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Posts Tagged ‘God’

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

Reflections on Religious Beliefs

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

~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Irrevocable commitment to any one religion is not only intellectual suicide;
 it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world.”

~ Alan Watts
“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.”

~ J. Krishnamurti
“We are shackled by illusory bonds of belief.
Freedom is beyond belief.
So, we seek relief from belief.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Follow dharma, not dogma.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama






Reflections on Religious Beliefs

Q. What is religion?

A. “Religion” is a word with many meanings.
Here we define it as “any belief system about Divinity or immortality often including rules, rituals, codes of ethics, and philosophies of life.”

Q. Why do we have religions?

A. There is a subtle Cosmic law of ‘supply and demand.’ Religions have arisen in response to our perennial quest for lasting peace and happiness, and our desire to transcend inevitable earthly psychological sufferings.

Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone seeks Happiness, Wholeness, and Love. Consciously or subliminally, we intuit and long for a state of Being which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering. Knowingly or unknowingly we seek timeless Truth.

Religious belief is a form of attempted life guidance, and psychological self-protection from fear of inevitable physical death and uncertain life experience before death. Though many find transient consolation in accepting religious beliefs about divinity and immortality, such beliefs can’t permanently provide such protection. We can’t find freedom from fear of death and from life’s uncertainties through theories, thoughts or beliefs, but only through direct experiential Knowledge.

Thus, the Buddha who realized such freedom while meditating beneath a Banyan tree, counseled:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
~ Buddha

When twentieth century Indian sage, J. Krishnamurti, was asked
“Is belief in God necessary or helpful?”   he said:

“[B]elief 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…” …

“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.”

Similarly 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 [mistaken] identification of pure awareness with the mind and its creations
causes the 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

Q. Why is a silent mind important?

A. Through thought we self identify as entities separate from the Whole – as separate perceivers of a supposedly objective world. But this is an ego illusion. So, attempted psychological self-preservation through perpetuation of an illusionary self-image is futile. What never was can never be preserved. Thus, religious beliefs that seek psychological self protection from identification with an illusion of separateness from Self are ultimately futile.

The object of all spiritual practice is to transcend such illusionary ego identity. Such transcendence happens only when thought ceases and the universal intelligence which has been mistakenly regarded as a separate experiencer of sensations and emotions, and a separate performer of actions, exists by itself and as itself, and is not mentally divided.

Q. What about instinctive physical acts of self-protection, as distinguished from religious beliefs aimed at psychological self-preservation?

A. According to J.Krishnamurti:

“Physical self-protection is sane, normal and healthy but every other form of self-protection, inwardly, is resistance and it always gathers, builds up strength which is fear.”

Q. Are religious beliefs important?

A. Our ethical behaviors – not our religious beliefs – are most important.

As the Dalai Lama reportedly has said:

“There is no religion higher than the Truth. … What really is important is our behavior with peers, family, work, community, and in the world. …. Whether or not we follow a religion, what is important is that we become more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsible, more ethical.” https://sillysutras.com/your-religion-is-not-important/

So grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

Ron’s Comments on Urgently Necessary Ethical Behavior Beyond Religious Beliefs

Dear Friends,

Without universal ethical behavior beyond conflicting religious beliefs, humanity cannot survive.

As explained in the foregoing essay, throughout human history, people have adopted or accepted “religious” beliefs, practices and institutions, in exploring the mystery and meaning of life and existence. About 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or with some form of folk religion. Also there are now an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide.

Paradoxically, some leaders and devotees of religions organized to teach universal “Truth” realized by Great Beings have perpetuated and acted on mistaken egoic ideas of separateness, which the sages transcended. Thus, throughout human history countless people and other precious life forms – all manifestations of that same Universal “Truth” – have been victims of demonic wars, crusades, inquisitions, persecutions, and ‘terrorism’ initiated and perpetrated in the name of “true” religion or God.

Although religious beliefs and practices have also inspired immeasurable good, advances in technological and scientific knowledge now reveal that Humankind urgently need to transcend such behaviors which have spawned immense misery and even threaten all Earth life as we have known it.

But how can this happen?

Inspired by the wisdom of Dr. Seuss that “sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple,” I have long reflected on on this question, seeking simple answers to the immensely complicated crises confronting us.

Perhaps one of the simplest but most powerful answers I’ve found is:

“There is only one God,

the same God regardless of the labels applied by religion. …

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;

There is only one language, the language of the Heart;

There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity”

~ Sathya Sai Baba

But most people are not yet sufficiently evolved to understand and act in accordance with that profound realization expressed by Sai Baba.

So I was delighted when His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently published an important self-help book – “Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World” – which H.H. introduced with this important insight:

“[T]he reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.

This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama – Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2011)

And I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by similar sentiments addressed to all Humankind by Pope Francis, e.g.:

“When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?”

“[W]e all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other . . . .we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”. . . .
“[E]verything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”

“We have so much to do, and we must do it together.”

~ Pope Francis – 2017 TED Talk

And so we must realize that

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them humanity cannot survive.”

~ Dalai Lama

With silenced minds and opened hearts may we practice the “golden rule” of reciprocal empathy, and compassionately view and treat all sentient beings as spiritual siblings. May everyone everywhere treat all beings and all life with the same dignity that they wish for themselves. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Go For The “God” Spot

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”
~ Albert Schweitzer
“It’s not our longitude
Or our latitude,
But the elevation of our attitude,
That brings beatitude.”

“So an attitude of gratitude
Brings beatitude.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing:

the last of the human freedoms –
to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.”

~ Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
“The mind is like an elastic band.  The more you pull, the more it stretches.  Every time you feel limitations, close your eyes and say to yourself, “I am the Infinite,” and you will see what power you have.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda





Go For The “God” Spot

Don’t complain
about your pain,

or of what you have,
or have not.

Just get into your brain,
and find the spot

where all you want –
you’ve got.




Ron’s audio recitation of Go For The “God” Spot

Listen to



Ron’s Reflections on Choosing Happiness

Dear Friends,

As an octogenarian, I have found ever increasing happiness by more and more accepting each moment with the attitude that it could not be otherwise.  As explained by Eckhart Tolle: 

 
“The Now is as it is because it cannot be otherwise. What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm: there are no isolated things or events. Underneath the surface appearance, all things are interconnected, are part of the totality of the cosmos that has brought about the form that this moment takes.”

Albert Schweitzer once proclaimed  that 

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”

We may not be free to choose our outer circumstances in life.
But, while self identifying as separate entities, we can choose our attitudes and thoughts about those circumstances. So happiness is a choice!

Because choosing happiness has greatly helped me I have often tried to share this insight with apt aphorisms, essays, quotations, and stories posted on SillySutras.com that might help everyone.

Today – as a Halloween “trick or treat” – I have posted the foregoing whimsical poem and quotations about discovering happiness within.  

I hope you find this poem to be helpfully humorous, and as truth said in jest. 

May we see it as not a Halloween trick, but as a timeless treat.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

You Are The Sun In Drag, by Hafiz

Even after all this time
the sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.”
~ Hafiz
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being.”
~ Hafiz
“Love said to me,
 there is nothing that is not me. 
Be silent.”
~ Rumi
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
~ Rumi
“You are “gods”; you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6






You are the sun in drag.

You are the sun in drag.

You are God hiding from yourself.

Remove all the “mine” – that is the veil.

Why ever worry about

Anything?

Listen to what your friend Hafiz

Knows for certain:

The appearance of this world

Is a Magi’s brilliant trick, though its affairs are

Nothing into nothing.

You are a divine elephant with amnesia

Trying to live in an ant

Hole.

Sweetheart, O sweetheart

You are God in

Drag!

~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel James Ladinsky
from The Gift: Poems by the Great Sufi Master




Ron’s Commentary on Sufi Master Hafiz.

I am privileged to share with you the foregoing poem by Iran’s favorite poet, 14th century Sufi master Hafiz (Hafez). Just as many Western people keep copies of the Bible in their homes, many Persian people keep copies of Hafiz’ writings which they consider the pinnacle of Persian literature.

Written in Farsi, this poem was expertly translated to English by Daniel Ladinsky.  Yet my Iranian friends say that to be fully appreciated it must be read as originally composed.  

But even for those of us who do not understand Farsi, the timeless genius of this poem, as translated, enriches and enlightens our hearts.

May we joyously join Hafiz in heartfelt gratitude as this Master poet importunes us:

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


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

How St. Francis of Assisi Inspires Pope Francis


“[W]hen our hearts are authentically open to universal
communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.”

“Francis helps us to see . . .the heart of what it is to be human ”

“Saint Francis shows us just how inseparable the bond is . . . .
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” 

“The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical:
a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” 

~  Pope Francis (from Laudato Si* climate encyclical message)


Saint Francis of Assisi


Ron’s Introduction.

Like millions of others worldwide I was deeply moved and inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the USA.  On conclusion of that visit I wondered why the Pope – a Jesuit from Latin America – had been inspired to become first in history to take the papal name Francis.  

I soon discovered a probable answer to this question in introductory paragraphs of the Pope’s recent profound climate encyclical message, Laudato Si, or “Praised Be” [*see footnote] specifically referring to the exemplary and inspiring life of the Pope’s namesake Saint Francis of Assisi. Those paragraphs explain why the Saint is revered not only by the Pope and countless Christians, but by numerous others world-wide for his simple life of heartfelt universal love and oneness with Nature.

To honor Saint Francis and the Pope I am sharing with you below those inspiring words of Pope Francis expressing reverence for his namesake. 

Encyclical message.

The encyclical message opens with these words:

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured 
flowers and herbs”.[1] 

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.


Then, after briefly summarizing apt teachings of his papal predecessors, the Pope explicitly explains his inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi as follows:

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, 
and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is 
between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. 

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with 
all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure 
tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if 
we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. 

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of 
the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21] Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

 


Later the Pope cites the Saint as inspiring us to commune with Nature in open hearted compassion for for all beings and all Life:

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the 
very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those who give pardon for your love”. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment 
to resolving the problems of society. 

92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.

221. May the power and the light of the grace we have received also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way,  we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied.


Footnote.

*“Laudato Si”, or “Praised Be.” is a refrain from “The Canticle of the Creatures,” a hymn composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

 
Conclusion.

While remembering and honoring Saint Francis, let us deeply consider and heed the Pope’s wise and profound words addressed to all Humankind, not just to Catholic hierarchy and laity. 
 
Thereby may every one of us – each from our unique perspective and in our unique way – help Humankind urgently address and peacefully resolve immense ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts confronting us internationally and interpersonally.

And so may it be!

Einstein’s Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.
~ Albert Einstein, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic “true mystic” … “of a deeply religious nature.” (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.

He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:

I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]


On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend’s family:

“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”


Einstein’s rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein’s revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking theory of relativity that “mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing”; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence:

“Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time.”
Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.

Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”…

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

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

“What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?

“So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant.”

“Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation.”

“Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?”

“…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real.”

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

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Einstein’s non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he said:

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


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


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

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



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





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



Thus, Einstein’s rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal “optical illusion of consciousness.”

Did Einstein’s psyche survive his death? Was he surprised on his demise?

Though Einstein didn’t believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don’t know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.

Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:

“[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom realizing emptiness can be developed.”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva way


Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:

“We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections.”
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from ‘The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.


But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein’s physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple “unified field” formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of ‘the mind of God’ – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.

And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.

And so may it be!


How I See the World – PBS  Documentary Film About Einstein:




What is Ego?

“Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ”
~ Rig Veda
“I hold three treasures
 close to my heart.

The first is love;

The next simplicity;

The third, overcoming ego.”
~ Lao Tzu
“When I let go of what [I think] I am,
I become what I might be.”
~ Lao Tzu
“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.”
~ Dalai Lama
“A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj



What is Ego?

Q. What is ego?

A. Ego is what you think you are –

If you don’t self-identify with Universal Awareness, Nature or Divinity.

And your body is your ego incarnate.

As you learn what you really are,
you’ll change what you think you are –

Until without thinking what you are
or who you are,

You just ARE.





Helpful quotations:

“When you think or speak about yourself, when you say, “I,” what you usually refer to is “me and my story.” This is the “I” of your likes and dislikes, fears and desires, the “I” that is never satisfied for long. It is a mind-made sense of who you are, conditioned by the past and seeking to find its fulfillment in the future. Can you see that this “I” is fleeting, a temporary formation, like a wave pattern on the surface of the water?”
~ Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

“As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it …it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. …..As long as you are identified with your mind, the ego runs your life.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtained what you wanted, when a craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

“Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness. From an experiential point of view, what is ego covering up? It’s covering up our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are, so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience. Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well being, unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.”
~ Pema Chodron

“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name. When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name. Confusing names with Nature, you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being. This is—rather literally—to be spellbound.
~ Alan Watts

“When the line between myself and what happens to me is dissolved and there is no stronghold left for an ego even as a passive witness, I find myself not in a world but
as a world which is neither compulsive nor capricious.”
~ Alan Watts

“The ego says that the world is vast, and that the particles which form it are tiny. When tiny particles join, it says, the vast world appears. When the vast world disperses, it says, tiny particles appear. The ego is entranced by all these names and ideas, but the subtle truth is that world and particle are the same; neither one vast, neither one tiny. Every thing is equal to every other thing. Names and concepts only block your perception of this Great Oneness. Therefore it is wise to ignore them. Those who live inside their egos are continually bewildered: they struggle frantically to know whether things are large or small, whether or not there is a purpose to joining or dispersing, whether the universe is blind and mechanical or the divine creation of a conscious being. In reality there are no grounds for having beliefs or making comments about such things. Look behind them instead, and you will discern the deep, silent, complete truth of the Tao. Embrace it, and your bewilderment vanishes.”
~ Lao Tzu

“The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.”
~ Lao Tzu

“Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth. Understand this if nothing else: spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao are not randomly bestowed gifts, but the rewards of conscious self-transformation and self-evolution.”
~ Lao Tzu

Q: “How much “ego” do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Ron’s audio recitation of What is Ego?

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Say I am You ~ by Rumi

“There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheik,
who is an ocean for all beings.”
~ Rumi




Say I am You ~ by Rumi

I am dust particles in sunlight,
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one
in all, say who

I am. Say I
am You.

 

(Translation by Coleman Barks)





Perennial Permanence Puzzlement

“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. 
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.”
~ Buddha (563 – 483 BC)
“In the beginning was Atman; the one without a second.”
“We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe.”
~ Aitareya Upanishad
A corporeal phenomenon, a feeling, a perception, a mental formation, a consciousness, which is permanent and persistent, eternal and not subject to change, such a thing the wise men in this world do not recognize; and I also say that there is no such thing.
~ Buddha (563 – 483 B.C)




Is there anything permanent
in Heaven’s vast firmament?

Is there a Perfection
beyond all conception –
a Cause of all that’s so?

Is there a force – an Eternal Source –
that we can ever know?

Is it our task, to seek and to ask,
and so to ever grow?

‘Tis a Perennial Puzzlement!



Ron’s recitation of Perennial Permanence Puzzlement

Listen to