Dualistic Thinking – 7 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

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1. The best word for God is actually Mystery

“God has to undo our illusions secretly, as it were, when we are not watching and not in perfect control, say the mystics.  That is perhaps why the best word for God is actually Mystery.  We move forward in ways that we do not even understand and through the quiet workings of time and grace.  When we get there, we are never sure just how it happened, and God does not seem to care who gets the credit, as long as our growth continues.  As Gregory of Nyssa already said in the fourth century, ‘Sin happens whenever we refuse to keep growing’”

2. We cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand

“There must be, and, if we are honest, there always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand…”

3. The more you exclude

“The more you exclude, the more hellish and lonely your existence always is…”

4. To love what you have – right now

“Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have – right now.  This is a monumental change from the first half of life, so much so that it is almost the litmus test of whether you are in the second half of life at all.”

5. Your world should grow much larger

“If you are on course at all, your world should grow much larger in the second half of life…”

6. Knowing most things by comparison

“Dualistic thinking is the well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison.  And for some reason, once you compare or label things (that is, judge), you almost always conclude that one is good and the other is less good or even bad.  Don’t take my word for it; just notice your own thoughts and reactions.  You will see that you will move almost automatically into a pattern of up or down, in or out, for me or against me, right or wrong, black or white, gay or straight, good or bad.  It is the basic reason why the ‘stinking thinking’ of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, religious imperialism, and prejudice of all kinds is so hard to overcome and has lasted so long – even among nice people!”

7. Intimate I-Thou relationships are the greatest mirrors of all

“The genius of the Gospel was that it included the problem inside the solution.  The falling became the standing.  The stumbling became the finding.  The dying became the rising.  The raft became the shore.  The small self cannot see this very easily, because it doubts itself too much, is still too fragile, and is caught up in the tragedy of it all.  It has not lived long enough to see the big patterns.  No wonder so many young people commit suicide.  This is exactly why we need elders and those who can mirror life truthfully and foundationally for the young.  Intimate I-Thou relationships are the greatest mirrors of all, so we dare not avoid them, but for the young they have perhaps not yet taken place at any depth, so young people are always very fragile.”

Which quote stands out to you the most?