Religion

Kol Nidré ritual prayer

Cantor Netanel Hershtik singing Kol Nidre

Introduction

Dear Friends,

Concurrent with Jewish high holy days I recently posted memoirs about Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present which describe and explain “Kol Nidrei” the Jewish Yom Kippur opening prayer, that repents “sins” and seeks Divine forgiveness or rescission of the past year’s obsolete vows, intentions or behaviors. That memoirs posting describes the hauntingly beautiful “Kol Nidrei” melodies which powerfully project deep sacred meaning beyond the prayer’s vocalized Aramaic words.

However, the posting fails to include audio-visual performances of Kol Nidrei.

So as a musical epilogue to Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present I have hereafter embedded two exemplary YouTube performances of the ancient Kol Nidrei ritual prayer:

1) A an historic 2003 video recording of American Cantor Netanel Hershtik singing Kol Nidre at Amsterdam’s 17th century Portuguese Synagogue, one of the world’s most architecturally important synagogues. This performance was produced and repeatedly aired by PBS stations during Jewish holidays and fund-raising drives for years thereafter. It was part of a Jewish sacred music concert in Europe, arranged by PBS.

2) A legendary orchestral performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim with renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pré (his deceased wife) of German composer Max Bruch’s “Adagio after Hebrew Melodies”, Op 47, for cello and orchestra. Bruch, a Christian Protestant, was “deeply moved” by the haunting beauty of the ancient “Kol Nidrei” liturgical music. And he considered the cello’s tenor tone as ideally evoking a Jewish cantor’s voice. So In 1880 he composted his still popular Op 47, with beautiful ancient Jewish melodies.

Conclusion

Spiritually, Kol Nidrei melodies have for centuries emanated and communicated instinctive human awareness of our unavoidable fallibility as physically incarnate earth-beings unable to live without error or beyond the “sin” of missing the mark for ethically perfect behaviors.

Please enjoy these haunting melodies, accordingly.

Ron Rattner

Videos

2003 video recording of American Cantor Netanel Hershtik singing Kol Nidre at Amsterdam’s 17th century Portuguese Synagogue



Max Bruch’s “Adagio after Hebrew Melodies”, Op 47, for cello and orchestra, performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim with renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pré (his deceased wife)




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


Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Introduction

Dear Friends,

In lunar/solar new moon and equinox seasons of major 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 behaviors which help 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 hastened 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 introspection and repentance, and concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement” and “at-one-ment”]. During religious 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 religious 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 spiritual 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 the Kol Nidre prayer 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 consequently they often feel frustration or guilt.

Rather than harboring such guilt or frustration, 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 Comments on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present

Dear Friends,

In lunar/solar new moon and equinox seasons of major 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 being more and more in and as the timeless NOW.

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

Conclusion and Dedication

As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and ideals 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 memoirs posting is dedicated to advancing our spiritual evolution on ‘holy days’ and every day, by encouraging us to fearlessly forgive the past, and to ever BE thought-free in the precious present – as Eternal LOVE.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Mahatma Gandhi
(October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948)


Introduction

Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, one hundred fifty three 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 as God (satyagraha). Gandhi changed himself to change the world by being the change he wanted see.

Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he often wrote (or was quoted about) 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.

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

Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom

“My life is my message”

“[T]he world will not change if we don’t change.”

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

“You may never know what results come of your actions,

but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”

“If we are to make progress,
we must not repeat history but make new history.
We must add to inheritance left by our ancestors.”

“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.”

“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 nonviolence. Truth is my God. Nonviolence is the means of realizing Him.”

“Nonviolence succeeds only when we have a real living faith in God.”

“My faith runs so very much faster than my reason that I can challenge the whole world and say, ‘God is, was and ever shall be’.”

“Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.”

“A man with a grain of faith in God never loses hope, because he ever believes in the ultimate triumph of Truth.”

”Nonviolence is the greatest force man has been endowed with.

Truth is the only goal he has. For God is none other than Truth.

But Truth cannot be, never will be, reached except through nonviolence…

That which distinguishes man from all other animals is his capacity to be non-violent.

And he fulfills his mission only to the extent that he is non-violent and no more.“

“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.”

“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics,

do not know what religion is.”

“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.”

“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.”

“In the dictionary of the seeker of truth there is no such thing as being ‘not successful’. He is or should be an irrepressible optimist, because of his immovable faith in the ultimate victory of Truth, which is God.”

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


Dedication and Invocation

As a blessing, 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

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

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips,
be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
~ 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


Saint Francis of Assisi
[*See footnotes]


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 and is so remembered on his annual October 4th Feast Day celebration.

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 BE 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.



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

Listen to



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.


Farewell Carol:
Tribute to an Unforgettable Friend
~ Ron’s Memoirs

“May the Lord give you peace.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
~ Rumi


Carol Schuldt, ‘Queen of the Beach’, (6/26/33–12/01/18)

Ron’s Introduction.

Dear Friends,

June 26, 2022 is the 89th birthday anniversary of my unforgettable departed friend Carol Schuldt. Carol was an extraordinarily intuitive free spirit, whose authentic and inner directed spiritual life was in inspiration for me and countless others.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and heart failure,  Carol painlessly left her body at age 85 on December 1st, 2018.   A week later her body was interred in a wild nature place overlooking the Pacific Ocean, after spontaneous rituals and stories were shared by Carol’s friends on a beautiful sunny afternoon. 

In tribute to Carol, this posting recounts my memoirs of our friendship, outlines Carol’s extraordinary spiritual history,  tells a miraculous synchronicity story about how I tearfully bid her farewell through our shared synchronistic harmony with St. Francis of Assisi, and concludes with my eulogy to Carol.

Carol Schuldt & Ron Rattner, @ Ron’s 80th birthday party, 11/11/’12

Background

Carol was a a legendary San Franciscan, sometimes known as ‘Queen of the Beach’ or ‘Mother Teresa of the Sunset’. She lived as a life-long nature lover and natural born shaman, authentically, intuitively, generously and spontaneously. (See Carol’s SF Chronicle obituary)

Carol and I had innumerable synchronistic encounters, after we first met in the 1980’s. And we repeatedly shared our many ‘miraculous’ synchronicity stories (a few of which are posted here on SillySutras.com).

Before meeting Carol, I miraculously ‘discovered’ and became a lover of St. Francis of Assisi. And soon after meeting Carol, I regarded her as a ‘female St. Francis’ who constantly communed with Nature, even with the sun, the moon, and many nonhuman lifeforms.

So in tribute to Carol’s transition, I write now about her spiritual history, and how I tearfully bid her farewell through our shared synchronistic harmony with St. Francis of Assisi.

Summary of Carol’s spiritual history.

Carol and I first met long ago while sitting at Aquatic Beach on San Francisco Bay (across from Ghirardelli Square), where I walked and where she often came to escape ocean fog and swim in the sun (without a wet suit). Afterwards we exchanged many “miracle” stories about our lives stemming from our countless experiences of synchronicities, or meaningful ‘coincidences’.

I deeply appreciated Carol as an amazingly free spirit with great instinctive wisdom and generosity.  Before we met, she’d already become a ‘living legend’ throughout and beyond her San Francisco ocean front neighborhood. And many stories were written or told about her. For example, an excellent story: “A Benevolent Queen of the Beach” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 25, 2000. And in 2005 Carol was interviewed on film by the SF Public Library, about her history and life in the ‘hippie’ 1960’s.

The Chronicle article told of Carol’s exceptional inner wisdom even from childhood, when at Catholic school she adamantly refused to worship a bloody Christ on a crucifix, and was the only child exempted therefrom by the nuns, who recognized her wisdom.

The article also told how Carol had dedicated her life to helping troubled souls – especially young people. But that paradoxically Carol experienced great family tragedy with all of her three children: her two daughters whose lives were lastingly impacted by drug addiction, and her son Pete who was permanently brain damaged in a childhood car accident. Because of her great generosity, especially toward needy young people, Carol was sometimes known as the “Mother Teresa of the Sunset District”. And as a daily swimmer/surfer she also became known as ‘Queen of the Beach’.

From childhood Carol was an extraordinarily intuitive free spirit. She never knowingly followed any prescribed Western or Eastern religious path, despite attempted childhood Catholic inculcation. Instead, she instinctively followed her own unique spiritual path of communing with Nature while surfing, swimming, sunning, hiking, biking, organic gardening, and helping troubled souls – especially young people.

Carol’s muraled house and organic garden.

Carol’s muraled house and aesthetic organic garden have symbolized her unique lifestyle as a ‘female St. Francis’. Especially noteworthy is an artistically beautiful St. Francis of Assisi “Peace & Joy” mural at her home’s entryway – a delightfully surprising tourist attraction for visitors to San Francisco’s ocean beach area. On Carol’s roof top (above the mural) is an artistic portrayal of ‘Brother sun’, her main deity, and unfurled above the roof is a red Tibetan prayer flag, symbolizing Carol’s respect for the Tibetan culture and Dalai Lama.

Thus Carol’s house has eloquently exemplified her simple inner-directed life of instinctively communing with Nature, often without concern for outer–directed societal standards.

Carol’s St. Francis mural

Ron’s Synchronicity Story: “Goodbye St. Francis”= Farewell Carol

During forty years of living in the same San Francisco high-rise hermitage, my apartment has been adorned with many pictures and portrayals of St. Francis, my favorite saint, and of the peace prayer which he inspired. And until four years ago St. Francis in a stone statue also presided over my outside deck garden.

But in July 2018, I was obliged to remove everything from my outdoor deck so it could be renovated and repainted. Thereafter, I realized that I could no longer physically maintain my deck-top garden. So I decided to give away the plants and planters blessed by my St. Francis statue. While I was looking for new homes for my plants, the St. Francis statue was kept in an inconspicuous corner of my bedroom which was temporarily filled with many deck plants.

On December 1, 2018, my long-time neighbor and community gardener friend, Jan Monaghan, came to take pictures of my plants and planters, to help me find a new home for them. While showing Jan the St. Francis statue, I suddenly and inexplicably started crying, thinking and saying “goodbye Saint Francis”.  Thereafter for several hours I remained tearful.

The next day, Sunday December 2nd, I learned (via email) that Carol’s soul had departed her body Saturday evening, and I intuited that while Ron was tearfully saying goodbye to St. Francis Carol’s soul was astrally bidding Ron ‘adieu’.

On Monday morning, realizing that my St. Francis statue needed a proper and prominent new place to stand, I decided to move it to my my high-rise hermitage view living room, where I spend most indoor waking hours. So I telepathically told the saint in the statue that (on returning from a brief walk) I was moving him to a perfect place on my living room wool carpet, and that I would find an appropriate indoor pedestal for him there ASAP.

Soon thereafter, I took a brief walk on nearby Vallejo street. After walking for about fifteen minutes I beheld an amazing manifestation miracle. Amongst a curbside pile of discarded objects, I saw a perfect pedestal for St. Francis, which I carried home. On returning home, I moved St. Francis to a new perfect place on my living room carpet where he now resides on that miraculously manifested pedestal. And just as Carol’s St. Francis mural appears below a red Tibetan roof-top prayer flag, my St. Francis statue stands beneath a red Tibetan Kalachakra thangka mandala, symbolizing respect for the Tibetan culture, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

St. Francis statue on pedestal in Ron’s high-rise hermitage

Meaning of the farewell Carol synchronicity story?


“Miraculous synchronicities in time,
are meaningful reminders of eternal Reality
beyond time”.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great,

pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature,

and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”

~ Deepak Chopra

Eulogy to Carol Schuldt

After briefly blessing this world as a female St Francis,
the divine soul we’ve known as Carol Schuldt,
has returned to the Sun,
from where she’ll reappear eternally
for endless new lifetime adventures,
in endless new forms, of
LOVE.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

Death? Afterlife? Rebirth?
~ Easter Reflections on Resurrections.

At my death do not lament our separation …
as the sun and moon but seem to set,
in reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi
“I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
~ John – 3:3
“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”
“The soul never takes birth and never dies at any time,
nor does it come into being again when the body is created.
The soul is birthless, eternal, imperishable and timeless,
and is never destroyed when the body is destroyed.
Just as a man giving up old worn out garments accepts other new apparel, in the same way the embodied soul giving up old and worn out bodies verily accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Krishna to Arjuna
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as a plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear?
When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blest;
But even from angelhood I must pass on …”
~ Rumi
death, as men call him, ends what they call men
–but beauty is more now than dying’s when…
~ e. e. cummings
“The dewdrop belongs to the sea.
Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature;
but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea.
So it is with your life.  United to God you become immortal.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Eternal Life is gained by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover the lover is absorbed in Him, and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows, and when the sun shines in glory
the shadows vanish away.
He is a true lover to God to whom God says,
“I am thine, and thou art mine! ”
~ Rumi


Tree of Life


The Last Supper



The biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

As countless millions traditionally commemorate the rebirth and resurrection of Jesus Christ following his physical death by crucifixion, let us contemplate the deep significance of that story.  Whether we regard it as historic or metaphoric, the story raises crucial issues about life and death – about afterlife and rebirth – and about our true identity and reality.

Physical death is inevitable, but Life is perpetual.

Death of the physical body is inevitable and unavoidable. After birth, “no matter how we strive, no body leaves alive.” Uncertainty exists only about time of death, and about whether there is conscious life after physical death.

For millennia seers, saints, philosophers and mystics have addressed perennial questions of life after physical death and of our true identity and reality. Since the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein revolutionized Western science with his theories of special and general relativity, quantum physicists and other non-materialistic scientists have begun confirming ancient mystical insights.

Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD coined the term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] in his 1975 best-selling book “Life After Life”. Since then NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by millions who claim to have experienced them. And some leading-edge non-materialist scientists have cited testimonies about NDE’s and other extraordinary mystical experiences as evidence that consciousness survives physical death.

For example, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, respected scientist, author and pioneering authority on death and dying, believed in survival of spirit after physical death, and used butterflies as symbols of the death process.

Soon after World War II, she visited the children’s barracks at the Maidanek concentration camp in Poland. There, amazingly, she observed hundreds of butterfly images drawn by the inmate children on the walls, even with pebbles and fingernails. Spellbound by the sight of butterflies drawn on the walls, she wondered why they were there and what they meant.

Twenty-five years later, after listening to hundreds of terminally ill patients, she finally realized that the imprisoned children must have known that they were going to die and intuitively were using butterflies as images of the physical death process. Dr. Kubler-Ross thus explained in The Wheel of Life, A Memoir of Living and Dying:

“They knew that soon they would become butterflies. Once dead, they would be out of that hellish place. Not tortured anymore. Not separated from their families. Not sent to gas chambers. None of this gruesome life mattered anymore. Soon they would leave their bodies the way a butterfly leaves its cocoon. And I realized that was the message they wanted to leave for future generations. . . .It also provided the imagery that I would use for the rest of my career to explain the process of death and dying.”


Dr. Kubler-Ross’s writings have inspired many other non-materialist scientists who have followed her lead. Also, of great importance in helping us understand whether spirit survives physical death were the ground breaking scientific studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who for forty years studied children world-wide who spontaneously remembered past lives. Dr. Stevenson objectively validated and documented about twelve hundred such cases.

Thanks to the ‘leading edge’ work of Dr. Kubler-Ross and Dr. Stevenson, and of distinguished non-material scientists inspired by them, there now exists overwhelming scientific evidence that consciousness and mind are independent of physical bodies; that our physical bodies and brains are not originators of consciousness and mind, but their receptors, tuners and transducers.  And that until we evolve beyond space/time duality reality, apparent reincarnation or rebirth may happen after death of the brain and physical body.

What survives physical death?

If – like snowflakes – each of us manifests as an absolutely unique physical form, what is it about us that can survive death of that unique form, and be “born and reborn”?

“Reincarnation” is often understood to be the transmigration of a “soul” – viz. apparently uniquely circumscribed spirit – to another body after physical death.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism’s most cited ancient scripture, Divine Avatar Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that:

“The soul is eternal, all-pervading, unmodifiable, immovable and primordial.”; “The soul never takes birth and never dies” but “when the body is destroyed” or when “giving up old and worn out bodies . . [it] accepts new bodies.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2


Though in Buddhism there is no concept of separate soul or individual self that survives death, Buddhists believe in rebirth. Like most mystics, Buddhists say that in addition to our physical body, we are enveloped by subtle astral and mental bodies, which survive death of the physical body and become consciously associated with successive physical bodies.

Thus the Dalai Lama says that:

“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.”


A detailed and compelling description of afterlife can be found in “Autobiography of a Yogi”, by Paramahansa Yogananda, Chapter 43 – The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar .   There Yogananda credibly recounts a long discussion with his physically deceased Guru, Sri Yukteswar, who – like Jesus – resurrected to explain to his disciple Yogananda many details of afterlife.  [You can read that extraordinarily fascinating story at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Autobiography_of_a_Yogi/Chapter_43

Many psychics say that on physical death “we” survive and enter different realms. eg. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

But ancient Vedic and Buddhist non-dualism philosophies (“Advaita”;”Advaya”) have for millennia taught that this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”… .

“The world, indeed, is like a dream
and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage!”
~ Buddha

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion,
does not act as if it is real,
so he escapes the suffering.”
~ Buddha


Notwithstanding the Buddha’s non-dualist teachings, the Dalai Lama says he practices death and rebirth eight times daily. And, as Tibetan Bodhisattva of Compassion, he intends to return until all sentient beings are liberated from suffering.

If you had the option of a one-way exit pass to ‘heaven’, would you volunteer as a Bodhisattva to come back to this crazy world?

Vivekananda and Einstein.

The ancient Eastern non-dualism teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda, principal disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, at and after the 1893 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago.

In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, Vivekananda equated maya or samsara with “time, space, and causation” and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

“According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.”


“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?
 
