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Poetry

Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

Saint Francis of Assisi
September 26, 1181 – October 3, 1226 [*See footnote]


Saint Francis of Assisi is one of history’s most beloved saints. For almost eight hundred years since his canonization by the Catholic Church (in the year 1228), he has been remembered and revered not only by Christian denominations, but by countless others world-wide, who have been inspired by his life of universal love, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. More than three million people come every year to his tomb in Assisi.

He is patron saint of Italy and of many other places, like San Francisco, a city blessed with his name, his spirit, and a national shrine including the Porziuncola Nuova, the only papally declared holy place in the USA. Also, he is patron saint of birds, animals and ecology. Francis loved peace, communed with all living creatures, and lived a life of kindness, simplicity and poverty in contrast to the wealth and apparent corruption of the Church. He was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and inspired founding of the Poor Clares order for women, and a third secular order for laity sworn to peace.

After living a worldly life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis volunteered to fight in a war between Assisi and neighboring Perugia. He was captured during a bloody battle at Collestrada, and was imprisoned and chained in solitude for a year in a dark Perugian dungeon, until ransomed by his wealthy father. Beginning during this time, and thereafter, he suffered a period of protracted physical and psychological illness, remorse and reflection. After fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, Francis ultimately decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him, and as a traumatized battle survivor he came to abhor war. Whereupon, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, helping the poor, caring for lepers, and promoting peace. Seeing himself as God’s troubadour or fool, he lived in absolute poverty, patterning his life after the life of Jesus and dedicating himself to God.

On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at Church doors for the poor, Francis received a mystical message from Jesus while praying in the ruined church at San Damiano outside of Assisi. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches.

Though Saint Francis took literally that mystical message from the crucifix, its true meaning was metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his orders had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church.

Francis’ exemplary lifestyle inspired and attracted followers who joined with him in his in his Divine mission and life of poverty. Clad in ragged, gray robes with rope belts, they went out barefoot in pairs to spread the Gospel. When they needed food or shelter, they asked someone for it. It was against their rules to “own” anything. Thus, they were known as the “begging brothers”.

In 1209 Francis received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a brotherhood, a religious order of the Church called the “Friars Minor,” (littlest brothers). As “friars” they worked in communities, actively preaching and helping residents, as distinguished from “monks” who then usually lived alone in isolated places. They soon acquired the name “Franciscans”, proliferated and today remain important international symbols and instruments of Francis’ legacy.

The Franciscans’ first headquarters was a simple, tiny chapel near Assisi which Francis received from the Benedictines, and personally restored, naming it “Porziuncola” [“a small portion of land”]. The Porziuncola became Francis’ most beloved and favorite place. Because of his presence and prayers there, it was and continues to be one of the world’s rare holy places. Here, Francis lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of “the poor Clares”, a female religious order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.

In 1216, while Francis was fervently praying in the Porziuncola, a light filled the chapel and he beheld above the altar a vision of Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis replied: “Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [I wish all in heaven!] And Francis then asked that all those persons who shall come to this church, may obtain a full pardon and remission of all their faults, upon confessing and repenting their sins. The request was granted based on Francis’ worthiness, and the indulgence was later officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III, and became known as “The Pardon of Assisi”.

Francis was extremely democratic and humble. He referred to himself as “little brother Francis” and called all creatures “brothers” and “sisters”. He loved Nature and pantheistically considered it to be the “mirror of God on earth.” He spoke of “Sister Water” and “Brother Tree” and in one of his writings, he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”. There are legends about sermons he preached to trees full of “Sister Birds” in which Francis urged them to sing their prayers of thanks to God. And it is said that rabbits would come to him for protection.

In another legendary story, Francis spoke to a wolf which had been terrifying the entire village of Gubbio, scolding “Brother Wolf” for what he was doing. That wolf not only stopped his attacks but later became a village pet, and was fed willingly by the same villagers, who missed “brother wolf” after he died.

Francis was determined to live the gospels and was strongly influenced and motivated by Jesus’ teachings. “Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven” were his frequent teachings.

Also as a traumatic battle survivor and war hostage Francis cherished peace. So, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9 and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 were often recited by him.

According to a recent biography, Francis was “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” On a mission of peace, Francis journeyed to Egypt in 1219 idealistically hoping to end the 5th Crusade by converting the Egyptian leader – Sultan Malik al-Kamil – to Christianity. Though his visionary peace mission did not succeed, it proved nonetheless a miraculous portent and important symbol of potential reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and others.

At a time when most Christians demonized Muslims as enemy “infidels”, Francis regarded and treated Muslims with respect, never echoing the negative comments or conduct of his contemporary Christians. Moreover, in Egypt Francis – a devout and gentle peacemaker – was appalled by the crusaders’ sacrilegious brutality.

Francis arrived in Egypt during an ongoing violent and bloody conflict at Damietta, an important city on the Nile, besieged by the Crusaders. There, in the midst of horrible bloodshed, Francis miraculously crossed battle lines totally unarmed and vulnerable, and was able to reach the Sultan’s encampment unharmed and welcomed. Moreover, Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan, who was nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the ill-fated Third Crusade.

The Sultan was a wise and pragmatic devout Sunni Muslim, influenced by Sufi mystical teachings. He was ready to make peace, and reciprocated Francis’ peaceful and respectful attitude. For at least several days Kamil hosted and dialogued with Francis as an honored guest, before having him safely escorted back to the Crusader encampment. The Sultan – who was amenable to philosophical conversation, but not to conversion – probably noted and honored Francis’ sufi-like appearance and peaceful demeanor, and his regular greeting – “may the Lord give you peace” – uncommon for Christians, but similar to the Arabic “salam aleykum” greeting.

Reciprocally, Francis was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer – call of the muezzin.

On returning to the crusader camp Francis desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagio, whom the pope had authorized to lead the 5th Crusade, that he should make peace with the Sultan. But the cardinal who was certain of victory would not listen. His eventual failure, amidst terrible loss of life, brought the barbaric age of the crusades to an ignominious end.

In 1224, near the end of his earthly life, according to legend, Francis became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata. It happened after he had been taken to Mount Alverna, a wild nature place in Tuscany, to be in solitude for a forty day retreat.


Though already in a very feeble state, he fasted and prayed intensely with deepest longing for God. In the midst of his fast, while he was so praying he beheld a marvelous vision: an angel carrying an image of a man nailed to a cross. When the vision disappeared, Francis felt sharp pains in various places on his body.

In locating the source of these pains, Francis found that he had five marks or “stigmata” on his hands, feet, and sides—like the wounds inflicted with nails and spears on Jesus during His crucifixion. Those marks remained and caused Francis great pain until his death two years later.

On October 3, 1226 A.D. Francis died in a humble cell next to the beloved Porziuncola, his favorite holy place where the Franciscan movement began. He was blind from trachoma, suffering from malaria and other illnesses, emaciated and racked with pain from the stigmata and other wounds. As he lay dying, the brothers came for his blessing. They sang “Song to the Sun”, a song which Francis had composed.

Sometime before he drew his last breath, he said, “Let us sing the welcome to Sister Death.” Francis welcomed ‘Sister Death’ knowing that “it is in dying that we are reborn to eternal life”, the concluding line of a beautifully inspiring and best known peace prayer mistakenly attributed to him. (**See Footnote)

In conclusion, we offer that prayer in grateful tribute to his blessed life and legacy. May he ever inspire countless beings to become instruments of Divine peace and love, in perfect harmony with Nature and the kingdom of heaven.

“Vi vogliamo tutti in Paradiso”; “We wish ALL in Heaven”.


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
despair, hope;
darkness, light;
discord, harmony;
sadness, joy;

Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.

 


Footnotes

* This narrative is based on Ron Rattner’s intuitive interpretation of many disparate and sometimes conflicting historical accounts of the life of Francis of Assisi. The reader is free to accept or reject any part of it.

**This inspiring peace prayer does not appear in any of Saint Francis’ known writings. According to researchers, the first appearance of this prayer was in a French language magazine, La Clochette, in 1912; it was probably then first written by a forgotten Catholic Priest, Father Bouquerel. Later, the prayer was translated into English and widely distributed on cards with a reverse side picture of Saint Francis, without any claim that he wrote the prayer. But, because of his picture and because it invokes his spirit, the prayer thereafter became commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis. The foregoing version of the prayer has been edited by Ron Rattner.



Ron’s audio recitation of the Prayer of Saint Francis Of Assisi

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How Shall We Pray?

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
“There is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,”

~ Rabia of Basra
“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…”


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

~ Meister Eckhart
“Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


praying

How Shall We Pray?

Q. How Shall We Pray?

A. Pray for God to do through you –

Not for you.

Pray like Saint Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.”



Ron’s audio recitation of “How Shall We Pray?”

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Ron’s Comments on “How Shall We Pray?”

Dear Friends,

Do you pray to a divine power?  If so, why?  When? How? 

On perceiving sudden dire emergencies or threats most humans instinctively pray for help, even if they didn’t previously pray, or are atheists.

Many spiritual teachers and aspirants proverbially describe prayer as ‘talking to God’ and meditation, as listening.

Both practices elevate inner awareness and foster silent communion with Self, thereby helping us live happier lives. Moreover, because “everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”, we have infinite potentiality to prayerfully help bless this world, until transcending it.

May the foregoing quotations and “How Shall We Pray?” poem encourage our frequent loving prayers, with faith that they’ll be answered; and that, thereby, as Divine instruments we may help bless our precious planet and all life thereon.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

”Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it.
What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.”
~ Chuang-Tzu
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2




Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional

Life is perpetual;
Happiness is optional.

God gives Life eternal.
Humankind makes it sublime or infernal.

Timeless delight,
or endless night:

However we choose it,
we never can lose it.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

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Ron’s commentary on “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why the world seems so crazy? Why billions of people worldwide suffer unnecessarily from wars, poverty, illness, lack of basic life-sustaining necessities? Why even in the richest nation on Earth, suffering is ubiquitous? Why even materially rich people are often depressed, addicted or mentally ill?

Long before my mid-life spiritual awakening, I attributed societal suffering to societal insanity. But only afterwards, did I begin deeply reflecting on root causes of such societal insanity and unhappiness. I began asking many new questions about our true identity and reality. That continuing process of constant questioning has proved immeasurably helpful.

Thereby, I have been blessed with simple spiritual answers to seemingly complicated questions about crazy behaviors in a crazy world; answers which have brought me ever-increasing happiness. Like Dr. Seuss, I’ve discovered that: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”; that seemingly complicated questions about living a happy life often can be resolved with simple answers from elevated levels of inner awareness.

I have found that societal suffering arises from ignorance of our true nature and spiritual self-identity; that we inevitably suffer karmically while seeking happiness through satisfaction of ephemeral worldly desires, because lasting happiness can only be found within; and, that our experience of happiness depends upon our self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as only impermanent mortal bodies and their stories.

So inspired by my beloved Guruji, I’ve shared many SillyStutras writings about happiness, to help us discover within that eternal happiness is our true nature.

The foregoing pithy poem “Life Is Perpetual; Happiness Is Optional” and preceding quotations emphasize the crucial truth that Life is eternal, though suffering is optional. I hope you’ll reflect upon them.

May these writings help inspire us to experience ever more inner happiness in a seemingly insane world.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Asking Is The Answer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“Ask, and it will be given to you

For every one who asks receives.”

~ Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10
“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
~ Albert Einstein
The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



praying


Asking Is The Answer

In asking, we are curious.
In asking, we don’t know.
In asking, we are humble.
In asking, we are ever open to inspiration.

Ever asking,
ever curious,
ever open,
ever humble,
ever unknowing:

This is the answer
to the enigma of the Unknowable,
to the mystery of Divinity –

The sacred secret of Life.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Asking is the Answer”

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Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking is the Answer”.

Dear Friends,

The foregoing poem was inspired by my ‘aha discovery’ of a mysterious “secret of Life’ – a memorable momentary spiritual experience which is hereafter recounted and explained.

