A life filled with wonder is a wonderful life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Since May 2010, people worldwide have been accessing and reading essays, aphorisms, and stories posted on SillySutras.com by Ron Rattner. For those who may be curious about the author of these postings, we are embedding a brief documentary film created by Rob Tobias an original contemporary singer/songwriter and instrumental recording artist from Eugene, Oregon.
As the long-time life partner of Ron’s niece Janice Medvin, Rob observed the before and after transformation of Uncle Ron from an unhappily married secular Jewish lawyer, to becoming a happily eccentric spiritual aspirant following an inadvertent cannabis caused out of body experience [OOB] and later mystical realization and opening.
Rob and Janice decided that there ought to be a cinematographic record of eccentric Uncle Ron, as a sort of family history project. So for several years in various places Rob video’d Ron talking and walking and explaining his evolution from litigation to meditation and beyond; from secular Hebrew, to ‘born again Hindu’, to uncertain Undo – seeking relief from belief.
From many hours of raw footage, Rob created a 38 minute documentary film which he titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)” Included in the film are various archival audio-visual materials and music written and arranged by Rob. Rob has posted the film on YouTube and encourages its free sharing.
If interested, you can view it here:
“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
“He who sees Me everywhere, and sees everything in Me,
of him will I never lose hold, and he shall never lose hold of Me.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
Especially during the first few years following my self-realization rebirth experience, which cracked – but didn’t dissolve – my self-woven karmic cocoon, I was given numerous glimpses of psychic and clairvoyant phenomena previously unknown to me. These experiences emphatically confirmed to me that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought.
Here is my attempted categorization of these fleeting experiences, which looks like an index to a treatise on psychic phenomena:
Out of body experiences; Remote viewing; Astral traveling; Pre-cognition; Synaesthesia; Clairsentience; Seeing past nature scenes; Seeing apparent past life scenes; Exceptional energy experiences; Tantric merging of energy field with others; Seeing otherworldly inner light; Seeing auras from different dimensions; Seeing everyone as angelic; Seeing cosmic ‘perfection’; Seeing causal dimensions; Seeing astral dimensions; Visions (inner and outer); Microscopic vision; Remote diagnosis of medical conditions; Seeing and conversing with Ghandi as inner guide; ‘Channeling’ inner voice information from higher dimensions; Psycho-kinetic manifestations of desired artifacts; Conversing with inner guides and with birds and animals; Ecstatic trance dancing; Ecstatic meditative moods; Ecstatic crying and laughter; Continuing serendipities and synchronicities.
I considered all these psychic phenomena as “miraculous” natural occurrences which conventional science can’t yet explain, not as hallucinations of a deranged psyche. They were valuable insofar as they helped shatter prior paradigms and egoic beliefs, and revealed a deep longing and yearning for God – a yearning which sparked an irresistible curiosity for answers to ultimate philosophical questions, like “Who am I?”, “What is reality?”, “What is death?”, and “What is life’s purpose, if any?”
But these experiences were pitfalls to my spiritual evolution insofar as they fed ego illusions of my being a separate, specially gifted person, rather than universal consciousness – as revealed by my realization rebirth experience.
I was initiated by Guruji into the path of kundalini yoga two years after I began experiencing these spontaneous psychic phenomena. Thereafter, I learned that what I had considered psychic phenomena were called “kriyas” in kundalini yoga – spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional activities initiated by the awakened evolutionary kundalini life-force energies which purify the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.
But Guruji taught that each person was unique with unique evolutionary impediments. So different people experienced different “kriyas”, and no particular “kriya” was necessarily required for spiritual evolution. And I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.
Thus, since the evolutionary process is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ephemeral forms, spiritual evolution does not require any particular clairvoyant or psychic abilities (“siddhis”) and evolutionary progress can be impeded by psychic powers which feed rather than diminish ego’s illusion of separateness.
I have learned that perhaps the best universal indicators of spiritual evolution are not psychic experiences or mental powers, but spontaneously compassionate and loving behavior, while skillfully living in the present moment with deep non-reactive awareness, and cessation of unwanted thoughts.
Please remember this as you read stories of my “miraculous” experiences. Each of us is unique with a unique perspective and spiritual path in this world. So, as you follow your Heart – your Bliss – your inner path differs from mine, but is equally authentic.
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“Beholding the higher light beyond the darkness
we came to the divine light Sun in the Godhead,
to the highest light of all.”
~ Rig Veda
“You are the light of the world.”
~ Matthew 5:14
Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.
~ Mahmud Shabestari, Sufi Mystic, 15th century.
Though I’ve always loved walking in nature, such walks rarely happened during my married years, as it was not an interest shared by my wife. But soon after our divorce, in summer 1976 I vacationed at Yosemite National Park, where for the first time I spent days hiking in the Sierra Nevada high country, while sleeping and eating at various park tent camps at differing elevations.
I arrived at Yosemite with many new questions arising from recent re-awakening and high energy experiences, and left with even more new experiences and new questions. But an amazing, unforgettable and unforeseen answer to one question – “Why I am crying so much?” – was soon bestowed.
After spending my first night at Merced Lake, the lowest elevation Yosemite tent camp, the next day I hiked over ten miles and more than two thousand feet upward to one of the highest camps, Sunrise, where I arrived just before sunset. I was assigned a bunk where I deposited my backpack, and then decided to ascend to the summit of a ten thousand foot granite dome adjoining the camp.
As I climbed up I felt unusually invigorated yet tired from hours of hiking. On reaching the summit of the granite dome, it seemed as if I was on top of the world. It was the end of a glorious clear summer day in Sierra Nevada high country. Turning southward, I beheld a magnificent mountain vista of the Cathedral Range.
The extraordinary beauty of that alpine panorama at sunset seemed unworldly, and evoked for me strange feelings of déjà vu – of being in the Himalyas – and of entering ‘God’s cathedral’. Spontaneously I began sobbing and crying intensely torrential tears.
Then, completely overcome with emotion, suddenly and instinctively I threw my body to the ground and with crying eyes closed, silently importuned a momentous request. Earnestly addressing the Highest Power with utmost urgency, I implored: “Take me. Take me now. I want nothing more; there is nothing more left for me in this life!”.
Whereupon, I beheld within an unimaginably intense and ethereal effulgence, which I can only now describe as the ‘light of ten thousand suns’. Ancient Vedic scriptures have thus alluded to this inner light:
“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One –.”
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 12
Until that transformative inner light revelation at Yosemite, I had been puzzled about why I had continued crying so much since the realization that I was pure Awareness – not my body, my thoughts or my story. Sadness at the divorce was not an adequate explanation for what was happening to me. But the puzzlement began resolving with that unforgettable Yosemite inner light revelation.
Before Yosemite my intense crying had begun with the realization that I was pure Awareness. And at Yosemite while suddenly and intensely crying and yearning to end my ‘imagined’ sojourn in this world, I beheld the transcendental Light of that Awareness.
My tears then were not tears of sadness, but tears of intense longing to merge with that Light, and so to end the illusion of separation from it. I had beheld Divinity in that magnificent panorama of God’s cathedral, and with all my Heart intensely yearned to be eternally merged with it.
But this realization of why I was crying, raised a new mystery: “How could it be that a secular lawyer who hadn’t cried or fervently prayed during his entire adult life, was now intensely crying and praying for God?”
Ultimately, I learned that I had been graced with “the gift of tears” – a blessed spiritual path of longing and crying for the Divine associated for millennia with devotional mystics in Catholicism, Sufism, Sikhism, Hinduism and other paths. The Universe gradually provided answers to that question, and other questions about my many mystical experiences, through a series of extraordinary synchronistic happenings and experiences which were bestowed after the Yosemite experience.
Though these happenings and experiences were too numerous for me to now recall and recount, I shall share some of the most memorable ones with you.
“In this ever-changing space/time world,
nothing is immutable, but much is inscrutable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Both inner and outer life changed radically for me after my self-realization rebirth experience, and upon living alone after divorce. From living a ‘normal’ middle class life style, I began living outwardly like a Western ascetic, and inwardly with formerly unknown rich spiritual experiences.
