Subscribe to RSS

Self Inquiry

Is Personal Perfection Possible?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress, driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions. Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.”
~ Saint Augustine
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations
comes nearest to perfection.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.”
~  Kahlil Gibran
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Is Personal Perfection Possible?

Q. Is personal perfection possible?

A. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 aptly observes:

“There are none on Earth so righteous that they never sin.”

Incarnation involves limitation – and fallibility.

We’re here to learn and to evolve,
and evolution toward ‘perfection’ implies imperfection.

So, a perfect person’s not possible.



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”

Dear Friends, 

The forgoing essay and quotations raise an important philosophical question for our consideration, “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”. 

The idea of “perfection” has different meanings for different people.  But, in our world of relativity and duality “perfection” implies “imperfection”.  You can’t have one without the other.  And realizing that all humans are limited or flawed can help us accept others as spiritual siblings – children of the Divine in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness.

Upon mistakenly believing ourselves to be “mortals” separate from each other and Nature, we become subject to the karmic law of cause and effect.  And we are motivated by inevitable karmic sufferings to evolve beyond our supposed duality; beyond our conceptions of separate perfection or imperfection.  Thus we are advancing toward realization that cosmically we are not separate “persons”, but  ONE Eternal Spirit or Infinite Awareness.  

But while we remain caught by karmic law of cause and effect, we can’t ever achieve individual “perfection”. 

Soon after my spiritual awakening I enrolled in a ‘new age’ seminar called “est”, founded by Werner Erhard, a charismatic and controversial former salesman who claimed to be sharing an esoteric epiphany he experienced while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.  As discussed in my  Getting “IT” at est  memoirs chapter, the est training planted significant seeds for my spiritual evolution by presenting some important and intriguing ideas from perennial wisdom teachings, which were then new to me, and which today remain important – like dis-identifying with the “voice in my head” and “accepting the present moment”.  To emphasize the importance of accepting the present moment, the NOW, Werner Erhard taught that everything (but not everyone) is “perfect”.
 
That: 

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not.  As you can see, this universe is perfect.”


Accepting “what is” NOW in the present moment remains for me a core principle for living a happy life, after over forty years of experience and reflection.  And since 1976 and est, I have repeatedly written about the idea of “perfection”, as in the foregoing brief Q and A essay and key quotations. 

In philosophically reflecting and writing on “perfection”, I have concluded that  “All is perfection, but nobody’s perfect”.  And I’ve found that empathetically seeing all humans as limited or flawed helps us experience ever growing happiness.

So this posting is offered to help us identify all humans as spiritual siblings in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness – children of the Divine with whom we are ‘fellow travelers’ on the spiritual path to “perfection”.  
 
And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

Why Do We Suffer? ~ “No pain, no gain.”

“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
~ Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
“All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are. When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon;
suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.
Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
~ Buddha
“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
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
~ Osho
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

~ Khalil Gibran
“[I]f the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now.
Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Shakyamuni_Buddha.


Why Do We Suffer?

Q. The Buddha taught that human life entails unavoidable suffering (duhkha), but that we can be freed from suffering. Why do we suffer, and how can we be freed from suffering?

A. We suffer from ignorance (avidyâ) of our of our true self-identity and ‘reality’, and from our consequent unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which are subject to law of karma. Suffering ends when ignorance ends; ignorance ends gradually with experiential Self knowledge that we are Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, rather than merely mortal and limited persons.

Various spiritual traditions propose different paths or methods for attaining such Self knowledge. They can only point to this spiritual goal, but not bestow it.

Each person is unique, with a unique perspective and unique karmic history causing psychological suffering. An often recommended method to end such suffering is perseverant introspection for mindfully identifying, realizing and transcending our unskillful tendencies.  Such attention and realization can ultimately free us from psychological suffering.


Ron’s Commentary on Why Do We Suffer ~ “No pain, no gain.”

Dear Friends,

Many years ago, as I was being treated for painful left leg injuries by Taoist master and Doctor of Chinese Medicine Sifu Wei Tsuei, I had an unforgettable experience.

During an acupuncture treatment, Sifu suddenly inserted a large metal needle into my left buttock, and I loudly exclaimed in pain, “OUCH!”. Whereupon Sifu responded,


“No pain, no gain!”


