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Divinity

Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life

Love Is The Law Of Life:
All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. 
Love is therefore the only law of life.
He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. 
Therefore, love for love’s sake,
because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

~ Swami Vivekananda
“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation,
between earth and moon, between moon and sun.
Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery.
But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
‘Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.’
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
“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]
“But if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will hold no location in place or time; which will be infinite, like the God it will preach; whose Sun shines upon the followers of Krishna or Christ, saints or sinners, alike; which will not be the Brahman or Buddhist, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its Catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms and find a place for every human being … It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognize a divinity in every man or woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be centered in aiding humanity to realize its divine nature.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

 

Swami Vivekananda, January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902 *


Photo Inscription. *In September 1893 in Chicago, USA, Swami Vivekananda reverently autographed this photo with the handwritten inscription:

“One infinite pure and holy –
beyond thought beyond qualities
I bow down to thee”
.


Introduction.

Today we honor Swami Vivekananda, the great 19th century Indian sage and orator, and founder of Western Vedanta Societies, on his forthcoming 158th birthday anniversary.

As principle disciple of Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda first brought universal Indian wisdom to large Western audiences beginning as Indian delegate to the historic 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions, where his opening remarks famously addressed his “Sisters and Brothers of America”, and concluded with this prayerful invocation:

“I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”


[Reenacted excerpts from his Parliament speeches are linked below.]

Thereupon and thereafter Vivekananda eloquently explained to Westerners ancient perennial principles of Hinduism, and why according to Advaita Vedanta philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world of space, time and causality is illusory; that “In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein’s 1905 theory of relativity by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until first explained by Vivekananda soon before Einstein revolutionized Western science.

Vivekananda experientially had realized as impermanent and illusory the appearance of our space, time, causality reality. From his rare level of nondualist consciousness he shared many wise perennial teachings to guide our lives on Earth, including the “Fifteen Laws of Life”, which follow.

Written over a hundred years ago, these wisdom teachings remain relevant worldwide in current critical times.

May they deeply inspire and guide us to help heal the World by realizing and experiencing their fundamental truths.


Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life.

1. Love Is The Law Of Life: All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.

2. It’s Your Outlook That Matters: It is our own mental attitude, which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful; our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.

3. Life is Beautiful: First, believe in this world – that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!

4. It’s The Way You Feel: Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.

5. Set Yourself Free: The moment I have realised God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

6. Don’t Play The Blame Game: Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.

7. Help Others: If money helps a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.

8. Uphold Your Ideals: Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.

9. Listen To Your Soul: You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

10. Be Yourself: The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!

11. Nothing Is Impossible: Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin – to say that you are weak, or others are weak.

12. You Have The Power: All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.

13. Learn Everyday: The goal of mankind is knowledge… now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man ‘knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what man ‘learns’ is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

14. Be Truthful: Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.

15. Think Different: All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.


Ron’s Dedication.

This posting honors both Swami Vivekananda and his renowned Spiritual Master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, whose lives and teachings have been extraordinarily inspirational for countess beings, including me. Additionally it honors my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi, who was also inspired by Vivekananda.

Vivekananda considered Shri Ramakrishna as “higher and nobler than all ordinary” teachers, and attributed all his powers to Ramakrishna, saying:

“All that I am . . is owing to my Master, Shri Ramakrishna, who incarnated and experienced and taught this wonderful unity which underlies everything, having discovered it alike in Hinduism, in Islam, and in Christianity.” [His] “One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.”


Synchronistically, my Guruji Shri Dhyanyogi – who was another one of those rare great beings whose “One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.” – was crucially inspired and helped by Vivekananda. 

The fascinating story of how this happened is told in “This House is on Fire, The Life of Shri Dyanyogi”, pp  61-64, by Shri Anandi Ma.

After fifteen years of solitary wandering in rural India Guruji had a dramatically transformative vision of Vivekanda, who assured Guruji that he would reach his spiritual goal. 

Soon thereafter Guruji discovered and was enthralled by Vivekananda’s teachings published in the book Raja Yoga, which included his apt lectures in the West, and commentaries explaining Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, widely accepted as a foundational Sanskrit text of  Raja Yoga philosophy. 

Guruji continuously read and re-read Vivekandanda’s Raja Yoga book, like a scripture, and ultimately he repeatedly recommended it to his disciples, including me.

Invocation.

May these precious wisdom teachings continue to inspire and guide countless people worldwide in current critical times.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Reenacted audio excerpts from Vivekananda talks at 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions.








“In the world, but not of the world”

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”
~ Romans 12:2 – Paul the Apostle
“To be free in the world, you must be free of the world.

Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

~

Introduction

Dear Friends,

A few years ago, during much controversial communication on internet social networking sites, like Twitter, I spontaneously composed the following poem, which I’ve titled “Retreating from Tweeting”.

It was received while I was sitting alone, with no phone, at the San Francisco Wave Organ.

I’ll explain its significance in comments below. Enjoy!

Ron at Wave Organ
Christmas 12/25/17


Retreating from Tweeting

As the world
trivially twitters, tweets
– and re-tweets,

Ron silently retreats –
from twittering triviality,
to gleaming Reality –
from ephemeral information
to Eternal inspiration.



Ron’s comments and explanation of “Retreating from Tweeting”

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite outdoor places in San Francisco has long been the artistically sculptured “wave organ” on a small SF Bayshore promontory. Through a series of pipes, the wave organ interacts with the tidal waves of the Bay, and transmits their sound waves to listeners at several sculptured stations.

During visits to the wave organ, I’ve often sat on a sculptured granite bench, and mentally retreated from frenetic worldly cares and concerns. There I’ve ‘tuned out’ from soothing wave organ tidal sounds, and ‘tuned in’ to receiving inner inspiration from ‘sounds of silence’.

After regular respites by the Bay, I’ve continued online advocacy about critical Earthly social justice problems, like current covid restrictions. But increasingly I’m able to remain happy, peaceful and mentally detached while while addressing such serious concerns, by gratefully remembering with faith that our worldly life is like a dream, in which we are Divinely guided and destined to Awaken upon following our sacred heart.

Moral of the Story: BE “In the world, but not of the world”

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”
~ Romans 12:2 – Paul the Apostle


While we are compelled to be in this world of inevitable physical pain and suffering, we are not obliged to be here mentally. With focused awareness and self-control of our thoughts, emotions and attitudes, we can remain peaceful, grateful and joyful.

Thereby we can ‘be in this world’ physically, but ‘not of this world’ mentally, attitudinally or spiritually.

While “tuning in” to our ever present worldly problems, we can “tune out” from much worldly suffering by non-judgmentally and forgivingly focusing on our Eternal and infinite inner Essence, which is LOVE and Light.

In current times of extraordinary difficulties, but unprecedented evolutionary opportunities, this is especially important and helpful.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Harmony ~ Quotations and Sayings

“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“Love is the energizing elixir of the Universe,
the cause and effect of all Harmony.”
~ Rumi
“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda





Introduction to Harmony Quotations and Sayings

Dear Friends,

To commemorate the 2020 Winter Solstice, I’ve posted below a treasury of exceptionally inspiring perennial wisdom quotations about “Harmony”. Please deeply reflect upon them.

They express ideas and ideals of enduring significance. And they are now especially important as we enter an auspicious Aquarian age of harmonious spiritual peace, light, and liberation – a rare turning point in modern human history.

Those of us who are blessed to awaken to Aquarian age virtues, will hasten human Ascensions to New Dimensions, as LOVE; and so we will harmoniously help heal countless others who are still suffering from fearful worries, thoughts and emotions.

Thus, these perennial wisdom ideas and ideals about “Harmony” are dedicated to helping us heal the world, by awakening humanity to its spiritual Oneness as LOVE with Nature and Universal Awareness.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Harmony Quotations and Sayings

“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution
then nothing is impossible.”
~ Rig Veda

”Neither human wisdom nor divine inspiration can confer upon man any greater blessing than this
[live a life of happiness and harmony here on earth].”
~ Plato

“Virtue is harmony.”
~ Pythagoras

”Without law or compulsion,
men would dwell in harmony.”
~ Lao Tzu

”One who lives in accordance with nature
does not go against the way of things,
but moves in harmony with the present moment.”
~ Lao Tzu

”The superior person is in Harmony,
but does not follow the crowd.
The lesser person follows the crowd,
but is not in Harmony.”
~ Confucius

“Love is the energizing elixir of the Universe,
the cause and effect of all Harmony.”
~ Rumi

“Put on love, which binds everything together in harmony.”

~ Colossians 3: 12-17


“Love opens all doors,
no matter how tightly closed they may be,
no matter how rusty from lack of use.
Your work is to bring unity and harmony,
to open all those doors which have been closed for a long time.
Have patience and tolerance. Open your heart all the time.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

As soon as laws are necessary for men,
they are no longer fit for freedom.
~ Pythagoras

”Happy the man whose lot it is to know
The secrets of the earth.
He hastens not
To work his fellows hurt by unjust deeds,
But with rapt admiration contemplates
Immortal Nature’s ageless harmony,
And how and when the order came to be.”
~ Euripides

“He who lives in harmony with himself
lives in harmony with the universe.”
~ Marcus Aurelius

”To have a positive religion is not necessary.
To be in harmony with yourself and the universe is what counts,
and this is possible without positive and specific formulation in words.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The unlike is joined together,
and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.”

~ Heraclitus


”Mutual respect and mutual listening
are the foundations of harmony within the family.”
~ Buddha


“A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another.

If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden.

But if these minds get out of harmony with one another

it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.”

~ Buddha

“Harmony can not thrive in a climate of mistrust, cheating, bullying; mean-spirited competition.”
~ Dalai Lama

”Wherever I go meeting the public… spreading a message of human values …
[and] harmony, is the most important thing.”
~ Dalai Lama

”If you want peace and harmony in the world,
you must have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“Affirm divine calmness and peace,
and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill
if you want to live in peace and harmony.
Never get angry, for anger poisons your system.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say,

and what you do are in harmony.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought, word, and deed.
Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi



“Happiness is not a matter of intensity

but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

~ Thomas Merton



“Grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within,

and that all my external possessions
may be in harmony with my inner self.

May I consider the wise to be rich,

and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint

can bear or endure”

~ Plato

”Harmony sinks deep into the recesses of the soul
and takes its strongest hold there,
bringing grace also to the body and mind as well.
Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe,
wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness,
and life to everything. It is the essence of order.”
~ Plato

”Music then is simply the result of the effects of Love on rhythm and harmony.”
~ Plato

”Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God
and the permissible delights of the soul.”
”Harmony is next to Godliness”
~ Johann Sebastian Bach

“If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony.”
~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Every element has a sound, an original sound from the order of God;
all those sounds unite like the harmony from harps and zithers.”
~ Hildegard of Bingen


“A life in harmony with nature,
the love of truth and virtue,

will purge the eyes to understanding her text.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony,

and the deep power of joy,
we see into the life of things.”

~ William Wordsworth



“Life’s errors cry for the merciful beauty
 that
can modulate their isolation

into a harmony with the whole.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore



“The highest education is that
which does not merely give us information
but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

”God reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists.”
~ Albert Einstein

”I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world,
not in a God who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind…”
~ Albert Einstein

”The harmony of natural law reveals an Intelligence of such superiority that,
compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings
is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
~ Albert Einstein



“In art, and in the higher ranges of science,
there is a feeling of harmony which underlies all endeavor.
There is no true greatness in art or science
without that sense of harmony.”

~ Albert Einstein



“My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued
with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind
to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe
which we try to formulate as “laws of nature”

~ Albert Einstein



”Today wherever you go, carry the intention of peace, love, and harmony in your heart.”
“Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any disorder or discomfort.
This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony in everything you do.”

~ Deepak Chopra



”There is great freedom in simplicity of living,
and after I began to feel this,
I found harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being.
There is a great deal to be said about such harmony,
not only for an individual life but also for the life of a society.
It’s because as a world we have gotten ourselves so far out of harmony,
so way off on the material side,
that when we discover something like nuclear energy
we are still capable of putting it into a bomb
and using it to kill people!
This is because our inner well-being lags so far behind our outer well-being.”
~ Peace Pilgrim

”Everyone has the perfect gift to give the world-
and if each of us is freed up to give our unique gift,
the world will be in total harmony.”
~ R. Buckminster Fuller



“Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.”

~ Plato (The Republic)



“Out of clutter find simplicity.
From discord make harmony.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

~ Albert Einstein

“Where there is discord,
let us sow Harmony.”
~ St Francis peace prayer

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace.

A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being
that places harmony in one’s life.”

~ Peace Pilgrim



“Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships,
just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes,
which vanish with the warmth.”

~ Soren Kierkegaard



“Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend;

you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left”

~ Aldo Leopold

“

Live harmlessly in Harmony.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“How can there be harm in me,

when I’m in harmless Harmony?”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“Stay in cosmic synchrony,

as you play in Nature’s symphony.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“Don’t disrupt and polarize,
but syncretize and harmonize.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Concluding Invocation

Imbued with heartfelt “Harmony”,
May we help heal the world –
Individually and collectively –
by Awakening NOW
to our immortality and
Eternal ONENESS
as LOVE.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

From Darkness To Light

“And God said,
“Let there be light,”
and there was light.”
~ Genesis 1:3-4
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
~ Isaiah 9:2
 “See, I will create new heavens
and a new earth.”
~ Isaiah 65:17
“The night is as bright as the day.”  
“Darkness and light are both alike.”  
~ Psalms 139:10-11
For nothing is hidden,
except to be revealed;
nor has anything been secret,
but that it would come to light.
~ Mark 4:22
“I wish I could show you
when you are lonely or in the darkness,

the astonishing light of your own being.”

~ Hafiz
Into my heart’s night

Along a narrow way
 I groped;

and lo! the light,

An infinite land of day.

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




From Darkness To Light

Dear Friends,

We are immensely privileged to observe a pivotal time in human history,
as Humankind passes from a violently fearful and dark era to an age of lasting peace, light, and liberation.

With the December 21, 2020 Winter Solstice, we are about to emerge from eons of outer darkness to a new age of inner eternal Light; from an evil epoch of collective psychosis which threatens to end all our inherent freedoms, virtues and values, to an evolutionarily “enlightened” new Aquarian age of freedom, courage, honesty and Love.

Time is perpetual in our space/time relativity “reality”.  So until we transcend illusory ego mind thoughts of separation from Source, every ending is a new beginning in time. And the ending of the age of Pisces and beginning of the age of Aquarius is a marvelous turning point in modern human history, with unprecedented opportunities for realizing blessings of Divine Love.

In this new Aquarian age many souls will be blessed to ascend to previously unknown levels of human consciousness, by emanating and radiating harmonious heart levels of loving serenity and calmness. But such ascension with Love will require consciously opening to Divine Grace.

“Love cannot be learned or taught.

Love comes as Grace.”

~ Rumi
“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

For ascension to elevated states of human awareness, we must individually and collectively radiate heartfelt loving energies, without harmful thoughts and emotions of helplessness, anxiety, aggression or hatred, which invariably weaken us and reify illusory egoic separation from each other and Nature.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can open our hearts to such ascension by realizing that these dreamlike dark and dystopian times cannot threaten or harm us, because our true immortal identity and Reality is the Eternal LIGHT and LOVE of Universal Awareness.

So let us calmly, peacefully and harmoniously observe current psychopathic space/time events like a projected movie or “Light Show” – just a dreamlike ever changing illusory play of Universal Awareness.

Thereby we will avert harmful reflexive reactions or judgments about what we see or learn, especially revelations of crimes or betrayals by those we’ve trusted.

Conclusion

This is a pivotal time in human history, when much of humankind will ascend to loving higher states of consciousness and spiritual freedom.

We are immensely fortunate to witness and cooperatively participate in so raising humanity’s collective consciousness, as we return to inner Source.

Invocation

Whatever happens in this ever impermanent illusory world of inevitable karmic suffering, 
may we never forget our eternal immortality and spiritual Oneness with Nature and all Earth-life, 
and may we ever emanate and widely radiate universal peace and happiness,
while realizing that this world is like a projected movie or “light show” –
just a dreamlike ever changing illusory play of Universal Awareness.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

“To be a presence of perpetual thanksgiving may be the ultimate goal of life.  
The thankful person is the one for whom life is simply one long exercise in the sacred.”
~ Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB from The Psalms: Meditations for Every Day of the Year
“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.”
~ Rumi
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
~ Cicero





Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving


“Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
~ Rumi

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

“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.”
~ Buddha

“It is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

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

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends,
the old and the new.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled  by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
~ Buddha

“I thank God for my handicaps for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.”
~ Helen Keller

“O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
~ William Shakespeare

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein

”A grateful mind is a great mind
which eventually attracts to itself great things.”
~ Plato

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
~ Aesop

”Gratitude bestows reverence,
allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe
that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton

“I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual.
It is surprising how contented one can be
with – only a sense of existence.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“Gratitude is heaven itself.”
~ William Blake

“No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
~ Psalm 100


“When you allow your heart to open to the universe’s flow of love, gratitude comes with that flow. Gratitude for the people that you love, and for those who share your life. Gratitude for the Creation of the beautiful Earth as our home in this great cosmos. Gratitude for the Sun that gives us life. Gratitude for being alive, for just existing, for being in the flow of the wonder of life.”
~ Owen Waters



“Gratitude flows unimpeded from an open heart. When you allow it, gratitude will flow as freely as the sunshine, unobstructed by judgments or conditions.”
~ Owen Waters

“Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving for all the gifts of Life — sunshine, water, the luscious fruits and greens,
which we receive as indirect gifts from the Great Giver.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love,
every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.
For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
~ Thomas Merton 


“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful
and has nobody to thank.”              
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I thank you God for most this amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky,
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes….
I who have died am alive again today
and this is the sun’s birthday;
this is the birth day of life and of love and wings…
~ e. e. cummings

“When we develop a right attitude of compassion and gratitude,
we take a giant step towards solving our personal and international problems.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
***
So an attitude of gratitude
Brings beatitude.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Remember with gratitude,
Life is beatitude –
Even its sorrows and pain;
For we’re all in God’s Grace,
Every time, every place, and
Forever (S)HE will reign!
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving”

Dear Friends,

For your utmost happiness on Thanksgiving day and every day, I’ve again posted the foregoing collection of inspiring thankfulness quotes, including treasures of perennial wisdom.

Thanksgiving became my favorite holiday long ago, when I realized that thankfulness is a universal blessing uplifting everyone everywhere, regardless of their cultural, spiritual, secular or religious attitudes or beliefs.  

At age eighty eight (especially since miraculously surviving a near-death taxi rundown in 2014), I’ve become unspeakably grateful for still being alive, aware, ambulatory and interdependently-independent.  Thus I’ve learned that experiencing continual thankfulness is a state of Divine Grace – not just during Thanksgiving holidays, but always; that every day’s a bonus, and every breath a blessing.   

Invocation

May the foregoing Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving
inspire and guide us to ever expanding fulfillment and happiness,
with an ongoing attitude of gratitude, on Thanksgiving day and every day.  

May every day be a Thanksgiving day
for everyone everywhere.   

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Happy Thanksgiving Day – Every Day!

Enjoy! – Beautiful Gratitude Video
Narrated by Brother David Steindl-Rast




Cosmology Mythology ~
From Beyond The Beginning,
To The Beginning And Beyond

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth
And the earth was without form and void
And darkness was upon the face of the deep
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters
And God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light
And God saw the light, that it was good
And God divided the light from the darkness”
~ Genesis 1:1-4
“We never cease to stand like curious children
before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
~ Albert Einstein




Introduction

Posted below with mp3 recitation is an imaginative poem ‘channeled’ during my reclusive post-retirement period, “Cosmology Mythology ~ From Beyond The Beginning, To The Beginning And Beyond”. The poem intuitively speculates on how and why our cosmic reality might have originated. For reasons hereafter explained, I hope you’ll reflect on it.

Cosmology Mythology ~
From Beyond The Beginning,
To The Beginning And Beyond

Eternal Mystery:
Pure potentiality;
Infinite intelligence;
Plenum void, pregnant with cosmological constancy,

Matrix intending to manifest,
To realize and actualize infinite potentiality.

Aum thought –
Creation vibration:
Bursting brilliance of brightest light,
Ending endlesss night.

Silence sounding in
Ever resounding
Symphony of spheres.

Spiraling stardust:
Agglomerating and growing,
Glowing and flowing,
Cosmically, consciously,
Systemically, siderealy,
Galactically, fractally, spherically.

Mystery manifest
as life-formed multiplicities:
Rotating, revolving and
Ever evolving —
To complexities from simplicities.

Infinite Intelligence
Exploring, and communing –
With Itself,

In an autogyral
Endless spiral
Flowing up and beyond
The beyond.

In an autogyral
Endless spiral
Flowing up and beyond
The beyond.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Cosmology Mythology ~
From Beyond The Beginning, To The Beginning And Beyond”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Cosmology Mythology ~
From Beyond The Beginning, To The Beginning And Beyond”


Dear Friends,

Until his death Albert Einstein remained in reverential awe about “the great Mystery into which we were born.” He had spent much of his adult life vainly searching for a simple and provable “theory of everything” that might resolve that cosmic mystery. And theoretical scientists have continued to search for such a formula.   Hopefully, they may some day fulfill Swami Vivekananda’s prediction that “Science and religion will meet and shake hands”.

Have you – like Einstein – ever wondered how our space/time universe began?   I have.

After my midlife spiritual awakening to Self-identity as Awareness, I began questioning and rejecting previously accepted concepts about Reality.    And I became very curious – scientifically and  philosophically – about how and why our space/time universe had appeared.   Though I’ve had no scientific training or aptitude, I felt philosophically impelled to pursue cosmic creation questions.

So introspectively I began raising many questions about this great mystery.  For example, I wondered

“Did space/time just appear from nothing?  What was its source – its matrix?  Was it intelligently designed?  Was it divinely created?  If so, why?  Did it begin with a “big bang”?  How? When?  What if anything existed beyond its beginning?  Will it ever end?  If so, will it begin again?  What is its purpose, if any?  Is it really ‘real’, or just an illusionary, simulated or virtual reality?  Is it a holographic, fractal projection of Universal Awareness – our common Cosmic Consciousness?   Can it ever be explained?   Can we ever discover a scientific theory explaining everything about space/time –  a “T.E.O”?”


As a lawyer I emphasized factual evidence, and tried to avoid speculative opinions unless rendered by qualified ‘experts’.  But as a ‘born again’ intuitive I have increasingly pursued experiential and inner insights rather than relying on worldly ‘expert’ knowledge. So I’ve often philosophically speculated and sometimes written about the meaning or purpose of earth life.

For example, during a ten year post-retirement ‘hibernation’ period I composed  this verse:

Life is a metaphoric metamorphosis process.

Gleaning meaning in matter,

we learn all that matters —

we learn all that matters is

LOVE!

