“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.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Until my mid-life change of life, I identified solely with my physical body, its thoughts and its story and assumed that physical death ended our existence. Until then, stories of afterlife, reincarnation, ghosts or other disincarnate spirits were fanciful fiction for me.
But after my transformative mid-life spiritual awakening I became clairsentient and began having many extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including seeing apparent apparitions and visions of what seemed ‘past lives’.
So with great curiosity I wondered about this new apparent ‘reality’ of ephemeral forms and phenomena which I’d begun to perceive. Even though I had realized that my ultimate identity is pure awareness – and not my physical body or its story, I wanted to understand the nature and meaning of our apparent individuality as energy entities in space/time reality.
Through synchronistic inner and outer experiences I was gradually given answers to my questions about phenomenal ‘reality’, and became convinced of the relative reality of reincarnation and afterlife, while still realizing that ultimately all such phenomena are mental projections of universal consciousness; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”.
Hereafter I’ll tell you about some of my earliest memorable experiences of apparent afterlife and reincarnation. [See also https://sillysutras.com/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/]
The first of these experiences happened when I was alone one weekend in an attic room of our family house, where I was living separately from my wife during the traumatic divorce period shortly before moving out. Never do I recall feeling more miserable and heartbroken.
Then while seated in an armchair and gazing out of the attic window, I felt a comforting presence seemingly embracing me from behind the chair. Momentarily I glanced behind me and perceived my deceased grandfather, Morris, who had died five years earlier in 1971. He had silently come to console me. I was quite sober then, and this experience seemed very ‘real’ – not an hallucination.
Months later, I again saw Grandpa Morris in inner – rather than outer – images while in meditative or ‘alpha’ states of consciousness, after attending a Silva Mind Control seminar. [See https://sillysutras.com/silva-mind-control-rons-memoirs/ ] During and after the Silva seminar Mahatma Gandhi had begun appearing within as my first inner spirit guide. But sometimes, instead of Gandhi, Grandpa Morris also came to guide me.
During the same period of inner and outer encounters with Grandpa and Gandhi, I began having dreams and visions of apparent other lifetimes. [See https://sillysutras.com/visions-of-past-and-future-rons-memoirs/]
These visions radically challenged my prior Newtonian paradigm of ‘reality’. But still I remained skeptical about their meaning. So the universe kept giving me synchronistic experiences which answered my questions and confirmed new ideas of reality.
The first of my memorable experiences which seemed to authenticate an apparent past life vision began during the period of my traumatic divorce, when a broken heart had opened my heart.
Here is what happened:
In the early 1970’s my wife and I were San Francisco neighbors of a prominent family living across the street. Both we and our neighbors had children the same age attending the same private schools. Our youngest children attended a pre-school kindergarten. The mothers, who were both professionally busy, agreed to carpool our children to school on alternate days. I assisted in carpooling, on days when my wife was teaching at City College.
Mysteriously, while driving our children to school I kept feeling an extraordinarily strong attraction or affinity to my neighbors’ darling little four or five year old daughter Tara as she sat in the back seat of my car, especially noting her beautiful dark eyes and charismatic energy. *[see footnote]
During this period, I had begun having many extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including precognition and seeing apparent ‘past lives’. While wondering about my mysterious attraction to Tara, I saw myself in a ‘past life’ vision as a pre-Christian era Chinese male farmer with several children, one of whom – a darling little girl – was ‘the apple of my eye’. It was Tara.
Shortly after having this past life vision, I synchronistically met Tara’s mother while attending a program at the Masonic Auditorium. Briefly I alluded to my inner experience and, at her request, afterwards I sent her a confirming note recounting the story.
Soon she sent me a reply note saying that Tara “has said several things to me that suggest she has access to information from other times” and she suggested I question Tara about my vision.
So thereafter, with her mother’s approval, I told Tara that I had a vision of her as my daughter in another lifetime in Asia. Tara’s spontaneous response, which I immediately noted, was “Yes, I know.” There was no further discussion.
As a long-time lawyer, I immediately regarded Tara’s guileless statement as ‘corroborating evidence’ validating my past life vision of her.
Years later, I learned that there is considerable empirical evidence of very young children with memories of other lifetimes, beginning with ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. For forty years Dr. Stevenson studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives, and objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.
I have elsewhere posted quotations, aphorisms, poetry and essays about afterlife and reincarnation, to help readers overcome fear of death and mitigate grief from loss of loved ones. I have learned from experience that as we lose our fear of leaving life we gain the art of living life – authentically and lovingly; that we lose fear of death as we self-identify with eternal spirit rather than our temporary space/time soul suits.
*Her name and some identifying details have been changed to protect her privacy. She is now internationally known for her artistry.
“Everywhere I look, I see the face of God.”
~ Walt Whitman/Ron Rattner
“In a single atom, buddhas as many as atoms
Sit in the midst of enlightening beings;
So it is of all things in the cosmos —
I realize all are filled with buddhas.”
~ Avatamsaka Flower Ornament Sutra
“Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.”
~ Mahmud Shabestari, Sufi Mystic, 15th century.
Who are YOU? said the Caterpillar.
Alice replied, rather shyly, I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then. —-
The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
What size do you want to be? it asked. —–
Well, I should like to be a LITTLE larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind, said Alice: three inches is such a wretched height to be. ———
One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.
One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT? thought Alice to herself.
Of the mushroom, said the Caterpillar
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 5
After my mid-life awakening my life’s focus gradually evolved from litigation to meditation and I became less and less ‘up-tight’ about some of my prior worldly ways. But I remained reluctant to use psychedelic substances, even though my pivotal OOB experience had been triggered by inadvertent ingestion of marijuana.
As a lawyer, I didn’t want to do anything illegal that might prejudice my professional reputation or law license. Also, as CIIS Board Chairman in the early 1980’s I didn’t want to participate in any activity that could adversely reflect on our institution’s obtaining crucial accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
As a spiritual practitioner, I had learned that many prominent Eastern teachers and paths strongly discouraged the use of any psychoactive drugs. Nonetheless many spiritual people I greatly appreciated – like Ram Dass – had been awakened, but not “enlightened”, by LSD and other psychoactive substances. In all events, because of many experiences without psychedelics, I became convinced that for me they were not necessary and might be detrimental to my spiritual evolution.
Once, soon after my divorce, I was with a date who sociably offered me a marijuana “joint” to share with her. Curiously and so as not to offend her, I took a few puffs on the marijuana cigarette. But, just as with nicotine cigarettes, it seemed insane for me to intentionally pollute my body’s precious lungs with smoke instead of breathing fresh air. And I never did that again.
Nor did I ever again intentionally ingest any other psychoactive substance, until an unplanned incident in a beautiful nature place on a legendary mountain sparked an unforgettable “peek experience”, forever raising my spiritual awareness.
Here’s what happened.
After my spiritual opening, I began having extraordinary energy experiences involving other people, creatures and places. One of the places where I experienced extraordinary spiritual energy was Mt. Shasta, a spiritually legendary majestic volcanic mountain in Northern California near the Oregon border.
I ‘discovered’ Mt. Shasta in the early 1980’s while occasionally visiting a nearby ashram established for Guruji by his disciples in Yreka. There I was told that Guruji regarded Mt. Shasta as one of the world’s holy mountains, like those in the Himalayas. And I learned that Mt. Shasta is considered worldwide as one the most sacred and mystically powerful places on our precious planet; that there are legends about it as a focus for angels, spirit-guides, spaceships, and ascended masters, and as home of Lemurians, subterranean survivors of an ancient lost continent which sank into the sea.
Apart from these legends, Mt. Shasta’s extraordinary beauty and almost palpable spiritual energy attracted and fascinated me and I wished to spend time there rather than just passing by on trips to the ashram. So, I arranged to visit Shasta with two spiritual friends who had been initiated by Guruji – Tara and Ramdassi – both of whom were later amongst those on the 1982 pilgrimage to India, my ‘trip of a lifetime’.
On a lovely sunny Saturday morning in late summer 1981, we three began a day hike on the mountain, carrying our lunches and extra clothes in light backpacks. At mid-day we arrived at Panther Meadow, the most beautiful alpine meadow I have ever seen. I beheld it then as lushly verdant with abundant delicate plant-life, bifurcated by a tiny creek meandering into a pristine pond at the bottom of the meadow. Above the lush green meadow appeared a stand of beautiful evergreen trees, and above the tree line the snow-capped mountain peak framed by an azure blue sky glistened in the sun. Later, I learned that this extraordinarily beautiful nature place was ceremonially revered as a sacred site by indigenous peoples and spiritual pilgrims.
This breathlessly beautiful meadow appeared a perfect place for our picnic lunch. So, we found a place near the creek to quietly eat while reverently enjoying the immense beauty surrounding us. Before we sat down, I walked to the pristine pond into which the creek was flowing and tested the water temperature with my left hand. It was ice cold, from the melting mountain ice and snow – and I immediately withdrew my immersed hand.
Sitting near the creek, we silently and contemplatively ate our lunches. After perhaps an hour, when we had finished eating, Ramdassi withdrew from her backpack a small packet of tiny dried mushrooms, which she silently offered to Tara and me.
