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Posts Tagged ‘Nisargadatta Maharaj’

To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
~ Socrates
“Know thyself and thou wilt know the universe.”
~ Pythagoras
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”
“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer, the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?” After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.

The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Ron’s Introduction To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”

Dear Friends,

Many SillySutras postings explain that “ego” is our mistaken separate self-identity, rooted in the ‘I’ thought; and that all enduring spiritual teachings are aimed at ending “ego” as the fundamental impediment to spiritual evolution and Self-realization. This posting emphasizes “Know thyself”, and asking “Who am I?” as important ancient wisdom paths for finding and ending ego’s illusory self-identity.

For millennia, rare mystics and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”, and to question “Who am I?”. But since the industrial age few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennial advice. However, as a Westerner who persistently and successfully asked “Who am I?”, in today’s posting I briefly share a memoirs story and an historic description of these paths.

Historical overview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron’s “Who Am I?” Story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined question, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever.

It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Here’s what happened:

After irresistibly wondering “Who am I?” for fifteen months, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. 

Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth, which irreversibly ended my prior paradigms of Self-identity and Reality. But this awakening didn’t result in ‘instant enlightenment’. Instead, my epiphany began a continuing process of increasingly remembering that beyond this space/time world, we all are eternal spirit and universal awareness, not just mortal bodies and their thoughts.

Thereby I’ve enjoyed a previously unimagined new life phase of ever increasing peace of mind, happiness, gratitude, and faith in the mystery of Divinity. And since that awakening, I’ve been blessed by constantly learning from my life’s experiences.

For example, after the rebirth event, I began experiencing numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy phenomena. And I became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed sleep. I was puzzled and wondered what was happening to me. Only then did I synchronistically begin learning answers in teachings of Eastern mysticism, like nondualism.  However, in daily life I continued to consider myself as a secular Hebrew lawyer, and remained unaware and uninspired by any supposed spiritual goal, until meeting my teacher.

Becoming a “born-again Hindu”:

Then at age forty four, after repeatedly seeing inner visions of a bearded elderly man, I synchronistically met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable 100 year old Hindu meditation yogi, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.   Guruji lived until age 116, and since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994 his guiding presence has remained in my heart.

After meeting Guruji, I declared myself to be a “born-again Hindu” and first began learning of the spiritual ‘goal’ sometimes called Self-realization or “enlightenment”. And, that upon Self-realization the spiritual ‘practitioner’ is dissolved into yogic union with the mystery of infinite divinity; rather than becoming a supposedly separate “enlightened” person.

According to Guruji, shaktipat initiation and his prescribed practices awakened and enhanced an evolutionary purification process of kundalini life-force energies which purify the subtle bodies and nervous system by gradually removing accumulated karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas], which cause undesirable habits and patterns. Sometimes these awakening life-force energies manifest through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional actions or behaviors, which Guruji called kriyas.

Since my awakening experience, for over four decades I have continued to spontaneously experience unpremeditated tears, behaviors, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution, and through which I have joyfully attained utmost gratitude for this blessed life.

From “born-again Hindu” to “uncertain Undo” :

For many years, I attended public satsangs and followed Guruji’s prescribed practices to advance the purification process of undoing negative karmic conditioning. Then soon after Guruji’s mahasamadhi transition, I mostly stopped relying on outer spiritual authorities and events, and reclusively focused within to intuitively advance the evolutionary kundalini purification process sparked by my shaktipat initiation of undoing negative karmic conditioning.

Whereupon, I declared myself to be an “uncertain Undo”, rather than “born-again Hindu”. And I began writing aphorisms like “Undo Ego” and composing whimsical sutras like:


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


Benefits from undoing ego:

Today, over four decades since asking “Who Am I?”, and realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I’m still not fully ‘undone’. So ego attrition continues. 

But as I’ve continued to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than body/mind, I’ve experientially found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, I’ve found that nondualism self-inquiry to “Know thyself” by asking “Who Am I?” can be supremely rewarding.

So today’s posting is dedicated to encouraging such self-inquiry, to discover and undo our illusory ego-mind self-identity propensities, thereby helping us find ever growing happiness.


Invocation:

By persistently questioning “Who Am I?”,
May we constantly undo ego illusions,
And thereby live ever happier lives,
Until ultimately as “An undone ONE!”
We “Know our Self”
as Eternal –

LOVE.



And so it shall be!


Ron Rattner

Who am ‘I’, and What is What?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’

and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”

~ Rumi
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”
After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are.
The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’, the thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.

The question is the answer.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Ramana Maharshi



Introduction to “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?”

Dear Friends,

Twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi (pictured above) was renowned for his teachings of constantly asking “Who am I?” to attain Self-realization. The following “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?” sutra verses were inspired by those “Who am I?” teachings.

But I instinctively began asking “Who am I?”, when I was ignorant of ancient Eastern spiritual philosophy and identified only with my mortal physical body and its story. It happened after an unforgettably realistic out of body (OOB) experience during a 1974-5 “pot luck” New Year’s Eve party, where I unknowingly ingested marihuana.

Such “Who am I?” questioning resulted in a life changing spiritual awakening and rebirth, which eventually led to my discovery and acceptance of the non-dualism wisdom teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Over forty five years since that previously unimagined midlife awakening, I continue to irreversibly accept non-dualism teachings as pointing to ultimate Truth beyond ego-mind illusion. So I’m gratefully sharing this posting so that it may help others (as it helped me) find ever greater happiness in life.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


“Who am ‘I’ and What is What?”

WHO AM ‘I’ and WHAT IS WHAT?

What lives?   What dies?

What laughs?  What cries?

What sleeps?  What wakes?

What gives?  What takes?

What thinks?  What knows?

What comes?  What goes?

What’s grief?  What’s bliss?

What’s that?!  What’s this?!

The quest is in the question; and

THE QUESTION IS THE ANSWER!

The question is the answer?



Ron’s audio recitation of “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?”

Dear Friends,

As stated in the introduction, “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?” was first inspired by ancient nondualism wisdom teachings of twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, who endorsed constantly asking “Who am I?” to attain Self-realization. However, I instinctively began asking “Who am I?”, at a time when I was ignorant of ancient Eastern spiritual philosophy and identified only with my mortal physical body and its story.

After repeatedly asking “Who am I?” I experienced a previously unimagined life changing spiritual awakening and rebirth, which eventually led to my later discovery and acceptance of the non-dualism wisdom teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Here is the memoir story about how my life was blessed and transformed by instinctively and irresistibly asking “Who am I?”.

Over forty five years ago, after unwittingly ingesting a marihuana-laced cake at at ‘pot-luck’ New Year’s party, I had an unforgettable out of body experience (OOB) in which from a bedroom ceiling I perceived my body and thoughts as detached below me. Thereupon, I constantly and irresistibly started wondering, if I’m not my body and thoughts, “Who am I?”. 

Fifteen months later, my “Who am I?” question was amazingly answered, when I suddenly realized my true Self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my body/mind and its story, as previously believed. 

Whereupon, I experienced an unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth, which completely and irreversibly changed my prior ideas of Self-identity and Reality, and began a previously unimagined and continuing new life phase of ever increasing happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude, with faith in the mystery of Divinity: a continuing process of increasingly incorporating into my daily life the realization of Self-identity as eternal universal awareness, rather than as a merely mortal body/mind and its thoughts.

As a secular Jewish lawyer, I had been ignorant of any spiritual or esoteric teachings which might explain my extraordinary awakening experience. But afterwards I was soon synchronistically led to profound non-dualism teachings of twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, who endorsed constantly asking “Who am I?” to attain Self-realization.

At the time of my awakening I hadn’t yet learned about synchronicity. But retrospectively I’ve realized that my asking “Who am I?” was a wonderful synchronicity.  And that synchronicities are constantly present as important blessings in our lives.  So  that

“Life will give [us] whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of our consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle



Identifying “Ego”as Source of all Unhappiness and Suffering

In explaining the self-inquiry (vichara) process Sri Ramana identified “ego” as the source of all human unhappiness, and taught that by transcending “ego” we are freed from all unhappiness and suffering.

He defined ego as mistaken self-identification with thought, and equated it with mind and memory. And he identified the ‘I’ thought as root of the ego-mind and, hence, source of all suffering.

For example, he said:

“All bad qualities centre round the ego. .. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only.”

“The mind is only a bundle of thoughts [with] their root in the I-thought. Whoever investigates the True “I” enjoys the stillness of bliss.”

“All unhappiness is due to the ego. With it comes all your trouble. If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it you would be free.”



And he taught that

“By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’, the thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”



Sri Ramana recognized that the “Who am I?” question could never be answered rationally, but only through the inconceivable and ineffable experience of Self-realization. He explained that:

“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer; the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”



Ultimately, I realized the supreme wisdom of Sri Ramana’s ancient non-dualistic method for efficiently dissolving ego, while I’ve remained mostly engrossed in the emotion of devotion. Thus as a frequent crier for God, while ever mindful that I’m only calling and crying to universal Self; that

“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Moreover, I’ve also realized that since “ego” is the apparent sole source of all human suffering, all enduring spiritual paths, scriptures and teachings are aimed at ending ego; that for millennia spiritual teachings have identified “ego” as the fundamental impediment to spiritual evolution and realization; as “the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ); and the “number-one enemy of compassion.” (Dalai Lama). The Dalai Lama has said that all Buddhist teachings aim “to wipe out the persistence of ego.” And Eckhart Tolle believes that transcending ego is the only spiritual teaching.

And after decades of observation and experience, I still see “Who Am I?” as a key path to be considered by those with spiritual aspirations;  that persistently asking “who am I”, with constant curiosity, patience and acceptance of inevitable uncertainty can significantly enhance and advance spiritual evolution.

Accordingly, many SillySutras quotations, essays and poems are dedicated to furthering our happiness by recognizing and transcending “ego” through various disciplines, including the nondualism path of self-inquiry, addressed in today’s “Who am ‘I’ and What is What?” sutra-verses.

Invocation

May today’s Who am ‘I’ and What is What? posting,
help us live ever happier lives,
and advance our spiritual evolution
until we realize that

“The end of all wisdom is love, love, love.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi



And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner.

Faith-Based Surrender
~ Quotations and Sayings

“Setting aside all noble deeds,
just surrender completely to the will of God.
I shall liberate you from all sins.
Do not grieve.”
~ Bhagavad Gita 18:66





Introduction

Dear Friends,

As explained in my recent Faith-Based Surrender posting, I’ve become dedicated to inspiring a newly elevated societal view of spiritual concepts (previously separated) as interconnected appearances of Divine Grace, Faith, Humility, and Love, which are beyond all ego illusions. We need to see, from a “New Earth” perspective, that: “What is the root of all these words? One thing: LOVE.” (Hafiz)

So I’ve gathered and offer for our edification, upliftment, and enjoyment the following collection of profound and interrelated quotations on these spiritual subjects.

To help illuminate their meaning, repeated quotations from the same spiritual teachers, poets or authors are included. I apologize for these redundancies, but deem it very important that we now realize why we must let go of and transcend past ego illusions that have precluded our elevated understanding of these key concepts.

Thereby may we be inspired by unconditional and irreversible intuitive Faith, to completely surrender to the will of God – to the infinite power of LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Faith-Based Surrender ~ Quotes and Sayings


“In the end these things matter most:

How well did you love?

How fully did you love?

How deeply did you learn to let go?”

~ The Buddha

“Love conquers all; let us surrender to Love.”
~ Virgil

“Surrender is faith that the power of Love
can accomplish anything,
even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”

~ Deepak Chopra

“Love is simply creation’s greatest joy.”
“We have not come here to take prisoners
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.”
~ Hafiz

“Join me in the pure atmosphere of gratitude for life.”
~ Hafiz

“What is the root of all these words? One thing: Love.
But a love so deep and sweet it needed to express itself with scents, sounds, colors that never before existed.”
~ Hafiz

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘you owe me.’
Look what happens with a love like that!
It lights up the whole sky.”
~ Hafiz

“Looking at my life
I see that only Love
Has been my soul’s companion
From deep inside
My soul cries out:
Do not wait, surrender
For the sake of Love.”
~ Rumi

“How did you get here?

Close your eyes and surrender.”

“The hurt that we embrace becomes joy.”

“There is no reality but God,

says the completely surrendered sheik,

who is an ocean for all beings.”

~ Rumi

“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”

~ Rumi

“Love is the sacrifice of will.

If you cannot leave will behind

You have no will at all.”

~ Rumi

“Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
Surrender.”
~ Rumi

“Faith is different from proof;

the latter is human,

the former is a Gift from God.”

“Faith embraces many truths

which seem to contradict each other.”

~ Blaise Pascal

“Faith is a knowledge within the heart,

beyond the reach of proof.”

“Faith is an oasis in the heart

which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking.”

~ Khalil Gibran

“Steady faith is stronger than destiny.

Destiny is the result of causes, mostly accidental,

and is therefore loosely woven.

Confidence and good hope will overcome it easily.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Grace is ever present. All that is necessary is that you surrender to it.”
“Surrender is to give oneself up to the original cause of one’s being.”
“Abide in the heart and surrender your acts to the Divine.”
“Self surrender is synonymous with eternal happiness.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the universe
who is ever victorious and accomplishes everything.
Remain all the time steadfast in the heart,
in the Transcendental Absolute.
God knows the past, present and future.
He will determine the future for you and accomplish the work.
What is to be done will be done at the proper time.
Don’t worry. Abide in the heart and surrender your acts to the Divine.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“Willpower should be understood to be the strength of the mind, which makes it capable of meeting success or failure with equanimity. It is not synonymous with certain success. Why should one’s attempts always be attended by success? Success breeds arrogance and man’s spiritual progress is thus arrested. Failure, on the other hand, is beneficial, inasmuch as it opens his eyes to his limitations and prepares him to surrender himself. Self surrender is synonymous with eternal happiness.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“By whatever path you go,
you will have to lose yourself in the one.
Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage
`Thou art all’ and `Thy will be done’.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;

nevertheless not My will, but Thy will, be done.”

~ Luke 22:42.


“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven”

~ Matthew 6:10

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you,
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
~ Matthew 17:20


“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.”

~ Proverbs 3:5-6


“Surrender your self-interest.
Love others as much as you love yourself.
Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven.”
~ Lao Tzu

“When I let go of what I [think] I am,

I become what I might be.”

~ Lao Tzu


“By letting it go it all gets done.

The world is won by those who let it go.

But when you try and try,
the world is beyond the winning.”

~ Lao Tzu

“Accept disgrace willingly… Accept being unimportant…
Surrender yourself humbly;
then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self;
then you can truly care for all things.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Fame or integrity: which is more important?

Money or happiness: which is more valuable?

Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.

If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.

When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

~ Lao Tzu

“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained.

In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”

~ Lao Tzu

“The words of truth are always paradoxical.
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Knowledge is learning something every day.

Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

~ Zen Proverb

We have nothing to surrender

But the idea

That we’re someone,

With something

To surrender.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Q. How much “ego” do you need?

A. Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.

~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

“Absolute surrender to God is the criterion of faith. This surrender is not laziness, expecting God to do everything for you – your utmost effort to bring about the desired result is also necessary – rather, it is a surrender through love for God and veneration of His supremacy.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Faith is intuitive conviction,

a knowing from the soul,

that cannot be shaken even by contradictions.”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“It is so wonderful to be good and to be humble.
Egotism repulses, humility attracts. When man behaves in a humble way, he strikes a beautiful chord in the hearts of others. A man of humility easily exercises a spiritual influence on others. Such a one has the satisfaction that he has done his best on this- earth.
The more humble you are, the stronger you will be in Spirit.
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5

“Spirituality automatically leads to humility. 
When a flower develops into a fruit,
 the petals drop off on its own.
 When one becomes spiritual,
 the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
 A tree laden with fruits always bends low. Humility is a sign of greatness.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

“[The Master’s] constant practice is humility.”;
“Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius

“Two things are necessary for the realization of God;
faith and self-surrender.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

“Have faith. Depend on God. Then you
will not have to do anything yourself.
Mother Kali will do everything for you.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

“God has put you in the world. What can you do about it?
Resign everything to Him. Surrender yourself at His feet.
Then there will be no more confusion.
Then you will realize that it is God who does everything.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

“Surrender everything at the feet of God.
What else can you do?
Give Him the power of attorney.
Let Him do whatever He thinks best.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

“Truth will never come into our minds
so long as there will remain
the faintest shadow of Ahamkâra (egotism).
All of you should try to root out this devil from your heart.
Complete self-surrender is the only way to spiritual illumination.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature.

Have faith in yourselves!”

~ Swami Vivekananda

“Without an unreserved surrender to His grace,
complete mastery over thoughts is impossible.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Don’t seek God in temples.
He is close to you. He is within you.
Only you should surrender to Him,
and you will rise above happiness and unhappiness.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“When you surrender to what is and so become fully present, the past ceases to have any power. You do not need it anymore. Presence is the key. Now is the key.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on. True surrender, however, is something entirely different.
It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it.
Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to, rather than opposing, the flow of life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand
and becoming comfortable with not knowing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“Always say “yes” to the present moment.
What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?
What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now?
Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life —
and see how life suddenly starts working for you, rather than against you.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“Not until you surrender does the spiritual dimension become a living reality in your life.
When you do, the energy you emanate and that then runs your life is of a much higher vibrational frequency than the mind energy that still runs the world.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“Surrender is surrender to this moment,
not to a story through which you interpret this moment
and then try to resign yourself to it.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“Surrender comes when you no longer ask, ‘
Why is this happening to me?'”
~ Eckhart Tolle

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

“The moment of surrender is not when life is over.
It’s when it begins”
~ Marianne Williamson

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor. Perhaps, in a way, that’s where humanity is now: about to discover we’re not as smart as we thought we were, will be forced by life to surrender our attacks and defenses which avail us of nothing, and finally break through into the collective beauty of who we really are.”
~ Marianne Williamson

“Spiritual Work is not easy. It means the willingness to surrender feelings that seem, while we’re in them, like our defense against a greater pain. It means that we surrender to God our perceptions of all things.”
~ Marianne Williamson

“Spiritually, no action is more important than surrender.
Surrender is the tenderest impulse of the heart, acting out of love to give whatever the beloved wants. Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past. Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything, even when you cannot foresee the outcome of a situation.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“At the level of spirit, everything is always unfolding perfectly, and you don’t have to struggle or force situations to go your way. It is only your ego mind that is fearful. When you surrender to spirit and listen to the voice of your deeper intelligence, you free yourself from fear and release the obstacles your ego has created.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty…
in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past,
from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning.
And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“The deeper you surrender to existence, life, nature,
the more loving, more understanding, more insightful you become.”
~ Rajneesh

“I surrender my anxiety and my sense of urgency. I allow God to guide me in the pacing of my life. I open my heart to God’s timing. I release my deadlines, agendas, and stridency to the gentle yet often swift pacing of God. As I open my heart to God’s unfoldings, my heart attains peace. As I relax into God’s timing, my heart contains comfort. As I allow God to set the tone and schedule of my days, I find myself in the right time and place, open and available to God’s opportunities.”
~ Julia Cameron

“Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.”
“In a real sense faith is total surrender to God .”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The more you struggle to live, the less you live.
Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure….you are above everything distressing.”
~ Baruch Spinoza


“This above all, to thy own Self be true.”

~ William Shakespeare

“Our real journey in life is interior;
It is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary to respond to that action.”
~ Thomas Merton

“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance 
that it dazzles the mind
and darkens all its visions of other realities, 
but in the end when we become used to the new light, 
we gain a new view of all reality
 transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”

~ Thomas Merton

“The person who surrenders absolutely to God,
with no reservations, is absolutely safe.
From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil,
but the devil cannot see him.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard

“Surrender means accepting this moment, this body, and this life with open arms.
Surrender involves getting out of your own way and living in accord with a higher will,
expressed as the wisdom of the heart.
Far more than passive acceptance, surrender uses every challenge as a means of spiritual growth and expanded awareness.”
~ Dan Millman

“May you find grace as you surrender to life. May you find happiness, as you stop seeking it. May you come to trust these laws and inherit the wisdom of the Earth. May you reconnect with the heart of nature and feel the blessings of Spirit.”
~ Dan Millman


Invocation

May we be inspired by unconditional and irreversible intuitive Faith, to completely surrender to the will of God – to the infinite power of LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Becoming a Faith-Based Optimist
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“When I despair, I remember that all through history
the way of truth and love has always won.
There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible;
but in the end they always fall—think of it. Always.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Faith is intuitive conviction, a knowing from the soul,
that cannot be shaken even by contradictions.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”
~ Helen Keller
“Steady faith is stronger than destiny.
Destiny is the result of causes, mostly accidental,
and is therefore loosely woven.
Confidence and good hope will overcome it easily.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


Hanuman


Becoming a Faith-Based Optimist

Dear Friends,

In prior postings I’ve told how “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”, and defined faith as distinguished from belief. And I’ve explained that inner faith in the Divine, is the same as faith in one’s Self, and that such inner faith can bring us previously unimagined happiness.

Today I’ll tell how I found faith in Divine Self in a midlife transition from self-reliant secular litigation lawyer to devotional “born-again Hindu”; and how that faith became an optimistically unshakable conviction that everything happens for the best, until we transcend the ego illusion of existing separately in space/time.

Soon after receiving 1978 shaktipat initiation from my beloved Guruji, I began daily Sanskrit recitations of a Ram mantra and the Hanuman Chalisa – a rhymed poetic ode to the mythological Vedic ‘monkey-god’ Hanuman (pictured above). The Chalisa metaphorically venerates Hanuman, who faithfully served avatar Rama, as the epitome of faith in God. It was composed by poet-saint and philosopher Tulsidas.


Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (with whom I feel devotional affinity) often cited an epic Ramayana story about Hanuman heroically leaping over the sea between South India and Shri Lanka (Ceylon) to serve Rama, as illustrating the epitome of divine faith. In the Gospel of Ramakrishna, he taught:

“You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith. It is said . . that Rama, who was God Himself – the embodiment of Absolute Brahman – had to build a bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon. But Hanuman, trusting in Rama’s name, cleared the sea in one jump and reached the other side. He had no need of a bridge.” . . . . “Once a person has faith he has achieved everything. There is nothing greater than faith.”


While repeatedly reciting Ram mantras and the Hanuman Chalisa, I felt their devotional energy while unconcerned about the precise meaning of their Sanskrit words. And I became instinctively harmonious with Ram, as Divinity. Even today (at age 87), I still often spontaneously call out to Rama in remembering and devotionally honoring the Divine. And Hanuman became and remains for me symbolic of both faith and optimism.

After I became an instinctive Rama devotee, I deeply reflected on “faith”. and realized that my initial self-confidence and optimism had gradually grown to unconditional intuitive faith in God; that I’d evolved from being a pragmatic secular optimist into living a devotional faith-based life, with both conviction and optimism.

Also, I realized that with faith it’s always best follow one’s conscience in all behaviors, and to surrender outcomes of such conscientious behaviors to Divine Self (or Tao) – to let go and go with the flow; because karmically whatever happens could not be otherwise. So, to clear our karma, we must nonjudgmentally accept whatever IS NOW with forgiveness and love of one’s Self, and all others who are the same as one’s Self.

My reflections revealed that our earthly sufferings arise from fearful and illusory ego-mind thoughts because we forget our true Divinity and immortality. But that as omnipotent immortal spirit we have nothing to fear from anything that seems to happen in space/time. Moreover, our transcendence of ego is inevitable, and advanced by our loving behaviors, which are becoming ever more prevalent in current “new normal” times.

Thus I’ve become optimistically convinced that in the dawning Age of Aquarius humans now have unprecedented opportunities (as a global family) to co-create an infinitely more compassionate world.

Moreover, I feel that much of humanity will (in this lifetime) experience an unprecedented evolutionary quantum-leap; that we are about to ascend (as Biblically prophesied) to an idyllic and fearless New Earth reality which is beyond ego-mind illusion; beyond seeming separation; beyond limitation; beyond imagination.

Conclusion

I’ve become and irreversibly remain a faith-based optimist, despite dire threats against survival of human life as we’ve known it.  And I equate my instinctive optimism with inner faith, in remembering that faith in the Divine is the same as faith in one’s SELF.

Therefore I’m especially grateful to be able to now share these memoirs with you to help us realize and enjoy supreme fulfillment and happiness from optimistic faith in Divine SELF.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

“Cockeyed optimist” epilogue

On first realizing the blessings of optimism I composed sutra sayings like: “Be an optimist: Optimism optimizes opportunity.” And I was inspired by these lyric lines from ‘cockeyed optimist’, a “South Pacific” song, by Oscar Hammerstein II:

“I hear the human race
Is falling on its face
And hasn’t very far to go,
But ev’ry whippoorwill
Is selling me a bill,
And telling me it just ain’t so.”
I’m “stuck like a dope with a thing called hope, and I can’t get it out of my heart!”


So to further encourage our heartfelt faith-based optimism, I’ve embedded for your enjoyment a YouTube video performance of that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘cockeyed optimist’ song from “South Pacific”.




Discovering Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Non-dual Devotion
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The end of all wisdom is love, love, love.”
“Love is verily the heart of all religions.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Investigation into the Self is nothing other than devotion.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi — Vivekachudamani, verse 32
“On scrutiny, supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same. To say that one of these two is a means to the other is due to not knowing the nature of either of them. Know that the path of jnana and the path of devotion are interrelated. Follow these inseparable two paths without dividing one from the other.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Pure knowledge and pure love are one and the same thing.
Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much easier.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
“Love is seeing the unity under the imaginary diversity.
“Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy.
He rises to transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his
higher emotional nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes; his
hair stands on end; his heart melts in love. The bliss in that
state is so intense that forgetful of himself and his surroundings he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs or sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole universe.”
~Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 – supreme devotion (para-bhakti) as described by Sri Krishna to His disciple Uddhave.
“[I]f you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.” … “Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”
~ Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Sri Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Introduction

Dear Friends,

The following stories (about my memorable pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai, South India), illustrate fundamental spiritual Truths about every human being. They tell how I resolved (as illusory) a seeming paradoxical conflict between my deep devotional tendencies (as a “frequent crier”) to spontaneously cry and call out-loud to God, and my irreversible intellectual and intuitive acceptance of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s non-duality wisdom path of constant silent self-enquiry of “who am I?”.

These memorable pilgrimage stories recount how my mental dilemma was resolved, with realization of the following spiritual principles:

Just as every snowflake temporarily manifests a unique crystalline form but shares an enduring watery essence, so too every human (including Self-realized saints, sages, and seers) impermanently manifests a uniquely limited physical form and perspective in each mortal lifetime, but shares ONE immortal and infinitely potential, spiritual Source – non-dual Universal Awareness as LOVE.

The stories also reveal as ultimately illusory any apparent conflict between different spiritual paths, religious rituals, or behaviors – like Sri Ramana Maharshi’s wisdom path of silent self-enquiry and Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s devotional path of praying and crying to God, or between strict priestly conformance with religious rituals and their utter disregard by avadhutas; that all such apparent conflicts are transcended by LOVE; that even Sri Ramana Maharshi declared that “the end of all wisdom is love, love, love.”

Please read, reflect and enjoy these stories.

Ron Rattner

Discovering Non-dualism

During my early days as a “born-again Hindu”, I discovered wisdom teachings of legendary twentieth century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi about the Vedic path of Advaita, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality via relentless self-inquiry – incessantly asking “Who am I?”.

Intellectually I soon became convinced of the ultimate Truth of Sri Ramana’s non-dualistic teachings. Non-dualism even seemed quite consistent with my early Jewish acculturation with the fundamental prayer: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29

Yet, seemingly paradoxically, I displayed preponderantly devotional propensities of calling and crying to the Divine. And I identified with Shri Ramakrishna, as a bhakta – a devotional practitioner – more than with Sri Ramana Maharshi, who was an exemplar of the silent inner wisdom path – a jnani.

Until retirement, while maintaining my busy law practice I found only limited time to read and reflect on non-duality and other spiritual wisdom teachings, mostly on weekends. So I used to jokingly tell spiritual friends that I prayed and cried as a bhakta on weekdays but on weekends I became a “Seventh Day Advaitist”

On retirement from law practice in January 1992, I journeyed to India, intending to further explore the Advaita path of non-duality. After planned visits to see my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, in Ahmedabad and my daughter Jessica at Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, the India trip itinerary concluded with a spiritual sojourn in the Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai, near sacred Mount Arunachala, where Sri Ramana Maharshi had resided for most of his adult life. This would be an opportunity to me to become an every day – not just a seventh day – advaitist.

Pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai

So, in February 1992, together with my daughter Jessica I traveled by train from Ammachi’s ashram in sultry Kerala to the Ramana ashram at the much more arid Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai. While I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram, Jessica had been so busy doing her assigned daily tasks (seva) that we had very few opportunities to visit together alone. So, I was hoping to spend ‘quality time’ with her and to have her as my Tiruvannamalai guide, since she had previously visited the Ramana ashram. But that didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, I had a wonderful stay in Tiruvannamalai with memorable experiences on and near Mount Arunachala. And at the Ramana ashram I largely resolved my confusion about the imagined conflict between non-dualism and devotion. Here’s what happened:

Ramana ashram

On our arrival at the Ramana ashram Jessica and I were assigned a pleasant cottage room with private toilet which, though quite basic, was much more comfortable than my small noisy cell at Ammachi’s ashram. Moreover, I immediately had much more vitality at the Ramana ashram than at the Kerala ashram, where I had experienced diminished energy.

But to my surprise, Jessica informed me that instead of being my guide and companion she wished to dedicate her stay in Tiruvannamalai to solitary spiritual practices. She told me that as a spiritual austerity she had decided to daily circumambulate barefooted sacred Mount Arunachala and its adjoining holy sites – an ancient practice known as giri pradakshina encouraged by Sri Ramana Maharshi and practiced for centuries by him and many other saints and pilgrims.

Ambivalently, I was pleased that Jessica was prioritizing such spiritual practices, but disappointed at not having anticipated ‘quality time’ with her. So every morning well before sunrise, while I still slept, Jessica left our cottage and each day I was on my own, except in evenings before we retired in our shared cottage.

Virupaksha cave

Most days while Jessica was walking barefooted around Mount Arunachala I walked in sandals up the mountain – from the ashram to Virupaksha cave, a shrine place where Sri Ramana had lived for sixteen years. Though the cave was a public shrine, I was always there in solitude with no other visitors present. As I meditated there, I gratefully experienced and communed with Sri Ramana’s subtle peaceful presence.

One day I departed the cave in a dream-like ‘altered state of awareness’ and began slowly walking down the mountain with a stilled mind. Dressed in white I was so descending the narrow rocky path to the ashram, when – as if in a dream – I beheld coming up the path toward me three very elderly men, with long gray hair and long beards each wearing a white robe or dhoti. Each appeared as an archetypical ‘holy man’.

When we met on the mountain path, as if in a waking dream, each of the old men silently kneeled and kissed my sandaled feet. No word was uttered. After this silent ritual they continued walking up the Arunachala path and I continued descending to the ashram with a perfectly stilled mind.

Though that experience was unforgettable, I can’t specify its significance . However, I felt I had received inexpressible blessings from those holy men; that only in such a spiritually elevated environment could such a boon occur. But, presumably, from Sri Ramana’s non-dual perspective, attachment to any such outer illusionary experience impedes ultimate inner experience of Oneness with All.

Sri Ramana’s samadhi shrine

When not on Mount Arunachala, most of my time spent at the ashram was at the large samadhi shrine hall, where Sri Ramana is entombed. There I continued to often experience the subtle peaceful presence of Sri Ramana, though not as powerfully as at Virupaksha cave.

The samadhi shrine is a memorable place which, since Sri Ramana’s mahasamadhi in 1950, has continued to magnetically attract devotees from all over the world. Sometimes I meditated sitting there, sometimes I meditatively walked around the hall, and sometimes on the porch I read books about Sri Ramana which I obtained at the ashram office.

Reconciling Ron’s Devotion with Sri Ramana’s Non-duality

Another blessing of my stay at the Ramana ashram was that while there I largely resolved the seeming dichotomy between my deep devotional tendencies and non-dual self-identity. I learned that Ramana had taught that “supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same”. And I realized that perception of paradox depends on an illusory ego-mind perspective; while from an elevated perspective ultimate devotion (Divine love, bhakti) and ultimate Self awareness (wisdom, jnana) are “one and the same” – like obverse sides of the same coin.

Though not permanently abiding in a state of elevated awareness, like Sri Ramana or Guruji, I had previously been blessed with unforgettable ‘peek’ experiences of Self-identification as pure Awareness and of seeing everyone and everything as Divine. And at the ashram I read a Sri Ramana biography that sparked the bhakti/jnana insight which helped me reconcile the seeming conflict between my distinct devotional tendencies and my irreversible acceptance of advaita non-duality philosophy.

As I read about Sri Ramana’s “enlightenment” experience I discovered that, contrary to popular belief, which usually associates Sri Ramana only with advaita wisdom, the great Sage also displayed and acknowledged the bhakti emotion of devotion.

At the time of his absorption in the Self, Sri Ramana was in his seventeenth year and living in the Indian city of Madurai. Thereafter he experienced dramatic daily life changes. With the emotion of devotion, Sri Ramana began to regularly visit the renowned Meenakshi temple in Madurai. As much later he recalled for his biographer:

“One of the new features related to the temple of
Meenakshi sundaresvrar. Formerly I would go there rarely with
friends, see the images, put on sacred ashes and sacred
vermillion on the forehead and return home without any
perceptible emotion. After the awakening into the new life, I
would go almost every evening to the temple. I would go alone and stand before Siva or Meenakshi or Nataraja or the sixty-three saints for long periods. I would feel waves of emotion
overcoming me. The former hold (Alambana) on my body had been given up by my spirit, since it ceased to cherish the idea I-am-the-body (Dehatma-buddhi). The spirit therefore longed to have a fresh hold and hence the frequent visits to the temple and the overflow of the soul in profuse tears. This was God’s (Isvara’s) play with the individual spirit. I would stand before Isvara, the Controller of the universe and the destinies of all, the omniscient and omnipresent, and occasionally pray for the descent of His grace upon me so that my devotion might increase and become perpetual like that of the sixty-three saints. Mostly I would not pray at all, but let, the deep within flow on and into the deep without. Tears would mark this overflow of the soul and not betoken any particular feeling of pleasure or pain.”
~ Self Realization, The Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by B.V. Narasimha Swami pp. 23-24.1

Thus, even after his Self Realization, Sri Ramana had prayed for devotion. And his prayers were often accompanied by, and answered with, copious tears. Sri Ramana’s experience shows that highest knowledge is the same as the highest devotion; that jnana and Para bhakti are the same.

On reading Sri Ramana’s dramatic experience I was reminded that devotional tears are the ‘language of the heart’; that tears can express our ineffable joy in ephemerally becoming one with THAT, while also they may betoken our ceaseless longing to be merged forever as THAT.

As Mother Meera has observed:

“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. 
And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. …..Look at Ramakrishna. How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”

~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236

Thus, intense feelings of the heart, which are otherwise inexpressible, are communicated by tears; and, as we soulfully pray to the Beloved with love and longing, our tears may say what words can not say; and our Heart of Hearts may answer us with tears more eloquent than any other language.


Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Yogi Ramsuratkumar


Yogi Ramsuratkumar

When I visited Tiruvannamalai I was already aware that – like each snowflake – every human is absolutely unique; that thus each supposedly Self-realized spiritual teacher, seer, saint, guru, yogi, or even avatar uniquely manifests and expresses different aspects of our infinitely potential common Cosmic consciousness. While in Tiruvannamalai I was unforgettably reminded of the uniqueness of each supposedly enlightened teacher on meeting a respected local living saint, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

People at the Ramana ashram urged me to visit this Yogi, saying that he was was an avadhuta, a mystic living simply beyond worldly social standards. I was told that he was giving morning darshans at his small house near the great Annamalaiyar temple in the center of town.

So one morning, instead of communing with Sri Ramana, I walked into town, bought fruit to offer as prasad [a divine gift] to Ramsuratkumar, and came to his house where already standing outside there was a line of devotees awaiting admittance, each also holding food or flowers to offer him. Especially noteworthy was a richly attired middle aged Indian woman, who was holding a large round silver tray laden with an elaborate array of beautiful fruits and flowers.

I took my place at the end of the line and waited with curiosity in the hot sun. Ultimately, when there were about twenty or more people standing in line, the door opened and Yogi Ramsuratkumar appeared with an attendant to greet each devotee, one by one. With most people he exchanged a few words, accepted their offering and sent them on. Only occasionally did he invite a devotee to enter his house for darshan.

Amazingly, when the woman with the silver tray proffered her elaborate offering, he not only rejected it but seemed to sternly chastise her in Telegu and peremptorily sent her away. (Whereupon I surmised that Ramsuratkumar had determined from her subtle field that the woman was an unworthy aspirant with defiled motives.)

When I reached the head of the line, the Yogi kindly accepted my modest offering and invited me to enter his house parlor with only a few others – an Indian family of mother and father with two young children and a young western woman. Each of us was invited to sit in the parlor on a plain folding chair facing the swami who was standing in front of us.

To my surprise, the house appeared to be very dusty and dirty, and the Yogi looked as if he hadn’t bathed or washed his clothes for a while. Notwithstanding his unkempt appearance and environment my subtle ‘radar’ detected this yogi’s inner purity and I began softly weeping. Later, I concluded that while an attitude of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” might be appropriate for most people, Ramsuratkumar demonstrated that in spirituality it is inner purity rather than outer appearance that is crucial.

After we were seated in his parlor, and offered tea, the yogi enquired of each guest our origins and reasons for visiting him. Thus, he asked me in English from whence and why I had come to India. With tears still seeping I explained that I had come as a spiritual pilgrim to honor my beloved Guruji in Gujurat; and that I was in Tiruvannamalai to honor Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Thereupon, while standing before me the Yogi raised his right hand in blessing pose and in English he intermittently and repeatedly decared “my Father blesses you”. While so blessing me with his raised right hand, the yogi held between the fingers of his left hand and puffed alternately on three lighted bidis (Indian hand-rolled cigarettes, like those sold and smoked by Nisargadatta Maharaj).

Though it didn’t surprise me to see a smoking saint, never before had I imagined a holy man smoking three cigarettes concurrently. So it was apparent – as I had been informed – that Ramsuratkumar was an avadhuta, who lived simply and unconventionally without concern for social standards. In all events, I was and remain ever grateful for his blessings.

Conclusion

Since my 1992 pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai (and more than ever before as an octogenarian), I have remained unspeakably grateful for my continuing “gift of tears” as a supreme devotional blessing ultimately consistent with highest wisdom of non-duality Self-identity. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/crying-for-god-and-other-kundalini-kriyas-rons-memoirs/ ) And especially since darshan with Yogi Ramsuratkumar I have gratefully appreciated the infinite human manifestations of non-duality Reality as LOVE.


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

”All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
~ Buddha
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise.
What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm:
there are no isolated things or events.
Underneath the surface appearance,
all things are interconnected,
are part of the totality of the cosmos
that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,
such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,
or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”
A.  “Everything is predetermined.”
~  Sri Ramana Maharshi 
“Nothing perceivable is real.
Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.
There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj 
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Nothing in the universe happens by chance or accident.  The universe is a coherent concurrence and interaction of innumerable conditions attendant on the infinite number of energy patterns.  In the state of Awareness, all this is obvious and can be clearly seen and known.  Outside that level of awareness, it could be likened to innumerable, invisible magnetic fields which automatically coalesce or repel one’s position and which interact according to the positions and relative strengths and polarities.  Everything influences everything else and is in perfect balance.
~ David R. Hawkins
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. .
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Everything happens through immutable laws, …everything is necessary… There are,  some persons say, events which are necessary and others which are not. It would be very comic that one part of the world was arranged, and the other were not; that one part of what happens had to happen and that another part of what happens did not have to happen. If one looks closely at it, one sees that the doctrine contrary to that of destiny is absurd; but there are many people destined to reason badly; others not to reason at all others to persecute those who reason.”
~  Voltaire
“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck – Nobel Laureate Physicist
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

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

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



Introduction

We honor Albert Einstein not only for his extraordinary scientific genius and moral integrity, but for his mystical wisdom and intuitive realization of ineffable Reality beyond human comprehension.

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

Spinoza said:

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

Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Determinism versus morality and social justice

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

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

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

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

This was explained by Swami Vivekananda as follows:

“[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”

“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”

“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga

Conclusions

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

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

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

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

*Footnote

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



How I See the World – PBS Documentary Film About Einstein:




“In the world, but not of the world”

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”
~ Romans 12:2 – Paul the Apostle
“To be free in the world, you must be free of the world.

Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

~

Introduction

Dear Friends,

A few years ago, during much controversial communication on internet social networking sites, like Twitter, I spontaneously composed the following poem, which I’ve titled “Retreating from Tweeting”.

It was received while I was sitting alone, with no phone, at the San Francisco Wave Organ.

I’ll explain its significance in comments below. Enjoy!

Ron at Wave Organ
Christmas 12/25/17


Retreating from Tweeting

As the world
trivially twitters, tweets
– and re-tweets,

Ron silently retreats –
from twittering triviality,
to gleaming Reality –
from ephemeral information
to Eternal inspiration.



Ron’s comments and explanation of “Retreating from Tweeting”

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite outdoor places in San Francisco has long been the artistically sculptured “wave organ” on a small SF Bayshore promontory. Through a series of pipes, the wave organ interacts with the tidal waves of the Bay, and transmits their sound waves to listeners at several sculptured stations.

During visits to the wave organ, I’ve often sat on a sculptured granite bench, and mentally retreated from frenetic worldly cares and concerns. There I’ve ‘tuned out’ from soothing wave organ tidal sounds, and ‘tuned in’ to receiving inner inspiration from ‘sounds of silence’.

After regular respites by the Bay, I’ve continued online advocacy about critical Earthly social justice problems, like current covid restrictions. But increasingly I’m able to remain happy, peaceful and mentally detached while while addressing such serious concerns, by gratefully remembering with faith that our worldly life is like a dream, in which we are Divinely guided and destined to Awaken upon following our sacred heart.

Moral of the Story: BE “In the world, but not of the world”

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”
~ Romans 12:2 – Paul the Apostle


While we are compelled to be in this world of inevitable physical pain and suffering, we are not obliged to be here mentally. With focused awareness and self-control of our thoughts, emotions and attitudes, we can remain peaceful, grateful and joyful.

Thereby we can ‘be in this world’ physically, but ‘not of this world’ mentally, attitudinally or spiritually.

While “tuning in” to our ever present worldly problems, we can “tune out” from much worldly suffering by non-judgmentally and forgivingly focusing on our Eternal and infinite inner Essence, which is LOVE and Light.

In current times of extraordinary difficulties, but unprecedented evolutionary opportunities, this is especially important and helpful.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What is “Enlightenment”?
~ Quotations and Comments

“Knowing others is wisdom,
knowing your Self is enlightenment.”

~ Lao Tzu




Introduction

This is the second of two related articles about “enlightenment”. The first posting, linked here, defines “enlightenment”; this posting contains key quotations from spiritual teachers, and explanatory comments about “enlightenment”.

Both of these postings are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness, by finding and following our Sacred Heart.

Quotations about “Enlightenment”

“There is no such thing as
enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is
itself enlightenment.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened people,
there is only enlightened activity.”
~ Suzuki Roshi

“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“There are many paths to enlightenment.
Be sure to take one with a heart.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Knowledge is structured in consciousness.
The process of education takes place in the field of consciousness;
the prerequisite to complete education is therefore
the full development of consciousness — enlightenment.
Knowledge is not the basis of enlightenment,
enlightenment is the basis of knowledge.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.”
~ Deepak Chopra (Synchrodestiny)

“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply our natural state of felt oneness with being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet much greater than you. It is finding true your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflicts within and without become the norm.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now

“Enlightenment” is Being –
beyond entity identity.
Ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Ron’s Comments about “Enlightenment”

Dear Friends,

I am privileged to share with you today the foregoing key quotations from spiritual teachers about the perennial process of inner illumination – or “enlightenment”.

In memoirs titled “Transcending Transcendence” I’ve told about my conscious pursuit of “enlightenment” as a spiritual goal, until gradually I abandoned goal oriented spiritual seeking, and – as “An Uncertain Undo” – intuitively began surrendering to the Infinite, with more and more heartfelt faith in The Lone Arranger. 

I realized that “enlightenment” is only a word – a mere mental concept with different meanings for different people.  So I determined that in this illusory world “enlightenment” is not an ultimate destination, but a perpetual evolutionary process; that beyond space/time/causality ‘reality’ there are no concepts – only ineffable Mystery.   

As a spiritually unenlightened “Uncertain Undo”, I’ve ‘heretically’ decided that Suzuki Roshi was right in observing that


“there are no [fully] enlightened people, . . only enlightened activity”.


In my view incarnation is limitation.  So no completely “enlightened” person can manifest all infinite aspects of non-duality Reality – of limitless LOVE.  Therefore, as a devotional non-dualist, I’ve decided that Nisargadatta Maharaj was paradoxically right in saying that in this illusory world: 

“There is no such thing as enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is itself enlightenment.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


I respectfully suggest that – except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas – we all appear here on the Earth Branch of the great Cosmic University to evolve spiritually by learning LOVE and being LOVE; and that in this ever impermanent space time “reality” our challenge is to skillfully stay in harmony with always changing energy – whether perceptible or imperceptible; that as times change our “enlightened” behaviors must change; that historically enlightened behaviors may not still be appropriate in this modern age of mental malaise.  

For me perpetual change challenges us to always live life presently – ‘in the zone’ – by constantly responding appropriately, skillfully and spontaneously to ever changing earth energies.  So we are learning to experience life spontaneously, like skilled master musicians in a jam session – always harmoniously responding or blending with each sensed musical sound or soundless space.  

But if we had mastered that “enlightened” process of always being ‘in the zone’, we wouldn’t be here.  Consider these apt quotes from popular spiritual authors: 

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.
If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
~ Richard Bach

“If you’re not dead yet,
you’re not done yet.” 
~ Elizabeth Gilbert (quoting her mother)


As long as we incarnate on Earth, participation in the “enlightenment” process entails learning mindfully “to let go, and go with the flow” – and to “leave it to the Lone Arranger.”   Moreover, active pursuit of “enlightenment” can become a subtle ego trap, to be averted.  So it’s best to surrender because:


“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi

Thus, while ever honoring my beloved Guruji as a guiding and inspiring ‘outer authority’, I’ve more and more relied on inner intuitive authority while experiencing the earth-life “enlightenment” process.  And such reliance has brought an ever happier life.
   
Knowingly or unknowingly we are all on a spiritual path to discover within our true Self identity – which ‘is seeking us’.  So these comments are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness by finding and following our Sacred Heart.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


What is “Enlightenment”?

“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened people,
there is only enlightened activity.”
~ Suzuki Roshi
“There is no such thing as
enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is
itself enlightenment.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj




Introduction

This is the first of two related articles about “enlightenment”. This posting defines “enlightenment”; the second posting contains key quotations from spiritual teachers, and explanatory comments about “enlightenment”, linked here.

Both of these postings are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness, by finding and following our Sacred Heart.


What is “Enlightenment”?

Q: What is enlightenment?

A: “Enlightenment” is a word, – an idea with different meanings for different people;
it is a mental concept resulting from thought. So, the meaning of “enlightenment” is in the mind of the thinker.

Here we call “enlightenment” a perpetual evolutionary process, not an ultimate destination.

In always evolving toward an “enlightened” destination,
we approach an ever-distant horizon in the Sacred Heart of Humankind.

Q. What are some signs of progress in the evolutionary enlightenment process?

A. Less and less ego, more and more humility and authenticity;
less and less thought, more and more mental stillness and peace.*

*Further comments and quotations and about “enlightenment” are posted here.



Free Will or Fate?

“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end,
by forces over which we have no control.
It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust,
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” . . . .
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The assumption of an absolute determinism is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck
“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or

moving from one part of the room to another?”

A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

~ Ramana Maharshi 
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.”
“This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga
“In Hinduism, the very idea of free will is non-existent,
so there is no word for it.
Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.” . . . .
“To be free in the world you must be free of the world.
Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man,
which is, that he must be completely free.
As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ultimate freedom is not
freedom of choice,
but freedom from choice.
Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Every Cause has its Effect;
every Effect has its Cause;
everything happens according to Law;
Chance is but a name for Law not recognized;
there are many planes of causation,
but nothing escapes the Law.”
~ The Kybalion
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. 
Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. 
It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. 
If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. 
And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“It is true that we are not bound. 
That is to say, the real Self has no bondage. 
And it is true that you will eventually return to your Source. 
But meanwhile, if you commit sins, as you call them, 
you have to face the consequences. You cannot escape them.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“Nothing perceivable is real. Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.

There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Free-will is a non-entity, a thing consisting of name alone.”
“The will of man without the grace of God is not free at all,
but is the permanent prisoner and bond-slave of evil since it cannot turn itself to good.”
“For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because “free-will” can do nothing.”

