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How St. Francis of Assisi Inspires Pope Francis


“[W]hen our hearts are authentically open to universal
communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.”

“Francis helps us to see . . .the heart of what it is to be human ”

“Saint Francis shows us just how inseparable the bond is . . . .
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” 

“The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical:
a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” 

~  Pope Francis (from Laudato Si* climate encyclical message)


Saint Francis of Assisi


Ron’s Introduction.

Like millions of others worldwide I was deeply moved and inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the USA.  On conclusion of that visit I wondered why the Pope – a Jesuit from Latin America – had been inspired to become first in history to take the papal name Francis.  

I soon discovered a probable answer to this question in introductory paragraphs of the Pope’s recent profound climate encyclical message, Laudato Si, or “Praised Be” [*see footnote] specifically referring to the exemplary and inspiring life of the Pope’s namesake Saint Francis of Assisi. Those paragraphs explain why the Saint is revered not only by the Pope and countless Christians, but by numerous others world-wide for his simple life of heartfelt universal love and oneness with Nature.

To honor Saint Francis and the Pope I am sharing with you below those inspiring words of Pope Francis expressing reverence for his namesake. 

Encyclical message.

The encyclical message opens with these words:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured 
flowers and herbs”.[1] 

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.


Then, after briefly summarizing apt teachings of his papal predecessors, the Pope explicitly explains his inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi as follows:

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, 
and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is 
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. 

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with 
all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure 
tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if 
we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. 

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of 
the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

 

Later the Pope cites the Saint as inspiring us to commune with Nature in open hearted compassion for for all beings and all Life:

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the 
very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment 
to resolving the problems of society. 

92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.

221. May the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way,  we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied.

Footnote.

*“Laudato Si”, or “Praised Be.” is a refrain from “The Canticle of the Creatures,” a hymn composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

 
Conclusion.

While remembering and honoring Saint Francis, let us deeply consider and heed the Pope’s wise and profound words addressed to all Humankind, not just to Catholic hierarchy and laity. 
 
Thereby may every one of us – each from our unique perspective and in our unique way – help Humankind urgently address and peacefully resolve immense ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts confronting us internationally and interpersonally.

And so may it be!

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Einstein’s Belief In God as Universal Intelligence

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns Himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
~ Albert Einstein, Telegram of 1929
“The harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
~ Albert Einstein, The World As I See It
“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.”
~ Albert Einstein [As quoted in Dukas, Helen and Banesh Hoffman. (1979). Albert Einstein – The Human Side, Princeton University Press.]


Albert Einstein




Ron’s Introduction

Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic “true mystic” … “of a deeply religious nature.” (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a “cosmic religious feeling” by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe. He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In a collection of essays entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained thusly his reverence for God as supreme Intelligence:

“The harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
~ Albert Einstein, The World As I See It.


In December 2010, I discovered online and republished on SillySutras.com the excellent essay below about Universal Intelligence, believing it to be a verbatim extract from The World As I See It, beginning with the foregoing quote. So I attributed the entire essay to Einstein. But I was mistaken.

Not until December 2016, did I discover that the essay was not written by Einstein, but by Tom Atlee of The Co-Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization, which had published the Universal Intelligence essay commencing with the foregoing Einstein quotation at http://www.co-intelligence.org/Universal_Intelligence.html .

Since the essay is inspired by and seems harmoniously consistent with Einstein’s views, I am continuing to republish it with corrected attribution, and with sincere apologies to Tom Atlee and any prior visitors to the Silly Sutras website who may have been misled by my mistaken attribution.


Universal Intelligence
by Tom Atlee

“There is something about the universe — an elegant order in the way everything fits and unfolds, an inexplicable beauty in its living patterns, and the mysterious depth and expressiveness of it all — that reminds us of the brilliance we see in the works of great artists, scientists, engineers, and saints.

Some people believe that human intelligence is the pinnacle of natural evolution and can outdo anything nature has to offer — and that there is no God, and that nature has nothing remotely resembling consciousness or intelligence. Others say that nature’s (or God’s) brilliance is greater than any human intelligence — ultimately awesome in its scope and endlessly surprising in its details — and that human intelligence is a small but elegant expression of this larger intelligence and has much to learn from it.

More often than not, I find myself in this latter group — those who sense some kind(s) of universal intelligence. To some degree, this is a matter of faith. To some degree, it seems that the evidence surrounds us. For those of us who see things this way, I suspect it honors universal intelligence more if we contemplate it, share our sense of it, and tap into it rather than argue about it with others who see things differently. In any case, this article describes how I see it.

Christians see a higher intelligence they call God’s plan, or the will of God. Taoists see a higher intelligence they call the Tao, the Way of Nature. Meditative traditions speak of cosmic consciousness. Most indigenous peoples consider all of nature to be intelligent and alive. Scientists speak of natural laws — and some are now researching what they call complex, adaptive systems — systems that respond to the world around them, in ways that look a lot like learning. The whole process of evolution is clearly a learning process, a developing of new variations that work better, or work in new environments. Some people see evolution as the dynamic unfolding Great Story of the Living Universe and consciously celebrate and learn from it.

I bundle all these phenomena into one package and label it “universal intelligence.”
When I’m feeling esoteric, I might describe it something like this:

We live in a sea of information, a web of interconnection, a field of what some Buddhists call inter-being — a dynamic state of interactive, resonant existential communion. There are universal patterns, powers and wisdom at the core of our being, and the universe vibrates with our every act and thought. What happens in one place and time is linked to everything else far more intimately than we could ever imagine. Synchronicities and analogs abound. Certain patterns keep cropping up: We see BRANCHES in trees, rivers, roads, fields of study, computer circuitry. We see CYCLES in planets, electrons, food chains, wheels, the flows of water and carbon through the biosphere, and the recycling bin. It is no accident that we use the word VISION to describe perception, imagination, insight and prediction. Patterns like these (branches, cycles, vision, etc.) are alive with useful meaning. At every level, the universe is rich with lessons and resonances as it in-forms itself, intimately co-being and co-evolving, learning and remembering. Intelligence is everywhere. There is information and wisdom here we can tap into. There are flows and textures and energies, resistences and assistances, that we can join and follow, or grow stronger and wiser wrestling with.

Among those who see such intelligence operating in the world around us, there is endless speculation about its nature. Is universal intelligence built into nature by a human-like Creator and then left to unfold — or a sign of a Creator’s continual, contemporary engagement in creation? Are the natural patterns that we think of as intelligent merely analogs of our own intelligence, or are they somehow the same thing, writ large? Are we anthropomorphically projecting our experience of consciousness into the dumb matter of the world, or is our own intelligent consciousness somehow an expression or facet of some larger intelligent consciousness? Are we dreaming God, or is God dreaming us? I, myself, entertain several seemingly contradictory beliefs at once about all this, and keep it all balanced with a generous ballast of “maybes.”

For my purposes here, though, we don’t have to agree on the nature of universal intelligence. Despite all the disagreements about that, few will disagree that there is something ultimately mysterious and creative about the order of the universe. Even top scientists who see nothing “spiritual” in the world around them agree on that. At the very least, the word “intelligence” provides an excellent metaphor to describe that reality. So for now let us not argue over the exact nature of this thing I call universal intelligence. Rather, let us explore our relationship to it.

In the explorations that follow, I simply assume that there is an order that is larger than us, which has its own logic and direction which we are not in charge of. If this is true, then working against this higher power will demand more effort than working with it, and will generate little, if anything, of lasting value except learning — which is always available — and sometimes catastrophe. This would suggest that we subjugate ourselves to this higher intelligence. However, experience suggests that we can, to a certain degree and with great caution, manipulate this higher intelligence for our own ends — which we do through science and engineering by applying natural laws and through religion by praying. But natural order is complex beyond our capacity to know fully, and if our manipulations are at all arrogant — presumptuous that we know what we’re doing — we will likely end up creating a mess like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A third — and, to me, more satisfactory — strategy than total submission or manipulation is to respect, befriend, cooperate with and creatively move in harmony with this infinitely powerful and complex intelligence, to the best of our ability.

Humility is, naturally, an excellent place to begin in our efforts to cooperate with universal intelligence. Humility in this case simply means an honest appreciation of our own limitations and a real respect for the ancient and awesome wisdom of the greater intelligence(s) in which we’re embedded. Humility means starting from a place without arrogance, with flexible certainties, a place of respect, curiosity, wonder and willingness to learn — in every situation we can manage it.

“Letting go” is another part of cooperating with universal intelligence — being unattached to outcome, realizing we’re not in control. Not being in control doesn’t mean that we don’t have a significant role. Indeed, our influence is part of what shapes the unfolding of whatever happens next. But that is influence, and not control — sometimes more, sometimes less, and always participatory, not unilateral. (This also means leaving behind blame and shame and reconceptualizing responsibility as our [or another’s] actual role in events in which all of us have roles. Taking responsibility for the past would mean consciously acknowledging that what we did — whatever we did — played a role in what happened. Taking responsibility for the future would mean consciously choosing a role and playing it out as best we can, knowing that we are only one of many players.)

In what I experience as my best times, I feel more like a conduit for a larger, all-inclusive intelligence, or like my life is an active part of something larger that is trying to happen. When I’m in that state of awareness, there is a sense of being guided. It isn’t so much that I’m told what to do in so many words (although that has happened occasionally, too), but rather that I can feel when I’m “on track” or “off track.” It is a gut feeling that what I’m doing is the right thing (or not) at this time. Often it is more than a feeling of “being in the flow,” but an apparently objective fact. Ideas, resources, opportunities, and other openings inexplicably appear in ways that facilitate rapid progress in a particular direction — as if someone or something were clearing the way for me.

But sometimes “the way opens” (as the Quakers say) in directions that seem to me wrong. So I end up having to make judgments and choices anyway. How do I know that this impulse is aligned to universal intelligence while that other one is not? I’m not even sure we can talk about universal intelligence as something we can “know.”

So I certainly don’t believe that any of us can legitimately claim to know what its marching orders are, even if we wanted to follow its dictates. I see our challenge as more complex. In the spirit of co-intelligence — as noted above — I prefer to view what seem to be the patterns and promptings of universal intelligence not as something to submit to or manipulate, but as something to join in partnership with, in a sort of dance, as one would with a good friend or lover or comrade. We influence each other. My intentions have a role in shaping The Plan, and my actions have a role in realizing The Plan, but I never know exactly what The Plan is, although I often think I sense its patterns in my life and in the life of the world around me. I open myself to universal intelligence, and let my inevitably limited perception of it inform — but not control — my reason, my passion, my intuition, my action.

One part of that Plan — that intelligence — is crystal clear: Universal intelligence is definitely concerned with more than me. It is concerned with the operation and well-being of the Whole — a Whole so large I can’t fathom it. So opening myself to universal intelligence automatically influences me to keep my intentions for myself in perspective. And from that perspective, I know that when I try to benefit myself at the expense of someone or something else, it’s not going to work out as neatly as I think, because the Plan simply doesn’t operate that way. On the other hand, the closer I get to benefiting The Whole, the more aligned I become with the operations of universal intelligence.

And, since I can’t know The Whole, that translates into doing the best I can while giving universal intelligence lots of space to do what it does. In fact, I can become an ally with universal intelligence by providing contexts in which things can co-creatively self-organize, rather than forcing them into pre-determined outcomes. That doesn’t mean just standing back (although that’s often what’s called for); it means going with the grain of life, not against it. This can be quite active, like helping children learn what they really want to learn instead of forcing them to learn what they’re not interested in (or neglecting them) — or creating an open space conference where all the issues hidden inside the participants can emerge and get dealt with, rather than organizing a conference where experts tell people what to think. This is working with universal intelligence, giving universal intelligence the space it needs to do its thing through whatever aliveness is present.”


Source

http://www.co-intelligence.org/Universal_Intelligence.html



How I See the World – PBS  Documentary Film About Einstein:



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Remembering An Attitude Of Gratitude – A Holy Encounter ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet;
how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

~ Fred Rogers
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou


praying


Introduction.

In my last memoirs chapter – “Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?” – I told of my miraculous survival and healing from critical taxicab rundown injuries, which I have attributed to the prayers, care, and good wishes of saints and many others who wanted me to get well. And I explained how the shock and trauma of my sudden injuries left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, without memory of what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident.

In this chapter I will recount how a spontaneous act of loving-kindness by an ICU nurse – who synchronistically shared my reverence for Saint Francis of Assisi – proved an unforgettable healing blessing. I cannot remember the nurse’s name (so I’ll call her Mary), but my memory of our meeting was rekindled by an unforgettable document she left while I slept the next day; and I will never forget how I’ve felt because of her kindness.

A Holy Encounter.

For many years I have had frequent synchronistic meetings with strangers with whom I have experienced deeply harmonious connections. I have called them “holy encounters”. This is the story of an especially memorable encounter with a compassionate nurse which happened at the San Francisco General Hospital Intensive Care Unit [ICU], shortly after I had been run down and critically injured by a taxicab.

I have no memory of my admission to the ICU or of any prior conversations, diagnostic procedures or medical examinations there, and I was unaware of details of my injuries until after this encounter.

I later learned from medical records and from those who had examined or visited me that I had sustained a serious bleeding brain concussion and multiple fractures, including multiple facial fractures, bruises and lacerations, and a fractured right leg tibial plateau, and various traumatic internal injuries, including a lacerated and bleeding liver. I was told that my head and face were completely bruised, discolored  and swollen.

On the morning of this encounter I remember awakening supine on my hospital bed unable to rotate my body because of an IV tube and a full leg brace on my right leg. Presumably I was under influence of narcotic pain suppressant drugs which had been administered while I was unconscious, and until I was later able to decline them with informed consent.

Soon after I awakened that morning, I was greeted by a lovely slender, blond haired ICU nurse, who said:

“Good morning Mr. Rattner, I’m Mary your nurse for today”. “How are you feeling?”

Amazingly, I simply responded: “I’m grateful to be alive!”

Surprised, Mary commented appreciatively about my positive attitude. Whereupon I promptly recited for her my Silly Sutras saying that: 

“An attitude of gratitude brings beatitude.”

And I explained to Mary that my attitude of gratitude came from abiding faith in Divine Providence, and conviction that I was blessed by Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints [*See Footnote]. Mary then told me that she had been raised to revere Saint Francis by her mother who regularly prayed to him at a home shrine.

Inspired by this wonderful synchronicity, I gladly recited for Mary the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with Saint Francis, which I readily remembered and which apparently she deeply appreciated. We talked briefly and she then proceeded on her rounds.

An unforgettable “get well” message.

The day after our ‘holy encounter’, I awakened to discover that while I slept Mary had placed this “get well” message, with the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, next to my bed.

sf-general-get-well-message


Conclusion.

I have heretofore told how my mid-life spiritual epiphany opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears; how for many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized in various devotional spiritual traditions, and which in the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi was known as “the gift of tears”.

Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for over forty years have remained – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy. They have become for me a divine sign of an opened heart.

Mary’s ‘get well’ message has consistently and often sparked a flood of heartfelt emotions and tears as it reminds me of our holy encounter and of my attitude of gratitude for this precious human lifetime. Thus, many times while writing this story I have cried with heartfelt gratitude.

Moral of the story.

Every spontaneous and heartfelt act of loving-kindness bestowed in ordinary life – even in seemingly insignificant incidents – can prove a lasting blessing for its recipient and everyone everywhere.




Footnote

* Saint Francis of Assisi.
Shortly after a profound spiritual opening in 1976, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with this legendary saint, and regarded him an archetype to be emulated. Soon I began multiple daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him, which have continued until now.

On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made a pilgrimage to Italy to honor Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis (‘Francesco’) was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, and some of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime. Also I made a magically memorable excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first Christian saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ.


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Sometimes It Hurts To Heal

“Your pain is the medicine by which the
physician within heals thyself.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Chapter 16



Sometimes It Hurts To Heal

Life is a healing/wholing/gnosis/process.

Sometimes we hurt as we heal;
But our healing pains are growing pains.

And as we are healing,
Life is revealing

Ever vaster vistas

Of  inner light,
Love and Peace.



Ron’s Commentary on “Sometimes It Hurts To Heal”:

This poem was inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, quoted above in eloquent passages about pain which are consistent with my long life’s experience, especially Gibran’s insight that:

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

Thus, my greatest psychological trauma – a painful 1976 divorce – triggered a mid-life spiritual awakening revealing previously unimagined new insights about self-identity and “reality”, and led to meeting my Guruji on the luckiest day of my life.

Similarly, my period of greatest physical trauma which began in 2014 when I was suddenly run down and critically injured by a taxicab, has opened me to unspeakably expanded faith in Divine providence – faith that everything happens for the best – and to an elevated ‘attitude of gratitude’, with every day a bonus, every breath a blessing.

Thus, from experience, I have written:

Life is revealing

Ever vaster vistas

Of  inner light,

Love and Peace.

And so may it be for everyone, everywhere!


Ron’s audio recitation of Sometimes It Hurts To Heal

Listen to


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Another ‘Near Death’ Experience? ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


tree_of_life

Introduction.

Nowadays, I am often greeted by others with “Hello, how are you?” Almost always, at age eighty four, I spontaneously and enthusiastically respond: “Grateful to be alive!”

I cannot recall when I began so exclaiming this attitude of gratitude. But mostly it has happened since June 29, 2014, when suddenly I was run down by a taxicab and critically injured while crossing a busy San Francisco street.

Here is a memoirs story about that incident which I share with you hoping to inspire for you a similar attitude of gratitude, which has proven for me, and perennially for all who experience it, to be a great blessing. For “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

My First ‘Near Death’ Experience [NDE]*

In 1979 I experienced and have written about an extraordinary and unforgettable out of body event [OOB] which in a prior memoir I called a ‘Near Death’ Experience’ [NDE]*. [See http://sillysutras.com/my-near-death-experience/ and *footnote about NDE’s.]

During that experience, I mistakenly believed that I had suffered a stroke and was dying. But I later was told (by my Guruji) that I had not experienced illness but a sudden infusion of Divine shakti energy. So it is unlikely that I suffered from diminished vital signs which are usually associated with NDE’s. Nonetheless, that extraordinary and unforgettable OOB event significantly advanced the spiritual transformation process which had begun with my 1976 realization and rebirth experience.

That transformation process has blessed me with ever increasing self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as mere mortal body/mind. Ultimately, it has led to my realization that Life is perpetual while physical birth and death are virtual; that what most humans call death is merely a vacation – eternal Life-force vacating an inevitably mortal physical vehicle.

This crucial realization has resulted in ever decreasing fear of death and ever expanding openness, empathy, gratitude and happiness.

Still, I recognize that human bodies are extraordinarily precious life-forms, enabling us to develop and to lovingly advance spiritually. So the longer we are able to skillfully inhabit a functioning physical body, beyond fear of death or disability, the greater our opportunity to learn and to evolve.

Past as Prelude; Another NDE?.

In my first NDE* narrative I told how I hadn’t feared presumed peaceful death by a supposed stroke; but, how soon thereafter I experienced an instinctively fearful ‘fight or flight’ reaction when almost run over while crossing a street. (I’ve come to believe that such normal instinctive protection of a precious mortal body is distinguishable from ego’s ever fearful separate self-identification with a body rather than with universal awareness.)

Paradoxically, my 1979 ‘fight or flight’ fear of being run down as a pedestrian ultimately materialized thirty five years later when I was suddenly run down by a taxicab and critically injured while crossing a busy San Francisco street. Today at age eighty four, I have miraculously survived and largely healed from that incident, after perhaps another ‘near death’ experience.

The shock and trauma of my injuries have left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, so I am unable to recall what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident. Thus for such details I must rely on paramedic and hospital records, and on a cam video showing the taxi hitting me.

Accident Injuries.

The following bodily injuries and symptoms, among others, were radiologically and clinically diagnosed:

Traumatic bleeding brain contusion and concussion, with extended loss of consciousness; large 2” chronic subdural hematoma pushing brain .6” out of normal alignment; massive soft tissue tears and other traumatic shoulder injuries, temporarily rendering both shoulders largely non-functional, with prosthesis recommended for left shoulder; multiple facial fractures, bruises and swelling, with broken nose, fractured sinus areas, etc.; facial lacerations requiring sutures; lacerated and bleeding liver; cracked ribs; slight spinal fracture; excessive external bleeding, with anemia requiring prompt two unit blood transfusion; tibial plateau (“bumper”) fracture and extreme swelling of right knee and leg, with large knee wound, open and seeping for over two months; continuing post-traumatic stress syndrome [PTSD]; retrograde amnesia; mental confusion, headaches, dizziness, and dyslexia.

Considering my advanced octogenarian age and the multiplicity and severity of my injuries and symptoms, my survival, recovery and healing so far have been miraculous. Moreover, I have amazingly survived without any brain or shoulder surgical interventions recommended by various doctors, and have been able to resume a largely independent pre-injury life style with frequent walks, after extended convalescence and physical therapy.

Guruji, Rama mantra, and hints of heavenly help.

Unlike some NDE* survivors I have no memory of what happened while I was comatose, or of any contact with heavenly beings or departed loved ones. However I gratefully intuit that my survival and healing are attributable to blessings from my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, from other divine or celestial beings or emanations, and from prayers, acts of kindness and good wishes of many friends, health providers and others.

Previously I have explained the importance of the Rama mantra in my transformational process; how spontaneously I began reciting Rama before receiving shaktipat initiation by Guruji, who synchronistically gave me a Ram mantra. I believe that the power of my Ram mantra helped my survival and recovery.

Also I have told how recitation of the name Rama was the principle spiritual practice of Mahatma Gandhi – my first inner spiritual guide – who recited it from childhood until his assassination; how even as Gandhi fell to an assassin’s pistol fired point-blank into his heart, in forgiveness he uttered nothing but “Rama, Rama …” his last words from the eternal depths of his heart.

Referring to his repetition of “Rama” Gandhi said: “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.”

During weeks before my taxi injury incident, I noticed that I was constantly reciting my Ram mantra; and that it was in my heart when not on my lips. So, I may have been reciting the mantra when hit by the taxicab.

On my arrival at San Francisco General Hospital trauma center, according to hospital records, I was “pleasantly confused and repetitive”, and was ‘repeating phrases’. And more than one doctor noted my positive attitude despite critical injuries.

Intuitively I believe that my repetitive utterances were Ram mantra recitations which helped invoke the subtle presence and assistance of my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji.

Amongst my first hospital visitors were my long-time spiritual friends Carolyn and Monte, who are also Guruji devotees.  Very soon after my admission to the ICU they synchronistically learned of my injuries, and immediately came to the hospital, where they were admitted after regular visiting hours.  On observing my completely bruised, discolored  and swollen head and face they became very concerned and did hands on healing, with repetitions of the Ram mantra.  Shortly after returning home, Carolyn prayed to Guruji for my health and recovery.  Whereupon Guruji responded telepathically that he was already helping me.

Similarly another spiritual friend, Michael, a long-time devotee of Guruji’s successor Shri Anandi Ma, reported to me his intuitive flash of insight that I could not and would not have survived the taxicab injuries but for Guruji’s intervention.

And soon after the accident I received an email assurance from my friend Pravinji Jani, Anandi Ma’s father and Vedic pundit and astrologer, assuring me that “Guruji is always with you showering his blessings” for healing and for “return to your normal activities with inspiring sutras”.

These encouraging communications from Guruji devotees supported my intuitive insights of Guruji’s subtle presence and help.

Prayers, good wishes, and other acts of kindness and compassion.

The prayers and good wishes of family, friends, health care providers and many others who cared for and about me, and wanted me to get well, also helped my miraculous survival and healing. Many staff people at the hospital and rehab facility were kind and compassionate, and did their very best to help me. Acts of loving-kindness and compassion by those attending me were too numerous for me to recall or recount. But they all helped me get well.

Prayers can be powerful, and have been integral to all enduring religious and spiritual traditions from time immemorial. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages and ordinary people of every religious or spiritual denomination.

Moreover, persuasive scientific evidence now confirms healing efficacy of prayer. So I am gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers and good wishes of many people who cared about me helped my miraculous survival and healing.

Why was my life was endangered, and why have I miraculously survived?

I don’t know. Presumably this incident arose from mysterious karmic causes and conditions. And presumably I have survived because my predestined assignments for this lifetime have not yet been fulfilled.

Before the taxicab incident, I already was happier, more grateful and less fearful than ever before. And I already had abiding faith in the Divine which more than ever before enabled me to accept inevitable and inescapable life difficulties and uncertainties, and yet to live openly, spontaneously and authentically, without worry, fear or doubt. (See: I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life.)

But now I am even more grateful for this precious human lifetime, and for the opportunity to continue learning to live with ever expanding loving-kindness and compassion.

Now I feel that every day is a bonus; that every breath is a blessing. And I am convinced that I have been permitted to remain in this body only because I have not yet fully accomplished the purposes for which my soul incarnated; that the miraculous survival and healing have been a Divine blessing bestowing an evolutionary opportunity for karmic ‘purification’ and enhanced incentive to spiritually make the most of what remains of this precious human life-time.
 
One of the greatest joys of living a long earth-life is that there is always something new to learn, and that through synchronicities we are led to ever new opportunities for learning to become more loving – our purpose here. So I feel blessed to have been allowed to keep learning appropriate evolutionary lessons – and also to have been afforded an opportunity to finish honoring Guruji’s request that I write and publish spiritual memoirs so as to inspire others.

[**See footnote]

Moral of the story?

I share this story with you hoping to encourage our fearless faith in that Mysterious Power which guides our lives through inevitable and inescapable difficulties and uncertainties, and enables us to live with loving-kindness and compassion, without worry, fear or doubt. And I hope to help inspire in you an ‘attitude of gratitude’ like that which has so blessed my life.

Footnotes:

*NDE’s. The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos and in magazines and books – including NY Times best sellers. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, sensitive, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

**The Perennial Wisdom Foundation (PWF) plans to publish ebooks containing these memoirs and other on-line writings. Also, PWF has arranged to keep SillySutras.com on line for at least another ten years, whether or not I am able to continue writing.


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“The Guest House” ~ by Rumi

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!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place
where the Beloved lives.”
~ Rumi


This being human is a guest house. 

Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight . . .

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

~ Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks



Ron’s Commentary on Rumi’s Wisdom:



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Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
~ Cicero
“To be a presence of perpetual thanksgiving may be the ultimate goal of life.  
The thankful person is the one for whom life is simply one long exercise in the sacred.”
~ Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB from The Psalms: Meditations for Every Day of the Year




“Be grateful for whoever comes,  because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
~ Rumi

“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.”
~ Rumi

“Join me in the pure atmosphere of gratitude for life.
Join my eyes and soul in their divine applause.”
~ Hafiz

“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.”
~ Buddha

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
~ Meister Eckhart

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled  by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
~ Buddha

“I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
~ Helen Keller

“O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
~ William Shakespeare

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
~ Aesop

“Gratitude is heaven itself.”
~ William Blake

“No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
~ Psalm 100


“When you allow your heart to open to the universe’s flow of love, gratitude comes with that flow. Gratitude for the people that you love, and for those who share your life. Gratitude for the Creation of the beautiful Earth as our home in this great cosmos. Gratitude for the Sun that gives us life. Gratitude for being alive, for just existing, for being in the flow of the wonder of life.”
~ Owen Waters



“Gratitude flows unimpeded from an open heart. When you allow it, gratitude will flow as freely as the sunshine, unobstructed by judgments or conditions.”
~ Owen Waters 


“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”              
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I thank you God for most this amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky,
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes….
I who have died am alive again today
and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings…
~ e. e. cummings

“When we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude,
we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
***
So an attitude of gratitude
Brings beatitude.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

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!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Happy Thanksgiving Day – Every Day!


Beautiful Gratitude Video



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Imagining A Better World – With Faith

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“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”
“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind
and darkens all its visions of other realities;
but in the end when we become used to the new light,
we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
~ Thomas Merton
“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far,

but none comes further.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
 allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
 . . .
“Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

 

 

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’.

Together, we are awakening to the greatest “secret of secrets”:

That we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”,
but also its co-creators –

That we co-create our reality with our imagination, thoughts, words and deeds;

That everything we think, do or say changes our world in some way;

That our worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

As we are awakening, we are discovering that our great gift of imagination can immeasurably help us live harmonious, loving, self actuated, and creative lives.

As we are awakening, and discovering our true nature and unlimited potential,
we are becoming infused with abiding faith in Nature and our Self,

And faith in the impenetrable Mystery beyond every form or phenomenon.

We are learning that, as Einstein observed,
our imagination can be “the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

So, awakening with abiding faith and love,
together let us “imagine” with John Lennon that

“Someday …. the world will live as one”.

AND SO SHALL IT BE!







Ron’s Commentary on Envisioning a Better World:

Envisioning A Better World – With Faithhttp://sillysutras.com/imagining-a-better-world-with-faith/Dear…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Thursday, February 11, 2016

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Indian Spirituality Principles*

“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far,
but none comes further.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“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









Ron’s hints for happiness: 

Even if it’s difficult for you to believe these spiritual principles, your life will be happier if you live as if they were true, with faith and love.  Whether or not you believe in spiritual evolution or predestiny, just pretend that everything in your life is happening for the best, in the best way and at the best time. And accept difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, without remorse or regret about the past or worry or fear of the future.  Sow love, harvest happiness.

Downloadable pdf file: IndianSpirituality

* Source and author are unknown


Ron’s Optimism Commentary: 

Indian Spirituality Principleshttp://sillysutras.com/indian-spirituality-principles/ Dear Friends,Today I share at…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

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Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Saint Francis of Assisi
September 26, 1181 – October 3, 1226 [*See footnote]


Saint Francis of Assisi is one of history’s most beloved saints. For almost eight hundred years since his canonization by the Catholic Church (in the year 1228), he has been remembered and revered not only by Christian denominations, but by countless others world-wide, who have been inspired by his life of universal love, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. More than three million people come every year to his tomb in Assisi.

He is patron saint of Italy and of many other places, like San Francisco, a city blessed with his name, his spirit, and a national shrine including the Porziuncola Nuova, the only papally declared holy place in the USA. Also, he is patron saint of birds, animals and ecology. Francis loved peace, communed with all living creatures, and lived a life of kindness, simplicity and poverty in contrast to the wealth and apparent corruption of the Church. He was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and inspired founding of the Poor Clares order for women, and a third secular order for laity sworn to peace.

After living a worldly life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis volunteered to fight in a war between Assisi and neighboring Perugia. He was captured during a bloody battle at Collestrada, and was imprisoned and chained in solitude for a year in a dark Perugian dungeon, until ransomed by his wealthy father. Beginning during this time, and thereafter, he suffered a period of protracted physical and psychological illness, remorse and reflection. After fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, Francis ultimately decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him, and as a traumatized battle survivor he came to abhor war. Whereupon, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, helping the poor, caring for lepers, and promoting peace. Seeing himself as God’s troubadour or fool, he lived in absolute poverty, patterning his life after the life of Jesus and dedicating himself to God.

On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at Church doors for the poor, Francis received a mystical message from Jesus while praying in the ruined church at San Damiano outside of Assisi. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches.

Though Saint Francis took literally that mystical message from the crucifix, its true meaning was metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his orders had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church.

Francis’ exemplary lifestyle inspired and attracted followers who joined with him in his in his Divine mission and life of poverty. Clad in ragged, gray robes with rope belts, they went out barefoot in pairs to spread the Gospel. When they needed food or shelter, they asked someone for it. It was against their rules to “own” anything. Thus, they were known as the “begging brothers”.

In 1209 Francis received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a brotherhood, a religious order of the Church called the “Friars Minor,” (littlest brothers). As “friars” they worked in communities, actively preaching and helping residents, as distinguished from “monks” who then usually lived alone in isolated places. They soon acquired the name “Franciscans”, proliferated and today remain important international symbols and instruments of Francis’ legacy.

The Franciscans’ first headquarters was a simple, tiny chapel near Assisi which Francis received from the Benedictines, and personally restored, naming it “Porziuncola” [“a small portion of land”]. The Porziuncola became Francis’ most beloved and favorite place. Because of his presence and prayers there, it was and continues to be one of the world’s rare holy places. Here, Francis lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of “the poor Clares”, a female religious order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

In 1216, while Francis was fervently praying in the Porziuncola, a light filled the chapel and he beheld above the altar a vision of Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis replied: “Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [I wish all in heaven!] And Francis then asked that all those persons who shall come to this church, may obtain a full pardon and remission of all their faults, upon confessing and repenting their sins. The request was granted based on Francis’ worthiness, and the indulgence was later officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III, and became known as “The Pardon of Assisi”.

Francis was extremely democratic and humble. He referred to himself as “little brother Francis” and called all creatures “brothers” and “sisters”. He loved Nature and pantheistically considered it to be the “mirror of God on earth.” He spoke of “Sister Water” and “Brother Tree” and in one of his writings, he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”. There are legends about sermons he preached to trees full of “Sister Birds” in which Francis urged them to sing their prayers of thanks to God. And it is said that rabbits would come to him for protection.

In another legendary story, Francis spoke to a wolf which had been terrifying the entire village of Gubbio, scolding “Brother Wolf” for what he was doing. That wolf not only stopped his attacks but later became a village pet, and was fed willingly by the same villagers, who missed “brother wolf” after he died.

Francis was determined to live the gospels and was strongly influenced and motivated by Jesus’ teachings. “Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven” were his frequent teachings.

Also as a traumatic battle survivor and war hostage Francis cherished peace. So, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9 and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 were often recited by him.

According to a recent biography, Francis was “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” On a mission of peace, Francis journeyed to Egypt in 1219 idealistically hoping to end the 5th Crusade by converting the Egyptian leader – Sultan Malik al-Kamil – to Christianity. Though his visionary peace mission did not succeed, it proved nonetheless a miraculous portent and important symbol of potential reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and others.

At a time when most Christians demonized Muslims as enemy “infidels”, Francis regarded and treated Muslims with respect, never echoing the negative comments or conduct of his contemporary Christians. Moreover, in Egypt Francis – a devout and gentle peacemaker – was appalled by the crusaders’ sacrilegious brutality.

Francis arrived in Egypt during an ongoing violent and bloody conflict at Damietta, an important city on the Nile, besieged by the Crusaders. There, in the midst of horrible bloodshed, Francis miraculously crossed battle lines totally unarmed and vulnerable, and was able to reach the Sultan’s encampment unharmed and welcomed. Moreover, Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan, who was nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the ill-fated Third Crusade.

The Sultan was a wise and pragmatic devout Sunni Muslim, influenced by Sufi mystical teachings. He was ready to make peace, and reciprocated Francis’ peaceful and respectful attitude. For at least several days Kamil hosted and dialogued with Francis as an honored guest, before having him safely escorted back to the Crusader encampment. The Sultan – who was amenable to philosophical conversation, but not to conversion – probably noted and honored Francis’ sufi-like appearance and peaceful demeanor, and his regular greeting – “may the Lord give you peace” – uncommon for Christians, but similar to the Arabic “salam aleykum” greeting.

Reciprocally, Francis was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer – call of the muezzin.

On returning to the crusader camp Francis desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagio, whom the pope had authorized to lead the 5th Crusade, that he should make peace with the Sultan. But the cardinal who was certain of victory would not listen. His eventual failure, amidst terrible loss of life, brought the barbaric age of the crusades to an ignominious end.

In 1224, near the end of his earthly life, according to legend, Francis became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata. It happened after he had been taken to Mount Alverna, a wild nature place in Tuscany, to be in solitude for a forty day retreat.


Though already in a very feeble state, he fasted and prayed intensely with deepest longing for God. In the midst of his fast, while he was so praying he beheld a marvelous vision: an angel carrying an image of a man nailed to a cross. When the vision disappeared, Francis felt sharp pains in various places on his body.

In locating the source of these pains, Francis found that he had five marks or “stigmata” on his hands, feet, and sides—like the wounds inflicted with nails and spears on Jesus during His crucifixion. Those marks remained and caused Francis great pain until his death two years later.

On October 3, 1226 A.D. Francis died in a humble cell next to the beloved Porziuncola, his favorite holy place where the Franciscan movement began. He was blind from trachoma, suffering from malaria and other illnesses, emaciated and racked with pain from the stigmata and other wounds. As he lay dying, the brothers came for his blessing. They sang “Song to the Sun”, a song which Francis had composed.

Sometime before he drew his last breath, he said, “Let us sing the welcome to Sister Death.” Francis welcomed ‘Sister Death’ knowing that “it is in dying that we are reborn to eternal life”, the concluding line of a beautifully inspiring and best known peace prayer mistakenly attributed to him. (**See Footnote)

In conclusion, we offer that prayer in grateful tribute to his blessed life and legacy. May he ever inspire countless beings to become instruments of Divine peace and love, in perfect harmony with Nature and the kingdom of heaven.

“Vi vogliamo tutti in Paradiso”; “We wish ALL in Heaven”.


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
despair, hope;
darkness, light;
discord, harmony;
sadness, joy;

Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.

 


Footnotes

* This narrative is based on Ron Rattner’s intuitive interpretation of many disparate and sometimes conflicting historical accounts of the life of Francis of Assisi. The reader is free to accept or reject any part of it.

**This inspiring peace prayer does not appear in any of Saint Francis’ known writings. According to researchers, the first appearance of this prayer was in a French language magazine, La Clochette, in 1912; it was probably then first written by a forgotten Catholic Priest, Father Bouquerel. Later, the prayer was translated into English and widely distributed on cards with a reverse side picture of Saint Francis, without any claim that he wrote the prayer. But, because of his picture and because it invokes his spirit, the prayer thereafter became commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis. The foregoing version of the prayer has been edited by Ron Rattner.



Ron’s audio recitation of the Prayer of Saint Francis Of Assisi

Listen to


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