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Posts Tagged ‘St. Francis of Assisi’

Amazing Grace

“Amazing grace!
how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now i see.”
~ John Newton
“Above all the grace and the gifts
that Christ gives to his beloved,
is that of overcoming self.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love,
every moment of existence is a grace,
for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”
~ Thomas Merton
“Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.”
~ Rumi
“Love cannot be learned or taught.
Love comes as Grace.”
~ Rumi
“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Grace is ever present.
All that is necessary is that you surrender to it.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“Grace comes to forgive and then forgive again.”
~ Rumi
“I know, to banish anger altogether
from one’s breast is a difficult task.
It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort.
It can be done only by God’s grace.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“As far as inner transformation is concerned,
there is nothing you can do about it.
You cannot transform yourself,
and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else.
All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen,
for grace and love to enter.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
~ Ephesians 2:8-9




Ron’s Introduction to “Amazing Grace”

Dear Friends,

“Amazing Grace” is a visionary poem about blessings of Divine Grace and Love. Comments following its words and recitation explain that Divine Grace is universal and not limited to any particular spiritual or religious path.

So the phrase “Amazing Grace”, the moving Soweto Gospel Choir and Andrea Bocelli performances of the hymn “Amazing Grace” embedded below, and all of today’s posted quotations can apply to all people. May they encourage our appreciation of Divine Grace and Love, and the circumstances which inspire them.

The 2020 Winter Solstice holiday season is an especially auspicious time for reflecting upon and opening our hearts to Amazing Grace, as we are extraordinarily privileged to witness an unprecedented Aquarian Age turning point in modern human history, with marvelous opportunities for realizing blessings of Divine Love.

So I’m blessed to share with you this Amazing Grace posting, with the deep aspiration that it may help open our hearts to receiving and sharing gifts of Divine Grace, which are ever potential blessings in all our lives.


‘Amazing Grace’
~ by Ron Rattner

Knowingly or unknowingly we seek
Wholeness, Happiness and Love.

Consciously or subliminally,
We intuit and long for a state of being
which transcends inevitable Earthly cares and suffering.

And there is a transcendent spiritual Force
which impels and rewards our longing.

Some call it Grace –
‘Amazing Grace’.

Grace is to mind as gravity is to matter:

Grace is an inescapable centripetal force
drawing mind to its Source –
To the Sacred Heart.

Knowingly or unknowingly,
we are all seekers, and

With ‘Amazing Grace’,
we shall all be finders, of –

Wholeness, Happiness and Love.


Ron’s recitation of “Amazing Grace”

Listen to


Ron’s reflections on “Amazing Grace”

Dear Friends,

Though never a “born-again Christian”, I recall being emotionally moved on hearing the wonderfully powerful gospel hymn “Amazing Grace” by John Newton, long before ever considering the blessings of Divine Grace in my own life. [*See Footnote]

Then at midlife I was spiritually awakened to self-identity as pure Awareness, rather than as a mere mortal body, its thoughts and its story. That realization initiated an evolutionary process of inner transformation bringing previously unimagined blessings of peace and happiness. Thus after my spiritual awakening I began gratefully describing as “amazing grace” what was happening in my life.

Because Divine Grace is universal – and broadly applies to all human spiritual experience – the “Amazing Grace” title of my foregoing poem and all above quotations about “grace” can apply to everyone, whether or not they are born-again Christians or other religious ‘believers’.

Rumi reminds us that our loving behaviors, rather than our theological beliefs, are most crucial in opening us to gifts of Grace.

“Love cannot be learned or taught.
Love comes as Grace.”
~ Rumi

Thus Grace comes without warning to those who have opened their hearts to receive it.

“The winds of grace are always blowing,

but you have to raise the sail.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

So I’m blessed to share with you this Amazing Grace posting with the deep aspiration that it may help us open our hearts to receiving and sharing gifts of Divine Grace, which are ever potential blessings in all our lives.

Invocation

With unspeakable gratitude for our constant Divine blessings,
May we open our hearts with faith
to receiving and sharing endless gifts of Divine Grace,
which are ever potential blessings in all our lives.

Ultimately, may we realize that

“Every breath we draw is a gift of [God’s] love,
every moment of existence is a grace,
for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”
~ Thomas Merton

And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Footnote*

“Amazing Grace” first became well known as the title of a powerful Christian hymn text, composed in 1779 by English poet, abolitionist, and Anglican clergyman John Newton – who wholeheartedly wrote from his genuine ‘born-again’ Christian experience, after leading an extraordinarily miserable, difficult, and dissolute life as a slave trader.


“Amazing Grace” by John Newton ~ Sung By Soweto Gospel Choir



Andrea Bocelli: Amazing Grace – Music For Hope (Live From Duomo di Milano) – Easter Sunday April 12, 2020



Humility ~ Quotations

“Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5



Introduction

Posted today are three related articles about “humility” as a supreme spiritual virtue. Please consider them collectively.

The first article, is a Q and A essay which defines humility and explains why it is considered a great spiritual virtue inversely associated with “ego”; this second article includes many important quotations about humility; and the third article lists (with an mp3 audio recitation) numerous Sutra Sayings which epigrammatically elucidate humility.

Humility ~ Quotations

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius

“Holy humility confounds pride

and all the men of this world

and all things that are in the world.”

~ St. Francis of Assisi

“Spirituality automatically leads to humility. 
When a flower develops into a fruit,
 the petals drop off on its own.
 When one becomes spiritual,
 the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
A tree laden with fruits always bends low.

Humility is a sign of greatness.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna

“[The Master’s] constant practice is humility.”;
“Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.”
~ Lao Tzu

Moses was very meek,
above all men on face of the earth.
~ Numbers 12:3

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
~ Proverbs 16:18

Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.”
~ Matthew 11:29,30

“I speak not of myself:
but the Father that dwelleth in me,
he doth the works.”
~ John 14:10;  

“..I can of mine own self do nothing…
I seek not mine own will,
but the will of the Father
which hath sent me.”
~ John 5:30.

“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
~ James 4:6

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
~ Matthew 23:12

“Humility, like darkness,
reveals the heavenly lights.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

“We come nearest to the great
when we are great in humility.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Dedication and Invocation

In these critical times of immense suffering and jeopardy, yet unprecedented opportunity, let us join together with utmost love and humility in envisioning our precious planet democratically ruled bottom-up by humble, peaceful and compassionate citizens, rather than top-down by insensitive and egotistic purported “leaders” who are emotionally sociopathic or psychopathic.

May these biblical passages prove prescient:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
~ Proverbs 16:18


God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.
~ James 4:6


And so shall it be.

Ron Rattner

Humility: A Supreme Virtue

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius
“Spirituality automatically leads to humility.
When a flower develops into a fruit,
the petals drop off on its own.
When one becomes spiritual,
the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
A tree laden with fruits always bends low.
Humility is a sign of greatness.”
~ Sri Ramakrishna
“Holy humility confounds pride
and all the men of this world
and all things that are in the world.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“Humility grows as ego goes.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings




Introduction

Posted today are three related articles about “humility” as a supreme spiritual virtue. Please consider them collectively.

This first article, is a Q and A essay which defines humility and explains why it is considered a great spiritual virtue inversely associated with “ego”; the second article includes many important quotations about humility; and the third article lists (with an mp3 audio recitation) numerous Sutra Sayings which epigrammatically elucidate humility.

Humility: A Supreme Virtue

Q. What is “humility”?

A. Authentic humility is a core virtue and a sign of spiritual evolution.
It is a state of modesty, free from pretension, pride and arrogance;
a state that intuitively recognizes the Divine equality of all beings as blessed with the same Eternal Essence, and their Oneness with Nature; a state which opens us to learning by allowing us to acknowledge our limitations and fallibilities, and to experience with awe and wonder how little we know about the miraculous magnificence of this Creation.

Yet, it is not a state of powerlessness or of low self esteem, but of powerful inner security, inner knowing, and inner-directedness.

Q. How does humility happen?

A. Humility grows as ego goes.  As we ever more realize that we are part a vast universe and not separate from it, we gradually become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate and humble.  As Einstein says, this is a process of “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Q. Why is humility considered a virtue, especially in prominent people?

A. Prominent people are subject to great flattery, praise and adulation which can entice and inflate ego, the enemy of compassion and humility.   Those who have resisted such ego temptations have been lauded as truly great beings.  Eg. Gandhi was called “Mahatma” a Sanskrit word meaning “great soul”.

Throughout history, “humility” has been recognized and appreciated as a supreme virtue manifested by great beings from every tradition and culture, who chose to lead non-pretentious, simple lives dedicated to helping others, and who have thereby  inspired countless others.  Today, for example, H.H. the Dalai Lama who is  revered by millions worldwide as a great sage and religious leader, often describes himself as a “simple monk”, and sometimes publicly responds to questions with “I don’t know.” *

[*According to Buddhism, ego and “enlightenment” cannot coexist.  No “enlightened” Buddhist can acknowledge “enlightenment” because any such acknowledgment would necessarily imply an ego-identity, a personality, a being, a separated individuality. ~  Diamond Sutra, Chapter 9]


Discussion

Enduring scriptures affirm importance of “humility”. For example, the Bhagavad Gita [13:8-12], perhaps the most important Hindu scripture, recognizes humility and lack of pride as virtues essential to Self Realization.

In the Tao Te Ching the great Taoist sage Lao Tzu states that

the Master’s “constant practice is humility.”; and that: “Humility means trusting the Tao, thus never needing to be defensive.”


Various bible passages attest to the humility of Jesus.  Jesus once said of Himself,

“I am meek and humble of heart”
~ Matthew 11:29.


And in the Sermon on the Mount,
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5.


Jesus claimed no special powers but attributed all to God.  eg.

“I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works.”
~ John 14:10;  

“..I can of mine own self do nothing…I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
~ John 5:30.


And Jesus counseled humility: 

“Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
~ 1 Peter 5.5.


Of Moses the bible says: 

“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.”
~ Numbers 12:3.


Modern humble heroes included Albert Einstein. He remained simple and self-effacing despite the world’s “genius” label and immense flattery, using his great prestige to advocate for social justice and controversial causes, like pacifism. 

Einstein was a very humble man who regarded himself as just an ordinary person, with certain abilities in theoretical physics. [eg. see Synchronicity story: Analyzing Einstein’s Autograph]

For example, he disclaimed the ‘genius’ label, saying:

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”


Einstein explained his humility, thus: 

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”


In eulogizing Mahatma Gandhi’s virtuous life, Einstein said:

“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”


The great Gandhi, whose example of non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth and selfless service to humanity continues to inspire countless others, remained a humble man despite his immensely important accomplishments.  His humility was evidenced by these Gandhi statements:

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” . . . . 
   
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”


Ego and Humility

Spiritually, the supreme virtue of “humility” is inversely associated with “ego”. Thus prominent humble people – like the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein or Mahatma Gandhi –– are often regarded as great beings, because they are not egotistic.

From childhood we are acculturated to identify only with a limited and disempowering self-image.  We are taught to believe that we are born into Nature as limited and separate mortal beings; but not that Nature is our nature, or that essentially we are Beings of Light, sharing limitless immortal Cosmic consciousness with all life-forms.
 
Such restrictive self-image is what spiritual teachers call “ego” – as distinguished from Freud’s salutary psychological definition of “ego”.

Spiritually, “ego” refers to fundamentally mistaken human mental self-identity as personalities separate from eternal Infinite potentiality;
our restrictive self-identity which causes us endless karmic suffering from unskillful thoughts, words and deeds.
 
Thus the ancient Rig Veda called “ego”:


“the biggest enemy of humans.”


And Sri Ramakrishna told us that:

“All troubles come to an end when the ego dies”
~ Sri Ramakrishna

  
Since “ego” arises from mental activity – from thoughts and beliefs – it cannot continue without persistently mistaken thoughts about who or what we are.  Through an evolutionary process of conscious psychological self-transformation, we can transcend mistaken egoic ideas of who we think we are, and gradually realize and remember that ultimately we truly are ONE with Universal Intelligence – with Eternal Spirit. 

As gradually we transcend our illusory ego identities as merely separate mortals, and increasingly self identify as Eternal Spirit, we inevitably become ever more humble.  Our Humility grows as ego goes. The smaller the ego, the greater the being.

Conclusion

Authentic humility is a supreme virtue which ever expands as we become less and less egoistic and self centered and more and more compassionate, thereby “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Dedication and Invocation

In these critical times of immense suffering and jeopardy, yet unprecedented opportunity, let us join together with utmost love and humility in envisioning our precious planet democratically ruled bottom-up by humble, peaceful and compassionate citizens, rather than top-down by insensitive and egotistic purported “leaders” who are emotionally sociopathic or psychopathic.

May these biblical passages prove prescient:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
~ Proverbs 16:18


God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.
~ James 4:6


And so shall it be. 

Ron Rattner

Why Do We Suffer?

“Suffering is the way for Realization of God.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
“A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.”
“In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.”
“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”
~ Dalai Lama
“All the suffering in the world comes from seeking pleasure for oneself.
All the happiness in the world comes from seeking pleasure for others.”
~ Shantideva (Buddhist master)
“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way
as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.”
“When you are suffering, when you are unhappy, stay totally with what is now. Unhappiness or problems cannot survive in the Now.”

~ Eckhart Tolle
“No pain, no gain!”
~ Proverb
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
~ Buddhist saying
“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon;
suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens.
Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…
The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.”
~ Dan Millman
Q. “How Can We End Suffering?
A. Be a Buddha, be a Tara;
Say sayonara to samsara.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“In the school of life we suffer
to learn compassion for those who suffer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

“Compassion is born from understanding suffering.
We all should learn to embrace our own suffering,
to listen to it deeply, and to have a deep look into its nature.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Every action, every thought, reaps its own corresponding rewards. Human suffering is not a sign of God’s, or Nature’s, anger with mankind. It is a sign, rather, of man’s ignorance of divine law. . . .
Such is the law of karma: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you sow evil, you will reap evil in the form of suffering. And if you sow goodness, you will reap goodness in the form of inner joy.”
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
“You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All formations are ‘transient’ (anicca); all formations are ‘subject to suffering’ (dukkha); all things are ‘without a self’ (anatt ). Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient. And that which is transient, is subject to suffering. ”
~ Buddha
“When another person makes you suffer,
it is because he suffers deeply within himself,
and his suffering is spilling over.
He does not need punishment; he needs help.
That’s the message he is sending.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.
When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go,
then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was
for you to drag those burdens around with you.
You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible.
The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
~ Osho
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
~ Helen Keller
“My dear son, be patient, because the weaknesses of the body
are given to us in this world by God for the salvation of the soul.
So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi, The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

~ Khalil Gibran
Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.
~ Aristotle
“[I]f the mind is attentive and does not move away from suffering at all, then you will see that out of total attention comes not only energy…but also that suffering comes to an end.”
“…when you suffer, psychologically, remain with it completely without a single movement of thought… Out of that suffering comes compassion.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
”As you would not like to change something very beautiful: the light of the setting sun, the shape of a tree in the field, so do not put obstacles in the way of suffering. Allow it to ripen, for with its flowering understanding comes. When you become aware of the wound of sorrow, without the reaction of acceptance, resignation or negation, without any artificial invitation, then suffering itself lights the flame of creative understanding.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“It is the truth that sets you free and not your effort to be free.
Suffering is but intense clarity of thoughts and feelings which makes you see things as they are.”
“I maintain that truth is a pathless land,
and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever,
by any religion, by any sect.”
~ J. Krishnamurti


Shakyamuni_Buddha.


Introduction.

We are living in very stressful times with billions of people worldwide now enduring great stresses and sufferings. This posting is dedicated to helping us lessen our sufferings, and to enjoy increasing happiness despite unavoidable worldly problems and turmoil. Although many of the cited and discussed ideas are from Eastern teachings, they apply to all human suffering in this ever changing world.

Why Do We Suffer?

Q. The Buddha taught that human life entails unavoidable suffering (duhkha), but that we can be freed from suffering. Why do we suffer, and how can we be freed from suffering?

A. We suffer from ignorance (avidyâ) of our of our true self-identity and ‘reality’, and from our consequent unskillful thoughts, words and deeds, which subject us to the law of karma. Suffering ends when ignorance ends; ignorance ends gradually with experiential Self knowledge that we are Infinite Potentiality beyond conception, rather than merely mortal and limited persons.

Although enduring spiritual traditions propose different methods for attaining such Self knowledge, they can not bestow it, but only point to the Self realization goal. Moreover, each person is unique, with a unique perspective and unique karmic history. So different practices may apply to different people.

An often recommended method for overcoming such suffering is mindful introspection to identify, realize and transcend our unskillful inner tendencies.  Such attention and realization can gradually decrease and ultimately free us from mental suffering.


Ron’s Commentary on Why We Suffer

Dear Friends,

I feel privileged to share with you a profound colloquy about why we suffer between two of the greatest Indian spiritual teachers of the 20th century:
Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Paramahansa Yogananda.

On Nov. 29th, 1935, Yogananda made a pilgrimage to holy Mt. Arunachala to meet Sri Ramana.  During most of that day Ramana sat silently.  However, he responded to a few questions from Yogananda, as follows:

Yogananda
How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be effected?
What are the instructions to be given them?
 

Maharshi: They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse. 

Yogananda: Why does God permit suffering in the world? Should He not with His omnipotence do away with it at one stroke and ordain the universal realization of God? 

Maharshi: Suffering is the way for Realization of God. 

Yogananda: Should He not ordain it differently? 

Maharshi: It is the way. 

Yogananda: Are yoga, religion, etc., antidotes to suffering? 

Maharshi: Who suffers? What is suffering? 

(Without responding to these rhetorical questions, Yogananda paused, arose and, prayed for Sri Ramana’s blessings for his own mission.)

Discussion of why “Suffering is the way for Realization of God.” 

Many years ago, as I was being treated for painful left leg injuries by Taoist master and Doctor of Chinese Medicine Sifu Wei Tsuei, I had an unforgettable experience.

During an acupuncture treatment, Sifu suddenly inserted a large metal needle into my left buttock, and I loudly exclaimed in pain, “OUCH!”. Whereupon Sifu responded,


“No pain, no gain!”


Then he quietly continued his treatment, which proved quite helpful.

Thereafter I often reflected on the wisdom of Sifu’s words, “No pain, no gain”, and learned they are a popular proverb. With human bodies we experience inevitable physical pain, which can be a crucial catalyst and incentive for spiritual evolution. As stated by another popular Buddhist proverb: 
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”.

Though we may not be free to choose our sometimes painful outer circumstances in life, we are always free to choose our psychological attitude about those circumstances.

Thus every painful earth life experience which induces an elevated attitude can be a disguised blessing furthering our spiritual evolution, and our ultimate transcendence of psychological suffering. And, the greater such suffering, the greater its potential blessing.

The foregoing important quotations and brief essay help explain why we suffer and how we can transcend psychological suffering. They are spiritual teachings which can help us suffer less, and live ever happier lives. So I urge our deep reflection on them.

Moreover, as mindfully we experience ever less suffering and ever more happiness, it becomes possible for some of us to realize that everything in human life is an enormous blessing. For example, renowned master mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell taught that

“Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not.
The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.”


Invocation.

May our ever expanding and disciplined inner acceptance of inevitable outer problems, and our heartfelt compassion for the sufferings of all other sentient beings, motivate us to constantly

Remember with gratitude,
life is beatitude,

even its sorrows and pain;

For we’re all in God’s Grace,

every time, every place,

and

Forever (S)HE will reign!


And so shall it be!

Ron Rattner

Farewell Carol: Synchronicity Story &
Tribute to an Unforgettable Friend

“May the Lord give you peace.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
~ Rumi


Carol Schuldt, ‘Queen of the Beach’, (6/26/33–12/01/18)


Ron’s Introduction.

On December 1st, 2018 my unforgettable friend Carol Schuldt painlessly left her body at age 85, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and heart failure. Thereafter, on December 8th, her body was interred in a wild nature place overlooking the Pacific Ocean, after spontaneous rituals and stories were shared by Carol’s friends on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Carol was a a legendary San Franciscan, sometimes known as ‘Queen of the Beach’ or ‘Mother Teresa of the Sunset’. She lived as a life-long nature lover and natural born shaman, authentically, intuitively, generously and spontaneously. (See Carol’s SF Chronicle obituary)

Carol and I had innumerable synchronistic encounters, after we first met in the 1980’s. And we repeatedly shared our many ‘miraculous’ synchronicity stories (a few of which are posted here on SillySutras.com).

Before meeting Carol, I miraculously ‘discovered’ and became a lover of St. Francis of Assisi. And soon after meeting Carol, I regarded her as a ‘female St. Francis’ who constantly communed with Nature, even with the sun, the moon, and many nonhuman lifeforms.

So in tribute to Carol’s transition, I write now about her spiritual history, and to tell how wistfully and intuitively I bid her farewell through our shared synchronistic harmony with St. Francis of Assisi.

Summary of Carol’s spiritual history.

Carol and I first met long ago while sitting at Aquatic Beach on San Francisco Bay (across from Ghirardelli Square), where I walked and where she often came to escape ocean fog and swim in the sun (without a wet suit). Afterwards we exchanged many “miracle” stories about our lives stemming from our countless experiences of synchronicities, or meaningful ‘coincidences’.

I deeply appreciated Carol as an amazingly free spirit with great instinctive wisdom and generosity.  Before we met, she’d already become a ‘living legend’ throughout and beyond her San Francisco ocean front neighborhood. And many stories were written or told about her. For example, an excellent story: “A Benevolent Queen of the Beach” appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 25, 2000. And in 2005 Carol was interviewed on film by the SF Public Library, about her history and life in the ‘hippie’ 1960’s.

The Chronicle article told of Carol’s exceptional inner wisdom even from childhood, when at Catholic school she adamantly refused to worship a bloody Christ on a crucifix, and was the only child exempted therefrom by the nuns, who recognized her wisdom.

The article also told how Carol had dedicated her life to helping troubled souls – especially young people. But that paradoxically Carol experienced great family tragedy with all of her three children: her two daughters whose lives were lastingly impacted by drug addiction, and her son Pete who was permanently brain damaged in a childhood car accident. Because of her great generosity, especially toward needy young people, Carol was sometimes known as the “Mother Teresa of the Sunset District”. And as a daily swimmer/surfer she also became known as ‘Queen of the Beach’.

From childhood Carol was an extraordinarily intuitive free spirit. She never knowingly followed any prescribed Western or Eastern religious path, despite attempted childhood Catholic inculcation. Instead, she instinctively followed her own unique spiritual path of communing with Nature while surfing, swimming, sunning, hiking, biking, organic gardening, and helping troubled souls – especially young people.

Carol’s muraled house and organic garden.

Carol’s muraled house and aesthetic organic garden have symbolized her unique lifestyle as a ‘female St. Francis’. Especially noteworthy is an artistically beautiful St. Francis of Assisi “Peace & Joy” mural at her home’s entryway – a delightfully surprising tourist attraction for visitors to San Francisco’s ocean beach area. On Carol’s roof top (above the mural) is an artistic portrayal of ‘Brother sun’, her main deity, and unfurled above the roof is a red Tibetan prayer flag, symbolizing Carol’s respect for the Tibetan culture and Dalai Lama.

Thus Carol’s house has eloquently exemplified her simple inner-directed life of instinctively communing with Nature, often without concern for outer–directed societal standards.

Carol’s St. Francis mural

Ron’s Synchronicity Story: “Goodbye St. Francis”= Farewell Carol

During forty years of living in the same San Francisco high-rise hermitage, my apartment has been adorned with many pictures and portrayals of St. Francis, my favorite saint, and of the peace prayer which he inspired. And until recently St. Francis in a stone statue also presided over my outside deck garden.

But in July 2018, I was obliged to remove everything from my outdoor deck so it could be renovated and repainted. Thereafter, I realized that I could no longer physically maintain my deck-top garden. So I decided to give away the plants and planters blessed by my St. Francis statue. While I’ve been looking for new homes for my plants, the St. Francis statue has been stored in an inconspicuous corner of my bedroom which is temporarily filled with many deck plants.

On December 1, 2018, my long-time neighbor and community gardener friend, Jan Monaghan, came to take pictures of my plants and planters, to help me find a new home for them. While showing Jan the St. Francis statue, I suddenly and inexplicably started crying, thinking and saying “goodbye Saint Francis”.  Thereafter for several hours I remained tearful.

The next day, Sunday December 2nd, I learned (via email) that Carol’s soul had departed her body Saturday evening, and I intuited that while Ron was tearfully saying goodbye to St. Francis Carol’s soul was astrally bidding Ron ‘adieu’.

On Monday morning, realizing that my St. Francis statue needed an appropriate new place to stand, I decided to move it to my my high-rise hermitage view living room, where I spend most indoor waking hours. So I telepathically told the saint in the statue that (on returning from a brief walk) I was moving him to a perfect place on my living room wool carpet, and that I would find an appropriate indoor pedestal for him there ASAP.

Soon thereafter, I took a brief walk on nearby Vallejo street. After walking for about fifteen minutes I noticed an amazing manifestation miracle. Amongst a curbside pile of discarded objects, I saw a perfect pedestal for St. Francis, which I carried home. On returning home, I moved St. Francis to a new perfect place on my living room carpet where he now resides on that miraculously manifested pedestal. And just as Carol’s St. Francis mural appears below a red Tibetan roof-top prayer flag, my St. Francis statue stands beneath a red Tibetan Kalachakra thangka mandala, symbolizing Ron’s respect for the Tibetan culture, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

St. Francis statue on pedestal in Ron’s high-rise hermitage

Moral of the story?

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great,

pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature,

and is manifest in each of us through what we call the soul.”

~ Deepak Chopra, Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

“Miraculous synchronicities in time,
are meaningful reminders of eternal Reality
beyond time”.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings

After briefly blessing this world as a female St Francis,
the divine soul we’ve known as Carol Schuldt,
has returned to the Sun,
from where she’ll reappear eternally
for endless new lifetime adventures,
in endless new forms, of
LOVE.

And so it shall be!

Ron Rattner

Carol Schuldt & Ron Rattner, @ Ron’s 80th birthday party, 11/11/’12


Afterlife?

“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
“It is crucial to be mindful of death —
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ Dalai Lama – From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life”
(written with Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD)
Whence come I and whither go I?

That is the great unfathomable question,

the same for every one of us.

Science has no answer to it.

~ Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist
“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)





Afterlife?

Q:  Is there an afterlife?
A:   After-life is NOW.

Q:  Is there life after death?
A:  There is no death – only Life.

Q:  Then, what is it we call death?
A:  A vacation – eternal life-force vacating a transient vehicle.



Ron’s Comments on “Afterlife?”

Dear Friends,

The mystery of inevitable bodily death has long been a central religious and philosophical issue. To encourage our conscious curiosity about inevitable physical death I have posted the foregoing poetic essay, whimsically suggesting that there is no death or afterlife – only Eternal Life NOW.

Have you ever reflected on your inevitable physical death,
even if you are not old or infirm?

Have you considered the mystery of what if anything happens after bodily death?

Are you fearful of death?
If so, why?
If not, why not?

Physical death is inevitable and natural. But for many years it was largely a taboo subject in American society. Euphemistic language was used to describe death. Most Americans feared death, believing it ended life; they usually died in hospitals or other institutions, and not at home surrounded by family.

Today fear of death remains a major societal issue, impeding spiritual evolution, especially for Westerners.  Such fear arises from mistaken ego identification as merely the mortal physical body rather than the eternal life-force which enlivens the body.  But gradually millions of people are transcending fear of death, and leading happier lives after near death [NDE], out of body [OOB] and other mystical experiences.

Following my midlife spiritual awakening I came to realize that conscious contemplation of physical death can be spiritually important and helpful.
 
On meeting my beloved Guruji, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, I learned that from childhood he had been preoccupied with two perennial puzzles: “Who am I?” and “What is death?”; that at age thirteen, inspired by irresistible inner longing for Self-realization, Guruji had run away from home in search of experiential answers to those eternal questions.   Ultimately his questions were answered through meditative experience.  Thereafter he taught that:


“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


After meeting Tibetan Buddhists I learned that they encourage frequent contemplation of physical death as a spiritual practice for optimizing opportunities of this precious lifetime, and in preparation for an auspicious next lifetime.  

Thus the Dalai Lama has written that:


“It is crucial to be mindful of death —  
to contemplate that you will not remain long in
this life. If you are not aware of death, you will
fail to take advantage of this special human
life that you have already attained. It is
meaningful since, based on it, important
effects can be accomplished.”
~ From “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life” by Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD



Inspired by Guruji, the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans, and by numerous inner experiences, I developed deep curiosity and philosophical interest in the spiritual significance of death and dying, reincarnation and karma.  And gradually I have realized the importance of these subjects.

So on SillySutras.com I have shared many experiences, essays and poems about these subjects, which I commend to your attention.
(Eg. See “related” posts linked below.)

Especially after being run down and seriously injured by a taxicab in 2014, more than ever before I now frequently contemplate my inevitable – and perhaps imminent – death, with unspeakable gratitude for this precious human lifetime and for the evolutionary opportunities and happiness it has brought me.
 
Gratefully I have learned from experience that life is eternal and that
“as we lose our fear of leaving life, we gain the art of living life.”

So I hope that this posting helps us find growing happiness free from fear of inevitable physical death.

And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

At Mid-Life: A Spiritual Mystery Story Begins ~ Ron’s Memoirs

“In this ever-changing space/time world,
nothing is immutable, but much is inscrutable.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings


Both inner and outer life changed radically for me after my self-realization rebirth experience, and upon living alone after divorce. From living a ‘normal’ middle class life style, I began living outwardly like a Western ascetic, and inwardly with formerly unknown rich spiritual experiences.

I now realize retrospectively that my unforeseen new life unfolded and evolved perfectly, as if a Divine novelist was writing my life story’s script; and, that I have been and am now continually guided in my new life by increasingly frequent ‘miraculous’ synchronicities – meaningful or noteworthy ‘coincidences’ and premonitions – which Western science can’t yet explain.

Long-time worldly habits changed. Though I had always walked to my financial district law office, now almost every morning before walking to work I jogged alone for about an hour to the Golden Gate bridge.

Intuitively, and not because of anything I’d then heard or read, I gradually evolved from a common Western flesh food diet to a largely raw food vegetarian diet. Upon experiencing ‘withdrawal symptoms’ when I forgot my morning coffee one day, I realized that I’d become addicted to caffeine. So I stopped drinking coffee, and drank peppermint tea instead. As a vegetarian I became gradually unable to metabolize alcohol. So I stopped drinking beer and wine and all other alcoholic beverages (which I’d enjoyed since adulthood).

Instead of sleeping on a raised bed, I began sleeping on a futon on the floor. Instead of living in rooms filled with furniture and furnishings, I preferred a simple ‘Zen-like’ austere residential environment.

My ascetic new eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise habits have continued for over thirty years, though after suffering leg injuries in a 1988 car accident, I stopped jogging but kept walking usually for at least an hour a day.

Why did I turn to asceticism? Was it because of ascetic past lives? These remain yet unanswered but recurring questions.
Aside from changed worldly habits, my inner life became – and continues to be – like a spiritual detective novel, with ever new questions arising from new experiences and new realizations.

For many years, beginning with my three month period of extraordinarily high energy, I had numerous amazing mystical and psychic experiences, which repeatedly substantiated my post-out of body realization that the universe didn’t work the way I’d been taught or thought and sparked an intense quest for a new “reality” paradigm.

All these new incidents seemed quite “real”. They could not be readily rationalized away as “unnatural hallucinations” as they were not prompted by ingestion of any biological or chemical psychedelic or drug (which I didn’t use). Nor did I appear to have ‘gone crazy’, since I continued to function effectively as a litigation lawyer despite my new secret life.

After the unforgettable inner experience of seeing each of my thoughts manifest as a separate kaleidoscopic thought-form outside my body or brain, I intuited that thought was the genesis of all phenomenal reality. But I had no idea of how that could happen, and wondered about any such process. So with great curiousity I sought a new paradigm or world-view encompassing my new experiences of “reality”.

Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find. Gradually, I was given synchronistic answers to my questions.

This process was accompanied by an ever increasing sense of awe and gratitude for our marvelous, miraculous and mysterious universe. Intense longing with ever growing gratitude gradually transformed a secular lawyer into a deeply devotional seeker of Truth – of answers to ultimately unanswerable questions of perennial philosophy.

And never again since the long-locked floodgate of tears was opened during the self-realization rebirth experience have tears failed to flow regularly. For many years, I cried so often and so profusely with deep longing for the Divine, that I was puzzled about what was happening to me.

But gradually, through synchronicity, I came to realize that I was experiencing a great transformative blessing known in the Catholic tradition of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola as “the gift of tears”; a blessing similarly recognized in various other devotional and mystical spiritual traditions, including the ecstatic Sufism of Rumi, Hafiz and numerous others, and the Hindu tradition of bhakti yoga, which I followed for many years after synchronistically meeting my venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas (Guruji).

Though never a frequent flyer, for many years I became – and remain – a very frequent crier. Tears have helped purify my body and nervous system permitting ‘peek experiences’ of higher states of consciousness. And I regularly experienced numerous other spontaneous and unpremeditated activities, feelings and sensations which helped further my spiritual evolution. For example, when not crying I often had what I now call ‘alternative LSD experiences’ of spontaneous (and sometimes ecstatic) Laughing, Singing, and Dancing.

Many years have passed since Guruji told me to write and publish my spiritual memoirs, so the memoirs have gradually shortened as they have been ‘edited’ and abridged by time. But the most valuable experiences were unforgettable. Hereafter, I will share with you some of them, with theories of what they might mean.