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Death? Afterlife? Rebirth? ~ Easter Reflections on Resurrections.

“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life.  United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him,
and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


The Last Supper



As countless millions reverently commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story.  Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

After birth, death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. “No matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is life after physical death.

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process. Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant. Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”

But if – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death. Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar .   There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife.  [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43

The Dalai Lama says that:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”

Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

But ancient Vedic non-dualism philosophy (Advaita) has for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .

These ancient non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”


“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?
 
“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”


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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga

Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that self-realization reveals that this entire world of space/time/causality is illusionary maya or samsara; but that reincarnation exists until self-realization. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: “Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”

But the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he’s planning to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?

Whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth, may we – in this life on our precious planet – realize together our common dream for a better world, where everyone everywhere is happy.

AND SO IT SHALL BE!


Ron’s Commentary on Easter Reflections on Resurrections:

Easter Reflections on Resurrectionshttp://sillysutras.com/death-afterlife-rebirth-easter-reflections-on-resurrections/…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Saturday, March 26, 2016

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Harmony ~ Quotations and Sayings

“Live harmlessly in harmony.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Stay in cosmic synchrony,
as you play in Nature’s symphony.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Don’t disrupt and polarize,
but syncretize and harmonize.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda

“A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another.
If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden.
But if these minds get out of harmony with one another
it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.”
~ Buddha

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say,
and what you do are in harmony.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity
but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”
~ Thomas Merton

“Grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within,
and that all my external possessions may be in harmony with my inner self.
May I consider the wise to be rich,
and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint
can bear or endure”
~ Plato

“A life in harmony with nature, the love of truth and virtue,
will purge the eyes to understanding her text.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony,
and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.”
~ William Wordsworth

“Life’s errors cry for the merciful beauty
that can modulate their isolation
into a harmony with the whole.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“In art, and in the higher ranges of science, there is a feeling of harmony which underlies all endeavor. There is no true greatness in art or science without that sense of harmony.”
~ Albert Einstein

“My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as “laws of nature”
~ Albert Einstein

“Affirm divine calmness and peace, and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill if you want to live in peace and harmony. Never get angry, for anger poisons your system.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Put on love, which binds everything together in harmony.”
~ Colossians 3: 12-17

“Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any disorder or discomfort. This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony in everything you do.”
~  Deepak Chopra

“The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.”
~ Heraclitus

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace.
A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

“Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.”
~ Plato (The Republic)

“Out of clutter find simplicity. From Discord make harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~ Albert Einstein

“Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard

“Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend;
you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left”
~ Aldo Leopold



Ron’s Commentary on Happy Nowruz (Zoroastrian New Year)!

Happy Vernal Equinox!Dear Friends,Happy Vernal Equinox! Happy Nowruz (Zoroastrian New Year)! Happy New Life Season!…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Sunday, March 20, 2016

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Vision and Perception: Quotations and Sutra Sayings

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~William Blake
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
~ Jonathan Swift
“True vision is insight, not eyesight.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“ Seeing the Invisible is Knowing the impossible.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Behold: Reality’s Essence is Divine Luminescence.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“Let the waters settle, 
you will see stars and moon

mirrored in your Being.”
~ Rumi

“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception
resembles more than anything else
that celestial source from which we all are come.”
~Michelangelo

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
~ Carl Jung

“The question is not what you look at,
but what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“The eyes of the soul of the multitudes
are unable to endure the vision of the Divine.”
~ Plato

“People only see what they are prepared to see.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People think that they see, but they don’t.”
~ Henry Moore

“Everyone takes the limits of his own vision
for the limits of the world.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

“As a man is, so he sees.
As the eye is formed, such are its powers.”
~ William Blake

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight,
but has no vision.”
~ Helen Keller

“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind,
so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.”
~ Helen Keller

”When the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire
somewhat like a guinea?
O no, no, I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host crying
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
~ William Blake

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain,
but the view is always the same.”
~ Chinese Proverb

“Where there is no vision, people perish.”
~ Proverbs 29:18

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
~ Michelangelo

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it creative observation. Creative viewing.”
~ William S. Burroughs

“The soul never thinks without a mental picture.”
~ Aristotle

“For light I go directly to the Source of light, not to any of the reflections.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision
to recognize it as such.”
~ Henry Miller

“Because our entire universe is made up of consciousness,
we never really experience the universe directly;
we just experience our consciousness of the universe,
our perception of it – so … our only universe is perception.”
~ Alan Moore

“Perception is a mirror not a fact. And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward.”
~ A Course In Miracles

“Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious:
i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception.”
~H. P. Blavatsky

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe

“In the ultimate stillness
Light penetrates the whole realm;
In the still illumination,
There pervades pure emptiness.
When I look back on the
Phenomenal world,
Everything is just
Like a dream.”
~ Han-shan Te-Ch’ing



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Birds Have Feelings*


But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9
In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



All sentient creatures feel in their own way;
feelings are not exclusive to humans.

Below … a barn swallow’s female mate is injured and the condition is soon fatal. She was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.



Here he brought her food and attended to her with love and compassion.



He brought her food again but was shocked to find her dead.
He tried to move her….a rarely-seen effort for swallows!



Aware that his sweetheart is dead and will never come back to him again,
he cries with adoring love.



He stood beside her, saddened of her death.



Finally aware that she would never return to him,
he
 stood beside her body with sadness and sorrow.



Supposedly, millions of people cried after watching this picture in 
America, Europe and Asia. It is said that the 
photographer sold these pictures for a nominal fee to the 
most famous newspaper in France; that all copies of that 
newspaper were sold out on the day these pictures were published.

And many people think animals don’t have a brain or feelings???

You have just witnessed Love and Sorrow felt by God’s creatures.

The Creator knows when a sparrow falls.

Live simply, love generously, care deeply and speak kindly.

Grace is the Creator reaching down.

Faith is humanity reaching back.

“And what is more important than knowledge?” asks the mind.

“Caring and seeing with the heart” answers the soul.

* Unknown author; edited and augmented by Ron Rattner


Ron’s Commentary on How Birds Remind Us to Live The ‘Golden Rule’:

Birds Have Feelingshttp://sillysutras.com/birds-have-feelings/Dear Friends,After midlife I gradually realized that…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Saturday, February 27, 2016

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“Creation”/ “Evolution”/ Rumination

“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
“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
~ Dr. Seuss
The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
When questioning begins, certainty ends.
When certainty ends, wisdom begins.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Was space/time causality “reality” ‘created’ 5000 years ago
– or previously?

Or is “reality” ever ‘created’ instant by instant
– ever NOW?

Is there a Divine ‘design plan’?

If so, who is the Divine ‘designer’?  Is S/HE friendly?

And if so, why and how did Divinity ‘design’ “reality”?

Is evolution ever implicit in “creation”?

If evolution happens, who/what evolves:
Living organisms? ‘Human consciousness’?  “Life”? “Reality”?

Is evolution inevitable, or just optional;
is it imperative, or just elective?

Do we always evolve, or sometimes devolve?

What is our Source?  Do we emerge from Divinity?

After ‘creation’, do we seek our Source, as a matter of course?

Do we ultimately dissolve in Divinity – or merge with Mystery?

Does Spirit mind, 
and does mind matter?

What really matters?

It’s all MYSTERY!



Ron’s Commentary on Finding Happiness by Asking Ultimate Questions

Finding Happiness by Asking Ultimate Questionshttp://sillysutras.com/creation-rumination/Dear Friends,Recently I…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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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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We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World – A Sutra Song Synchronicity Story


Butterflies are living
metaphors for metamorphosis.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Viceroy Butterfly



Ron’s Introduction and Explanation

After my mid-life spiritual awakening and newfound interest in spiritual evolution, I began regularly and reflectively to walk alone by San Francisco Bay, as a kind of 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 “Come Be Butterflies in a Caterpillar World.” It was “channelled” as I reflected on beautiful butterflies as living metaphors for metamorphosis.

Until very recently there was no professional recording of the butterfly song. But now, Rob Tobias, an Oregon musician/songwriter/singer and videographer is releasing a new CD including the song. Rob has been motivated by continuing synchronicities to perform and record the butterfly song.

In November 2008, Rob began filming me for a biographical documentary video project, “Walks With Ron”. In sharing my stories on film with Rob, I sang the caterpillar song. Rob liked it, worked out musical notation, and began singing the song solo and in performances with his band, The Northwest Express.

In early July 2012, Rob repeatedly sang the song at the Oregon Country Faire, to appreciative audiences. On returning home to Eugene, he was amazed to find that someone anonymously had posted a sign on a telephone pole across from his house, that said, “Be a Butterfly in a Caterpillar World.”

Here it is:



Despite repeated inquiries, Rob could not discover the sign’s mysterious origin. But after viewing its message countless times, in September 2012 Rob decided to give a Rosh Hashanah talk about metamorphosis and transformative change as co-leader of a Jewish Renewal group in Eugene. On explaining this decision to his co-leaders, Rob offered to show them the butterfly sign which had been in place earlier that day. But on returning home with his friends, Rob discovered that the sign had suddenly disappeared, just as mysteriously as it had suddenly appeared in July.

In October 2012, during a trip to New England, Rob unexpectedly and synchronistically performed the butterfly song in Burlington, Vermont at a school assembly of over 300 enthusiastic children, and at a hipster pub where four children mysteriously appeared to do a butterfly dance. [A youtube video of Rob’s performance at the school assembly is embedded below.]

On returning to Eugene, Rob decided to record the butterfly song. You can listen to his recording at RobTobias.com. Also, below I am posting the song’s original lyrics with an mp3 recording of me singing them.

As a heartfelt participant in our collective evolutionary transformation into an enlightened new age of harmony, peace and joy, I humbly offer this butterfly song.

To Life! Enjoy!!

We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World

We’re just butterflies,
We’re just butterflies,
We’re just butterflies,
In a caterpillar world.

Hey we’re flyin’ high,
See us flutter by,
Way up in the sky,
In a caterpillar world.

[1st Refrain]

After many moons
In our cocoons,
Totally transformed we’ve been,
From chrysalis to crystaline.

Then, leaving cares and apprehensions
We’ve flown to joyous new dimensions.
But the world keeps creeping and crawling,
So we’re just flying and calling.

Come be butterflies,
Come be butterflies,
Come be butterflies,
O’er a caterpillar world.

Wake up and arise,
Fly up to the skies,
Come be butterflies
From a caterpillar world.

Come now claim your prize
To be very wise
Flying through the skies
O’er a caterpillar world

[2nd Refrain]

Until bye and bye,
Never knowing why,
You’ve soared ever high
To a beautiful heaven above.

[2nd Refrain]


Ron’s audio singing of We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World

Listen to


Rob Tobias singing We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World at Integrated Arts Academy, Burlington VT:



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Butterflies

“What the caterpillar calls the end,
the [world] calls a butterfly.”
~ Richard Bach [edited]


Glasswing Butterfly


 

Butterflies are living
metaphors for metamorphosis.

They symbolize our
knowing or unknowing
quest for transformation;
for transcending inevitable
earthly miseries and mortality.

We are inspired by the butterfly’s metamorphosis:
from creeping, crawling caterpillar,
to cocooned chrysalis,
transformed by amazing imaginal cells
to beautifully winged wonder.

Butterflies can inspire and symbolize
not only human aspirations and potentialities
for transforming our life on Earth,
they also can remind us that there is much more
to our ever changing “reality”
‘than meets the eye’.

Some butterfly wings which appear to us in colors,
are actually transparent.
Their iridescent scales overlap like shingles on a roof,
refracting light – like rainbows –
so as to give the wings the colors we perceive.

But in some species, like the Glasswing*,
we can observe the transparency of the butterfly wings.
With such transparency,
we can see what normally we don’t see.

In the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:11-12),
Paul observes that “now we see through a glass darkly”,
but that some day we shall fully know,
as we are fully Known now by the Divine.

Now, we view our “reality”
through the ‘mirror of the mind’,
which imperfectly refracts and reflects
the unseen light of Eternal Awareness
onto the screen of our human consciousness.

But, with meditation and other mind-stilling methods,
we can evolve and transform our mind mirror
from opacity to translucency to transparency.

And thereby, with ever expanding
human consciousness and ever deepening insight,
we can and shall ‘see’ more and more –
we can and shall see what we couldn’t see before.

So, beautiful transparent butterflies
can symbolize and inspire our highest aspirations:
our aspirations for elevating and expanding human consciousness
so as to transform life on our precious planet.

And butterflies can remind us that Reality
is much more ‘than meets the eye’;

That beyond this phenomenal world
of ever passing appearances is one changeless Reality –

One unseen Source and Essence of
all appearances, all phenomena, and all ideas:

Infinite Potentiality – our Eternal SELF.


*Pictured above
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What is Perfection?

“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress,
driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions.
Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“This is the very perfection of a man,

to find out his own imperfections.”

~ Saint Augustine
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations

comes nearest to perfection.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Advance, and never halt,
for advancing is perfection.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,

and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Q. What is perfection?

A. “Perfection” is an idea;
a conception in duality reality.

Perfection implies imperfection.

So in relative reality we can not have perfection without imperfection.

And in Ultimate Reality beyond relative reality,
there is no perfection.

Ultimate Reality is beyond conception,
and so beyond “perfection”.


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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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