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Posts Tagged ‘Leo Tolstoy’

Gandhi’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth:
“Satyagraha” – The Original 9/11 Truth Movement + Dr. King’s Peace Message


“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this
ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
~ Albert Einstein (after Gandhi’s 1948 assassination)
“I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.




Gandhi’s Original 9/11 Truth Movement.

Since September 11, 2001, many people commemorate September 11 as a day that will live in infamy – a day of treachery, often cited (disingenuously or duplicitously) as pretext for an Orwellian era of endless war, violence and dystopian deprivation of civil liberties.

(See PBS Documentary 9/11-Explosive Evidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l-8PFk8j5I)

But, paradoxically, few realize that – almost a century before the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC – it was on a September 11 when Mahatma Gandhi launched his extraordinary “satyagraha” peace and justice movement through which Gandhi, and countless others inspired by him, have accomplished much good in the world by non-violently resisting and transforming widespread social injustice and oppression.

During and since his extraordinary lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi has been venerated worldwide as one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders not just of our time, but of all times. Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful. [*See Epilogue]

Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy.

Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his campaign for Indian independence, but it began with his brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa, with ground-breaking inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.

On September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed a meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the law.

Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such a law.

Gandhi’s legendary talk at the Empire Theater meeting is dramatically portrayed by academy award winning actor Ben Kingsley in this excerpt from the epic film “Gandhi”:


The next day after the meeting, the Empire Theater was mysteriously destroyed by fire.

Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.

“Satyagraha”.

Because it sought more than just non-violent redress of social injustice, Gandhi called his movement “satyagraha”, a Sanskrit neologism which he coined – meaning the “relentless pursuit of Truth”. Since Gandhi was a spiritual man in search of God, he often equated “Truth” with “God” And he acknowledged that he had been influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Tolstoy, and Thoreau’s famous essay, “Civil Disobedience.” Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based nonviolence.




*Epilogue: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhian Nonviolence.

Of countless humans inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and words, most prominent and influential has been Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who honored Gandhi as a spiritual “guiding light  …. of nonviolent social change”, and who in 1959 journeyed to India to study Gandhian methods, saying:


“To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim.” 


In 1964 (at age 35) Dr. King became the youngest man ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his nonviolent social activism in opposing racial segregation, poverty, and war. As a dedicated Christian disciple of Jesus, Dr. King

“found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”


Dr. King’s life paralleled Gandhi’s life.  Each began as an outspoken advocate of inter-racial equality and social justice in racially segregated societies.  Gradually their nonviolent missions expanded to encompass universal freedom, peace and social justice for everyone everywhere.
 
On humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, as ‘trustee’ for countless unknown others, Dr. King cited Gandhi’s success in India as a key precedent encouraging nonviolent civil rights activism in the USA, saying:

“This [nonviolent] approach to the problem of racial injustice ….was used in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire and free his people from the political domination and economic exploitation inflicted upon them for centuries.”


And King described how (because of technological advances which imminently threaten nuclear/ecological catastrophe) the survival of humanity depends upon our nonviolently solving “the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war” by “living in harmony” with “all-embracing and unconditional love for all men”.

Eloquently he explained that


“[Love is] that force which all of the great religions [Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist] have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.”


Whereupon he recited this wisdom passage from the First Epistle of St John:

“Let us love one another: for love is of God;
and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.

He that loves not, knows not God; for God is love.

If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His

love is perfected in us.” [1 John 4:7-8; 12 ]”


Like Jesus and Gandhi – who also ‘heretically’ preached nonviolent love and forgiveness – King was martyred at (age 39), when his ‘heretic’ truth telling and expanding prophetic powers became intolerable barriers to US military/industrial war plans for Viet Nam and beyond.



Conclusion.



May the seeds of political and spiritual “satyagraha” first sewn by Gandhi on September 11, 1906, at long last inspire current world leaders to abandon their woefully misguided efforts to address alleged ‘terrorist violence’ with more terrorist violence; and to join democratically with their peace seeking citizens in the non-violent relentless pursuit of secular and spiritual Truth, to end social injustice, war and oppression everywhere.



And so shall it be!


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (full audio+text)



Why Be Here Now?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“That which is timeless is found NOW.”

~ Buddha
“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
“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…
Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life –
and see how life starts suddenly ..
working for you, rather than against you.”

~ Eckhart Tolle
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
~ Hillel
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,
which is what there is and all there is.
”
~ Alan Watts
The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity. Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Why Be Here Now?

Introduction.

Today’s memoirs posting “Why Be Here Now?” explains how the memorable book title “Be Here Now” became for me an inspirational spiritual slogan, encapsulating the essence of all spiritual teachings: viz. to live in thoughtless presence (as Universal Awareness) rather than in the past (as an ego-mind story of a separate mortal being); because Life is NOW, ever NOW, never Then!

This universal teaching has so significantly advanced my spiritual awakening process, that I am now experiencing life in ways I couldn’t imagine when I first learned about being in the present moment. So I often share it to help others (as hereafter explained).

Learning to live moment by moment, ever NOW.

Here is a summary of my process of learning about living NOW, as Universal Awareness:

Soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar, on the urging of a long-time friend. There I was first exposed to certain (unsourced) Eastern spirituality principles cleverly collected and presented by Werner Erhard, est’s founder, to motivate participants to radically transform their lives by ‘getting IT’.  The key est teaching was to:

Always accept “what is”. [See Ron’s Memoirs: Getting “IT” at est]

After attending est in 1977, I started to learn that for millennia there have been spiritual teachings about thoughtlessly accepting “what is” {sometimes called “letting go” or “surrender”). This began happening when I read an extraordinary book called “Be Here Now”, which told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D, psychologist, into Baba Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

Discussion re “Be Here Now” as Root Spiritual Teaching.

“Be Here Now” was my first memorable exposure to Hindu and other sourced Eastern spiritual teachings. It was an extraordinary book, unlike any other 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 or ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices, some of which I later followed, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them.

Apart from the book’s contents, its “Be Here Now!” title gradually became a memorable guide for my spiritual awakening process; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Gradually, I found this reminder repeated so often in other spiritual teachings and books that, ultimately, I considered it to be the root essence of all spiritual teachings. I deemed this teaching so crucial that (with poetic license) I once called it “The Sacred Secret of Life”. (See https://sillysutras.com/secret-of-life/)

“Be Here Now” by Ram Dass



My realization about the crucial importance of living as thoughtless presence, was especially advanced by the teachings of world renowned spiritual philosopher J. Krishnamurti, that

“Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Much later I approvingly concurred with the writings and lectures of contemporary author/teacher Eckhart Tolle, which skillfully emphasized “The Power of Now.” (Another memorable book title which became a popular spiritual slogan.)

Probably I best learned about living with a stilled mind by faithfully following for many years my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”. Ultimately, after thus meditating regularly, my ‘monkey mind’ finally ceased its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness.

These chosen moments of living with a stilled mind changed my experience and deep understanding of incarnate human life, in previously unprecedented ways. For example, they bestowed new insight into Patanjali’s root aphorism that

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”
~ Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras


Also I realized that many people (like French philosopher René Descartes) have mistakenly confused “thinking” with “being”. So I wrote an essay critique of that mistaken belief, to remind us that “being” as Awareness exists and persists perpetually, whether or not we are thinking. (See https://sillysutras.com/cartesian-critique/)

And precious moments of thought-free awareness confirmed and validated spiritual insights from other mystical experiences. For example, they were reminders that human consciousness remains beyond death of human bodies and brains; that consciousness creates brains and subtle thought bodies which inevitably survive death of physical bodies. (See https://sillysutras.com/brains/)

Whereby I observed that most people (like Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet) mistakenly believe that death of the physical body and brain, ends all consciousness and thought.

Thus Prince Hamlet incorrectly equated physical mortality with timeless Awareness in his famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy contemplating his possible suicide. (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)

And to share this realization about Hamlet’s confused suicide speculations,
I composed this sutra:

“To think or not to think, that is the question.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

which implies that Being is perpetual, not optional, whereas thinking is optional and does not end on bodily ‘death’; but that paradoxically the less we think, the more we are Being (‘here now’) as perpetual Awareness.

Essential Message of “Be Here Now”.

Through the process of learning to live with a stilled mind in the present moment, I’ve discovered that:

Being is timeless. But thought is time (and space). So, when we egoically think of ourselves merely as entities separate (in space) from each other and Nature, we mistakenly preclude or deter our realization of spiritual Freedom as eternal Being beyond space/time.

Instead, we experience our existence only as an ever impermanent past illusion, or mental mirage, but never NOW. However as we self-identify moment by moment as thoughtless, choiceless awareness, we are Being NOW.

And we learn that

“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives;”
and that
“When all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ultimately we discover

“That which is timeless is [only] found NOW”

~ Buddha

Conclusion.

Each of us has a unique karmic history and space/time perspective. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique karmic ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same– only proportions differ.

And Presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just for spiritual aspirants. For example, 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”?

Thus today’s quotations, memoirs and discussion are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all (knowingly or unknowingly) seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically immanent ever here NOW.

Peanuts by Charles Schulz

Dedication.

May everyone everywhere experience ever expanding happiness by increasingly living moment by moment in precious presence, with ever quieter minds.

Thereby may we all radiate love and joy, which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Solstice Salutations and Invocations For a Peaceful and Happy New Age

“One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self.
Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi





Solstice Salutations and Invocations For a Peaceful and Happy New Age

Dear Friends,

With a new winter solstice cycle of ever increasing sunlight, let us envision the dawning of a new age of peace, compassion, and joy everywhere on our precious planet.

May we thereby rededicate ourselves to the Eternal Light of LOVE within and beyond everyone and everything on Earth; to THAT universal spirit of light, love, harmony and happiness, which is the unseen Source of the world we see.  
 

And as we share season’s greetings and envision planetary peace and joy, may we be infused with illumination and inspiration for harmoniously healing our precious planet and all its life-forms by these perennial wisdom words about happiness:

Perennial Wisdom Words About Happiness:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence”
~ Aristotle

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
~ Dalai Lama

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.
That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not,
whether one believes in this religion or that religion,
we all are seeking something better in life.
So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”
~ Dalai Lama

“True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away.
Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably.
Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only.
Find your real Self and all else will come with it.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.
~ Ramana Maharshi

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
~ Buddha

Happiness comes when your work and words
are of benefit to yourself and others.
~ Buddha

“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.”
“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“Find ecstasy in life;
the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
~ Emily Dickinson

“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.
Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,
go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.
Think of the beauty that again and again
discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”
~ Anne Frank

“The root of joy is gratefulness…

We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands.

For it is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
~ Buddha

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

“Happiness does not depend on how the furniture is arranged –
it depends on how I arrange my mind.”
“When you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”
“Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy,
but this is not accurate.
You make yourself unhappy.”
~ Wayne Dyer

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama

“Cultivate compassion; harvest happiness.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul;
one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
~ Richard Wagner

“I am happy even before I have a reason.”
~ Hafiz

“The superior man is always happy.”
~ Confucius

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu

“By letting it go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try,
the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu

“What is the worth of a happiness for which you must strive and work?
Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”
~ William Blake

“Always be joyful. That is the only truly saintly state.”
~ Teresa of Avila

“Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service,
and have a definite object in life
outside themselves and their personal happiness”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing
Returns to make you glad.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination”
~ Mark Twain

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
it only saps today of its joy.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

“Some cause happiness wherever they go;
others whenever they go.”
~ Oscar Wild


Closing Invocations:

May we consciously and cooperatively participate together in co-creating an ever better world – Happy, Harmonious and Peaceful – as we intend and envision it to be.

May we so become infused channels of Light and Love for everyone and everything everywhere – on the Solstice Holidays and Always!

May everyone everywhere be happy!

And so may it be!

The Sacred Secret of Life

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
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
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
~ Alan Watts
Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy
“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings







The Sacred Secret of Life

We evolve and revolve
ever seeking to solve
the sacred secret of life.

But the further we go
the less we know
the sacred secret of life.

The longer our history,
the greater the mystery of
the sacred secret of life.

Yet we never stop trying –
keep birthing and dying, for
the sacred secret of life.

Tho’ we may never solve it,
we’ll ever evolve it:
The sacred secret of life.

So in Awe we bow
to the ever NOW—

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem and quotations, are about a key wisdom concept which is so important that with poetic license I’ve called it “the sacred secret of life”.

Soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was synchronistically introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom through a friend who urged me to read an extraordinary book with an intriguing title – “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 spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book and its memorable title 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 memorable title “Be Here Now!” became for me a key slogan for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Through experience and other spiritual teachings, I began to realize the profound evolutionary importance of mental stillness.

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

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ finally cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me to choose whether “to think or not to think” – an option to enjoy precious moments of choiceless awareness. And by learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind”; and I discovered that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and 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 precious presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual opening.

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

Moreover, whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance, every human being wants happiness, with minimal suffering. And to be in a state of precious presence with a stilled mind is of critical importance to experiencing happiness.

So for me “Be Here Now!” – like “Seek relief from belief” and “Undo Ego!” – has become a key motivational motto encapsulating a crucial wisdom concept.

Thus today’s quotations and poem are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically ever here NOW.

May we all experience growing happiness by learning to live in precious presence with ever quieter minds, thereby radiating love and joy which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Time Cycling

Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,
 that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
”
~ Alan Watts
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think.”
“The distinction between past, present, and future
is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
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 Cycling

Beyond time

In time

Take time

Make time

Fill time

Kill time

Find time

Lose time

Spend time

End time

Out of time

No time

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of “Time Cycling”

Listen to



Ron’s 2018 explanation of “Time Cycling”

Dear Friends,

Over forty years ago, I began questioning the ‘reality’ of serial time after experiencing many ‘mind-blowing’ pre-cognitive synchronicities during a 1977 week in New York City. (See  Synchronicity Story: An Amazing Experiment With Time )

Ultimately after reflecting on these and many more amazing synchronicities, and on teachings of Gautama Buddha and other mystic masters, I became persuaded that Einstein accurately described the illusory nature of space/time/reality as “merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; and, that  “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”

Nonetheless, after realizing the mystical truth about the illusionary but persistent nature of space and time, it has been very difficult for me to remember and live that truth.  But I am often reminded of it by increasingly frequent synchronicities manifesting in my life, which I deem emblematic of Reality beyond time. Synchronicities are now happening for me so frequently that mostly I no longer find “time” to discuss or write about them.

While reflecting about the illusionary but persistent nature of time, I wrote many poems and articles about it. One of those poems, “Time Cycling”, came from a realization that our common vernacular tacitly imbues an unthinking acceptance of the imagined reality of illusory time.

That poem is posted above for your entertainment and edification. I hope you’ll enjoy its whimsical words as you listen to my mp3 oral recitation of them.

May this poetry, with thoughts about time and synchronicity, inspire ever more timeless happiness in our lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What Is Life?

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
~ Crowfoot, 1890
“Life is everything. Life is God.
Everything changes and moves,
and that movement is God. . .
To love life is to love God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.
If you’re alive, it isn’t.
~ Richard Bach






Ron’s Introduction to What Is Life?

Throughout human history philosophers have speculated on perennially puzzling questions of life’s meaning, if any.

Especially following my 1992 retirement from legal practice,
I sometimes ‘channelled’ different theories about the meaning of life.

I share some with you now, not as spiritual truths but as speculations, in case you may – as I did – sometimes wonder why we’re here.

In reading them let us remember that with a silent mind there are no questions and no answers – just choiceless awareness.

Ron’s Theories about What Is Life?

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a word – an idea – with many meanings which are mental, not fundamental.
As beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
the meaning of “life” is what we think it to be.

But beyond our space/time/causality “reality”
Life is not mental,
but Transcendental:
Life is Eternal Mystery.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is awakened Awareness.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is infinite experience
Of Infinite Potentiality
From infinite perspectives.

WHAT IS LIFE?
What is death?
In space/time polarity/causality reality,
life implies death;
life is the opposite of death.

So to know the meaning of life,
we must know the meaning of death.
When we Know the meaning of both life and death,
we shall know no death –
only awakened Awareness.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is aliveness.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is an “in a body” experience.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a continuous identity crisis:
An endless opportunity to transcend
entity identity.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is an idea game
in which we’re challenged
to make ideal
our ideas of what’s “real”.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is endless exploration of NOW.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is an experience/experiment in space/time.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a semantic space/time sojourn.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a round trip metaphoric journey,
on which we are destined to return to point of origin.
On return, we learn – we never left.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a journey: an ego trip.
Life is a journey: a mind trip.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a workshop for ego addicts; an ego trip.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a healing/wholing gnosis process.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a metaphoric metamorphosis process.
Gleaning meaning in matter,
we learn all that matters —
we learn all that matters is
LOVE!

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a mind field –
a field of dreams,
where all we ever see or seem
is but a dream within a dream.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a cosmic game of hide and seek.
Self hides in plain insight
and, knowingly or unknowingly,
we seek Self.
We seek and seek until we find
beyond the mind,
that we are what we seek –
that what we seek is the seeker.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a learning laboratory
for discovering immortality –
experimentally and experientially.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is suffering;
Life is mystery.

Life’s miseries are mental,
while it’s mystery is Transcendental.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a cosmic masquerade;
an endless comedy/tragedy/mystery drama.
The masquerade play continues with countless acts and scenes.

Each actor must participate in innumerable roles,
until each is ultimately unmasked,
with true identity revealed as
Common “I-ness”.

WHAT IS LIFE?
Life is a mystery school
in which knowingly or unknowingly
we are all students –
each learning about,
and  seeking to solve,
the same Mystery –
the mystery of Divinity.

Though we may never solve it,
we shall ever evolve it –
NOW!



Ron’s “What Is Life” Epilogue

Dear Friends,

I am republishing the foregoing whimsical speculations and quotations about Earth-life – since they may point to ways for us to skillfully live happier lives.

Throughout human history philosophers have wondered – and keep wondering – about the purpose or significance of “life” on Earth.  While for millennia rare mystics, saints, sages and other inner explorers have reported discovering within an infinitely potential Eternal Awareness – which is the sole Source of all we call “Life” and the “real world” – which can be experienced in deep meditation, but not described.

Though I have accepted the existence of an indescribable divinely omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent life Source, I have nonetheless written the foregoing mystical musings about “life” based on philosophical theories and mystical reports – as hints for living happier Earth-lives.

For example, I’ve written elsewhere that

“As we change the way we see our life,
we change the way we live our life.

The more we see that life is LOVE,
the more we let life live us as LOVE.”

May the foregoing “What Is Life?” speculations and quotations, help all of us find increasing happiness and fulfillment of our deepest inner aspirations by skillfully changing the way we see and live our lives.

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner


Can We Be Born-Again?

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is 
our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ 

Leo Tolstoy

“God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again,
till they return to Him.”
~ Koran

“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3

“Lord Krishna said: …. The learned neither laments for the dead or the living. Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you, nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future. Just as in the physical body of the embodied being is the process of childhood, youth and old age; similarly by the transmigration from one body to another the wise are never deluded.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“But know that by whom this entire body is pervaded, is indestructible. No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. The embodied soul is eternal in existence, indestructible and infinite, only the material body is factually perishable….”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna

“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time, nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna



© Elizabeth Lyle, www.dreamingheart.com



CAN WE BE BORN-AGAIN?

We’re born –
and born-again,

And born-again,
and born-again,

Until when –

We realize
we were never ever born.

And then –
we’re never born again.



Ron’s comments and recitation of “Can We Be Born-Again?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Can We Be Born-Again?”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “Born-Again” poetic essay explores the perennial mystery of inevitable bodily death by whimsically addressing possible afterlife, rebirth or reincarnation. The poem was written only after an extended reflective process, hereafter described.

In online spiritual memoirs – tentatively titled: “From Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond”: An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from Secular Hebrew; to Born-again Hindu; to Uncertain Undo – I have told how after a midlife spiritual awakening I began experiencing gradual inner transformation.

After meeting my Guruji from India, I was soon calling myself a “Born-again Hindu”, with extreme enthusiasm about encountering such a great yogi.   (See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master )  Initially I only considered myself to be “Born-Again” psychologically – but not physically. 

Later, after much reflection, I accepted Hindu and Buddhist theories of physical rebirth or reincarnation – that all humans are repeatedly ‘born again’ in supposedly separate bodies with separate karmic destinies, until achieving the spiritual ‘goal’ of Self-realization or merger with ONE mysterious Divine Source and matrix.

Ultimately, after many amazing mystical experiences, I further accepted ancient Eastern non-duality teachings questioning the reality of any rebirth because this ever impermanent space/time duality reality is an illusory and unreal play of Cosmic consciousness – maya or samsara. Such non-dualist teachings like Advaita-Vedanta say that humans egoically and mistakenly mentally self-identify with their optical illusions of apparent separation from each other and Nature until “enlightenment” or Self-realization. Whereupon the illusion of separation and duality ends forever.

My recognition and acceptance as true Reality of spiritual non-duality was validated and corroborated when I learned of Einstein’s revolutionary discoveries about space/time that:

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”


“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.”


“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”


“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the [quantum] field and matter, for the field is the only [manifest] reality.”


So I began believing that we were never truly born or reborn in space/time, which is merely “an optical illusion of consciousness.” But I realized that only very rare Buddha-like beings who non-dually merge with Cosmic consciousness need never be “Born-Again”.

However it seems apparent that the vast majority of humans remain karmically compelled to continue existing as space/time entities until overcoming all vestiges of our hallucination of separation from each other, from Nature, and from our sole Source and spirit.

Though still evolving, I have been experiencing ever growing happiness and ever less fear of death by self identifying as Eternal spirit rather than as a merely mortal physical body – more and more as Ram and less and less as Ron. So I consider Ron as a gradually disappearing ‘fundamentalist non-dualist’.

Because fear of inevitable physical death remains a major societal issue, impeding our spiritual evolution, I hope that my “rebirth” writings and story will help all of us transcend such fear, and thereby lead ever happier lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Life Is But A Dream

“This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.
Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.”
~ Rumi
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
~ Buddha (The Awakened One)
“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
“Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
~ Buddha: Diamond Sutra
“We are like the spider.

We weave our life and then move along in it.

We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.

This is true for the entire universe.”
~ The Upanishads




Life Is But A Dream

Q. “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”

[*See footnote]


A. Yes, each person’s life is like a dream story within a dream of space/time reality.

For millennia, mystics have revealed that 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. And scientists like Einstein confirm the mystics, saying e.g. that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”; and, that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

Just as nighttime dreams are mental images arising during sleep on a ‘screen’ of formless awareness, our daytime “reality” arises from mental images projected on the same screen of formless awareness that perceives nocturnal dreams.

Both mystics and scientists say that all the forms we perceive as “reality” are impermanent – ever appearing and disappearing in timeless formless awareness; awareness which is universal and beyond time and space, beyond birth and death. That formless awareness is in the Bible called “everlasting life” [Daniel 12:1-3] and “eternal life” [e.g. John 17:1-2] And it is our Essence and Ultimate Identity.

We can realize the biblical/mystical promise of eternal life upon awakening from illusory egoic self identification as mere mortal bodies, their thoughts and their stories, and thus awakening to self identification with that timeless, formless awareness in which we perceive our lives and all we call “reality”.

AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Footnote.
*Edgar Allan Poe, “A Dream Within A Dream”, 1849


Ron’s Commentary on Life Is But A Dream.

Dear Friends,

Have you ever yet thought about a “dream” other than as a nocturnal sleep experience?   Or as an unfulfilled ‘utopian’ aspiration such as expressed in Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, John Lennon’s “Imagine” lyrics, or by master lyricist Oscar Hammerstein in “Happy Talk” from “South Pacific”:

“You got to have a dream, 
If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”

To help us validate and actuate those “new age” ideas, I have explained in the above essay why “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream” in response to an insightful 1859 rhetorical question by poet Edgar Allan Poe; and why – as mystics and seers have told us for millennia – what we believe to be reality is, like a dream, just a play of universal consciousness. 

From my “dreamlike” perspective, the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president was a major disguised blessing which wouldn’t have happened if Hillary Clinton had been declared the US election winner.   It has sparked an unprecedented mass political awakening to insanely dystopian secret government threats to everyone everywhere.

Because a critical mass of awakened Humankind worldwide are now adamantly demanding and intuitively envisioning a new era of peace and justice for all life everywhere – an era which ends and transcends unconscionable and unsustainable exploitation of our societies and planet to obscenely enrich a tiny group of psychopathic billionaires – I see this as beginning of a new era which will advance the highest good for all life on our precious planet.  

In a recent Happy New Year posting, I said that:

“The personal and planetary are intimately connected.
Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’,
dreaming our world into being; and,
consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’”

Quotations from Rumi, Buddha (The Awakened One), and ancient Upanishads which precede the essay, elucidate and illuminate our common dream “reality”. And here are more quotations from famous people which can help us realize why our supposed waking life is like a dream:

“As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. 
Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”
~ Leo Tolstoy


A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream?
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky


“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


“To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil…”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet (c. 1599), Act 3, sc. 1. 


Especially since modern medical technology has begun resuscitating apparently dead heart attack victims, many survivors have recounted amazing near death experiences (NDE’s) helping us to learn societally about what happens  “when we have shuffled off this mortal coil”.  And such NDE’s have been portrayed in movies like the 1998 Robin Williams film, “What Dreams May Come”, which paradoxically dealt with post-suicide experience.

Paramahansa Yogananda poetically observed:

“The mysterious soul abides forever’ changing never…. 
It loves to live in the grottos of change, ever steadfast and immovable.
It never dreams ought but eternity.” 


May our awakening Human ‘dream team’ ever more self-identify as “the mysterious soul [which] abides forever” .  

Thereby may we at long last create an ever nobler ‘common dream’ that honors the equality and divinity of everyone everywhere, thus transcending exploitation and discrimination against the most vulnerable people and other sentient beings, by using our common sense and our common wealth for our common weal, and to end the iniquity of inequity in our society.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Remember!

Remember God, forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,

But still remember what the Lord hath done.”

~ William Shakespeare
Remember then:
There is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy





Remember!

Don’t forget what you knew
before you withdrew,
from dwelling in Heaven’s domain.

Recall your affinity,
with dazzling Divinity,
and in that Presence remain.

Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,
even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,
every time, every place,

and

Forever (S)HE will reign!



Ron’s audio singing of Remember

Listen to


Einstein’s Mystical Views & Quotations on Free Will or Determinism

”All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
~ Buddha
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise. What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm: there are no isolated things or events. Underneath the surface appearance, all things are interconnected, are part of the totality of the cosmos that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,
such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,
or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”

A.  “Everything is predetermined.”
~  Sri Ramana Maharshi 
“Nothing perceivable is real.
Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.
There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj 
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Nothing in the universe happens by chance or accident.  The universe is a coherent concurrence and interaction of innumerable conditions attendant on the infinite number of energy patterns.  In the state of Awareness, all this is obvious and can be clearly seen and known.  Outside that level of awareness, it could be likened to innumerable, invisible magnetic fields which automatically coalesce or repel one’s position and which interact according to the positions and relative strengths and polarities.  Everything influences everything else and is in perfect balance.
~ David R. Hawkins
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. .
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Everything happens through immutable laws, …everything is necessary… There are,  some persons say, events which are necessary and others which are not. It would be very comic that one part of the world was arranged, and the other were not; that one part of what happens had to happen and that another part of what happens did not have to happen. If one looks closely at it, one sees that the doctrine contrary to that of destiny is absurd; but there are many people destined to reason badly; others not to reason at all others to persecute those who reason.”
~  Voltaire
“The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)

Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)


Introduction

On Albert Einstein’s March 14th birthday anniversary, we honor him not only for his extraordinary scientific genius and moral integrity, but for his mystical wisdom and intuitive realization of ineffable Reality beyond human comprehension.

In other posts (linked below) we have shown that although Einstein rejected conventional views about God, individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death, he was not an atheist but a deeply religious mystic. Though Einstein did not believe in formal dogmatic religion, his views on religion were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, like Indian Advaita Vedanta philosophy, as well as with his revolutionary non-mechanistic science. So he was an exemplar of the inevitable confluence of Western science with Eastern religion.

Here we highlight Einstein’s unconventional views about free will and determinism and show how they were also largely consistent with highest Eastern non-duality mystical teachings.

Discussion

Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, that “God does not play dice with the universe”; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.

In a 1929 interview, when the argument about quantum mechanics “uncertainty” was at its height, Einstein modestly said: “I claim credit for nothing”, explaining that:

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
[Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, Page 422.]

Though theologians have mostly believed that people choose and are morally responsible for their actions, Einstein agreed with medieval philosopher Baruch Spinoza that one’s actions, and even one’s thoughts, are determined by natural laws of causality.

Spinoza said:

“In the mind there is no absolute or free will;
but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause,
which has also been determined by another cause,
and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.”

Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:

“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free
but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”

Einstein’s belief in causal determinism seemed to him both scientifically and philosophically incompatible with the concept of human free will. In a 1932 speech entitled ‘My Credo’, Einstein briefly explained his deterministic ideology:

“I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.”

Einstein’s 1931 essay “The World As I See It” contains this similar passage:

“In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.
Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.”

Schopenhauer – who had studied Buddhism – postulated that human experience is but a reflection and manifestation of universal law – not human “will”; that humans must adhere to the imperatives of natural laws (like gravity and magnetism) which harmoniously rule everywhere without exception. Thus Schopenhauer said:

“The fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him—this is something that surpasses our powers of comprehension, and can only be conceived as possible by virtue of the most wonderful pre-established harmony.”

So in rejecting “free will” and other prevalent theistic religious ideas while humbly expressing his awe, reverence and cosmic religious feeling at the immense beauty, harmony and eternal mystery of our Universe, Einstein was influenced by both the philosophies of Spinoza and Schopenhauer and by his intuition and his science.

But despite his deterministic philosophy and science, Einstein realized that people’s belief in free will is pragmatically necessary for a civilized society; that it causes them to take responsibility for their actions, and enables society to regulate such actions.* So he said:

“I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”*


Thus Einstein dedicated his life to going beyond the “merely personal” and acted morally with a self-described “passion for social justice”. In a letter to his sister, Einstein stated that “the foundation of all human values is morality”. And in addressing a student disarmament meeting, he said:  

“The destiny of civilized humanity depends more than ever on the moral forces it is capable of generating.”

But, like the non-dualistic mystics, Einstein believed that morality was for humanity not divinity. He said:

“Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”


Determinism versus morality and social justice questions

Since acting morally implies human freedom of choice, how can we reconcile Einstein’s passion for social justice and morality with his deterministic ideology that “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” ?

How would Einstein explain the apparent contradiction between his many idealistic efforts as a social justice activist, pacifist, and democratic socialist and his deterministic philosophy and science? Would he attribute his efforts and passion for a peaceful, civilized society to a pre-destined causal compulsion?

We can only speculate. But it is quite possible that Einstein would have agreed with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s statement that “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”

According to Eastern non-dualism, as long as we self-identify as limited persons within space/time/causality we have apparent free choice but are inescapably subject to the law of karmic causality. Thus our every thought, word or deed inevitably reaps its corresponding reward of either suffering or joy in this or another lifetime. Only when we self-identify with spirit or soul, do we transcend this illusory impermanent world of samsara and its inevitable causal sufferings.

This was explained by Swami Vivekananda as follows:

“[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga

Conclusions

Like ancient non-dualistic mystics, Einstein had realized – through his revolutionary non-mechanistic science – that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; and that “Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.” Consequently, he knew that from an ever mysterious Cosmic perspective, our apparent phenomenal reality is but an illusionary play of consciousness.

But, Einstein’s acceptance of the necessity for recognizing humanity’s freedom to choose a moral rather than evil destiny was also consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings that we ‘reap as we sow’ until we transcend this illusionary world, as well as with prevalent Western religious ideas that we are morally responsible for our actions.

Thus, Einstein’s insistence that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception and that morality is for Humanity not Divinity was consistent with ancient non-dualistic mysticism as was his rejection of a personal “God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation”.

Though Einstein had not achieved the mystic goal of attaining “freedom” from causality while living, his mystical wisdom and professed behaviors in not “taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper” were consistent with a very evolved – if not “enlightened” – state of being.

Footnote.

*Einstein’s views on pragmatically living with supposed free will notwithstanding a belief in universal determinism, were similar to those of Leo Tolstoy, whose epic War and Peace novel reflected Tolstoy’s view that all is predestined, but that we cannot live without imagining we have free will. Like Einstein, Tolstoy was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer and, also, he was later enthralled by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.