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Saint Francis of Assisi: His Life and His Prayer

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“All the darkness in the world can’t extinguish the light from a single candle.”
~ Francis Of Assisi (The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”
~ Francis Of Assisi
“Vi volglio tutti in paradisio!” [ “I wish all in heaven!”]
~ Francis of Assisi
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
~ Francis of Assisi
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Francis of Assisi


Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


And so it shall be!

Prayer Of St. Francis Of Assisi **

Beloved, we are instruments of Thy peace.

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

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

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

 


Footnotes

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

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



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

Listen to


What is the human “mind”?
Is it best friend or worst enemy?


One must elevate – and not degrade – oneself with one’s own mind, as the mind is both a friend and an enemy.
For those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends.
But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Six, Lord Krishna to Arjuna (6.05-06)



Bhagavad Gita – Krishna teaching Arjuna




Q. What is the human “mind”?

A. “Mind” is a word with many meanings. In answering this question about the human “mind” we consider it a conditioned egoic space/time energy process, and call it “mortal mind” or “ego–desire mind” or “conditioned mind”.

Religious philosophies sometimes equate “Mind” with God, or ultimate Reality beyond space/time. But we distinguish and exclude those concepts in answering this question about the human “mind”, which is the conditioned perceiver and projector of space/time samsaric ‘reality’ .

In the Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu scripture, Divine Avatar Lord Krishna informs warrior Arjuna that the conditioned human mind


“is both a friend and an enemy”
, that “for those who have subdued and conquered the mind, it is the best of friends. But for those who fail to do so, the mind remains the greatest of enemies.”


Q. How can the human mind be either our best friend or worst enemy?

A. The human mind can be either our best friend or worst enemy depending on whether we use it skillfully to advance, or egotistically to deter, our spiritual evolution – to either terminate or perpetuate mistaken ego entity-identity.

The above Bhagavad Gita passage epitomizes the essential spiritual teaching of the entire Scripture: Attaining freedom from saṃsāra, the karmic cycle of death and rebirth, through spiritual liberation or Moksha. Metaphorically this scripture portrays (in an epic battle) the perpetual conflict between good and evil – between satisfying ego’s endless desires for ephemeral worldly gratifications, or transcending ego to achieve realization as God – the Absolute eternal spirit beyond all impermanent energy forms and phenomena.

When it identifies and perpetuates itself as ego the human mind can be our worst enemy.

For millennia spiritual sages have identified “ego” as the greatest impediment to spiritual evolution and Self realization. Thus, the ancient Vedic seers told us that “Ego is the biggest enemy of humans.” (Rig Veda ) And the Dalai Lama says that in Buddhism ego is the “number-one enemy of compassion.”

“Ego” is conditioned mind’s mistaken self-identity as an entity separate from God – as a separate mortal perceiver of a supposedly objective world. But this is an unreal illusion – a mental mirage. Nonetheless ego-mind fearfully and constantly attempts to perpetuate its unreal existence. But such attempted self-preservation is ultimately futile. What never was can never be preserved.

Thus, while conditioned-mind attempts to perpetuate itself as illusionary ego-mind it impedes spiritual evolution, and thereby becomes “our worst enemy”.

When used skillfully to transcend ego, the human mind can be our best friend.

Except for rare Avatars and Bodhisattvas virtually all incarnate humans have not yet completed the process of spiritual evolution from humanity to divinity. So they are still subject to the karmic cycle of death and rebirth through ego misidentification. But the human mind can skillfully be subdued and used to transcend and conquer ego, and thereby to advance spiritual evolution toward achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha .

Ultimately, such transcendence happens when mind and thought cease and Universal Awareness which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as its Self, and is not mentally divided.

Thus, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a sacred Hindu text, state:

“Yoga is the cessation of mind.”


“The witness is Self, pure awareness, which,

though boundless and unchanging,

appears to perceive creation through the construct of mind.”


“The identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
 causes the [mistaken] apprehension of both an objective world and a perceiver of it.”


“When the mind withdraws attention from sense experience,
the senses receive no impressions from sense objects,
and awareness rests in its essential nature.”


“When he is not in the state of yoga, man remains [mistakenly] identified with the thought-waves in the mind.”

~ Patanjali – Yoga Sutras


Similarly, when twentieth century Indian sage J. Krishnamurti was asked

“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”,  he replied (in part):

“Belief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God.
If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality.
If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. … belief is a form of self-protection…” …

“The mind is the product of the past.”
“There can be reality only when the mind understands the total process of itself and comes to an end.
When the mind is completely empty – only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.”
“Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still – only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.”


Conclusion.

Until the human mind is psychologically de-conditioned and emptied, and no longer confuses pure awareness as a separate objective world, it can be gradually subdued and used skillfully to advance spiritual evolution. We can use it to lose it. Like using a thorn to remove another thorn’s sliver, we can use ego-mind to end ego-mind. We can quiet, control and dis-identify with the ‘voice in the head’, and we can behave dharmically and compassionately.

Thereby the human mind can become our ‘best friend’, by hastening transcendence of illusionary ego identity to allow self realization as timeless thoughtless Universal Awareness.

And so may it be!

Epilogue.

In considering the nature and function of the conditioned human mind, the following further information may be helpful.

Body, mind and soul are inseparable abstractions.

Every conditioned human incarnation necessarily includes body, mind and soul as concepts which cannot be separated, without destroying their spiritual significance.

They all connote an entity or energy process seemingly separate from its Source. Thus, in the Bhagavad Gita “body”, “mind”, and “soul” are all denoted by the same Sanskrit word: “atma” or “self”. So in investigating the human mind it is imperative to consider it as only one connotation of “atma” or “self” and, in all events, to consider it as a conditioned subtle energy process experienced as separate from its Source.

Metaphorically, each incarnate person can be described as a systemic earthly energy process (or vortex), with enveloped mysterious layers of perceptible and subtly imperceptible energies. What we call the “mind” includes both conscious and subconscious energy processes. When subconscious, the mind autonomically operates and regulates countless systemic functions. Consciously, conditioned mind is like a subtle energy processor of conceptual thought, intellect, memory, intention, and communication.

Death of physical bodies and brains does not end consciousness and conditioned mind. They remain to perpetuate the karmic cycle of death and rebirth.

All mental perceptions, memories and tendencies associated with physical bodies are stored in subtle mental energy bodies which survive death of those physical bodies. Contrary to pseudo-scientific materialist beliefs, brains do not create consciousness and mind; consciousness creates brains and mind to function like tuner/transducers decoding karmic cosmic energies for human interpretation.

For millennia seers and mystics have revealed that subtle mental energy bodies associated with physical bodies survive death of those physical bodies. Just as computers need an operating system to function, so do physical bodies. Like computers which operate via software, physical bodies are controlled by subtle mind-stuff energies (chitta). And when – like computers – physical bodies inevitably deteriorate and die, their ‘mental software’ survives, and is reused.

Thus, just as I am able to use with a new i Mac the same OS X software system that operated an old i Mac, I can (and may for eons) operate other physical bodies with the same mind-stuff energy that is animating this one. And those other physical bodies which will be using my pre-existing mental software, will probably display many of the same ‘operating features’ as my prior physical bodies. These mental operating systems can be gradually ‘up-dated’. But this usually requires a very slow process of intentional self-discovery and removal of conditioned mental obscurations and defilements.

Like computer software systems, all mental conditioning comes from the past – from this or prior lifetimes.

Thus twentieth century sage J. Krishnamurti, has declared:

“Mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past,
which is memory, a conditioned state.”
“The timeless can be only when memory, which is the `me’ and the`mine’, ceases.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Transcendence of past mental conditioning is essential to achieving spiritual liberation or Moksha in the Eternal NOW.

The goal of all spiritual practice is to transcend past mental conditioning.

Such transcendence is achieved only when thoughts cease and Universal Awareness which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself as Self, and is not mentally divided.

And so shall it be!

Beholding Divinity in a Crowded Courtroom ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“We are beings of light –
Eternal and bright,
and so shall ever be.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
~ Jonathan Swift
It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The goal is not to lose oneself in the Divine Consciousness.
The goal is to let the Divine Consciousness penetrate into Matter and transform it.”
Sri Aurobindo – The Mother 15: p.191




Beholding Divinity in a Crowded Courtroom

Ron’s Introduction

After my spiritual opening, I gradually realized – experientially and inferentially – that the common Essence of everything in our phenomenal “reality” is the light of pure Awareness.

This process of awakening began with the profound but simple insight that: “I am not my body, its thoughts, or the role in life with which I’ve identified, but pure awareness”. That insight was soon validated by my unforgettable Yosemite experience of beholding as Essence the luminescence of “ten thousand suns”.

Thereafter I gradually reasoned that what is true for Ron must be true for everyone else in our phenomenal “reality”; that pure Awareness, Light and Love, is the Essence of everyone – not just Ron. That inference was soon re-confirmed by more extraordinary mystical experiences which showed me that Divine luminescence is the essence everything – every form and phenomenon, not just sentient beings.

I’ll tell you about one of those memorable mystical experiences which showed me that the eternal light of Awareness is the Essence of everything and everyone.

Story

It happened in a crowded San Francisco courtroom filled with lawyers, soon after my shaktipat initiation by Guruji, who was still then in the Bay Area. By that time, especially after meeting Guruji, I was experiencing an intense longing to return to God, and had been praying fervently for a way to exchange my life of litigation for a life of meditation. But I needed the income from lawyering to help support my young children.

Synchronistically, I was then shown that the Divine is immanent in everyone everywhere – even in crafty lawyers in crowded courtrooms; that experiencing nearness to God is mostly dependent on our state of mind rather than our physical environment.

This revelatory experience happened one morning in the San Francisco Superior Court, Law And Motion department, where all pending civil pre-trial motions were argued and decided. All lawyers were then required to check-in and be seated by 9 am, though dockets were usually quite long and hearings on scheduled motions took up most of the morning.

That day my motion was docketed toward the end of the calendar, assuring a long wait before it was called. I arrived at 9 am, at the last minute, when the courtroom was already filled with seated lawyers awaiting their turns to present legal arguments. I could see only one remaining vacant seat which synchronistically was next to my adversary, who was seated beside the center isle. He was a very amiable, skilled and prominent lawyer, but we did not then have a friendly rapport.

With ‘righteous indignation’, I had become convinced that he was knowingly representing a dishonest client with an obviously contrived and unjust cause. Moreover, I judgmentally considered his pre-trial tactics in our case to have been ethically questionable.

Reluctantly, I seated myself next to him with my motion papers in a small brief case on my lap. Because of the inevitable long wait before our late calendared motion would be called, I decided to close my eyes and meditate. Inadvertently, I went into a very deep state of meditation.

When the case was finally called for argument, I could barely hear the bailiff’s distant pronouncement: “Number 34, R______ versus D_____.”

I opened my eyes, but for the first time in my life I was totally sightless and unable to perceive anyone or anything in that courtroom. Instead of seeing the people and objects in the courtroom, my field of vision was filled only with an amazingly luminescent and radiant effulgence – like a golden mist or miasma.* [See footnote] However, I could sense my adversary getting up and walking up the aisle to the front of the courtroom.

Sightless, I stood and followed him up the aisle. As I was walking without normal vision, the gold effulgence began to clarify. Instead of just a golden mist, I began seeing everything and everyone in the courtroom – including my mistrusted adversary – as silhouetted lines of gold light. It was if a Cosmic artist was sketching in golden outline the shape of every person and every object.

I reached the counsel table, perceiving my adversary (and everything else) only as lines of golden light. And I wondered, with considerable concern, how I could present an important case without being able to view my carefully prepared notes and citations.

Then, just as my adversary and I were asked by the Judge to state our names and to identify the parties for whom we were appearing, my normal eyesight was suddenly restored. It was as if a Divine ‘trickster’ had temporarily blinded me to bestow an enormous insight, and then had waited until the last possible moment before restoring my normal eyesight.

Soon afterwards, I recounted my courtroom experience to my friend Kusuma, one of Guruji’s translators, who then asked him about it. Guruji told Kusuma that with elevated awareness I had perceived everyone and everything in the courtroom from a subtle causal dimension.

Ever since, I have recalled that marvelous experience as an immense blessing which not only revealed and reconfirmed to me that the essence of everyone and everything is the eternal light of Cosmic Consciousness, but which vividly demonstrated that to commune with Divinity I didn’t have to retreat to an ashram, mountain top, cave, or forest – like yogis of bygone eras – but could experience eternal luminosity and numinosity even while continuing my worldly life as a litigation lawyer in a vast urban area; that experiencing God is dependent on our state of mind rather than our physical environment.

* Sri Aurobindo and Aurobindo’s Mother have written descriptions of the light of Supramental Consciousness as appearing to them like “a warm gold dust” “a multitude of tiny golden points”. These are the only descriptions which I have as yet been able to find in mystical literature and poetry comparable to my marvelous courtroom vision.



Epilogue

My realization that Divine awareness depends on our state of mind rather than our physical environment was soon put to its first severe test when the foregoing case was scheduled for trial at the very same time Guruji was giving a retreat at the ‘paradise’ island of Maui, Hawaii.* I intensely wanted to attend that retreat but instead was obliged to conduct a six week jury trial in San Francisco.

So, rather than being with Guruji in paradise, I spent a month and a half in court with my crafty opponent, who appeared with two assistants – a young lawyer and a paralegal – to eloquently and skillfully present his client’s unethical case.

I didn’t again perceive him as Divine light but, constantly remembering the Divine, I silently recited my Ram mantra whenever he was speaking to the judge or jury. It was a civil case, so to prevail we needed votes of only nine of the twelve jurors. But ultimately all twelve jurors voted my client a large cash judgment. Civil and divine justice prevailed.

*Below is a photo of Guruji taken by my friend Ram Dassi in front of the giant Buddha statue at the Lahaina, Maui Buddhist temple, while I was remembering Rama in a San Francisco courtroom.


Guruji in Hawaii


Seeing GOD?

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”
~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.” …. “God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

~ Ramakrishna Paramahansa
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles?
The Tao is not obliged to present itself in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
 see it everywhere,
even in the most ordinary things.

~ Lao Tzu
“The self, harmonized by yoga,
sees the Self abiding in all beings,
all beings in the Self, everywhere he sees the same.”
~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Krishna to Arjuna


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa



Seeing GOD?

Q. What is God?

A. What isn’t God?

Q. Is it possible to see God?

A. Is it possible to not see God?

God is ONE: God is All –
God is immanent in and manifest as
everything and everyone everywhere.

So, everyone sees God everywhere.

But few know it.


Ron’s audio recitation of Seeing GOD?

Listen to



Ron’s explanation of “Seeing GOD?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever imagined seeing God?  Or wondered whether that was possible?
 
Except for those who recount amazing near death experiences [NDE’s], we seldom hear of anyone claiming to perceive Divinity.   And usually those who report being embraced by or enfolded in Divine Love are unable adequately to describe THAT experience.

Until after my mid-life awakening, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and never imagined seeing or being enfolded in God, assuming it impossible.  During early Jewish acculturation I learned of Moses’ receiving the ten commandments from an invisible nameless God on Mount Sinai, who communicated through a burning bush and decried idolatry.
 
And like many other Jews, I accepted the core biblical proclamation


“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE.”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4 
 

But until after my spiritual awakening I never understood and was skeptical about Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE”  [John 10:30] .  Soon afterwards while crying for God on a Yosemite mountain with total surrender I beheld within, but did not merge with, the light of ten thousand suns.
 
Only after later encountering the life story and teachings of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man whose chief disciple was Swami Vivekananda – did I wonder about again “seeing God”.

During my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India I first learned about Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata).  There – almost a hundred years after Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his presence and life-force energy with an inexpressibly intense and unprecedented feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived, which felt so comfortably familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.

On returning to the US I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life story and teachings.  I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was a simple, ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity.  Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I have reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Ramakrishna as well as wth Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with the gift of tears.  Though Francis had lived seven hundred years before Ramakrishna in a vastly different age and culture they had similar devotional traits with which I have felt great rapport.

As an enlightened mystic Ramakrishna often experienced communion with the Divine and affirmed to Vivekenanda and others that he had indeed seen God during states of spiritual ecstasy.  At first he worshiped God through a personal deity as the compassionate Mother or the all-loving Father.  Thereafter, he aspired to and quickly realized the transcendental or Brahman aspect of God which is beyond human description.

He taught that God is All – both manifest and unmanifest – while yet transcendent as Infinite Potentiality. 

As to Divine omnipresence, he declared that: 

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

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



The foregoing whimsical poem about seeing GOD was inspired by Ramakrishna and his above quotes.

May they inspire us all to ever remember, and hopefully help us to perceive, that everyone and everything is Divine! 

Namasté!

Ron Rattner

Justice versus Judgment:
Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged;
Resist Not Evil

“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.”
~ Moliere
“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.”
~ Rumi
“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


Enlightened Justice

 

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.”
[John 8:15]

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!

Footnote.

*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”.

Dear Friends,

Worldwide we are living in very violent and politically polarized times – especially since Donald Trump was elected 45th US president.

In order to peacefully resolve current critical political and environmental issues, from a spiritual perspective, we must mindfully calm our 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.

To explain these opinions about philosophical and pragmatic issues of Justice versus Judgment, I have posted the above quotations and intuitive interpretations of Jesus’s teachings on these subjects, and hereafter discuss what I’ve learned about them as an egalitarian attorney.

For much of my adult life as a social justice 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 everything, and to not judge, condemn, or criticize 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!

Ron Rattner


I Have Learned So Much ~ by Hafiz

“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”
~ Gandhi
“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.

Not any religion
My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless.

Neither body or soul.”
~ Rumi
“There is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.
Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is illumined nothing,”
~ Rabia of Basra
“I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew”
~ Hafiz
“The great religions are the ships,
Poets the life boats. 
Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”
~ Hafiz


I Have Learned So Much ~ by Hafiz

I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer call myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of itself with me
that I can no longer call myself
a man, a woman, an angel
or even pure soul.

Love has befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash and freed me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.



-Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky in
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master


Ron’s Reflections on “I Have Learned So Much” ~ by Hafiz

Dear Friends,

“I Have Learned So Much” by Sufi Poet-Saint Hafiz, is one of the most inspiring writings on this website.

Though composed seven centuries ago, Hafiz’s enlightened verses continue to bless the world as LOVE.

And they deeply inspire our soul’s remembrance that – beyond any words or concepts or religious rules – Eternal LOVE is the only Reality.

As we read these illumined verses may we – like Hafiz – be freed as LOVE “of every concept and image (that) mind has ever known.”


And so may it be!

“Miracles”

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
~ Albert Einstein
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change.”
~ Buddha
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air,
but simply walking on this earth.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love.
The real miracle is the love that inspires them.
In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”
~ A Course in Miracles
“All is a miracle.
The stupendous order of nature,
the revolution of a hundred millions of worlds around a million of stars,
the activity of light,
the life of all animals,
all are grand and perpetual miracles.”
~ Francois Voltaire
“And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles.”
~ Walt Whitman
“When we do the best that we can,
we never know what miracle is wrought in our life,
or in the life of another.”
~ Helen Keller




“Miracles” ~ By Walt Whitman – “Leaves of Grass

Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet
and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?



Ron’s Reflections on “Miracles”

Dear Friends,

Miracles are phenomena which can’t be explained scientifically or through common wisdom. Depending on each person’s unique experience of “reality”, different people consider different phenomena to be ‘miracles’.

But, throughout history, spiritually evolved beings – like those quoted above – have humbly recognized and accepted that all earth life is an eternal miracle attributable to Divine Power.

Recognition that all Life is a Divine miracle, can elicit deep feelings of happiness, gratitude, awe, faith, and acceptance of whatever happens in our lives.

So Einstein wisely endorsed living

“as though everything is is a miracle.”

After many years of living more and more “as though everything is is a miracle”, I have experienced ever expanding contentment and happiness with unspeakable gratitude for every moment of life, accepting whatever happens as a Divine play of consciousness.

I now often perceive this entire space/time Universe – like a movie – as a miraculous matrix projection onto a ’screen of consciousness’, with ever impermanent forms and phenomena appearing from and disappearing into an eternally mysterious Source.

Though THAT miraculous Source is ultimately unnameable, I often call it LOVE.

Thus, for me:

“Everything comes from divine LOVE;
and everything that comes from LOVE is a miracle”.


So Divine LOVE is the ultimate miracle.

Accordingly, with immense gratitude I find harmonic resonance with Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s experiential observations that God’s love is an ever present immense gift and grace:

“Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love,

for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

~ Thomas Merton

Knowingly or unknowingly we are all graced and gifted with Divine LOVE as the eternal Source of constant miracles which bless our lives.

So – like Thomas Merton – may we experience that “every moment of existence is a grace”.

And let us:

Remember with gratitude,

Life is beatitude –

Even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

Every time, every place, and

Forever (S)HE will reign!

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings – “Remember”


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

God is a Word

"In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God"
“In the beginning was the word
and the word was with God
and the word was God”
~ John 1:1
“And God said to Moses,
I AM THAT I AM”
~ Exodus 3:14
“An important part of the adventure of life is to get hold of the mind,
and to keep that controlled mind constantly attuned to the Lord.
This is the secret of a happy, successful existence.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda — Man’s Eternal Quest
Remember God, forget the rest.

Forget who you think you are,

to know what you really are.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.

If you are conscious of anything,
you are 
essentially conscious of yourself.”

~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“…this separation between man and man,
between nation and nation, between earth and moon,
between moon and sun . . 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”


"In the beginning was the word  and the word was with God  and the word was God"


God is a Word*

Q. What is God?

A. As the Bible says – God is word:

A word used by different people
to designate their different ideas
of a transcendent power;

An omnipotence which they may
intuit, accept or reject,
but can’t ever comprehend.

Any such transcendent power
can’t ever be aptly named.

For any designation would
constitute limitation
of the illimitable –

THAT.

So, whether or not the “universe” was created by God,

“God” is a word created by man.

But, just as ‘a rose by any other name is the same’,
However humankind calls or tries to imagine it

There exists an indescribable infinitely potential and supreme Power:

An Absolute Reality and Existence, and Origin of All,
as

THAT.


Footnote.



*Innumerable words – God, Love, Nature, etc. – may be used to signify an ineffably infinite divine Power or any of its infinite potential aspects. Or as in the Jewish tradition it may be acknowledged that no name can denominate “THAT” which is beyond conception or expression – since naming limits the illimitable and ineffable Infinite Reality.



Ron’s Comments about “God is a Word”

Dear Friends,

The word “God” is extremely common. Countless people commonly curse, exclaim, read, think , or pray to “God”. “In God we trust” appears on all US currency and coins.

But who of us has deeply considered what “God” really means to us or others? How many times have we unthinkingly uttered or heard such exclamations as “thank God!” “God bless you”, “God love you” – or even curses including the word “God” – without wondering about their significance.

Encouraged by my beloved Guruji I have intuitively spent much of my post-retirement life-period reflecting and writing about “God”, and other words referring to a transcendent power. And I’ve found that our ideas about “God” evolve as we evolve spiritually; and that thinking about God furthers such evolution.

The above essay explains that “God” is a word used by different people to designate their different ideas of a transcendent power, which ultimately is beyond words. Thus, “God” did not create man, but man created the word “God” – with thoughts from ruminations, revelations, intuitions, and speculations, paradoxically trying to identify THAT which is beyond words, beyond all thought.

It is offered to encourage exploration of our common inner divinity – in furtherance of our (conscious or subconscious) universal longing for a state of ONENESS with divinity – with “God” or THAT.

As observed by Mahatma Gandhi,


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

May we become ever more divine with our continuing reflections and thoughts about “God”, until ultimately we melt and merge as ONE Divinity – as THAT.

And so may  it be!

Ron Rattner

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

“You are “gods”; you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82:6
“Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,

But still remember what the Lord hath done.”

~ William Shakespeare
Remember God, forget the rest.

Forget who you think you are,

to know what you really are.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.”
~ Albert Einstein



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

Q.

What is “God”?


A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why not a perpetual paradise without evil?

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

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

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

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

And can we transcend
dogmatic divisive designations of Divinity?

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

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

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

I wonder who they’re praying to?

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

Isn’t it the same universal Awareness?

If so, how can we ever know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How and where shall we seek God?

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

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

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

So, isn’t inner infinity true Divinity?

And isn’t true Divinity
Eternal Mystery?

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

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

God knows!?



Ron’s Explanation and Dedication of “Monistic Musings”

Dear Friends,

After midlife I began wondering why so many people religiously indoctrinated into Western monotheism – as Jews, Christians or Moslems – seemed to have quite disparate and disharmonious views of their “ONE God”, and didn’t get along with each other. 

And after my introduction to Hindu and Buddhist non-dualism teachings, which I intuitively accepted as valid, I realized that non-dualism seemed quite consistent with Western monotheism – but spiritually deeper.  (See comments about “God is ONE” )

Whereupon I asked and wrote the foregoing philosophical questions about monotheism, God, and divinity which I called “Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity”.

Those rhetorical ruminations have increasingly helped me remember our spiritual common divinity, with ever expanding gratitude, surrender, and happiness for this precious human lifetime.

I don’t claim certainty about my speculations or theoretical answers to perennial philosophical questions. But because continuing curiosity about God and divinity has brought me much happiness I am today sharing with you my Monistic Musings.

May these questions and speculations help all of us live happier lives as increasingly we explore and realize our common inner divinity.

And may they thereby help us gradually realize, why the Bible declares:

“You are “gods”; you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82:6

And why non-dualist mystic masters Sri Ramana Maharshi and Swami Vivekananda say that:

“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything, you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“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

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

God is ONE!

“Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29
“There is one Cosmic Essence, all-pervading, all-knowing, all-powerful. This nameless formless essence can be approached by any name, any form, any symbol that suites the taste of the individual. Follow your religion, but try to understand the real purpose behind all of the rituals and traditions, and experience that Oneness.”
~ Swami Satchidananda
“Mind and manifestation are ONE.”
~ Mary Saint-Marie
“There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe. 
The horizontal threads are in space.
 The vertical threads are in time.
 At every crossing of the threads, there is an individual.
 And every individual is a crystal bead.
 And every crystal bead reflects not only the light
 from every other crystal in the net, 
but also every other reflection throughout the entire universe.”
~ Indra’s Net – from the Vedas of ancient India, 7000 years old
“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
~ Empedocles (500-430 B.C., Greek Poet)



God is ONE:

God is All – manifest and unmanifest.
God is Infinite Potentiality.

God is ONE:

Divinity ain’t divisible.
Visible and invisible are indivisible;
Perceptible and imperceptible are inseparable;
Material and immaterial are integral.
SELF subsumes ALL.

God is ONE:

God is non-denominational.

So, let us celebrate – not separate – the Whole;
Let us balance our differences on a fulcrum of
< LOVE >.

And may we ever remember that:

We’re whole,
we’re whole,
we’re whole!

Nothing ever
can dissever our soul!



Ron’s audio recitation of God is ONE

Listen to



Ron’s Comments on “God is ONE”

Dear Friends, 

The foregoing poem is comprised of intuitive insights about “God” which I received after midlife.

During my early Jewish acculturation as a pre-teen,  I learned that the most important and core Hebrew prayer, which was constantly recited and even kept (inside ‘mezuzahs’) at the door posts of observant Jews, was 

“Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE”
~ Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29

But I never then deeply reflected on the meaning of that prayer.  Instead, as I grew into adulthood I began wondering why so many people religiously indoctrinated into Western monotheism – as Jews, Christians or Moslems – seemed to have quite disparate and disharmonious views of their “ONE God”, and didn’t get along with each other. For example I wondered

“If there is just one “God”,

how can that one God

be a different “true God”

for Christians, Muslims, and Jews

and their diverse denominations?”

(e.g. see Monistic Musings – Reflections and Questions on “God” and Divinity)

After my midlife introduction to Hindu and Buddhist non-dualism teachings, which I intuitively accepted as valid, I realized that non-dualism seemed quite consistent with Western monotheism – but spiritually deeper. 

Whereupon I imagined ONE God as formless Universal spirit immanent in everyone and everything, not as a bearded old man in heaven, or other humanoid deity or divine symbol.  And consciously I began longing to explore inner divinity in my meditations and prayers, as a metaphoric child of THAT – ONE God.

During my long career as a litigation lawyer I had enjoyed professional fulfillment in helping civil clients get ‘justice’.  But by the time I retired in 1992 I was so ‘ burned out’ that I didn’t want to spend any more precious time helping people fight over money.  Instead, I wanted to pray and meditate and delve deeply within, without worldly distractions. 

On retirement, I made a pilgrimage to India to pay respects to my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas.   On meeting with him, I told him:
 
“Guruji I am retiring from being a lawyer, and I now want to devote the rest of my days to thinking about God.”

His simple encouraging reply was:  “Good!”  

As always, Guruji spoke little but said much.

Thereafter, on my return to San Francisco, for many years I lived a monk-like life in relative seclusion. Until 2003, I had no TV, computer, or newspaper to connect me to the “real world”, and I spent much time alone in my ‘condominium cloister’ praying, meditating, crying, and experiencing various subtle energies and states of consciousness.
 
This post-retirement period of seclusion was a wonderfully gratifying life phase. But often I jokingly told others that the best part of my retirement was in not having to deal with lawyers every day.

Many of the poems and essays now posted on SillySutras.com were written during that reclusive post-retirement period. 

Initially in such writings I often used the “God” word. But gradually I began equating “God” with other words – like  “universal intelligence” or “Infinite Potentiality” or “Cosmic Consciousness”, or “Emptiness”, or “the Tao”, or “Nature” – to denote THAT eternally ineffable omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Divine Power which is the ONE unchanging substantial Reality underlying our permanently impermanent world of fleeting forms and phenomena.  

Also, I often began whimsically referring to divinity as “The Lone Arranger” – a term I coined to humorously communicate with skeptics. In recent insanely turbulent times I have metaphorically given “The Lone Arranger” my ‘general power of attorney’ to justly judge and rule the world, and to be my ‘appointments secretary’.

Thus, paradoxically but necessarily, I have used “God”, “The Lone Arranger” and various other words or phrases to point to THAT divine mystery which is beyond words.  

Today’s “God is ONE!” post is offered to encourage exploration of our common inner divinity – in furtherance of our (conscious or subconscious) universal longing for a state of ONENESS with divinity – with God.

May these writings help hasten our inevitable evolution to THAT Absolute Reality.

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner