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Why Be Here Now?

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

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

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

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dear Friends,

In 1977, soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom by a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

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

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

Gradually the book’s title “Be Here Now!” became for me a memorable guide for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment – an idea which I later found often repeated in other spiritual books and teachings.

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

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ gradually cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Whereupon, I realized that “to think or not to think, that is the question”, and I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

By learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I’ve found that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “That when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

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

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

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I have discovered a book passage that can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!” in a state of precious presence.

Through synchronicity I recently received from my high school friend John Rubel of West Virginia a wonderfully witty passage written by brilliant comedian Sid Ceasar in his 1982 autobiography – “Where Have I Been?” – telling how he learned that being in the “now” can “change your whole cycle of life”.

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I think this passage can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!”

So here it is:

“While people keep waiting and waiting for something big to happen in life, the “now” is passing them by. Do you know how fast a “now” passes? At the rate of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light. So no matter how much you love and enjoy a particular “now,” that’s how fast it becomes a “was.” That “now” is never coming back, and that “was” ties into some “going-to-be.”

“So if you don’t learn from the “was’s” you’re going to have bad “going-to-be’s, which completes the cycle by bringing in bad “nows.” Thus, the only time you can switch around from a negative into a positive is in the “now.” Because you have to do it now. You can’t just think of doing it now because it is rapidly becoming a “was,” and it’s too late. And “going-to–be” is you may do it and you may not. So if you do it now, you know it’s done and you’ve got it. If you have a good “now’ you have a good “was,” which leads to a good “going-to-be.”

“In other words, by taking advantage of a “now, maybe even changing a bad “now” into a good “now,” you can have a good “was” from which you can learn and change your whole cycle of life. That’s why I never use the word “if” anymore. An “if” is a “never was.”

~ Comedian Sid Caesar – “Where Have I Been?”, p271


May Sid Caesar’s wise and witty words help us remember that being present in the NOW can be a key to spiritual awakening and peak performance for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be – NOW!

Ron Rattner

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Go For the Gold: The Golden Rule For a Golden Age

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
that is the whole of the Torah;
all the rest of it is commentary.”
~ Rabbi Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat, 31a – Judaism
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”
~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity
“Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.”
~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism
“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”
~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism
“Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam
“Do not unto others what you do not want them to do to you.”
~ Analects 15:13 – Confucianism
“All things are our relatives;
what we do to everything, we do to ourselves.
All is really One.”

~ Black Elk – Native American Spirituality
“Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”
~ Wiccan Rede – Neo-paganism
“Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you.”
~ British Humanist Society – Humanism
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It’s not just religious people who believe in the Golden Rule.
This is the source of all morality, this imaginative act of empathy –
putting yourself in the place of another.”
~ Karen Armstrong
“I will be as careful for you as I should be for myself in the same need.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey – Ancient Greece – 700 BC
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein, 1954
“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”
“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
~ Albert Schweitzer


Golden Rule

 
Awakening to a Golden Age.

We live in an age of mental malaise. Delusional human behaviors are causing life-threatening environmental, international and inter-personal crises and conflicts. For our peaceful survival on Planet Earth, we must transcend these insane behaviors and resolve the problems they have caused.

As Albert Einstein aptly observed: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So our survival depends on elevating human consciousness, societally and individually.

According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. [From] a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.” ; and, that for such a heart level of universal planetary responsibility we need ethics based on spirituality “beyond religion” – because religion alone “is no longer adequate”.

Thus for our peaceful survival on planet Earth, the critical problems now confronting humanity must be transcended through elevated heart level consciousness.

How can this happen?

With ever expanding empathy for all life everywhere we must follow ‘the Golden Rule’. For millennia wisdom teachers from virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions have proposed a simple ethical rule which if consciously and conscientiously followed can change the world.

Its essence is that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity that we wish for ourselves and that they wish for themselves.

Though easy to understand, this Golden Rule of reciprocal empathy can not easily be followed until we awaken within – beyond our “optical delusion” of separateness – to our collective connection with all beings and all life everywhere. Then as Einstein suggests we can gradually “widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Eventually, we won’t even need the Golden rule.
As my beloved Guru Shri Dhyanyogi revealed:
“If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.”

Ultimately, by following our sacred heart we will be in harmony with all life everywhere.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, 

And it must follow, as the night the day, 

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet


So with awakened hearts let us actualize a Golden Age wherein everyone everywhere treats all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves – with an empathetic “genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

And so shall it be!

Beautiful Golden Rule Video.

 


Ron’s Commentary on Awakening to a Golden Age.

“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama


Dear Friends,

For many people these are dark and divisive times unprecedented in their lives. But I view current painful and seemingly chaotic world turmoil (following the election of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president) as darkness before an inevitable dawn; as marking an immense evolutionary opportunity for disintegration of outdated world political, economic and ecological paradigms that have become painfully and unsustainably anachronous, to make way for a new era of human harmony and conscious connection with each other and with Nature.  

From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are rapidly realizing that everyone/everything is connected by a common Essence – ever-changing energy in a matrix of immutable awareness. Thus, we are evolving from a Newtonian “reality” of polarized duality to a quantum “reality” of holistic connectedness; from either this or that, to this and that are ONE.

With this realization, regardless of our political propensities or beliefs, we can best address current challenges, and transcend pervasively polarizing negative emotions – like fear and anger – with feelings, insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere.

With benevolent and focused intentions, more and more we can open our hearts to innate human empathy, kindness and compassion, and thereby realize our collective connection with and deep concern for all life everywhere – even including perceived adversaries or enemies.

To help inspire us in this age of immense evolutionary opportunity, I have posted the foregoing important quotations and comments, and a wonderful 8 minute embedded video, about perhaps the world’s most important and universal reciprocal principle of ethics proposed for millennia by virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions.

Its essence is:

that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves.

May we collectively join in heartfelt harmony with this crucial ethical principle. Whereupon with insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere, may all humankind truly transcend and cooperatively resolve our critical ecologic, economic, international and interpersonal problems, for an enlightened and elevated new age that will bless all life on our precious  planet.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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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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Justice versus Judgment: Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged? Resist Not Evil?*

“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Resist not evil.”
~ Matthew 5:39
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
~ Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.”
~ John 7:24; 8:15
“We cannot change anything until we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
~ Carl Jung
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“One ought to examine himself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.”
~ Moliere
“Judge not thy neighbor until thou comest into his place.”
~ Rabbi Hillel
“But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
~ Amos 5:24 
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
~ Gandhi
“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil.
Evil can only be overcome by good.
It is the lesson of the way of love.”

~ Peace Pilgrim
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda


Enlightened Justice

 

Q. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus counseled “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But the Bible encourages us to live righteously and seek justice. How is it possible for us to pursue justice and righteousness without judging and resisting “evil”?*

A. By following our sacred heart with love, forgiveness and empathy we can live with justice and righteousness in a manner consistent with Jesus’ teachings – his words and life example.

Jesus was a rare Divine being who – like a Buddha or Krishna – transcended the illusion of separation from God. From his Divine perspective, Jesus realized and proclaimed that “I and the Father are one” [John 10:30] , and he perceived as “evil” only that which – from ignorance of Divine law – creates disharmony with Divine order and consequent suffering. But, as a loving Divine truth teller he did not condemn beings acting with the the illusion of separation from God – only their ignorant behaviors. [John:3:17]

Jesus knew that – until realizing our unity with Divinity – we reap as we sew. [e.g. Job 4:8; Galacians 6:7]; that we suffer the karmic consequences of our unconsciously unenlightened behaviors. Thus from his rare cosmic perspective he compassionately could see that our ignorant behaviors are karmically predestined, and do not arise from presumed free will.

As a Divine being, Jesus also knew that true Vision comes from intuitive insight, not eyesight; that our perceived separation from others and from Nature is an illusion of consciousness; and, that blind to our own repressed faults we often project them upon and detect them in others.

As Rumi observed: “People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.” [But,] “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

So Jesus cautioned the Pharisee fundamentalists of his time to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” [John 7:24] And he taught: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” [Matthew 7:1-5]

Thus, when fundamentalist Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman allegedly caught in adultery, a capital crime, Jesus challenged any one of them who was without sin to cast the first stone at her. Speaking as non-judgmental Divine Love, Jesus explained his refusal to condemn her thusly:  “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.” [John 8:15]

Without judging beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9]
And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those hypocritically changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]

So, it appears that Jesus, who was a social reformer, did not intend to discourage us from living piously while seeking justice and righteousness for others and society. Bible passages against resisting “evil” or “judging” others are warnings against hypocritically and insensitively criticizing or opposing perceived faults or disharmonious behaviors in others which we cannot see in our own shadow selves.

Also, they are cautions against reflexive or revengeful resistance or opposition to perceived “evil”, because when we see ‘through a glass darkly’ what we resist persists.

Jesus’ admonition to not resist “evil” was given after his allusion to the Book of Exodus teaching about taking “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” [Exodus 21:23-5] which was then misunderstood and strictly interpreted by Pharisees as encouraging revenge or retribution. But when we ignorantly act with reflexive revenge, we are disharmonious with divine law and must suffer the karmic consequences.

So rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, it is wise to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable traits. Then like Gandhi we will “not cooperate with evil” but be the non-violent change we wish to see in the world and lovingly inspire others to do likewise.

And so it shall be!

Footnote.

*Because the New Testament gospels were all ‘hearsay’ written and translated from Aramaic into Greek and various other languages long after Jesus’ death, we cannot know with certainty the meaning or accuracy of current translations of his sermon on the mount. So there are many differing interpretations of the words “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Their true meaning and intent can best be determined from their context and from Jesus’ own Divine actions to uplift the world rather than condemn it. Our interpretation is intuitive, not scholarly, and based on perennial principles taught by most enduring religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, not just Christianity. You are free to question or reject it.


Ron’s Commentary on violence begets violence, while love blesses all Life everywhere.

Dear Friends,

Recently I posted a nonpartisan response to the extraordinarily polarized political turbulence which has arisen worldwide since the election and inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president, and his initial executive nominations, appointments, and decrees. 

It suggested that regardless of our political propensities or beliefs we can best address our crucial political issues and challenges, from our unique perspectives with our unique talents, by first mindfully recognizing and calming our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind.  That, thereby, with quiet minds and open hearts we can non-judgmentally honor the spiritual essence and equality of everyone everywhere – beyond our mentally illusory and superficially divisive designations.

As an ardent advocate of Gandhian nonviolence, I feel impelled by continuing protests to hereby augment my last message with further apt quotes and discussion of important spiritual principles encouraging peaceful means to bring about political or social change.   In my view, “nonviolence” entails more than absence or threat of physical force;  that  all thoughts, words and deeds which are disharmonious with Nature’s divine plan are “violent”

So “nonviolence” necessitates and arises from inner Harmony.   As eloquently explained by Paramahansa Yogananda:

“Harmony is born of love and wisdom.  These, in turn, are offspring of a heart that is pure and outreaching.  A pure heart is the result of pure thoughts.” . . . . 

“The mind is nature’s incinerator wherein you can burn to ashes all mental dross that is not worthy to be saved:  your waste thoughts and desires, your misconceptions and grievances, and your discords in human relationships.  There is not a single relationship, however estranged, you cannot reconcile, provided you do so first in your own mind.  There is not a single problem in life you cannot resolve, provided you first solve it in your inner world, its place of origin.  Be not intimidated by consequences, even though they be drastic.  Before you act, if you first harmonize the situation with the discriminative wisdom in your mind, the outcome will take care of itself.  A harmonized mind produces harmony in this world of seeming discord.”

~  Paramahansa Yogananda – JOURNEY TO SELF-REALIZATION:Collected Talks And Essays On Realizing God In Daily Life, Volume III

Similarly we are told by Gandhi that:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. 
As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … 
We need not wait to see what others do.”
~ Gandhi


In the US and worldwide massive polarized political protests are continuing.  Though most protesters have refrained from using physical force, some protests have escalated to much more than a ‘war of words’.  According to credible media reports and onsite videos, there have been numerous violent acts and words both supporting and opposing President Trump.  E.g.  Protesters have smashed windows, torched cars, and physically assaulted perceived adversaries.  There seem reasonable probabilities that agent provaocateurs have instigated and committed violence on both sides of the political divide.  Apart from calls for legitimate government checks and balances, and legal due process, some placards and social media have displayed violent imprecations and even suggestions or threats of assassination.  

Many protesters are motivated by fear, anger and other negative emotions disharmoniously inconsistent with true “nonviolence”.   So in my view their actions are karmically contrary to the the widely accepted cautionary precept that “violence begets violence” – which is also scientifically supported by Newton’s third law that: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

That precept may have been inspired in the West by teachings of Jesus.  For example, in Matthew 26:50-52 we are told how Jesus instructed a disciple trying defend against his master’s arrest to: “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword”.  That scriptural passage has often been cited by nonviolent peace activists.

Thus, inspired by Jesus and Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ardently preached non-violence: 

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ..“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”  .  . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

On accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr King said:

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral . .  . Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Nonviolence doesn’t necessarily mean nonresistance.  As evidenced by Dr. King’s exemplary life, powerfully effective resistance to injustice can be nonviolent.   He showed us how individually and societally we can we best resist the evils of  injustice with love and forgiveness; how by accentuating the positive we can transcend the negative.   

“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil.
Evil can only be overcome by good.
It is the lesson of the way of love.”
~ Peace Pilgrim


Thus today millions are similarly inspired by nonviolent peace and prayer vigils of indigenous protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, nonviolently resisting extraordinarily violent corporate commercial desecrations of their sacred sites and treaty rights.

This commentary augments the foregoing posted quotations and essay and my previously posted commentary advocating stilling our minds to open our Hearts. May we be inspired thereby to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable traits, rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them.

Then like Dr. King and Gandhi we will “not cooperate with evil” but be the non-violent change we wish to see in the world and lovingly inspire others to do likewise.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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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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Why Do We Suffer? ~ Quotes and Question


Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
~ Buddha
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
~ Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
Pain is inevitable. But suffering is optional.
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering.
Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are.  When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that.  When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
~ Osho
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“…if the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now.
Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Shakyamuni_Buddha.


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

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

Various spiritual traditions propose different paths or methods for attaining such Self knowledge. They can only point to this spiritual goal, but not bestow it.

Each person is unique with a unique perspective and unique karmic history causing psychological suffering. An often recommended method to end such suffering is perseverant introspection for mindfully identifying, realizing and transcending our unskillful tendencies.  Such attention and realization can ultimately free us from such suffering.


Ron’s Commentary on “No pain, no gain.”:

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Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”

“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your self return to your memory.”
~ A Course in Miracles

If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16




Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.

Forgiveness is particularly important in Christianity.
Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness.

Eg. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37


And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34


In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than willful) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.

If sin is considered ‘missing the mark’, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on what we should do to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with a mistaken act or omission.

Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.
[“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20]


And whenever Jews realize that they have erred, the Torah – the Jewish Bible – obligates them to return to a righteous path with a process of repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13

The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions. Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual goal and Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Beyond any religious or theistic terms or traditions, there is a universal and perennial evolutionary process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and from our true nature; of our returning psychologically and existentially to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness which is our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving “Sins”:

Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”Dear Friends,Posted today at…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Sunday, February 7, 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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‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quotes

“Silence is the language of God,
all else is poor translation.”
~ Rumi
“Love said to me,

there is nothing that is not me.

Be silent.”
~ Rumi
“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.”..
“Let silence take you to the core of life.”
~ Rumi


Silent Sunrise

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
~ Confucius

“There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters.
Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together.
Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to heaven.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“If you don’t know what God’s guidance for your life is,
you might try seeking in receptive silence.
I used to walk receptive and silent amidst the beauties of nature.
Wonderful insights would come to me which I then put into practice in my life.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself.

If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity,

then and there is silence.

She is audible to all men, at all times, in all places,
and if we will

we may always hearken to her admonitions.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“It is as though he listened
and such listening as his
enfolds us in a silence
In which at last
We begin to hear
What we are meant to be.”
~ Lao-Tzu

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”
~ Mother Teresa

“One opens the inner doors of one’s heart to the infinite silences of the Spirit,
out of whose abysses love wells up without fail and gives itself to all.”

~ Thomas Merton

“My friend, I am not what I seem.
Seeming is but a garment I wear — a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
The “I” in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark.
The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“We search for Him here and there, while looking right at Him
Sitting by his side, we ask:
Oh Beloved, where is the Beloved?
Enough with such questions
Let silence take you to the core of life
All your talk is worthless when compared with one whisper of the beloved”
~ Rumi

“Each one of us is called to become that great song that comes out of the silence,
and the more we let ourselves down into that great silence the more we become capable of singing that great song.”
~ David Steindl-Rast

‎”After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.”
~ Baruch Spinoza

“Live laconically –
Speak little; say much.”
~ Ron Rattner (aka Swami Onandonananda)

Eschew pedantry, punditry, and prolixity,
and seek profundity –
in silence, simplicity and serenity.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Commentary on Silence:

‘Silence” ~ Sayings and Quoteshttp://sillysutras.com/silence-sayings-and-quotes/Dear Friends,Have you ever noticed…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Friday, January 22, 2016

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Be The Change

“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Mahatma Gandhi – 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948




What does Mahatma Gandi’s oft-quoted advice to “be the change” really mean?

According to his grandson, Arun Gandhi, he was speaking after a prayer service where people said to him that the world has to change for us to change.

He responded, “No, the world will not change if we don’t change.”

So we must each be the change we want to see.

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

So Gandhi’s life and words have inspired and actuated countless millions of people worldwide.

One of the those people is a talented American rapper named MC Yogi who has creatively conveyed the Mahatma’s life story in rap with rhymed words and powerful pictures.

You can listen, watch and enjoy his unique Gandhi Rap here:

Inspired by Gandhi’s example, let each of us consciously live our lives as our message. And together let us be the change we want see.

And so it shall be!

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