Never Leave the Familiar – 9 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

download (8)1. Calmly and confidently hold our own identity

“None of us can dialogue with others until we can calmly and confidently hold our own identity. None of us can know much about second-half-of-life spirituality as long as we are still trying to create the family, the parenting, the security, the order, the pride that we were not given in the first half…”

2. The Great Compassion

“If we do not find the unified field, ‘our complex and inexplicable caring for each other,’ or what Buddhists call the Great Compassion, there is no healing to life’s inconsistencies and contradictions…”

3. Who we already are

“Life is a matter of becoming fully and consciously who we already are, but it is a self that we largely do not know…”

4. To build your house well

“To build you house well is, ironically, to be nudged beyond its doors.”

5. Most never leave the familiar at all

“The very first sign of a potential hero’s journey is that he or she must leave home, the familiar, which is something that may not always occur to someone in the first half of life. (In fact, many people have not left home by their thirties today, and most never leave the familiar at all!) If you have spent many years building your particular tower of success and self-importance – your personal ‘salvation project,’ as Thomas Merton called it – or have successfully constructed your own superior ethnic group, religion, or ‘house,’ you won’t want to leave it. (Now that many people have second, third, and fourth houses, it makes me wonder how they can ever leave home.)”

6. Success, security, and containment

“In the first half of life, success, security, and containment – ‘looking good’ to ourselves and others – are almost the only questions…”

7. Preoccupation with order, control, safety, pleasure, and certitude

“The very unfortunate result of this preoccupation with order, control, safety, pleasure, and certitude is that a high percentage of people never get to the contents of their own lives…”

8. If we do not move beyond

“If we do not move beyond our early motivations of personal security, reproduction, and survival (the fear-based preoccupation of the ‘lizard brain’), we will never proceed beyond the lower stages of human or spiritual development…”

9. Is that all there is?

“Almost all of culture, and even most of religious history, has been invested in the creation and maintenance of first-half-of-life issues: the big three concerns of identity, security, and sexuality and gender. They don’t just preoccupy us; they totally take over. That is where history has been up to now, I am afraid. In fact, most generations have seen boundary marking and protecting those boundaries as their primary and sometimes only task in life. Most of history has been the forging of structures of security and appropriate loyalty symbols, to announce and defend one’s personal identity, one’s group, and one’s gender issues and identity. Now we seem to live in a time when more and more people are asking, ‘Is that all there is?’”

Do you seek to leave what is familiar to you in 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