“Is all that we see or seem
but a dream within a dream?”
~ Edgar Allen Poe.
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.
Almost every human believes that on awakening from sleep we are experiencing another day in “the real world”. But rare Buddha-like beings say that this relative “reality” isn’t really Real; that it is like a daytime dream, or a mirage, from which we are destined to awaken.
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
For millennia “enlightened” mystics and sages have likened our supposedly awakened earth life to nocturnal dream life, saying we are not truly awakened if we self-identify as entities separate from Nature and from all else in our perceived world of impermanent forms and phenomena.
Nighttime dreams are mental images arising on a ‘screen’ of formless awareness. Similarly our supposedly “real world” arises from mental images perceived and projected on the same screen of formless awareness that perceives nocturnal dreams.
Such formless awareness is the identical consciousness in which all dreams arise. It is universal and beyond time and space, beyond birth and death. (In the Bible it is called “everlasting life” [Daniel 12:1-3] and “eternal life” [e.g. John 17:1-2] ) And, from a ‘Buddha’s–eye’ perspective it is our true Self and ultimate Identity.
Purpose of Earth-life Dream Life.
So mystics say we are here to awaken from our daytime dreams of separation from Nature and its forms, to our True Self identity as non-dual eternal Awareness. And like mystics, quantum scientists have discovered that our supposed “real world” of perceived forms and phenomena is merely impermanent and non-material energy in a universal quantum field. [E=mc2]
“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 field and matter, for the [quantum] field is the only reality.”
~ Albert Einstein
Moreover, consistent with the ancient mystics, Einstein realized that space/time relative “reality” is merely an optical illusion of consciousness arising from [ego-mind] thought:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.”
Yet, like the ancient mystics, Einstein intuited and venerated a transcendent, incomprehensible and inexplicable Omniscience or universal intelligence beyond space/time’s relative “reality”:
“That which is impenetrable to us really exists.
Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable.
Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
Awakening From Earth-life Dream Life.
Over forty years ago, I was blessed with the immensely transformative insight that I was not merely my physical body, its thoughts or its story, but the consciousness from which they arose. Since then I’ve gradually been enjoying ever growing happiness and ever less fear of death by increasingly identifying as universal Eternal spirit rather than as a merely mortal separate physical body – viz. more and more as Ram and less and less as Ron. The stories recounted in my spiritual memoirs are all about this awakening process.
But the most unforgettable experience which has best revealed to me that we are all like dreamers awakening from illusory mortality to joyous eternal Reality, was my beloved Guruji’s parting poetic gift described at “My Miraculous Experience on Shri Dhyanyogi’s Mahasamadhi”.
On August 29, 1994, Guruji intentionally left his then one hundred sixteen year old body in India. At the same time, and unaware of Guruji’s transition, I received from him in San Francisco an inspiring poem about our awakening from Earthly dream life of supposed birth and death, to true Reality as Eternal Bliss [Sat-Chit-Ananda].
That simple ‘channeled’ poem was extraordinarily powerful because it was infused with Guruji’s blessing or sankalpa for fulfillment of our deepest Awakening aspirations. So it has remained indelibly imprinted in my heart and on my ‘mental software’. And I have often spontaneously recited it for others.
Here is the original poem, as initially titled, “Dream Life”:
When we come to Earth
they call it a birth.
When we leave,
they say we die.
But we really don’t come,
and we really don’t go.
We just dream our lives.
To awaken as Bliss
from all of this,
Joyous that all is
The poem’s verses were received and written without any title. But in the above and later writings and recitations, I added different titles: mostly, “Dream Life” or “I am THAT”.
Also, occasionally I added as concluding lines “I am THAT” or “We are THAT” [and Sanskrit translations “Soham!” and plural “Sovayam”]
Audio and video explanations and recitations of Dream Life poem
For many people, actual or audio/visual recitations of Guruji’s parting gift poem are more powerful than just reading the printed words. So I am sharing with you below two audio/visual recitations, both prefaced with brief explanations of the poem.
mp3 home recording.
mp4 film clip with Ron’s recitation beginning at 1.3m.
This happened on October 29, 2013, while I was chatting with my poet friend Hippy Dave at San Francisco’s Aquatic Beach. Dave and I were greeted by Andrey Milyayev, a Ukrainian cinematography student who was doing a school documentary film project about artistic life in San Francisco. Andrey asked Dave to recite one of his original poems, and Dave obliged. Whereupon Dave unexpectedly asked me to also recite a poem. So I spontaneously recited the Guruji dream life poem, then calling it “I am THAT”.
May all those who hear or read this poem receive Guruji’s blessing or sankalpa for fulfillment of our deepest Awakening aspirations.
And so may it be!
“Life is eternal. There is no death. If people correctly understood death, they would no longer have any fear of the unknown”. . . . “What we think of as life and death are merely transitions, changes in the rate of vibration in a continual process of growth and unfoldment.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” pp. 90-91
“Overcoming the fear of death changes our whole perspective on life. Everything we do and think and feel takes on new meaning. When we realize that we are not limited by the physical, we begin to get the idea that we are really master of our own destinies and we more fully align ourselves with the eternal nature of our beings.”
~ Betty Bethards – “There is No Death” p.83
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“To be afraid of dying is like being afraid of discarding an old worn-out garment.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
Soon after my spiritual opening, I met Betty Bethards who then was a prominent San Francisco Area author, meditation teacher, healer and psychic/mystic counselor. For many years I had a harmonious rapport and an important friendship with Betty. And I continue to honor her because her teachings, readings and friendship were significant and helpful in furthering my spiritual evolution, and because her readings helped many friends who I referred to Betty.
So I now share this tribute to honor Betty and to acquaint you with some of her spiritual teachings, which live on and continue helping many people – fifteen years since her July 2002 transition.
Because I always appreciated Betty’s down to earth, pithy yet clear and simple language, understandable to most ordinary people, I have recommended her books and audio recordings which are still available at her foundation here.
At age 32 Betty was a middle class mother of four boys, and a professional bowler, when she experienced a transformative classic near death experience long before the term NDE was coined and widely publicized by Dr. Raymond Moody, Jr.. She described her NDE experience in her first published book, “There is No Death”, written about death and dying to comfort the bereaved and ailing.
That book was especially powerful because it came from Betty’s dramatic experience of surviving apparent physical “death” and her continuing communications with supposedly deceased souls, including her two eldest sons who later died in Viet Nam and in a California motorcycle accident. Also it recounts inspiring true stories about how people who consulted Betty transcended their fear of death. [She autographed my copy of “There is No Death” with the insightful comment: “Death is but a bridge to life!” ]
Before we met, Betty had formed the Inner Light Foundation [ILF], promoting development of individual spirituality. For many years, she spoke monthly at local SF area church venues and gave psychic readings with mystic counseling at her North Bay foundation office. Raised as fundamentalist Baptist she ultimately gave universal spiritual teachings encompassed by most enduring religious paths, and she became an exemplar and channel for the path of Love.
Rather than promoting herself as a leader, Betty tried to teach others to develop their own spiritual potentials. Thus one of her nine books was titled: “Be Your Own Guru”. Others included: “”Techniques for Health and Wholeness,” “Seven Steps to Developing Your Intuitive Powers,” and “The Dream Book,” interpreting over 1,600 dream symbols, and helping readers to remember and find guidance and inspiration from their dreams.
Once when I was invited by Betty for a private New Years Eve dinner at her home in Petaluma, I learned that she had received as a gift – apparently from the Dalai Lama of Tibet, whom she’d never met – a beautiful Tibetan hand crafted mandala scroll or thangka. Thereafter, though many people regarded Betty a teacher of ‘meditation for the middle class’, I called her a ‘Baptist Bodhisattva’, who humbly and without self-aggrandizement was lovingly dedicated to helping all sentient beings develop their spiritual potentials.
Her energy field was so palpably powerful that many people often felt uplifted just being in her presence. Often when I was talking in person or by phone with Betty (and certain other ‘high energy’ friends with whom I felt special rapport) I experienced elevated energy, as if our subtle energy fields had synergistically expanded.
Since Betty’s July 2002 transition, her teachings still bless this world. And her transformative work may be continuing ‘from the other side’.
Betty’s NDE Story and Teachings Excerpted from “There is No Death”.
1. Near-Death Experience.
My first experience with death challenged all my old beliefs about the nature of reality and why we are here in the first place. I learned that if we are ever to come to terms with the meaning of our lives here on Earth, we must understand the meaning of death. Only then can we see it with a total perspective, fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Otherwise, nothing makes much sense.
I returned home one night from a bridge game with a burning sensation in my chest and went right to bed. An hour later I awoke to find myself hovering over the bed about two feet above my body. A voice said to me, “You’re going to be very sick with pneumonia. Get to a doctor”. [After two doctor visits which did not help her, she ran a temperature of 103 to 105 degrees and was on the road to death.]
Suddenly I was twenty feet across the room. Everything I considered “Betty” to be -memory, personality, senses -was looking back at that shell on the couch. I thought, “Gee, she’s sick. I don’t want to go back.”
Then a very gentle voice said from behind me, “You don’t have to go back, but this is death if you choose to stay.”
I had a body which appeared the same, was wearing the same clothes, and was raised about two feet off the floor. I wasn’t frightened at all, but felt wonderfully enveloped in peace. I knew then how Jerry had appeared to me ten years earlier. It was as if I could see things clearly, and knew that there was no such thing as death. I realized then that one never dies, but changes vibrations, and goes on living and learning on other levels.
I really didn’t want to go back. But then I started seeing pictures of my four children flash before me. It was a tricky way to get me to make up my mind to return to the Earth plane and finish what I was supposed to do. I was fine with seeing each child, knowing they could take care of themselves without me, until I saw my eighteen month old son. I knew he still needed me, and at that point I made my decision. I had to go back.
As soon as I thought this, the voice said to me again, “Unless you take an antibiotic within the next twenty-four hours, you will no longer have a choice of whether you wish to remain on the Earth plane.”
It was after this experience that I knew there was no death and that it wasn’t the way I had been taught to believe. I didn’t know how it was, but I was determined to find out. I had to wait two years before the teachings began coming to me.
[Within this period of time, Betty became more and more psychic until she was able to communicate with her spirit guides.]
2. Not the Same For Everyone.
When the soul has been exposed to the opportunities it chose for a particular lifetime, it is allowed a release from the physical body. The soul knows when the time for release has come. Death is easy – life is hard work.
Death is not the same for everyone. It depends upon how you have prepared yourself during that incarnation, how old a soul you are, how evolved your awareness, and what lessons you chose to learn through the death experience. You may have chosen to learn courage and to build strength through a physical death with suffering. People who die slow deaths from such things as cancer or strokes are often givers who have never learned how to receive. Their souls may choose a slow death in order to allow others to give to them. But you can learn your lesson and move beyond the need for pain and suffering in dying. You may, in fact, have chosen a fast and easy death. Either way it is not a punishment, but a process of growth for both you and those around you. It allows you and others to work through difficult situations with kindness and compassion.
3. Seeing the Invisible.
When you approach the time of death, often you’re able to see relatives who have crossed over standing around you. The etheric body slips easily in and out of the physical, and many times a person near-death talks to beings who are invisible to others. Doctors for the most part think you are hallucinating, but you’re not. Whether death comes rapidly or slowly, your loved ones know ahead of time when you are coming, and are there, prepared and waiting, happy that you have been released.
4. The Tunnel and the Light.
First, you may experience your whole life flashing in front of you much as a drowning person reports this experience. Next, you will go through what appears to be a dark tunnel or dark tube which has a very bright light at the end. Most entities are just drawn to the light without anyone saying, “Go to the light.” It’s a past soul memory of having left the body many times, and knowing what to do.
This light is from higher astral levels, and you follow it to the one you have earned. However you have lived your life on the Earth side determines how high you can go into the light on the other side.
There is nothing to fear. You leave your body every night as you enter the sleep state. There is no difference. You cannot be harmed.
Fears are within, and this is why you must work to release yourself from fears on the Earth plane, because you will carry these same fears over to the next dimension. As above, so below!
5. Hanging Around the Living.
Some people may want to hang around their old surroundings on Earth rather than go on to discover for themselves the beauty and wisdom which is offered to them on the other side. This may take a long time, but they are coaxed along slowly. Nothing is forced on a soul, neither attitudes nor understandings. This is why we are always counseled here on Earth never to force our beliefs on another person until one is ready to hear them. The free choice of every individual should be acknowledged.
6. Seeing Loved Ones and Teachers.
When you die you are greeted by loved ones first so that you may understand what has happened. There is a big celebration, like a birthday party, heralding your arrival. Family and friends who have gone on before you are there to celebrate your arrival.
There is always good at the time of your cross-over. Even people who have lived lives of selfishness will know and understand the rejoicing. Whatever you have sown you are going to reap in terms of structuring your experiences and lessons which continue on the other side. But the first few days of cross-over (as you know time on the Earth plane) you are allowed to be with your teachers, and those who have loved you in the past. You are able to see those you left behind and to hear their thoughts and words. The first six weeks we stay very close to our loved ones on the Earth plane.
You are given glimpses of things you expected to see in order to bring you comfort. You may briefly see a teacher you worshipped in your lifetime: Jesus, Buddha, or another guru, according to your expectations. After the first seventy-two hours, however, you are gently brought out of many of your illusions and shown that you have not landed in an ultimate paradise with gold paved streets. Of course you could choose to create these for yourself on this plane, but once you truly understand you would most likely choose to be around that with which you felt most comfortable.
If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife, you will probably be kept in a sleep state for the first two to three day period. You will wake up in a beautiful meadow or some other calm and peaceful place where you can reconcile the transition from the death state to the continuous life. You are given teachings in the hope that you do not refuse to believe that you are dead.
On the other side you see things with a clearer, more objective nature, but you are not given total knowledge because you would not understand it or be ready to use it, any more than while you are here on Earth. We are given knowledge only as we are ready to receive it, whether we are in or out of the body.
7. After the Homecoming.
After the first six weeks the soul meets with what may be called a loving board of directors. It is composed of teachers and other higher beings who have walked with you. These beings help you review your past life, to begin to look at what was learned and not learned, and what you wish to work on or do from this point. No one judges you, and this is important to keep in mind. You are the one that judges yourself and decides what is best for continued growth.
You will be given teachings, training, and anything you need to help you prepare yourself for your next incarnation. But this is not given immediately. You can choose your own pace and need not be hurried through the realms of the next realms. It may take centuries for your soul to know what is best for your development once you return again to a physical body. It may take a great deal of reflection before you determine a purpose and direction for your next sojourn on Earth. Since we reincarnate in groups we usually wait 80 to 120 years before we come back.
Also, as part of your training, you are allowed to watch people on the Earth plane to see how they handle situations when they reincarnate. Very few people in a physical body realize that their behavior is a teaching ground for those who are out of the body.
8. Reviewing Past Lives.
As you are ready, and as you choose, you will be shown your past lives. If you do not believe in reincarnation it may take a long time before you are able to deal with this. Eventually, you must learn to understand yourself in a continuity of growth over many lifetimes. You must recognize all the strengths you have built and all the karmic ties you have created which must be dissolved.
By the time you are given the privilege of reviewing all past lives and integrating the knowledge learned, you will have reached a state of total objectivity. You will feel no remorse or condemnation, but will see it as merely a review of why situations occurred and had to be worked through.
The record of your life is very private. Only those who have walked with you as teachers are allowed to see what is called your akashic (or life) record. If during your lifetime you ask that a psychic tune into this record, he or she will only be given a minimal amount of information from it which is particularly relevant to your immediate problems or concerns.
You, too, can tune into this record through meditation and get insight and clarity on the problems you are dealing with. Your own attunement is much more accurate than asking a psychic or someone else to tell you about yourself. This builds up a dependency. We may need clarity or help at times, but should never develop a dependency on others. Our whole purpose is to gain strength and learn how to make our own decisions.
9. Religious Beliefs.
Your religious beliefs have little to do with what you experience in the transition from one realm to another, except that you would be allowed to see briefly the teacher or guru that you followed. Regardless of cultural or religious beliefs, you will have the same basic experience at death (just as mystics of all great traditions attune to the same universal energy). What counts is what comes from the heart, not what one professes to believe. It means nothing whether or not one was baptized, for example, or whether one has various other rites administered. How ridiculous to rely on meaningless words!
The true meaning of baptism is an initiation of the spirit, an opening awareness to the God consciousness. People receive this inner baptism when they are spiritually prepared.
You will not suddenly be sitting at the feet of a man with a long white beard called God. God is within, whether you are in or out of the body. Your awareness of the God force will not be greater on the other side. If you insist upon searching for God, you will do this for awhile until you get the idea that you are following an illusion. We must go through at least four more realms beyond the astral before we could even begin to understand the energy of the God force. God is love in all religions, so the more we live love the closer we are to God.
10. The Idea of Purgatory.
Catholics understand purgatory as a place or level of consciousness one goes for further understanding. It is an intermediary state that gives one the opportunity to develop further clarity. At first it is like being in fog, just as many people walk around on the Earth plane in a fog. They don’t have the clarity to understand how they are setting their lives.
If there has been much negativity during an incarnation, or a suicide, one must spend some time contemplating what has happened.
It is a holding place where souls who are confused, who do not want to let go of their earthly attachments, or who choose not to grow will remain until such time as they allow themselves to be released to flow once more into the light.
Purgatory is a place of your own making. We see souls who are punishing themselves here on the Earth plane. This continues after death just the same as it would if they were still in the physical body. Many people must suffer in order to feel worth. When they finally learn this is a negative number they are running, they can move on.
11. The Meaning of Hell.
What about the reality of a place called hell? Hell is a level of consciousness which can be experienced in or out of the body. It is a lonely place where one is not allowed to be in communication with anything other than one’s own negativity.
Souls do not enter this level unless they need to experience it for their growth. Many people who commit suicide will have to go through this hell of their own making in order to become aware that this is not what they are striving for. The soul must learn that it does not have the right to take its own life, that it cannot kill, it cannot hurt other people; nor can it judge others for we have no knowledge of what they came back to do and learn.
Many people at one time or another have experienced this plane. Alcoholics going through the DTs and people on drugs, may also see it. It is a plane of total darkness where we must confront the fears we have built within our own minds. Understand that fears have no reality unless we choose to give them reality. As soon as we are able to meet them directly, to face them, they dissipate. This lower level is not for one’s punishment, but rather to provide the opportunity to confront and move beyond the negativity created by oneself.
The hell fire mentioned in many traditions is symbolic of the “kundalini” energy (Holy Spirit, God energy, or Creative energy) that dwells within the seven energy centers or chakras within man. Fire is symbolic of the cleansing and purification of the soul.
The struggle between higher and lower self or what some call God and the Devil causes growth, until finally the negativity or the destructive elements are completely overcome.
12. Laws More Protective.
Through questions and answers I have received information about what it is actually like to be on the other side. First, my channel has pointed out that the laws are much more protective. We need no longer be exposed to both good and evil, for we have already experienced that. We see the bad only if we choose to. Those who are living in harmony will not be imposed upon by the ignorant, but can visit the lower planes to help another if they choose to do so.
For example, if you loved someone who is on a lower vibration than you are, you are allowed to visit anytime you choose by simply lowering your rate of vibration. This may help the entity greatly by encouraging self-love and growth. However, the entity will need to incarnate again on the Earth plane to test out these new lessons, because it is the Earth experience that determines your stage of evolution.
13. Marriage and Unions.
There are unions of souls on the other side, and marriage as such is optional. If couples prefer to remain together they may do so, as long as their interests and growth are taking them in the same direction. If they choose to go in different directions, there are no hurt feelings. There is no possessiveness or demands. You are free to go your own way, in your own time, at your own choosing.
Married couples will be reunited after death, and may choose to stay together if they want to, provided they are on the same level of vibration. This is free will. If you have been married three or four times, you will find that you will want to be with the one whom you truly love. It could even be someone from another incarnation. You will be with those you love, and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything you can know on the Earth plane.
This total merger is like stepping inside one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. What you know on Earth as a sexual relationship takes the form of a higher merger of souls. There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. For this merger of energies is far superior to the physical mechanics of the sexual experience. This merger is not limited to husbands and wives, but may be experienced by any two souls who are loving and caring.
“There is No Death”, by Betty Bethards
Inner Light Foundation [ILF] http://www.innerlight.org/page4.html
PO Box 750265 · Petaluma, CA 94975 · 707-765-2200
Kevin R. Williams, Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife