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Pope Francis’ Call For A Planetary Revolution of Love and Tenderness


“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.. . . .

[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk


Pope Francis



Ron’s Introduction.

Dear Friends, I am deeply privileged to share with you below an embedded video of a deeply inspiring TED talk, with English subtitles and transcript, given from the Vatican by His Holiness Pope Francis, which applies to everyone everywhere regardless of religious, spiritual, or ethical beliefs.

This TED talk has inspired me more than any other I’ve ever heard. And I urge you to deeply consider the Pope’s message with an open heart and an open mind as he reminds us that we have so much to do, and we must do it together.

May it inspire all of us to become collective participants in a transformative planetary revolution of love and tenderness.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Pope’s 2017 TED Talk Video.



Pope’s 2017 TED Talk Transcript.

Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there. Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference.

I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a “you.” “The Future You:” the future is made of you’s, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?” I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people. And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?

In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?” – he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren’t even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves “respectable,” of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: “One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”

We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, “Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.

The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love.

Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.” You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you” and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.

Thank you.


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What Is Freedom? ~ Question and Quotes

“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“There is only one central issue, crisis, or challenge for man, which is, that he must be completely free. As long as the mind is holding on to a structure, a method, a system, there is no freedom.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind.
If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body,
the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him –
that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“All life is an effort to attain freedom from self-created entanglement;
it is a desperate struggle to undo what has been done under ignorance,
to throw away the accumulated burden of the past,
to find rescue from the debris left by a series of temporary achievements and failures.”
~ Meher Baba
“Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright:
.. real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe;
it cannot be found here. ….
The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of [natural] law,
to go beyond causation.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Liberation is our very nature. We are that.
The very fact that we wish for liberation shows that freedom from all bondage is our real nature.”
~ Ramana Maharshi
“The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom.
And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is.
If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord.
If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you;
if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you.”
~ Osho
“Spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. . . When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it is emancipated from bondage to body, mind, and ego. This freedom brings realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.”
~ Meher Baba
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“The most fundamental message of Gautama the Buddha is not God, is not soul… it is freedom: freedom absolute, total, unconditional. He does not want to give you an ideology, because every ideology creates its own slavery. He does not want to give you a religion, because religion binds you.”
~ Osho
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,
“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

 

Free Fall


Q. What is “freedom”, and how can we experience it?

A. “Freedom” is a word with different meanings. Here we define “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief –
which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally.

Ultimate “freedom” is our birthright, our nature and our destiny. Freedom is ever NOW, never then.

After mystically experiencing “freedom”, great beings like Jesus, the Buddha and Krishna have encouraged us to aspire to this ultimate transcendent experience. Knowingly or unknowingly, all people – including atheists, non-theists, and agnostics – long for “freedom”.

Mystics say that as long we self-identify only with our thoughts in ever changing space/time/causality reality we are inescapably ‘imprisoned’ in a state of psychological bondage, with inevitable suffering; that we experience ultimate “freedom” only in the present moment – the NOW – as we choicelessly self-identify with timeless universal awareness or spirit imminent in each of us.

Essential wisdom teachings of all enduring spiritual, mystical and mythic paths allude to spiritual “freedom”.

Thus, the most important Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a teaching by Divine Avatar Krishna about the ultimate spiritual goal (“moksha”) of liberation or “freedom” from the cycle of death and rebirth (“samsara”).

Similarly, all of Gautama Buddha’s teachings were aimed at ending human suffering through attainment of “freedom” from mental fetters or chains (samyojana) of mistaken self-identification with samsara.

When Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) he meant that we will experience “freedom” on realizing our true self-identity as soul or spirit. And in declaring: “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), Jesus showed that we can only find such freedom when we self-identify with ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

“Freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of the biblical Passover story. Symbolically the Book of Exodus emphasizes societal rather than individual escape from bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’; viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods – like Pharaohs or idols – to a ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us, beyond external Gods or goals.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

We find and experience ultimate freedom only in choiceless awareness beyond our apparent subject/object separateness, beyond our beliefs, religions, ideologies or philosophies. By recognizing and transcending illusory belief barriers which seem to imprison us, we shall be –
“Free at last, free at last!”

NOW – ever NOW, never THEN!


Ron’s Commentary on Spiritual Freedom

Dear Friends,

Spiritual freedom is an ultimate goal of all perennial wisdom paths. Most people associate “freedom” with personal, political, and economic liberty.  But spiritual freedom is an extraordinarily rare state of mind which can be inwardly attained even by those who do not enjoy external freedoms, like felons imprisoned for life.  

I first deeply reflected on philosophical concepts of  “freedom” during the 1950’s when I learned about Abraham Maslow’s psychological analysis of ‘self-actualizing’ people, and when I read “Escape From Freedom” by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm. But after becoming a San Francisco civil litigation  lawyer I rarely reflected about inner freedom until after a memorable exchange with my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 

While residing in my apartment just prior to his 1980 return to India, Guruji told me: 
 
“Rasik, a yogi’s body is like a baby’s body. Your body is like a prison. I am like a jailer with the prison key. I come and go as I please.”

