The Desert of Nonparticipation – 5 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

by Mark Votava


1. The best and most defended self of all

“The religious False Self is the best and the most defended self of all…  The religious False Self can even justify racism, slavery, war, and total denial or deception and feel no guilt whatsoever…  If your religion does not transform your consciousness to one of compassion, it is more a part of the problem than any solution.”

2. The desert of nonparticipation

“Although the reformations were inevitable, good, and necessary, they also ushered in the ‘Desert of Nonparticipation,’ as Barfield called it, where no one belonged, few were at home in this world, and religion at its worst concentrated on excluding, condemning, threatening, judging, exploiting new lands and peoples, and controlling its own members by shame and guilt – on both the Catholic and Protestant sides.  Despite exceptions in every nation, church, denomination, group, monastery, and age, we almost totally lost the ‘alternative processing system,’ which I would call contemplation.  I know this sounds sinister and regressive, but there is plenty of evidence for its truth.  Most of it was not conscious, but the product of ignorance, fear, and overreaction.  Now the Christian world has produced more atheists, anti-Christians, witch hunts, and secularists than any other region would think possible.  How can a society survive when it hates its own religion or the very notion of deep participation?”

3. Standing solidarity with the suffering

“The Crucified One is God’s standing solidarity with the suffering…”

4. You True Self is who you are

“Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God, and at its core, it is love itself.  Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower.  Most of human history has called the True Self your ‘soul’ or ‘your participation in the eternal life of God.’  The great surprise and irony is that ‘you,’ or who you think you are, have nothing to do with its original creation or its demise.  It’s sort of disempowering and utterly empowering at the same time, isn’t it?  All you can do is nurture it, which is saying quite a lot.  It is love becoming love in this unique form called ‘me.’”

5. The True Self has less and less need for mere verbal certitudes or answers that always fit

“The True Self never knows with absolute surety that it is right or ‘good,’ but in fact it does not even need to, which is what we mean by ‘faith.’  The True Self has knocked on both the hard bottom and the high ceiling of reality and has less and less need for mere verbal certitudes or answers that always fit…  The False Self fears and denies all seeming contradictions, probably because it unconsciously knows that it is itself a mass of contradictions and is searching for some external order or control.  You can forgive the outer world only if and when you have first forgiven your own inner world.”

What are some thoughts you have about the True Self?