“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
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;
Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.
* This 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
“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, one hundred fifty years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.
During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.
Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.
Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom
So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:
“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”
“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.”
May we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life. Thereby, like Gandhi, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.
And so shall it be!
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
“It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer
“To err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about your Self return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.”
~ A Course in Miracles
If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words” Pg. 16
Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins.”
Most religions teach the importance of forgiving or atoning for transgressions committed by or against us – our “sins”. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism teach forgiveness.
Forgiveness in Christianity.
Forgiveness is especially emphasized in Christianity. Thus, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly taught forgiveness. Eg.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~ Luke 6:37
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
~ Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27
And even while in excruciating pain as he was dying on a cross, Jesus beseeched God’s forgiveness of those who crucified him:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”
~ Luke 23: 34
In emphasizing “they know not what they do” Jesus invoked Divine forgiveness in response to apparent unwitting (rather than malevolent) sins of the Roman soldiers who crucified him.
What are Sins?
“Sins” are often considered acts or omissions violating moral or ethical codes, with emphasis on what is wrong. But the original meaning of “sin” in Greek is to miss the mark – like an archer missing the target.
“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
When sins are appropriately considered ‘missing the mark’ from ignorance rather than malevolence, expiation requires that we focus on what is right, and on how to get back ‘on target’, rather than on what was wrong with mistaken acts or omissions.
Recognition and transcendence of “sins”.
Thus to transcend the negative, we realize the positive.
“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
“Jesus’ teaching to “Forgive your enemies” is essentially about the undoing of one of the main egoic structures in the human mind. The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” If you do, become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, that is to say, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive, and feel the emotion that is the body’s response to those thoughts. Don’t try to let go of the grievance. Trying to let go, to forgive, does not work. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Jewish Day of Atonement for “Sins”.
In the Jewish tradition, the highest of High Holy Days is Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement and forgiveness. While fasting on that day, observant Jews communally confess their wrongs and ask Divine forgiveness, humbly acknowledging that there are none amongst them so righteous that they have not sinned.
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]
Recognizing the inevitability of ‘sin”, the Torah enjoins Jews to return to a righteous path with a process of societal repentance and reparation called teshuvah. “Teshuvah means returning to God and godliness.”; and returning to God is the essence of Judaism. ~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro,“Open Secrets”, pp.12-13
The process of returning to “godliness” which is the essence of Judaism is also central to all other major theistic religions.
Eastern religions emphasize “freedom” as an ultimate spiritual Reality and goal beyond thought or ego – beyond human comprehension, imagination, description or belief – which can only be known experientially, not rationally or mentally. (See https://sillysutras.com/what-is-freedom-question-and-quotes/)
All enduring religious and spiritual wisdom traditions recognize need for human transcendence of ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other and Nature; of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Awareness – which is our ultimate Essence, and our ultimate destiny.
And so may it be!
Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving and Atoning for “Sins”:
Dear Friends and Fellow ‘Sinners’,
We are all here to evolve human consciousness by gradually realizing and actualizing – beyond our perceived separation from each other – our common Oneness with all Life. Yet, despite our common spiritual essence, each of us is unique, with unique propensities, abilities and fallibilities, which provide unique evolutionary opportunities and challenges. So ‘clearing our karma’ involves mindful identification, observation and purification of our unique mental tendencies and obscurations which impede realization of Oneness.
The foregoing essay and quotes about Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” address a spiritually important subject for all of us. For most of my adult life, forgiveness been a great challenge. So I don’t claim to be an accomplished “expert” on this subject, but now share with you as one who has long reflected on judgmentally perceived moral failings of other fallible humans.
Whether or not we are spiritual ‘seekers’, we are all spiritual ‘sinners’ who inevitably ‘miss the mark’ and make mistakes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring and learning in ‘space/time soul suits’ on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’. Except for rare Avatars, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, all humans are fallible; even Pontiffs and Prelates aren’t infallible.
Before hereafter discussing the spiritual importance of nonjudgmental forgiveness of ‘sins’, I will summarize my long history of judging others, to help you understand, and perhaps appreciate, my present perspectives on non-judgmental forgiveness.
Ron’s history of judging others.
After a midlife awakening, I began identifying my particular spiritual evolutionary challenges and opportunities. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and long-time ardent social justice advocate – I had long established tendencies of often being outspokenly and acerbically judgmental, and of sometimes being unforgiving and angry about perceived injustices. Also I realized that these habits were not helpful to others or me; that they were impediments to my spiritual evolution, and inconsistent with mystical insights of Oneness with all Life, beyond our perceived separation from one another.
However, since first identifying these unhelpful habits decades ago, it hasn’t been easy to transcend them. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992, by deactivating my law license it was easy for me to stop lawyering. But it was hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others – especially if they seemed to act immorally, hypocritically or harmfully.
Only gradually have I discerned significant – but often subtle – distinctions between being unduly judgmental and unforgiving of others, and my life-long ardent and conscientious advocacy for social justice. This often has required difficult discernments and decisions about conscientious truth telling and nonviolently resisting those who unjustly harm others, without vindictively, condemning, blaming and judging them.
The most challenging behaviors for me have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of public or private trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public trust by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I personally experienced as betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.
Slowly my pain and suffering from harboring anger or bitterness, have helped awaken me to the futility and harm of blame. I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance do not change others, and are always incompatible with a loving peaceful mind. But that love and forgiveness, do not preclude – and often require – conscientious advocacy for social justice, and nonviolent resistance to harmfully immoral acts.
As inspiringly demonstrated by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., love and forgiveness, are integral to such nonviolent resistance. He explained that:
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” . . . “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” . . .”The time is always right to do what is right.”. . . “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Ultimately I have realized how hating hurts the hater; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. Thus, that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, and that any bitterness we harbor against perceived “others” separates us from our divine Oneness with everyone and everything everywhere, and beyond.
As I have slowly understood that human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, I have learned to forgive it, and thereby to live an ever happier life. And thus, I have concluded that our purpose on Earth is not to judge, condemn or criticize apparent evil but to transcend it with LOVE.
Thereby, and only after many years of unsuccessfully addressing my negative judgmental tendencies, I may have now transcended them, by realizing that they arose from ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity. So I’ve finally granted my irrevocable general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to judge all “sinners” – even Donald Trump, for whom I now feel sorry, as countless humans worldwide conscientiously and nonviolently resist his administration’s patently insane ecologically suicidal behaviors which threaten to catastrophically destroy all human life on Earth as we have known it.
And while so deferring to the unerring law of cause and effect, with absolute faith in the Divine, I have enjoyed unprecedented peace of mind.
We are here to learn and to demonstrate divine LOVE. But if we behave fearfully or selfishly instead of lovingly and compassionately, we inevitably ‘miss the divine target mark’, and thereby ‘sin’. And if we miss our mark and ‘sin’, we’ll probably suffer karmically from the law of causality. So how do we avoid ‘sinning’ and atone for past ‘sins’?
First, we must become aware of how ‘sins’ happen.
On investigating, we learn that human “sins” and sufferings are karmically inevitable and unavoidable while we unknowingly perceive “through a glass darkly” with conditioned ego-minds. We realize that all our perceptions are illusory projections of past conceptions, which obscure our experience of the timeless NOW. Thus, we learn that our space/time causality reality is like a persistent illusion – a mental mirage; and we discover that
“space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”, that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”, and that “our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” [Albert Einstein]
Such new-found awareness can reveal simple solutions to previously persistent behavioral problems, from levels of consciousness beyond those which unknowingly caused our mistaken ‘sins’. For example, the Buddha taught that:
“to understand everything is to forgive everything”.
So we may discover that a significant solution to our ‘sinning’ problems is to forgive NOW (in the precious present), all unknowing mental mistakes made by ourselves and others. That
“to err is human; to forgive, Divine.”
Then, with ‘amazing grace’ we can finally see that our non-judgmental forgiveness of mental mistakes is Divine, since ‘sins’ of the conditioned ego-mind have arisen from ignorance, not malevolence – from belief, not awareness; from fear, not LOVE.
As a rare exemplar of Divine LOVE, Jesus Christ has inspired millions with his words and deeds of non-judgmental and merciful forgiveness, of even enemies and persecutors, for their spiritually ignorant behaviors. So even while suffering excruciating pain on a crucifixion cross He beseeched:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Yet, without judging ignorant beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9] And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]
Perhaps, from Jesus’s supremely divine perspective, ‘mortal sin’ can be seen (with insight, not eyesight) as ignorantly believing oneself a “mortal”, rather than immortal; and, “original sin” can be seen as ego’s mistaken belief of itself as separate from ONE Eternal Spirit or Universal Awareness.
During a long lifetime of often morally judging those who betray or hurt others, I finally learned that it is infinitely easier to forgive and atone for, our ‘sins’, by mindfully recognizing how they egotistically happen, than to exist Christ-like or Buddha-like as divine LOVE. And that on becoming mindfully aware of our unwitting sins we inevitably spur our spiritual evolution process.
May these teachings on “Forgiveness And Atonement Of “Sins” help all of us to forgive and transcend ’sins’ with love. But with quiet minds and open hearts may we continue to non-judgmentally, nonviolently, and conscientiously resist social injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.
And may this posting thereby help spur our spiritual evolution process, so that we may all open our hearts to forgive and give up what we mistakenly think we are –
and BE, eternally, what we truly are:
The unseen Source of the world we see – ONE spirit eternally encompassing all life as LOVE!
And so shall it be!
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this
ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
~ Albert Einstein (after Gandhi’s 1948 assassination)
“I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi’s Original 9/11 Truth Movement.
Since September 11, 2001, many people commemorate September 11 as a day that will live in infamy – a day of treachery, often cited (disingenuously or duplicitously) as pretext for an Orwellian era of endless war, violence and dystopian deprivation of civil liberties.
(See PBS Documentary 9/11-Explosive Evidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l-8PFk8j5I)
But, paradoxically, few realize that – almost a century before the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC – it was on a September 11 when Mahatma Gandhi launched his extraordinary “satyagraha” peace and justice movement through which Gandhi, and countless others inspired by him, have accomplished much good in the world by non-violently resisting and transforming widespread social injustice and oppression.
During and since his extraordinary lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi has been venerated worldwide as one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders not just of our time, but of all times. Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful. [*See Epilogue]
Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy.
Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his campaign for Indian independence, but it began with his brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa, with ground-breaking inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
On September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed a meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the law.
Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such a law.
Gandhi’s legendary talk at the Empire Theater meeting is dramatically portrayed by academy award winning actor Ben Kingsley in this excerpt from the epic film “Gandhi”:
The next day after the meeting, the Empire Theater was mysteriously destroyed by fire.
Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.
Because it sought more than just non-violent redress of social injustice, Gandhi called his movement “satyagraha”, a Sanskrit neologism which he coined – meaning the “relentless pursuit of Truth”. Since Gandhi was a spiritual man in search of God, he often equated “Truth” with “God” And he acknowledged that he had been influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Tolstoy, and Thoreau’s famous essay, “Civil Disobedience.” Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based nonviolence.
*Epilogue: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhian Nonviolence.
Of countless humans inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and words, most prominent and influential has been Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who honored Gandhi as a spiritual “guiding light …. of nonviolent social change”, and who in 1959 journeyed to India to study Gandhian methods, saying:
“To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim.”
In 1964 (at age 35) Dr. King became the youngest man ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his nonviolent social activism in opposing racial segregation, poverty, and war. As a dedicated Christian disciple of Jesus, Dr. King
“found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
Dr. King’s life paralleled Gandhi’s life. Each began as an outspoken advocate of inter-racial equality and social justice in racially segregated societies. Gradually their nonviolent missions expanded to encompass universal freedom, peace and social justice for everyone everywhere.
On humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, as ‘trustee’ for countless unknown others, Dr. King cited Gandhi’s success in India as a key precedent encouraging nonviolent civil rights activism in the USA, saying:
“This [nonviolent] approach to the problem of racial injustice ….was used in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire and free his people from the political domination and economic exploitation inflicted upon them for centuries.”
And King described how (because of technological advances which imminently threaten nuclear/ecological catastrophe) the survival of humanity depends upon our nonviolently solving “the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war” by “living in harmony” with “all-embracing and unconditional love for all men”.
Eloquently he explained that
“[Love is] that force which all of the great religions [Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist] have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.”
Whereupon he recited this wisdom passage from the First Epistle of St John:
“Let us love one another: for love is of God;
and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.
He that loves not, knows not God; for God is love.
If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His
love is perfected in us.” [1 John 4:7-8; 12 ]”
Like Jesus and Gandhi – who also ‘heretically’ preached nonviolent love and forgiveness – King was martyred at (age 39), when his ‘heretic’ truth telling and expanding prophetic powers became intolerable barriers to US military/industrial war plans for Viet Nam and beyond.
May the seeds of political and spiritual “satyagraha” first sewn by Gandhi on September 11, 1906, at long last inspire current world leaders to abandon their woefully misguided efforts to address alleged ‘terrorist violence’ with more terrorist violence; and to join democratically with their peace seeking citizens in the non-violent relentless pursuit of secular and spiritual Truth, to end social injustice, war and oppression everywhere.
And so shall it be!
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (full audio+text)
“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”
~ The Buddha
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything , even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”
~ Deepak Chopra
“Love is the sacrifice of will.
If you cannot leave will behind
You have no will at all. ”
“Setting aside all noble deeds, just surrender completely to the will of God. I shall liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve.”
~ Bhagavad Gita
“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
“Knowledge is learning something every day.
Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”
~ Zen Proverb
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
~ Job 12:7-9
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Nature is our nature;
honoring Nature is honoring your Self.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Surrender: Let Go of Ego”
The idea of spiritual “surrender” is encapsulated in the maxims:
“Let go, and let God”;
“Go with the Flow”; and
“Not my will, but Thy will be done”.
Both Eastern and Western religious and spiritual teachings
stress the importance of allowing the inconceivably immense power of Nature, the Tao, or the Divine to guide our lives;
Of simply surrendering to Life, and allowing it to live us as it may.
Before surrendering, we may egoically think ourselves separate from other beings and life-forms, and that we are in ultimate control of our lives.
But, we more and more allow Nature, not ego, to guide us as we gradually realize that we are inextricably part of Nature, not separate from it, and that Nature Knows best and is in control.
Surrender is an inner process; an intuitional attitude rather than an outer act,
Arising gradually as we gain implicit trust and faith in Nature’s supreme perfection.
And as our faith in Nature grows, ego goes.
We gradually lose the ego illusion of separateness from Nature, and ever more surrender to Life.
And when we become completely surrendered to the river of life– the timeless flow of existence– ego disappears:
Revealing that our true nature is Nature;
Revealing we are THAT, to which we have surrendered.
Ron’s audio recitation of “Surrender- Let Go of Ego”
Ron’s Explanation of “Surrender: Let Go of Ego”
In recent messages I’ve explained that our mistaken inner self-identification as supposedly separate bodies, minds, and stories is what spiritual teachings call “ego”, which they often identify as the greatest impediment to spiritual evolution and realization.
Many different concepts are used in such teachings to help us recognize and gradually end “ego” as an illusory prison of the mind. For example, the ideas of “ego” and “belief” are inevitably interrelated, because we can’t maintain ego misidentification without mistaken beliefs about who or what we are.
So, to “undo ego”, we need to “seek relief from belief”.
“Surrender” is another key concept interrelated with ego. To transcend inevitable karmic sufferings and attachments from ego-mind misidentification we must let go and surrender our mistaken beliefs about who and what we think we are, to realize what we truly are – Divinity or Nature incarnate. Thus, surrendering and letting go of “ego” is a key evolutionary process ultimately leading to Self-realization of Divinity as sole Reality.
So Rumi tells us:
“There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheik,
who is an ocean for all beings.”
“How did you get here?
Close your eyes and surrender.”
“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
“The hurt that we embrace becomes joy.”
Hence, the foregoing quotations from Rumi and others and my poetic explanation of “surrender” are all about lovingly letting go and surrendering “ego”.
They are respectfully offered to remind us of our critical need to let go of who or what we think we are so can realize and BE what we really are – ONE with Nature and God.
And so may it be!
“In the beginning was the word
and the word was with God
and the word was God”
~ John 1:1
“And God said to Moses,
I AM THAT I AM”
~ Exodus 3:14
“An important part of the adventure of life is to get hold of the mind,
and to keep that controlled mind constantly attuned to the Lord.
This is the secret of a happy, successful existence.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda — Man’s Eternal Quest
Remember God, forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything,
you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“This separation between man and man,
between nation and nation, between earth and moon,
between moon and sun . . does not exist, it is not real” ;
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – “Jnana Yoga”
God is a Word*
Q. What is God?
A. As the Bible says – God is word:
A word used by different people
to designate their different ideas
of a transcendent power;
An omnipotence which they may
intuit, accept or reject,
but can’t ever comprehend.
Any such transcendent power
can’t ever be aptly named.
For any designation would
of the illimitable –
So, whether or not the “universe” was created by God,
“God” is a word created by man.
But, just as ‘a rose by any other name is the same’,
However humankind calls or tries to imagine it
There exists an indescribable infinitely potential and supreme Power:
An Absolute Reality and Existence, and Origin of All,
*Innumerable words – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify an ineffably infinite divine Power or any of its infinite potential aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “THAT” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.
Ron’s Comments about “God is a Word”
The word “God” is extremely common. Countless people commonly curse, exclaim, read, think , or pray to “God”. “In God we trust” appears on all US currency and coins.
But who of us has deeply considered what “God” really means to us or others? How many times have we unthinkingly uttered or heard such exclamations as “thank God!” “God bless you”, “God love you” – or even curses including the word “God” – without wondering about their significance.
Encouraged by my beloved Guruji I have spent much of my post-retirement life-period reflecting about “God”, and other synonymous words. And I’ve found that our beliefs and concepts about “God” evolve as we evolve spiritually; and that thinking about God furthers our evolution.
The above poetic essay was composed to propose that “God” is a word used by different people to designate their different ideas of a transcendent power, which ultimately is beyond words. Thus, it explains that “God” did not create man, but that man created the word “God” – with thoughts from ruminations, revelations, intuitions, and speculations, paradoxically trying to identify THAT which is beyond words, beyond all thought.
It is offered to encourage exploration of our common inner Divinity – in furtherance of our (conscious or subliminal) universal longing for a state of ONENESS with divinity – with “God” or THAT.
As observed by Mahatma Gandhi,
“A man is but the product of his thoughts;
what he thinks, he becomes.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
With our continuing reflections and thoughts about “God”, may we increasingly discover and experience our common inner Divinity. until ultimately we melt and merge as THAT – as ONE “God”.
And so may it be!
“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.
~ Lao Tzu
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna
Q. What is God?
A. What isn’t God?
Q. Is it possible to see God?
A. Is it possible to not see God?
God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.
So, everyone sees God everywhere.
But few know it.
Ron’s audio recitation of Seeing GOD?
Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”
Have you ever imagined seeing God? Or wondered whether that was possible? Or heard of anyone claiming to see God?
During my early Jewish acculturation, I accepted the core Bible proclamation:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4
Thereafter, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and assumed it impossible to perceive or to be enfolded in God. So I never understood Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE” [John 10:30].
But after my mid-life awakening, while crying for God with total surrender on a Yosemite mountain top, I beheld within (but did not merge with) the Divine light of ten thousand suns. Thereafter I began wondering about “seeing God” after reading the Gospel and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man who often experienced communion with the Divine.
I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India. There – almost a hundred years after Sri Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.
On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life and his teachings. I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was an ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with ‘the gift of tears’. Though Francis had lived in a vastly different age and culture seven hundred years before Sri Ramakrishna, they had similar devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport.
As an enlightened mystic Sri Ramakrishna affirmed to his principal disciple Swami Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy. At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother, or the all-loving Father. Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is Divine communion beyond human description.
Ultimately he taught that God is All – omnipresent as all manifestation, while timelessly transcendent as unmanifest Infinite Potentiality.
Thus the foregoing whimsical verses about seeing GOD were inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings.
May those verses and teachings encourage us all to ever remember – and perhaps perceive – that everyone and everything is Divine!
And so may it be!
“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
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.”
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.”
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!
“Turn! Turn! Turn!” – Video.
“If you could get rid of yourself just once,
the secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“You are “gods”;
you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6
“You cannot teach an ego to be anything but egotistic,
even though egos have the subtlest ways of pretending to be reformed.
The basic thing is therefore to dispel, by experiment and experience,
the illusion of oneself as a separate ego.”
~ Alan Watts
“People can’t be talked out of illusions. If a person believes that the earth is flat, you can’t talk him out of that, he knows that it’s flat. He’ll go down to the window and see that its obvious, it looks flat. So the only way to convince him that it isn’t is to say, “Well let’s go and find the edge”
~ Alan Watts
“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
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything,
you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Awakening to the “Secret of Secrets”
For millennia there has been a tacit taboo or ‘conspiracy of silence’ against disclosing to all Humankind our true spiritual and immortal identity.
Except for those raised in so-called ‘primitive’ or indigenous societies, or those imbued with Eastern religious philosophy, most people have been acculturated from time immemorial into societies with “an unrecognized but mighty taboo — our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are.” ( Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Preface.)
From childhood we are taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal common consciousness with all life-forms.
Nor are we ever taught the greatest “secret of secrets”: that we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”, but also its co-creators – that we co-create our reality with our thoughts, words and deeds; that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way; and, that this worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.
To experientially realize that greatest “secret of secrets” is to Know Thyself. And to Know Thyself, is to know the Whole – the Truth that will set us free.
For countless ages sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we are not what we think we are! That we suffer from perception-deception – with self-identity and reality not what they appear to be; that it is possible to experientially transcend the inevitable suffering of ordinary human existence through self-realization of and self-identification with an undivided eternal spiritual reality – which is the common essence of all space-time causality reality.
Mystics say that we share common Self identity – as Cosmic Consciousness or Non-Duality Reality; that we are not merely our mortal bodies – their names, genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories – or the ‘voices in our heads’. We are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles. But we’re all the same ‘under the hood’.
Yet until now that greatest secret has been mostly concealed or denied: predominantly by subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain non-experienced facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusionary beliefs about “reality”; sometimes by institutions and individuals seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources.
Until now ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in humanity’s hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive insanity, selfishness and suffering.
But now, facing ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises which cannot be resolved from the same levels of consciousness which created them, we are at long last being awakened from our delusion of separateness and powerlessness. Spurred by increasing suffering and awareness of imminent catastrophe, we are finally dispelling the ignorance which has spawned these crises.
And we shall soon reach a tipping point, when a critical mass of Humankind will have awakened to the “secret of secrets”, uplifting all human consciousness and resolving harmoniously and compassionately the critical mess created by our prior unawareness of that “secret”.
Thus awakened, we shall harmoniously, cooperatively and lovingly resolve our common crises for our common good.
And so it shall be!
Ron’s Commentary on why we ignore who, or what, we really are.
The foregoing essay was inspired by Alan Watts’: “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, ©1966.
Watts was a brilliantly insightful, erudite and articulate UK philosopher, author, and teacher, with post-graduate degrees in Theology and Divinity. After five years as an ordained Episcopal priest, he ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and in 1951 moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Thereafter, until his death in 1973, Watts became a counterculture icon, best-known for introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Westerners.
I first learned about Watts’ teachings listening to KPFA Pacifica radio, Berkeley, which posthumously broadcast his lectures on Sunday nights, while I was driving for visits with my aged parents. Those broadcasts helped me to learn about Eastern wisdom and philosophy of spiritual evolution – of which I was previously ignorant.
Only after launching the Silly Sutras website in 2010 did I discover and read Watt’s 1966 essay “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. By that time I mostly concurred with Watts’ assertions about what causes the illusion of a separate ego self, and how that illusion is central to our ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises.
Moreover, I had already learned about how cognitive dissonance can cause subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusions about “reality”. And how powerful government and corporate institutions and psychopathic individuals insanely seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources can ‘brainwash’ and propagandize ordinary people into rejecting truth-tellers, and the factual truths which they reveal, by pejoratively ridiculing them as “kooks”, “foreign agents”, “communists”, “socialists”, or “conspiracy theorists” and blatantly lying about their truthful revelations.
So I concurred with Watts’ contentions concerning a tacit taboo or conspiracy of silence against revealing our true identity and infinite potentiality. Thus I have composed the foregoing essay, and endorse Watts’ book “On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, linked below as an audio book file.
May these writings (and prior quotes) help us awaken to “the secret of secrets”, and to realize ourselves as uniquely interdependent expressions of ONE universal and eternal reality – a cosmic Self in all life everywhere.
The eyes are the windows of the soul.
~ Traditional Proverb
“The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier, My Psalm
“Open thine eyes — bright windows to the soul”
~ William Hetherington
“It is the soul itself which sees and hears,
and not those parts which are, as it were,
but windows to the soul…”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
“There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, …
beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.
This is the light that shines in your Heart.”
~ Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.7
“Let my soul smile through my heart
and my heart smile through my eyes,
that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
The Eyes Have It – It’s In Every One of Us
The eyes are the world’s windows to the soul;
and the soul’s windows to the world.
The eyes gleam with Eternal Light –
of Infinite Awareness –
our Common “I”ness.
The Eyes Have It.
So, let us open our hearts to the Infinite,
through gleaming eyes of others.
Ever remembering that –
“It’s In Every One of Us”.
“It’s In Every One of Us” – David Pomeranz
Photos & Video by Wernher Krutein.
Lyrics Refrain: “It’s In Every One of Us”
It’s in every one of us to be wise
Find your heart
And open up both your eyes
We can all know every thing
Without ever knowing why
It’s in every one of us by and by