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Posts Tagged ‘Saint Francis of Assisi’

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


Sri 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? Or heard of anyone claiming to see God?
 
During my early Jewish acculturation, I accepted the core Bible proclamation:


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


Thereafter, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible and assumed it impossible to perceive or to be enfolded in God. So I never understood Jesus’ esoteric pronouncement that “I and the Father are ONE”  [John 10:30].

But after my mid-life awakening, while crying for God with total surrender on a Yosemite mountain top, I beheld within (but did not merge with) the Divine light of ten thousand suns. Thereafter I began wondering about “seeing God” after reading the Gospel and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – famed 19th century Indian holy man who often experienced communion with the Divine.
 
I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata) during my 1982 ‘trip of a lifetime’ pilgrimage to India.  There – almost a hundred years after Sri Ramakrishna’s death – I experienced his life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place 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 and his teachings.  I learned that like Saint Francis of Assisi, he too was an ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity.  Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi, both of whom were extraordinary ascetic exemplars of Divine devotion and blessed with ‘the gift of tears’.  Though Francis had lived in a vastly different age and culture seven hundred years before Sri Ramakrishna, they had similar devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport.

As an enlightened mystic Sri Ramakrishna affirmed to his principal disciple Swami 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 Divine communion beyond human description.

Ultimately he taught that God is All – omnipresent as all manifestation, while timelessly transcendent as unmanifest Infinite Potentiality. 



Thus the foregoing whimsical verses about seeing GOD were inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings.



May those verses and teachings encourage us all to ever remember – and perhaps perceive – that everyone and everything is Divine! 

And so may it be!


Namasté!

Ron Rattner

“Pale Blue Dot”– An Ode to Mother Earth
~ by Carl Sagan

“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot,
the only home we’ve ever known.”
~ Carl Sagan
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” .. “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at the edge of the roof.”
~ Rumi
“Cherish or Perish.
Co-exist cooperatively, or
Co-expire catastrophically.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“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 colored flowers and herbs”. . .

“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.”
~ Pope Francis – Climate encyclical message





Introduction.

In 1990, when the Voyager space craft was nearly four trillion (4,000,000,000,000) miles from Earth, beyond the orbit of Pluto, NASA finally acceded to legendary astronomer Carl Sagan’s desperate pleas, and turned Voyager’s camera back toward Earth to photograph our precious planet as no human had ever before seen it.

From that distance, the Earth is just a tiny blue speck illuminated by sunlight.

Video Recitation of Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” message.

In this video, called “Pale Blue Dot”, Carl Sagan eloquently recites a poignant ode to our precious planet, Mother Earth, which he composed while humbly reflecting on that unique NASA photo (text below):



Text of Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” message:

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”


Concluding Invocation.

In these ecologically critical times, may we together preserve, cherish and honor Gaia, the Earth Mother of all;

As a united global family, may we thereby
– each from our unique perspective and in our unique way –
help Humankind peacefully resolve the unprecedented ecological, political, and economic crises and conflicts now insanely threatening all Earth-life as we have known it.

And so may it be!

My Life of “Prayer” – Ron’s Memoirs

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,

for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”

~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“[Our] 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





Introduction.

After a midlife spiritual awakening at age forty three, prayer became essential to my spiritually conscious life process. So my spiritual memoirs appropriately include the following description and explanation of “prayer” in my life, both before and since the midlife awakening.

My history with “prayer”.

I don’t recall spontaneously praying or crying to God prior to midlife.  But I do remember feeling emotionally moved while singing collective prayers, and on hearing chanted cantorial prayers, at organized Jewish high holy day services. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I was especially affected by “Kol Nidre” (“All Vows”), an emotively powerful prayer with a hauntingly beautiful melody which is chanted and recited in ancient Aramaic, to begin Yom Kippur services.

Only after the midlife awakening did I synchronistically begin regularly praying with daily recitations of the “make me an instrument of Thy peace” prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi – heartfelt recitations which have continued for over forty years.

Before the midlife awakening I hadn’t shed tears as an adult. But thereupon, I cried for twenty four hours, and soon realized with amazement that I was crying with intense longing for God. (See Beholding The Eternal Light Of Consciousness.)

Two years after the midlife awakening, I met my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, and received shaktipat initiation into the path of kundalini yoga. Thereupon I was given a sacred “Rama” mantra and spiritual name “Rasik: one engrossed in devotion”. Afterwards, as Guruji presciently had foreseen, I became and have ever since remained “engrossed in devotion”, intensely yearning for the Divine, and often spontaneously calling and weeping for “Rama” with deep longing.

Also, in addition to the Saint Francis prayer, I began regularly reciting prayers and mantras recommended by Guruji, and soon became a “born-again Hindu”. Though some Hindu prayers were directed to mythological Hindu deities – including the legendary monkey-god Hanuman – in calling, crying or praying to the Divine, I consistently conceived of “God” as formless and invisible. Ultimately, on my acceptance of Advaita non-duality philosophy, “God” as ultimate Reality became (and remains} for me an inconceivable Mystery.

Especially during my extended post-retirement reclusive period, I daily prayed for particular people, envisioning them as enveloped by divine light, while silently praying for everyone everywhere. Sometimes I prayed for specific outcomes, like healing or wellbeing. But gradually I ceased praying for specific outcomes, while continuing to pray for all Life everywhere.

Now, although all specific loving prayers are beneficial, I instinctively pray with faith for best outcomes, without specifying desired results. Especially since miraculously surviving and recovering from a June, 2014 near-death taxicab rundown, I have gratefully given my ‘irrevocable power of attorney’ to The Lone Arranger to determine appropriate outcomes for all Life everywhere.

What is “prayer”?

On first meeting Guruji I simply thought of prayer as ‘talking to God’, and meditation as listening. So I didn’t then even consider calling and crying for God or reciting mantras as “prayers”. But since then my view of “prayer” gradually widened to include those and many other behaviors not previously regarded as “prayer”. Thus my concept of prayer now includes all heartfelt longings for eternal communion with the Divine. And I accept Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that “prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart”. Also, I believe it possible for us to prayerfully open our hearts to all Life, without excluding anyone or anything, even vile enemies. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/how-st-francis-of-assisi-inspires-pope-francis/)

How shall we pray?

Prayer is universal – a concept recognized worldwide by all cultures and people. But it is understood and practiced in different ways at different times.

In perceived dire sudden emergencies or threats most humans spontaneously pray for help, even if they haven’t previously prayed and their instinct to pray is subliminal. Thus, once before becoming a “born-again Hindu”, I suddenly began calling and crying out to God as “Rama, Rama, Rama”, upon fearfully being lost in a jungle-like Hawaiian nature preserve. And I remember instinctively exclaiming “Jesus” when twice almost run down by crazy car drivers, though I’d never before prayed to Jesus.

All humans share a common instinct to return to our Divine Source. But, as unique beings with uniquely conditioned karmic perspectives and limitations, we each experience different evolutionary challenges and different theoretical spiritual paths. So, as we evolve toward realization of our common spiritual Source and Self identity, different practices and behaviors are most appropriate for each of us – including whether, when or how we pray. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/different-person-different-path/ ) In my experience, our inner insights and instincts best help us determine our unique evolutionary paths.

Thus, though I began this lifetime only praying rarely in organized religious programs, after years of evolutionary process I now instinctively pray constantly and spontaneously, with an unprecedented and all encompassing concept of “prayer”.

I am unqualified to tell others how, when or whether to pray. But it is my aspiration that SillySutras readers may find guidance about prayer and other spiritual practices from these memoirs and cited spiritual quotations. So I will hereafter share my opinions and observations about prayer in our lives.

Observations and quotations about “prayer”.

Praying is instinctive. Throughout recorded human history prayers have been offered by countless saints and sages, and by ordinary people of every religious denomination. Even Buddhists who don’t believe in a Creator God recite many mantras and pray a lot. 

Different people have differing ideas about meanings and methods of “prayer”. Most often prayer involves asking for divine help or expressing gratitude to God or other higher power. But “prayer” can be broadly considered as all spontaneous, heartfelt, or worshipful longing for or communion with Universal Intelligence, Nature, or Divinity.   And all such selfless loving prayer may be magically powerful.  For example I’ve become gratefully convinced that heartfelt prayers of others helped my miraculous survival and healing from a 2014 near-death taxi rundown. And all our compassionate prayers are often answered. Mahatma Gandhi has said that prayer “is the most potent instrument of action”; that “with the Grace of God everything can be achieved.”

“Everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”. So we are all co-creating our earthly mental reality. As Universal Spirit, we are ONE, and we ‘contagiously’ influence one another, positively or negatively. Every thought affects our collective consciousness. We have infinite potentiality to lovingly and prayerfully bless this world. But our fearful and worrisome thoughts and behaviors are tantamount to negative prayers, which can unknowingly afflict the world.  So mental mindfulness helps us avert such worrisome thoughts.

Beyond historically helpful traditional prayer customs and practices, even Western scientific double-blind “placebo effect” studies, now support efficacy of prayer.  A 2006 Washington Post article even asserted that “prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.”

The stiller and more focused our minds, the more opened our hearts, and the deeper our harmony with Nature, the more impactful are our prayers. And, whether or not we intentionally “pray”, our focused awareness of conditioned mental propensities can be key to fulfilling our deepest evolutionary aspirations.

It is best to be givers, not getters. For it is in giving that we receive. So, it’s preferable to pray selflessly for peace and welfare of all others, rather than for our perceived self-interests; to ‘pray for God to do through us – not for us’.

“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


And it’s best to leave to Supreme Authority details of how to accomplish all our prayerful wishes, rather than to specify them.

“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”

~ Socrates


As we evolve beyond our illusionary perceptual/conceptual separation of each other, and all our other mistaken beliefs which theoretically divide ONE Reality, those illusions gradually melt into mystery. And increasingly we realize that we are THAT eternal Self to which we which we pray, and to which we intensely aspire to return. We see that

“[Our] 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


Becoming “prayer”.

There are now, and always have been, rare Avatars, Saints and Buddha-like beings who are completely devoted to blessing all Life, without exception or exclusion. Hence, it is possible to live life as continual prayer, not just with continual prayer. So it can be evolutionarily feasible that ultimately

“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi to his Order of Friars Minor


Realization of humanity’s shared evolutionary aspiration.

Realization of such a perpetually prayerful saintly state is humanity’s deepest aspiration. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or subconsciously, no matter who or where we are, no matter our age, gender or culture, all humans share a universal and irresistible instinct and desire to return to a soul-remembered original state of Divine Love, Peace and Oneness – a transcendent state beyond words or thoughts, so marvelous that its subliminal memory magnetically attracts every sentient being to merge and be At-One with THAT.

Self Realization of THAT to which we pray, and for which we deeply aspire, is our ultimate destiny.

Conclusion.

May these writings on “prayer” help advance us toward realization of that ultimate destiny.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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


How Shall We Pray?

Praying to Brother Sun and Sister Moon
“Our prayers should be for blessings in general,
for God knows best what is good for us.”
~ Socrates
“When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing — nothing.”
“We should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
“Prayers go up and blessings come down.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
“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
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart.
You may express yourself through the lips;
you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public;
but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…”


~ Mahatma Gandhi
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.”

~ Meister Eckhart
“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


praying

How Shall We Pray?

Q. How Shall We Pray?

A. Pray for God to do through you –

Not for you.

Pray like Saint Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace.”



Ron’s audio recitation of “How Shall We Pray?”

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Ron’s Comments on “How Shall We Pray?”

Dear Friends,

Do you pray to a divine power?  If so, why?  When? How? 

On perceiving sudden dire emergencies or threats most humans instinctively pray for help, even if they didn’t previously pray, or are atheists.

Many spiritual teachers and aspirants proverbially describe prayer as ‘talking to God’ and meditation, as listening.

Both practices elevate inner awareness and foster silent communion with Self, thereby helping us live happier lives. Moreover, because “everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way”, we have infinite potentiality to prayerfully help bless this world, until transcending it.

May the foregoing quotations and “How Shall We Pray?” poem encourage our frequent loving prayers, with faith that they’ll be answered; and that, thereby, as Divine instruments we may help bless our precious planet and all life thereon.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?

“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ Dalai Lama
At my death do not lament our separation… 

As the sun and moon but seem to set,
in Reality this is a rebirth.
~ Rumi

In order to know through experience what happens beyond death, you must go deep within yourself.
In meditation, the truth will come to you.”
~ Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas
“And it is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, edited by Ron Rattner

Q: What is death?
A: “Death is a vacation –
Eternal Life-force vacating a transient vehicle –
“a space-time soul suit”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?

No matter how we strive,
No body leaves alive.

But we never really die – you see,
Just leave our physicality

To melt and merge with mystery,
The mystery of Divinity.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”

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Ron’s comments on “Is Birth On Earth a Death Sentence?”


Dear Friends,

Physical death is inevitable and natural. All physical bodies are mortal and die; only time of physical death is unknown.

Knowingly or unknowingly most people fear physical death because they self-identify only with their physical bodies, mistakenly believing that bodily death ends life, and are ignorant of what if anything happens after physical death.

Eminent Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death after being unjustly tried and convicted for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens. Just before he died of a coerced suicide, by drinking hemlock, Socrates proclaimed that fear of death was fear of the unknown:


“To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?”


Like most other Americans, I was acculturated with an innate but largely subconscious fear of death. Then in my early forties, I had irreversibly transformative experiences of spiritual self-identity and afterlife:

I realized that I was not merely my body, its thoughts and story, but eternal and universal awareness. And I began seeing visions of apparent past lives, and inner and outer appearances of deceased people, including Mahatma Gandhi, my first perceived inner spiritual guide.

So, I began accepting Eastern ideas of reincarnation and transmigration of an eternal soul, while gradually losing fear of inevitable physical death. Ultimately I concluded from experience and intuition that cosmically there is no death; that “birth and death are virtual, while Life is perpetual”. (See e.g. https://sillysutras.com/know-death-to-know-life-know-death-to-know-that-there-is-no-death/ )

The foregoing whimsical poem and quotes about birth and death can help remind us that as we lose fear of death we gain ever increasing peace of mind and happiness.

And so may it be!
Ron Rattner


Life is For Giving


“For it is in giving that we receive.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, peace prayer

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” …

“For in truth it is life that gives unto life –
while you, who deem yourself a giver,
is but a witness.”
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“You can give without loving,
but you can never love without giving.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson and/or
~ Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
The value of a man resides in what he gives
and not in what he is capable of receiving.

~ Albert Einstein
The wise man does not lay up his own treasures.
The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.

~ Lao Tzu
It’s not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
~ Mother Teresa
“If you wish to experience peace,
provide peace for another.”
~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama


St. Francis of Assisi



Life is For Giving

Life is for giving, not getting;

For Being, not having.

Love gives and forgives.

Ego gets and forgets.

It is in giving that we receive.

So, let us end our obsession with possession,

And live to give, and to be –

LOVE.



Ron’s audio comments and recitation of “Life is For Giving”

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Ron’s Commentary on Giving Not Getting:

Dear Friends,

For many years I have regularly recited [with amendments] the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, declaring in conclusion that:

“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”.


Those oft-repeated lines have inspired many of my writings, including the above “Life is For Giving” poem. In the above posted quotes about giving, I have excerpted these lines from Kahlil Gibran’s perennial wisdom in “The Prophet”:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
“For in truth it is life that gives unto life –
while you, who deem yourself a giver, is but a witness.”

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, “On Giving”

As we consider and reconsider those wisdom quotes and prayer lines, more and more it seems that each human lifetime is part of a cosmic process of transcending ego’s optical illusion of our imagined separation from each other, and from our true spiritual nature; a mysterious process of our returning psychologically to a state of “At-one-ment” and self-identity with Universal Intelligence or Awareness, as our ultimate Essence and our ultimate destiny.

In that evolutionary process, as we transcend mistaken ideas of who we think we are, we gradually realize what we truly are. We learn that apparent separation of ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’, or ‘pardoner’ and ‘pardoned’, or ‘I’ and ‘others’, is a persistent perceptual delusion – like a mirage.

And we find that by spontaneously giving of ourselves and forgiving others with LOVE our spiritual Self-awareness process is furthered, bestowing ever-more fulfilling life experience.

Today’s writings about giving and forgiving are offered with the aspiration they will help us realize – like Kahlil Gibran – that “it is life that gives unto life”, not “I” or “me” giving to others. And that we may so live ever happier lives.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

We Are The Universe!

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”

~ Albert Einstein
“Objective reality does not exist” ….

“the universe is fundamentally a gigantic … hologram”

~ David Bohm
“Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.”
~  Mahmud Shabestari, Sufi Mystic, 15th century.
“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
“Reality” isn’t REAL!


“Reality” is a holographic theater of the mind,
where we are microcosmic mirrors of the macrocosm.

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




We Are The Universe!

The “universe” is like a cosmic hologram:

An ever changing but persistent illusion
appearing in an eternal, immutable,
infinite ocean of Awareness –

Awareness arising from pure potentiality.

Each of us is an integral, pin-point part of the whole picture,
which wouldn’t be complete without us.

But, though we appear as only a speck of the Whole,
we are like parts of a hologram;

Hidden within each of us is the whole cosmic picture,
and the awareness screen
on which we envision and project the picture.

In our Essence, we and the “universe” are One.

So, we are the “universe”.



Ron’s audio recitation of “We Are The Universe”

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We Create “Reality”



Ron’s Reflections About Discovering Non-dualism

Dear Friends,

A recent Silly Sutras post explores the question   “What Is The Universe?” Today, I have posted the foregoing further writings suggesting that cosmically “We Are The Universe”.

These and many more postings pertain to non-dualism – an important philosophy which has inspired many recent Silly Sutras writings about spiritual evolution and the nature of “reality”.

From childhood we have been taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate body, name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited mortal beings; but not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal cosmic consciousness with all life-forms.

Thus, for countless ages human ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in our hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive selfishness and suffering.

