Richard Rohr

Center for Action & Contemplation

August 30, 2021

 

New Podcast: 

The Cosmic We Featuring Barbara Holmes and Donny Bryant

The Cosmic We podcast goes beyond race and racism to consider relatedness as the organizing principle of the universe, exploring our shared cosmic origins though a cultural lens that fuses science, mysticism, spirituality, and the creative arts.

Together with prominent cosmologists, shamans, biblical scholars, poets and activists, CAC core teacher Barbara Holmes and co-host Donny Bryant unveil the “we” of us beyond color, continent, country, and kinship to conjure unseen futures in exploration of the mystery of Divine connection.

Listen to The Cosmic We online or subscribe on your favorite podcast player.

~

You can expect regular updates on our progress in Returning to the Center, as well as institutional history, community stories, staff essays, videos, and even opportunities to contribute. You will find the latest posts on our website as well as social media and in the News from New Mexico, the CAC’s monthly newsletter. cac.org

Center for Action & Contemplation

July 10, 2021

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

“Perhaps some of the most comforting words Jesus shared in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels are the prayer Christians call the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer.

While the prayer is most often said in community or as part of ritual prayer, this prayer can also be a contemplative practice when prayed slowly and mindfully, perhaps even as lectio divina.

We invite you to pray this modern version of the prayer of Jesus from the Anglican Church of New Zealand, which both honors and reflects indigenous Maori culture.”

-Father Richard Rohr

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples
        of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
        sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
       now and for ever.

Amen.

Om.

Shanti. 

~

Church of the Province of New Zealand, A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (Collins Liturgical Publications: 1989), 181.

Center for Action & Contemplation

June 27, 2021

One of the goals that is emphasized in our culture is finding answers—solving problems, answering questions, removing doubt. We want to know who, what, when, where, and why—and we want to know now. When we listen, we are trained to listen for the answers. . . .

Reflective listening distinguishes a response from an answer. It is a practice to get to know your inner voice, and it takes time and patience.

“Not knowing what to do is the work for you now.” -Francesca

“Live the questions now. Perhaps you then may gradually, without noticing, one day in the future live into the answers.” -Rilke

[Image by Lily Qian, © All Rights Reserved.]

Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
‘What a world you’ve got inside you.’

A new translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet has been released in a world in which his voice and vision feel as resonant as ever before. In ten letters to a young person in 1903, Rilke touched on the enduring dramas of creating our lives — prophetic musings about solitude and relationship, humanity and the natural world, even gender and human wholeness. And what a joy it is to delve into Rilke’s voice, freshly rendered, with the translators. Krista, Anita and Joanna have communed with Rainer Maria Rilke across time and space and their conversation is infused with friendship as much as ideas.
https://onbeing.org/programs/joanna-macy-and-anita-barrows-what-a-world-youve-got-inside-you/

Magic.

June 23, 2021

Allysha Levino:

RIGHT NOW, those of us who are CHOOSING CONSCIOUSNESS are gathering our tools and training, trusting our intuition, and hoping that humans will make the great evolutionary leap toward a world that works for everyone.

Wherever this roller coaster takes us, we’re all in this together!

So here’s my BIG QUESTION for you today:

→  What are YOU Noticing?

  • Are you sailing through feeling graceful?
  • Are you seeing everything in the old paradigm that doesn’t work anymore?
  • Is your body or mind struggling to make the leap?
  • Are you feeling the tension of the widening gap?

Noticing can help us reach a place of equanimity no matter where we are on the journey… and wherever you are right now is perfect.

Notice. Trust. Breathe.

Allysha is the Founder of Real Life Magic
& Sacred Mystery Tours
www.AllyshaLavino.com
www.SacredMysteryTours.com

It is important to consider what we might know about ourselves and how we interact or respond in the ways we do, or what we perceive or believe about our own faith, theology, and identity. As we endeavor to live fully into this notion of belovedness, we must be introspective and self-aware, carefully uncovering and discovering our most authentic selves while staying connected to Spirit, utilizing the resources of prayer and other spiritual practices. This is the basis of how we live out our spirituality.

Father Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation


Full moon update for Thursday, June 24th from Power Path:

 

This is an optimistic time, and could be very prosperous if you can move through the challenges of the distractions of drama and ego-driven negative behaviors in yourself and in others that may crop up. Honesty, emotional vulnerability, humility and a good spiritual base are important foundational aspects for success during this time. It can be a very expansive time especially if you can harness the positivity and optimism. It is a good time to reflect on the containers of your life. What is too small, too big, completed etc. We have some good momentum to initiate the creation of some new containers for ourselves for this cycle.

One the one hand you have the excitement and inspiration of a new container and new possibilities for expansion and partnerships. On the other hand, you may have the personal challenges of self doubt and sifting through some of the negative aspects of your personality that may get in the way of truth and clarity of intention. Even though the energy is moving more freely now, there is still some residual tension around restrictions, delays and right timing. Be patient, enjoy the process, love your friends and community, have a little gratitude, be creative.


The shadow he gave was was enormously devastatingly encompassing, and in the box the magnificent light revealed. I am grateful for gifts of darkness. -dayle

Inter-be.

May 29, 2021

We’re not in a race to check off as many boxes as we possibly can before we are out of time. Instead, we have the chance to use the time to create moments that matter. Because they connect us, because they open doors, because the moments, added up, create a life.

-Seth Godin

“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. Without sunshine, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here—time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. We cannot just be by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. . . . Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.” –Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh

What do you see?


‘I bring a sun-shift to others when I shift my light. Darkness does not exist in the light.’ [A Course in Miracles.]

Shift.

If you feel uncomfortable with anything, you should re-consider your situation.

Cut your losses.

Far better to admit a mistake than to persist in it and allow it to develop into a nightmare.

-A. Stoddard

 

 

Dualities and Dance

May 22, 2021

“Our world thrives on dualities, our systems depend upon it, and participating in separation has become so normalized that it feels as natural as breathing.

How can we create balance within our selves? We change the system by changing the people who keep it alive, and that change begins with ourselves.

We contain within us the same fundamental forces that are found in nature: stability (tamas), energy (rajas), and harmony or basic goodness (sattva). These are called gunas in Sanskrit.

These three intertwine, in various ways, to create everything (visible and invisible) in the universe and within ourselves as well. All of this weaving together happens without us being conscious of it, but we can learn to pay attention to their individual characteristics so we can figure out how they work and how we can work with them.

The Gunas in Nature and Within

A sattvic world is one of abundance, beauty, order, and balance.

To achieve sattva, things need to get moving, and rajas is the guna that makes that happen.

Rajas governs the beginning of the life cycle, brings birth and growth. It’s what causes a seed to grow into a plant and the plant to flower.

Tamas predominates the end of the life cycle; it’s the destructive force that causes the plant to break apart, die back, and return to the soil. Sattva is the time in between, when the flower is in full bloom and beauty is all around us. Nothing can live without energy (rajas) There can be no harvest, no beauty without sativa, and there can be no rebirth without tamas.

All of nature depends on a healthy relationship between creation and destruction, rajas and tamas, to support the health and the vitality of the planet and all who abide there (sattva).

Just like in nature, our physical and mental health depend on the proper interplay among the gunas. When all three gunas are in balance, everything arises (rajas), abides (sattva), and dissolves (tamas), whether we’re talking about the life cycle of a plant, an idea, a pose, or a stage of life. 🌏

Rajas is the in-breath; tamas, the out-breath; and sattva, the gap in between, the silence where liberation can happen, where magic resides, and where everything is whole.” -Seane Corn

Patience. Presence. Prayer. Moab. And India.

April 29, 2021

The 21st century, the United States of America, capitalism, our churches and our political parties, and all the rest are passing away. We might recall the Buddhist heart sutra “Gone, gone, entirely gone” when we watch old movies—even celebrities and stars die. We can take this as a morbid lesson, or we can receive it as the truth ahead of time, so we’re not surprised, disappointed, and angry when it happens in our generation. 

In times like these, our prayer may need to be expressive and embodied, visceral and vocal. How else can we pray with our immense anger and grief? How else can we pray about ecocide, about the death that humanity is unleashing upon Mother Earth and upon ourselves? How else can we break through our inertia and despair, so that we don’t shut down and go numb? – Fr. Richard Rohr

Walk. And pray. Contemplation.

Terry Tempest Williams

Who have we become? “This is a violation against ever woman and life-giver,” says Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk

A prehistoric petroglyph panel near Moab was defaced with the words ‘White Power’

The Bureau of Land Mangement is offering a $10,000 reward for relevant information about those who committed the vandalism

Salk Lake Tribune

Known as the Birthing Rock, the boulder features petroglyphs on all four of its accessible sides that date from the Archaic period to more modern Ute inscriptions, including dozens of ancestral Puebloan-era images, including a woman giving birth.

Sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday, however, vandals descended on the roadside rock and scratched it with obscenities, a crude penis and the words “white power” directly over the top of two anthropomorphic figures.

The Bureau of Land Management is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2021/04/28/prehistoric-petroglyph/801-237-2900/

Al Jazeera English

‘India’s devastating second wave was fuelled by a series of crowded events, including mass rallies addressed by PM Narendra Modi, religious holidays and pilgrimages on the Ganges river — in pictures.’

India opened too quickly, no masks, large gatherings, few vaccinations…by choice.

331 (M) people in the U.S. Masks eased outside. Be wise. Distance. Small groups. Oregon is surging and variants are circulating. And please. Read the science. Vaccinate. -dayle

“They had no idea the virus could spread this fast.”

Fear and Loss: Inside India’s Coronavirus Crisis

The Dailey

New York Times

Jeffrey Gettleman, The South Asia bureau chief for The New York Times, based in Delhi.

Your corner of the sky.

April 3, 2021

“Liminal space, the time between waiting and knowing.” -Fr. Richard Rohr

‘Our only truly essential human task here is to grow beyond the survival instincts of the animal brain and egoic operating system into the kenotic joy and generosity of full human personhood.’ —Cynthia Bourgeault

‘…it is to look upon the face of anyone and choose to say: You are a part of me I do not yet know.’ ‘When I get overwhelmed, I ask: What is my role in this moment? I only have to shine my light in my corner of sky.’ —Valarie Kaur, Sikh activist & civil rights lawyer

 

Very.

March 28, 2021

“Stay passionate and let’s do what we can to lift each other up! Life is so short.”

~Korby


 

Escalante, Utah, 1936. Dorthea Lange. Village dwelling.

‘What brings us to tears, will lead us to grace. Our pain is never wasted.’ -Bob Goff

It’s hard for us religious people to hear, but the most persistent violence in human history has been “sacralized violence”—violence that we treated as sacred, but which was, in fact, not. Human beings have found a most effective way to legitimate their instinct toward fear and hatred. They imagine that they are fearing and hating on behalf of something holy and noble: God, religion, truth, morality, their children, or love of country. It takes away all guilt, and one can even think of oneself as representing the moral high ground or being responsible and prudent as a result. It never occurs to most people that they are becoming what they fear and hate.

-Richard Rohr

 

Release the fear. Then, hate dissolves. What remains? Only love. -dayle

 

More from Fr Richard:

Simplicity of lifestyle and freedom from the competitive power game, which is where it all begins. It is probably the only way out of the cycle of violence.


I am like one, who sees in dream, and when the dream is gone an impression, set there, remains, but nothing else comes to mind again, since my vision almost entirely fails me, but the sweetness, born from it, still distils, inside my heart.

-Dante/Paradiso


 

Ketchum, Idaho. March 27th, 2021

Full Moon/Power Path:

‘…keep your focus on beauty and what is good in your life. Trust your intuition and your heart and always come from a place of compassion and love.’

 

i surrender

Surrender to the Divine unfolding

Surrender to the Divine surrounding

Surrender & observe

Surrender

 

-ishvara pranidhana

 

Communion of Saints

March 15, 2021

Richard Rohr and The Center for Action & Contemplation

The Seven Homecomings

The Seven Homecomings, a practice taught by Tibetan Buddhist Lama Rod Owens, invite us to recognize and honor our own personal “circle of care.” These instructions are just a template; let this practice change to meet your needs. Pause briefly between each section.

  • Begin contemplating the first homecoming of the guide. Reflect on any being who has been a guide, a teacher, a mentor, an adviser, or an elder for you. Reflect on the beings in your life whom you’ve gone to for guidance and support. . . . Invite them to gather around you in a circle and say welcome. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by your guides.
  • The second homecoming is your wisdom texts. [Reflect] on any text that has helped you to deepen your wisdom. These texts can include any writing, books, teachings, sacred scriptures . . . that have helped you to experience clarity, openness, love, and compassion. . . . Say welcome to your texts. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by your wisdom texts.
  • The third homecoming is community. Begin by reflecting about the communities, groups, and spaces where you experience love or the feeling of being accepted and supported in being happy. . . . Where do you feel safe to love? Where are you being loved? . . . Say welcome to your communities. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by your communities.
  • The fourth homecoming is your ancestors. Begin by reflecting on those ancestors who have wanted the best for you, including wanting you to be happy and safe. You don’t need to know who those ancestors are. . . . Also reflect on the lineages you feel connected to, like the lineage of your spiritual tradition, or tradition of art or activism. . . . As you invite your ancestors, remember that you too are in the process of becoming an ancestor. . . . Say welcome to your ancestors and lineages. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by your ancestors and lineages.
  • The fifth homecoming is the earth. Begin by reflecting on . . . how [the earth] sustains your life and the lives of countless beings. . . . Coming home to the earth means touching the earth, acknowledging the earth . . . and allowing it to hold you and, as it holds you, understanding that it is loving you as well. . . . Say welcome to the earth. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by the earth.
  • The sixth homecoming is silence. Begin by reflecting on the generosity of silence as something that helps you to have the space to be with yourself. . . Reflect on how you can embrace silence as a friend and/or lover invested in your health and well-being. . . . Say welcome to the silence. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to being held by the silence.
  • Finally, the seventh homecoming is yourself. Begin by reflecting on your experiences of your mind and body. Consider how your experiences are valuable, important, and crucial. Invite all the parts of yourself into your awareness, including the parts of yourself that seem too ugly or overwhelming. Say welcome to yourself. Relax. Inhale. Exhale and come home to yourself.

Now imagine that your circle of benefactors begins to dissolve into white light, and gather that white light into your heart center. Rest your mind and relax.

Lama Rod Owens, Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation through Anger (North Atlantic Books: 2020), 87–91.

Sophia.

February 26, 2021

Cynthia Bourgeault, An Introductory Wisdom School: Course Transcript and Companion Guide (Wisdom Way of Knowing: 2017), 2. Please note: Today is the last day to register for Cynthia’s Introductory Wisdom School online course.

Sophia: Koinē Greek: Σοφíα “Wisdom“, Coptic: ⲧⲥⲟⲫⲓⲁ “the Sophia

W I S D O M

Center for Action & Contemplation

Fr Richard Rohr:

‘Wisdom is clearly more than mere intelligence, knowledge of facts, or information. Wisdom is more synthesis than analysis, more paradoxical than linear, more a dance than a march. In order to grow in wisdom, we need to move beyond cerebral, rational knowing. As wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault puts it: “Wisdom is not knowing more, but knowing with more of you, knowing deeper.” I’ve created a list of seven “ways of knowing” that together can move us toward greater wisdom. Here are the first four:

Intellect: The lens that we most associate with knowing is intellectualknowing. It’s the result of formal education and it has to do with science, reason, logic, and what we call intelligence. Most of us are trained to think that it is the only way of knowing or the superior way of knowing. Yet that isn’t necessarily true. Seeing intellectual intelligence as the best or only way of knowing is actually a great limitation.

Will: The second way of knowing is volitional knowing. It comes from making choices, commitments, and decisions, then sticking with them, and experiencing them at different stages. Anyone who has made and then kept vows knows what I’m talking about. It is a knowing that comes from making choices and the very process of struggling with the choices. This knowing is a kind of cumulative knowing that emerges over time. The Franciscan scholar John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) felt that volitional knowing, or will, was higher and closer to love than intellectual knowing.

Emotion: Great emotions are especially powerful teachers. Love, ecstasy, hatred, jealousy, fear, despair, anguish: each have their lessons. Even anger and rage are great teachers, if we listen to them. They have so much power to reveal our deepest self to ourselves and to others, yet we tend to consider them negatively. I would guess that people die and live much more for emotional knowing than they ever will for intellectual, rational knowing. To taste these emotions is to live in a new reality afterward, with a new ability to connect.

Senses: Bodily or sensory knowing comes through the senses, by touching, moving, smelling, seeing, hearing, breathing, tasting—and especially at a deep or unconscious level. Becoming aware of our senses in a centered way allows us to awaken, to listen, to connect. It allows us to know reality more deeply, on our body’s terms instead of our brain’s terms. It is no surprise that Jesus touched most of the people he healed. Something very different is communicated and known through physical touch, in contrast with what is communicated through mere words.

Also,

‘Here are the three further “ways of knowing” that can allow us to access greater wisdom:’

Images: Imaginal knowing is the only way that the unconscious can move into consciousness. It happens through fantasy, through dreams, through symbols, where all is “thrown together” (sym-ballein in Greek). It happens through pictures, events, and well-told stories. It happens through poetry, where well-chosen words create an image that, in turn, creates a new awareness—that was in us already. We knew it, but we didn’t know it. We must be open to imaginal knowing because the work of transformation will not be done logically, rationally, or cerebrally. Our intellectual knowing alone is simply not adequate to the greatness and the depth of the task.

Aesthetic: In some ways, aesthetic knowing is the most attractive, but I think it’s often the least converting. Art in all its forms so engages us and satisfies us that many go no deeper. Still, aesthetic knowing is a central and profound way of knowing. I’ve seen art lead to true changes of consciousness. I have seen people change their lives in response to a novel, a play, a piece of music, or a movie like Dead Man Walking. Their souls were prepared, and God got in through the right metaphor at the right time. They saw their own stories clarified inside of a larger story line.

Epiphany: The last way of knowing, which I’d think religion would prefer and encourage, is epiphanic knowing. An epiphany is a parting of the veil, a life-changing manifestation of meaning, the eureka of awareness of self and the Other. It is the radical grace which we cannot manufacture or orchestrate. There are no formulas which ensure its appearance. It is always a gift, unearned, unexpected, and larger than our present life. We cannot manufacture epiphanies. We can only ask for them, wait for them, expect them, know they are given, keep out of the way, and thank Someone afterward.

“A universal pattern can be found in all societies and in fact in all of creation. We see it in the seasons of the year; the stories of Scripture; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; the rise and fall of civilizations; and even in our own lives. In this new version of one of his earlier books, Father Richard Rohr illuminates the way understanding and embracing this pattern can give us hope in difficult times and the courage to push through messiness and even great chaos to find a new way of being in the world.”

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2020), 121–127

This day.

February 8, 2021

“I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.

-Sylvia Plath

In between the now and not yet. – Rev. Masando Hiraoka

The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure. – Fr Richard Rohr

Prayer enables us to tap into the healing power of the universe. -Rolph Gates

I listen to the wind, the wind of my soul. -Cat Stevens

ℒℴve❥❥☆҉ this book.

To all the health care workers. And the care workers. Thank you.

The middle.

Bruce.

https://www.ign.com/videos/jeep-super-bowl-55-commercial-the-middle-ft-bruce-springsteen

Yeah. Even the middle is polarizing for America now. Still. We loved it.

“The middle has been a hard place to get through lately. Between red and blue; between servant and citizen; between our freedom and our fear.”

“Our light has always found its way through the darkness, and there’s hope on the road ahead”

YHWH

February 6, 2021

The YHWH Prayer

You shall not take the name of God in vain. 

-Exodus 20:7

Many Christians think the second commandment is a prohibition against swearing. But I believe the real meaning of speaking the name of God “in vain” is to speak God’s name casually or trivially, with a false presumption of understanding the Mystery—as if we knew what we were talking about!

Many Jewish people concluded that the name of God should not be spoken at all. The Sacred Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was not even to be pronounced with the lips! In fact, vocalizing the four consonants does not involve closing the mouth.

A rabbi taught me that God’s name was not pronounceable but only breathable: YH on the captured in-breath, and WH on the offered out-breath!

We come from a very ancient, human-based, natural, biological, universally experienced understanding of God. God’s eternal mystery cannot be captured or controlled, but only received and shared as freely as the breath itself—the thing we have done since the moment we were born and will one day cease to do in this body. God is as available and accessible as our breath itself. Jesus breathes the Spirit into us as the very air of life (see John 20:22)!

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Our job is simply to both receive and give this life-breath. We cannot only inhale, and we cannot only exhale. We must breathe in and out, accept and let go.

Take several minutes to pause and breathe mindfully, surrendering to the mystery of wordless air, the sustainer of life. Part your lips; relax your jaw and tongue. Hear the air flow in and out of your body:

Inhale: YH
Exhale: WH

Let your breathing in and out, for the rest of your life, be your prayer to—and from—such a living and utterly shared God. You will not need to prove it to anybody else, nor can you. Just keep breathing with full consciousness and without resistance, and you will know what you need to know.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 129‒131.

 

Unity?

January 19, 2021

Documentary film maker Ken Burns:

“I used to think there were three great crises: the Civil War, the Depression and the Second World War in American life. I would add this. And maybe this is the very, very worst. But at the same time, we just keep going forward. There is no other option but to endure.” [NPR]

‘Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.’

-Indigo Girls

“The goal of democracy is not unity. The goal of democracy is productive disagreement and conflict management through legitimate elections and representative government.”
-Lee Drutman
Political scientist/Senior fellow, New America; contributor at FiveThirtyEight
Podcast: politicsinquestion.com

American politics has reached a moment of existential uncertainty. Beyond the headlines and news alerts are problems bigger than any one administration—problems that stem from the deep tensions and challenges in America’s political institutions.

It’s time to reevaluate and revisit how we think about American democracy. The Founding Fathers did their best, but the hosts of a new podcast, “Politics in Question,” have some ideas, too. They discuss political reforms in this first-of-its-kind show that asks the very biggest questions.

Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens questioned everything.

There are a lot of podcasts about the daily chaos. But “Politics in Question” is the first to step back and think big about the basic structures and processes of democracy — and to take nothing for granted.

This podcast is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

“From all the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘man,’ that man finds utter peace.”

Bhagavad Gita

Dear Dayle,

The extremist behavior and violence that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6 was truly shocking and worthy of condemnation—many have already done so. The whole world is transfixed, bearing witness to the awful and extraordinary unfolding of history.

In my previous letters I wrote about the DISORDER that is already upon us, as well as the consequences that ensue when illusions of power and privilege co-opt and distort Christianity. At the Center for Action and Contemplation, we are free to speak in great part because we are not beholden to the usual constituencies. Using the brilliant metaphor from the Hebrew Scriptures, we are “outside the camp” of either political party, any need to influence an election, and, by the grace of God, any negative or fear-based church pressure from Rome, Santa Fe, or Assisi.

We are also, like few other organizations, free from the coercion of donors and finance, thanks to almost thirty-three years of operating with our priorities clearly in view to all who cared to study or read our publications. Blessedly, our donors have not run for cover over time, but only increased in numbers, continuing to join us—even from outside the usual camps of both religion and politics.

Few people enjoy such freedom of living and teaching from the edge of the inside. This is the unique position that a prophetic charism holds and for which it is responsible; it is structurally quite rare, and therefore we must use it.

“Moses used to take the tent, and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. . . . Anyone who wanted to consult Yahweh would go to this tent of meeting outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7)

The “tent of meeting” is the initial image and metaphor that eventually became our much later notion of “church.” Moses had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition. It is quite different than the mere liberal and conservative positions, and often even at odds with them. Most of liberalism is based on a secular foundation of knowledge, and most of conservatism is identified with boundary-keeping, order, and control. By contrast, Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing—a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.

The early desert fathers and mothers imitated both Moses and Jesus by fleeing to Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia—and some as far as Ireland and Scotland. Beginning in the 4th century, we Christians surrendered our unique and free perspective to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. In the desert and outside the camp, these people discovered what we now call “contemplation”: the alternative mind and the alternative community to the status quo—then and now—of money, power, and war.

The free and graced position found in the tent of meeting is what allowed Jesus and all prophets in his lineage to speak from a minority position. It is always less desirable, compared to the comfortable and enjoyable places at the center and the top; yet it is the Jesus stance, and the place where all Franciscans follow after him.

“Let us go to him, therefore, outside the camp, and be willing to share in his degradation.” (Hebrews 13:13)

For many people, religion as a “cosmic egg” capable of holding universal Truth, collective and personal meaning, is broken. Now, the cracks in this very “uncosmic egg” are rapidly spreading in all directions. Delusions enthrall us and inherent deceit becomes overwhelmingly apparent and manifest in the nihilism of our postmodern age, the denial of science and reasonableness, and the denial of the pandemic that now assaults us all. The very future of the meanings of words and truth are at stake, as specifically exemplified by Trumpism in its many forms.

We must again move with Jesus outside the camp and even be willing to “share in his degradation” if that be God’s will. We must trust that the one who has called us into this present moment will also sustain us and lead us through it.

“Yahweh would speak with Moses face to face [outside the camp] as a young man speaks with his friend. And then Moses would return to the camp.” (Exodus 33:11)

This is the primary vocation of the Center for Action and Contemplation. We invite you to join us—first, in the tent of meeting outside the camp for prayer, dialogue, and deep discernment. Then, like Moses, we must all choose to “return to the camp,” where all of our brothers and sisters live and die.

Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. signature
[Father Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation]

“The tasks that have been entrusted to us are often difficult. Almost everything that matters is difficult, and everything matters.”
-Rilke

“I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.” -Course of Miracles
(As taught my Marianne Williamson.)

Maybe unity is not possible, yet, we can remember that we are one, one in humanity as species and co-creators in our reality with ourselves and in each other…especially in context and proximity of losing our democracy, our republic,  just three weeks ago. Can we pledge, at least, to cooperation? To listening? To empathy?

We are ‘we the people.’ Let us remember. And may we vow today to divest ourselves from the for-profit platforms and groups that feed disinformation and hate into our collective bloodstream. It must end.

And in less than 24 hours, the first woman vice president in the United States.
-dayle

On the shoulders and in the shadows (Ruby Bridges) of those who came before us.

🤍

Action & Contemplation

January 16, 2021

‘The story we believe and live in today has a lot to do with the world we create for our children, our grandchildren, and our descendants one hundred thousand years from now (if?).’ -Brian McLaren

And.

‘We are all looking for a larger and more loving story in which to participate.’

‘The deepest truth is our union with the Absolute, Infinite Being with God. That’s the root of our reality.’ -Beatrice Bruteau

‘We experience liberation from

panicked

frantic

desperate

incoherent

fruitless, or counterproductive action.

We will no longer be “just” anything,

homemaker,

laborer

accountant

kindergarten teacher.

No, whatever our work we will do it as agents…builders…of a new world.

Then, we will

vote differently,

buy differently,

invest differently,

eat differently,

volunteer differently,

treat our neighbors differently,

and so much more.’

-Center for Action and Contemplation

https://cac.org


 

We are falling on our face because we are jumping high.

A dash of perspective in a dark hour.

Anand Giridharadas

It’s scary out there right now. It’s going to be scary for some time to come. What has been unleashed, what has been revealed, is ugly. It is what makes democracies die.

In the despair, it is easy to lose perspective. I certainly do all the time. But from time to time, I step back and try to remember where we are as a country on the arc of things.

And I see then that this is both a very dark time and, potentially, a very bright time. It’s important to hold these truths together.

When I look down at the ground of the present right now, I feel depressed. If I lift my head to the horizon, I see a different picture.

This is not the chaos of the beginning of something. This is the chaos of the end of something.

Because the 40 years of this plutocratic takeover — of the ideology that said if you’re torn between doing what’s good for money and what’s good for people, always do what’s good for money; these stories about lazy workers and welfare queens; and any number of other fraudulent tales that were meant to justify life in the Hamptons — if I allow myself to feel this way on a good day, it all actually feels like it’s burning down.

And on matters of race and identity, likewise, the Trump era doesn’t have the crackle of a launch. It has been a mourning. A mourning for white power. A mourning for a time when simply to be white and show up was enough. A mourning for an era in which simply to be a man, and not necessarily an especially capable one, could get you ahead of other people. A mourning for a time when you could be the default idea of an American and not have to share your toys.

We must understand that what we’ve been living through is backlash. Backlash.

It’s not the engine of history. It is the revolt against the engine of history. Then we might remember — just to pat ourselves on the back for a second — that what we are actually endeavoring to do right now is to become a kind of society that has seldom, if ever, existed in history. Which is become a majority-minority, democratic superpower.

I have a lot of love for my friends in Europe, but actually none of you all have your immigration rates and naturalization rates at a high enough level to get there anytime soon. And you all may never get there.

Look at India and China. I love India. My parents are from India. India is never going to be a nation of immigrants. It’s never going to be a country of people from all the world. It can barely get unity with people just from India. China is never going to be a nation of immigrants. No shade. That’s just not their history. It’s not who they are.

We are falling on our face because we are jumping very high right now. We are trying to do something that does not work in theory.

To be a country of all the world, a country made up of all the countries, a country without a center of identity, without a default idea of what a human being is or looks like, without a shared religious belief, without a shared language that is people’s first language at home. And what we’re trying to do is awesome. It is literally awesome in the correct sense of that word.

And, therefore, that we are having insurrections on the Mall or four years of an autocratic attempt or racism oozing through the television and social media portals is both terrifying and a completely predictable, inevitable result of people in power exploiting these transitional anxieties for their own pecuniary gain.

And what we have to do is get smarter than powerful people. Get more organized than them, and understand that there is a different story to tell those who mistakenly went to the Mall and the 12 percent of Americans who actually supported that terrorist attack, and everybody else — a story to tell them about something great we are trying to do.

We will actually create a country that’s better for every single person. But we have to be willing to tell that story forcefully. We have to be willing to fight those people tooth and nail, and we have to fight to win.

