Worshipping the Status Quo – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

download (8)

1. Life is hard

“Carl Jung said that so much unnecessary suffering comes into the world because people will not accept the ‘legitimate suffering’ that comes from being human.  In fact, he said neurotic behavior is usually the result of refusing that legitimate suffering! Ironically, this refusal of the necessary pain of being human brings to the person ten times more suffering in the long run.  It is no surprise that the first and always unwelcome message in male initiation rites is ‘life is hard.’  We really are our own worst enemy when we deny this.”

2. To hold the full mystery of life

“I worry about ‘true believers’ who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all…  To hold the full mystery of life is always to endure its other half, which is the equal mystery of death and doubt.  To know anything fully is always to hold that part of it which is still mysterious and unknowable.”

3. Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing

“Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing; and full seeing seems to take most of our lifetime, with huge leaps in the final years, months, weeks, and days of life, as any hospice volunteer will tell you.  There seems to be cumulative and exponential growth in seeing people’s last years, for those who do their inner work.  There is also a cumulative closing down in people who have denied all shadow work and humiliating self-knowledge…”

4. Worshipping the status quo

“If change and growth are not programmed into your spirituality, if there are not serious warnings about the blinding nature of fear and fanaticism, your religion will always end up worshipping the status quo and protecting your present ego position and personal advantage – as if it were God!…  This resistance to change is so common, in fact, that it is almost what we expect from religious people, who tend to love the past more than the future or the present.  All we can conclude is that much of organized religion is itself living inside of first-half-of-life issues, which usually coincides with where most people are in any culture.  We all receive and pass on what our people are prepared to hear, and most people are not ‘early adopters’…”

5. The rational mind cannot process love or suffering

“The merely rational mind is invariably dualistic, and divides the field of almost every moment between what it can presently understand and what it deems ‘wrong’ or untrue.  Because the rational mind cannot process love or suffering, for example, it tends to either avoid them, deny them, or blame somebody for them, when in fact they are the greatest spiritual teachers of all, if we but allow them…”

6. Our Western dualistic minds

“Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well.  Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions.  We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us.  This is not the way of wisdom, and it is the way that people operate in the first half of life.”

What are some thoughts you might have around these quotes?