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Faith

What Choice Do We Have?

“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
“Excellence is never an accident.
It is always the result of high intention,
sincere effort, and intelligent execution;
it represents the wise choice of many alternatives
– choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
~ Aristotle
“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion,
overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief.”
~ Buddha
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life.”
~ Deuteronomy 30:19

“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Friedrich Schiller
“The only difference between a human being and a stone rolling down a hill, is that the human being thinks he is in charge of his own destiny.”

~ Baruch Spinoza
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”

~ Max Planck
“In Hinduism, the very idea of free will is non-existent,
so there is no word for it.

Will is commitment, fixation, bondage.” . .

“To be free in the world you must be free of the world.

Otherwise your past decides for you and your future.”

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice.

Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”

“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,

such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,

or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”


A.  “Everything is predetermined.”

~ Ramana Maharshi

 




What Choice Do We Have?

Ego is free to choose,
But is never free.

Self does not choose,
But is ever free.

Our only choice
Is to accept or reject
“What is”.

Acceptance is pleasure;
Rejection is suffering.

Acceptance is freedom;
Rejection is bondage.

Acceptance is NOW;
Rejection is then.

So, if choose you must,
Then with faith and trust,

Say “YES” to Life –

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of “What Choice Do We Have?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanations and reflections on “What Choice Do We Have?”

Dear Friends,

Like many other writings on the Silly Sutras website the forgoing poem and quotations concern the perennial puzzle of freedom of choice versus fate or destiny. They summarize perspectives which I still endorse, after composing the poem many years ago during an extended period of post-retirement reclusion.

Please forgive redundancies in this posting. Long-ago I became a non-dualist determinist. So today I had no choice but to ask again “What Choice Do We Have?”.

Except for rare Buddha-like beings who Self-identify only as Universal Awareness – as Absolute – the vast majority of Humans mentally self-identify with their “soap operas” as supposedly separate ego entities in space and time.

And as long as we believe ourselves to be such separate entities, we invariably experience apparent freedom of choice, but are subject to the law of cause and effect, with separate destinies and inevitable karmic sufferings.

We have apparent freedom of choice only until we transcend our mental illusion of separation. Whereupon we realize freedom from choice.

If there is no entity separate from Universal Awareness, how can there be any separate choice or destiny? When a mirage bubble bursts into the Ocean of Awareness, it exists only as the Ocean, without supposed separate choice or destiny.

As great beings recurrently remind us, all we call “reality” is an ever impermanent illusory mental mirage, maya or samsara. We transcend or end that mutable mirage, as we experience its Absolute Source and Essence as pure and undivided Universal Awareness.

Quantum science shows us that everything in space/time is energy (e=mc2); that all forms and phenomena are merely vibrating and radiating immaterial energies endlessly and inevitably appearing (from unknown causes and conditions) out of and disappearing into an ineffable matrix of mystery.

“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong.
What we have called matter is energy,
whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.”

~ Albert Einstein


“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free 
but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
~ Albert Einstein


“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”

~ Max Planck

For millennia mystical inner explorers have experienced that matrix of mystery through transcendentally elevated awareness, and they have realized that the sole Source of what we call “reality” is ineffable Universal Awareness – Consciousness beyond mental description, conception, or belief.

So from a non-dualist “Buddha’s eye view” our supposedly separate space/time “reality” isn’t really Real – it’s just an immaterial energy mirage; and our beliefs about it – including free choice and destiny – are mere mental illusions.

“The world, indeed, is like a dream

and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”

~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,

does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”

~ Buddha


Whether or not we can agree that whatever happens in space/time “reality” is karmically predestined – that earth-life is like a pre-programmed dream – I have found that assuming predestination can help us find happiness.

We can experience ever growing peace of mind by more and more refraining from exercising apparent freedom of choice, and accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise; that everything is happening in the best way and at the best time – as an evolutionary opportunity and incentive. 

So, I sincerely invite your careful consideration of today’s profound quotations and “What Choice Do We Have?” poem. 

May these writings help all of us find increasing happiness by accepting difficulties as evolutionary opportunities, and by finding blessings in unexpected interactions with others.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

“Miracles”

“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
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change.”
~ Buddha
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air,
but simply walking on this earth.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.
The real miracle is the love that inspires them.
In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”
~ A Course in Miracles
“All is a miracle.
The stupendous order of nature,
the revolution of a hundred millions of worlds around a million of stars,
the activity of light,
the life of all animals,
all are grand and perpetual miracles.”
~ Francois Voltaire
“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”
~ Walt Whitman
“When we do the best that we can,
we never know what miracle is wrought in our life,
or in the life of another.”
~ Helen Keller




“Miracles” ~ By Walt Whitman – “Leaves of Grass

Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?



Ron’s Reflections on “Miracles”

Dear Friends,

Miracles are phenomena which can’t be explained scientifically or through common wisdom. Depending on each person’s unique experience of “reality”, different people consider different phenomena to be ‘miracles’.

But, throughout history, spiritually evolved beings – like those quoted above – have humbly recognized and accepted that all earth life is an eternal miracle attributable to Divine Power.

Recognition that all Life is a Divine miracle, can elicit deep feelings of happiness, gratitude, awe, faith, and acceptance of whatever happens in our lives.

So Einstein wisely endorsed living

“as though everything is is a miracle.”

After many years of living more and more “as though everything is is a miracle”, I have experienced ever expanding contentment and happiness with unspeakable gratitude for every moment of life, accepting whatever happens as a Divine play of consciousness.

I now often perceive this entire space/time Universe – like a movie – as a miraculous matrix projection onto a ’screen of consciousness’, with ever impermanent forms and phenomena appearing from and disappearing into an eternally mysterious Source.

Though THAT miraculous Source is ultimately unnameable, I often call it LOVE.

Thus, for me:

“Everything comes from divine LOVE;
and everything that comes from LOVE is a miracle”.


So Divine LOVE is the ultimate miracle.

Accordingly, with immense gratitude I find harmonic resonance with Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s experiential observations that God’s love is an ever present immense gift and grace:

“Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love,

for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

~ Thomas Merton

Knowingly or unknowingly we are all graced and gifted with Divine LOVE as the eternal Source of constant miracles which bless our lives.

So – like Thomas Merton – may we experience that “every moment of existence is a grace”.

And let us:

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 – “Remember”


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Quotations About Religion


“If there is love in your heart,
you don’t have to worry about rules.”
~ Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas

Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas


Quotations About Religion

“My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect
of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.”
“The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics
that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~ Dalai Lama

“This is a time for us to remember that in the name of religion more people have died than in all the wars and natural calamities put together. Now more than ever we must understand that the purpose of religion is not to separate us. True faiths don’t preach hatred and killing, nor did any of the prophets. It is the people who interpret the scriptures who create the divisions. Division comes if we put our ego into the teachings of these religions. Let us strive to be free of that kind of egoism”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“People often ask me, “What religion are you? You talk about the Bible, Koran, Torah. Are you a Hindu?” I say, I am not a Catholic, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, but an Undo. My religion is Undoism. We have done enough damage (with religious dogma). We have to stop doing any more and simply undo the damage we have already done.”
~ Swami Satchidananda – Beyond Words

“The great religions are the ships,

Poets the life boats. 

Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”

~ Hafiz

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim,
 not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi or Zen.
 Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all. 
I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.
 My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,
 First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.”
~ Rumi, ‘Only Breath’

“I have learned so much from God

That I can no longer call myself

a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.”
~ Hafiz

“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Let us accept all the different paths as different rivers running toward the same ocean.”
~ Swami Satchidananda

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.”
~ Khalil Gibran – “The Prophet”

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.  ”
~ Albert Einstein

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think.
Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
~ George Orwell, 1984

“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.
Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

“Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”
~ Karl Marx

“Religion is confining and imprisoning and toxic because it is based on ideology and dogma. But spirituality is redeeming and universal.”
~ Deepak Chopra

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
~ Mark Twain – Autobiography, 1959

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
~ Aldous Huxley

“There is only one God, the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …
There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”
~ Sathya Sai Baba

“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion — Hindus, Mohammendans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well — the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. At a third the Christians call it ‘water’. Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal’, but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

“Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”
~ Carl Jung

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”

 



Ron’s comments on urgent necessity of reciprocal empathy,
beyond religion-based behaviors


Dear Friends,

The foregoing quotations about religion have been posted to help us avert worldwide catastrophe from false religious interpretations of prophets’ teachings about peace and unity.

Religious prophets have always preached against killing and violence. And every enduring religious, spiritual or ethical tradition has endorsed the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy and kindness.

For example,

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
that is the whole of the Torah;
all the rest of it is commentary.”
~ Rabbi Hillel – Judaism
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”

~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity

“Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.”

~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism

“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”

~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism

“Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam

Yet, countless people have died and suffered throughout human history in the name of religion, which is often cited to hypocritically justify immoral partisan political or economic desires. Because of advanced technologies, wars and other violent behaviors which for centuries have caused immense miseries, now threaten all planetary life as we have known it.

So – at long last – humans urgently need to abandon wars and warlike behaviors.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
~ Albert Einstein


Humanity can no longer survive, without practicing universal ethical behaviors which transcend divisive religious beliefs cited to justify immorally violent activities.


“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect
 of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.”

“The time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama

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

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama


To end wars and warlike behaviors, it is imperative that we honor our hearts’ inner wisdom over divisive religious, political or economic beliefs, so as to transcend problems of violence created from lower ego levels of human consciousness.

With opened hearts may we stop treating others as we don’t wish to be treated ourselves, by practicing the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy.

May we begin treating all sentient beings with kindness, compassion and empathy – with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
~ Cicero
“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





Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

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

“Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence …
For thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.”
~ 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

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

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

“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

“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


Happy Thanksgiving Day – Every Day!


Beautiful Gratitude Video



Reflections on Religious Beliefs

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

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
 it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.”

~ Alan Watts
“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”

~ J. Krishnamurti
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.
So, we seek relief from belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Follow dharma, not dogma.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .
“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ Dalai Lama
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama






Reflections on Religious Beliefs

Q. What is religion?

A. “Religion” is a word with many meanings.
Here we define it as “any belief system about Divinity or immortality often including rules, rituals, codes of ethics, and philosophies of life.”

Q. Why do we have religions?

A. There is a subtle Cosmic law of ‘supply and demand.’ Religions have arisen in response to our perennial quest for lasting peace and happiness, and our desire to transcend inevitable earthly psychological sufferings.

Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone seeks Happiness, Wholeness, and Love. Consciously or subliminally, we intuit and long for a state of Being which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering. Knowingly or unknowingly we seek timeless Truth.

Religious belief is a form of attempted life guidance, and psychological self-protection from fear of inevitable physical death and uncertain life experience before death. Though many find transient consolation in accepting religious beliefs about divinity and immortality, such beliefs can’t permanently provide such protection. We can’t find freedom from fear of death and from life’s uncertainties through theories, thoughts or beliefs, but only through direct experiential Knowledge.

Thus, the Buddha who realized such freedom while meditating beneath a Banyan tree, counseled:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

When twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he said:

“[B]elief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.” …… “Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”

Similarly the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,
though boundless and unchanging,
appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”

“The [mistaken] identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
causes the apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”

“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience, the senses receive no impressions from sense objects, and awareness rests in its essential nature.”

“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras

Q. Why is a silent mind important?

A. Through thought we self identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world. But this is an ego illusion. So, attempted psychological self-preservation through perpetuation of an illusionary self-image is futile. What never was can never be preserved. Thus, religious beliefs that seek psychological self protection from identification with an illusion of separateness from Self are ultimately futile.

The object of all spiritual practice is to transcend such illusionary ego identity. Such transcendence happens only when thought ceases and the universal intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided.

Q. What about instinctive physical acts of self-protection, as distinguished from religious beliefs aimed at psychological self-preservation?

A. According to J.Krishnamurti:

“Physical self-protection is sane, normal and healthy but every other form of self-protection, inwardly, is resistance and it always gathers, builds up strength which is fear.”

Q. Are religious beliefs important?

A. Our ethical behaviors – not our religious beliefs – are most important.

As the Dalai Lama reportedly has said:

“There is no religion higher than the Truth. … What really is important is our behavior with peers, family, work, community, and in the world. …. Whether or not we follow a religion, what is important is that we become more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsible, more ethical.” https://sillysutras.com/your-religion-is-not-important/

So grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

Ron’s Comments on Urgently Necessary Ethical Behavior Beyond Religious Beliefs

Dear Friends,

Without universal ethical behavior beyond conflicting religious beliefs, humanity cannot survive.

As explained in the foregoing essay, throughout human history, people have adopted or accepted “religious” beliefs, practices and institutions, in exploring the mystery and meaning of life and existence. About 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or with some form of folk religion. Also there are now an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.

Paradoxically, some leaders and devotees of religions organized to teach universal “Truth” realized by Great Beings have perpetuated and acted on mistaken egoic ideas of separateness, which the sages transcended. Thus, throughout human history countless people and other precious life forms – all manifestations of that same Universal “Truth” – have been victims of demonic wars, crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and ‘terrorism’ initiated and perpetrated in the name of “true” religion or God.

Although religious beliefs and practices have also inspired immeasurable good, advances in technological and scientific knowledge now reveal that Humankind urgently need to transcend such behaviors which have spawned immense misery and even threaten all Earth life as we have known it.

But how can this happen?

Inspired by the wisdom of Dr. Seuss that “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple,” I have long reflected on on this question, seeking simple answers to the immensely complicated crises confronting us.

Perhaps one of the simplest but most powerful answers I’ve found is:

“There is only one God,

the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;

There is only one language, the language of the Heart;

There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”

~ Sathya Sai Baba

But most people are not yet sufficiently evolved to understand and act in accordance with that profound realization expressed by Sai Baba.

So I was delighted when His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently published an important self-help book – “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” – which H.H. introduced with this important insight:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2011)

And I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by similar sentiments addressed to all Humankind by Pope Francis, e.g.:

“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

“[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”. . . .
“[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk

And so we must realize that

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama

With silenced minds and opened hearts may we practice the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy, and compassionately view and treat all sentient beings as spiritual siblings. May everyone everywhere treat all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Why The Choir Was Late ~ an Amazing Synchronicity Story

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
~ James 1:17
All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
~ Buddha
“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”
~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire
“As I look back upon my own life, I see how many events – which at the time appeared horribly painful or unnecessary – contained remarkable lessons which I sometimes did not understand until many years later. Now life appears to me – more and more – as a gorgeous Persian rug. Seen from underneath (that is, from the ordinary human viewpoint), it may be a mess of loose strands, knots, pieces of wool hanging in a disorderly manner; but seen from above – from another level of perspective – what perfect order, harmony and beauty!”
~ Pierre Pradervand

Why The Choir Was Late: Introduction

When the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, was demolished by an explosion on Wednesday, March 1, 1950, fifteen people were supposed to be there. But miraculously the church was empty and no one was injured.

Choir practice at the church always began punctually at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. Choir members were usually prompt and ready to sing by 7:25 p.m. But at 7:25 p.m., when the explosion occurred, nobody was there.

The blast collapsed the church, caused power outages which forced a nearby radio station off the air, shattered windows in surrounding homes and could be heard around the town.

Miraculously not one of the people who should have been present had yet arrived when the building collapsed. Every one of the choir’s fifteen members escaped injury, saved by an astonishing fortuitious “coincidence”. For different apparent reasons, all were late for practice that night.

Though amazing, this story actually did happen. See e.g. Snopes. Also see Beatrice Daily Sun article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the explosion entitled: “Church explosion 60 years ago not forgotten – Remember the miracle”

Embedded below is an excellent and accurate video portrayal of the story. Watch it after reading the story.

The following article telling the story originally appeared in the March 27, 1950 issue of Life Magazine, was reprinted in the June 1950 issue of Reader’s Digest, and in the 1951 30th Anniversary Reader’s Digest Reader. And it was republished in 1991 by Time-Life Books in World of Luck: Library of Curious and Unusual Facts.

Why The Choir Was Late by George H. Edeal

It happened on the evening of March 1 in the town of Beatrice, Nebraska. In the afternoon the Reverend Walter Klempel had gone to the West Side Baptist Church to get things ready for choir practice. He lit the furnace – most of the singers were in the habit of arriving around 7:15, and it was chilly in the church – and went home to dinner. But at 7:10, when it was time for him to go back to the church with his wife and daughter, Marilyn Ruth, it turned out that Marilyn Ruth’s dress was soiled, so Mrs. Klempel ironed another. Thus they were still at home when it happened.

Ladona Vandegrift, a high school sophomore, was having trouble with a geometry problem. She knew practice began promptly and always came early. But she stayed to finish the problem.

Royena Estes was ready, but the car would not start. So she and her sister, Sadie, called Ladona Vandegrift, and asked her to pick them up. But Ladona was the girl with the geometry problem, and the Estes sisters had to wait.

Mrs. Leonard Schuster would ordinarily have arrived at 7:20 with her small daughter, Susan. But on this particular evening she had to go to her mother’s house to help her get ready for a missionary meeting.

Herbert Kipf, lathe operator, would have been ahead of time but had put off an important letter. “I can’t think why,” he said. He lingered over it and was late.

It was a cold evening. Stenographer Joyce Black, feeling “just plain lazy,” stayed in her warm house until the last possible moment. She was almost ready to leave.

Because his wife was away, machinist Harvey Ahl was taking care of his two boys. He was going to take them to practice with him, but somehow he got wound up talking. When he looked at his watch, he saw he was already late.

Marilyn Paul, the pianist, had planned to arrive half an hour early. However, she fell asleep after dinner, and when her mother awakened her at 7:15 she had time only to tidy up and start out.

Mrs. F.E. Paul, choir director, and mother of the pianist, was late simply because her daughter was. She had tried unsuccessfully to awaken the girl earlier.

High school girls Lucille Jones and Dorothy Wood are neighbors and customarily go to practice together. Lucille was listening to a 7-to-7:30 radio program and broke her habit of promptness because she wanted to hear the end. Dorothy waited for her.

At 7:25, with a roar heard in almost every corner of Beatrice, the West Side Baptist Church blew up. The walls fell outward, the heavy wooden roof crashed straight down like the weight in a deadfall. But, because of such matters as a soiled dress, a cat nap, an unfinished letter, a geometry problem and a stalled car, all of the members of the choir were late – something which had never happened before.

Firemen thought the explosion had been caused by natural gas, which may have leaked into the church from a broken pipe outside and been ignited by the fire in the furnace. The Beatrice choir members had no particular theory about the fire’s cause, but each of them began to reflect on the heretofore inconsequential details of his life, wondering at exactly what point it is that one can say,
“This is an act of God.”

Unsolved Mysteries – Lucky Choir




Conclusion

After reading the story and watching the video, consider how such an amazing synchronistic event might have happened.

Though various choir members gave various explanations for being late for choir practice that night, was there an underlying common Cause for all of them fortuitously missing death or injury in the church explosion?

Were all of the choir members subliminally guided from a deep level of higher consciousness – a level at which everyone and everything is connected?

Were they unconsciously entrained with and guided by what Einstein calls “Universal Intelligence”?

Was it predestined that all of them would live unharmed; that none would die?

We can only speculate on answers to these questions, or on other possible explanations. But whatever our views, such marvels and blessings can infuse us with awe and gratitude for our miraculous life in this wondrous world and with abiding faith in the eternal mystery of Divine Love –
its Source.

And so may it be!


Ron’s Reflections on “Why The Choir Was Late”

Dear Friends,

On the Earth branch of the great Cosmic University, we learn from our life experience and from experiences of others.

So, I often concur with Einstein’s statements that: “The only source of knowledge is experience.;” and that “learning is experience, everything else .. just information.”  

From a long life of experiential learning, I have gratefully and joyfully discovered a mysterious Divine Power which ‘controls’ everyone and everything that appears or happens in our universe.  [ see e.g. I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life ]  

Sometimes I call that infinitely potential Power “The Lone Arranger”.  Through constant synchronicities manifesting in my life I have realized that The Lone Arranger is my ‘appointments secretary’, and – as an ex-lawyer with faith – I have delegated  general power of attorney to The Lone Arranger to guide my earth-life and to karmically respond to “sins” of others.

“Why The Choir Was Late” is a story which has helped inspire my faith in the Divine, as one of the most amazing and miraculous true synchronicity stories I have ever heard.

On Wednesday, March 1, 1950 – the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, was demolished by a sudden explosion.  Fifteen people were supposed to be there for choir practice.  But amazingly and miraculously the church was empty and no one was injured.

Please reflect on the deep significance of this story.  Was it “luck” that saved fifteen lives or was it destiny, or Divine Love?

May this story help spark our inner fire of faith in the power of The Lone Arranger, and thus bring us ever increasing happiness and peace of mind.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Imagining A Better World – With Faith

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein
“You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”
~ John Lennon, “Imagine”
“Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind
and darkens all its visions of other realities;
but in the end when we become used to the new light,
we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself.”
~ Thomas Merton
“On a long journey of human life,
faith is the best of companions;
it is the best refreshment on the journey;
and it is the greatest property.”
~ Buddha
“Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far,

but none comes further.”
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”
~ Blaise Pascal
“Faith—in life, in other people, and in oneself—is the attitude of
 allowing the spontaneous to be spontaneous, in its own way and in its own time.”
 . . .
“Faith is, above all, open-ness—an act of trust in the unknown.”
~ Alan Watts

Imagining A Better World – With Faith

Just as dreamers ‘create’ their dreams,
together we are a ‘dream-team’, dreaming our world into being;

And, consciously or unconsciously creating a ‘common dream’.

