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Hydrologic Logic: What People Can Learn From Snowflakes

“Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.”
~ Rumi





Spiritual teachers say we can learn about ourselves by closely observing all of Nature’s manifestations and processes. As above, so below.

So, what can we learn about ourselves by studying snowflakes and hydrologic processes?

Science tells us that though countless trillions of snowflakes have fallen on earth each has a unique form; that each snowflake is an hexagonally symmetrical crystalline form which begins around a tiny speck of dust – as each pearl forms around a sand particle – but that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.

How amazing!!! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/faqs/faqs.htm

Yet, despite this wondrous and unimaginable diversity of forms, all snowflakes have a common essence — frozen water, H20.

When a snowflake melts, it returns to and merges with its watery source, which is perpetually recycled. So, each snowflake’s essence is the same – recycled water, which has formed countless unique prior snowflakes.

Not only are snowflakes unified in amazing physical diversity by their common watery essence, but science says that their common essence is indestructible. Water – a liquid – is a form of matter. Matter is merely manifest energy – E=mc2 – and energy can’t be destroyed. It just cycles from formlessness to differing forms and phenomena. So, in their essence, snowflakes are immortal energy.

Like snowflakes, each of the billions of humans who have inhabited Earth has had an individually unique form and genetic makeup. And like snowflakes, human physical bodies are composed of common elemental constituents, including mostly H20. People’s physical bodies – like snowflakes – appear for a twinkling of time, die and physically ‘melt’ back into the Earth.

But, unlike snowflakes, each of us is aware of our environment and of our life’s experiences; and this awareness is our entire existence. So, while unique snowflakes are united in glorious diversity by their common watery essence, physically unique human beings, are unified not only by their common elemental constituents but, also, by their by their common essence – awareness, which is the sole matrix and context of human beingness.

Snowflakes appear in Nature and, apparently, are peacefully at one with Nature until they disappear. Humans appear in Nature but – unlike snowflakes – we have great intelligence and we think. And through thought we identify ourselves with our perceived separate forms. Thus, we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. But we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death.

So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And, through thought, we try psychologically to “protect” and preserve our ephemeral physical forms and to deter or deny their inevitable demise. Accordingly, our lives are often marked by mental afflictions causing conflicts, problems and suffering, which disturb our peace and our awareness of at-one-ment with Nature.

Q. So, what can people learn from snowflakes?

A. To ‘cool it’ and to not worry about our inevitable disappearance; to let go and go with the flow.

We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts; that – like snowflakes – our common essence is immortal.

Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with our immortal awareness, rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and gradually we can expand our perceived boundaries, so to ever evolve ’til these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend ephemeral entity identity, often we can just be at peace – as immortal awareness.

And so,

“As we lose our fear, Of leaving life, We shall gain the art of living life.”

And – like snowflakes – maybe some day we’ll be ‘recycled’ some way. e.g. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

Or maybe not. e.g. http://tinyurl.com/mlw6erq

In all events, – like snowflakes – we need not worry about leaving. For

“It is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to Eternal Life.” ~ Saint Francis of Assisi

Here’s what Paramahansa Yogananda says:

“The dewdrop belongs to the sea. Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature; but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea. So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”

So – like snowflakes – don’t worry, be happy!

Namaste!

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Pilgrimage to Assisi : Communing With Saint Francis ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ St. 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.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi


Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi


Introduction

When I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I knew virtually nothing about saints and was largely uninformed about religions other than Judaism. Even though Saint Francis of Assisi was patron saint of my new home town, I remained ignorant of his life story until after my profound spiritual opening in 1976.

Then, through a series of synchronistic inner visions and outer events I developed a deep inner rapport with Saint Francis. And his prayer became – and remains – an important part of my daily spiritual practice.

On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made pilgrimages to India and later to Italy to honor my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu.

My stay in Assisi and excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ – proved magical, with unforgettable spiritual experiences. Elsewhere I have described my memorable experiences on arrival at Assisi and at the giant Basilica of Saint Francis, where the great saint is entombed. [ see http://sillysutras.com/experiencing-unforgettable-divine-shakti-rons-memoirs/]

Here I will tell you about three more memorable experiences of communing with the spirit of St. Francis in Italy.

Discovering the Porziuncola

Basilica_Santa-Maria-degli-Angeli_interior

Porziuncola within Basilica


One of the most profound of those experiences happened as I visited a tiny frescoed chapel outside Assisi called by Francesco Porziuncola ["the little portion"]. He and his early followers had restored it from a ruined condition to become first home of the Franciscan order. And it was Francesco’s favorite place on earth.

Here, he lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of a female order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

In 1216, Francis had a legendary vision in the little chapel. After fervent and tearful prayers, a light filled the chapel and he saw above the altar Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. In response Francis requested that all those who might enter the chapel and contritely repent their sins be granted a pardon and remission of all such sins. Whereupon Francis was told by the heavenly host that his request was granted.

Thus, the Porziuncola was thereafter Papally blessed with “The Pardon of Assisi” so that those who enter and repentantly pray there are pardoned of their sins, and it has been proclaimed a ‘world holy place’.

Having paid respects to Saint Francis at the basilica where he is entombed, my next pilgrimage destination was the Porziuncola. But I went there unprepared for what I saw. In reading biographies of the saint I had focussed on his simplicity and humility and somehow missed description of the giant basilica which had enveloped his beloved tiny headquarters chapel.

I didn’t realize until then that by Papal order, three hundred fifty years after Francis’ death, the great Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels) was erected over the simple Porziuncola chapel – Franceso’s “little portion” – and that all its original outbuildings were demolished, except the simple cell where Francis died. So I felt a bit bewildered on approaching and entering the grandiose basilica – so inconsistent with Francis simple life and message – and wondered what he might say about it.

