Posts Tagged ‘Synchronicity’

A “Holy Encounter” ~ Synchronicity Story

In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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”.
“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)
“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
“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven
is my brother and sister and mother.”
~ Matthew 12:50
Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.
~ Matthew 7:7




A “Holy Encounter” ~ Synchronicity Story

Have you ever met a stranger who seemed familiar, or with whom you felt an effortless instant rapport?     If so, did you wonder why?

Buddhists might explain such meetings as reencounters with people we’ve known in other lifetimes. They say that our mind-stream incarnates so many times that we may have familial connections with all other beings.

In all events, however we may explain such encounters, we can view them as synchronistic evolutionary opportunities. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) teaches that every encounter can be a “Holy Encounter”, enabling us find “salvation” by transcending our illusionary self identification with seeming separation and by discovering our true wholeness and Holiness – our true self identity with Universal Spirit.

In recent years I have had many synchronistic meetings with strangers which have become “holy encounters”. One such meeting happened on a late September afternoon.

While walking by the Bay, I stopped and sat at a picnic table in a beautiful Fort Mason nature place. Soon a stranger named Nick appeared, and we engaged in an extraordinary and extended dialogue about perennial spiritual questions, the kinds of questions that motivated me to launch Silly.Sutras.com. While we talked, Nick’s energy seemed familiar, even though we’d never before met.

The next day Nick sent me an email asking to be added to the SillySutras circulation list. Also, he expressed appreciation for our meeting (in which he had asked many questions), and he asked one more question, which he said he’d forgotten to previously ask, viz:

“Throughout the days, there is a witness who watches all the events of my life; whether in calmness or through the most frantic events he remains unperturbed. Who is this observer?”


I replied to Nick, an observant Christian, as follows:

“The answer to your question is – like the Kingdom of Heaven – within.  Seeking it you shall find it.

Do you equate your word “witness” with “awareness” or “consciousness”?  If so, here is an apt quotation from Ramana Maharshi, a renowned mystic master from the past century:

‘Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness. If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.’
~ Ramana Maharshi”


More than six months after our synchronistic encounter and exchange of messages, I was surprised by an email from Nick, telling about his experience when we met.

In reply, I asked Nick’s permission to share his letter on-line. He agreed, and explained:

“I wrote because I felt the need to express my gratitude, to you, of course, but above all to our celestial Father, for this blessing.”


Here is Nick’s letter:

Hi Ron,

My name is Nick; I don’t know if you remember me. We met last fall. I had just lost my beloved mother. I was walking along the shore in dazed despair. At one point, near the Municipal Pier, I thought: “If there were just one person, one soul in this whole city that I could talk to!”

I think it an odd paradox that it’s precisely death, the ultimate “limiting factor”, that should, perhaps more than any event, bring humans face-to-face with the Infinite.  It was precisely this quandary, more than immediate injury and loss, that pained and perplexed me that day.

When I got to the top of Fort Mason, at Black Point, I walked toward the picnic tables. There, at the spot where my mother and I used to gaze out upon the Bay, I saw a small figure, sitting silently at a table; it reminded me of a heron or some other seabird I had spied, in stillness on the shore.

At that point, I felt I had “arrived” and had the urge to speak. But, at a loss on how to engage the conversation, I remember instead awkwardly staring out at the water. You broke the ice with these words:

“It’s good to be here!”

A little startled, I asked whether this was intended as a geographical or metaphysical statement. Your answer, I believe, was that it could be understood as either (I rather agreed with the first; less with the second interpretation; though, of course, the two seem difficult to separate).

I don’t remember too many of the particulars of the wide-ranging conversation that followed across the picnic table (St. Francis, Buddha, the Kaddish, suicide, the apocalypse..) . What I do recall is that it precisely addressed all the points that caused me such perplexity that day, and that in its course my wounds seemed to get bandaged up, my pains assuaged.

Most vividly, I remember you asking me whether I knew the meaning of the term “synchronicity”, which, in answer to my avowed ignorance, you proceeded to define. In truth, I required few explanations: a while earlier, down by the Maritime Museum, when I’d exclaimed “God, if there were just someone in the world to talk to!”, this hadn’t been a prayer in any formal sense, not even a request with any expectation of fulfillment, but a simple cri du coeur.* [*cry from the heart; heartfelt appeal]

Now I understood what synchronicity meant.

I’m afraid I detained you longer than reasonable, as twilight settled over the trees.

You gave me your card, I checked out your website and signed up for your episodic postings.

Whether freezing my ass off in my mother’s drafty old farmhouse in Burgundy in the dead of last winter, hiking some warm canyon in the Southwest, or just sitting in my room here in San Francisco, scratching my head and wondering what’s next,  these have proved a reliable source of comfort and elevation.  Most often, as I read them, I can’t help but repeat “Yes, yes, yes!” ; sometimes I disagree, or don’t understand. They’ve made a difference for the better in my life, and I eagerly look forward to them.  All and all, they have the effect of a gentle voice enjoining me to wake up from an overlong nightmare. Which brings to mind [this verse from Pedro Calderon De La Barca’s play La vida es sueño – Life is a Dream ]:

¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño;
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.*

I’m still confused ; still sorely miss my mother, angel of beauty; but I’m very grateful to have made your acquaintance. And when I take a walk at Fort Mason, I always hope I’ll find you sitting at the table. No luck, so far. I reckon you just can’t force synchronicity…

Cheers,

Nick

*English translation:

What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest profit is small;
For all of life is a dream,
And dreams, are nothing but dreams.


Moral of this story:

Heartfelt calls to the Divine will  be answered and rewarded.

Every encounter with others; especially each synchronistic encounter, can be a “Holy Encounter”.

More Manifestation Miracles: From New Balance to Asics – Ron’s Memoirs

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





Introduction

In prior posts I have told how after my spiritual awakening my life became filled with ever more amazing synchronicities, some of which I called “manifestation miracles”. (See https://sillysutras.com/synchronistic-manifestation-miracles-rons-memoirs/ ) Sometimes manifestation synchronicities respecting particular things – like plants – have happened to me recurrently. Here is a story of how the universe repeatedly provided comfortable running shoes for me when I needed them.

Synchronicity Story

On living alone after divorce, I began jogging almost every morning before walking to work. So I started wearing running shoes for the first time. After trying on many different shoe brands, I discovered that New Balance (which were then sold in narrow widths) fit me best. Thereafter, for many years I only bought narrow New Balance running shoes.

But gradually my feet widened and expanded with age. And in 1988, my jogging days were ended when my left leg, knee and ankle were injured in an auto accident. But I kept walking regularly and continued wearing New Balance running shoes to absorb impact of walking on hard surfaces.

After the accident my lower left leg and foot often became swollen. The New Balance shoes then sometimes felt tight around the ankle area, but from habit I continued wearing them without exploring other brands. And I wore different New Balance shoes on different days, with colors matching my clothes.

About seven years ago, I was contemplating replacement of a very worn pair of blue running shoes. But for the first time, I didn’t have to buy needed new shoes.

One afternoon, as I was taking my regular walk toward the San Francisco Marina and Golden Gate, I noticed a pair of almost new blue running shoes on a Marina park bench. (*See footnote) I walked past the shoes without examining them, assuming that they had been placed there for a few minutes by someone who was about to emerge from a boat moored at the adjoining Marina.

But on returning from the Golden Gate Bridge over an hour later, I saw the same blue shoes still on the park bench. After momentarily walking past them, I went over to the bench and examined them with curiosity. They were barely worn Asics shoes, a brand with which I was then unfamiliar.

I looked into the shoes and saw that they were a size larger than I had ever before worn. So I didn’t think they would fit me. But then I placed them beside the shoes I was wearing, and they appeared to be about the same length.

Then, I sat on the bench, tried them on, and found them quite comfortable – even more comfortable around my swollen left ankle than my New Balance shoes. So, I took them home and began wearing them regularly, though I had never before worn a pair of previously owned shoes.

They were much more comfortable than the worn out blue New Balance shoes which they replaced. And the more I wore them, the more I liked them. I liked them so much that I continued obliviously using them for many years, long after their soles were completely worn and uneven.

Then two years ago, I told the story of how the universe had manifested those shoes to Rob Tobias, a singer/songwriter musician and videographer, who is making a documentary film about me called “Walks With Ron”. When I showed him the Asics shoes, Rob expressed amazement that I was still wearing them in such a worn-out condition. Tactfully, he suggested I should replace them. And I realized that he was right; that I needed to buy a new pair of blue running shoes.

But before I looked for a new pair of blue shoes, the universe provided them.

Very soon after Rob Tobias advised me to replace my over-worn Asics, I was returning from an afternoon walk to the SF Municipal Pier when I saw a pair of blue running shoes, which apparently someone had disposed of at a curb-side near my apartment. I picked them up, saw that they were in very good condition, and that miraculously they were Asics, and exactly the same size as the comfortable blue Asics I had found years ago which now needed replacement.

So, I put them in a plastic bag and carried them home. Of course, they proved quite comfortable and I began wearing them regularly. I have so far logged in many miles in those shoes, and am still contentedly using them.

About a year after the universe provided that second pair of blue Asics shoes, I needed a new pair of neutral colored running shoes to wear with brown shade clothes. For many years, I had been wearing a neutral colored New Balance pair with soles that had become completely worn out.

So, I went to a nearby store looking for new neutral colored shoes – either New Balance or Asics. But I didn’t find anything that I liked. I left the store planning to look elsewhere. But soon that became unnecessary.

For the third time the universe presented me with exactly the shoes I was looking for.

Within two weeks, on a ledge near my apartment building, I found an almost brand new pair of neutral colored running shoes. Again they were perfectly comfortable. And again they were Asics – a third Asics “manifestation miracle”. I regularly wear them with pleasure, when not wearing my blue Asics.

Conclusion

I confess that, while I haven’t become blasé about these miracles, I am no longer so surprised when they happen. But, with utmost gratitude, I accept them as signs and reminders that I am living a very lucky and blessed life, and becoming ever more harmonious with Nature and ‘in-sync’ with the unseen implicate order of the universe.

Footnote

*The shoes were located very near the same place where I later fortuitously discovered (in a dumpster) a rare video showing my 1982 trip to India. See https://sillysutras.com/synchronicity-story-miraculously-manifesting-memories-of-a-spiritual-pilgrimage-to-india-and-nepal/


A Stash of Cash For Y2K – a “Manifestation Miracle” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”

~ Walt Whitman
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire






Before January 1, 2000, [the year “Y2K”] there was much societal fear in technically advanced countries about a possible planetary systemic break-down of crucial infrastructure institutions because of computer software bugs which would not facilitate or permit automatic transition to the new year and the new twenty first century.

As Y2K approached, I was then in a period semi-solitude with no computer, TV, or daily paper. So, I was largely insulated from exposure to mass media hysteria.

But, in conversations with friends, I learned enough about the technical facts to become a bit concerned. And, in case dire predictions of systemic failures proved prescient, my conservative lawyer attitude suggested that prudence required me to keep some cash at home.

So as our transition to the twenty first century became ever more imminent, I was thinking about withdrawing some cash from my neighborhood bank. But that trip to the bank proved unnecessary.

Here’s what happened:

One sunny afternoon, after praying and meditating that morning, I began my daily walk by the water in an elevated state of consciousness. As I was walking on a path beside the Bay toward Crissy Field beach, I noticed a small brown paper bag on the sidewalk near a waste disposal container. After walking just past the bag, I intuited that I should pick it up and put it into the trash receptacle. So I turned around, and picked it up.

Feeling something in the bag, I opened it before trashing it. To my amazement, I found ten new one hundred dollar bills in a small envelope, without any identification of the person who had put them there. They became my Y2K stash of cash.

Thus, the universe had provided my Y2K stash of cash with an amazing synchronistic “manifestation miracle”.

Thereafter, despite dire warnings, the new century dawned without great technological turmoil, and the stash of cash proved unnecessary. But it’s amazing synchronistic appearance enhanced my ever abiding faith in the benevolence of the universe. If you had asked me (as Einstein allegedly asked) “Is the universe friendly”, my emphatic answer would have been and still is, “Yes!”

So on New Year’s Day, 2000, I resolved to share my spiritual faith and optimism with others. And I wrote this poem:

MILLENNIAL OUTING
[January 1, 2000]

2000 years ago
Master Jesus counseled us
to pray in our closets alone.

But today we feel
a millennial urge
to emerge,

And to live
and share
our prayer
everywhere.

So, we’re coming out
of our spiritual closets,

Together,
to bless all life,

NOW
and evermore!


Epilogue.

My Y2K stash of cash had quickly manifested following thoughts about it. But only after many more years had elapsed did my millennial “outing” vow ultimately come to pass. And that happened only after the universe had synchronistically re-encouraged my prior determination to emerge from semi-seclusion.

In September, 2009, I received an inspiring astrological reading from Visionary Activist astrologer, Caroline Casey, who I much appreciate. Caroline intuitively and persuasively encouraged me to emerge at long last from my spiritual closet and to share my writings with the world.

Thereupon, with this encouragement from Caroline Casey, I began arrangements and preparations for starting SillySutras.com. The website was launched on May 22, 2010, with my heartfelt gratitude for our ‘friendly’ universe, and with deep aspiration to help bless all Life everywhere therein.

And so may it be!

A Sunday Synchronicity Story

“We get what we need when we need it.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
~ Matthew 6:26
See how the lilies of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that
not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.
~ Matthew 6:28-29
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that
the hand of the LORD has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9




A Sunday Synchronicity Story

On a sunny Sunday morning, I awakened to a gorgeous and warm November day. After showering and watering my plants, I dressed and happily walked to the Fort Mason farmers market. After chatting with farmer sellers and shoppers, and filling my cloth shopping bag with some delicious organic veggies, I was ready to return home. But it was just too lovely not to be outdoors.

So I decided to walk out to the end of the San Francisco Municipal Pier, one of my favorite walking destinations. Usually I hike there in the afternoons after eating brunch, my first meal. But daylight savings time had ended and afternoons had been getting cloudy and cool at my usual walking time. So I decided to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and walk to the pier before eating.

To get from the farmers market onto the path to the pier, I needed to climb up a very steep concrete stairway, perhaps the equivalent of four or five apartment building stories. Gratefully I climbed the stairs with alacrity and walked out onto the pier carrying my bag of veggies, happily chatting with strangers along the way. But as I started going home my body began ‘running out of steam’, since it hadn’t been refueled since Saturday night and wasn’t accustomed to walking before eating.

I decided that I needed to rest somewhere before walking home. So I took a ‘detour’ route into Fort Mason where I planned to sit on a sunny bench in the community garden there. But the detour route required me to climb another steep bank of concrete stairs about as high as the others I’d ascended.

By the time I approached the garden, I was a bit ‘pooped’ and ready to rest for a while to recharge my body’s batteries. Just as I reached the garden gate, I was greeted with a smile by a very friendly lady who was about to leave, and asked: “How are you today?” I told her I had just climbed some steep stairs and needed to rest on the garden bench before walking home.

Whereupon, to my amazement, she asked “would you like me to give you a ride home?” I felt reluctant to impose on her generosity if she would have to drive out of her way to take me home. So I asked where she’d been planning to drive before meeting me at the gate. She said “I’m your neighbor Jan Monaghan, and I’m going to same building where we both live.” Only then, to my embarrassment, did I recognize her. She was wearing sun glasses and a cap, and never before in the twenty five years that we’ve been neighbors had I ever seen her away from our apartment building.

I then promptly accepted Jan’s offer, got into her Honda and was quickly taken home with my bag of fresh veggies. Jan drove right into the garage. So I got out of her car, into the elevator, and rode up to my high-rise hermitage without any further exertion or enervation.

And I ate my late lunch, with ever growing gratitude for this miraculous life and its wondrous blessings.

Moral of the story:

Synchronicities can infuse us with feelings of awe and gratitude for our miraculous and mysterious Life on this precious planet, and remind us that we are part of Nature, interdependent with all Life everywhere.

Meeting Tibetan Buddhists ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else  will solve their problems.  Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.  Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility:  Daily Wisdom”

 

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche  [1905—1989]

Ven. Kalu Rinpoche [1905—1989]



Introduction. I have been blessed by meeting and learning from many spiritual teachers, in addition to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. Especially inspiring and helpful have been certain Tibetan Buddhist teachers.

Soon after my mid-life spiritual awakening, I was first exposed to Buddhist teachings via radio. For many years, I regularly listened to masterful New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms of spiritual teachers and authors, often Buddhists. And on Sunday nights, while driving home from visiting my parents, I regularly heard on KPFA recorded talks by Buddhist teacher, Alan Watts, a brilliantly insightful and articulate former Episcopal priest who had ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Also for a short time I attended Sunday morning dharma talks and Zazen meditations at the beautiful and bucolic Green Gulch Zen Center in Marin County.

After my 1978 shaktipat initiation by Guruji I mostly focussed on Hindu spiritual teachings. But I remained curious about other spiritual and mystical traditions, especially non-duality teachings which I found not only in Advaita Vedanta, but also in Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism. (Ultimately, beyond religion, I became most focussed on certain universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring spiritual, religious, philosophical and ethical paths – like the “Golden Rule”. And to further those teachings I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation.)

During a 1979 apparent ‘near death’ experience, I had visions of ethereal, luminescent and intricate mandalas – like those associated with Vajrayana Buddhism – which sparked much curiosity about Tibetan Buddhists and their mandalas. Soon afterwards I was synchronistically blessed with darshan of Tibetan lamas who in diaspora had started coming to the West. Most important for me were H.H. the Dalai Lama – who remains a living inspiration for me, and Kalu Rinpoche, a very venerable Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, now deceased and reborn.

For over thirty years I have been deeply inspired by core Buddhist teachings, as practiced by the Tibetans, though I never became a practicing Buddhist. In the 1980’s I honored that inspiration by receiving refuge and taking Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche, and by receiving empowerments and teachings from both Kalu Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama, as well as other Tibetan lamas.

Taking Refuge. After meeting Kalu Rinpoche, I soon took refuge from him in the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, sangha and dharma. In a brief refuge ceremony with this great yogi, I thereby symbolically committed to honor the Buddha – as my own true nature – and those teachings and communities which would advance realization of that Buddha nature.

Boddhisattva vows. Shortly after taking refuge I was inspired to take Boddhisattva vows from Kalu Rinpoche to altruistically help all sentient beings end their sufferings.

In taking these vows I was deeply inspired by this selfless Tibetan Buddhist ideal exemplified by the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche and many other Lamas. Never content with only their own spiritual evolution and salvation, Buddhist Boddhisattvas postpone their own ‘nirvana’ choosing to take continuing rebirths in order to serve humanity until every sentient being has been helped to liberation. For example, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is latest in a long line of Boddhisattva Dalai Lamas, believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet.

Taking Boddhisattva vows symbolically marked an important transition from my prior aspiration to escape through spiritual “enlightenment” from this world of inevitable suffering. Rather than yearning to leave this crazy world forever, I took those vows aspiring to stay here in ways which might help all life everywhere, as I continued to observe and clear my own mental defilements.

Enlightenment as a Process. After taking these Buddhist vows, I didn’t expect an early departure from space/time causality reality. Instead, influenced by Buddha’s teachings that conditioned existence (samsara) has been going on for so long that all beings may have been each other’s parents in some lifetime, I began regarding “enlightenment” as a virtually endless evolutionary process in which – except for Buddhas and Boddhisattvas – we unwittingly participate for eons.

The Tibetan Tulku Tradition. Tulkus are emanations of those who retain spiritual consciousness and continuity through successive births. Except perhaps for rare Buddhas and very evolved beings, on rebirth almost everyone experiences ‘instant amnesia’ about conscious details of other lifetimes and prior spiritual learning, which details remain in our subconscious memory. The Tibetan Tulku tradition, aims to facilitate fulfillment of boddhisattva vows by locating reborn Lamas at an early age and training them from childhood to rekindle their consciousness of Buddhist teachings and practices. Tibetans have elaborate tests to prove that newly reborn Tulkus are truly who the waiting elders think they are, such as checking whether the child can recognize acquaintances or possessions from his previous life or answer questions only known to his former life-experience. For example, this process is portrayed in Kundun, the classic biographical film about the Dalai Lama. Some rare Tibetans (like the Karmapa) are able to foretell before dying where they will consciously take rebirth.

Karma. The Tibetans’ Tulku tradition is inextricably intertwined with their teachings about karma, rebirth, and Boddhisattvas. Although virtually all mystical traditions accept karma, afterlife and reincarnation, the Tibetan Buddhists’ karma and rebirth teachings and their Boddhisattva traditions especially helped me enhance identification with spirit while diminishing my psychological fear of bodily death.

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

As long as we self-identify as subjects separate from supposed objects of our choice or intention, our exercise of supposed free will creates karmic causes and conditions. Buddhism teaches that karma means “volitional action.” Any thought, word or deed conditioned by samsaric illusion – for example, defilements like desire, hate, or passion – creates karma. On death, the unexperienced effects of karmic causes, result in unavoidable rebirths.

What is reborn? “Reincarnation” is commonly understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumcised spirit – to another body after physical death. But in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death. Yet Buddhists believe in rebirth.

So, what do Buddhists say is reborn to experience karmic causes and conditions, or to fulfill Boddhisattva vows? I will simplistically and metaphorically share my understanding.

I was once told by Swami Sivananda Radha that during a private audience with the Dalai Lama she asked, “In view of Buddhist teaching that there is no separate self or soul, what reincarnates?” And His Holiness replied: “An energy vortex.”

The Dalai Lama’s explanation that an “energy vortex” is what incarnates was consistent with Western science. Since Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, quantum physicists have confirmed that in this world of space/time and causality everything is energy – every impermanent form and phenomenon, whether or not perceptible or measurable.

And for millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their mental software survives, and is reusable.

Thus, just as I am able to use with my new iMac the same OS X software system that operated my old iMac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of mental obscurations and defilements.

Precious human birth. Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting Guruji, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.

Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is extraordinarily precious and rare. They persuaded me that although the unexperienced effects of karmic causes result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirths; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors we squander a rare chance to evolve spiritually.

In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalachakra empowerment given by Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.

In all events, Kalu’s teaching deeply impressed me with the preciousness and impermanence of human birth, and the importance of using it to evolve spiritually.

More memorable experiences with Kalu Rinpoche. Before receiving the Kalachakra empowerment, in 1982 I attended a public talk by Kalu Rinpoche at Fort Mason, San Francisco, about the Mahamudra experience, which he described (through an interpreter) as the quintessence of all Buddhadharma. Though I didn’t understand much of what was said, I intuited that I was in the presence of a great meditation master – like Guruji.

After talking about Mahamudra, Lama Kalu said that to help us understand Mahamudra experience he would give us a brief demonstration of that state of being. Whereupon, with ‘miraculous’ mind-power, he dramatically transformed the energy in that small lecture room. Suddenly my mind went completely still and I experienced a rare state of peace and oneness beyond comprehension or expression. By Kalu Rinpoche’s immense power as a meditation master, he briefly but unforgettably shared with us a glimpse of his rare and exalted state of clear mind.

A few years later, circa 1986-7, I had another memorable experience of Kalu Rinpoche’s powerful presence. Together with my daughter, Jessica, and friends Mark and Marsha Newman, I attended a public talk by him at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church, one of the city’s largest religious sanctuaries. After waiting in a long line for some time, we managed to be seated in pews near the very back of the church.

Just as Kalu Rinpoche had ‘magically’ transformed the energy in the small lecture room where I heard him describe the Mahamudra experience, the energy ambience in that entire large church was palpably transformed upon his appearance at the pulpit. My daughter Jessica, had never before experienced such a spiritually powerful presence and was deeply impressed. Afterwards, she posted a picture of Kalu Rinpoche in her room, and though she never again saw him she was emotionally affected and cried on news of Kalu’s death in May, 1989.

After seeing Kalu Rinpoche at the Unitarian Church, I saw him again when he was interviewed by Michael Toms at the New Dimensions San Francisco radio studio. On his arrival at the studio he was introduced to staff and to me (as a New Dimensions director). Whereupon he came up to each one of us and humbly introduced himself with a friendly handshake. At that gesture, I was impressed with that great yogi’s humility – like Guruji’s. Later I was inspired to observe that: “The more we know we’re no one, the more we’re seen as someone”.

Learning to keep faith despite disillusionment. After many years of questioning, I have found a faith based life – beyond beliefs, dogmas, theologies or personalities. I was very much helped and encouraged in this process by another important and synchronistic encounter with Kalu Rinpoche, at a time of great disillusionment in my life,.

In the 1980’s after Guruji’s return to India I learned with shock that certain private behavior of a spiritual teacher (other than Guruji) with whom I had a close relationship was significantly inconsistent with his teachings and outer image. Though by this time, I knew of numerous instances in which well known spiritual teachers were credibly shown to be flawed humans, like the rest of us. But this was the first time that it happened with a teacher with whom I felt a close rapport and had spent much time. And I was emotionally upset and confused.

Whereupon, I learned that Kalu Rinpoche would be appearing for a morning talk and darshan at Kagyu Droden Kunchab a San Francisco Center dedicated to the ultimate benefit of all sentient beings, which he founded; that his Buddhist teachings would be followed by a question and answer session. I desperately wanted Kalu’s guidance about my crisis of faith. But I had to be in court that morning. So dressed in suit and tie, I came to the darshan with very limited time to spend there.

By the time that Kalu ended his talk, I had only thirty minutes left before needing to leave for court. Whereupon the translator announced that Rinpoche would now entertain questions, and virtually everyone in the room – including me – raised a hand for recognition. ‘Miraculously’ Kalu beckoned first to me to ask my question, which was:

“What is the proper attitude of a student on discovery of a teacher’s behaviors inconsistent with the teachings?”

Whereupon Lama Kalu gave an extremely wise and helpful thirty minute dissertation in response to my inquiry. As soon as he finished and began answering the next question, I was obliged to leave for court. I cannot recount details of what Kalu said, but the unforgettable essence of his answer was:

“Never lose faith in the teachings, even if you lose faith in the teacher.”

Only after years of introspection and more instances of disillusionment with teachers and others upon whom I had mistakenly projected flawless ethics, was I able to fully grasp Kalu’s wise teaching. During that process, I decided that “incarnation is limitation”; that no one is infallible; and, that “it is better to live the teachings, and not teach them, than to teach the teachings and not live them”.

A few years after my last face to face encounter with Lama Kalu, I was memorably reminded of his meditation mastery and his message of faith. On a beautiful week-end day while hiking in the forested higher elevations of Point Reyes National Sea Shore nature reserve, I decided to sit on a rock from which I enjoyed a panoramic view out into the ocean. As I beheld that inspiring nature scene in a meditative mood, Lama Kalu Rinpoche’s smiling visage fleetingly appeared in my inner vision. We never again met in this life, but I shall remain ever grateful for his blessings. With his encouragement I have never lost faith in this precious human life and in the infinite opportunities it affords us.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

H. H. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.




His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Of all prominent living people, I am most inspired by H.H. the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader (and former political leader) of Tibet. Apart from his Holiness’s spiritual attainments, which are beyond my comprehension, I am especially inspired by his universal compassion, wisdom, humility and humor.

I see him as a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics. Although my encounters with His Holiness have been impersonal – only as part of large audiences or via videos or writings – I feel a deep connection and harmony with him as a revered fellow human being.

Ever since an October, 1989 darshan, I have wondered whether that harmonious connection began in other lifetimes. At that time, I had the good fortune of being one of a limited number of people privileged to attend a ceremony to be conducted by His Holiness atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, in a natural outdoor amphitheater. Because of limited highway access, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to arrive by helicopter. But his flight was delayed, and so we awaited his arrival.

Instead of waiting in the amphitheater, I decided to meditate in a nearby nature place. Then, on contemplating the Dalai Lama I experienced such heartfelt affinity and reverence, that I began an intense and protracted devotional crying jag. I became so overwhelmed with emotion of devotion that I was unable to stop weeping and enter the amphitheater even when I heard the sounds of the helicopter’s arrival. Ultimately, a compassionate Buddhist woman, who on her arrival had observed me crying, came out and taking me by the hand led me, still weeping, into the amphitheater.

The Dalai Lama is the only Tibetan teacher, including Kalu Rinpoche, with whom I have continuously felt such a deep devotional rapport – like my rapport with Guruji. He is regarded by Tibetans as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and perhaps it is this subtle energy which opens my heart. In all events, though I don’t yet remember another life as a Tibetan, I intuit an important karmic connection with His Holiness, and regard him as a role model for living an ethical and compassionate life, regardless of our religious or cultural history.

Here are some of the ways in which I have been inspired by the Dalai Lama’s life and teachings:

Compassion. In his ever inspiring deportment, talks, and writings, His Holiness manifests and emphasizes the crucial importance of compassionate behavior – even with enemies. Drawing great inspiration from him, I have gradually come to regard everyone I meet – including those with whom I have disagreements – as spiritual siblings – brothers or sisters all sharing the same aspirations for happiness and peace of mind, despite superficial cultural differences. And, despite my pronounced lawyer’s tendencies to combatively judge all adversaries, more and more I have even found compassion for those whose ignorance of their true spiritual identity leads them to egregiously harmful behaviors. For example, at a time when I considered former US President George Bush, Jr., a war criminal and mass murderer, His Holiness publicly described him as “a nice man.” Hopefully, he privately influenced Bush – with whom he shares the same July 6th birthdate – to adopt more compassionate ethics.

Humility. His Holiness is regarded by Tibetans and by many others as a living Buddha. For, example, a Tibetan emigre attending a Tibetan Losar new year ceremony conducted in Minneapolis by His Holiness told a newspaper reporter there that “for Tibetans in exile, seeing the Dalai Lama is akin to Christians getting to meet Jesus”. Moreover, especially since his nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, His Holiness has become like a world-wide rockstar celebrity, attracting capacity audiences for all public appearances. Yet he remains exceptionally humble, describing himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” and member of the Human family. Despite his renown as a living sage, I have heard him several times answering questions with “I don’t know”. In my experience, this is very rare behavior for an elevated Eastern spiritual teacher. For example, I have never heard of any such humble response from elevated Hindu teachers regarded as avatars or ‘god-men’. I was especially drawn to Guruji who (despite his Hindu acculturation) was exceptionally humble, and even told my friend Joy Massa: “follow your heart, even if it contradicts my words”.

I have always felt ambivalent about spiritual teachers who pontificate as if they are infallible. For me, such behavior encourages adulation over inspiration. And I am uncomfortable with any spiritual group or tradition emphasizing adulation of the incarnate over adoration of the Infinite.

In my opinion, selfless humility is a supreme virtue. It is especially rare in prominent people who are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation, which can easily entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those like the Dalai Lama, Guruji, Gandhi and Einstein, who have resisted such ego temptations I consider inspiring great beings.

Universal morality and ethics beyond religion. In public talks and in his recently published book “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” His Holiness explains how inner values “are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence and happiness we all seek”, concluding that “the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion” which alone “is no longer adequate”. To me, this is a crucially inspiring message, which completely coincides with my philosophy and life experience. Before publication of “Beyond Religion” I established The Perennial Wisdom Foundation dedicated to elevating awareness of universal principles – like the ‘Golden Rule’ – at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. And His Holiness’s book and teachings have encouraged me to continue pursuing that path.

Politics, Economics and Ecology. Just as the Dalai Lama’s views on universal morality and ethics beyond religion have paralleled my views and inspired and encouraged me to pursue them, His Holiness supports liberal political, economic and ecological views with which I have long identified and pursued as a social justice advocate.

He recognizes as “a very great thing” Mahatma Gandhi’s sophisticated political implementation of ahimsa – the ancient moral teachings of nonviolence and non-injury. As an engaged Buddhist, the Dalai Lama outspokenly endorses Gandhian non-violent and compassionate political social action benefitting the majority of citizens, especially those underprivileged and exploited.

Thus, he rejects capitalist economics, as focussed on greed, gain and profits and outspokenly endorses democratic Marxist theory of equitable access to means of production and distribution of wealth. But, he rejects as lacking compassion and encouraging class hatred the so-called Marxism of the failed totalitarian former USSR, or China, and he objects to their excessive emphasis on class struggle.

Ecologically the Dalai Lama recognizes that Earth is severely threatened by ignorant human greed and lack of respect for all life on our precious planet. Accordingly, he urges that we become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve this crisis with compassionate solidarity, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of life as we know it. (See e.g. Spiritual People in a Perfectly Crazy World)

Conclusion. Thus I am supremely grateful for the wisdom and inspiration bestowed by Tibetan teachings and teachers, especially through His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who for me is a living exemplar of human potential – a Boddhisattva helping countless sentient beings and all life on our precious planet in infinite ways beyond religion or politics.

The gift of my San Francisco high-rise hermitage: a “manifestation miracle” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”
~ Walt Whitman
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire
All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
~ Buddha
Ron's view

Ron’s view


In deciding to move to San Francisco from Chicago I was attracted by San Francisco’s climate, physical beauty and ambiance. Within its boundaries there are more than fifty hills, several islands, and significant stretches of Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. So, some lucky San Franciscans enjoy wonderful views from their dwellings and working places.

When Naomi and I arrived in San Francisco in 1960, I was immediately attracted to view places, especially places with Bay and Golden Gate views. Though Naomi did not seem to share my great aesthetic appreciation of view places, our first tiny apartment was situated atop Buena Vista hill, and enjoyed a lovely Southeast panoramic city and Bay view. But we soon outgrew that apartment and rented a larger place in a more elegant neighborhood, without any view, where we resided for most of our remaining fifteen married years. But I never lost my love of view places, and ultimately rented law offices with lovely views.

Upon divorce, I moved into a one room furnished studio apartment without a view, intending later to find a larger unfurnished view apartment. My studio apartment was in a very large high-rise building with a magnificent panoramic view from its roof deck, which I sometimes enjoyed. When standing on that roof, I noticed a few corner apartments in the high-rise building across the street, with obviously wonderful views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

“The people living in those view apartments are lucky,” I thought, without imagining myself as a fortunate one of them. I remained in the studio apartment for over two years planning, but not actively trying, to move.

One morning as I left my studio apartment and was about to walk to work I met in the elevator, Mark, an upstairs neighbor and real estate lawyer. Mark offered me a ride to the financial district which at first I declined, telling him I preferred walking. But he persisted and urged me to join him – and I agreed. Whereupon he told me that before driving, he was going across the street (to 1998 Broadway) for a few minutes to register on a waiting list for an apartment rental there. And at his request, I accompanied him.

As we walked across the street, Mark told me that all apartments at 1998 Broadway were soon going to be converted from rentals to condominiums. He said he was registering to rent because tenants would be given the first option of purchasing their rented apartments, a good “investment” opportunity. Then he importuned me to also register for an apartment there.

Until this time I had been so occupied with my law practice and in adjusting to life as a single person, that I hadn’t yet looked for an unfurnished apartment. And I wasn’t then in the mood to do so. So at first I was reluctant to register for an apartment across the street before evaluating possible alternatives. But Mark explained that registering for an apartment at 1998 Broadway would not oblige me to take any apartment offered to me.

So I followed Mark’s well meaning advice and told the office manager that I too wished to be wait-listed for an apartment. She asked me whether I wished a one, two, or three bedroom apartment and if I had any other requirements. Without thinking I responded, “whatever first becomes available”.

Many months passed. I met Dhyanyogi, was fully occupied with personal and professional activities, and had almost forgotten about that apartment waiting list. Then I was surprised by a call from the 1998 Broadway building manager informing me that an apartment had become available for me.

She said she needed to rent it promptly and that she was calling me because she had been unable to contact Mark, who was ahead me on the waiting list, but out of town. I told her I’d call her back later in the day. Only after confirming that Mark was traveling abroad and was unreachable, did I tell her that I would promptly come to see the newly available apartment.

Miraculously, it was one of those few view apartments that I had noticed from the roof of my building across the street. It was apartment #1204 with two bedrooms and two baths, and the fourth best Bay and Golden Gate Bridge view in the entire 82 unit building.

On beholding the panoramic view, I immediately signed rental papers, and soon moved into apartment #1204. But, I felt concern about Mark, who was my benefactor but had missed this opportunity. However, the universe soon assuaged my concern. Shortly after Mark returned to San Francisco, he was called to rent an apartment above mine, #1404 with an even more panoramic view. I was happy that the waiting list sign-up thus turned out to be very lucky for both of us.

But renting my view apartment was only the beginning of this “manifestation miracle”. After I had been renting the apartment for about a year, Mark’s prediction of potential apartment ownership proved prescient. All tenants were notified that there were new owners of the building who intended converting it to condominiums.

Under San Francisco ordinances at that time, the new landlords were required to obtain majority tenant ratification of their conversion subdivision plans. So a tenants’ committee was organized to negotiate with the new owners. Mark and I were then the only lawyers in the building, and were asked to help with our legal skills. I agreed, but Mark was mostly busy with other matters.

After spending much time in legal research and in personally checking building records at City Hall and at the Department of Public Works, I discovered some significant “loop holes” enabling the tenants to exert much unforeseen bargaining power with the new landlords.

Ultimately, my legal work enabled the tenants’ committee to negotiate significantly reduced proposed purchase prices for those who wished to buy their apartments, plus generous bonuses for tenants who elected to move-out. I believe that aggregate value of these price reductions and move-out bonuses was about $2 million.

Tenant negotiators Alyce and Leonard Brown told me that the negotiating committee intended to accept the landlord’s latest offer, and invited me to attend their final meeting with the developer and his attorney. At the meeting, to my amazement, the committee informed the landlord that his latest offers of price reductions and move-out bonuses were acceptable, only subject to one further condition – that he pay Ron Rattner a very large specified fee for legal services rendered to the tenants.

The landlord immediately agreed to this condition, and I soon received, for legal services which I had intended as a pro bono gift to all my neighbors, what proved to be the largest legal fee of my entire professional career. That fee not only covered my condominium purchase down-payment but much of the rest of the purchase price as well.

For over thirty years the apartment has been the happiest dwelling place and best financial investment of my adult life. Moreover, in 1981, my apartment was the last place in the USA where Guruji stayed before returning to India.

His presence was another great gift, and it imbued the apartment with lasting spiritual energies and “good vibes” in addition to its wonderful view – all of which have continuously nurtured my spiritual evolution during a long and transformative life period.

So, I consider my condominium “high-rise hermitage” a synchronistic gift from the Universe and an important “manifestation miracle”, for which I remain ever grateful.

From Mata Amritanandamayi to Amma Shri Karunamayi ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“… if someone is supposed to propagate the Dharma and their behavior is harmful, it is our responsibility to criticize this with a good motivation. This is constructive criticism, and you do not need to feel uncomfortable doing it. In “The Twenty Verses on the Bodhisattvas’ Vows,” it says that there is no fault in whatever action you engage in with pure motivation. Buddhist teachers who abuse sex, power, money, alcohol, or drugs, and who, when faced with legitimate complaints from their own students, do not correct their behavior, should be criticized openly and by name. This may embarrass them and cause them to regret and stop their abusive behavior. Exposing the negative allows space for the positive side to increase. When publicizing such misconduct, it should be made clear that such teachers have disregarded the Buddha’s advice. However, when making public the ethical misconduct of a Buddhist teacher, it is only fair to mention their good qualities as well.”
~ Dalai Lama, Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship, 1993
“Can a guru who displays jealousy and competition toward other spiritual leaders help seekers? Such behavior shows that the personality aspects, each with its own ego, are still in control.”
~ Swami Sivananda Radha, “In The Company of The Wise”, page 190
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

 

Shri Amma Karunamayi

Shri Amma Karunamayi

 

Introduction.

After Guruji returned to India in 1980, I met and learned from many other teachers. Beginning in 1987, I was especially attracted to the devotional path of Amritanandamayi (Ammachi) of calling and crying to the Divine, and for seven years I attended many of her US darshans and regular programs at her San Ramon ashram. (See https://sillysutras.com/other-teachers-mata-amritanandamayi-ammachi-rons-memoirs/)

But while drawn to Ammachi’s devotional path, I continued meeting other spiritual teachers. Through my interest in Ammachi, I met Shri Vijayeshwari Devi another memorable Indian female teacher known as Amma Shri Karunamayi who like Ammachi is revered by some devotees as an avatar or embodiment of divine mother. I met Karunamayi under surprising circumstances which ended my relationship with Ammachi and sparked an important new transformative life phase of increasing reliance on inner rather than outer authority. (see e.g. my essay “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”)

Learning of Amma Shri Karunamayi.

In 1995, my trusted friend Richard Schiffman – a talented spiritual poet, author and mainstream journalist – who I had met at an Ammachi program in New Mexico after he had lived many years in India – told me by phone that Amma Shri Karunamayi a female Indian spiritual teacher considered a Divine Mother avatar had recently visited New York and other US areas for the first time. He said that many Ammachi New York devotees had been greatly impressed by Karunamayi, and that some wanted to help her organize future US tours. From Richard’s description of Karunamayi, I felt a strong desire to see her, so I asked Richard to keep me informed of her schedule.

Synchronistically, just after Richard told me about Karunamayi, I received two letters from friends in India, telling how they had just spent a month with Karunamayi in Bangalore. They said she is “quite special [and] incredibly gentle and soft and radiates a beautiful and loving presence”, and that “many miraculous stories [are] attributed to her”. They recounted some of those stories, and reported that because Karunamayi was college educated with a focus on meditation (and not hugging) she attracted some more sophisticated devotees than the devotionally adoring people often attracted to Ammachi.

In March 1996, I again received a synchronistic phone call concerning Karunamayi, this time from another spiritual friend, who – like Richard and my friends in India – was also an Ammachi follower. Until then I was unaware that she knew of Karunamayi. So I was quite surprised when my friend asked if I could suggest some Bay Area place where Karunamayi and her entourage could stay in a few months during their first Bay Area visit. Only then did my friend disclose that she had met Karunamayi in Seattle in 1995 where she had offered to host Karunamayi’s first Bay Area visit in 1996.

Also, my friend credibly explained that Ammachi’s New York devotees had received an ‘edict’ from Ammachi – which I later confirmed – against helping or seeing Karunamayi; that she had changed her mind about hosting Karunamayi based on “personal considerations”, and because she felt disharmony with Karunamayi’s national organizers who were aggressively putting undue time pressure on her.

With compassion for my friend’s dilemma, and motivated by a sense of injustice about Ammachi’s ‘edict’ against Karunamayi, I offered to make inquiries about possible San Francisco places where Karunamayi’s entourage could reside and give public programs. But, I explained that since I was living a reclusive life in a small apartment I could not offer to personally host Karunamayi’s large entourage.

Thereupon, my friend called the national organizers for Karunamayi, “resigned” as Bay Area sponsor, and gave them my phone number as a San Francisco contact who might look for appropriate venues. Without consulting me, the Karunamayi national organizers then “conscripted” my services by distributing national flyers with my phone number as their San Francisco organizer.

Despite my displeasure with that involuntary “conscription” as a Karunamayi organizer, I did not – like my friend – tell the national organizers to ‘take me out of the loop’. My sense of compassion and justice inhibited me from leaving Karunamayi without help in the Bay Area. So I decided to help Karunamayi while seeking others who would replace me as Bay Area organizer. Thereupon my daily regime of solitary meditation and prayer and walking in Nature was significantly changed as I made and received phone calls, wrote letters and inspected possible darshan halls.

Though I never located a replacement Karunamayi sponsor, I found several friends who agreed to help. A recently widowed friend who lived alone in a very large Presidio Heights residence agreed to house Karunamayi’s entourage, and to allow morning public gatherings there. Another friend agreed to answer all telephone inquiries about Karunamayi’s schedule. And my dear friend Bina Chaudhuri – widow of Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri, with whom she had co-founded the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and the Cultural Integration Fellowship (CIF) – arranged for Karunamayi’s evening programs to be held in the lovely CIF main hall.

Meeting Karunamayi.

Ron & Karunamayi

Ron with Karunamayi



As Karunamayi’s first San Francisco sponsor, I was privileged to have various private discussions with her. I learned that like Ammachi Shri Vijayeshwari Devi had no lineage or guru, but that her mother had been a devotee of Shri Ramana Maharshi, who was told by Ramana when pregnant that she would give birth to Devi [“the Mother”]. Just short of college graduation, Karunamayi had retreated to a remote forest where she spent ten years in solitary rigorous practice. Like Guruji, and consistent with her extraordinary early sadhana, Karunamayi’s emphasis was on meditation. Her presence evoked for me moods more meditative than devotional, and inspired my poetry about silence. (see e.g. https://sillysutras.com/in-silence-sweet/) Like Guruji she apparently perceived my subtle auric field. Most memorably she once told me that: “Dhyanyogi has greatly helped you in ways you can not yet know.”
She did not insist that devotees have only one guru.

Once as I was driving Karunamayi and Swami Vijashwarananda – her cousin and Telugu/English interpreter – to the beautiful Marin County Vedanta retreat center, the Swami asked: “Mother wants to know what you eat?”   In response I told him: “I eat mainly raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and rice and beans.” Whereupon the Swami interpreted my words for Karunamayi, who laughed and replied in Telugu.
 Then Swami said to me: ”Mother says you’ve eaten like that for many lifetimes.”

Unlike Ammachi, Karunamayi repeatedly encouraged devotees to seek company of other spiritual teachers, as well as to meditate regularly.

The “last straw” with Ammachi.

Psalm rescue needy

All my helper friends – like me – were Ammachi followers, but none of us felt conflict with Ammachi since Karunamayi’s San Francisco visit was scheduled for August when Ammachi would not be here. Though my sense of fairness was severely shaken by Ammachi’s New York ‘edict’ against Karunamayi, for a while I suppressed those feelings, along with my long suppressed concerns about a commercialized cult of personality around Ammachi, and the Mother Meera book burning incident. So at first that edict did not quite become “the last straw” in ending my faith in Ammachi.

That happened only after I learned of defamatory gossip and rumors about Karunamayi attributable to the Ammachi organization. Especially after I had met and was blessed by Karunamayi, and was experientially convinced of her authenticity as a spiritual master, I became deeply offended by these false and scandalous rumors, and motivated to help her as an ‘anti-defamation’ attorney.

For many years one of my daily Hindu practices from Guruji was recitation of the Hanuman Chalisa – a poetic ode to the legendary monkey-god Hanuman by poet-saint and philosopher Tulsidas. Though when I met Karunamayi my daily Chalisa practice had lapsed, Karunamayi saw the Hanuman Chalisa in my subtle field and, during a ceremony atop sacred Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, she spontaneously asked me to recite it as part of the ceremony.

Serendipitously, I had just received by mail from my friends in India a beautiful printed version of the Hanuman Chalisa. In a letter to them acknowledging that gift, I wrote:

“Slanderous rumors about Karunamayi originating at the ‘Kerala cuckoo compound’ have strongly activated my justice vasanas [propensities].” — so I wish to — “help as Her self-appointed anti-defamation lawyer. The Chalisa venerates Hanumanji as ‘the protector of saints and sages’, and after many years of recitations, I’ve assimilated some of that energy.”


So, despite my gratitude for the many devotional blessings I had received in Ammachi’s presence, after several years of growing but suppressed concerns about an ‘adulation of the incarnate’ rather than ‘adoration of the Infinite’ atmosphere around her, and about my diminished energy at her satsangs, my realization of Ammachi’s apparent jealousy and competition toward Karunamayi, Mother Meera and other teachers proved “the last straw” in my relationship with her.

Moreover, this realization traumatically brought to my consciousness the long-suppressed awareness that naively and mistakenly I had been projecting perfection onto Ammachi, rather than seeing her as a limited human being; that in adulating Ammachi I was misperceiving my own best qualities. This sudden ‘perfection projection realization’ triggered an important new transformative life phase of increasing reliance on inner rather than outer authority, which I will recount in other memoirs chapters.
(*see footnote)

Epilogue.

For many years I have been reluctant to publicly share my disaffection with Ammachi and her organization. I did not wish to discourage other devotees with different perspectives, some of whom are friends. But I now feel morally impelled to share my observations which support credibility of a recently published critical book about Ammachi, by Gail Tredwell (aka “Gayatri” or “Swamini Amritaprana”), who for twenty years was Ammachi’s revered personal attendant, and first and closest Western female devotee. Her memoir entitled “Holy Hell, A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness” contains many shocking but credible revelations, including reference to Ammachi’s ‘edict’ against Karunamayi (at pages 264-266).

Unable truthfully to attack the credibility of Gail’s memoir about Ammachi, the MA Centers organization has attacked Gail’s character by asserting that she is “a troubled individual” whose writings are “completely untrue and without a basis in fact or reality”, and by instigating and publishing false and defamatory rumors and on-line blog posts about her, while asserting meritless libel claims to intimidate others against commenting on or republishing Gail’s sincere perspectives.

Since I am quite convinced that Gail’s memoirs are true and sincere, I find deeply disrespectful and offensive such an ad hominem attack on her by those to whom she selflessly dedicated much of her adult life. Just as I felt impelled to assist Karunamayi against defamatory rumors, I now feel dharmically impelled to support Gail’s credibility.

Footnote.

* In further memoirs I will tell how – like some other Westerners without any guru tradition – I was naive about Ammachi and other limited or flawed Eastern teachers onto whom I mistakenly projected purported perfection and infallibility, rather than seeing them as limited humans though perhaps further evolved in spiritual awareness. And, I will recount how while faithfully revering my beloved Guruji, and while remaining grateful for blessings received from all my spiritual teachers – including Ammachi – I more and more began relying on inner rather than outer authority; and how whimsically I told friends that I had been transformed from “Born-again Hindu” to “Uncertain Undo”; from Gurubhai to ‘Guru bye bye’.

To karmically repay those few teachers I’ve forsaken in this life, in my next incarnation I may become an insurance underwriter/salesman specializing in custom coverage for spiritual teachers called: “Perfection projection protection”.



Other Teachers: Mata Amritanandamayi [Ammachi] ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation.”
“The state that we attain by calling and crying to God is equal to the bliss that the yogi experiences in samadhi.”
~ Mata Amritanandamayi  (Ammachi)
“The fruits of the inner man begin only with the shedding of tears.
When you reach the place of tears,
then know that your spirit has come out from the prison of this world
and has set its foot upon the path that leads towards the new age.”
~ Saint Isaac of Nineveh


Mata Amritanandamayi

Mata Amritanandamayi



Introduction.

After receiving shaktipat from my venerable Hindu Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji), I entered a new life phase as a devotional “born-again Hindu”, and for many years thereafter I faithfully followed Guruji’s kundalini maha yoga practices. But, especially after Guruji returned to India in 1980, I synchronistically met and spent memorable time with other spiritual teachers, in addition to Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma, while always maintaining my heartfelt inner relationship with Guruji – above all other teachers.

So in writing these memoirs, as requested by Guruji, it is appropriate that I tell you about some of these other teachers.

Elsewhere I have described my 1982 India pilgrimage experiences, including my darshan with Sathya Sai Baba. I told how Sai Baba hit my head three times uttering ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” while I was crying uncontrollably; that I was left in a state of confusion about my pronounced devotional crying tendencies. (see https://sillysutras.com/darshan-of-sathya-sai-baba-rons-memoirs/)

My confusion about crying for God lingered until it was memorably dispelled years later during darshan of another well known spiritual personality – Mata Amritanandamayi or Ammachi – now known for hugging millions of people worldwide.

Here’s what happened.

Crying Darshan With Mata Amritanandamayi [Ammachi].

After returning from the 1982 India pilgrimage I occasionally meditated at the San Francisco Sai Baba Center. Early in 1987 Timothy Conway, a friend and former president of that center, called asking if I would host at my apartment a program about an Indian woman spiritual teacher, Amritanandamayi or Ammachi, who was then largely unknown in the US. He explained that Ammachi would soon be making her first US visit, and that a small group of her devotees from India were seeking a San Francisco venue for an advance promotional program about her; that as a favor to them he was calling me since Sai Baba Center rules precluded holding the program there.

At that time I was living in semi-seclusion and had hosted no large gatherings in the seven year period since Guruji left my apartment. Guruji was eternally enshrined in my heart, but I remained open to learning from other spiritual teachers. So I hosted at my high-rise hermitage the first San Francisco public program about Amritanandamayi, at which some of her earliest devotees shared films and stories about Ammachi’s unusual history and devotional path. One of them, Neal Rosner (Nealu), Ammachi’s first Western male disciple, had just published a memoir which I acquired and read.

Ammachi + earliest-disciples

Ammachi’s Earliest Close Disciples


I learned then that Ammachi had been an abused child of an Indian fisherman’s large family in a remote and primitive village in Kerala; that after constantly calling and crying for the Divine, she had manifested many extraordinary spiritual tendencies and that, ultimately she had become a noteworthy trance channel displaying Krishna and Kali energies or moods (bhavas) to the enthrallment of villagers and visitors, some of whom – with her encouragement – had begun considering her a saint or avatar.

Thereafter, on Ammachi’s arrival in the Bay area, I attended one of her first public darshans at which I unforgettably learned about her devotional path of crying for God. Unknowingly I had been following that path since my spiritual awakening. (see https://sillysutras.com/kundalini-crying-for-god-and-other-kriyas-rons-memoirs/ )

By that time I’d become a spiritual friend of pundit Pravin Jani, father of Guruji’s successor Shri Anandi Ma. Pravinji had moved with his family from Bombay to Berkeley, and together we attended an Ammachi darshan at a small house in Oakland. On our arrival, the darshan room was filled with others and there was little remaining seating room. So we sat in a far corner of the room behind the elevated throne-like chair where Amma was receiving visitors with hugs and compassionately answering their spiritual questions.

As I sat in that warm spiritual ambience I experienced a heartfelt meditative state, and tears began trickling – not ‘torrentially’ but steadily. On observing Amma hugging each person who approached her, I felt content to sit and savor that devotional environment, with tears constantly seeping from my often closed eyes. But I was not inspired to go up up for a hug.

After so sitting for some time without intending to approach Amma, one of her attending swamis came and aroused me from my meditative state, quietly saying “Mother asks that you come up for darshan.” Respectfully, I complied with that request, anticipating a quick hug and, perhaps, some blessed fruit (“prasad”). But that is not what happened.

Instead, while lovingly embracing me in her arms and then in her lap, with my tears still seeping, Ammachi gave an extended discourse on the evolutionary importance of crying for God. (Her words spoken in Malayalam were translated by a swami.) After perhaps twenty minutes she concluded her talk referring to me still in her embrace, saying: “If you can cry like him, you’ve won the spiritual sweepstakes.”

The Path of Tears.

Dramatically encouraged by Ammachi, I never again doubted the immense blessing of my spontaneous devotional longing and crying for the Divine. And with curiosity sparked by Ammachi’s discourse, I later found similar teachings from other spiritual teachers in various traditions. (see https://sillysutras.com/the-emotion-devotion-crying-for-god/ ) Especially resonant were teachings of nineteenth century Indian holy man Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, with whom I had developed inner rapport after my unforgettable 1982 deja vu experience at his Dakshineswar residence place.

Ramakrisha, who had cried torrential tears for the Divine Mother, taught:

“[I]f you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.” – “Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”

After receiving shaktipat initiation from Guruji and the spiritual name “Rasik” – “One engrossed in devotion”, I had continuously kept yearning and often spontaneously calling and intensely weeping for the Divine. So, encouraged by Ammachi, Ramakrishna and others I was much attracted to Ammachi’s path of heartfelt singing and calling to the Divine, and was strongly motivated to see her again. And I did.

Years of tears with Ammachi.

For the next seven years after that first darshan I saw Ammachi during her bi-annual visits to the US and, in her absence, I often attended meditation programs at her nearby San Ramon ashram. Also, on my retirement, in February 1992 for several weeks I visited Ammachi’s Kerala, India ashram, since my daughter Jessica was then an ashram resident known as “Yogini”.

Though often I cried intensely for the Divine at Ammachi’s darshans, unlike most others there I usually was not motivated to receive her hugs. But in her presence I enjoyed marvelous devotional meditations, with tears, laughter, singing, and occasional spontaneous dancing to Amma’s bhajans. Thus through Ammachi I received bountiful blessings for which I am eternally grateful.

Prelude to a new life era.

At first I experienced an exceptionally powerful devotional ambience around Ammachi. And I was much moved by her soulful singing of bhajans calling to the Divine. However, my experience of devotional blessings around Ammachi and my enthusiasm for her darshans gradually diminished and eventually ended in distressing disillusionment.

After a while there seemed to be less and less pure heartfelt energy coming to me from her music and her presence. Ultimately it seemed that the music degenerated from being powerfully authentic to almost banal.

And as Ammachi attracted more and more followers, I perceived a growing cult of personality and materialistic atmosphere around her which greatly agitated and offended my pronounced egalitarian inclinations and aversions to spiritual organizations emphasizing “adulation of the incarnate” over “adoration of the Infinite”.

Also, though initially I always had felt energized by Ammachi’s darshan environment, after a while subtle energies there were more and more flowing from me, rather than to me. So, unlike my experience with Guruji, I was sometimes enervated rather than elevated after Ammachi darshans. This was especially noteworthy when I visited Ammachi’s Kerala ashram in 1992.

Moreover, I ultimately learned of private behaviors associated with or sanctioned by Ammachi which contradicted and belied her outer image and public pronouncements, and which so greatly disturbed me that I began regarding her as a flawed or false guru and not as a purported divine incarnation or avatar. (see Epilogue)

But like my traumatic marriage dissolution, the traumatic dissolution of my faith in Ammachi has proven to be a great disguised blessing which sparked an important new transformative life phase of reliance on inner rather than outer authority. (see e.g. my essay “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life”)

Epilogue.

Because I spent seven important years at Ammachi darshans I feel obliged to write about those years in fulfillment of my obligation to Shri Dhyanyogi, my beloved guru, who requested that I write and publish my spiritual memoirs.

Until now I have been reluctant to publicly share my distressing disaffection with Ammachi and her organization. I did not wish to discourage other devotees with different perspectives, some of whom are friends. But I now feel morally impelled to tell my truth, with the intention of helping others who might learn from my experience.

Moreover, I feel morally impelled to share elsewhere my observations which support credibility of a recently published critical book about Ammachi.

Gail Tredwell (aka “Gayatri” or “Swamini Amritaprana”), who for twenty years was Ammachi’s revered first and closest Western female devotee, has just published a memoir entitled “Holy Hell, A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness” containing many shocking but credible revelations.

Some of Gail’s revelations are consistent with my observations and corroborate an incident which was my “last straw” with Ammachi, to be explained in another memoirs chapter. Moreover, some of her credible revelations are so shocking that I feel they should be seriously considered by those who may be contemplating relationships with Ammachi and her organization, or with other hierarchical religious or spiritual organizations.

As a long-time former litigation attorney deeply dedicated to social justice and with skills in evaluating credibility of witnesses, I read Gail’s book, initiated extended phone conversations with her, and discussed her allegations with other yet anonymous witnesses. I have found Gail to be a sincere, honest and accurate percipient witness.

Nonetheless, the MA Centers organization has attacked Gail’s character by asserting that she is “a troubled individual” whose writings are “completely untrue and without a basis in fact or reality”. Since I am quite convinced that Gail’s memoirs are absolutely true, I find deeply offensive an ad hominem attack on her by those to whom she selflessly dedicated much of her adult life, and I feel dharmically impelled to support Gail’s credibility.

Darshan of Sathya Sai Baba ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
~ Rumi
“Crying to God for five minutes is equal to one hour of meditation.”

“The state that we attain by calling and crying to God
is equal to the bliss that the yogi experiences in samadhi.”

~ Mata Amritanandamayi  (Ammachi)
Tears are the solution
for dissolution
of other
into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sai Baba blessing Ron - Bangalore, 1982

Sai Baba blessing Ron – Bangalore, 1982


In January and February 1982, four years after receiving shaktipat from my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and with his approval, I journeyed on a wonderful spiritual pilgrimage to Japan and India led by Sant Keshadavadas, another Indian guru.

On embarking for India I wanted to learn about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. And I was very curious about how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”.

During that marvelous guided pilgrimage tour I had numerous unforgettable spiritual experiences from which I learned much. Thus, the journey became and has remained the most important trip of my lifetime. So I am recounting some highlights in these memoirs.

At the time of our pilgrimage, one of the few living Indian gurus of whom I’d previously heard was Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was the claimed reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a legendary saint who had died in 1918. I synchronistically learned about Sai Baba shortly before our tour departure on meeting an ardent Swedish devotee, Carin, who was in San Francisco en route to seeing him India.

Carin said that Sai Baba was renowned for his extraordinary powers (siddhis)* [see footnote].And she recounted to me many amazing stories about Sai Baba – of miraculous materializations, healings, clairvoyance, bilocations, and alleged omniscience – including her own experience of his appearing to her in Sweden in a vivid vision and beckoning her to visit him in India. And I learned from Carin that Sai Baba had millions of devotees worldwide, even though he had never left India, except for one trip to Africa. So I became quite curious about Sai Baba and wished to but didn’t expect to see him in India.

Sai Baba usually resided at his main ashram at Puttaparthi, India, and our pilgrimage itinerary did not include any planned visit there. But Carin told me that Sai Baba had a large ashram in Bangalore at Whitefield, where he occasionally visited. Our tour was scheduled to be in Bangalore for three days. So on Carin’s departure for an extended stay at Puttaparthi, I gave her our tour itinerary and she promised to call me in case Sai Baba might visit his Whitefield ashram when we were in Bangalore. I didn’t think that would happen. But synchronistically it did.

Shortly after our tour group checked into the luxurious Hotel Ashoka in Bangalore, I received a phone call from Carin telling that Sai Baba would be giving public darshan at Whitefield the next Monday morning – when fortuitously we had open time. Carin promised to pick me up in a taxi very early Monday morning to assure our finding space at Whitefield, and she suggested that I bring any other interested tour members. Thereupon I arranged for my friends Ramdassi and Tara, and Tara’s friend Pat, and a few others to join us.

Before dawn on Monday, February 1, 1982, Carin arrived at our hotel as promised. And together with my friends and other tour companions we went by taxi to Whitefield for Sai Baba’s darshan. En route, Carin suggested that we ask Sai Baba for a private audience, since he sometimes granted such last minute requests to spiritual pilgrims.

I immediately agreed, hoping to ask Sai Baba how I could best advance my quest for “enlightenment” – my spiritual “sadhana”. So Ramdassi artistically wrote an audience request for me to show him, if possible.

Although Sai Baba didn’t later grant a private audience, I had with him one of the most memorable darshan experiences of my life. Here is what happened.

On arrival at the Whitefield ashram, we were guided to a large canopied outdoor area next to the ashram building. There, we awaited Sai Baba’s appearance with hundreds of others who were already sitting side by side in numerous rows. Women and men were seated separately. I was seated near the end of the men’s darshan area furthest from the portal through which the Swami would later appear.

Ron meditating at Sai Baba Ashram, Bangalore 1982

Ron meditating at Sai Baba Ashram, Bangalore 1982


Soon I went into a deep meditation and lost track of time. But even from that state, I was aroused and opened my eyes on sensing Sai Baba’s immense shakti field as he emerged from the ashram and entered the darshan area. With spontaneous emotion of devotion, I began weeping intensely.

Through my tears I could glimpse Sai Baba slowly walking up and down the aisles of aspirants. Though he looked at each person he did not stop at anyone – until ultimately he reached me.

Whereupon, Sai Baba stopped in front of me. With extraordinarily beautiful eyes he intently gazed at me as I was crying uncontrollably and wondering how to further my “sadhana”. Then he hit me on top of the head three consecutive times with his right hand, each time uttering only one word:
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
With these hits on the head, I experienced a remarkable infusion of “shakti” energy.

Then Sai Baba soon left without stopping anywhere else. On his departure, I was left highly “enshakticated”, but in an unprecedented state of confusion.

It seemed that in exclaiming ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” Sai Baba had admonished me to stop crying. But that would have been completely inconsistent with my devotional path (bhakti) which strongly encourages and stresses the importance of crying for God.

Though my confusion about the meaning of Sai Baba’s darshan persisted for many years, I did not – and could not – stop weeping for God with emotion of devotion. And gradually I became confident that Sai Baba was not discouraging my gift of tears; that, rather, he was encouraging and blessing me to at long last ‘say sayanara to samsara’.

Epilogue

Since my unforgettable darshan with Sai Baba, the universe has given many messages and hints that Sai Baba’s exclamation
”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!”
was not an admonition to stop or limit spontaneous devotional crying.

The first of these messages happened later that same Monday in Bangalore. Our previously scheduled afternoon tour activities were cancelled at the last minute. So we were given unexpected free time. Thereupon my friends Ramdassi, Tara and Carin and I decided to visit the beautiful Bangalore temple of Shiva Bala Yogi, a reputedly powerful God Realized shaktipat guru who was previously unknown to us.

Shiva Bala Yogi

Shiva Bala Yogi


Fortuitously, on our arrival at his temple, Shiva Bala Yogi was there giving darshan – and even answering written questions from spiritual aspirants. So, still “enshakticated” from Sai Baba’s three hits on the head, I asked Shiva Bala Yogi the question I hadn’t been able to ask Sai Baba:
What should I do for my sadhana?”
He replied, simply:
Do what you are doing.
And so I did.
**[see footnote]

Soon afterwards, I received another memorable message from Sai Baba. The next day, Tuesday, our tour departed Bangalore, which was in the center of India, and we flew westward to Mangalore near the Arabian Sea. There we were lodged at an oceanside beach resort. Awakening early Wednesday morning, I decided to jog on the beach before our scheduled activities for that day. Whereupon, I had an unforgettable reminder of Sathya Sai Baba and a possible hint about the meaning of his darshan.

While jogging by the ocean with a stilled mind, I suddenly perceived that I was surrounded and completely enfolded by the body of Sai Baba; that my entire physical body was totally enveloped by the subtle body of Sai Baba. Later I took that unique experience as a metaphoric reminder and symbolic portent that we are as but cells in the body of the Divine with which we will inevitably merge, after we’ve had “enough” worldly suffering.

Footnotes

* Patanjali’s renowned Yoga Sutras, describe yogic powers which may be attained through control of life-force energies. But Patanjali warns aspirants against premature use of of such powers prior to God union, as possibly raising egotistic obstacles to attainment of the spiritual goal. Only after being irrevocably established in God union may the yogi employ powers, without karmic consequences. Especially after Sai Baba’s death in 2011, his frequent display of siddhis became controversial, with various claims that they were sometimes not used for Divine purposes. Also, there were other allegations of questionable conduct.

Despite these allegations, I remain convinced that Sai Baba’s darshan blessed and helped me. In hitting me on the head three times he imparted a tremendous infusion of divine shakti; and his concurrent admonition ”Enough!” ”Enough!” ”Enough!” was probably a blessing helping me to use that precious life force energy to transcend all remaining worldly attachments with inevitable suffering of which I’d had “enough”.

**A month later, I asked Guruji the identical question, “What should I do for my sadhana?” Guruji answered it differently, but unforgettably. See https://sillysutras.com/a-long-but-short-guruji-satsang-story-rons-memoirs/


Human Body – A Precious ‘Prison’?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“A yogi’s body is like a baby’s body.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become supple as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?
Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.”
~ Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching – Chapter 10,  Translated by Stephen Mitchell
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear.”
~ Buddha
“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually. It is naive to expect that such a favorable juncture will repeat continuously. Moreover, life is too short. ….If we bear in mind all these things, we will soon realize the need to take advantage of the opportunity that the precious human existence gives us to fully develop all the potential of our being.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas



Human Body – A Precious ‘Prison’?

Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for enlightenment it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.

Before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my body/mind and its story. Though I cherished my health, I was totally unaware of esoteric evolutionary perspectives about preciousness of human incarnation. But, since realizing that I was and am much more than my body and its story, I have deeply reflected on the significance and purpose of a human lifetime.

My 1976 realization that I was not my body or its thoughts, but pure awareness, followed a prior out of body experience [OOB] and sparked an amazingly intense ‘rebirth’ process, with convulsive crying, hyperventilation and spasmodic bodily movements. Immediately after that realization/rebirth process I briefly experienced myself not as pure consciousness but as meridians of flowing life-force energy, like those corresponding to ancient Chinese acupuncture teachings. Then I soon returned to “normal” bodily consciousness, but with greatly enhanced vital energies which continued for several months.

Thereafter, with great curiosity sparked by these new experiences, I began wondering about the nature and importance of the human body. And, synchronistically, I gradually learned with interest about body-work disciplines like massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathic, and various mind-body bio-energetic therapies. All these therapies aimed to stimulate or release flow of ‘trapped’ or blocked life-force energies.

I realized that my intense rebirth experience had temporarily released for me a previously unimaginable flow of vital energies (chi or prana), which gradually had abated as I returned to ‘normal’ consciousness. So, I became highly motivated to again access that hidden reservoir of vital energy. Thus, before meeting Guruji I had received chiropractic manipulations and had several sessions with a Reichian therapist to enhance and balance vital body energies. But I had not again experienced the extraordinary vitality which immediately followed my rebirth experience.

Then, after meeting Guruji and observing his amazing physical prowess, even as a centenarian, I learned that he received frequent massages from very few close disciples, which supposedly enhanced his physical well-being, while blessing those privileged disciple/masseurs who in touching his body experienced direct transmission of his extraordinarily intense and powerful cosmic life-force energy (“shakti”).

I began wondering about the relationship, if any, between Guruji’s regular massages, his extraordinary physical condition and his amazing ability to transcend ‘normal’ physical limitations. Then, while Guruji was staying at my apartment, just before his 1980 return to India, I had an unforgettable synchronistic experience with him that related to my mind/body questions.

One weekend morning when I was home from work, I was invited for the first and only time to give Guruji a massage – a rare blessing and privilege. As I began massaging Guruji’s then 100 year old body, I was astonished at its flexibility and softness.

Then, suddenly, I exclaimed in utter amazement:

“Guruji your body is so supple!”

Unforgettably, he replied:

“Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

I became and remained intensely curious about Guruji’s revelation that my body was like a prison. I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. Was I imprisoned by body stiffness from subconsciously stored traumas? It was apparent that my body was not supple like Guruji’s body. Though half his age, I couldn’t even sit with crossed legs, much less stand on my head or perform the other advanced yogic postures (asanas) that Guruji demonstrated.

As I remembered the extraordinary vitality which temporarily followed my rebirth “peek” experience, I intuited that it was a glimpse of a potentially achievable bodily state well beyond anything I had theretofore imagined. But how could I restore that state? And even if possible, would the restoration of such a state allow me to get out of prison at will, like Guruji? That remained a mystery.

Gradually and synchronistically, I have been given insights about the bodily ‘prison’ mystery, but haven’t yet ‘solved’ it.

Most memorably, in 1982 I was profoundly moved and inspired by Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”. There in Chapter 43, Yogananda recounts an unforgettable visit from his beloved Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who miraculously resurrected and reappeared to Yogananda in physical form a few months after his physical death. Yukteswar then explained to Yogananda the genesis of human physical, astral, and causal bodies, saying:

“The mere presence of a body signifies that its existence is made possible by unfulfilled desires.” “The power of unfulfilled desires is the root of all man’s slavery…”
“Physical desires are rooted in egotism and sense pleasures.”
“So long as the soul of man is encased in one, two, or three body-containers,
sealed tightly with the corks of ignorance and desires, he cannot merge with the sea of Spirit.”
~ Sri Yukteswar
(As recounted by Paramahansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 43)


Upon reading Sri Yuktewar’s words, I intuitively and reflectively accepted them as true. And I remembered that Guruji had revealed in San Francisco lectures on “Death, Dying and Beyond” that during a 1971 ‘near death experience’ he had been sent back by Lord Rama from a heavenly realm to his physical body because of his unfulfilled desires to help people.
*[See footnote]

I realized that all phenomena and forms – including human forms – that appear in this space/time reality interdependently originate in subtle energy planes pursuant to mysterious laws of causality. And I remembered that even though Guruji had evolved beyond limits of ordinary human consciousness, he had remained in a human body, but with amazing ability to transcend ordinary physical limitations, only because of his unselfish desires to help others. Whereas it was obvious that I was ‘imprisoned’ by bonds of ego desire and ignorance mentioned by Sri Yukteswar.

So, thereafter, I became highly motivated to transcend all such egotistic bonds, and to get out of ‘prison’ – free like Guruji. Expressing these aspirations, I soon wrote (or channeled) sutras and poems like these:

DOING TIME

Time is how
“I” Measure “Now”

And space’s for places
Where I’m –
Entangled here in time.

But I long to be – FREE
Where there is no “ME”-

Nowhere,

Out of time,

Beyond I’m,

Beyond hereness/thereness-

As just Awareness –

NOW!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WISH LIST

We’ll never have all we want ’til we want just all we have;

So – topping our wish list, is our wish to be wish-less.

For ’til we stop wishing, we’ll ever be wanting.


Though at first – longing to be merged with the Divine – I fervently aspired to transcend all physical and subtle desires, I came to realize that my aspiration was in itself a subtle desire. So, intuitively I began with ever increasing heartfelt faith in universal Awareness – the Tao – to surrender to the mysterious Infinite – “to let go, and go with the flow”.

Deeply inspired by the Buddhist Bodhisattva ideal of altruistically helping all beings end their sufferings, I gradually stopped trying to transcend this world. But with ever growing gratitude I began accepting my life as a cherished evolutionary opportunity; an opportunity to be in my precious human body in a compassionate and loving way which – at subtle levels – might help all life everywhere.

And the more I have gratefully accepted my human incarnation, the greater has been my happiness and the more I have experientially and synchronistically learned from this precious human life.

Though I always cherished and appreciated good health, more than ever before I have become mindful of my bodily needs for appropriate nourishment, exercise, and rest, and have tried to satisfy those needs in a natural way. And remembering that subtle life-force energies are the genesis of every physical form or phenomenon, I have become ever more alert to my thoughts, emotions and attitudes which may influence physical well-being.

Though, unlike Guruji, I have not yet transcended subtle desires and ignorance and am still ‘imprisoned’ in my body, I aspire to emulate his wise and compassionate way of being in this world. Recently, for the first time in this life, I have even started treating my body to regular massages.

Who knows, maybe some day I’ll be able to report to you the massage that ‘sets me free’?

*Footnote
In 1971, during a terrible Gujarati draught and famine, Guruji became extremely sick and exhausted from selflessly helping people and animals. Guruji’s physical body died, and his soul traveled to the heavenly domain of his “Ishta-Devata” Lord Rama – the principal Divine form of his devotional practices. Though Guruji wished to remain forever in Rama’s indescribably loving Presence, he was told that he would have to return to his Earthly body because of his unfulfilled desires to help people, whose images were then shown to Guruji. Rama told him: “So long as there are any desires in your mind, … you must return to fulfill those desires.”