such is life, and we have to take it as it is, valiantly, heads erect, smiling ever – despite all.”



Moral of the Rosa Luxemburg Story?

What can we learn from politically imprisoned Rosa Luxemburg’s “joyful intoxication” and “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”; her professed ability “at all times and in all places, … to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”?

How was Rosa able to remain “tranquil and cheerful as ever” and selflessly and compassionately think of Sophie while suffering her own misfortune and unjust political imprisonment?

Can each of us – like Rosa Luxemburg – learn to accept life “as it is” and thereby find inner tranquility with an “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”?

Was there a causal relationship between Rosa’s selfless concern for others and her experience of tranquility and inner bliss?

Was Rosa’s happiness her choice?

As explained in the above quotations and following commentary, I believe it is possible to choose happiness despite adverse outer circumstances; that by elevating our mental attitude we can experientially discover within inexhaustible and ever accessible eternal bliss.

What do you think?

~ Ron Rattner


Commentary on Rosa Luxemburg and the Politics of Spirituality Morality

Dear Friends,

The foregoing amazing story about Rosa Luxemburg is one of my favorite and most inspiring synchronicity stories. It can help inspire each of us to choose ever more inner happiness in our lives, while steadfastly adhering to socially moral principles; and it can show us how living a socially moral life in turbulent times invariably involves spiritual, religious, ethical and political philosophy and behavior.

Rosa Luxemburg was a spiritually advanced pacifist and revolutionary Marxist socialist, who was repeatedly imprisoned and eventually bestially murdered by forces of the German Reich on January 15, 1919. She had been the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and headed the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party.

Born a Polish Jew, she became a German citizen prominent in revolutionary left-wing antiwar politics, as a brave truth-teller and social justice reformer. While imprisoned she wrote a prescient pamphlet demanding a Marxist revolution by the working class majority, because German society then faced a critical world-historical juncture requiring its choice of socialism over imperialism, or inevitable barbarism.

A century after her martyrdom, Rosa Luxemburg remains a political icon of the German left comparable to Che Guevara in Cuba or Joan of Arc in France.

While politically imprisoned under extraordinarily harsh and degrading circumstances, in solitude she experienced and expressed exceptional inner tranquility and a self-described “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”, having discovered within a gift to “at all times and in all places, – – – see the beauty, and the joy of life.”

Though martyred a century ago, Rosa Luxemburg’s inspiring resistance to German imperialism remains highly relevant to current dystopian times of insanely unsustainable exploitation of precious planetary lifeforms and resources by transnational imperialism centered in the USA.

Today, the US political system has become so dominated by plutocratic corporate capitalism that even ex-president Jimmy Carter – a world expert on democracy – has publicly declared that the US is now a corporate oligopoly or plutocracy, with an extremely unreliable voting system.

So our purportedly democratic representative ‘government of, by and for the people’ has become an imperialist plutocratic government of, by and for transnational corporations and a psychopathically corrupt and exploitive ruling class kleptocracy.

Shortly before Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was martyred and murdered by his own government at age 29, he decried our flawed and failing American capitalistic economic system, saying:

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” ..

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

“Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.” .. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ..“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”


Similarly the Dalai Lama openly endorses the economics of Marxism, by observing that:

“Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes–that is, the majority–as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.”

Likewise, Albert Einstein in a detailed and prescient 1949 essay titled “Why Socialism?”, wrote:

“I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

In case you wonder why you may not have previously heard the foregoing anti-capitalistic opinions of these great beings, perhaps this Einstein quote may help answer your question:

“An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.”
~ Albert Einstein

Like Rosa Luxemburg, the world’s most spiritually evolved people – such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Einstein, Pope Francis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others – are those most concerned with the political fate of people who are in need and suffer from insanely inequitable exploitation by powerful plutocrats.

Democracy and imperialism cannot co-exist.

In all events, whatever economic system may be most appropriate for these troubled times, it needs to be democratically determined by the majority of each human society and productive enterprise, not hierarchically imposed worldwide by a tiny minority of psychopathically exploitative billionaires.

Especially, because we face possible catastrophic nuclear or ecological extinction of human life on Earth, it is NOW imperative that Humankind revive and rekindle the universal outer light of ‘Liberty, Equality And Fraternity’ while accessing our shared Eternal inner light of Truth and LOVE.

May Rosa Luxemburg’s story help inspire us to do that.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Eckhart Tolle ~ Spiritual Awakening Story and Teachings

“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.



Ron’s Introduction.

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.”


Ron’s Comments.

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.”

~ Rumi


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!

Ron Rattner

Voice In My Head?

“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.”
~ Rumi
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
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”

Listen to


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”.

Eckhart Tolle.

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
annihilated.

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
myself.



Invocation.

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!

Ron Rattner

Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”
~ Socrates
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. 
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Love is what we were born with.

Fear is what we learned here. 

The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear
and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.

~ Marianne Williamson
In silence sweet

we shall see

that everything is light.

And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace

there’s naught to fear but fright.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.

The higher we go
the more we know,

That our highest highness
is our common “I-ness”.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Ascension Apprehension”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Ascension Apprehension”

Dear Friends,

Did you know that most humans fail to achieve their highest potentials and suffer unnecessarily because of mistaken fear of the unknown  – especially fear of inevitable bodily death? 
 
Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown. But, knowingly or unknowingly, most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and don’t know what if anything happens after physical death.

Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown.

Countless survivors of what we call near death experiences, credibly report vastly transformed, happier and more fulfilling lives following experiential realization that bodily death does not end life; that in dying to physical life we can be ‘reborn to eternal life’.

By identifying only with our mortal physical bodies we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. And we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death. So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And futilely we try to ‘protect’ ourselves by psychologically denying inevitable demise of our ephemeral physical forms.  So our lives are often marked by suffering from conflicts and problems which disturb our peace of mind and awareness of our eternal at-one-ment with Nature. 

Yet it is possible for us to transcend suffering from fear of the unknown. We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts; that our ultimate common essence is immortal.  Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with our common immortal awareness, rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and gradually we can expand our perceived boundaries, so to ever evolve ’til these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend ephemeral entity identity, often we can just be at peace in the present – as thoughtless immortal awareness – NOW.

Invocation

May the foregoing Ascension Apprehension verses and quotations help us realize that “the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.” and thereby inspire our discovery of ever less fearful and ever more fulfilling lives.  

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner


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

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


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



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

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

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What survives physical death?

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

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

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

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


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

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Vivekananda and Einstein.

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

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

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


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


“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”


~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


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

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


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

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



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



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

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

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




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

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

~ Albert Einstein


Conclusion.

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


“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”


AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Dealing With Death and Dying
~ Ron’s Memoirs

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


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


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

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

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

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

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

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

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

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

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