But I found my way to the tiny chapel which was situated directly beneath the basilica cupola. And after waiting in line with others, I was able to enter and sit in the tiny and simple Porziuncola. With renewed déjà vu, I immediately experienced an almost palpable aura of the saint’s supernal love, and spontaneously cried deeply and intensely. I was so overcome with emotion that I lost track of time.

On regaining my senses, I realized with a guilty conscience that I had overstayed my time there, while other pilgrims waited in line for a chance to enter, and perhaps to repent and be absolved of their sins. So in a highly “enshakticated” [love intoxicated] condition I slowly got up and walked out. With continuing déjà vu I strolled to the place there where Francis died on October 3, 1226. Then, still in an altered state of awareness, I returned to the Ananda center after one of the most memorable experiences of this lifetime.

Memory of that exquisitely simple little chapel and its aura of supernal Love has remained enshrined in my heart ever since my one visit there. Although I have never since returned to that holy Assisi place, which Saint Francis named and loved, my cherished memory of the Porziuncola was revived following a surprising and synchronistic ‘holy encounter’ and discovery – almost thirty years later – of a San Francisco Porziuncola Nuova. Never have I thereafter entered that San Francisco holy place without experiencing supernal love and tear laden emotion of devotion as in my pilgrimage to the Assisi Porziuncola.

An Unforgettable Experience at the Church of San Damiano

Church of San Damiano

Church of San Damiano


Biographers of Saint Francis all agree that he had a transformative experience in an old and semi-abandoned church just below Assisi – the Church of San Damiano. 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 ‘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, including the Porziuncola.

While repairing San Damiano, Francis often sang songs which spontaneously came to him. And he thereby attracted neighboring farmers and other visitors, presciently telling them that this ruined church would some day become a holy place attracting servants of God. And it did. As Francis predicted it was here that his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founded Poor Ladies of San Damiano a female order and lived a cloistered life dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty.

Though Saint Francis took literally Jesus’ mystical message from the San Damiano crucifix, its true meaning proved metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his order had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church from its then apparent corruption by worldly wealth.

Thus, as a pilgrim honoring Saint Francis, one of my most important planned destinations was the Church at San Damiano. At the Ananda Center I was urged to visit San Damiano for early morning mass then being celebrated by Franciscan Friars with beautiful ecclesiastic chanting. In following that advice, I was blessed with one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of this lifetime.

Here is what happened.

My drive from the Ananda Center to San Damiano proved extraordinary. It was a sunny and beautiful spring morning, with azure blue sky and small white cumulous clouds. On turning off onto the quiet country road leading to my destination, the verdant landscape was ethereally beautiful – abounding with gorgeous blooming wild flowers. As I beheld this beauty it seemed as if I was enjoying a waking dream of being in heaven on earth. And again it invoked that sweet feeling of déjà vu which followed my first vista of the Assisi environs.

Thus, I arrived at the San Damiano chapel already in a somewhat ‘altered’ state of awareness, just as mass was about to begin. At the chapel portal I was surprised to see that the entire small sanctuary was already filled with people, and that I could not observe any remaining place to sit. So, as the chanting began, I stood at the chapel entry and began weeping with deep emotion of devotion. On observing me crying there, some compassionate worshippers squeezed together to make space for me to sit down.

Thereupon I sat down and continued crying with even greater emotional intensity. That is all I can remember of the mass.

Spontaneously, I went into a very deep state of meditation and lost all consciousness of what was happening. I don’t recall how long I was in that state. But when I awakened from it, there was not a soul in sight. I was seated all alone in the San Damiano chapel still in an ‘altered state of awareness’ and gazing at its painted wooden crucifix. * [see footnote].

Thereupon, a ‘silent voice’ from the crucifix said to me: “Ritorna a me!” – a message in Italian which I did not immediately understand.

For a while, my mind remained silent and my body remained still. When I finally reawakened to ‘normal’ body consciousness, I urgently needed to use a toilet. So I got up and left the chapel to find one.

But still there was not a soul in sight from whom I could get directions. So I wandered the empty corridors until soon seeing what appeared to be public rest rooms. But there were no signs with international gender symbols identifying them. Instead there were different Italian words on each door. But I couldn’t translate either of them. So, after momentary reflection, impelled by an urgent ‘call of Nature’ I entered what I guessed to be the men’s room. But I guessed wrong. Embarrassed, I made a quick exit, and used the other bathroom.

I left San Damiano wondering why God had addressed me in Italian, when I was so ignorant of that language that I couldn’t even find the men’s room.

Of course I soon learned – and will never forget – that “Ritorna a me!” meant “Return to me!” And I took it as a Divine message. Since then I have come to realize that, knowingly or unknowingly, every embodied human soul longs to return to its Divine Source. But that virtually all of us, including Ron, need frequent reminders of that eternal Truth.

Thus, I recall my extraordinary experience at San Damiano as such a reminder.

* This crucifix was an exact replica of the original crucifix worshipped by Saint Francis and Santa Clara, which for preservation had been previously removed to the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Assisi.


Excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany

Mount La Verna Sanctuary

Mount La Verna Sanctuary


Notwithstanding my marvelous experiences of Saint Francis in and around Assisi, there remained on my pilgrimage itinerary an important place outside Assisi, Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ. And also there remained for me great curiosity and a desire to solve the mystery of why – as a secular Jewish lawyer ignorant of Christian saints – I had developed a deep inner rapport with and love for Saint Francis, even before I had met my beloved Hindu Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas.

Before my midlife spiritual awakening, I had no inner visions and rarely remembered dreams. And even if I remembered them they were colorless and commonplace. But soon after my rebirth experience I had two repetitive extraordinary and mysterious visions or vivid dreams unlike any prior inner experience.

Twice, in semi-somnambulant states, I clearly perceived – like a slow motion ‘inner technicolor movie’ – a scene which I was viewing from a high aperture or window in a medieval building. * [see footnote]
I could not see any person at the aperture, but only experienced my consciousness being there and looking out. Below me were monks or friars clothed in simple robes or habits in a verdant open space midst trees surrounding the medieval structure from which ‘I’ was viewing them. Especially noteworthy was the extraordinary etherial light around that scene, which I immediately associated with Tuscany, the Italian state just North of Umbria, where I had visited in 1955.

