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Posts Tagged ‘Thich Nhat Hanh’

Perfect Paradox

“The truest sayings are paradoxical.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”
~ Werner Erhard, est
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.
Let reality be reality.
Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
~ Lao-Tzu
“By letting it go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try,
the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
“[It] is surrender to this moment, not to a story through which you interpret this moment and then try to resign yourself to it.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…
Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life –
and see how life starts suddenly..
working for you, rather than against you.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
If you can accept the flow of life and give in to it, you will be accepting what is real. Only when you accept what is real can you live with it in peace and happiness. The alternative is a struggle that will never end because it is a struggle with the unreal, with a mirage of life instead of life itself.
~ Deepak Chopra
“Embrace the higher truth that everything comes to pass exactly as it should. Find peace and wisdom by accepting what is.”
~ Dan Millman
“The moment that judgement stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind.
You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.”
“Your acceptance of ‘what is’ takes you to a deeper level
where your inner state as well as your sense of self
no longer depend on the mind’s judgment of “good” or “bad.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“True surrender . . . . does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle




Introduction to “Perfect Paradox”

The following SillySutras poem restates a perennial wisdom principle.

It cautions that we mentally yield to life’s flow in each moment because we can’t change it; that we accept the NOW, as paradoxically “perfect”, even though it is pervaded with painful problems, because causally and karmically “what is” cannot be otherwise.

The poem’s esoteric message is explained by above apt quotations, and by my following comments.

Please enjoy and reflect upon these writings. Moment by moment, may they bring us ever expanding happiness.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Perfect Paradox

Despite Omni-present ignorance,

selfishness, misery and suffering,

and apparent chaotic uncertainty,

Perfection pervades our “Loco Loka * –

the realm of space/time and causation;

the realm of manifest Mystery.


*”Loco Loka = crazy world



Ron’s audio recitation of “Perfect Paradox”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Perfect Paradox”

Dear Friends,

Today’s posting is about accepting as “Perfect” ‘what is’ NOW, despite pervasively perceived suffering and problems.

For millennia mystics have taught that our ever impermanent space/time ‘reality’ is ultimately unreal and illusory, like a mental mirage; that life exists only in the choiceless, thoughtless present moment, which karmically cannot be otherwise.  But we mostly experience this world mentally and conceptually, rather than thoughtlessly. Thus for most humans our life is a thought-created continuing story in which (as William Shakespeare revealed) “nothing’s either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Yet, whatever we may think about ‘what is’ NOW, it can’t be changed. So mentally resisting each present moment is futile, and inevitably causes karmic suffering. (see https://sillysutras.com/dont-seize-the-moment/)

Thus mystics (like those quoted above) perennially counsel us to let go of mental descriptions or characterizations, and to non-conceptually accept each moment of Nature’s spontaneous flow of life.

Background

I first learned about the spiritual principle of choicelessly accepting ‘what is’ soon after my mid-life awakening. In 1977, I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar where I was first exposed to certain Eastern spirituality principles cleverly collected and presented by Werner Erhard, est’s founder, to motivate participants to radically transform their lives. 

To communicate an alleged epiphany experienced while he was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, Werner’s key est teaching was to: Always accept “what is”. [See Ron’s Memoirs: Getting “IT” at est]

To encourage est participants to accept “what is”, Werner described the world as “perfect”, with innovative definitions such as:  

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, 
and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

Intrigued by est teachings, I began wondering about, and gradually accepting, “what is” in the present moment (because karmically it could not be otherwise).  And non-judgmentally accepting “what is” has significantly spurred my spiritual awakening process. So I have written about it, to help others.
(see https://sillysutras.com/dont-seize-the-moment/) 


“Perfect Paradox” poetry

Today, to encourage our accepting “what is” in the present moment, I have shared the above poetic verses first composed during my post-retirement reclusive period, together with apt quotations, including Werner’s definition of “perfection”.

The poem is oxymoronically titled “Perfect Paradox” because in our space/time polarity duality reality we can’t have “perfection”, without imperfection. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-perfection/) Moreover Eastern mystics have persuasively taught for millennia that this so-called ‘reality’ isn’t even real; that it is an optical illusion – like a mental mirage. So to call it “perfect” is cosmically contradictory. Furthermore, words can never describe or express mysterious transcendent Truth beyond illusionary ‘duality reality’.

Nonetheless, words which seem intellectually illogical, can metaphorically, rhetorically, or paradoxically point to otherwise ineffable Truth. So sometimes

“The truest sayings are paradoxical.”
~ Lao Tzu

Therefore today’s “Perfect Paradox” verses and quotations are offered to encourage our acceptance of “what is” NOW, which karmically cannot be otherwise.

Accepting “what is”, need not impede our nonviolent opposition to injustice.

But yielding to life’s flow, need not discourage or impede our vigilantly questioning and peacefully resisting pervasive suffering and injustice caused by human ignorance and greed – as did Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

“True surrender . does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.

Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

“We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh



And so shall it be!


Ron Rattner

Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?

Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“There are no passengers on spaceship earth.
We are all crew.”
~ Marshall McLuhan
“We must learn to live together as [sisters and] brothers,
or perish together as fools.” ..
“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence,
but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” 
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The whole problem with the world is that
fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell
“Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
~ Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act III, scene II
“When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power





Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?

Dear Friends,

On this second coronavirus April Fools’ day, like countless others worldwide, I am deeply concerned that life on our precious planet Earth is threatened by unprecedented and potentially catastrophic crises fomented by fools. So this is a time for our serious reflection on these critical problems jeopardizing all life on “Spaceship Earth”, rather than merely a day for frivolous thoughts or behaviors.

Worldwide we are facing unprecedented ecological, economic, health and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet as Humanity allows the world to be ruled and ruined by psychopaths.

In my opinion, current crises have been precipitated by transnational world “leaders” – a few obscenely privileged financial, corporate, political and religious oligarchs – who without remorse amorally and ignorantly acquire, abuse and misuse power, and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs; people so crazy, ignorant and insensitive that they are unjustly and brutally harming countless humans and creatures, and myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth, committing ecocide/omnicide/suicide by corrupting and destroying the life support systems which sustain us.

Bucky Fuller and “Spaceship Earth”

Buckminster Fuller



In the mid-1960’s visionary American architect, inventor, and author R. Buckminster Fuller [Bucky] popularized the term “Spaceship Earth” to explain how our precious planet is a single system with its apparent separations inextricably interdependent and interconnected.

Bucky foresaw that to ensure our long-term viability and to avert global catastrophe humanity must wisely and cooperatively inhabit and operate our amazing ‘Spaceship’ – like skilled astronauts. He said:“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”

So I’m wondering whether “Spaceship Earth” has become a “ship of fools”, not only because of those insanely commanding and ‘steering’ it, but also because we its imminently endangered crew foolishly tolerate such insanity without immediately mutinying and claiming command.

Current critical times

Since inception of the current coronavirus pandemic countless people worldwide have been experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anxiety, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions. More people are fearful than ever before in my long lifetime. And in the US such fears are being fomented by mainstream media.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives may be, we share overriding common needs and aspirations: the same common Cosmic consciousness; the same web of life; the same precious Earth biosphere; the same aspirations for health and happiness; and for just democratic societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet.

However, until now virtually all of us in varying degrees have been suffering from an illusory sense of separation from each other and from our ONE common spiritual essence. According to many mystics and non-material scientists we suffer from perception deception, mistakenly believing as ‘reality’ all we perceive as separate. But, as Albert Einstein revolutionarily revealed: “Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

And Alan Watts reminds us that we’ve “been fooled” by our illusory separation from Nature:

“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is — rather literally — to be spellbound”.
~ Alan Watts


Perhaps each of us has known subliminally that we are participating in a great cosmic hoax about our supposed separate reality and identity.   And perhaps April Fools’ day has been an expression of that subliminal awareness. But at long last it’s time for us to awaken and together act to preserve life on “Spaceship Earth”.

Suggested solutions

Current turbulent times require our compassionate courage and wisdom to consciously realize, and nonviolently assert, Humanity’s urgent need to take charge of navigating “Spaceship Earth”.

“We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

And for conscious realization of our true common identity, we need to heed and follow our sacred heart’s wisdom of loving/kindness and compassion, and not those few fools who are destroying all we cherish.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell


Conclusion

In this critical age of immense jeopardy and suffering, yet uprecedented opportunity, we are collectively awakening from a long-inculcated illusion of separation from each other and Nature. 

As common ‘crew’ of “Spaceship Earth”, we must awaken to immediately take charge of guiding our precious planet to assure that it is no longer unsustainably desecrated by Humankind; but that it is cooperatively and democratically guided and honored bottom-up by and for compassionate societies, rather than ruled and ruined top-down by and for a few foolish “leaders”.

We must “live together as [sisters and] brothers”, rather than “perish together as fools.”

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Memory is “Maya”

I have realized that
the past and future are real illusions,
that they exist in the present,
which is what there is and all there is.
~ Alan Watts
“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past, which is memory, a conditioned state.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Truth is not a memory, because truth is ever new, constantly transforming itself. (M)emory is a hindrance to the understanding of what is. The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the `mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Mind and memory are “then”,
while –
Life is NOW,
ever NOW,
never then!”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Introduction to Memory is “Maya”*

Dear Friends,

Memory is “Maya”, is a brief mystical poem which I composed during extended ‘hibernation’ before launching the SillySutras website.  With foregoing key quotations, it metaphorically reveals the crucial spiritual importance of BEing with a quiet mind as the Eternal NOW.

Explanatory comments follow the poem. Enjoy!

Ron Rattner

Memory is “Maya”*

Memory is “maya”.
Memory is mind.
Memory is mentality,

Not Reality.

Memory is then,
Life is NOW.

So transcend “maya” memory.

Forget what you think you are, and
BE what you really are:

Eternal Life

Ever NOW!


*Footnote

“Maya” is a Sanskrit word meaning illusion;
not THAT – Reality beyond illusion



Ron’s explanation and recitation of “Memory is Maya”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Memory is Maya”

Dear Friends,

After my spiritual awakening I intuited that “This world is wrought with naught but thought”. Later I discovered corroborating Buddhist sutras stating that “With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Whereupon, I became (and remain) intrigued about the nature of “mind” – which is the ‘thought processor’ that creates this world.

And soon thereafter I discovered the above-quoted teachings of Indian sage J. Krishnamurti that “mind is memory” and “a hindrance to the understanding of” Truth, which is always new and NOW.

“Memory is Maya” is one of those poems, which I’ve posted today to help remind us that “Life is NOW, ever NOW, never then”.  

So that

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Invocation

May these writings encourage us to live ever happier and soul fulfilling lives,
As gradually we still our minds and open our hearts –
To remember that we are the unseen Source of the world we see,
And that “Life is NOW, ever NOW, never then!

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Happy New Year!

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“In this wonderful world of relativity,
we are all relatives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Everything we think, do or say
changes this world in some way.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If in our daily life we can smile,
if we can be peaceful and happy,
not only we, but everyone will profit from it.
This is the most basic kind of peace work.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”


Solar System



Dear Spiritual Sisters and Brothers –
Children of the Divine –

As fellow travelers on spaceship Earth,
let us welcome this New Year,
Not only as another advent
of our precious planet’s regular revolutions around the sun,

But as the dawning of an enlightened new Aquarian age.

As Earth regularly revolves,
let us resolutely resolve –
collectively, consciously and cooperatively,
to compassionately participate together in an evolutionary leap
into an auspicious new age of harmony, peace and joy,
for all Humankind and for all life on our precious planet.

The personal and planetary are intimately connected.

Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’,
dreaming our world into being; and,
consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’.

So, rather than just wishing that 2021 be a wonderful year,
or passively awaiting fulfillment of promising prophesies,
let us actively actualize our collective inspiration and aspiration
for evolutionary transformation,

With Peace on Earth and goodwill to all.

A resolution can be both a wish or determination to do something,
AND an accomplishment and manifestation of that wish.

So, as a planetary family, let us NOW resolve to resolve
our pressing international and interpersonal problems –
problems that we cannot resolve alone.

To fulfill our deepest aspirations,
let us envision, imagine and see
our precious planet as we wish it to be,

And then – to manifest our vision –
let us compassionately contribute our own unique gifts
from our own unique perspectives,
in our own unique ways.

To help us envision the world as we wish it to be,
embedded below are live video performances by John Lennon
of his inspired and ever inspiring song “Imagine”.

May John’s visionary message
that together we can “live as one”,
encourage us to ever more manifest 

the immense beauty and compassion
of our true inner nature and infinite potentiality,
and thereby to transcend all obstacles as LOVE.

AND SO SHALL IT BE!





Ron’s explanation and dedication of this Happy New Year message

As we begin another new year, this is a traditional time for deep reflection on our lives.

For many people these are dark and divisive times, unprecedented in their lives. But current painful world turmoil can be insightfully seen as dark times before an inevitable dawn; times with infinite evolutionary opportunities for societal spiritual awakening and a new Aquarian age of human harmony and conscious connection with each other and with Nature.

So rather than curse the darkness,
let us lovingly light evolutionary candles.
Rather than decry the past, or fear the future,
let us be ever grateful for bountiful blessings of precious human life.
 
  
To inspire societal spiritual awakening, the above verses urge that as earthly spiritual siblings we jointly resolve to resolve our critical ecological, interpersonal, and international planetary problems; crises which can be resolved through awakened awareness of how and why our human species has caused them and can cure them.

As passengers on ‘spaceship Earth’, we must cherish and not scuttle it;
we must stop polluting and unsustainably exploiting and destroying our precious planet’s life-forms and ecology, and live peacefully, sustainably and harmoniously with each other and all other life-forms. 

Jesus told us: “You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.” [Psalm 82: 6; John 10:34]  “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move.” [Matthew 17:20]

Thus, we are reminded that we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”, but a ‘dream-team’ knowingly or unknowingly creating it.  So with deep and abiding faith in our collective capacity to fulfill our deepest aspirations, let us join as a global family to envision, imagine and see our precious planet as we wish and intend it to be. 

So with the new year, may we cooperatively, harmoniously and lovingly resolve our common crises for our common good, with each of us contributing our unique gifts from our unique perspectives, in our unique ways.  May we thus reach a pivotal tipping point, whereby a critical mass of Humankind will uplift all human consciousness to resolve the critical mess now threatening life on Earth.  

Ever mindful of our Oneness with all Life on our precious planet, let us choose to act with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone everywhere.

Rather than worry or be afraid, let us remember that:

“The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself. . .
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, first Presidential inaugural address


“For God sends hope in the darkest moments. 
The heaviest rain comes from the darkest clouds.” 
~ Rumi


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


John Lennon singing “Imagine” live.





What is “Enlightenment”?
~ Quotations and Comments

“Knowing others is wisdom,
knowing your Self is enlightenment.”

~ Lao Tzu




Introduction

This is the second of two related articles about “enlightenment”. The first posting, linked here, defines “enlightenment”; this posting contains key quotations from spiritual teachers, and explanatory comments about “enlightenment”.

Both of these postings are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness, by finding and following our Sacred Heart.

Quotations about “Enlightenment”

“There is no such thing as
enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is
itself enlightenment.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Personal entity and enlightenment cannot go together.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened people,
there is only enlightened activity.”
~ Suzuki Roshi

“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“There are many paths to enlightenment.
Be sure to take one with a heart.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Knowledge is structured in consciousness.
The process of education takes place in the field of consciousness;
the prerequisite to complete education is therefore
the full development of consciousness — enlightenment.
Knowledge is not the basis of enlightenment,
enlightenment is the basis of knowledge.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.”
~ Deepak Chopra (Synchrodestiny)

“The word enlightenment conjures up the idea of some superhuman accomplishment, and the ego likes to keep it that way, but it is simply our natural state of felt oneness with being. It is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible, something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet much greater than you. It is finding true your true nature beyond name and form. The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you. You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an isolated fragment. Fear arises, and conflicts within and without become the norm.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now

“Enlightenment” is Being –
beyond entity identity.
Ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Ron’s Comments about “Enlightenment”

Dear Friends,

I am privileged to share with you today the foregoing key quotations from spiritual teachers about the perennial process of inner illumination – or “enlightenment”.

In memoirs titled “Transcending Transcendence” I’ve told about my conscious pursuit of “enlightenment” as a spiritual goal, until gradually I abandoned goal oriented spiritual seeking, and – as “An Uncertain Undo” – intuitively began surrendering to the Infinite, with more and more heartfelt faith in The Lone Arranger. 

I realized that “enlightenment” is only a word – a mere mental concept with different meanings for different people.  So I determined that in this illusory world “enlightenment” is not an ultimate destination, but a perpetual evolutionary process; that beyond space/time/causality ‘reality’ there are no concepts – only ineffable Mystery.   

As a spiritually unenlightened “Uncertain Undo”, I’ve ‘heretically’ decided that Suzuki Roshi was right in observing that


“there are no [fully] enlightened people, . . only enlightened activity”.


In my view incarnation is limitation.  So no completely “enlightened” person can manifest all infinite aspects of non-duality Reality – of limitless LOVE.  Therefore, as a devotional non-dualist, I’ve decided that Nisargadatta Maharaj was paradoxically right in saying that in this illusory world: 

“There is no such thing as enlightenment,
the realization of that fact is itself enlightenment.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj


I respectfully suggest that – except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas – we all appear here on the Earth Branch of the great Cosmic University to evolve spiritually by learning LOVE and being LOVE; and that in this ever impermanent space time “reality” our challenge is to skillfully stay in harmony with always changing energy – whether perceptible or imperceptible; that as times change our “enlightened” behaviors must change; that historically enlightened behaviors may not still be appropriate in this modern age of mental malaise.  

For me perpetual change challenges us to always live life presently – ‘in the zone’ – by constantly responding appropriately, skillfully and spontaneously to ever changing earth energies.  So we are learning to experience life spontaneously, like skilled master musicians in a jam session – always harmoniously responding or blending with each sensed musical sound or soundless space.  

But if we had mastered that “enlightened” process of always being ‘in the zone’, we wouldn’t be here.  Consider these apt quotes from popular spiritual authors: 

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished.
If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
~ Richard Bach

“If you’re not dead yet,
you’re not done yet.” 
~ Elizabeth Gilbert (quoting her mother)


As long as we incarnate on Earth, participation in the “enlightenment” process entails learning mindfully “to let go, and go with the flow” – and to “leave it to the Lone Arranger.”   Moreover, active pursuit of “enlightenment” can become a subtle ego trap, to be averted.  So it’s best to surrender because:


“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi

Thus, while ever honoring my beloved Guruji as a guiding and inspiring ‘outer authority’, I’ve more and more relied on inner intuitive authority while experiencing the earth-life “enlightenment” process.  And such reliance has brought an ever happier life.
   
Knowingly or unknowingly we are all on a spiritual path to discover within our true Self identity – which ‘is seeking us’.  So these comments are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness by finding and following our Sacred Heart.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”
~ Socrates
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. 
Out of a fear of the unknown,
they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Love is what we were born with.

Fear is what we learned here. 

The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.

~ Marianne Williamson
In silence sweet

we shall see

that everything is light.

And thus we’ll learn in perfect peace

there’s naught to fear but fright.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ascension Apprehension

Our deepest fears
hide our highest potentials.

The higher we go
the more we know,

That our highest highness
is our common “I-ness”.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Ascension Apprehension”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Ascension Apprehension”

Dear Friends,

Did you know that most humans – individually and societally – fail to achieve their highest potentials and suffer unnecessarily because of mistaken fear of the unknown  – especially fear of inevitable bodily death? 
 
Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown. But, knowingly or unknowingly, most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and don’t know what if anything happens after physical death.

Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown.

Countless survivors of what we call near death experiences, credibly report vastly transformed, happier and more fulfilling lives following experiential realization that bodily death does not end life; that in dying to physical life we can be ‘reborn to eternal life’.

By identifying only with our mortal physical bodies we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. And we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death. So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And futilely we try to ‘protect’ ourselves by psychologically denying inevitable demise of our ephemeral physical forms.  So our lives are often marked by suffering from conflicts and problems which disturb our peace of mind and awareness of our eternal at-one-ment with Nature. 

Yet it is possible for us to transcend suffering from fear of the unknown. We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts; that our ultimate common essence is immortal.  Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with our common immortal awareness, rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and gradually we can expand our perceived boundaries, so to ever evolve ’til these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend ephemeral entity identity, often we can just be at peace in the present – as thoughtless immortal awareness – NOW.

Dedicaton and Invocation

May the foregoing Ascension Apprehension verses and quotations help us realize that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
And thereby may they inspire our discovery together of ever less fearful
and ever more fulfilling lives.

May we –
Individually and societally –
Lose illusory apprehensions
and achieve fated Ascensions
To timeless New Dimensions
of Eternal Life, Light and LOVE.
Ever NOW!


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

The Sacred Secret of Life
~ Ron’s Memoirs, Quotes and Poem

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
~ Alan Watts
Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy
“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings






Ron’s Introduction

The following ‘channeled’ poem and above quotations, are about a key wisdom concept which is so important for spiritual evolution that with poetic license I’ve called it “the sacred secret of life”. That spiritual secret and my process leading to composition of the ‘secret of life’ poem are explained in comments below.

The Sacred Secret of Life

We evolve and revolve
ever seeking to solve
the sacred secret of life.

But the further we go
the less we know
the sacred secret of life.

The longer our history,
the greater the mystery of
the sacred secret of life.

Yet we never stop trying –
keep birthing and dying, for
the sacred secret of life.

Tho’ we may never solve it,
we’ll ever evolve it:
The sacred secret of life.

So in Awe we bow
to the ever NOW—

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “secret of life” poem was inspired by previously unimagined and unforgettable experiences which began after my midlife spiritual awakening. After many years of inner reflection, prayer and meditation, the poem was composed spontaneously during my extended post-retirement reclusive period.

Soon after my awakening, I was synchronistically introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom through a friend who urged me to read an extraordinary book with an intriguing title – “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book and its memorable title planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama” soon miraculously manifested in my life, in a previously unimagined way, and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s memorable title “Be Here Now!” became for me a key slogan for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Through experience and other spiritual teachings, I began to realize the profound evolutionary importance of mental stillness.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of contemporary sage J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later I felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my experiences in following my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ finally cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me to choose whether “to think or not to think” – an option to enjoy precious moments of choiceless awareness. And by learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind”; and I discovered that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique space/time perspective and karmic history. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same – only proportions differ. And precious presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual advancement.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a focused or stilled mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists and athletes perform at peak levels while “in the zone”?

Moreover, whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance, every human being wants happiness, with minimal suffering. And to be in a state of precious presence with a stilled mind is of critical importance to experiencing happiness.

So for me “Be Here Now!” – like “Seek relief from belief” and “Undo Ego!” – has become a key motivational motto encapsulating a wisdom concept crucial to spiritual evolution from Earth life to Eternal Life.

Dedication and Invocation

Thus today’s quotations and poem are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically ever here NOW.

May we all experience growing happiness by learning to live in the precious present with ever quieter minds, thereby radiating Eternal LOVE and Light, which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken.
That time is now.”

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Introduction

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ we are often reminded that our spiritual goal is returning to “godliness” – to Ultimate Reality. This memoirs posting explains how we can advance our evolution toward attainment of that goal, by clearing past mental conditioning to increasingly be here NOW in the precious present.

Because this posting coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days, it outlines my positive experience with Yom Kippur communal practices of: (1) non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us; and of (2) annulment or rescission of obsolete and unhelpful private intentions, resolutions, or vows to ourselves or God. Thus it explains my opinion that such practices which are premised on inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.

Further it explains why our spiritual evolution can be advanced by other practices or activities which help us quiet the mind and clear mental pre-conditioning to increasingly live moment by moment in the precious present, with Love as the supreme unifying principle of Life.

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as anxiety, fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken.
That time is now.”
“That which is timeless is found now.”

Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present – in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is advanced by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have quieted my mind, recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of thinking less, and being more; and of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness – the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help still the mind and clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated the SillySutras website to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

Jewish High Holy days practices

During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us. [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many observant Jews is the religious high-point of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult (before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful, even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever immanent Divine LOVE – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish (days of awe); Moslem (Eid Al-Adha); Christian (Feast of St. Francis); Hindu (Navaratri); Asian (Moon festivals) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”. Moreover, all major religions – Buddhist-Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish – teach a common message of Love as the supreme “unifying principle of Life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.” [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] 

Yet, often in the name of religion, our world remains rife with discrimination, violence and killing which must be transcended for survival of Human life as we have known it.

Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

The above essay, Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present, encourages our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we commonly self-identify as ONE Eternal spirit, which is LOVE – not just as separate mortals – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious human lifetime.

Invocation

On ‘holy days’ and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember our affinity and identity with Divinity;

May we thereby wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede our living and being in the precious present.

Thus, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy – NOW!

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Why Do We Suffer?

“Suffering is the way for Realization of God.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
“All the suffering in the world comes from seeking pleasure for oneself.
All the happiness in the world comes from seeking pleasure for others.”
~ Shantideva (Buddhist master)
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way
as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now. Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”

~ Eckhart Tolle
“No pain, no gain!”
~ Proverb
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon;
suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.
Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Compassion is born from understanding suffering.
We all should learn to embrace our own suffering,
to listen to it deeply, and to have a deep look into its nature.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
~ Buddha
“When another person makes you suffer,
it is because he suffers deeply within himself,
and his suffering is spilling over.
He does not need punishment; he needs help.
That’s the message he is sending.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
~ Osho
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“My dear son, be patient, because the weaknesses of the body
are given to us in this world by God for the salvation of the soul.
So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

~ Khalil Gibran
Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.
~ Aristotle
“[I]f the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Shakyamuni_Buddha.


Introduction.

We are living in very stressful times with billions of people worldwide now enduring great stresses and sufferings. This posting is dedicated to helping us lessen our sufferings, and to enjoy increasing happiness despite unavoidable worldly problems and turmoil. Although many of the cited and discussed ideas are from Eastern teachings, they apply to all human suffering in this ever changing world.

Why Do We Suffer?

Q. The Buddha taught that human life entails unavoidable suffering (duhkha), but that we can be freed from suffering. Why do we suffer, and how can we be freed from suffering?

A. We suffer from ignorance (avidyâ) of our of our true self-identity and ‘reality’, and from our consequent unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which subject us to the law of karma. Suffering ends when ignorance ends; ignorance ends gradually with experiential Self knowledge that we are Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, rather than merely mortal and limited persons.

Although enduring spiritual traditions propose different methods for attaining such Self knowledge, they can not bestow it, but only point to the Self realization goal. Moreover, each person is unique, with a unique perspective and unique karmic history. So different practices may apply to different people.

An often recommended method for overcoming such suffering is mindful introspection to identify, realize and transcend our unskillful inner tendencies.  Such attention and realization can gradually decrease and ultimately free us from mental suffering.


Ron’s Commentary on Why We Suffer

Dear Friends,

I feel privileged to share with you a profound colloquy about why we suffer between two of the greatest Indian spiritual teachers of the 20th century:
Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Paramahansa Yogananda.

On Nov. 29th, 1935, Yogananda made a pilgrimage to holy Mt. Arunachala to meet Sri Ramana.  During most of that day Ramana sat silently.  However, he responded to a few questions from Yogananda, as follows:

Yogananda
How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be effected?
What are the instructions to be given them?
 

Maharshi: They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse. 

Yogananda: Why does God permit suffering in the world? Should He not with His omnipotence do away with it at one stroke and ordain the universal realization of God? 

Maharshi: Suffering is the way for Realization of God. 

Yogananda: Should He not ordain it differently? 

Maharshi: It is the way. 

Yogananda: Are yoga, religion, etc., antidotes to suffering? 

Maharshi: Who suffers? What is suffering? 

(Without responding to these rhetorical questions, Yogananda paused, arose and, prayed for Sri Ramana’s blessings for his own mission.)

Discussion of why “Suffering is the way for Realization of God.” 

Many years ago, as I was being treated for painful left leg injuries by Taoist master and Doctor of Chinese Medicine Sifu Wei Tsuei, I had an unforgettable experience.

During an acupuncture treatment, Sifu suddenly inserted a large metal needle into my left buttock, and I loudly exclaimed in pain, “OUCH!”. Whereupon Sifu responded,


“No pain, no gain!”


Then he quietly continued his treatment, which proved quite helpful.

Thereafter I often reflected on the wisdom of Sifu’s words, “No pain, no gain”, and learned they are a popular proverb. With human bodies we experience inevitable physical pain, which can be a crucial catalyst and incentive for spiritual evolution. As stated by another popular Buddhist proverb: 
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”.

Though we may not be free to choose our sometimes painful outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our psychological attitude about those circumstances.

Thus every painful earth life experience which induces an elevated attitude can be a disguised blessing furthering our spiritual evolution, and our ultimate transcendence of psychological suffering. And, the greater such suffering, the greater its potential blessing.

The foregoing important quotations and brief essay help explain why we suffer and how we can transcend psychological suffering. They are spiritual teachings which can help us suffer less, and live ever happier lives. So I urge our deep reflection on them.

Moreover, as mindfully we experience ever less suffering and ever more happiness, it becomes possible for some of us to realize that everything in human life is an enormous blessing. For example, renowned master mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell taught that

“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not.
The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”


Invocation.

May our ever expanding and disciplined inner acceptance of inevitable outer problems, and our heartfelt compassion for the sufferings of all other sentient beings, motivate us to constantly

Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,

even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

every time, every place,

and

Forever (S)HE will reign!


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Hsin Hsin Ming: Verses On The Faith Mind ~ by Seng-Ts’an, The Third Patriarch of Zen*

“The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.”
~  Seng-Ts’an, The Third Patriarch Of Zen
“My teaching is like a finger pointing to the moon.
Do not mistake the finger for the moon”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, quoting the Buddha’s Teachings
“There’s nothing to say,
but words point the way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Zen

HSIN HSIN MING:
VERSES ON THE FAITH MIND

Zen image004
by Seng-Ts’an,
The Third Patriarch of Zen*

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.
And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited:
Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things (your own nature)
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden
for everything is murky and unclear.
And the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.

There is one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment
there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in air –
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
such thoughts must
finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things are as they are,
of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.

In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises “not two”.
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.

So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.


*Footnote re “
Hsin Hsin Ming”

The Hsin-Hsin Ming is a profound 6th Century non-dualistic perennial wisdom poem, first in the Ch’an (Chinese Zen) Buddhist tradition, attributed to the legendary third Zen patriarch, Seng Ts’an. Long regarded as a masterpiece by Zen practitioners, its essential non-dualistic message (influenced by Taoism) is that “When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state”. Thus any attachment, mental exertion or conceptual effort to characterize or distinguish impermanent perceptions precludes living an enlightened life – The Great Way, since words and concepts arise from illusion of duality and cannot describe timeless non-dual Truth, but merely point the way.



Skillfully translated from Chinese to English by Roshi Dr. Richard B. Clarke (1933-2013), founder and First Teacher of The Living Dharma Center near Amherst, MA. this version is available elsewhere on-line and in print. (Currently it is featured in “Teachings of the Buddha”, edited by Jack Kornfield, Shambala 2012, at pp. 143-9).


YouTube recitation of “
Hsin Hsin Ming” by Ben Bigelow: