Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Falling Upward

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

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

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

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

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

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

People Who Have No Inner Struggles – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)1. Everything Belongs

“This new coherence, a unified field inclusive of the paradoxes, is precisely what gradually characterizes a second-half-of-life person. It feels like a return to simplicity after having learned from all the complexity. Finally, at last, one has lived long enough to see that ‘everything belongs,’ even the sad, absurd, and futile parts.”

2. People who have no inner struggles

“One of the great surprises is that humans come to full consciousness precisely by shadowboxing, facing their own contradictions, and making friends with their own mistakes and failings. People who have had no inner struggles are invariably both superficial and uninteresting. We tend to endure them more than communicate with them, because they have little to communicate. Shadow work is almost another name for falling upward…”

3. A true friend and teacher

“In the second half of life, all that you avoided for the sake of a manufactured ego ideal starts coming back as a true friend and teacher. Doers become thinkers, feelers become doers, thinkers become feelers, extroverts become introverts, visionaries become practical, and the practical ones long for vision. We all go toward the very places we avoided for the last forty years, and our friends our amazed. Now we begin to understand why Jesus is always welcoming the outsider, the foreigner, the sinner, the wounded one. He was a second-half-of-life man who has had the unenviable task of trying to teach and be understood by a largely first-half-of-life history, church, and culture.”

4. Caught up in the tragedy of it all

“The genius of the Gospel was that it included the problem inside the solution. The falling became the standing. The stumbling became the finding. The dying became the rising. The raft became the shore. The small self cannot see this very easily, because it doubts itself too much, is still too fragile, and is caught up in the tragedy of it all. It has not lived long enough to see the big patterns…”

5. Contradictions and adventures and challenges

“There is a deeper voice of God, which you must learn to hear and obey in the second half of life. It will sound an awful lot like the voices of risk, of trust, of surrender, of soul, of ‘common sense,’ of destiny, of love, of an intimate stranger, of your deepest self… The true faith journey only begins at this point. Up to now everything is mere preparation. Finally, we have a container strong enough to hold the contents of our real life, which is always filled with contradictions and adventures and immense challenges…”

6. Live in the now that is given

“All that each of us can do is to live in the now that is given. We cannot rush the process; we can only carry out each stage of our lives to the best of our ability…”

What kind of inner struggles do you have?

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

Floating More Comfortably – 5 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)1. Floating more comfortably

“It is very rare to really absorb the Gospel or wisdom thinking in the first half of life, so we settle for ‘answers’ and organizations, and build the whole structure around such non-answer answers… You end up denying the first and deeper river for the sake of the small river that everybody happens to be floating on. In fact, you just try to improve the barges, boats, and bridges on this small upper river so that people can float more comfortably…”

2. The negative, the mysterious, the scary, and the problematic

“In the first half of life, the negative, the mysterious, the scary, and the problematic are always exported elsewhere…”

3. Failure and suffering

“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.”

4. Worshipping the status quo

“If change and growth are not programed 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 adopters.’ 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.”

5. Falling or dying

“When you are in the first half of life, you cannot see any kind of falling or dying as even possible, much less as necessary or good. (Those who have never gone up, like the poor and the marginalized, may actually have a spiritual head start, according to Jesus!) But normally we need a few good successes to give us some ego structure and self-confidence, and to get us going. God mercifully hides thoughts of dying from the young, but unfortunately we then hide it from ourselves till the later years finally force it into our consciousness. Earnest Becker said some years ago that it is not love but ‘the denial of death’ that might well make the world go round. What if he is right?”

Which quote do you like the best?

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The Second Half of Life – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)1. The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart

“We do not want to embark on a further journey if it feels like going down, especially after we have put so much sound and fury into going up. This is surely the first and primary reason why so many people never get to the fullness of their own lives. The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart and show themselves to be wanting in some way, or we will not move further. Why would we?”

2. Death is a threat

“Death is largely a threat to those who have not yet lived their life…”

3. Overly defensive and overly offensive

“In our formative years, we are so self-preoccupied that we are both overly defensive and overly offensive at the same time, with little time left for simply living, pure friendship, useless beauty, or moments of communion with nature or anything. Yet that kind of ego structuring is exactly what a young person partly needs to get through the first twenty years or so, and what tribes need to survive. Maybe it is what humanity needed to get started. ‘Good fences make good neighbors,’ Robert Frost said, but he also presumed that you don’t just build fences. You eventually need to cross beyond them too, to actually meet the neighbor.”

4. We really do find ourselves through one another’s eyes

“We really do find ourselves through one another’s eyes, and only when that has been done truthfully can we mirror others with freedom, truth, and compassion… It is all a matter of learning how to see, and it takes much of our life to learn to see well and truthfully.”

5. In the second half of life

“In the second half of life, you gradually step out of this hall of revolving and self-reflecting mirrors. You can usually do this well only if you have one true mirror yourself, at least one loving honest friend to ground you, which might even be the utterly accepting gaze of the Friend. But, by all means, you must find at least one true mirror that reveals your inner, deepest, and, yes, divine image. This is why intimate moments are often mirroring moments of beautiful mutual receptivity, and why such intimacy heals us so deeply. Thinking you can truthfully mirror yourself is a first-half-of-life illusion…”

6. All that you avoided

“In the second half of life, all that you avoided for the sake of a manufactured ego ideal starts coming back as a true friend and teacher. Doers become thinkers, feelers become doers, thinkers become feelers, extroverts become introverts, visionaries become practical, and the practical ones long for vision. We all go toward the very places we avoided for the last forty years, and our friends are amazed. Now we begin to understand why Jesus is always welcoming the outsider, the foreigner, the sinner, the wounded one. He was a second-half-of-life man who has had the unenviable task of trying to teach and be understood by a largely first-half-of-life history, church, and culture.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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Our Deepest Inner Life – 7 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life 

download (8)1. Mysterious and unknowable

“I worry about ‘true believers’ who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all… To hold the full mystery of life is always to endure its other half, which is the equal mystery of death and doubt. To know anything fully is always to hold that part of it which is still mysterious and unknowable.”

2. 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…”

3. The Great Compassion

“If we do not find that 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…”

4. Led to the edge of your own private resources

“Sooner or later, if you are on any classic ‘spiritual schedule,’ some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong willpower. Spiritually speaking, you will be, you must be, led to the edge of your own private resources. At that point you will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it; or to state it in our language here, you will and you must ‘lose’ at something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-God-Grace-Mystery can get you to change, let go of your egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey. I wish I could say this was not true, but it is darn near absolute in the spiritual literature of the world.”

5. Our deepest inner life

“The Holy Spirit is that aspect of God that works largely from within and ‘secretly’ at ‘the deepest levels of our desiring,’ as so many of the mystics have said… We never ‘create’ or earn the Spirit; we discover this inner abiding as we learn to draw upon our deepest inner life…”

6. Unknowing becomes another kind of knowing

“Wisdom happily lives with mystery, doubt, and ‘unknowing,’ and in such living, ironically resolves that very mystery to some degree. I have never figured out why unknowing becomes another kind knowing, but it surely seems to be…”

7. Inner abiding place

“The common word for this inner abiding place of the Spirit, which is also a place of longing, has usually been the word soul. We have our soul already – we do not ‘get’ it by any purification process or by joining any group or from the hands of a bishop. The end is already planted in us at the beginning, and it gnaws away at us until we get there freely and consciously…”

Which quote do you like the best?

51DJfJVBpBL (1)

Western Dualistic Minds – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)1. Led by Mystery

“None of us go into our spiritual maturity completely of our own accord, or by total free choice. We are led by Mystery…”

2. The first half of life

“Most of us are never told that we can set out from the known and the familiar to take on a further journey. Our institutions and our expectations, including our churches, are almost entirely configured to encourage, support, reward, and validate the tasks of the first half of life. Shocking and disappointing, but I think it is true. We are more struggling to survive than to thrive, more just ‘getting through’ or trying to get to the top than finding out what is really at the top or was already at the bottom…”

3. The rational mind is dualistic

“The merely rational mind is invariably dualistic, and divides the field of almost every moment between what it can presently understand and what it then deems ‘wrong’ or untrue. Because the rational mind cannot process love or suffering, for example, it tends to either avoid them, deny them, or blame somebody for them, when in fact they are the greatest spiritual teachers of all, if we but allow them.”

4. A well-disguised narcissist

“Basically, if you stay in the protected first half of life beyond its natural period, you become a well-disguised narcissist or an adult infant (who is also a narcissist!) – both of whom are often thought to be successful ‘good old boys’ by the mainstream culture…”

5. Off balance

“…you learn how to recover from falling by falling!… People who have never allowed themselves to fall are actually off balance, while not realizing it at all. That is why they are so hard to live with…”

6. 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.”

7. Western dualistic minds

“…very few Christians have been taught how to live both law and freedom at the same time. Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well. Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions. We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us. This is not the way of wisdom, and it is the way people operate in the first half of life.”

8. Being comfortable with diversity

“Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity is the only world there is! It is rather amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Worshipping the Status Quo – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)

1. Life is hard

“Carl Jung said that so much unnecessary suffering comes into the world because people will not accept the ‘legitimate suffering’ that comes from being human.  In fact, he said neurotic behavior is usually the result of refusing that legitimate suffering! Ironically, this refusal of the necessary pain of being human brings to the person ten times more suffering in the long run.  It is no surprise that the first and always unwelcome message in male initiation rites is ‘life is hard.’  We really are our own worst enemy when we deny this.”

2. To hold the full mystery of life

“I worry about ‘true believers’ who cannot carry any doubt or anxiety at all…  To hold the full mystery of life is always to endure its other half, which is the equal mystery of death and doubt.  To know anything fully is always to hold that part of it which is still mysterious and unknowable.”

3. Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing

“Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing; and full seeing seems to take most of our lifetime, with huge leaps in the final years, months, weeks, and days of life, as any hospice volunteer will tell you.  There seems to be cumulative and exponential growth in seeing people’s last years, for those who do their inner work.  There is also a cumulative closing down in people who have denied all shadow work and humiliating self-knowledge…”

4. Worshipping the status quo

“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 adopters’…”

5. The rational mind cannot process love or suffering

“The merely rational mind is invariably dualistic, and divides the field of almost every moment between what it can presently understand and what it deems ‘wrong’ or untrue.  Because the rational mind cannot process love or suffering, for example, it tends to either avoid them, deny them, or blame somebody for them, when in fact they are the greatest spiritual teachers of all, if we but allow them…”

6. Our Western dualistic minds

“Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well.  Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions.  We are better at rushing to judgment and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us.  This is not the way of wisdom, and it is the way that people operate in the first half of life.”

What are some thoughts you might have around these quotes?

Dualistic Thinking – 7 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

download (8)

1. The best word for God is actually Mystery

“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.  As Gregory of Nyssa already said in the fourth century, ‘Sin happens whenever we refuse to keep growing’”

2. We cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand

“There must be, and, if we are honest, there always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand…”

3. The more you exclude

“The more you exclude, the more hellish and lonely your existence always is…”

4. To love what you have – right now

“Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have – right now.  This is a monumental change from the first half of life, so much so that it is almost the litmus test of whether you are in the second half of life at all.”

5. Your world should grow much larger

“If you are on course at all, your world should grow much larger in the second half of life…”

6. Knowing most things by comparison

“Dualistic thinking is the well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison.  And for some reason, once you compare or label things (that is, judge), you almost always conclude that one is good and the other is less good or even bad.  Don’t take my word for it; just notice your own thoughts and reactions.  You will see that you will move almost automatically into a pattern of up or down, in or out, for me or against me, right or wrong, black or white, gay or straight, good or bad.  It is the basic reason why the ‘stinking thinking’ of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, religious imperialism, and prejudice of all kinds is so hard to overcome and has lasted so long – even among nice people!”

7. Intimate I-Thou relationships are the greatest mirrors of all

“The genius of the Gospel was that it included the problem inside the solution.  The falling became the standing.  The stumbling became the finding.  The dying became the rising.  The raft became the shore.  The small self cannot see this very easily, because it doubts itself too much, is still too fragile, and is caught up in the tragedy of it all.  It has not lived long enough to see the big patterns.  No wonder so many young people commit suicide.  This is exactly why we need elders and those who can mirror life truthfully and foundationally for the young.  Intimate I-Thou relationships are the greatest mirrors of all, so we dare not avoid them, but for the young they have perhaps not yet taken place at any depth, so young people are always very fragile.”

Which quote stands out to you the most?