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Compassion

Please Call Me by My True Names
~ Thich Nhat Hahn

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

~ Buddha
“And Jesus said,
‘Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.’”

~ Luke 23:34


Thich Nhat Hanh



Thich Nhat Hahn’s Introduction and Explanation.

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

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

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

And the third person is me.

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

So it is not easy to take sides.

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

Please Call Me by My True Names

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Thich Nhat Hahn


Source.

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

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



Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?

Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“We are all astronauts on a little spaceship called Earth.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“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
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”
~ Bertrand Russell
“Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
~ Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act III, scene II
“When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight.” 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power





Are Fools and Foolishness Scuttling “Spaceship Earth”?
~ Ron’s Questions and Reflections.


On April Fools’ day 2019, I am deeply concerned that our precious planet Earth is being insanely ruled and ruined by fools and foolishness. So this day is for me a time for serious reflection on current crises and perennial problems, rather than merely a day for tolerably frivolous thoughts or behaviors.

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

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

Bucky Fuller and “Spaceship Earth”

Buckminster Fuller



In the mid-1960’s visionary American architect, inventor, and author R. Buckminster Fuller [Bucky] popularized the term “Spaceship Earth” to explain how our precious planet is a single system with its apparent separations inextricably interrelated and interconnected.

Bucky foresaw that to ensure our long-term viability and to avert global catastrophe humanity must wisely and cooperatively inhabit and operate our amazing ‘Spaceship’ – like skilled astronauts.

He said:


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


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

Recent turbulent times

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

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

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

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


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

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


Perhaps each of us has known subliminally that we are participating in a great cosmic hoax about our supposed separate reality and identity.   And perhaps April Fools’ day has been an unknowing spontaneous expression of that subliminal awareness, until now.

Suggested solutions

However current turbulent times require our compassionate courage and wisdom to consciously realize, and nonviolently assert, Humanity’s urgent need to take charge of navigating “Spaceship Earth”.

“We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

And for conscious realization of our true common identity, we need to heed our heart’s wisdom of loving/kindness and compassion, which cannot be imparted to us by others.


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

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

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

“Love is wise; hatred is foolish.

“In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like.

“We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”
~ Bertrand Russell


Conclusion

In this critical age of immense jeopardy and suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are collectively awakening from a long-inculcated illusion of separation from each other and Nature. 

As common ‘crew’ of “Spaceship Earth”, we must awaken to immediately take charge of guiding our precious planet, assuring that it is cooperatively and democratically guided bottom-up by and for compassionate societies, rather than ruled and ruined top-down by and for a few psychopathic billionaires.

May we so “live together as [sisters and] brothers” rather than “perish together as fools.”

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Vernal Equinox 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





Ron’s introduction.

I first learned of Chapter 3:1-8 of the Book of Ecclesiastes on hearing a popular 1960’s folk song written by Pete Seeger called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” quoting the biblical passages verbatim beginning with: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I then sensed the importance of those passages (attributed to King Solomon), but never deeply reflected upon them until after my 1976 midlife spiritual awakening.

Until then, I was largely insensitive to the symbolic importance of time cycles, and I had little inner inclination to celebrate or commemorate new years or new seasons. Only afterwards did I begin learning about importance of astronomical and astrological sciences with increasing appreciation of ancient pre-Christian cultures which recorded time through solar, lunar or lunisolar calendars, such as Persian, Mayan, Islamic, Vedic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Tibetan.

Paradoxically, since my midlife change of life I have become increasingly aware of the importance of Earth life seasons and cycles in time, while realizing that cosmically Albert Einstein was right when he told us: “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; and, that “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”

Thus I have realized and written that “time is how we measure NOW”.

Yet, this posting (on the March 20, 2019, vernal equinox) is sincerely dedicated to inspiring our understanding of how auspicious Earth-life cycles and seasons can help us bless and transform this world, until we ultimately transcend it.

Vernal Equinox Blessings and Opportunities.

The vernal equinox is a traditionally important astronomical event which can mark an especially auspicious new life phase for everyone everywhere, and for all Life on our precious planet.  Especially in Northern climes spring is considered a season for spiritual renewal and rebirth; a time for recognition of our cyclic transition from darkness to light – of both inner and outer illumination. And this can be an especially auspicious time for political progress everywhere on our precious planet.

Thus, as awakening spiritual siblings we can collectively resolve critical interpersonal and international planetary problems, which threaten all Life on our precious planet, and which can be solved only through our awakened awareness of how and why we humans alone have caused these crises.

Whatever our cultural conditioning, or our spiritual, religious or ethical traditions, we can NOW join together in identifying and  symbolically discarding old defilements, so as to continue earth-life with a fresh clean slate – a process exemplified by the ancient vernal equinox New Year tradition of Zoroastrianism, which is observed by millions people worldwide as Nowruz.

Many religious historians believe that Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world-religions, and that it may have influenced humankind, directly and indirectly, more than any other single faith; that it has influenced the major Asian religions, and that many beliefs of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim monotheistic religions were derived from Zoroastrianism. 

Zoroastrianism teaches that Life’s purpose is to renew the world; to help the world progress towards perfection.  And, that Happiness in Life comes to those who work for the happiness of others.

Key Zoroastrian tenets are: 

“Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”; “Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and then all beneficial rewards will come to you”; and “There is only one path and that is the path of Truth.”


Like many Westerners I first learned of the wisdom of the Persian mystical tradition through the poems of the great Persian Sufi mystics Rumi and Hafiz, some of which are posted on SillySutras.com. Rumi’s poetry is so superlatively beautiful and mystically insightful – even when translated from Farsi – that he has been recently called the “most popular poet in America”, over seven centuries since his death.

And just as many Western people keep copies of the bible in their homes, many Persian and Iranian people keep copies of Hafiz’ writings which they consider the pinnacle of Persian literature.  The poems and sayings from Rumi and Hafiz quoted on SillySutras.com are the amongst the most beautiful and deeply insightful postings on the entire website, and I commend them to your attention. See here and here.

If like countless others you are inspired to help the world through infinite opportunities for transformative blessings for everyone everywhere enhanced by this auspicious equinox Earth life cycle, it is important to remember that such blessings are not automatic but depend on our loving thoughts, words and deeds. The principle was succinctly stated by Indian sage Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who reminds us that:

“The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.”

Conclusion.

We are living in extraordinarily turbulent times with immense dangers and opportunities. But we are encouraged by Rumi’s consoling wisdom:

“Do not be sad.
For God sends hope in the darkest moments. 
The heaviest rain comes from the darkest clouds.” 
~ Rumi


May we collectively view what is happening environmentally and politically as disintegration of an old world paradigm that has become painfully and harmfully obsolete, to make way for a more enlightened and elevated new age that can and will bless all life on our precious  planet.

And let us each from our unique perspectives, and with our unique propensities, lovingly ‘raise our sails to the winds of grace’ which will hasten a new golden age of peace on earth and goodwill for all.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


“Turn! Turn! Turn!” – Video.




Dealing With Death and Dying
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Face death to live life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is in dying to ego life,
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But when I grew up it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life. They usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family. And mostly they used euphemistic language to describe death.

Though the mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue, my childhood Jewish and public school education did not encompass that mystery – nor did my non-liberal arts college curriculum.

Both my grandmothers had died before I was born. My paternal grandfather who I hardly knew died while I was quite young and I was not brought to his funeral. Not until later adulthood did I suffer loss of any other dear person or pet, or think much about death.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the physical body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.

Like most other Americans, I had an innate but largely subconscious fear of death, which I discovered during college days in Madison, Wisconsin. While imprudently and unskillfully swimming too far from shore in Lake Mendota, I nearly drowned and unforgettably experienced my usually subconscious fear of death. Fortuitously, in the nick of time, I was sighted and rescued by boaters. For many years thereafter, as a (non-swimming) relatively young and healthy person, I never again consciously confronted or philosophically explored that innate fear of death.

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (on the luckiest day of my life), I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.

Inspired by Guruji, I became religiously transformed from “secular Hebrew” to “Born-again Hindu”. And I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma.

Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, for example, https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/; also https://sillysutras.com/death-afterlife-rebirth-easter-reflections-on-resurrections/)

Ultimately I concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

Consequently, I became ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable (and perhaps imminent) bodily death. But, my detachment about my own demise did not negate my compassionate concern for loss of others – especially dear ones – and my wish for their auspicious transitions. This became evident when at age sixty-one I was, at long last, confronted with my dear father’s last illness and passing.

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

My dear father, Harry, came into this world on December 14, 1904, with a very strong body which served him well and without serious disease or disability until age 88. Then beginning in 1993 he had a series of ailments which proved terminal.

First he suffered an extremely painful and protracted case of herpes shingles for which he was treated with Prednisone, a powerful immune system depressant, which weakened him. Soon after recovering from that affliction, while already debilitated he had an intestinal hernia injury, so painful that he was hospitalized and suffered greatly before and after emergency abdominal surgery. Then he soon developed congestive heart disease with lungs filling with liquid and mucus. And finally he was diagnosed with lung cancer – a terminal disease which he had averted despite being a three pack a day cigarette chain smoker from teen age until age sixty. Amazingly, he had will power to immediately quit smoking cigarettes on publication of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report confirming cigarette carcinogenicity and toxicity.

My Dad had enthusiastically enjoyed his long life, especially after his retirement and move from Chicago to the California Bay Area, near his children. But he was not anxious to prolong that life while he suffered painful terminal disease. Once, when I visited him in the John Muir Hospital, sadly he confided in me: “Ron, they put dogs and cats out of misery, but make people suffer. If Doctor Kevorkian was in this area and not Michigan, he’d be my doctor.”

Though, as a law-abiding “born-again Hindu” I had mixed emotions about euthanasia, I felt great compassion for my father and wanted to do whatever would be spiritually appropriate to mitigate his suffering and assure his most auspicious possible transition. So, I consulted my Brahmin Vedic pundit-astrologer friend Pravin Jani, father of Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma.

Pravinji recommended that I recite certain Sanskrit mantras and that I make two extraordinary charitable donations dedicated to my father: first, that I give to a chosen charity a gift of actual gold – not money; and second, that I purchase and give a holy cow to an Indian ashram. So, with heartfelt compassion for my father, I began reciting the mantras and arranged the unusual donations in his honor.

First, I donated rare American eagle gold coins to New Dimensions Foundation, where I was a Board member. Then, through arrangements by my daughter Jessica who was then living on Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, I acquired and donated to the ashram a holy cow, where it was gratefully received.

“Why” you may ask “is it considered propitious to donate a cow to an Indian ashram?” Because in India cows are are revered as sacred animals by millions of Hindus. Hindus believe that their Divine Avatar Krishna incarnated 5,000 years ago as an enchanting cowherd. He is often described as Bala-Gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” and as Govinda, “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.”

I learned about holy cows during my 1982 sacred pilgrimage to India. One of my most memorable images of that trip, was of stray cows roaming free and obstructing traffic on busy Calcutta streets as our tour bus approached the downtown hotel where we were staying. Later, in the holy city of Rishikesh, I communed with and kissed one of the sacred small cows on the Sivananda, Divine Life Ashram.

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


Many Indian ashrams and rural Indian families have at least one dairy cow, using it for milk, curds, butter, ghee and dung as fuel for pujas (ritual ceremonies). Thus, the cow remains a protected animal in Hinduism today, revered by most Hindus, who do not eat beef.

When I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram in 1992, the ashram had one cow. It’s limited dairy products were used mostly for feeding Ammachi and some swamis, but were insufficient to supply other ashram residents. However, with special dispensation, for a few days Jessica obtained for me one morning cup of curd (yoghurt) which helped heal the severe intestinal upset with which had I arrived at the ashram, suffering food poisoning from a Brahmin wedding feast in Ahmedabad. So the following year I was especially happy to repay that ashram cow’s blessing by donating another sacred cow to be its companion.

Apparently my bovine and gold donations and prayers did not prolong my father’s life. But I have faith that they helped his transition to a heavenly afterlife. When it became evident that Dad’s days here were numbered, at his request he was released from hospital to hospice care at home in March 1994.

To help, I started sleeping at my parents’ Walnut Creek apartment. On the night of March 10, 1994, sensing that Dad’s death was imminent, I stayed awake reciting Sanskrit mantras, especially a mantra recommended by Guruji for auspicious transitions of those destined to die. As I fervently recited mantras, I felt enhanced subtle energies and entered a clairsentient state. Then, though Dad was sleeping in another room, I felt the departure of his spirit. The next morning he was gone, and I helped my mother with required post-death arrangements.

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

That night, exhausted by the stress of prior days, I returned to San Francisco where I slept soundly in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Just before awakening, and while I was in a semi-sleep state, my father fleetingly appeared in a vivid inner vision. He looked as he did during the prime of his life, rather than as a debilitated old man. He assured me he was fine and then disappeared. When I reported that sighting to Indian friends, they informed me that Dad had died on Maha Shivaratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) considered the most auspicious holy night of the year by millions of Hindus.

Soon afterwards I received another extraordinary assurance of Dad’s favorable transition as I was driving to Shri Anandi Ma’s home in Antioch for a weekend meditation program. En route, I had picked up as passengers Anandi Ma’s parents and brother Umesh at their Berkeley apartment. Like his revered sister, Umesh then spent many hours daily in deep meditation often communing with Guruji’s ishta devata, Hindu monkey-God Lord Hanuman, considered an incarnation of Shiva.

As we traveled to Antioch, Umesh said to me: “Ron, I have a message for you from Hanumanji.” With extreme curiosity, I asked about that message. Whereupon, Umesh replied: “Hanumanji says, don’t worry about your father, we’re taking care of him.”

Six months later, on August 29, 1994, Guruji took mahasamadhi at age one hundred sixteen, and joined the heavenly host caring for my father and countless others. So, heeding Hanumanji’s assurance, I’m not worrying about my father. Instead, as I too approach the end of this precious lifetime, it is my heartfelt aspiration to help through self-purification and compassion not only family dear ones but all other suffering sentient beings with whom we remain inseparably connected.

True Communication

“Follow your heart,
even if it contradicts my words”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“It is as though he listened
and such listening as his
enfolds us in a silence
In which at last
We begin to hear
What we are meant to be.”

~ Lao-Tzu
“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





Ron’s Introduction and Explanation of “True Communication”

In our space/time world everything is energy emanating from non-dual universal consciousness – the matrix and essence of all Life – so that the more expanded and harmonious with Nature our subtle energy fields, the greater our capacities to communicate consciously. Even without words or thoughts we can powerfully communicate emotions through tears, smiles, music, and other arts. And, however it is shared, LOVE is a ‘contagious’ blessing.

Only after my mid-life spiritual awakening, did I consciously begin experiencing previously unknown subtle energies. Thereby, I learned about human capacities to intuitively impart, receive or exchange subtle information with other beings and other life-forms and even with seemingly inanimate objects like like plants, foods and manufactured objects – like my ’76 Volvo ‘lemon’ blessed to run well by my Guruji.

Thus many people communicate well with plants, pets and other conscious creatures. In 1981, I even experienced an unforgettable magical friendship with a sea gull which repeatedly visited me at my 12th floor high-rise apartment, at times when I was feeling lonely.

St. Francis of Assisi was a famous exemplar of such communications whose legendary exchanges with birds and animals were based on his constant heartfelt harmony and communion with all of Nature.

The above quotations, with these and following comments, quotes, poem, and video explain and illustrate how “True Communication” happens. May they help us become ever better communicators, harmonious with Nature.

And so may it be!


“True Communication”

True communication is neither verbal nor mental –

But transcendental.

True communication is communion –

Heart to Heart.



Ron’s audio recitation of “True Communication”

Listen to



Ron’s Commentary and Dedication of “True Communication”

Dear Friends,

In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.

Have you ever considered the crucial importance of successfully communicating with other beings and life forms? Harmonious communication – rational or emotional, verbal or non-verbal – can avert or solve many earth life challenges or problems.

Since my mid-life spiritual awakening, I’ve learned that our abilities to communicate expand as our “human consciousness” expands.

Einstein revealed that in this quantum ‘reality’ everything is energy in a non-dual quantum field. He said:

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”
“There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter, for the [quantum] field is the only reality.”
~ Albert Einstein


Our energetic ‘reality’ is described by Eckhart Tolle as:

“All things are vibrating energy fields in ceaseless motion. ….
What we perceive as physical matter
is energy vibrating (moving) at a particular range of frequencies.
Thoughts consist of the same energy
vibrating at a higher frequency than matter,
which is why they cannot be seen or touched.
Thoughts have their own range of frequencies,
with negative thoughts at the lower end of the scale
and positive thoughts at the higher.”
~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth


From a quantum perspective all beings and life-forms are vibrating vortices of universal awareness – each ‘receiving’ and ‘broadcasting’ energy from a unique ‘ID’ wave-length in Nature’s infinite quantum field of Cosmic Consciousness. As ‘broadcasters’ and ‘receivers’ we can expand and enhance our abilities to harmoniously communicate, by elevating, widening and focusing our vibratory consciousness fields and frequencies – viz. our energetic identities.

And the higher, subtler and more focused our energy emanations, the more we can intuitively tune-in to Nature; the more we can thereby become sensitive to our magnificently alive environment with its miraculous multiplicity of conscious life-forms.

Einstein suggests that

“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.”


As evidenced by indigenous people everywhere, our human species once shared such an intuitive sensitivity with all other sentient life-forms. But gradually we lost our conscious connection with Nature as we became less nomadic and more agrarian or industrialized; less intuitive and more egocentric as we more and more self-identified with our limited thoughts and illusory perceptions.

Thanks to Albert Einstein, Max Planck and many other great non-materialistic scientists we are again learning scientifically how there is a cosmic web of life connecting everything and everyone in Nature from the greatest galaxies to the tiniest sub-atomic particles; that we are each an integral, inter-connected and interdependent part of Nature’s web of life – not separate from it; that as Einstein observed:

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


And through meditation, concentration and other mind-stilling methods we are again expanding “human consciousness” and human sensitivity to Nature’s magnificent beauty and harmony. So more and more we are able to share universal awareness and intuitive communion and empathy with all life on our precious planet.

The foregoing brief poem reminds us that “true communication” is neither verbal nor mental, but transcendental.

And embedded below is a highly recommended and fascinating thirteen minute viral video documentary film excerpt about amazing pacification of a vicious black panther by Anna Breytenbach an extraordinary animal communicator from coastal South Africa, who received advanced training through the Assisi International Animal Institute in California, which fosters inter-species animal communications.

Today’s writings and video are offered to encourage our deep reflection and ever expanding insight into the true nature of space/time energy “reality” beyond our limited superficial perceptions. Thereby, may it help us lovingly “widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


The incredible story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit
– Anna Breytenbach, “animal communicator”:





Solstice Salutations and Invocations For a Peaceful and Happy New Age

“One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it or not: what is the purpose of life? From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affects this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self.
Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self. Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self. The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Ramana Maharshi





Solstice Salutations and Invocations For a Peaceful and Happy New Age

Dear Friends,

With a new winter solstice cycle of ever increasing sunlight, let us envision the dawning of a new age of peace, compassion, and joy everywhere on our precious planet.

May we thereby rededicate ourselves to the Eternal Light of LOVE within and beyond everyone and everything on Earth; to THAT universal spirit of light, love, harmony and happiness, which is the unseen Source of the world we see.  
 

And as we share season’s greetings and envision planetary peace and joy, may we be infused with illumination and inspiration for harmoniously healing our precious planet and all its life-forms by these perennial wisdom words about happiness:

Perennial Wisdom Words About Happiness:

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,
the whole aim and end of human existence”
~ Aristotle

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”
~ Dalai Lama

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.
That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not,
whether one believes in this religion or that religion,
we all are seeking something better in life.
So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”
~ Dalai Lama

“True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away.
Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably.
Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only.
Find your real Self and all else will come with it.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.
~ Ramana Maharshi

“Seek first the kingdom of heaven,
which is within.”
~ Matthew 6:33; Luke 17:20-21

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
~ Buddha

Happiness comes when your work and words
are of benefit to yourself and others.
~ Buddha

“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.”
“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

“Find ecstasy in life;
the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
~ Emily Dickinson

“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.
Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,
go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.
Think of the beauty that again and again
discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”
~ Anne Frank

“The root of joy is gratefulness…

We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands.

For it is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
~ Buddha

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

“Happiness does not depend on how the furniture is arranged –
it depends on how I arrange my mind.”
“When you change the way you look at things,
the things you look at change.”
“Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy,
but this is not accurate.
You make yourself unhappy.”
~ Wayne Dyer

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
~ Dalai Lama

“Cultivate compassion; harvest happiness.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul;
one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
~ Richard Wagner

“I am happy even before I have a reason.”
~ Hafiz

“The superior man is always happy.”
~ Confucius

“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu

“By letting it go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let it go.
But when you try and try,
the world is beyond the winning.”
~ Lao Tzu

“What is the worth of a happiness for which you must strive and work?
Real happiness is spontaneous and effortless.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”
~ William Blake

“Always be joyful. That is the only truly saintly state.”
~ Teresa of Avila

“Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service,
and have a definite object in life
outside themselves and their personal happiness”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing
Returns to make you glad.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination”
~ Mark Twain

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
it only saps today of its joy.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

“Some cause happiness wherever they go;
others whenever they go.”
~ Oscar Wild


Closing Invocations:

May we consciously and cooperatively participate together in co-creating an ever better world – Happy, Harmonious and Peaceful – as we intend and envision it to be.

May we so become infused channels of Light and Love for everyone and everything everywhere – on the Solstice Holidays and Always!

May everyone everywhere be happy!

And so may it be!

Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

“Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
~ Rumi
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.
I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends
and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that.
That’s what’s insane about it.”
~ John Lennon 6/6/68
“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”

~ Dalai Lama (From “Humanity and Ecology”)
“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
~ Luke 23: 34
“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner – Sutra Sayings
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
~ Buddha


Dalai Lama


Is the world being ruled and ruined by psychopaths?

Introduction

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why there is so much suffering in our world; why we are facing extraordinary ecological, financial, international and interpersonal crises so serious that they cause misery for millions and threaten all life on our precious planet?

Is is possible that these crises have been precipitated by sociopathic world “leaders” – obscenely privileged corporate, political and religious oligarchs – who without apparent remorse amorally acquire and misuse power, and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs; people so insane that they are unjustly and brutally harming countless people and creatures, and myopically scuttling Spaceship Earth, destroying the life support systems which sustain us?

As more and more studies emerge demonstrating the corrosive effect of psychopathy on governments and corporations, researchers have begun to explore how our society seems to have been afflictively molded in the psychopaths’ image.

One of these psychopathy researchers, Canadian author Stefan Verstappen, believes that we live in societies shaped and ruled by psychopaths – people in positions of great corporate and political power who without conscience, empathy or remorse, act to promote their delusionally perceived self interests, amorally and often violently.

Verstappen says that psychopaths often attain positions of power because, unlike the vast majority of people, they don’t play by the rules and have no qualms about cheating, lying or doing anything to anyone that gets them what they want.

Here are two recommended You Tube videos of Verstappen explaining his theories about psychopaths.


(15 minutes)


(38 minutes)

Ron’s comments:

From a limited earthly perspective, it appears that psychopaths do indeed rule the world (as Verstappen contends). As an octogenarian I have long wondered about psychopaths in power, especially because the twentieth century was blighted by over 300 million democides – government instigated or perpetrated killings of mostly non-combatant civilians – far more than in any previous century.

In my student days I learned of maniacs like Hitler in Nazi Germany, Mao in Communist China, Stalin in the U.S.S.R., Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and numerous others who were then bestially causing untold murders and misery.

Naively, I then believed that my country the USA, and its Western allies, represented only virtues of good and democratic decency, and that after the demise of World War II era psychopaths, the world would be restored to an age of peace and prosperity. But I was wrong.

Officially instigated and perpetrated amoral wars and killings – many directly or indirectly attributable to the US empire and its allies – have continued. Complicit with official governmental sanctions and support, international corporate oligarchs are insanely developing and selling weapons of mass destruction more than capable of destroying all life on earth, and insidiously and unsustainably pillaging and poisoning our precious planet’s ecology. Such insanity is impoverishing the vast majority of humankind, and pervasively harming human health, with countless chemically, genetically and radiologically polluting products – even including foods, drinks and pharmaceuticals.

After the traumatically shocking 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the soon ensuing deranged Viet Nam war devastation, I became aware of the prescience of President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 valedictory caution against dominance of the “military-industrial complex” with “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power”.

Despite Eisenhower’s warning, it seems now apparent that ruling power has indeed been misappropriated by the military-industrial complex which, in complicity with billionaire financial, political and corporate sociopaths, is ruling and ruining the world.

As Hitler in Nazi Germany molded an insane society to support his pathological pretensions and plans, since 9/11/2001 sociopathic Western leaders have contrived and fomented alleged “terrorist” enemies as a fraudulent pretense to create an insane society which has fearfully condoned or acquiesced in outrageously immoral wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and deranged plans for attacking Iran and other Moslem countries, with radically expanded US military budgets and executive powers, and obscenely enriched entrenched vested interests, all accompanied by serious curtailments of US constitutional protections and civil liberties.

But how can humanity solve this planetary life and death problem of societal insanity and irrational fear fomented by psychopathic authorities? For many years I have been inspired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, one of the world’s wisest incarnate sages, for guidance on how we can evolve beyond the critical problems stemming from governance by sociopaths and psychopaths.

Addressing our ecological crisis His Holiness has said:


“Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. The key point is a call for a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”


Rather than vainly appealing for heartfelt compassion from psychopaths lacking empathy, I optimistically propose that we can solve and transcend current crises by intuitively following our hearts to achieve a spiritual tipping point – a ‘critical mass that will solve our critical mess’. Moreover, we can study and emulate pre-industrial societies that have instinctively lived for millennia in sustainable harmony with Nature.

At present, most psychologists and psychiatrists are devoting research efforts and treatments to individual mental pathologies. Perhaps we need first to address societal pathologies attributable to stress caused by psychopathic and sociopathic authorities complicit with the military-industrial complex. How can people avoid individual psychological problems while they are insanely and unnecessarily subjected to constant societal stresses concerning their health, life necessities and human rights?

Recently inaugurated at the Dalai Lama’s suggestion is a “Center For Investigating Healthy Minds”, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, my undergraduate alma mater. Similarly, wouldn’t it be helpful to establish scientific centers for the study of sane societies?

Weren’t there indigenous societies whose peoples lived sane and happy lives by prioritizing sustainable harmony with Nature over it’s unsustainable exploitation, cooperation over competition, respect for prophets over lust for profits, democracy over authoritarianism? Isn’t it crucial that we learn from their experience?

Conclusion

President Eisenhower in 1961 deemed essential “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to prevent “the disastrous rise of misplaced power”. These comments are respectfully offered in furtherance of that goal. May they help inspire “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness” which will promote our heartfelt, sane and nonviolent transcendence of current planetary insanity.



Epilogue, Veterans Day 2018:

November 11, 2018 marks the centenary anniversary of the end of the first World War – “the war to end all wars”. To commemorate this memorable event, ‘leaders’ from 70 nations, including the US empire and its allies, gathered in Paris, France, at the Arc de Triomphe, purportedly to honor the millions who died in that insane conflict. Their ceremony happened precisely 100 years after the 1918 armistice agreement, at the spiritually auspicious 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

But paradoxically many of those ‘leaders’ represented nations which for the past century have continued to perpetrate many more “crimes against peace”, including wars of aggression, the supreme international crime violating international treaties, agreements or assurances recognized and followed by the post WWII Nuremberg Tribunal.

November 11, first became a US federal holiday as “Armistice Day”. But, with no “end to all wars” yet in sight, the US federal holiday morphed from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day”.

Since Donald J.Trump’s 2016 ‘red pill’ campaign and election as 45th US President the world has experienced exceptionally tumultuous times. Many US and world citizens are experiencing and demonstrating considerable fear, anger, hatred and other polarizing negative emotions, rather than “a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness”.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives, we share overriding common needs and aspirations. As humankind we share the same common Cosmic consciousness, the same web of life, the same precious Earth biosphere, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just democratic societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet. Yet until now virtually all of us in varying degrees have been suffering from an illusory sense of separation from each other, from Nature, and from our ONE common spiritual essence.

Although armed conflict is behaviorally as old as humankind, for the first time in our recorded history we are being forced to realize that more wars can trigger a nuclear or ecological catastrophe insanely ending earth life as we have known it. Yet we have gained the previously unprecedented technical capacity to end all human starvation and poverty. And in these ‘red pill’ critical times of immense suffering, yet immense opportunity, we are awakening to our infinitely unlimited human potentiality.

So as we honor and remember all those who have been conscripted or enlisted into military services fighting endless wars, let us urgently and lovingly envisage and intend imminent inception – at long last – of an era with no more war on our precious planet. 


Together let us join in imagining our precious planet cooperatively ruled bottom-up by humble and compassionate societies, rather than top-down by oligarchic or plutocratic billionaire sociopaths or psychopaths.

And as we envision lasting peace, let us be guided by the Dalai Lama’s wisdom that 

“Our lives are conditioned by karma. They are characterized by endless cycles of problems. One problem appears and passes, and soon another one begins.”

“Try to consider as transitory all adverse circumstances and disturbances. Like ripples in a pool, they occur and soon disappear.”

“The essence of all spiritual life is your attitude towards others. Once you have pure and sincere motives all the rest follows.”
~ Dalai Lama – Little Book of Buddhism


And so may 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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