Remember with gratitude,
Life is beatitude –
Even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
Every time, every place, and
Forever (S)HE will reign!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place
where the Beloved lives.”
“The Guest House” ~ by Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight . . .
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks
Ron’s Commentary on Rumi’s Wisdom:
For many people these are dark and divisive times, unprecedented in their lives.
I understand and honor that perspective. But I see current painful world turmoil as dark times before an inevitable dawn; as marking and catalyzing an immense evolutionary opportunity for a new era of human harmony and conscious connection with each other and with Nature.
So I view what is happening environmentally and politically as disintegration of an old world paradigm that has become painfully and harmfully anachronous, to make way for a more enlightened and elevated new age that can bless all life on our precious planet.
So today I have posted a beautiful poem by Persian mystic master Rumi titled “The Guest House” which metaphorically encapsulates my foregoing optimistic philosophy.
Let us deeply consider Rumi’s inspired verses to help us envision these dark times as signaling the dawning of an enlightened new age. Let us like Rumi:
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
And so may it be!
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
In prior posts I have told how after my spiritual awakening my life became filled with ever more amazing synchronicities, some of which I called “manifestation miracles”. (See https://sillysutras.com/synchronistic-manifestation-miracles-rons-memoirs/ ) Sometimes manifestation synchronicities respecting particular things – like plants – have happened to me recurrently. Here is a story of how the universe repeatedly provided comfortable running shoes for me when I needed them.
On living alone after divorce, I began jogging almost every morning before walking to work. So I started wearing running shoes for the first time. After trying on many different shoe brands, I discovered that New Balance (which were then sold in narrow widths) fit me best. Thereafter, for many years I only bought narrow New Balance running shoes.
But gradually my feet widened and expanded with age. And in 1988, my jogging days were ended when my left leg, knee and ankle were injured in an auto accident. But I kept walking regularly and continued wearing New Balance running shoes to absorb impact of walking on hard surfaces.
After the accident my lower left leg and foot often became swollen. The New Balance shoes then sometimes felt tight around the ankle area, but from habit I continued wearing them without exploring other brands. And I wore different New Balance shoes on different days, with colors matching my clothes.
About seven years ago, I was contemplating replacement of a very worn pair of blue running shoes. But for the first time, I didn’t have to buy needed new shoes.
One afternoon, as I was taking my regular walk toward the San Francisco Marina and Golden Gate, I noticed a pair of almost new blue running shoes on a Marina park bench. (*See footnote) I walked past the shoes without examining them, assuming that they had been placed there for a few minutes by someone who was about to emerge from a boat moored at the adjoining Marina.
But on returning from the Golden Gate Bridge over an hour later, I saw the same blue shoes still on the park bench. After momentarily walking past them, I went over to the bench and examined them with curiosity. They were barely worn Asics shoes, a brand with which I was then unfamiliar.
I looked into the shoes and saw that they were a size larger than I had ever before worn. So I didn’t think they would fit me. But then I placed them beside the shoes I was wearing, and they appeared to be about the same length.
Then, I sat on the bench, tried them on, and found them quite comfortable – even more comfortable around my swollen left ankle than my New Balance shoes. So, I took them home and began wearing them regularly, though I had never before worn a pair of previously owned shoes.
They were much more comfortable than the worn out blue New Balance shoes which they replaced. And the more I wore them, the more I liked them. I liked them so much that I continued obliviously using them for many years, long after their soles were completely worn and uneven.
Then two years ago, I told the story of how the universe had manifested those shoes to Rob Tobias, a singer/songwriter musician and videographer, who is making a documentary film about me called “Walks With Ron”. When I showed him the Asics shoes, Rob expressed amazement that I was still wearing them in such a worn-out condition. Tactfully, he suggested I should replace them. And I realized that he was right; that I needed to buy a new pair of blue running shoes.
But before I looked for a new pair of blue shoes, the universe provided them.
Very soon after Rob Tobias advised me to replace my over-worn Asics, I was returning from an afternoon walk to the SF Municipal Pier when I saw a pair of blue running shoes, which apparently someone had disposed of at a curb-side near my apartment. I picked them up, saw that they were in very good condition, and that miraculously they were Asics, and exactly the same size as the comfortable blue Asics I had found years ago which now needed replacement.
So, I put them in a plastic bag and carried them home. Of course, they proved quite comfortable and I began wearing them regularly. I have so far logged in many miles in those shoes, and am still contentedly using them.
About a year after the universe provided that second pair of blue Asics shoes, I needed a new pair of neutral colored running shoes to wear with brown shade clothes. For many years, I had been wearing a neutral colored New Balance pair with soles that had become completely worn out.
So, I went to a nearby store looking for new neutral colored shoes – either New Balance or Asics. But I didn’t find anything that I liked. I left the store planning to look elsewhere. But soon that became unnecessary.
For the third time the universe presented me with exactly the shoes I was looking for.
Within two weeks, on a ledge near my apartment building, I found an almost brand new pair of neutral colored running shoes. Again they were perfectly comfortable. And again they were Asics – a third Asics “manifestation miracle”. I regularly wear them with pleasure, when not wearing my blue Asics.
I confess that, while I haven’t become blasé about these miracles, I am no longer so surprised when they happen. But, with utmost gratitude, I accept them as signs and reminders that I am living a very lucky and blessed life, and becoming ever more harmonious with Nature and ‘in-sync’ with the unseen implicate order of the universe.
*The shoes were located very near the same place where I later fortuitously discovered (in a dumpster) a rare video showing my 1982 trip to India. See https://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-story-miraculously-manifesting-memories-of-a-spiritual-pilgrimage-to-india-and-nepal/
“We get what we need when we need it.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
~ Matthew 6:26
See how the lilies of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that
not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.
~ Matthew 6:28-29
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that
the hand of the LORD has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9
A Sunday Synchronicity Story
On a sunny Sunday morning, I awakened to a gorgeous and warm November day. After showering and watering my plants, I dressed and happily walked to the Fort Mason farmers market. After chatting with farmer sellers and shoppers, and filling my cloth shopping bag with some delicious organic veggies, I was ready to return home. But it was just too lovely not to be outdoors.
So I decided to walk out to the end of the San Francisco Municipal Pier, one of my favorite walking destinations. Usually I hike there in the afternoons after eating brunch, my first meal. But daylight savings time had ended and afternoons had been getting cloudy and cool at my usual walking time. So I decided to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and walk to the pier before eating.
To get from the farmers market onto the path to the pier, I needed to climb up a very steep concrete stairway, perhaps the equivalent of four or five apartment building stories. Gratefully I climbed the stairs with alacrity and walked out onto the pier carrying my bag of veggies, happily chatting with strangers along the way. But as I started going home my body began ‘running out of steam’, since it hadn’t been refueled since Saturday night and wasn’t accustomed to walking before eating.
I decided that I needed to rest somewhere before walking home. So I took a ‘detour’ route into Fort Mason where I planned to sit on a sunny bench in the community garden there. But the detour route required me to climb another steep bank of concrete stairs about as high as the others I’d ascended.
By the time I approached the garden, I was a bit ‘pooped’ and ready to rest for a while to recharge my body’s batteries. Just as I reached the garden gate, I was greeted with a smile by a very friendly lady who was about to leave, and asked: “How are you today?” I told her I had just climbed some steep stairs and needed to rest on the garden bench before walking home.
Whereupon, to my amazement, she asked “would you like me to give you a ride home?” I felt reluctant to impose on her generosity if she would have to drive out of her way to take me home. So I asked where she’d been planning to drive before meeting me at the gate. She said “I’m your neighbor Jan Monaghan, and I’m going to same building where we both live.” Only then, to my embarrassment, did I recognize her. She was wearing sun glasses and a cap, and never before in the twenty five years that we’ve been neighbors had I ever seen her away from our apartment building.
I then promptly accepted Jan’s offer, got into her Honda and was quickly taken home with my bag of fresh veggies. Jan drove right into the garage. So I got out of her car, into the elevator, and rode up to my high-rise hermitage without any further exertion or enervation.
And I ate my late lunch, with ever growing gratitude for this miraculous life and its wondrous blessings.
Moral of the story:
Synchronicities can infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for our miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet, and remind us that we are part of Nature, interdependent with all Life everywhere.
