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Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
~ Socrates
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”  After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
 
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one.  How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life.  It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch





Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

Introduction.

Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?

Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever. It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Historical overview.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

Conclusion.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.

And so it shall be!


Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking the Ultimate Question”.

Dear Friends,

For millennia, seers, saints and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”; and, to ask persistently the supremely crucial question – “Who am I?”.

But few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennially advised investigation.  

Until mid-life, like most other Westerners, I unthinkingly self-identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Then, following an extraordinary out of body experience, I irresistibly began wondering “Who am I?”.  Finally, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences.  Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth.

Thereafter, I began having numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy experiences, and became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed to sleep. Only then did I begin learning about teachings of Eastern mysticism, including non-duality. 

Afterwards, I synchronistically met my beloved teacher, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable Hindu Guru then 100 years old, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.  Guruji lived until age 116, and has remained my teacher since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994.  After shaktipat initiation, I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.

But I also learned that – unlike  Guruji and other rare Buddha-llke beings – on realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I had not yet become ‘instantly enlightened’.  Rather, that this realization had triggered an evolutionary process of awakened kundalini life-force energies which were manifesting via  spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional experiences [ called kriyas]  and thereby purifying the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.

Ultimately, I realized that this evolutionary kundalini purification process was gradually undoing or eliminating eons of accumulated subtle karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas]  causing unconscious habitual behaviors and emotional patterns, and precluding or inhibiting spontaneously skillful behaviors.   

Soon after this revelatory discovery I declared myself to be an ‘uncertain Undo’ [rather than ‘born-again Hindu’] and began writing whimsical sutras like:


“On the path of undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE.”


Today, over forty years since realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness  (rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences),  I’m still not fully ‘undone’, and ego attrition continues.  But as I continue to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than as physical body there seems to be ever more Ram than Ron in my life. 

Thereby after many years of questioning, I’ve found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, more than ever before I regard “Who Am I?” as a  supremely crucial question to be persistently investigated for those with spiritual aspirations.  So today I have posted the above  important quotations and brief essay.

If ever you have wondered or aspired about spiritual evolution, I encourage your deep consideration of today’s posting.

May it help us live  happier lives by consciously participating in an irresistible evolutionary process which is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ever changing ephemeral energy forms.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Evolutionary Impetus

toward the Source
“Consciousness is the basis of all life
and the field of all possibilities.
Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential.
The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
“Man’s highest aspiration – his seeking for perfection, his longing for freedom and mastery, his search after pure truth and unmixed delight – is in flagrant contradiction with his present existence and normal experience. Such contradiction is part of Nature’s general method; it is a sign that she is working towards a greater harmony. The reconciliation is achieved by an evolutionary progress.

 Life evolves out of Matter, Mind out of Life, because they are already involved there: Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Mind, May not Mind be a form and veil of a higher power, the Spirit, which would be supramental in its nature? 

Man’s highest aspiration would then only indicate the gradual unveiling of the Spirit within, the preparation of a higher life upon earth.”
~ Sri Aurobindo
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Cosmic consciousness is infinite evolutionary impetus in each of us.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every adversity is an evolutionary opportunity
for everyone, everything, everywhere.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


toward the Source


Evolutionary Impetus

Q. Is human spiritual evolution possible? If so, is it optional or inevitable?

A. Humankind are self conscious integral aspects of a conscious, orderly and harmonious universe.
As part of such conscious cosmic order, there is an evolutionary impetus in each of us for ever expanding universal consciousness to experience itself.

We are all “pre-programmed” to transcend ego’s “optical illusion” of seeming separation as body forms from all other forms (and so from the universe), by evolving from this separation illusion to experiential realization of cosmic Oneness of all forms and phenomena as undivided Awareness.

Our universe is an ever oscillating and vibrating energy “reality”.
So, our evolutionary pre-programming involves subtle vibratory vortices – or chakras – each potentially resonant with ever ascending vibratory levels of Awareness.   As evolutionary energy – sometimes called kundalini – is awakened and activated in each being it gradually purifies and eventually opens these subtle energy centers, until ultimate transcendence is attained.

Everything that happens to us until we transcend ego’s “optical illusion” is in our best interest, because it affords an opportunity to evolve.

Although our evolutionary “pre-programming” assures that such transcendence is ultimately inevitable, our progress rate is optional, depending on what we think, do and say – individually and collectively – while misidentifying ourselves as separate.

For example, compassionate words, thoughts and deeds hasten spiritual evolution, while selfishness deters it.
But, cosmic consciousness will eventually provide life experiences leading to transcendence.

Paradoxically, life’s most painful and difficult experiences often prove the best evolutionary opportunities, and biggest blessings,
because they most challenge and motivate surrender of ego misidentification and provide greatest transcendence incentives.

So, human spiritual evolution is inevitable, but rate of evolutionary progress is optional.



Ron’s explanation and comments about “Evolutionary Impetus”

Dear Friends,

Throughout world history, philosophers and theologians have perennially asked:

‘How could an all loving, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Divinity have created this world with so much suffering, evil, violence, and misery?’

For example, influential German Christian philosopher Gottfried Leibniz optimistically postulated that God created Earth, though imperfect, as  “the best of all possible worlds”.  In his Theodicée, published in 1710, Leibniz described a harmonious universe in which all events are linked by cause and effect, and in which apparent evil is compensated by some greater good that may not be evident to the limited human mind. 

French philosopher Voltaire sharply satirized and questioned that optimistic philosophy in his popular novella, “Candide”.  Without addressing subtleties of Leibniz’ philosophy, or possible causes of evil, karma or ‘original sin’, Voltaire’s protagonist “Candide” discovers, after many emotional ups and downs, that everything does not seem to happen for the best; and he concludes that each person must learn from past mistakes, and proceed stoically with kindness and virtue, no matter the pain and difficulties confronted. 

After many years of experience and reflection, I have adopted a philosophy more harmonious with Leibniz than Voltaire: that everything in space/time does happen for the best – to afford impetus for spiritual evolution; that human suffering, evil, and misery are not “created” by God but by mysterious karmic causes and conditions arising from unskillful Human behaviors; that what many call “God” is indescribable, impersonal and nonjudgmental Universal Awareness which is the mysterious Source and ever immanent Essence of space/time “reality”.  I have also adopted the non-dualist philosophy that our ever impermanent energy “reality” is like a mental mirage, arising only from projected Human thought; that true Reality is universal Infinite Potentiality beyond the Human mind.   

In many Silly Sutras postings I have shared these philosophies, to encourage others to decide for themselves about such perennial questions. So, my theories are not offered as expressing ultimate spiritual truths, but to inspire our intuitive and experiential introspection on ideas (often paradoxical), about who and what we are and our life’s purpose and plan, if any.

Retrospectively, I have become convinced that my life has unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing Ron’s life-plan script. Accordingly, my attitude toward life’s inevitable ups and downs became that everything happens ‘for the best’ – to promote our evolution; that in every adversity there is an evolutionary opportunity. (See e.g. I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life. )  So, paradoxically life’s most painful and difficult experiences often prove the best evolutionary opportunities, and biggest blessings, because they most challenge and motivate surrender of ego misidentification and provide greatest transcendence incentives. 
 
The above posting, “Evolutionary Impetus”,  considers whether human spiritual evolution is possible, and if so, whether it is inevitable or optional.  And it elaborates my philosophy that whatever happens to us until we transcend ego’s “optical illusion” of separateness is in our best interest, because it affords incentive to evolve.  It suggests that human spiritual evolution is inevitable, but that rate of progress is optional depending on our behaviors while misidentifying ourselves as separate entities. 

May these philosophical theories inspire our continuing intuitive and experiential introspection about who and what we are, and our life’s purpose and plan, if any.

And may they help us find ever more joy and fulfillment in our unique life experiences.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Crying For God and other ‘Kundalini Kriyas’ ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world?
Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart: Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!….
When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart…”
~ Anandamayi Ma
“When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes.
If you want to know God, you must be like the naughty baby who cries till the mother comes.”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda
‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears.
As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa




My pivotal rebirth experience, sparked by divorce at age forty three, opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears. Thus, a ‘broken heart’ had opened my heart to a new life phase. And never again since that long-locked floodgate was opened have profuse tears failed to flow regularly.

Initially, with a newly a opened heart, I wondered why I was crying so much. Sadness at the divorce was not an adequate explanation for what was happening. But the puzzlement began resolving with my Yosemite epiphany.

At Yosemite, I beheld the unimaginably intense and otherworldly luminosity of “ten thousand suns” only after I had wept with extraordinarily spontaneous intensity, longing to be taken by God.

My tears then were not tears of sadness, but tears of intense longing to merge with that Light – and so to end the illusion of separation from it. I had beheld Divinity in that magnificent panorama of God’s cathedral, and with all my Heart intensely yearned to be merged with That.

This unforgettable experience gradually brought to consciousness a realization that my frequent crying was motivated not merely by worldly distress, but by an immensely deep and soulful longing for God.

But realizing why I was crying, raised a new mystery:

“How could it be that a secular lawyer who hadn’t cried or fervently prayed during his entire adult life, was now intensely crying for God?”

The Universe gradually provided answers to that question, through a series of extraordinary synchronistic events and experiences following the Yosemite experience.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji) into the Hindu tradition of kundalini maha yoga, I learned that “Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies”; that when awakened it frequently manifests through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional phenomena called kriyas; that kriyas automatically open subtle body energy channels (nadis), thereby purifying the nervous system and allowing evolutionary experience of ever subtler states of consciousness.

Also, I learned that in kundalini maha yoga my spontaneous torrents of tears – as well as many of my mystical experiences – were considered purification kriyas. And soon I further learned from repeated experiences that – beyond purification or catharsis – crying kriyas could also be manifestations of extreme joy or bliss, and even ecstasy.

Thus, Guruji has observed:

“Whenever one experiences great joy or bliss, this also manifests physically as crying or laughing. There are two kinds of kriyas, one is for purification and the other for the manifestation of joy.”


And I have been extraordinarily lucky enough to repeatedly experience both types of crying kriyas.

For many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize – after initial puzzlement – that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized not only in the Hindu tradition of kundalini yoga but also in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, such as the Sufi tradition of Rumi and Hafiz, and the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola, known as “the gift of tears”.

Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for many years have remained – a very frequent (and sometimes protracted) crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy.

And until now I have regularly experienced numerous other non-crying kriyas – spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution and through which I have manifested extreme joy and gratitude for this blessed life.

For example, when not crying, I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD’ experiences of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.

But of all my spiritual and synchronistic experiences, I continue to believe that the most fortunate was my 1978 synchronistic meeting with Guruji, whose benevolence has helped me ever since, even since he left his body in 1994.

In 1980, just before returning to India, Guruji resided in my San Francisco apartment. During that period, I once spontaneously exclaimed to him: “Guruji, the day I met you was the luckiest day of my life!” He responded, dispassionately and epigrammatically, “That’s true.”

And I still gratefully agree with that exclamation, and with his response.

Transcending Transcendence? ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The goal is not to lose oneself in the Divine Consciousness.
 The goal is to let the Divine Consciousness penetrate into Matter and transform it.”
~ Sri Aurobindo – The Mother 15: p.191
“Cosmic consciousness is infinite evolutionary impetus in each of us.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“As we experience our universality,

we transform our reality.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Maitreya Bodhisattva



My miraculous “sight seeing” trip with Dhyanyogi, and subsequent experiences, inspired ever increasing faith in his saintly good will and yogic powers. But questions arose for me about his Hindu path.

In writings introducing his path to Americans, Guruji said that Kundalini Maha Yoga was not a religion but a spiritual practice bringing “lasting inner peace and happiness to individuals of any belief or religious affiliation.”   But his prescribed spiritual practices mostly included Sanskrit prayers and mantras associated with Hinduism, in addition to daily meditations.

At first I was uncomfortable reciting Sanskrit prayers and mantras which I didn’t understand, except for the Ram mantra with which I have always felt deep affinity. But intuitively I relied on Guruji’s extraordinary being and benevolence, and on his assurances that initiates would enjoy “a happy life”. So gradually I became more and more engaged in these practices, trusting that they would help me live a happy life.

Then, during a public meditation program, Guruji said these sanskrit practices would lead us to “the spiritual goal”. And I wondered: “what spiritual goal?” Amazingly, though I was still then an ‘uptight’ skeptical lawyer, I had taken an initiation from an unknown Hindu guru and was repeating his esoteric Sanskrit prayers and mantras not knowing what they meant or that their purpose was to achieve some “spiritual goal”.

So, after the meditation program, I asked others about this “spiritual goal”. I was told that the object of Hindu practices was to achieve “mukti” or “moksha” or “self-realization”; that the kundalini purification process, viz. the “evolutionary process taking place in [my] nervous system”, would some day in some lifetime lead to a state of Divine illumination where the Self, soul, or “Atman” would experience its Oneness with “Brahman” [Supreme Reality] – the pinnacle of human experience. Only then did I begin considering these ideas of “self realization”.

Though Guruji’s assurance of our finding lasting peace and happiness was appealing, I hadn’t consciously been drawn to him by this assurance but by a deep intuitive heartfelt connection. Before meeting Guruji I was not ‘goal oriented’. Instinctively hesitant to pursue materialistic societal goals, I was mostly inner – not outer – directed. But never before had I considered any inner ‘goals’.

In the late 1950’s I had been deeply influenced on reading “The Sane Society” by then prominent psychotherapist Erich Fromm, about the pathology of ‘normalcy’ in our materialistic society. Fromm suggested that Western society as a whole was lacking in sanity; that the inequities and disharmonies of the entire society were pathological, not just the mental illnesses of people therein. Fromm’s essay had confirmed and enhanced my instinctive reluctance to selfishly follow materialistic societal goals.

So, in becoming a lawyer and throughout my professional career, my main motivation was to help others; it was not to become rich or famous. Long before my spiritual awakening, I had a deep inner instinct to pursue social justice causes, with considerable sensitivity to the “insanity and iniquity of inequity in our society”.

But, with the Yosemite inner experience of “ten thousand suns” I realized that beyond my instinct for social justice was an extraordinarily intense longing for the Divine – to return from this crazy world back to God, back to Ram. However, not until hearing Dhyanyogi’s teachings about a spiritual “goal”, did I consider pro-actively seeking such an inner goal.

Though initially it seemed desirable to aspire to “self realization” or “enlightenment”, I was unable to relate experientially to those illumined states as ascribed to rare beings like Gautama Buddha. So, I was never clear about what to “seek” until, ultimately, I stopped seeking it, whatever it was.

After considerable reflection, I abandoned goal oriented spiritual seeking, and intuitively began with more and more heartfelt faith to surrender to the Infinite – “to let go, and go with the flow” – and to “leave it to the Lone Arranger.” * Perhaps, I transcended transcendence aspirations.

Inspired by the Buddhist Bodhisattva ideal of altruistically helping all beings end their sufferings, I stopped trying to be beyond this world, but rather to be in it in a way which might help all life everywhere. And I ceased regarding “enlightenment” as a “goal” but rather as an endless evolutionary process.

Experientially, I had realized that ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’, Buddha nature, and Love, were the Essence of everything in our phenomenal “reality”. And my core spiritual motivation became and remains:
“Infuse us, enthuse us, and use us, to bless all Life as LOVE.”

But paradoxically I have learned from experience that we cannot change others, only ourselves; that by furthering our own evolution we help elevate humanity’s common consciousness and thereby subtly help others. So, I consider it my responsibility to aspire to be the change I wish to see in the world, with the intention and dedication of so helping everyone everywhere.

And in this process, as Guruji promised, with unspeakable gratitude I am now enjoying “a happy life” beyond anything that I could have imagined when I received a shaktipat initiation in 1978.

*Many of my ideas about seeking “enlightenment” are in sutras posted elsewhere on SillySutras.com.

The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master

“When the student is ready, the master appears.”
~ Buddhist Proverb

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


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.

[To listen to interview click here]

Listen to


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.


“Kundalini – Psychosis or Transcendence?” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies.
It is not a material force like electricity, magnetism, centripetal or centrifugal force.
It is a spiritual potential, Shakti, or cosmic power.
In reality it has no form.”
~ Sri Swami Sivananda


Alex Grey painting



While gradually becoming interested in Eastern spiritual ideas, I persisted in trying to understand scientifically my continuing unexplained metaphysical experiences.

So I subscribed to Psychic Magazine and looked for other possibly relevant writings. Then, synchronistically, 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’ life force 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.

Some of the many extraordinary psychic phenomena which I was then experiencing, I associated with India. Perhaps the most surprising and memorable of these experiences happened one night while I was fast asleep in my studio apartment.

In the middle of the night, I was suddenly awakened and sat up in bed with open eyes in the completely dark room. Before me, I beheld in startled amazement the clear image of a woman’s face and upper torso, wearing a head scarve common to Hindu women. But instead of appearing in life-like colors the woman’s image was all luminous gold. Next, the golden female image was replaced by another amazing image; in its stead, I beheld my own clear image also in luminous gold, as if the Indian woman’s golden image had morphed into mine, or as if my image had emanated from that of the Indian woman.

It was especially startling for me to be viewing in front of my physical body, my own luminous image. Since beholding those extraordinary golden images, I have wondered why they appeared and their significance, if any.

I can not yet say why I so beheld my own image. But ensuing events seemed to resolve the puzzle of why I had seen an image of an Indian woman when I then knew no Indian woman and hardly anything about Indian culture.

I later learned of the importance in Hinduism of the Divine Mother conception and of various deity forms representing it. Foremost of those deities was Shakti – believed to manifest through female embodiment and fertility – while also existing in males as unmanifest infinite potentiality. In ensuing years, I met various well known adept Indian female spiritual teachers considered embodiments of Divine Mother. And I learned that Vedic scriptures declare Shiva and Shakti to be inextricably associated with each other in this phenomenal world, as the male and female aspects of the Divine.

The goal of the kundalini yoga transformative process is ascent of activated Shakti life force energy from the base of the spine to the highest energy vortex (or chakra) atop the cranium where – in the pinnacle of human experience – Siva and Shakti merge in Divine illumination.

Renowned 19th century mystic saint Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – with whom I later felt great affinity – legendarily worshiped Divine Mother as Kali, who revealed Herself to him as a “a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness” only after he threatened suicide if She did not appear. Thereafter, Ramakrishna taught that God is both formed and formless and can appear to the devotee either way.

Apart from these unforgettable golden image visions, also suggestive of India had been my spontaneous and continuous recitation in Hawaii of “Rama”, an Indian name of God, and the unexpected appearances of Mahatma Gandhi as my first spirit guide.

Later I had repeated inner appearances of an elderly man with a beard who didn’t look like a modern Westerner, but like an Indian. I had not yet begun any meditation practice. But, before retiring I would often close my eyes in quiet contemplation and sometimes see ‘inner pictures’. One of those inner pictures which kept recurring was the somewhat blurred form of the same elderly bearded Indian man.

To satisfy my curiosity about why I was having these inner experiences, and about the esoteric kundalini process, I wanted to meet Dr. Sannella, who practiced in the Bay Area as both a psychiatrist and ophthalmologist. So, 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 San Francisco Psychic Society. As I entered the 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. (See photo below.) 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. Lee Sannella about the the pictured meditation teacher and announced meditation programs. He told me that this would be a very rare opportunity for “darshan” of an Indian master yogi, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, with power to activate and guide the Kundalini transformation process. I took a printed flyer with details of the schedule and decided to attend the first of the announced meditation programs.

A crucially pivotal new life phase was about to begin. I was about to evolve spiritually from being a secular Hebrew, to becoming a “born-again Hindu”.

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas