Suffering Much and Loving Deeply – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

by Mark Votava

71TI4PvYKoL1. Inner experience and actual practices

“Too often, religion offers more doctrinal conclusions, more competing truth claims in the increasingly large marketplace of religious claims, but seldom does it give people a vision, process, and practices whereby they can legitimate those truth claims for themselves – by inner experience and actual practices.”

2. Afraid of any silence

“I would even say that on the practical level, silence and God will be experienced simultaneously – and even as the same thing. And afterward, you will want to remain even more silent. The overly verbal religion of the last five hundred years does not seem to understand this at all and tends to be afraid of any silence whatsoever. It cannot follow Jesus and go into the desert for forty days, where there is nothing to say, to prove, to think, or to defend.”

3. The path of great love and suffering

“…there are two paths that break down our dualistic thinking and our inability to let go: the path of great love and the path of great suffering. Neither of them can be willed, truly understood, or programmed by any method whatsoever. There is no precise technique or foolproof formula for love or suffering. They are their own teachers, the best of teachers, in their own time and in their unique way each time. If you are like me, however, you would rather have teaching in the head than what I call ‘the authority of those who have suffered’ and have emerged from the belly of the whale, transformed.”

4. Why so much status quo?

“Why so much status quo? Once you know that one thing the ego hates more than anything else is change, it makes perfect sense why most people hunker down into mere survival. Whether because of abuse and oppression or other causes, defended and defensive selves will do anything rather than change – even acting against their best interest…”

5. Those who have suffered much or loved deeply

“Who are the people of every place and time who have discovered this deep 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 crossing points, the rings of fire, and because love and suffering are available to all, the eyes of true faith are available to all…”

6. Learn to live with paradox

“Each one of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possessing the patience of good relationships…”

7. Our deepest level of desiring

“One only needs to constantly connect with our deepest level of desiring, which, paradoxically, is much harder than mere will power and technique…”

8. Standing back and calmly observe my inner dramas

“This ability to stand back and calmly observe my inner dramas, without rushing to judgment, is foundational for spiritual seeing. It is the primary form of ‘dying to the self’ that Jesus lived personally and the Buddha taught experientially. The growing consensus is that, whatever you call it, such calm, egoless seeing is invariably characteristic of people at the highest levels of doing and loving in all cultures and religions. They are the ones we call sages or wise women or holy men. They see like the mystics see.”

How can we learn to practice seeing as the mystics see?

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