To Be Present – 10 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

by Mark Votava

9781616361570_p0_v1_s260x4201. A better-disguised ego

“It is the imperial ego that has to go, and only powerlessness can do the job correctly… Otherwise, we try to engineer our own transformation by our own rules and by our own power, which is by definition, therefore, not transformation! It seems we can in no way engineer or steer our own conversion. If we try to change our ego with the help of our ego, we only have a better- disguised ego!…”

2. Not loving at all

“Most bogus religion, in my opinion, is highly sacrificial in one or another visible way, but not loving at all…”

3. Deeper consciousness

“People only come to deeper consciousness by intentional struggles with contradictions, conflicts, inconsistencies, inner confusions…”

4. The totally rational or dualistic mind

“Almost all true spirituality has a paradoxical character to it, which is why the totally rational or dualistic mind invariably misses the point, and just calls things it does not understand wrong, heresy, or stupid…”

5. Fear-based problem-solving

“I do believe our religious history has been too guilt-based and shame-based, and not enough of what some would call ‘vision logic,’ which is a broader, positive, and out-in-front kind of motivation. Jesus’ metaphor and draw was a positive vision he called ‘the kingdom of God,’ which he seemed to be constantly talking about. For Bill W it was a ‘vital spiritual experience.’ Neither of these were a negative threat, but a positive allure, promise, and invitation. For me, this is crucial and necessary or the spiritual journey largely becomes fear-based problem-solving.”  

6. Meditation and contemplation

“Most practices of meditation and contemplation have to do with some concrete practices to recognize and to relativize the obsessive nature of the human mind…”

7. Deepest and truest obedience

“People’s willingness to find God in their own struggle with life – and let it change them – is their deepest and truest obedience to God’s eternal will. We must admit this is what all of us do anyway, as ‘God comes to us disguised as our life’! Remember, always, remember, that the heartfelt desire to do the will of God is, in fact, the truest will of God…”

8. What you do not acknowledge

“As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you…”

9. Avoidance of any real “renouncing” of the self

“False sacrifice is an actual avoidance of any real ‘renouncing’ of the self, while looking generous or dedicated… As French philosopher and writer Rene Girard convincingly argued Jesus came to proclaim the death of all sacrificial religion!…”

10. To be present

“To be present is to know what you need to know in the moment. To be present to something is to allow the moment, the person, the idea, or the situation to change you”

Are you present to your context in everyday life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist