“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Fred Rogers
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.
As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself.
As you think of him, you will think of yourself.
Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself.”
~ A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
“We are born and reborn countless number of times,
and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.
Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
In the prior memoirs chapter “Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?”, I told of my miraculous survival and healing from critical taxicab rundown injuries, which I have attributed to the prayers, care, and good wishes of saints and many others who wanted me to get well. And I explained how the shock and trauma of my sudden injuries left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, without memory of what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident, and while I was comatose.
In this chapter I will recount how a spontaneous act of loving-kindness by an ICU nurse – who synchronistically shared my reverence for Saint Francis of Assisi – proved an unforgettable healing blessing. I cannot remember the nurse’s name (so I’ll call her “Mary”), but my memory of our meeting was rekindled by an unforgettable document she left while I slept the next day; and I will never forget how I’ve felt because of her kindness.
A Holy Encounter.
For many years I have had frequent synchronistic meetings with strangers with whom I have experienced deeply harmonious connections. I have called them “holy encounters”. This is the story of an especially memorable holy encounter with a compassionate nurse which happened at the San Francisco General Hospital Intensive Care Unit [ICU], shortly after I had been run down and critically injured by a taxicab.
I have no memory of my admission to the ICU or of any prior conversations, diagnostic procedures or medical examinations there, and I was unaware of details of my injuries until after this encounter.
I later learned from medical records and from those who had examined or visited me that I had sustained a traumatic bleeding brain contusion and concussion, with extended loss of consciousness; large 2” chronic subdural hematoma pushing brain out of normal alignment; multiple fractures, including multiple facial fractures, bruises and lacerations; a fractured right leg tibial plateau; and various traumatic internal injuries, including a lacerated and bleeding liver. I was told that my head and face were completely bruised, discolored and swollen.
On the morning of this holy encounter I can now remember awakening supine on my hospital bed unable to rotate my body because of an IV tube and a full leg brace on my right leg. Presumably I was under influence of narcotic pain suppressant drugs which had been administered while I was unconscious, and until I was later able to decline them with informed consent.
Soon after I awakened that morning, I was greeted by a lovely slender, blond haired ICU nurse, who said:
“Good morning Mr. Rattner, I’m Mary your nurse for today.
How are you feeling?”
Amazingly, I simply responded:
“I’m grateful to be alive!”
Surprised, Mary commented appreciatively about my positive attitude. Whereupon I promptly recited for her my Silly Sutras saying that:
“An attitude of gratitude brings beatitude.”
And I explained to Mary that my attitude of gratitude came from abiding faith in Divine Providence, and conviction that I was blessed by Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints [*See Footnote]. Mary then told me that she had been raised to revere Saint Francis by her mother who regularly prayed to him at a home shrine.
Inspired by this wonderful synchronicity, I gladly recited for Mary the
“make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with Saint Francis, which amazingly I readily remembered, and which apparently she deeply appreciated. We talked briefly and she then proceeded on her rounds.
An unforgettable “get well” message.
The day after our ‘holy encounter’, I awakened to discover that while I slept Mary had placed this “get well” message, with the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, next to my bed.
I have heretofore told how my mid-life spiritual epiphany opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood, and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears; how for many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized in various devotional spiritual traditions, and which in the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi was known as “the gift of tears”.
Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for over forty years have remained – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy. They have become for me a divine sign of an opened heart.
Mary’s ‘get well’ message has consistently and often sparked a flood of heartfelt emotions and tears as it reminds me of our holy encounter and of my attitude of gratitude for this precious human lifetime. Thus, many times while writing this story I have cried with heartfelt gratitude.
Moral of the story.
Every spontaneous and heartfelt act of loving-kindness bestowed in ordinary life – even in seemingly insignificant incidents – can prove a lasting blessing for its recipient and everyone everywhere.
And so may it be!
* Saint Francis of Assisi.
Shortly after a profound spiritual opening in 1976, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with this legendary saint, and regarded him an archetype to be emulated. Soon I began multiple daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him, which have continued until now.
On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made a pilgrimage to Italy to honor Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis (‘Francesco’) was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, and some of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime. Also I made a magically memorable excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first Christian saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ. (See https://sillysutras.com/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/)
“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
“When the tears course down my cheeks,
they are a proof of the beauty and grace of my beloved.”
“There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness, but of the Power.
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”
“Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world?
Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart:
Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!….
When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart….”
~ Anandamayi Ma
Tears are the solution
of other into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
The Emotion Of Devotion – Crying For God
I cried for twenty four hours upon my profound mid-life Self identity realization. It was first time in my entire adult life that I remember crying. But ever since that unforgettably transformational event, I have often shed profuse tears.
While wondering why I was crying so much, I soon realized that with intense longing I was crying for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)
Then after meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I gradually learned that I had been immensely blessed with a pronounced predisposition for the spiritual path of Divine devotion – the path of Love. And that my continual longing and crying for God was an extraordinary blessing recognized in all enduring devotional paths; known in Hinduism as Bhakti, and in Christianity as the “gift of tears”.
Though never a frequent flyer, for many years I became – and remain – a frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness. And I have regularly experienced numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated actions, feelings and sensations which have helped advance my spiritual evolution.
For example, when not crying I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous – and sometimes ecstatic – Laughing, Singing, and Dancing. Though with advanced age singing and dancing have been curtailed, I still often privately experience spontaneous outbursts of laughing, crying, and calling to God.
Because crying spells and other spontaneous devotional behaviors have happened so often for over forty years, they are mentioned many times in my Memoirs; for example, in an introductory chapter about crying for god and in chapters about déjà vu experiences during pilgrimages to India and Assisi.
May the following succinct teachings and quotations from spiritual texts and masters help all of us of understand the importance of longing for God with the emotion of devotion and “gift of tears”.
And may these writings also help remind, encourage and inspire us to open our hearts with deep respect, empathy and compassion for all people and all Life everywhere – as Divinity manifest.
Quotations on Crying For God.
“He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy. He rises to transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his higher emotional nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes, his hair stands on end, his heart melts in love. The bliss in that state is so intense that, forgetful of himself and his surroundings, he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs, or sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole universe.”
~ Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 (Lord Krishna to His disciple Uddhave)
“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.”
~ Isaac of Nineveh, 7th C. Orthodox Saint and Persian Mystic
“There comes a holy and transparent time
when every touch of beauty opens the heart to tears.
This is the time the Beloved of heaven is brought tenderly on earth.
This is the time of the opening of the Rose.”
~ John 11:35
“The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears.”
~ Native American proverb
What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.
“There is a palace that opens only to tears.”
~ Zohar (source of Kabbalah)
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
~ Psalms 126:5
“Weeping may endure for the night,
but joy cometh in the morning”
~ Psalms 30:5
“Man is like an onion.
When you peel away the layers,
all that is left is tears.”
~ Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Hasidic master
Q. “Under what conditions does one see God?”
A. “Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him. People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. They swim in tears for money. But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“When the child refuses to be comforted by anything except the mother’s presence, she comes. If you want to know God, you must be like the naughty baby who cries till the mother comes.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“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)
“As a [thirsty] stag longs for flowing streams,
so longs my soul for thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night.
~ Psalm 42.1-3
“You know, if 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.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna (to Sivananda)
“When, hearing the name of Hari or Rama once,
you shed tears and your hair stands on end,
then you may know for certain that you do not
have to perform such devotions as the sandhya any more.
Then only will you have a right to renounce rituals;
or rather, rituals will drop away of themselves.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
‘Where does the strength of an aspirant lie? It is in his tears. As a mother gives her consent to fulfill the desire of her importunately weeping child, so God vouchsafes to His weeping son whatever he is crying for”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“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.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as ‘I am such an important man’ or ‘I am so and so’. Level the mound of ‘I’ to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. ….. Look at Ramakrishna. How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”
~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236
“Investigation into the Self is nothing other than devotion.”
~ Shri Ramana Maharshi — Vivekachudamani, verse 32
“On scrutiny, supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same. To say that one of these two is a means to the other is due to not knowing the nature of either of them. Know that the path of jnana and the path of devotion are interrelated. Follow these inseparable two paths without dividing one from the other.”
~ Shri Ramana Maharshi
“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“The end of all wisdom is love, love, love.”
“Love is verily the heart of all religions.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Pure knowledge and pure love are one and the same thing.
Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much easier.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
“Love is seeing the unity under the imaginary diversity. …..
“Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“He who loves me is made pure; his heart melts in joy.
He rises to transcendental consciousness by the rousing of his
higher emotional nature. Tears of joy flow from his eyes; his
hair stands on end; his heart melts in love. The bliss in that
state is so intense that forgetful of himself and his surroundings he sometimes weeps profusely, or laughs or sings, or dances; such a devotee is a purifying influence upon the whole universe.”
~Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8 – supreme devotion (para-bhakti) as described by Sri Krishna to His disciple Uddhave.
“[I]f you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.” … “Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”
~ Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
During my early days as a “born-again Hindu”, I discovered wisdom teachings of legendary twentieth century sage Shri Ramana Maharshi about the Vedic path of Advaita, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality via relentless self-inquiry – incessantly asking “Who am I?”.
Intellectually I soon became convinced of the ultimate Truth of Shri Ramana’s non-dualistic teachings. Non-dualism even seemed quite consistent with my early Jewish acculturation with the fundamental prayer: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29
Yet, seemingly paradoxically, I displayed preponderantly devotional propensities of calling and crying to the Divine. And I identified with Shri Ramakrishna, as a bhakta – a devotional practitioner – more than with Ramana Maharshi, who was an exemplar of the wisdom path – a jnani. (* see footnote)
Until retirement, while maintaining my busy law practice I found only limited time to read and reflect on non-duality and other spiritual wisdom teachings, mostly on weekends. So I used to jokingly tell spiritual friends that I prayed and cried as a bhakta on weekdays but on weekends I became a “Seventh Day Advaitist”
On retirement from law practice in January 1992, I journeyed to India, intending to further explore the Advaita path of non-duality. After planned visits to see my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, in Ahmedabad and my daughter Jessica at Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, the India trip itinerary concluded with a spiritual sojourn in the Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai, near sacred Mount Arunachala, where Shri Ramana Maharshi had resided for most of his adult life. This would be an opportunity to me to become an every day – not just a seventh day – advaitist.
Pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai
So, in February 1992, together with my daughter Jessica I traveled by train from Ammachi’s ashram in sultry Kerala to the Ramana ashram at the much more arid Tamil Nadu town of Tiruvannamalai. While I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram, Jessica had been so busy doing her assigned daily tasks (seva) that we had very few opportunities to visit together alone. So, I was hoping to spend ‘quality time’ with her and to have her as my Tiruvannamalai guide, since she had previously visited the Ramana ashram. That didn’t happen.
But I had a wonderful stay in Tiruvannamalai with memorable experiences on and near Mount Arunachala. And at the Ramana ashram I largely resolved my confusion about the imagined conflict between non-dualism and devotion. Here’s what happened:
On our arrival at the Ramana ashram Jessica and I were assigned a pleasant cottage room with private toilet which, though quite basic, was much more comfortable than my small noisy cell at Ammachi’s ashram. Moreover, I immediately had much more vitality at the Ramana ashram than at the Kerala ashram, where I had experienced diminished energy.
But to my surprise, Jessica informed me that instead of being my guide and companion she wished to dedicate her stay in Tiruvannamalai to solitary spiritual practices. She told me that as a spiritual austerity she had decided to daily circumambulate barefooted sacred Mount Arunachala and its adjoining holy sites – an ancient practice known as giri pradakshina encouraged by Ramana Maharshi and practiced for centuries by him and many other saints and pilgrims.
Ambivalently, I was pleased that Jessica was prioritizing such spiritual practices, but disappointed at not having anticipated ‘quality time’ with her. So every morning well before sunrise, while I still slept, Jessica left our cottage and each day I was on my own, except in evenings before we retired in our shared cottage.
Most days while Jessica was walking barefooted around Mount Arunachala I walked in sandals up the mountain – from the ashram to Virupaksha cave, a shrine place where Shri Ramana had lived for sixteen years. Though the cave was a public shrine, I was always there in solitude with no other visitors present. As I meditated there, I gratefully experienced and communed with Shri Ramana’s subtle peaceful presence.
One day I departed the cave in a dream-like ‘altered state of awareness’ and began slowly walking down the mountain with a stilled mind. Dressed in white I was so descending the narrow rocky path to the ashram, when – as if in a dream – I beheld coming up the path toward me three very elderly men, with long gray hair and long beards each wearing a white robe or dhoti. Each appeared as an archetypical ‘holy man’.
When we met on the mountain path, as if in a waking dream, each of the old men silently kneeled and kissed my sandaled feet. No word was uttered. After this silent ritual they continued walking up the Arunachala path and I continued descending to the ashram with a perfectly stilled mind.
Though unforgettable, I don’t know the significance of that experience. But I felt I had received inexpressible blessings from those holy men; that only in such a spiritually elevated environment could such a boon occur. However, presumably, from Shri Ramana’s non-dual perspective, attachment to any such outer illusionary experience impedes ultimate inner experience of Oneness with All.
Shri Ramana’s samadhi shrine
When not on Arunachala, most of my time spent at the ashram was at the large samadhi shrine hall, where Shri Ramana is entombed. There I continued to often experience the subtle peaceful presence of Shri Ramana, though not as powerfully as at Virupaksha cave.
It is a memorable place which, since Ramana’s mahasamadhi in 1950, has continued to magnetically attract devotees from all over the world. Sometimes I meditated sitting there, sometimes I meditatively walked around the hall, and sometimes on the porch I read books about Sri Ramana which I obtained at the ashram office.
Reconciling Ron’s Devotion with Ramana’s Non-duality
Another blessing of my stay at the Ramana ashram was that while there I largely resolved the seeming dichotomy between my deep devotional tendencies and non-dual self-identity. I learned that Ramana had taught that “supreme devotion and jnana are in nature one and the same”. And I realized that perception of paradox depends on an illusory perspective; that from an elevated perspective ultimate devotion (Divine love, bhakti) and ultimate Self awareness (wisdom, jnana) are obverse sides of the same coin.
Though not permanently abiding in a state of elevated awareness, like Ramana or Guruji, I had previously been blessed with unforgettable ‘peek’ experiences of Self-identification as pure Awareness and of seeing everyone and everything as Divine. And at the ashram I read a Ramana biography that sparked the bhakti/jnana insight which helped me reconcile the seeming conflict between my distinct devotional tendencies and my irreversible acceptance of advaita non-duality philosophy.
As I read about Ramana’s “enlightenment” experience I discovered that, contrary to popular belief, which usually associates Ramana only with advaita wisdom, the great Sage also displayed and acknowledged bhakti emotion of devotion.
At the time of his absorption in the Self, Ramana was in his seventeenth year and living in the Indian city of Madurai. Thereafter he experienced dramatic daily life changes. With the emotion of devotion, Ramana began to regularly visit the renowned Meenakshi temple in Madurai. As much later he recalled for his biographer:
“One of the new features related to the temple of
Meenakshi sundaresvrar. Formerly I would go there rarely with
friends, see the images, put on sacred ashes and sacred
vermillion on the forehead and return home without any
perceptible emotion. After the awakening into the new life, I
would go almost every evening to the temple. I would go alone and stand before Siva or Meenakshi or Nataraja or the sixty-three saints for long periods. I would feel waves of emotion
overcoming me. The former hold (Alambana) on my body had been given up by my spirit, since it ceased to cherish the idea I-am-the-body (Dehatma-buddhi). The spirit therefore longed to have a fresh hold and hence the frequent visits to the temple and the overflow of the soul in profuse tears. This was God’s (Isvara’s) play with the individual spirit. I would stand before Isvara, the Controller of the universe and the destinies of all, the omniscient and omnipresent, and occasionally pray for the
descent of His grace upon me so that my devotion might increase and become perpetual like that of the sixty-three saints. Mostly I would not pray at all, but let, the deep within flow on and into the deep without. Tears would mark this overflow of the soul and not betoken any particular feeling of pleasure or pain.”
~ Self Realization, The Life and Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by B.V. Narasimha Swami pp. 23-24.1
Thus, even after his Realization, Sri Ramana had prayed for devotion. And his prayers were often accompanied by, and answered with, copious tears. Ramana’s experience shows that highest knowledge is the same as the highest devotion; that jnana and Para bhakti are the same.
On reading Ramana’s dramatic experience I was reminded that devotional tears are the ‘language of the heart’; that tears can express our ineffable joy in ephemerally becoming one with THAT, while also they may betoken our ceaseless longing to be merged forever as THAT.
As Mother Meera has observed:
“Even avatars have to desire to be in God in every moment. And when avatars die, they desire with all their being to be united with God. …..Look at Ramakrishna. How much he wept and prayed for the Divine Mother.”
~ Mother Meera to Andrew Harvey, “Hidden Journey”, Page 236
Thus, intense feelings of the heart, which are otherwise inexpressible, are communicated by tears; and, as we soulfully pray to the Beloved with love and longing, our tears may say what words can not say; and our Heart of Hearts may answer us with tears more eloquent than any other language.
When I visited Tiruvannamalai I was already aware that – like each snowflake – every human is absolutely unique; that thus each supposedly self-realized spiritual teacher, seer, saint, guru, yogi, or even avatar uniquely manifests and expresses different aspects of our common Cosmic consciousness. While in Tiruvannamalai I was unforgettably reminded of the uniqueness of each supposedly enlightened teacher on meeting a reputed local living saint, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
People at the ashram urged me to visit him, saying that this Yogi was an avadhuta, a mystic living simply beyond worldly social standards. I was told that he was giving morning darshans at his small house near the great Annamalaiyar temple in the center of town.
So one morning, instead of communing with Shri Ramana, I walked into town, bought fruit to offer as prasad [a divine gift] to Ramsuratkumar, and came to his house where already there was a line of devotees standing outside awaiting admittance, each also holding food or flowers to offer him. Especially noteworthy was a richly attired middle aged Indian woman, who was holding a large round silver tray laden with an elaborate array of beautiful fruits and flowers.
I took my place at the end of the line and waited with curiosity in the hot sun. Ultimately, when there were about twenty or more people standing in line, the door opened and Yogi Ramsuratkumar appeared with an attendant to greet each devotee, one by one. With most people he exchanged a few words, accepted their offering and sent them on. Only occasionally did he invite a devotee to enter his house for darshan.
Amazingly, when the woman with the silver tray proffered her elaborate offering, he not only rejected it but seemed to sternly chastise her in Telegu and peremptorily sent her away. (Whereupon I surmised that Ramsuratkumar had determined from her subtle field that the woman was an unworthy aspirant with defiled motives.)
When I reached the head of the line, the Yogi kindly accepted my modest offering and invited me to enter his house parlor with only a few others – an Indian family of mother and father with two young children and a young western woman. Each of us was invited to sit in the parlor on a plain folding chair facing the swami who was standing in front of us.
To my surprise, the house appeared to be very dusty and dirty, and the Yogi looked as if he hadn’t bathed or washed his clothes for a while. Notwithstanding his unkempt appearance and environment my subtle ‘radar’ detected this yogi’s inner purity and I began softly weeping. Later, I concluded that while an attitude of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” might be appropriate for most people, Ramsuratkumar demonstrated that in spirituality it is inner purity rather than outer appearance that is crucial.
After we were seated in his parlor, and offered tea, the yogi enquired of each guest our origins and reasons for visiting him. Thus, he asked me in English from whence and why I had come to India. With tears still seeping I explained that I had come as a spiritual pilgrim to honor my beloved Guruji in Gujurat; and that I was in Tiruvannamalai to honor Shri Ramana Maharshi.
Thereupon, while standing before me the Yogi raised his right hand in blessing pose and in English said “my Father blesses you”, an utterance he intermittently thereafter repeated. While blessing me with his raised right hand the yogi held between the fingers of his left hand and puffed alternately on three lighted bidis (Indian hand-rolled cigarettes, like those sold and smoked by Nisargadatta Maharaj).
Though it didn’t surprise me to see a smoking saint, never before had I imagined a holy man smoking three cigarettes concurrently. So it was apparent – as I had been informed – that Ramsuratkumar was an avadhuta, who lived simply and unconventionally without concern for social standards. In all events, I was and remain ever grateful for his blessings.
Since my pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai more than ever before have I been grateful for my “gift of tears” as a supreme devotional blessing ultimately consistent with highest wisdom of non-duality Self-identity. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/crying-for-god-and-other-kundalini-kriyas-rons-memoirs/ ) And since darshan with Yogi Ramsuratkumar more than ever before have I gratefully appreciated the infinite potentiality of non-duality Reality.
* The seeming dichotomy between my deep devotional tendencies and non-dual self-identity remains today: Often I still spontaneously call and cry to the Divine, yet always remembering “I am THAT” to which I call and cry; that, as Swami Vivekananda eloquently observed – “…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun . . does not exist, it is not real” ; and that “Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“Beholding the higher light beyond the darkness
we came to the divine light Sun in the Godhead,
to the highest light of all.”
~ Rig Veda
“You are the light of the world.”
~ Matthew 5:14
Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.
~ Mahmud Shabestari, Sufi Mystic, 15th century.
Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness
Though I’ve always loved walking in nature, such walks rarely happened during my married years, as it was not an interest shared by my wife. But soon after our divorce, in summer 1976 I vacationed at Yosemite National Park, where for the first time I spent days hiking in the Sierra Nevada high country, while sleeping and eating at various park tent camps at differing elevations.
I arrived at Yosemite with many new questions arising from recent re-awakening and high energy experiences, and left with even more new experiences and new questions. But an amazing, unforgettable and unforeseen answer to one question – “Why I am crying so much?” – was soon bestowed.
After spending my first night at Merced Lake, the lowest elevation Yosemite tent camp, the next day I hiked over ten miles and more than two thousand feet upward to one of the highest camps, Sunrise, where I arrived just before sunset. I was assigned a bunk where I deposited my backpack, and then decided to ascend to the summit of a ten thousand foot granite dome adjoining the camp.
As I climbed up I felt unusually invigorated yet tired from hours of hiking. On reaching the summit of the granite dome, it seemed as if I was on top of the world. It was the end of a glorious clear summer day in Sierra Nevada high country. Turning southward, I beheld a magnificent mountain vista of the Cathedral Range.
The extraordinary beauty of that alpine panorama at sunset seemed unworldly, and evoked for me strange feelings of déjà vu – of being in the Himalyas – and of entering ‘God’s cathedral’. Spontaneously I began sobbing and crying intensely torrential tears.
Then, completely overcome with emotion, suddenly and instinctively I threw my body to the ground and with crying eyes closed, silently importuned a momentous request. Earnestly addressing the Highest Power with utmost urgency, I implored: “Take me. Take me now. I want nothing more; there is nothing more left for me in this life!”.
Whereupon, I beheld within an unimaginably intense and ethereal effulgence, which I can only now describe as the ‘light of ten thousand suns’. Ancient Vedic scriptures have thus alluded to this inner light:
“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One –.”
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 12
Until that transformative inner light revelation at Yosemite, I had been puzzled about why I had continued crying so much since the realization that I was pure Awareness – not my body, my thoughts or my story. Sadness at the divorce was not an adequate explanation for what was happening to me. But the puzzlement began resolving with that unforgettable Yosemite inner light revelation.
Before Yosemite my intense crying had begun with the realization that I was pure Awareness. And at Yosemite while suddenly and intensely crying and yearning to end my ‘imagined’ sojourn in this world, I beheld the transcendental Light of that Awareness.
My tears then were not tears of sadness, but tears of intense longing to merge with that Light, and so to end the illusion of separation from it. I had beheld Divinity in that magnificent panorama of God’s cathedral, and with all my Heart intensely yearned to be eternally merged with it.
But this realization of why I was crying, raised a new mystery: “How could it be that a secular lawyer who hadn’t cried or fervently prayed during his entire adult life, was now intensely crying and praying for God?”
Ultimately, I learned that I had been graced with “the gift of tears” – a blessed spiritual path of longing and crying for the Divine associated for millennia with devotional mystics in Catholicism, Sufism, Sikhism, Hinduism and other paths. The Universe gradually provided answers to that question, and other questions about my many mystical experiences, through a series of extraordinary synchronistic happenings and experiences which were bestowed after the Yosemite experience.
Though these happenings and experiences were too numerous for me to now recall and recount, I shall share some of the most memorable ones with you.
“In this ever-changing space/time world,
nothing is immutable, but much is inscrutable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Both inner and outer life changed radically for me after my self-realization rebirth experience, and upon living alone after divorce. From living a ‘normal’ middle class life style, I began living outwardly like a Western ascetic, and inwardly with formerly unknown rich spiritual experiences.
I now realize retrospectively that my unforeseen new life unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing my life story’s script; and, that I have been and am now continually guided in my new life by increasingly frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronicities – meaningful or noteworthy ‘coincidences’ and premonitions – which Western science can’t yet explain.
Long-time worldly habits changed. Though I had always walked to my financial district law office, now almost every morning before walking to work I jogged alone for about an hour to the Golden Gate bridge.
Intuitively, and not because of anything I’d then heard or read, I gradually evolved from a common Western flesh food diet to a largely raw food vegetarian diet. Upon experiencing ‘withdrawal symptoms’ when I forgot my morning coffee one day, I realized that I’d become addicted to caffeine. So I stopped drinking coffee, and drank peppermint tea instead. As a vegetarian I became gradually unable to metabolize alcohol. So I stopped drinking beer and wine and all other alcoholic beverages (which I’d enjoyed since adulthood).
Instead of sleeping on a raised bed, I began sleeping on a futon on the floor. Instead of living in rooms filled with furniture and furnishings, I preferred a simple ‘Zen-like’ austere residential environment.
My ascetic new eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise habits have continued for over thirty years, though after suffering leg injuries in a 1988 car accident, I stopped jogging but kept walking usually for at least an hour a day.
Why did I turn to asceticism? Was it because of ascetic past lives? These remain yet unanswered but recurring questions.
Aside from changed worldly habits, my inner life became – and continues to be – like a spiritual detective novel, with ever new questions arising from new experiences and new realizations.
For many years, beginning with my three month period of extraordinarily high energy, I had numerous amazing mystical and psychic experiences, which repeatedly substantiated my post-out of body realization that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought and sparked an intense quest for a new “reality” paradigm.
All these new incidents seemed quite “real”. They could not be readily rationalized away as “unnatural hallucinations” as they were not prompted by ingestion of any biological or chemical psychedelic or drug (which I didn’t use). Nor did I appear to have ‘gone crazy’, since I continued to function effectively as a litigation lawyer despite my new secret life.
After the unforgettable inner experience of seeing each of my thoughts manifest as a separate kaleidoscopic thought-form outside my body or brain, I intuited that thought was the genesis of all phenomenal reality. But I had no idea of how that could happen, and wondered about any such process. So with great curiousity I sought a new paradigm or world-view encompassing my new experiences of “reality”.
Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find. Gradually, I was given synchronistic answers to my questions.
This process was accompanied by an ever increasing sense of awe and gratitude for our marvelous, miraculous and mysterious universe. Intense longing with ever growing gratitude gradually transformed a secular lawyer into a deeply devotional seeker of Truth – of answers to ultimately unanswerable questions of perennial philosophy.
And never again since the long-locked floodgate of tears was opened during the self-realization rebirth experience have tears failed to flow regularly. For many years, I cried so often and so profusely with deep longing for the Divine, that I was puzzled about what was happening to me.
But gradually, through synchronicity, I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing known in the Catholic tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola as “the gift of tears”; a blessing similarly recognized in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, including the ecstatic Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz and numerous others, and the Hindu tradition of bhakti yoga, which I followed for many years after synchronistically meeting my venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).
Though never a frequent flyer, for many years I became – and remain – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness. And I regularly experienced numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which helped further my spiritual evolution. For example, when not crying I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.
Many years have passed since Guruji told me to write and publish my spiritual memoirs, so the memoirs have gradually shortened as they have been ‘edited’ and abridged by time. But the most valuable experiences were unforgettable. Hereafter, I will share with you some of them, with theories of what they might mean.