Protecting Our Ego – 5 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

download (8)1. Protecting your present ego position

“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 adaptors.’ Yet even the intelligence of animals is determined by their ability to change and adjust their behavior in response to new circumstances. Those who do not, become extinct!”

2. Sacred wounds

“It has been acceptable for some time in America to remain ‘wound identified’ (that is, using one’s victimhood as one’s identity, one’s ticket to sympathy, and one’s excuse for not serving), instead of using the wound to ‘redeem the world,’ as we see in Jesus and many people who turn their wounds into sacred wounds that liberate both themselves and others.”

3. We move forward in ways we do not even understand

“God has to undo our illusions secretly, as it were, when we are not watching and not in perfect control, say the mystics. That is perhaps why the best word for God is actually Mystery. We move forward in ways that we do not even understand and through the quiet workings of time and grace. When we get there, we are never sure just how it happened, and God does not seem to care who gets the credit, as long as our growth continues…”

4. This discovery of our True Self

“It is religion’s job to teach us and guide us on this discovery of our True Self, but it usually makes the mistake of turning this into a worthiness contest of some sort, a private performance, or some kind of religious achievement on our part, through our belonging to the right group, practicing the right rituals, or believing the right things. These are just tugboats to get you away from the shore and out into the right sea; they are the oars to get you working and engaged with the Mystery. But never confuse these instruments with your profound ‘ability to share in the divine nature’ itself… It is the common, and in this case tragic, confusion of the medium with the message, or the style with the substance.”

5. Do not have enough experience of wholeness

“After almost seventy years, I am still a mystery to myself! Our youthful demand for certainty does eliminate most anxiety on the conscious level, so I can see why many of us stay in such a control tower during the first half of life. We do not have enough experience of wholeness to include all of its parts yet. First-half-of-life ‘naivete’ includes a kind of excitement and happiness that is hard to let go of, unless you know there is an ever deeper and tested kind of happiness out ahead of you. But you do not know that yet in the early years! Which is why those in the second half of life must tell you about it! Without elders, a society perishes socially and spiritually.”

Are you protecting your present ego position?

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