Real Human Pain – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

download (8)1. If you do not do the first half of life well

“If you do not do the task of the first half of life well, you have almost no ability to rise up from the stumbling stone. You just stay down and defeated, or you waste your time kicking against the goad… In much of urban and Western civilization today, with no proper tragic sense of life, we try to believe that it is all upward and onward – and by ourselves. It works for so few, and it cannot serve us well in the long run – because it is not true. It is an inherently win-lose game, and more and more people find themselves on the losing side…”

2. In the second half of life

“In the second half of life, we can give our energy to making even the painful parts and the formally excluded parts belong to the now unified field – especially people who are different, and those who have never had a chance. If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect and falling, you can now do it for just about everybody else. If you have not done it for yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others…”

3. Fresh air and spacious breathing room

“The bottom line of the Gospel is that most of us have to hit some kind of bottom before we even start the real spiritual journey. Up to that point, it is mostly religion. At the bottom, there is little time or interest in being totally practical, efficient, or revenue generating. You just want to breathe fresh air. The true Gospel is always fresh air and spacious breathing room.”

4. A strange and even wonderful communion in real human pain

“Failure and suffering are the great equalizers and levelers among humans. Success is just the opposite. Communities and commitment can form around suffering much more than around how wonderful or superior we are… There is a strange and even wonderful communion in real human pain, actually much more than in joy, which is too often manufactured and passing. In one sense, pain’s effects are not passing, and pain is less commonly manufactured. Thus it is a more honest doorway into lasting communion than even happiness.”

5. Limit situations and boundaries

“…we ironically need limit situations and boundaries to grow up. A completely open field does not do the job nearly as well or as quickly…”

6. Failure and humiliation

“Any attempt to engineer or plan your own enlightenment is doomed to failure because it will be ego driven. You will see only what you have already decided to look for, and you cannot see what you are not ready or told to look for. So failure and humiliation force you to look where you never would otherwise…”

Are you constantly driven by your ego?

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