“I call non-silence ‘dualistic thinking,’ where everything is separated into opposites, like good and bad, life and death. In the West, we even believe that is what it means to be educated—to be very good at dualistic thinking. Join the debate club! But both Jesus and Buddha would call that judgmental thinking (Matthew 7:1-5), and they strongly warn us against it. Dualistic thinking is operative almost all of the time now. It is when we choose or prefer one side and then call the other side of the equation false, wrong, heresy, or untrue. But what we judge as wrong is often something to which we have not yet been exposed or that somehow threatens our ego. The dualistic mind splits the moment and forbids the dark side, the mysterious, the paradoxical. This is the common level of conversation that we experience in much of religion and politics and even every day conversation. It lacks humility and patience—and is the opposite of contemplation. In contemplative practice, the Holy Spirit frees us from taking sides and allows us to remain content long enough to let it teach, broaden, and enrich us in the partial darkness of every situation. We need to practice for many years and make many mistakes in the meantime to learn how to do this. Paul rather beautifully describes this kind of thinking: ‘Pray with gratitude and the peace of Christ, which is beyond knowledge or understanding (what I would call “the making of distinctions”), will guard both your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7). Teachers of contemplation show us how to stand guard and not let our emotions and obsessive thoughts control us. When we’re thinking nondualistically, with this guarded mind and heart, we will feel powerless for a moment, stunned into an embarrassing and welcoming silence. Then we will discover what is ours to do.” Richard Rohr
“To answer before listening––that is folly and shame.”
Proverbs 18:13 NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you have everything separated into black and white, right and wrong, us v. them? Is this helping?
- Are you aware of your impatience, arrogance, or judgmentalism towards others? (Think about discussions of politics!) If that’s a regular thing, have you stopped to ask why?
- Can you practice responding more slowly to others, and listening in the silence for where you might have misunderstood? . . . where you’re being defensive?
May I unlearn, O God, what has taken me a lifetime to learn (my arrogance, my impatience).
For More: Silent Compassion by Richard Rohr. Cincinnati: Franciscian Media, 2014.
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“Before the war began, [Martin] Buber considered the ‘religious’ to be mystical experiences that lifted him out of the earthly ordinary experiences of everyday life. He was more concerned with the eternal than with the temporal, more focused on ecstasy that on daily existence, more interested in what lies beyond the world than in the world itself. That all changed one day in 1914, the year the World War I broke out in Europe, when a young man came to visit Buber.
What happened was no more than that one forenoon, after a morning of ‘religious’ enthusiasm, I had a visit from an unknown young man, without being there in spirit. I certainly did not fail to let the meeting be friendly. . . . I conversed attentively and openly with him–only I omitted to guess the questions which he did not put. Later, not long after, I learned from one of his friends–he himself was no longer alive–the essential content of these questions; I learned that he had come to me not casually but borne by destiny, not for a chat but for a decision. He had come to me, he had come in this hour.
“The young man had committed suicide. The guilt Buber felt was not that he had somehow failed to remove the young man’s despair, but that he was not fully present to him. He was so preoccupied by his religious experience earlier that morning, that he failed to bring the full resources of his attention to their conversation. He did not turn to the young man with his whole being to actually feel with him. Instead, of genuinely listening, he brought leftovers, a courteous but partial engagement. For Buber, the experience felt like a judgment on his whole way of life. He realized that it is possible to have profound spiritual experiences . . . but that such a faith is worth nothing without a deeply present love for people.” Peter Scazzero
“But they did not understand what he meant
and were afraid to ask him about it.”
Mark 9:32 NIV
Moving from Head to Heart
- How do you think Jesus felt when he spoke about his coming death, and no one asked him what he meant?
- Can you recall a time when you tragically failed to listen well?
- What can you do to become a better listener?
Abba, when I listen, help me focus on what’s happening inside the other person, not inside of me.
For More: Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day by Peter Scazzero
“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. …I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart. How is the state of your heart today?” Joshua Becker
“So stop telling lies.
Let us tell our neighbors the truth,
for we are all parts of the same body.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Can you be “present” to yourself? …aware of the state of your heart?
- Can you be honest with another? …revealing the state of your heart? Do you long to do that?
- Think about others who long for a real human connection. Are you available for that?
- How does your life with God affect the state of your heart?
Abba, I want to be a safe person for others who want to be real.
For More: “A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy“ by Joshua Becker
Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill
“Every stirring of genuine love makes us poor. It dominates the whole human person, makes absolute claims upon us (cf. Mt. 22:37), and thus subverts all extra-human assurances of security. The true lover must be unprotected and give of himself or herself without reservation or question; and must display lifelong fidelity. Every genuine human encounter must be inspired by poverty of spirit. We must forget ourselves in order to let the other person approach us. We must be able to open up to the other person, to let that person’s distinctive personality unfold–even though it often frightens or repels us. We often keep the other person down, and only see what we want to see; thus we never really encounter the mysterious secret of their being, only ourselves. Failing to risk the poverty of encounter, we indulge in a new form of self-assertion and pay a price for it: loneliness. Because we did not risk the poverty of openness (cf. Mt. 10:39), our lives are not graced with the warm fullness of human existence. We are left with only a shadow of our real self.” Johannes Baptist Metz
“If you cling to your life,
you will lose it;
but if you give up your life for me,
you will find it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:39
Moving From the Head to the Heart
When you think about attempting to lovingly encounter another (an Other)…
- Are you able to “forget” yourself, opening up so that the other person can approach you? …where you make the encounter about them, not you?
- What do you do when someone’s “distinctive” personality frightens or repels you? …do you abort the encounter–or trust God and attempt to engage anyway?
- Can you ask God to show you what ego issues, expectations or biases you may have that make conversations with others simply “a new form of self-assertion” for you?
Abba, help me love others as you have loved me.
For more: Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”