“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”


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


~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Revered 20th century Indian sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi – who was a renowned exponent of non-dualism – taught that for self-realized beings there is no reincarnation, but that reincarnation exists until self-realization – that self-realization reveals this entire world of space/time/causality as illusionary maya or samsara. Thus, responding to the question: “Is reincarnation true?”,  he said: 

“Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.”


Einstein’s revolutionary non-mechanistic science and unconventional religious ideas were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, because they questioned the substantiality of matter, the ultimate reality of space, time and causality, and reincarnation. Like Vivekananda, Einstein said:

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”



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



“Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think”

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

“There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.”




“That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”

~ Albert Einstein


Ron’s Explanations and Reflections on Reincarnations and Resurrections.

Dear Friends,

As an 89 year old octogenarian, I have long reflected upon crucially important perennial questions concerning life, death, afterlife, and rebirth. And thereby I’ve been blessed to realize that consciousness we call “life” continues eternally after inevitable physical death.

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

Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife: I began to realize that I was not merely my mortal body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I started seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including my maternal grandfather and Mahatma Gandhi, who I now regard as my first perceived inner 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 Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; and, 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 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, quotes and poems on these subjects. (See, e.g., https://sillysutras.com/category/afterlife/ ;https://sillysutras.com/category/life-and-death/; https://sillysutras.com/category/reincarnation/ )

Ultimately I’ve concluded that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual” and that “as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.” (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

Consequently, I’ve become ever less fearful about my own inevitable and perhaps imminent bodily death, and often witness Earth-life like an illusionary play or movie, rather than Reality – which I now consider timeless LOVE as Infinite Potentiality beyond comprehension, imagination or description.

Moreover, I’ve become persuaded that from a Self–realized ‘Buddha’s eye view’ all our supposedly separate lifetimes, incarnations, emanations or appearances can be Seen timelessly and concurrently – formed like ink blots in a ‘big bang’ Rorschach test; but that (except for rare Avatars or Buddhas) we are karmically challenged to live each supposed space/time lifetime as lovingly and empathetically as possible, while ever mindful that we are not separate mortal entities but indivisible formless and eternal Infinite Potentiality as LOVE.

To encourage our deep insights on perennial questions of afterlife and reincarnation, like “Who am I?” and “What is death?”, I have shared the foregoing writings.

On Easter and every day, may they help us discover within ever expanding fulfillment and happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth.

And so may it be!

2022 Epilogue.

Dear Friends,

Since the 2019 equinox holidays we have entered an unprecedented “new normal” era of post-pandemic social, psychological, political, and economic turbulence, violence, and polarity, with possibly imminent nuclear war or other omnicidal catastrophe ending earth-life as we’ve known it.

More people than ever before are suffering fears of death, illness, impoverishment, or imminent calamity, and are unable to live normally. They’ve been deprived of God-given human rights and necessities, and prevented from engaging in customary economic and social activities. Some are homeless or ‘sheltering’ unable to reverently commemorate the equinox holidays with others. 

More than ever before our species is ignorantly, insanely and unsustainably plundering, polluting and pillaging our planet’s precious resources and destroying it’s precious ecosystem and climate.

But, paradoxically, this is also a time of epochal opportunity, not only a time of immense suffering and potentially imminent catastrophe caused or condoned by our species. Thus, this an especially appropriate time for us to deeply reflect upon our fundamental life purposes, priorities and responsibilities as sentient Earth beings.

Because ignorance of our immortal Self-Identity causes continual fearful sufferings which impede evolution and progress, it is crucial that we transcend fears. So to help us overcome our fears and enter an unprecedented new era of peace and prosperity, I have today posted the foregoing writings and reflections.

Dedication

These writings concerning life and death, afterlife and reincarnation, and Ultimate Reality as timeless LOVE, are deeply dedicated to encouraging our continuing curiosity and reflections about our common and non-dual eternal and Infinite Self-identity.

May they help us discover ever expanding fulfillment and inner happiness during our precious ephemeral lifetimes on planet Earth, whatever our ideas about death, afterlife or rebirth.

Invocation.

May we – in this precious human lifetime
on our wonderful planet Earth –
realize together our common dream for a new reality,
where everyone everywhere is happy.

May Everyone Everywhere Be Happy!
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!”


And so shall it be!!

Ron Rattner

Biophilism

“Beyond atonement theology,
Let us BE at-one-ment Reality –
as Eternal LOVE.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama
“There is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.
Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,”
~ Rabia of Basra
“I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew”
~ Hafiz
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
Not any religion, or cultural system.
 I am not from the East or the West,
 nor out of the ocean or up 
from the ground, not natural or ethereal,
 not composed of elements at all.

I do not exist, am not an entity in this world
 or the next, 
did not descend from Adam and Eve 
or any origin story.

My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless.
 Neither body nor soul. 
I belong to the Beloved
 have seen the two worlds as one 
and that one call to and know,

First, last, outer, inner, only that 
breath breathing human.” 


~ Rumi, Only Breath
“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“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




Ron’s Introduction to “Biophilism”

Dear Friends,

“Biophilism” is a poetic essay which declares our urgent need for a universal religion of LOVE.  

The title “Biophilism” was derived from “biophilia”, which means “love of Life”. It’s interpretation is suggested by the above key quotations and by my following explanatory comments.

This essay is closely related to my Reflections on Religious Beliefs, which tell why humanity can no longer survive without universal ethical behaviors beyond conflicting religious beliefs.

Ron Rattner


Biophilism

The new millennium demands a new universal religion –

A religion of Love.

So, let us curb our dogmas
and park our hierarchies.

Let us leave atonement theology,
and live at-one-ment Reality.

Let us transcend our ism schisms
and live a Universal ism —

Biophilism –

The love of Life.

Let us live life
as love of Life.

Let us let go, and
let Life live us,

as

LOVE.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Biophilism”

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Biophilism”

Dear Friends,

Many years ago the then obvious threat of nuclear war catastrophe inspired composition of the foregoing poetic essay, envisioning a new universal religion of LOVE.

After the horrendous 1945 US atomic bombings of the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and especially since the ‘miraculous’ resolution of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis between the USA and USSR, I have been deeply concerned by obviously insane dangers of a nuclear war catastrophe which would end earth life as we’ve known it. So I’ve long realized the urgent need to abolish all nuclear weapons, and all wars.

The “Biophilism” poetic essay was composed after my midlife spiritual awakening, long before the doomsday clock of the bulletin of atomic scientists was moved to 100 seconds to midnight. Since then we’ve experienced increasingly violent and politically polarized times, beyond those which motivated this essay. So the essay’s message is more urgently imperative now than ever before.

In order to avert current catastrophic threats to Life on our precious planet, humanity needs egalitarian societal organizations – beyond hierarchical religious organizations; we need democratically participatory organizations which promote and practice coexistence, compassion and cooperation over insanely autocratic domination and unsustainable exploitation of people and other lifeforms.  
  
Though countless people have benefited from religions, it has become obvious that survival of Earth-life as we’ve known it urgently requires universal human ethics of empathy and LOVE, transcending current insanely polarized violence and turbulence. 

Thus, today’s essay declares our urgent need for a new universal religion of LOVE. Although some may consider this declaration impractical or Utopian, I deem it not just feasible but evolutionarily imperative that we end and transcend current human warfare insanity.

As lovers of God and Nature, let us communally remember, envision and experience our true spiritual Self-Identity, which is Universal and Eternal LOVE!

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom


“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
February 18, 1836 – August 16, 1886



Ron’s Introduction to “Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom”

Dear Friends,

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was an exraordinary 19th century Indian holy man who has become likened to Krishna, Buddha, and Christ, as a Divine Incarnation. He was an extremely rare and eccentric mystical genius who taught from his direct experience. Like Jesus, in order to explain abstruse spiritual philosophy to common people, Sri Ramakrishna used parables and illustrations, culled from his observation of the daily life around him.

His exceptional life exemplified the ancient universal non-dualism truths of Advaita Hindu philosophy. However, Sri Ramakrishna’s mystical experiences transcended most precepts of Hinduism, and were similar to experiences of prophets and mystics from other enduring religions.

As a tribute to him Mahatma Gandhi has written:


“His life enables us to see God face to face. .
Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness.”


Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual teachings have been preserved and disseminated globally through “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrisha”, a unique written record of the direct words of a prophet consisting of a very detailed account of the daily life and conversations of Sri Ramakrishna interspersed with his profound and subtle utterances about the nature of Ultimate Reality. Those teachings continue to bless and benefit countless people worldwide, including me.

Sri Ramakrishna’s groundbreaking religious pluralism and spiritual non-dualism teachings were first prominently disseminated by his most important disciple Swami Vivekananda, a renowned sage and eloquent orator, who came to the West beginning in 1893 as the spokesman for Hinduism at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.

Thereafter to promote Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings, in America Vivekananda established Vedanta Societies, and in India he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. There now exists a thriving Ramakrishna spiritual revitalization movement with numerous Vedanta centers in India, America and worldwide.

My Discovery of Sri Ramakrisha’s Teachings

I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna during my 1982 pilgrimage to India, while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata). There – almost a century after Sri Ramakrishna’s transition – I experienced his shakti life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place which felt so pleasingly familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.

Before visiting Dakshineshwar I knew nothing about Sri Ramakrishna. Nor was I yet aware that Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s principal disciple, had often visited him at Dakshineshwar; or that, touched and blessed by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda attained highest spiritual states, became an Indian national hero and first brought Vedantic wisdom to widespread Western audiences and spiritual practitioners. (Nor had I yet learned that Vivekananda was very important to my beloved Guruji.)

On returning home I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life and his teachings. I learned that (like Saint Francis of Assisi) he was an egalitarian ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna (as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi), both of whom were extraordinary ascetics with similar Divine devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport, especially their “gift of tears”.

Moreover, I’ve especially appreciated Sri Ramakrishna’s simple sayings, parables, and spiritual stories, which continue to bless the world.
So to honor Sri Ramakrishna on his February 18th birthday anniversary I have gathered the following collection of his teachings.

Please enjoy and reflect upon them.


Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom Teachings



“The supreme purpose and goal for human life… is to cultivate love.”

“He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life.”

“Try to cultivate love of God. You are born as a human being only to attain divine love.”

“Unalloyed love of God is the essential thing. All else is unreal.”

“You should love everyone because God dwells in all beings.”

“Have love for everyone, no one is other than you.”

“One day, it was suddenly revealed to me that everything is pure spirit.”

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”

“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.”

“God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

“When the divine vision is attained, all appear equal;
and there remains no distinction of good and bad, or of high and low.”

“Men are like pillow-cases. The color of one may be red, that of another blue, and that of the third black; but all contain the same cotton within. So it is with man; one is beautiful, another is ugly, a third holy, and a fourth wicked; but the Divine Being dwells in them all.”

“The sun can give heat and light to the whole world, but he cannot do so when the clouds shut out his rays.
Similarly as long as egotism veils the heart, God cannot shine upon it.”

“God is in all men, but all men are not in God; that is why we suffer.”

“It is on account of the ego that one is not able to see God.
In front of the door of God’s mansion lies the stump of ego.
One cannot enter the mansion without jumping over the stump.”

“The water of God’s grace cannot collect
on the high mound of egotism. It runs down.”

“The ego is like the root of a banyan tree, you think you have removed it all then one fine morning you see a sprout flourishing again.”

“All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.”

“As a piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge.”

“Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind, right and left, everywhere there is water. In that water is placed a jar filled with water. There is water inside the jar and water outside, but the jar is still there. The [ego] ‘I’ is the jar.”

“Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The [wise] jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but [God] Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is [ego] ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of [ego] ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words.”

“The waves belong to the water. Does the water belong to the waves?”

“Bondage and Liberation are of the mind alone.”

“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind. If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”

“It is the mind that makes one wise or ignorant, bound or emancipated.”

“By the mind one is bound; by the mind one is freed. … He who asserts with strong conviction: “I am not bound, I am free,” becomes free.”

“A man is truly free, even here in this embodied state, if he knows that God is the true [doer] and he by himself is powerless to do anything.”

*“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

“Two things are necessary for the realization of God;
faith and self-surrender.”

“God has put you in the world. What can you do about it?
Resign everything to Him. Surrender yourself at His feet.
Then there will be no more confusion.
Then you will realize that it is God who does everything.”

“Surrender everything at the feet of God.
What else can you do?
Give Him the power of attorney.
Let Him do whatever He thinks best.”

“Have faith. Depend on God. Then you
will not have to do anything yourself.
Mother Kali will do everything for you.”

“An ocean of bliss may rain down from the heavens,
but if you hold up only a thimble, that is all you receive.”

“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”

“Through selfless work, love of God grows in the heart.
Then through his grace one realizes him in course of time.
God can be seen. One can talk to him as I am talking to you.”

“Great men have the nature of a child.”

“So long as one does not become simple like a child, one does not get divine illumination. Forget all the worldly knowledge that thou hast acquired and become as a child, and then will thou get the divine wisdom.”

“Only two kinds of people can attain self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not over-crowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after studying all the scriptures and sciences, have come to realize that they know nothing.”

“Different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God.”

“As many faiths so many paths”.

“The way of love is as true as the way of knowledge. All paths ultimately lead to the same Truth. But as long as God keeps the feeling of ego in us, it is easier to follow the path of love.”

“Pure knowledge and pure love are one and the same thing.
Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much easier.”

“If you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.”

“Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”

“God cannot be realized if there is the slightest trace of pride.”

“Spirituality automatically leads to humility.
When a flower develops into a fruit, the petals drop off on its own.
When one becomes spiritual, the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
A tree laden with fruits always bends low. Humility is a sign of greatness.”

“The tree laden with fruits always bends low. If you wish to be great, be lowly and meek.”

“If you meditate on your ideal, you will acquire its nature. If you think of God day and night, you will acquire the nature of God.”

“Make your meditation a continuous state of mind. A great worship is going on all the time, so nothing should be neglected or excluded from your constant meditative awareness.”

“Man suffers through lack of faith in God.”

“Once a person has faith he has achieved everything.
There is nothing greater than faith.”

“You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith. It is said . . that Rama, who was God Himself – the embodiment of Absolute Brahman – had to build a bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon. But Hanuman, trusting in Rama’s name, cleared the sea in one jump and reached the other side. He had no need of a bridge.”

“The magnetic needle always points to the north, and hence it is that sailing vessel does not lose her direction. So long as the heart of man is directed towards God, he cannot be lost in the ocean of worldliness.”

“Dwell, O mind, within yourself; Enter no other’s home. If you but seek there, you will find All you are searching for. God, the true Philosopher’s Stone, Who answers every prayer, Lies hidden deep within your heart, The richest gem of all. How many pearls and precious stones Are scattered all about The outer court that lies before The chamber of your heart!”

“A boat may stay in water, but water should not stay in boat. A spiritual aspirant may live in the world, but the world should not live within him.”

“Sugar and sand may be mixed together, but the ant rejects the sand and goes off with the sugar grain; so pious men lift the good from the bad.”

“Sunlight is one and the same wherever it falls; but only a bright surface like that of water, or of a mirror reflects it fully. So is the light Divine. It falls equally and impartially on all hearts, but the pure and pious hearts of holy men receive and reflect that light well.”

“Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic.”

“The compassion that you see in the kindhearted is God’s compassion. He has given it to them to protect the helpless.”

“The Man who works for others, without any selfish motive, really does good to himself.”

“Do yourself what you wish others to do.”

“Wisdom leads to unity, but ignorance to separation.
So long as God seems to be outside and far away, there is ignorance.
But when God is realized within, that is true knowledge.”

“One must be very particular about telling the truth. Through truth one can realize God.”

“Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the soul of truth.”

“Different people call on [God] by different names: some as Allah, some as God, and others as Krishna, Siva, and Brahman. It is like the water in a lake. Some drink it at one place and call it ‘jal’, others at another place and call it ‘pani’, and still others at a third place and call it ‘water’. The Hindus call it ‘jal’, the Christians ‘water’, and the Moslems ‘pani’. But it is one and the same thing.”

“So long as the bee is outside the petals of the lily, and has not tasted the sweetness of its honey, it hovers around the flower emitting the buzzing sound; but when it is inside the flower, it noiselessly drinks the nectar. So long as a man quarrels and disputes about doctrines and dogmas, he has not tasted the nectar of true faith; when he has tasted it, he becomes quiet and full of peace.”

“One should not think, ‘My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.’ God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite are the opinions.”

“It’s enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real and that God with form is also real. Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you.”

“Who is whose Guru? God alone is the guide and Guru of the universe.”

“Men bound hand and foot in the endless chain of [karmic] cause and effect cannot free each other.”

“Do not be small minded. Do not pray for gourds and pumpkins from God, when you should be asking for pure love and pure knowledge to dawn within every heart.”

“If you must be mad, be it not for the things of the world. Be mad with the love of God.”

“Pray to God that your attachment to such transitory things as wealth, name, and creature comforts may become less and less every day.”

“Pray to Him anyway you like, He can even hear the footfall of an ant.”

“The truth is that you cannot attain God if you have even a trace of desire. Subtle is the way of dharma. If you are trying to thread a needle, you will not succeed if the thread has even a slight fiber sticking out.”

“Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practice even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.”

“We laugh at the efforts of the musk deer to find the source of the scent which comes from itself and despair at our efforts to find the peace which is our essence.”

“One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred, or fear.”

“Those whose spiritual awareness has been awakened never make a false move. They don’t have to avoid evil. They are so replete with love that whatever they do is a good action. They are fully conscious that they are not the doer of their actions, but only servants of God.”

“It is true that God is even in the tiger, but we must not go and face the animal. So it is true that God dwells even in the most wicked, but it is not meet that we should associate with the wicked.”

“As a boy holding to a post or a pillar whirls about it with headlong speed without any fear or falling, so perform your worldly duties, fixing your hold firmly upon God, and you will be free from danger.”

“Little children play with dolls in the outer room just as they like, without any care of fear or restraint; but as soon as their mother comes in, they throw aside their dolls and run to her crying, “Mamma, mamma.” You too, are now playing in this material world, infatuated with the dolls of wealth, honor, fame, etc., If however, you once see your Divine Mother, you will not afterwards find pleasure in all these. Throwing them all aside, you will run to her.”

“When an unbaked pot is broken, the potter can use the mud to make a new one; but when a baked one is broken, he cannot do the same any longer. So when a person dies in a state of ignorance, he is born again; but when he becomes well baked in the fire of true knowledge and dies a perfect man, he is not born again.”

“The world is impermanent. One should constantly remember death.”

“Disease is the tax which the soul pays for the body, as the tenant pays house-rent for the use of the house.”

“Meditate upon the Knowledge and Bliss Eternal , and you will also have bliss. The Bliss indeed is eternal, only it is covered and obscured by ignorance. The less your attachment is towards the senses, the more will be your love towards God.”

“If you first fortify yourself with the true knowledge of the Universal Self, and then live in the midst of wealth and worldliness, surely they will in no way affect you.”

“When one has love for God, one doesn’t feel any physical attraction to wife, children, relatives and friends. One retains only compassion for them.”

“All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know their real Self.”

“As long as I live, so long do I learn.”


Mahatma Gandhi’s Tribute to Sri Ramakrishna

“Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His saying are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of his own experiences. In this age of scepticism, Ramakrishna presents an example of bright and living faith, which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light. Ramakrishna’s life was an object-lesson in Ahimsa. His love knew no limits, geographical or otherwise. May his divine love be an inspiration to all.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Invocation

May Sri Ramakrishna’s Universal Divine Love
inspire us to become ego-free Lovers of God;
To Self-realize that we are all equally Divine manifestations
of ONE Universal spirit – which is timeless LOVE.


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Humility: A Supreme Virtue

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius
“Spirituality automatically leads to humility.
When a flower develops into a fruit,
the petals drop off on its own.
When one becomes spiritual,
the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
A tree laden with fruits always bends low.
Humility is a sign of greatness.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
“Holy humility confounds pride
and all the men of this world
and all things that are in the world.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“Humility grows as ego goes.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Humility is next to godliness.
No one enters the highest heaven
believing s/he belongs there.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Introduction to “Humility: A Supreme Virtue”

Dear Friends,

The following Q and A essay defines “humility” and explains why it is perennially considered a great spiritual virtue inversely associated with “ego”. (Previous posted related articles include collections of quotations and Sutra Sayings.)

Humility: A Supreme Virtue

Q. What is “humility”?

A. Authentic humility is a core virtue and a sign of spiritual evolution.
It is a state of modesty, free from pretension, pride and arrogance;
a state that intuitively recognizes the Divine equality of all beings as blessed with the same Eternal Essence, and their Oneness with Nature; a state which opens us to learning by allowing us to acknowledge our limitations and fallibilities, and to experience with awe and wonder how little we know about the miraculous magnificence of this Creation.

Yet, humility is not a state of powerlessness or of low self esteem, but of powerful inner security, inner knowing, and inner-directedness.

Q. How does humility happen?

A. Humility grows as ego goes.  As we ever more realize that we are part a vast universe and not separate from it, we gradually become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate and humble.  As Einstein says, this is a process of “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Q. Why is humility considered a virtue, especially in prominent people?

A. Prominent people are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation which can entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those who have resisted such ego temptations have been lauded as truly great beings.  Eg. Gandhi was called “Mahatma” a Sanskrit word meaning “great soul”.

Throughout history, “humility” has been recognized and appreciated as a supreme virtue manifested by great beings from every tradition and culture, who chose to lead non-pretentious, simple lives dedicated to helping others, and who have thereby  inspired countless others.  Today, for example, H.H. the Dalai Lama who is  revered by millions worldwide as a great sage and religious leader, often describes himself as a “simple monk”, and sometimes publicly responds to questions with “I don’t know.” *

[*According to Buddhism, ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.  No “enlightened” Buddhist can acknowledge “enlightenment” because any such acknowledgment would necessarily imply an ego-identity, a personality, a being, a separated individuality. ~  Diamond Sutra, Chapter 9]


Discussion

Enduring scriptures affirm importance of “humility”. For example, the Bhagavad Gita [13:8-12], perhaps the most important Hindu scripture, recognizes humility and lack of pride as virtues essential to Self Realization.

In the Tao Te Ching the great Taoist sage Lao Tzu states that

the Master’s “constant practice is humility.”; and that: “Humility means trusting the Tao, thus never needing to be defensive.”


Various bible passages attest to the humility of Jesus.  Jesus once said of Himself,

“I am meek and humble of heart”
~ Matthew 11:29.


And in the Sermon on the Mount,

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5.


Jesus claimed no special powers but attributed all to God.  eg.

“I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works.”
~ John 14:10;  

“..I can of mine own self do nothing…I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
~ John 5:30.


And Jesus counseled humility: 

“Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
~ 1 Peter 5.5.


Of Moses the bible says: 

“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
~ Numbers 12:3.


Modern humble heroes included Albert Einstein. He remained simple and self-effacing despite the world’s “genius” label and immense flattery, using his great prestige to advocate for social justice and controversial causes, like pacifism. 

Einstein was a very humble man who regarded himself as just an ordinary person, with certain abilities in theoretical physics. [eg. see Synchronicity story: Analyzing Einstein’s Autograph]

For example, he disclaimed the ‘genius’ label, saying:

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”


Einstein explained his humility, thus: 

“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.”


In eulogizing Mahatma Gandhi’s virtuous life, Einstein said:

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”


The great Gandhi, whose example of non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth and selfless service to humanity continues to inspire countless others, remained a humble man despite his immensely important accomplishments.  His humility was evidenced by these Gandhi statements:

“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 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.”


Humility and Ego

Spiritually, the supreme virtue of “humility” is inversely associated with “ego”. Thus prominent humble people are often regarded as great beings, because they are not egotistic.

From childhood we are acculturated to identify only with a limited and disempowering self-image.  We are taught to believe that we are born into Nature as limited and separate mortal beings; but not that Nature is our nature, or that essentially we are Beings of Light, sharing limitless immortal Cosmic consciousness with all life-forms.
 
Such restrictive self-image is what spiritual teachings call “ego” – as distinguished from Freud’s salutary psychological definition of “ego”.

Spiritually, “ego” refers to fundamentally mistaken human mental self-identity as personalities separate from eternal Infinite potentiality;
our restrictive self-identity which causes us endless karmic suffering from unskillful thoughts, words and deeds.
 
Thus the ancient Rig Veda called “ego”:


“the biggest enemy of humans.”


And Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa told us that:

“All troubles come to an end when the ego dies”
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

  
Since “ego” arises from mental activity – from thoughts and beliefs – it cannot continue without persistently mistaken thoughts about who or what we are.  Through an evolutionary process of conscious psychological self-transformation, we can transcend mistaken egoic ideas of who we think we are, and gradually realize and remember that ultimately we truly are ONE with Universal Intelligence – with Eternal Spirit. 

As gradually we transcend our illusory ego identities as merely separate mortals, and increasingly self identify as Eternal Spirit, we inevitably become ever more humble.  Our Humility grows as ego goes. The smaller the ego, the greater the being.

Conclusion

Authentic humility is a supreme virtue which ever expands as we become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate, thereby “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Dedication and Invocation

In these critical times of immense suffering and jeopardy, yet unprecedented opportunity, let us join together with utmost love and humility in envisioning our precious planet democratically ruled bottom-up by humble, peaceful and compassionate citizens, rather than top-down by selfishly plutocratic and egotistic purported “leaders”.

May these biblical passages prove prescient:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
~ Proverbs 16:18


God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.
~ James 4:6


And so may it be. 

Ron Rattner

Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life

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
“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation,
between earth and moon, between moon and sun.
Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery.
But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
‘Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen…In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation.’
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
“Your own will is all that answers prayer,
only it appears under the guise
of different religious conceptions to each mind.
We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the ‘I’.”
~ Swami Vivekananda [Jnana Yoga]
“But if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will hold no location in place or time; which will be infinite, like the God it will preach; whose Sun shines upon the followers of Krishna or Christ, saints or sinners, alike; which will not be the Brahman or Buddhist, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its Catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms and find a place for every human being … It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognize a divinity in every man or woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be centered in aiding humanity to realize its divine nature.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

 

Swami Vivekananda, January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902 *


Photo Inscription. *In September 1893 in Chicago, USA, Swami Vivekananda reverently autographed this photo with the handwritten inscription:

“One infinite pure and holy –
beyond thought beyond qualities
I bow down to thee”
.


Introduction.

This posting honors Swami Vivekananda, the great 19th century Indian sage and orator, and founder of Western Vedanta Societies, on his 159th birthday anniversary.

As principle disciple of Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda first brought universal Indian wisdom to large Western audiences beginning as Indian delegate to the historic 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions, where his opening remarks famously addressed his “Sisters and Brothers of America”, and concluded with this prayerful invocation:

“I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”


[Reenacted excerpts from his Parliament speeches are linked below.]

Thereupon and thereafter Swami Vivekananda eloquently explained to Westerners ancient perennial principles of Hinduism, and why according to Advaita Vedanta philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world of space, time and causality is illusory; that “In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein’s 1905 theory of relativity by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until first explained by Vivekananda soon before Einstein revolutionized Western science.

Swami Vivekananda experientially had realized as impermanent and illusory the appearance of our space, time, causality reality. From his rare level of nondualist consciousness he shared many wise perennial teachings to guide our lives on Earth, including the “Fifteen Laws of Life”, which follow.

Written over a hundred years ago, these wisdom teachings remain relevant worldwide in current critical times.

May they deeply inspire and guide us to help heal the World by realizing and experiencing their fundamental truths.


Swami Vivekananda: 15 Laws of Life.

1. 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.

2. It’s Your Outlook That Matters: It is our own mental attitude, which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful; our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.

3. Life is Beautiful: First, believe in this world – that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!

4. It’s The Way You Feel: Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.

5. Set Yourself Free: The moment I have realised God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

6. Don’t Play The Blame Game: Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.

7. Help Others: If money helps a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.

8. Uphold Your Ideals: Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.

9. Listen To Your Soul: You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

10. Be Yourself: The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!

11. Nothing Is Impossible: Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin – to say that you are weak, or others are weak.

12. You Have The Power: All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.

13. Learn Everyday: The goal of mankind is knowledge… now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man ‘knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what man ‘learns’ is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

14. Be Truthful: Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.

15. Think Different: All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.


Ron’s Dedication.

This posting honors both Swami Vivekananda and his renowned Spiritual Master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, whose lives and teachings have been extraordinarily inspirational for countess beings, including me. Additionally it honors my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, who was also inspired by Vivekananda.

Vivekananda considered Shri Ramakrishna as “higher and nobler than all ordinary” teachers, and attributed all his powers to Ramakrishna, saying:

“All that I am . . is owing to my Master, Shri Ramakrishna, who incarnated and experienced and taught this wonderful unity which underlies everything, having discovered it alike in Hinduism, in Islam, and in Christianity.” [His] “One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.”


Synchronistically, my Guruji Shri Dhyanyogi – who was another one of those rare great beings whose “One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.” – was crucially inspired and helped by Vivekananda. 

The fascinating story of how this happened is told in “This House is on Fire, The Life of Shri Dyanyogi”, pp  61-64, by Shri Anandi Ma.

After fifteen years of solitary wandering in rural India Guruji had a dramatically transformative vision of Vivekanda, who assured Guruji that he would reach his spiritual goal. 

Soon thereafter Guruji discovered and was enthralled by Vivekananda’s teachings published in the book Raja Yoga, which included his apt lectures in the West, and commentaries explaining Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, widely accepted as a foundational Sanskrit text of  Raja Yoga philosophy. 

Guruji continuously read and re-read Vivekandanda’s Raja Yoga book, like a scripture, and ultimately he repeatedly recommended it to his disciples, including me.

Invocation.

May these precious wisdom teachings continue to inspire and guide countless people worldwide in current critical times.

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner


Reenacted audio excerpts from Vivekananda talks at 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions.