“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“True vision is insight, not eyesight.
‘[N]ow we see through a glass darkly’,
but with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
~ Carl Jung
“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight,
but has no vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind,
so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.”
~ Helen Keller
“Perception is a mirror not a fact.
And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward.”
~ A Course In Miracles
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen.
In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
This is the story of how I learned from inner and outer experiences that true vision depends on our state of mind and upon imagination and insight beyond mere eyesight; that even people with no eyesight, like Helen Keller, can be visionaries.
Since childhood I wore eyeglasses for normal eyesight. And until my midlife spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my physical body. So when diagnosed and told by “expert” eye doctors that I suffered incurably defective vision, requiring corrective lenses I never questioned that diagnosis. Nor did I consider defective eyesight as improvable or curable. Nor did I understand vision as a brain function, or as possibly arising from consciousness beyond the brain.
But those beliefs changed after extraordinary inner and outer post-awakening experiences, which began a still continuing vision quest process from eyesight to insight.
My eyesight history
At about age three my parents brought me to an ophthalmologist for a misaligned eye. I was diagnosed with astigmatism and far-sightedness and prescribed thick eyeglasses – which I always required, but never liked. Gradually, I was given ever stronger prescriptions.
I became so habitually dependent on eyeglasses that I would grope for them upon awakening every morning, and wore them constantly. Once when I was a pre-teen at a YMCA summer camp, one of my cabin mates, with a distorted sense of humor, hid my glasses for several days. I still remember how lost and miserable I felt without them.
When I was eighteen years old and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a college friend, who later became a prominent Chicago optometrist, told me about corneal contact lenses, which were then newly developed. And he recommended a Chicago expert who could usually fit them comfortably. Excitedly, I became an early corneal contact lens user.
Thereafter, I continued wearing hard contact lenses for about twenty five years, even though they sometimes irritated my eyes. But eventually I needed reading glasses and couldn’t get bifocal contact lenses. So, reluctantly I resumed using eyeglasses, which I believed necessary until after the extraordinary inner and outer spiritual awakening experiences hereafter recounted.
Out of body visions
At a 1974-5 San Francisco New Year’s Eve party, I had an unprecedented and unforgettable out of body experience (OOB). While lying face down on a bed in a small dark room, “I” floated out of my body and up to the ceiling. And from the ceiling, with my glasses on a bedside table, I beheld my body lying face down on the pillow. For the first time in my life I had 20/20 vision without eyeglasses, and without even using my eyes – or maybe my brain.
The New Year’s OOB experience soon led to a pivotal rebirth epiphany at age forty three, which, opened an emotional/intuitive flood-gate closed since childhood – unleashing for the first time in my adult life numerous synchronistic inner and outer experiences which gradually but radically changed my beliefs about “reality” and self-identity.
After the rebirth experience I had other out of body experiences with perceived visions, as well as innumerable inner visions and insights. Ultimately, I associated inner visions with a mysterious “third eye” associated with the pineal gland – providing apparent perception beyond ordinary eyesight. For example, I took shaktipat initiation from my Hindu master Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas only after perceiving his extraordinary silver aura and seeing him in inner visions, one of which was as clear as a color TV picture. And I learned from Guruji that such auric perceptions and inner visions were associated with the kundalini purification process.
Bates Bioenergetic Vision Improvement Method
Shortly before meeting Guruji I attended a San Francisco ‘new age’ exposition where various ‘green’ products were displayed and sold. One of the vendors was selling pin-hole glasses and a book she had written about natural vision improvement, as originally taught in the early 20th century by unconventional ophthalmologist William H. Bates, MD.
Synchronistically she told me that possibly I might improve and perhaps even cure my defective eyesight with natural vision improvement techniques; that pin-hole glasses did not improve vision but afforded an opportunity break the ‘addiction’ to glasses via obligatory squint focus through its small apertures.
Intrigued, I bought the book and the pin-hole glasses and assiduously began learning and experimenting with natural vision relaxation techniques, such as blinking, sunning, swaying, acupressure massage and palming. Experientially, I became persuaded that just as the so-called “placebo effect” could promote healing of physical ailments through optimistic attitude, that a relaxed and positive psychological attitude could also help improve eyesight.
I was encouraged in this belief by reading many eye improvement books, including “The Art of Seeing” by famed author Aldous Huxley, who gratefully affirmed how he improved his vision via Bates techniques. For several years I received vision improvement lessons from Anna Kaye, a former Polish attorney who had emigrated to the United States after World War II unable to see a door, and diagnosed with incurable atrophy of the optic nerve. Four ophthalmologists had recommended she learn Braille. But, unable to accept near blindness, she studied natural vision improvement with a Bates protegee in New York City and regained 20/30 vision in both eyes.
Also, I later met and was inspired by Meir Schneider PhD, a San Francisco healer from Israel whose vision improved from legal blindness and Braille to near normal sight with the Bates Method, supplemented by his own intense regimen of self-massage and movement.
Despite years of effort, I never succeeded in normalizing my vision with Bates relaxation techniques. At my present level of consciousness, relaxation did not normalize a misshapen cornea and resulting astigmatism. But I’m convinced that relaxation and other Bates methods improved and stabilized my vision, deterred cataract formation, and taught me much about my body’s energy system; that thereby they have contributed to good health. At age eighty eight, I still get a binocular 20/30 correction with progressive multifocal lenses which are not as strong as eyeglasses prescribed for me about thirty years ago, which I keep as souvenirs.
Ron’s Vision Quest: From Eyesight to Insight
On meeting Guruji, I was amazed not only by his miraculous spiritual powers but also by his extraordinary physical prowess at age one hundred, including his ability to see normally without glasses. Initially, I surmised that Guruji’s miraculous physical condition had resulted from his enlightened state of mind, and his mastery of yogic meditation, mantra, movement, and breathing techniques. So naively I began believing that “enlightenment” required not only a mind free from ego defilements, but also a healthy physical body with normal eyesight. And this belief motivated me more than ever to attempt normalizing my eyesight via Bates bioenergetic techniques.
But, gradually Guruji became physically exhausted and debilitated from his tireless schedule of selflessly helping others in the US. Yet he retained his enlightened state of mind. And soon I learned of other spiritual masters and saints with unhealthy bodies and/or impaired eyesight. So, I learned it was possible to be spiritually elevated, notwithstanding visual and other physical impairments.
For example, I noted that HH The Dalai Lama of Tibet, needed eyeglasses for near-sightedness. And after Guruji returned to India, I met and took kriya empowerments from Paramahamsa Hariharananda Giri, an Indian meditation master who also needed eyeglasses.
Also I learned that beloved Saint Francis of Assisi was almost blind at the time of his death, legendarily because he “cried his eyes out” but actually because of chronic conjunctivitis apparently contracted in Africa during the Crusades.
Thus, though ultimately I accepted my inability to normalize eyesight without glasses, I’ve never lost faith in our evolutionary potential of ever elevating inner vision through mindful identification and diligent purification of mental defilements.
In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12), St. Paul observes that “now we see through a glass darkly”, but that some day we shall fully know, as we are fully Known now by the Divine.
In our illusory space/time duality world, we view “reality” through the ‘mirror of the mind’, which imperfectly refracts and reflects the unseen light of Eternal Awareness onto the screen of our human consciousness.
But, we can evolve and transform our mind mirror from opacity to translucency to transparency. And thereby, with ever expanding human consciousness and ever deepening insight, we can and shall ‘see’ more and more – we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.
And so it shall be!
“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.
~ Lao Tzu
“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
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Q. What is God?
A. What isn’t God?
Q. Is it possible to see God?
A. Is it possible to not see God?
God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.
So, everyone sees God everywhere.
But few know it.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Seeing GOD?”
Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”
Have you ever imagined seeing God? Or wondered whether that was possible? Or heard of anyone claiming to see God?
During my early Jewish acculturation, I accepted the core Bible proclamation:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
Thereafter, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and assumed it impossible to perceive or to be enfolded in God. So I never understood Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE” [John 10:30].
But after my mid-life awakening, while crying for God with total surrender on a Yosemite mountain top, I beheld within (but did not merge with) the Divine light of ten thousand suns. Thereafter I began wondering about “seeing God”, especially after reading the Gospel and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man who often experienced communion with the Divine.
I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India. There – almost a hundred years after Sri Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.
On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life and his teachings. I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was an ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with ‘the gift of tears’. Though Francis had lived in a vastly different age and culture seven hundred years before Sri Ramakrishna, they had similar devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport.
As an enlightened mystic Sri Ramakrishna affirmed to his principal disciple Swami Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy. At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother, or the all-loving Father. Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is Divine communion beyond human description.
Ultimately he taught that God is All – omnipresent as all manifestation, while timelessly transcendent as unmanifest Infinite Potentiality.
Thus the foregoing whimsical verses about seeing GOD were inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings.
May those verses and teachings encourage us all to ever remember – and perhaps perceive – that everyone and everything is Divine!
And so may it be!
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Objective reality does not exist” ….
“the universe is fundamentally a gigantic … hologram”
~ David Bohm, Quantum Physicist
“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.
“There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe.
The horizontal threads are in space. The vertical threads are in time.
At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual.
And every individual is a crystal bead. And every crystal bead reflects not only the light from every other crystal in the net,
but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.”
~ Indra’s Net – from the Vedas of ancient India, 7000 years old
“Reality” isn’t REAL!
“Reality” is a holographic theater of the mind,
where we are microcosmic mirrors of the macrocosm.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
The following written and recited poetic verses, together with explanatory comments and above quotations, supplement the related “What Is The Universe?” posting.
Both postings propose that cosmically “We Are The Universe”. They are intended to help us open our hearts to all beings and all life everywhere.
Please consider them accordingly.
We Are The Universe!
The “universe” is like a cosmic hologram:
An ever changing but persistent illusion
appearing in an eternal, immutable,
infinite ocean of Awareness –
Awareness arising from pure potentiality.
Each of us is an integral, pin-point part of the whole picture,
which wouldn’t be complete without us.
But, though we appear as only a speck of the Whole,
we are like parts of a hologram;
Hidden within each of us is the whole cosmic picture,
and the awareness screen
on which we envision and project the picture.
In our Essence, we and the “universe” are ONE.
So, we are the “universe”.
Ron’s audio recitation of “We Are The Universe”
Ron’s reflections on Non-dualism and “We Are The Universe”
Today’s We Are The Universe! posting together with the related “What Is The Universe?” posting propose that cosmically “We Are The Universe”.
These and many more SillySutras writings pertain to non-dualism – an important philosophy which has inspired many recent Silly Sutras writings about spiritual evolution and the nature of “reality”.
From childhood we have been taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate body, name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited mortal beings; but not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal cosmic consciousness with all life-forms.
Thus, for countless ages human ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in our hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive selfishness and suffering.
Yet, for millennia sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we inevitably suffer from radically mistaken self-identity; that our self-identity and reality are not what they appear to be; that it is possible to limit or avoid most suffering of ordinary human existence through experiential self-identification with the unseen Eternal spiritual Source of all space-time causality ‘reality’.
Soon after my mid-life change of life, I began discovering enduring wisdom teachings about the Vedic path of Advaita, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism, and its teachings are about experiencing non-dual Self Realization via focused self-inquiry – relentlessly asking “Who am I?”.
I first found these teachings in books by or about legendary Indian sages J. Krishnamurti, Swami Vivekananda, and Shri Ramana Maharshi; also in New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms, and in KPFA radio lectures by Alan Watts, contemporary Western philosopher/teacher of Eastern spiritual wisdom, from which I learned about similar Buddhist and Taoist non-dualist philosophies.
After initial perplexity, I gradually became convinced of the ultimate Truth of non-dualistic teachings, as eloquently explained by Swami Vivekananda that:
“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun . . does not exist, it is not real” ; and that
“Your 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”
Non-dualism has even seemed quite consistent with the primary prayer of my early Jewish acculturation:
“Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29
Yet, while accepting Eastern non-dualism wisdom teachings, I have continuously displayed preponderantly devotional propensities of praying, calling and crying to the Divine. And in reading hagiographies I have most identified with Saint Francis of Assisi and Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – both extremely ascetic and devotional holy men – more than with the wisdom teachers who introduced me to non-dualism.
Until retirement, while maintaining my busy law practice I found limited time to read and reflect on non-dualism teachings, except on weekends. So I used to jestingly tell spiritual friends that on weekdays I prayed and cried as a devotional bhakta, but that on weekends I became a “Seventh Day Advaitist”.
Ultimately, I’ve become an every day – not just a seventh day – Advaitist. So whimsically I sometimes say that I am now a devotionally open-minded “Advaitist-fundamentalist”.
While accepting non-dualism, my primary path seems devotional. Over forty years since beginning to cry for God, I still frequently display devotional tendencies of spontaneously praying, singing, and calling to the Divine. Apparently, my Guruji was quite prescient in naming me Rasik – “one engrossed in devotion”.
As a devotional “Advaitist-Fundamentalist” I have composed many poems and essays encouraging the heartfelt path of ‘non-dualism’ – including today’s “We Are The Universe” quotations and poem.
May these writings help remind, encourage and inspire us to open our hearts with deep empathy and compassion for all people and all Life everywhere.
And so may it be!
“He is born in vain,
who having attained the human birth,
so difficult to get,
does not attempt to realize God
in this very life.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21
“Seek and ye shall find.”
Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
“What you seek is seeking you.”
“What we are looking for is what is looking.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
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
“Remember God; forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Q. Should we be seekers?
A. Knowingly or unknowingly everyone’s a seeker.
Knowingly or unknowingly everyone seeks Self.
But seeking’s then,
while Self is NOW.
So, to find Self,
BE Self –
Ron’s audio recitation of “Should We Be Seekers?”
Ron’s comments and explanation of “Should We Be Seekers?”
Are you a spiritual seeker – a seeker of Eternal Truth?
Nowadays, few humans consciously seek spiritual Truth. Almost everyone wants to be happy. But most people seek happiness in worldly pursuits and pleasures, not within.
For millennia mystics, saints and sages have counseled us to focus on spiritual rather than worldly goals. They tell us that worldly pleasures and attainments can merely bring transient satisfactions, whereas lasting happiness can only be found within.
Thus Jesus advised:
“Seek first the kingdom of heaven, which is within.”
“Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21; Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
Similarly, 19th century Indian holy man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa said:
“He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
From my experience, knowingly or unknowingly, everyone is a spiritual “seeker” because everyone longs for a state of being which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering, bringing eternal happiness as LOVE. But rare are those who attain it.
In memoirs titled “Transcending Transcendence” I’ve told how soon after becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I learned that that the object of Sanskrit Hindu practices given by my Guruji was to achieve “mukti” or “moksha”, a state of Divine illumination, where the Self, soul, or “Atman” would experience its Oneness with “Brahman” [Supreme Reality] – the pinnacle of human experience.
Thereafter, I began considering and seeking “self realization”, or “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 ever expanding heartfelt faith in God.
Mystics say that by resolutely looking within we can discover ultimately that we are imprisoned by illusionary mental tendencies and mistaken beliefs about self identity and reality which wrongly reify our limited perceptions of ephemeral forms, in an ever impermanent illusory reality, where mortality and suffering are karmically inevitable.
So, how can we find divine happiness within?
Non-dualist masters tell us that effortlessly – with resolute intention, intense aspiration and focused observation we can discover our eternal Self, as a joyous state of spiritual freedom beyond belief.
“What is the worth of a happiness for which you must strive and work? Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
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
“In the pursuit of learning every day something is gained.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing ‘what is’ rather than making up stories about it. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well-being and inner peace, the source of true happiness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.”
~ Seng-Ts’an, The Third Patriarch of Zen
Dedication and Invocation
May the non-dualist mystic masters inspire us –
each from our unique perspective –
to prioritize spiritual rather than worldly goals,
and so to seek and find relief from belief –
relief from mistaken mental tendencies
from which we inevitably and repeatedly suffer
until we find –
beyond the mind –
our true immortal Self.
And thus discover that:
We are what we seek!
And so it shall be!
“The entire physical creation,
so awe inspiring to human mentality…
provides only tantalizing hints
to the underlying wonders of being.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The miracle is not to walk on water,
but to walk with love on earth,
as if your feet are kissing the ground.
We must learn to say ‘Yes’ to the miracles of life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Directly experiencing the multi-dimensionality of manifest reality
helps free the mind and open the heart,
inspiring and encouraging ever new insights,
while raising ever new mysteries.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
Extraordinary Energy Experiences
Einstein revolutionized our understanding of physical reality by showing that everything everywhere is endless energy, viz. E=mc2. But rare are those who mindfully self identify with this pivotal revelation.
Since realizing my true essence and identity as eternal spirit, beyond form – beyond birth and death, I have been experientially blessed with unforgettable reminders of the ephemerally impermanent and energetic nature of our apparent physical reality, and of its eternal context in cosmic consciousness beyond time and space.
From these experiences I’ve gradually lost fear of death and have been opened to innumerable new revelatory insights about this magical and mysterious world of forms and phenomena. These experiences have helped me live an ever happier life, as predicted by my beloved Guruji, and have inspired ever new insights and questions concerning our infinite evolutionary potentialities.
Subtle energy sensitivities
Amongst my most noteworthy new experiences have been unprecedented subtle energy perceptions.
Immediately after my spiritual rebirth experience I briefly experienced myself as mere lines of energy – like those associated with Chinese acupuncture.
Then my experience of bodily consciousness returned, but never again as before. Previously perceived bodily boundaries expanded well beyond my skin, and in rare instances even melted or merged into mystery. And I became aware that my bodily self-perceptions constantly varied with varying states of vitality and subtle awareness.
Here are some examples of this new clairsentience.
Starting soon after the rebirth experience, at times I felt the energies of people, creatures and objects visually perceived to be far away. And beyond visual perception I became consciously sensitive to the energies of people and places both in and remote from my physical proximity – their ‘vibes’.
For example, I remember sitting with my then young son Josh in the grandstand at a San Francisco Giants baseball game, almost palpably feeling the energy of each pitched baseball as it left the pitcher’s hand and sped toward the batter. The entire playing field seemed within the ambit of my perceived energy field.
Once when meditating alone in my apartment and concerned about a grove of Northwest Pacific coast old growth trees then being clear-cut for lumber, I empathetically experienced with endless tears the suffering of those ancient beings.
After meditating in my high-rise view apartment, I remember at rare times looking out and feeling the energies of birds flying in the distance. And while walking on a path or beach by the Bay I sometimes palpably felt the energy emanations of people i saw moving at a distance from me.
One sunny Sunday, as I walked along San Francisco Bay to and from the Golden Gate Bridge, I beheld every person I encountered – dozens, without exception – as a divine being emanating and glowing with Divine luminescence. (See https://sillysutras.com/beholding-beings-of-light-rons-memoirs/)
The foregoing unusual energy experiences seemed to involve supposed subject-object perceptions, viz. Ron aware of various supposedly separate distant forms. But other new energy experiences apparently transcended such supposed subject-object separation.
For example when I was talking in person or by phone with certain people with whom I felt special rapport – like my ‘high energy’ friend Betty Bethards, a spiritual teacher and psychic – I often experienced elevated energy, as if our subtle energy fields had synergistically expanded. And after I met Guruji I was consistently transformed and energetically uplifted when in his physical proximity, irresistibly resonating with his amazingly powerful “shakti” cosmic life-force.
Perhaps my most extraordinary new energy events were subtle energy ‘mergers’ that happened during out of body [OOB] experiences. The first ‘merger’ happened quite synchronistically, soon after my divorce. Just before awakening one work-day morning, I beheld an extremely vivid and large movie-like inner image of a blue-eyed blond woman who I’d never before seen. Quite puzzled I wondered who she was and why she had appeared in my inner vision. Those questions were soon answered.
A few days later, alone and lonely on a Saturday evening, I searched the SF Chronicle’s weekend event calendar for something to do. There I learned that a Tibetan bell concert was about to happen in an auditorium not far from my apartment. Though I then knew nothing about Tibetans, and never before heard Tibetan bells, this concert seemed interesting. So I made a last-minute decision to attend.
There were no reserved seats, and by the time I arrived the only remaining seats were on a small back balcony far from the stage. So I sat there waiting for the concert to begin. After a few moments, I noticed the person already seated immediately to my left. She was undoubtedly the woman who had appeared in my vision a few days earlier. She was a yoga teacher with whom I soon had a brief but very important romantic relationship.
Once during that relationship I had the unprecedented experience of leaving my body during physical coition with union of our subtle bodies above the intertwined physical bodies, which I viewed from above. Apart from that brief OOB experience, it seemed thereafter that our subtle bodies remained conjoined even when we were physically apart. One week I had a mysterious leg pain not traceable to physical trauma. That weekend I learned from my friend that she had injured a leg, and that apparently we were simultaneously experiencing the same leg pain.
After we were together physically, I initially experienced amazingly enhanced vital energies. But later because of very stressful life circumstances she became quite devitalized and enervated. Thereupon, she unknowingly began syphoning my vital energies whenever we were together. When we parted, instead of having amazingly enhanced energies, I became so debilitated that I couldn’t jog or even walk to work as usual. Finally, without vital energy it became impossible for me to continue to be with her. Our relationship ended. It was virtually my last romance before becoming abstinent for the remainder of my adult life – so far.
A few years later I had another memorable OOB merger experience, but this time without any physical intimacy. Here’s what happened.
In October 1981 I was invited to attend a Jungian archetypal Halloween costume party in Sausalito, California. Attendees were asked to dress as a personality or image important to them in this lifetime. Never before had I attended an adult costume party. Nor had I ever before thought about any “archetype” important to me.
But on learning that I could borrow a Franciscan monk’s habit from my friend Michael Toms, I decided to attend as Saint Francis of Assisi, with whom I had discovered a deep inner rapport. Dressed as St. Francis, I went to the party alone.
It was held in a large old warehouse space where there was live music and an extensive dance floor area. The warehouse was hot, noisy and crowded – not an ambience apparently conducive to spiritual experience or elevated awareness. But that’s what happened to me.
I was standing alone on the dance floor when a woman stranger costumed as an angel invited me to dance with her. I gladly accepted. Then she told me that as a spiritual practice she was “toning”, and asked if I would like to “tone” with her as we danced, explaining that while dancing together we could make harmonious tonal sounds. I hadn’t before heard about toning, and was curious.
So, at her suggestion, we danced and twirled and toned together like Sufis. Soon, while we were thus twirling and toning, I had another memorable OOB experience.
Fleetingly I ‘left my physical body’ and from above the two twirling dancers perceived our subtle bodies merged. This was a revelatory experience for me, because I learned from it the possibility of “tantric” merger without physical union.
After dancing and toning for a short time, we shared contact information. I learned that her name was Mary Saint-Marie, and that she was a visionary artist from Mount Shasta, California. But I did not reveal my merger experience to her. We parted without dancing again. Thereafter, we briefly exchanged correspondence when Mary was considering enrolling in graduate studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) where I then was Board Chairman. But we never met again for almost thirty years.
In the meanwhile, I wondered why I had such an extraordinary experience with an ‘angelic’ stranger in a crowded, hot and noisy place. Ultimately, I determined it happened because my dancing partner was an extraordinarily elevated being who (then unknown to me) had recently experienced a prolonged period of out of body cosmic Oneness.
As I write, Mary Saint-Marie is still a visionary artist and spiritual guide who shares her rare transcendent perspectives and experiences via inspiring art and spiritual writings, and in work shops and consultations. [See:http://www.marysaintmarie.com/].
Several years following my subtle merger experience with Mary Saint-Marie, I had another unforgettable revelatory union experience even more extraordinary than the previous ones.
One night I was awakened from a deep sleep to behold within the face image of an Indian yogi, who looked familiar but who I could not then identify. Thereupon, the yogi merged our subtle fields, and we became ONE. Words cannot describe the orgasmic thrill of that merger. It was for me thrilling beyond any other experience of this lifetime – so far.
For many years after that extraordinary glimpse of evolutionary potentiality I wondered about the identity of the benevolent yogi who had bestowed the unforgettable experience, and why it happened. Finally, through synchronicity, I intuited his identity.
One evening, while on-line at my computer, I was wondering about the mysterious yogi when a familiar portrait appeared in a file I was searching. It was Mahavatar Babaji the legendary timeless saint and root guru of Paramahansa Yogananda’s kriya yoga lineage, who was pictured and described in “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Instantly I intuitively recognized him as the compassionate yogi with whom Ron had been merged.* [See footnote.]
I don’t know why I was karmically granted these wonderful “peek experiences”. Like other blessed experiences, they’ve helped to free my mind from illusory limitations and to open my heart to ever new Divine insights.
Perhaps they were portents that – after eons of endless evolution – Humankind will ultimately realize ever elevated life experiences through our precious planet’s inevitable dimension Ascension,
In an autogyral
Flowing up and beyond
Or maybe we’ll experience supramental powers upon earth, as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo.
In all events, these fleeting extraordinary energy experiences have helped inspire my ever growing gratitude and faith in our Infinite Potentiality – in the Mystery of Divinity.
In February 1982 at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India, I beheld an ethereal being who was soon identified to me as “Mahavatar Babaji”. I shall recount that story in another memoirs chapter. I believe the Oneness experience with him happened several years after our encounter in India.
May today’s extraordinary energy stories help free our minds from illusory limitations, and open our hearts to ever new Divine insights, bringing us ever expanding fulfillment and happiness on our precious planet Earth. And may these stories inspire our ever growing gratitude and faith in our Infinite Potentiality – until our ultimate transcendence of this permanently impermanent world of time and space.
And so shall it be!
“Death is truly part of life …
‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
At my death do not lament our separation…
As the sun and moon but seem to set,
in Reality this is a rebirth.
In order to know through experience what happens beyond death, you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“And it is in dying [to ego life]
that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, edited by Ron Rattner
Q: What is death?
A: “Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and they are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.
Such fear of death often motivates selfish thoughts, emotions and behaviors, which dim our inner divine light and render us susceptible to subliminal shadow side neurotic, demonic or dark forces – subhuman malignant energies or entities which parasitically polarize, divide and exploit humankind, by provoking selfishness, violence, anger, anxiety, and fear.
Thus, our fear of death can significantly impede spiritual evolution, whereas losing and transcending fear of death can allow and encourage important evolutionary advancement.
Until my midlife spiritual awakening, like most humans I self-identified with only my physical body, its thoughts and story. But then, in my early forties, I had previously unimagined and irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife, from which I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. Since then I have been blessed with a wonderful new life period of ever increasing happiness and fulfillment.
The above quotations and sutras, and the following poetic verses about whether birth on Earth is a death sentence, epigrammatically summarize what I have experientially learned about physical death. They are explained in greater detail in comments following the poem.
Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?
No matter how we strive,
No body leaves alive.
But we never really die – you see,
Just leave our physicality
To melt and merge with Mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”
Ron’s comments on “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”
Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown.
Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.
Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown:
“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”
Like most other Americans, I was acculturated with an innate but largely subconscious fear of death. Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife:
I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.
Thus, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Ultimately I concluded from experience and intuition that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g.Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death)
So I’ve shared the foregoing whimsical poem, quotes and comments about birth and death to help remind us that as we lose fear of death we gain ever increasing peace of mind and happiness. And to explain why transcending fear of death is especially important during current polarized and turbulent times.
May we realize that physical death is normal and necessary,
and not to be feared;
that it opens us to ever expanding
new vistas of self-discovery and fulfillment
of our deepest aspirations as eternal souls;
that beyond physical birth and death
we are destined to discover and enjoy
ever increasing inner peace and happiness
until we melt and merge with Mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.
And so may it be!
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi
September 26, 1181 – October 3, 1226 [*See footnote]
Saint Francis of Assisi is one of history’s most beloved saints. For almost eight hundred years since his canonization by the Catholic Church (in the year 1228), he has been remembered and revered not only by Christian denominations, but by countless others world-wide, who have been inspired by his life of universal love, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. More than three million people come every year to his tomb in Assisi.
He is patron saint of Italy and of many other places, like San Francisco, a city blessed with his name, his spirit, and a national shrine including the Porziuncola Nuova, the only papally declared holy place in the USA. Also, he is patron saint of birds, animals and ecology. Francis loved peace, communed with all living creatures, and lived a life of kindness, simplicity and poverty in contrast to the wealth and apparent corruption of the Church. He was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and inspired founding of the Poor Clares order for women, and a third secular order for laity sworn to peace.
After living a worldly life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis volunteered to fight in a war between Assisi and neighboring Perugia. He was captured during a bloody battle at Collestrada, and was imprisoned and chained in solitude for a year in a dark Perugian dungeon, until ransomed by his wealthy father. Beginning during this time, and thereafter, he suffered a period of protracted physical and psychological illness, remorse and reflection. After fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, Francis ultimately decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him, and as a traumatized battle survivor he came to abhor war. Whereupon, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, helping the poor, caring for lepers, and promoting peace. Seeing himself as God’s troubadour or fool, he lived in absolute poverty, patterning his life after the life of Jesus and dedicating himself to God.
On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at Church doors for the poor, Francis received a mystical message from Jesus while praying in the ruined church at San Damiano outside of Assisi. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches.
Though Saint Francis took literally that mystical message from the crucifix, its true meaning was metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his orders had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church.
Francis’ exemplary lifestyle inspired and attracted followers who joined with him in his in his Divine mission and life of poverty. Clad in ragged, gray robes with rope belts, they went out barefoot in pairs to spread the Gospel. When they needed food or shelter, they asked someone for it. It was against their rules to “own” anything. Thus, they were known as the “begging brothers”.
In 1209 Francis received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a brotherhood, a religious order of the Church called the “Friars Minor,” (littlest brothers). As “friars” they worked in communities, actively preaching and helping residents, as distinguished from “monks” who then usually lived alone in isolated places. They soon acquired the name “Franciscans”, proliferated and today remain important international symbols and instruments of Francis’ legacy.
The Franciscans’ first headquarters was a simple, tiny chapel near Assisi which Francis received from the Benedictines, and personally restored, naming it “Porziuncola” [“a small portion of land”]. The Porziuncola became Francis’ most beloved and favorite place. Because of his presence and prayers there, it was and continues to be one of the world’s rare holy places. Here, Francis lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of “the poor Clares”, a female religious order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.
In 1216, while Francis was fervently praying in the Porziuncola, a light filled the chapel and he beheld above the altar a vision of Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis replied: “Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [I wish all in heaven!] And Francis then asked that all those persons who shall come to this church, may obtain a full pardon and remission of all their faults, upon confessing and repenting their sins. The request was granted based on Francis’ worthiness, and the indulgence was later officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III, and became known as “The Pardon of Assisi”.
Francis was extremely democratic and humble. He referred to himself as “little brother Francis” and called all creatures “brothers” and “sisters”. He loved Nature and pantheistically considered it to be the “mirror of God on earth.” He spoke of “Sister Water” and “Brother Tree” and in one of his writings, he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”. There are legends about sermons he preached to trees full of “Sister Birds” in which Francis urged them to sing their prayers of thanks to God. And it is said that rabbits would come to him for protection.
In another legendary story, Francis spoke to a wolf which had been terrifying the entire village of Gubbio, scolding “Brother Wolf” for what he was doing. That wolf not only stopped his attacks but later became a village pet, and was fed willingly by the same villagers, who missed “brother wolf” after he died.
Francis was determined to live the gospels and was strongly influenced and motivated by Jesus’ teachings. “Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven” were his frequent teachings.
Also as a traumatic battle survivor and war hostage Francis cherished peace. So, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9 and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 were often recited by him.
According to a recent biography, Francis was “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” On a mission of peace, Francis journeyed to Egypt in 1219 idealistically hoping to end the 5th Crusade by converting the Egyptian leader – Sultan Malik al-Kamil – to Christianity. Though his visionary peace mission did not succeed, it proved nonetheless a miraculous portent and important symbol of potential reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and others.
At a time when most Christians demonized Muslims as enemy “infidels”, Francis regarded and treated Muslims with respect, never echoing the negative comments or conduct of his contemporary Christians. Moreover, in Egypt Francis – a devout and gentle peacemaker – was appalled by the crusaders’ sacrilegious brutality.
Francis arrived in Egypt during an ongoing violent and bloody conflict at Damietta, an important city on the Nile, besieged by the Crusaders. There, in the midst of horrible bloodshed, Francis miraculously crossed battle lines totally unarmed and vulnerable, and was able to reach the Sultan’s encampment unharmed and welcomed. Moreover, Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan, who was nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the ill-fated Third Crusade.
The Sultan was a wise and pragmatic devout Sunni Muslim, influenced by Sufi mystical teachings. He was ready to make peace, and reciprocated Francis’ peaceful and respectful attitude. For at least several days Kamil hosted and dialogued with Francis as an honored guest, before having him safely escorted back to the Crusader encampment. The Sultan – who was amenable to philosophical conversation, but not to conversion – probably noted and honored Francis’ sufi-like appearance and peaceful demeanor, and his regular greeting – “may the Lord give you peace” – uncommon for Christians, but similar to the Arabic “salam aleykum” greeting.
Reciprocally, Francis was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer – call of the muezzin.
On returning to the crusader camp Francis desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagio, whom the pope had authorized to lead the 5th Crusade, that he should make peace with the Sultan. But the cardinal who was certain of victory would not listen. His eventual failure, amidst terrible loss of life, brought the barbaric age of the crusades to an ignominious end.
In 1224, near the end of his earthly life, according to legend, Francis became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata. It happened after he had been taken to Mount Alverna, a wild nature place in Tuscany, to be in solitude for a forty day retreat.
Though already in a very feeble state, he fasted and prayed intensely with deepest longing for God. In the midst of his fast, while he was so praying he beheld a marvelous vision: an angel carrying an image of a man nailed to a cross. When the vision disappeared, Francis felt sharp pains in various places on his body.
In locating the source of these pains, Francis found that he had five marks or “stigmata” on his hands, feet, and sides—like the wounds inflicted with nails and spears on Jesus during His crucifixion. Those marks remained and caused Francis great pain until his death two years later.
On October 3, 1226 A.D. Francis died in a humble cell next to the beloved Porziuncola, his favorite holy place where the Franciscan movement began. He was blind from trachoma, suffering from malaria and other illnesses, emaciated and racked with pain from the stigmata and other wounds. As he lay dying, the brothers came for his blessing. They sang “Song to the Sun”, a song which Francis had composed.
Sometime before he drew his last breath, he said, “Let us sing the welcome to Sister Death.” Francis welcomed ‘Sister Death’ knowing that “it is in dying that we are reborn to eternal life”, the concluding line of a beautifully inspiring and best known peace prayer mistakenly attributed to him. (**See Footnote)
In conclusion, we offer that prayer in grateful tribute to his blessed life and legacy. May he ever inspire countless beings to become instruments of Divine peace and love, in perfect harmony with Nature and the kingdom of heaven.
“Vi vogliamo tutti in Paradiso”; “We wish ALL in Heaven”.
And so it shall be!
Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **
Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.
* This narrative is based on Ron Rattner’s intuitive interpretation of many disparate and sometimes conflicting historical accounts of the life of Francis of Assisi. The reader is free to accept or reject any part of it.
**This inspiring peace prayer does not appear in any of Saint Francis’ known writings. According to researchers, the first appearance of this prayer was in a French language magazine, La Clochette, in 1912; it was probably then first written by a forgotten Catholic Priest, Father Bouquerel. Later, the prayer was translated into English and widely distributed on cards with a reverse side picture of Saint Francis, without any claim that he wrote the prayer. But, because of his picture and because it invokes his spirit, the prayer thereafter became commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis. The foregoing version of the prayer has been edited by Ron Rattner.
Ron’s audio recitation of the Prayer of Saint Francis Of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Fred Rogers
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.
As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself.
As you think of him, you will think of yourself.
Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself.”
~ A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
“We are born and reborn countless number of times,
and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.
Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In the prior memoirs chapter “Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?”, I told of my miraculous survival and healing from critical taxicab rundown injuries, which I have attributed to the prayers, care, and good wishes of saints and many others who wanted me to get well. And I explained how the shock and trauma of my sudden injuries left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, without memory of what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident, and while I was comatose.
In this chapter I will recount how a spontaneous act of loving-kindness by an ICU nurse – who synchronistically shared my reverence for Saint Francis of Assisi – proved an unforgettable healing blessing. I cannot remember the nurse’s name (so I’ll call her “Mary”), but my memory of our meeting was rekindled by an unforgettable document she left while I slept the next day; and I will never forget how I’ve felt because of her kindness.
A Holy Encounter.
For many years I have had frequent synchronistic meetings with strangers with whom I have experienced deeply harmonious connections. I have called them “holy encounters”. This is the story of an especially memorable holy encounter with a compassionate nurse which happened at the San Francisco General Hospital Intensive Care Unit [ICU], shortly after I had been run down and critically injured by a taxicab.
I have no memory of my admission to the ICU or of any prior conversations, diagnostic procedures or medical examinations there, and I was unaware of details of my injuries until after this encounter.
I later learned from medical records and from those who had examined or visited me that I had sustained a traumatic bleeding brain contusion and concussion, with extended loss of consciousness; large 2” chronic subdural hematoma pushing brain out of normal alignment; multiple fractures, including multiple facial fractures, bruises and lacerations; a fractured right leg tibial plateau; and various traumatic internal injuries, including a lacerated and bleeding liver. I was told that my head and face were completely bruised, discolored and swollen.
On the morning of this holy encounter I can now remember awakening supine on my hospital bed unable to rotate my body because of an IV tube and a full leg brace on my right leg. Presumably I was under influence of narcotic pain suppressant drugs which had been administered while I was unconscious, and until I was later able to decline them with informed consent.
Soon after I awakened that morning, I was greeted by a lovely slender, blond haired ICU nurse, who said:
“Good morning Mr. Rattner, I’m Mary your nurse for today.
How are you feeling?”
Amazingly, I simply responded:
“I’m grateful to be alive!”
Surprised, Mary commented appreciatively about my positive attitude. Whereupon I promptly recited for her my Silly Sutras saying that:
“An attitude of gratitude brings beatitude.”
And I explained to Mary that my attitude of gratitude came from abiding faith in Divine Providence, and conviction that I was blessed by Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints [*See Footnote]. Mary then told me that she had been raised to revere Saint Francis by her mother who regularly prayed to him at a home shrine.
Inspired by this wonderful synchronicity, I gladly recited for Mary the
“make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with Saint Francis, which amazingly I readily remembered, and which apparently she deeply appreciated. We talked briefly and she then proceeded on her rounds.
An unforgettable “get well” message.
The day after our ‘holy encounter’, I awakened to discover that while I slept Mary had placed this “get well” message, with the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, next to my bed.
I have heretofore told how my mid-life spiritual epiphany opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood, and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears; how for many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized in various devotional spiritual traditions, and which in the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi was known as “the gift of tears”.
Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for over forty years have remained – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy. They have become for me a divine sign of an opened heart.
Mary’s ‘get well’ message has consistently and often sparked a flood of heartfelt emotions and tears as it reminds me of our holy encounter and of my attitude of gratitude for this precious human lifetime. Thus, many times while writing this story I have cried with heartfelt gratitude.
Moral of the story.
Every spontaneous and heartfelt act of loving-kindness bestowed in ordinary life – even in seemingly insignificant incidents – can prove a lasting blessing for its recipient and everyone everywhere.
And so may it be!
* Saint Francis of Assisi.
Shortly after a profound spiritual opening in 1976, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with this legendary saint, and regarded him an archetype to be emulated. Soon I began multiple daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him, which have continued until now.
On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made a pilgrimage to Italy to honor Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis (‘Francesco’) was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, and some of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime. Also I made a magically memorable excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first Christian saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ. (See https://sillysutras.com/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/)
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, citing Tibetan Book of the Dead.
“Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.”
~ Gautama Buddha
“And it is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, peace prayer, edited by Ron Rattner
“Normally we do not like to think about death. We would rather think about life. Why reflect on death? When you start preparing for death you soon realize that you must look into your life now… and come to face the truth of your self.
Death is like a mirror in which the true meaning of life is reflected.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Know Death to Know Life;
Know Death to Know That There is No Death.
In phenomenal polarity reality
the idea of life, implies the idea of death.
All that appears disappears.
So, to live and to know earth-life,
we must experience and know earth-death.
But to Know and to Be that Consciousness
which is eternally aware of both earth-life and earth-death,
is to know that, beyond all appearance and disappearance,
There is no death –
only THAT which Knows.
So, to truly know Life
is to Know Death.
And to truly know death
is to Know that there is no death.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death”.
Ron’s Commentary on Knowing Death to Know Life.
Most Silly Sutras postings are dedicated to helping raise our spiritual consciousness, and thereby to enabling us to live happier lives, both individually and societally. Paradoxically many such postings intended to help us live happier lives, address death and dying.
Enduring religious and spiritual traditions reveal that “our deepest fears hide our highest potentials”, and that “as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.”
So to help us transcend our fears of death and dying, I have today posted the foregoing poem Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death, plus an excellent embedded video documentary “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, narrated by poet Leonard Cohen, together with its narrative text, which includes this key insight:
Physical death is inevitable and natural. But most people fear death, believing it ends life.
Thus, in much of American society dying is largely a taboo subject, with euphemistic and sorrowful language used to describe death and dying. And Americans usually die in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by loved-ones. In the current extraordinary 2020 coronavirus pandemic era, billions of people worldwide seriously suffer from fear of death or disease, and loved-ones are often prevented from being with and consoling sick and dying people.
For millennia traditional societies have recognized physical death as an inevitable part of life, and have evolved elaborate traditions and teachings about death. For example, ancient Egyptians and Tibetans have codified such teachings in ‘Books of the Dead’. My beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, ran away from home at age thirteen in search of experiential answers to the interrelated perennial questions of “Who am I?” and “What is death?”.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead documentary video embedded below can help us transcend fear of death and dying. It was produced by NHK Japanese TV, and includes statements by the Dalai Lama, and authentic footage of Tibetan death teachings and practices in Ladakh. Whether or not you watch it, I recommend you read the posted narrative which is eloquently expressed in the film by poet Leonard Cohen.
May these teachings about death and dying
help enable us to live ever happier lives,
both individually and societally,
as we lose the fear of leaving life, and gain the art of living life.
And so shall it be!
NHK documentary “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, narrated by Leonard Cohen.
Although everything on Earth seems stable and solid, nothing here is permanent. Like water, snow and ice, life is always shifting and changing form. All existence is one kind of state or another. This means living in an atmosphere of uncertainty – moving without a place to rest.
In this world, we pass through the spiritual state of physical existence. Here, we want to make something lasting and secure, but no one has been able to accomplish this. Our life is always in the hands of death. At death, our experience is completely out of our control. Our experience is completely naked.
What is the best path through this spiritual state? It is a question of waking up right now, looking at our own mind. Look at it when it is calm and still and when it is running wild. This is what Buddha did and what he taught. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Soon we all will die. All our hopes and fears will be irrelevant.
Out of luminous continuity of existence, which has no origin and which has never died, human beings project all the images of life and death, terror and joy, demons and gods. These images become our complete reality. We submit without thinking to their dance. In all the movements to this dance, we project our greatest fears on death and we make every effort to ignore it.
Illusions are as various as the moon reflecting on a rippling sea. Beings become easily caught in the net of confused pain. We must develop compassion as boundless as the sky so that all may rest in the clear light of our own awareness.
At death, we lose everything we thought was real. Unless we can let go of all the things we cherished in our life we are terrified. We cannot stop struggling to hold on to our old life. All our fear and yearning will drag us into yet another painful reality.
We are always wandering through transitional spiritual states. Difficulty in leaving behind our old life can cause us to wander in painful uncertainty.
The spiritual state of dying lasts from the beginning of the body’s physical collapse until the body and consciousness separate.
While we are living, the elements of Earth, water, fire and air together support and condition our consciousness. Death occurs when this is no longer the case. Now, without the screens and filters of daily life, at this time, mind itself can be seen directly. In the spiritual state of dying, it is important to recognize our own true nature.
At death, there is an experience of piercing luminosity, pure white light, the clear radiance that rises directly from our own basic nature. Now, there is no darkness, no separation, no direction and no shape, only brilliant light. This boundless sparkling radiance is mind, free from the shadows of birth and death – free from any boundaries of any kind.
Now all pervasive light engulfs us completely. All of space is dissolved into pure light. This radiance is the mind of God, the mind of all the awakened ones. Recognizing this is all that is necessary for liberation from birth and rebirth. If we do not recognize our divine nature, a dreamless sleep will happen.
In three days time, all emotions will be vivid and intense. Though it seems we are entering into a new reality, it is still the reality of our own mind.
Wandering back to the familiar sites and people of our old life, our own mind will arise before us in unfamiliar ways. We may not know if we are alive or dead. Even so, we may see our family crying. We must leave our former life behind if we are to progress.
If the we are unable to recognize the luminosity of mind itself, our experience now takes the shape of random imagery of our former life. We see our friends and relatives calling out to us and they cannot hear our replies. Death has cut us off from them and sorrow strikes our heart. We see our family and relatives crying. We can see our bed but we are no longer the one lying there. Instead, there is a corpse.
Soon we will experience the intense presence of our own emotional states as peaceful and raging light forms. Now, we will meet our mind in the form of projections which seem vivid and entirely real. Now we will see penetrating blue light shining all around us. This is the essence of consciousness, God (Buddha). The wisdom of God is like a mirror reflecting everything. God is the form of consciousness in its complete purity. This wisdom is inseparable from our own heart. But also we will see a diffused white light which we must avoid if we are to achieve liberation. If we follow the allure of the soft white light, we will find ourselves ensnared in the temporary pleasures of being born as a god, living in Lordly ignorance of the passage of time and subject to unexpected death.
If this path is taken, the wisdom of our very heart and mind takes the form of spiritual entities. There will be peaceful spiritual entities that emanate from our heart and wrathful ones that emerge from our brain.
They will appear one by one and then all together. The peaceful spiritual entities are complete and immovable. If we cannot bear to enter their vast benevolent space, if we cannot let go of self-centeredness and fear, these deities will become terrifying wrathful ones. If we recognize them as an expression of our own mind, they are the unsparing face of wakefulness.
The wrathful forms emerging from the brain appear before us actually and clearly as if they were real in their own right. The terror and anger we feel are our own efforts to evade from being completely awake. We wander uncertainly in the landscape of our own mind. If we recognize this as our own projections, liberation is instantaneous.
These wrathful forms are the presence of our innate wisdom, the vivid form of our own wakefulness. We must recognize them as a reflection of our own mind. Recognition and liberation are simultaneous.
All of us feel sparks of anger, flickers of passion, and twinges of jealousy during brief moments. From these seeds, we grow to become the jealous person. We say “this is what I am” and we act accordingly. But these are just our masks and we forget that we are wearing them. We run from the masks that others wear. The wrathful spiritual entities are our own mind and it is impossible to run away from them. They are the sharpness of our own clarity. They are all in our mind.
Then altogether and all at once, the peaceful and wrathful spiritual entities come before us. If we do not recognize them as our own projections, then they transform into the terrifying image of the Lord of Death. This too is our own projection. But if we don’t accept that, our fear and turmoil force us to wander on in terror to the spiritual state of rebirth. We leave the spiritual state of the nature of mind. Again we are lost and wandering, so now we seek to end our suffering by being born into a solid and familiar place.
Now in the spiritual state of rebirth, all our senses have become extremely acute. Our consciousness is like a body without substance. In this body, we can, by a mere thought, travel to anywhere. As if we have miraculous powers, we can pass through mountains and circle the universe. We can enter anywhere but nowhere can we rest.
In the pain of our endless wandering, the thought of being born now promises great relief. We can still see our family, but we no longer know we are with them. We are driven on the winds of hope and fear like a leaf that is carried in the wind.
If we are still unable to recognize our own nature, our anger, lust and confusion become ever more intense, ever more solid. They at last appear to us as entire realms where we may stop and dwell. The image of our former body becomes faint and the image of our future body becomes clear. Any birth seems better than his current pain.
Since everyone is caught in these spiritual states of suffering, what can we do? People make hell realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passion. We project our emotional states and believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to be awake. The best thing is to develop genuine compassion for all living things and for ourselves too. If we do not truly care for others we cannot know our own mind. We can have lofty insights and pure impulses, but then return to our old habits without even noticing it. We must work all the time to open our hearts and look for the truth. Otherwise there is neither understanding nor a purpose for understanding. Also, as life goes by, it is a good idea to keep your sense of humor.
We are now coming to the end of our journey. As we reach the end of the spiritual state of rebirth, the features of the world we are to enter will become very clear to us. If we pay attention now, we will find our way to a favorable rebirth.
We are now on the path to rebirth. We must choose carefully where we are to be born. In all the possibilities that are present before us, we must choose our new life. If we choose a good human birth in a good place, we can continue on the path of recognizing our own mind. Even though we are desperate for a home, a dark cave in a forest can lead to a birth in the animal realm. If we are consumed by yearning, the realm of hungry ghosts can become a never-ending realm of hunger and thirst for us. Rage, bitterness, and anger open all the images of hell. It is best to avoid the extremes of pleasure or pain when selecting a new birth. It is best to be born where we can still recognize the luminous essence of our own mind.
We will not remember much of our journey when we are born again. It will be like starting out new. Though death is always something to be mourned, being born is not something to be celebrated. There is an old saying: “When we are born, we cry, but the whole world is overjoyed. When we die, the world cries and we can become overjoyed when we find the great liberation.”
*Source: Kevin Williams, http://www.near-death.com/religion/buddhism/commentary.html
“Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.”
“Love is the water of life,
jump into this water.”
“To understand water is to understand the cosmos,
the marvels of nature, and life itself.”
~ Masaru Emoto
Perennial wisdom says we can learn about ourselves by closely observing all of Nature’s manifestations and processes.
“As above, so below; as below, so above.”
~ The Kybalion, Hermetic axiom
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein
So, what can we learn about ourselves by studying snowflakes and hydrologic processes?
Science tells us that though countless trillions of snowflakes have fallen on earth each has a unique form; that each snowflake is an hexagonally symmetrical crystalline form which begins around a tiny speck of dust – as each pearl forms around a sand particle – but that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.
How amazing!!! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/faqs/faqs.htm
Yet, despite this wondrous and unimaginable diversity of forms, all snowflakes have a common essence – frozen water – H20.
When a snowflake melts, it returns to and merges with its watery source, which is perpetually recycled. So, each snowflake’s essence is the same – recycled water, which has formed countless unique prior snowflakes.
Not only do miraculously unique snowflakes originate from their common watery essence, but science says that such essence is indestructible. Water – a liquid – is a form of ‘matter’ which is merely manifest energy: E=mc2. And energy can’t be destroyed. It just recycles endlessly from formlessness to differing forms and phenomena. So, in their essence, snowflakes are immortal energy.
People are like snowflakes
Like miraculously unique snowflakes, each of the countless humans who has inhabited Earth has had a unique form and genetic makeup. Like snowflakes, human physical bodies are composed of common elemental earth constituents, including mostly water. People’s physical bodies – like snowflakes – appear for a twinkling of time, die and ‘melt’ back into the watery Earth.
But, presumably unlike snowflakes, each of us is aware of our environment and of our life’s experiences; and this awareness is our entire existence. So, while unique snowflakes are united in glorious diversity by their common watery essence, physically unique human beings, are unified not only by their common elemental earthly constituents but, also, by their by their common essence – consciousness, which is the sole context of human beingness.
Snowflakes appear in Nature and, apparently, are peacefully at one with Nature until they disappear. Humans appear in Nature but – unlike snowflakes – we have great intelligence and we think a lot. And through thought we identify ourselves as our perceived separate forms. Thus, we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. But we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death.
So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And, through thought, we try to “protect” and preserve our ephemeral physical forms and to deter or psychologically deny their inevitable demise. Accordingly, our lives are often marked by mental afflictions causing conflicts, problems and suffering, which disturb our peace and awareness of at-one-ment with Nature.
What people can learn from snowflakes
Q. So, what can people learn from snowflakes?
A. To let go and ‘go with the flow’; to ‘cool it’ and to not worry about our inevitable disappearance.
We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms, or our thoughts. That like snowflakes we are inextricably interdependent essential elements of Nature; that Nature is our nature, until we melt into Mystery and disappear into Nature’s Eternal Essence.
Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with Nature as our immortal Essence rather than with our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and, gradually, we can expand our perceived boundaries, to ever evolve as these boundaries dissolve.
Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend entity identity, often we can just be at peace – as immortal awareness.
“As we lose our fear, Of leaving life, We shall gain the art of living life.”
And – like snowflakes – maybe some day we’ll be ‘recycled’ some way. e.g. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm
Or maybe not. e.g. http://tinyurl.com/mlw6erq
In all events, – like snowflakes – we need not worry about leaving. For
“It is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
People can learn from snowflakes to let go and go with Nature’s flow, until we become immortal; we can learn that
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea. Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature; but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea. So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.’
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
So, as elements of Nature, we need not worry, and can be happy and peaceful as we melt into our immortal Source – like snowflakes!
Hydrologic Logic Epilogue, May, 2020, Honoring Dr. Masaru Emoto .
In recent messages and postings I’ve optimistically opined that the current coronavirus pandemic emergency has given us an unprecedented opportunity to co-create a new and wonderful world of happiness, harmony and health for everyone everywhere. And I’ve tried to suggest how that can happen, if we follow our hearts, instead of being paralyzed by propaganda provoked fear and panic.
Did you know that the Earth is 70 percent water, and that people are 70 percent water; and, that according to NASA, “Water is the fundamental ingredient for life on Earth” ?
The foregoing essay was originally inspired by the ancient hermetic axiom, ‘as above, so below’ and by advice of my Guruji and other wisdom teachers to learn from Nature. Later in 2004, via the film “What the Bleep Do We Know?”, I was deeply impressed on discovering the pioneering research of Dr. Masaru Emoto whose astonishing discoveries, documented photographically, have led to awakened awareness about water as Earth’s most precious resource.
Dr. Emoto discovered that molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings, so that that humans can positively impact the earth and our personal health through loving, grateful and harmonious attitudes and actions, especially with attention to water; that since the Earth is 70 percent water and people are 70 percent water, he theorized that we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill to and through water.
He explained and demonstrated that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific concentrated thoughts are directed toward them; that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful hexagonal snowflake patterns, whereas polluted water, or water exposed to anger or other negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.
Also Dr. Emoto described the ability of water – like a liquid computer – to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystalline structures. These methods even experimentally worked on asymmetrical Tokyo tap water. Dr. Emoto theorized that since water has the ability to receive a wide range of frequencies, it can also reflect the universe in this manner.
Especially in these unprecedented times of worldwide pandemic panic when insanely delusional human behaviors imminently threaten Earth-life as we have known it, we have unprecedented opportunity to gratefully and lovingly cherish and harmoniously heal our precious watery world, which appears blue from outer space, and was thus eloquently described by legendary astronomer Carl Sagan as a “pale blue dot” in this vast universe.
Instead of being paralyzed by fear and panic, may we follow our hearts, rather than unfounded official edicts, to collectively and cooperatively realize an abiding “new normal” era of cooperation, harmony and peace on our precious planet.
So let us gratefully and lovingly be guided by these wise words from Paramahansa Yogananda:
“Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving for all the gifts of Life — sunshine, water, the luscious fruits and greens, which we receive as indirect gifts from the Great Giver.”
“Affirm divine calmness and peace, and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill if you want to live in peace and harmony.
Never get angry, for anger poisons your system.”
And so shall it be!
“The Secret Life of Water”
Embedded below are three brief videos:
A memorable two minute scene from “What the Bleep Do We Know?”;
A one minute+ video showing hexagonal crystals forming in Tokyo tap water;
And a beautiful nine minute video with healing music, watery photography, and with words from Dr. Emoto titled “The Secret Life of Water” . ENJOY!