Yet, for millennia sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we inevitably suffer from radically mistaken self-identity; that our self-identity and reality are not what they appear to be; that it is possible to limit or avoid most suffering of ordinary human existence through experiential self-identification with the unseen Eternal spiritual Source of all space-time causality ‘reality’.

Soon after my mid-life change of life, I began discovering enduring wisdom teachings about the Vedic path of Advaita, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism, and its teachings are about experiencing non-dual Self Realization via focused self-inquiry – relentlessly asking “Who am I?”.

I first found these teachings in books by or about legendary Indian sages J. Krishnamurti, Swami Vivekananda, and Shri Ramana Maharshi; also in New Dimensions Radio interviews by Michael Toms, and in KPFA radio lectures by Alan Watts, contemporary Western philosopher/teacher of Eastern spiritual wisdom.

After considerable initial perplexity, I gradually became convinced of the ultimate Truth of non-dualistic teachings, as eloquently explained by Swami Vivekananda that:

“…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” ; and that

“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”

Non-dualism has even seemed quite consistent with the primary prayer of my early Jewish acculturation:

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


Yet, while accepting non-dualism wisdom teachings of Advaita-Vedanta, I have continuously displayed preponderantly devotional propensities of praying, calling and crying to the Divine. And in reading hagiographies I have most identified with Saint Francis of Assisi and Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa – both extremely ascetic and devotional holy men – more than with the wisdom teachers who introduced me to non-dualism.

Until retirement, while maintaining my busy law practice I found limited time to read and reflect on non-dualism teachings, except on weekends. So I used to jestingly tell spiritual friends that on weekdays I prayed and cried as a devotional bhakta, but that on weekends I became a “Seventh Day Advaitist”.

Ultimately, I’ve become an every day – not just a seventh day – Advaitist. So whimsically I sometimes say that I am now a devotionally open-minded “Advaitist-fundamentalist”.

While accepting non-dualism, my primary path seems devotional. Over forty years since beginning to cry for God, I still frequently display devotional tendencies of spontaneously praying, singing, and calling to the Divine. Apparently, my Guruji was quite prescient in naming me Rasik – “one engrossed in devotion”.

As a devotional “Advaitist-Fundamentalist” I have written many poems and essays encouraging the heartfelt path of ‘non-dualism’ – including today’s “We Are The Universe” quotations and poem.

May these writings help remind, encourage and inspire us to open our hearts with deep empathy and compassion for all people and all Life everywhere.

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

Hydrologic Logic: What People Can Learn From Snowflakes

“Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.”
~ Rumi





Hydrologic Logic: What People Can Learn From Snowflakes

Spiritual teachers say we can learn about ourselves by closely observing all of Nature’s manifestations and processes.

“As above, so below; as below, so above.”

So, what can we learn about ourselves by studying snowflakes and hydrologic processes?

Science tells us that though countless trillions of snowflakes have fallen on earth each has a unique form; that each snowflake is an hexagonally symmetrical crystalline form which begins around a tiny speck of dust – as each pearl forms around a sand particle – but that no two snowflakes are exactly alike.

How amazing!!! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/faqs/faqs.htm

Yet, despite this wondrous and unimaginable diversity of forms, all snowflakes have a common essence — frozen water, H20.

When a snowflake melts, it returns to and merges with its watery source, which is perpetually recycled. So, each snowflake’s essence is the same – recycled water, which has formed countless unique prior snowflakes.

Not only are snowflakes unified in amazing physical diversity by their common watery essence, but science says that their common essence is indestructible. Water – a liquid – is a form of ‘matter’ which is merely manifest energy – E=mc2. And energy can’t be destroyed. It just recycles endlessly from formlessness to differing forms and phenomena. So, in their essence, snowflakes are immortal energy.

People are like snowflakes

Like snowflakes, each of the billions of humans who have inhabited Earth has had an individually unique form and genetic makeup. Like snowflakes, human physical bodies are composed of common elemental earth constituents, including mostly water. People’s physical bodies – like snowflakes – appear for a twinkling of time, die and physically ‘melt’ back into the watery Earth.

But, presumably unlike snowflakes, each of us is aware of our environment and of our life’s experiences; and this awareness is our entire existence. So, while unique snowflakes are united in glorious diversity by their common watery essence, physically unique human beings, are unified not only by their common elemental earthly constituents but, also, by their by their common essence – consciousness, which is the sole context of human beingness.

Snowflakes appear in Nature and, apparently, are peacefully at one with Nature until they disappear. Humans appear in Nature but – unlike snowflakes – we have great intelligence and we think a lot. And through thought we identify ourselves as our perceived separate forms. Thus, we think that we are entities “condemned” by nature to inevitable bodily death. But we don’t know what will happen to us upon such death.

So, we become afraid of dying; of giving up the known for the unknown. And, through thought, we try psychologically to “protect” and preserve our ephemeral physical forms and to deter or deny their inevitable demise. Accordingly, our lives are often marked by mental afflictions causing conflicts, problems and suffering, which disturb our peace and awareness of at-one-ment with Nature.

What people can learn from snowflakes

Q. So, what can people learn from snowflakes?

A. To let go and ‘go with the flow’; to ‘cool it’ and to not worry about our inevitable disappearance.

We can realize that we are much more than our unique physical forms or our thoughts. That like snowflakes we are inextricably interdependent essential elements of Nature; that Nature is our nature, until we melt into Mystery and disappear into Nature’s Eternal Essence.

Realizing this, we can begin more and more to self-identify with Nature as our immortal Essence rather than our ephemeral forms and thoughts; and, gradually, we can expand our perceived boundaries, to ever evolve as these boundaries dissolve.

Thus, we can more and more live with less and less anxiety, fear and worry. Though in this life we may never totally transcend entity identity, often we can just be at peace – as immortal awareness.

And so,

“As we lose our fear, Of leaving life, We shall gain the art of living life.”

And – like snowflakes – maybe some day we’ll be ‘recycled’ some way. e.g. http://www.victorzammit.com/Whenwedie/whatdoeshappen.htm

Or maybe not. e.g. http://tinyurl.com/mlw6erq

In all events, – like snowflakes – we need not worry about leaving. For

“It is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to Eternal Life.”
~ Saint Francis of Assisi, peace prayer

Conclusion

Here’s what Paramahansa Yogananda says:

“The dewdrop belongs to the sea. Separated, it is vulnerable to the sun and wind and other elements of nature; but when the droplet returns its source, it becomes magnified in oneness with the sea. So it is with your life. United to God you become immortal.”

So let us remember as elements of Nature to not worry, and to be happy – like snowflakes!

Namaste!

Ron Rattner



Hydrologic Logic Epilogue, November 2017.

The foregoing essay was inspired by the pioneering research of Dr. Masaru Emoto whose astonishing discoveries, documented photographically, led to awakened awareness about water – Earth’s most precious resource. According to NASA“Water is the fundamental ingredient for life on Earth.”

Dr. Emoto discovered that molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings, so that that humans can positively impact the earth and our personal health through positive and harmonious attitudes and actions, especially with attention to water; that since the Earth is 70 percent water and people are 70 percent water, he theorized that we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill to and through water.

He explained that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them; that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns, whereas polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.

Also Dr. Emoto described the ability of water – like a liquid computer – to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystalline structures. Emoto theorized that since water has the ability to receive a wide range of frequencies, it can also reflect the universe in this manner.

Especially in this Thanksgiving season when insanely delusional human behaviors imminently threaten life on Earth as we have known it, let us gratefully cherish and harmoniously heal our precious watery world – eloquently described by Carl Sagan as a “pale blue dot” in this vast universe.

And let us be guided by these wise words from Paramahansa Yogananda:

“Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving for all the gifts of Life — sunshine, water, the luscious fruits and greens, which we receive as indirect gifts from the Great Giver.”

And so may it be!

“The Secret Life of Water”

Embedded below is a beautiful nine minute video with healing music, watery photography, and with words from Dr. Emoto titled “The Secret Life of Water”


Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death

“Death is truly part of life … ‘what we called death is merely a concept’.”
“This happens at the gross level of the mind.
But neither death nor birth exist at the subtle level of consciousness that we call ‘clear light.’”
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, citing Tibetan Book of the Dead.

“Everything is changeable, everything appears and disappears; there is no blissful peace until one passes beyond the agony of life and death.”
~ Gautama Buddha
“And it is in dying [to ego life] that we are reborn to eternal life.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, peace prayer, edited by Ron Rattner

“Normally we do not like to think about death. 
We would rather think about life. Why reflect on death? 
When you start preparing for death you soon realize 
that you must look into your life now… and come to face the truth of your self. 
Death is like a mirror in which the true meaning of life is reflected.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
“Birth and death are virtual,
but Life is perpetual.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“As we lose our fear of leaving life,

we gain the art of living life.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Ron’s Introductory Commentary on Knowing Death to Know Life.

Hundreds of Silly Sutras stories, poems, essays, aphorisms, memoirs, and quotations are dedicated to helping raise our collective spiritual consciousness, and to enabling us to live happier lives, both individually and societally.

Paradoxically many such postings intended to help us live happier lives, address death and dying.

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But most people fear death, believing it ends life. In much of American society dying is largely a taboo subject, with euphemistic language used to describe death. And Americans usually die in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

For millennia traditional societies have recognized inevitable physical death as part of life, and have evolved elaborate traditions and teachings about death. For example, ancient Egyptians and Tibetans have codified such teachings in ‘Books of the Dead’. My Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, ran away from home at age thirteen in search of experiential answers to the inextricably interrelated eternal questions of “Who am I?” and “What is death?”.

To help us transcend fear of death and dying, I have included below the poem “Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death”, and an excellent embedded documentary The Tibetan Book of the Dead, narrated by Leonard Cohen, together with its narrative text.

The video was produced in two parts by NHK Japanese TV, and includes authentic footage of Tibetan death teachings and practices in Ladakh and statements by the Dalai Lama. If you can’t find time to watch it, I recommend you read the partial narrative which is eloquently expressed in the film by Leonard Cohen.

May these teachings help enable us to lose the fear of leaving life and gain the art of living life.

And so may it be!



Know Death to Know Life;
Know Death to Know That There is No Death.

In phenomenal polarity reality
the idea of life, implies the idea of death.

All that appears disappears.

So, to live and to know earth-life,
we must experience and know earth-death.

But to Know and to Be that Consciousness
which is eternally aware of both earth-life and earth-death,
is to know that, beyond all appearance and disappearance,

There is no death –
only THAT which Knows.

So, to truly know Life is to Know Death.

And to truly know death
is to Know that there is no death.



Ron’s audio recitation of “Know Death to Know Life; Know Death to Know That There is No Death”.

Listen to



NHK documentary “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, narrated by Leonard Cohen.



Documentary Narrative*.

Although everything on Earth seems stable and solid, nothing here is permanent. Like water, snow and ice, life is always shifting and changing form. All existence is one kind of state or another. This means living in an atmosphere of uncertainty – moving without a place to rest.

In this world, we pass through the spiritual state of physical existence. Here, we want to make something lasting and secure, but no one has been able to accomplish this. Our life is always in the hands of death. At death, our experience is completely out of our control. Our experience is completely naked.

What is the best path through this spiritual state? It is a question of waking up right now, looking at our own mind. Look at it when it is calm and still and when it is running wild. This is what Buddha did and what he taught. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

Soon we all will die. All our hopes and fears will be irrelevant.

Out of luminous continuity of existence, which has no origin and which has never died, human beings project all the images of life and death, terror and joy, demons and gods. These images become our complete reality. We submit without thinking to their dance. In all the movements to this dance, we project our greatest fears on death and we make every effort to ignore it.

Illusions are as various as the moon reflecting on a rippling sea. Beings become easily caught in the net of confused pain. We must develop compassion as boundless as the sky so that all may rest in the clear light of our own awareness.

At death, we lose everything we thought was real. Unless we can let go of all the things we cherished in our life we are terrified. We cannot stop struggling to hold on to our old life. All our fear and yearning will drag us into yet another painful reality.

We are always wandering through transitional spiritual states. Difficulty in leaving behind our old life can cause us to wander in painful uncertainty.

The spiritual state of dying lasts from the beginning of the body’s physical collapse until the body and consciousness separate.

While we are living, the elements of Earth, water, fire and air together support and condition our consciousness. Death occurs when this is no longer the case. Now, without the screens and filters of daily life, at this time, mind itself can be seen directly. In the spiritual state of dying, it is important to recognize our own true nature.

At death, there is an experience of piercing luminosity, pure white light, the clear radiance that rises directly from our own basic nature. Now, there is no darkness, no separation, no direction and no shape, only brilliant light. This boundless sparkling radiance is mind, free from the shadows of birth and death – free from any boundaries of any kind.

Now all pervasive light engulfs us completely. All of space is dissolved into pure light. This radiance is the mind of God, the mind of all the awakened ones. Recognizing this is all that is necessary for liberation from birth and rebirth. If we do not recognize our divine nature, a dreamless sleep will happen.

In three days time, all emotions will be vivid and intense. Though it seems we are entering into a new reality, it is still the reality of our own mind.

Wandering back to the familiar sites and people of our old life, our own mind will arise before us in unfamiliar ways. We may not know if we are alive or dead. Even so, we may see our family crying. We must leave our former life behind if we are to progress.

If the we are unable to recognize the luminosity of mind itself, our experience now takes the shape of random imagery of our former life. We see our friends and relatives calling out to us and they cannot hear our replies. Death has cut us off from them and sorrow strikes our heart. We see our family and relatives crying. We can see our bed but we are no longer the one lying there. Instead, there is a corpse.

Soon we will experience the intense presence of our own emotional states as peaceful and raging light forms. Now, we will meet our mind in the form of projections which seem vivid and entirely real. Now we will see penetrating blue light shining all around us. This is the essence of consciousness, God (Buddha). The wisdom of God is like a mirror reflecting everything. God is the form of consciousness in its complete purity. This wisdom is inseparable from our own heart. But also we will see a diffused white light which we must avoid if we are to achieve liberation. If we follow the allure of the soft white light, we will find ourselves ensnared in the temporary pleasures of being born as a god, living in Lordly ignorance of the passage of time and subject to unexpected death.

If this path is taken, the wisdom of our very heart and mind takes the form of spiritual entities. There will be peaceful spiritual entities that emanate from our heart and wrathful ones that emerge from our brain.

They will appear one by one and then all together. The peaceful spiritual entities are complete and immovable. If we cannot bear to enter their vast benevolent space, if we cannot let go of self-centeredness and fear, these deities will become terrifying wrathful ones. If we recognize them as an expression of our own mind, they are the unsparing face of wakefulness.

The wrathful forms emerging from the brain appear before us actually and clearly as if they were real in their own right. The terror and anger we feel are our own efforts to evade from being completely awake. We wander uncertainly in the landscape of our own mind. If we recognize this as our own projections, liberation is instantaneous.

These wrathful forms are the presence of our innate wisdom, the vivid form of our own wakefulness. We must recognize them as a reflection of our own mind. Recognition and liberation are simultaneous.

All of us feel sparks of anger, flickers of passion, and twinges of jealousy during brief moments. From these seeds, we grow to become the jealous person. We say “this is what I am” and we act accordingly. But these are just our masks and we forget that we are wearing them. We run from the masks that others wear. The wrathful spiritual entities are our own mind and it is impossible to run away from them. They are the sharpness of our own clarity. They are all in our mind.

Then altogether and all at once, the peaceful and wrathful spiritual entities come before us. If we do not recognize them as our own projections, then they transform into the terrifying image of the Lord of Death. This too is our own projection. But if we don’t accept that, our fear and turmoil force us to wander on in terror to the spiritual state of rebirth. We leave the spiritual state of the nature of mind. Again we are lost and wandering, so now we seek to end our suffering by being born into a solid and familiar place.

Now in the spiritual state of rebirth, all our senses have become extremely acute. Our consciousness is like a body without substance. In this body, we can, by a mere thought, travel to anywhere. As if we have miraculous powers, we can pass through mountains and circle the universe. We can enter anywhere but nowhere can we rest.

In the pain of our endless wandering, the thought of being born now promises great relief. We can still see our family, but we no longer know we are with them. We are driven on the winds of hope and fear like a leaf that is carried in the wind.

If we are still unable to recognize our own nature, our anger, lust and confusion become ever more intense, ever more solid. They at last appear to us as entire realms where we may stop and dwell. The image of our former body becomes faint and the image of our future body becomes clear. Any birth seems better than his current pain.

Since everyone is caught in these spiritual states of suffering, what can we do? People make hell realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passion. We project our emotional states and believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to be awake. The best thing is to develop genuine compassion for all living things and for ourselves too. If we do not truly care for others we cannot know our own mind. We can have lofty insights and pure impulses, but then return to our old habits without even noticing it. We must work all the time to open our hearts and look for the truth. Otherwise there is neither understanding nor a purpose for understanding. Also, as life goes by, it is a good idea to keep your sense of humor.

We are now coming to the end of our journey. As we reach the end of the spiritual state of rebirth, the features of the world we are to enter will become very clear to us. If we pay attention now, we will find our way to a favorable rebirth.

We are now on the path to rebirth. We must choose carefully where we are to be born. In all the possibilities that are present before us, we must choose our new life. If we choose a good human birth in a good place, we can continue on the path of recognizing our own mind. Even though we are desperate for a home, a dark cave in a forest can lead to a birth in the animal realm. If we are consumed by yearning, the realm of hungry ghosts can become a never-ending realm of hunger and thirst for us. Rage, bitterness, and anger open all the images of hell. It is best to avoid the extremes of pleasure or pain when selecting a new birth. It is best to be born where we can still recognize the luminous essence of our own mind.

We will not remember much of our journey when we are born again. It will be like starting out new. Though death is always something to be mourned, being born is not something to be celebrated. There is an old saying: “When we are born, we cry, but the whole world is overjoyed. When we die, the world cries and we can become overjoyed when we find the great liberation.”


*Source: Kevin Williams, http://www.near-death.com/religion/buddhism/commentary.html