Thereupon, I became intensely curious about Guruji’s revelation that my body was like a prison. And I wondered how and why ‘I’ was ‘imprisoned’, and how ‘I’ could get out of ‘jail’ – free like Guruji. 

So I began deeply exploring spiritual freedom, as distinguished from personal, political, and economic freedoms.  

Soon, I was reminded of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary  “I Have a Dream” speech, and wondered why his words “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last” were so deeply powerful. 

Ultimately, I realized that those words were rooted in the biblical Exodus Passover story; and I intuited that spiritual “freedom” is the esoteric essence and mythical message of that story.  I concluded that the Passover story symbolically emphasizes escape from outer bondage to a Divinely ‘promised land’ within – viz. escape from enslavement by mistaken beliefs in false external Gods or goals to an inner ‘promised land’ of ONE eternal Divinity imminent in each of us.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE!”
(Deuteronomy 6:4). 

Later, I noted that Jesus powerfully alluded to spiritual freedom by prophesying:

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32) 

And I intuited that Jesus was teaching that we will find freedom (from self-imposed worldly slavery) only when we transcend entity identity and self-identify as ONE Divine spirit – the kingdom of heaven within – rather than as supposedly separate embodied personalities.

Ultimately, I concluded that our limited and limiting ego ideas about self-identity and reality confine each of us in a kind of psychological prison in which suffering is inevitable, and which restricts realization of our infinite potentialities.  

However, the masters teach and demonstrate that we can each mentally transcend that “prison” and emerge “free at last” from our self-woven karmic cocoons, no matter what our outer circumstances.  

Thus, Rumi reminded us:

“Be empty of worrying,

Think of Who Created Thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?”

~ Rumi


The encouraging possibility of getting out of jail FREE is explained in the foregoing quotations and essay.  May they help us evolve toward precious inner freedom, our common birthright.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner
 

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Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?

“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“We 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.” 
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell

Buckminster Fuller




April Fools’ Day Questions and Reflections.

Though April Fools’ day has been observed for centuries throughout the Western world, its origins are unclear.  Rather than considering it merely a day for frivolous thoughts or ephemeral behaviors, April fools’ day has become for me a time for serious reflection on current crises and perennial problems.

So on April Fools’ day 2017 I am wondering why our precious planet Earth is being ruled and ruined by human fools and foolishness.

Previously I have asserted that we are facing extraordinary ecological, financial, international and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet because the world is being ruled and ruined by psychopaths.

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

In the mid-1960’s visionary American architect, inventor, and author R. Buckminster Fuller [Bucky] popularized the term “Spaceship Earth” to explain how our precious planet is a single system with its apparent separations inextricably interrelated and interconnected. Bucky foresaw that to ensure our long-term viability and to avert global catastrophe humanity must wisely and cooperatively inhabit and operate our amazing ‘Spaceship’ – like skilled astronauts.
He said:

“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”

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

Since the 2016 US presidential campaign and election of Donald J. Trump, many people worldwide are experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions.

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

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

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

Similarly, Alan Watts suggests we’ve become ‘spellbound’:

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


In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115, fairy Puck, a non-human, observes human confusion from perception deception with these lines:

“Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
~ Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3, scene 2


Perhaps each of us subliminally knows that we are participating in a great cosmic hoax about our supposed reality and identity.   And perhaps April Fools’ day is an unknowing spontaneous expression of that subliminal awareness.

But for conscious realization of our true common identity, we need wisdom of compassion which cannot be imparted by others.

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man
attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone
else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One
can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot
communicate and teach it.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”
~ Euripides


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


“Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting
more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to
tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that
some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live
together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together,
we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is
absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”
~ Bertrand Russell


Conclusion.

In these critical times of immense jeopardy and suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are awakening from our illusion of separation. So, as common crew of “Spaceship Earth”, let us together take charge of guiding it, and join in assuring that our precious planet is cooperatively and democratically guided bottom-up by compassionate societies, rather than oligarchically ruled top-down by a few psychopathically foolish billionaires.

May we so choose to “live together as [sisters and] brothers” and not “perish together as fools.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Please Call Me by My True Names ~ Thich Nhat Hahn

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
~ Thich Nhat Hahn
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. “No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh


Thich Nhat Hanh



Thich Nhat Hahn’s Introduction and Explanation.

I have a poem for you. This poem is about three of us.

The first is a twelve-year-old girl, one of the boat
people crossing the Gulf of Siam. She was raped by a
sea pirate, and after that she threw herself into the
sea.

The second person is the sea pirate, who was born
in a remote village in Thailand.

And the third person is me.

I was very angry, of course. But I could not take sides against the sea pirate. If I could have, it would have been easier, but I couldn’t. I realized that if I had been born in his village and had lived a similar life – economic, educational, and so on – it is likely that I would now be that sea pirate.

So it is not easy to take sides.

Out of suffering, I wrote this poem.
It is called “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have many names, and when you call me by any of them, I have to say,
“Yes.”

Please Call Me by My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.

And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.

And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.

And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.

And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.

My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn


Source.

http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/44/1/Thich-Nhat-Hahn-Poetry-Collection/Page1.html

Song Inspired by Passage From Please Call Me by My True Names.



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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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