Embracing Mystery, Paradox–Even Unknowing (Richard Rohr)

“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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Daily Riches: I Hit the Bottom and Escape (Nicholas of Cusa, Scott Cairns and Teresa of Avila)

Beyond all knowing and unknowing, disregarding the pain, confusion and doubt, I cast myself into the Great Darkness, sinking down through its waters into the depths of the very depths. In that place answers, explanations and expectations–having indeed become irrelevant, irreverent and without usefulness, have ceased to exist. And I exist without them–resting, sinking, abiding in that Darkness. And beside me, abides the Unseen One. And in the presence of that One, I nearly cease to be. I enter a death barely short of death, and a well of life otherwise out of reach. Beyond the reach of words, with nothing to choose but stillness, with no support of any kind–save the invisible, unsensed loving arms of the Eternal One, I come to rest on the bottom. And whereas I would have expected my destruction and death, I instead find new breath, new space and new hope. O God, who is beyond and above all things, who draws near in mystery and confusion and in the coincidence of opposites–cradle me, renew me, deliver me.

“Hence I observe how needful it is for me to enter into the darkness, and to admit the coincidence of opposites, beyond all the grasp of reason, and there to seek the truth where impossibility meeteth me. …And the more that dark impossibility is recognised as dark and impossible, the more truly doth His Necessity shine forth, and is more unveiledly present and draweth nigh.” Nicholas of Cusa

“O Lover embracing all unlovable, O Teacher
Tether binding us together, and binding, yea
and tenderly, Your Person  to ourselves,
Being both beyond our ken, and kindred, One
whose dire energies invest such clay as ours
with patient animation, O Secret One secreting
life anew into our every tissue moribund,
afresh unto our stale and stalling craft,
grant in this obscurity a little light.”
Scott Cairns

“The people remained at a distance,
while Moses approached the thick darkness
where God was.”
Exodus 20:18-21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you experience God who is “far distant” and “most near?”
  • Can you go to that place beyond answers, explanations and expectations?
  • Do you have a way to simply be with God, where God can cradle you, deliver you and renew you?

“O LORD, Here in the gathering darkness I feel able to withstand the whole world, should it turn against me. For if I have you, God, I want for nothing. You alone suffice.” Teresa of Avila

For more: Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairns

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)