Whether or not my Cosmology Mythology intuited verses ring true for you, perhaps they can inspire your wonder and amazement about our precious lives on this precious planet.  Such a state of wonder and awe can help us transcend long outdated conceptual world-views about supposedly material reality: mistaken beliefs which impede reverential realization of ONE timeless spiritual Reality beyond materiality – a Universal Intelligence beyond, imagination, conception, comprehension or description.

As I have often reflected and speculated about meaning and purpose life, gradually I have concluded that many perennial philosophical questions about our cosmic mystery are ever unanswerable Mystery. And from Buddhist teachings I’ve begun to wonder whether to continue publishing such cosmic speculations.

Buddha’s teachings centered on ending human suffering, and were mostly devoid of speculation. In esoteric sutras the Buddha discouraged speculation not leading to edification about ending inevitable suffering in samsara. So he reportedly mostly refused to discuss metaphysics. And in spite of frequent urging, he continued his “noble silence” without indulging in needless theorizing which “tends not to edification”. (See e.g. The Buddha’s Silence)

So now I often feel it best to emphasize simple perennial precepts that pragmatically may help us lead happier lives rather than to speculate on conceptually unanswerable philosophical questions about the eternal mystery of Divinity, realizable only through rare mystical experience.

Thus, as a project of The Perennial Wisdom Foundation, SillySutras.com is dedicated to elevating awareness of universal wisdom principles at the heart of all enduring religious, spiritual and ethical traditions – such as the Golden Rule – without emphasis on any particular path or person.

Nonetheless I have published today’s poetic reflections on unanswerable cosmic questions, because they may help some of us experience life-changing awe and wonder at our miraculous causality reality about which Albert Einstein observed:  

“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”

Dedication

May the above poem and mp3 recitation encourage and inspire our deepest awe and gratitude for our lives on this precious planet, bringing us ever expanding fulfillment and happiness, until our ultimate transcendence of this permanently impermanent world of time and space. 



And so may it be!


Ron Rattner

Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“Death is truly part of life …
‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
At my death do not lament our separation… 

As the sun and moon but seem to set,
in Reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi

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
“And it is in dying [to ego life]
that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, edited by Ron Rattner
Q: What is death?
A: “Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Introduction

Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and they are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.

Such fear of death often motivates selfish thoughts, emotions and behaviors, which dim our inner divine light and render us susceptible to subliminal shadow side neurotic, demonic or dark forces – subhuman malignant energies or entities which parasitically polarize, divide and exploit humankind, by provoking selfishness, violence, anger, anxiety, and fear.

Thus, our fear of death can significantly impede spiritual evolution, whereas losing and transcending fear of death can allow and encourage important evolutionary advancement.

Until my midlife spiritual awakening, like most humans I self-identified with only my physical body, its thoughts and story. But then, in my early forties, I had previously unimagined and irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife, from which I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. Since then I have been blessed with a wonderful new life period of ever increasing happiness and fulfillment.

The above quotations and sutras, and the following poetic verses about whether birth on Earth is a death sentence, epigrammatically summarize what I have experientially learned about physical death. They are explained in greater detail in comments following the poem.

Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?

No matter how we strive,
No body leaves alive.

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

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



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

Listen to



Ron’s comments on “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”

Dear Friends,

Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown.

Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.

Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown:


“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”


Like most other Americans, I was acculturated with an innate but largely subconscious 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 Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.

Thus, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Ultimately I concluded from experience and intuition that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g.Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death)

So I’ve shared the foregoing whimsical poem, quotes and comments about birth and death to help remind us that as we lose fear of death we gain ever increasing peace of mind and happiness. And to explain why transcending fear of death is especially important during current polarized and turbulent times.

Invocation

May we realize that physical death is normal and necessary,
and not to be feared;
that it opens us to ever expanding
new vistas of self-discovery and fulfillment
of our deepest aspirations as eternal souls;
that beyond physical birth and death
we are destined to discover and enjoy
ever increasing inner peace and happiness
until we melt and merge with Mystery,
The mystery of Divinity
.


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

The Sacred Secret of Life
~ Ron’s Memoirs, Quotes and Poem

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
Life can be found only in the present moment.
The past is gone, the future is not yet here,
and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,
we cannot be in touch with life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
~ Alan Watts
Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now!
It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
~ Leo Tolstoy
“The more we live moment by moment,
the more momentous our lives.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
Tao and Zen

are NOW,

not then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings






Ron’s Introduction

The following ‘channeled’ poem and above quotations, are about a key wisdom concept which is so important for spiritual evolution that with poetic license I’ve called it “the sacred secret of life”. That spiritual secret and my process leading to composition of the ‘secret of life’ poem are explained in comments below.

The Sacred Secret of Life

We evolve and revolve
ever seeking to solve
the sacred secret of life.

But the further we go
the less we know
the sacred secret of life.

The longer our history,
the greater the mystery of
the sacred secret of life.

Yet we never stop trying –
keep birthing and dying, for
the sacred secret of life.

Tho’ we may never solve it,
we’ll ever evolve it:
The sacred secret of life.

So in Awe we bow
to the ever NOW—

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “The Sacred Secret of Life”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “secret of life” poem was inspired by previously unimagined and unforgettable experiences which began after my midlife spiritual awakening. After many years of inner reflection, prayer and meditation, the poem was composed spontaneously during my extended post-retirement reclusive period.

Soon after my awakening, I was synchronistically introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom through a friend who urged me to read an extraordinary book with an intriguing title – “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

“Be Here Now” was for me unlike any other book I’d ever before seen or read. Filled with beautiful calligraphy, art, and photos, it imaginatively presented a fascinating melange of Eastern ideas previously unknown to me, with many suggestions and ‘recipes’ for spiritual practices.

Some suggestions interested me, though I didn’t immediately adopt any of them. But the book and its memorable title planted seeds for spiritual practices which I later adopted. The first of these practices – simple repetition as a mantra of the word “Rama” soon miraculously manifested in my life, in a previously unimagined way, and with remarkable continuing consequences.

Gradually the book’s memorable title “Be Here Now!” became for me a key slogan for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment. Through experience and other spiritual teachings, I began to realize the profound evolutionary importance of mental stillness.

I was especially influenced by the teachings of contemporary sage J. Krishnamurti about how “freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.” Much later I felt great resonance with the writings of contemporary teacher Eckhart Tolle, which emphasized “The Power of Now.” Perhaps most important were my experiences in following my beloved Guruji’s emphatic instructions to “meditate regularly”.

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ finally cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me to choose whether “to think or not to think” – an option to enjoy precious moments of choiceless awareness. And by learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind”; and I discovered that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

Each of us has a unique space/time perspective and karmic history. So each of us has unique challenges and a unique ‘recipe’ for spiritual opening. But the ‘ingredients’ in every such ‘recipe’ are the same – only proportions differ. And precious presence – ‘being here now’ – is crucially important for everyone, not just those who knowingly seek spiritual advancement.

Being present is sometimes called being “in the zone” with a focused or stilled mind. Have you ever noticed how star artists and athletes perform at peak levels while “in the zone”?

Moreover, whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance, every human being wants happiness, with minimal suffering. And to be in a state of precious presence with a stilled mind is of critical importance to experiencing happiness.

So for me “Be Here Now!” – like “Seek relief from belief” and “Undo Ego!” – has become a key motivational motto encapsulating a wisdom concept crucial to spiritual evolution from Earth life to Eternal Life.

Dedication and Invocation

Thus today’s quotations and poem are offered to inspire our ever expanding realization that “life can be found only in the present moment”, and that ultimately the Eternal happiness we all seek is beyond space and time, but paradoxically ever here NOW.

May we all experience growing happiness by learning to live in the precious present with ever quieter minds, thereby radiating Eternal LOVE and Light, which blesses the world, ever NOW.

And so shall 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

Listen to


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, one hundred fifty one 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.”

“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.”

“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 this Great Soul, 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!

Ron Rattner