Then he quietly continued his treatment, which proved quite helpful.

Since then I have often reflected on the wisdom of Sifu’s words, “No pain, no gain”, and learned they are a popular proverb. With human bodies we experience inevitable physical pain, which can be a crucial catalyst and incentive for spiritual evolution. As stated by another popular Buddhist proverb: 
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”.

Though we may not be free to choose our sometimes painful outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our psychological attitude about those circumstances.

Thus every painful earth life experience which induces an elevated attitude can be a disguised blessing furthering our spiritual evolution, and our ultimate transcendence of psychological suffering. And, the greater such suffering, the greater its potential blessing.

The foregoing important quotations and brief essay help explain why we suffer and how we can transcend psychological suffering. They are spiritual teachings which can help us suffer less, and live ever happier lives. So I urge our deep reflection on them.

Moreover, as mindfully we experience ever less suffering and ever more happiness, it becomes possible for some of us to realize that everything in human life is an enormous blessing. For example, renowned master mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell taught that

“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”
~ Joseph Campbell


Conclusion.

May our growing experiential wisdom, often inspired by mindful suffering, help us – like Joseph Campbell – to ever,

Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,

even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

every time, every place,

and

Forever (S)HE will reign!


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

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

Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

”Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu
“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




Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

Life is perpetual;
Happiness is optional.

God gives Life eternal.
Humankind makes it sublime or infernal.

Timeless delight,
or endless night:

However we choose it,
we never can lose it.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Listen to



Ron’s commentary on “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why the world seems so crazy? Why billions of people worldwide suffer unnecessarily from wars, poverty, illness, lack of basic life-sustaining necessities? Why even in the richest nation on Earth, suffering is ubiquitous? Why even materially rich people are often depressed, addicted or mentally ill?

Long before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I attributed societal suffering to societal insanity. But only afterwards, did I begin deeply reflecting on root causes of such societal insanity and unhappiness. I began asking many new questions about our true identity and reality. That continuing process of constant questioning has proved immeasurably helpful.

Thereby, I have been blessed with simple spiritual answers to seemingly complicated questions about crazy behaviors in a crazy world; answers which have brought me ever-increasing happiness. Like Dr. Seuss, I’ve discovered that: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”; that seemingly complicated questions about living a happy life often can be resolved with simple answers from elevated levels of inner awareness.

I have found that societal suffering arises from ignorance of our true nature and spiritual self-identity; that we inevitably suffer karmically while seeking happiness through satisfaction of ephemeral worldly desires, because lasting happiness can only be found within; and, that our experience of happiness depends upon our self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as only impermanent mortal bodies and their stories.

So inspired by my beloved Guruji, I’ve shared many SillyStutras writings about happiness, to help us discover within that eternal happiness is our true nature.

The foregoing pithy poem “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional” and preceding quotations emphasize the crucial truth that Life is eternal, though suffering is optional. I hope you’ll reflect upon them.

May these writings help inspire us to experience ever more inner happiness in a seemingly insane world.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
~ Socrates
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”  After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
 
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one.  How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life.  It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch





Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

Introduction.

Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?

Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever. It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Historical overview.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

Conclusion.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.

And so it shall be!


Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking the Ultimate Question”.

Dear Friends,

For millennia, seers, saints and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”; and, to ask persistently the supremely crucial question – “Who am I?”.

But few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennially advised investigation.  

Until mid-life, like most other Westerners, I unthinkingly self-identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Then, following an extraordinary out of body experience, I irresistibly began wondering “Who am I?”.  Finally, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences.  Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth.

Thereafter, I began having numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy experiences, and became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed to sleep. Only then did I begin learning about teachings of Eastern mysticism, including non-duality. 

Afterwards, I synchronistically met my beloved teacher, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable Hindu Guru then 100 years old, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.  Guruji lived until age 116, and has remained my teacher since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994.  After shaktipat initiation, I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.

But I also learned that – unlike  Guruji and other rare Buddha-llke beings – on realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I had not yet become ‘instantly enlightened’.  Rather, that this realization had triggered an evolutionary process of awakened kundalini life-force energies which were manifesting via  spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional experiences [ called kriyas]  and thereby purifying the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.

Ultimately, I realized that this evolutionary kundalini purification process was gradually undoing or eliminating eons of accumulated subtle karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas]  causing unconscious habitual behaviors and emotional patterns, and precluding or inhibiting spontaneously skillful behaviors.   

Soon after this revelatory discovery I declared myself to be an ‘uncertain Undo’ [rather than ‘born-again Hindu’] and began writing whimsical sutras like:


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


Today, over forty years since realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness  (rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences),  I’m still not fully ‘undone’, and ego attrition continues.  But as I continue to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than as physical body there seems to be ever more Ram than Ron in my life. 

Thereby after many years of questioning, I’ve found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, more than ever before I regard “Who Am I?” as a  supremely crucial question to be persistently investigated for those with spiritual aspirations.  So today I have posted the above  important quotations and brief essay.

If ever you have wondered or aspired about spiritual evolution, I encourage your deep consideration of today’s posting.

May it help us live  happier lives by consciously participating in an irresistible evolutionary process which is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ever changing ephemeral energy forms.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Knowing The Unknowable

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






Knowing The Unknowable

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

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

If we think we Know,
we don’t.

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

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

So, Knowing is this:

It’s Being —
Bliss —

NOW!


Ron’s audio recitation of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Listen to



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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Tuned Out, To Turn On

“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





Tuned Out, To Turn On

Once, I found an artesian well
of bubbling bliss
deep down – within;
way below what I knew
before I found it.

Like a Divine bovine udder
it had several spigots.

Spigots for tears, for laughter,
for songs, and for sutras.

It flowed from different spigots
at different no-times,
but never at no no-time.

I often drank and bathed at that well.

Then Bush* was [s]elected.
What a turn-off!
What a spigot stopper!

I was looking for a turn on –
a spigot restarter.
Any spigot would do.

Then, Eureka! I found it!

I tuned out Bush, and it turned on bliss;
bubbling Bliss
from deep down – within.

Now, I’m a blissful old man

[or am I?] .

 

Ron’s recitation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

Listen to



Ron’s Explanation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

Dear Friends,

On the 17th anniversary of the notorious September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, I have posted the foregoing metaphorically whimsical spiritual poem, “Tuned Out, To Turn On”, inspired by those events.

On 9/11/2001 I was living a reclusive life without any TV, computer, or daily newspaper, while praying and meditating in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Hence, I was one of very few Americans who didn’t then witness the disturbing TV images of utter destruction and disintegration WTC twin towers, killing over 3,000 people. So I wasn’t as psychologically traumatized as most others.

However, as a constitutionally trained social justice attorney, I’d already become distressed and angry about the egregiously unjust and unprecedented US Supreme Court selection of George Bush jr. as 43rd US president, after the Court arbitrarily and prematurely ordered cessation of the official Bush-Gore Florida vote recounting, which would have confirmed a Gore victory.

Only after later going online with my first computer did I synchronistically begin carefully investigating the true facts concerning 9/11/2001 terrorism. Thereby from indisputable factual evidence I became (and remain) irreversibly convinced that our government had intentionally misled its citizens and covered up the truth about alleged Moslem 9/11 terrorism; while such alleged terrorism became the primary false pretense justifying severe civil liberties deprivations and insanely incessant wars that have followed 9/11. And, moreover, the name “Bush” became for me metaphorically emblematic of a corruptly unrepresentative US two party political system characterized by little democracy, but much hypocrisy.

Yet, while deeply concerned with worldly planetary crises and suffering arising from insanely undemocratic official decisions, spiritually I gradually began seeing this space/time ‘reality’ like a mostly pre-scripted movie and play of incarnate Cosmic Consciousness. And I longed to BE free, as Oneness/Awareness, beyond inevitable world suffering – even beyond bliss.

With such longing (though not realizing Oneness/Awareness), I frequently found inner peace and happiness. Whenever (with a silent mind) I tuned out “Bush” and deeply focused on ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ within, I often experienced inner Bliss – even ecstasy.

From that experience, (long after 9/11/2001) I was ultimately inspired to compose today’s whimsical poem about such “discovery” .

I offer this poem as a reminder for all of us that we can help solve critical world problems by behaving from inner loving and compassionate levels of consciousness, beyond those which have created such problems.

May we thereby transcend all fearful, vengeful or judgmental behaviors, knowing with faith that all “sinners” reap as they have sown through unerringly mysterious karmic causes and conditions, and that thereby all “sins” are divinely and justly redressed.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, Buddha taught that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Invocation

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

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What Are Illusions?

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

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


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

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



~ Albert Einstein

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

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.

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






What Are Illusions?

Q. What are illusions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let us choose to lose our illusions.

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



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

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “What Are Illusions?”

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


What is “Enlightenment”? ~ Quotations

“Knowing others is wisdom,
knowing your Self is enlightenment.”

~ Lao Tzu
“There is no such thing as
enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is
itself enlightenment.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj




What is “Enlightenment”?

“Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened people,
there is only enlightened activity.”
~ Suzuki Roshi

“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“There are many paths to enlightenment.
Be sure to take one with a heart.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Knowledge is structured in consciousness.
The process of education takes place in the field of consciousness;
the prerequisite to complete education is therefore
the full development of consciousness — enlightenment.
Knowledge is not the basis of enlightenment,
enlightenment is the basis of knowledge.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.”
~ Deepak Chopra (Synchrodestiny)

“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply our natural state of felt oneness with being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet much greater than you. It is finding true your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflicts within and without become the norm.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now

“Enlightenment” is Being –
beyond entity identity.
Ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ron’s Commentary on What is “Enlightenment”?

Dear Friends,

I am privileged to share with you today key quotations from spiritual teachers about the perennial process of inner illumination – or “enlightenment”.

In memoirs titled “Transcending Transcendence” I’ve told about my conscious pursuit of “enlightenment” as a spiritual goal, until gradually I abandoned goal oriented spiritual seeking, and – as “An Uncertain Undue” – intuitively began surrendering to the Infinite, with more and more heartfelt faith in The Lone Arranger. 

I realized that “enlightenment” is only a word – a mere mental concept with different meanings for different people.  So I determined that in this illusory world “enlightenment” is not an ultimate destination, but an evolutionary process; that beyond space/time/causality ‘reality’ there are no concepts – only ineffable Mystery.   

As a spiritually unenlightened “Uncertain Undo”, I’ve ‘heretically’ decided that Suzuki Roshi was right in observing that

“there are no [fully] enlightened people, . . only enlightened activity”.


In my view incarnation is limitation.  So no completely “enlightened” person can manifest all infinite aspects of non-duality Reality – of limitless LOVE.  Therefore, as a devotional non-dualist, I’ve decided that Nisargadatta Maharaj was paradoxically right in saying that in this illusory world: 

“There is no such thing as enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is itself enlightenment.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


I respectfully suggest that – except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas – we all appear here on the Earth Branch of the great Cosmic University to evolve spiritually by learning LOVE and being LOVE; and that in this ever impermanent space time “reality” our challenge is to skillfully stay in harmony with always changing energy – whether perceptible or imperceptible; that as times change our “enlightened” behaviors must change; that historically enlightened behaviors may not still be appropriate in this modern age of mental malaise.  

For me perpetual change challenges us to always live life presently – ‘in the zone’ – by constantly responding appropriately, skillfully and spontaneously to ever changing earth energies.  So we are learning to experience life spontaneously, like skilled master musicians in a jam session – always harmoniously responding or blending with each sensed musical sound or soundless space.  

But if we had mastered that “enlightened” process of always being ‘in the zone’, we wouldn’t be here.  Consider these apt quotes from popular spiritual authors: 

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
~ Richard Bach

“If you’re not dead yet, you’re not done yet.” 
~ Elizabeth Gilbert (quoting her mother)


As long as we incarnate on Earth, participation in the “enlightenment” process entails learning mindfully “to let go, and go with the flow” – and to “leave it to the Lone Arranger.”    Moreover, active pursuit of “enlightenment” can become a subtle ego trap, to be averted.  So it’s best to surrender because:


“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi

Thus, while ever honoring my beloved Guruji as guiding and inspiring ‘outer authority’, I’ve more and more relied on inner intuitive authority while experiencing the earth-life “enlightenment” process.  And such reliance has brought an ever happier life.
   
Knowingly or unknowingly we are all on a spiritual path to discover within our true Self identity – which ‘is seeking us’.  So this essay is offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness by finding and following our Sacred Heart.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner