“The greatest discovery of any generation
is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains.
Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun,
go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God.
Think of the beauty that again and again
discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”
~ Anne Frank
“The world is so unhappy because it is ignorant of the true Self.
Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true Self.
Man’s search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true Self.
The true Self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it,
he finds a happiness which does not come to an end.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away.
Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably.
Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only.
Find your real Self and all else will come with it.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Choosing Happiness: a Synchronicity Story About Rosa Luxemburg
I was writing an essay about happiness as a choice; and, saying: “Though we may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our attitude and thoughts about those circumstances”. But, I was concerned whether Silly Sutras readers would question that statement absent some supporting confirmation. Whereupon, just as I was so reflecting, an eloquent, unexpected and previously unknown answer to my concern synchronistically arrived in my email in-box – a “manifestation miracle” .
While I was writing, I received an email message enigmatically entitled “Breslau Prison, December 1917 — Rosa Luxemburg”. Wondering what this was about I stopped drafting the essay about choosing happiness, and opened the email. It contained an excerpt from a letter written from Breslau prison by Rosa Luxemburg, a “pacifist and revolutionary socialist, [who] was repeatedly imprisoned and eventually murdered by forces of the German Reich on January 15, 1919.” The letter excerpt eloquently fulfilled my wish for evidence that “it’s choice – not chance, free will – not destiny, that mostly determines our happiness.”
Until synchronistically receiving that mysterious message, I knew nothing about Rosa Luxemburg, so I consulted Dr. Google and Wikipedia, found an on-line copy of Rosa’s entire letter from Breslau prison, plus interesting biographies of her with photo portraits. I learned that Polish-born and Jewish “Red Rosa” had been the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and headed the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party; that she was a political and societal revolutionary who is now revered as ‘patron saint’ of the German left – a visionary icon like Che Guevara or Joan of Arc.
In 1917 after almost three years as an unjustly jailed political prisoner Rosa Luxemburg wrote from Breslau Prison to Sophie Liebknecht, a friend whose husband Karl Liebknecht was also a political prisoner. [Karl was co-founder with Rosa of the Spartacus League, the precursor to the German Communist Party, and like Rosa was later murdered by the German army.]
Instead of bemoaning her own fate, Rosa attempted to console Sophie who had been traumatically separated from Karl. Rosa expressed her motivation in writing thusly: “My one desire is to give you …. my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. ….. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”
Here are eloquent excerpts from Rosa’s extraordinary letter to Sophie:
“This is my third Christmas under lock and key, but you needn’t take it to heart. I am as tranquil and cheerful as ever. —– Last night my thoughts ran this-wise: ‘How strange it is that I am always in a sort of joyful intoxication, though without sufficient cause. Here I am lying in a dark cell upon a mattress hard as stone; the building has its usual churchyard quiet, so that one might as well be already entombed; through the window there falls across the bed a glint of light from the lamp which burns all night in front of the prison. —– I lie here alone and in silence, enveloped in the manifold black wrappings of darkness, tedium, unfreedom, and winter – and yet my heart beats with an immeasurable and incomprehensible inner joy, just as if I were moving in the brilliant sunshine across a flowery mead. And in the darkness I smile at life, as if I were the possessor of charm which would enable me to transform all that is evil and tragical into serenity and happiness.
But when I search my mind for the cause of this joy, I find there is no cause, and can only laugh at myself.’
“– I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself, this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet, if only one looks at it in the right way. The gride of the damp gravel beneath the slow and heavy tread of the prison guard is likewise a lovely little song of life – for one who has ears to hear.
“At such moments I think of you, and would that I could hand over this magic key to you also. Then, at all times and in all places, you would be able to see the beauty, and the joy of life; then you also could live in the sweet intoxication, and make your way across a flowery mead. Do not think that I am offering you imaginary joys, or that I am preaching asceticism. I want you to taste all the real pleasures of the senses. My one desire is to give you in addition my inexhaustible sense of inward bliss. Could I do so, I should be at ease about you, knowing that in your passage through life you were clad in a star-bespangled cloak which would protect you from everything petty, trivial, or harassing.”
The letter ended with this postscript:
“Never mind, my Sonyusha; you must be calm and happy all the same. Such is life, and we have to take it as it is, valiantly, heads erect, smiling ever – despite all.”
Moral of the Rosa Luxemburg Story?
What can we learn from politically imprisoned Rosa Luxemburg’s “joyful intoxication” and “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”; her professed ability “at all times and in all places, … to see the beauty, and the joy of life.”?
How was Rosa able to remain “tranquil and cheerful as ever” and selflessly and compassionately think of Sophie while suffering her own misfortune and unjust political imprisonment?
Can each of us – like Rosa Luxemburg – learn to accept life “as it is” and thereby find inner tranquility with an “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”?
Was there a causal relationship between Rosa’s selfless concern for others and her experience of tranquility and inner bliss?
Was Rosa’s happiness her choice?
As explained in the above quotations and following commentary, I believe it is possible to choose happiness despite adverse outer circumstances; that by elevating our mental attitude we can experientially discover within inexhaustible and ever accessible eternal bliss.
What do you think?
~ Ron Rattner
Commentary on Rosa Luxemburg and the Politics of Spirituality Morality
The foregoing amazing story about Rosa Luxemburg is one of my favorite and most inspiring synchronicity stories. It can help inspire each of us to choose ever more inner happiness in our lives, while steadfastly adhering to socially moral principles; and it can show us how living a socially moral life in turbulent times invariably involves spiritual, religious, ethical and political philosophy and behavior.
Rosa Luxemburg was a spiritually advanced pacifist and revolutionary Marxist socialist, who was repeatedly imprisoned and eventually bestially murdered by forces of the German Reich on January 15, 1919. She had been the founder of the Polish Social Democratic Party and headed the left wing of the German Social Democratic Party.
Born a Polish Jew, she became a German citizen prominent in revolutionary left-wing antiwar politics, as a brave truth-teller and social justice reformer. While imprisoned she wrote a prescient pamphlet demanding a Marxist revolution by the working class majority, because German society then faced a critical world-historical juncture requiring its choice of socialism over imperialism, or inevitable barbarism.
A century after her martyrdom, Rosa Luxemburg remains a political icon of the German left comparable to Che Guevara in Cuba or Joan of Arc in France.
While politically imprisoned under extraordinarily harsh and degrading circumstances, in solitude she experienced and expressed exceptional inner tranquility and a self-described “inexhaustible sense of inward bliss”, having discovered within a gift to “at all times and in all places, – – – see the beauty, and the joy of life.”
Though martyred a century ago, Rosa Luxemburg’s inspiring resistance to German imperialism remains highly relevant to current dystopian times of insanely unsustainable exploitation of precious planetary lifeforms and resources by transnational imperialism centered in the USA.
Today, the US political system has become so dominated by plutocratic corporate capitalism that even ex-president Jimmy Carter – a world expert on democracy – has publicly declared that the US is now a corporate oligopoly or plutocracy, with an extremely unreliable voting system.
So our purportedly democratic representative ‘government of, by and for the people’ has become an imperialist plutocratic government of, by and for transnational corporations and a psychopathically corrupt and exploitive ruling class kleptocracy.
Shortly before Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was martyred and murdered by his own government at age 29, he decried our flawed and failing American capitalistic economic system, saying:
“Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” ..
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
“Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.” .. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ..“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
Similarly the Dalai Lama openly endorses the economics of Marxism, by observing that:
“Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilization of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes–that is, the majority–as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair. I just recently read an article in a paper where His Holiness the Pope also pointed out some positive aspects of Marxism.”
Likewise, Albert Einstein in a detailed and prescient 1949 essay titled “Why Socialism?”, wrote:
“I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”
In case you wonder why you may not have previously heard the foregoing anti-capitalistic opinions of these great beings, perhaps this Einstein quote may help answer your question:
“An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.”
~ Albert Einstein
Like Rosa Luxemburg, the world’s most spiritually evolved people – such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Einstein, Pope Francis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others – are those most concerned with the political fate of people who are in need and suffer from insanely inequitable exploitation by powerful plutocrats.
Democracy and imperialism cannot co-exist.
In all events, whatever economic system may be most appropriate for these troubled times, it needs to be democratically determined by the majority of each human society and productive enterprise, not hierarchically imposed worldwide by a tiny minority of psychopathically exploitative billionaires.
Especially, because we face possible catastrophic nuclear or ecological extinction of human life on Earth, it is NOW imperative that Humankind revive and rekindle the universal outer light of ‘Liberty, Equality And Fraternity’ while accessing our shared Eternal inner light of Truth and LOVE.
May Rosa Luxemburg’s story help inspire us to do that.
And so may it be!
“The first preliminary practice consists of recognizing and giving value in its right measure to the precious human existence and the extraordinary opportunity that it gives to us to practice Dharma and to develop spiritually.”
~ Kalu Rinpoche – Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism
A Precious Human Life
“Everyday, think as you wake up:
Today I am fortunate to have woken up,
I am alive,
I have a precious human life,
I am not going to waste it,
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
~ H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama
Ron’s Dedication and Comments about “A Precious Human Life”
Today is the 83rd birthday anniversary of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. In honor of His Holiness, and as a special blessing for all who read his deeply inspiring words, I am privileged to share online His Holiness’s above advice about how we should greet and live each day with mindfulness of our fleeting precious human life.
Before my spiritual awakening, like most other people, I never thought about being a human, rather than some other life-form. But after meeting my Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusundandas, I learned that Eastern spiritual paths identify human incarnation on planet Earth as an extraordinarily precious opportunity to evolve – beyond that of any other life-form; that Buddhist and Hindu teachings say that for spiritual evolution it is better to be born human than even in a heavenly realm.
Tibetan Buddhist teachings especially helped me realize that human birth is amazingly precious and rare. They persuaded me that, although the not yet experienced effects of mysterious karmic causes and conditions result in unavoidable rebirths, there is no guarantee that we will evolve on rebirth; that we obtain human bodies because of good deeds in former lives, but that without living compassionately and mindfully, with continuing determination to transcend selfish behaviors, we squander an extraordinarily rare chance to evolve spiritually.
In October 1982, in San Francisco, I participated together with hundreds of others in a Kalachakra empowerment given by (now deceased) Tibetan master Kalu Rinpoche. In describing the history and rare significance of that ceremony, Lama Kalu explained that our attendance arose from beneficial causes and conditions so mysteriously and statistically rare as to be well beyond ordinary human comprehension – like Jesus’ metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. For example, Rinpoche explained that according to the Buddha, obtaining a human birth and following truth teachings is as unlikely as it is for a blind turtle to put its head through a single yoke which is cast on the oceans of this world.
These Tibetan Buddhist Kalachakra teachings deeply impressed upon me the extraordinary preciousness of fleeting human birth, and the utmost importance of our honoring it by living skillfully and mindfully to evolve spiritually.
So I feel especially privileged to share the foregoing crucially important advice from the H.H. Dalai Lama, our contemporary world’s most renowned exemplar of Buddhist teachings.
May these deeply profound teachings inspire us to gratefully and constantly honor our precious human lives by ever expanding our heart of compassion for the benefit of all beings.
And so shall it be!
Into my heart’s night
Along a narrow way I groped;
and lo! the light,
An infinite land of day.
“There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life.
There is a gem in the mountain of your body, seek that mine.
O traveler, if you are in search of that
Don’t look outside, look inside yourself and seek that.”
“That which permeates all,
which nothing transcends and which,
like the universal space around us,
fills everything completely from within and without,
that Supreme non-dual Brahman
— that thou art.”
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”
~ Albert Einstein ( N. Y. Times , March 29, 1972)
Beyond Being: Infinite Awareness— Ever NOW
Humans are but blips
in a boundless Ocean of Infinite Awareness.
Individuated humans are limited by thoughts:
Thoughts that create the “universe”;
Thoughts that divide and diffuse Awareness
as a prism diffuses light.
Mind is matrix; consciousness is context.
“Human consciousness” is an idea –
a thought which seems to limit boundless Awareness.
But in Reality consciousness can’t be contained.
Time and space are mere modes of thought,
as are matter, energy, and spirit.
Time is how we measure Now,
and space is for the places where we
think we are in time.
So, in space/time,
are seemingly separate and circumscribed beings.
But in Reality,
we are ONE.
Infinite Awareness –
Ron’s audio recitation of “Beyond Being- Infinite Awareness — Ever NOW”
Ron’s explanation of “Beyond Being: Infinite Awareness— Ever NOW”
After inception of current turbulent “Trump times”, I began closely following continuing media “news” reports of tremendous worldwide suffering, with mass murders and violence, and threats of ecological and nuclear cataclysm.
Then two months ago – with compassionate concern about all life on our precious planet – I decided to initiate an ‘inner retreat’ from recurrent media reports of outer violence, and to focus on emanating and disseminating peaceful ‘vibes’, to help heal the world with a stilled mind and opened heart.
Perhaps more than ever before, my deep aspiration became:
“Let there be peace on Earth,
and let it begin with me!”
During this period of ‘inner retreat’ I have synchronistically ‘rediscovered’ and revisited many healing and peaceful poems composed during a ten year period of semi-seclusion, after my 1992 retirement from legal practice.
One of those poems written during those reclusive years – “Beyond Being: Infinite Awareness— Ever NOW”, is posted above with profound prefatory quotations. Also embedded below is an inspiring “Let there be peace on Earth” song video, with captioned lyrics.
If you aspire to help heal the world with loving and peaceful thoughts, words and deeds, please consider and reflect on the foregoing quotations and poem, and embedded song video. And share them with interested others.
May they help us help heal the world – with elevated inner insights lovingly benefiting all beings.
And may they inspire our deep and grateful awareness of our holy state of original blessing, with realization that everyone/everything/everywhere is forever “Holy Now”.
And so may it be!
“Let there be peace on Earth” song video, with captioned lyrics.
“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
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]
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.
Albert Einstein 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.”
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.”
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.”
Spiritually, the supreme virtue of “humility” is inversely associated with “ego”. Thus 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 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.”
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.
In these critical times of immense suffering and jeopardy, yet immense opportunity, let us join 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 may it be.
“My life is my message.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“You must be the change
you want to see in the world.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“You may never know what results come of your actions,
but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Whatever we think, do, or say,
changes this world in some way.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
On the Earth branch
Of the great Cosmic University,
We are all students,
And we are all teachers.
We are all learning love.
And, as Gandhi observed,
Our lives are our teachings.
So, as we live,
And as we learn,
We each may teach –
Peace, love, and compassion.
And so it shall be!
Ron’s audio comments and recitation of Living Life, Teaching Peace
Ron’s Comments on “Living Life, Teaching Peace”
The foregoing “Living Life, Teaching Peace” poem was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. During his lifetime, he was recognized as a great being and father of Indian democracy. His non-violent activism and relentless pursuit of Truth (satyagraha) have inspired millions, and continue to influence the history of our times.
Before becoming my hero, Gandhi was my first inner spiritual guide who appeared to guide me while I was in meditative states, long after his 1948 assassination. (See memoirs posting entitled Silva Mind Control.)
Only after his inner appearance did I synchronistically learn of Gandhi’s history as a nonviolent civil rights lawyer and a Rama devotee (like my Guruji), relentlessly resisting violence while pursuing spiritual Truth. Whereupon Gandhi became and has ever since remained for me an especially important archetypal icon and inspiring hero.
It was mostly Mahatma Gandhi’s now famous
“My life is my message”
response to a question about his message for the world that motivated the “Living Life, Teaching Peace” poem.
Interpretation of “Living Life, Teaching Peace”
Knowingly or unknowingly we all influence others, often at imperceptible subtle energy levels, whether or not we are famous people like Gandhi. Not only do we affect people we know or meet, or think about, but in our space/time ‘reality’ where everyone/everything is energy – E=mc2 – we are all radiating and ‘broadcasting’, and receiving and transducing, energy “vibes”. Metaphorically we are like vibrating energy vortices.
So – even if we are not famous like Mahatma Gandhi – our lives are our message. If we are loving and compassionate we help others to harmoniously resonate those ways of being in the world. Conversely our negative emotions such as fear, anger and hatred – which impede love and compassion – can also influence others.
So in skillfully and mindfully living life we can each teach as well as learn from others by our behaviors and “vibes”.
While we ‘matriculate’ on ‘the Earth branch of the great Cosmic University’ we learn by mindfully living our lives, which are our message, and from the lives of others – like Mahatma Gandhi. May our deepest aspirations encourage and inspire us each to teach and to learn peace, love and compassion.
And so may it be!
“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
that is the whole of the Torah;
all the rest of it is commentary.”
~ Rabbi Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat, 31a – Judaism
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”
~ Matthew 7:12 – Christianity
“Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.”
~ Udana-Varga, 5:18 – Buddhism
“This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”
~ The Mahabharata, 5:1517 – Hinduism
“Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
~ Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi,13 – Islam
“Do not unto others what you do not want them to do to you.”
~ Analects 15:13 – Confucianism
“All things are our relatives;
what we do to everything, we do to ourselves.
All is really One.”
~ Black Elk – Native American Spirituality
“Do what you will, so long as it harms none.”
~ Wiccan Rede – Neo-paganism
“Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you.”
~ British Humanist Society – Humanism
“Great Spirit, grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
~ Native American prayer
“Today, … any religion-based answer to the problem of our neglect of inner values can never be universal, and so will be inadequate.” . . . .“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama
“It’s not just religious people who believe in the Golden Rule.
This is the source of all morality, this imaginative act of empathy –
putting yourself in the place of another.”
~ Karen Armstrong
“I will be as careful for you as I should be for myself in the same need.”
~ Homer, The Odyssey – Ancient Greece – 700 BC
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein, 1954
“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”
“Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
Awakening to a Golden Age.
We live in an age of mental malaise. Delusional human behaviors are causing life-threatening environmental, international and inter-personal crises and conflicts. For our peaceful survival on Planet Earth, we must transcend these insane behaviors and resolve the problems they have caused.
As Albert Einstein aptly observed: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So our survival depends on elevating human consciousness, societally and individually.
According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Ultimately, the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart. [From] a genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.” ; and, that for such a heart level of universal planetary responsibility we need ethics based on spirituality “beyond religion” – because religion alone “is no longer adequate”.
Thus for our peaceful survival on planet Earth, the critical problems now confronting humanity must be transcended through elevated heart level consciousness.
How can this happen?
With ever expanding empathy for all life everywhere we must follow ‘the Golden Rule’. For millennia wisdom teachers from virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions have proposed a simple ethical rule which if consciously and conscientiously followed can change the world.
Its essence is that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity that we wish for ourselves and that they wish for themselves.
Though easy to understand, this Golden Rule of reciprocal empathy can not easily be followed until we awaken within – beyond our “optical delusion” of separateness – to our collective connection with all beings and all life everywhere. Then as Einstein suggests we can gradually “widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Eventually, we won’t even need the Golden rule.
As my beloved Guruji Shri Dhyanyogi revealed:
“If there is love in your heart, you don’t have to worry about rules.”
Ultimately, by following our sacred heart we will be in harmony with all life everywhere.
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet
So with awakened hearts let us actualize a Golden Age wherein everyone everywhere treats all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves – with an empathetic “genuine sense of universal responsibility that is based on love, compassion and clear awareness.”
And so shall it be!
Beautiful Golden Rule Video.
Ron’s Commentary on Awakening to a Golden Age.
“[T]he time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”
~ Dalai Lama
For many people these are dark and divisive times unprecedented in their lives. But I view current painful and seemingly chaotic world turmoil (following the election of Donald J. Trump as 45th US president) as darkness before an inevitable dawn; as marking an immense evolutionary opportunity for disintegration of outdated world political, economic and ecological paradigms that have become painfully and unsustainably anachronous, to make way for a new era of human harmony and conscious connection with each other and with Nature.
From seeing everyone and everything as discrete and separated by apparently immutable boundaries, we are rapidly realizing that everyone/everything is connected by a common Essence – ever-changing energy in a matrix of immutable awareness. Thus, we are evolving from a Newtonian “reality” of polarized duality to a quantum “reality” of holistic connectedness; from either this or that, to this and that are ONE.
With this realization, regardless of our political propensities or beliefs, we can best address current challenges, and transcend pervasively polarizing negative emotions – like fear and anger – with feelings, insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere.
With benevolent and focused intentions, more and more we can open our hearts to innate human empathy, kindness and compassion, and thereby realize our collective connection with and deep concern for all life everywhere – even including perceived adversaries or enemies.
To help inspire us in this age of immense evolutionary opportunity, I have posted the foregoing important quotations and comments, and a wonderful 8 minute embedded video, about perhaps the world’s most important and universal reciprocal principle of ethics proposed for millennia by virtually all enduring ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions.
Its essence is:
that we do no harm; that we treat all beings with the same dignity we wish for ourselves, and that they wish for themselves.
May we collectively join in heartfelt harmony with this crucial ethical principle. Whereupon with insights and actions arising from loving-kindness and compassion for all life everywhere, may all humankind truly transcend and cooperatively resolve our critical ecologic, economic, international and interpersonal problems, for an enlightened and elevated new age that will bless all life on our precious planet.
And so may it be!
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet;
how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
~ Fred Rogers
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ St. Francis Of Assisi
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
In my last memoirs chapter – “Another ‘Near Death’ Experience?” – I told of my miraculous survival and healing from critical taxicab rundown injuries, which I have attributed to the prayers, care, and good wishes of saints and many others who wanted me to get well. And I explained how the shock and trauma of my sudden injuries left me with continuing retrograde amnesia, without memory of what happened immediately before and after the taxicab incident.
In this chapter I will recount how a spontaneous act of loving-kindness by an ICU nurse – who synchronistically shared my reverence for Saint Francis of Assisi – proved an unforgettable healing blessing. I cannot remember the nurse’s name (so I’ll call her Mary), but my memory of our meeting was rekindled by an unforgettable document she left while I slept the next day; and I will never forget how I’ve felt because of her kindness.
A Holy Encounter.
For many years I have had frequent synchronistic meetings with strangers with whom I have experienced deeply harmonious connections. I have called them “holy encounters”. This is the story of an especially memorable encounter with a compassionate nurse which happened at the San Francisco General Hospital Intensive Care Unit [ICU], shortly after I had been run down and critically injured by a taxicab.
I have no memory of my admission to the ICU or of any prior conversations, diagnostic procedures or medical examinations there, and I was unaware of details of my injuries until after this encounter.
I later learned from medical records and from those who had examined or visited me that I had sustained a serious bleeding brain concussion and multiple fractures, including multiple facial fractures, bruises and lacerations, and a fractured right leg tibial plateau, and various traumatic internal injuries, including a lacerated and bleeding liver. I was told that my head and face were completely bruised, discolored and swollen.
On the morning of this encounter I remember awakening supine on my hospital bed unable to rotate my body because of an IV tube and a full leg brace on my right leg. Presumably I was under influence of narcotic pain suppressant drugs which had been administered while I was unconscious, and until I was later able to decline them with informed consent.
Soon after I awakened that morning, I was greeted by a lovely slender, blond haired ICU nurse, who said:
“Good morning Mr. Rattner, I’m Mary your nurse for today”. “How are you feeling?”
Amazingly, I simply responded:
“I’m grateful to be alive!”
Surprised, Mary commented appreciatively about my positive attitude. Whereupon I promptly recited for her my Silly Sutra saying that:
“An attitude of gratitude brings beatitude.”
And I explained to Mary that my attitude of gratitude came from abiding faith in Divine Providence, and conviction that I was blessed by Saint Francis of Assisi and other saints [*See Footnote]. Mary then told me that she had been raised to revere Saint Francis by her mother who regularly prayed to him at a home shrine.
Inspired by this wonderful synchronicity, I gladly recited for Mary the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with Saint Francis, which I readily remembered and which apparently she deeply appreciated. We talked briefly and she then proceeded on her rounds.
An unforgettable “get well” message.
The day after our ‘holy encounter’, I awakened to discover that while I slept Mary had placed this “get well” message, with the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, next to my bed.
I have heretofore told how my mid-life spiritual epiphany opened an emotional flood-gate which had been closed since childhood and unleashed for the first time in my adult life an intense and unprecedented torrent of tears; how for many years I cried so often and so profusely that I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing recognized in various devotional spiritual traditions, and which in the Catholic tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis of Assisi was known as “the gift of tears”.
Though never a frequent flyer, I became – and for over forty years have remained – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my psyche, body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness, as well as many experiences of extreme ecstasy. They have become for me a divine sign of an opened heart.
Mary’s ‘get well’ message has consistently and often sparked a flood of heartfelt emotions and tears as it reminds me of our holy encounter and of my attitude of gratitude for this precious human lifetime. Thus, many times while writing this story I have cried with heartfelt gratitude.
Moral of the story.
Every spontaneous and heartfelt act of loving-kindness bestowed in ordinary life – even in seemingly insignificant incidents – can prove a lasting blessing for its recipient and everyone everywhere.
* Saint Francis of Assisi.
Shortly after a profound spiritual opening in 1976, I began having synchronistic inner and outer experiences concerning Saint Francis of Assisi, of whom I was previously ignorant. Because of those experiences I developed deep affinity with this legendary saint, and regarded him an archetype to be emulated. Soon I began multiple daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer associated with him, which have continued until now.
On retirement from legal practice in 1992, I made a pilgrimage to Italy to honor Saint Francis. In spring 1992, I journeyed to the Umbrian town of Assisi, Italy, where Saint Francis (‘Francesco’) was born and resided for most of his inspiring life, and where I experienced an extraordinary feeling of déjà vu, and some of the most memorable spiritual experiences of this lifetime. Also I made a magically memorable excursion to Mount La Verna in Tuscany – where Francis became the first Christian saint to receive the crucifixion stigmata of Christ.
“[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 [of] realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama
Mind Your Mind: You Will Take It With You
My friend Konrad’s beloved mother used to say:
“If I can’t take it with me, I refuse to go.”
Despite her protestations – like every other person in the history of humanity – she was obliged to leave this world without taking with her anything fiscal or physical.
But her wonderful sense of humor survived her departure.
In this phenomenal world, everything’s energy; our worldly life-forms are but gross and subtle energy vortices in a field of universal awareness.
As the Dalai Lama observes, our subtle mental forms survive the death of our dense physical forms. So when we leave our physical body, our mind persists – and we will take it with us – somewhere.
Thus it’s wise for us to prepare for future ‘mind trips’ by training and stilling our mind to cultivate compassion, love and wisdom, with a wonderful sense of humor –
“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The foundation of the Buddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.”
~ Tenzin Gyatso, H.H. Dalai Lama
Be An Auto-Iconoclast
Who are you? Who do you think you are?
You think you’re only an entity –
a person separate from all other entities.
With such thinking you’ve created
a false ego image of what you really are.
And you’ve mistakenly identified yourself as that ego image.
But you’re not that ego image.
You can never be what you think you are:
Thinking and Being can’t coexist.
So stop thinking, and start Being.
Don’t be an ego-image maker.
Be an ego-image breaker.
Be an auto-iconoclast.
Break your ego image.
End ego identity,
and be –
BE what you really are –
Ron’s audio recitation of Be An Auto-Iconoclast
Many Faiths, One Truth
By TENZIN GYATSO
WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.
Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.
Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.
Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.
An early eye-opener for me was my meeting with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton in India shortly before his untimely death in 1968. Merton told me he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. The same is true for me as an ardent Buddhist learning from the world’s other great religions.
A main point in my discussion with Merton was how central compassion was to the message of both Christianity and Buddhism. In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus’ acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
I’m a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I’ve long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks. The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us.
Take Judaism, for instance. I first visited a synagogue in Cochin, India, in 1965, and have met with many rabbis over the years. I remember vividly the rabbi in the Netherlands who told me about the Holocaust with such intensity that we were both in tears. And I’ve learned how the Talmud and the Bible repeat the theme of compassion, as in the passage in Leviticus that admonishes, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In my many encounters with Hindu scholars in India, I’ve come to see the centrality of selfless compassion in Hinduism too — as expressed, for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita, which praises those who “delight in the welfare of all beings.” I’m moved by the ways this value has been expressed in the life of great beings like Mahatma Gandhi, or the lesser-known Baba Amte, who founded a leper colony not far from a Tibetan settlement in Maharashtra State in India. There he fed and sheltered lepers who were otherwise shunned. When I received my Nobel Peace Prize, I made a donation to his colony.
Compassion is equally important in Islam — and recognizing that has become crucial in the years since Sept. 11, especially in answering those who paint Islam as a militant faith. On the first anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, pleading that we not blindly follow the lead of some in the news media and let the violent acts of a few individuals define an entire religion.
Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world’s second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah’s creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the “Compassionate and Merciful,” that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.
Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be as one.
Harmony among the major faiths has become an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence in our world. From this perspective, mutual understanding among these traditions is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the author, most recently, of “Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together.”
Originally published as an Op-Ed by New York Times on May 24, 2010