“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives
by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life,
we are always free to choose our attitude and thoughts about those circumstances.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
So an attitude of gratitude
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
Nick Vujicic is an inspiring Australian motivational speaker and Christian evangelist who was born without arms or legs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically. But eventually, with perseverance and faith in God, Nick discovered that his state of mind determined his happiness, and that we choose our state of mind.
Thereby he learned to gratefully accept his life just as it is.
He teaches his crucial insights not only with his words but mostly by his life example. Though he can’t walk physically, he metaphorically walks his talk.
Here is a powerfully inspiring four minute video in which Nick both articulates and demonstrates his fundamental teaching – that an attitude of accepting our life with faith and gratitude brings happiness.
Nick Vujicik ~ No Arms No Legs No Worries
Remember God, forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.”
~ William Shakespeare
There is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy
Don’t forget what you knew
before you withdrew,
from dwelling in Heaven’s domain.
Recall your affinity,
with dazzling Divinity,
and in that Presence remain.
Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,
even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
every time, every place,
Forever (S)HE will reign!
Ron’s audio singing of Remember
“When the student is ready, the master appears.”
~ Buddhist Proverb
The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master
When something or someone wonderful happens in our lives many of us feel grateful and lucky, especially if our good fortune happens seemingly by chance.
Can you recall times or incidents when you felt really lucky? Have you ever thought that something or someone in your life was a wonderful blessing? Have you ever considered yourself lucky to be alive? Blessed to be living during important times?
I want to share with you a story about the luckiest day and biggest blessing of my life – a blessing which I couldn’t understand when it happened and can’t yet fully appreciate. Because of what happened that day, I am happier than ever before, enjoying a wonderful life on our precious planet and able to share with others ever more love, happiness and gratitude.
Paradoxically, this biggest blessing of my life followed my most painful experience, and has helped me realize that even my life’s most difficult experiences have been disguised blessings, which have helped me to open and to evolve spiritually.
In 1976, during a psychologically traumatic divorce separating me from my young children, I experienced an extraordinary and dramatic rebirth experience opening me to the spiritual dimensions of life.
Before the divorce, my most memorable spiritual experiences had happened in hospital delivery rooms when, in my presence, my former wife Naomi gave birth to our children, Jessica and Joshua.
But beginning with my dramatic rebirth experience and spiritual opening, I gradually have learned that each birth – and every other appearance and experience in this world – originates with unseen energies arising in Infinite Awareness; that our true essence and identity is eternal spirit, beyond form – beyond birth and death; and thus, that spirituality, consciousness and mind, are of immeasurably preeminent importance to us as genesis of all physical or material appearances.
I couldn’t have experienced these blessings but for what happened on the luckiest day of my life – April 15, 1978 – two years after my spiritual rebirth experience.
On that day I received a spiritual initiation from an extraordinary Holy man – venerable Hindu guru Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).* Until meeting Guruji, I knew very little about Gurus or their teachings and had no intention of becoming involved with a spiritual teacher. Nor did I have any idea of how a rare and authentic Guru could help me both in this world and from subtle planes – like an incarnate ‘guardian angel’. So, I couldn’t begin to imagine how fortunate I was.
Before meeting Guruji, I didn’t understand the karmic law that we reap as we sow. But since then I have learned that in this world nothing – however mysterious – escapes the law of cause and effect. So I now intuit that the biggest blessing of my life did not happen by chance; but, that it was my destiny to meet Guruji as my spiritual master and that I was led to him through synchronicity.
Before meeting Guruji, I wasn’t familiar with Indian culture or religion. But I began to have synchronistic experiences which seemed associated with India.
First, Mahatma Gandhi surprisingly and vividly appeared to me as an inner spiritual guide advising me at various times in response to my questions to him, even though I then knew little about him and hadn’t invoked him. (Later I learned that Gandhi had been a lawyer, and that from childhood his principal spiritual practice was constant repetition of the name “Rama” – an Indian name for God which was his last utterance on his assassination in 1948.)
Soon thereafter, in Hawaii while lost in a jungle-like nature preserve and frightened, I spontaneously and inexplicably began calling and repeating “Rama” – a name for God which I’d never before recited in this life, found my way out of the jungle tangle, and immediately thereafter began seeing my own aura, and afterwards auras of others.
Later, in San Francisco, I was suddenly awakened from deep sleep one night to behold (sitting up with eyes wide open) an extraordinarily vivid vision of a golden Indian Divine Mother which morphed into a golden image of myself.
Thereafter, at night before retiring, I began seeing blurred inner visions of an elderly Indian man with a beard, though I had not yet begun meditating regularly.
Apart from these “inner” experiences there was a series of “outer” synchronicities that led me to Guruji.
Attempting to scientifically understand what was happening to me after my spiritual re-birth experience, I found and read with tremendous interest and fascination a medical case study book by Lee Sannella, MD, entitled: “Kundalini-Psychosis or Transcendence” about an esoteric psychophysiological transformation process long known to Indian yogis and adepts but not to Western medicine; a process initiated by awakening of dormant ‘kundalini’ energy at the base of the spine.
The book defined the kundalini process as an “evolutionary process taking place in the human nervous system”. As I read therein medical case studies of fifteen different people undergoing the kundalini process, I realized that I too had been experiencing that process since my April 1976 spontaneous rebirth episode; and, that the kundalini process might explain some of my ‘weird’ new experiences.
Thereupon, I wanted to meet Dr. Sannella, who practiced in the Bay Area as both a psychiatrist and ophthalmologist. On learning that he was a principal officer of the California Society For Psychical Study, I joined the society and began attending its bi-monthly meetings, where I met him.
One evening in early April 1978, I attended a regular meeting of the Society. As I entered the meeting room, I saw a poster announcing a forthcoming series of meditation programs at the University Christian Church in Berkeley. The poster featured a prominent picture of an elderly man with a gray beard. As the meeting progressed, I irresistibly kept looking at the poster. Something about the picture of the old man fascinated me.
After the formal meeting concluded, I asked Dr. Sannella about the pictured meditation teacher and his announced meditation programs. Dr. Sannella told me that this would be an exceptional opportunity for “darshan” of an Indian master yogi, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, with rare power to activate and guide the Kundalini transformation process, which when activated could accelerate spiritual evolution but cause problems without such guidance. (I later learned that Dr. Sannella had received an initiation from this master yogi.)
I took a printed flyer with details of the schedule and decided to attend the first of the announced meditation programs. A crucially important new life phase was about to begin.
The meditation programs proved unlike anything I had anticipated or ever before experienced. At the front of the room was a pleasant, bright-eyed elderly man with a beard, wearing a white robe, and accompanied by an interpreter. Unknown to me, this small elderly gentleman was then about 100 years old, and had attained an exceptionally advanced state of spiritual evolution with unbelievable mystical powers which were largely esoteric in the West and clearly beyond the comprehension of Western science.
I soon began experiencing some of those extraordinary powers, and began perceiving him differently than anyone else I’d ever yet met.
In the interpreter’s introductory remarks we were informed that Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas was empowered to awaken dormant kundalini energy via thought, gaze, sound or touch; that in the ensuing meditation program we were to be given an experience of communication of this energy via the sound of sacred Sanskrit mantras, which he would sing. We were instructed to sit with closed eyes, watch our breath, and listen to the mantras.
Listening to Dhyanyogi sing Sanskrit mantras was for me reminiscent of hearing Jewish cantors singing Hebrew prayers and chants. But I had never before felt such intense subtle energy. Nor had I ever before perceived someone with a luminous silvery aura like his. After the singing, audience questions were entertained and answered via interpreter. On conclusion of the program, I decided to – and did – attend the next night’s program. It was similar to the first, and I experienced it similarly. And so I decided to attend the final program.
At the last program I experienced Dhyanyogi’s exceptional spiritual energy more intensely than ever before, and felt somehow changed by it in an ineffable way. That program ended with an announcement that on Sunday morning Dhyanyogi would be conferring a shaktipat initiation on anyone requesting it, after they made appropriate arrangements. It was explained that this shaktipat initiation would entail his formal transfer to each initiate of Divine shakti energy via touch and otherwise.
Still an uptight lawyer, I felt quite reluctant to participate in an esoteric initiation involving unknown formal commitments to an Indian guru with whom I was barely familiar. So I didn’t sign up for the shaktipat initiation, but retained the contact information for shaktipat participants. I returned to my San Francisco studio apartment still experiencing the intense subtle energies which had been transmitted that night, and feeling quite strange – like I’d never before felt.
Within a few minutes after entering my apartment, I spontaneously began extraordinarily intense crying and sobbing, as had first happened during my 1976 rebirth experience. Then, with closed eyes I beheld amazing inner visions. First I saw a small bright blue circle. Gradually, the vivid circle grew larger and larger. Then, within the circle, with the clarity of a good color TV image, I beheld Dhyanyogi, who had come for an inner visit knowing I was in a receptive state of consciousness after meditating with him in Berkeley.
I had learned from my inner experience with Gandhi, that disembodied spirits could intentionally manifest to me while I was in an ‘alpha state of consciousness’. But this was my first such experience with an incarnate being. And thereupon I suddenly realized that, long before I met or heard about him, it was Guruji who had frequently appeared to me as the blurred inner image of an elderly man with a beard.
This experience and realization changed my mind about taking the shaktipat initiation. I thought “this yogi is someone very special, who I must learn more about.” So, the next day I phoned and made arrangements to participate in the esoteric initiation ceremony.
During the ceremony I was given a sacred mantra to repeat as a primary spiritual practice. Like Gandhi’s mantra and the mantra I had first spontaneously repeated in Hawaii, it was a Rama mantra. Also, I was given a Sanskrit spiritual name: “Rasik”. Before leaving the ceremony I asked Guruji’s assistant for the meaning of “Rasik”, and was quite surprised and puzzled when he replied “one engrossed in devotion”. He wrote this new spiritual name and its meaning on the cover of a small meditation instruction pamphlet which I had received after the initiation ceremony.
“Why has a secular lawyer like me being given a name like this?”, I wondered. The answer to that question gradually became quite evident.
After meeting Guruji in 1978, I was fortunate to see and be with him on various occasions during his remaining time in the US – mostly in group retreats and meditations. In his holy presence, I was invariably moved to intense devotional tears. And more and more Guruji’s saintly simplicity, compassion, love, and humility captured my heart.
And as he presciently foresaw in bestowing the name “Rasik”, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep emotion of devotion.
In December, 1979, Guruji was interviewed for a “New Dimensions” radio broadcast, which is linked below. I was lucky enough to have been present then and to have briefly participated in that interview, explaining how I became Guruji’s disciple.
During the interview, Guruji told how he had come to the United States in 1976, to find and help American devotees many of whom he had previously seen during a near death visit with Lord Rama, the aspect of universal Divinity most emphasized in Guruji’s devotional practices.
Further he explained the importance of meditation and “shaktipat” and how his kundalini yoga path was not a religion but a spiritual practice and science bringing lasting inner peace and happiness to individuals of any belief or religious affiliation. He concluded the interview by chanting mantras with which he subtly transmitted his exceptional spiritual energies.
Guruji New Dimensions Radio Interview, December 18, 1979
In addition to emanating an amazingly intense shakti energy field, Guruji displayed extraordinary physical prowess. I saw him as a centenarian demonstrating difficult yogic postures – like head stands – and walking so fast on a beach that young people had to jog to keep up with his extraordinary pace.
But, after four years of tireless efforts in the US, Guruji became extremely debilitated and in 1980 was obliged to return to India. My apartment in San Francisco, was the last place in the US where he stayed for a few weeks. During that period I was blessed not only with his holy presence but with rare opportunities to speak with him directly.
On one of those memorable occasions, I effusively and spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” After a pregnant pause, his unforgettable reply was: “That’s true.”
More than thirty years have now passed since I received shaktipat initiation. But the kundalini evolutionary process which Guruji initiated still continues. Thanks to Guruji’s subtle guidance, it seems irresistibly to be removing my egoic limitations, so that there is today (self-identified with this life-form) much less “Ron” and much more “Ram” than there was on April 15, 1978. Like ‘magical’ spiritual alchemy, the kundalini shakti is transmuting and transforming Ron’s humanity to Divinity.
At age 102, Guruji returned to India where he spent his fourteen remaining years until leaving his physical body at age 116. Nonetheless since then, with tears of deep devotion and gratitude, I have continued to experience (at subtle levels of awareness) his profoundly transformative shakti energy.
Thus, from the depths of my heart, I still feel that the day I met Guruji was the luckiest day of my life.
See Facebook page Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas for a brief biography of Guruji, and many photos.