Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: The Naked Now

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

Unknowing or Confusion – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

71TI4PvYKoL1. Disorder and imperfection

 “The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection – and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth. This is what makes Jesus so counterintuitive to most eras and cultures, and why most never perceived the great good news in this utter shift of consciousness. That failure to understand his core message, and a concrete program by which you could experience this truth for yourself, is at the center of our religious problem today. We look for hope where it was never promised, and no one gave us the proper software so we could know hope for ourselves, least of all in disorder and imperfection! Worst of all, we did not know that hope and union are the same thing, and that real hope has nothing to do with mental certitudes.”

2. Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic

“Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic, but pure experience is always nondualistic. Think about that!”

3. The path of great love and the path of great 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 own 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. Unknowing or confusion

“Such an opening or re-opening is entirely necessary to help you make fresh starts or break through to new levels. You normally have to let go of the old and go through a stage of unknowing or confusion, before you can move to another level of awareness or new capacity. This staging and stepping-over is largely what we mean by faith, and it explains why doubt and faith are correlative terms. People of great faith often suffer bouts of great doubt at many levels because they continue to grow at new levels. Mother Teresa experienced decades of this kind of doubt, as was widely reported sometime after her death. The very fact that the world media and people in general so little understood this in her demonstrates how limited is our understanding of the nature of Biblical faith.”

5. Growing throughout all of your life

“Once you accept ongoing change as a central program for yourself, you tend to continue growing throughout all of your life…”

6. Attacking or defending

“When you are concerned with either attacking or defending, manipulating or resisting, pushing or pulling, you cannot be contemplative…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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The Judgmental Mind – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

71TI4PvYKoL

1. Real hope has nothing to do with mental certitudes

“The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike almost any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection – and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth.  This is what makes Jesus so counterintuitive to most eras and cultures, and why most never perceived the great good news in this utter shift of consciousness.  That failure to understand his core message, and a concrete program by which you could experience this truth for yourself, is at the center of our religious problem today.  We looked for hope where it was never promised, and no one gave us the proper software so we could know hope for ourselves, least of all in disorder and imperfection!  Worst of all, we did not know that hope and union are the same thing, and that real hope has nothing to do with mental certitudes.”

2. A lifetime of work and honest self-observation

“The great teachers are saying that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with a ‘No.’ You have to start with a ‘Yes’ of basic acceptance, which means not too quickly labeling, analyzing, or categorizing things in or out, good or bad.  You have to leave the field open.  The ego seems to strengthen itself by constriction, by being against, or by re-action, and it feels loss or fear when it opens up.  Spiritual teachers want you to live by positive action, open field, and conscious understanding, and not by resistance, knee-jerk reactions, or defensiveness.  This is not easy: it often takes a lifetime of work and honest self-observation to stop judging or start with a ‘no.’”

3. Jesus’ direct and clear teachings

“Jesus’ direct and clear teachings on issues such as nonviolence, a simple lifestyle, love of the poor, forgiveness, love of enemies, inclusivity, mercy, and not seeking status, power, perks, and possessions: throughout history, all have been overwhelmingly ignored by mainline Christian churches, even those who call themselves orthodox or biblical.”

4. Those who have suffered much or loved deeply

“Who are the people of every place and time who have discovered this deeper 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 crossover points… and because love and suffering are available to all, the eyes of true faith are available to all…”

5. If I cannot detach from a person or event or feeling

“If I cannot detach from a person or event or feeling when it is needed or appropriate, then I can take it as certain that I am overidentified, overly attached, or even emeshed.  This could be called unawareness, the unawakened state, or blindness.  Seemingly, this is true of most people, because no one ever told them there was another way.”

6. You cannot love reality with the judgmental mind

“Fundamentalism suffers from the same false seeing.  It is basically a love affair with words and ideas about God instead of God himself or herself.  But you cannot really love words; you can only think them.  You cannot really love reality with the judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And usually it is never fixed enough to deserve your protected gift of self.  So you stay on Delay, Stall, or Pause forever.  We see this fear of intimacy in most people, but in particular with men, who tend to have a more defended ego structure.”

What are your thoughts on these quotes?

Book Review – The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr

71TI4PvYKoL

This is one of my favorite books of all time!  I love Richard Rohr’s perspective on the ways we have become stuck in our dualistic thinking.  In fact, we seem to hide behind our dualistic thinking in the name of Christianity, the Bible and God often times.

Richard Rohr gets to the heart of learning to see as the mystics have known and practiced throughout the centuries.  It all comes down to seeing the sacredness of all of life without dualities.  We cannot go on judging, labeling and categorizing everything that has the nature of mystery.  If we do, we cannot love the paradoxes of life that have so much meaning to offer.

The Naked Now is about presence, wisdom, suffering, love, inner experience, practice, becoming human and the kingdom of God.  This book shows us that contemplation is countercultural and leads us out of our dualistic thinking.  We learn to see as the mystics, who had a rich interior life, deep discernment and the abilities to embrace mystery in all of life.

This is one of the best books on recovering mysticism, contemplation and necessary paradoxes in everyday life.  Rohr helps us to become aware and conscious of our dualistic thinking is so many profound ways.  If you are wanting to understand dualistic thinking and how this has affected our spirituality in the Western world of North America, this book is a good one for you to read.  Highly recommended!

  • The contemplative mind withholds from labeling things or categorizing

“In effect, the contemplative mind in East or West withholds from labeling things or categorizing them too quickly, so it can come to see them in themselves, apart from words or concepts that become their substitutes.”

  • 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.”

  • Cannot really love reality with the judgmental mind

“You cannot really love reality with the judgmental mind, because you’ll always try to control it, fix it, or understand it before you give yourself to it.  And usually it is never fixed enough to deserve your protected gift of self.”

  • Becoming so defended that you cannot love or see well

“Never underestimate the absolute importance – and the difficulty – of starting each encounter with a primal ‘yes!’  Isn’t this what we consistently see in great people and those who make a difference?  To start each encounter with ‘no’ is largely what it means to be unconscious or unaware.  You eventually become so defended that you cannot love or see well…”

  • Presence is wisdom

“Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth.  Wisdom is precisely a different way of seeing and knowing those ten thousand things.  I suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be present.  Wise people always know how to be present, but it is much more than that.  Presence is wisdom!  People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly, and truthfully.  Presence is the one thing necessary, and in many ways, the hardest thing of all…”

  • Learning to become human

“With dualistic minds it is always one or the other – it can never be both.  The result is that we still think of ourselves as mere humans trying desperately to become ‘spiritual,’ when the Christian revelation was precisely that you are already spiritual (‘in God’), and your difficult but necessary task is to learn how to become human…”

  • Dualistic thinking is not naked presence

“Ultimate Reality cannot be seen with any dual operation of the mind, where we eliminate the mysterious, the confusing – anything scary, unfamiliar, or outside our comfort zone.  Dualistic thinking is not naked presence to the Presence, but highly controlled and limited seeing.  With such software, we cannot access things like infinity, God, grace, mercy, or love – the necessary and important things!”

  • The ego hates change

“Why so much status quo?  Once you know that the 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 own best interest…”

  • The kingdom of God is the naked now

“Jesus’ primary metaphor for this new consciousness was ‘the kingdom of God.’  He is not talking about a place, or an afterlife, but a way of seeing and thinking now.  The kingdom of God is the naked now – the world without human kingdoms, ethnic communities, national boundaries, or social identifications…”

  • A tree of continual and constant fruitfulness

“The contemplative, nondual mind is a tree of continual and constant fruitfulness for the soul and for the world.”

  • Preoccupied with enemies

“When you are preoccupied with enemies, you are always dualistic…”

  • Contemplation is simply too countercultural

“Today, contemplation is simply too countercultural for most of us who get caught up in that normal world of buying and selling, working, and raising children.”

  • Love and suffering

“Only love and suffering are strong enough to break down our usual ego defenses, crush our dualistic thinking, and open us up to Mystery…”

  • Learning to live with paradox

“Each 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…”

  • Strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves

“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others.”

How can we learn to live in the naked now?

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Now-Learning-See-Mystics/dp/0824525434/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417029969&sr=8-1&keywords=the+naked+now

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417030056&sr=8-1&keywords=mark+votava