Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 119:19-20’

“Sunrise, Sunset”
~ a Modern Melody With Ancient Meaning


“The soul of man has been separated from its source,
wandering in exile in a strange land –
“I am stranger on earth” (Psalm 119:19-20) –
ever yearning to return to that from which it first sprang,
and cleave to the Soul of all souls.”

~ Ba’al Shem Tov, Hasidic master

“Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
~ Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock – “Fiddler on the Roof”

“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”
~ Crowfoot, 1890

“Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
~ Buddha: Diamond Sutra

“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?”

~ Buddha

Fiddler on the Roof



“Sunrise, Sunset” ~ a Modern Melody With Ancient Meaning

Introduction

Dear Friends,

In recent postings I’ve explained verbally and demonstrated with recorded musical performances how the hauntingly beautiful melody of the ancient Kol Nidré prayer which begins Yom Kippur, the highest of Jewish High Holy Days, communicates deep feelings of instinctive perennial wisdom beyond words.

Spiritually, Kol Nidré melodies have for centuries communicated innate human awareness of our unavoidable fallibility and inability to live without inevitable life-long ‘ups and downs’ and mistakes, from which we learn Love on the Earth branch of an infinitely expanding Cosmic University.

Shortly after my 1976 spiritual awakening I experienced a melody from the play and movie Fiddler on the Roof – “Sunrise, Sunset” – as a modern analogue to Kol Nidré which to me communicated similar ancient instinctive wisdom beyond words.

During an amazing February 1977 week in New York (a time for me of great spiritual sensitivity and curiosity) after I was scheduled to return home I attended a Broadway revival performance of the play.

I was extremely interested in the fictional story because all my maternal and paternal Rattner surname ancestors over a century ago had emigrated to the USA from Western Ukraine near Kiev to escape hatred and persecution for their Jewish religious customs, and my father and his extended family had fled an actual village just like the fictional village portrayed in Fiddler on the Roof.

Now, at an historically unprecedented time, when survival of all humans – not just Jews – appears threatened globally by war and hatred in Ukraine “Sunrise, Sunset” is for me more important than ever before. So I’ve decided to explain and demonstrate it with this posting.

Although “Sunrise, Sunset” was composed to be sung by different fictional characters and a chorus i’m hereafter singing it as a cantor, for all humans at this unprecedented time of Ukrainian war world jeopardy. Also to demonstrate the power of the melody alone I will cantorially hum it in the mystical Jewish wordless song tradition of the nigun.

Please listen, enjoy and open your heart to the contemporary importance of these timeless melodies.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

“Sunrise, Sunset” Lyrics [*excerpted]

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears.

Is this the little girl I carried?

Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older

When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?

When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday

When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly flow the days

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers

Blossoming even as we gaze.

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears.

*Lyrics excerpted from Fiddler On The Roof – Broadway Musical 1964
Melody composed By Jerry Bock, Lyrics By Sheldon Harnick


“Sunrise, Sunset” ~ Lyric Excerpts and Melody Cantorially sung by Ron Rattner

Dear Friends,

Although “Sunrise, Sunset” was composed to be sung by different fictional characters and a chorus I’m hereafter singing lyric excerpts as a cantor, for all humans at this unprecedented time of Ukrainian war world jeopardy.

Also to demonstrate the power of the melody alone I will cantorially hum it in the mystical Jewish wordless song tradition of the nigun.

Please listen, enjoy and open your heart to the contemporary importance of these timeless melodies.

May they invoke Divine Grace, and soon fulfill our soul’s deepest aspirations!

Listen to



And so may it be!

Ron Rattner



Fiddler On The Roof – “Sunrise sunset” Scene from film



Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence.”
~ Aristotle
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
~ Dalai Lama
“From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
~ Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self. Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi.
“The purpose of religious lectures and sermons is to awaken in you that irresistible soul-longing for Him.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The desire to be one with God is the greatest of all.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The soul of man has been separated from its source, wandering in exile in a strange land – “I am stranger on earth” (Psalm 119:19-20) – ever yearning to return to that from which it first sprang, and cleave to the Soul of all souls.”
~ Ba’al Shem Tov, Hasidic master
“O God, you are my God – for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, like a land parched, lifeless and without water.”
~ Psalm 63:1
“The longing to go back to the source is present in each being from the very time that it is separated from the source by the veil of ignorance.”
~ Meyer Baba




Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?

Q. Why do all people want to be happy?

A. In seeking happiness, everyone is really seeking Self.

Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with It.

No matter how spiritually evolved we may become, all incarnate human life-forms experience limitation and separation from Source. Though rare beings in deep meditation may transcend this state of seeming separation and limitation, it recurs when they are impelled to return to physicality or subtle form.

Thus great devotional beings like Rumi and Hafiz constantly yearned to return to the Beloved; ever longed for eternal transcendence of the inevitable limitations and sufferings of physical existence.

Rumi said:

From my first breath I have longed for Him –
This longing has become my life.
This longing has seen me grow old. . . .

Hafiz expressed his endless longing thusly:

“My soul endures a magnificent longing. … My pen does not have the ability to describe my condition of intense longing due to separation.”

Sri Ramana Maharshi, renowned twentieth century non-dualist sage, even after attaining self realization, reported regularly shedding tears of longing and devotion during visits to the ancient Meenakshi temple in Madurai. In recounting his experience, Maharshi explained that:

“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 phenomenon of infinite longing of even “enlightened” beings was explained by Mother Meera in dialogue with spiritual author and teacher Andrew Harvey, and recounted as follows:

“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, incarnation is limitation, and knowingly or unknowingly all beings – even sages – long for transcendence of that limitation. For most humans longing for transcendence is subliminal and experienced as wanting worldly contentment. But what we really seek is return to a soul-remembered state of timeless Oneness beyond any state of mind, beyond conception or imagination.

So, in seeking happiness, what we really seek is Source or Self.


Ron’s Explanation of “Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing quotations and essay help explain why (knowingly or unknowingly) everyone wants lasting happiness.

For millennia wisdom teachers have counseled that
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy” (Dalai Lama). 
 
And to find timeless happiness they tell us e.g. to 
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven, which is within.”  (Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21)

Most incarnate humans perceive and project their self-identity reality only as impermanent mortal beings supposedly separate from Nature and eternally indivisible inner Self-awareness.  And thus we futilely seek – but cannot find – lasting happiness through ever passing worldly pleasures and satisfactions, rather than through inner Self-identity as immortal spirit.  

“Why Does Everyone Want Happiness?” suggests that all beings at least subliminally long for eternal happiness and transcendence of inevitable earthly limitations; that knowingly or unknowingly what we all really seek is return to a soul-remembered state of timeless Oneness as LOVE – beyond mental description, conception or imagination.
 
Thus, even elevated mystics like supreme Sufi poet masters Rumi and Hafiz reveal (in above quotations) their life-long tearful yearnings and longings for return to God.

Perhaps such life-long yearnings, by even the most elevated mystics or sages, can help us understand why inevitably incarnation is limitation.  

And, perhaps our inevitable longings will inspire a new earthly era, as envisioned by Indian Sage Sri Aurobindo, who said:

“The goal is not to lose oneself in the Divine Consciousness.
 The goal is to let the Divine Consciousness penetrate into Matter and transform it.”

~ Sri Aurobindo – The Mother 15: p.191

Invocation

As each of us is drawn by irresistible inner longing toward Oneness with Eternal Light,
may we become instruments of Divine Consciousness on Earth.

And, let us thereby envision and exemplify an era of lasting peace of mind and happiness
for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner