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Imagine – The World Will Live As One


 “Imagine… the world will live as one
”
~ John Lennon
 (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)
“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





Imagine – The World Will Live As One

On John Lennon’s seventy seventh birthday anniversary,
we recall his eloquent and inspiring expression
of our shared wish for planetary peace and happiness
in his legendary and heartfelt song “Imagine”.

Let us honor him by re-dedicating ourselves
to the realization of that imperative universal vision,
for the welfare of all life on our precious planet.

And so it shall be!


John Lennon – “Imagine” (live performance)


“Imagine”


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


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Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

“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


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Gandhi’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth: “Satyagraha” – The Original 9/11 Truth Movement


“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)




The Original 9/11 Truth Movement.

Since 9/11/2001, 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 September 11, 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]

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 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.

“Satyagraha”.

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 not just political. It also was relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the practice of active, faith-based nonviolence.

*Epilogue.

Gandhi’s life and words have influenced and actuated countless others worldwide.

For example, inspired by Gandhi, in the 1990’s Nelson Mandela peacefully and nonviolently negotiated the end of apartheid and the beginning of multi-racial constitutional democracy in the same South Africa, where Gandhi’s nonviolent anti-apartheid movement began. Mandela emphasized reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate, reveal and transcend past human rights abuses.





Also inspired by Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced nonviolent social activism to oppose US racial segregation, and the undemocratic and immoral war in Viet Nam.

Dr. King was a fourth generation Baptist preacher and non-violent social activist especially inspired by Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi.  He honored and followed Gandhi as “guiding light  …. of nonviolent social change’’, and 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.” 

Ultimately, 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:  Gandhi as a South African civil rights lawyer; and King as a Southern-Baptist preacher.  Gradually their missions expanded to encompass universal freedom and social justice for everyone everywhere.  In 1964 Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he accepted saying:

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral . . . Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Gandhi ultimately inspired independence of the entire Indian subcontinent from almost a century of colonial domination and exploitation by the British raj. Dr. King conscientiously resisted immoral US racism and eloquently decried its false flag immoral war in Viet Nam, and the entire exploitive US capitalist economic system which fostered perpetual war for perpetual profit of a privileged few, to the undemocratic detriment of an impoverished majority.  He said:

“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” .. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

“Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.” .. “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.” 

Like Jesus and Gandhi, Reverend King preached love and forgiveness, saying:

“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.”

Like Jesus and Gandhi, Reverend King was martyred in 1968 at the pinnacle of his powers.   Dr. King – like President John F. Kennedy –  was assassinated by the US military/industrial secret government when his expanding influence became an intolerable barrier to their psychopathic and sociopathic plans for the Viet Nam war and beyond.

Conclusion.

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 and oppression everywhere.

And so it shall be!


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What is Faith? ~ Quotes

Faith is the highest passion in a human being.
Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.
~ Soren Kierkegaard
“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 a knowledge within the heart,
beyond the reach of proof.”

“Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking”

~ Khalil Gibran
“The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.”

“Faith is different from proof;
the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.”

“Faith embraces many truths which seem to contradict each other.”

~ Blaise Pascal
“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …
To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Faith is much better than belief.
Belief is when someone else does the thinking.”
~ Buckminster Fuller
“Faith means living with uncertainty –
feeling your way through life,
letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark”
~ Dan Millman
“My faith runs so very much faster than my reason that I can challenge the whole world and say, ’God is, was and ever shall be’.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“This above all, to thy own Self be true.”
~ William Shakespeare
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!”
~ Swami Vivekananda
“Intelligence must follow faith, never precede it, and never destroy it.”
~ Thomas Kempis
“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
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move.”
~ Matthew 17:20



Ron’s Commentary on Mystical Faith.

Dear Friends,

In reviewing and revising previous SillySutras postings, as preparation for ebook publication of memoirs and other postings, I’ve been wondering about the subtle circumstances which have seemed most important in furthering my spiritual evolution from age forty two to age eighty four.

Forty two years ago, I was self-identifying as an uptight and unhappy middle-aged secular litigation lawyer on the brink of divorce, when I had an unforgettable “out of body” experience [OOB] which sparked four decades of spiritual exploration and evolution – so far.

Now I mostly self-identify as eternal spirit enjoying a brief “in a body experience” as an 84 year old retired lawyer and spiritual writer. And I feel blessed with great happiness and gratitude for this precious fleeting lifetime, despite its inevitable ups and downs.

In wondering why this has happened, I’ve decided that continuing deep faith in the mystical mystery of Divinity has been crucial to my spiritual opening with ever increasing happiness. Previously, I have explained in essays how “I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life” and defined faith as distinguished from belief.

Today I have posted the foregoing profound quotations about faith to help inspire us. Please read and reflect on them.

Also I’ve embedded hereafter a beautiful youtube video performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s inspiring song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as excerpted from the film version of their classical musical play “Carousel”. The emotions we feel from that performance can also help inspire our deep realization that with faith and hope in our heart we’ll never walk alone.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel”.



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Memorial Day, 2017, Re-dedication Proclamation

“we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”
~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good,
both for oneself and others.” 
~ Dalai Lama
“Our task must be to free ourselves…
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein




Since its inception following the American Civil War, Memorial Day has commemorated the passing of men and women who died while participating in US wars against and amongst other people. But today as we enjoy passing pleasures of a long holiday weekend, many Americans have forgotten the sacred spirit with which Memorial Day was inaugurated – a spirit recognizing and honoring the sanctity of Life.

Now as humanity’s insane armed internecine conflicts continue, and as people continue dying and suffering needlessly for questionable causes instigated by sociopathic or psychopathic “leaders”, isn’t it time for us to rededicate Memorial Day to the sacred spirit with which it originated?

Today we are experiencing world-wide environmental crises against not just human life but against all life-forms on our precious planet, and against Mother Nature which birthed us all.

Unrestrained corporate capitalism coercively and insidiously exploits and injures vulnerable people and myopically plunders, depletes and corrupts finite planetary resources which sustain life. Billions of people suffer needless death, displacement, poverty, starvation, injury and avoidable disease, while obscenely privileged plutocrats greedily acquire power and excessive material wealth far beyond their conceivable needs.

Until now, much of humanity has suffered illusionary psychological separation from Nature allowing unsustainable ecological desecration of our precious planet and barbaric exploitation of vulnerable people and other life-forms.

Isn’t it now urgently imperative for us to elevate our societal awareness and to realize at long last that Nature is our nature; that Nature knows best and will have its Way; that we are not dependent upon exploitation of our planet or others but interdependent with all life thereon; that we can no longer unsustainably exploit Nature and others without dire consequences?

In solemnly observing Memorial Day 2017, let us resolutely re-dedicate Humankind to our renewed and ever elevated awareness of the sanctity of all Life – not just human life.

And with such elevated awareness let us end insane internecine conflicts and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet and of susceptible sentient beings, and let us peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other life on our precious planet Earth.

And so it shall be!



Ron’s Commentary on the Sacred Spirit of Memorial Day

At its inception over one hundred fifty years ago the US Memorial Day holiday honored those who died and was dedicated to the aspiration that the country would never again experience such devastating death and destruction, as eloquently uttered in Lincoln’s Gettysburg address that

“we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” ~ Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Regrettably Lincoln’s vision and aspiration have not yet been realized, and the death and destruction which he movingly decried have persisted and extended in ways he probably could never imagine.

The United States of America has become a colossal world empire perpetually involved in wars, either directly or vicariously. It is possible that the US has killed more than 20 million people in 37 “victim nations” since World War II, including millions of non-combatant civilian women and children.

Moreover, especially since the recent “red pill” election of Donald J. Trump as US President, it has become painfully evident to many Americans that their government is no longer a democracy – that US government of the people, by the people, for the people has insidiously been co-opted by a few international oligopolists who have instigated a government of, by and for multinational corporations and billionaires serving less than 1% of Humankind.

Trump’s election and his initial appointments, actions and policies apparently have triggered unprecedented worldwide social unrest and adversity, with many people believing that we are experiencing a serious regression of social progress, and even fearing a World War III nuclear holocaust or end of planetary ecology supporting life on Earth as we have known it.

Yet these critical times of immense jeopardy and suffering can afford us an extraordinary evolutionary opportunity for promoting world peace and rededicating Humanity to the sanctity of all life on Earth. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has observed:

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” 

So, inspired by the Dalai Lama, we have posted the foregoing essay and videos intended to help us rededicate Humanity to the sanctity of all life on Earth.

Whether or not we are citizens of the American empire, may we all compassionately commemorate Memorial Day by rededicating ourselves to the sanctity of universal peace and to the welfare of the World and all life thereon.

May we peacefully and democratically, harmoniously and happily, co-exist with each other and with all other Life on our precious planet Earth.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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Why Be Here Now?

“Life can be found only in the present moment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here,

and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment,

we cannot be in touch with life.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Life is NOW

Ever NOW

Never then.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Dear Friends,

In 1977, soon after my midlife spiritual awakening, I was introduced to Eastern spiritual wisdom by a book called “Be Here Now”. It told about the spiritual transformation of Dr. Richard Alpert, Harvard Ph.D, into Ram Dass, a Western teacher of Eastern wisdom, after meeting his Hindu guru – Neem Karoli Baba.

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

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

Gradually the book’s title “Be Here Now!” became for me a memorable guide for spiritual awakening; a reminder to live with a quiet mind in the present moment – an idea which I later found often repeated in other spiritual books and teachings.

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

Only after many years of meditating regularly did my ‘monkey mind’ gradually cease its ceaseless chatter, permitting me the option of using it or not, and of choosing to enjoy moments of choiceless awareness. Whereupon, I realized that “to think or not to think, that is the question”, and I understood Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras’ key aphorism that “Yoga is the cessation of mind.”

By learning to live with a quiet mind in the present moment, I’ve found that “The more we live moment by moment, the more momentous our lives;” and that “That when all thoughts cease, we are at peace.”

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

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

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I have discovered a book passage that can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!” in a state of precious presence.

Through synchronicity I recently received from my high school friend John Rubel of West Virginia a wonderfully witty passage written by brilliant comedian Sid Ceasar in his 1982 autobiography – “Where Have I Been?” – telling how he learned that being in the “now” can “change your whole cycle of life”.

Whether or not we are interested in Eastern wisdom or mindfulness or peak performance while “in the zone”, I think this passage can help us understand “The Power of Now” and why it’s important to “Be Here Now!”

So here it is:

“While people keep waiting and waiting for something big to happen in life, the “now” is passing them by. Do you know how fast a “now” passes? At the rate of 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light. So no matter how much you love and enjoy a particular “now,” that’s how fast it becomes a “was.” That “now” is never coming back, and that “was” ties into some “going-to-be.”

“So if you don’t learn from the “was’s” you’re going to have bad “going-to-be’s, which completes the cycle by bringing in bad “nows.” Thus, the only time you can switch around from a negative into a positive is in the “now.” Because you have to do it now. You can’t just think of doing it now because it is rapidly becoming a “was,” and it’s too late. And “going-to–be” is you may do it and you may not. So if you do it now, you know it’s done and you’ve got it. If you have a good “now’ you have a good “was,” which leads to a good “going-to-be.”

“In other words, by taking advantage of a “now, maybe even changing a bad “now” into a good “now,” you can have a good “was” from which you can learn and change your whole cycle of life. That’s why I never use the word “if” anymore. An “if” is a “never was.”

~ Comedian Sid Caesar – “Where Have I Been?”, p271


May Sid Caesar’s wise and witty words help us remember that being present in the NOW can be a key to spiritual awakening and peak performance for everyone everywhere.

And so may it be – NOW!

Ron Rattner

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How St. Francis of Assisi Inspires Pope Francis


“[W]hen our hearts are authentically open to universal
communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.”

“Francis helps us to see . . .the heart of what it is to be human ”

“Saint Francis shows us just how inseparable the bond is . . . .
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” 

“The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical:
a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” 

~  Pope Francis (from Laudato Si* climate encyclical message)


Saint Francis of Assisi


Ron’s Introduction.

Like millions of others worldwide I was deeply moved and inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the USA.  On conclusion of that visit I wondered why the Pope – a Jesuit from Latin America – had been inspired to become first in history to take the papal name Francis.  

I soon discovered a probable answer to this question in introductory paragraphs of the Pope’s recent profound climate encyclical message, Laudato Si, or “Praised Be” [*see footnote] specifically referring to the exemplary and inspiring life of the Pope’s namesake Saint Francis of Assisi. Those paragraphs explain why the Saint is revered not only by the Pope and countless Christians, but by numerous others world-wide for his simple life of heartfelt universal love and oneness with Nature.

To honor Saint Francis and the Pope I am sharing with you below those inspiring words of Pope Francis expressing reverence for his namesake. 

Encyclical message.

The encyclical message opens with these words:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured 
flowers and herbs”.[1] 

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.


Then, after briefly summarizing apt teachings of his papal predecessors, the Pope explicitly explains his inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi as follows:

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, 
and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is 
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. 

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with 
all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure 
tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if 
we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. 

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of 
the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

 

Later the Pope cites the Saint as inspiring us to commune with Nature in open hearted compassion for for all beings and all Life:

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the 
very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment 
to resolving the problems of society. 

92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.

221. May the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way,  we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied.

Footnote.

*“Laudato Si”, or “Praised Be.” is a refrain from “The Canticle of the Creatures,” a hymn composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

 
Conclusion.

While remembering and honoring Saint Francis, let us deeply consider and heed the Pope’s wise and profound words addressed to all Humankind, not just to Catholic hierarchy and laity. 
 
Thereby may every one of us – each from our unique perspective and in our unique way – help Humankind urgently address and peacefully resolve immense ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts confronting us internationally and interpersonally.

And so may it be!

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Thoughts About Thought: Ron’s Sutra Sayings

“Nothing’s either good or bad,

but thinking makes it so.”
~ Shakespeare


“All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him,
as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.”
~ Buddha
Great souls are they who see
that spiritual is stronger than material force,
that thoughts rule the world.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”
~ Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
Thought divides Awareness as a prism divides light.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All thoughts,
are thoughts
about thoughts.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
When all thoughts cease,
we are at peace.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Thoughts About Thought:

This world is wrought 
with naught but thought.

Everything’s energy:
E=mc2.
Mind is matrix.
Consciousness is context.


Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.


Thoughts are thinks;
thoughts are things.



Thoughts form thought-forms.


All forms are thought-forms.


Body/minds are thinking thought-forms.



“Reality” is what we think it is.



“Reality” will never be what we wish it to be,

yet it ever will be what we think it to be.



Inner infinity spawns outer “reality”.



Everything’s energy in Awareness.



Each thought 
is a notion,

ever in motion,

in an infinite ocean
 –
of Being.



Love-thoughts bless the world,

but fear-thoughts afflict it.



Space/time is thought;

no thought, no time, no place.



Problems are thought;

no thought, no problems.


We live optimally

when we live presently,
but think optionally –
not constantly or compulsively.


Thoughts are then;

Life is NOW.



Life is perpetual;
thought is optional.


Bliss abides,
 when thought subsides.




Ron’s audio recitation of Thoughts About Thought:

Listen to


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Solstice Salutations and Invocations For a Peaceful and Happy New Age

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





With winter solstice, as we begin a new cycle of ever increasing sunlight, let us envision the dawning of a new age of peace, compassion, and joy on our precious planet. And let us rededicate ourselves to That Source of all light, love, harmony and happiness, which is our common essence, and which knowingly or unknowingly each soul seeks.

As we share season’s greetings and envision planetary peace, may we find inspiration and illumination for healing our precious planet and all its life-forms in these perennial wisdom words about happiness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The root of joy is gratefulness…

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

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

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

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

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

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

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

“Cultivate compassion; harvest happiness.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

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

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

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

“The superior man is always happy.”
~ Confucius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Invocations:

May we experience ever more Peace and Happiness –
on the Solstice Holidays and Always!

May we consciously and cooperatively participate together
in co-creating an ever better world –

Happy, Harmonious and Peaceful –
as we intend and envision it to be.

May everyone everywhere be happy!

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Clearing Consciousness

“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”
~ Carl Jung
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
‘Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…
In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.’
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Consciousness is the basis of all life
 and the field of all possibilities.
Its nature is to expand and unfold its full potential.
The impulse to evolve is thus inherent in the very nature of life.”
~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
“It is only through a change of human consciousness that the world will be transformed. 
The personal and the planetary are connected. As we expand our awareness of mind, body,psyche, and spirit and bring that awareness actively into the world, so also will the world be changed.”
~ Michael Toms, New Dimensions Radio introduction
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything, you are 
essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Ramana Maharshi



“Christ consciousness”
“Cosmic consciousness”,
“Enlightened consciousness”,
“Buddha nature”


All are different terms connoting
the same universal substratum –
Unconditioned Awareness.

Ordinary human consciousness is
conditioned consciousness;

It is pure Awareness
conditioned by conceptions.

And our conceptual conditioning
determines our condition.

Everyone wants
enduring happiness,
freedom and love.

And what we seek,
we shall find –

As mindfully,
we decondition the mind.

As we lose illusory conceptual constraints,
we shall experience
ever expanding awareness,

And so we shall find –
enduring peace of mind.



Ron’s audio recitation of Clearing Consciousness

Listen to



Ron’s Commentary – Bernie Sanders is Transforming the World by Raising Human Consciousness

Bernie Sanders is Transforming the World by Raising Human…

Posted by Silly Sutras by Ron Rattner on Tuesday, April 5, 2016


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