Tag Archives | God

You Are The Sun In Drag, by Hafiz

Even after all this time
the sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.”
~ Hafiz
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being.”
~ Hafiz
“Love said to me,
 there is nothing that is not me. 
Be silent.”
~ Rumi
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi
“You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6






You are the sun in drag.

You are the sun in drag.

You are God hiding from yourself.

Remove all the “mine” – that is the veil.

Why ever worry about

Anything?

Listen to what your friend Hafiz

Knows for certain:

The appearance of this world

Is a Magi’s brilliant trick, though its affairs are

Nothing into nothing.

You are a divine elephant with amnesia

Trying to live in an ant

Hole.

Sweetheart, O sweetheart

You are God in

Drag!

~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel James Ladinsky
from The Gift: Poems by the Great Sufi Master




Ron’s Commentary on Sufi Master Hafiz.

I am privileged to share with you the foregoing poem by Iran’s favorite poet, 14th century Sufi master Hafiz (Hafez). Just as many Western people keep copies of the Bible in their homes, many Persian people keep copies of Hafiz’ writings which they consider the pinnacle of Persian literature.

Written in Farsi, this poem was expertly translated to English by Daniel Ladinsky.  Yet my Iranian friends say that to be fully appreciated it must be read as originally composed.  

But even for those of us who do not understand Farsi, the timeless genius of this poem, as translated, enriches and enlightens our hearts.

May we joyously join Hafiz in heartfelt gratitude as this Master poet importunes us:

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


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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Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.
~ Albert Einstein, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Albert Einstein


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

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.

He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:

I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]


On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend’s family:

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”


Einstein’s rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein’s revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking special theory of relativity that “mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing”; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence: “Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time.” Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.

Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”…

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

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

“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?

“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”

“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”

“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”

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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Einstein’s non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he said:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”


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


“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”



“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”





“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”



Thus, Einstein’s rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal “optical illusion of consciousness.”

Did Einstein’s psyche survive his death? Was he surprised on his demise?

Though Einstein didn’t believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don’t know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.

Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:

“[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom
realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva way


Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.


But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein’s physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple “unified field” formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of ‘the mind of God’ – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.

And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.

And so may it be!


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



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Go For The “God” Spot

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“The mind is like an elastic band.  The more you pull, the more it stretches.  Every time you feel limitations, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I am the Infinite,” and you will see what power you have.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer




Don’t complain
about your pain,

or of what you have,
or have not.

Just get into your brain,
and find the spot

where all you want –
you’ve got.




Ron’s audio recitation of Go For The “God” Spot

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Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

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


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

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

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

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

 


Footnotes

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

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



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

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What is Ego?

“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“I hold three treasures
 close to my heart.

The first is love;

The next simplicity;

The third, overcoming ego.”
~ Lao Tzu
“When I let go of what [I think] I am,
I become what I might be.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama
“A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj



WHAT IS EGO?

Q. What is ego?

A. Ego is what you think you are –

If you don’t self-identify with Universal Awareness, Nature or Divinity.

And your body is your ego incarnate.

As you learn what you really are,
you’ll change what you think you are –

Until without thinking what you are
or who you are,

You just ARE.





Helpful quotations:

“When you think or speak about yourself, when you say, “I,” what you usually refer to is “me and my story.” This is the “I” of your likes and dislikes, fears and desires, the “I” that is never satisfied for long. It is a mind-made sense of who you are, conditioned by the past and seeking to find its fulfillment in the future. Can you see that this “I” is fleeting, a temporary formation, like a wave pattern on the surface of the water?”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

“As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it …it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. …..As long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtained what you wanted, when a craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness. From an experiential point of view, what is ego covering up? It’s covering up our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are, so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience. Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well being, unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.”
~ Pema Chodron

“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

“When the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but
as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious.”
~ Alan Watts

“The ego says that the world is vast, and that the particles which form it are tiny. When tiny particles join, it says, the vast world appears. When the vast world disperses, it says, tiny particles appear. The ego is entranced by all these names and ideas, but the subtle truth is that world and particle are the same; neither one vast, neither one tiny. Every thing is equal to every other thing. Names and concepts only block your perception of this Great Oneness. Therefore it is wise to ignore them. Those who live inside their egos are continually bewildered: they struggle frantically to know whether things are large or small, whether or not there is a purpose to joining or dispersing, whether the universe is blind and mechanical or the divine creation of a conscious being. In reality there are no grounds for having beliefs or making comments about such things. Look behind them instead, and you will discern the deep, silent, complete truth of the Tao. Embrace it, and your bewilderment vanishes.”
~ Lao Tzu

“The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth. Understand this if nothing else: spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao are not randomly bestowed gifts, but the rewards of conscious self-transformation and self-evolution.”
~ Lao Tzu

Q: “How much “ego” do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi


Ron’s audio recitation of What is Ego?
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I Have Learned So Much ~ by Hafiz

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”
~ Gandhi
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.

Not any religion
My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless.

Neither body or soul.”
~ Rumi
“There is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.
Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,”
~ Rabia of Basra
“The great religions are the ships,
Poets the life boats. 
Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”
~ Hafiz

I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of itself with me
that I can no longer call myself
a man, a woman, an angel
or even pure soul.

Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.



-Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky in
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

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Surrender: Let Go of Ego

“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”
~ The Buddha
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you. 
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9
We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“But man is a part of nature,
and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”  
~ Rachel Carson
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” 
~ William Shakespeare
“Nature is our nature;
honoring Nature is honoring your Self.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





The idea of spiritual “surrender” is encapsulated in the maxims:
“Let go, and let God”; “Go with the Flow”; and “Not my will,
but Thy will be done”
.

Both Eastern and Western religious and spiritual teachings
stress the importance of allowing the inconceivably immense power
of Nature, the Tao, or the Divine to guide our lives;
of simply surrendering to Life, and allowing it to live us as it may.

Before surrendering, we may egoically think ourselves separate from other beings and life-forms, and that we are in ultimate control of our lives.

But, as we gradually realize that we are inextricably part of Nature,
not separate from it, and that Nature Knows best and is in control, we more and more allow Nature, not ego, to guide us.

Surrender is an inner process; an intuitional attitude rather than an outer act,
arising gradually as we gain implicit trust and faith in Nature’s supreme perfection.

And as our faith in Nature grows, ego goes.

We gradually lose the ego illusion of separateness from Nature,
and ever more surrender to Life.

And when we become completely surrendered to the river of life –
the river of existence – ego disappears:

Revealing that our true nature is Nature;

Revealing we are THAT, to which we have surrendered.


Ron’s audio recitation of Surrender- Let Go of Ego

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Say I am You ~ by Rumi

“There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheik,
who is an ocean for all beings.”
~ Rumi



I am dust particles in sunlight,
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one
in all, say who

I am. Say I
am You.

 

(Translation by Coleman Barks)


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