The Judgmental Mind – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

by Mark Votava


1. Real hope has nothing to do with mental certitudes

“The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike almost any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection – and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth.  This is what makes Jesus so counterintuitive to most eras and cultures, and why most never perceived the great good news in this utter shift of consciousness.  That failure to understand his core message, and a concrete program by which you could experience this truth for yourself, is at the center of our religious problem today.  We looked for hope where it was never promised, and no one gave us the proper software so we could know hope for ourselves, least of all in disorder and imperfection!  Worst of all, we did not know that hope and union are the same thing, and that real hope has nothing to do with mental certitudes.”

2. A lifetime of work and honest self-observation

“The great teachers are saying that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with a ‘No.’ You have to start with a ‘Yes’ of basic acceptance, which means not too quickly labeling, analyzing, or categorizing things in or out, good or bad.  You have to leave the field open.  The ego seems to strengthen itself by constriction, by being against, or by re-action, and it feels loss or fear when it opens up.  Spiritual teachers want you to live by positive action, open field, and conscious understanding, and not by resistance, knee-jerk reactions, or defensiveness.  This is not easy: it often takes a lifetime of work and honest self-observation to stop judging or start with a ‘no.’”

3. Jesus’ direct and clear teachings

“Jesus’ direct and clear teachings on issues such as nonviolence, a simple lifestyle, love of the poor, forgiveness, love of enemies, inclusivity, mercy, and not seeking status, power, perks, and possessions: throughout history, all have been overwhelmingly ignored by mainline Christian churches, even those who call themselves orthodox or biblical.”

4. Those who have suffered much or loved deeply

“Who are the people of every place and time who have discovered this deeper meaning of faith in the midst of darkness?  Almost without exception, they are those who have suffered much or loved deeply.  Those two experiences are the common crossover points… and because love and suffering are available to all, the eyes of true faith are available to all…”

5. If I cannot detach from a person or event or feeling

“If I cannot detach from a person or event or feeling when it is needed or appropriate, then I can take it as certain that I am overidentified, overly attached, or even emeshed.  This could be called unawareness, the unawakened state, or blindness.  Seemingly, this is true of most people, because no one ever told them there was another way.”

6. You cannot love reality with the judgmental mind

“Fundamentalism suffers from the same false seeing.  It is basically a love affair with words and ideas about God instead of God himself or herself.  But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with the judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And usually it is never fixed enough to deserve your protected gift of self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall, or Pause forever.  We see this fear of intimacy in most people, but in particular with men, who tend to have a more defended ego structure.”

What are your thoughts on these quotes?