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Reflections on Religious Beliefs

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
 it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.”

~ Alan Watts
“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”

~ J. Krishnamurti
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.
So, we seek relief from belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Follow dharma, not dogma.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .
“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama






Reflections on Religious Beliefs

Q. What is religion?

A. “Religion” is a word with many meanings.
Here we define it as “any belief system about Divinity or immortality often including rules, rituals, codes of ethics, and philosophies of life.”

Q. Why do we have religions?

A. There is a subtle Cosmic law of ‘supply and demand.’ Religions have arisen in response to our perennial quest for lasting peace and happiness, and our desire to transcend inevitable earthly psychological sufferings.

Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone seeks Happiness, Wholeness, and Love. Consciously or subliminally, we intuit and long for a state of Being which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering. Knowingly or unknowingly we seek timeless Truth.

Religious belief is a form of attempted life guidance, and psychological self-protection from fear of inevitable physical death and uncertain life experience before death. Though many find transient consolation in accepting religious beliefs about divinity and immortality, such beliefs can’t permanently provide such protection. We can’t find freedom from fear of death and from life’s uncertainties through theories, thoughts or beliefs, but only through direct experiential Knowledge.

Thus, the Buddha who realized such freedom while meditating beneath a Banyan tree, counseled:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

When twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he said:

[B]elief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” …… “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”

Similarly the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,
though boundless and unchanging,
appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”

“The [mistaken] identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
causes the apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”

“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience, the senses receive no impressions from sense objects, and awareness rests in its essential nature.”

“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras

Q. Why is a silent mind important?

A. Through thought we self identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world. But this is an ego illusion. So, attempted psychological self-preservation through perpetuation of an illusionary self-image is futile. What never was can never be preserved. Thus, religious beliefs that seek psychological self protection from identification with an illusion of separateness from Self are ultimately futile.

The object of all spiritual practice is to transcend such illusionary ego identity. Such transcendence happens only when thought ceases and the universal intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided.

Q. What about instinctive physical acts of self-protection, as distinguished from religious beliefs aimed at psychological self-preservation?

A. According to J.Krishnamurti:

“Physical self-protection is sane, normal and healthy but every other form of self-protection, inwardly, is resistance and it always gathers, builds up strength which is fear.”

Q. Are religious beliefs important?

A. Our ethical behaviors – not our religious beliefs – are most important.

As the Dalai Lama reportedly has said:

“There is no religion higher than the Truth. … What really is important is our behavior with peers, family, work, community, and in the world. …. Whether or not we follow a religion, what is important is that we become more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsible, more ethical.” https://sillysutras.com/your-religion-is-not-important/

So grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

Ron’s Comments on Urgently Necessary Ethical Behavior Beyond Religious Beliefs

Dear Friends,

Without universal ethical behavior beyond conflicting religious beliefs, humanity cannot survive.

As explained in the foregoing essay, throughout human history, people have adopted or accepted “religious” beliefs, practices and institutions, in exploring the mystery and meaning of life and existence. About 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or with some form of folk religion. Also there are now an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.

Paradoxically, some leaders and devotees of religions organized to teach universal “Truth” realized by Great Beings have perpetuated and acted on mistaken egoic ideas of separateness, which the sages transcended. Thus, throughout human history countless people and other precious life forms – all manifestations of that same Universal “Truth” – have been victims of demonic wars, crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and ‘terrorism’ initiated and perpetrated in the name of “true” religion or God.

Although religious beliefs and practices have also inspired immeasurable good, advances in technological and scientific knowledge now reveal that Humankind urgently need to transcend such behaviors which have spawned immense misery and even threaten all Earth life as we have known it.

But how can this happen?

Inspired by the wisdom of Dr. Seuss that “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple,” I have long reflected on on this question, seeking simple answers to the immensely complicated crises confronting us.

Perhaps one of the simplest but most powerful answers I’ve found is:

“There is only one God,

the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;

There is only one language, the language of the Heart;

There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”

~ Sathya Sai Baba

But most people are not yet sufficiently evolved to understand and act in accordance with that profound realization expressed by Sai Baba.

So I was delighted when His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently published an important self-help book – “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” – which H.H. introduced with this important insight:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2011)

And I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by similar sentiments addressed to all Humankind by Pope Francis, e.g.:

“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

“[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”. . . .
“[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk

And so we must realize that

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama

With silenced minds and opened hearts may we practice the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy, and compassionately view and treat all sentient beings as spiritual siblings. May everyone everywhere treat all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Seek More Than Meets The Eye

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal,
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust consumes
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
~ Matthew 6:19-21
“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
~ Luke:18:25 ; Matthew 19:24
“Fools follow the desires of the flesh and fall into the snare of all-encompassing death; but the wise, knowing the Self as eternal, seek not the things that pass away”
~ Katha Upanishad 2:1:2
“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold,
happiness dwells in the soul.”
~ Democritus
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions,
but in having few wants.”
~ Epictetus
“What really counts in life can’t be counted.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”

“The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.”

“The most precious things in life are not those one gets for money”. . . . . Money only appeals to selfishness and always irresistibly tempts its owner to abuse it. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus or Gandhi with the moneybags of Carnegie?”
~ Albert Einstein



Seek More Than Meets The Eye

Do not cherish
that which will perish.

Do not treasure
fleeting pleasure –

Or what you can measure.

Do not believe
what you perceive;

And do not seek
what you can speak.

Seek the ineffable
and it is inevitable

That you will know
the Unknowable-

The Inconceivable!

That you will find –
Beyond your mind –

Eternal Peace!



Ron’s audio recitation of Seek More Than Meets The Eye

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Ron’s Explanation of “Seek More Than Meets The Eye”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem, “Seek More Than Meets The Eye” was inspired by my discovery of Jesus’ teaching to lay up “treasures in heaven”, rather than earthly treasures. [Matthew 6:19-21].

Long before discovering that scriptural passage, my midlife spiritual awakening had apparently sparked manifestation of previously subdued ascetic proclivities and tendencies – perhaps from other contemplative lifetimes. So, I had begun following a life-style much simpler and more reclusive than during my married years. And I became evermore convinced of the wisdom of living a simple and virtuous life largely detached from worldly pleasures and treasures, while focussing on infinite spiritual treasures within.

So on discovering Jesus’ teaching about foregoing worldly treasures I was inspired to poetically share its essence, which was consistent and harmonious with my deepest intuitions and tendencies. And soon I found many more inspiring parallel teachings in all other enduring wisdom traditions. I share a few of them in quotations preceding the poem.

These teachings seem especially important today in affluent corporate capitalist societies where people are often considered more as consumers than as citizens, and are constantly importuned and ‘brain washed’ via ubiquitous and often insidious advertising and marketing techniques to buy things and experiences they don’t need in order to be happy.

But pleasures from such possessions and experiences are always fleeting, and can never bring enduring happiness and peace of mind. As the Dalai Lama observes:

“Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely, we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy. In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.

So I offer the foregoing poem and quotes to remind us that the enduring happiness we all – knowingly or unknowingly – seek is never in outer possessions but ever in our sacred hearts and souls. And thereby to inspire us to lay up “treasures in heaven”, rather than earthly treasures.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Open Heart Therapy

“The way is not in the sky.
The way is in the heart.”
~ Buddha
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“As far, verily, as this world-space extends,
so far extends the space within the heart…”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 8.1.3
“If there is love in your heart,
you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

~ King Solomon – Proverbs 23:7




Open Heart Therapy

We must feel our heart
to heal our heart.
Feeling hastens healing.

A closed heart is a cold heart.
An open heart is a warm heart –
a compassionate heart.

As our heart ever opens,
its capacity for compassion ever grows.

As its boundaries expand,
so do its possibilities ever expand.

An opened heart
is an illumined heart;
a limitless, boundless heart;
a loving heart.



Ron’s audio recitation of Open Heart Therapy

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Ron’s Reflections on Opening Our Hearts for Awakening to a Golden Age.

Dear Friends,

We live in an age of mental malaise. Delusional human behaviors are threatening all Earth life as we have known it. For our peaceful survival, we must transcend these insane behaviors and resolve the problems they have caused.

As Albert Einstein aptly observed: 

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” …

“The release of atom power ..changed everything except our way of thinking …
the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind.”

Thus for our peaceful survival on planet Earth, the critical problems now confronting humanity must be transcended – societally and individually – through spiritually elevated heartfelt awareness.

According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,

“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. [From] a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

And that for such a heart level of universal planetary responsibility we need ethics based on spirituality “beyond religion” – because religion alone “is no longer adequate”.

How can this happen?

With ever expanding empathy for all life everywhere we must follow ‘the Golden Rule’. For millennia wisdom teachers from virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions have proposed a simple ethical rule which if consciously and conscientiously followed can change the world.

Its essence is that we do no harm; that we treat all sentient beings with the same dignity that we wish for ourselves and that they wish for themselves.

Though easy to understand, this Golden Rule of reciprocal empathy can not easily be followed until we awaken within – beyond our “optical delusion” of separateness – to our collective spiritual connection with all beings and all life everywhere.

Then as Einstein suggests we can gradually

“widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

Eventually, we won’t even need the Golden rule. As my beloved Guruji Shri Dhyanyogi revealed:

“If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.” 

Ultimately, by following our sacred heart we will be in harmony with all life everywhere.

So with opened and awakened hearts let us envision and actualize a Golden Age wherein everyone everywhere treats all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves – with an empathetic “genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh”
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Thus, according to twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti,

“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. . [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”

Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.

“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh”

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” . . . . .
“That which is timeless is found now.”

Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present –
in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is furthered by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, quieted my mind, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness – the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated SillySutras.com to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

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

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many Jews is the religious highpoint of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult ( before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever imminent Divine Love – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

Concluding Invocation

On holy days and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember their affinity and identity with Divinity; and, may we thus wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede living in the precious present.

And so, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy –

NOW!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar autumn/spring equinox seasons of major religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish ( days of awe); Moslem( Eid Al-Adha); Hindu (Navaratri); Christian (Feast of St. Francis) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”.

Moreover, whether or not we are ‘religious’, knowingly or unknowingly we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of transcending ego’s mental/optical illusion of our perceived separation from each other; of our returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Intelligence or Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

As gradually we mindfully observe and eliminate or change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we self-identify as Eternal spirit – not just as mortal physical bodies – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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“Samsara 3.0”: The Simulation Hypothesis

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”

~ Buddha
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”

~ Swami Vivekananda – “The Real and the Apparent Man”, 1894 lecture
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist


Impermanent ‘Reality’.

For millennia, mystic masters have revealed that in our space/time world all we see or seem is mental illusion, ‘samsara’ or ‘maya’ – like a very persistent day dream from which we can awaken, just as we awaken from nocturnal dreams.

Only for the past hundred years have quantum scientists begun confirming the mystics, and – like Einstein – recognizing that  “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one” so that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

Both mystics and quantum scientists now say that all the forms we perceive and call “reality” are impermanent – ever appearing and disappearing beyond time and space; and that “consciousness is fundamental”.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”

~ Niels Bohr

“Samsara 3.0”: The Simulation Hypothesis.

In the 19th century Swami Vivekananda predicted Western scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence beyond relative reality: that “science and religion will meet and shake hands.”

Vivekananda’s 19th century prediction is more and more proving prescient in the 21st century. Gradually, what was formerly considered science fiction in the Matrix film Trilogy is becoming accepted as mainstream science theory.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena,

it will make more progress in one decade
 than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

~ Nikola Tesla

In recent years many conventional scientists are now seriously entertaining – and some are accepting – what is widely known as “The Simulation Hypothesis”: that “reality” is like a computer-generated simulation.

In the Matrix film a hacker by the name of Neo – after digesting a revelatory “red pill” – awakens to discover that his entire world is a digital universe created by computers which have imprisoned the human race; that along with hundreds of thousands of other deluded souls he has been no more than a living ‘battery’ whose body has electrically been charging a computer simulation/dream in a digital virtual world.

Proposed Scientific Experimental Research.

Visionary and ‘cutting edge’ engineer, inventor, and billionaire investor Elon Musk has recently said that there is only a “one in billions” chance that we’re not living like prisoners in a computer simulation; that what we experience as “reality” is in fact fabricated in a computer. Moreover Musk is concerned that we might accidentally destroy ourselves via catastrophically mistaken use of artificial intelligence (AI). So with other Silicon Valley billionaires he is investing to discover technological solutions, so we can ‘escape’ from imprisonment or harm in a theoretical matrix-like computer simulation.

Unlike Musk, spiritual physicist, author and lecturer Thomas W. Campbell, sees humans as immortal souls and asserts that we are about to prove scientifically that humans are living and learning Love in a digitally pre-programmed matrix – a virtual or simulated ‘soul-school reality’.

Ron’s Views.

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.”

~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 (attributed to King Solomon)

From my perspective, what many scientists are now calling “The Simulation Hypothesis” is just another name for what the ancient Masters called samsara or maya. So I call it “Samsara 3.0”.

After years as a self-described “born-again Hindu”, I became and remain “an Uncertain Undo” – an auto-didactic ‘student of life’ matriculating on “the Earth branch of the Great Cosmic University”.  Ultimately – like Thomas Campbell – I have intuited that:


“We are all students,

And we are all teachers.

We are all learning LOVE.”

“Gleaning meaning in matter,
We are all learning that
all that matters – is
LOVE!”


And like Campbell, I optimistically believe that as eternal spirits we have nothing to fear but fright, because Life is indestructible and eternal.

I agree with Swami Vivekananda’s prediction that science and religion will soon concur on the ONENESS of phenomenal “reality” ; and I believe that, realizing such ONENESS, Humanity will at long last discard destructive illusionary beliefs and behaviors which have brought our space/time ‘Love-learning-laboratory’ to the apparent brink of ecologic and economic disaster.

Further I am experientially persuaded of the timeless verity of Eastern philosophical teachings that we unavoidably suffer in this space/time world of duality and causality – from unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which are subject to law of karma – until realizing the true non-duality nature of Reality, self and all phenomena, as Eternal LOVE.

Conclusion.

Regardless of how we may explain or theorize about the reasons for human suffering, we can agree that we are living in extraordinarily challenging times with much worldwide suffering.

May we collectively try to help solve problems which cause such suffering by uplifting and expanding human consciousness on our precious planet Earth with our peaceful and compassionate thoughts, words and deeds.

And so may it be!


“The Simulation Hypothesis” recommended documentary video.

The foregoing essay – like all other SillySutras.com writings and audio video materials – is offered for our further reflection and consideration. For those interested, an online search of “The Simulation Hypothesis” will yield many written and audio-visual results mainstreaming the Matrix.

One of the very best free online resources is the highly recommended 50 minute documentary film titled “The Simulation Hypothesis” embedded below.



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Seeing the World as Nothing But Movies ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“This earth is nothing but movies to me. Just like the beam of a motion picture. So is everything made of shadow and light. That’s what we are. Light and shadows of the Lord. Nothing else than that. There’s one purpose. To get to the beam.” 
~ Yogananda Paramahansa – Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 30
“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha
“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.” 
~ Carl Gustav Jung
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. 
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. 
We cannot get behind consciousness. 
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“Objective reality does not exist” ….
“the universe is fundamentally a gigantic … hologram”

~ David Bohm, quantum physicist


Swami Yogananda Paramahansa


Introduction.

Twenty five years ago in India, my beloved Guruji, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, asked that I write and publish spiritual memoirs so as to inspire many others. To honor Guruji’s request I have been writing and posting spiritual memoirs on-line.
 
Recently I’ve begun to feel that I should soon finish the memoirs.   [After the finished memoirs are posted on line, they will be consolidated and republished in e-book and print versions by the Perennial Wisdom Foundation.]

More than ever before, I realize that inevitable death of our mortal bodies can happen at any time; and that we can never know when we will enjoy our last breath.  So it seems wise to live as if each day may be our last.

During childhood my entire life mostly seemed very dreamlike, and – like my nocturnal dreams – I’ve forgotten most of it. 

After adolescence and until midlife, my Earth life became my sole “reality”, and I self identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and story, and with the seemingly solid physical world. Then following a profoundly unforgettable midlife spiritual awakening I more and more self-identified as eternal spirit as well as my mortal body, and my life gradually has become more dreamlike again.

Over thirty five years ago, while driving home to San Francisco from a retreat with my beloved Guruji, Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I was suddenly taken out of my body and into a very subtle higher spiritual realm from which this world appeared as a mere play of consciousness – a sort of cosmic joke – where every appearance and happening was causally pre-determined by Cosmic Consciousness.

That experience was life-changing and unforgettable, and has always remained in my subconscious awareness – though it often has been difficult to mindfully remember it in daily life, especially when viewing with compassion, and sometimes with tears, the disharmony and terrible suffering of Humankind and other lifeforms in this crazy world.  

Yet, when in deeply detached states of awareness, I can remember that what appears to be a stable, tangible, visible, audible world, is an illusion – samsara; that ‘reality isn’t real’, but a kaleidoscopic and holographic theater of the mind.

But now, especially since the life-threatening taxi rundown event three years ago, my entire life again often seems like a movie, in which I am playing a detached role as retired lawyer and spiritual writer.  Yet I keep looking for – and often finding – potential lessons and blessings in every noteworthy experience.

Is it possible to live in this impermanent world of inevitable suffering, without responding emotionally and compassionately to the immense miseries and apparent injustices experienced everywhere?

Apart from being “spaced out” or in deep meditative states, or being psychopathic or sociopathic, can anyone who has awakened from the illusion of our apparent separateness live detached from ubiquitous misery and suffering?

Recently I was reminded that even Indian Holy Man and Avatar, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, suffered bereavements on deaths of a nephew, older brother, and beloved attendant, even while experiencing elevated states of consciousness. Similarly Swami Paramahansa Yogananda experienced significant emotional trauma following a betrayal and lawsuit by his former trusted childhood best friend and assistant, Dhirananda.

Yet, Yogananda explained in Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 30, his view that: “This earth is nothing but movies to me. Just like the beam of a motion picture. So is everything made of shadow and light. That’s what we are. Light and shadows of the Lord. Nothing else than that. There’s one purpose. To get to the beam.” 

But aren’t we often autonomically emotional on viewing movies and plays?

I have been blessed with unforgettable fleeting ‘peek’ spiritual experiences demonstrating that earth life is a ‘light show’ – an illusory play of consciousness. Yet, I am often deeply moved by the insanity and suffering now rife on our precious planet.

In my student days I learned of maniacs like Hitler in Nazi Germany, Mao in Communist China, Stalin in the U.S.S.R., Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and numerous other dictators who were then bestially causing untold murders and misery. Naively, I then believed that my country the USA, and its Western allies, represented only virtues of good and democratic decency, and that after the demise of World War II era psychopaths, the world would be restored to a utopian age of peace and prosperity. But I was wrong.

Especially beginning with the legally unprecedented Supreme Court selection of George W. Bush as 43rd US President following patently flawed Florida elections, I realized that the USA had become a new kind of dictatorship – a corporate “fascist” state, as first defined in Italian by Benito Mussolini, who said:

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

Like Professor Howard Zinn, I began feeling that I was living in an ‘occupied country’; that the so called “American dream” of Ronald Reagan, et.al. had become a global nightmare of a rapacious empire threatening all life on Earth.

But not even during the Bush, Jr. regime did I ever imagine a US president like Donald Trump. Nor did I realize that even a Democratic status quo candidate like Hillary Clinton foreshadowed perpetuation of merely a different kind of corporate fascism.

Now it is difficult for me to imagine what will happen to the world under Trump’s administation. So I am often impelled to remember that Life is a Light Show; that everything we see or seem is but a dream within a dream – that this world is “nothing but movies”.

Whatever happens in this impermanent illusory world of inevitable suffering, may we ever remember our oneness with all earth-life, and may we ever lovingly and compassionately aspire and act for world peace and happiness.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Eckhart Tolle ~ Spiritual Awakening Story and Teachings

“In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching,
although it comes in many forms. . . .
~ Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now
“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth … The words are no more than signposts.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – Stillness Speaks

Eckhart Tolle.



Ron’s Introduction.

Eckhart Tolle is an influential contemporary spiritual writer and teacher, whose teachings – which I endorse – have reached millions worldwide. I first discovered Tolle only after I had stopped attending spiritual public programs and retreats and had transitioned from being a “born again Hindu” to an“uncertain Undo” – a still continuing life phase of reliance on inner rather than outer authority. (see e.g. “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”)

By then, I was able to experientially understand and deeply appreciate the authenticity of Tolle’s teachings and spiritual awakening story, and the cogency of his message. Because of Tolle’s verbal acuity and clarity he is often quoted on SillySutras.com.

Especially during this age of mental malaise when millions of people suffer from deep despondency and depression, and suicides are rife, I am sharing Eckhart Tolle’s inspiring spiritual awakening story, so that it may help us or others we know who may be psychologically challenged or despondent, to find lasting inner happiness and love.

On the brink of suicide, Tolle had a miraculous spiritual awakening which permanently ended his psychological suffering rather than his human life. Thereafter he miraculously became a renowned spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now and other noteworthy books.

Often we can best assimilate and actuate spiritual principles through parables and stories. So Eckhart Tolle’s history and powerful awakening story – posted below – can help us comprehend the crucial transformative importance of self identification with eternal Awareness rather than with ego’s “voice in our head”. And I encourage you to read and reflect on it.

Tolle’s History of Anxiety, Fear and Depression Before His Spiritual Awakening.

Tölle was born on February 16, 1948 in Lünen, a small German town near Dortmund in the Ruhr Valley. He grew up in a dysfunctional household, where his incompatible Catholic parents were constantly bickering. Tölle’s early childhood was fraught with anxiety and fear, and he felt alienated from a perceived hostile school environment. Sometimes instead of going to school he would bicycle to the woods and sit amidst nature, which he loved.

Eventually his parents separated, and his father left Germany to live in Spain. Later, at the age of thirteen, Tölle moved to Spain to live with his father. In Spain, Tölle refused to go to school any longer. Though not rebellious he could no longer tolerate a hostile school environment. Tolle’s unconventional ‘open minded’ father did not insist that his son attend high school, and permitted him to elect home studies of literature, astronomy and various languages.

At the age fifteen, Tolle synchronistically received and read several books written by a German mystic known as Bô Yin Râ, which “very deeply” affected him. With an aptitude for languages, he quickly learned Spanish, English, and some French. Still, he spent much solitary time, free of the external pressures of the environment or the culture.

At age nineteen, about ten years before his “inner awakening”, Tölle moved to England, where he lived for about thirty years until emigrating to Canada in the mid-1990’s. During his first three years in England, he had no formal education, and supported himself by teaching German and Spanish at a London school for language studies.

Then, troubled by “depression, anxiety and fear”, he began “searching for answers” which he believed he could find only through intellect rather than intuition.

In his early twenties, Tolle decided to pursue his search by studying philosophy, psychology, and literature. After taking preparatory evening classes, he was ‘fast-tracked’ and permitted to enroll in the University of London. Upon graduating, he was offered and accepted a scholarship to do postgraduate research. Soon thereafter, at age twenty nine, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening and dropped out of academic studies.

Tolle’s Spiritual Awakening Story.
(Excerpted from The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment )

Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life.

One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.

“I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. `Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the `I’ and the `self’ that `I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words “resist nothing,” as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.

I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I Opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all.

That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.

For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to because it became my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.

I knew, of course, that something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all. It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me. I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind. This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy. What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that I had originally perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison. A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.

But even the most beautiful experiences come and go. More fundamental, perhaps, than any experience is the undercurrent of peace that has never left me since then. Sometimes it is very strong, almost palpable, and others can feel it too. At other times, it is somewhere in the background, like a distant melody.

Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: “I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?” And I would say: “You have it already. You just can’t feel it because your mind is making too much noise.”


Ron’s Comments.

Tolle’s profound awakening experience credibly demonstrates how our greatest fears and sufferings can hide our highest potentials, yet provide immense evolutionary opportunities – revealing that beyond our minds we can find intuitive fulfillment of our deepest aspirations for love, peace and joy, and realization of previously unimagined human potentials.

Tolle’s teachings focus on transforming self identity “from being the content of [the] mind to being the awareness in the background”. While Tolle claims to have experienced a permanent awakening to self-identity as awareness, such one-time experiences are extremely rare. However, numerous people’s mystical awakening experiences – like mine – can trigger a gradual transformative process of evolutionary purification and ego attrition, with ever increasing benefits.

At age forty two – like Tolle – I experienced previously unimagined and transformative self identity as universal Awareness, followed by unprecedented experiences of peace and ecstasy. But my mistaken ego identity was not thereby completely dissolved and it kept recurring. Instead of experiencing permanent peace, for many years I have been experiencing gradual ego attrition with ever growing happiness and fulfillment. So today I am happier than ever before, but still learning and transforming.

At the time of his awakening experience Tolle was largely unfamiliar with spiritual texts and spiritual teachers. But after exploring such literature for several years, he concluded “that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.” And that: “In essence there is and always has been only one spiritual teaching, although it comes in many forms.”

Though I am unqualified to evaluate Tolle’s representations and opinions, I do regard him as authentic and sincerely well intentioned, and I endorse his teachings. Only because I endorse many Tolle quotations have I posted them on SillySutras.com. to help others. And only because I find Tolle’s teachings valuable do I recommend them for your consideration.

For example, I very much appreciate this introduction to Tolle’s excellent second book, Stillness Speaks:

“A true spiritual teacher does not have anything to teach in the conventional sense of the word, does not have anything to give or add to you, such as new information, beliefs, or rules of conduct. The only function of such a teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth … The words are no more than signposts.”

Before ever learning about Tolle, I had realized the power of now and, via my imagined inner guide and some-time pseudonym, Swami Rononandonananda, I had written various poems and sutra sayings harmonious and consistent with Tolle’s teachings, like

Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


and like these Words About Words:

Life is a word game:

Adding a few syllables to the Ineffable,

we play the word game of life

until we find and become THAT –

Silence that says ALL.
******
There’s nothing to say,
but words point the way.

So, let’s elevate our spiritual “lexi-consciousness.”
******
“Speak little; say much.”

~ Swami Ron Onandonananda


Also, for your amusement and edification, here is my whimsical poem called Egocide which is quite consistent with Tolle’s awakening experience and teachings:

Egocide

Ego’s attrition

is our mission;


Egocide’s our goal.


When ego’s dead

we’ll lose all dread,


Knowing we are Soul.


Then we’ll say

that life’s a play,


Each body/mind a role;


That we’re the Glory

and not the story,


Not just parts – but Whole!


Moral of the Story.

“Your task is not to seek for love,

but merely to seek and find
 all the barriers within yourself

that you have built against it.”

~ Rumi


May everyone, everywhere
find and transcend all inner barriers
and be happy!

And so may it be!

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Pope Francis’ Call For A Planetary Revolution of Love and Tenderness


“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.. . . .

[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk


Pope Francis



Ron’s Introduction.

Dear Friends, I am deeply privileged to share with you below an embedded video of a deeply inspiring TED talk, with English subtitles and transcript, given from the Vatican by His Holiness Pope Francis, which applies to everyone everywhere regardless of religious, spiritual, or ethical beliefs.

This TED talk has inspired me more than any other I’ve ever heard. And I urge you to deeply consider the Pope’s message with an open heart and an open mind as he reminds us that we have so much to do, and we must do it together.

May it inspire all of us to become collective participants in a transformative planetary revolution of love and tenderness.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Pope’s 2017 TED Talk Video.



Pope’s 2017 TED Talk Transcript.

Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there. Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference.

I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a “you.” “The Future You:” the future is made of you’s, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?” I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people. And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?

In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?” – he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren’t even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves “respectable,” of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: “One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”

We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, “Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.

The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love.

Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.” You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you” and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.

Thank you.


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Why Be Here Now?

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dear Friends,

In 1977, soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom by a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for various spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama”, a Hindu name for God – soon manifested in my life, in a surprising way and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s title “Be Here Now!” became for me a memorable guide for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment – an idea which I later found often repeated in other spiritual books and teachings.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my beloved Guruji’s instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ gradually cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Whereupon, I realized that “to think or not to think, that is the question”, and I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

By learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I’ve found that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “That when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ. And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual opening.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a stilled or focussed mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists or athletes perform at their highest levels while “in the zone”?

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I have discovered a book passage that can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!” in a state of precious presence.

Through synchronicity I recently received from my high school friend John Rubel of West Virginia a wonderfully witty passage written by brilliant comedian Sid Ceasar in his 1982 autobiography – “Where Have I Been?” – telling how he learned that being in the “now” can “change your whole cycle of life”.

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I think this passage can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!”

So here it is:

“While people keep waiting and waiting for something big to happen in life, the “now” is passing them by. Do you know how fast a “now” passes? At the rate of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light. So no matter how much you love and enjoy a particular “now,” that’s how fast it becomes a “was.” That “now” is never coming back, and that “was” ties into some “going-to-be.”

“So if you don’t learn from the “was’s” you’re going to have bad “going-to-be’s, which completes the cycle by bringing in bad “nows.” Thus, the only time you can switch around from a negative into a positive is in the “now.” Because you have to do it now. You can’t just think of doing it now because it is rapidly becoming a “was,” and it’s too late. And “going-to–be” is you may do it and you may not. So if you do it now, you know it’s done and you’ve got it. If you have a good “now’ you have a good “was,” which leads to a good “going-to-be.”

“In other words, by taking advantage of a “now, maybe even changing a bad “now” into a good “now,” you can have a good “was” from which you can learn and change your whole cycle of life. That’s why I never use the word “if” anymore. An “if” is a “never was.”

~ Comedian Sid Caesar – “Where Have I Been?”, p271


May Sid Caesar’s wise and witty words help us remember that being present in the NOW can be a key to spiritual awakening and peak performance for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be – NOW!

Ron Rattner

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Go For the Gold: The Golden Rule For a Golden Age

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
that is the whole of the Torah;
all the rest of it is commentary.”
~ Rabbi Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat, 31a – Judaism
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”
~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity
“Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.”
~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism
“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”
~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism
“Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam
“Do not unto others what you do not want them to do to you.”
~ Analects 15:13 – Confucianism
“All things are our relatives;
what we do to everything, we do to ourselves.
All is really One.”

~ Black Elk – Native American Spirituality
“Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”
~ Wiccan Rede – Neo-paganism
“Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you.”
~ British Humanist Society – Humanism
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It’s not just religious people who believe in the Golden Rule.
This is the source of all morality, this imaginative act of empathy –
putting yourself in the place of another.”
~ Karen Armstrong
“I will be as careful for you as I should be for myself in the same need.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey – Ancient Greece – 700 BC
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of 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 the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein, 1954
“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”
“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
~ Albert Schweitzer


Golden Rule

 
Awakening to a Golden Age.

We live in an age of mental malaise. Delusional human behaviors are causing life-threatening environmental, international and inter-personal crises and conflicts. For our peaceful survival on Planet Earth, we must transcend these insane behaviors and resolve the problems they have caused.

As Albert Einstein aptly observed: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So our survival depends on elevating human consciousness, societally and individually.

According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. [From] a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.” ; and, that for such a heart level of universal planetary responsibility we need ethics based on spirituality “beyond religion” – because religion alone “is no longer adequate”.

Thus for our peaceful survival on planet Earth, the critical problems now confronting humanity must be transcended through elevated heart level consciousness.

How can this happen?

With ever expanding empathy for all life everywhere we must follow ‘the Golden Rule’. For millennia wisdom teachers from virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions have proposed a simple ethical rule which if consciously and conscientiously followed can change the world.

Its essence is that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity that we wish for ourselves and that they wish for themselves.

Though easy to understand, this Golden Rule of reciprocal empathy can not easily be followed until we awaken within – beyond our “optical delusion” of separateness – to our collective connection with all beings and all life everywhere. Then as Einstein suggests we can gradually “widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Eventually, we won’t even need the Golden rule.
As my beloved Guru Shri Dhyanyogi revealed:
“If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.”

Ultimately, by following our sacred heart we will be in harmony with all life everywhere.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, 

And it must follow, as the night the day, 

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet


So with awakened hearts let us actualize a Golden Age wherein everyone everywhere treats all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves – with an empathetic “genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

And so shall it be!

Beautiful Golden Rule Video.

 


Ron’s Commentary on Awakening to a Golden Age.

“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama


Dear Friends,

For many people these are dark and divisive times unprecedented in their lives. But I view current painful and seemingly chaotic world turmoil (following the election of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president) as darkness before an inevitable dawn; as marking an immense evolutionary opportunity for disintegration of outdated world political, economic and ecological paradigms that have become painfully and unsustainably anachronous, to make way for a new era of human harmony and conscious connection with each other and with Nature.  

From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are rapidly realizing that everyone/everything is connected by a common Essence – ever-changing energy in a matrix of immutable awareness. Thus, we are evolving from a Newtonian “reality” of polarized duality to a quantum “reality” of holistic connectedness; from either this or that, to this and that are ONE.

With this realization, regardless of our political propensities or beliefs, we can best address current challenges, and transcend pervasively polarizing negative emotions – like fear and anger – with feelings, insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere.

With benevolent and focused intentions, more and more we can open our hearts to innate human empathy, kindness and compassion, and thereby realize our collective connection with and deep concern for all life everywhere – even including perceived adversaries or enemies.

To help inspire us in this age of immense evolutionary opportunity, I have posted the foregoing important quotations and comments, and a wonderful 8 minute embedded video, about perhaps the world’s most important and universal reciprocal principle of ethics proposed for millennia by virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions.

Its essence is:

that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves.

May we collectively join in heartfelt harmony with this crucial ethical principle. Whereupon with insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere, may all humankind truly transcend and cooperatively resolve our critical ecologic, economic, international and interpersonal problems, for an enlightened and elevated new age that will bless all life on our precious  planet.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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