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Posts Tagged ‘Eknath Easwaran’

“Gandhi the Man”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“My life is my message.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart,

cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.” ….. “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mahatma Gandhi ~ October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948


Introduction to “Gandhi the Man”

Dear Friends,

Since my midlife awakening, my life has unfolded in previously imaginable ways, like a spiritual mystery story. Instead of a “who done it?” mystery it has been an ongoing “who am I?” mystery.

The following memoirs chapter is titled “Gandhi the Man” because that is also the title of a wonderful Gandhi biography by Eknath Easwaran which significantly furthered my still unfolding spiritual mystery story.

The importance for me of that Gandhi biography can be best understood in context of my recently posted 9/11 tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and from review of three prior memoirs chapters about my introduction to Hindu teachings and to Mahatma Gandhi.

So for your convenience I’ll summarize those prior chapters in this Introduction, but respectfully suggest that if interested you read them separately.

1) Silva Mind Control

At a Silva Mind Control workshop Mahatma Gandhi became my first known inner spiritual guide, when he appeared telepathically to answer questions and counsel me long after his 1948 assassination. Because he was quite famous, I clearly recognized him wearing a white Indian dhoti. However I then knew very little about Gandhi’s life and story, and he had appeared only after I asked the universe to send my most appropriate inner guide. So I soon wondered why the universe had chosen Gandhi to counsel me.

2) Why Be Here Now?

After Silva Mind Control, I was guided to read an extraordinary book called “Be Here Now” which told how Harvard professor Richard Alpert had become Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba. The book also included suggestions for Eastern spiritual practices, like repeating (as a mantra) “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…”, an important Hindu name for God. That suggestion soon manifested in my life, in an amazingly unprecedented, way as my “who am I” spiritual mystery story enfolded.

3) “Be Here Now”, “Rama”, and Rainbow Synchronicity

After taking depositions in Hawaii, I stayed for weekend relaxing on a hotel beach, and hiking nearby. On a Friday afternoon I decided to briefly hike (without a backpack) in a mountainous and jungle-like Hawaiian state park across from my hotel. While hiking I lost sight of all trails and became fearful of being lost, hungry and chilled throughout the night.


Then for the first time in my life, I spontaneously began, calling out loud “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…” – fearfully invoking a Divine solution to my plight. And soon I experienced an “Aha moment” suddenly revealing that a nearby meandering mountain stream was flowing down and out of the jungle park. So I walked downstream in it, and kept repeating “Rama”, “Rama”, “Rama” until I was safely back in my hotel.

There I felt extraordinarily peaceful, but very “strange”. In this strange state, I gazed into a large dressing room mirror and beheld in amazement my face and head enveloped in a beautiful multi-colored aura, like those depicted on ancient religious icons. Virtually thoughtless, I then sat for hours intently gazing in wonder at my mirrored auric image, before going to bed.


On awakening Saturday morning, as I immediately recalled this wondrous experience, there ensued a confusing inner dialogue between the “voice in my head” and my thought-free intuition. Whenever my heart was uplifted by recalling that beautiful experience, the ‘voice’ told me that I’d been hallucinating. So, that morning I went out to the beach in a state of confusion.

It was a beautiful calm and sunny day with a few white wispy clouds in the sky. But my mind was not calm. As I sat in the sand, I kept wondering whether or not I’d really seen that beautiful multi-colored aura.

Finally I intuitively resolved my inner debate, and thought: “Yes, it definitely was a ‘real’ aura, but I’m not sure I remember all its beautiful colors. What were they?”


Whereupon, I looked up and beheld a lovely rainbow, with the very same colors I’d seen in the aura. While I’d been lost in thought, a couple of dark clouds had appeared with a quickly passing light tropical shower, leaving in its wake the fleeting rainbow. As a lawyer, I took the sudden appearance of the rainbow as Divine “corroboration” of my rainbow aura experience.

The rainbow’s unexpected appearance, was one of innumerable continuing synchronicities which have blessed and guided my inner transformation process as clues for my ever unfolding spiritual mystery story, which I will continue sharing with you in the following “Gandhi the Man” chapter.


Gandhi the Man

After my synchronistic “Rama” rainbow experience in Hawaii, I felt an inner affinity with “Rama” as a divine name, but didn’t yet adopt a practice of regularly repeating it as a mantra. However, I became intrigued by the powerful potentiality of that practice by a new spiritual friend.

Soon after discovering the Rama mantra in “Be Here Now” and then spontaneously reciting it in Hawaii, I synchronistically met in California an American woman named “Veda Rama”, originally from Boston. She had become a spiritual devotee of Ram Dass in New England (when he was writing “Be Here Now”), and had followed him to the New Mexico Lama Foundation, where she helped to artistically produce and distribute the first hand-assembled and hand-bound editions of that wonderful book. While in New Mexico, she had received the spiritual name “Veda Rama” (meaning “truth of God”).


After meeting Veda Rama I introduced her to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi. He later initiated her as “Ram Dassi” – the feminine equivalent of Ram Dass (meaning “servant of God”).


She became – and remains – a very dear spiritual friend, with whom I’ve shared countless synchronicity experiences. Those experiences have included my story of how Mahatma Gandhi appeared and counseled me at Silva Mind Control, as my first inner guide – so that I’d become quite curious about Gandhi’s life history. And soon after hearing my Gandhi story, she gave me a beautiful pictorial Gandhi biography titled “Gandhi the Man” by Eknath Easwaran, as a birthday gift.


From reading that biography I learned that Gandhi was a timid and fearful child. So in his early years Gandhi’s beloved nurse Rambha taught him to repeat the name“Rama” whenever he felt afraid. Later throughout his adult life, reciting the Rama mantra became Gandhi’s most important spiritual practice, along with regularly reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Thus, as an adult Gandhi often walked constantly repeating his Rama mantra in rhythm with his steps; and he wrote extensively about the importance of repeating the name “Rama” (the Ramanama).:

“When a child, my nurse taught me to repeat Ramanama whenever I felt afraid or miserable, and it has been second nature with me with growing knowledge and advancing years. I may even say that the Word is in my heart, if not actually on my lips, all the twenty-four hours. It has been my saviour and I am ever stayed on it.” “The mantram becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal….” “Each repetition … has a new meaning, each repetition carries you nearer and nearer to God.”


Even as Gandhi fell to an assassin’s pistol fired point-blank into his heart, in fearless forgiveness he uttered nothing but “Rama, Rama …” his last words from the eternal depths of his heart.

Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful. Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy. 

But few people realize that Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his world renowned campaign for Indian independence, but that he began and named his unprecedented civil rights movement with a brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa.

Gandhi was educated in England as a Common Law barrister, and was not trained in Indian law. So to engage in legal practice he moved from India to South Africa, where for over twenty years he practiced as an idealistic and extraordinarily effective common law civil rights attorney before returning to India, where he became that nation’s most beloved modern hero, and one of the most inspiring and positively influential human beings in all history.

From his deep and extraordinary spiritual aspiration and determination to realize Truth as God or Rama, Gandhi changed himself to change the world. He transformed from beginning life as a timid child, to become a fearlessly determined civil rights advocate relentlessly pursuing nonviolent secular and spiritual Truth.

Gandhi’s history in South Africa is described in my recently posted 9/11 tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. It tells the inspiring story of how on September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed an  anti-apartheid  meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed apartheid law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the egregiously immoral law.

Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such an unjust law. Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.

The September 11th Johannesburg event began a powerful anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Thereafter, in 1908 Gandhi carefully coined a new word – “satyagraha” – to describe the movement’s ground-breaking inter-religious spiritual mission.

Satyagraha is Sanskrit neologism combining “satya” (Truth) with “agraha” (holding firmly). But because Satyagraha is rooted in Vedic spiritual wisdom it is extremely difficult to translate into English. It roughly means the non-violent and resolute pursuit of “Truth” as equated with “God”.

Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was fundamentally spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based civil disobedience. It was steadfastly dedicated to asserting and living Divine Truth by nonviolently and respectfully resisting institutional immorality and injustice to achieve societal and political justice.

Beyond mere “pacifism” or “passive resistance”, it encompassed an actively militant, yet resolutely non-violent faith-based assertion of one’s moral beliefs, with open defiance of unjust laws or decrees, and with steadfast remembrance that Divinity [viz. “Truth”] is immanent in all creation, including one’s oppressors.  In addition to practicing satyagraha and ahimsa, Gandhi, was a vegetarian, who lived a non-materialistic, simple life, and practiced aparigraha, non-attachment to possessions.

The more I learned about Gandhi the more he inspired me. I identified with him as a civil rights advocate and as a spiritual truth-seeker. Also his non-attachment to possessions and vegetarianism, was significant for me since I, too, had become a vegetarian living with increasing non-attachment to worldly possessions. And in 1978 my beloved Guruji initiated me with a “Rama” mantra.

Thus, Gandhi’s inner appearance at Silva Mind Control, to counsel me was absolutely appropriate. Gandhiji became and (after over forty years) remains one the few most important humans who have inspired my still unfolding spiritual mystery story – a transformation and transmutation from “Ron” to “Ram”. Even now, I frequently and tearfully call that Divine name.

So, as inspired by Gandhi, “Rama” remains – enshrined in my heart as a constant impetus to my ever evolving spiritual mystery story.

Once when asked about his teachings, Gandhi aptly replied:


“My life is my message.”


Upon deeply realizing and experiencing the universal wisdom of that statement, I was inspired to compose this sutra/poem:


On the Earth branch
of the great Cosmic University,

We are all students
and we are all teachers.

We are all learning love.
And, as Gandhi observed,
our lives are our teachings.

So, as we live
and as we learn,
we each may teach –
peace, love, and compassion.

And so it shall be!


Invocation


May Mahatma Gandhi’s exemplary life,
ever inspire and morally motivate countless humans
to live life peacefully and compassionately
in eternal harmony with Nature and Divinity –
as LOVE!

Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner