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Prayer

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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
“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken.
That time is now.”

“That which is timeless is found now.”
~ Buddha
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning . . When the mind is completely unconditioned then only can [we] experience or discover if there is something real or not. [A] mind . . filled with beliefs, . . dogmas . . assertions ..is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
Ordinary human consciousness is conditioned consciousness;
it is pure Awareness conditioned by conceptions.
And our conceptual conditioning determines our condition.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
~ William Blake

 

Marc Chagall – The Praying Jew


Introduction

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ we are often reminded that our spiritual goal is returning to “godliness” – to Ultimate Reality. This memoirs posting explains how we can advance our evolution toward attainment of that goal, by clearing past mental conditioning to increasingly be here NOW in the precious present.

Because this posting coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days, it recounts my positive experience with Yom Kippur communal practices of: (1) non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us; and of (2) annulment or rescission of obsolete and unhelpful private intentions, resolutions, or vows to ourselves or God. Thus it explains my perspective that such practices, which are premised on societal awareness of inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.

Also it explains why our spiritual evolution can be furthered by other practices or activities which help us quiet the mind and clear mental pre-conditioning to increasingly live moment by moment in the precious present, with Love as the supreme unifying principle of Life.

Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.

Our mental conditioning operates our physical bodies, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as anxiety, fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.

Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.

Thus, Buddha taught that:

“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken.
That time is now.”
“That which is timeless is found now.”

Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present – in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is advanced by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.

My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have quieted my mind, recognized and eliminated obsolete beliefs and paradigms which no longer felt valid or useful, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.

For me, it has been a process of thinking less, and being more; and of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.

The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness – the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity, and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.

I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help still the mind and clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated the SillySutras website to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.

Jewish High Holy days practices

During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:

1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us. [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,

2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.

The Jewish High Holy Days are ten ‘Days Of Awe’ emphasizing religious introspection and repentance, and concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement” and “at-one-ment”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]

The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many observant Jews is the religious high-point of their year.

When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult (before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.

So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.

”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”

Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:

“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”


Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful, even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:

Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.

Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it’s best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and abrogation of unhelpful personal resolutions.

And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.

So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melodies, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever immanent Divine LOVE – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.

Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish (days of awe); Moslem (Eid Al-Adha); Christian (Feast of St. Francis); Hindu (Navaratri); Asian (Moon festivals) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”. Moreover, all major religions teach a common message of Love as the supreme “unifying principle of Life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.” [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] 

Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

My perspectives on “Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present”, encourage our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

Conclusion and Dedication

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer feel valid or useful, and as more and more we commonly self-identify as ONE Eternal spirit, which is LOVE – not just as separate mortals – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious human lifetime.

Thus, today’s posting is dedicated to advancing our spiritual evolution on ‘holy days’ and every day by encouraging us to fearlessly forgive the past, and thoughtlessly live in the precious present, as LOVE

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My Life of “Prayer”
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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
“[Our] 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







Ron’s Introduction to My Life of “Prayer”

Dear Friends,

Since my mid-life spiritual awakening at age forty three, I have experienced a previously unimagined transformative new life-phase of growing inner-awareness in which spontaneous prayer has become fundamental.

So these spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following recollections and explanations of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening. In them I recount how I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, but how after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

These memoirs are written and dedicated to help spiritually “inspire many people”, as requested and foreseen by my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. 


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

My history with “prayer”

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.) And that prayerful ’gift of tears’ still persists.

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.


Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example, I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And that all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It’s best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] 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


Becoming “prayer”

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Conclusion

SELF Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny. May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward that destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.
It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology.
Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.”
~ Albert Einstein
“You are “gods”; you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82:6
“Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.”
~ William Shakespeare
Remember God, forget the rest.
Forget who you think you are,
to know what you really are.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings






Ron’s Introduction to his “Monistic Musings”

Dear Friends,

After my spiritual awakening I began wondering why many monotheistic religious fundamentalists – especially Jews, Christians and Moslems – historically espoused different, dogmatic and disharmonious views of their “ONE God”. And I reflected on why monotheistic fundamentalism had often resulted in religious crusades, inquisitions, and jihads against alleged heretics or nonbelievers in the one true God or Messiah.

Later, after my introduction to Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist non-dualism teachings (which I accepted as valid and consistent with Western monotheism), I learned that those Eastern religions also had violent fundamentalist sects; that for example Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by an opinionated Hindu fundamentalist opposed to Gandhi’s advocacy of egalitarian and nonviolent Hindu-Muslim tolerance and cooperation.

As I reflected philosophically, I rhetorically asked and answered the following musings about monotheism, God, and divinity which I’ve called “Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity”.

These rhetorical ruminations have increasingly helped me remember and revere the Divine Holiness of everyone, everything, everywhere, with ever expanding gratitude for this hallowed human lifetime.

They are shared with the deep aspiration that they may similarly inspire all of us, until ultimately we realize that everything’s holy; and, that nothing’s really Real, but Divine LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner



Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity

Q.  What is “God”?

A.  “God” is a word – a noun –
with countless connotations,
different for different people –
all believing or disbelieving in “God”.

Thus, “God” did not create humans,
but humans created “God” – with thoughts from
ruminations, revelations, intuitions, and speculations.

For many monotheists
“God” is a universally Supreme Deity,
and sole Creator and Ruler of the universe;
and, “God” is a “he” word,
meaning an anthropomorphic male deity,
with supernatural yet human-like qualities.

But, in this duality “reality”,
gender is everywhere in everything.
So, how can there be just one such God?

Isn’t it so that for every such God,
there’s got to be a Goddess;
for every “he” God, a “she” God?

Thus, mustn’t any unitary Divinity,
be beyond gender and duality –
and so, transcend this polarity “reality”?

And if Transcendent,
though universally immanent,
mustn’t such a sole Divinity
be infinite, ineffable and inconceivable?

So how can we describe,
denominate, or depict THAT?

Even if we neuter it,
how can we name it?

Doesn’t any designation of unitary Divinity,
tend to divide and disrupt humanity?

What about atheists who ardently deny Divinity,
versus convinced theists and deists?
And what about religious fundamentalists?

Aren’t “God”, Allah, and Adonoi,
the same ‘Supreme Being’?

And if there is just one “God”,
how can that one God
be a different “true God”
for Christians, Muslims, and Jews
and their diverse denominations?

If one “true God” is the same
for all those religions,
what do they fight and shout about?

‘Methinks they protest too much’
because they really can’t conceive Divinity.

Don’t their fundamentalist shouts
disclose their doubts
about the identity of Divinity?

And isn’t there a connection between
monotheistic fundamentalism
and messianic fanaticism?

If one “true God” is the sole benevolent
Creator and Ruler of the Universe,
why did “S/He” create a world
with so much suffering and sorrow?

Why not a perpetual paradise without evil?

How can “S/He” allow holocausts
and other terrible calamities?

In projecting “God” as Creator,
don’t we just reify and deify
our doubts about Divinity?

Did “God” create karma and causation?
If so, why?

So, can we get beyond speculating and
arguing about “God” and Creation?

And can we transcend
dogmatic divisive designations of Divinity?

Can’t we be tolerant
of all benevolent religions,
moral codes, and philosophies?

Can we – as the Buddha –
avert theistic speculation
that “tends not to edification?”

Buddhists aren’t theists or deists.
They don’t believe in a Creator God –
but they pray a lot.

I wonder who they’re praying to?

And I wonder who’s listening to their prayers –
and to everyone else’s prayers?

Isn’t it the same universal Awareness?

If so, how can we ever know?

How can we infer, find,
and know “God”
only through reason,
rather than revelation,
inner insight, or intuition?

If there is a universal Divinity
transcending our “reality”,
what is it’s identity?

Can we ever know such Divinity –
mystically, experientially, intuitively –
while yet dwelling in duality?

Can we know the Immortal
before leaving “this mortal coil”?

Or must first we depart or die,
to be “born to Eternal life”?

To know the Immortal,
must we abjure desire
for earthly pleasures and ways
of this world?

Can’t we be “in this world
but not of this world”?
If so, how?

How, when and where shall we seek God?

Shall we follow doctrines, dogmas, or ideologies
from ‘outer’ authorities or theologies?

Or, as unique beings,
shall we each look within
and follow our Sacred Heart?

Doesn’t inner infinity ‘create’ outer “reality”?

So, isn’t inner infinity true Divinity?

And isn’t true Divinity
Eternal Mystery?

The Bible says:
“Ask, and it shall be given..; seek, and ye shall find.”

So, now that we’ve asked all these questions,
will “God’” answer them?

God Knows!?



Ron’s Dedication of “Monistic Musings”

Dear Friends,

As explained in the above introduction, my curiosity and continuing reflections about disharmonious monotheistic views of One God and the true Messiah motivated the foregoing “Monistic Musings”, and have helped me increasingly experience the Divine Holiness of everyone, everything, everywhere.

So these musings are dedicated to inspiring all of us to see ourselves as “children of the Most High” [Psalm 82:6], until ultimately – beyond all illusory ego-mind perceptions of separation from each other and Nature – we inevitably realize our common SELF identity as Divine LOVE!

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Asking Is The Answer


“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.”
~ Albert Einstein
“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure
that we can comprehend only very imperfectly,
and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility.
This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Ask, and it will be given to you

For every one who asks receives.”

~ Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10
The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“I claim to be a simple individual
liable to err like any other fellow mortal. 

I own, however, that I have humility enough

to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi



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”

Listen to



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

Dear Friends,

The above “Asking Is The Answer” sutra poem summarizes one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far from living a long and blessed lifetime: viz. to always keep curious and open minded, just as when we begin our lives as unacculturated children.

Since my midlife spiritual awakening, I’ve learned that open-minded curiosity and humility are crucial for life-long learning and spiritual advancement.

One of my greatest joys has been to continuously learn from life, while realizing that we live as part of Nature, in a world of infinite mystery with infinite possibility.

In his wonderful poem “Certainty” Sant Tukaram reminded us that nothing is “certain” in this world of permanent impermanence; that inflexible certainty – even about God – “can become an illness that creates hate and greed”.

And similar perennial wisdom was expressed and demonstrated by Albert Einstein, a scientific genius who was always intrigued by the eternal mysteries of Nature. Einstein, who described himself as a deeply religious man awed by the mystery of the eternity of life, and the … marvelous structure of reality, observed that:

“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.”

~ Albert Einstein


Especially in these extraordinarily turbulent and divisive times of worldwide interpersonal and international challenges arising from our “leaders’ and our species’ harmful and unsustainable behaviors, we can best address life’s challenges by heeding and following perennial wisdom demonstrated and counseled by our wise ancestors like Einstein and Sant Tukaram.

So let us learn, individually and societally, to get along with all others, especially our supposed adversaries or enemies.

Let us remain open-minded, humble and curious, always remembering and compassionately honoring the spiritual essence and divine equality of everyone everywhere, without mistaken certainty or hostility about them.

Invocation

With stilled minds and opened hearts, may we resolve current crises and compassionately live with peace and justice everywhere, without immoral exploitation and discrimination against the world’s most vulnerable sentient beings, and the iniquity of inequity in our societies.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Let Life Live Us As Love

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Only if one knows the truth of Love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled [ego] knot of life be untied. Only if one attains the height of Love will liberation be attained. Such is the heart of all religions. The experience of Self is only Love, which is seeing only Love, hearing only Love, feeling only Love, tasting only Love and smelling only Love, which is bliss.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.
~ Hafiz
In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you love?
How deeply did you learn to let go?”

~ Buddha
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion,
and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama

“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [ego] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”
~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras
“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
 all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi
“Love Is The Law Of Life:

All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. 

Love is therefore the only law of life.

He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. 

Therefore, love for love’s sake,

because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

~ Swami Vivekananda
“Let us let go of ego, and
Let Life live us as LOVE!”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

Maitreya – The Next Buddha


“Let Life Live Us As Love”

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his groundbreaking theory of relativity establishing equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e=mc2.

Since then, for over a century, Western science has more and more shown what ancient shamans, seers, and indigenous societies have known for millennia:

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 part of Nature’s web of life – not separate from it; that as Einstein observed:

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

Though Einstein’s insights revolutionized quantum physicists’ views of space/time “reality”, most humans haven’t yet changed our way of thinking about such “reality”.  Until now, most people mistakenly keep behaving as if we are separated from each other and from Nature, and not part of it.   This behavior has resulted in continuing selfishness, cruelty, wars and unsustainable exploitation of our precious planet.

But gradually we are awakening.  From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are more and more realizing that everyone and everything are ever-changing energy phenomena appearing from a common immutable Source of Infinite Universal Awareness, which is LOVE.

All of our selfish, disharmonious and unsustainable behaviors have arisen from human ignorance of the true non-dual nature of the Self and all phenomena as Love; and from consequent mental mis-identification with the illusion of physical separation from each other – called “ego”.

Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us in the Rig Veda that

“ Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.”

Only rare Buddha-like beings, are said to totally transcend ego identification.  So we all experience some degree of separate self-identification.   But all humans are in various stages of an ultimately irresistible evolutionary process of ego attrition and transcendence.

In this world of cause and effect, Nature – not ego – is in charge and determines everything.   But, while believing ourselves separate from Nature, we exercise apparent free will and seemingly make non-predestined choices.

Depending on whether we are in harmony or disharmony with Nature, these apparent choices hasten or impede our evolution, and create or mitigate crises, sufferings and problems.   So, let us ever aspire to be harmonious with Nature:

Ever mindful of our ONENESS with all Life on our precious planet, as Universal Awareness, let us live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

Ever mindful that in space/time Nature is our nature,
let us see and cherish Nature in everything and everyone everywhere.

Ever mindful that Universal Awareness, as Love,
is our ultimate identity and Source:

Let us let go of ego, and
Let Life live us as LOVE!

And So Shall It Be!

 
Ron’s comments and explanation of “Let Life Live Us As Love”

Dear Friends,

On moving from Chicago to San Francisco in 1960, I was ignorant about spiritual subjects, or religions other than Judaism. Growing up in Chicago, I had become familiar with Judaism’s core teachings:


“ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One”;  and
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

But initially, I had no idea of the supremely profound esoteric importance of those teachings, or of devotional Love as crucial in all enduring religious and spiritual traditions. Not until my 1976 spiritual awakening and rebirth did I begin experientially learning about spirituality.

Whereupon, gradually I became inspired by “love of God” as a key spiritual tradition, with which I had instinctively joined in frequently crying and calling for the Divine. And ultimately I became convinced that our true nature and identity is LOVE.

That in space/time “reality” everyone, everything, everywhere is an ever-changing energy phenomenon appearing from a common immutable Source of Infinite Universal Awareness, which is LOVE.

So as Rumi profoundly tells us we need not “seek for love, but merely .. seek and find all the barriers [we] have built against it.” Those barriers are mistaken ideas about our true identity, which we can only discover and transcend by looking within.

This process of finding and letting go of ego-mind barriers to experiencing ourselves as LOVE is explained in the foregoing profound quotations and essay/poem.

May they remind us of our common Self-identity as Love with all Life on our precious planet.
And may they encourage and inspire us to live with loving-kindness and compassion for everyone and everything everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Harmony ~ Quotations and Sayings


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





Introduction to Harmony Quotations and Sayings

Dear Friends,

To commemorate the 2021 Vernal Equinox season, I’ve augmented and posted below a treasury of inspiring quotations about “Harmony”, which express enduring spiritual ideas and ideals of fundamental significance.

This collection of quotations and sayings about “Harmony” is dedicated to helping heal the world, by awakening us to our spiritual Oneness with Nature and Universal Awareness, as LOVE.

Please deeply reflect upon this perennial wisdom.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Harmony Quotations and Sayings

“Harmony is the secret principle of life.”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda


“When there is harmony between the mind, heart and resolution

then nothing is impossible.”

~ Rig Veda


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

~ Plato

“Clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another . .
And over all these virtues put on LOVE,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

~ Colossians 3: 12-17

“(A)ll problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.”
~ Sri Aurobindo

“The heart and mind can find peace and harmony
by contemplating the transcendental nature
of the true Self as supreme effulgent life.”
~ Patanjali

“Where the heart is full of kindness which seeks no injury to another,
either in act or thought or wish, this full love creates an atmosphere of harmony,
whose benign power touches with healing all who come within its influence.
Peace in the heart radiates peace to other hearts,
even more surely than contention breeds contention.”
~ Patanjali, Yoga Sutra

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

“A harmonized mind produces harmony
in this world of seeming discord.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

“Go forth in every direction –
for the happiness, the harmony, the welfare of the many.
Offer your heart, the seeds of understanding,
like a lamp overturned and re-lit, illuminating the darkness.”
~ Buddha

“The life ahead can only be glorious
if you learn to live in total harmony with the Lord.”
~ Shirdi Sai Baba

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


“Virtue is harmony.”

~ Pythagoras

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

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

“The sage is one with the world,
and lives in harmony with it.”
~ Lao Tzu



”One who lives in accordance with nature

does not go against the way of things,

but moves in harmony with the present moment.”

~ Lao Tzu

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

“The essence of saintliness
is total acceptance of the present moment,
harmony with things as they happen.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


”The superior person is in Harmony,

but does not follow the crowd.

The lesser person follows the crowd,

but is not in Harmony.”

~ Confucius


“Love is the energizing elixir of the Universe,

the cause and effect of all Harmony.”

~ Rumi

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

~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“The life of this world is nothing but the harmony of opposites”
~ Rumi

“Where there is discord,

let us sow Harmony.”

~ Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi 


”Without law or compulsion,

men would dwell in harmony.”

~ Lao Tzu


As soon as laws are necessary for men,

they are no longer fit for freedom.

~ Pythagoras


”Happy the man whose lot it is to know
The secrets of the earth.

He hastens not
To work his fellows hurt by unjust deeds,

But with rapt admiration contemplates

Immortal Nature’s ageless harmony,

And how and when the order came to be.”

~ Euripides


”To have a positive religion is not necessary.

To be in harmony with yourself and the universe is what counts,

and this is possible without positive and specific formulation in words.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“The unlike is joined together,

and from differences results the most beautiful harmony.”

~ Heraclitus


”Mutual respect and mutual listening

are the foundations of harmony within the family.”

~ Buddha



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

~ Dalai Lama


”Wherever I go meeting the public…
spreading a message of human values …

[and] harmony, is the most important thing.”

~ Dalai Lama


”If you want peace and harmony in the world,

you must have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


“Happiness is not a matter of intensity

but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

~ Thomas Merton



”Harmony sinks deep into the recesses of the soul

and takes its strongest hold there,

bringing grace also to the body and mind as well.

Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe,

wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness,

and life to everything. It is the essence of order.”

~ Plato



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

~ Plato


”Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God

and the permissible delights of the soul.”

”Harmony is next to Godliness”

~ Johann Sebastian Bach


“If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony.”

~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart



“Every element has a sound, an original sound from the order of God;

all those sounds unite like the harmony from harps and zithers.”

~ Hildegard of Bingen



“A life in harmony with nature,

the love of truth and virtue,

will purge the eyes to understanding her text.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



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

and the deep power of joy,

we see into the life of things.”

~ William Wordsworth



“Life’s errors cry for the merciful beauty that

can modulate their isolation

into a harmony with the whole.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore


“The highest education is that

which does not merely give us information

but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Training the intellect does not result in intelligence.
Intelligence comes into being when one acts in perfect harmony,
both intellectually and emotionally.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

“As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures
there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people.
Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer


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

~ Albert Einstein



”The harmony of natural law reveals an Intelligence of such superiority that,

compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings

is an utterly insignificant reflection.”

~ Albert Einstein



“In art, and in the higher ranges of science,

there is a feeling of harmony which underlies all endeavor.

There is no true greatness in art or science

without that sense of harmony.”

~ Albert Einstein


“My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued

with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind

to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe

which we try to formulate as “laws of nature”

~ Albert Einstein


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

~ Deepak Chopra


”There is great freedom in simplicity of living,
 and after I began to feel this,
 I found harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being.

There is a great deal to be said about such harmony, 
not only for an individual life but also for the life of a society.

It’s because as a world we have gotten ourselves so far out of harmony,

so way off on the material side,
 that when we discover something like nuclear energy 
we are still capable of putting it into a bomb 
and using it to kill people!

This is because our inner well-being lags so far behind our outer well-being.”

~ Peace Pilgrim


”Everyone has the perfect gift to give the world-

and if each of us is freed up to give our unique gift,

the world will be in total harmony.”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller


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

~ Plato (The Republic)


“Out of clutter find simplicity.

From discord make harmony.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

~ Albert Einstein



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

A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being

that places harmony in one’s life.”

~ Peace Pilgrim


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

~ Soren Kierkegaard


“Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend;

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

~ Aldo Leopold


“Live harmlessly in Harmony.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“How can there be harm in me,

when I’m in harmless Harmony?”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Let us live in harmless harmony,

and stay in cosmic synchrony,

as we play in Nature’s symphony.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



“Don’t disrupt and polarize,

but syncretize and harmonize.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings



Invocation

Imbued with heartfelt “Harmony”,
May we help heal the world –
by Awakening NOW 
To the Eternal inner Light
Of our ONENESS
with Nature and Universal Awareness,
as LOVE.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Dealing With Death and Dying
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In order to know through experience what happens beyond death,
you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,
we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Face death to live life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“It is in dying to ego life,
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (edited by Ron Rattner)


Whats-Really-Real

Introduction

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But when I grew up it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life. They usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family. And mostly they used euphemistic language to describe death.

Though the mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue, my childhood Jewish and public school education did not encompass that mystery – nor did my non-liberal arts college curriculum.

Both my grandmothers had died before I was born. My paternal grandfather who I hardly knew died while I was quite young and I was not brought to his funeral. Not until later adulthood did I suffer loss of any other dear person or pet, or think much about death.

Until my mid-life spiritual awakening, I self-identified only with my mortal body, its thoughts and its story, and I assumed that death of the physical body ended life. So I had no knowledge, opinion or belief concerning reincarnation or afterlife in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, or of an immortal “soul”.

Like most other Americans, I had an innate but largely subconscious fear of death, which I discovered during college days in Madison, Wisconsin. While imprudently and unskillfully swimming too far from shore in Lake Mendota, I nearly drowned and unforgettably experienced my usually subconscious fear of death. Fortuitously, in the nick of time, I was sighted and rescued by boaters. For many years thereafter, as a (non-swimming) relatively young and healthy person, I never again consciously confronted or philosophically explored that innate fear of death.

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Then, on meeting my beloved Guru, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (on the luckiest day of my life), I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.

Inspired by Guruji, I became religiously transformed from “secular Hebrew” to “Born-again Hindu”. And I developed a deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma.

Elsewhere, on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems on these subjects. (See, for example, https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/; also https://sillysutras.com/death-afterlife-rebirth-easter-reflections-on-resurrections/)

Ultimately I concluded from experience, intuition and intellect that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

Consequently, I became ever more detached and less fearful about my own inevitable (and perhaps imminent) bodily death. But, my detachment about my own demise did not negate my compassionate concern for loss of others – especially dear ones – and my wish for their auspicious transitions. This became evident when at age sixty-one I was, at long last, confronted with my dear father’s last illness and passing.

Here is what happened.

Dealing with my father’s last illness and death

My dear father, Harry, came into this world on December 14, 1904, with a very strong body which served him well and without serious disease or disability until age 88. Then beginning in 1993 he had a series of ailments which proved terminal.

First he suffered an extremely painful and protracted case of herpes shingles for which he was treated with Prednisone, a powerful immune system depressant, which weakened him. Soon after recovering from that affliction, while already debilitated he had an intestinal hernia injury, so painful that he was hospitalized and suffered greatly before and after emergency abdominal surgery. Then he soon developed congestive heart disease with lungs filling with liquid and mucus. And finally he was diagnosed with lung cancer – a terminal disease which he had averted despite being a three pack a day cigarette chain smoker from teen age until age sixty. Amazingly, he had will power to immediately quit smoking cigarettes on publication of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report confirming cigarette carcinogenicity and toxicity.

My Dad had enthusiastically enjoyed his long life, especially after his retirement and move from Chicago to the California Bay Area, near his children. But he was not anxious to prolong that life while he suffered painful terminal disease. Once, when I visited him in the John Muir Hospital, sadly he confided in me: “Ron, they put dogs and cats out of misery, but make people suffer. If Doctor Kevorkian was in this area and not Michigan, he’d be my doctor.”

Though, as a law-abiding “born-again Hindu” I had mixed emotions about euthanasia, I felt great compassion for my father and wanted to do whatever would be spiritually appropriate to mitigate his suffering and assure his most auspicious possible transition. So, I consulted my Brahmin Vedic pundit-astrologer friend Pravin Jani, father of Guruji’s successor, Shri Anandi Ma.

Pravinji recommended that I recite certain Sanskrit mantras and that I make two extraordinary charitable donations dedicated to my father: first, that I give to a chosen charity a gift of actual gold – not money; and second, that I purchase and give a holy cow to an Indian ashram. So, with heartfelt compassion for my father, I began reciting the mantras and arranged the unusual donations in his honor.

First, I donated rare American eagle gold coins to New Dimensions Foundation, where I was a Board member. Then, through arrangements by my daughter Jessica who was then living on Ammachi’s Kerala ashram, I acquired and donated to the ashram a holy cow, where it was gratefully received.

“Why” you may ask “is it considered propitious to donate a cow to an Indian ashram?” Because in India cows are are revered as sacred animals by millions of Hindus. Hindus believe that their Divine Avatar Krishna incarnated 5,000 years ago as an enchanting cowherd. He is often described as Bala-Gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” and as Govinda, “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.”

I learned about holy cows during my 1982 sacred pilgrimage to India. One of my most memorable images of that trip, was of stray cows roaming free and obstructing traffic on busy Calcutta streets as our tour bus approached the downtown hotel where we were staying. Later, in the holy city of Rishikesh, I communed with and kissed one of the sacred small cows on the Sivananda, Divine Life Ashram.

Holy Cow at Rishikesh 1982.1

Ron Kissing Holy Cow at Rishikesh, 1982


Many Indian ashrams and rural Indian families have at least one dairy cow, using it for milk, curds, butter, ghee and dung as fuel for pujas (ritual ceremonies). Thus, the cow remains a protected animal in Hinduism today, revered by most Hindus, who do not eat beef.

When I stayed at Ammachi’s ashram in 1992, the ashram had one cow. It’s limited dairy products were used mostly for feeding Ammachi and some swamis, but were insufficient to supply other ashram residents. However, with special dispensation, for a few days Jessica obtained for me one morning cup of curd (yoghurt) which helped heal the severe intestinal upset with which had I arrived at the ashram, suffering food poisoning from a Brahmin wedding feast in Ahmedabad. So the following year I was especially happy to repay that ashram cow’s blessing by donating another sacred cow to be its companion.

Apparently my bovine and gold donations and prayers did not prolong my father’s life. But I have faith that they helped his transition to a heavenly afterlife. When it became evident that Dad’s days here were numbered, at his request he was released from hospital to hospice care at home in March 1994.

To help, I started sleeping at my parents’ Walnut Creek apartment. On the night of March 10, 1994, sensing that Dad’s death was imminent, I stayed awake reciting Sanskrit mantras, especially a mantra recommended by Guruji for auspicious transitions of those destined to die. As I fervently recited mantras, I felt enhanced subtle energies and entered a clairsentient state. Then, though Dad was sleeping in another room, I felt the departure of his spirit. The next morning he was gone, and I helped my mother with required post-death arrangements.

After-death Afterlife Epilogue

That night, exhausted by the stress of prior days, I returned to San Francisco where I slept soundly in my ‘high-rise hermitage’. Just before awakening, and while I was in a semi-sleep state, my father fleetingly appeared in a vivid inner vision. He looked as he did during the prime of his life, rather than as a debilitated old man. He assured me he was fine and then disappeared. When I reported that sighting to Indian friends, they informed me that Dad had died on Maha Shivaratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) considered the most auspicious holy night of the year by millions of Hindus.

Soon afterwards I received another extraordinary assurance of Dad’s favorable transition as I was driving to Shri Anandi Ma’s home in Antioch for a weekend meditation program. En route, I had picked up as passengers Anandi Ma’s parents and brother Umesh at their Berkeley apartment. Like his revered sister, Umesh then spent many hours daily in deep meditation often communing with Guruji’s ishta devata, Hindu monkey-God Lord Hanuman, considered an incarnation of Shiva.

As we traveled to Antioch, Umesh said to me: “Ron, I have a message for you from Hanumanji.” With extreme curiosity, I asked about that message. Whereupon, Umesh replied: “Hanumanji says, don’t worry about your father, we’re taking care of him.”

Six months later, on August 29, 1994, Guruji took mahasamadhi at age one hundred sixteen, and joined the heavenly host caring for my father and countless others. So, heeding Hanumanji’s assurance, I’m not worrying about my father. Instead, as I too approach the end of this precious lifetime, it is my heartfelt aspiration to help through self-purification and compassion not only family dear ones but all other suffering sentient beings with whom we remain inseparably connected.

And so may it be!

Players’ Prayer

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players”
~ William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
May we bless the whole
as we play our role
in the cosmic theater of life.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“You are awareness, disguised as a person.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks
“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

“For in truth it is life that gives unto life –

while you, who deem yourself a giver,
 is but a witness.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“Love is the highest, the grandest, the most inspiring,
the most sublime principle in creation.”

~ Paramahansa Yogananda
“Love Is The Law Of Life:

All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. 

Love is therefore the only law of life.

He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. 

Therefore, love for love’s sake,

because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

~ Swami Vivekananda






Players’ Prayer

May we bless the whole
as we play our role
in the cosmic theater of life.

Ever a part in it,
never apart from it,
in happiness or strife.

May we grow wise
and harmonize,
though chaos seems e’er rife.

‘Til we’re the Whole –
and not the role,
and Holiness is Life.



Ron’s recitation of “Players’ Prayer”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Players’ Prayer”

Dear Friends,

The foregoing “Player’s Prayer” poem, composed years ago, was inspired by William Shakespeare’s mystical insight that all world’s a stage on which we each play different roles. (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII).

It was intended to remind us to help us bless the world every day, not just on days deemed ‘special’ for expressing love, kindness and affection – like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or anniversaries; but to always “bless the Whole, as we play our role in the cosmic theater of life”.

We are all spiritually connected, and everything we think do or say changes this world in some way.  So we need not be avowed spiritual seekers or practitioners to spiritually bless this beautiful world. Whatever may be our role as ‘players’ in an ever changing cosmic drama, we bless the world by lovingly accepting and treating others – not just those deemed near and dear to us by affinity or consanguinity.

Most ordinary people with different life roles, are instinctively motivated to be tolerant and helpful in their relationships with others, even though they may live in societies corrupted by greed and injustice.  They just want to live and let live in peace.  So we gradually and instinctively can learn to accept others as divine sisters and brothers, as we lose illusory ego-mind inhibitions and apprehensions, and realize our deep spiritual Oneness with them, and with Nature and all its lifeforms.

Moreover, we can learn from history’s greatest exemplars of Divine LOVE to not mentally judge others, but to accept and forgive everyone, even supposed adversaries or betrayers (like Judas Iscariot). That is why Jesus (as an incarnate avatar of LOVE) taught by example to love even our enemies, not just our neighbors, and why he prayerfully beseeched Divine forgiveness for his murderers while suffering an excruciatingly painful death by crucifixion:

“Father, forgive them  they know not what they do.”
(Luke-23:34).

We ignorantly hurt ourselves by hurting or hating others, until we learn the divine Truth that we and others are ONE.  Whereupon we realize that unconditional forgiveness and acceptance of others is true LOVE, which eternally blesses all creation. 

Conclusion and Invocation.

Whatever our role in each ephemeral human lifetime, may our instinctive tolerance and generosity help awaken us to our true common Self-identity;
to Realization that we all are Universal Awareness, disguised as persons on the ‘world’s stage’, in a Divine play of Cosmic Consciousness.

Thereby may we live ever more fulfilling lives, as we realize that 

“Love is the highest, 
the grandest, 
the most inspiring,
the most sublime 
principle in creation.”

And thus shall we

“Bless the Whole,
as we play our role
in the cosmic theater of life”.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving

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





Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gratitude is heaven itself.”
~ William Blake

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

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


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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

Invocation

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

May every day be a Thanksgiving day
for everyone everywhere.   

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Happy Thanksgiving Day – Every Day!

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




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
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

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

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

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

 


Footnotes

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

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



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

Listen to