Discovering the ‘secret of life’?.

After my midlife awakening I began experiencing unprecedented spiritual sensitivity to previously unknown subtle energy phenomena. (See https://sillysutras.com/extraordinary-energy-experiences-rons-memoirs/ ).

Soon thereafter, I was blessed with a miraculous ‘aha’ or ‘eureka moment’ which followed a November, 1978, New Dimensions fundraising program at the San Francisco Masonic Auditorium. Highlight of the event (for me) was a talk by prominent spiritual philosopher and teacher, Patricia Sun, who concluded her presentation with extraordinarily powerful spontaneous healing sound emanations. Deeply impacted by those sounds, I arrived home in an altered state of awareness.

Other times when feeling similarly I have experienced prolonged crying. But that night as I got into bed, instead of crying, I unintentionally and spontaneously started emanating very high pitched sounds resonant with Patricia Sun’s sounds. After the sounds subsided, while still in a deep state of exceptionally elevated awareness, I momentarily intuited a mysterious ‘secret of life’.

Whereupon, in a totally dark room, I attempted to scrawl it on a bedside note pad. But on awakening at dawn I couldn’t remember that ‘secret of life’. So eagerly I looked at the scrawled memo for a reminder. But enigmatically the memo merely said: “The question is the answer.” Baffled, I didn’t understand its meaning, but became very curious about deciphering it.

While wondering what spiritual secret of life “the question is the answer” might reveal, I began composing possibly interpretive poems and sutras. “Asking Is The Answer” was the first of those poems. It suggests that asking “is the answer to the enigma of the Unknowable, – the sacred secret of Life”. Perhaps on reading and reflecting on it, you will agree.

Explanation of “the question is the answer”.

Forty years after my supposed ‘secret of life’ insight, I’m still uncertain about interpreting “The question is the answer”. While momentarily transcending ordinary Earthly reality, I may have glimpsed a timeless Truth which could not be expressed in words. Because “to tell the truth, Truth can’t be told”.

In space/time duality reality we can’t ever express ineffable Truth of Reality beyond duality; but only paradoxically point to it.  So in scrawling “The question is the answer” maybe I pointed intuitively to an inexpressible insight.

Since my unique ‘aha’ experience, I’ve often wondered whether to aim for spiritual Truth by constantly questioning, and by answering questions with questions.

For example, if someone asks me “what is God?”, whether a response of “what isn’t God?” can help point them to Truth. Similarly, whether it may be very helpful if we answer a question about “what’s real?” with the question “what’s not real?

Spiritual masters tell us that God is the Essence of everything and everyone, everywhere. Yet, that what we perceive and believe to be “real” is just a persistent illusion, like a mirage.

After long reflection, I believe that sometimes we may reveal instinctive, insightful, and intuitional truths transcending logic by answering spiritual questions with apt questions.

Conclusion.

Though still uncertain about the meaning of my “the question is the answer” insight, I’ve found that questioning “what is”, with constant curiosity, patience and acceptance of uncertainty can be a life enhancing process promoting spiritual evolution. That our reflections on ever unanswerable cosmic questions can help instill life-changing gratitude, awe and wonder about our miraculous causality reality. (See https://sillysutras.com/asking-unanswerable-questions/)

As Albert Einstein observed:

“We never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”



And constant questioning can imbue in us salutary patience and acceptance of uncertainty, about “what is”:

“Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves.. . .
Live the questions now and, perhaps, without knowing it,
you will live along some day into the answers.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


And so, ever eager to Know, may we gratefully, humbly, and patiently bless all life on our precious planet Earth – “like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born!”

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Knowing The Unknowable

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.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Since no one really knows anything about God,
those who think they do are just 
troublemakers.”
~ Rabia of Basra (first female Sufi saint)
The less we think we know,
the more we really Know.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi






Knowing The Unknowable

Knowing is bliss;
ignorance isn’t bliss
– it’s suffering.

Knowing’s not mental,
– it’s existential.

If we think we Know,
we don’t.

Knowing’s not thought,
and knowing’s not taught.

Knowing’s never then or how;
Knowing’s always here and now.

So, Knowing is this:

It’s Being —
Bliss —

NOW!


Ron’s audio recitation of “Knowing The Unknowable”

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Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Knowing The Unknowable”

Dear Friends,

In space/time duality reality we can never express ineffable Truth, but only point to it. The forgoing poem, “Knowing The Unknowable”, paradoxically alludes to our ever mysterious shared purpose as apparent Earthly incarnates.

We’ve appeared on the ‘Earth branch of the great Cosmic university’ as spiritual students, to learn from experience our true Self-identity as eternal Love. Knowingly or unknowingly we all long for LOVE – which is our common spiritual essence and Source. And we’re here to find it, by consciously and conscientiously living our lives.

As unavoidable earthly evolutionary incentives, many of us need to suffer painful experiences. Inevitably we thereby learn that knowing divinity comes not from fearful or divisive egoic efforts or thoughts, but from totally surrendering to The Lone Arranger and letting go of all ideas of being separate from each other and Nature, with opened hearts and stilled minds.

May today’s quotations and poetry help encourage and inspire us to thereby realize our deepest evolutionary aspirations of so “Knowing The Unknowable”.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Tuned Out, To Turn On

“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.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi





Tuned Out, To Turn On

Once, I found an artesian well
of bubbling bliss
deep down – within;
way below what I knew
before I found it.

Like a Divine bovine udder
it had several spigots.

Spigots for tears, for laughter,
for songs, and for sutras.

It flowed from different spigots
at different no-times,
but never at no no-time.

I often drank and bathed at that well.

Then Bush* was [s]elected.
What a turn-off!
What a spigot stopper!

I was looking for a turn on –
a spigot restarter.
Any spigot would do.

Then, Eureka! I found it!

I tuned out Bush, and it turned on bliss;
bubbling Bliss
from deep down – within.

Now, I’m a blissful old man

[or am I?] .

 

Ron’s recitation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

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Ron’s Explanation of “Tuned Out, To Turn On”.

Dear Friends,

On the 17th anniversary of the notorious September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, I have posted the foregoing metaphorically whimsical spiritual poem, “Tuned Out, To Turn On”, inspired by those events.

On 9/11/2001 I was living a reclusive life without any TV, computer, or daily newspaper, while praying and meditating in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Hence, I was one of very few Americans who didn’t then witness the disturbing TV images of utter destruction and disintegration WTC twin towers, killing over 3,000 people. So I wasn’t as psychologically traumatized as most others.

However, as a constitutionally trained social justice attorney, I’d already become distressed and angry about the egregiously unjust and unprecedented US Supreme Court selection of George Bush jr. as 43rd US president, after the Court arbitrarily and prematurely ordered cessation of the official Bush-Gore Florida vote recounting, which would have confirmed a Gore victory.

Only after later going online with my first computer did I synchronistically begin carefully investigating the true facts concerning 9/11/2001 terrorism. Thereby from indisputable factual evidence I became (and remain) irreversibly convinced that our government had intentionally misled its citizens and covered up the truth about alleged Moslem 9/11 terrorism; while such alleged terrorism became the primary false pretense justifying severe civil liberties deprivations and insanely incessant wars that have followed 9/11. And, moreover, the name “Bush” became for me metaphorically emblematic of a corruptly unrepresentative US two party political system characterized by little democracy, but much hypocrisy.

Yet, while deeply concerned with worldly planetary crises and suffering arising from insanely undemocratic official decisions, spiritually I gradually began seeing this space/time ‘reality’ like a mostly pre-scripted movie and play of incarnate Cosmic Consciousness. And I longed to BE free, as Oneness/Awareness, beyond inevitable world suffering – even beyond bliss.

With such longing (though not realizing Oneness/Awareness), I frequently found inner peace and happiness. Whenever (with a silent mind) I tuned out “Bush” and deeply focused on ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ within, I often experienced inner Bliss – even ecstasy.

From that experience, (long after 9/11/2001) I was ultimately inspired to compose today’s whimsical poem about such “discovery” .

I offer this poem as a reminder for all of us that we can help solve critical world problems by behaving from inner loving and compassionate levels of consciousness, beyond those which have created such problems.

May we thereby transcend all fearful, vengeful or judgmental behaviors, knowing with faith that all “sinners” reap as they have sown through unerringly mysterious karmic causes and conditions, and that thereby all “sins” are divinely and justly redressed.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

What Are Illusions?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.”

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


“The distinction between past, present, and future
 is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

“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

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,

that they exist in the present,

which is what there is and all there is.

~ Alan Watts
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.” “…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga
“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
“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
“The less we’re illusioned,
the more we’re illumined.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings






What Are Illusions?

Q. What are illusions?

A. Illusions are false ideas, conceptions, or beliefs,
accumulated and aggregated in the memory bank
that we call the “mind”.

Illusions are projections from the past
which obscure or obstruct our experience of the present.

We can’t live fully in the present,
when we are living partly in the past.

Illusions are mental obscurations.
They cloud or conceal our insight into
That which is Real.

But, as we clear the ‘mirror of our mind’
of old illusory ideas and paradigms of
who and what we think we are,

We can and shall become ever more present,
insightful and illuminated –
about what we really are.

So let us choose to lose our illusions.

For, the less we’re illusioned,
the more we’re illumined.



Ron’s audio recitation of “What are Illusions?”

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Ron’s explanation of “What Are Illusions?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered: “what are illusions?” and “what is “real?” Spiritually, these are crucial questions.

According to dictionaries, “illusions” are misperceptions or misconceptions of reality, fact, or truth. Whereas “reality” is that which factually exists.

For millennia, non-dualist Buddhists and Vedantists have taught that our entire space/time ‘reality’ is a mental mirage or illusion, and not true Reality; that what we perceive and believe to be ‘real’ material forms in space and time, are mentally projected misperceptions from misconceptions of our conditioned ego-minds, which see “through a glass darkly”.

We assume that we are independent human beings, separated from each other and Nature, and acting based on our own free-will. But according to non-dualist mystical philosophies, all of this is mere illusion – samsara or maya. Even our supposed free will is an illusion, because we are inseparable from Nature which determines all we experience, via mysterious karmic causes and conditions. Thus, perceived worldly events or phenomena are always determined by invisible cosmic forces which are as yet unknown to our conditioned ego-minds. (see e.g. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, verses 60-61)

A century has passed since Einstein’s revolutionary relativity theory revealed that “reality” can’t be reduced to objects or entities in space/time. Since then, quantum science has confirmed 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.

Thus, Western science has more and more shown what ancient shamans, seers, and indigenous societies have known throughout history:

That there is a cosmic web of life connecting everything and everyone in Nature from the greatest galaxies to the tiniest sub-atomic particles; that we are each an integral inter-connected and interdependent part of Nature’s web of life – not separate from it; and that, as Einstein observed:

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness”; “reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; “space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”.


Inspired by Einstein, I have composed the foregoing poetic Q & A essay titled: “What Are Illusions?”, as preceded by apt quotations.

May these teachings help us find relief from belief,  bringing us ever expanding life fulfillment and happiness.

From seeing everyone and everything as discrete, and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, may we increasingly realize that all forms and phenomena are ever-changing energies appearing from a common matrix of immutable Awareness – our true Nature, which is LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner


Why Do We Rhyme?

“Tell the truth and make it rhyme.”
~ John Lennon
“Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
~ Dr. Seuss
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“Today was good. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“No sooner had I stepp’d into these pleasures
Than I began to think of rhymes and measures:
The air that floated by me seem’d to say
‘Write! thou wilt never have a better day.”
~ John Keats
“Rhyme, that enslaved queen,
that supreme charm of our poetry,
that creator of our meter.”
~ Victor Hugo
“Constantly risking absurdity and death
whenever he performs above the heads of his audience,
the poet, like an acrobat, climbs on rhyme
to a high wire of his own making.”
~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“For poetry, he’s past his prime,
He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decayed,
His fancy sunk, his muse a jade.
I’d have him throw away his pen,
But there’s no talking to some men.”
~ Jonathan Swift


Dr.Seuss



Why Do We Rhyme?

Why do we rhyme?
Is there a reason?

A time for rhyme –
a rhyming season?

Or, do we just rhyme
without rhyme or reason?



Ron’s audio recitation of “Why Do We Rhyme?”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Why Do We Rhyme?”

Dear Friends,

On first living alone after my midlife change of life, I experienced many noteworthy life-style and behavioral changes, which I attributed to samskaras from other less worldly lifetimes.

As a lawyer I had always preferred succinct legal writings, unlike other attorneys’ paradoxically prolix legal briefs, which suggested to me that they might be charging for their words, not just for their professional expertise.

So, after I began reading and writing about spiritual subjects, I continued to prefer succinct and sometimes epigrammatic communications. Thus my favorite SillySutras.com writings are mostly concise and pithy.

Before a midlife spiritual awakening I didn’t compose and rarely read  poetry.  But, thereafter, I spontaneously began writing spiritual songs and poetry. And instinctively I was drawn to whimsical rhyming, repeating, and alliterating – like Dr. Seuss. So I wondered about possible significance of my midlife poetic tendencies, and whether they had reemerged from other lifetimes.

The foregoing poem, “Why Do We Rhyme?”, was composed while I was whimsically wondering about my new rhyming tendencies. Perhaps the rhyming lines from famous poets which precede the poem can help us answer the poem’s rhetorical questions.

And maybe Jonathan Swift’s poem quoted above can help us explain why,


After years of living ascetically
and ‘waxing’ poetically,
Ron’s still rhyming alive,
though ‘waning’ at age eighty five.


In all events, I hope you’ll enjoy this posting. May it help inspire ever more happiness in our lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Time Cycling

Tao and Zen
are NOW,
not then.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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
“Remember then: there is only one time that is important – Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions,
 that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.
”
~ Alan Watts
“Space and time are not conditions in which we live,
they are modes in which we think.”
“The distinction between past, present, and future
is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
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



Time Cycling

Beyond time

In time

Take time

Make time

Fill time

Kill time

Find time

Lose time

Spend time

End time

Out of time

No time

NOW!



Ron’s audio recitation of “Time Cycling”

Listen to



Ron’s 2018 explanation of “Time Cycling”

Dear Friends,

Over forty years ago, I began questioning the ‘reality’ of serial time after experiencing many ‘mind-blowing’ pre-cognitive synchronicities during a 1977 week in New York City. (See  Synchronicity Story: An Amazing Experiment With Time )

Ultimately after reflecting on these and many more amazing synchronicities, and on teachings of Gautama Buddha and other mystic masters, I became persuaded that Einstein accurately described the illusory nature of space/time/reality as “merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; that “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”; and, that  “space and time are not conditions in which we live, [but] modes in which we think.”

Nonetheless, after realizing the mystical truth about the illusionary but persistent nature of space and time, it has been very difficult for me to remember and live that truth.  But I am often reminded of it by increasingly frequent synchronicities manifesting in my life, which I deem emblematic of Reality beyond time. Synchronicities are now happening for me so frequently that mostly I no longer find “time” to discuss or write about them.

While reflecting about the illusionary but persistent nature of time, I wrote many poems and articles about it. One of those poems, “Time Cycling”, came from a realization that our common vernacular tacitly imbues an unthinking acceptance of the imagined reality of illusory time.

That poem is posted above for your entertainment and edification. I hope you’ll enjoy its whimsical words as you listen to my mp3 oral recitation of them.

May this poetry, with thoughts about time and synchronicity, inspire ever more timeless happiness in our lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World – A Sutra Song Synchronicity Story


Butterflies are living
metaphors for metamorphosis.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Ron’s Introduction about composing “We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World”

After my mid-life spiritual awakening and newfound interest in spiritual evolution, I began to regularly and reflectively walk alone by San Francisco Bay, as a kind of informal spiritual practice.

While walking by the Bay, I synchronistically began “channeling” spiritual sayings, rhymes and poems. Often, too, I’d spontaneously sing original melodies to accompany my poems and rhymes. As I walked, I regularly wrote the words that came to me. But, mostly I forgot the melodies, which I couldn’t write.

One of the few songs with melody that I remembered, I called “Come Be Butterflies in a Caterpillar World.” It was “channelled” as I reflected on beautiful butterflies as living metaphors for metamorphosis.

After composing the butterfly song I rarely sang it, and it wasn’t otherwise performed or known to others except for a few of my friends.

Synchronicity Story about first public performances of “We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World”

But beginning in late 2008 Rob Tobias, an Oregon musician/songwriter/singer and videographer, and longtime partner of my niece Janice Medvin, started filming me for a biographical documentary record of eccentric Uncle Ron’s spiritual journey from litigation to meditation and beyond.

From many hours of raw footage, Rob created a 38 minute documentary film which he titled: “Walks With Ron (A Spiritual Memoir)” Included in the film are various archival audio-visual materials and music written and arranged by Rob. Rob has posted the film on YouTube and encourages its free sharing. (See https://sillysutras.com/walks-with-ron-a-brief-film-about-ron-rattner/)

In sharing my stories on film with Rob, I sang the butterfly song. Rob liked it, worked out musical notation, and began singing the song solo and in performances with his band, The Northwest Express. And in 2012 he released a professional CD including the song. You can find his recording at RobTobias.com.

In early July 2012, Rob repeatedly sang the song at the Oregon Country Faire, to appreciative audiences. On returning home to Eugene, he was amazed to find that someone anonymously had posted a sign on a telephone pole across from his house, that said, “Be a Butterfly in a Caterpillar World.”

Here it is:



Despite repeated inquiries, Rob could not discover the sign’s mysterious origin. But after viewing its message countless times, in September 2012 Rob decided to give a Rosh Hashanah talk about metamorphosis and transformative change as co-leader of a Jewish Renewal group in Eugene. On explaining this decision to his co-leaders, Rob offered to show them the butterfly sign which had been in place earlier that day. But on returning home with his friends, Rob discovered that the sign had suddenly disappeared, just as mysteriously as it had suddenly appeared weeks before in July.

In October 2012, during a trip to New England, Rob unexpectedly and synchronistically performed the butterfly song in Burlington, Vermont at a school assembly of over 300 enthusiastic children, and at a hipster pub where four children mysteriously appeared to do a butterfly dance. [A youtube video of Rob’s performance at the school assembly is embedded below.]

Ron’s dedication of We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World

As a heartfelt participant in our collective evolutionary transformation into an enlightened new age of harmony, peace and joy, I humbly offer this butterfly song.

May it remind us of our divine human potential to discover – like caterpillars – a previously unimaginable wonderful new life reality beyond our “self-woven karmic cocoons”.


To Life! Enjoy!!


Ron’s audio singing of We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World

Listen to



Lyrics – We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World

We’re just butterflies,
We’re just butterflies,
We’re just butterflies,
In a caterpillar world.

Hey we’re flyin’ high,
See us flutter by,
Way up in the sky,
In a caterpillar world.

[1st Refrain]

After many moons
In our cocoons,
Totally transformed we’ve been,
From chrysalis to crystaline.

Then, leaving cares and apprehensions
We’ve flown to joyous new dimensions.
But the world keeps creeping and crawling,
So we’re just flying and calling.

Come be butterflies,
Come be butterflies,
Come be butterflies,
O’er a caterpillar world.

Wake up and arise,
Fly up to the skies,
Come be butterflies
From a caterpillar world.

Come now claim your prize
To be very wise
Flying through the skies
O’er a caterpillar world

[2nd Refrain]

Until bye and bye,
Never knowing why,
You’ve soared ever high
To a beautiful heaven above.

[2nd Refrain]


Rob Tobias singing We’re Just Butterflies In A Caterpillar World at Integrated Arts Academy, Burlington VT: