Truth is Not an Abstraction or an Idea – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

by Mark Votava

9781616361570_p0_v1_s260x4201. You cannot heal 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…”

2. Truth is not an abstraction or an idea

“The longer I live the more I believe that truth is not an abstraction or an idea that can be put into formulas or mere words. Our real truth has to do with how we situate ourselves in this world… There are ways of living and relating that are honest and sustainable and fair, and there are utterly dishonest ways of living and relating to life. This is our real, de facto, and operative ‘truth,’ no matter whose theories or theologies we believe. Our life situation and our style of relating to others is ‘the truth’ that we actually take with us to the grave. It is who we are, more than our theories about this or that…”

3. 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.”

4. Our explanations, our preferences, our theologies

“We all seem to bind up both God and one another inside of our explanations, our preferences, and even our theologies. The patterns never seem to change.”

5. Not just to make amends

“Skillful means is not just to make amends but to make amends in ways that ‘do not injure others.’ Truth is not just factual truth (the great mistake of fundamentalists), but a combination of both text and context, style and intent. Our supposed right to know every ‘truth’ about our neighbor too often feeds those with preexisting malice, bias, or mental imbalance, and leads to spin, distortion, and misinterpretation of supposed facts.”

6. Meditation and contemplation

“The mind is the normal control tower, so it must be educated first… 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. The small mind cannot deal with Bigness and Newness, which God always is! Even most addiction counselors recognize that many addicts are ‘all or nothing thinkers.’ I call this dualistic thinking, and is the normal labeling, rational mind that is good for things like science, math, and turning left or right. But it is at a complete loss with the big five of God, death, suffering, love, and infinity.”

Do you believe truth is an abstraction or an idea? Or is it how you relate to life?

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