Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Richard Rohr

Open Eyes – 10 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

41YwunJqU-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Connection and relationship

“The entire universe is about connection and relationship – from the smallest atom to the galaxies and everything in between…”

2. The inner, the soul, intuition, connection

“The feminine principle has greater interest in the inner, the soul, the formless, deeper feeling, intuition, connection, harmony, beauty, and relationality in general; it is more identified with lunar subtlety and not the over-differentiating light of the masculine sun god or the literalism and linearity of the left brain. Not all women fully identify with the feminine principle, of course, and some men do, but these descriptors give you a sense of what I mean by the feminine…”

3. Humility commonly looks like

“In the male world, humility commonly looks like weakness, lack of exposure to the ‘real world,’ or even low self-esteem; but it is not an admirable virtue or any kind of needed strength…”

4. The demand for certitude

“It is important to know that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but in fact, certitude and the demand for certitude…”

5. The deeper levels

“…the soul needs living models to grow, and quite precisely exemplars with the expansive energies of love. People who are eager to love change us at the deeper levels; they alone seem able to open the field of both mind and heart at the same time… When we are in this different state, and that is what it is, we find ourselves open to directions or possibilities we would never allow or imagine before or after.”

6. Open eyes

“We all know love’s absence as hell, and its presence goes by the name of heaven. We all know the difference intuitively and energetically between people who are in heaven now and people who are in hell now. This demands no ‘belief’ or theology whatsoever, but only open eyes that mirror God’s eternal eagerness to love, and the imaginal world that such eyes create within us.”

7. The dualistic and contentious mind

“One wonders, however, if the dualistic and contentious mind that we now take as normative can understand, allow or support this kind of radical spirituality…”

8. Learn to offer life a foundational yes

“…we all must learn to offer life a foundational yes before we offer our critical no. If we start with no, it is almost impossible to ever get back to a full yes.”

9. An act of solidarity

“A simple lifestyle is quite simply an act of solidarity with the way most people have lived since the beginning of humanity. It is thus restorative justice instead of the world’s limited notion of retributive justice.”

10. Inner authority

“…the real authority that ‘authors’ people and changes the world is an inner authority that comes from people who have lost, let go, and are refound on a new level. Twelve-step programs have come to much the same conclusion in our time.”

Do you live with open eyes in everyday life?

Purchase Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

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

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?

Purchase Breathing Under Water

Our Curiosity About Our True Self – 10 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Immortal Diamond: The Search For Our True Self

immoral_diamond1. God and consciousness and Being

“Perhaps God and consciousness and Being are the same thing. This ever-flowing abundance that we call God clearly loves and revels in endless manifestation, fecundity, and diversity. The Formless One is forever seeking new and fantastic forms… There is surely no indication of any divine interest in blandness, uniformity, exclusion, mindless repetition, or sameness.”

2. Delusional and counterproductive

“Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self. That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway… In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted. God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them…”

3. The lie of separation

“Jesus never appeared to believe the ‘lie of separation,’ which is the core meaning of sin. He said without hesitation, ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30). That made him indeed unique – and the ultimate model and leader for all of humanity.”

4. The most inclusive system of all

“Healthy religion should be the most inclusive system of all, making use of every discipline, avenue, and access point for Big Truth…”

5. The death of our ever fading False Self

“The ego self is the self before death; the soul is real only after we have walked through the death of our ever fading False Self and come out larger and brighter on the other side…”

6. Divine breath passing through you

“Your True Self is that part of you that is going to live forever and sees truthfully. It is divine breath passing through you. Your False Self is that part of you that is constantly changing and will eventually die anyway. It is in the world of passing forms and looks out with itself as the central reference point – which is never true. The False Self is passing, tentative, and, as the Hindus and Buddhists say, ‘empty.’ Mature religion helps us speed up this process of dying to the False Self – or at least to stop fighting its clear demise. This is why saints live in such a countercultural way…”

7. Inside our “conventional wisdom”

“We pulled Jesus inside our ‘conventional wisdom’ and seldom allowed him to be the teacher of alternative wisdom that he has always been.”

8. If a person keeps growing

“If a person keeps growing, his or her various false selves usually die in exposure to greater light.”

9. A dark and dangerous risk

“Both God and the True Self need only to fully be themselves and generously show themselves… To allow yourself to be grabbed and held by such a divine wholeness is a dark and dangerous risk, and yet this is exactly what we mean by ‘salvation’…”

10. Our curiosity about our True Self

“Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lessen if we settle into any ‘successful’ role. We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it. Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…”

Are you curious about your True Self?

Purchase Immortal Diamond

So Totally Dualistic – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

41YwunJqU-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. We do not need to be afraid of true freedom

“God is free and so we do not need to be afraid of true freedom; God is nonviolent love, and this is the only hope for a world in which even Christians think violence is a way to ‘redeem’ the world. Wrong ideas about God create wrong ideas about everything else too.”

2. Union with the divine

“…for more and more people, union with the divine is first experienced through the Christ: in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, a sense of awe, or some kind of ‘Brother Sun and Sister Moon’ experience…”

3. The demand for some supposed perfection

“The greatest enemy of ordinary daily goodness and joy is not imperfection, but the demand for some supposed perfection. Please meditate on that. There seems to be a dark side to almost everything, but only the intuitive or non-dual mind can accept this and not panic, but, in fact, grow because of it.”

4. Window dressings

“When you have not had any internal experience of God and grace, you almost always overcompensate with external window dressing. The ‘window dressings’ are not wrong in themselves, but do tend to make nonessentials into the essentials that we obsess about and divide over. When you have done this for half of your life, it is very hard to let go of it…”

5. A sidewalk spirituality

“Franciscan spirituality is ‘a sidewalk spirituality’ for the streets of the world and the paths of the forest…”

6. Compassion and Patience

“The most obvious change that results from such a holding and allowing is that we will naturally become much more compassionate and much more patient. Compassion and patience are the absolutely unique characteristics of true spiritual authority… A spiritual leader who lacks basic human compassion has almost no power to change other people, because people intuitively know he or she does not represent the Divine or Big Truth. Such leaders have to rely upon role, laws, and enforcement powers to effect any change in others. Such change does not go deep, nor does it last. In fact, it is not really change at all.”

7. Our blindness and lack of reverence

“There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments – and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all part of it. You really cannot get any better or more simple than that, in terms of a spiritual vision.”

8. So totally dualistic

“In some ways, the Western Church did not become so totally dualistic in its thinking until after the Reformation and the rational Enlightenment. After the printing press, words became more important than actual experience.”

Have you become totally dualistic?

Purchase Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

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

Places To Hide – 7 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

71TI4PvYKoL1. The depths of our own desire

“I think we are on the very edge of history – and about to be edged over – by the depths of the need and from the depths of our own desire.”

2. Similar questions

“Perhaps you have asked yourself similar questions: Why do people become so attached to political parties and habits of thought that they even vote against their own self-interest and cherished beliefs? Why do so many people have a clearer idea of what they are against than what they are for? You might wonder why, in politics, we call people ‘strong’ simply because they never change their mind. You wonder why the same story line of good guys and bad guys is the narrative of most movies, novels, operas, and theater. You wonder why people who hate religion tend to attack it with the same dogmatism that they hate in religion.”

3. Places to hide

“Most people have not been offered a different mind, only different behaviors, beliefs, and belonging systems. They do not necessarily nourish us, much less transform us. But they invariably secure us and validate us where we already are. They are what I and others have called ‘the task of the first half of life.’ Required behaviors and beliefs are good and necessary to get us started. But when we invest in them too heavily, they soon becomes places to hide… If we hold on to them too tightly and for too long, we never internalize values and strengths – we never ‘grow up.’ Isn’t this true of a lot of people you know? Is it true of you, too?”

4. Contemplative awareness

“I am a man of one major idea: immediate, unmediated contact with the moment is the clearest path to divine union; naked, undefended, and nondual presence has the best chance of encountering the Real Presence. I am approaching this theme in a hundred ways, because I know most of us have one hundred levels of resistance, denial, or avoidance, and for some reason, in our complicated world, it is very hard to teach very simple things. Any ‘mystery,’ by definition, is pregnant with hundreds of levels of unfolding and realization. That is especially true of the ‘tree of life’ that is contemplative awareness.”

5. Even greater growth

“Love, I believe, is the only way to initially and safely open the door of awareness and aliveness, and then suffering for that love keeps that door open and available for even greater growth. They are two great doors, and we dare not leave them closed.”

6. Objectify paradoxes

“Western Christianity has tended to objectify paradoxes in dogmatic statements that demand mental agreement instead of any inner experience of the mystery revealed…”

7. The great paradoxes within Jesus

“One of the subtle ways to avoid imitating someone is to put them on a pedestal, above and apart from us. When you accept that Jesus was not merely divine but human as well, you can begin to see how you are not separate from Jesus. Open yourself to recognizing the great paradoxes within Jesus. Then you can begin to hold those same opposites together within yourself.”

Have we found places to hide in the task of the first half of 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

Suffering Much and Loving Deeply – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

71TI4PvYKoL1. Inner experience and actual practices

“Too often, religion offers more doctrinal conclusions, more competing truth claims in the increasingly large marketplace of religious claims, but seldom does it give people a vision, process, and practices whereby they can legitimate those truth claims for themselves – by inner experience and actual practices.”

2. Afraid of any silence

“I would even say that on the practical level, silence and God will be experienced simultaneously – and even as the same thing. And afterward, you will want to remain even more silent. The overly verbal religion of the last five hundred years does not seem to understand this at all and tends to be afraid of any silence whatsoever. It cannot follow Jesus and go into the desert for forty days, where there is nothing to say, to prove, to think, or to defend.”

3. The path of great love and suffering

“…there are two paths that break down our dualistic thinking and our inability to let go: the path of great love and the path of great suffering. Neither of them can be willed, truly understood, or programmed by any method whatsoever. There is no precise technique or foolproof formula for love or suffering. They are their own teachers, the best of teachers, in their own time and in their unique way each time. If you are like me, however, you would rather have teaching in the head than what I call ‘the authority of those who have suffered’ and have emerged from the belly of the whale, transformed.”

4. Why so much status quo?

“Why so much status quo? Once you know that one thing the ego hates more than anything else is change, it makes perfect sense why most people hunker down into mere survival. Whether because of abuse and oppression or other causes, defended and defensive selves will do anything rather than change – even acting against their best interest…”

5. Those who have suffered much or loved deeply

“Who are the people of every place and time who have discovered this deep meaning of faith in the midst of darkness? Almost without exception, they are those who have suffered much or loved deeply. Those two experiences are the common crossing points, the rings of fire, and because love and suffering are available to all, the eyes of true faith are available to all…”

6. Learn to live with paradox

“Each one of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possessing the patience of good relationships…”

7. Our deepest level of desiring

“One only needs to constantly connect with our deepest level of desiring, which, paradoxically, is much harder than mere will power and technique…”

8. Standing back and calmly observe my inner dramas

“This ability to stand back and calmly observe my inner dramas, without rushing to judgment, is foundational for spiritual seeing. It is the primary form of ‘dying to the self’ that Jesus lived personally and the Buddha taught experientially. The growing consensus is that, whatever you call it, such calm, egoless seeing is invariably characteristic of people at the highest levels of doing and loving in all cultures and religions. They are the ones we call sages or wise women or holy men. They see like the mystics see.”

How can we learn to practice seeing as the mystics see?

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