I now realize retrospectively that my unforeseen new life unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing my life story’s script; and, that I have been and am now continually guided in my new life by increasingly frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronicities – meaningful or noteworthy ‘coincidences’ and premonitions – which Western science can’t yet explain.
Long-time worldly habits changed. Though I had always walked to my financial district law office, now almost every morning before walking to work I jogged alone for about an hour to the Golden Gate bridge.
Intuitively, and not because of anything I’d then heard or read, I gradually evolved from a common Western flesh food diet to a largely raw food vegetarian diet. Upon experiencing ‘withdrawal symptoms’ when I forgot my morning coffee one day, I realized that I’d become addicted to caffeine. So I stopped drinking coffee, and drank peppermint tea instead. As a vegetarian I became gradually unable to metabolize alcohol. So I stopped drinking beer and wine and all other alcoholic beverages (which I’d enjoyed since adulthood).
Instead of sleeping on a raised bed, I began sleeping on a futon on the floor. Instead of living in rooms filled with furniture and furnishings, I preferred a simple ‘Zen-like’ austere residential environment.
My ascetic new eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise habits have continued for over thirty years, though after suffering leg injuries in a 1988 car accident, I stopped jogging but kept walking usually for at least an hour a day.
Why did I turn to asceticism? Was it because of ascetic past lives? These remain yet unanswered but recurring questions.
Aside from changed worldly habits, my inner life became – and continues to be – like a spiritual detective novel, with ever new questions arising from new experiences and new realizations.
For many years, beginning with my three month period of extraordinarily high energy, I had numerous amazing mystical and psychic experiences, which repeatedly substantiated my post-out of body realization that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought and sparked an intense quest for a new “reality” paradigm.
All these new incidents seemed quite “real”. They could not be readily rationalized away as “unnatural hallucinations” as they were not prompted by ingestion of any biological or chemical psychedelic or drug (which I didn’t use). Nor did I appear to have ‘gone crazy’, since I continued to function effectively as a litigation lawyer despite my new secret life.
After the unforgettable inner experience of seeing each of my thoughts manifest as a separate kaleidoscopic thought-form outside my body or brain, I intuited that thought was the genesis of all phenomenal reality. But I had no idea of how that could happen, and wondered about any such process. So with great curiousity I sought a new paradigm or world-view encompassing my new experiences of “reality”.
Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find. Gradually, I was given synchronistic answers to my questions.
This process was accompanied by an ever increasing sense of awe and gratitude for our marvelous, miraculous and mysterious universe. Intense longing with ever growing gratitude gradually transformed a secular lawyer into a deeply devotional seeker of Truth – of answers to ultimately unanswerable questions of perennial philosophy.
And never again since the long-locked floodgate of tears was opened during the self-realization rebirth experience have tears failed to flow regularly. For many years, I cried so often and so profusely with deep longing for the Divine, that I was puzzled about what was happening to me.
But gradually, through synchronicity, I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing known in the Catholic tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola as “the gift of tears”; a blessing similarly recognized in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, including the ecstatic Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz and numerous others, and the Hindu tradition of bhakti yoga, which I followed for many years after synchronistically meeting my venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).
Though never a frequent flyer, for many years I became – and remain – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness. And I regularly experienced numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which helped further my spiritual evolution. For example, when not crying I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.
Many years have passed since Guruji told me to write and publish my spiritual memoirs, so the memoirs have gradually shortened as they have been ‘edited’ and abridged by time. But the most valuable experiences were unforgettable. Hereafter, I will share with you some of them, with theories of what they might mean.
“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time nor does it come into being again when the body is created. The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed. Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.” “The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna
Soon after my life-changing out of body experience (OOB) at a 1974-5 New Year’s ‘pot luck’ party, I learned that the experience had been triggered by my unwitting (and only) ingestion of cannabis; that the home-made desert cake which I had so enjoyed then was laced with marijuana. Though this initially raised doubts about the “reality” of the experience, it did not end my irresistible determination to find out what really had happened.
The New Year’s Eve experience was too vivid and too authentic to dismiss it peremptorily as a mere psychedelic hallucination. Yet it was so challenging to my egoic sense of self identity, that I was afraid to then share the experience with others. And as an upright, uptight officer of courts, I didn’t want to admit to anyone my ingestion – even unwittingly – of an illegal substance. So, I didn’t promptly tell Naomi or anyone else about my out of body experience.
Instead, sparked by the momentous question: “Who or what am I?”,
I began covertly exploring what happened.
Though busy with my law practice, I sporadically read articles and books about parapsychology and psychic phenomena, but not about sacred mysticism or spirituality, of which I remained ignorant. As I read and reflected, I intuited the validity of various reported metaphysical phenomena, but still hadn’t encountered information about out of body experiences, which I didn’t yet know were common.
However, irresistibly I kept thinking about my New Year’s Eve experience and its meaning. Though convinced of the authenticity of that experience, I suppressed conscious confirmation of it’s true significance until April, 1976 – fifteen months later – when it burst into consciousness from the subconscious, shattering the ego’s psychic shell, which until then had censored and suppressed such awareness.
By that time my marriage was ending and I was confused and troubled, trying to cope with the shock and trauma of divorce and its consequences. Naomi and I were then living separate and apart, but still in the same house, pending legal agreement on sale of the house, our only major economic asset. I had temporarily moved into a third floor attic room, anxiously awaiting my lawyer’s permission to move out. It was the unhappiest time of my life.
My heart was broken at the prospect of being permanently separated from our young children, Jessica and Joshua. But, I hadn’t yet experienced the depth of my emotional sadness, and – as an uptight man – hadn’t shed any tears during my entire adult life.
Then it began happening. I awakened one Monday in April, 1976, feeling an unprecedented slight pressure inside my head. It lasted all day, and was still present the next day – only slightly more intense. For the entire week, the feeling of pressure inside the head intensified each day.
With growing apprehension I began wondering whether I was developing a serious neurological disorder. But, ambivalently, I continued with my busy schedule without consulting a doctor. By the time the weekend arrived, I was experiencing, with considerable concern, great pressure inside my head – as if it was about to ‘explode’ from the inside out.
That weekend Naomi went away with the children, and I was alone in the attic room, when the ‘explosion’ finally happened. I was again wondering about the meaning of my New Year’s Eve out of body experience and the question “Who or what am I?”, when, at long last, I had a profound but simple insight that:
“I am not my body or its thoughts, but pure awareness; I am not my role in life – lawyer, husband, father – with which I’ve identified, but pure awareness.”.
Thereupon the pressure in my head immediately ended, and I burst into unending flood of tears. [Synchronistically, I later realized that the head pressure was a symptom of ascending “kundalini” energy spontaneously purifying my nervous system, by opening subtle body energy channels (nadis).]
As I intensely and uncontrollably cried as never before, my body went into fetal position and spontaneously and convulsively I began gasping and hyperventilating with spasmodic movements. It was as if I was replicating a newborn baby’s emergence from the womb into this world via the mother’s birth canal. The crying, sobbing and ‘rebirthing’ process continued intermittently and spasmodically for twenty four hours, until finally I fell asleep.
Upon awakening, I felt extraordinarily different than ever before. Initially, instead of experiencing myself as a physical body, I experienced only consciousness of flowing lines of vital subtle energy channels , which I later associated with the ‘chi’ meridians described by Chinese acupuncture medicine and with nadis described by kundalini yoga.
Thereafter for almost three months, I needed very little sleep. I would habitually get into bed every night but slept very little, finding that customary restorative sleep wasn’t necessary. Though this extraordinary energy gradually waned and my former physical body experience returned, never again have I experienced life as I did before that self-identity insight and ‘rebirthing’ process.
Paradoxically, my prolonged mid-life birth canal emergence process may have been the first time in this life that I had an experience like a normal newborn’s journey through the birth canal. Prior to this ‘rebirth’ event, my highest spiritual energy experiences had happened when I was present in the delivery room at the births of Jessica and Joshua, our two beautiful children. But these were births of other beings. My own birth was a different story.
Early on November 8, 1932, the day of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first election, I was traumatically extracted with forceps from my mother’s body – a breech birth – after an exceptionally protracted but incomplete labor period.
Because of the psychological significance of perinatal trauma, I have wondered whether that breech birth extraction affected my personality, and whether it in any way triggered or contributed to my mid-life rebirth experience.
Some Western astrologers say that because I emerged at a very propitious time, when the Moon was in Pisces, I came into this world with an open Hearted tendency, not so characteristic of other Moon signs. So, despite the breech birth trauma, that birth time may have been a great blessing.
What do you think?
An “identity crisis” can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Upon graduation from the University of Chicago law school in 1958, I became a Chicago lawyer. Two years later I was married and moved to San Francisco, rather than settling into married life in Chicago. An idealist then, I had quickly become disillusioned with the Cook County Illinois court system and felt that there must be another place where courts administered justice more consistent with truth, law and equity than politics. And because I previously had a very positive experience of the San Francisco ambiance and “vibes”, I thought the Bay Area might be such a place. Also, my new wife, Naomi, and I both believed that starting married life might be easier if there was a two thousand mile distance between us and our parents. So adventurously we moved to San Francisco after our marriage in June, 1960.
Unlike many others, I didn’t move to California to participate in significant Bay Area social ferment and transformation of that era. I wasn’t interested in Beatniks, Hippies, Flower Children, the Haight-Ashbury scene, or Eastern spirituality (of which I was then totally ignorant). As a San Francisco lawyer, I just wanted to – and often did – help unjustly exploited or downtrodden people with legal problems. But I felt compelled to work within the legal system on cases which came to me, and not pro-actively – except for certain civil liberties issues. Though as an idealistic lawyer I abhorred the tragic injustice and insanity of the Viet Nam war, and the authoritarian suppression of free speech at U.C. Berkeley, I wasn’t politically active in those causes, or in the feminist revolution with which I ambivalently sympathized. And I was quite ‘uptight’ about breaking any social ‘norms’ or doing anything illegal, like using psychedelics.
While keeping distance between us and our parents may have initially been helpful for Naomi and me, it wasn’t enough to prevent irreconcilable differences from ending our marriage fifteen years later. While we had long been stressed by our incompatibilities, for me the psychological seeds of our parting and of a new life beyond married life, were first sown at a 1974-5 New Year’s Eve party, at the Clarendon Heights home of doctor friends who weren’t as uptight about certain social norms as their lawyer friend Ron Rattner.
As we embarked for the party I felt inexplicably happy – happier than I had felt for a long time. And at the party this happiness kept growing as the evening progressed. So by the time that the new year arrived, I was very high in Clarendon Heights. All evening I had been sipping champaign and singing old Broadway songs around an upright piano played by a pianist with an unending repertoire of Tin Pan Alley favorites. The singing brought me back to happier times in high school and college when Dave Weiner, my multi-talented friend since kindergarten, would often lead similar singing from the piano.
After mid-night and customary “happy new year” proclamations, we ate a ‘pot luck’ buffet dinner. I enjoyed the food very much, especially the desert – a home baked cake. But soon after eating it, I began feeling very strange – like I’d never felt before. My brain felt anesthetized, so that I could hardly think. Believing that I was becoming quite ill, I asked Madlyn, the hostess, for a place to lay down. She showed me into a very small, dark utility room furnished with little more than a bed, upon which I quickly fell face down, after removing my eyeglasses.
Then, after lying face down on a pillow for a short time, I had an unprecedented and unforgettable out of body experience (OOB). It seemed that I floated out of my body and up to the ceiling of that small dark room. And from the ceiling, with my glasses on a bedside table, I clearly saw my body lying face down on the pillow. Then, with difficulty I thought: “How can I be up here, when my body’s down there?” And with every thought, I beheld a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form – a surreal thought form, which appeared below the ceiling (where I was) and above the bed (where my body was lying face-down).
All these perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And for the first time in my life they irresistibly raised an urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”
In later reflecting on my OOB experience, 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. Then, if not my body and not my thoughts, who and what am I?
Until then, I had always assumed that I was only my mortal 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 with ‘pot luck’ on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, those assumptions were forever shaken.
Thereupon, irresistibly and persistently I began asking the question “Who Am I”, intensely longing for an answer. This self-inquiry process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever.