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Prayer

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

Listen to


Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mohandas K. Gandhi
(October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948)


Introduction

Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, one hundred fifty one years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.

During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.

Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

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

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

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

“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Conclusion

May we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life.  Thereby, like this Great Soul, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.  

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

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 outlines 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 opinion that such practices which are premised on inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.

Further it explains why our spiritual evolution can be advanced 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 body, 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 or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed 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 religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. 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 is 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 rescission 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 melody, 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 – Buddhist-Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish – 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.] 

Yet, often in the name of religion, our world remains rife with discrimination, violence and killing which must be transcended for survival of Human life as we have known it.

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.

The above essay, Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present, encourages our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem 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.

Invocation

On ‘holy days’ and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember our affinity and identity with Divinity;

May we thereby wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede our living and being in the precious present.

Thus, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy – NOW!

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Remembering An Attitude Of Gratitude – A Holy Encounter ~ Ron’s Memoirs

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

~ Fred Rogers
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. 
As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. 
As you think of him, you will think of yourself. 
Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose sight of yourself.”
~ A Course in Miracles (ACIM)
“We are born and reborn countless number of times,
and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  
Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
In this world of relativity, we are all relatives.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


praying


Introduction.

In the prior memoirs chapter “Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?”, I told of my miraculous survival and healing from critical taxicab rundown injuries, which I have attributed to the prayers, care, and good wishes of saints and many others who wanted me to get well. And I explained how the shock and trauma of my sudden injuries left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, without memory of what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident, and while I was comatose.

In this chapter I will recount how a spontaneous act of loving-kindness by an ICU nurse – who synchronistically shared my reverence for Saint Francis of Assisi – proved an unforgettable healing blessing. I cannot remember the nurse’s name (so I’ll call her “Mary”), but my memory of our meeting was rekindled by an unforgettable document she left while I slept the next day; and I will never forget how I’ve felt because of her kindness.

A Holy Encounter.

For many years I have had frequent synchronistic meetings with strangers with whom I have experienced deeply harmonious connections. I have called them “holy encounters”. This is the story of an especially memorable holy encounter with a compassionate nurse which happened at the San Francisco General Hospital Intensive Care Unit [ICU], shortly after I had been run down and critically injured by a taxicab.

I have no memory of my admission to the ICU or of any prior conversations, diagnostic procedures or medical examinations there, and I was unaware of details of my injuries until after this encounter.

I later learned from medical records and from those who had examined or visited me that I had sustained a traumatic bleeding brain contusion and concussion, with extended loss of consciousness; large 2” chronic subdural hematoma pushing brain out of normal alignment; multiple fractures, including multiple facial fractures, bruises and lacerations; a fractured right leg tibial plateau; and various traumatic internal injuries, including a lacerated and bleeding liver. I was told that my head and face were completely bruised, discolored and swollen.

On the morning of this holy encounter I can now remember awakening supine on my hospital bed unable to rotate my body because of an IV tube and a full leg brace on my right leg. Presumably I was under influence of narcotic pain suppressant drugs which had been administered while I was unconscious, and until I was later able to decline them with informed consent.

Soon after I awakened that morning, I was greeted by a lovely slender, blond haired ICU nurse, who said:


“Good morning Mr. Rattner, I’m Mary your nurse for today.
How are you feeling?”


Amazingly, I simply responded:


“I’m grateful to be alive!”


Surprised, Mary commented appreciatively about my positive attitude. Whereupon I promptly recited for her my Silly Sutras saying that: 


“An attitude of gratitude brings beatitude.”


And I explained to Mary that my attitude of gratitude came from abiding faith in Divine Providence, and conviction that I was blessed by Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints [*See Footnote]. Mary then told me that she had been raised to revere Saint Francis by her mother who regularly prayed to him at a home shrine.

Inspired by this wonderful synchronicity, I gladly recited for Mary the
“make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with Saint Francis, which amazingly I readily remembered, and which apparently she deeply appreciated. We talked briefly and she then proceeded on her rounds.

An unforgettable “get well” message.

The day after our ‘holy encounter’, I awakened to discover that while I slept Mary had placed this “get well” message, with the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, next to my bed.

sf-general-get-well-message


Conclusion.

I have heretofore told how my mid-life spiritual epiphany opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood, and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears; how for many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized in various devotional spiritual traditions, and which in the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi was known as “the gift of tears”.

Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for over forty years have remained – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy. They have become for me a divine sign of an opened heart.

Mary’s ‘get well’ message has consistently and often sparked a flood of heartfelt emotions and tears as it reminds me of our holy encounter and of my attitude of gratitude for this precious human lifetime. Thus, many times while writing this story I have cried with heartfelt gratitude.

Moral of the story.

Every spontaneous and heartfelt act of loving-kindness bestowed in ordinary life – even in seemingly insignificant incidents – can prove a lasting blessing for its recipient and everyone everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner



Footnote

* Saint Francis of Assisi.

Shortly after a profound spiritual opening in 1976, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with this legendary saint, and regarded him an archetype to be emulated. Soon I began multiple daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him, which have continued until now.

On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made a pilgrimage to Italy to honor Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis (‘Francesco’) was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, and some of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime. Also I made a magically memorable excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first Christian saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ. (See https://sillysutras.com/pilgrimage-to-assisi-communing-with-saint-francis-rons-memoirs/)


Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“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
“Birth and death are virtual, but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


tree_of_life

Introduction.

Nowadays, at age eighty seven, when commonly greeted by others with “Hello, how are you?”, almost always I spontaneously and enthusiastically respond: “Grateful to be alive! – Every day’s a bonus!”

I cannot recall when I began so exclaiming this attitude of gratitude. But mostly it has happened since six years ago, when (on June 29, 2014) I was suddenly run down by a taxicab and critically injured while crossing a busy San Francisco street.

Here is a memoirs story about that incident which I share hoping to inspire for others a similar attitude of gratitude, which has proven for me to be a great blessing. For

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


My First ‘Near Death’ Experience [NDE]*

In 1979 I experienced and have written a prior memoir about an extraordinary and unforgettable out of body event [OOB] which I called a ‘Near Death’ Experience’ [NDE]*. [See https://sillysutras.com/my-near-death-experience/ and *footnote about NDE’s.]

During that experience, I mistakenly believed that I had suffered a stroke and was dying. But I later was told (by my Guruji) that I had not experienced illness but a sudden infusion of Divine shakti energy. So it is unlikely that I suffered from diminished vital signs which are usually associated with NDE’s. Nonetheless, that extraordinary and unforgettable OOB event significantly advanced the spiritual transformation process which had begun with my 1976 realization and rebirth experience.

That transformation process has blessed me with ever increasing self-identification as eternal spirit rather than as mere mortal body/mind. Ultimately, it has led to my realization that Life is perpetual while physical birth and death are virtual; that what most humans call death is merely a vacation – eternal Life-force vacating an inevitably mortal physical vehicle.

This crucial realization has resulted in ever decreasing fear of death, and ever expanding openness, empathy, gratitude and happiness.

Still, I recognize that human bodies are extraordinarily precious life-forms, enabling us to develop and to lovingly advance spiritually. So the longer we are able to skillfully inhabit a functioning physical body, beyond fear of death or disability, the greater our opportunity to learn and to evolve.

Past as Prelude; Another NDE?

In my first NDE* narrative I told how I hadn’t feared presumed peaceful death by a supposed stroke; but, how soon thereafter I experienced an instinctively fearful ‘fight or flight’ reaction when almost run over while crossing a street. (I’ve come to believe that such normal instinctive protection of a precious mortal body is distinguishable from ego’s ever fearful separate self-identification with a body rather than with eternal universal awareness.)

Paradoxically, my 1979 ‘fight or flight’ fear of being run down as a pedestrian ultimately materialized thirty five years later when I was suddenly run down by a taxicab and critically injured while crossing a busy San Francisco street. Today at age eighty seven, I have miraculously survived and largely healed from that incident, after perhaps another ‘near death’ experience.

The shock and trauma of my injuries have left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, so I am unable to recall what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident, and while I was comatose. Thus for such details I must rely on paramedic and hospital records, and on a cam video showing the taxi hitting me.

Accident Injuries.

The following bodily injuries and symptoms, among others, were radiologically and clinically diagnosed:

Traumatic bleeding brain contusion and concussion, with extended loss of consciousness; large 2” chronic subdural hematoma pushing brain .6” out of normal alignment; massive soft tissue tears and other traumatic shoulder injuries, temporarily rendering both shoulders largely non-functional, with prosthesis recommended for left shoulder; multiple facial fractures, bruises and swelling, with broken nose, fractured sinus areas, etc.; facial lacerations requiring sutures; lacerated and bleeding liver; cracked ribs; slight spinal fracture; excessive external bleeding, with anemia requiring prompt two unit blood transfusion; tibial plateau (“bumper”) fracture and extreme swelling of right knee and leg, with large knee wound, open and seeping for over two months; continuing post-traumatic stress syndrome [PTSD]; retrograde amnesia; mental confusion, headaches, dizziness, and dyslexia.

Considering my advanced octogenarian age and the multiplicity and severity of my injuries and symptoms, my survival, recovery and healing so far have been miraculous. Moreover, I have amazingly survived without any pain drugs or brain or shoulder surgical interventions recommended by various allopathic doctors, and have been able to resume a largely independent pre-injury life style with frequent (pre-lockdown) walks, after extended convalescence, and treatment with acupuncture, organic herbs, and physical therapy.

Guruji, Rama mantra, and hints of heavenly help.

Unlike some NDE* survivors I have no memory of what happened while I was comatose, or of any contact with heavenly beings or departed loved ones. However I gratefully intuit that my survival and healing are blessings from my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, from Saint Francis of Assisi and other divine or celestial beings or emanations, and from prayers, acts of kindness and good wishes of many friends, health providers and others.

Previously I have explained the importance of the Rama mantra in my transformational process; how spontaneously I began reciting Rama before receiving shaktipat initiation by Guruji, who synchronistically gave me a Ram mantra. I believe that the power of my Ram mantra helped my miraculous survival and recovery.

Also I have told how recitation of the name Rama was the principle spiritual practice of Mahatma Gandhi – my first inner spiritual guide – who recited it from childhood until his assassination; how even as Gandhi fell to an assassin’s pistol fired point-blank into his heart, in forgiveness he uttered nothing but “Rama, Rama …” his last words from the eternal depths of his heart.

Referring to his repetition of “Rama” Gandhi said:

“that the Word is in my heart, if not actually on my lips, all the twenty-four hours. It has been my saviour and I am ever stayed on it.” “The mantram becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal….” “Each repetition … has a new meaning, each repetition carries you nearer and nearer to God.”


During weeks before my taxi rundown incident, I noticed that I was constantly reciting my Ram mantra; and that it was in my heart when not on my lips. So, I may have been reciting the mantra when hit by the taxicab.

On my ambulance arrival at San Francisco General Hospital trauma center, according to hospital records, I was “pleasantly confused and repetitive”, and was ‘repeating phrases’. And more than one doctor noted my positive attitude despite critical injuries.

Intuitively I believe that my repetitive utterances were Ram mantra recitations which helped invoke the subtle presence and assistance of my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji.

Amongst my first hospital visitors were my long-time spiritual friends Carolyn and Monte, who are also Guruji devotees. Very soon after my admission to the ICU they synchronistically learned of my injuries, and immediately came to the hospital, where they were admitted after regular visiting hours.  On observing my completely bruised, discolored  and swollen head and face they became very concerned and did hands on healing, with repetitions of the Ram mantra.  Shortly after returning home, Carolyn prayed to Guruji for my health and recovery.  Whereupon Guruji responded telepathically that he was already helping me.

Similarly another spiritual friend, Michael, a long-time devotee of Guruji’s successor Shri Anandi Ma, reported to me his intuitive flash of insight that I could not and would not have survived the taxicab injuries but for Guruji’s intervention.

And soon after the accident I received an email assurance from my (now departed) friend Pravinji Jani, Anandi Ma’s father and Vedic pundit and astrologer, assuring me that “Guruji is always with you showering his blessings” for healing and for “return to your normal activities with inspiring sutras”.

These encouraging communications from Guruji devotees supported my intuitive insights of Guruji’s subtle presence and help.

Prayers, good wishes, and other acts of kindness and compassion.

The prayers and good wishes of family, friends, health care providers and many others who cared for and about me, and wanted me to get well, also helped my miraculous survival and healing. Many staff people at the hospital and rehab facility were kind and compassionate, and did their very best to help me.

I was especially touched when I awakened in the hospital ICU one morning to see taped on the wall this “get well” message:


It had been placed there by one of my loving nurses with whom I had discussed my “attitude of gratitude” for surviving the taxicab rundown and my love for Saint Francis of Assisi, whose peace prayer I’d recited for her. (Details of our “holy encounter” are posted at https://sillysutras.com/remembering-an-attitude-of-gratitude-a-holy-encounter-rons-memoirs/)

Other acts of loving-kindness and compassion by those attending me were too numerous for me to recall or recount. But they all helped me get well.

Prayers can be powerful, and have been integral to all enduring religious and spiritual traditions from time immemorial. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious or spiritual denomination.

Moreover, persuasive scientific evidence now confirms healing efficacy of prayer. So I am gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers and good wishes of many people who cared about me helped my miraculous survival and healing.

Why was my life was endangered, and why have I miraculously survived?

I don’t know. Presumably this incident arose from mysterious karmic causes and conditions. And presumably I have survived because my predestined assignments for this lifetime have not yet been fulfilled.

Before the taxicab rundown, I already was happier, more grateful and less fearful than ever before. And I already had abiding faith in the Divine, which more than ever before enabled me to accept inevitable and inescapable life difficulties and uncertainties, and yet to live openly, spontaneously and authentically, without worry, fear or doubt. (See: I’ve Found A Faith-Based Life.)

But I’ve become even more grateful for this precious human lifetime, and for the opportunity to continue learning to live with ever expanding loving-kindness and compassion.

Now I feel that every day is a bonus; that every breath is a blessing. And I am convinced that I have been permitted to remain in this body only because I’ve not yet fully accomplished the purposes for which my soul incarnated; that the miraculous survival and healing have been Divine blessings bestowing an evolutionary opportunity for karmic ‘purification’ and enhanced incentive to spiritually make the most of what remains of this precious human life-time.
 
One of the greatest joys of living a long earth-life is that there is always something new to learn, and that through synchronicities we are led to ever new opportunities for learning to become more loving – our purpose here.
So I feel blessed to have been allowed to keep learning appropriate evolutionary lessons – and also to have been afforded an opportunity to continue honoring Guruji’s request that I write and publish spiritual memoirs so as to inspire others.

[**See footnote]

Moral of the story?

With an enduring ‘attitude of gratitude’, I share this story hoping to inspire our fearless faith in that Mysterious Power which eternally guides our lives
through inevitable and inescapable difficulties and uncertainties,
and which enables us to live gratefully with loving-kindness and compassion,
and without worry, fear or negative attachments.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Footnotes:

*NDE’s. The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos and in magazines and books – including NY Times best sellers. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, sensitive, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

**The Perennial Wisdom Foundation (PWF) plans to publish ebooks containing these memoirs and other on-line writings. Also, PWF has arranged to keep SillySutras.com on line for at least another ten years, whether or not I am able to continue writing.


Asking Is The Answer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

“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 poem summarizes one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from living a long and lucky lifetime: viz. to always keep curious and open minded, just as when we begin our lives as unaculturated 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 species’ unskilled 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

Thereby with stilled minds and opened hearts may we resolve current crises and live with peace and justice everywhere, without 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

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
“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; 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 crazy 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 those who perpetrated his excruciatingly painful 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
“Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
~ Rumi
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
~ Cicero





Everyday Thoughts For Thanksgiving


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Gratitude is heaven itself.”
~ William Blake

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

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


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



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

“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 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.  

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 seen that enjoying continual thankfulness is a state of Divine Grace – not just during Thanksgiving holidays, but always; that every day’s a bonus, with every breath a blessing.   

Invocation

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

May every day be 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




Let Life Live Us As Love

“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

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 matrix of immutable 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 common Self-identity as Awareness with all Life on our precious planet, 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 Awareness, as Love, is the ultimate Doer,
let us let go of ego,
and

 

Let Life Live us as LOVE.

 

And So It Shall Be!

 
Ron’s comments and explanation about “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 matrix of immutable 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 discover and transcend by looking within.

This process of finding and letting go of mental barriers to experiencing ourselves as LOVE is explained in the foregoing profound quotations and essay.

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

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






My Life of “Prayer”

Introduction.

After a midlife spiritual awakening at age forty three, prayer became essential to my spiritually conscious life process. So my spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following description and explanation of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening.

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.)

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. But gradually I ceased praying for specific outcomes, 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 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 is 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 our 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.

Self Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny.

Conclusion.

May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward realization of that ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner