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Posts by Ron Rattner

Is Personal Perfection Possible?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress, driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions. Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.”
~ Saint Augustine
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations
comes nearest to perfection.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.”
~  Kahlil Gibran
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Is Personal Perfection Possible?

Q. Is personal perfection possible?

A. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 aptly observes:

“There are none on Earth so righteous that they never sin.”

Incarnation involves limitation – and fallibility.

We’re here to learn and to evolve,
and evolution toward ‘perfection’ implies imperfection.

So, a perfect person’s not possible.



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”

Dear Friends, 

The forgoing essay and quotations raise an important philosophical question for our consideration, “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”. 

The idea of “perfection” has different meanings for different people.  But, in our world of relativity and duality “perfection” implies “imperfection”.  You can’t have one without the other.  And realizing that all humans are limited or flawed can help us accept others as spiritual siblings – children of the Divine in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness.

Upon mistakenly believing ourselves to be “mortals” separate from each other and Nature, we become subject to the karmic law of cause and effect.  And we are motivated by inevitable karmic sufferings to evolve beyond our supposed duality; beyond our conceptions of separate perfection or imperfection.  Thus we are advancing toward realization that cosmically we are not separate “persons”, but  ONE Eternal Spirit or Infinite Awareness.  

But while we remain caught by karmic law of cause and effect, we can’t ever achieve individual “perfection”. 

Soon after my spiritual awakening I enrolled in a ‘new age’ seminar called “est”, founded by Werner Erhard, a charismatic and controversial former salesman who claimed to be sharing an esoteric epiphany he experienced while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.  As discussed in my  Getting “IT” at est  memoirs chapter, the est training planted significant seeds for my spiritual evolution by presenting some important and intriguing ideas from perennial wisdom teachings, which were then new to me, and which today remain important – like dis-identifying with the “voice in my head” and “accepting the present moment”.  To emphasize the importance of accepting the present moment, the NOW, Werner Erhard taught that everything (but not everyone) is “perfect”.
 
That: 

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not.  As you can see, this universe is perfect.”


Accepting “what is” NOW in the present moment remains for me a core principle for living a happy life, after over forty years of experience and reflection.  And since 1976 and est, I have repeatedly written about the idea of “perfection”, as in the foregoing brief Q and A essay and key quotations. 

In philosophically reflecting and writing on “perfection”, I have concluded that  “All is perfection, but nobody’s perfect”.  And I’ve found that empathetically seeing all humans as limited or flawed helps us experience ever growing happiness.

So this posting is offered to help us identify all humans as spiritual siblings in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness – children of the Divine with whom we are ‘fellow travelers’ on the spiritual path to “perfection”.  
 
And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

Why Do We Suffer? ~ “No pain, no gain.”

“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
~ Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
~ Dalai Lama
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
“All the misery on the planet arises due to a personalized sense of “me” or “us.” That covers up the essence of who you are. When you are unaware of that inner essence, in the end you always create misery. It’s as simple as that. When you don’t know who you are, you create a mind-made self as a substitute for your beautiful divine being and cling to that fearful and needy self. Protecting and enhancing that false sense of self then becomes your primary motivating force.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon;
suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.
Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
~ Buddha
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
~ Osho
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

~ Khalil Gibran
“[I]f the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now.
Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Shakyamuni_Buddha.


Why Do We Suffer?

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

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

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

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


Ron’s Commentary on Why Do We Suffer ~ “No pain, no gain.”

Dear Friends,

Many years ago, as I was being treated for painful left leg injuries by Taoist master and Doctor of Chinese Medicine Sifu Wei Tsuei, I had an unforgettable experience.

During an acupuncture treatment, Sifu suddenly inserted a large metal needle into my left buttock, and I loudly exclaimed in pain, “OUCH!”. Whereupon Sifu responded,


“No pain, no gain!”


Then he quietly continued his treatment, which proved quite helpful.

Since then I have often reflected on the wisdom of Sifu’s words, “No pain, no gain”, and learned they are a popular proverb. With human bodies we experience inevitable physical pain, which can be a crucial catalyst and incentive for spiritual evolution. As stated by another popular Buddhist proverb: 
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”.

Though we may not be free to choose our sometimes painful outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our psychological attitude about those circumstances.

Thus every painful earth life experience which induces an elevated attitude can be a disguised blessing furthering our spiritual evolution, and our ultimate transcendence of psychological suffering. And, the greater such suffering, the greater its potential blessing.

The foregoing important quotations and brief essay help explain why we suffer and how we can transcend psychological suffering. They are spiritual teachings which can help us suffer less, and live ever happier lives. So I urge our deep reflection on them.

Moreover, as mindfully we experience ever less suffering and ever more happiness, it becomes possible for some of us to realize that everything in human life is an enormous blessing. For example, renowned master mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell taught that

“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”
~ Joseph Campbell


Conclusion.

May our growing experiential wisdom, often inspired by mindful suffering, help us – like Joseph Campbell – to ever,

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!


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”

~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“[Our] 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





Introduction.

After a midlife spiritual awakening at age forty three, prayer became essential to my spiritually conscious life process. So my spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following description and explanation of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening.

My history with “prayer”.

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing. But gradually I ceased praying for specific outcomes, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.

Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It is best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for our perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] 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


Becoming “prayer”.

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Self Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny.

Conclusion.

May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward realization of that ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“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
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ 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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Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mohandas K. Gandhi
(October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948)


Introduction

Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, almost one hundred fifty years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.

During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.

Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:

“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”

“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”


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

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer. With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.

“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…

“It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”

“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”

“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”

“Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”

“Nonviolence is not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society. To practice nonviolence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of nonviolence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favored position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life.”

“It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.” (From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)

“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.”

Ahimsa is not the crude thing it has been made to appear. Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its least expression. The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.”

“I do not believe…that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”

“I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.”

“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”

“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”

“What do I think of Western civilization?
I think it would be a very good idea.”


Conclusion

May we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life.  Thereby, like Gandhi, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.  

And so shall it be!

How Shall We Pray?

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
“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
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart.
You may express yourself through the lips;
you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public;
but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…”


~ Mahatma Gandhi
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.”

~ Meister Eckhart
“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


praying

How Shall We Pray?

Q. How Shall We Pray?

A. 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?”

Listen to



Ron’s Comments on “How Shall We Pray?”

Dear Friends,

Do you pray to a divine power?  If so, why?  When? How? 

On perceiving sudden dire emergencies or threats most humans instinctively pray for help, even if they didn’t previously pray, or are atheists.

Many spiritual teachers and aspirants proverbially describe prayer as ‘talking to God’ and meditation, as listening.

Both practices elevate inner awareness and foster silent communion with Self, thereby helping us live happier lives. Moreover, because “everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”, we have infinite potentiality to prayerfully help bless this world, until transcending it.

May the foregoing quotations and “How Shall We Pray?” poem encourage our frequent loving prayers, with faith that they’ll be answered; and that, thereby, as Divine instruments we may help bless our precious planet and all life thereon.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

”Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2




Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

Life is perpetual;
Happiness is optional.

God gives Life eternal.
Humankind makes it sublime or infernal.

Timeless delight,
or endless night:

However we choose it,
we never can lose it.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

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Ron’s commentary on “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why the world seems so crazy? Why billions of people worldwide suffer unnecessarily from wars, poverty, illness, lack of basic life-sustaining necessities? Why even in the richest nation on Earth, suffering is ubiquitous? Why even materially rich people are often depressed, addicted or mentally ill?

Long before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I attributed societal suffering to societal insanity. But only afterwards, did I begin deeply reflecting on root causes of such societal insanity and unhappiness. I began asking many new questions about our true identity and reality. That continuing process of constant questioning has proved immeasurably helpful.

Thereby, I have been blessed with simple spiritual answers to seemingly complicated questions about crazy behaviors in a crazy world; answers which have brought me ever-increasing happiness. Like Dr. Seuss, I’ve discovered that: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”; that seemingly complicated questions about living a happy life often can be resolved with simple answers from elevated levels of inner awareness.

I have found that societal suffering arises from ignorance of our true nature and spiritual self-identity; that we inevitably suffer karmically while seeking happiness through satisfaction of ephemeral worldly desires, because lasting happiness can only be found within; and, that our experience of happiness depends upon our self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as only impermanent mortal bodies and their stories.

So inspired by my beloved Guruji, I’ve shared many SillyStutras writings about happiness, to help us discover within that eternal happiness is our true nature.

The foregoing pithy poem “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional” and preceding quotations emphasize the crucial truth that Life is eternal, though suffering is optional. I hope you’ll reflect upon them.

May these writings help inspire us to experience ever more inner happiness in a seemingly insane world.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Season’s Blessings


“To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ..“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence, but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness, a kind of prison for us. . .Our task must be to free ourselves from this [mental] prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein (edited excisions)

“The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”
~ Albert Einstein






Season’s Blessings

Dear Friends,

Season’s greetings! Happy Earth-life Equinox season!

Following the September 22nd solar equinox we are all collectively sharing a new solar season. Yet as unique beings with unique conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we are each also experiencing different evolutionary life cycle seasons and challenges. (See video embedded below.)


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun (or heaven).”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1


Though we are all ending and beginning new space/time solar/lunar and karmic seasons, we are also reminded by Ecclesiastes that paradoxically and Cosmically “there is nothing new under the sun”. (See Ecclesiastes 1:9 – sometimes attributed to King Solomon)

In this ever changing duality reality we experience time and seasons (with apparent “free will”) while learning from Nature that our true Source and self identity is Reality beyond space and time and “will”, where all that is, was, or will be is NOW – an ultimate Infinite Reality where nothing is new or old or separate.

But as students on the ‘Earth branch of the Great Cosmic University’, while we orbit, rotate, and revolve with Gaia, the Earth Mother that birthed us all, we must harmoniously honor Nature’s blessings and limitations. As stewards of all Life forms on this precious planet we must protect and nurture them – not insanely and unsustainably pillage, plunder and destroy them. We must


“Cherish or Perish.

Co-exist cooperatively, or

Co-expire catastrophically.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


So as we begin new solar, lunar, and karmic seasons, let us resolve to solve potentially catastrophic planetary disharmonies. As earthly spiritual siblings may we help solve critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life forms on our precious planet, through awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone are insanely causing these crises.

Individually and collectively, let us become actively engaged as a global human family to resolve with compassionate solidarity the immense ecological challenges facing us, not just as a matter of morality or ethics but for survival of earth life as we have known it – when the doomsday clock of the bulletin of atomic scientists has been advanced to two minutes to midnight.

With conscious concern about patently imminent dangers of nuclear or ecologic omnicide, let us politically, socially and spiritually act before it is too late.

But before acting let us first mindfully calm our disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind. Rather than vindictively seeking retribution for perceived wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, may we first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable mental habits and disharmonious behaviors.

Thereby with quiet minds and open hearts may we non-violently and non-judgmentally resist injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.

And so may we help bless and transform our lives and our space/time world, until we ultimately transcend it.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” Ecclesiastes 3 – Video + Text.



Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
~ Rumi
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
~ Socrates
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?”  After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
 
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
~ Shankaracharya
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one.  How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life.  It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch





Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”

Introduction.

Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?

Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.

Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.

But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.

From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.

These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”

I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”

Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever. It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]

Historical overview.

Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.

Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.

Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize?   How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?

One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.

In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.

The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.

Conclusion.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.

And so it shall be!


Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking the Ultimate Question”.

Dear Friends,

For millennia, seers, saints and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”; and, to ask persistently the supremely crucial question – “Who am I?”.

But few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennially advised investigation.  

Until mid-life, like most other Westerners, I unthinkingly self-identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Then, following an extraordinary out of body experience, I irresistibly began wondering “Who am I?”.  Finally, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences.  Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth.

Thereafter, I began having numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy experiences, and became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed to sleep. Only then did I begin learning about teachings of Eastern mysticism, including non-duality. 

Afterwards, I synchronistically met my beloved teacher, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable Hindu Guru then 100 years old, from whom I received shaktipat initiation.  Guruji lived until age 116, and has remained my teacher since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994.  After shaktipat initiation, I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.

But I also learned that – unlike  Guruji and other rare Buddha-llke beings – on realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I had not yet become ‘instantly enlightened’.  Rather, that this realization had triggered an evolutionary process of awakened kundalini life-force energies which were manifesting via  spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional experiences [ called kriyas]  and thereby purifying the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.

Ultimately, I realized that this evolutionary kundalini purification process was gradually undoing or eliminating eons of accumulated subtle karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas]  causing unconscious habitual behaviors and emotional patterns, and precluding or inhibiting spontaneously skillful behaviors.   

Soon after this revelatory discovery I declared myself to be an ‘uncertain Undo’ [rather than ‘born-again Hindu’] and began writing whimsical sutras like:


“On the path of undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE.”


Today, over forty years since realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness  (rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences),  I’m still not fully ‘undone’, and ego attrition continues.  But as I continue to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than as physical body there seems to be ever more Ram than Ron in my life. 

Thereby after many years of questioning, I’ve found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology.    And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before.  (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)

Thus, from inner and outer experience, more than ever before I regard “Who Am I?” as a  supremely crucial question to be persistently investigated for those with spiritual aspirations.  So today I have posted the above  important quotations and brief essay.

If ever you have wondered or aspired about spiritual evolution, I encourage your deep consideration of today’s posting.

May it help us live  happier lives by consciously participating in an irresistible evolutionary process which is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ever changing ephemeral energy forms.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Asking Is The Answer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“Ask, and it will be given to you

For every one who asks receives.”

~ Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
~ Albert Einstein
The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



praying


Asking Is The Answer

In asking, we are curious.
In asking, we don’t know.
In asking, we are humble.
In asking, we are ever open to inspiration.

Ever asking,
ever curious,
ever open,
ever humble,
ever unknowing:

This is the answer
to the enigma of the Unknowable,
to the mystery of Divinity –

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Asking is the Answer”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking is the Answer”.

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem was inspired by my ‘aha discovery’ of a mysterious “secret of Life’ – a memorable momentary spiritual experience which is hereafter recounted and explained.

Discovering the ‘secret of life’?.

After my midlife awakening I began experiencing unprecedented spiritual sensitivity to previously unknown subtle energy phenomena. (See https://sillysutras.com/extraordinary-energy-experiences-rons-memoirs/ ).

Soon thereafter, I was blessed with a miraculous ‘aha’ or ‘eureka moment’ which followed a November, 1978, New Dimensions fundraising program at the San Francisco Masonic Auditorium. Highlight of the event (for me) was a talk by prominent spiritual philosopher and teacher, Patricia Sun, who concluded her presentation with extraordinarily powerful spontaneous healing sound emanations. Deeply impacted by those sounds, I arrived home in an altered state of awareness.

Other times when feeling similarly I have experienced prolonged crying. But that night as I got into bed, instead of crying, I unintentionally and spontaneously started emanating very high pitched sounds resonant with Patricia Sun’s sounds. After the sounds subsided, while still in a deep state of exceptionally elevated awareness, I momentarily intuited a mysterious ‘secret of life’.

Whereupon, in a totally dark room, I attempted to scrawl it on a bedside note pad. But on awakening at dawn I couldn’t remember that ‘secret of life’. So eagerly I looked at the scrawled memo for a reminder. But enigmatically the memo merely said: “The question is the answer.” Baffled, I didn’t understand its meaning, but became very curious about deciphering it.

While wondering what spiritual secret of life “the question is the answer” might reveal, I began composing possibly interpretive poems and sutras. “Asking Is The Answer” was the first of those poems. It suggests that asking “is the answer to the enigma of the Unknowable, – the sacred secret of Life”. Perhaps on reading and reflecting on it, you will agree.

Explanation of “the question is the answer”.

Forty years after my supposed ‘secret of life’ insight, I’m still uncertain about interpreting “The question is the answer”. While momentarily transcending ordinary Earthly reality, I may have glimpsed a timeless Truth which could not be expressed in words. Because “to tell the truth, Truth can’t be told”.

In space/time duality reality we can’t ever express ineffable Truth of Reality beyond duality; but only paradoxically point to it.  So in scrawling “The question is the answer” maybe I pointed intuitively to an inexpressible insight.

Since my unique ‘aha’ experience, I’ve often wondered whether to aim for spiritual Truth by constantly questioning, and by answering questions with questions.

For example, if someone asks me “what is God?”, whether a response of “what isn’t God?” can help point them to Truth. Similarly, whether it may be very helpful if we answer a question about “what’s real?” with the question “what’s not real?

Spiritual masters tell us that God is the Essence of everything and everyone, everywhere. Yet, that what we perceive and believe to be “real” is just a persistent illusion, like a mirage.

After long reflection, I believe that sometimes we may reveal instinctive, insightful, and intuitional truths transcending logic by answering spiritual questions with apt questions.

Conclusion.

Though still uncertain about the meaning of my “the question is the answer” insight, I’ve found that questioning “what is”, with constant curiosity, patience and acceptance of uncertainty can be a life enhancing process promoting spiritual evolution. That our reflections on ever unanswerable cosmic questions can help instill life-changing gratitude, awe and wonder about our miraculous causality reality. (See https://sillysutras.com/asking-unanswerable-questions/)

As Albert Einstein observed:

“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”



And constant questioning can imbue in us salutary patience and acceptance of uncertainty, about “what is”:

“Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves.. . .
Live the questions now and, perhaps, without knowing it,
you will live along some day into the answers.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


And so, ever eager to Know, may we gratefully, humbly, and patiently bless all life on our precious planet Earth – “like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born!”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner