”All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise.
What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm:
there are no isolated things or events.
Underneath the surface appearance,
all things are interconnected,
are part of the totality of the cosmos
that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
Q. “Are only the important events in a man’s life,
such as his main occupation or profession, predetermined,
or are trifling acts also, such as taking a cup of water or
moving from one part of the room to another?”
A. “Everything is predetermined.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Nothing perceivable is real.
Your attachment is your bondage.
You cannot control the future.
There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
~ Baruch Spinoza
“There is no such thing as chance;
and what seems to us merest accident
springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences,
all events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Nothing in the universe happens by chance or accident. The universe is a coherent concurrence and interaction of innumerable conditions attendant on the infinite number of energy patterns. In the state of Awareness, all this is obvious and can be clearly seen and known. Outside that level of awareness, it could be likened to innumerable, invisible magnetic fields which automatically coalesce or repel one’s position and which interact according to the positions and relative strengths and polarities. Everything influences everything else and is in perfect balance.
~ David R. Hawkins
“Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not a choice. .
Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”
“…Choice in every form is conflict. Contradiction is inevitable in choice; this contradiction, inner and outer breeds confusion and misery.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“Everything happens through immutable laws, …everything is necessary… There are, some persons say, events which are necessary and others which are not. It would be very comic that one part of the world was arranged, and the other were not; that one part of what happens had to happen and that another part of what happens did not have to happen. If one looks closely at it, one sees that the doctrine contrary to that of destiny is absurd; but there are many people destined to reason badly; others not to reason at all others to persecute those who reason.”
“The assumption of an absolute determinism
is the essential foundation of every scientific enquiry.”
~ Max Planck – Nobel Laureate Physicist
“We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
We honor Albert Einstein not only for his extraordinary scientific genius and moral integrity, but for his mystical wisdom and intuitive realization of ineffable Reality beyond human comprehension.
In other posts (linked below) we have shown that although Einstein rejected conventional views about God, individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death, he was not an atheist but a deeply religious mystic. Though Einstein did not believe in formal dogmatic religion, his views on religion were consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, like Indian Advaita Vedanta philosophy, as well as with his revolutionary non-mechanistic science. So he was an exemplar of the inevitable confluence of Western science with Eastern religion.
Here we highlight Einstein’s unconventional views about free will and determinism and show how they were also largely consistent with highest Eastern non-duality mystical teachings.
Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein rejected the “uncertainty” principle of quantum mechanics advanced by most respected physicists of his time. Einstein stubbornly maintained his view, consistent with ancient mystical insights, that “God does not play dice with the universe”; that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception; that the ideas of chance or “uncertainty” arise from causes and conditions not yet recognized or perceived.
In a 1929 interview, when the argument about quantum mechanics “uncertainty” was at its height, Einstein modestly said: “I claim credit for nothing”, explaining that:
“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” [Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, Page 422.]
Though theologians have mostly believed that people choose and are morally responsible for their actions, Einstein agreed with medieval philosopher Baruch Spinoza that one’s actions, and even one’s thoughts, are determined by natural laws of causality.
“In the mind there is no absolute or free will;
but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause,
which has also been determined by another cause,
and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.”
Thus, in 1932 Einstein told the Spinoza society:
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.”
Einstein’s belief in causal determinism seemed to him both scientifically and philosophically incompatible with the concept of human free will. In a 1932 speech entitled ‘My Credo’, Einstein briefly explained his deterministic ideology:
“I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.”
Einstein’s 1931 essay “The World As I See It” contains this similar passage:
“In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.
Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.”
Schopenhauer – who had studied Buddhism – postulated that human experience is but a reflection and manifestation of universal law – not human “will”; that humans must adhere to the imperatives of natural laws (like gravity and magnetism) which harmoniously rule everywhere without exception. Thus Schopenhauer said:
“The fate of one individual invariably fits the fate of the other and each is the hero of his own drama while simultaneously figuring in a drama foreign to him—this is something that surpasses our powers of comprehension, and can only be conceived as possible by virtue of the most wonderful pre-established harmony.”
So in rejecting “free will” and other prevalent theistic religious ideas while humbly expressing his awe, reverence and cosmic religious feeling at the immense beauty, harmony and eternal mystery of our Universe, Einstein was influenced by both the philosophies of Spinoza and Schopenhauer and by his intuition and his science.
But despite his deterministic philosophy and science, Einstein realized that people’s belief in free will is pragmatically necessary for a civilized society; that it causes them to take responsibility for their actions, and enables society to regulate such actions.*[see Footnote] So he said:
“I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”*[see Footnote]
Thus Einstein dedicated his life to going beyond the “merely personal” and acted morally with a self-described “passion for social justice”. In a letter to his sister, Einstein stated that “the foundation of all human values is morality”. And in addressing a student disarmament meeting, he said:
“The destiny of civilized humanity depends more than ever on the moral forces it is capable of generating.”
But, like the non-dualistic mystics, Einstein believed that morality was for humanity not divinity. He said:
“Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”
Determinism versus morality and social justice
Since acting morally implies human freedom of choice, how can we reconcile Einstein’s passion for social justice and morality with his deterministic ideology that “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” ?
How would Einstein explain the apparent contradiction between his many idealistic efforts as a social justice activist, pacifist, and democratic socialist and his deterministic philosophy and science? Would he attribute his efforts and passion for a peaceful, civilized society to a pre-destined causal compulsion?
We can only speculate. But it is quite possible that Einstein would have agreed with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s statement that “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.”
According to Eastern non-dualism, as long as we self-identify as limited persons within space/time/causality we have apparent free choice but are inescapably subject to the law of karmic causality. Thus our every thought, word or deed inevitably reaps its corresponding reward of either suffering or joy in this or another lifetime. Only when we self-identify with spirit or soul, do we transcend this illusory impermanent world of samsara and its inevitable causal sufferings.
This was explained by Swami Vivekananda as follows:
“[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”
“[T]here cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is moulded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”
“The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
~ Swami Vivekananda – Karma Yoga
Like ancient non-dualistic mystics, Einstein had realized – through his revolutionary non-mechanistic science – that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”; and that “Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think.” Consequently, he knew that from an ever mysterious Cosmic perspective, our apparent phenomenal reality is but an illusionary play of consciousness.
But, Einstein’s acceptance of the necessity for recognizing humanity’s freedom to choose a moral rather than evil destiny was also consistent with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings that we ‘reap as we sow’ until we transcend this illusionary world, as well as with prevalent Western religious ideas that we are morally responsible for our actions.
Thus, Einstein’s insistence that the principle of cause and effect (or karma) pervades the phenomenal Universe without exception and that morality is for Humanity not Divinity was consistent with ancient non-dualistic mysticism as was his rejection of a personal “God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation”.
Though Einstein had not achieved the mystic goal of attaining “freedom” from causality while living, his mystical wisdom and professed behaviors in not “taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper” were consistent with a very evolved – if not “enlightened” – state of being.
Einstein’s views on pragmatically living with supposed free will notwithstanding a belief in universal determinism, were similar to those of Leo Tolstoy, whose epic War and Peace novel reflected Tolstoy’s view that all is predestined, but that we cannot live without imagining we have free will. Like Einstein, Tolstoy was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer and, also, he was later enthralled by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.
How I See the World – PBS Documentary Film About Einstein:
“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, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)
Einstein’s Mystical Ideas
Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic “true mystic” … “of a deeply religious nature.” (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)
Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.
He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.
In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:
I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]
On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend’s family:
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
Einstein’s rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein’s revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.
Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking theory of relativity that “mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing”; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence:
“Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time.”
Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)
Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.
Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy 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”…
In an eloquent New York City lecture called “The Real and the Apparent Man”, he 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.”
“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”
“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”
“…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.”
“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
Einstein’s non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he 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.”
Thus, Einstein’s rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal “optical illusion of consciousness.”
Did Einstein’s psyche survive his death?
Was he surprised on his demise?
Though Einstein didn’t believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don’t know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.
Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:
“[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva way
Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:
“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another. Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein’s physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple “unified field” formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of ‘the mind of God’ – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.
And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.
And so may it be!
How I See the World – PBS Documentary Film About Einstein:
“Ignorance is the root of all evil.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Resist not evil.”
~ Matthew 5:39
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
~ Matthew 7:1-5
“Judge not according to the appearance,
but judge righteous judgment.”
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.”
~ John 7:24; 8:15
“We cannot change anything until we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
~ Carl Jung
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor
until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“One ought to examine himself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.”
“Judge not thy neighbor until thou comest into his place.”
~ Rabbi Hillel
“But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
~ Amos 5:24
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
“People of the world don’t look at themselves,
and so they blame one another.”
“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.”
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Evil cannot be overcome by more evil.
Evil can only be overcome by good.
It is the lesson of the way of love.”
~ Peace Pilgrim
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Introduction to Justice versus Judgment
As we enter an Aquarian age of immense opportunity with immense jeopardy, it has never before been so imperative for Humankind to heed and follow the ancient teachings of rare avatars and mystic masters to live as LOVE, in harmony with all Life everywhere.
For the first time in our recorded history we are forced to realize that because of advanced technologies any more war will probably trigger an omnicidal nuclear, ecological, biological, or radiological catastrophe insanely ending earth-life as we’ve known it.
Yet, paradoxically, we concurrently have gained unprecedented technical capacity to sustainably and peacefully transcend human suffering from injustice, exploitation, starvation and poverty. And in these very violent and politically polarized times of immense suffering, yet immense opportunity, many are awakening to our infinitely unlimited human potentialities by embracing unconditional LOVE for everyone and everything.
To help us learn to live as LOVE, the following essay and comments address often misunderstood perennial spiritual issues of justice versus judgment as demonstrated by the life and teachings of Jesus, who was a rare avatar and exemplar of Universal LOVE with social justice.
Because these teachings are extremely relevant to our unprecedented current era, I urge our deep reflection upon them.
Justice versus Judgment*
Q. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus counseled “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But the Bible encourages us to live righteously and seek justice. How is it possible for us to pursue justice and righteousness without judging and resisting “evil”?*
A. By following our sacred heart with love, forgiveness and empathy we can live with justice and righteousness in a manner consistent with Jesus’ teachings – his words and life example.
Jesus was a rare Divine being who – like a Buddha or Krishna – transcended the illusion of separation from God. From his Divine perspective, Jesus realized and proclaimed that “I and the Father are one” [John 10:30] , and he perceived as “evil” only that which – from ignorance of Divine law – creates disharmony with Divine order and consequent suffering. But, as a loving Divine truth teller he did not condemn beings acting with the the illusion of separation from God – only their ignorant behaviors. [John:3:17]
Jesus knew that – until realizing our unity with Divinity – we reap as we sew. [e.g. Job 4:8; Galacians 6:7]; that we suffer the karmic consequences of our unconsciously unenlightened behaviors. Thus from his rare cosmic perspective he compassionately could see that our ignorant behaviors are karmically predestined, and do not arise from presumed free will.
As a Divine being, Jesus also knew that true Vision comes from intuitive insight, not eyesight; that our perceived separation from others and from Nature is an illusion of consciousness; and, that blind to our own repressed faults we often project them upon and detect them in others.
As Rumi observed:
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.” [But,] “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”
So Jesus cautioned the Pharisee fundamentalists of his time to
“Judge not according to the appearance,
but judge righteous judgment.” [John 7:24]
And he taught: “Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged;
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured back to you.” [Matthew 7:1-5]
Thus, when fundamentalist Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman allegedly caught in adultery, a capital crime, Jesus challenged any one of them who was without sin to cast the first stone at her. Speaking as non-judgmental Divine Love, Jesus explained his refusal to condemn her thus:
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.”
Without judging beings but criticizing their disharmonious behaviors, Jesus was a passionate social reformer and redeemer who frequently decried hypocritical conduct and ethics by people who did not ‘walk their talk’ but practiced the very behaviors they decried – like those whose piety was on their tongue but not in their heart; those who claimed to love God but hated others. [John 4:20; Matthew 15:7-9]
And without judging the beings but their behaviors he cast out those hypocritically changing money and conducting commerce in the sacred temple courtyard, thereby demonstrating that we cannot serve both God and greed. [Matthew 6:24 and 21:12]
So, it appears that Jesus, who was a social reformer, did not intend to discourage us from living piously while seeking justice and righteousness for others and society. Bible passages against resisting “evil” or “judging” others are warnings against hypocritically and insensitively criticizing or opposing perceived faults or disharmonious behaviors in others which we cannot see in our own shadow selves.
Also, they are cautions against reflexive or revengeful resistance or opposition to perceived “evil”, because when we see ‘through a glass darkly’ what we resist persists.
Jesus’ admonition to not resist “evil” was given after his allusion to the Book of Exodus teaching about taking “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” [Exodus 21:23-5] which was then misunderstood and strictly interpreted by Pharisees as encouraging revenge or retribution. But when we ignorantly act with reflexive revenge, we are disharmonious with divine law and must suffer the karmic consequences.
So rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, it is wise to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable traits. Then like Gandhi we will “not cooperate with evil” but be the non-violent change we wish to see in the world and lovingly inspire others to do likewise.
And so it shall be!
*Because the New Testament gospels were all ‘hearsay’ written and translated from Aramaic into Greek and various other languages long after Jesus’ death, we cannot know with certainty the meaning or accuracy of current translations of his sermon on the mount. So there are many differing interpretations of the words “Resist not evil.” and “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Their true meaning and intent can best be determined from their context and from Jesus’ own Divine actions to uplift the world rather than condemn it. Our interpretation is intuitive, not scholarly, and based on perennial principles taught by most enduring religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, not just Christianity. You are free to question or reject it.
Ron’s comments on “Justice versus Judgment”.
This posting addresses perennial spiritual issues which are extremely relevant to the present advent of an unprecedented Aquarian age of great risk but great potential. Worldwide we are living in very violent and politically polarized times.
In order to peacefully resolve current critical political and environmental threats from a spiritual perspective, we must mindfully calm our fearfully disturbed, judgmental and reactive states of mind. Rather than vindictively seeking retribution for wrongs, or reactively condemning others, or judgmentally attempting to change them, it is wise to first empathetically look within to see and change our own undesirable mental habits. Thereby with quiet minds and open hearts we can non-violently and non-judgmentally resist injustice, while honoring the spiritual essence and universal equality of everyone everywhere.
The foregoing quotations and interpretations of Jesus’ scriptural teachings can help us consider important philosophical and pragmatic perspectives about issues of justice versus judgment. Also hereafter discussed is my relevant experience as a social justice attorney.
For much of my adult life as an egalitarian litigation lawyer, I tended to be judgmental and unforgiving of perceived wrongdoers. Thus, on retiring from legal practice in 1992 it was easy for me to stop lawyering – by deactivating my law license – but hard to stop gratuitously judging or blaming others who seemed to act hypocritically or harmfully.
But after my midlife spiritual awakening I decided that we are all here to evolve by gradually realizing and actualizing our common spiritual Oneness with all Life – beyond our mistakenly perceived separation from each other; and, that we can advance such evolution by mindful identification, observation and purification of our mental tendencies and obscurations impeding realization of Oneness.
So, with increasing mindfulness, I began identifying my particular mental challenges and evolutionary opportunities in this lifetime. And gradually I realized that – as a litigation lawyer and ardent social justice advocate – I had longtime propensities of often being outspokenly, acerbically, and reactively judgmental, unforgiving and sometimes angry about perceived injustices; that these tendencies were not helping others or me; and that they were impediments to spiritual evolution.
Since first identifying these unhelpful tendencies, it has been challenging for me to transcend them. Most challenging have been instances of apparently harmful betrayal of private or public trust. Apart from numerous flagrant betrayals of public welfare by politicians and corporations which I have resisted, there have been a few unforgettable and psychologically traumatic events which I experienced as personal betrayals, but now see with forgiveness as disguised blessings which furthered my spiritual evolution.
Ultimately I have realized that blame, rancor or vengeance never change others and are always incompatible with a peaceful mind; that all unforgiving behavior is ego trying to preserve its falsely imagined separate identity; and, that any bitterness we harbor against a perceived “other” separates us from our divine Oneness.
Thus Peace Pilgrim insightfully instructed that:
“If you are harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn’t enough just to do right things and say right things – you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.”
~ “Peace Pilgrim – Her Life and Work in Her Own Words”
And because human unconsciousness and ignorance of our true self-identity is the root cause of all perceived evil, the Buddha taught that:
“To understand everything is to forgive everything.”
May these teachings help all of us learn to forgive everyone and everything,
and to not judge or condemn apparent evil,
but to nonviolently resist and transcend it
with love, righteousness and justice, and
May we thereby live ever happier, peaceful and harmonious lives.
And so may it be!
“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
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”.
“One infinite pure and holy –
beyond thought beyond qualities
I bow down to thee”.
Today we honor Swami Vivekananda, the great 19th century Indian sage and orator, and founder of Western Vedanta Societies, on his forthcoming 158th birthday anniversary.
As principle disciple of Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, 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 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.
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.
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, 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.
May these precious wisdom teachings continue to inspire and guide countless people worldwide in current critical times.
And so shall it be!
Reenacted audio excerpts from Vivekananda talks at 1893 Chicago Parliament of World Religions.
“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
“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
“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
Posted today are three related articles about “humility” as a supreme spiritual virtue. Please consider them collectively.
This first article, is a Q and A essay which defines humility and explains why it is considered a great spiritual virtue inversely associated with “ego”; the second article includes many important quotations about humility; and the third article lists (with an mp3 audio recitation) numerous Sutra Sayings which epigrammatically elucidate humility.
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, it 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]
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.”
Ego and Humility
Spiritually, the supreme virtue of “humility” is inversely associated with “ego”. Thus prominent humble people – like the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein or Mahatma Gandhi –– 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 teachers 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 told us that:
“All troubles come to an end when the ego dies”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
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.
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 insensitive and egotistic purported “leaders” who are emotionally sociopathic or psychopathic.
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 shall it be.
“Strictly speaking there are no enlightened people,
there is only enlightened activity.”
~ Suzuki Roshi
“There is no such thing as
the realization of that fact is
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
This is the first of two related articles about “enlightenment”. This posting defines “enlightenment”; the second posting contains key quotations from spiritual teachers, and explanatory comments about “enlightenment”, linked here.
Both of these postings are offered to help us realize ever increasing inner happiness, by finding and following our Sacred Heart.
What is “Enlightenment”?
Q: What is enlightenment?
A: “Enlightenment” is a word, – an idea with different meanings for different people;
it is a mental concept resulting from thought. So, the meaning of “enlightenment” is in the mind of the thinker.
Here we call “enlightenment” a perpetual evolutionary process, not an ultimate destination.
In always evolving toward an “enlightened” destination,
we approach an ever-distant horizon in the Sacred Heart of Humankind.
Q. What are some signs of progress in the evolutionary enlightenment process?
A. Less and less ego, more and more humility and authenticity;
less and less thought, more and more mental stillness and peace.*
*Further comments and quotations and about “enlightenment” are posted here.
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi
September 26, 1181 – October 3, 1226 [*See footnote]
Saint Francis of Assisi is one of history’s most beloved saints. For almost eight hundred years since his canonization by the Catholic Church (in the year 1228), he has been remembered and revered not only by Christian denominations, but by countless others world-wide, who have been inspired by his life of universal love, his teachings, and his oneness with Nature. More than three million people come every year to his tomb in Assisi.
He is patron saint of Italy and of many other places, like San Francisco, a city blessed with his name, his spirit, and a national shrine including the Porziuncola Nuova, the only papally declared holy place in the USA. Also, he is patron saint of birds, animals and ecology. Francis loved peace, communed with all living creatures, and lived a life of kindness, simplicity and poverty in contrast to the wealth and apparent corruption of the Church. He was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and inspired founding of the Poor Clares order for women, and a third secular order for laity sworn to peace.
After living a worldly life of youthful revelry for the first half of his short lifespan, Francis volunteered to fight in a war between Assisi and neighboring Perugia. He was captured during a bloody battle at Collestrada, and was imprisoned and chained in solitude for a year in a dark Perugian dungeon, until ransomed by his wealthy father. Beginning during this time, and thereafter, he suffered a period of protracted physical and psychological illness, remorse and reflection. After fervent prayer, deep introspection, and profuse tears, Francis ultimately decided that money and worldly pleasures meant nothing to him, and as a traumatized battle survivor he came to abhor war. Whereupon, he devoted his life to solitude, prayer, helping the poor, caring for lepers, and promoting peace. Seeing himself as God’s troubadour or fool, he lived in absolute poverty, patterning his life after the life of Jesus and dedicating himself to God.
On returning from a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at Church doors for the poor, Francis received a mystical message from Jesus while praying in the ruined church at San Damiano outside of Assisi. There while he was enchantedly gazing at the painted wooden crucifix – a Byzantine image of the crucified Christ still alive on the cross – the silent voice of Jesus telepathically ‘spoke’ to Francesco, instructing him: “Francesco, Francesco, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” Thereafter, he devotedly began rebuilding San Damiano and other ruined churches.
Though Saint Francis took literally that mystical message from the crucifix, its true meaning was metaphoric and profound. And by the end of his short lifespan, Saint Francis and his orders had by their example inspired a renaissance of the Catholic Church.
Francis’ exemplary lifestyle inspired and attracted followers who joined with him in his in his Divine mission and life of poverty. Clad in ragged, gray robes with rope belts, they went out barefoot in pairs to spread the Gospel. When they needed food or shelter, they asked someone for it. It was against their rules to “own” anything. Thus, they were known as the “begging brothers”.
In 1209 Francis received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a brotherhood, a religious order of the Church called the “Friars Minor,” (littlest brothers). As “friars” they worked in communities, actively preaching and helping residents, as distinguished from “monks” who then usually lived alone in isolated places. They soon acquired the name “Franciscans”, proliferated and today remain important international symbols and instruments of Francis’ legacy.
The Franciscans’ first headquarters was a simple, tiny chapel near Assisi which Francis received from the Benedictines, and personally restored, naming it “Porziuncola” [“a small portion of land”]. The Porziuncola became Francis’ most beloved and favorite place. Because of his presence and prayers there, it was and continues to be one of the world’s rare holy places. Here, Francis lived, fervently prayed, wrote his rule, created his order of friars minor and consecrated his friend Clara (Chiara), who became Santa Clara, founder of “the poor Clares”, a female religious order dedicated to Franciscan ideals of holiness and poverty. Francis so loved this little place that he chose to die there.
In 1216, while Francis was fervently praying in the Porziuncola, a light filled the chapel and he beheld above the altar a vision of Christ, the Virgin Mary and a company of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis replied: “Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [I wish all in heaven!] And Francis then asked that all those persons who shall come to this church, may obtain a full pardon and remission of all their faults, upon confessing and repenting their sins. The request was granted based on Francis’ worthiness, and the indulgence was later officially confirmed by Pope Honorius III, and became known as “The Pardon of Assisi”.
Francis was extremely democratic and humble. He referred to himself as “little brother Francis” and called all creatures “brothers” and “sisters”. He loved Nature and pantheistically considered it to be the “mirror of God on earth.” He spoke of “Sister Water” and “Brother Tree” and in one of his writings, he referred to “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon”. There are legends about sermons he preached to trees full of “Sister Birds” in which Francis urged them to sing their prayers of thanks to God. And it is said that rabbits would come to him for protection.
In another legendary story, Francis spoke to a wolf which had been terrifying the entire village of Gubbio, scolding “Brother Wolf” for what he was doing. That wolf not only stopped his attacks but later became a village pet, and was fed willingly by the same villagers, who missed “brother wolf” after he died.
Francis was determined to live the gospels and was strongly influenced and motivated by Jesus’ teachings. “Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven” were his frequent teachings.
Also as a traumatic battle survivor and war hostage Francis cherished peace. So, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~ Matthew 5:9 and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~ Matthew 5:44 were often recited by him.
According to a recent biography, Francis was “the first person from the West to travel to another continent with the revolutionary idea of peacemaking.” On a mission of peace, Francis journeyed to Egypt in 1219 idealistically hoping to end the 5th Crusade by converting the Egyptian leader – Sultan Malik al-Kamil – to Christianity. Though his visionary peace mission did not succeed, it proved nonetheless a miraculous portent and important symbol of potential reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and others.
At a time when most Christians demonized Muslims as enemy “infidels”, Francis regarded and treated Muslims with respect, never echoing the negative comments or conduct of his contemporary Christians. Moreover, in Egypt Francis – a devout and gentle peacemaker – was appalled by the crusaders’ sacrilegious brutality.
Francis arrived in Egypt during an ongoing violent and bloody conflict at Damietta, an important city on the Nile, besieged by the Crusaders. There, in the midst of horrible bloodshed, Francis miraculously crossed battle lines totally unarmed and vulnerable, and was able to reach the Sultan’s encampment unharmed and welcomed. Moreover, Francis was admitted to the august presence of the sultan, who was nephew of the great Saladin who had defeated the forces of the ill-fated Third Crusade.
The Sultan was a wise and pragmatic devout Sunni Muslim, influenced by Sufi mystical teachings. He was ready to make peace, and reciprocated Francis’ peaceful and respectful attitude. For at least several days Kamil hosted and dialogued with Francis as an honored guest, before having him safely escorted back to the Crusader encampment. The Sultan – who was amenable to philosophical conversation, but not to conversion – probably noted and honored Francis’ sufi-like appearance and peaceful demeanor, and his regular greeting – “may the Lord give you peace” – uncommon for Christians, but similar to the Arabic “salam aleykum” greeting.
Reciprocally, Francis was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of the Muslims, especially by their fivefold daily call to prayer – call of the muezzin.
On returning to the crusader camp Francis desperately tried to convince Cardinal Pelagio, whom the pope had authorized to lead the 5th Crusade, that he should make peace with the Sultan. But the cardinal who was certain of victory would not listen. His eventual failure, amidst terrible loss of life, brought the barbaric age of the crusades to an ignominious end.
In 1224, near the end of his earthly life, according to legend, Francis became the first saint in history to miraculously receive crucifixion stigmata. It happened after he had been taken to Mount Alverna, a wild nature place in Tuscany, to be in solitude for a forty day retreat.
Though already in a very feeble state, he fasted and prayed intensely with deepest longing for God. In the midst of his fast, while he was so praying he beheld a marvelous vision: an angel carrying an image of a man nailed to a cross. When the vision disappeared, Francis felt sharp pains in various places on his body.
In locating the source of these pains, Francis found that he had five marks or “stigmata” on his hands, feet, and sides—like the wounds inflicted with nails and spears on Jesus during His crucifixion. Those marks remained and caused Francis great pain until his death two years later.
On October 3, 1226 A.D. Francis died in a humble cell next to the beloved Porziuncola, his favorite holy place where the Franciscan movement began. He was blind from trachoma, suffering from malaria and other illnesses, emaciated and racked with pain from the stigmata and other wounds. As he lay dying, the brothers came for his blessing. They sang “Song to the Sun”, a song which Francis had composed.
Sometime before he drew his last breath, he said, “Let us sing the welcome to Sister Death.” Francis welcomed ‘Sister Death’ knowing that “it is in dying that we are reborn to eternal life”, the concluding line of a beautifully inspiring and best known peace prayer mistakenly attributed to him. (**See Footnote)
In conclusion, we offer that prayer in grateful tribute to his blessed life and legacy. May he ever inspire countless beings to become instruments of Divine peace and love, in perfect harmony with Nature and the kingdom of heaven.
“Vi vogliamo tutti in Paradiso”; “We wish ALL in Heaven”.
And so it shall be!
Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **
Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Divine Mother/Father, grant
that we may seek not so much
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive;
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying – to ego life –
that we are reborn to Eternal Life.
* This narrative is based on Ron Rattner’s intuitive interpretation of many disparate and sometimes conflicting historical accounts of the life of Francis of Assisi. The reader is free to accept or reject any part of it.
**This inspiring peace prayer does not appear in any of Saint Francis’ known writings. According to researchers, the first appearance of this prayer was in a French language magazine, La Clochette, in 1912; it was probably then first written by a forgotten Catholic Priest, Father Bouquerel. Later, the prayer was translated into English and widely distributed on cards with a reverse side picture of Saint Francis, without any claim that he wrote the prayer. But, because of his picture and because it invokes his spirit, the prayer thereafter became commonly known as the Prayer of Saint Francis. The foregoing version of the prayer has been edited by Ron Rattner.
Ron’s audio recitation of the Prayer of Saint Francis Of Assisi
“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, one hundred fifty one years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.
During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha). Gandhi helped change the world by being the change he wanted see.
Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he regularly wrote down his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.
Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom
So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:
“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”
“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.”
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer. With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…
“It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”
“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”
“My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him.”
“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”
“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”
“Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
“Nonviolence is not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society. To practice nonviolence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of nonviolence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favored position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life.”
“It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.” (From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)
“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.”
“Ahimsa is not the crude thing it has been made to appear. Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its least expression. The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.”
“I do not believe…that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”
“I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.”
“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”
“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”
“What do I think of Western civilization?
I think it would be a very good idea.”
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!
“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.”
“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
In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ we are often reminded that our spiritual goal is returning to “godliness” – to Ultimate Reality. This memoirs posting explains how we can advance our evolution toward attainment of that goal, by clearing past mental conditioning to increasingly be here NOW in the precious present.
Because this posting coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days, it outlines my positive experience with Yom Kippur communal practices of: (1) non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us; and of (2) annulment or rescission of obsolete and unhelpful private intentions, resolutions, or vows to ourselves or God. Thus it explains my opinion that such practices which are premised on inevitable limitation and fallibility of all incarnate humans, can be universally beneficial in advancing everyone’s spiritual evolution.
Further it explains why our spiritual evolution can be advanced by other practices or activities which help us quiet the mind and clear mental pre-conditioning to increasingly live moment by moment in the precious present, with Love as the supreme unifying principle of Life.
Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present
Mystics and some scientists say that our thoughts or beliefs about our ‘reality’ and self-identity determine our earth-life experience; that those thoughts or beliefs originate unconsciously with very subtle mental impressions (sometimes called in Sanskrit vasanas or samskaras) which through reincarnation are carried by the soul from lifetime to lifetime; that we can radically change our lives and behaviors by changing our thoughts about who or what we are; and that we can become “enlightened” only by transcending all mental conditioning.
Our mental conditioning operates our physical body, like computer software systems operate computer hardware platforms. And, like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.
But, habitually abiding or operating with beliefs or tendencies from past experience, or projecting them into the future as anxiety, fear or worry, prevents us from living spontaneously and authentically in the present moment – from fully being here NOW.
Past is history and future’s mystery, while Life is never then – it is only NOW.
Thus, Buddha taught that:
“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken.
That time is now.”
“That which is timeless is found now.”
Only by wiping the slate clean from past conditioning and resulting thoughts or concerns, are we are fully freed to live in the present – in the eternal NOW. Thus our spiritual evolution is advanced by any activity or practice which helps us live moment by moment in the precious present, spontaneously and authentically without mental pre-conditioning.
My life experience following a dramatic midlife spiritual awakening confirms these teachings. As gradually I have quieted my mind, recognized and eliminated or changed beliefs and paradigms which no longer seemed valid or useful, and more and more self-identified as spirit, my life has become more spontaneous and magical, and I’ve experienced ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious life-time.
For me, it has been a process of thinking less, and being more; and of mindfully witnessing inappropriate or obsolete behavioral patterns with intention of changing or eliminating them through grateful remembrance that I am not merely a separate mortal entity but universal spirit experiencing a blessed human life.
The more that I have gratefully and mindfully self-identified as spirit – as Universal Awareness – the more I have experienced fulfillment, insight, empathy, and creativity and the less I have manifested unhelpful habits and reflexive behaviors.
I have found that this transformative process of mindful spiritual self-identification has been accelerated through meditation and other universal practices of perennial wisdom traditions which help still the mind and clear mental conditioning. So I’ve dedicated the SillySutras website to exploring and sharing universal wisdom principles and practices which can help us all live happier lives, as they have helped me.
Jewish High Holy days practices
During Jewish High Holy days, I am reminded of certain practices other than meditation, which may help free us from past conditioning:
1. Non-judgmental forgiveness or atonement of supposed transgressions or ‘sins’ by or against us. [see “Forgiveness And Atonement Of ‘Sins.’”] ; and,
2. Annulment and rescission of obsolete and unhelpful personal intentions, resolutions, or vows.
The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days of religious introspection and repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur [“day of atonement”]. During services, congregants communally repent past “sins” while repeatedly acknowledging that
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins,” [ Ecclesiastes 7:20 ]
The Yom Kippur observance begins with “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), a powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, and which for many observant Jews is the religious high-point of their year.
When I attended Jewish services, during adolescence and later irregularly as an adult (before I became a “born-again Hindu”), the Kol Nidre ritual was for me emotionally memorable, even though I don’t recall knowing the meaning of the prayer until much later receiving a translation in an email message.
So, on ultimately learning the translated meaning, I was quite surprised and puzzled to learn that Kol Nidre enigmatically purports to disavow and annul until the next day of atonement all past and/or future communal or individual oaths or vows, viz.
”Let all our vows and oaths, all the promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, 0 God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them.”
Since Judaism emphasizes the honoring of promises and obligations to others, I wondered:
“Why does the holiest of Jewish high holy days begin with a communal disavowal of all oaths or vows, which in Jewish tradition are regarded as ethically important?”
Also I began wondering why the Kol Nidre prayer has been so emotionally powerful, even when its meaning is largely unknown. After reflection and research I concluded that:
Kol Nidre applies only to personal vows to oneself or God, not affecting promises or obligations to others; it is not an unconditional request for Divine absolution from guilt for dishonored vows or obligations to others.
Many people – not just Jews – make resolutions or vows concerning their intended future behavior which are unfulfilled or become inappropriate or unhelpful as times change. And often they feel consequent frustration or guilt.
Rather than harboring guilt or frustration for this, Jewish tradition recognizes that it is best to wipe the mental slate clean. Thus, observant Jews can be spiritually uplifted and mentally cleared by communal participation in High Holy Day rituals of forgiveness or atonement of “sins”, and rescission of unhelpful personal resolutions.
And I believe that Kol Nidre has been especially powerful for even those unaware of its meaning, because subtly or subconsciously it invokes Humankind’s universal – yet paradoxically impossible – aspiration to be in this world beyond inevitable human frailty and suffering, beyond “sin” or ‘missing the mark’.
So, perhaps Kol Nidre and its haunting melody, invoke an Eternal inner voice which reminds us of our true nature – ever immanent Divine LOVE – with which we are ultimately destined to merge.
Ron’s Commentary on Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present
In lunar equinox seasons of major theistic religious ‘holy days’ – Jewish (days of awe); Moslem (Eid Al-Adha); Christian (Feast of St. Francis); Hindu (Navaratri); Asian (Moon festivals) – we are often reminded that central to all major theistic religions is the goal of psychologically returning to “godliness”. Moreover, all major religions – Buddhist-Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish – teach a common message of Love as the supreme “unifying principle of Life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.” [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]
Yet, often in the name of religion, our world remains rife with discrimination, violence and killing which must be transcended for survival of Human life as we have known it.
Whether or not we are ‘religious’, we are all experiencing a mythological perennial process of returning to a psychological state of self-identity and “at-one-ment” with Universal Awareness, our ultimate Essence and destiny – an evolutionary process of gradually living more and more in and as the timeless NOW.
The above essay, Forgiving the Past to Live in the Present, encourages our harmony with this crucially important perennial process.
As gradually we mindfully observe and change behaviors, beliefs, and paradigms which no longer seem valid or useful, and as more and more we commonly self-identify as ONE Eternal spirit, which is LOVE – not just as separate mortals – our lives become more spontaneous and magical, enabling us to synchronistically experience ever more happiness, peace of mind, and gratitude for this precious human lifetime.
On ‘holy days’ and every day, may everyone everywhere be blessed to remember our affinity and identity with Divinity;
May we thereby wipe clean the slate of past behaviors or attitudes which impede our living and being in the precious present.
Thus, may everyone everywhere be eternally happy – NOW!
And so may it be!
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this
ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
~ Albert Einstein (after Gandhi’s 1948 assassination)
“I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Since September 11, 2001, many people commemorate September 11 as a day that will live in infamy – a day of treachery, often cited (disingenuously or duplicitously) as pretext for an Orwellian era of endless war, violence and dystopian deprivation of civil liberties.
(See PBS Documentary 9/11-Explosive Evidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l-8PFk8j5I)
But, paradoxically, few realize that – almost a century before the 2001 false flag terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC – it was on a September 11 when Mahatma Gandhi launched his extraordinary “satyagraha” peace and justice movement through which Gandhi, and countless others inspired by him, have accomplished much good in the world by non-violently resisting and transforming widespread social injustice and oppression.
Of countless humans inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and words, most prominent and influential has been Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who honored Gandhi as a spiritual “guiding light …. of nonviolent social change”, and who in 1959 journeyed to India to study Gandhian methods, saying:
“To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim.”
During and since his extraordinary lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi has been venerated worldwide as one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders not just of our time, but of all times. Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful.
Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy.
Gandhi’s Original 9/11 Truth Movement.
Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his campaign for Indian independence, but it began with his brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa, with ground-breaking inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
On September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed a meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the egregiously immoral law.
Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such an unjust law.
Gandhi’s legendary talk at the Empire Theater meeting is dramatically portrayed by academy award winning actor Ben Kingsley in this excerpt from the epic film “Gandhi”:
The next day after the anti-apartheid meeting, the Empire Theater was mysteriously destroyed by fire.
Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.
Because it sought more than just non-violent redress of social injustice, Gandhi called his movement “satyagraha”, a Sanskrit neologism which he coined – meaning the “relentless pursuit of Truth”. Since Gandhi was a spiritual man in search of God, he often equated “Truth” with “God” And he acknowledged that he had been influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Tolstoy, and Thoreau’s famous essay, “Civil Disobedience.” Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based nonviolence.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, Message of World Peace Through Love and Gandhian Nonviolence.
Like Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King, a Christian minister, dedicated his life to nonviolent religious spirituality, not just to political social justice.
In 1964 (at age 35) Dr. King became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his nonviolent social activism in opposing racial segregation, poverty, and war. As a dedicated Christian disciple of Jesus, Dr. King
“found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
Dr. King’s life paralleled Gandhi’s life. Each began as an outspoken advocate of inter-racial equality and social justice in racially segregated societies. Gradually their nonviolent missions expanded to encompass universal freedom, peace and social justice for everyone everywhere.
On humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, as ‘trustee’ for countless unknown others, Dr. King cited Gandhi’s success in India as a key precedent encouraging nonviolent civil rights activism in the USA, saying:
“This [nonviolent] approach to the problem of racial injustice …. was used in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire and free his people from the political domination and economic exploitation inflicted upon them for centuries.”
And King described how (because of technological advances which imminently threaten nuclear/ecological catastrophe) the survival of humanity depends upon our nonviolently solving “the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war” by “living in harmony” with “all-embracing and unconditional love for all men”.
Eloquently he explained that
“[Love is] that force which all of the great religions [Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist] have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.”
Whereupon he recited this wisdom passage from the First Epistle of St John:
“Let us love one another: for love is of God;
and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.
He that loves not, knows not God; for God is love.
If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His
love is perfected in us.” [1 John 4:7-8; 12 ]”
Like Gandhi and Jesus – who also ‘heretically’ preached nonviolent love and forgiveness – King was martyred at (age 39), when his ‘heretic’ truth telling and expanding prophetic powers became intolerable barriers to the US Empire’s military/industrial war plans for Viet Nam and beyond.
May the prophetic seeds of political and spiritual “satyagraha” first sewn by Gandhi on September 11, 1906, and nurtured worldwide by Dr. King, at long last inspire current world “leaders” to abandon their woefully misguided efforts to autocratically address alleged ‘terrorist violence’ with more terrorist violence; and to join democratically with their peace seeking citizens in the non-violent relentless pursuit of secular and spiritual Truth, to end social injustice, war and oppression everywhere.
And may all of us heed Dr. King’s urgently important prophetic warning that we must
“learn to live together as brothers [and sisters]
or perish together as fools.”
And so shall it be!
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (full audio+text)