“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”
~ Walt Whitman
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire
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.
In deciding to move to San Francisco from Chicago I was attracted by San Francisco’s climate, physical beauty and ambiance. Within its boundaries there are more than fifty hills, several islands, and significant stretches of Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. So, some lucky San Franciscans enjoy wonderful views from their dwellings and working places.
When Naomi and I arrived in San Francisco in 1960, I was immediately attracted to view places, especially places with Bay and Golden Gate views. Though Naomi did not seem to share my great aesthetic appreciation of view places, our first tiny apartment was situated atop Buena Vista hill, and enjoyed a lovely Southeast panoramic city and Bay view. But we soon outgrew that apartment and rented a larger place in a more elegant neighborhood, without any view, where we resided for most of our remaining fifteen married years. But I never lost my love of view places, and ultimately rented law offices with lovely views.
Upon divorce, I moved into a one room furnished studio apartment without a view, intending later to find a larger unfurnished view apartment. My studio apartment was in a very large high-rise building with a magnificent panoramic view from its roof deck, which I sometimes enjoyed. When standing on that roof, I noticed a few corner apartments in the high-rise building across the street, with obviously wonderful views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
“The people living in those view apartments are lucky,” I thought, without imagining myself as a fortunate one of them. I remained in the studio apartment for over two years planning, but not actively trying, to move.
One morning as I left my studio apartment and was about to walk to work I met in the elevator, Mark, an upstairs neighbor and real estate lawyer. Mark offered me a ride to the financial district which at first I declined, telling him I preferred walking. But he persisted and urged me to join him – and I agreed. Whereupon he told me that before driving, he was going across the street (to 1998 Broadway) for a few minutes to register on a waiting list for an apartment rental there. And at his request, I accompanied him.
As we walked across the street, Mark told me that all apartments at 1998 Broadway were soon going to be converted from rentals to condominiums. He said he was registering to rent because tenants would be given the first option of purchasing their rented apartments, a good “investment” opportunity. Then he importuned me to also register for an apartment there.
Until this time I had been so occupied with my law practice and in adjusting to life as a single person, that I hadn’t yet looked for an unfurnished apartment. And I wasn’t then in the mood to do so. So at first I was reluctant to register for an apartment across the street before evaluating possible alternatives. But Mark explained that registering for an apartment at 1998 Broadway would not oblige me to take any apartment offered to me.
So I followed Mark’s well meaning advice and told the office manager that I too wished to be wait-listed for an apartment. She asked me whether I wished a one, two, or three bedroom apartment and if I had any other requirements. Without thinking I responded, “whatever first becomes available”.
Many months passed. I met Dhyanyogi, was fully occupied with personal and professional activities, and had almost forgotten about that apartment waiting list. Then I was surprised by a call from the 1998 Broadway building manager informing me that an apartment had become available for me.
She said she needed to rent it promptly and that she was calling me because she had been unable to contact Mark, who was ahead me on the waiting list, but out of town. I told her I’d call her back later in the day. Only after confirming that Mark was traveling abroad and was unreachable, did I tell her that I would promptly come to see the newly available apartment.
Miraculously, it was one of those few view apartments that I had noticed from the roof of my building across the street. It was apartment #1204 with two bedrooms and two baths, and the fourth best Bay and Golden Gate Bridge view in the entire 82 unit building.
On beholding the panoramic view, I immediately signed rental papers, and soon moved into apartment #1204. But, I felt concern about Mark, who was my benefactor but had missed this opportunity. However, the universe soon assuaged my concern. Shortly after Mark returned to San Francisco, he was called to rent an apartment above mine, #1404 with an even more panoramic view. I was happy that the waiting list sign-up thus turned out to be very lucky for both of us.
But renting my view apartment was only the beginning of this “manifestation miracle”. After I had been renting the apartment for about a year, Mark’s prediction of potential apartment ownership proved prescient. All tenants were notified that there were new owners of the building who intended converting it to condominiums.
Under San Francisco ordinances at that time, the new landlords were required to obtain majority tenant ratification of their conversion subdivision plans. So a tenants’ committee was organized to negotiate with the new owners. Mark and I were then the only lawyers in the building, and were asked to help with our legal skills. I agreed, but Mark was mostly busy with other matters.
After spending much time in legal research and in personally checking building records at City Hall and at the Department of Public Works, I discovered some significant “loop holes” enabling the tenants to exert much unforeseen bargaining power with the new landlords.
Ultimately, my legal work enabled the tenants’ committee to negotiate significantly reduced proposed purchase prices for those who wished to buy their apartments, plus generous bonuses for tenants who elected to move-out. I believe that aggregate value of these price reductions and move-out bonuses was about $2 million.
Tenant negotiators Alyce and Leonard Brown told me that the negotiating committee intended to accept the landlord’s latest offer, and invited me to attend their final meeting with the developer and his attorney. At the meeting, to my amazement, the committee informed the landlord that his latest offers of price reductions and move-out bonuses were acceptable, only subject to one further condition – that he pay Ron Rattner a very large specified fee for legal services rendered to the tenants.
The landlord immediately agreed to this condition, and I soon received, for legal services which I had intended as a pro bono gift to all my neighbors, what proved to be the largest legal fee of my entire professional career. That fee not only covered my condominium purchase down-payment but much of the rest of the purchase price as well.
For over thirty years the apartment has been the happiest dwelling place and best financial investment of my adult life. Moreover, in 1981, my apartment was the last place in the USA where Guruji stayed before returning to India.
His presence was another great gift, and it imbued the apartment with lasting spiritual energies and “good vibes” in addition to its wonderful view – all of which have continuously nurtured my spiritual evolution during a long and transformative life period.
So, I consider my condominium “high-rise hermitage” a synchronistic gift from the Universe and an important “manifestation miracle”, for which I remain ever grateful.
“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives
by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life,
we are always free to choose our attitude and thoughts about those circumstances.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
So an attitude of gratitude
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
Nick Vujicic is an inspiring Australian motivational speaker and Christian evangelist who was born without arms or legs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically. But eventually, with perseverance and faith in God, Nick discovered that his state of mind determined his happiness, and that we choose our state of mind.
Thereby he learned to gratefully accept his life just as it is.
He teaches his crucial insights not only with his words but mostly by his life example. Though he can’t walk physically, he metaphorically walks his talk.
Here is a powerfully inspiring four minute video in which Nick both articulates and demonstrates his fundamental teaching – that an attitude of accepting our life with faith and gratitude brings happiness.
Nick Vujicik ~ No Arms No Legs No Worries
“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful
for the evolution of your consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“From wonder into wonder existence opens.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
After many years of reflection, 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 has become that everything happens for the best – to promote our evolution; that in every adversity there is an evolutionary opportunity. (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)
Also, especially since my mid-life spiritual awakening, I now believe that I have been and am now continually blessed and guided by frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronicities – premonitions and meaningful or noteworthy apparent coincidences in time – which Western science can’t yet explain. Therefore, in these memoirs am sharing with you some of those synchronicities.
For many years after my mid-life awakening – beginning with a three month period of extraordinarily high energy – such synchronicities have included numerous amazing mystical and psychic experiences elsewhere described.
I learned from my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, that many of these experiences would be considered by him manifestations of an autonomic kundalini purification process; an evolutionary process enabling us – each in our own unique way – to live happier and more meaningful lives, and thereby to further evolution of all life on our precious planet with which we are inseparably connected.
Virtually all of my many synchronistic experiences have happened unexpectedly. They have been noteworthy because they were surprising, and often meaningful.
But, in recent years, one type of synchronicity experience – manifestation of desired circumstances or artifacts – has happened so often that I am no longer so surprised by such experiences. However, they remain for me frequent meaningful reminders of our miraculous relative reality and of our blessed life therein, for which I am unspeakably ever grateful.
I haven’t sought psychic powers – and am wary that they can be ego traps – so I haven’t consciously willed such experiences. Yet, frequently some circumstance has fortuitously arisen or some person or artifact has appeared in my life fulfilling a wish or perceived need. And sometimes I have perceived such synchronicities as significant spiritual experiences.
The most important of such spiritual experiences was the inner appearance of Guruji and my later synchronistic meeting with him. This happened only after I wholeheartedly began seeking answers to spiritual mysteries arising in my life, had discovered a deep inner yearning for God, and had intuitively begun reciting a Sanskrit Ram mantra.
Probably my most amazing synchronicity experience happened while I was taking a daily walk toward San Francisco Bay, more than twenty years after my 1982 “trip of a lifetime” spiritual pilgrimage to India. At a time when I was trying to recall details of that journey, I found in a garbage dumpster a rare documentary video about that pilgrimage of which I was previously unaware. See https://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-story-miraculously-manifesting-memories-of-a-spiritual-pilgrimage-to-india-and-nepal/
One of the most noteworthy synchronistic circumstances not apparently associated with my spiritual longing, but with an aesthetic longing, was the fortuitous manner in which I found my spectacular San Francisco view apartment and later was unexpectedly enabled to acquire it as a condominium, almost as a gift from the Universe. I have now resided in that apartment for over thirty years, as a high-rise hermitage, and it has been the happiest dwelling place of my adult life. So elsewhere I will share with you the story of how it was virtually given to me.
Also, I now have in my lovely dwelling place dozens of previously desired items: plants, furniture and clothing items, other artifacts, and even a ‘stash of cash’, all of which I have unexpectedly found or received after wanting them. I call these experiences “manifestation miracles”.
Such “miracles”, which are happening constantly and with ever increasing frequency, are far too numerous for me to recall and recount. But, in addition to my dumpster and condominium stories, I will recount more memorable synchronistic “manifestation miracles” which are emblematic of this phenomenon and which have been especially noteworthy for me.
(* See footnote)
*For example, see my previously posted essays on synchronicity. These include A Stash of Cash For Y2K – a “Manifestation Miracle”. And see Apples and The Road Not Taken, a synchronicity story which I have posted on SillySutras.com. about a “manifestation miracle” involving my unforgettable friend Carol Schuldt.
“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein
“I no longer have any great desires,
beyond that of loving ’til I die of love.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux
“After my death I will let fall a shower of roses…..
I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”
~ Saint Teresa of Lisieux
On observing noteworthy phenomena which we can’t yet explain by known natural or scientific laws, we call them “miracles” and often attribute them to a Divine power. So some rare mystics and saints allegedly perform “miracles” for the good of humanity, and to foster faith in the Divine. Thus, after “miraculously” healing an official’s dying son, Jesus observed: “Unless ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe.” John 4:48
Here is a story about a noteworthy “miracle” involving my daughter Jessica and a mystery which I haven’t yet solved:
Following my traumatic 1976 divorce I did not share with Jessica and Joshua (my children who were then quite young) my intense new interest in Eastern religious philosophy. However, Jessica later independently became interested in Buddhism during a pre-college high school course in comparative religions. And she maintained her interest as she matriculated as a student at Amherst College, Massachusetts in the 1980’s.
In her 1983 application essay to Amherst, Jessica at age seventeen wrote:
“While I make no claim to being a Buddha –
a true master or enlightened being –
I have begun to understand that I must always be a seeker:
open and receptive to all new people, ideas, and things.
For although I have been extremely privileged
and have had the best possible education,
I haven’t yet and never will stop learning.
Having just recently discovered its spiritual dimensions,
I now know that a world of knowledge awaits me,
diverse and filled with surprises.
Fully aware of its vast potential and wealth,
I feel that I am ready to venture further into it,
and to explore what it has to offer.
‘I who do not know, and know that I do not know:
let me through this knowledge know.’
Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi”
After her admittance and enrollment at Amherst, Jessica began doubting whether she was receiving there the “best possible education”. Seeking spiritual rather than secular knowledge, Jessica enrolled in and attended a brief accredited Buddhist Studies course in India sponsored by Antioch College. In 1987, after returning from India, she resumed her Amherst studies, and practiced Buddhist Vipassana meditations at a nearby Insight Meditation Society center. During a ten day silent meditation retreat there, she experienced a profoundly transformative spiritual awakening. Thereafter, her dissatisfaction with life at Amherst and her desire to go back to India gradually became so intense that she elected to leave Amherst for India, just one semester short of graduation. (Only after spending many years in India, did she return to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College.)
In India, Jessica initially spent time with Buddhist monks and practitioners in Bodh Gaya, a shrine where the Buddha was ‘enlightened’, and in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama of Tibet lived in exile with a large community of expatriated Tibetans. Then, planning to return to the US, she decided ‘out of curiosity’ to first visit a Hindu ashram in the state of Kerala, Southern India, the home of Ammachi, a renowned woman spiritual teacher. Instead of returning to finish her college curriculum, Jessica was so drawn to Ammachi and ashram life that she elected to live and remain there as a Hindu renunciate for many years. She was given by Ammachi the auspicious sanskrit name “Yogini”, wore only white attire, and contentedly lived the life of a Hindu nun.
While Jessica was living on the ashram in India, I consulted expert Vedic astrologers to interpret her chart or “karmic map”. I was told Jessica had an auspicious spiritual destiny, and that I would some day be “proud of her” spiritual achievements. Especially because of Jessica’s prior transformative meditation experience in Massachusetts, this seemed to me a credible prediction. So, I waited with interest to see what might happen with her.
In May of 1993, Ammachi was scheduled to make a world tour, including a stay at her San Francisco Bay area ashram in San Ramon, CA. And Jessica was to accompany Ammachi as part of her entourage. Jessica’s mother, Naomi, and I eagerly anticipated Jessica’s arrival in the Bay Area. While I continued to be supportive of Jessica’s life in India, Naomi was skeptical about Ammachi and strongly disapproved of Jessica’s life with her. She wanted Jessica to return home to finish her education and lead a “normal” life. Naomi was then living in a Victorian house in San Francisco, with a small raised front porch.
A day or two before Jessica’s scheduled arrival, Naomi awakened one morning with repeated thoughts of Jessica, and irrationally thereby intuited that Jessica was arriving then – early. She came downstairs from her bedroom and opened the front door, thinking that Jessica had arrived. Jessica was not there, but Naomi beheld that her entire front porch was strewn with rose petals of various colors. Since there were no nearby rose bushes, or other apparent explanation for the mysterious appearance of the rose petals, Naomi assumed that someone (probably Jessica’s “born-again Hindu” father) was playing a trick on her. Thereafter, when Jessica arrived as scheduled, Naomi reported to her the manifestation “miracle” of the rose petals.
Soon, Jessica recounted Naomi’s story to Ammachi. On hearing the story, Amachi gathered and handed to Jessica a packet of rose petals and instructed Jessica to give them to Naomi, “so that mother will remember this mother”. Jessica obliged, and on opening the packet Naomi observed that the rose petals from Ammachi were the same colors as those which mysteriously had appeared strewn on her front porch. So, Jessica believed that Ammachi had manifested the rose petals on Naomi’s porch, while Naomi remained skeptical about the incident, thinking it was some trick.
When Jessica told me that Ammachi apparently had graced Naomi with rose petals from “heaven”, I began continuously wondering about that incident. I had never before heard of any such manifestation attributed to Ammachi or any saint. And I wondered why such a special blessing was bestowed on Naomi, who was not a devotee of Ammachi but, rather, one who remained skeptical of Ammachi and her teachings. Also, I wondered why Ammachi would send rose petals to Naomi, rather than giving her some other spiritual experience that might assuage her skepticism and her consequent concern for Jessica’s future.
“Coincidentally” or synchronistically, soon after the rose petal incident, I read for the first time the autobiographical memoirs of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, the patron saint of France, entitled: “The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul.” Teresa, who became the most popular of modern saints, entered a Carmelite convent at age fifteen and died there of tuberculosis, an unknown young nun, at twenty four. She would have remained unknown to the world but for her memoirs written at the direction of her prioress (in epistolary form) and for three volumes of her letters, all published posthumously.
In reading Teresa’s memoirs I was repeatedly reminded of Jessica. That little epistolary book reminded me of Jessica’s letters – of her way of sharing in writing her feelings about spiritual and inner matters. Also, apart from such syntactical similarities, I just constantly kept thinking of Jessica while reading about Teresa. But in no way did I then connect my repeated thoughts of Jessica, with the manifestation of rose petals on Naomi’s front porch, following Naomi’s repeated thoughts of Jessica. However, that mental/intuitive connection soon happened while I was on vacation in Northern New Mexico, visiting my spiritual author and poet friend Richard Schiffman.
In July, 1993, Richard and I journeyed to a remote Benedictine monastery calIed “Christ in the Desert”, situated in a very beautiful canyon on a wild river. Previously, I had asked Richard and others if they knew of any other examples of rose petal manifestations by saints, like Ammachi’s apparent rose petal “miracle” on Naomi’s front porch. Until then, no one was able to identify for me any such alleged manifestation by Ammachi or anyone else.
Not until my visit to the book shop at Christ in the Desert, did I find what I was seeking. At the book shop I found several books about Teresa of Lisieux, and I told Richard how Teresa’s autobiography had reminded me of Jessica. Thereupon, Richard remembered that Teresa had been associated with rose petal “miracles”; that during her life she often threw rose petals; that during her last illness she had announced: “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses”; and, that rose petal manifestation “miracles” (amongst others) were posthumously attributed to her.
Apparently, those “miracles” together with the publication of Teresa’s autobiographical diaries and letters resulted in such an outpouring of public sentiment that the Vatican “fast-tracked” petitions for her beatification and canonization in a manner unprecedented in modern times. When Teresa died, she was an unknown young nun. But for her writings about her inner life and aspirations, she would have remained historically unrecognized, and she would not have inspired millions of people to her ‘little way’ of spiritual devotion.
On returning to San Francisco from New Mexico, I began reading biographical materials about Teresa, and discovered some noteworthy parallels between Teresa and Jessica. Teresa – like Jessica – was a beautiful, precocious, sensitive and charismatic child to whom people were instinctively attracted. From childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – suffered from depression and other psychological insecurity issues without any apparent cause. Teresa – like Jessica – had hypersensitive hearing. In childhood, Teresa – like Jessica – could be obstinate about her wishes. From an early age Teresa – like Jessica – often showed wisdom and judgment well beyond her years. Teresa – like Jessica – had a simple yet elegant and eloquent way of sharing in diaries and epistolary writings her feelings about spiritual and inner matters.
On the eve of entering the Carmelite convent, Teresa wrote to her sister Agnes: “I want to be saint”, an aspiration which she often reiterated thereafter. In India, after soul searching and wondering about her life’s purpose, Jessica intuited and wrote in her daily journal her answer to that question: “I want to be saint”. (It is difficult to explain from her Jewish background, Jessica’s extraordinary aspiration to be a saint. Also it was surprising to me that Jessica assiduously kept journal diaries throughout her stay in India and prior thereto, a practice not instilled by her parents.)
The biographical materials about Teresa confirmed what Richard Schiffman told me at Christ in the Desert: that throughout her life Teresa loved throwing flowers and scattering rose petals as religious offerings; that shortly before her death Teresa proclaimed, “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.” “I will spend my Heaven in doing good upon earth.”; and that rose petal manifestations were posthumously attributed to Teresa.
Also, l learned that just after Teresa’s twenty first birthday (January 2, 1894), she abandoned the sloping handwriting style which theretofore had been imposed upon her, and began to write in the way that came naturally to her: upright. In comparing photos of Teresa’s upright handwriting with Jessica’s upright handwriting, I perceived noteworthy similarities. But most noteworthy for me was comparison of photographs of Teresa and Jessica taken at similar ages. I found great similarities in their faces, especially in the eyes. To make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, one Sunday on visiting my beloved Jewish mother, Sue, I showed her a picture of Teresa dressed in nun’s habit, and asked: “Mom does this photo remind you of anyone?” Her prompt reply was: “She looks like Jessica, especially around the eyes.”
Here are the photos of Teresa and Jessica, which I found noteworthy:
By 1995, Jessica had a change of heart about continuing her life as a Hindu nun at Ammachi’s ashram. After much soul searching, she decided that she did not want to spend the rest of her life in India as a nun; that she wanted to finish her US education, marry and have children. And so after spending many years in India – in Bodh Gaya, Dharamsala, and Kerala – Jessica returned to Massachusetts to complete her Amherst curriculum and post-graduate studies at Smith College. At Smith she met and thereafter married David Channer. Their first child, Uma, was born on January 2, 2000, the 127th anniversary of Teresa’s birth on January 2, 1873.
In researching Saint Teresa, I learned that Father Jacques Sevin, a priest who founded the Boy Scouts of France, was one of her early and exceptionally ardent and influential devotees. And I found in his photo on the Internet an unusual resemblance to Jessica’s husband, David. Here are photos of Father Sevin and David Channer which I found noteworthy:
After Jessica returned to Massachusetts, I reported her changed status – from Hindu nun to American householder – to my friend Pravin Jani, father of spiritual teacher Shri Anandi Ma, and expert Vedic astrologer and pundit who had predicted an auspicious spiritual future for Jessica. His brief comment was: “Very good. She needs that experience in this lifetime.”
What does this all mean? Why did it happen? How did it happen?
I don’t know.
Did Ammachi manifest rose petals on Naomi’s porch? If so, why?
Did Saint Teresa? If so, why?
Until now, Jessica hasn’t wanted to even hear or talk about this subject. But for me it raises significant questions not only about the rose petal manifestation mystery, but about prevailing Eastern views on “reality”, afterlife, reincarnation, and evolutionary transmigration of the soul from lifetime to lifetime.
What do you think? Remember, your thoughts are important:
“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.”
© Ron Rattner – ““From Litigation to Meditation – and Beyond” An ex-lawyer’s spiritual metamorphosis from secular Hebrew; to born-again Hindu; to uncertain Undo.
“The hurt that we embrace becomes joy.”
“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace in this world.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Surrender, one could say, is the inner transition from resistance to acceptance, from “no” to “yes.” When you surrender, your sense of self shifts from being identified with a reaction or mental judgment to being the space around the reaction or judgment. It is a shift from identification with form–the thought or the emotion–to being and recognizing yourself as that which has no form–spacious awareness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“This is the miracle. Behind every condition, person or situation that appears bad or evil, lies concealed a deeper good. That deeper good reveals itself to you, both within and without through inner acceptance of what is. “Resist not evil” is one of the highest truths of humanity.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In January, 1992, just after my retirement as a San Francisco litigation attorney, I journeyed to India to pay respects to my then one hundred fourteen year old beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and thereafter to visit my daughter Jessica who – known as “Yogini” – was living an ascetic life on Ammachi’s ashram in Kerala.
During my six week stay in India, I was blessed with many wonderful spiritual experiences with Guruji, and with other holy people and places. But, apart from my brief visit with Guruji, [See https://sillysutras.com/introduction-to-rons-memoirs/] my most memorable and instructive spiritual experience happened unexpectedly on a commuter train to Bombay (now Mumbai).
By that time – sixteen years after my mid-life spiritual awakening – I had already learned from my traumatic divorce that life’s most painful and difficult experiences can prove disguised blessings. Suffering extreme sadness from unexpectedly being separated from my two young children – the most psychologically traumatic time of my adult life – had triggered my spiritual awakening process. A broken heart had opened my heart to new ‘realities’ and sparked a crucial new evolutionary period of spiritual self awareness and self inquiry – a tremendous blessing!
And prior to 1992 I had learned experientially and from many spiritual teachings the importance of spiritual surrender – of giving up imagined control and of letting go to go “with the flow”. For example, during a presumed 1979 ‘near death’ experience, when I mistakenly thought I was dying from a stroke, by watching within without resistance to presumed imminent death, I had an unforgettable inner experience. [ See https://sillysutras.com/my-near-death-experience/ ] But it is much easier to say “go with the flow” or “let go and let God” or “leave it to The Lone Arranger” than to practice that wise advice – especially when you are suffering. Except for very rare beings, like Guruji, we are all in the process of ‘undoing’ and letting go of who we think we are, to thereby realize what we really are – Divinity incarnate.
My Bombay commuter train experience proved an important demonstration of how accepting “what is” can bring great blessings, and how the blessings of letting go of ego, can be triggered by extreme pain and suffering.
Here is what happened:
At the end of January 1992, I flew from San Francisco to Bombay, India [ now Mumbai] with my friends Pundit Pravin Jani, father of Shri Anandi Ma, Guruji’s successor, and Kusuma, Guruji’s former cook and translator. We were also honored to be accompanied by Shri Swami Shivom Tirth, a respected Indian shaktipat guru who, as successor to Swami Vishnu Tirth, headed India’s largest shaktipat lineage with several ashrams. We had known and learned from Swami Tirth for a few years before our trip to India and greatly honored and respected him.
With Pravinji and Kusuma as companions, I planned on visiting Guruji, who was then in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat State. However, our visit was delayed until after my Indian friends first attended to other personal matters.
So Swami Shivom Tirth invited me to stay with him at his Bombay area ashram, until I was ready to fly to Ahmedabad. Gratefully, I accepted his kind invitation and was granted the honor and privilege of staying with him in his private quarters, rather than in the general ashram housing area.
Soon after my arrival at the ashram, Swami Tirth told me that he had arranged a special sight-seeing excursion for me to view legendary seventh century Hindu and Buddhist temples in rock-cut caves on Elephanta Island in the Bay of Bombay; that a senior Bombay area swami was to be my guide and companion on the excursion; that I was to meet him – in a few days – in central Bombay, where we would get ferry boat transportation to the island.
At the ashram it was very hot, so I wore light white clothes and sandals, instead of shoes. Before my scheduled tour day I suffered a wound on my left foot, which became infected. Despite first aid, the infection grew and became increasingly more painful. On the day of my scheduled tour I awakened with a very sore left foot. Nonetheless I was determined to see the Elephanta Island caves and relics.
So I walked to a nearby train stop, to catch a morning commuter train into central Bombay where I would meet my Swami tour guide. Instead of wearing sandals which were inappropriate for hiking on the rocky island paths, I was obliged to use shoes. It was a very hot day, with morning temperatures already approaching 100º fahrenheit.
My feet expanded as I walked to the train stop in the heat, and the already painfully infected left foot began aching more than ever before as I reached the train stop. Within fifteen minutes, the Bombay commuter train arrived, and stopped for boarding passengers. But there were no seats, and not even standing room in the vestibule. Yet in order to get to central Bombay on time, I needed to board that train for a forty minute ride.
Somehow I squeezed into the vestibule, which was already so filled with people that there wasn’t even an accessible pole or strap to hold for balance. People were packed in like sardines, and I was virtually unable to move. I stood there in the intense heat with excruciating pain that seemed to have become unbearable. But I could do nothing about it. Whereupon, suddenly and unexpectedly I had a radical change of attitude; I stopped resisting and stopped thinking how terribly I was suffering, and mentally accepted the situation just as it was.
With a surrendered and stilled ego/mind no longer resisting the intense heat, crushing proximity of sweaty human bodies, and excruciating pain, all at once I experienced an extraordinary and unforgettably indescribable state of extreme bliss which persisted for the remaining thirty minute train ride into central Bombay.
Even after that bliss state abated in Bombay, I was able to peacefully enjoy my tour to Elephanta Island because I was no longer resisting the pain in my foot.
The Bombay commuter train experience of transmuting agony to ecstasy has proven an invaluable lesson for this entire precious lifetime. It showed that by giving up and surrendering all we think we are we may gain deep experience and insight of what we really are; that it is in dying to ego life that we are reborn to eternal life; and, that such letting go of ego entity identity is perhaps our ultimate purpose in this precious human lifetime.
“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation.”
“The state that we attain by calling and crying to God
is equal to the bliss that the yogi experiences in samadhi.”
~ Mata Amritanandamayi (Ammachi)
Tears are the solution
into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In January and February 1982, four years after receiving shaktipat from my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and with his approval, I journeyed on a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage to Japan and India led by Sant Keshadavadas, another Indian guru.
On embarking for India I wanted to learn about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. And I was very curious about how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”.
During that marvelous guided pilgrimage tour I had numerous unforgettable spiritual experiences from which I learned much. Thus, the journey became and has remained the most important trip of my lifetime. So I am recounting some highlights in these memoirs.
At the time of our pilgrimage, one of the few living Indian gurus of whom I’d previously heard was Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was the claimed reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a legendary saint who had died in 1918. I synchronistically learned about Sai Baba shortly before our tour departure on meeting an ardent Swedish devotee, Carin, who was in San Francisco en route to seeing him India.
Carin said that Sai Baba was renowned for his extraordinary powers (siddhis)* [see footnote].And she recounted to me many amazing stories about Sai Baba – of miraculous materializations, healings, clairvoyance, bilocations, and alleged omniscience – including her own experience of his appearing to her in Sweden in a vivid vision and beckoning her to visit him in India. And I learned from Carin that Sai Baba had millions of devotees worldwide, even though he had never left India, except for one trip to Africa. So I became quite curious about Sai Baba and wished to but didn’t expect to see him in India.
Sai Baba usually resided at his main ashram at Puttaparthi, India, and our pilgrimage itinerary did not include any planned visit there. But Carin told me that Sai Baba had a large ashram in Bangalore at Whitefield, where he occasionally visited. Our tour was scheduled to be in Bangalore for three days. So on Carin’s departure for an extended stay at Puttaparthi, I gave her our tour itinerary and she promised to call me in case Sai Baba might visit his Whitefield ashram when we were in Bangalore. I didn’t think that would happen. But synchronistically it did.
Shortly after our tour group checked into the luxurious Hotel Ashoka in Bangalore, I received a phone call from Carin telling that Sai Baba would be giving public darshan at Whitefield the next Monday morning – when fortuitously we had open time. Carin promised to pick me up in a taxi very early Monday morning to assure our finding space at Whitefield, and she suggested that I bring any other interested tour members. Thereupon I arranged for my friends Ramdassi and Tara, and Tara’s friend Pat, and a few others to join us.
Before dawn on Monday, February 1, 1982, Carin arrived at our hotel as promised. And together with my friends and other tour companions we went by taxi to Whitefield for Sai Baba’s darshan. En route, Carin suggested that we ask Sai Baba for a private audience, since he sometimes granted such last minute requests to spiritual pilgrims.
I immediately agreed, hoping to ask Sai Baba how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”. So Ramdassi artistically wrote an audience request for me to show him, if possible.
Although Sai Baba didn’t later grant a private audience, I had with him one of the most memorable darshan experiences of my life. Here is what happened.
On arrival at the Whitefield ashram, we were guided to a large canopied outdoor area next to the ashram building. There, we awaited Sai Baba’s appearance with hundreds of others who were already sitting side by side in numerous rows. Women and men were seated separately. I was seated near the end of the men’s darshan area furthest from the portal through which the Swami would later appear.
Soon I went into a deep meditation and lost track of time. But even from that state, I was aroused and opened my eyes on sensing Sai Baba’s immense shakti field as he emerged from the ashram and entered the darshan area. With spontaneous emotion of devotion, I began weeping intensely.
Through my tears I could glimpse Sai Baba slowly walking up and down the aisles of aspirants. Though he looked at each person he did not stop at anyone – until ultimately he reached me.
Whereupon, Sai Baba stopped in front of me. With extraordinarily beautiful eyes he intently gazed at me as I was crying uncontrollably and wondering how to further my “sadhana”. Then he hit me on top of the head three consecutive times with his right hand, each time uttering only one word:
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
With these hits on the head, I experienced a remarkable infusion of “shakti” energy.
Then Sai Baba soon left without stopping anywhere else. On his departure, I was left highly “enshakticated”, but in an unprecedented state of confusion.
It seemed that in exclaiming ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” Sai Baba had admonished me to stop crying. But that would have been completely inconsistent with my devotional path (bhakti) which strongly encourages and stresses the importance of crying for God.
Though my confusion about the meaning of Sai Baba’s darshan persisted for many years, I did not – and could not – stop weeping for God with emotion of devotion. And gradually I became confident that Sai Baba was not discouraging my gift of tears; that, rather, he was encouraging and blessing me to at long last ‘say sayanara to samsara’.
Since my unforgettable darshan with Sai Baba, the universe has given many messages and hints that Sai Baba’s exclamation
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
was not an admonition to stop or limit spontaneous devotional crying.
The first of these messages happened later that same Monday in Bangalore. Our previously scheduled afternoon tour activities were cancelled at the last minute. So we were given unexpected free time. Thereupon my friends Ramdassi, Tara and Carin and I decided to visit the beautiful Bangalore temple of Shiva Bala Yogi, a reputedly powerful God Realized shaktipat guru who was previously unknown to us.
Fortuitously, on our arrival at his temple, Shiva Bala Yogi was there giving darshan – and even answering written questions from spiritual aspirants. So, still “enshakticated” from Sai Baba’s three hits on the head, I asked Shiva Bala Yogi the question I hadn’t been able to ask Sai Baba:
“What should I do for my sadhana?”
He replied, simply:
“Do what you are doing.”
And so I did.
Soon afterwards, I received another memorable message from Sai Baba. The next day, Tuesday, our tour departed Bangalore, which was in the center of India, and we flew westward to Mangalore near the Arabian Sea. There we were lodged at an oceanside beach resort. Awakening early Wednesday morning, I decided to jog on the beach before our scheduled activities for that day. Whereupon, I had an unforgettable reminder of Sathya Sai Baba and a possible hint about the meaning of his darshan.
While jogging by the ocean with a stilled mind, I suddenly perceived that I was surrounded and completely enfolded by the body of Sai Baba; that my entire physical body was totally enveloped by the subtle body of Sai Baba. Later I took that unique experience as a metaphoric reminder and symbolic portent that we are as but cells in the body of the Divine with which we will inevitably merge, after we’ve had “enough” worldly suffering.
* Patanjali’s renowned Yoga Sutras, describe yogic powers which may be attained through control of life-force energies. But Patanjali warns aspirants against premature use of of such powers prior to God union, as possibly raising egotistic obstacles to attainment of the spiritual goal. Only after being irrevocably established in God union may the yogi employ powers, without karmic consequences. Especially after Sai Baba’s death in 2011, his frequent display of siddhis became controversial, with various claims that they were sometimes not used for Divine purposes. Also, there were other allegations of questionable conduct.
Despite these allegations, I remain convinced that Sai Baba’s darshan blessed and helped me. In hitting me on the head three times he imparted a tremendous infusion of divine shakti; and his concurrent admonition ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” was probably a blessing helping me to use that precious life force energy to transcend all remaining worldly attachments with inevitable suffering of which I’d had “enough”.
**A month later, I asked Guruji the identical question, “What should I do for my sadhana?” Guruji answered it differently, but unforgettably. See https://sillysutras.com/a-long-but-short-guruji-satsang-story-rons-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
After my mid-life awakening I began having previously unknown subtle energy perceptions from which I learned that my experiences of “reality” varied with varying states of physical vitality and subtle consciousness. [See eg https://sillysutras.com/extraordinary-energy-experiences-rons-memoirs/]
Following shaktipat initiation from my beloved Guruji – Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas – I learned that many of my new subtle energy perceptions were experiences of what Hindus call “shakti”. Since those memorable subtle energy experiences have often related to people from or places in India, in describing them here I use the Sanskrit word “shakti””. But first I’ll tell you what I mean by “shakti”, regardless of other possible definitions, since other cultures have other words to define such subtle energy.
Here “shakti” means universal consciousness manifesting as primordial life force – or subtlest vital energy. In the human body it is often called “Kundalini” or “Kundalini-Shakti”. However, as used here “shakti” life force is not confined to the human body – but is omnipresent in this ever impermanent space/time reality.
On meeting Guruji, I was immediately impressed with his extraordinarily powerful emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”. And I learned that it was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical presence. Moreover, I learned that Guruji not only emanated intense shakti but that he was one of those rare yogis who could intentionally transfer it to others not only by touch, gaze, or mantra sound, but also by thought. Thus on occasion I experienced Guruji’s shakti when not in his physical proximity. And I have experienced intense shakti emanating from Guruji’s body even when it was very weak.
While Guruji stayed at my apartment in 1980 just before returning to India, his body was exceptionally weak and his physical vitality exhausted. He was so weak that he had to be carried out of my apartment to the vehicle bringing him to the SFO International airport. But his cosmic shakti energy was as strong as ever. Afterwards, I soon discovered it was so intense that even non-animate objects touched by Guruji had become imbued with it.
While at my apartment Guruji slept at night on a large mattress brought here from the Soquel ashram. During days he often sat on a living room sofa looking out at the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. A day or two after his departure I helped carry Guruji’s mattress out of my twelfth floor apartment, via elevator to a devotee’s van parked in the basement garage to be returned to the ashram. After only a few minutes of clutching Guruji’s mattress, I became tremendously “enshakticated” – intoxicated merely by proximity to Guruji’s cosmic life-force which had amazingly permeated the mattress, rather than by ingesting some inebriating or hallucinogenic substance.
After that amazing experience with the mattress, I realized that my living room sofa where Guruji had sat had been transformed to be a holy relic imbued with his shakti. So I made it an altar. Afterwards for over thirty years I worshiped, prayed, cried and meditated at that altar, and no one sat on it. But sensitive guests and I felt Guruji’s holy energy still radiating from it.
In 1978 I attended Guruji’s San Francisco lectures on “Death, Dying and Beyond”, in which he told of a 1971 death experience, which foreshadowed his later coming to the United States to help people here.* [See footnote]
From those talks, I learned that even when Guruji’s physical body was apparently lifeless it continued to emit such extraordinarily intense shakti that several people had been rendered unconscious by it on trying to revive Guruji. So on returning to his body, Guruji had to revive them.
More Shakti Stories
Elsewhere I’ll tell you about memorable encounters with Guruji in India and after his 1994 “mahasamadhi” further showing that Guruji’s extraordinary emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”, was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical survival.
Especially during and since my 1982 “trip of a lifetime” spiritual pilgrimage to India, I have been blessed with many more “enshakticating” experiences, not only with Guruji but with other holy people and places, which have confirmed the transcendent power of cosmic life-force shakti. I don’t recall all of those numerous experiences. But I will recount a few which were most memorable.
Darshan of Anandamayi Ma
On arriving in India in 1982 (four years after receiving shaktipat) I still knew very little about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. But during the marvelous guided pilgrimage tour with Sant Keshavadas I had numerous unforgettable experiences from which which I learned much.
One of the most amazing of such experiences happened near Sri Anandamayi Ma (“Blissful Mother”) – perhaps the best known Indian woman saint of the 20th century. Despite her prominence I hadn’t heard about this saint before this experience. But since then I can’t forget her.
Though in February 1982 Anandamayi Ma was very feeble and ill, and just a few months from her August 27, 1982 mahasamadhi, she agreed to give darshan to our group of spiritual pilgrims at her home in the Indian holy City of Haridwar by the Ganges. As our tour van approached her residence in the Kanikhal district of Haridwar I began to experience intense shakti life-force energy even before we reached her house. It seemed as if her shakti had permeated the whole neighborhood. When we arrived at the saint’s residence we were obliged as a large group to remain outdoors, awaiting her appearance.
Finally we were granted her darshan – viz. reverent sight of the divine mother of bliss. Like Guruji on his departure from my apartment, Anandamayi Ma’s physical body was so weak and infirm that she had to be carried out and held by a devotee while she bestowed her eternal blessings upon us. Yet her emanation of indescribably intense shakti was totally independent of her lack of physical vitality in a sick and painful body.
As a Divine Being who was temporarily inhabiting a then decrepit physical form, Anandamayi Ma was in no way self-identifying with that form, but only with her true nature – SatChitAnanda – Eternal Truth Existence and Bliss. From birth she had not identified with her physical body – but only with her eternal spirit.
A description of her extraordinary state of being can be found in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”, chapter 45. There Yogananda recounts his visit with this extraordinary woman saint.
Reluctantly responding to Yogananda’s persistent questioning about her life story, she replied:
“Father, there is little to tell.”… “My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, ‘I was the same.’ As a little girl, ‘I was the same.’ I grew into womanhood, but still ‘I was the same.’ ….And, Father, in front of you now, ‘I am the same.’ Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, ‘I shall be the same.’”
Thus, notwithstanding her sick and painful temporary earth body, this saintly being continued to identify as, and to experience and emanate Divine bliss. And those of us blessed to be near her were unforgettably enveloped and blessed by that transcendent shakti life-force energy which she radiated. Never in this realm do I recall being enveloped by more intense Divine shakti than that which I then experienced.
Déjà vu at Dakshineshwar
Another unforgettable Indian pilgrimage shakti experience happened at Dakshineshwar, the long-time residence outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, famed 19th century Indian holy man and priest of the Kali temple there. From this experience I was reminded that Divine shakti is not dependent on physical presence of its source.
Before visiting Dakshineshwar I knew nothing about Shri Ramakrishna, nor of his spiritual consort ‘Holy Mother’ Sarada Devi. As we entered the Kali temple enclave our spiritual tour leader and guide, Sant Keshadavadas, briefly told the tour group about how Ramakrishna had become “enlightened” by unrelentingly propitiating the Divine Mother as Kali, the temple deity, and ultimately threatening suicide if She did not grant him her darshan. This was the first time I’d heard that story.
Nor was I yet aware that Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s chief disciple, had often visited him at Dakshineshwar; or that, touched and blessed by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda attained highest spiritual states, became an Indian national hero and first brought Vedantic wisdom to widespread Western audiences. Nor had I yet learned that Vivekananda was very important to my beloved Guruji. ** [see footnote]
The Kali temple was closed to visitors when our group arrived. And we had limited time scheduled there. But for a while we were able to walk around the vast temple enclave and its buildings. In one of those buildings I entered a room where for many years Ramakrishna had slept and given darshan to numerous visiting devotees, including Vivekananda.
Though until then I’d known nothing about Ramakrishna, on entering Ramakrishna’s room I experienced his shakti energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu. Though almost one hundred years had passed since Ramakrishna’s August 1886 mahasamadhi, his marvelous life-force shakti still pervaded that holy place.
Mysteriously, that room felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever. Other tour companions walked in and out of that room. But I didn’t want to leave. Only with great reluctance as our tour was about to depart Dakshineshwar did I exit that place, and its unforgettably familiar shakti.
Because of that mysterious harmony and familiarity I became intensely curious about Shri Ramakrishna, and soon began reading about his life and his wisdom. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna and with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary exemplars of Divine devotion. Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar traits with which I have felt great rapport.
Pilgrimage to Assisi – More Shakti Déjà vu
Even before meeting Guruji, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with and great curiosity about this legendary saint. And I began and have ever since continued daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him.
Prior to my pilgrimage to India, I was already so inspired by Saint Francis that I regarded him as an archetype to be emulated. But I was unable to satisfy deep intuitive curiosity about ‘Francesco’ until ten years after that Indian pilgrimage.
Then on 1992 retirement from legal practice, I traveled to India and later to Italy to pay respects to Sri Dhyanyogi and to Saint Francis of Assisi. In Assisi I experienced unforgettable déjà vu, like that experienced at Dakshineshwar. But unlike my brief visit to Dakshineshwar, I spent over a week in and around Assisi, with intense and tear-laden emotion of devotion. During that visit I had a few of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime, which I have recounted at https://sillysutras.com/2013/10/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/.
I arrived at the Rome airport on a Spring evening in 1992. After sleeping that night at an airport hotel, the next morning I rented an auto and drove north toward Assisi. Instead of taking the fastest autostrada route, I elected a slower scenic route. After a few hours I came to a sign announcing that I was entering Assisi. Immediately after the sign there was a rightward road bend whereupon I beheld a vista of my intended destination – the beautiful Umbrian town of Assisi, where St. Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life.
Almost immediately thereafter I was obliged to pull off the road, in a turnoff place.
I couldn’t drive further because I began crying spontaneously and intensely, with deep emotion sparked by a mysterious feeling of déjà vu that I had returned to a beloved and familiar place. Only after shedding many tears was I able to resume driving to my destination – the Ananda Spiritual Retreat Center in the Umbrian hills outside Assisi – where I stayed during my pilgrimage there.
The Ananda center had been founded by Swami Kriyananda, a prominent direct disciple of Yogananda, who in Autobiography of a Yogi referred to St. Francis as an “apostle of humility”. So, it seemed an ideal place for me stay as a “born-again Hindu” devotee of St. Francis.
According to Swami Kriyananda:
”St. Francis of Assisi was Paramhansa Yogananda’s “patron saint.” Yogananda had at least two visions of St. Francis that he spoke of — one during a visit to Assisi, Italy in 1936, and another at Mt. Washington that inspired his beautiful poem, “God, God, God.” Yogananda admired the renunciation and simplicity of St. Francis.”
After sleeping my first night at the Ananda center, the next day I drove into Assisi. With continuing déjà vu I walked through medieval streets of that lovely town experiencing a sweet and mysteriously familiar ambience. Then I visited the giant Basilica of Saint Francis, under which the great saint is entombed. Near the crypt containing his remains there were continuing Masses being celebrated consecutively in various languages for pilgrims from places worldwide.
As a secular Jew transformed to “born-again Hindu”, who spoke only English, I had never before participated in a Catholic mass. However, irresistibly I attended several consecutive masses in various languages which I didn’t understand. But my heart knew the pervasive sweet and familiar ambience which I had experienced outside the Basilica, and which had become intense for me near Franceso’s tomb beneath the Basilica. And I was compellingly drawn to it.
Eight hundred years after Saint Francis had walked in that lovely Umbrian town it seemed for me that it was everywhere still pervaded by his sweet life-force shakti; with its emanation being especially intense at the site of his entombed remains. I will recount in another chapter how afterwards I unforgettably experienced that same familiar life-force emanation at other Assisi shrine places.
My experience with these great saints attests to their timeless Divine life force shakti persisting beyond death; that birth and death are virtual while Life is perpetual.
*In a series of San Francisco talks in November, 1978, entitled: “Death, Dying and Beyond” Guruji recounted this experience:
In 1971, during a terrible Gujarati draught and famine, Guruji became extremely sick and exhausted from selflessly helping people and animals. Guruji’s physical body died, and his soul traveled to the heavenly domain of his “Ishta-Devata” Lord Rama – the principal Divine form of his devotional practices. Though Guruji wished to remain forever in Rama’s indescribably loving Presence, he was told that he would have to return to his Earthly body because of his unfulfilled desires to help people, whose images were then shown to Guruji. Rama told him: “So long as there are any desires in your mind, … you must return to fulfill those desires.”
**Referring to his Guru Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda had said in a New York lecture entitled “The Real and the Apparent Man”:
“My whole life has been changed by the touch of one of these divine men.” . . .
Later, after his 1902 mahasamadhi, Vivekananda appeared in subtle vision to Guruji at a pivotal time in Guruji’s sadhana – before his self realization. Vivekananda blessed him, and assured him of spiritual success. Soon thereafter Guruji discovered Vivekananda’s book on Raja Yoga which became of great importance to Guruji’s sadhana.
“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
“He who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me,
of him will I never lose hold, and he shall never lose hold of Me.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
Especially during the first few years following my self-realization rebirth experience, which cracked – but didn’t dissolve – my self-woven karmic cocoon, I was given numerous glimpses of psychic and clairvoyant phenomena previously unknown to me. These experiences emphatically confirmed to me that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought.
Here is my attempted categorization of these fleeting experiences, which looks like an index to a treatise on psychic phenomena:
Out of body experiences; Remote viewing; Astral traveling; Pre-cognition; Synaesthesia; Clairsentience; Seeing past nature scenes; Seeing apparent past life scenes; Exceptional energy experiences; Tantric merging of energy field with others; Seeing otherworldly inner light; Seeing auras from different dimensions; Seeing everyone as angelic; Seeing cosmic ‘perfection’; Seeing causal dimensions; Seeing astral dimensions; Visions (inner and outer); Microscopic vision; Remote diagnosis of medical conditions; Seeing and conversing with Ghandi as inner guide; ‘Channeling’ inner voice information from higher dimensions; Psycho-kinetic manifestations of desired artifacts; Conversing with inner guides and with birds and animals; Ecstatic trance dancing; Ecstatic meditative moods; Ecstatic crying and laughter; Continuing serendipities and synchronicities.
I considered all these psychic phenomena as “miraculous” natural occurrences which conventional science can’t yet explain, not as hallucinations of a deranged psyche. They were valuable insofar as they helped shatter prior paradigms and egoic beliefs, and revealed a deep longing and yearning for God – a yearning which sparked an irresistible curiosity for answers to ultimate philosophical questions, like “Who am I?”, “What is reality?”, “What is death?”, and “What is life’s purpose, if any?”
But these experiences were pitfalls to my spiritual evolution insofar as they fed ego illusions of my being a separate, specially gifted person, rather than universal consciousness – as revealed by my realization rebirth experience.
I was initiated by Guruji into the path of kundalini yoga two years after I began experiencing these spontaneous psychic phenomena. Thereafter, I learned that what I had considered psychic phenomena were called “kriyas” in kundalini yoga – spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional activities initiated by the awakened evolutionary kundalini life-force energies which purify the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.
But Guruji taught that each person was unique with unique evolutionary impediments. So different people experienced different “kriyas”, and no particular “kriya” was necessarily required for spiritual evolution. And 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.
Thus, since the evolutionary process is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ephemeral forms, spiritual evolution does not require any particular clairvoyant or psychic abilities (“siddhis”) and evolutionary progress can be impeded by psychic powers which feed rather than diminish ego’s illusion of separateness.
I have learned that perhaps the best universal indicators of spiritual evolution are not psychic experiences or mental powers, but spontaneously compassionate and loving behavior, while skillfully living in the present moment with deep non-reactive awareness, and cessation of unwanted thoughts.
Please remember this as you read stories of my “miraculous” experiences. Each of us is unique with a unique perspective and spiritual path in this world. So, as you follow your Heart – your Bliss – your inner path differs from mine, but is equally authentic.
“Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Upon learning from Guruji about the spiritual goal of “self realization” or “enlightenment”, I decided to “seek” this goal by meditating and reciting his prescribed Sanskrit prayers and mantras. But after several years, I lost interest in pursuing “enlightenment” though I continued Guruji’s practices and attended his group meditations. Also, I continued reading many spiritual teachings of other masters, scriptures, and stories about saints (hagiographies).
Though ever inspired by Guruji’s “signs and wonders” which I had witnessed and experienced, and those attributed to saints and spiritual masters about whom I was reading, I found that my desire to personally experience these “miracles” was waning. I began realizing that these powers could become pitfalls – big ego traps impeding rather than promoting spiritual evolution.
Before meeting Guruji, I had begun entertaining egoistic ideas that I might be “special” because of all the miraculous things that were happening to me. Thus, I was egoistically forgetting the unforgettable rebirth realization that started the whole purification process – the simple insight that: “I am not my body or its thoughts, but pure awareness; I am not my role in life – lawyer, husband, father – with which I’ve identified, but pure awareness.”
But, after shakipat, as I began reading and reflecting about “enlightenment”, I became increasingly aware that “ego” and “enlightenment” could not co-exist; that anyone who egoistically thinks s/he’s ‘special’ isn’t “enlightened”. So, rhetorically I wondered: “If I am just pure Awareness, not separate from ultimate Reality, how can I be a ‘special’ person?”
My first memorable test of that crucial ‘re-realization’ insight soon came during a meditation retreat with Guruji near Santa Cruz where with extraordinary benevolence he imparted esoteric information to advanced initiates. And amongst these esoteric teachings were instructions about how to travel astrally at will.
By this time I had had spontaneously experienced various OOB’s, including my amazing New York astral projection into the future, and had experienced Guruji’s power to “visit” me in his astral body. Also I was aware of Robert A. Monroe’s teachings and writings about his “Journeys Out of the Body”.
But even though Guruji sanctioned certain initiates to acquire the extraordinary power of traveling astrally at will, I clearly wasn’t interested in it. So I chose not to practice or pursue astral projection.
I was content to let the Universe decide when and whether I would be shown or given any more such “signs and wonders”. And I didn’t have long to wait before it happened again. As I was driving home from that Santa Cruz retreat in my then ‘trusty’ Volvo, I had one of my most extraordinary and memorable OOB experiences.
I left the retreat accompanied by Saskia, the Dutch doctor and acupuncturist who had been one of my passengers during our miraculous ‘sight seeing tour’ with Guruji, which began with our toll-free passage onto the Bay Bridge. She lived in Berkeley, and I was taking her home before returning to San Francisco.
As we drove from Santa Cruz to Berkeley, Saskia and I chatted about spiritual and worldly subjects, including our apparent lack of good fortune at not yet finding worldly “soul mates”. Within minutes after we parted, I was synchronistically granted an unforgettable graphic apparent answer to our question about supposed “lack of good fortune” in certain worldly relationships.
A few minutes after dropping off Saskia, I drove the Volvo onto the Bay Bridge en route to San Francisco. Soon after passing the toll plaza, I was suddenly and unexpectedly taken out of my body. While my physical body continued guiding the Volvo across the Bay Bridge, I was given a fleeting – but amazingly unforgettable – Buddha’s eye view of space/time and causation from a very subtle causal plane of awareness.
From this subtle panoramic perspective – far above and beyond Ron Rattner’s dense physical body, driving its denser (but blessed) Volvo – I was shown an interwoven causal tapestry that is manifesting this phenomenal “reality”; that everything – every form and phenomenon – is perfectly karmically/causally connected; and, that whatever happens to us in this world arises from interdependent, interconnected, and interrelated causes.
Ever since that pivotal experience I have reflected on ideas like “perfection”, “causation”, “synchronicity”, “free will versus determinism”. And while so reflecting, I have written (and have posted on SillySutras.com) many apt sutras, like this one:
Despite Omni-present ignorance,
selfishness, misery and suffering,
and apparent chaotic uncertainty,
perfection pervades our “Loco Loka” * –
the realm of space/time and causation;
the realm of manifest Mystery.
*”Loco Loka” = crazy world
Over thirty years have now passed since that amazing view of “reality” was bestowed. Thanks to that ‘miraculous’ experience, and to countless ensuing ‘miracles’ in my enfolding life story, my life has evolved – in ways which were once unimaginable – to a state of abiding “inner peace and happiness” beyond “any belief or religious affiliation”, just as promised by Guruji in 1978. Thus, with heartfelt gratitude, I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life.
So, without any religious affiliation,
I’ve become a faithful follower:
I follow my Faith;
I follow the Way;
I follow my Heart.
And this above all,
It is my Faith that enables me to be true to my Self.
“ ‘Reality’ is a holographic theater of the mind.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“This world is wrought with naught but thought.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master, I shared with you that in 1978 I serendipitously met and and received shaktipat initiation from my spiritual master, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas; and that afterwards I was fortunate to see and be with him on various memorable occasions before he returned to India in 1980. Here I will describe the first of those meetings which was especially revelatory and memorable.
Soon after the shaktipat initiation, I received a phone call from Kusuma, then one of Guruji’s translators and cooks, who had moved to the East Bay from Bombay. Guruji was then staying with Kusuma and her family in an Oakland apartment.
She informed me: “Guruji would like to go to San Francisco to see Grace Cathedral and Saint Mary’s Cathedral”, and she asked if I would come there the next day to show him these significant shrines. Since I had no conflicting office or court appointments I readily agreed, considering it a great privilege.
At that time I owned an almost new two door Volvo sedan [with license #108-MQJ] which I had purchased on separation from my ex-wife (who kept our one family car). The Volvo had numerous problems which had caused me considerable annoyance and buyer’s remorse, and many extra trips to the Volvo dealer. I had even purchased “The Lemon Book” by Ralph Nader, and was considering a manufacturer take-back request.
The next day, in my Volvo, I arrived punctually at Kusuma’s Oakland apartment and rang the doorbell. Soon Guruji emerged accompanied by his American successor, Anandi Ma, and by Saskia, a doctor and acupuncturist from Holland.
After the women got into the back of the car, I helped Dhyanyogi into the front ‘bucket’ passenger seat, and asked him: “Guruji, can I fasten your seat belt?” To which he responded: “That won’t be necessary.”
This reply was the beginning of a very surprising and extraordinary day for me. And as an ‘up-tight’ lawyer concerned about complying with California’s seat belt law, it was the unsettling first time that anyone in my car hadn’t fastened their seat belt.
Yet, he was the Guru. So for the first time, I began driving feeling a bit “unhinged” with an unbuckled front seat passenger. Within a few minutes, I had another unprecedented, extraordinary experience.
As we arrived at the Bay Bridge toll gate plaza, I lowered the car window and grabbed three quarters to pay the 75 cent toll. I extended my open hand with the coins toward the toll taker, who reached out to receive them. But suddenly he looked at Guruji and stopped reaching. Instead of taking the quarters, he waived us on, saying: “You look like nice people. Go ahead!”
So, for the first time in my life, with an unbuckled front seat passenger, I crossed the Bay Bridge toll bridge toll free. On the San Francisco side of the bridge, I turned off the freeway and drove toward the Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill. En route we passed the International Building, where I then had my law office on the 21st floor. So, I exclaimed spontaneously: “Guruji, my office is at the top of that building”. “Very good,” he responded. And we drove on.
Soon thereafter, I had another extraordinary and unprecedented experience. As we approached Grace Cathedral, I began my then customary inner dialogue with the “voice in my head”, thinking about where I’d park, what I’d show Guruji, what might interest him, and other similar thoughts. But as this inner dialogue was happening Dhyanyogi would regularly make some ‘casual’ comment relevant to my thoughts – as if to answer or comment on that “voice in my head”. Subtly he was letting me know that he could read my thoughts. And I soon ‘got’ that message.
Prior to that day, and following my rebirth experience, I had experienced unwitting moments of knowing thoughts of others. So, I realized that such ‘mind reading’ was possible. But this was the first time that I had ever been with someone who could read minds at will.
Guruji’s most dramatic and memorable demonstration of his clairvoyant powers that day, happened on conclusion of our sight seeing trip to San Francisco. After visiting Grace Cathedral and Saint Mary’s Cathedral, I drove us back to Oakland, parked in front of Kusuma’s apartment building, and quickly got out of the Volvo so I could open the passenger side door and help Guruji exit the car.
As I opened his door, I asked: “Can I help you Guruji?” Instead of answering that question, he said: “This is a very nice car. Would you like me to bless it?” Stunned, I replied, “Yes”. So he blessed the Volvo and got out without my help. Then I pushed forward his vacated seat and helped Anandi Ma and Saskia exit from the back seat.
On driving across the Bay Bridge back to San Francisco, I used the unspent quarters saved in my earlier crossing. Returning home, I realized that Dhyanyogi was not only able to read my thoughts as they happened in serial time, but that he apparently knew my past thoughts about the Volvo “lemon”. And I wondered if he had influenced the mind of the Bay Bridge toll taker to let us pass without paying.
The next morning, I experienced a “miraculous” epilogue to that unforgettable “sightseeing trip” with Guruji. On entering my twenty first floor office, the office was completely suffused with the ambrosial fragrance of roses. But, its windows were sealed, and there were no roses to be seen anywhere in the entire law office suite. So, how did that happen?
Soon afterwards I told Anandi Ma about the rose fragrance episode and asked if she could explain it. Smilingly she replied: “Oh, that’s Guruji’s calling card, when he makes astral visits”. Later, I had repeated experiences of rose fragrance ‘visits’ by Guruji and other living mystics. And in 1992 I experienced the scent of violets while meditating in Italy at the tomb of St. Padre Pio, who during his lifetime was known for that “miracle”, amongst others. Padre Pio’s posthumous ‘visit’ then, reminded me of the survival of our subtle bodies, after demise of the physical form.
Oh yes, there was still another amazing epilogue to that unforgettable “sight-seeing” trip. Miraculously after Guruji blessed the Volvo, I drove it for many more years before encountering another problem. “The Lemon Book” by Ralph Nader became an unnecessary possession, as I enjoyed trouble-free Volvo driving.
Spurred by that experience, I began wondering how a powerful person’s mind could so influence apparently inanimate matter. Gradually, I came to the conclusion that all forms in this “reality” are manifestations of “congealed” consciousness; that focussed mystic minds from subtle causal planes could mentally affect gross forms in denser planes with powerful thoughts. This new-found consciousness paradigm arose from continuing experiences with Guruji and other mystics, and from other inner and and outer experiences, some of which I will share with you.