So in 1992 I was anxious to visit Mount La Verna in Tuscany not only because Francis had his ultimate spiritual experience there, but also because of curiosity about those mysterious visions. However, because of my ignorance of the Italian language I was reluctant to journey alone from Umbria to La Verna. Then, synchronistically, a friendly multi-lingual Ananda center staff member familiar with La Verna and intermediate sites visited by Saint Francis compassionately offered to be my driver and tour guide for a full day’s excursion to those places.

The entire excursion proved a memorable experience in my already wonderful visit to Italy. With great interest, I saw various places known to Saint Francis. For example, we stopped at the town of Gubbio, where the saint is still venerated for legendarily confronting and taming a fierce wolf which was attacking townspeople and their livestock.

But for me our visit to the Mount Laverna sanctuary in the Tuscan Appenines proved the highpoint of our journey. Upon our arrival at La Verna, I immediately intuited – as we observed the grounds and structures there – that La Verna was the place in Tuscany which had appeared in my mysterious inner movie visions eighteen years earlier. Then, I meditated in a wooded area where, with renewed déjà vu, I again felt the supernally sweet presence of Saint Francis. As we departed from that lovely place, I felt great gratitude for our visit there, yet with continuing curiosity about the visions which had long preceded the visit.

Though I have ever since strongly felt that La Verna was the place which appeared in those early visions, their meaning remains an unsolved mystery. Perhaps in another lifetime I was at that place, when or after it was visited by Saint Francis. But I don’t know. And it’s probably not important that I know.

The Buddha taught that we should avert speculation which will not lead to edification. And speculation about imagined other life times can perhaps detract from fulfillment in this lifetime.

*I am describing these visions from memory, because I have not yet found any contemporaneous notes from over thirty years ago. After experiencing these visions I began regarding similar ‘inner movies’ as glimpses of other lifetimes.


Conclusion

My experiences of communion with Saint Francis of Assisi in places where he lovingly lived eight hundred years ago were memorably inspiring reminders of our human potential for humbly living a life of eternal love, even under difficult external circumstances. They strongly reinforced my continuing view of that great saint as an archetype to be emulated.

For an experience of the inspiring ambience bequeathed to us by Franceso’s life of love and humility, I highly recommend your viewing “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”, a 1972 film, masterfully directed by Franco Zeffirelli.  Based on the life and legend of Saint Francis of Assisi, this two hour film is exceptionally beautiful and inspiring.  You might be able to view and/or download it at this link:

http://veehd.com/video/4502272_Brother-Sun-Sister-Moon-1972

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Experiencing Unforgettable Divine “Shakti” ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Kundalini is the cosmic power in individual bodies.
It is not a material force like electricity, magnetism, centripetal or centrifugal force.
It is a spiritual potential, Shakti, or cosmic power.
In reality it has no form.”
~ Sri Swami Sivananda

 

i Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Introduction

After my mid-life awakening I began having previously unknown subtle energy perceptions from which I learned that my experiences of “reality” varied with varying states of physical vitality and subtle consciousness. [See eg http://sillysutras.com/extraordinary-energy-experiences-rons-memoirs/]

Following shaktipat initiation from my beloved Guruji – Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas – I learned that many of my new subtle energy perceptions were experiences of what Hindus call “shakti”. Since those memorable subtle energy experiences have often related to people from or places in India, in describing them here I use the Sanskrit word “shakti””. But first I’ll tell you what I mean by “shakti”, regardless of other possible definitions, since other cultures have other words to define such subtle energy.

Here “shakti” means universal consciousness manifesting as primordial life force – or subtlest vital energy. In the human body it is often called “Kundalini” or “Kundalini-Shakti”. However, as used here “shakti” life force is not confined to the human body – but is omnipresent in this ever impermanent space/time reality.

Guruji’s Shakti 

On meeting Guruji, I was immediately impressed with his extraordinarily powerful emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”. And I learned that it was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical presence. Moreover, I learned that Guruji not only emanated intense shakti but that he was one of those rare yogis who could intentionally transfer it to others not only by touch, gaze, or mantra sound, but also by thought. Thus on occasion I experienced Guruji’s shakti when not in his physical proximity. And I have experienced intense shakti emanating from Guruji’s body even when it was very weak.

While Guruji stayed at my apartment in 1980 just before returning to India, his body was exceptionally weak and his physical vitality exhausted. He was so weak that he had to be carried out of my apartment to the vehicle bringing him to the SFO International airport. But his cosmic shakti energy was as strong as ever. Afterwards, I soon discovered it was so intense that even non-animate objects touched by Guruji had become imbued with it.

While at my apartment Guruji slept at night on a large mattress brought here from the Soquel ashram. During days he often sat on a living room sofa looking out at the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. A day or two after his departure I helped carry Guruji’s mattress out of my twelfth floor apartment, via elevator to a devotee’s van parked in the basement garage to be returned to the ashram. After only a few minutes of clutching Guruji’s mattress, I became tremendously “enshakticated” – intoxicated merely by proximity to Guruji’s cosmic life-force which had amazingly permeated the mattress, rather than by ingesting some inebriating or hallucinogenic substance.

After that amazing experience with the mattress, I realized that my living room sofa where Guruji had sat had been transformed to be a holy relic imbued with his shakti. So I made it an altar. Afterwards for over thirty years I worshiped, prayed, cried and meditated at that altar, and no one sat on it. But sensitive guests and I felt Guruji’s holy energy still radiating from it.

Ron Near Sofa Altar

Ron Near Sofa Altar


In 1978 I attended Guruji’s San Francisco lectures on “Death, Dying and Beyond”, in which he told of a 1971 death experience, which foreshadowed his later coming to the United States to help people here.* [See footnote]

From those talks, I learned that even when Guruji’s physical body was apparently lifeless it continued to emit such extraordinarily intense shakti that several people had been rendered unconscious by it on trying to revive Guruji. So on returning to his body, Guruji had to revive them.


More Shakti Stories

Elsewhere I’ll tell you about memorable encounters with Guruji in India and after his 1994 “mahasamadhi” further showing that Guruji’s extraordinary emanation of cosmic life-force “shakti”, was independent of his physical vitality, and even his physical survival.

Especially during and since my 1982 “trip of a lifetime” spiritual pilgrimage to India, I have been blessed with many more “enshakticating” experiences, not only with Guruji but with other holy people and places, which have confirmed the transcendent power of cosmic life-force shakti. I don’t recall all of those numerous experiences. But I will recount a few which were most memorable.

Darshan of Anandamayi Ma

sri-anandamayi-ma_dNmJX_1359374288

Sri Anandamayi Ma


On arriving in India in 1982 (four years after receiving shaktipat) I still knew very little about Indian spiritual culture and its many saintly beings, other than my beloved Guruji. But during the marvelous guided pilgrimage tour with Sant Keshavadas I had numerous unforgettable experiences from which which I learned much.

One of the most amazing of such experiences happened near Sri Anandamayi Ma (“Blissful Mother”) – perhaps the best known Indian woman saint of the 20th century. Despite her prominence I hadn’t heard about this saint before this experience. But since then I can’t forget her.

Though in February 1982 Anandamayi Ma was very feeble and ill, and just a few months from her August 27, 1982 mahasamadhi, she agreed to give darshan to our group of spiritual pilgrims at her home in the Indian holy City of Haridwar by the Ganges. As our tour van approached her residence in the Kanikhal district of Haridwar I began to experience intense shakti life-force energy even before we reached her house. It seemed as if her shakti had permeated the whole neighborhood. When we arrived at the saint’s residence we were obliged as a large group to remain outdoors, awaiting her appearance.

Finally we were granted her darshan – viz. reverent sight of the divine mother of bliss. Like Guruji on his departure from my apartment, Anandamayi Ma’s physical body was so weak and infirm that she had to be carried out and held by a devotee while she bestowed her eternal blessings upon us. Yet her emanation of indescribably intense shakti was totally independent of her lack of physical vitality in a sick and painful body.

As a Divine Being who was temporarily inhabiting a then decrepit physical form, Anandamayi Ma was in no way self-identifying with that form, but only with her true nature – SatChitAnanda – Eternal Truth Existence and Bliss. From birth she had not identified with her physical body – but only with her eternal spirit.

A description of her extraordinary state of being can be found in Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”, chapter 45. There Yogananda recounts his visit with this extraordinary woman saint.

Reluctantly responding to Yogananda’s persistent questioning about her life story, she replied:

“Father, there is little to tell.”… “My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, ‘I was the same.’ As a little girl, ‘I was the same.’ I grew into womanhood, but still ‘I was the same.’ ….And, Father, in front of you now, ‘I am the same.’ Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, ‘I shall be the same.’”


Thus, notwithstanding her sick and painful temporary earth body, this saintly being continued to identify as, and to experience and emanate Divine bliss. And those of us blessed to be near her were unforgettably enveloped and blessed by that transcendent shakti life-force energy which she radiated. Never in this realm do I recall being enveloped by more intense Divine shakti than that which I then experienced.

Déjà vu at Dakshineshwar

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Another unforgettable Indian pilgrimage shakti experience happened at Dakshineshwar, the long-time residence outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, famed 19th century Indian holy man and priest of the Kali temple there. From this experience I was reminded that Divine shakti is not dependent on physical presence of its source.

Before visiting Dakshineshwar I knew nothing about Shri Ramakrishna, nor of his spiritual consort ‘Holy Mother’ Sarada Devi. As we entered the Kali temple enclave our spiritual tour leader and guide, Sant Keshadavadas, briefly told the tour group about how Ramakrishna had become “enlightened” by unrelentingly propitiating the Divine Mother as Kali, the temple deity, and ultimately threatening suicide if She did not grant him her darshan. This was the first time I’d heard that story.

Nor was I yet aware that Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s chief disciple, had often visited him at Dakshineshwar; or that, touched and blessed by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda attained highest spiritual states, became an Indian national hero and first brought Vedantic wisdom to widespread Western audiences. Nor had I yet learned that Vivekananda was very important to my beloved Guruji. ** [see footnote]

The Kali temple was closed to visitors when our group arrived. And we had limited time scheduled there. But for a while we were able to walk around the vast temple enclave and its buildings. In one of those buildings I entered a room where for many years Ramakrishna had slept and given darshan to numerous visiting devotees, including Vivekananda.

Though until then I’d known nothing about Ramakrishna, on entering Ramakrishna’s room I experienced his shakti energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu. Though almost one hundred years had passed since Ramakrishna’s August 1886 mahasamadhi, his marvelous life-force shakti still pervaded that holy place.

Mysteriously, that room felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever. Other tour companions walked in and out of that room. But I didn’t want to leave. Only with great reluctance as our tour was about to depart Dakshineshwar did I exit that place, and its unforgettably familiar shakti.

Because of that mysterious harmony and familiarity I became intensely curious about Shri Ramakrishna, and soon began reading about his life and his wisdom. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna and with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary exemplars of Divine devotion. Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar traits with which I have felt great rapport.

Pilgrimage to Assisi – More Shakti Déjà vu

st-francis-of-assisi

St. Francis of Assisi


Even before meeting Guruji, 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 and great curiosity about this legendary saint. And I began and have ever since continued daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him.

Prior to my pilgrimage to India, I was already so inspired by Saint Francis that I regarded him as an archetype to be emulated. But I was unable to satisfy deep intuitive curiosity about ‘Francesco’ until ten years after that Indian pilgrimage.

Then on 1992 retirement from legal practice, I traveled to India and later to Italy to pay respects to Sri Dhyanyogi and to Saint Francis of Assisi. In Assisi I experienced unforgettable déjà vu, like that experienced at Dakshineshwar. But unlike my brief visit to Dakshineshwar, I spent a week in and around Assisi, with intense and tear-laden emotion of devotion. During that week I had a few of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime, which I will recount elsewhere.

I arrived at the Rome airport on a Spring evening in 1992. After sleeping that night at an airport hotel, the next morning I rented an auto and drove north toward Assisi. Instead of taking the fastest autostrada route, I elected a slower scenic route. After a few hours I came to a sign announcing that I was entering Assisi. Immediately after the sign there was a rightward road bend whereupon I beheld a vista of my intended destination – the beautiful Umbrian town of Assisi, where St. Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life.

Almost immediately thereafter I was obliged to pull off the road, in a turnoff place.

Assisi, Italy

Assisi, Italy


I couldn’t drive further because I began crying spontaneously and intensely, with deep emotion sparked by a mysterious feeling of déjà vu that I had returned to a beloved and familiar place. Only after shedding many tears was I able to resume driving to my destination – the Ananda Spiritual Retreat Center in the Umbrian hills outside Assisi – where I stayed during my pilgrimage there.

The Ananda center had been founded by Swami Kriyananda, a prominent direct disciple of Yogananda, who in Autobiography of a Yogi referred to St. Francis as an “apostle of humility”. So, it seemed an ideal place for me stay as a “born-again Hindu” devotee of St. Francis.

According to Swami Kriyananda:

”St. Francis of Assisi was Paramhansa Yogananda’s “patron saint.” Yogananda had at least two visions of St. Francis that he spoke of — one during a visit to Assisi, Italy in 1936, and another at Mt. Washington that inspired his beautiful poem, “God, God, God.” Yogananda admired the renunciation and simplicity of St. Francis.”


After sleeping my first night at the Ananda center, the next day I drove into Assisi. With continuing déjà vu I walked through medieval streets of that lovely town experiencing a sweet and mysteriously familiar ambience. Then I visited the giant Basilica of Saint Francis, under which the great saint is entombed. Near the crypt containing his remains there were continuing Masses being celebrated consecutively in various languages for pilgrims from places worldwide.

As a secular Jew transformed to “born-again Hindu”, who spoke only English, I had never before participated in a Catholic mass. However, irresistibly I attended several consecutive masses in various languages which I didn’t understand. But my heart knew the pervasive sweet and familiar ambience which I had experienced outside the Basilica, and which had become intense for me near Franceso’s tomb beneath the Basilica. And I was compellingly drawn to it.

Eight hundred years after Saint Francis had walked in that lovely Umbrian town it seemed for me that it was everywhere still pervaded by his sweet life-force shakti; with its emanation being especially intense at the site of his entombed remains. I will recount in another chapter how afterwards I unforgettably experienced that same familiar life-force emanation at other Assisi shrine places.

Conclusion

My experience with these great saints attests to their timeless Divine life force shakti persisting beyond death; that birth and death are virtual while Life is perpetual.


Footnotes

*In a series of San Francisco talks in November, 1978, entitled: “Death, Dying and Beyond” Guruji recounted this experience:

In 1971, during a terrible Gujarati draught and famine, Guruji became extremely sick and exhausted from selflessly helping people and animals. Guruji’s physical body died, and his soul traveled to the heavenly domain of his “Ishta-Devata” Lord Rama – the principal Divine form of his devotional practices. Though Guruji wished to remain forever in Rama’s indescribably loving Presence, he was told that he would have to return to his Earthly body because of his unfulfilled desires to help people, whose images were then shown to Guruji. Rama told him: “So long as there are any desires in your mind, … you must return to fulfill those desires.”

**Referring to his Guru Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda had said in a New York lecture entitled “The Real and the Apparent Man”:
“My whole life has been changed by the touch of one of these divine men.” . . .

Later, after his 1902 mahasamadhi, Vivekananda appeared in subtle vision to Guruji at a pivotal time in Guruji’s sadhana – before his self realization. Vivekananda blessed him, and assured him of spiritual success. Soon thereafter Guruji discovered Vivekananda’s book on Raja Yoga which became of great importance to Guruji’s sadhana.


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Extraordinary Energy Experiences ~ Ron’s Memoirs

As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“The entire physical creation, so awe inspiring to human mentality…
provides only tantalizing hints to the underlying wonders of being.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“The miracle is not to walk on water, but to walk with love on earth,
as if your feet are kissing the ground.
We must remember that our presence alone is a miracle.
We must learn to say ‘Yes’ to the miracles of life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Directly experiencing the multi-dimensionality of manifest reality
helps free the mind and open the heart,
inspiring and encouraging ever new insights,
while raising ever new mysteries.
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings

 

Ron as Franciscan, Halloween 1981

Ron as Franciscan, Halloween 1981


Einstein revolutionized our understanding of physical reality by showing that everything everywhere is endless energy, viz. E=mc2. But rare are those who identify with this pivotal revelation.

Since realizing that my true essence and identity is eternal spirit, beyond form – beyond birth and death, I have been experientially blessed with unforgettable reminders of the ephemerally impermanent and energetic nature of our apparent physical reality, and of its eternal context in cosmic consciousness beyond time and space.

From these experiences I gradually have lost fear of death and have been opened to innumerable new revelatory insights about this magical and mysterious world of form. These experiences have helped me live an ever happier life, as predicted by my beloved Guruji, and have inspired ever new insights and questions concerning our infinite evolutionary potentialities.

Amongst my most noteworthy new experiences have been unprecedented subtle energy perceptions.

Immediately after my spiritual rebirth experience I had very briefly experienced myself as mere lines of energy – like those associated with Chinese acupuncture.

Then my experience of bodily consciousness returned, but never again was it the same as before. Previously perceived bodily boundaries expanded well beyond my skin, and in rare instances even melted or merged into mystery. And I became aware that my bodily self-perceptions constantly varied with varying states of vitality and subtle awareness.

Here are some examples of these new subtle energy sensitivities.

Starting soon after the rebirth experience, at times I have felt the energies of people, creatures and objects visually perceived to be far away. And beyond visual perception I became consciously sensitive to the energies of people and places both in and remote from my physical proximity – their ‘vibes’.

For example, I remember sitting with my then young son Josh in the grandstand at a San Francisco Giants baseball game, almost palpably feeling the energy of each pitched baseball as it left the pitcher’s hand and sped toward the batter. The entire playing field seemed within the ambit of my perceived energy field.

After meditating in my high-rise view apartment, I remember at rare times looking out and feeling the energies of birds flying in the distance. And while walking on a beach by the Bay I sometimes palpably felt the energy fields of people i saw moving at a distance from me.

Once when meditating alone in my apartment and concerned about a grove of Northwest Pacific coast old growth trees then being clear-cut for lumber, I empathetically experienced with endless tears the suffering of those ancient beings.

The foregoing unusual energy experiences seemed to involve supposed subject-object perceptions, viz. Ron aware of various supposedly separate distant forms. But other new energy experiences apparently transcended such supposed subject-object separation.

For example when I was talking in person or by phone with certain people with whom I felt special rapport – like my ‘high energy’ friend Betty Bethards, a spiritual teacher and psychic – I often experienced elevated energy, as if our subtle energy fields had synergistically expanded. And after I met Guruji I was consistently transformed and energetically uplifted when in his physical proximity, irresistibly resonating with his amazingly powerful “shakti” cosmic life-force.

Perhaps my most extraordinary new energy events were subtle energy ‘mergers’ that happened during out of body [OOB] experiences. The first ‘merger’ happened quite synchronistically, soon after my divorce. Just before awakening one work-day morning, I beheld an extremely vivid and large inner image of a blue-eyed blond woman who I’d never before seen.  Quite puzzled I wondered who she was and why she had appeared in my inner vision.   Those questions were soon answered.

A few days later, alone and lonely on a Saturday evening, I searched the SF Chronicle’s weekend event calendar for something to do.   There I learned that a Tibetan bell concert was about to happen in an auditorium not far from my apartment.   Though I then knew nothing about Tibetans, and never before heard Tibetan bells, this concert seemed interesting.  So I made a last-minute decision to attend.

There were no reserved seats, and by the time I arrived the only remaining seats were on a small back balcony far from the stage.
So I sat there waiting for the concert to begin.  After a few moments, I noticed the person already seated immediately to my left.   It was undoubtedly the woman who had appeared in my vision a few days earlier.  She was a yoga teacher with whom I soon had a brief but very important romantic relationship.

Once during that relationship I had the unprecedented experience of leaving my body during physical coition with merger of our subtle bodies above the intertwined physical bodies, which I viewed from above. Apart from that OOB experience, it seemed that our subtle bodies had remained conjoined even when we were physically apart. One week I had a mysterious leg pain not traceable to physical trauma. That weekend I learned that my friend had injured a leg, and that we were simultaneously experiencing the same leg pain.

After we were together physically, I initially experienced amazingly enhanced vital energies. But later because of very stressful life circumstances she became quite devitalized and enervated. Thereupon, she unknowingly began “vamping” my vital energies whenever we were together. When we parted, instead of having amazingly enhanced energies, I became so debilitated that I couldn’t jog or even walk to work as usual. Finally, without vital energy it became impossible for me to continue to be with her. Our relationship ended. It was virtually my last romance before becoming abstinent for the remainder of my adult life – so far.

A few years later I had another memorable OOB merger experience, but this time without any physical intimacy. Here’s what happened.

In October 1981 I was invited to attend an archetypal Halloween costume party in Sausalito, California. Attendees were asked to dress as a personality or image important to them in this lifetime. Never before had I attended an adult costume party. Nor had I ever before thought about any “archetype” important to me.

But on learning that I could borrow a Franciscan monk’s habit from my friend Michael Toms, I decided to attend as Saint Francis of Assisi, with whom I had discovered a deep inner rapport. Dressed as St. Francis, I went to the party alone. It was held in a large old warehouse space where there was live music and an extensive dance floor area. The warehouse was hot, noisy and crowded – not an atmosphere apparently conducive to spiritual experience or elevated awareness. But that’s what happened to me.

I was standing alone on the dance floor when a woman stranger costumed as an angel invited me to dance with her. I gladly accepted. Then she told me that as a spiritual practice she was “toning”, and asked if I would like to “tone” with her as we danced, explaining that while dancing together we could make harmonious tonal sounds.  I hadn’t before heard about toning, and was curious.

So, at her suggestion, we danced and twirled and toned together like Sufis. Soon, while we were thus twirling and toning, I had a memorable OOB experience.

Fleetingly I ‘left my physical body’ and from above the two twirling dancers perceived our subtle bodies merged. This was a revelatory experience for me, because I learned from it the possibility of “tantric” merger without physical union.

After dancing and toning for a short time, we shared contact information. I learned that her name was Mary Saint-Marie, and that she was a visionary artist from Mount Shasta, California. But I did not speak to her about my merger experience. We parted without dancing again. Thereafter, we briefly exchanged correspondence when Mary was considering enrolling in graduate studies at CIIS where I then was Board Chairman. But we never met again for almost thirty years.

In the meanwhile, I wondered why I had such an extraordinary experience with an ‘angelic’ stranger in a crowded, hot and noisy place. Ultimately, I decided it happened because my dancing partner was indeed an extraordinarily elevated being who (then unknown to me) had recently experienced a prolonged period of out of body cosmic Oneness.

As I write, Mary Saint-Marie is still a visionary artist and spiritual guide who shares her rare transcendent perspectives and experiences via inspiring art and spiritual writings, and in work shops and consultations. [See:http://www.marysaintmarie.com/].

Several years following my subtle merger experience with Mary Saint-Marie I had another unforgettable revelatory merger experience even more extraordinary than the first ones.

One night I was awakened from a deep sleep to behold within the face image of an Indian yogi, who looked familiar but who I could not then identify. Thereupon, the yogi merged our subtle fields, and we became ONE. Words cannot describe the orgasmic thrill of that merger. It was for me thrilling beyond any other experience of this lifetime – so far.

For many years after that thrilling glimpse of evolutionary potentiality I wondered about the identity of the benevolent yogi who had bestowed the experience, and why it happened. Finally, through synchronicity, I intuited his identity.

One evening while on-line at my computer I was wondering about the yogi when a familiar portrait appeared in a file I was searching. It was Mahavatar Babaji the legendary timeless saint and root guru of Paramahansa Yogananda’s kriya yoga lineage, who was pictured and described in “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Instantly I intuitively recognized him as the compassionate yogi with whom Ron had been merged.* [See footnote.]

mahavatar-babaji-special-photo

Mahavatar Babaji


I can’t yet say why I was granted these “peek experiences”. Like other blessed experiences, they have helped free my mind from illusory limitations and to open my heart to ever new Divine insights, with ever growing gratitude and faith in our infinite potentiality – in the Mystery of Divinity.

Perhaps they were portents showing that – after eons of endless evolution – we can ultimately experience and realize descent of the supernal on our precious planet, as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo.

And so may it be!

*In February 1982 at the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India, I beheld an ethereal being who was soon identified to me as “Mahavatar Babaji”. I shall recount that story in another memoirs chapter. I believe the Oneness experience with him happened several years after our encounter in India.
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Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death

“And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”
~ Socrates
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, citing Tibetan Book of the Dead.

“Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.”
~ Gautama Buddha

“Normally we do not like to think about death. 
We would rather think about life. Why reflect on death? 
When you start preparing for death you soon realize 
that you must look into your life now… and come to face the truth of your self. 
Death is like a mirror in which the true meaning of life is reflected.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche



In phenomenal polarity reality
the idea of life, implies the idea of death.

All that appears disappears.

So, to live and to know earth-life,
we must experience and know earth-death.

But to Know and to Be that Consciousness
which is eternally aware of both earth-life and earth-death,
is to know that, beyond all appearance and disappearance,

There is no death –
only That which Knows.

So, to truly know Life is to Know Death.

And to truly know death
is to Know that there is no death.



Ron’s audio recitation of Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death

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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]

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, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. 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 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.

After living a life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis suffered a period of protracted illness. During this time, after fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, he decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him. Thereafter, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, and helping the poor. He lived in absolute poverty, dedicating himself to God and patterning his life after the life of Jesus.

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. Francis was praying there when a voice emanating from the painted wooden crucifix instructed him: “Francis, Francis, 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 order had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church from its then apparent corruption by worldly wealth.

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 and named “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.

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.

Near the end of his earthly life, 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, ill, emaciated and racked with pain from the “stigmata” 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 prayer attributed to him, perhaps mistakenly.*

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.

 

*This inspiring 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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Life is For Giving


“For it is in giving that we receive.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
The value of a man resides in what he gives
and not in what he is capable of receiving.

~ Albert Einstein
The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.

~ Lao Tzu
It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.
~ Mother Teresa
“If you wish to experience peace,
provide peace for another.”
~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

Life is for giving, not getting;

For Being, not having.

Love gives and forgives.

Ego gets and forgets.

It is in giving that we receive.

So, let us end our obsession with possession,

And live to give, and to be –

LOVE.



Ron’s audio comments and recitation of Life is For Giving

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Should We Be Seekers?

“Seek and ye shall find.”
Matthew 7:7; Luke 11.9-13
“What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi
“What we are looking for is what is looking.”
- St. Francis of Assisi




Q. Should we be seekers?

A. Knowingly or unknowingly everyone’s a seeker.
Knowingly or unknowingly everyone seeks Self.

But seeking is then,
while Self is NOW.

So, to find Self,
be Self –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of Should We Be Seekers?

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How Shall We Pray?

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
~ Socrates
“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb


praying

HOW SHALL WE PRAY?

Pray for God to do through you –

Not for you.

Pray like Saint Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.”



Ron’s audio recitation of How Shall We Pray
[esplayer url="http://sillysutras.com/wp-content/uploads/How-Shall-We-Pray.mp3" width="200" height="25"]

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A Day of Grace: Rediscovering the Porziuncola ~ a Synchronicity Story


“Every feature of the Porziuncola lifts the heart and mind to God”
~ St. Padre Pio
“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
Remember with gratitude,
Life is beatitude –
Even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
Every time, every place, and
Forever (S)HE will reign!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Saint Francis of Assisi by Lea Bradovich

 


When I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was largely uninformed about religions other than Judaism, and knew virtually nothing about saints. Even though Saint Francis of Assisi was patron saint of my new home, I remained ignorant of his life story until after my profound spiritual opening in 1976.

Then, through a series of synchronistic inner visions and outer events I developed a deep inner rapport with Saint Francis. And his prayer became – and remains – an important part of my daily spiritual practice.

On retirement from law practice in 1992, I made pilgrimages to India and Italy to pay my respects both to my spiritual master Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas and to Saint Francis.

On arriving in Italy in Springtime 1992, I rented a car at the Rome airport and drove northward to the Umbrian town of Assisi, where Francis was born and resided for most of his extraordinary life. As I arrived at the outskirts of Assisi, I immediately experienced a remarkable feeling of déjà vu, and was so overcome with emotion that I had to pull over to the side of the road as I began crying deeply and intensely for a long time.

My subsequent stay in Assisi and excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ – proved magical, with unforgettable spiritual experiences.

One of the most profound of those experiences happened as I visited a tiny frescoed chapel called Porziuncola ["the little portion"]. It had been restored from a ruined condition by Francis and his early followers to become first home of the Franciscan order. Here, Francesco lived, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of an order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

As I entered the Porziuncola at Assisi, I experienced a palpable aura of love and was overcome with emotion, cried deeply and intensely and lost track of time. Ever since then, a memory of that exquisitely simple little chapel and its aura of supernal Love has remained enshrined in my heart. Although I have never since returned that holy Assisi place, which Saint Francis named and loved, my cherished memory of the Porziuncola was recently revived following a surprising and synchronistic ‘holy encounter’ in San Francisco. Here’s what happened.

Since retirement many years ago, it has been my practice to walk almost daily along San Francisco Bay. Most often I walk to the Bay following pedestrian paths beside the Fort Mason Great Meadow, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), our nation’s newest National Park.

Recently, as I arrived at Fort Mason on a beautiful and sunny June morning, I was obliged to detour from my usual path to the Bay. The National Park Service had closed the pedestrian paths around the Great Meadow for repaving. So to reach the Bay I had to walk across the grassy meadow. There I saw a very unusual sight. Perhaps hundreds of children, attended by mostly senior adults, many dressed in white, were gathered in the meadow. Many tents were set up for children’s activities, such as face painting and fortune telling. ‘Sweet music was playing on loud speakers.

I was quite impressed by this charming scene, of sweet children and caring adults, and I sensed an especially loving atmosphere pervading the meadow. Curious, I asked the first chaperone I encountered, “what’s happening?”. A lovely senior lady told me that this was a children’s fair sponsored by the Meher School of Lafayette (a San Francisco suburb) for its students and for children from less affluent San Francisco neighborhoods, who had also been invited.

Inspired by the love I perceived and felt there, I continued walking through the meadow and toward the Bay. After hiking out to the end of San Francisco Municipal Pier, I began returning home. Soon, I noticed an unopened bottle of spring water apparently dropped by a cyclist. I picked up the water bottle, determined to give it to someone at the children’s festival in the Great Meadow.

As I arrived again at the meadow, I was met by a tall friendly (and thirsty) man named Peter, who seemed to be watching out at the perimeter of the children’s gathering. Though we’d never met, he somehow seemed familiar. In greeting me Peter asked, “would you like to know what’s happening?” After I recounted what I already knew about the festival and gladly gave Peter the bottle of spring water, he told me more details of this event.

Peter explained that this gathering was like a mini-Umbrian children’s festival inspired by universal values of Saint Francis of Assisi which are similar to those of the Meher School; and, that periodically the school sponsors a play about the life of Francis performed at various venues, including at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, located in San Francisco’s oldest church in the North Beach district.

I was very surprised when Peter mentioned a national shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi located in San Francisco. Though I’ve lived in San Francisco more than fifty years, I don’t remember ever before hearing about such a national shrine. Moreover as Peter described the shrine, I was amazed to learn that it included an almost exact replica of the Porziuncola at Assisi, recently constructed at the instance of former San Francisco supervisor Angela Alioto.

Peter and I then exchanged stories about our respective springtime visits to Assisi and our heartfelt affinity with Saint Francis. On parting we shared contact information.

A few days later, I received an email invitation from Peter’s friend and colleague, Terry, to tour the San Francisco Porziuncola shrine, which I quickly accepted. Terry, is both music director of the Meher School’s sponsoring non-profit organization, Sufism Reoriented, and a member of the Knights of St. Francis, a volunteer organization which helps safeguard the national shrine.

The tour proved magical for me. With Terry and Peter as guides, I beheld for the first time the San Francisco “Porziuncola Nuova”. Before entering, I noticed carved in Italian on the second marble step a quote from Francesco: “Vi voglio tutti in Paradiso” [“I want you ALL in Paradise”]. On learning what those words meant, I experienced instant heart-felt emotion and tears.

As I entered the sanctuary that emotion deepened, and soon overcome by it I was obliged to sit silently in a pew, just as I did in Assisi. And, as in Assisi, profuse tears flowed. Unable to talk, I sat and cried for a while as Peter compassionately attempted to comfort me. In the San Francisco Porziuncola I didn’t lose track of time as I did in Assisi, and after crying for a while resumed conversation with Terry and Peter.

But I continued feeling so emotional in that sacred space that I was unable to focus on details of the beautiful pictorial art and artifacts around me, which I will observe on another visit.

I did however notice a prominently displayed letter Tau, the last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet which in biblical times closely resembled the letter T. [See below.] The Tau was adopted by Francesco as his own symbol or logo which he painted on the walls and doors of places where he stayed, and used in his writings as his only signature. (Synchronistically, I had a few days earlier been discussing with a friend possible use of a Tau as a logo for The Perennial Wisdom Foundation, the new non-profit corporation which I was then forming.)

Before exiting the “Porziuncola Nuova” I gazed upon and gently touched one of the holiest Franciscan relics in the world, a beautifully displayed rock believed to have been used by Francis as a crude tool in his reconstruction of the Porziuncola.

After departing the shrine, Terry and Peter and I adjourned for lunch in a nearby restaurant, where we shared stories of how Divine Grace has continuously blessed our lives, as it did on that magical day.

And in now reflecting on that wonderful day of rediscovery, I realize that it couldn’t have happened but for my synchronistic detours through the grassy Great Meadow and desire to share a bottle of spring water which I happened to find while walking by the Bay.

It seems that Divine Grace often works through syncronicity, and that the more alert we become to such synchronicity the more it happens. What do you think?

Franciscan Tau



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Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?

“And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.”
~ Socrates
“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama




No matter how we strive,
No body leaves alive.

But we never really die – you see,
Just leave our physicality

To melt and merge with mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.



Ron’s audio recitation of Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?

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