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Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes 7:20’

Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
“To err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your Self return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
~ A Course in Miracles

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16




Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.

Forgiveness in Christianity.

Forgiveness is especially emphasized in Christianity. Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness. Eg.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
~ Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27

And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than malevolent) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

What are Sins?


“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.

“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


When sins are appropriately considered ‘missing the mark’ from ignorance rather than malevolence, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on how to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with mistaken acts or omissions.

Recognition and transcendence of “sins”.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Jewish Day of Atonement for “Sins”.

In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.

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


Recognizing the inevitability of ‘sin”, the Torah enjoins Jews to return to a righteous path with a process of societal repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions.

Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality and goal beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-freedom-question-and-quotes/)

All enduring religious and spiritual wisdom traditions recognize need for human transcendence of ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and Nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Awareness – which is our ultimate Essence, and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving and Atoning for “Sins”:

Introduction.

Dear Friends and Fellow ‘Sinners’,

We are all here to evolve human consciousness by gradually realizing and actualizing – beyond our perceived separation from each other – our common Oneness with all Life. Yet, despite our common spiritual essence, each of us is unique, with unique propensities, abilities and fallibilities, which provide unique evolutionary opportunities and challenges. So ‘clearing our karma’ involves mindful identification, observation and purification of our unique mental tendencies and obscurations which impede realization of Oneness.

The foregoing essay and quotes about Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” address a spiritually important subject for all of us. For most of my adult life, forgiveness been a great challenge. So I don’t claim to be an accomplished “expert” on this subject, but now share with you as one who has long reflected on judgmentally perceived moral failings of other fallible humans.

Whether or not we are spiritual ‘seekers’, we are all spiritual ‘sinners’ who inevitably ‘miss the mark’ and make mistakes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring and learning in ‘space/time soul suits’ on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’. Except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, all humans are fallible; even Pontiffs and Prelates aren’t infallible.

Before hereafter discussing the spiritual importance of nonjudgmental forgiveness of ‘sins’, I will summarize my long history of judging others, to help you understand, and perhaps appreciate, my present perspectives on non-judgmental forgiveness.

Ron’s history of judging others.

After a midlife awakening, I began identifying my particular spiritual evolutionary challenges and opportunities. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and long-time ardent social justice advocate – I had long established tendencies of often being outspokenly and acerbically judgmental, and of sometimes being unforgiving and angry about perceived injustices. Also I realized that these habits were not helpful to others or me; that they were impediments to my spiritual evolution, and inconsistent with mystical insights of Oneness with all Life, beyond our perceived separation from one another.

However, since first identifying these unhelpful habits decades ago, it hasn’t been easy to transcend them. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992, by deactivating my law license it was easy for me to stop lawyering. But it was hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others – especially if they seemed to act immorally, hypocritically or harmfully.

Only gradually have I discerned significant – but often subtle – distinctions between being unduly judgmental and unforgiving of others, and my life-long ardent and conscientious advocacy for social justice. This often has required difficult discernments and decisions about conscientious truth telling and nonviolently resisting those who unjustly harm others, without vindictively, condemning, blaming and judging them.

The most challenging behaviors for me have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of public or private trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public trust by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I personally experienced as betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.

Slowly my pain and suffering from harboring anger or bitterness, have helped awaken me to the futility and harm of blame. I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance do not change others, and are always incompatible with a loving peaceful mind. But that love and forgiveness, do not preclude – and often require – conscientious advocacy for social justice, and nonviolent resistance to harmfully immoral acts.

As inspiringly demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., love and forgiveness, are integral to such nonviolent resistance. He explained that:


“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” . . . “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” . . .”The time is always right to do what is right.”. . . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


Ultimately I have realized how hating hurts the hater; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. Thus, that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, and that any bitterness we harbor against perceived “others” separates us from our divine Oneness with everyone and everything everywhere, and beyond.

As I have slowly understood that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, I have learned to forgive it, and thereby to live an ever happier life. And thus, I have concluded that our purpose on Earth is not to judge, condemn or criticize apparent evil but to transcend it with LOVE.

Thereby, and only after many years of unsuccessfully addressing my negative judgmental tendencies, I may have now transcended them, by realizing that they arose from ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. So I’ve finally granted my irrevocable general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to judge all “sinners” – even Donald Trump, for whom I now feel sorry, as countless humans worldwide conscientiously and nonviolently resist his administration’s patently insane ecologically suicidal behaviors which threaten to catastrophically destroy all human life on Earth as we have known it.

And while so deferring to the unerring law of cause and effect, with absolute faith in the Divine, I have enjoyed unprecedented peace of mind.

Discussion.

We are here to learn and to demonstrate divine LOVE. But if we behave fearfully or selfishly instead of lovingly and compassionately, we inevitably ‘miss the divine target mark’, and thereby ‘sin’. And if we miss our mark and ‘sin’, we’ll probably suffer karmically from the law of causality. So how do we avoid ‘sinning’ and atone for past ‘sins’?

First, we must become aware of how ‘sins’ happen.

On investigating, we learn that human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable while we unknowingly perceive “through a glass darkly” with conditioned ego-minds. We realize that all our perceptions are illusory projections of past conceptions, which obscure our experience of the timeless NOW. Thus, we learn that our space/time causality reality is like a persistent illusion – a mental mirage; and we discover that

“space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”, that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”, and that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” [Albert Einstein]


Such new-found awareness can reveal simple solutions to previously persistent behavioral problems, from levels of consciousness beyond those which unknowingly caused our mistaken ‘sins’. For example, the Buddha taught that:

“to understand everything is to forgive everything”.

So we may discover that a significant solution to our ‘sinning’ problems is to forgive NOW (in the precious present), all unknowing mental mistakes made by ourselves and others. That

“to err is human; to forgive, Divine.”


Then, with ‘amazing grace’ we can finally see that our non-judgmental forgiveness of mental mistakes is Divine, since ‘sins’ of the conditioned ego-mind have arisen from ignorance, not malevolence – from belief, not awareness; from fear, not LOVE.

As a rare exemplar of Divine LOVE, Jesus Christ has inspired millions with his words and deeds of non-judgmental and merciful forgiveness, of even enemies and persecutors, for their spiritually ignorant behaviors. So even while suffering excruciating pain on a crucifixion cross He beseeched:


“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”


Yet, without judging ignorant beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9] And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]

Perhaps, from Jesus’s supremely divine perspective, ‘mortal sin’ can be seen (with insight, not eyesight) as ignorantly believing oneself a “mortal”, rather than immortal; and, “original sin” can be seen as ego’s mistaken belief of itself as separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Awareness.

During a long lifetime of often morally judging those who betray or hurt others, I finally learned that it is infinitely easier to forgive and atone for, our ‘sins’, by mindfully recognizing how they egotistically happen, than to exist Christ-like or Buddha-like as divine LOVE. And that on becoming mindfully aware of our unwitting sins we inevitably spur our spiritual evolution process.

Conclusion.

May these teachings on “Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” help all of us to forgive and transcend ’sins’ with love. But with quiet minds and open hearts may we continue to non-judgmentally, nonviolently, and conscientiously resist social injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

And may this posting thereby help spur our spiritual evolution process, so that we may all open our hearts to forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –
and BE, eternally, what we truly are:

The unseen Source of the world we see – ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE!

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Is Personal Perfection Possible?

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

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

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

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

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





Is Personal Perfection Possible?

Q. Is personal perfection possible?

A. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 aptly observes:

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

Incarnation involves limitation – and fallibility.

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

So, a perfect person’s not possible.



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

Dear Friends, 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Ron Rattner

What is Perfection?

“All people are flawed;
none are perfect.
But the most flawed,
are those who think or claim they’re perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations

comes nearest to perfection.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress,
driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions.
Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,

to find out his own imperfections.”

~ Saint Augustine
“Advance, and never halt,
for advancing is perfection.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,

and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

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

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





What is Perfection?

Q. What is perfection?

A. “Perfection” is an idea;
a conception in duality reality.

Perfection implies imperfection.

So in relative reality we can not have perfection without imperfection.

And in Ultimate Reality beyond relative reality,
there is no perfection.

Ultimate Reality is beyond conception,
and so beyond “perfection”.


Ron’s Reflections on “What is Perfection?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever met a ‘perfect’ person?  Or perceived or projected “perfection” in this crazy world of ecological, political, and economic crises and constant conflicts?   Have you ever considered seeking inner “perfection” as a life goal? 

Before my mid-life change of life, I had never reflected on ideas of “perfection”.  

But soon thereafter I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar where I was first exposed to certain Eastern spirituality principles skillfully collected and experientially presented to help participants radically transform their lives. 

The key est teaching was acceptance of the present moment – emotionally accepting “what is” because it could not be otherwise.  [See Getting “IT” at est, ] Apt to this teaching was the foregoing “perfection” definition, by est’s founder Werner Erhard:  

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

Intrigued by est, I began reflecting about “perfection” and sometimes wrote sutras and essays, later posted online.  Accordingly, many Silly Sutras postings deal with my evolving reflections on “perfection”. Because these reflections significantly have helped my spiritual opening process, I have shared them hoping they may help others, as they have helped me.

After est, I soon realized that in our phenomenal duality reality “perfection” is an idea, which implies it’s opposite – imperfection; that we can’t have one, without the other. So, a “perfect” person isn’t possible.

Ultimately, I became persuaded by non-duality teachings discouraging “vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative” – and impermanent.

But for a while I mistakenly believed that there were exceptions to my conclusion that an infallible “perfect” person isn’t possible.

This happened after I was blessed to meet my beloved venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. [ See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master ] and also met certain other “enlightened” spiritual teachers in the US and India. Whereupon, I became a “born-again Hindu”, and read and recited Eastern scriptures and liturgy glorifying divinity of “gurus” and awakened “buddhas”. 

Naively, I thereafter began projecting “perfection” onto Guruji and a few other “enlightened” teachers. But, ultimately, I realized from inner and outer experience that incarnation is limitation, and that however evolved an incarnate being may be s/he is fallible; that here on Earth, where we experience life in apparent physical bodies, human fallibility ‘goes with the territory’ – that “to err is human”.

With that realization, I ceased projecting “perfection” onto individuals and began relying on inner – not outer – authority. No longer a “born-again Hindu” I became, and remain, an “Uncertain Undue” , seeking relief from belief.

My devotional motto became, and remains:

“Adoration of the Infinite; not adulation of the incarnate”.

And I wrote The Law of Flaw, a poem beginning with these verses:

All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.


In reading the seemingly contradictory above quotes about perfection please remember that in this impermanent world of relativity and duality words often point paradoxically or metaphorically to Eternal truth, which is ineffable. So

“The truest sayings are paradoxical.”
~ Lao Tzu

 
Whether or not we may agree that “perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not”,  I hope this perfection definition helps you – as it helped me – find inner peace and happiness by emotionally accepting “what is” NOW, because it could not be otherwise. 

But let us remember that emotionally accepting the present moment need not deter us from questioning or nonviolently resisting – like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – pervasive suffering and injustice caused by human ignorance and greed, while envisioning our evolutionary transcendence thereof. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

The Law of Flaw

“All is perfection,
But nobody’s perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Incarnation is limitation.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins.”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.
It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken
and the wisest might err.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi



Incarnation is limitation.

All people are flawed;
none are perfect.
But the most flawed,
are those who claim or think they’re perfect.

The greatest self-delusion
is the conviction of being
beyond self-delusion.

The fewer our fears,
the fewer our flaws.

“He who is without sin
cast the first stone.”

He who is without vice,
give the first advice.

High flyers, Beware!
All people are fallible,
and fallible means fall -able.
So, the higher we fly
the further we may fall.



Ron’s audio recitation of The Law of Flaw

Listen to