~ Martin Luther – The Bondage Of The Will
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza 
“The only difference between a human being and a stone rolling down a hill, is that the human being thinks he is in charge of his own destiny.”
~ Baruch Spinoza
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Not my will but Thy Will be done.”
~ Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Man plans, God laughs” (Mann traoch, Gott Lauch)
~ Yiddish proverb






Free Will or Fate?

Q.  Do we have free will, or freedom of choice, or is our life predetermined or fated?

A.  Our experience of apparent freedom of choice or of predestiny depends on our evolutionary history and perspective.

In space/time ego/mind causality/reality, most “normal” people experience freedom of choice, and make decisions and plans about ostensible options in their lives. And some people consciously choose the attitude or state of mind with which they experience earth life. Because each person is unique, with a unique evolutionary perspective and personality, we each choose our life experiences differently. And as our self awareness becomes more focused, our free will powers increase.

But according to mystics, our belief in free will is ultimately illusory. For example, both Albert Einstein and Ramana Maharshi have asserted that every detail of worldly life “is predetermined.” And Swami Vivekananda told us that “free will” is a self-contradictory concept; that with worldly will there can be no freedom, which is always constrained by the universal law of cause and effect. Similarly, Vivekananda’s master, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, taught that

“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

Enlightened saints, sages, shamans and mystics for millennia have reported attitudinally transcending this ever impermanent world reality, and experiencing it as an illusory play of consciousness, sometimes called ‘samsara’ or ‘maya’. Such masters do not self-identify mentally as only mere mortal embodied beings, but experientially as non-dual universal intelligence or spirit, which is the Source and essence of this ever impermanent world. 


They report realizing experientially – as Albert Einstein explained scientifically – that:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one;” [that] “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”, and [that our separate self-identity] “is an optical illusion of consciousness.” 


They define “freedom” as a timeless non-dual immutable spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not mentally or rationally.

Free will requires ego/mind separation in space/time.

Since free will implies separation of one who wills or chooses from the objects of his/her will, there can be no free will or free choice without an imagined or conceived doer or chooser separate from objects of his/her actions or choices. And without time there can be no destiny of any supposedly separate doer or chooser.

Thus, in space/time causality/reality, as long as we self-identify as supposedly separate entities distinct from the apparent objects of our perceptions, choices or intentions, we have apparent freedom of choice, until we transcend separate self-identity and experience existence as universal choiceless and timeless awareness, or consciousness without an object.  [*See footnote]

So

Ultimate freedom is not
freedom of choice,
but freedom from choice.
Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


But, our ego/mind exercise of apparent freedom of choice creates karmic causes and conditions which can keep us believing in the “optical illusion” – that we are separate entities rather than ONE infinite Potentiality. And with the law of karma we reap as we sow. According to Swami Yogananda,

“If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. If you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”

With Self realization there is transcendence of illusory separate self-identity; whereupon there remains only Being – only Infinite Potentiality – with no separate someone to will or intend or separately experience anything in time.


Thus, upon total transcendence of separate entity identity, there is no free will or free choice, nor is there time in which karmic fate or destiny unfolds –


Only choiceless “Freedom”,

Ever
 
NOW!

Footnote.

*According to Eastern philosophies, Karma is universal law of cause and effect applied at subtle levels to everything we think, do or say during repeated reincarnations as supposedly separate beings. A similar concept is implicit in Western teachings that we reap as we sow [e.g. Galatians 6:7-9]



Ron’s Reflections on Free Will or Fate.

After my midlife change of life, I reconsidered all prior paradigms about self-identity, reality, free choice or predestiny, and began entertaining intriguing ideas about reincarnation and karma.   After experiencing my self-identity as universal consciousness, gradually I realized that space/time reality – which previously I had considered as the only reality – is an ever impermanent projection of universal intelligence which is the essence and matrix of all worldly phenomena.

Ultimately, I concluded that  space/time “reality” is a digitally preprogrammed simulated world – a “holographic theater of the mind”;
so that space/time “reality isn’t really real”.

But even though it appeared to me that “reality isn’t really real”, like all other “normal” people I’ve lived this lifetime mostly behaving as if this crazy space/time world is very real – yet  ever aware of a deep intuitive aspiration to be ‘in this world but not of this world’.  And I’ve never stopped wondering with great curiosity about how and why space/time reality was created and why we are here.    

For example, on returning to San Francisco from a February 1977 miraculous week in New York  where I amazingly experienced many previously foreseen events, I began wondering:

“What is time?”
“Are there really any coincidences or accidents, 
or is everything that happens to us predestined by laws of causation or karma?”
“Do we really have free will as most people believe?
And if so, what free will?”


Forty years since then, I am still uncertain about answers to those mysterious perennial questions.  But many aphorisms, essays and poems reflecting my theories, intuitions and speculations about them, are posted with apt quotations on SillySutras.com. 

Thus I have posted the above quotations and Q and A essay about free will or fate, proposing that karmically and cosmically our lives are predetermined, but that morally we must live as if we have freedom of choice to heal the world.  

I suggest that cosmically free will is an illusionary aspect of Nature’s predetermined evolutionary ‘incentive system’; that we are subjected to inevitable earthly sufferings which motivate us to transcend them by choosing to improve or peacefully accept our life’s circumstances.  Thus, I think that Nature’s determinism promotes evolution by fating us to make apparent choices, individually and collectively, which ultimately will advance human consciousness until we experientially realize our essential common self-identity beyond death as Infinite Potentiality – Universal spirit, Being, Awareness, Bliss, Eternal Life, Light, LOVE.

Mostly I agree with Einstein’s Mystical Views on Free Will or Determinism: that ‘God doesn’t play dice’, so

“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” 
[* See commentary footnote]


Assuming predestination while always acting morally can help us find happiness.

Whether or not we agree with Einstein and rare mystics that what happens in space/time reality is like a preprogrammed dream predestined by mysterious karmic causes and conditions, I have found that assuming predestination, while always acting morally, can help us find happiness. We can experience ever growing peace of mind by more and more accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise, and that it is happening in the best way and at the best time – as an evolutionary incentive and opportunity. 

Gradually we can thereby accept inevitable difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, without remorse or regret about the past, or worry or fear of the future.  This attitude of assuming everything as predestined has helped me experience ever increasing equanimity and contentment, and to enjoy countless unplanned synchronistic meetings with ordinary people as ‘holy encounters’ with divine beings wearing ‘space/time soul suits’.

Conclusion.

So, whether or not we believe in spiritual evolution or predestiny, I invite your careful consideration of the above quotations and essay.  I hope these ideas can help all of us find increasing happiness by accepting inevitable difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, and by finding blessings in unplanned events and interactions with others.  

And if we do accept predestined karma, let us remember that
when we sow love, we harvest happiness.

Accordingly, (whether or not predestined) I invite you to join with me frequently in the heartfelt affirmation which appears atop every SillySutras.com page.

“Infuse us, enthuse us, and use us, to bless all life as Love!”


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Commentary Footnote.

*Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, that ‘God does not play dice with the universe’; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.
Some quantum physicists now suggest that recent non-locality experiments show that Einstein erred in rejecting quantum uncertainty theory; that these experiments support what Einstein rejected as “spooky action at a distance”.  However, it is still possible that quantum physicists’ ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from predetermined causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived by mainstream science.