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Posts Tagged ‘Deuteronomy 6:4’

What Is Freedom?
~ Question, Quotes and Comments

“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man, which is, that he must be completely free. As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him –
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past,
to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [natural] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom.
And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is.
If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord.
If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you;
if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you.”
~ Osho
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You are truly free when you are not a person.”
~ Deepak Chopra – The Book of Secrets
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings.

Here we define “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our divine birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit imminent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Many Jews and Christians annually remember and ritually observe the biblical Exodus legend about God miraculously rescuing Jews from bondage as slaves in Egypt, with Christians recalling that a Passover seder dinner was Jesus’ last supper.   Some Afro-American Christians celebrate by singing the popular spiritual song “Go Down Moses

The Exodus story symbolizes humanity’s eternal quest for spiritual freedom – for societal escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity universally imminent within each of us, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, if any. So Passover rituals of lighting outer candles, can symbolically remind us of humanity’s perpetual quest for the eternal inner light of universal freedom.

Conclusion.

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness; beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we are –

“Free at last, free at last!”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.”


NOW – ever NOW, never THEN!


Ron’s Commentary on Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare psychological state which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life.  

I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of  “freedom” during the 1950’s when I learned about Abraham Maslow’s psychological analysis of ‘self-actualizing’ people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation  lawyer I rarely reflected 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 intensely 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. 

So I began deeply exploring spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, 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. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external idols, Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
 


Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32

 

So Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and 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 ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us within a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what 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?”

~ Rumi


The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they help us evolve toward precious inner freedom, our divine birthright.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner
 

“Go Down Moses”

Afro-American spiritual about exodus story, sung by Louis Armstrong and chorus.



The Truth That Sets Us Free

“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”

Listen to


Ron’s Commentary on “Truth That Set’s Us Free”


Dear Friends,

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?”

~ Rumi


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!



Ron Rattner

Seeing GOD?

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
 see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.

~ Lao Tzu
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa



Seeing GOD?

Q. What is God?

A. What isn’t God?

Q. Is it possible to see God?

A. Is it possible to not see God?

God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.

So, everyone sees God everywhere.

But few know it.


Ron’s audio recitation of Seeing GOD?

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever imagined seeing God?  Or wondered whether that was possible?
 
Except for those who recount amazing near death experiences [NDE’s], we seldom hear of anyone claiming to perceive Divinity.   And usually those who report being embraced by or enfolded in Divine Love are unable adequately to describe THAT experience.

Until after my mid-life awakening, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and never imagined seeing or being enfolded in God, assuming it impossible.  During early Jewish acculturation I learned of Moses’ receiving the ten commandments from an invisible nameless God on Mount Sinai, who communicated through a burning bush and decried idolatry.
 
And like many other Jews, I accepted the core biblical proclamation


“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4 
 

But until after my spiritual awakening I never understood and was skeptical about Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE”  [John 10:30] .  Soon afterwards while crying for God on a Yosemite mountain with total surrender I beheld within, but did not merge with, the light of ten thousand suns.
 
Only after later encountering the life story and teachings of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man whose chief disciple was Swami Vivekananda – did I wonder about again “seeing God”.

During my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India I first learned about Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata).  There – almost a hundred years after Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his presence and life-force energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived, which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.

On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life story and teachings.  I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was a simple, ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity.  Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna as well as wth Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with the gift of tears.  Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar devotional traits with which I have felt great rapport.

As an enlightened mystic Ramakrishna often experienced communion with the Divine and affirmed to Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy.  At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother or the all-loving Father.  Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is beyond human description.

He taught that God is All – both manifest and unmanifest – while yet transcendent as Infinite Potentiality. 

As to Divine omnipresence, he declared that: 

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”

“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” ”God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”



The foregoing whimsical poem about seeing GOD was inspired by Ramakrishna and his above quotes.

May they inspire us all to ever remember, and hopefully help us to perceive, that everyone and everything is Divine! 

Namasté!

Ron Rattner

God is ONE!

“Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29
“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda
“Mind and manifestation are ONE.”
~ Mary Saint-Marie
“There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe. 
The horizontal threads are in space.
 The vertical threads are in time.
 At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual.
 And every individual is a crystal bead.
 And every crystal bead reflects not only the light
 from every other crystal in the net, 
but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.”
~ Indra’s Net – from the Vedas of ancient India, 7000 years old
“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
~ Empedocles (500-430 B.C., Greek Poet)



God is ONE:

God is All – manifest and unmanifest.
God is Infinite Potentiality.

God is ONE:

Divinity ain’t divisible.
Visible and invisible are indivisible;
Perceptible and imperceptible are inseparable;
Material and immaterial are integral.
SELF subsumes ALL.

God is ONE:

God is non-denominational.

So, let us celebrate – not separate – the Whole;
Let us balance our differences on a fulcrum of
< LOVE >.

And may we ever remember that:

We’re whole,
we’re whole,
we’re whole!

Nothing ever
can dissever our soul!



Ron’s audio recitation of God is ONE

Listen to



Ron’s Comments on “God is ONE”

Dear Friends, 

The foregoing poem is comprised of intuitive insights about “God” which I received after midlife.

During my early Jewish acculturation as a pre-teen,  I learned that the most important and core Hebrew prayer, which was constantly recited and even kept (inside ‘mezuzahs’) at the door posts of observant Jews, was 

“Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29

But I never then deeply reflected on the meaning of that prayer.  Instead, as I grew into adulthood I began wondering why so many people religiously indoctrinated into Western monotheism – as Jews, Christians or Moslems – seemed to have quite disparate and disharmonious views of their “ONE God”, and didn’t get along with each other. For example I wondered

“If there is just one “God”,

how can that one God

be a different “true God”

for Christians, Muslims, and Jews

and their diverse denominations?”

(e.g. see Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity)

After my midlife introduction to Hindu and Buddhist non-dualism teachings, which I intuitively accepted as valid, I realized that non-dualism seemed quite consistent with Western monotheism – but spiritually deeper. 

Whereupon I imagined ONE God as formless Universal spirit immanent in everyone and everything, not as a bearded old man in heaven, or other humanoid deity or divine symbol.  And consciously I began longing to explore inner divinity in my meditations and prayers, as a metaphoric child of THAT – ONE God.

During my long career as a litigation lawyer I had enjoyed professional fulfillment in helping civil clients get ‘justice’.  But by the time I retired in 1992 I was so ‘ burned out’ that I didn’t want to spend any more precious time helping people fight over money.  Instead, I wanted to pray and meditate and delve deeply within, without worldly distractions. 

On retirement, I made a pilgrimage to India to pay respects to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas.   On meeting with him, I told him:
 
“Guruji I am retiring from being a lawyer, and I now want to devote the rest of my days to thinking about God.”

His simple encouraging reply was:  “Good!”  

As always, Guruji spoke little but said much.

Thereafter, on my return to San Francisco, for many years I lived a monk-like life in relative seclusion. Until 2003, I had no TV, computer, or newspaper to connect me to the “real world”, and I spent much time alone in my ‘condominium cloister’ praying, meditating, crying, and experiencing various subtle energies and states of consciousness.
 
This post-retirement period of seclusion was a wonderfully gratifying life phase. But often I jokingly told others that the best part of my retirement was in not having to deal with lawyers every day.

Many of the poems and essays now posted on SillySutras.com were written during that reclusive post-retirement period. 

Initially in such writings I often used the “God” word. But gradually I began equating “God” with other words – like  “universal intelligence” or “Infinite Potentiality” or “Cosmic Consciousness”, or “Emptiness”, or “the Tao”, or “Nature” – to denote THAT eternally ineffable omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Divine Power which is the ONE unchanging substantial Reality underlying our permanently impermanent world of fleeting forms and phenomena.  

Also, I often began whimsically referring to divinity as “The Lone Arranger” – a term I coined to humorously communicate with skeptics. In recent insanely turbulent times I have metaphorically given “The Lone Arranger” my ‘general power of attorney’ to justly judge and rule the world, and to be my ‘appointments secretary’.

Thus, paradoxically but necessarily, I have used “God”, “The Lone Arranger” and various other words or phrases to point to THAT divine mystery which is beyond words.  

Today’s “God is ONE!” post is offered to encourage exploration of our common inner divinity – in furtherance of our (conscious or subconscious) universal longing for a state of ONENESS with divinity – with God.

May these writings help hasten our inevitable evolution to THAT Absolute Reality.

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner

Discovering Shri Ramana Maharshi’s Non-dual Devotion ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Investigation into the Self is nothing other than devotion.”
~ Shri Ramana Maharshi — Vivekachudamani, verse 32
“On scrutiny, supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same. To say that one of these two is a means to the other is due to not knowing the nature of either of them. Know that the path of jnana and the path of devotion are interrelated. Follow these inseparable two paths without dividing one from the other.”
~ Shri Ramana Maharshi
“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Pure knowledge and pure love are one and the same thing. Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much easier.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
“Love is seeing the unity under the imaginary diversity. …..
“Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy.
He rises to transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his
higher emotional nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes; his
hair stands on end; his heart melts in love. The bliss in that
state is so intense that forgetful of himself and his surroundings he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs or sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole universe.”
~Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 – supreme devotion (para-bhakti) as described by Sri Krishna to His disciple Uddhave.
“[I]f you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.” … “Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”
~ Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi




Discovering Non-dualism

During my early days as a “born-again Hindu”, I discovered wisdom teachings of legendary twentieth century sage Shri Ramana Maharshi about the Vedic path of Advaita, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality via relentless self-inquiry – incessantly asking “Who am I?”.

Intellectually I soon became convinced of the ultimate Truth of Shri Ramana’s non-dualistic teachings. Non-dualism even seemed quite consistent with my early Jewish acculturation with the fundamental prayer: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29

Yet, seemingly paradoxically, I displayed preponderantly devotional propensities of calling and crying to the Divine. And I identified with Shri Ramakrishna, as a bhakta – a devotional practitioner – more than with Ramana Maharshi, who was an exemplar of the wisdom path – a jnani. (* see footnote)

Until retirement, while maintaining my busy law practice I found only limited time to read and reflect on non-duality and other spiritual wisdom teachings, mostly on weekends. So I used to jokingly tell spiritual friends that I prayed and cried as a bhakta on weekdays but on weekends I became a “Seventh Day Advaitist”

On retirement from law practice in January 1992, I journeyed to India, intending to further explore the Advaita path of non-duality. After planned visits to see my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, in Ahmedabad and my daughter Jessica at Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, the India trip itinerary concluded with a spiritual sojourn in the Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai, near sacred Mount Arunachala, where Shri Ramana Maharshi had resided for most of his adult life. This would be an opportunity to me to become an every day – not just a seventh day – advaitist.

Pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai

So, in February 1992, together with my daughter Jessica I traveled by train from Ammachi’s ashram in sultry Kerala to the Ramana ashram at the much more arid Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai. While I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram, Jessica had been so busy doing her assigned daily tasks (seva) that we had very few opportunities to visit together alone. So, I was hoping to spend ‘quality time’ with her and to have her as my Tiruvannamalai guide, since she had previously visited the Ramana ashram. That didn’t happen.

But I had a wonderful stay in Tiruvannamalai with memorable experiences on and near Mount Arunachala. And at the Ramana ashram I largely resolved my confusion about the imagined conflict between non-dualism and devotion. Here’s what happened:

On our arrival at the Ramana ashram Jessica and I were assigned a pleasant cottage room with private toilet which, though quite basic, was much more comfortable than my small noisy cell at Ammachi’s ashram. Moreover, I immediately had much more vitality at the Ramana ashram than at the Kerala ashram, where I had experienced diminished energy.

But to my surprise, Jessica informed me that instead of being my guide and companion she wished to dedicate her stay in Tiruvannamalai to solitary spiritual practices. She told me that as a spiritual austerity she had decided to daily circumambulate barefooted sacred Mount Arunachala and its adjoining holy sites – an ancient practice known as giri pradakshina encouraged by Ramana Maharshi and practiced for centuries by him and many other saints and pilgrims.

Ambivalently, I was pleased that Jessica was prioritizing such spiritual practices, but disappointed at not having anticipated ‘quality time’ with her. So every morning well before sunrise, while I still slept, Jessica left our cottage and each day I was on my own, except in evenings before we retired in our shared cottage.

Virupaksha cave

Most days while Jessica was walking barefooted around Mount Arunachala I walked in sandals up the mountain – from the ashram to Virupaksha cave, a shrine place where Shri Ramana had lived for sixteen years. Though the cave was a public shrine, I was always there in solitude with no other visitors present. As I meditated there, I gratefully experienced and communed with Shri Ramana’s subtle peaceful presence.

One day I departed the cave in a dream-like ‘altered state of awareness’ and began slowly walking down the mountain with a stilled mind. Dressed in white I was so descending the narrow rocky path to the ashram, when – as if in a dream – I beheld coming up the path toward me three very elderly men, with long gray hair and long beards each wearing a white robe or dhoti. Each appeared as an archetypical ‘holy man’.

When we met on the mountain path, as if in a waking dream, each of the old men silently kneeled and kissed my sandaled feet. No word was uttered. After this silent ritual they continued walking up the Arunachala path and I continued descending to the ashram with a perfectly stilled mind.

Though unforgettable, I don’t know the significance of that experience. But I felt I had received inexpressible blessings from those holy men; that only in such a spiritually elevated environment could such a boon occur. However, presumably, from Shri Ramana’s non-dual perspective, attachment to any such outer illusionary experience impedes ultimate inner experience of Oneness with All.

Shri Ramana’s samadhi shrine

When not on Arunachala, most of my time spent at the ashram was at the large samadhi shrine hall, where Shri Ramana is entombed. There I continued to often experience the subtle peaceful presence of Shri Ramana, though not as powerfully as at Virupaksha cave.

It is a memorable place which, since Ramana’s mahasamadhi in 1950, has continued to magnetically attract devotees from all over the world. Sometimes I meditated sitting there, sometimes I meditatively walked around the hall, and sometimes on the porch I read books about Sri Ramana which I obtained at the ashram office.

Reconciling Ron’s Devotion with Ramana’s Non-duality

Another blessing of my stay at the Ramana ashram was that while there I largely resolved the seeming dichotomy between my deep devotional tendencies and non-dual self-identity. I learned that Ramana had taught that “supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same”. And I realized that perception of paradox depends on an illusory perspective; that from an elevated perspective ultimate devotion (Divine love, bhakti) and ultimate Self awareness (wisdom, jnana) are obverse sides of the same coin.

Though not permanently abiding in a state of elevated awareness, like Ramana or Guruji, I had previously been blessed with unforgettable ‘peek’ experiences of Self-identification as pure Awareness and of seeing everyone and everything as Divine. And at the ashram I read a Ramana biography that sparked the bhakti/jnana insight which helped me reconcile the seeming conflict between my distinct devotional tendencies and my irreversible acceptance of advaita non-duality philosophy.

As I read about Ramana’s “enlightenment” experience I discovered that, contrary to popular belief, which usually associates Ramana only with advaita wisdom, the great Sage also displayed and acknowledged bhakti emotion of devotion.

At the time of his absorption in the Self, Ramana was in his seventeenth year and living in the Indian city of Madurai. Thereafter he experienced dramatic daily life changes. With the emotion of devotion, Ramana began to regularly visit the renowned Meenakshi temple in Madurai. As much later he recalled for his biographer:

“One of the new features related to the temple of
Meenakshi sundaresvrar. Formerly I would go there rarely with
friends, see the images, put on sacred ashes and sacred
vermillion on the forehead and return home without any
perceptible emotion. After the awakening into the new life, I
would go almost every evening to the temple. I would go alone and stand before Siva or Meenakshi or Nataraja or the sixty-three saints for long periods. I would feel waves of emotion
overcoming me. The former hold (Alambana) on my body had been given up by my spirit, since it ceased to cherish the idea I-am-the-body (Dehatma-buddhi). The spirit therefore longed to have a fresh hold and hence the frequent visits to the temple and the overflow of the soul in profuse tears. This was God’s (Isvara’s) play with the individual spirit. I would stand before Isvara, the Controller of the universe and the destinies of all, the omniscient and omnipresent, and occasionally pray for the
descent of His grace upon me so that my devotion might increase and become perpetual like that of the sixty-three saints. Mostly I would not pray at all, but let, the deep within flow on and into the deep without. Tears would mark this overflow of the soul and not betoken any particular feeling of pleasure or pain.”
~ Self Realization, The Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by B.V. Narasimha Swami pp. 23-24.1

Thus, even after his Realization, Sri Ramana had prayed for devotion. And his prayers were often accompanied by, and answered with, copious tears. Ramana’s experience shows that highest knowledge is the same as the highest devotion; that jnana and Para bhakti are the same.

On reading Ramana’s dramatic experience I was reminded that devotional tears are the ‘language of the heart’; that tears can express our ineffable joy in ephemerally becoming one with THAT, while also they may betoken our ceaseless longing to be merged forever as THAT.

As Mother Meera has observed:

“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. 
And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. …..Look at Ramakrishna. How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”

~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236

Thus, intense feelings of the heart, which are otherwise inexpressible, are communicated by tears; and, as we soulfully pray to the Beloved with love and longing, our tears may say what words can not say; and our Heart of Hearts may answer us with tears more eloquent than any other language.


Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Yogi Ramsuratkumar


Yogi Ramsuratkumar

When I visited Tiruvannamalai I was already aware that – like each snowflake – every human is absolutely unique; that thus each supposedly self-realized spiritual teacher, seer, saint, guru, yogi, or even avatar uniquely manifests and expresses different aspects of our common Cosmic consciousness. While in Tiruvannamalai I was unforgettably reminded of the uniqueness of each supposedly enlightened teacher on meeting a reputed local living saint, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

People at the ashram urged me to visit him, saying that this Yogi was an avadhuta, a mystic living simply beyond worldly social standards. I was told that he was giving morning darshans at his small house near the great Annamalaiyar temple in the center of town.

So one morning, instead of communing with Shri Ramana, I walked into town, bought fruit to offer as prasad [a divine gift] to Ramsuratkumar, and came to his house where already there was a line of devotees standing outside awaiting admittance, each also holding food or flowers to offer him. Especially noteworthy was a richly attired middle aged Indian woman, who was holding a large round silver tray laden with an elaborate array of beautiful fruits and flowers.

I took my place at the end of the line and waited with curiosity in the hot sun. Ultimately, when there were about twenty or more people standing in line, the door opened and Yogi Ramsuratkumar appeared with an attendant to greet each devotee, one by one. With most people he exchanged a few words, accepted their offering and sent them on. Only occasionally did he invite a devotee to enter his house for darshan.

Amazingly, when the woman with the silver tray proffered her elaborate offering, he not only rejected it but seemed to sternly chastise her in Telegu and peremptorily sent her away. (Whereupon I surmised that Ramsuratkumar had determined from her subtle field that the woman was an unworthy aspirant with defiled motives.)

When I reached the head of the line, the Yogi kindly accepted my modest offering and invited me to enter his house parlor with only a few others – an Indian family of mother and father with two young children and a young western woman. Each of us was invited to sit in the parlor on a plain folding chair facing the swami who was standing in front of us.

To my surprise, the house appeared to be very dusty and dirty, and the Yogi looked as if he hadn’t bathed or washed his clothes for a while. Notwithstanding his unkempt appearance and environment my subtle ‘radar’ detected this yogi’s inner purity and I began softly weeping. Later, I concluded that while an attitude of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” might be appropriate for most people, Ramsuratkumar demonstrated that in spirituality it is inner purity rather than outer appearance that is crucial.

After we were seated in his parlor, and offered tea, the yogi enquired of each guest our origins and reasons for visiting him. Thus, he asked me in English from whence and why I had come to India. With tears still seeping I explained that I had come as a spiritual pilgrim to honor my beloved Guruji in Gujurat; and that I was in Tiruvannamalai to honor Shri Ramana Maharshi.

Thereupon, while standing before me the Yogi raised his right hand in blessing pose and in English said “my Father blesses you”, an utterance he intermittently thereafter repeated. While blessing me with his raised right hand the yogi held between the fingers of his left hand and puffed alternately on three lighted bidis (Indian hand-rolled cigarettes, like those sold and smoked by Nisargadatta Maharaj).

Though it didn’t surprise me to see a smoking saint, never before had I imagined a holy man smoking three cigarettes concurrently. So it was apparent – as I had been informed – that Ramsuratkumar was an avadhuta, who lived simply and unconventionally without concern for social standards. In all events, I was and remain ever grateful for his blessings.

Conclusion

Since my pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai more than ever before have I been grateful for my “gift of tears” as a supreme devotional blessing ultimately consistent with highest wisdom of non-duality Self-identity. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/crying-for-god-and-other-kundalini-kriyas-rons-memoirs/ ) And since darshan with Yogi Ramsuratkumar more than ever before have I gratefully appreciated the infinite potentiality of non-duality Reality.


Footnote

* The seeming dichotomy between my deep devotional tendencies and non-dual self-identity remains today: Often I still spontaneously call and cry to the Divine, yet always remembering “I am THAT” to which I call and cry; that, as Swami Vivekananda eloquently observed –
“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun . . does not exist, it is not real” ; and that “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’.”