Pain and Beauty – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deepest Self

by Mark Votava

5103cbIkI3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Pain and beauty

“Pain and beauty constitute the two faces of God. Unbelievable beauty on the one hand, that we see reflected in the beauty of human beings to which we forever find ourselves attracted – whether it be physical beauty or spiritual beauty. But, on the other hand, mysteriously, brokenness, lameness, and weakness also pull us out of ourselves…”

2. Live in our isolated worlds

“Would there be communion at all if there were no need on this earth, no suffering on this earth? If there were no sin? No Imperfection? I think there would be no such communion as we now have. We would each live in our isolated worlds. I would not need you. I would not be drawn to you. I would be self-sufficient. I would be caught up smugly and happily in my own perfection. I would simply draw my life totally from within and would never need to look at the beauty and or pain on others’ faces. This is the Gnostic temptation, condemned in some form in every century. There are two things that draw us outside of ourselves: pain on other people’s faces, and the unbelievable beauty that is other human beings at their best. Or in other words: cross and resurrection.”

3. Recognition and response

“I dislike the language as ‘I have accepted Christ into my heart as my personal savior.’ The implication is that we are actually separate and our brave decision changes all of that. The truth is that we are already in Christ by the power of the Spirit. We are his flesh, we are his body, we are his children. It’s all a matter of recognition and response, which we call faith.”

4. The comfortable principles of our preconceived theology

“As soon as we distance ourselves from the control center of our brains, as soon as we free ourselves from the comfortable principles of our preconceived theology, as soon as we’ve gotten to the point where we know only that we actually know nothing, then the transcendent can reach us. Then we are no longer caught in the myth of reason, the myth of science. Then we open to the nonrational as well, to grace, to the transcendent… It’s all a matter of seeing.”  

5. Expose ourselves to silence

“What we need is not excessive self-consciousness but authentic contemplation. When we discover ourselves ‘hidden with Christ in God,’ we don’t need any kind of self-image at all… This is what will happen when we expose ourselves to silence and stop exposing ourselves to the judgments of the world, when we stop continuously ‘picking up’ the energy of others, when we stop thinking about what others think of us and what they take us to be. We are who we are in God – no more and no less.”

6. Action does not mean activism, busyness, or do goodism

“Action does not mean activism, busyness, or do goodism. Action, however, does mean a decisive commitment toward involvement and engagement in the social order… God ‘works together with’… all those who love. That does not imply frenetic programming, but it does say that our work is essential and even cocreative of the new world. Our action is apparently important and dignified in God’s eyes. In a real sense we even have a bias toward action, because there is no reason to believe that God gives us anything that we have not said yes to by work, decision, and effort.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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