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Posts Tagged ‘Afterlife’

What is Reincarnation?

“Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect.”
~ The Dalai Lama
Whence come I and whither go I?
That is the great unfathomable question,
the same for every one of us.
Science has no answer to it.
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist




What is Reincarnation?

Q. What is reincarnation?

A. Cosmic bio-recycling.


Q. What reincarnates?
A. An energy vortex – a “psyche-clone”.


Meeting Tibetan Buddhists ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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
“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else  will solve their problems.  Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility:  Daily Wisdom”

 

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche  [1905—1989]

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche [1905—1989]



Introduction. I have been blessed by meeting and learning from many spiritual teachers, in addition to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. Especially inspiring and helpful have been certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers.

Soon after my mid-life spiritual awakening, I was first exposed to Buddhist teachings via radio. For many years, I regularly listened to masterful New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms of spiritual teachers and authors, often Buddhists. And on Sunday nights, while driving home from visiting my parents, I regularly heard on KPFA recorded talks by Buddhist teacher, Alan Watts, a brilliantly insightful and articulate former Episcopal priest who had ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Also for a short time I attended Sunday morning dharma talks and Zazen meditations at the beautiful and bucolic Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Guruji I mostly focussed on Hindu spiritual teachings. But I remained curious about other spiritual and mystical traditions, especially non-duality teachings which I found not only in Advaita Vedanta, but also in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. (Ultimately, beyond religion, I became most focussed on certain universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring spiritual, religious, philosophical and ethical paths – like the “Golden Rule”. And to further those teachings I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation.)

During a 1979 apparent ‘near death’ experience, I had visions of ethereal, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism – which sparked much curiosity about Tibetan Buddhists and their mandalas. Soon afterwards I was synchronistically blessed with darshan of Tibetan lamas who in diaspora had started coming to the West. Most important for me were H.H. the Dalai Lama – who remains a living inspiration for me, and Kalu Rinpoche, a very venerable Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, now deceased and reborn.

For over thirty years I have been deeply inspired by core Buddhist teachings, as practiced by the Tibetans, though I never became a practicing Buddhist. In the 1980’s I honored that inspiration by receiving refuge and taking Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche, and by receiving empowerments and teachings from both Kalu Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama, as well as other Tibetan lamas.

Taking Refuge. After meeting Kalu Rinpoche, I soon took refuge from him in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, sangha and dharma. In a brief refuge ceremony with this great yogi, I thereby symbolically committed to honor the Buddha – as my own true nature – and those teachings and communities which would advance realization of that Buddha nature.

Boddhisattva vows. Shortly after taking refuge I was inspired to take Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche to altruistically help all sentient beings end their sufferings.

In taking these vows I was deeply inspired by this selfless Tibetan Buddhist ideal exemplified by the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche and many other Lamas. Never content with only their own spiritual evolution and salvation, Buddhist Boddhisattvas postpone their own ‘nirvana’ choosing to take continuing rebirths in order to serve humanity until every sentient being has been helped to liberation. For example, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is latest in a long line of Boddhisattva Dalai Lamas, believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Taking Boddhisattva vows symbolically marked an important transition from my prior aspiration to escape through spiritual “enlightenment” from this world of inevitable suffering. Rather than yearning to leave this crazy world forever, I took those vows aspiring to stay here in ways which might help all life everywhere, as I continued to observe and clear my own mental defilements.

Enlightenment as a Process. After taking these Buddhist vows, I didn’t expect an early departure from space/time causality reality. Instead, influenced by Buddha’s teachings that conditioned existence (samsara) has been going on for so long that all beings may have been each other’s parents in some lifetime, I began regarding “enlightenment” as a virtually endless evolutionary process in which – except for Buddhas and Boddhisattvas – we unwittingly participate for eons.

The Tibetan Tulku Tradition. Tulkus are emanations of those who retain spiritual consciousness and continuity through successive births. Except perhaps for rare Buddhas and very evolved beings, on rebirth almost everyone experiences ‘instant amnesia’ about conscious details of other lifetimes and prior spiritual learning, which details remain in our subconscious memory. The Tibetan Tulku tradition, aims to facilitate fulfillment of boddhisattva vows by locating reborn Lamas at an early age and training them from childhood to rekindle their consciousness of Buddhist teachings and practices. Tibetans have elaborate tests to prove that newly reborn Tulkus are truly who the waiting elders think they are, such as checking whether the child can recognize acquaintances or possessions from his previous life or answer questions only known to his former life-experience. For example, this process is portrayed in Kundun, the classic biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Some rare Tibetans (like the Karmapa) are able to foretell before dying where they will consciously take rebirth.

Karma. The Tibetans’ Tulku tradition is inextricably intertwined with their teachings about karma, rebirth, and Boddhisattvas. Although virtually all mystical traditions accept karma, afterlife and reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhists’ karma and rebirth teachings and their Boddhisattva traditions especially helped me enhance identification with spirit while diminishing my psychological fear of bodily death.

According to Eastern philosophies, Karma is universal law of cause and effect applied at subtle levels to everything we think, do or say during repeated rebirths as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow. [Galatians 6:7-9]

As long as we self-identify as subjects separate from supposed objects of our choice or intention, our exercise of supposed free will creates karmic causes and conditions. Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by samsaric illusion – for example, defilements like desire, hate, or passion – creates karma. On death, the unexperienced effects of karmic causes, result in unavoidable rebirths.

What is reborn? “Reincarnation” is commonly understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumcised spirit – to another body after physical death. But in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death. Yet Buddhists believe in rebirth.

So, what do Buddhists say is reborn to experience karmic causes and conditions, or to fulfill Boddhisattva vows? I will simplistically and metaphorically share my understanding.

I was once told by Swami Sivananda Radha that during a private audience with the Dalai Lama she asked, “In view of Buddhist teaching that there is no separate self or soul, what reincarnates?” And His Holiness replied: “An energy vortex.”

The Dalai Lama’s explanation that an “energy vortex” is what incarnates was consistent with Western science. Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum physicists have confirmed that in this world of space/time and causality everything is energy – every impermanent form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable.

And for millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their mental software survives, and is reusable.

Thus, just as I am able to use with my new iMac the same OS X software system that operated my old iMac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of mental obscurations and defilements.

Precious human birth. Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting Guruji, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for 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 extraordinarily precious and rare. They persuaded me that although the unexperienced effects of karmic causes result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirths; 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 a rare chance to evolve spiritually.

In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalachakra empowerment given by 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, 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.

In all events, Kalu’s teaching deeply impressed me with the preciousness and impermanence of human birth, and the importance of using it to evolve spiritually.

More memorable experiences with Kalu Rinpoche. Before receiving the Kalachakra empowerment, in 1982 I attended a public talk by Kalu Rinpoche at Fort Mason, San Francisco, about the Mahamudra experience, which he described (through an interpreter) as the quintessence of all Buddhadharma. Though I didn’t understand much of what was said, I intuited that I was in the presence of a great meditation master – like Guruji.

After talking about Mahamudra, Lama Kalu said that to help us understand Mahamudra experience he would give us a brief demonstration of that state of being. Whereupon, with ‘miraculous’ mind-power, he dramatically transformed the energy in that small lecture room. Suddenly my mind went completely still and I experienced a rare state of peace and oneness beyond comprehension or expression. By Kalu Rinpoche’s immense power as a meditation master, he briefly but unforgettably shared with us a glimpse of his rare and exalted state of clear mind.

A few years later, circa 1986-7, I had another memorable experience of Kalu Rinpoche’s powerful presence. Together with my daughter, Jessica, and friends Mark and Marsha Newman, I attended a public talk by him at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, one of the city’s largest religious sanctuaries. After waiting in a long line for some time, we managed to be seated in pews near the very back of the church.

Just as Kalu Rinpoche had ‘magically’ transformed the energy in the small lecture room where I heard him describe the Mahamudra experience, the energy ambience in that entire large church was palpably transformed upon his appearance at the pulpit. My daughter Jessica, had never before experienced such a spiritually powerful presence and was deeply impressed. Afterwards, she posted a picture of Kalu Rinpoche in her room, and though she never again saw him she was emotionally affected and cried on news of Kalu’s death in May, 1989.

After seeing Kalu Rinpoche at the Unitarian Church, I saw him again when he was interviewed by Michael Toms at the New Dimensions San Francisco radio studio. On his arrival at the studio he was introduced to staff and to me (as a New Dimensions director). Whereupon he came up to each one of us and humbly introduced himself with a friendly handshake. At that gesture, I was impressed with that great yogi’s humility – like Guruji’s. Later I was inspired to observe that: “The more we know we’re no one, the more we’re seen as someone”.

Learning to keep faith despite disillusionment. After many years of questioning, I have found a faith based life – beyond beliefs, dogmas, theologies or personalities. I was very much helped and encouraged in this process by another important and synchronistic encounter with Kalu Rinpoche, at a time of great disillusionment in my life,.

In the 1980’s after Guruji’s return to India I learned with shock that certain private behavior of a spiritual teacher (other than Guruji) with whom I had a close relationship was significantly inconsistent with his teachings and outer image. Though by this time, I knew of numerous instances in which well known spiritual teachers were credibly shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. But this was the first time that it happened with a teacher with whom I felt a close rapport and had spent much time. And I was emotionally upset and confused.

Whereupon, I learned that Kalu Rinpoche would be appearing for a morning talk and darshan at Kagyu Droden Kunchab a San Francisco Center dedicated to the ultimate benefit of all sentient beings, which he founded; that his Buddhist teachings would be followed by a question and answer session. I desperately wanted Kalu’s guidance about my crisis of faith. But I had to be in court that morning. So dressed in suit and tie, I came to the darshan with very limited time to spend there.

By the time that Kalu ended his talk, I had only thirty minutes left before needing to leave for court. Whereupon the translator announced that Rinpoche would now entertain questions, and virtually everyone in the room – including me – raised a hand for recognition. ‘Miraculously’ Kalu beckoned first to me to ask my question, which was:

“What is the proper attitude of a student on discovery of a teacher’s behaviors inconsistent with the teachings?”

Whereupon Lama Kalu gave an extremely wise and helpful thirty minute dissertation in response to my inquiry. As soon as he finished and began answering the next question, I was obliged to leave for court. I cannot recount details of what Kalu said, but the unforgettable essence of his answer was:

“Never lose faith in the teachings, even if you lose faith in the teacher.”

Only after years of introspection and more instances of disillusionment with teachers and others upon whom I had mistakenly projected flawless ethics, was I able to fully grasp Kalu’s wise teaching. During that process, I decided that “incarnation is limitation”; that no one is infallible; and, that “it is better to live the teachings, and not teach them, than to teach the teachings and not live them”.

A few years after my last face to face encounter with Lama Kalu, I was memorably reminded of his meditation mastery and his message of faith. On a beautiful week-end day while hiking in the forested higher elevations of Point Reyes National Sea Shore nature reserve, I decided to sit on a rock from which I enjoyed a panoramic view out into the ocean. As I beheld that inspiring nature scene in a meditative mood, Lama Kalu Rinpoche’s smiling visage fleetingly appeared in my inner vision. We never again met in this life, but I shall remain ever grateful for his blessings. With his encouragement I have never lost faith in this precious human life and in the infinite opportunities it affords us.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.




His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Of all prominent living people, I am most inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader (and former political leader) of Tibet. Apart from his Holiness’s spiritual attainments, which are beyond my comprehension, I am especially inspired by his universal compassion, wisdom, humility and humor.

I see him as a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics. Although my encounters with His Holiness have been impersonal – only as part of large audiences or via videos or writings – I feel a deep connection and harmony with him as a revered fellow human being.

Ever since an October, 1989 darshan, I have wondered whether that harmonious connection began in other lifetimes. At that time, I had the good fortune of being one of a limited number of people privileged to attend a ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, in a natural outdoor amphitheater. Because of limited highway access, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive by helicopter. But his flight was delayed, and so we awaited his arrival.

Instead of waiting in the amphitheater, I decided to meditate in a nearby nature place. Then, on contemplating the Dalai Lama I experienced such heartfelt affinity and reverence, that I began an intense and protracted devotional crying jag. I became so overwhelmed with emotion of devotion that I was unable to stop weeping and enter the amphitheater even when I heard the sounds of the helicopter’s arrival. Ultimately, a compassionate Buddhist woman, who on her arrival had observed me crying, came out and taking me by the hand led me, still weeping, into the amphitheater.

The Dalai Lama is the only Tibetan teacher, including Kalu Rinpoche, with whom I have continuously felt such a deep devotional rapport – like my rapport with Guruji. He is regarded by Tibetans as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and perhaps it is this subtle energy which opens my heart. In all events, though I don’t yet remember another life as a Tibetan, I intuit an important karmic connection with His Holiness, and regard him as a role model for living an ethical and compassionate life, regardless of our religious or cultural history.

Here are some of the ways in which I have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and teachings:

Compassion. In his ever inspiring deportment, talks, and writings, His Holiness manifests and emphasizes the crucial importance of compassionate behavior – even with enemies. Drawing great inspiration from him, I have gradually come to regard everyone I meet – including those with whom I have disagreements – as spiritual siblings – brothers or sisters all sharing the same aspirations for happiness and peace of mind, despite superficial cultural differences. And, despite my pronounced lawyer’s tendencies to combatively judge all adversaries, more and more I have even found compassion for those whose ignorance of their true spiritual identity leads them to egregiously harmful behaviors. For example, at a time when I considered former US President George Bush, Jr., a war criminal and mass murderer, His Holiness publicly described him as “a nice man.” Hopefully, he privately influenced Bush – with whom he shares the same July 6th birthdate – to adopt more compassionate ethics.

Humility. His Holiness is regarded by Tibetans and by many others as a living Buddha. For, example, a Tibetan emigre attending a Tibetan Losar new year ceremony conducted in Minneapolis by His Holiness told a newspaper reporter there that “for Tibetans in exile, seeing the Dalai Lama is akin to Christians getting to meet Jesus”. Moreover, especially since his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, His Holiness has become like a world-wide rockstar celebrity, attracting capacity audiences for all public appearances. Yet he remains exceptionally humble, describing himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” and member of the Human family. Despite his renown as a living sage, I have heard him several times answering questions with “I don’t know”. In my experience, this is very rare behavior for an elevated Eastern spiritual teacher. For example, I have never heard of any such humble response from elevated Hindu teachers regarded as avatars or ‘god-men’. I was especially drawn to Guruji who (despite his Hindu acculturation) was exceptionally humble, and even told my friend Joy Massa: “follow your heart, even if it contradicts my words”.

I have always felt ambivalent about spiritual teachers who pontificate as if they are infallible. For me, such behavior encourages adulation over inspiration. And I am uncomfortable with any spiritual group or tradition emphasizing adulation of the incarnate over adoration of the Infinite.

In my opinion, selfless humility is a supreme virtue. It is especially rare in prominent people who are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation, which can easily entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those like the Dalai Lama, Guruji, Gandhi and Einstein, who have resisted such ego temptations I consider inspiring great beings.

Universal morality and ethics beyond religion. In public talks and in his recently published book “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” His Holiness explains how inner values “are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek”, concluding that “the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion” which alone “is no longer adequate”. To me, this is a crucially inspiring message, which completely coincides with my philosophy and life experience. Before publication of “Beyond Religion” I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation dedicated to elevating awareness of universal principles – like the ‘Golden Rule’ – at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. And His Holiness’s book and teachings have encouraged me to continue pursuing that path.

Politics, Economics and Ecology. Just as the Dalai Lama’s views on universal morality and ethics beyond religion have paralleled my views and inspired and encouraged me to pursue them, His Holiness supports liberal political, economic and ecological views with which I have long identified and pursued as a social justice advocate.

He recognizes as “a very great thing” Mahatma Gandhi’s sophisticated political implementation of ahimsa – the ancient moral teachings of nonviolence and non-injury. As an engaged Buddhist, the Dalai Lama outspokenly endorses Gandhian non-violent and compassionate political social action benefitting the majority of citizens, especially those underprivileged and exploited.

Thus, he rejects capitalist economics, as focussed on greed, gain and profits and outspokenly endorses democratic Marxist theory of equitable access to means of production and distribution of wealth. But, he rejects as lacking compassion and encouraging class hatred the so-called Marxism of the failed totalitarian former USSR, or China, and he objects to their excessive emphasis on class struggle.

Ecologically the Dalai Lama recognizes that Earth is severely threatened by ignorant human greed and lack of respect for all life on our precious planet. Accordingly, he urges that we become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve this crisis with compassionate solidarity, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of life as we know it. (See e.g. Spiritual People in a Perfectly Crazy World)

Conclusion. Thus I am supremely grateful for the wisdom and inspiration bestowed by Tibetan teachings and teachers, especially through His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who for me is a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics.

Jessica R., Saint Teresa of Lisieux, and the Rose Petal “Miracle”

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

“I no longer have any great desires,
beyond that of loving ’til I die of love.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux
“After my death I will let fall a shower of roses…..
I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux


lovely_rose_petals

On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we call them “miracles” and often attribute them to a Divine power. So some rare mystics and saints allegedly perform “miracles” for the good of humanity, and to foster faith in the Divine. Thus, after “miraculously” healing an official’s dying son, Jesus observed: “Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.” John 4:48

Here is a story about a noteworthy “miracle” involving my daughter Jessica and a mystery which I haven’t yet solved:

Following my traumatic 1976 divorce I did not share with Jessica and Joshua (my children who were then quite young) my intense new interest in Eastern religious philosophy. However, Jessica later independently became interested in Buddhism during a pre-college high school course in comparative religions. And she maintained her interest as she matriculated as a student at Amherst College, Massachusetts in the 1980’s.

In her 1983 application essay to Amherst, Jessica at age seventeen wrote:

“While I make no claim to being a Buddha –
a true master or enlightened being –
I have begun to understand that I must always be a seeker:
open and receptive to all new people, ideas, and things.
For although I have been extremely privileged
and have had the best possible education,
I haven’t yet and never will stop learning.
Having just recently discovered its spiritual dimensions,
I now know that a world of knowledge awaits me,
diverse and filled with surprises.
Fully aware of its vast potential and wealth,
I feel that I am ready to venture further into it,
and to explore what it has to offer.
‘I who do not know, and know that I do not know:
let me through this knowledge know.’
Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi”


After her admittance and enrollment at Amherst, Jessica began doubting whether she was receiving there the “best possible education”. Seeking spiritual rather than secular knowledge, Jessica enrolled in and attended a brief accredited Buddhist Studies course in India sponsored by Antioch College. In 1987, after returning from India, she resumed her Amherst studies, and practiced Buddhist Vipassana meditations at a nearby Insight Meditation Society center. During a ten day silent meditation retreat there, she experienced a profoundly transformative spiritual awakening. Thereafter, her dissatisfaction with life at Amherst and her desire to go back to India gradually became so intense that she elected to leave Amherst for India, just one semester short of graduation. (Only after spending many years in India, did she return to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College.)

In India, Jessica initially spent time with Buddhist monks and practitioners in Bodh Gaya, a shrine where the Buddha was ‘enlightened’, and in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama of Tibet lived in exile with a large community of expatriated Tibetans. Then, planning to return to the US, she decided ‘out of curiosity’ to first visit a Hindu ashram in the state of Kerala, Southern India, the home of Ammachi, a renowned woman spiritual teacher. Instead of returning to finish her college curriculum, Jessica was so drawn to Ammachi and ashram life that she elected to live and remain there as a Hindu renunciate for many years. She was given by Ammachi the auspicious sanskrit name “Yogini”, wore only white attire, and contentedly lived the life of a Hindu nun.

While Jessica was living on the ashram in India, I consulted expert Vedic astrologers to interpret her chart or “karmic map”. I was told Jessica had an auspicious spiritual destiny, and that I would some day be “proud of her” spiritual achievements. Especially because of Jessica’s prior transformative meditation experience in Massachusetts, this seemed to me a credible prediction. So, I waited with interest to see what might happen with her.

In May of 1993, Ammachi was scheduled to make a world tour, including a stay at her San Francisco Bay area ashram in San Ramon, CA. And Jessica was to accompany Ammachi as part of her entourage. Jessica’s mother, Naomi, and I eagerly anticipated Jessica’s arrival in the Bay Area. While I continued to be supportive of Jessica’s life in India, Naomi was skeptical about Ammachi and strongly disapproved of Jessica’s life with her. She wanted Jessica to return home to finish her education and lead a “normal” life. Naomi was then living in a Victorian house in San Francisco, with a small raised front porch.

A day or two before Jessica’s scheduled arrival, Naomi awakened one morning with repeated thoughts of Jessica, and irrationally thereby intuited that Jessica was arriving then – early. She came downstairs from her bedroom and opened the front door, thinking that Jessica had arrived. Jessica was not there, but Naomi beheld that her entire front porch was strewn with rose petals of various colors. Since there were no nearby rose bushes, or other apparent explanation for the mysterious appearance of the rose petals, Naomi assumed that someone (probably Jessica’s “born-again Hindu” father) was playing a trick on her. Thereafter, when Jessica arrived as scheduled, Naomi reported to her the manifestation “miracle” of the rose petals.

Soon, Jessica recounted Naomi’s story to Ammachi. On hearing the story, Amachi gathered and handed to Jessica a packet of rose petals and instructed Jessica to give them to Naomi, “so that mother will remember this mother”. Jessica obliged, and on opening the packet Naomi observed that the rose petals from Ammachi were the same colors as those which mysteriously had appeared strewn on her front porch. So, Jessica believed that Ammachi had manifested the rose petals on Naomi’s porch, while Naomi remained skeptical about the incident, thinking it was some trick.

When Jessica told me that Ammachi apparently had graced Naomi with rose petals from “heaven”, I began continuously wondering about that incident. I had never before heard of any such manifestation attributed to Ammachi or any saint. And I wondered why such a special blessing was bestowed on Naomi, who was not a devotee of Ammachi but, rather, one who remained skeptical of Ammachi and her teachings. Also, I wondered why Ammachi would send rose petals to Naomi, rather than giving her some other spiritual experience that might assuage her skepticism and her consequent concern for Jessica’s future.

“Coincidentally” or synchronistically, soon after the rose petal incident, I read for the first time the autobiographical memoirs of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, the patron saint of France, entitled: “The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul.” Teresa, who became the most popular of modern saints, entered a Carmelite convent at age fifteen and died there of tuberculosis, an unknown young nun, at twenty four. She would have remained unknown to the world but for her memoirs written at the direction of her prioress (in epistolary form) and for three volumes of her letters, all published posthumously.

In reading Teresa’s memoirs I was repeatedly reminded of Jessica. That little epistolary book reminded me of Jessica’s letters – of her way of sharing in writing her feelings about spiritual and inner matters. Also, apart from such syntactical similarities, I just constantly kept thinking of Jessica while reading about Teresa. But in no way did I then connect my repeated thoughts of Jessica, with the manifestation of rose petals on Naomi’s front porch, following Naomi’s repeated thoughts of Jessica. However, that mental/intuitive connection soon happened while I was on vacation in Northern New Mexico, visiting my spiritual author and poet friend Richard Schiffman.

In July, 1993, Richard and I journeyed to a remote Benedictine monastery calIed “Christ in the Desert”, situated in a very beautiful canyon on a wild river. Previously, I had asked Richard and others if they knew of any other examples of rose petal manifestations by saints, like Ammachi’s apparent rose petal “miracle” on Naomi’s front porch. Until then, no one was able to identify for me any such alleged manifestation by Ammachi or anyone else.

Not until my visit to the book shop at Christ in the Desert, did I find what I was seeking. At the book shop I found several books about Teresa of Lisieux, and I told Richard how Teresa’s autobiography had reminded me of Jessica. Thereupon, Richard remembered that Teresa had been associated with rose petal “miracles”; that during her life she often threw rose petals; that during her last illness she had announced: “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses”; and, that rose petal manifestation “miracles” (amongst others) were posthumously attributed to her.

Apparently, those “miracles” together with the publication of Teresa’s autobiographical diaries and letters resulted in such an outpouring of public sentiment that the Vatican “fast-tracked” petitions for her beatification and canonization in a manner unprecedented in modern times. When Teresa died, she was an unknown young nun. But for her writings about her inner life and aspirations, she would have remained historically unrecognized, and she would not have inspired millions of people to her ‘little way’ of spiritual devotion.

On returning to San Francisco from New Mexico, I began reading biographical materials about Teresa, and discovered some noteworthy parallels between Teresa and Jessica. Teresa – like Jessica – was a beautiful, precocious, sensitive and charismatic child to whom people were instinctively attracted. From childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – suffered from depression and other psychological insecurity issues without any apparent cause. Teresa – like Jessica – had hypersensitive hearing. In childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – could be obstinate about her wishes. From an early age Teresa – like Jessica – often showed wisdom and judgment well beyond her years. Teresa – like Jessica – had a simple yet elegant and eloquent way of sharing in diaries and epistolary writings her feelings about spiritual and inner matters.

On the eve of entering the Carmelite convent, Teresa wrote to her sister Agnes: “I want to be saint”, an aspiration which she often reiterated thereafter. In India, after soul searching and wondering about her life’s purpose, Jessica intuited and wrote in her daily journal her answer to that question: “I want to be saint”. (It is difficult to explain from her Jewish background, Jessica’s extraordinary aspiration to be a saint. Also it was surprising to me that Jessica assiduously kept journal diaries throughout her stay in India and prior thereto, a practice not instilled by her parents.)

The biographical materials about Teresa confirmed what Richard Schiffman told me at Christ in the Desert: that throughout her life Teresa loved throwing flowers and scattering rose petals as religious offerings; that shortly before her death Teresa proclaimed, “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.” “I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”; and that rose petal manifestations were posthumously attributed to Teresa.

Also, l learned that just after Teresa’s twenty first birthday (January 2, 1894), she abandoned the sloping handwriting style which theretofore had been imposed upon her, and began to write in the way that came naturally to her: upright. In comparing photos of Teresa’s upright handwriting with Jessica’s upright handwriting, I perceived noteworthy similarities. But most noteworthy for me was comparison of photographs of Teresa and Jessica taken at similar ages. I found great similarities in their faces, especially in the eyes. To make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, one Sunday on visiting my beloved Jewish mother, Sue, I showed her a picture of Teresa dressed in nun’s habit, and asked: “Mom does this photo remind you of anyone?” Her prompt reply was: “She looks like Jessica, especially around the eyes.”

Here are the photos of Teresa and Jessica, which I found noteworthy:



By 1995, Jessica had a change of heart about continuing her life as a Hindu nun at Ammachi’s ashram. After much soul searching, she decided that she did not want to spend the rest of her life in India as a nun; that she wanted to finish her US education, marry and have children. And so after spending many years in India – in Bodh Gaya, Dharamsala, and Kerala – Jessica returned to Massachusetts to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College. At Smith she met and thereafter married David Channer. Their first child, Uma, was born on January 2, 2000, the 127th anniversary of Teresa’s birth on January 2, 1873.

In researching Saint Teresa, I learned that Father Jacques Sevin, a priest who founded the Boy Scouts of France, was one of her early and exceptionally ardent and influential devotees. And I found in his photo on the Internet an unusual resemblance to Jessica’s husband, David. Here are photos of Father Sevin and David Channer which I found noteworthy:



After Jessica returned to Massachusetts, I reported her changed status – from Hindu nun to American householder – to my friend Pravin Jani, father of spiritual teacher Shri Anandi Ma, and expert Vedic astrologer and pundit who had predicted an auspicious spiritual future for Jessica. His brief comment was: “Very good. She needs that experience in this lifetime.”

What does this all mean? Why did it happen? How did it happen?
I don’t know.
Did Ammachi manifest rose petals on Naomi’s porch? If so, why?
Did Saint Teresa? If so, why?

Until now, Jessica hasn’t wanted to even hear or talk about this subject. But for me it raises significant questions not only about the rose petal manifestation mystery, but about prevailing Eastern views on “reality”, afterlife, reincarnation, and evolutionary transmigration of the soul from lifetime to lifetime.

What do you think? Remember, your thoughts are important:

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
~ Buddha

© Ron Rattner – ““From Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond” An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from secular Hebrew; to born-again Hindu; to uncertain Undo.


My ‘Near Death’ Experience ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




My ‘Near Death’ Experience

A few years after the death of his father, the famous 20th century Indian sage Ramana Maharshi was suddenly overcome with a powerful premonition that he too was about to die. Though he was then only sixteen years old and in good health, he became so fearful of his imagined imminent death that he felt impelled to investigate the bodily death experience. So he pretended that he was dying and introspectively contemplated his own death experience. Long afterwards in response to a devotee’s question about his “enlightenment” he so recounted this experience:

“The shock of the fear of death made me at once introspective or ‘introverted’. I said to myself mentally, ‘Now that death is come, what does it mean? Who is it that is dying? This body dies’. ….The material body dies, but the Spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. I am therefore the deathless Spirit. … Fear of death vanished at once and for ever. The absorption in the Self has continued from that moment right up to now”.

In 1979 I too had an extraordinary presumed near death experience. Unlike Ramana Maharshi’s pretended death experience, I really believed I was dying of a stroke and decided to observe the death process without resistance. Unlike Maharshi’s experience, my supposed death experience didn’t result in my instant “enlightenment” or permanent absorption in the Self. But, it was an extraordinary and unforgettable event, and it spurred my gradual transformative process of more and more identifying with spirit rather than body/mind, which had begun in 1976 with my post-divorce realization and rebirth experience.

After I received shaktipat initiation from Dhyanyogi in 1978, I began following his practices. But, also, I continued to explore spiritual mysteries by attending various other programs and lectures, with Dhyanyogi’s approval. When asked about our seeking information from other teachers, Guruji would say it was OK but unnecessary.

My near death experience happened in late 1978 or 1979, the morning after I had attended an inspiring lecture and experiential program given by Sufi master Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. At the program I whole heartedly participated in a Sufi remembrance of God ritual called Zikr, featuring repetition of names of Allah. Fervently repeating in unison with other participants: “La Ilaha Illallah” , “La Ilaha Illallah”, I vigorously rotated my body, head and neck, and became quite ‘high’ and rapturous.

The next morning I awakened feeling fine, and prepared to attend an important Federal Appeals Court hearing. I had put on my grey pinstriped suit trousers, shirt and tie, and was in the bathroom, when suddenly I collapsed and fell onto the tiled floor and into a supine position. On the floor I was unable to move my head or body up or over. Then I discovered that I could inch along on my back like a caterpillar. In that manner with tremendous difficulty, I managed to move out of the bathroom and into my carpeted living room floor, still in a supine position.

I was not then near a phone and couldn’t call for help. Lying on my back, without pain, I said to myself mentally, “I must have suffered a stroke and am about to die. Now I will see what happens when I die.”
I closed my eyes and went into a deep state of relaxed awareness.

Suddenly it seemed as if I was astrally projected into the cosmos, where I was surrounded by magnificent luminescent silver, blue and gold heavenly bodies like in pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Next, my inner vision shifted from outer space to appearances of beautiful, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, only more ethereal. As silently I was sensing these celestial scenes, thought returned. First I thought that dying was quite an interesting experience. Then, suddenly, I thought: “I never took Naomi off my life insurance policies. I can’t die now.” The ethereal visions immediately ended and consciousness returned to my supine body on the carpeted floor.

I don’t remember how much time had passed before I so returned to body consciousness. But when that happened I found that I could move easier and managed to slither to a telephone when it rang. Synchronistically, it was a call from my friend Kusuma, who had been one of Guruji’s translators and cooks. I told her what happened, and she dispatched Stan, a disciple of Dhyanyogi then living in San Francisco, to come help me. By the time Stan arrived, I was able to crawl with difficulty to the front door to let him in. He called my doctor who said my symptoms sounded like extreme vertigo from an inner ear problem, not a stroke. Later, Kusuma asked Guruji about my symptoms. He told her that they came from “shakti”, intense spiritual energy activated in my head.

Following my ‘near death’ experience, the vertigo gradually abated. I developed a curiosity about Tibetan Buddhism, and the meaning of their mandalas, which lead to my receiving refuge, empowerments, and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche, a venerable Tibetan Buddhist master, and then from other Tibetan lamas, including H.H. the Dalai Lama – who became a living hero for me. Most importantly my conviction about immortality of the soul and my identification with spirit were immeasurably enhanced, while psychological fear of bodily death diminished.

But I didn’t become “enlightened” enough to transcend the lingering psychological trauma of my contentious divorce. So, long before my dizziness had disappeared, my former wife’s name was removed as a beneficiary on my life insurance policies. And I haven’t yet died – again.

After my near death experience I was quite surprised at how peaceful I felt when then facing supposed death, and began wondering whether I had transcended fear of death. That question was soon answered when a deranged young driver raced his car right at me as I was walking across Broadway, the busy four lane street where I live. Instinctively and reflexively I very loudly screamed “Jesus!” as I fearfully jumped out of the way. I shouted so loudly that I probably could have been heard for a block or two up the street. Thereafter for several hours, I experienced a “fight or flight” adrenaline rush. Moreover, since then I have had several similar though less intense precarious experiences while crossing San Francisco streets.

So, despite my serenity during the near death experience, some instinctive fear of bodily death remains for me. But I now distinguish such normal physical ‘fight or flight’ instinct for bodily self-preservation, from fear arising from ego’s illusionary self-identification with the body/mind and its story, rather than with universal spirit, its eternal Essence. And I accept inevitable – and perhaps imminent – physical death as a crucial condition of phenomenal life on this precious planet.

While yogis in other times and places could attain and maintain elevated states of awareness by taking refuge in the forests, on a mountain, or in a cave – or like Ramani Maharshi, in caves on a mountain, such stress free environments are hard to find for those living in present day US society. For me attempting to live authentically and sanely in our crazy culture has at times been quite challenging. I’ve found that in San Francisco courtrooms and environs midst societal insanity, without some ego I’d would have been metaphorically and actually run over while traversing my spiritual path as well as while crossing the streets. ….

Suzuki Shunryū, Roshi, who popularized Zen Buddhism in the United States, was once asked by a student: “How much “ego” do you need?” He replied: “Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”

So I wonder what past spiritual masters would have done when suddenly confronted with immediate bodily threat? Certainly they wouldn’t have shouted “Jesus”, with an adrenaline rush. Maybe, like Gandhi, they would have uttered “Ram” while stepping quietly out of harms way. What do you think?

© Ron Rattner – “From Secular Hebrew, to Born-Again Hindu, to Uncertain Undo – An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond.”



Hallucinations or Reincarnations? ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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


chinese-girl

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.

Epilogue

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.

Visions of Past and Future ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
~ Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science


Following my April, 1976 rebirth experience, and before meeting my spiritual master, Shri Dhyanyogi, I began having extraordinary clairvoyant experiences, including precognition and seeing apparent ‘past lives’ and scenes.  So I started wondering what was happening, and how it was possible.

My first memorable apparent precognitive experience happened in the Yosemite Sierras.  Soon after my previously described transformative vision there of “ten thousand suns” (see Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness), I climbed to a Yosemite mountaintop.   After reaching the summit and viewing the magnificent alpine panorama, I rested sitting on a large granite rock with eyes closed.   Soon I had a fleeting movie-clear inner vision of four people unknown to me.   Twenty minutes later those four people climbed onto the summit. 

Though I experienced this event as a precognitive vision, it might be regarded by some psychic researchers as an instance of “remote viewing” whereby I clairvoyantly viewed forms distant from my physical body.  In all events, it was then an unprecedented experience for me, significantly undermining my Newtonian linear world-view about space/time.

Shortly after returning to San Francisco from Yosemite, I had another extraordinary precognitive experience which could not be considered contemporaneous “remote viewing”.   Just before awakening one work-day morning, I beheld an extremely vivid inner image of a blue-eyed blond woman who I’d never before seen.  Quite puzzled I wondered who she was and why I saw her.   Those questions were answered a few days later. 

Alone and lonely on a Saturday evening, I searched a newspaper’s weekend event calendar for something to do.   There I learned that a Tibetan bell concert was about to happen in an auditorium not far from my apartment.   Though I’d never before heard Tibetan bells, and then knew nothing about Tibetans, this concert seemed interesting.  So I made a last-minute decision to attend.

There were no reserved seats, and by the time I arrived the only remaining seats were on a small balcony far from the stage, where I sat down waiting for the concert to begin.  After a few moments, I noticed the person already seated immediately to my left.   It was undoubtedly the woman who had appeared in my vision a few days earlier.  She was a yoga teacher with whom I soon had a brief but very important romantic relationship – virtually my last romance before becoming almost totally abstinent for the remainder of my adult life – so far. 

That precognitive vision (soon followed by more such visions) convinced me that serial time perception can be synchronistically transcended in “altered” states of awareness.  (But my most significant learning from that relationship involved esoteric subjects other than precognition, which I will  later discuss.)

In addition to apparent precognitive experiences I had various spontaneous “inner movie’ visions of scenes from other lifetimes of someone other than Ron Rattner, with whom I self-identified.   Also, under hypnotic regression, I experienced details of apparent other lifetimes in Caucasian, Asian, African, and Native American male and female bodies during two past life sessions with a prominent past lives and reincarnation researcher and hypnotherapist, Helen Wambach, PhD.

Perhaps the most vivid and surprising other life experience happened quite unexpectedly and spontaneously while I was at a lecture in a spiritual bookshop on Sutter Street, San Francisco.  Together with John Rubel, a long-time friend since high school, I attended a program about prenatal experience, which featured sounds recorded in utero of a fetal heartbeat and of the fetal environment, played through a loudspeaker.  

As I sat listening to these hypnogogic intrauterine sounds, I was suddenly transported back to an apparent other lifetime, vividly envisioning myself as an indigenous native American man ecstatically dancing and singing to the beat of tom-toms.

Apart from my own extra-temporal spiritual experiences, during this period in “Be Here Now” I also read credible stories about the amazing prescience of Ram Dass’s Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba.   And I learned from other readings that some mystics have the apparent power to see past lifetimes. 

So, as my spiritual mystery story unfolded, I wondered whether some spiritually evolved beings might have extraordinary extra-temporal powers of clairvoyance unexplained by our conventional ideas of space-time reality.

Ultimately, I was soon blessed by meeting such a being with whom I learned that this was so.

Silva Mind Control ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart,
cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“A man is but the product of his thoughts;
what he thinks, he becomes.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi




Soon after my positive experience at the est seminar, I learned that some of est’s intriguing ideas about how thoughts and habits influence our lives had been borrowed by Werner Erhard from another self-help seminar, Silva Mind Control. I learned too that the Silva program supposedly taught how to manifest a happier life using positive thinking, visualization, and self-hypnosis techniques; that it claimed to teach so-called right brain thinking to foster clairvoyance and intuitive access to higher intelligence. All of this greatly interested me, so I decided to enroll in a Silva workshop.

The Silva seminar turned out even more influential for me than est because it sparked amazing new spiritual experiences which shattered old beliefs and raised new questions about death and “reality”. In contrast to the hundreds at est trainings, there were less than twenty participants at the Silva program I attended.

The program began with the Silva teacher’s explanation of how our minds influence our lives. Conflating mind and brain, he emphasized that the mind becomes much more effective as it becomes more focused in deeper states, and he then taught how to go into right brain “alpha wave” states of consciousness through self-hypnosis techniques.

I don’t believe that Silva’s mind/brain analysis was accurate. But the Silva self-hypnosis and visualization techniques worked for me. They provided my first structured introduction to meditative states of awareness, in which I experienced extraordinary new glimpses of clairvoyance, visualization and inner communication of higher wisdom.

Here’s what happened.

Near the end of the four day Silva course, participants were asked to each write on separate small pieces of paper names of two people with medical problems or illnesses known to them. Each paper stated only the name and residence place of the sick person. Description of their illness was not written. The papers were then put together in a box, from which each participant – one at a time – randomly drew out two of the papers submitted by others. As we took turns at drawing out the papers we were asked to go into “an alpha state” and to diagnose each identified person’s illness.

When my turn came, I was first given the name of a man who lived in Denver, Colorado. I closed my eyes and immediately clearly visualized within a husky man with a crew cut, a bit over 6 feet tall. Then, with ‘x-ray vision’ I scanned his body and reported to the group that the only anomaly I observed was a white spot in the brain area, which did not appear to be a problem. Whereupon, I was told by the submitter of the Denver man’s name that I was exactly right; that this man had recently had a brain tumor removed. His head had been shaved for the surgery. So he now had a crew cut as the hair regrew. Apparently, the white spot I saw showed where the tumor had been excised.

Next, I was given the name of a woman living in Menlo Park, California. I found one problem which I called “sick blood”. The submitter of her name told me that she suffered from leukemia.

Until then I had never heard of medical intuitives or remote healers. So I was amazed at the accuracy of my results and those of some other participants. This remote visualization and diagnosis experience shattered my Newtonian preconceptions about the nature of our “reality” and I began wondering, “How was it possible for me to remotely see and diagnose complete strangers, especially when I had no medical training whatsoever?” And this question spurred my continuing search since then for new explanations of “reality”.

And soon after my remote diagnosis of strangers, I had another amazing Silva psychic experience. As the course progressed, we had been asked to visualize a perfectly peaceful sanctuary in a nature place or within an imagined structure; an inner place to which we could retreat at will to relieve stress and “recharge our batteries”. I visualized a beautiful room in a peaceful place.

On the last day of the seminar – ‘graduation day’ – we were asked to invite into our previously imagined retreat place an inner guide to counsel us about our problems and questions. It was suggested that we either visualize and invite presence of the wisest person we admired or, if we didn’t know of such a person, that we ask the universe to send our most appropriate inner guide. I couldn’t think of any wise person to visualize, so I invited the universe to send my most appropriate inner guide.

Thereupon, to my amazement, I clearly saw a little bald headed man wearing a white Indian dhoti. Mahatma Gandhi (who had been assassinated in 1948) appeared as my inner guide. Though I then knew very little about Gandhi, I clearly recognized him, and silently received his wise counsel about some of my questions. Gandhi thus appeared as my inner counselor, not only on conclusion of the Silva seminar but afterwards for a short period, whenever I invoked his presence while in “an alpha state” of consciousness.

Gandhi’s appearance raised deep questions for me about death and whether a person’s spirit or soul survives physical death. And I wondered why the universe had chosen Gandhi to counsel me.

Gradually, as my spiritual mystery story continued to unfold, I was given synchronistic answers these questions, which I will later share with you.


At Mid-Life: A Spiritual Mystery Story Begins ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In this ever-changing space/time world,
nothing is immutable, but much is inscrutable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Both inner and outer life changed radically for me after my self-realization rebirth experience, and upon living alone after divorce. From living a ‘normal’ middle class life style, I began living outwardly like a Western ascetic, and inwardly with formerly unknown rich spiritual experiences.

I now realize retrospectively that my unforeseen new life unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing my life story’s script; and, that I have been and am now continually guided in my new life by increasingly frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronicities – meaningful or noteworthy ‘coincidences’ and premonitions – which Western science can’t yet explain.

Long-time worldly habits changed. Though I had always walked to my financial district law office, now almost every morning before walking to work I jogged alone for about an hour to the Golden Gate bridge.

Intuitively, and not because of anything I’d then heard or read, I gradually evolved from a common Western flesh food diet to a largely raw food vegetarian diet. Upon experiencing ‘withdrawal symptoms’ when I forgot my morning coffee one day, I realized that I’d become addicted to caffeine. So I stopped drinking coffee, and drank peppermint tea instead. As a vegetarian I became gradually unable to metabolize alcohol. So I stopped drinking beer and wine and all other alcoholic beverages (which I’d enjoyed since adulthood).

Instead of sleeping on a raised bed, I began sleeping on a futon on the floor. Instead of living in rooms filled with furniture and furnishings, I preferred a simple ‘Zen-like’ austere residential environment.

My ascetic new eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise habits have continued for over thirty years, though after suffering leg injuries in a 1988 car accident, I stopped jogging but kept walking usually for at least an hour a day.

Why did I turn to asceticism? Was it because of ascetic past lives? These remain yet unanswered but recurring questions.
Aside from changed worldly habits, my inner life became – and continues to be – like a spiritual detective novel, with ever new questions arising from new experiences and new realizations.

For many years, beginning with my three month period of extraordinarily high energy, I had numerous amazing mystical and psychic experiences, which repeatedly substantiated my post-out of body realization that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought and sparked an intense quest for a new “reality” paradigm.

All these new incidents seemed quite “real”. They could not be readily rationalized away as “unnatural hallucinations” as they were not prompted by ingestion of any biological or chemical psychedelic or drug (which I didn’t use). Nor did I appear to have ‘gone crazy’, since I continued to function effectively as a litigation lawyer despite my new secret life.

After the unforgettable inner experience of seeing each of my thoughts manifest as a separate kaleidoscopic thought-form outside my body or brain, I intuited that thought was the genesis of all phenomenal reality. But I had no idea of how that could happen, and wondered about any such process. So with great curiousity I sought a new paradigm or world-view encompassing my new experiences of “reality”.

Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find. Gradually, I was given synchronistic answers to my questions.

This process was accompanied by an ever increasing sense of awe and gratitude for our marvelous, miraculous and mysterious universe. Intense longing with ever growing gratitude gradually transformed a secular lawyer into a deeply devotional seeker of Truth – of answers to ultimately unanswerable questions of perennial philosophy.

And never again since the long-locked floodgate of tears was opened during the self-realization rebirth experience have tears failed to flow regularly. For many years, I cried so often and so profusely with deep longing for the Divine, that I was puzzled about what was happening to me.

But gradually, through synchronicity, I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing known in the Catholic tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola as “the gift of tears”; a blessing similarly recognized in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, including the ecstatic Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz and numerous others, and the Hindu tradition of bhakti yoga, which I followed for many years after synchronistically meeting my venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).

Though never a frequent flyer, for many years I became – and remain – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness. And I regularly experienced numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which helped further my spiritual evolution. For example, when not crying I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.

Many years have passed since Guruji told me to write and publish my spiritual memoirs, so the memoirs have gradually shortened as they have been ‘edited’ and abridged by time. But the most valuable experiences were unforgettable. Hereafter, I will share with you some of them, with theories of what they might mean.

A Brain Scientist’s ‘No Brainer’ NDE


“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.
~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that
consciousness is an ultimate reality and,
all the possible knowledge, concerning objects
can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics

 



Introduction.

For millennia mystics and seers have realized experientially that our space/time/causality reality is but a play of consciousness; that all impermanent appearances, all apparent forms and phenomena – including human brains – are but holographic projections of timeless Universal Awareness.

But very few scientists have shared this revelatory mystical world view. Most scientists do not regard as “real” that which is beyond perception and conception.

Rather than recognizing consciousness as the ultimate and eternal Source of our reality, reductionistic and materialistic mainstream science says that brains generate consciousness, and that we see via our brains.

However, there have been innumerable published reports of near death and out of body experiences and other mystical experiences which contradict this mainstream brain hypothesis. (*See footnote re Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].) Nonetheless, until now most brain scientists have dismissed these reports as untrustworthy “anecdotal” evidence. Rarely have mainstream brain scientists transcended their mistaken materialistic paradigm. But there have been noteworthy exceptions. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

Dr. Eben Alexander

Thus, in October 2012 Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who has taught at Harvard Medical School, went public with an autobiographical account of a life changing dramatic and vivid near death experience (NDE) of what he called “heaven” while he was in a week-long comatose state with a non-functional brain neocortex. (His best-selling first book, ”Proof of Heaven”, was published by Simon and Schuster on October 23, 2012.)

Dr. Alexander reported being told in “heaven”:

“‘You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.’ The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.”


He has written that prior to his NDE he did not believe in such experiences, and ‘scientifically’ dismissed them.

“As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.”

“According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.”

“There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”


Raised as a Christian, Dr. Alexander used the religious concepts of “God” and “heaven”, to describe his extraordinary experience.

“Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all, because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal-and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”


Apart from referring to God, he also identified unconditional Love as the the ultimate Reality and “basis of everything” that exists.

“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”


With newfound openness to “anecdotal” evidence, Dr. Alexander now expresses optimism that as science and mysticism ever more agree, humankind will evolve to wonderful new states of being.

And so may it be!

Footnote

*Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].

The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos, and in magazines and books. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)


Reincarnation ~ Quotes From Famous People

“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”
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear ?
 When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi




Reincarnation ~ Quotes From Famous People

“Lord Krishna said: …. The learned neither laments for the dead or the living. Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future. Just as in the physical body of the embodied being is the process of childhood, youth and old age; similarly by the transmigration from one body to another the wise are never deluded.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“But know that by whom this entire body is pervaded, is indestructible. No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable….”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“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.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, till they return to Him.”
~ Koran


“Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of 
bodies of the world.”
~ Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia

“Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu or Buddhist concept, but it is part of the history of human origin. It is proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of physical and mental activities. It is related to the theory of interdependent origination and to the law of cause and effect.”
~ The Dalai Lama (Preface to “The Case for Reincarnation”)

“Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind. The concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that, when one is incarnated or born, one is able, potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences, and that these existences were one’s own, ie, they had the same ego form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth in a human body.”  
~ Carl Jung

“Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil – coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“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.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand 
times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the 
amplitude of time.”
~ Walt Whitman

“I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.” 

~ Mark Twain

“I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. 
We shall rise refreshed in the morning.” And, “Finding myself to 
exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always 
exist.”
~ Benjamin Franklin


Franklin wrote this epitaph at age 22 which was never used:

“The Body of B. Franklin Printer, 
Like the Cover of an Old Book, 
Its Contents Torn Out 
And Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding, 
Lies Here Food for Worms, 
But the Work shall not be Lost, 
For it Will as He Believed 
Appear Once More 
In a New and more Elegant Edition 
Revised and Corrected 
By the Author”

“I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of 
millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, 
promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”

~ Jack London, author, best known for book Call of the Wild

“The theory of Reincarnation, which originated in India, has been welcomed in other countries. Without doubt, it is one of the most sensible and satisfying of all religions that mankind has conceived. This, like the others, comes from the best qualities of human nature, even if in this, as in the others, its adherents sometimes fail to carry out the principles in their lives.”
~ Luther Burbank

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is 
our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives”. – – – –
“To me this is the most beautiful, the most satisfactory from a scientific standpoint,
the most logical theory of life. For thirty years I have leaned toward the theory of Reincarnation.
It seems a most reasonable philosophy and explains many things.”
~ Henry Ford

“As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be 
Again,
you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Live so that thou mayest desire to live again – that is thy duty –

for in any case thou wilt live again!”

~ Freidrich Nietzsche

“The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.” “It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals… and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Celts were fearless warriors because “they wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another…”
~ Julius Caesar

“Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.”
~ William Wordsworth

“My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing.

I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries 
and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer;
 that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”
~ Carl Jung

“I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the
 dead are in existence.”

~ Socrates

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once;
everything in nature is resurrection.”
~ Voltaire

“He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships become newly born.
Each one was mortal, a passionate, painful example of all that is transitory.
Yet none of them died, they only changed, were always reborn, continually had a new face:
only time stood between one face and another.”
~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies.”

~ Josephus (most well known Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)

“All human beings go through a previous life… Who knows how
 many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be 
brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of
 spiritual worlds?”
~ Honore Balzac (French writer)

“Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer (Philosopher)

“When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives.
It then takes on another body.”
~ Paul Gauguin (French post-impressionist painter)

“Friends are all souls that we’ve known in other lives. We’re drawn to each other.
Even if I have only known them a day, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know.”
~ George Harrison

“Know, therefore, that from the greater silence I shall return…
Forget not that I shall come back to you…
A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind,
and another woman shall bear me.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“There is no death. How can there be death if everything is part of the Godhead?
The soul never dies and the body is never really alive.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stories from Behind the Stove