Together, we are awakening to the greatest “secret of secrets”:

That we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”,
but also its co-creators –

That we karmically co-create our reality with our imagination, thoughts, words and deeds;

That everything we think, do or say changes our world in some way;

That our worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.

As we are awakening, we are discovering that our great gift of imagination can immeasurably help us live harmonious, loving, self actuated, and creative lives.

As we are awakening, and discovering our true nature and unlimited potential,
we are becoming infused with abiding faith in Nature and our Self,

And with faith in the impenetrable Mystery beyond every form or phenomenon.

We are learning – as Einstein taught us – that
what we imagine is “the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

So, as we awaken with abiding faith and love,
together let us “imagine” – like martyred hero John Lennon – that

“Someday …. the world will live as one”.

AND SO SHALL IT BE!


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)



Ron’s Commentary on Envisioning a Better World:

Dear Friends,

The foregoing post was inspired by the recent 77th birthday anniversary of departed hero John Lennon, who – like Dr. King and Malcolm X – was martyred at age forty at the pinnacle of his powers, but who bequeathed to us a lasting legacy of unflagging aspiration for planetary peace and love, so that some day our “world will live as one.” 

The 2016 US presidential primary and general elections revealed that most Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo in US empire politics, and are concerned about societal inequity issues.  Thus, millions of Americans – especially ‘millennials’ – desire an era in which at long last the US ‘walks it talk’ and becomes democratically and constitutionally governed for the wellbeing of the vast majority of ordinary people everywhere, rather than the upper 1% – an era of true democracy, with much less plutocracy and hypocrisy.

Whatever our political, cultural, generational, or geographical perspectives may be, we share overriding common needs and aspirations.  As Humankind we share the same web of life, the same precious Earth ecology, the same aspirations for health and happiness and for just societies serving basic needs of all life on a peaceful planet.
   
Accordingly, with abiding faith in Nature’s wisdom, let us join together in envisioning fulfillment of our common needs and deepest aspirations in an equitable new era for planetary politics and Human civilization.   

May everyone everywhere be happy!

And so may it be!   

Ron Rattner

Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi


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, over one hundred forty 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.

Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see. Though he realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of universal importance.

Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Like Gandhi, may each of us be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that will bless all life on our precious planet.

And so it shall be!

Surrender and Let Go of Ego ~ Quotes and Sutra Sayings

We have nothing to surrender
But the idea
That we’re someone,
With something
To surrender.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
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
“Surrender is faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything
even when you cannot foresee the outcome.”
~ Deepak Chopra
“They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.”
~ Rumi
Love is the sacrifice of will.
If you cannot leave will behind
You have no will at all.
~ Rumi
“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
Q. How much “ego” do you need?
A. Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi





Ron’s Sutra Sayings on Surrendering Ego.

We have nothing to surrender
but the idea that
we’re someone,
with something
to surrender.

Let’s let go
and
let life live us,
as Love.

Let’s leave it to the
Lone Arranger.

Let’s let go, and “go with the flow”.*

*Being “in the flow” is thought-free, effortless, and focused
merging of intention, action, and awareness
as consciousness – consciously letting Life happen through you.

Tao is Now,
Tao is One,
Tao is Doer,
Tao will be done.

Tao will be done.
So let Tao do it.

Give your spiritual
‘power of attorney’
to God.

“Let go, and let God.”*

*Unity Church maxim

Leave it to the Lone Arranger.

Ego Antidote:
The root of all problems is
I/me/mine.
End it with antidote,
Thy/Thee/Thine.

Ego: Use it to lose it!

Immolate ego
in the fire of faith.

As ego goes
consciousness grows
until it Knows –
Itself.

Ego is free to choose,
but is never free.
Self does not choose,
but is ever free.

Our only choice
is to accept
or reject
“what is”.

Acceptance is pleasure;
rejection is suffering.
Acceptance is freedom;
rejection is bondage.
Acceptance is NOW;
rejection is then.

So, if choose you must,
then with faith and trust,
say “yes” to Life.

With radical trust
we do as we must.

The more we trust
the less we try.

Enter a state of enlightened amnesia:

Be now;
forget then.

Remember God;
forget the rest.

Forget who you think you are,
to remember what you really are.



Ron’s audio recitation of Sutra Sayings- Surrender and Let Go of Ego

Listen to