Although I had never before seen or eaten psilocybin mushrooms, I intuitively realized that these were such mushrooms and politely declined Ramdassi’s offer. Then Tara, who was a registered nurse at a large hospital, also declined the mushrooms. Whereupon, Ramdassi, who was a talented artist and shaman, importuned each of us to reconsider and to join her in ritually partaking of the mushrooms. She explained that she could not eat the mushrooms alone, but only with others, as part of a sacred ritual.
But Tara still refused them. Though I felt no desire to use the mushrooms, and was somewhat inhibited, I empathized with Ramdassi, sensed her frustration and was motived to help if possible. So I asked her how many of the tiny mushrooms were needed for a psychoactive experience. She replied, “at least three or four”. Whereupon, I said: “OK, I’ll take only one, if that will permit you to proceed.” So she handed me one tiny mushroom which I ate as she proceeded with her mushroom ceremony.
Soon thereafter I fell into an exceptionally deep meditative state, which I later realized was a ‘psychoactive samadhi’. I was immersed in timeless state with my body sprawled prone, eyes closed and head facing downward and resting on the verdant meadow carpet. After Tara and Ramdassi had waited for at least an hour for my return to waking consciousness, the mushroom’s effects finally began to wane, my body stirred and eyes blinked open onto the green plant cushion.
Whereupon, I beheld an extraordinary and unforgettable sight. With “X-ray and microscopic vision” I saw beyond the green surfaces of the meadow grass, plants and leaves into each and every cell and atom thereof. And in each plant atom I wondrously beheld an image of a Divine being, angel or saint. These images were similar to those I had infrequently and fleetingly seen during deep meditations at home. They seemed to appear holographically and fractally in some regular repetitive fashion.
After gazing at this wondrous sight, my body finally stirred as I awakened from the samadhi state. Then, though as an ‘uptight’ city dweller I had never before gone skinny dipping alone or in the presence of others, I spontaneously threw off my clothes and jumped naked into the waste-high ice cold pond waters. And for the first time in this life my body spontaneously went into a crucifixion posture with arms extended parallel to the pristine pond’s surface. There, half baptized in the sacred water, my body so remained motionless for some timeless/thoughtless moments, without any awareness of bodily chill.
Ultimately, I came out of the pond, dressed, and continued silently hiking with Tara and Ramdassi. But in some ineffable and awesome way I felt transformed – as if I had just experienced a deep secret of Mother Nature.
Prior to this amazing experience, I had intuitively but not experientially realized that manifest “reality” is a holographic mental projection of consciousness. (See Discovering How Consciousness Projects ‘Reality’ – Holographically/Fractally/Kaleidoscopically ~ Ron’s Memoirs) But this synchronistic experience seemed to confirm the accuracy of that intuition – the holographic nature of our perceived reality.
Also, after initiation by Guruji I had learned that Hinduism, Buddhism and other spiritual traditions refer to an esoteric ‘third eye’ supposedly located around the middle of the forehead slightly above the eyebrows, and anatomically connected with the pineal gland; that in the Kundalini yoga tradition this ‘third eye’ is associated with the sixth or ajna chakra, which when fully opened supposedly permits universal vision into every place and time without limitation. This experience of x-ray/microscopic vision helped confirm what I had heard and read about the existence of such a ‘third eye’ with potential universal vision.
As to the significance of my unprecedented and spontaneous assumption of a crucifixion posture in the pristine pond, I can only speculate. Perhaps this act symbolized soul recognition of incremental rebirth and resurrection from a lower to higher state of spiritual awareness. Or perhaps it was the manifestation of a devotional tendency from another lifetime.
What do you think?
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
On moving from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I knew virtually nothing about saints and was largely uninformed about religions other than Judaism. Even though Saint Francis of Assisi was patron saint of my new home town, I remained ignorant of his life story until after my profound spiritual opening in 1976.
Then, about two years before meeting my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with and great curiosity about this legendary saint, and regarded Saint Francis as an archetype to be emulated.
Soon I began and have ever since continued daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him. But I was unable to satisfy my curiosity about Saint Francis until ten years after to my 1982 pilgrimage to India. Then on retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made pilgrimages to India and later to Italy to honor my beloved Guruji and ‘Francesco’.
In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, like that experienced in India at the temple home of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa in 1982. My pilgrimage stay in Assisi and an excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ – proved magical, There, with intense and tear-laden emotion of devotion, I was blessed with a few of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime, which I will hereafter recount.
Arrival at Assisi and Worshiping at Tomb of St. Francis.
I arrived at the Rome airport on a Spring evening in 1992. After sleeping that night at an airport hotel, the next morning I rented an auto and drove north toward Assisi. Instead of taking the fastest autostrada route, I elected a slower scenic route. After a few hours I came to a sign announcing that I was entering Assisi. Immediately after the sign there was a rightward road bend whereupon I beheld a vista of my intended destination – the beautiful Umbrian town of Assisi, where St. Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life.
Almost immediately thereafter I was obliged to pull off the road, in a turnoff place.
I couldn’t drive further because I began crying spontaneously and intensely, with deep emotion sparked by a mysterious feeling of déjà vu that I had returned to a beloved and familiar place. Only after shedding many tears was I able to resume driving to my destination – the Ananda Spiritual Retreat Center in the Umbrian hills outside Assisi – where I stayed during my pilgrimage there.
The Ananda center had been founded by Swami Kriyananda, a prominent direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, who in Autobiography of a Yogi referred to St. Francis as an “apostle of humility”. So, it seemed an ideal place for me stay as a “born-again Hindu” devotee of St. Francis.
According to Swami Kriyananda:
”St. Francis of Assisi was Paramhansa Yogananda’s “patron saint.” Yogananda had at least two visions of St. Francis that he spoke of — one during a visit to Assisi, Italy in 1936, and another at Mt. Washington that inspired his beautiful poem, “God, God, God.” Yogananda admired the renunciation and simplicity of St. Francis.”
After sleeping my first night at the Ananda center, the next day I drove into Assisi. With continuing déjà vu I walked through medieval streets of that lovely town experiencing a sweet and mysteriously familiar ambience. Then I visited the giant Basilica of Saint Francis, under which the great saint is entombed. Near the crypt containing his remains there were continuing Masses being celebrated consecutively in various languages for pilgrims from places worldwide.
As a secular Jew transformed to “born-again Hindu”, who spoke only English, I had never before participated in a Catholic mass. However, irresistibly I attended several consecutive masses in various languages which I didn’t understand. But my heart knew the pervasive sweet and familiar ambience which I had experienced outside the Basilica, and which had become intense for me near Franceso’s tomb beneath the Basilica. And I was compellingly drawn to it.
Eight hundred years after Saint Francis had walked in that lovely Umbrian town it seemed for me that it was everywhere still pervaded by his sweet life-force shakti; with its emanation being especially intense at the site of his entombed remains. Afterwards I unforgettably experienced that same familiar life-force emanation at other Assisi shrine places.
Hereafter I will tell you about three more memorable experiences of communing with the spirit of St. Francis in Italy.
Discovering the Porziuncola
One of the most profound of those experiences happened as I visited a tiny frescoed chapel outside Assisi called by Francesco Porziuncola [“the little portion”]. He and his early followers had restored it from a ruined condition to become first home of the Franciscan order. And it was Francesco’s favorite place on earth.
Here, he lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of a female order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.
In 1216, Francis had a legendary vision in the little chapel. After fervent and tearful prayers, a light filled the chapel and he saw above the altar Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. In response Francis requested that all those who might enter the chapel and contritely repent their sins be granted a pardon and remission of all such sins. Whereupon Francis was told by the heavenly host that his request was granted.
Thus, the Porziuncola was thereafter Papally blessed with “The Pardon of Assisi” so that those who enter and repentantly pray there are pardoned of their sins, and it has been proclaimed a ‘world holy place’.
Having paid respects to Saint Francis at the basilica where he is entombed, my next pilgrimage destination was the Porziuncola. But I went there unprepared for what I saw. In reading biographies of the saint I had focussed on his simplicity and humility and somehow missed description of the giant basilica which had enveloped his beloved tiny headquarters chapel.
I didn’t realize until then that by Papal order, three hundred fifty years after Francis’ death, the great Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels) was erected over the simple Porziuncola chapel – Franceso’s “little portion” – and that all its original outbuildings were demolished, except the simple cell where Francis died. So I felt a bit bewildered on approaching and entering the grandiose basilica – so inconsistent with Francis simple life and message – and wondered what he might say about it.
But I found my way to the tiny chapel which was situated directly beneath the basilica cupola. And after waiting in line with others, I was able to enter and sit in the tiny and simple Porziuncola. With renewed déjà vu, I immediately experienced an almost palpable aura of the saint’s supernal love, and spontaneously cried deeply and intensely. I was so overcome with emotion that I lost track of time.
On regaining my senses, I realized with a guilty conscience that I had overstayed my time there, while other pilgrims waited in line for a chance to enter, and perhaps to repent and be absolved of their sins. So in a highly “enshakticated” [love intoxicated] condition I slowly got up and walked out. With continuing déjà vu I strolled to the place there where Francis died on October 3, 1226. Then, still in an altered state of awareness, I returned to the Ananda center after one of the most memorable experiences of this lifetime.
Memory of that exquisitely simple little chapel and its aura of supernal Love has remained enshrined in my heart ever since my one visit there. Although I have never since returned to that holy Assisi place, which Saint Francis named and loved, my cherished memory of the Porziuncola was revived following a surprising and synchronistic ‘holy encounter’ and discovery – almost thirty years later – of a San Francisco Porziuncola Nuova. Never have I thereafter entered that San Francisco holy place without experiencing supernal love and tear laden emotion of devotion as in my pilgrimage to the Assisi Porziuncola.
An Unforgettable Experience at the Church of San Damiano
Biographers of Saint Francis all agree that he had a transformative experience in an old and semi-abandoned church just below Assisi – the Church of San Damiano. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches, including the Porziuncola.
While repairing San Damiano, Francis often sang songs which spontaneously came to him. And he thereby attracted neighboring farmers and other visitors, presciently telling them that this ruined church would some day become a holy place attracting servants of God. And it did. As Francis predicted it was here that his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founded Poor Ladies of San Damiano a female order and lived a cloistered life dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty.
Though Saint Francis took literally Jesus’ mystical message from the San Damiano crucifix, its true meaning proved metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his order had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church from its then apparent corruption by worldly wealth.
Thus, as a pilgrim honoring Saint Francis, one of my most important planned destinations was the Church at San Damiano. At the Ananda Center I was urged to visit San Damiano for early morning mass then being celebrated by Franciscan Friars with beautiful ecclesiastic chanting. In following that advice, I was blessed with one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of this lifetime.
Here is what happened.
My drive from the Ananda Center to San Damiano proved extraordinary. It was a sunny and beautiful spring morning, with azure blue sky and small white cumulous clouds. On turning off onto the quiet country road leading to my destination, the verdant landscape was ethereally beautiful – abounding with gorgeous blooming wild flowers. As I beheld this beauty it seemed as if I was enjoying a waking dream of being in heaven on earth. And again it invoked that sweet feeling of déjà vu which followed my first vista of the Assisi environs.
Thus, I arrived at the San Damiano chapel already in a somewhat ‘altered’ state of awareness, just as mass was about to begin. At the chapel portal I was surprised to see that the entire small sanctuary was already filled with people, and that I could not observe any remaining place to sit. So, as the chanting began, I stood at the chapel entry and began weeping with deep emotion of devotion. On observing me crying there, some compassionate worshippers squeezed together to make space for me to sit down.
Thereupon I sat down and continued crying with even greater emotional intensity. That is all I can remember of the mass.
Spontaneously, I went into a very deep state of meditation and lost all consciousness of what was happening. I don’t recall how long I was in that state. But when I awakened from it, there was not a soul in sight. I was seated all alone in the San Damiano chapel still in an ‘altered state of awareness’ and gazing at its painted wooden crucifix. * [see footnote].
Thereupon, a ‘silent voice’ from the crucifix telepathically said to me: “Ritorna a me!” – a message in Italian which I did not immediately understand.
For a while, my mind remained silent and my body remained still. When I finally reawakened to ‘normal’ body consciousness, I urgently needed to use a toilet. So I got up and left the chapel to find one.
But still there was not a soul in sight from whom I could get directions. So I wandered the empty corridors until soon seeing what appeared to be public rest rooms. But there were no signs with international gender symbols identifying them. Instead there were different Italian words on each door. But I couldn’t translate either of them. So, after momentary reflection, impelled by an urgent ‘call of Nature’ I entered what I guessed to be the men’s room. But I guessed wrong. Embarrassed, I made a quick exit, and used the other bathroom.
I left San Damiano wondering why God had addressed me in Italian, when I was so ignorant of that language that I couldn’t even find the men’s room.
Of course I soon learned – and will never forget – that “Ritorna a me!” meant “Return to me!” And I took it as a Divine message. Since then I have come to realize that, knowingly or unknowingly, every embodied human soul longs to return to its Divine Source. But that virtually all of us, including Ron, need frequent reminders of that eternal Truth.
Thus, I recall my extraordinary experience at San Damiano as such a reminder.
* This crucifix was an exact replica of the original crucifix worshipped by Saint Francis and Santa Clara, which for preservation had been previously removed to the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Assisi.
Excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany
Notwithstanding my marvelous experiences of Saint Francis in and around Assisi, there remained on my pilgrimage itinerary an important place outside Assisi, Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ. And also there remained for me great curiosity and a desire to solve the mystery of why – as a secular Jewish lawyer ignorant of Christian saints – I had developed a deep inner rapport with and love for Saint Francis, even before I had met my beloved Hindu Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas.
Before my midlife spiritual awakening, I had no inner visions and rarely remembered dreams. And even if I remembered them they were colorless and commonplace. But soon after my rebirth experience I had two repetitive extraordinary and mysterious visions or vivid dreams unlike any prior inner experience.
Twice, in semi-somnambulant states, I clearly perceived – like a slow motion ‘inner technicolor movie’ – a scene which I was viewing from a high aperture or window in a medieval building. * [see footnote]
I could not see any person at the aperture, but only experienced my consciousness being there and looking out. Below me were monks or friars clothed in simple robes or habits in a verdant open space midst trees surrounding the medieval structure from which ‘I’ was viewing them. Especially noteworthy was the extraordinary etherial light around that scene, which I immediately associated with Tuscany, the Italian state just North of Umbria, where I had visited in 1955.
So in 1992 I was anxious to visit Mount La Verna in Tuscany not only because Francis had his ultimate spiritual experience there, but also because of curiosity about those mysterious visions. However, because of my ignorance of the Italian language I was reluctant to journey alone from Umbria to La Verna. Then, synchronistically, a friendly multi-lingual Ananda center staff member familiar with La Verna and intermediate sites visited by Saint Francis compassionately offered to be my driver and tour guide for a full day’s excursion to those places.
The entire excursion proved a memorable experience in my already wonderful visit to Italy. With great interest, I saw various places known to Saint Francis. For example, we stopped at the town of Gubbio, where the saint is still venerated for legendarily confronting and taming a fierce wolf which was attacking townspeople and their livestock.
But for me our visit to the Mount Laverna sanctuary in the Tuscan Appenines proved the highpoint of our journey. Upon our arrival at La Verna, I immediately intuited – as we observed the grounds and structures there – that La Verna was the place in Tuscany which had appeared in my mysterious inner movie visions eighteen years earlier. Then, I meditated in a wooded area where, with renewed déjà vu, I again felt the supernally sweet presence of Saint Francis. As we departed from that lovely place, I felt great gratitude for our visit there, yet with continuing curiosity about the visions which had long preceded the visit.
Though I have ever since strongly felt that La Verna was the place which appeared in those early visions, their meaning remains an unsolved mystery. Perhaps in another lifetime I was at that place, when or after it was visited by Saint Francis. But I don’t know. And it’s probably not important that I know.
The Buddha taught that we should avert speculation which will not lead to edification. And speculation about imagined other life times can perhaps detract from fulfillment in this lifetime.
*I am describing these visions from memory, because I have not yet found any contemporaneous notes from over thirty years ago. After experiencing these visions I began regarding similar ‘inner movies’ as glimpses of other lifetimes.
My experiences of communion with Saint Francis of Assisi in places where he lovingly lived eight hundred years ago were memorably inspiring reminders of our human potential for humbly living a life of eternal love, even under difficult external circumstances. They strongly reinforced my continuing view of that great saint as an archetype to be emulated.
For an experience of the inspiring ambience bequeathed to us by Franceso’s life of love and humility, I highly recommend your viewing “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”, a 1972 film, masterfully directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Based on the life and legend of Saint Francis of Assisi, this two hour film is exceptionally beautiful and inspiring. You might be able to view and/or download it at this link:
“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation.”
“The state that we attain by calling and crying to God
is equal to the bliss that the yogi experiences in samadhi.”
~ Mata Amritanandamayi (Ammachi)
Tears are the solution
into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In January and February 1982, four years after receiving shaktipat from my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and with his approval, I journeyed on a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage to Japan and India led by Sant Keshadavadas, another Indian guru.
On embarking for India I wanted to learn about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. And I was very curious about how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”.
During that marvelous guided pilgrimage tour I had numerous unforgettable spiritual experiences from which I learned much. Thus, the journey became and has remained the most important trip of my lifetime. So I am recounting some highlights in these memoirs.
At the time of our pilgrimage, one of the few living Indian gurus of whom I’d previously heard was Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was the claimed reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a legendary saint who had died in 1918. I synchronistically learned about Sai Baba shortly before our tour departure on meeting an ardent Swedish devotee, Carin, who was in San Francisco en route to seeing him India.
Carin said that Sai Baba was renowned for his extraordinary powers (siddhis)* [see footnote].And she recounted to me many amazing stories about Sai Baba – of miraculous materializations, healings, clairvoyance, bilocations, and alleged omniscience – including her own experience of his appearing to her in Sweden in a vivid vision and beckoning her to visit him in India. And I learned from Carin that Sai Baba had millions of devotees worldwide, even though he had never left India, except for one trip to Africa. So I became quite curious about Sai Baba and wished to but didn’t expect to see him in India.
Sai Baba usually resided at his main ashram at Puttaparthi, India, and our pilgrimage itinerary did not include any planned visit there. But Carin told me that Sai Baba had a large ashram in Bangalore at Whitefield, where he occasionally visited. Our tour was scheduled to be in Bangalore for three days. So on Carin’s departure for an extended stay at Puttaparthi, I gave her our tour itinerary and she promised to call me in case Sai Baba might visit his Whitefield ashram when we were in Bangalore. I didn’t think that would happen. But synchronistically it did.
Shortly after our tour group checked into the luxurious Hotel Ashoka in Bangalore, I received a phone call from Carin telling that Sai Baba would be giving public darshan at Whitefield the next Monday morning – when fortuitously we had open time. Carin promised to pick me up in a taxi very early Monday morning to assure our finding space at Whitefield, and she suggested that I bring any other interested tour members. Thereupon I arranged for my friends Ramdassi and Tara, and Tara’s friend Pat, and a few others to join us.
Before dawn on Monday, February 1, 1982, Carin arrived at our hotel as promised. And together with my friends and other tour companions we went by taxi to Whitefield for Sai Baba’s darshan. En route, Carin suggested that we ask Sai Baba for a private audience, since he sometimes granted such last minute requests to spiritual pilgrims.
I immediately agreed, hoping to ask Sai Baba how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”. So Ramdassi artistically wrote an audience request for me to show him, if possible.
Although Sai Baba didn’t later grant a private audience, I had with him one of the most memorable darshan experiences of my life. Here is what happened.
On arrival at the Whitefield ashram, we were guided to a large canopied outdoor area next to the ashram building. There, we awaited Sai Baba’s appearance with hundreds of others who were already sitting side by side in numerous rows. Women and men were seated separately. I was seated near the end of the men’s darshan area furthest from the portal through which the Swami would later appear.
Soon I went into a deep meditation and lost track of time. But even from that state, I was aroused and opened my eyes on sensing Sai Baba’s immense shakti field as he emerged from the ashram and entered the darshan area. With spontaneous emotion of devotion, I began weeping intensely.
Through my tears I could glimpse Sai Baba slowly walking up and down the aisles of aspirants. Though he looked at each person he did not stop at anyone – until ultimately he reached me.
Whereupon, Sai Baba stopped in front of me. With extraordinarily beautiful eyes he intently gazed at me as I was crying uncontrollably and wondering how to further my “sadhana”. Then he hit me on top of the head three consecutive times with his right hand, each time uttering only one word:
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
With these hits on the head, I experienced a remarkable infusion of “shakti” energy.
Then Sai Baba soon left without stopping anywhere else. On his departure, I was left highly “enshakticated”, but in an unprecedented state of confusion.
It seemed that in exclaiming ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” Sai Baba had admonished me to stop crying. But that would have been completely inconsistent with my devotional path (bhakti) which strongly encourages and stresses the importance of crying for God.
Though my confusion about the meaning of Sai Baba’s darshan persisted for many years, I did not – and could not – stop weeping for God with emotion of devotion. And gradually I became confident that Sai Baba was not discouraging my gift of tears; that, rather, he was encouraging and blessing me to at long last ‘say sayanara to samsara’.
Since my unforgettable darshan with Sai Baba, the universe has given many messages and hints that Sai Baba’s exclamation
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
was not an admonition to stop or limit spontaneous devotional crying.
The first of these messages happened later that same Monday in Bangalore. Our previously scheduled afternoon tour activities were cancelled at the last minute. So we were given unexpected free time. Thereupon my friends Ramdassi, Tara and Carin and I decided to visit the beautiful Bangalore temple of Shiva Bala Yogi, a reputedly powerful God Realized shaktipat guru who was previously unknown to us.
Fortuitously, on our arrival at his temple, Shiva Bala Yogi was there giving darshan – and even answering written questions from spiritual aspirants. So, still “enshakticated” from Sai Baba’s three hits on the head, I asked Shiva Bala Yogi the question I hadn’t been able to ask Sai Baba:
“What should I do for my sadhana?”
He replied, simply:
“Do what you are doing.”
And so I did.
Soon afterwards, I received another memorable message from Sai Baba. The next day, Tuesday, our tour departed Bangalore, which was in the center of India, and we flew westward to Mangalore near the Arabian Sea. There we were lodged at an oceanside beach resort. Awakening early Wednesday morning, I decided to jog on the beach before our scheduled activities for that day. Whereupon, I had an unforgettable reminder of Sathya Sai Baba and a possible hint about the meaning of his darshan.
While jogging by the ocean with a stilled mind, I suddenly perceived that I was surrounded and completely enfolded by the body of Sai Baba; that my entire physical body was totally enveloped by the subtle body of Sai Baba. Later I took that unique experience as a metaphoric reminder and symbolic portent that we are as but cells in the body of the Divine with which we will inevitably merge, after we’ve had “enough” worldly suffering.
* Patanjali’s renowned Yoga Sutras, describe yogic powers which may be attained through control of life-force energies. But Patanjali warns aspirants against premature use of of such powers prior to God union, as possibly raising egotistic obstacles to attainment of the spiritual goal. Only after being irrevocably established in God union may the yogi employ powers, without karmic consequences. Especially after Sai Baba’s death in 2011, his frequent display of siddhis became controversial, with various claims that they were sometimes not used for Divine purposes. Also, there were other allegations of questionable conduct.
Despite these allegations, I remain convinced that Sai Baba’s darshan blessed and helped me. In hitting me on the head three times he imparted a tremendous infusion of divine shakti; and his concurrent admonition ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” was probably a blessing helping me to use that precious life force energy to transcend all remaining worldly attachments with inevitable suffering of which I’d had “enough”.
**A month later, I asked Guruji the identical question, “What should I do for my sadhana?” Guruji answered it differently, but unforgettably. See https://sillysutras.com/a-long-but-short-guruji-satsang-story-rons-memoirs/
“Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Upon learning from Guruji about the spiritual goal of “self realization” or “enlightenment”, I decided to “seek” this goal by meditating and reciting his prescribed Sanskrit prayers and mantras. But after several years, I lost interest in pursuing “enlightenment” though I continued Guruji’s practices and attended his group meditations. Also, I continued reading many spiritual teachings of other masters, scriptures, and stories about saints (hagiographies).
Though ever inspired by Guruji’s “signs and wonders” which I had witnessed and experienced, and those attributed to saints and spiritual masters about whom I was reading, I found that my desire to personally experience these “miracles” was waning. I began realizing that these powers could become pitfalls – big ego traps impeding rather than promoting spiritual evolution.
Before meeting Guruji, I had begun entertaining egoistic ideas that I might be “special” because of all the miraculous things that were happening to me. Thus, I was egoistically forgetting the unforgettable rebirth realization that started the whole purification process – the simple insight that: “I am not my body or its thoughts, but pure awareness; I am not my role in life – lawyer, husband, father – with which I’ve identified, but pure awareness.”
But, after shakipat, as I began reading and reflecting about “enlightenment”, I became increasingly aware that “ego” and “enlightenment” could not co-exist; that anyone who egoistically thinks s/he’s ‘special’ isn’t “enlightened”. So, rhetorically I wondered: “If I am just pure Awareness, not separate from ultimate Reality, how can I be a ‘special’ person?”
My first memorable test of that crucial ‘re-realization’ insight soon came during a meditation retreat with Guruji near Santa Cruz where with extraordinary benevolence he imparted esoteric information to advanced initiates. And amongst these esoteric teachings were instructions about how to travel astrally at will.
By this time I had had spontaneously experienced various OOB’s, including my amazing New York astral projection into the future, and had experienced Guruji’s power to “visit” me in his astral body. Also I was aware of Robert A. Monroe’s teachings and writings about his “Journeys Out of the Body”.
But even though Guruji sanctioned certain initiates to acquire the extraordinary power of traveling astrally at will, I clearly wasn’t interested in it. So I chose not to practice or pursue astral projection.
I was content to let the Universe decide when and whether I would be shown or given any more such “signs and wonders”. And I didn’t have long to wait before it happened again. As I was driving home from that Santa Cruz retreat in my then ‘trusty’ Volvo, I had one of my most extraordinary and memorable OOB experiences.
I left the retreat accompanied by Saskia, the Dutch doctor and acupuncturist who had been one of my passengers during our miraculous ‘sight seeing tour’ with Guruji, which began with our toll-free passage onto the Bay Bridge. She lived in Berkeley, and I was taking her home before returning to San Francisco.
As we drove from Santa Cruz to Berkeley, Saskia and I chatted about spiritual and worldly subjects, including our apparent lack of good fortune at not yet finding worldly “soul mates”. Within minutes after we parted, I was synchronistically granted an unforgettable graphic apparent answer to our question about supposed “lack of good fortune” in certain worldly relationships.
A few minutes after dropping off Saskia, I drove the Volvo onto the Bay Bridge en route to San Francisco. Soon after passing the toll plaza, I was suddenly and unexpectedly taken out of my body. While my physical body continued guiding the Volvo across the Bay Bridge, I was given a fleeting – but amazingly unforgettable – Buddha’s eye view of space/time and causation from a very subtle causal plane of awareness.
From this subtle panoramic perspective – far above and beyond Ron Rattner’s dense physical body, driving its denser (but blessed) Volvo – I was shown an interwoven causal tapestry that is manifesting this phenomenal “reality”; that everything – every form and phenomenon – is perfectly karmically/causally connected; and, that whatever happens to us in this world arises from interdependent, interconnected, and interrelated causes.
Ever since that pivotal experience I have reflected on ideas like “perfection”, “causation”, “synchronicity”, “free will versus determinism”. And while so reflecting, I have written (and have posted on SillySutras.com) many apt sutras, like this one:
Despite Omni-present ignorance,
selfishness, misery and suffering,
and apparent chaotic uncertainty,
perfection pervades our “Loco Loka” * –
the realm of space/time and causation;
the realm of manifest Mystery.
*”Loco Loka” = crazy world
Over thirty years have now passed since that amazing view of “reality” was bestowed. Thanks to that ‘miraculous’ experience, and to countless ensuing ‘miracles’ in my enfolding life story, my life has evolved – in ways which were once unimaginable – to a state of abiding “inner peace and happiness” beyond “any belief or religious affiliation”, just as promised by Guruji in 1978. Thus, with heartfelt gratitude, I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life.
So, without any religious affiliation,
I’ve become a faithful follower:
I follow my Faith;
I follow the Way;
I follow my Heart.
And this above all,
It is my Faith that enables me to be true to my Self.
“When the student is ready, the master appears.”
~ Buddhist Proverb
When something or someone wonderful happens in our lives many of us feel grateful and lucky, especially if our good fortune happens seemingly by chance.
Can you recall times or incidents when you felt really lucky? Have you ever thought that something or someone in your life was a wonderful blessing? Have you ever considered yourself lucky to be alive? Blessed to be living during important times?
I want to share with you a story about the luckiest day and biggest blessing of my life – a blessing which I couldn’t understand when it happened and can’t yet fully appreciate. Because of what happened that day, I am happier than ever before, enjoying a wonderful life on our precious planet and able to share with others ever more love, happiness and gratitude.
Paradoxically, this biggest blessing of my life followed my most painful experience, and has helped me realize that even my life’s most difficult experiences have been disguised blessings, which have helped me to open and to evolve spiritually.
In 1976, during a psychologically traumatic divorce separating me from my young children, I experienced an extraordinary and dramatic rebirth experience opening me to the spiritual dimensions of life.
Before the divorce, my most memorable spiritual experiences had happened in hospital delivery rooms when, in my presence, my former wife Naomi gave birth to our children, Jessica and Joshua.
But beginning with my dramatic rebirth experience and spiritual opening, I gradually have learned that each birth – and every other appearance and experience in this world – originates with unseen energies arising in Infinite Awareness; that our true essence and identity is eternal spirit, beyond form – beyond birth and death; and thus, that spirituality, consciousness and mind, are of immeasurably preeminent importance to us as genesis of all physical or material appearances.
I couldn’t have experienced these blessings but for what happened on the luckiest day of my life – April 15, 1978 – two years after my spiritual rebirth experience.
On that day I received a spiritual initiation from an extraordinary Holy man – venerable Hindu guru Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).* Until meeting Guruji, I knew very little about Gurus or their teachings and had no intention of becoming involved with a spiritual teacher. Nor did I have any idea of how a rare and authentic Guru could help me both in this world and from subtle planes – like an incarnate ‘guardian angel’. So, I couldn’t begin to imagine how fortunate I was.
Before meeting Guruji, I didn’t understand the karmic law that we reap as we sow. But since then I have learned that in this world nothing – however mysterious – escapes the law of cause and effect. So I now intuit that the biggest blessing of my life did not happen by chance; but, that it was my destiny to meet Guruji as my spiritual master and that I was led to him through synchronicity.
Before meeting Guruji, I wasn’t familiar with Indian culture or religion. But I began to have synchronistic experiences which seemed associated with India.
First, Mahatma Gandhi surprisingly and vividly appeared to me as an inner spiritual guide advising me at various times in response to my questions to him, even though I then knew little about him and hadn’t invoked him. (Later I learned that Gandhi had been a lawyer, and that from childhood his principal spiritual practice was constant repetition of the name “Rama” – an Indian name for God which was his last utterance on his assassination in 1948.)
Soon thereafter, in Hawaii while lost in a jungle-like nature preserve and frightened, I spontaneously and inexplicably began calling and repeating “Rama” – a name for God which I’d never before recited in this life, found my way out of the jungle tangle, and immediately thereafter began seeing my own aura, and afterwards auras of others.
Later, in San Francisco, I was suddenly awakened from deep sleep one night to behold (sitting up with eyes wide open) an extraordinarily vivid vision of a golden Indian Divine Mother which morphed into a golden image of myself.
Thereafter, at night before retiring, I began seeing blurred inner visions of an elderly Indian man with a beard, though I had not yet begun meditating regularly.
Apart from these “inner” experiences there was a series of “outer” synchronicities that led me to Guruji.
Attempting to scientifically understand what was happening to me after my spiritual re-birth experience, I found and read with tremendous interest and fascination a medical case study book by Lee Sannella, MD, entitled: “Kundalini-Psychosis or Transcendence” about an esoteric psychophysiological transformation process long known to Indian yogis and adepts but not to Western medicine; a process initiated by awakening of dormant ‘kundalini’ energy at the base of the spine.
The book defined the kundalini process as an “evolutionary process taking place in the human nervous system”. As I read therein medical case studies of fifteen different people undergoing the kundalini process, I realized that I too had been experiencing that process since my April 1976 spontaneous rebirth episode; and, that the kundalini process might explain some of my ‘weird’ new experiences.
Thereupon, I wanted to meet Dr. Sannella, who practiced in the Bay Area as both a psychiatrist and ophthalmologist. On learning that he was a principal officer of the California Society For Psychical Study, I joined the society and began attending its bi-monthly meetings, where I met him.
One evening in early April 1978, I attended a regular meeting of the Society. As I entered the meeting room, I saw a poster announcing a forthcoming series of meditation programs at the University Christian Church in Berkeley. The poster featured a prominent picture of an elderly man with a gray beard. As the meeting progressed, I irresistibly kept looking at the poster. Something about the picture of the old man fascinated me.
After the formal meeting concluded, I asked Dr. Sannella about the pictured meditation teacher and his announced meditation programs. Dr. Sannella told me that this would be an exceptional opportunity for “darshan” of an Indian master yogi, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, with rare power to activate and guide the Kundalini transformation process, which when activated could accelerate spiritual evolution but cause problems without such guidance. (I later learned that Dr. Sannella had received an initiation from this master yogi.)
I took a printed flyer with details of the schedule and decided to attend the first of the announced meditation programs. A crucially important new life phase was about to begin.
The meditation programs proved unlike anything I had anticipated or ever before experienced. At the front of the room was a pleasant, bright-eyed elderly man with a beard, wearing a white robe, and accompanied by an interpreter. Unknown to me, this small elderly gentleman was then about 100 years old, and had attained an exceptionally advanced state of spiritual evolution with unbelievable mystical powers which were largely esoteric in the West and clearly beyond the comprehension of Western science.
I soon began experiencing some of those extraordinary powers, and began perceiving him differently than anyone else I’d ever yet met.
In the interpreter’s introductory remarks we were informed that Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas was empowered to awaken dormant kundalini energy via thought, gaze, sound or touch; that in the ensuing meditation program we were to be given an experience of communication of this energy via the sound of sacred Sanskrit mantras, which he would sing. We were instructed to sit with closed eyes, watch our breath, and listen to the mantras.
Listening to Dhyanyogi sing Sanskrit mantras was for me reminiscent of hearing Jewish cantors singing Hebrew prayers and chants. But I had never before felt such intense subtle energy. Nor had I ever before perceived someone with a luminous silvery aura like his. After the singing, audience questions were entertained and answered via interpreter. On conclusion of the program, I decided to – and did – attend the next night’s program. It was similar to the first, and I experienced it similarly. And so I decided to attend the final program.
At the last program I experienced Dhyanyogi’s exceptional spiritual energy more intensely than ever before, and felt somehow changed by it in an ineffable way. That program ended with an announcement that on Sunday morning Dhyanyogi would be conferring a shaktipat initiation on anyone requesting it, after they made appropriate arrangements. It was explained that this shaktipat initiation would entail his formal transfer to each initiate of Divine shakti energy via touch and otherwise.
Still an uptight lawyer, I felt quite reluctant to participate in an esoteric initiation involving unknown formal commitments to an Indian guru with whom I was barely familiar. So I didn’t sign up for the shaktipat initiation, but retained the contact information for shaktipat participants. I returned to my San Francisco studio apartment still experiencing the intense subtle energies which had been transmitted that night, and feeling quite strange – like I’d never before felt.
Within a few minutes after entering my apartment, I spontaneously began extraordinarily intense crying and sobbing, as had first happened during my 1976 rebirth experience. Then, with closed eyes I beheld amazing inner visions. First I saw a small bright blue circle. Gradually, the vivid circle grew larger and larger. Then, within the circle, with the clarity of a good color TV image, I beheld Dhyanyogi, who had come for an inner visit knowing I was in a receptive state of consciousness after meditating with him in Berkeley.
I had learned from my inner experience with Gandhi, that disembodied spirits could intentionally manifest to me while I was in an ‘alpha state of consciousness’. But this was my first such experience with an incarnate being. And thereupon I suddenly realized that, long before I met or heard about him, it was Guruji who had frequently appeared to me as the blurred inner image of an elderly man with a beard.
This experience and realization changed my mind about taking the shaktipat initiation. I thought “this yogi is someone very special, who I must learn more about.” So, the next day I phoned and made arrangements to participate in the esoteric initiation ceremony.
During the ceremony I was given a sacred mantra to repeat as a primary spiritual practice. Like Gandhi’s mantra and the mantra I had first spontaneously repeated in Hawaii, it was a Rama mantra. Also, I was given a Sanskrit spiritual name: “Rasik”. Before leaving the ceremony I asked Guruji’s assistant for the meaning of “Rasik”, and was quite surprised and puzzled when he replied “one engrossed in devotion”. He wrote this new spiritual name and its meaning on the cover of a small meditation instruction pamphlet which I had received after the initiation ceremony.
“Why has a secular lawyer like me being given a name like this?”, I wondered. The answer to that question gradually became quite evident.
After meeting Guruji in 1978, I was fortunate to see and be with him on various occasions during his remaining time in the US – mostly in group retreats and meditations. In his holy presence, I was invariably moved to intense devotional tears. And more and more Guruji’s saintly simplicity, compassion, love, and humility captured my heart.
And as he presciently foresaw in bestowing the name “Rasik”, 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 emotion of devotion.
In December, 1979, Guruji was interviewed for a “New Dimensions” radio broadcast, which is linked below. I was lucky enough to have been present then and to have briefly participated in that interview, explaining how I became Guruji’s disciple.
During the interview, Guruji told how he had come to the United States in 1976, to find and help American devotees many of whom he had previously seen during a near death visit with Lord Rama, the aspect of universal Divinity most emphasized in Guruji’s devotional practices.
Further he explained the importance of meditation and “shaktipat” and how his kundalini yoga path was not a religion but a spiritual practice and science bringing lasting inner peace and happiness to individuals of any belief or religious affiliation. He concluded the interview by chanting mantras with which he subtly transmitted his exceptional spiritual energies.
[To listen to interview click here]
In addition to emanating an amazingly intense shakti energy field, Guruji displayed extraordinary physical prowess. I saw him as a centenarian demonstrating difficult yogic postures – like head stands – and walking so fast on a beach that young people had to jog to keep up with his extraordinary pace.
But, after four years of tireless efforts in the US, Guruji became extremely debilitated and in 1980 was obliged to return to India. My apartment in San Francisco, was the last place in the US where he stayed for a few weeks. During that period I was blessed not only with his holy presence but with rare opportunities to speak with him directly.
On one of those memorable occasions, I effusively and spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” After a pregnant pause, his unforgettable reply was: “That’s true.”
More than thirty years have now passed since I received shaktipat initiation. But the kundalini evolutionary process which Guruji initiated still continues. Thanks to Guruji’s subtle guidance, it seems irresistibly to be removing my egoic limitations, so that there is today (self-identified with this life-form) much less “Ron” and much more “Ram” than there was on April 15, 1978. Like ‘magical’ spiritual alchemy, the kundalini shakti is transmuting and transforming Ron’s humanity to Divinity.
At age 102, Guruji returned to India where he spent his fourteen remaining years until leaving his physical body at age 116. Nonetheless since then, with tears of deep devotion and gratitude, I have continued to experience (at subtle levels of awareness) his profoundly transformative shakti energy.
Thus, from the depths of my heart, I still feel that the day I met Guruji was the luckiest day of my life.
* See Facebook page Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas for a brief biography of Guruji, and many photos.
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think”
~ Albert Einstein
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law.”
~ The Kybalion
An Amazing Experiment With Time
In April 1976, during a traumatic divorce, I experienced a transformative mid-life spiritual awakening. Thereupon, I began having many extraordinary psychic or mystical experiences previously unknown to me, including experiences which challenged my prior ideas about linear time and free will versus destiny.
In January and February, 1977, I was having so many unusual premonitions, dreams, synchronicities and precognitive experiences that I started making diary notations about them, though I’d never before kept any such diary. These extraordinary experiences radically challenged my “normal” linear time paradigm, and motivated me to try understanding what they meant and why they were happening.
At the end of February, 1977, I spent a week in New York City, so filled with amazing synchronistic and precognitive experiences, that I became convinced it was possible to mystically transcend serial time perception.
Before telling you what happened to me in New York that week, I must recount prior circumstances and events in San Francisco which were crucially related to those New York experiences.
Extraordinary experiences in San Francisco
One month before my New York trip, on January 22, 1977, I had an unforgettable mystical experience of traveling astrally super-fast to an unknown place. The inner experience happened when I was partially awakened from a sound sleep in the middle of the night. I was out of my body and traveling with a whirring/whistling sound, so swiftly that intuitively it seemed I was moving faster than the speed of light – a supposed physical impossibility.
My first destination was a room which appeared from its furnishings to be a typical hotel room. After observing the room, I suddenly traveled right through many walls in the same building and stopped in another similarly furnished apparent hotel room – again a supposed physical impossibility.
In the second room, I looked out the window and saw far below what I thought was a kidney shaped swimming pool on a platform, surrounded by geometric designs. At that point I briefly awakened in wonderment about this unprecedented experience, and later recorded it in my diary.
At this time, I was seeking explanations for my extraordinary experiences by attending various psychic/spiritual programs, including events sponsored by Arica Institute. Arica was a spiritual mystery school founded by Chilean mystic Oscar Ichaso, who used enneagrams – nine star polygons – to esoterically model and analyze human personalities. On Monday, February 7, 1977, I attended an Arica program in San Francisco where I was encouraged to visit Arica’s new beautiful headquarters facilities in New York City.
Also, during this same time period, I experienced several unusually vivid dreams, wherein I saw an unknown dark haired woman with short bangs, and became very curious about her identity and why she was in my dreams.
After jogging to the Golden Gate bridge each morning, I regularly walked to my office in the financial district. On the way to my office I often passed a store front Christian Science reading room on Polk Street where I read the selected bible passages displayed in the window. On Tuesday, February 8, 1977, the day after the Arica meeting, I had walked a short distance past the Christian Science reading room without stopping, when suddenly I felt impelled to go back and read the bracketed bible passage then on display in the window.
It was from Genesis, Chapter 29, about Jacob and his uncle Laban and Laban’s two daughters, Lea and Rachel who were both betrothed to Jacob. Jacob loved Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter, but couldn’t marry her until after he had first worked for Laban seven years, married Lea, the eldest, and then spent seven more years laboring for Laban as a condition to his marriage to Rachel.
The commentary noted that because of Jacob’s love and devotion for Rachel, the two seven year periods passed quickly – as if ‘time stood still’. That night I noted this in my diary.
In New York I was to participate in a week of class-action depositions. Since I was unfamiliar with New York city I asked my uncle Richard, a New York resident, to reserve a room for me at a hotel near the Rockefeller Center deposition site. He picked the Wellington. But thereafter I learned from other lawyers attending the depositions that the New York Hilton was closest to the deposition site. So I called the Hilton from San Francisco, but was told they were then booked. So, I planned to stay at the Wellington.
A miraculous trip to New York City
Here is what happened during my 1977 trip to New York which forever changed my views about the ‘reality’ of serial time:
On Monday, February 21, 1977, I boarded an airplane flight from San Francisco to New York City. En route I began reading a book by J. W. Dunne, entitled “An Experiment With Time” about precognition and human experience of time. I had just purchased the Dunne book, after reading “The Roots of Coincidence” by Arthur Koestler which discussed time seriality and synchronicity in light of observations by physicists. I was trying to understand the numerous precognitive and synchronistic experiences that then had been regularly occurring in my life for almost a year since my rebirth experience.
Dunne’s book proposed that past, present and future all happen concurrently, though ‘normal’ human consciousness experiences them linearly, except in dreams. Dunne’s theory was based on his own precognitive dreams and induced precognitive states. Though Dunne’s essay was originally published in 1927, this was my first exposure to these fascinating ideas about linear time. Soon, however, my amazing experiences during the week in New York convinced me of the probable validity of Dunne’s theory.
I arrived at JFK airport Monday evening, checked into the Wellington Hotel, and was assigned an uncomfortably warm room, in which I didn’t want to stay another night. On awakening Tuesday morning, I called the Hilton where I was able to reserve a room. So, I checked out of the Wellington and into the Hilton, where I was given room 2541.
On entering my new Hilton room I gazed out the window and was astonished to see below me an extraordinary mosaic art display of colored tiles arrayed in geometric forms. I immediately recognized it as the apparent “raised platform” with the same geometric design which I had mistakenly perceived as a swimming pool in my January 22 astral time travel experience. But instead of a swimming pool on a raised platform, I was viewing the roof of the Ziegfeld Theater, as covered with this artistic mosaic tile display.
Thereupon, I realized with amazement that my astral travel vision had been precognitive and, moreover, that my perception then that I was traveling faster than the speed of light – and thus traveling into the ‘future’ – was probably correct.
Soon after checking into the Hilton, I attended the first deposition at 1345 Avenue of Americas, in the offices of Arthur Anderson Co. Synchronistically, the extraordinary Ziegfeld Theater rooftop display was also visible from from the deposition conference room.
On Tuesday evening after the first deposition and before dinner, I decided to visit the New York Arica Institute headquarters, as suggested by San Francisco Arica people. Located at 24 West 57th Street, it proved unusual and beautiful as they told me – with even an interesting art gallery. There was only one other visitor when I arrived at Arica that evening – Pat, a dark haired woman with short bangs, wearing jeans and a denim jacket, who was viewing displayed art works.
We soon began chatting and learned that we were both quite interested in similar psychic phenomena. Pat, like me, had attended and valued Werner Ehrhard’s est training and had been having numerous psychic experiences following a recent divorce. She told me that she was self-employed as a free-lance model. (I later learned that she was then one of New York’s top fashion models.)
After talking for some time at Arica, we went to a nearby small restaurant where at dinner we were engrossed in conversation about logic versus experience of psychic phenomena and precognitive dreams – a conversation that seemed only to have begun when we needed to part. So we agreed to and did meet again for dinner the next night, Wednesday, February 23. And again we continued conversing about seemingly illogical but very real psychic phenomena which we had experienced.
On parting, I invited Pat to join me for dinner on Friday night, since I had a dinner engagement with my uncle and aunt on Thursday night. Until then, I had planned to return to San Francisco on Friday evening after the depositions, but decided that I’d like to stay in New York to see Pat again. She told me that she’d like to meet me again, but wouldn’t know if that was possible until Friday. So, we agreed that she would let me know by calling me at the deposition. I gave her a phone number which I’d been told would directly connect to the Arthur Anderson conference room where the depositions were happening.
That Wednesday night, I awakened suddenly from a sound sleep with the “ahaa!” realization that Pat was the dark haired woman with bangs who I’d earlier seen in San Francisco dreams. In a phone conversation the next day, I asked her if she’d always styled her hair with bangs. She replied that she hadn’t worn it that way for a long time, but that she had just had her hair cut with bangs, the week before we met. (So, when I saw her with bangs in my dreams, she wasn’t yet wearing them.)
On Thursday night I had dinner with my uncle Richard and aunt Roseanne. This was our first meeting since my spiritual awakening. So, tactfully, I tried to explain my recent experiences and new intense interest in psychic phenomena and precognition. But it seemed that these subjects were a bit too ‘far out’ for them.
On returning to my Hilton Hotel room before bed-time, I decided to read passages from the Gideon bible which I found in a drawer under the telephone. Randomly, I first opened that bible to the Book of Numbers where synchronistically I read this passage about significance of dreams and visions:
And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! (Numbers 12:6-8)
Next, I decided to review again Genesis 29:16 et. seq., the passage about Jacob and Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, which had so intrigued me two weeks earlier in the Christian Science Reading Room window.
And finally I ruminated deeply about the meaning of this passage, suggesting infinite possibility of ‘miracles’:
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believes” ~ Mark 9:23.
An amazing day
I arose Friday morning intending to stay in New York that night only if I could spend another evening with Pat, the lovely dark haired ‘woman of my dreams’. Otherwise, I would return to San Francisco on an evening non-stop flight. I received no phone message from Pat during the morning deposition session. Assuming she couldn’t meet me, I checked out of the Hilton at 1 p.m., and left my bags in the hotel lobby baggage room.
Only after checking out, was I informed by the Hilton desk clerk of Pat’s unsuccessful attempt to reach me there, and of her answering service call-back number. But I wasn’t able to contact her until after 5 p.m.
When I finally reached her, she told me she’d been trying to call me at Arthur Anderson all afternoon to arrange our meeting, but that no-one answered the Anderson private line number, so she had given up on seeing me, and had returned home outside Manhattan. By this time, it was too late for me to catch the hotel limousine bus service to JFK for the evening non-stop to San Francisco.
So I stepped up to the Hilton front desk and registered for a room for one night. Synchronistically, I was given room 2506 on the very same floor and very same side of the hotel as room 2541 (where I had been staying until then), except at the opposite end of the corridor. I entered the new room looked out the window, again beheld the extraordinary colored tile mosaic art display on the roof of the Ziegfeld Theater, and began crying. At long last I realized why in my January 22nd astral travels into the future I had moved through many walls from one hotel room to another. I had moved from Hilton room 2541 to room 2506. How AMAZING!!
Unexpectedly alone in New York on a Friday night when I had planned to return to San Francisco, and wondering how I would spend the evening, I went down to the hotel lobby bar for a drink. There I met an English woman named Pam, who told me she was visiting from London to spend time with her friend, actor Rex Harrison, who was then starring on Broadway in “Caesar and Cleopatra”, which had just opened at the Palace Theater.
Pam urged me to join her at the play that night and promised to introduce me to Rex Harrison after the performance. That sounded interesting, so I agreed to see “Caesar and Cleopatra” with her.
Then, I asked Pam what she did in London when not vacationing. She told me she was an actress on leave from the London production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. We talked a bit about Fiddler. I had seen the movie adaptation of the play, but not the play, and as we talked I was reminded of how much I had enjoyed the film.
Set in Tsarist Russia in 1905, the Fiddler story centers on Tevye, a village milk man and father of five daughters, and his thwarted attempts to follow religious traditions and maintain family unity in turbulent times; how he coped with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters and with the edicts of the Tsar banishing the Jews from their villages and dwellings.
The story was set at the very time when my beloved Jewish father, Harry, was born in a similar Ukrainian village. Especially because my father and his extended family were obliged to flee for their lives from Tsarist Russia, in the same way as the fictional characters in Fiddler were obliged to flee, I was exceptionally interested in the story and loved the music.
While Pam and I chatted about Fiddler, she mentioned that a Fiddler revival was then running on Broadway with Zero Mostel in the lead role, as Tevye the milkman. I had always wanted to see a Fiddler production but didn’t know until that moment that it was being performed on Broadway. On learning this, I diplomatically explained to Pam that though it would be fun to meet Rex Harrision with her, I would prefer seeing Fiddler on the Roof.
I’d heard that with Zero Mostel, the original star, the play was wonderfully entertaining, and perhaps better than the movie in which Mostel wasn’t cast. So, after explaining this to Pam, I quickly went to the Winter Garden Theater box office where I was able to get a good center balcony single seat.
Thus on Friday, February 25, 1977, I was unexpectedly about to see a Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”, with Zero Mostel, because I had unexpectedly failed to return that night to San Francisco as planned, and had unexpectedly remained in New York City, where I was unexpectedly staying at the Hilton Hotel, in a 25th floor room at the opposite end of the corridor from the 25th floor room where I had unexpectedly stayed earlier in the week, after unexpectedly checking out of the Wellington Hotel.
As I sat that night in the Winter Garden balcony awaiting the opening curtain, I read the brief playbill story summary. But nothing therein prepared me for my emotional experience during scene six of the first act. Prior to that scene, a young man named Perchik – an itinerant bible scholar passing through Tevye’s village – had met kind hearted Tevye, who gave Perchik room and board in exchange for Perchik’s commitment to teach bible lessons to Tevye’s daughters.
Amazingly, act one, scene six, opened with Perchik giving Tevye’s daughters a lesson about Jacob and Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, from Genesis 29:16 – the same passage that had engrossed me in San Francisco when I read it in the Christian Science Reading Room window and again when I read it in my hotel room Gideon Bible.
For me this was such a miraculous, mysterious, and meaningful synchronicity, culminating so many similar amazing events during my extraordinary week in New York, that I spontaneously burst into tears. And I kept crying for the remainder of the play.
On returning to San Francisco from that miraculous week in New York, I began wondering:
“What is time?”
“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”
“Do we really have free will as most people believe?
And if so, what free will?”
What do you think?
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.
~ Lao Tzu
Gandhi’s appearance as my inner guide began a synchronistic sequence of connections with Hindu teachings and teachers.
Soon after est and Silva, Allen Chase, the same friend who had urged me to take the est training, successfully importuned me to read a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Baba Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.
“Be Here Now” was my first memorable exposure to Hindu and other Eastern teachings. It was for me an extraordinary book, unlike any other I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me.
“Be Here Now” concluded with a sort of spiritual ‘cook book’ section, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for various spiritual practices. Some suggestions interested me though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.
Shortly after reading “Be Here Now”, in June 1977 I spent several days in Honolulu, Hawaii, where I was taking depositions. I stayed at a beautiful hotel on the outskirts of the city near a state park, and I decided to linger for the weekend after conclusion of the depositions.
Returning to the hotel after the depositions, I had time for a late Friday afternoon walk in the state park which was a ‘jungle-like’ hillside area of lush tropical plant-life. Dressed only in very light clothing, I began walking upward on a narrow trail into the tropical wilderness area.
As I walked up, I ‘spaced-out’ and stopped paying close attention to the trail or the environment. After a while I suddenly realized that I had left the trail and was lost in the ‘jungle’; and, that it was getting late and soon would be night-time. I unsuccessfully searched for a trail through the seemingly impassible jungle undergrowth, which would guide me down and out of the hillside wilderness area. But I couldn’t find any path. Gradually, I became more and more apprehensive, afraid of being lost there, hungry and chilled through the night, without the comfort of my luxurious hotel accommodations.
Then something extraordinary happened. For the first time in my life, spurred by fear I began, spontaneously repeating out loud “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…” – thereby urgently invoking some Divine solution to my dilemma. And soon I experienced an “Ahaa moment” providing that solution.
Suddenly, I realized that a shallow meandering mountain stream which I had been crossing was flowing down the hill and out into the ocean. I stepped gingerly into the rocky stream bed and followed its twisting path down and out of the jungle park.
As I walked downward in the stream bed I kept repeating “Rama” “Rama”, “Rama”, “Rama”…….until I was out of the nature area and back at my hotel, just before dinner time.
Retrospectively, I now view this experience as an important metaphoric message for me and perhaps others on a spiritual path, who may feel fearful or lost and unable to find or reach their Divine destination: “What you seek is in plain (in)sight. So, fear not and stop searching in all directions. Just let go, and go with the flow”.
On returning to my hotel room, I felt extraordinarily peaceful, but very “strange” and different than ever before. In this strange state, as I was about to get ready for dinner, I gazed into a large dressing room mirror and beheld in amazement my image reflected as never before. I perceived my face and head enveloped in a beautiful multi-colored aura, like auras I had seen portrayed on some ancient religious icons.
Thereupon, instead of going down for dinner in a hotel restaurant, I sat for hours virtually thoughtless on a dressing room bench intently gazing in wonder at my mirrored auric image.
On awakening Saturday morning, I immediately recalled with wonder this unprecedented experience. Whereupon, there ensued an inner dialogue between a “voice in my head” and my intuition. Every time my heart was uplifted by recalling that beautiful experience, the ‘voice’ told me that I’d been hallucinating, and hadn’t really seen anything unusual. So, I went out to the beach that morning in a state of mental confusion.
It was a beautiful calm and sunny day with a few white wispy clouds in the sky. But my mind was not calm. As I sat in the sand, I kept wondering whether or not I had really seen that beautiful multi-colored aura. But finally I intuitively resolved my inner debate, and thought: “Yes, it definitely was a ‘real’ aura, but I’m not sure I remember all its beautiful colors. What were they?”
Thereupon, I looked up and beheld a lovely rainbow, with the very same colors I’d seen in the aura. While I had been lost in thought, a couple of dark clouds had appeared with a quickly passing light tropical shower, leaving in its wake the fleeting rainbow.
I took the sudden appearance of the rainbow as Divine confirmation of my aura experience. Retrospectively, I see that the rainbow’s unexpected appearance, was one of innumerable continuing synchronicities which have blessed and guided my inner transformation process and given clues for my ever unfolding spiritual mystery story, which I will continue sharing with you.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Though we can’t always see it at the time,
if we look upon events with some perspective,
we see things always happen for our best interests.
We are always being guided in a way
better than we know ourselves.”
~ Swami Satchidananda
When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to the Reader’s Digest magazine, where I sometimes read a continuing feature called: “The Most Unforgettable Person I’ve Known”. It mostly told stories about people who were unusual because they were inner – not outer – directed; people who were ‘self-actuated’ and authentic. And I began to appreciate and respect such people.
Particularly since my mid-life spiritual awakening, I have come to recognize and especially appreciate people who follow their heart and not the herd. Of all such people I’ve met, my friend Carol Schuldt is one of the most extraordinary – an amazingly free spirit with great intuitive wisdom. We met long ago while sitting at Aquatic Beach on San Francisco Bay (across from Ghirardelli Square), where she often comes to escape ocean fog and swim in the sun. Since then, we’ve had innumerable synchronistic encounters and exchanged many “miracle” stories about our lives. [Other synchronicity stories about our magical meetings are linked below.]
Carol is such an extraordinary person that, she’s become well-known throughout and beyond her San Francisco neighborhood; so newspaper and magazine stories have been written about her. An excellent and recommended story: “A Benevolent Queen of the Beach” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 25, 2000.
It tells of Carol’s exceptional inner directness even from childhood, when she adamantly refused to attend obligatory church services at Catholic school and was the only student exempted therefrom by the nuns, who recognized her extraordinary inner wisdom. The article also tells that Carol has been dedicating her life to helping troubled souls – especially young people – but that paradoxically Carol has had great family tragedy with all of her three children: her two daughters whose lives were lastingly impacted by drug addiction, and her son who was permanently brain damaged in a childhood car accident.
During the many years I’ve known Carol, she’s almost always been in good spirits whenever we’ve met. But when I saw her on a recent foggy June afternoon at Aquatic Beach, Carol seemed uncharacteristically melancholy and taciturn. And even though she had come to the beach to swim, Carol decided to stay out of the water because she was cold – a rare occurrence. As we parted that afternoon I wondered what was troubling Carol. The next night my question was answered.
Carol excitedly phoned to tell me this story, about a “miraculous” incident that had just happened:
First she explained that she had been in a deeply melancholy state for several days because of an apparent staph infection and because she’d just had great difficulty with her mentally ill daughter Simone who was then living with her. So Carol began feeling very sorry for herself and was nostalgically dwelling on happier family days when her daughters were growing up, and before their lives had gone amiss with drugs and mental illness.
Unable to shake off her deep melancholy and nostalgia, that evening Carol had just impulsively jumped into the fog-enshrouded ocean across the street from her house. Carol told me that she couldn’t recall ever before doing that, rather than swimming earlier in quieter, clearer and more secluded places. After a brief swim she emerged from the water, crossed the street in front of her house and was just about to retrieve some things from her car parked there when another car stopped beside her. A handsome man – about her daughters’ age – got out and addressed Carol.
He asked: “Are you Celeste and Simone’s mother?”
“Yes”, she replied.
Thereupon he said:
“I was in love with Celeste. I’ve never seen such beautiful girls. You raised them to be beautiful and strong.”
Then looking directly in Carol’s eyes, he said: “Mom, it’s not your fault.”
Whereupon he got into his car and drove off, leaving Carol in a state of amazement.
On entering her house, Carol excitedly called me to report this “miraculous” incident while it was fresh in her memory. As Carol spoke she seemed lifted out of the dark melancholy miasma which had enveloped her. And as we talked I typed the above quotes (on my iMac) with tears in my eyes and chills up my spine – psychic signals of the deep importance to Carol of this meaningful miraculous “coincidence”.
For Carol, this incident confirmed that she has been a good mother, and is blessed with Divine protection. How do you interpret it? How did the Universe arrange it?
Ron’s moral of the story: Look for the hidden blessing in every difficult experience.
“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
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 unjustly 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
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 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. While imprisoned she wrote a prophetic pamphlet demanding a Marxist revolution by the working class majority, because Germany then faced a critical world-historical juncture requiring its choice of societal socialism over imperialism, versus 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 flawed 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 billionaire bankers and corporations, and a psychopathically corrupt and exploitive ruling class kleptocracy.
Famous Marxist-Socialist peace proponents living after Rosa Luxemburg’s martyrdom
Paradoxically, just ten years after Rosa Luxemburg was bestially murdered on January 15, 1919, Nobel Peace laureate Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr was born on January 15, 1929, to become one of the most renowned world peace proponents in modern history. And paradoxically, like Rosa Luxemburg, Dr. King was also martyred (at age 39) for criticizing imperialist barbarism of his time.
But, instead of Germany, Dr. King decried the US empire, 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 Marxist socialism, 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
Thus, like Rosa Luxemburg, some of the world’s most spiritually renowned people – such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Pope Francis, and others (in addition to Dr. King) – have endorsed Marxist-socialist economics with outspoken concern for countless needy and vulnerable people who suffer from immoral exploitation by a very few obscenely rich oligarchs.
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 – bottom-up – by the majority of each human society and productive enterprise, not hierarchically imposed – top-down – by a tiny worldwide minority of psychopathically exploitative billionaires.
Especially, because we face imminent catastrophic nuclear or ecological extinction of human life on Earth, it is imperative that Humankind cherish Nature NOW, or perish from this precious planet; that we revive and rekindle the universal outer light of ‘Liberty, Equality And Fraternity’, while collectively accessing our shared Eternal inner light of Truth and LOVE.
May Rosa Luxemburg’s amazing synchronicity story help inspire us to do that.
And so may it be!