“Death is truly part of life …
‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
At my death do not lament our separation…
As the sun and moon but seem to set,
in Reality this is a rebirth.
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
“And it is in dying [to ego life]
that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, edited by Ron Rattner
Q: What is death?
A: “Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and they are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.
Such fear of death often motivates selfish thoughts, emotions and behaviors, which dim our inner divine light and render us susceptible to subliminal shadow side neurotic, demonic or dark forces – subhuman malignant energies or entities which parasitically polarize, divide and exploit humankind, by provoking selfishness, violence, anger, anxiety, and fear.
Thus, our fear of death can significantly impede spiritual evolution, whereas losing and transcending fear of death can allow and encourage important evolutionary advancement.
Until my midlife spiritual awakening, like most humans I self-identified with only my physical body, its thoughts and story. But then, in my early forties, I had previously unimagined and irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife, from which I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. Since then I have been blessed with a wonderful new life period of ever increasing happiness and fulfillment.
The above quotations and sutras, and the following poetic verses about whether birth on Earth is a death sentence, epigrammatically summarize what I have experientially learned about physical death. They are explained in greater detail in comments following the poem.
Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?
No matter how we strive,
No body leaves alive.
But we never really die – you see,
Just leave our physicality
To melt and merge with Mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”
Ron’s comments on “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”
Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown.
Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.
Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown:
“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”
Like most other Americans, I was acculturated with an innate but largely subconscious fear of death. Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife:
I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.
Thus, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Ultimately I concluded from experience and intuition that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g.Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death)
So I’ve shared the foregoing whimsical poem, quotes and comments about birth and death to help remind us that as we lose fear of death we gain ever increasing peace of mind and happiness. And to explain why transcending fear of death is especially important during current polarized and turbulent times.
May we realize that physical death is normal and necessary,
and not to be feared;
that it opens us to ever expanding
new vistas of self-discovery and fulfillment
of our deepest aspirations as eternal souls;
that beyond physical birth and death
we are destined to discover and enjoy
ever increasing inner peace and happiness
until we melt and merge with Mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.
And so may it be!
“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.
Ron’s Mp3 voice recording.
Mp4 video clip (with Ron’s recitation beginning at 1.3m).
This film 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!