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Posts Tagged ‘Transformation’

“Gandhi the Man”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“My life is my message.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart,

cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.” ….. “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mahatma Gandhi ~ October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948


Introduction to “Gandhi the Man”

Dear Friends,

Since my midlife awakening, my life has unfolded in previously imaginable ways, like a spiritual mystery story. Instead of a “who done it?” mystery it has been an ongoing “who am I?” mystery.

The following memoirs chapter is titled “Gandhi the Man” because that is also the title of a wonderful Gandhi biography by Eknath Easwaran which significantly furthered my still unfolding spiritual mystery story.

The importance for me of that Gandhi biography can be best understood in context of my recently posted 9/11 tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and from review of three prior memoirs chapters about my introduction to Hindu teachings and to Mahatma Gandhi.

So for your convenience I’ll summarize those prior chapters in this Introduction, but respectfully suggest that if interested you read them separately.

1) Silva Mind Control

At a Silva Mind Control workshop Mahatma Gandhi became my first known inner spiritual guide, when he appeared telepathically to answer questions and counsel me long after his 1948 assassination. Because he was quite famous, I clearly recognized him wearing a white Indian dhoti. However I then knew very little about Gandhi’s life and story, and he had appeared only after I asked the universe to send my most appropriate inner guide. So I soon wondered why the universe had chosen Gandhi to counsel me.

2) Why Be Here Now?

After Silva Mind Control, I was guided to read an extraordinary book called “Be Here Now” which told how Harvard professor Richard Alpert had become Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba. The book also included suggestions for Eastern spiritual practices, like repeating (as a mantra) “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…”, an important Hindu name for God. That suggestion soon manifested in my life, in an amazingly unprecedented, way as my “who am I” spiritual mystery story enfolded.

3) “Be Here Now”, “Rama”, and Rainbow Synchronicity

After taking depositions in Hawaii, I stayed for weekend relaxing on a hotel beach, and hiking nearby. On a Friday afternoon I decided to briefly hike (without a backpack) in a mountainous and jungle-like Hawaiian state park across from my hotel. While hiking I lost sight of all trails and became fearful of being lost, hungry and chilled throughout the night.


Then for the first time in my life, I spontaneously began, calling out loud “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama…” – fearfully invoking a Divine solution to my plight. And soon I experienced an “Aha moment” suddenly revealing that a nearby meandering mountain stream was flowing down and out of the jungle park. So I walked downstream in it, and kept repeating “Rama”, “Rama”, “Rama” until I was safely back in my hotel.

There I felt extraordinarily peaceful, but very “strange”. In this strange state, I gazed into a large dressing room mirror and beheld in amazement my face and head enveloped in a beautiful multi-colored aura, like those depicted on ancient religious icons. Virtually thoughtless, I then sat for hours intently gazing in wonder at my mirrored auric image, before going to bed.


On awakening Saturday morning, as I immediately recalled this wondrous experience, there ensued a confusing inner dialogue between the “voice in my head” and my thought-free intuition. Whenever my heart was uplifted by recalling that beautiful experience, the ‘voice’ told me that I’d been hallucinating. So, that morning I went out to the beach in a state of confusion.

It was a beautiful calm and sunny day with a few white wispy clouds in the sky. But my mind was not calm. As I sat in the sand, I kept wondering whether or not I’d really seen that beautiful multi-colored aura.

Finally I intuitively resolved my inner debate, and thought: “Yes, it definitely was a ‘real’ aura, but I’m not sure I remember all its beautiful colors. What were they?”


Whereupon, I looked up and beheld a lovely rainbow, with the very same colors I’d seen in the aura. While I’d been lost in thought, a couple of dark clouds had appeared with a quickly passing light tropical shower, leaving in its wake the fleeting rainbow. As a lawyer, I took the sudden appearance of the rainbow as Divine “corroboration” of my rainbow aura experience.

The rainbow’s unexpected appearance, was one of innumerable continuing synchronicities which have blessed and guided my inner transformation process as clues for my ever unfolding spiritual mystery story, which I will continue sharing with you in the following “Gandhi the Man” chapter.


Gandhi the Man

After my synchronistic “Rama” rainbow experience in Hawaii, I felt an inner affinity with “Rama” as a divine name, but didn’t yet adopt a practice of regularly repeating it as a mantra. However, I became intrigued by the powerful potentiality of that practice by a new spiritual friend.

Soon after discovering the Rama mantra in “Be Here Now” and then spontaneously reciting it in Hawaii, I synchronistically met in California an American woman named “Veda Rama”, originally from Boston. She had become a spiritual devotee of Ram Dass in New England (when he was writing “Be Here Now”), and had followed him to the New Mexico Lama Foundation, where she helped to artistically produce and distribute the first hand-assembled and hand-bound editions of that wonderful book. While in New Mexico, she had received the spiritual name “Veda Rama” (meaning “truth of God”).


After meeting Veda Rama I introduced her to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi. He later initiated her as “Ram Dassi” – the feminine equivalent of Ram Dass (meaning “servant of God”).


She became – and remains – a very dear spiritual friend, with whom I’ve shared countless synchronicity experiences. Those experiences have included my story of how Mahatma Gandhi appeared and counseled me at Silva Mind Control, as my first inner guide – so that I’d become quite curious about Gandhi’s life history. And soon after hearing my Gandhi story, she gave me a beautiful pictorial Gandhi biography titled “Gandhi the Man” by Eknath Easwaran, as a birthday gift.


From reading that biography I learned that Gandhi was a timid and fearful child. So in his early years Gandhi’s beloved nurse Rambha taught him to repeat the name“Rama” whenever he felt afraid. Later throughout his adult life, reciting the Rama mantra became Gandhi’s most important spiritual practice, along with regularly reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Thus, as an adult Gandhi often walked constantly repeating his Rama mantra in rhythm with his steps; and he wrote extensively about the importance of repeating the name “Rama” (the Ramanama).:

“When a child, my nurse taught me to repeat Ramanama whenever I felt afraid or miserable, and it has been second nature with me with growing knowledge and advancing years. I may even say that the Word is in my heart, if not actually on my lips, all the twenty-four hours. It has been my saviour and I am ever stayed on it.” “The mantram becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal….” “Each repetition … has a new meaning, each repetition carries you nearer and nearer to God.”


Even as Gandhi fell to an assassin’s pistol fired point-blank into his heart, in fearless forgiveness he uttered nothing but “Rama, Rama …” his last words from the eternal depths of his heart.

Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful. Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy. 

But few people realize that Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his world renowned campaign for Indian independence, but that he began and named his unprecedented civil rights movement with a brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa.

Gandhi was educated in England as a Common Law barrister, and was not trained in Indian law. So to engage in legal practice he moved from India to South Africa, where for over twenty years he practiced as an idealistic and extraordinarily effective common law civil rights attorney before returning to India, where he became that nation’s most beloved modern hero, and one of the most inspiring and positively influential human beings in all history.

From his deep and extraordinary spiritual aspiration and determination to realize Truth as God or Rama, Gandhi changed himself to change the world. He transformed from beginning life as a timid child, to become a fearlessly determined civil rights advocate relentlessly pursuing nonviolent secular and spiritual Truth.

Gandhi’s history in South Africa is described in my recently posted 9/11 tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. It tells the inspiring story of how on September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed an  anti-apartheid  meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed apartheid law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the egregiously immoral law.

Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such an unjust law. Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.

The September 11th Johannesburg event began a powerful anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Thereafter, in 1908 Gandhi carefully coined a new word – “satyagraha” – to describe the movement’s ground-breaking inter-religious spiritual mission.

Satyagraha is Sanskrit neologism combining “satya” (Truth) with “agraha” (holding firmly). But because Satyagraha is rooted in Vedic spiritual wisdom it is extremely difficult to translate into English. It roughly means the non-violent and resolute pursuit of “Truth” as equated with “God”.

Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was fundamentally spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based civil disobedience. It was steadfastly dedicated to asserting and living Divine Truth by nonviolently and respectfully resisting institutional immorality and injustice to achieve societal and political justice.

Beyond mere “pacifism” or “passive resistance”, it encompassed an actively militant, yet resolutely non-violent faith-based assertion of one’s moral beliefs, with open defiance of unjust laws or decrees, and with steadfast remembrance that Divinity [viz. “Truth”] is immanent in all creation, including one’s oppressors.  In addition to practicing satyagraha and ahimsa, Gandhi, was a vegetarian, who lived a non-materialistic, simple life, and practiced aparigraha, non-attachment to possessions.

The more I learned about Gandhi the more he inspired me. I identified with him as a civil rights advocate and as a spiritual truth-seeker. Also his non-attachment to possessions and vegetarianism, was significant for me since I, too, had become a vegetarian living with increasing non-attachment to worldly possessions. And in 1978 my beloved Guruji initiated me with a “Rama” mantra.

Thus, Gandhi’s inner appearance at Silva Mind Control, to counsel me was absolutely appropriate. Gandhiji became and (after over forty years) remains one the few most important humans who have inspired my still unfolding spiritual mystery story – a transformation and transmutation from “Ron” to “Ram”. Even now, I frequently and tearfully call that Divine name.

So, as inspired by Gandhi, “Rama” remains – enshrined in my heart as a constant impetus to my ever evolving spiritual mystery story.

Once when asked about his teachings, Gandhi aptly replied:


“My life is my message.”


Upon deeply realizing and experiencing the universal wisdom of that statement, I was inspired to compose this sutra/poem:


On the Earth branch
of the great Cosmic University,

We are all students
and we are all teachers.

We are all learning love.
And, as Gandhi observed,
our lives are our teachings.

So, as we live
and as we learn,
we each may teach –
peace, love, and compassion.

And so it shall be!


Invocation


May Mahatma Gandhi’s exemplary life,
ever inspire and morally motivate countless humans
to live life peacefully and compassionately
in eternal harmony with Nature and Divinity –
as LOVE!

Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram!

Namasté!

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 recounts 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 perspective that such practices, which are premised on societal awareness of inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.

Also it explains why our spiritual evolution can be furthered 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 bodies, 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 obsolete beliefs and paradigms which no longer felt 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 Awe’ emphasizing religious introspection and repentance, and concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement” and “at-one-ment”]. 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’s 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 abrogation 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 melodies, 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 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.] 

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.

My perspectives on “Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present”, encourage our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

Conclusion and Dedication

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer feel 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.

Thus, today’s posting is dedicated to advancing our spiritual evolution on ‘holy days’ and every day by encouraging us to fearlessly forgive the past, and thoughtlessly live in the precious present, as LOVE

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Afterlife?

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“It is in love that we are made; in love we disappear.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“It is in dying to ego life,

that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”

~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)
“It is crucial to be mindful of death —
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ Dalai Lama – From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life”
(written with Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD)
Whence come I and whither go I?

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.

~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
“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 is NOW
Ever NOW
Never Then!”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Introduction to “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

The mystery of bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue.

Since midlife I have gratefully realized from previously unimagined mystical experiences that inevitable physical death does not end our conscious lifetimes, and that we can enjoy ever growing happiness and soul fulfillment as we lose all ego/mind fears and worries about death and dying.

My profound mystical realizations are explained and discussed in the following Q and A sutra essay verses and comments thereon.

These writings are shared to help inspire our Self realization that beyond ego illusions there is no time, no death or afterlife; that on transcendence of conceptual life, there is only eternal mystery of indescribable and unimaginable Infinite Potentially.

May these writings thereby advance humanity’s ever growing happiness free from fear of inevitable physical death, and all other fearful and negative earthly emotions, and elevate us to harmoniously live together with kindness and compassion, as LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Afterlife?

Q:  Is there an afterlife?
A:   After-life is NOW.

Q:  Is there life after death?
A:  There is no death – only Life.

Q:  Then, what is it we call death?
A:  A vacation – eternal life-force vacating a transient vehicle.



Ron’s Comments on “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever considered what if anything happens after bodily death?

The mystery of what happens upon bodily death is an enduring philosophical and religious issue. It is therefore addressed in the above quotations and Q and A sutra essay verses, and in many other SillySutras postings revealing that beyond ego/mind illusions there is no death or afterlife – only Eternal Life NOW.

Background Discussion.

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But for many years it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Euphemistic language was used to describe death. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life; they usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

Today fear of death remains a major societal issue, impeding spiritual evolution, especially for Westerners.  Such fear arises from mistaken ego identification as only a mortal physical body rather than the eternal life-force which enlivens the body.  But gradually millions of people are transcending fear of death, and leading happier lives after near death [NDE], out of body [OOB] and other mystical experiences.

Since my midlife spiritual awakening I’ve realized that conscious contemplation of physical death can be spiritually important and helpful.
 
On meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing for Self-realization, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those enduring questions.   Ultimately his questions were answered through meditative experience.  Thereafter he taught that:


“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,

you must go deep within yourself.

In meditation, the truth will come to you.”

~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Also I’ve learned that Tibetan Buddhists encourage frequent contemplation of physical death as an important spiritual practice for optimizing opportunities of this precious lifetime, and in preparation for auspicious future lifetimes.  Thus the Dalai Lama has written that:


“It is crucial to be mindful of death —  
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life” by Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD


Inspired by Guruji, the Tibetan Buddhists, and mystical experiences, I developed deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation, and karma.  And gradually I have realized the importance of these subjects.

So I’ve shared many stories, essays and poems about these subjects, which I commend to your attention. (Eg. See “related” posts and audio files linked below.)


Especially after suffering a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, more than ever before I now frequently contemplate my inevitable – and perhaps imminent – death, with unspeakable gratitude for this precious human lifetime and for the evolutionary opportunities and happiness it has brought me.
 
Gratefully I have learned from experience that life is eternal and that “as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.”

So this posting is dedicated to helping us find growing happiness free from fears and worries about inevitable physical death, and related fearful and negative emotions. So that we instead accentuate optimistic and compassionate feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, which bring us ever growing happiness and further our spiritual evolution.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”

~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda







Ron’s Introduction to My Life of “Prayer”

Dear Friends,

Since my mid-life spiritual awakening at age forty three, I have experienced a previously unimagined transformative new life-phase of growing inner-awareness in which spontaneous prayer has become fundamental.

So these spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following recollections and explanations of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening. In them I recount how I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, but how after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

These memoirs are written and dedicated to help spiritually “inspire many people”, as requested and foreseen by my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My history with “prayer”

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.) And that prayerful ’gift of tears’ still persists.

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.


Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example, I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And that all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It’s best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna,
but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Becoming “prayer”

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Conclusion

SELF Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny. May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward that destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Life Is NOW, Never Then!

“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
“People .. who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein
Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Introduction to Life Is NOW, Never Then!

Dear Friends,

After my mid-life spiritual awakening, which began a new life phase of previously unimagined interest in spiritual evolution, I began to regularly and reflectively walk alone by San Francisco Bay, as an informal spiritual practice.

While walking by the Bay, I synchronistically began “channeling” spiritual sayings, rhymes and poems. Often, too, I’d spontaneously sing original melodies to accompany my poems and rhymes. As I walked, I regularly wrote the words that came to me. But, mostly I forgot the melodies, which I couldn’t write.

One of the few songs with melody that I remembered, I called Life Is NOW, Never Then!

It was telepathically transmitted and received as I joyfully experienced being in the precious present moment – the NOW.

After composing the Life is NOW song I rarely sang it, and it wasn’t otherwise performed or known to others, except for a few of my friends. Later, upon launching the SillySutras website, I recorded and posted an mp3 version of the song.

Also, Rob Tobias, a talented Oregon musician/songwriter/singer and videographer, and longtime partner of my niece Janice Medvin, started filming me for a biographical documentary record of eccentric Uncle Ron’s spiritual journey from litigation to meditation and beyond, which he titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)” . During the filming process, Rob heard and liked the Life is NOW song, and ultimately this year he professionally performed and recorded his version of the song.

Embedded below are both my original recording and Rob’s current professional recording of the Life is NOW song. Please enjoy the written and recorded versions of the song, and reflect deeply on their fundamental spiritual message.

May they inspire our spiritual evolution and growing happiness in life, by encouraging our being Here NOW in each precious present moment.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Life Is NOW, Never Then!

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Past is history,
Future’s mystery;
But, life is never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Time is how
We measure now.
But, life is never when.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.

Life is NOW or never,
Life is NOW forever,
Life is NOW
Ever NOW
Never then.



Ron’s singing of “Life Is NOW, Never Then!”

Listen to


Rob Tobias’s professional performance of “Life Is NOW”

Listen to


Dedication

May the Life is NOW song lyrics and recordings inspire our spiritual evolution and growing happiness, by encouraging our being Here NOW in each precious present moment.

And so may it be!

Namasté!

Ron Rattner

“Holy Now”
~ by Peter Mayer

“The more we grow in love and virtue and holiness,
the more we see love and virtue and holiness outside.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“The most holy and important practice in the spiritual life
is the presence of God –
that is, every moment to take great pleasure
that God is with you”
~ Brother Lawrence
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now
~ Peter Mayer. “Holy Now”





Ron’s Introduction to “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer

Dear Friends,

Many years ago I was emotionally moved and uplifted by video performances of the song “Holy Now”, with inspiring lyrics composed and beautifully sung by Peter Mayer. So today I’m sharing with you those videos and lyrics.

In his lyrics Mayer describes his transformation from an awestruck child hearing in church about wondrous biblical “miracles”, to a spiritual life stage wherein Mayer has evolved to see everything as a divine “miracle” – so that for him everything is “Holy Now”.

On being inspired by “Holy Now”, I soon composed a poem titled “Everything’s Holy” which I’ve posted with an online quotation collection and discussion about “holiness” at https://sillysutras.com/everythings-holy/.

Since first hearing “Holy Now”, I have gradually evolved to a state of being similar to Peter Mayer’s, with virtually constant gratitude and awareness that all Life is miraculous and holy.

So I’ve learned from life that we can evolve within, from just hearing about rare “miracles”, or observing a few “holy days” or ‘holy seasons’ with ‘holy songs and scriptures’, or visiting rare ‘holy places’, holy people, or holy artifacts, to always experiencing the miraculous holiness of everyone/everything/everywhere.

Peter Mayer’s inspiring lyrics and video performances herein are dedicated to furthering our inner evolution from seeing everything everywhere as separate and impermanent manifestations of mortal matter, to realization that all phenomena are reflections of Holy Spirit – that all Life is a miraculous and Eternal gift of God’s Grace – as LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Lyrics to “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer


When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now

It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now



Peter Mayer singing “Holy Now”







Dedication

May Peter Mayer’s inspiring lyrics and video performances of “Holy Now”
help further our evolution from seeing everything everywhere
as separate and impermanent manifestations of mortal matter,
to inner realization that all phenomena are reflections of Holy Spirit –
that all Life is a miraculous and Eternal gift of God’s Grace –
as LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

The Emotion Of Devotion – Crying For God
~ Quotations and Ron’s Memoirs

“There is no liquid like a tear from a lover’s eye.”
~ Rumi
“When the tears course down my cheeks,
they are a proof of the beauty and grace of my beloved.”
~ Rumi
“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.”
~ Rumi
“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
for dissolution
of other into Mother –
Mother of All,
Mother of Mystery.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Sri Anandamayi Ma
April 30, 1896 – Aug 27,1982

 
Ron’s Introduction to The Emotion Of Devotion – Crying For God

Dear Friends,

Before my midlife spiritual awakening (over forty years ago), I didn’t cry as an adult. But ever since then I’ve frequently wept for God. And this ‘gift of tears’ has been fundamental to my still unfolding spiritual evolution.

So this posting emphasizes the potentially immense importance of a teary devotional spiritual path, with quotations from spiritual texts and masters, and a brief memoirs summary of my devotional crying experiences.

In other postings I’ve explained that I’ve accepted Eastern nondualism wisdom teachings as fundamental, while remaining primarily spiritually devotional. Also explained, is that we have unique karmic and spiritual paths and perspectives. So each of us must follow our hearts for spiritual evolution.

Whatever our unique path, these SillySutras postings are dedicated to helping us find ever growing happiness in life, as we lovingly evolve (individually and collectively) to ultimate Truth beyond ego-mind illusion.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Quotation Collection on The Emotion Of Devotion – 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.”
~ Rumi

“Jesus wept.”
~ 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.
~Jewish Proverb

“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


Ron’s experiences with 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.

Dedication

May the foregoing quotations and teachings from spiritual texts and masters help us all understand the importance of longing for God with the emotion of devotion.

Also may these writings encourage and inspire us to open our hearts with deep respect, empathy and compassion for all people and all Life everywhere – as Divinity manifest.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner
 

To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
~ Socrates
“Know thyself and thou wilt know the universe.”
~ Pythagoras
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts,
and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization.”
“The question ‘Who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer, the question ‘Who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?” After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.

The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Ron’s Introduction To “Know Thyself” ask “Who Am I?”

Dear Friends,

Many SillySutras postings explain that “ego” is our mistaken separate self-identity, rooted in the ‘I’ thought; and that all enduring spiritual teachings are aimed at ending “ego” as the fundamental impediment to spiritual evolution and Self-realization. This posting emphasizes “Know thyself”, and asking “Who am I?” as important ancient wisdom paths for finding and ending ego’s illusory self-identity.

For millennia, rare mystics and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”, and to question “Who am I?”. But since the industrial age few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennial advice. However, as a Westerner who persistently and successfully asked “Who am I?”, in today’s posting I briefly share a memoirs story and an historic description of these paths.

Historical overview.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

Ron’s “Who Am I?” Story.

Most of us never question our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. After unwittingly eating a large piece of marijuana-laced cake at a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined question, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever.

It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Here’s what happened:

After irresistibly wondering “Who am I?” for fifteen months, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. 

Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth, which irreversibly ended my prior paradigms of Self-identity and Reality. But this awakening didn’t result in ‘instant enlightenment’. Instead, my epiphany began a continuing process of increasingly remembering that beyond this space/time world, we all are eternal spirit and universal awareness, not just mortal bodies and their thoughts.

Thereby I’ve enjoyed a previously unimagined new life phase of ever increasing peace of mind, happiness, gratitude, and faith in the mystery of Divinity. And since that awakening, I’ve been blessed by constantly learning from my life’s experiences.

For example, after the rebirth event, I began experiencing numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy phenomena. And I became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed sleep. I was puzzled and wondered what was happening to me. Only then did I synchronistically begin learning answers in teachings of Eastern mysticism, like nondualism.  However, in daily life I continued to consider myself as a secular Hebrew lawyer, and remained unaware and uninspired by any supposed spiritual goal, until meeting my teacher.

Becoming a “born-again Hindu”:

Then at age forty four, after repeatedly seeing inner visions of a bearded elderly man, I synchronistically met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable 100 year old Hindu meditation yogi, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.   Guruji lived until age 116, and since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994 his guiding presence has remained in my heart.

After meeting Guruji, I declared myself to be a “born-again Hindu” and first began learning of the spiritual ‘goal’ sometimes called Self-realization or “enlightenment”. And, that upon Self-realization the spiritual ‘practitioner’ is dissolved into yogic union with the mystery of infinite divinity; rather than becoming a supposedly separate “enlightened” person.

According to Guruji, shaktipat initiation and his prescribed practices awakened and enhanced an evolutionary purification process of kundalini life-force energies which purify the subtle bodies and nervous system by gradually removing accumulated karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas], which cause undesirable habits and patterns. Sometimes these awakening life-force energies manifest through spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional actions or behaviors, which Guruji called kriyas.

Since my awakening experience, for over four decades I have continued to spontaneously experience unpremeditated tears, behaviors, feelings and sensations which have helped further my spiritual evolution, and through which I have joyfully attained utmost gratitude for this blessed life.

From “born-again Hindu” to “uncertain Undo” :

For many years, I attended public satsangs and followed Guruji’s prescribed practices to advance the purification process of undoing negative karmic conditioning. Then soon after Guruji’s mahasamadhi transition, I mostly stopped relying on outer spiritual authorities and events, and reclusively focused within to intuitively advance the evolutionary kundalini purification process sparked by my shaktipat initiation of undoing negative karmic conditioning.

Whereupon, I declared myself to be an “uncertain Undo”, rather than “born-again Hindu”. And I began writing aphorisms like “Undo Ego” and composing whimsical sutras like:


“On the path of undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE.”


Benefits from undoing ego:

Today, over four decades since asking “Who Am I?”, and realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I’m still not fully ‘undone’. So ego attrition continues. 

But as I’ve continued to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than body/mind, I’ve experientially found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, I’ve found that nondualism self-inquiry to “Know thyself” by asking “Who Am I?” can be supremely rewarding.

So today’s posting is dedicated to encouraging such self-inquiry, to discover and undo our illusory ego-mind self-identity propensities, thereby helping us find ever growing happiness.


Invocation:

By persistently questioning “Who Am I?”,
May we constantly undo ego illusions,
And thereby live ever happier lives,
Until ultimately as “An undone ONE!”
We “Know our Self”
as Eternal –

LOVE.



And so it shall be!


Ron Rattner