“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein ( N. Y. Times , March 29, 1972)
The Truth That Sets Us Free
Trapped in earthly domain
of fear, death and pain,
we long for liberty.
Jailed in cages we’ve wrought,
with hoary thought
that mere body/minds are we,
We’re deceived by perceptions,
and caught by conceptions,
of supposed mortality.
But prison’s illusion,
and we suffer confusion
of our true identity.
For we’re beings of light
Eternal and bright,
and so shall ever be.
We shall know this Truth,
and it shall forsooth,
release and set us Free.
Ron’s audio recitation of “The Truth That Sets Us Free”
Ron’s Commentary on “Truth That Set’s Us Free”
Today’s posting “The Truth That Sets Us Free”, is a sutra poem (with voice recitation) about Spiritual freedom as a fundamental evolutionary goal. This poem’s title and subject were inspired by Jesus’ teaching “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.
For millennia mystical teachings of all perennial wisdom paths have identified spiritual Freedom or Self realization as an ultimate evolutionary objective.
Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty. But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare state of mind which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life. Knowingly or unknowingly everyone/everywhere longs for Freedom as our divine birthright.
I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of “freedom” during the 1950’s when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation lawyer I rarely thought about about inner freedom, until after a memorable exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas.
While residing in my apartment (just prior to his 1980 return to India), Guruji told me:
“Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body.
Your body is like a prison.
I am like a jailer with the prison key.
I come and go as I please.”
Thereupon, I became extremely curious about Guruji’s revelation that my body was like a prison. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. (See https://sillysutras.com/human-body-a-precious-prison-rons-memoirs/)
So I began exploration of “spiritual freedom”, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.
Whereupon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words
“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last”
were so deeply powerful.
I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story. And I concluded that the Passover story symbolizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity immanent in each of us.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
Also I believed that Jesus prophetically alluded to such spiritual freedom by teaching:
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
I intuited that Jesus was teaching we find freedom (from mentally self-imposed imprisonment) only when we transcend entity-identity to self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.
Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego-mind ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us within a sort of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.
However, the mystic masters teach and demonstrate that we can psychologically transcend that mental “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter our outer circumstances.
Thus, Rumi reminded us:
“Be empty of worrying,
Think of Who Created Thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?”
The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing verses and quotations.
May they advance our spiritual evolution toward realization of precious inner Freedom, our divine birthright.
And so may it be!
and the grass grows by itself”
~ Zen Proverb
“When no one’s a “doer”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.
Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu
Nothing is old,
if nothing is new.
Nothing is false,
if nothing is true.
if there’s nothing to do.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Nothings”
Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Nothings”
Of all writings and quotations on SillySutras.com I’ve been most inclined to appreciate (and sometimes compose) epigrammatic and enigmatic aphorisms, proverbs, sayings, and sutras, leaving interpretation to the reader/listener.
Thus, since discovering the pithy non-dualist teachings of the Taoist and Zen Buddhist spiritual traditions, I’ve especially appreciated them. And sometimes they’ve inspired composition of apt sutra sayings and verses which I ‘channelled’ during a ten year reclusive period after retirement from legal practice.
For example, from a Taoist or Zen perspective, (in addition to above “Nothings” verses) I’ve written:
Tao and Zen
Tao is now,
Tao is one,
Tao is doer,
Tao will be done.
Tao will be done.
So let Tao do it.
There’s nothing to do,
nothing to say,
or nothing to know;
but to let go,
and ‘go with the flow’.
There’s nothing to say,
but words point the way.
The above-titled “Nothings” verses were previously posted online when I launched the SillySutras website in May 2010.
May their republication in 2019 rekindle our ever increasing realization of THAT –
timeless Truth beyond words, to which they point but cannot say or explicate.
And so may it be!
The dewdrop belongs to the sea. Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature; but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea. So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
What is birth? Is it of the “I-thought” or of the body?
Is “I” separate from the body or identical? How did this “I-thought” arise?
Is the “I-thought” your nature? Or is something else your nature?
The “I” of the wise man includes the body but he does not identify himself with the body. For there cannot be anything apart from “I” for him.
If the body falls, there is no loss for the “I”. “I” remains the same.
If the body feels dead, let it raise the question. Being inert, it cannot “I”.
“I” never dies and does not ask. Who then dies? Who asks?
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own [ego] life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him, and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time, nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless, and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
How Can We Become Immortal?
Q. How can we become immortal?
A. To become immortal,
BE more than a mortal.
What lives? What dies?
What exists? What persists?
That every thing and every phenomenon
that arises and appears on the screen of our consciousness
Is but a fleeting mirage projected in space/time,
by and within the Infinite Light of Eternal Awareness;
That nothing is permanent in the ever changing universe,
where all that appears, disappears.
That only Eternal Awareness
exists and persists beyond time.
So, to be immortal,
just don’t be a mortal –
BE Eternal Awareness –
Ron’s explanation and dedication of “How Can We Become Immortal?”
Today’s post title asks a trick rhetorical question:
“How Can We Become Immortal?”
In Truth we already are immortal – we are ONE eternal spirit. But (except for rare Buddha-like beings), we have forgotten our immortality and suffer societally from universally mistaken identity.
From childhood we were taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego-mind image: with a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We were taught that we were each born into Nature as limited beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal common consciousness with all life-forms.
Sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us for millennia that we’re not what we were taught or think we are. That our self-identification as merely mortal physical beings seemingly condemned to inevitable death in space/time is an ego-mind illusion – like a mirage; that we suffer from perception-deception; and, that our True Self-identity and Reality is not what it appears to be.
“We are not merely mortal drops
in an ocean of ephemeral forms,
but the eternally Infinite Ocean of Universal Awareness,
appearing as drops!”
So today’s writings are dedicated to helping us remember that we are not merely our mortal bodies – their names, genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories – or the ‘voices in our heads’. That we are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles. But that we’re all the same ‘under the hood’! And that we can transcend inevitable suffering of ordinary human existence through Self-realization of our common spiritual essence.
After insanely and unsustainably pillaging and plundering our precious planet, humans are now confronting possibly imminent end of earth life as we have known it. Such potentially omnicidal ecological catastrophe can be averted only from elevated human consciousness beyond that which created this dire insanity. So today’s writings are especially important in these critically crazy times.
We must at long last awaken from our delusion of separateness and powerlessness, and transcend the ignorance of our immortality which has spawned these crises.
Whatever our ethical, religious, or spiritual path, if any, let us together deeply reflect upon today’s quotes and verses about our true immortality. May they spur our inevitable awakening as the “kingdom of heaven within” – as eternal LOVE.
Thus awakened, may we harmoniously, cooperatively and compassionately resolve our common crises for the common good.
And so shall it be!
“Our destiny is Divinity.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is a round trip metaphoric journey,
on which we are destined to return to point of origin.
On return, we learn – we never left.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Divine Time Release Capsules
Our destiny is Divinity.
Our human body/minds are like
Divine time release capsules
Of ‘congealed’ consciousness encapsulated by karma –
Enveloped by eons of illusory thoughts, words, and deeds
of imagined separation from others, from Nature
and from our ever immanent inner Essence.
But our optical illusion of separation is being released in time,
As our imagined karmic coatings are inevitably dissolving into
The eternal inner Ocean of Universal Awareness.
So, with ever increasing awareness,
In time we are slowly melting
into the mystery of our inner Divinity,
and merging with our eternal Self.
Thus, beyond time –
Beyond ego’s optical illusion of separation –
Our common destiny is Divinity.
And so shall it Be!
Ron’s audio recitation of “Divine Time Release Capsules”
Ron’s Explanation of “Divine Time Release Capsules”
Metaphorically we are fellow spiritual space travelers – like “astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
As seemingly mortal humans we are journeying on a planetary “pale blue dot” through a vast and mysterious space/time universe beyond scientific comprehension. Thus our ultimate destiny as space/time travelers is unknown.
So often we’re fearful, anxious, or stressed about our uncertain future. To help assuage inevitable anxieties, I have posted the foregoing “Divine Time Release Capsule” verses which metaphorically reveal why we never need to fear or worry. They explain that:
Until now, we have mistakenly perceived, believed and behaved as if we are somatically separated from each other and Nature, and from our sole spiritual essence – which is Infinite Awareness. Consequently, to learn our true Reality and deepest non-dual Self identity, our eternal souls have become unconsciously encapsulated in “self-woven karmic cocoons”, in which we are exploring the Cosmos in mortal human bodies on ‘spaceship Earth’.
Our human bodies are like “space/time soul suits” (comparable to astronauts’ space suits or deep sea divers’ suits). As we so explore this seemingly vast space/time universe (while encapsulated in karmic cocoons), we gradually learn that the Cosmos is but an ever impermanent mental illusion (like an ephemeral mirage).
And as we thus realize that time and space are illusory, our karmic cocoons are gradually but inevitably dissolving and melting (like time release capsules), and merging into an Eternal ocean of Infinite Awareness, which is our ultimate destination. Like beautiful butterflies we are evolving as living metaphors for metamorphosis to emerge totally transformed from self woven cocoons, and fated for ascension to a wonderful new Reality.(https://sillysutras.com/butterflies/)
Thus, we are assured to safely survive our mysterious metaphoric journey, because “Our destiny is Divinity” – eternal Reality, beyond this illusory phenomenal world of ever passing appearances.
May these metaphoric time release assurances bring us ever less stress and ever more happiness as we inevitably fulfill our destiny of divine discovery on “spaceship Earth”.
And so it shall be!
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
~ Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
“All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are. When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon;
suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.
Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . . Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
~ Khalil Gibran
“[I]f the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now.
Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Why Do We Suffer?
Q. The Buddha taught that human life entails unavoidable suffering (duhkha), but that we can be freed from suffering. Why do we suffer, and how can we be freed from suffering?
A. We suffer from ignorance (avidyâ) of our of our true self-identity and ‘reality’, and from our consequent unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which are subject to law of karma. Suffering ends when ignorance ends; ignorance ends gradually with experiential Self knowledge that we are Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, rather than merely mortal and limited persons.
Various spiritual traditions propose different paths or methods for attaining such Self knowledge. They can only point to this spiritual goal, but not bestow it.
Each person is unique, with a unique perspective and unique karmic history causing psychological suffering. An often recommended method to end such suffering is perseverant introspection for mindfully identifying, realizing and transcending our unskillful tendencies. Such attention and realization can ultimately free us from psychological suffering.
Ron’s Commentary on Why Do We Suffer ~ “No pain, no gain.”
Many years ago, as I was being treated for painful left leg injuries by Taoist master and Doctor of Chinese Medicine Sifu Wei Tsuei, I had an unforgettable experience.
During an acupuncture treatment, Sifu suddenly inserted a large metal needle into my left buttock, and I loudly exclaimed in pain, “OUCH!”. Whereupon Sifu responded,
“No pain, no gain!”
Then he quietly continued his treatment, which proved quite helpful.
Since then I have often reflected on the wisdom of Sifu’s words, “No pain, no gain”, and learned they are a popular proverb. With human bodies we experience inevitable physical pain, which can be a crucial catalyst and incentive for spiritual evolution. As stated by another popular Buddhist proverb: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”.
Though we may not be free to choose our sometimes painful outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our psychological attitude about those circumstances.
Thus every painful earth life experience which induces an elevated attitude can be a disguised blessing furthering our spiritual evolution, and our ultimate transcendence of psychological suffering. And, the greater such suffering, the greater its potential blessing.
The foregoing important quotations and brief essay help explain why we suffer and how we can transcend psychological suffering. They are spiritual teachings which can help us suffer less, and live ever happier lives. So I urge our deep reflection on them.
Moreover, as mindfully we experience ever less suffering and ever more happiness, it becomes possible for some of us to realize that everything in human life is an enormous blessing. For example, renowned master mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell taught that
“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”
~ Joseph Campbell
May our growing experiential wisdom, often inspired by mindful suffering, help us – like Joseph Campbell – to ever,
Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,
even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
every time, every place,
Forever (S)HE will reign!
And so shall it be!
“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, almost one hundred fifty years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.
During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.
Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.
Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom
So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:
“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer. With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…
“It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”
“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”
“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”
“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”
“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”
“Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
“Nonviolence is not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society. To practice nonviolence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of nonviolence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favored position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life.”
“It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.” (From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)
“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.”
“Ahimsa is not the crude thing it has been made to appear. Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its least expression. The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.”
“I do not believe…that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”
“I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.”
“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”
“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”
“What do I think of Western civilization?
I think it would be a very good idea.”
May we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life. Thereby, like Gandhi, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.
And so shall it be!
“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
“There is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.
Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,”
~ Rabia of Basra
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart.
You may express yourself through the lips;
you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public;
but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.”
~ Meister Eckhart
“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
How Shall We Pray?
Q. How Shall We Pray?
A. Pray for God to do through you –
Not for you.
Pray like Saint Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.”
Ron’s audio recitation of “How Shall We Pray?”
Ron’s Comments on “How Shall We Pray?”
Do you pray to a divine power? If so, why? When? How?
On perceiving sudden dire emergencies or threats most humans instinctively pray for help, even if they didn’t previously pray, or are atheists.
Many spiritual teachers and aspirants proverbially describe prayer as ‘talking to God’ and meditation, as listening.
Both practices elevate inner awareness and foster silent communion with Self, thereby helping us live happier lives. Moreover, because “everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”, we have infinite potentiality to prayerfully help bless this world, until transcending it.
May the foregoing quotations and “How Shall We Pray?” poem encourage our frequent loving prayers, with faith that they’ll be answered; and that, thereby, as Divine instruments we may help bless our precious planet and all life thereon.
And so may it be!
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
“To err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your Self return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
~ A Course in Miracles
If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16
Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”
Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.
Forgiveness in Christianity.
Forgiveness is especially emphasized in Christianity. Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness. Eg.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
~ Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27
And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34
In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than malevolent) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.
What are Sins?
“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.
“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
When sins are appropriately considered ‘missing the mark’ from ignorance rather than malevolence, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on how to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with mistaken acts or omissions.
Recognition and transcendence of “sins”.
Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.
“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Jewish Day of Atonement for “Sins”.
In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]
Recognizing the inevitability of ‘sin”, the Torah enjoins Jews to return to a righteous path with a process of societal repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13
The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions.
Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality and goal beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-freedom-question-and-quotes/)
All enduring religious and spiritual wisdom traditions recognize need for human transcendence of ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and Nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Awareness – which is our ultimate Essence, and our ultimate destiny.
And so may it be!
Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving and Atoning for “Sins”:
Dear Friends and Fellow ‘Sinners’,
We are all here to evolve human consciousness by gradually realizing and actualizing – beyond our perceived separation from each other – our common Oneness with all Life. Yet, despite our common spiritual essence, each of us is unique, with unique propensities, abilities and fallibilities, which provide unique evolutionary opportunities and challenges. So ‘clearing our karma’ involves mindful identification, observation and purification of our unique mental tendencies and obscurations which impede realization of Oneness.
The foregoing essay and quotes about Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” address a spiritually important subject for all of us. For most of my adult life, forgiveness been a great challenge. So I don’t claim to be an accomplished “expert” on this subject, but now share with you as one who has long reflected on judgmentally perceived moral failings of other fallible humans.
Whether or not we are spiritual ‘seekers’, we are all spiritual ‘sinners’ who inevitably ‘miss the mark’ and make mistakes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring and learning in ‘space/time soul suits’ on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’. Except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, all humans are fallible; even Pontiffs and Prelates aren’t infallible.
I will hereafter discuss the spiritual importance of nonjudgmental forgiveness of ‘sins’.
But first to help you understand, and perhaps appreciate, my perspectives on non-judgmental forgiveness, I will summarize my long history of judging others.
Ron’s history of judging others.
After a midlife awakening, I began identifying my particular spiritual evolutionary challenges and opportunities. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and long-time ardent social justice advocate – I had long established tendencies of often being outspokenly and acerbically judgmental, and of sometimes being unforgiving and angry about perceived injustices. Also I realized that these habits were not helpful to others or me; that they were impediments to my spiritual evolution, and inconsistent with mystical realizations of Oneness with all Life, beyond our perceived separation from one another.
However, since first identifying these unhelpful habits decades ago, it hasn’t been easy to transcend them. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992, by deactivating my law license it was easy for me to stop lawyering. But it was hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others – especially if they seemed to act immorally, hypocritically or harmfully.
Only gradually have I discerned significant – but often subtle – distinctions between being unduly judgmental and unforgiving of others, and my life-long ardent and conscientious advocacy for social justice. This often has required difficult discernments and decisions about conscientious truth telling and nonviolently resisting those who unjustly harm others, without vindictively, condemning, blaming and judging them.
The most challenging behaviors for me have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of public or private trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public trust by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I personally experienced as betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.
Slowly my pain and suffering from harboring anger or bitterness, has helped awaken me to the futility and harm of blame. I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance do not change others, and are always incompatible with a loving peaceful mind. But that love and forgiveness, do not preclude – and often require – conscientious advocacy for social justice, and nonviolent resistance to harmfully immoral acts.
As inspiringly demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., love and forgiveness, are integral to such nonviolent resistance. He explained that:
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” . . . “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” . . .”The time is always right to do what is right.”. . . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Ultimately I have realized how hating hurts the hater; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. Thus, that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, and that any bitterness we harbor against perceived “others” separates us from our divine Oneness with everyone and everything everywhere, and beyond.
As I have slowly understood that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, I have learned to forgive it, and thereby to live an ever happier life. And thus, I have concluded that our purpose on Earth is not to judge, condemn or criticize apparent evil but to transcend it with LOVE.
Thereby, and only after many years of unsuccessfully addressing my negative judgmental tendencies, I may have now transcended them, by realizing that they arose from ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. So I’ve finally granted my irrevocable general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to judge all “sinners” – even Donald Trump, for whom I now feel sorry, as countless humans worldwide conscientiously and nonviolently resist his administration’s patently insane ecologically suicidal behaviors which threaten to catastrophically destroy all human life on Earth as we have known it.
And while so deferring to the unerring law of cause and effect, with absolute faith in the divine, I have enjoyed unprecedented peace of mind.
We are here to learn and to demonstrate divine LOVE. But if we behave fearfully or selfishly instead of lovingly and compassionately, we inevitably ‘miss the divine target mark’, and thereby ‘sin’. And if we miss our mark and ‘sin’, we’ll probably suffer karmically from the law of causality. So how do we avoid ‘sinning’ and atone for past ‘sins’?
First, we must become aware of how ‘sins’ happen.
On investigating, we learn that human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable while we unknowingly perceive “through a glass darkly” with conditioned ego-minds. We realize that all our perceptions are illusory projections of past conceptions, which obscure our experience of the timeless NOW. Thus, we learn that our space/time causality reality is like a persistent illusion – a mental mirage; and we discover that
“space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”, that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”, and that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” [Albert Einstein]
Such new-found awareness can reveal simple solutions to previously persistent behavioral problems, from levels of consciousness beyond those which unknowingly caused our mistaken ‘sins’. For example, the Buddha taught that:
“to understand everything is to forgive everything”.
So we may discover that a significant solution to our ‘sinning’ problems is to forgive NOW (in the precious present), all unknowing mental mistakes made by ourselves and others. That
“to err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
Then, with ‘amazing grace’ we can finally see that our non-judgmental forgiveness of mental mistakes is Divine, since ‘sins’ of the conditioned ego-mind have arisen from ignorance, not malevolence – from belief, not awareness; from fear, not LOVE.
As a rare exemplar of Divine LOVE, Jesus Christ has inspired millions with his words and deeds of non-judgmental and merciful forgiveness, of even enemies and persecutors, for their spiritually ignorant behaviors. So even while suffering excruciating pain on a crucifixion cross He beseeched:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Yet, without judging ignorant beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9] And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]
Perhaps, from Jesus’s supremely divine perspective, ‘mortal sin’ can be seen (with insight, not eyesight) as ignorantly believing oneself a “mortal”, rather than immortal; and, “original sin” can be seen as ego’s mistaken belief of itself as separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Awareness.
During a long lifetime of often morally judging those who betray or hurt others, I finally learned that it is infinitely easier to forgive and atone for, our ‘sins’, by mindfully recognizing how they egotistically happen, than to exist Christ-like or Buddha-like as divine LOVE. And that on becoming mindfully aware of our unwitting sins we inevitably spur our spiritual evolution process.
May these teachings on “Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” help all of us to forgive and transcend ’sins’ with love. But with quiet minds and open hearts may we continue to non-judgmentally, nonviolently, and conscientiously resist social injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.
And may this posting thereby help spur our spiritual evolution process, so that we may all open our hearts to forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –
and BE, eternally, what we truly are:
The unseen Source of the world we see – ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE!
And so shall it be!
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“I think with intuition. The basis of true thinking is intuition.
Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity. ”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
~ Albert Einstein
“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
~ King Solomon – Proverbs 23:7
When and How Shall We Think?
Q. When and how shall we think?
A. The power of rational thought is a great gift.
But, like a tool, it’s best to not use it until we choose it.
Before thinking rationally, if we still the ‘voice in our head’,
we can feel and listen to our Heart – our intuitive mind and soul.
Then we can think first with our Heart, not our head.
As stated in ancient Vedic scriptures:
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, … beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
In our metaphoric Heart shines the Eternal light of Truth –
the light of Love.
Logic has its limits. But Truth and Love are boundless and timeless.
So, it’s best to honor our Heart, over our rational mind –
To use our intuitive mind to serve and follow our Heart.
Related Post: How Can We Think More Objectively?
“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
A Precious Human Life
“Everyday, think as you wake up:
Today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive,
I have a precious human life,
I am not going to waste it,
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
Ron’s Dedication and Comments about “A Precious Human Life”
Today is the 83rd birthday anniversary of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In honor of His Holiness, and as a special blessing for all who read his deeply inspiring words, I am privileged to share online His Holiness’s above advice about how we should greet and live each day with mindfulness of our fleeting precious human life.
Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being a human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusundandas, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation on planet Earth as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for spiritual evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.
Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is amazingly precious and rare. They persuaded me that, although the not yet experienced effects of mysterious karmic causes and conditions result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirth; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully, with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors, we squander an extraordinarily rare chance to evolve spiritually.
In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalachakra empowerment given by (now deceased) Tibetan master Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, Rinpoche explained that according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.
These Tibetan Buddhist Kalachakra teachings deeply impressed upon me the extraordinary preciousness of fleeting human birth, and the utmost importance of our honoring it by living skillfully and mindfully to evolve spiritually.
So I feel especially privileged to share the foregoing crucially important advice from the H.H. Dalai Lama, our contemporary world’s most renowned exemplar of Buddhist teachings.
May these deeply profound teachings inspire us to gratefully and constantly honor our precious human lives by ever expanding our heart of compassion for the benefit of all beings.
And so shall it be!