We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.

https://the.ink

Unveiling.

January 3, 2021

Let go. Let be. And receive

s

p

i

r

i

t

in all things.

Image credit: Basket and Tree Root (detail), Photograph by Thomas Merton, copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. 

Like the exposed roots of a tree, reality unveiled can be many things at the same time: sharp, smooth, ugly, beautiful, painful, and healing.

Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:

A Time of Unveiling

The future, however, is finer than any past. —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Making of a Mind

If you are anything like me, there is some part of you that was relieved to turn the calendar over to 2021. The new year puts at least some symbolic distance between ourselves and 2020, a year that brought so much chaos, heartbreak, and uncertainty to so many people throughout the world. I dare say that no one lived through the past year without experiencing some level of disruption and loss of freedom, of health, of loved ones, and especially our cherished notions of how things “ought” to be.

The Daily Meditations theme for 2021 is “A Time of Unveiling.” I’m convinced we are living in such a time—when reality is being revealed as it is. Systems of evil have become both more brazen and banal, our sense of “normal” has been upended, and yet in the midst of it, God continues to invite us to deeper transformation.

A few weeks into the pandemic, some people even began to use the word “apocalyptic” to describe what was taking place. Often, this word is used to scare people into some kind of fearful, exclusive, or reactionary behavior, all in expectation of the “end times.”

But the word “apocalyptic,” from the Greek apokálupsis, really just means “unveiling.”

The beginning of the new year seems like a good time to pause, “pull back the veil,” and ask, “Where is this all going? What is the end goal for all of us, and—for that matter—for the cosmos itself?” Is our “late, great planet Earth” really headed toward Armageddon? In these fractious, unmoored, and disillusioned times, I can hardly think of more relevant concerns.

No matter what is going on around us, it’s important to remember that God keeps transforming creation into something both good and new. Instead of hurtling us towards catastrophe, God always wants to bring us somewhere even better. A helpful word here is “evolution.” God keeps creating things from the inside out, so they are forever yearning, developing, growing, and changing for the good. That might be hard to see sometimes in the moment, but it’s nevertheless true.

While more and more people seem to believe that that the universe has no form, direction, or final purpose, as Christians, we can be confident that the final goal does have shape and meaning. The biblical symbol of the Universal and Eternal Christ (Consciousness) 

A L P H A  ~  O M E G A

stands at both ends of cosmic time. This assures us that the clear and full trajectory of the world we know is an unfolding of consciousness with “all creation groaning in this one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22).

Why do I think this is such an important image to remember? Frankly, because without it we become very impatient with ourselves and others, particularly when we encounter setbacks (both personal and communal).

Humans and history both grow slowly.

COVID Isolation: a contemplative frame.

December 22, 2020

[Rilke]

I have, like so many, been in isolation since February…only daily hikes, the market, and virtual connection. Truly what has sustained me, even when I’ve bumped up along the edge, is a deep contemplative practice, the discipline of ‘stability loci’, a psychological function for withdrawal, surrender and acceptance: “This is my place, my situation, and that is what I want to work with, however it develops, for better or for worse.” 

Deep gratitude for my virtual yoga teachers, Cathie Caccia and Seane Corn. Your spirit and guidance transcends the global sadness and dark, dark days ahead. jai

From the Center of Action & Contemplation:

Practice: Remaining in Place

What if the challenges of the current moment are actually offering us an invitation to let go of our ideas of freedom and mobility and to consciously participate with reality in a new way? In The Great Within psychologist Han F. de Wit invites us to consider the discipline of stabilitas loci (or remaining in place) as a liberating practice. He writes:

Many contemplative traditions contain the rule of not abandoning the monastic community or the place of retreat for shorter or longer periods (sometimes for life). If one follows this rule, it is almost always preceded by voluntarily taking a vow to keep to it. In the Christian tradition, it is known as the vow of stabilitas loci (remaining in one place). This place can, for example, be where one goes into the solitary retreat. The practitioner then vows not to leave this place before he has completed a specific spiritual practice or attained a certain realization. This approach can be found in the Hindu tradition: the yogi draws a certain line around her place of retreat and vows not to step outside it until she has completed a certain practice (sadhana), until she has reached enlightenment, or until death has reached her. A well-known example of this in the Buddhist tradition is obviously that of the Buddha himself, who finally sat down under the bodhi tree and vowed not to leave that spot until he had reached enlightenment. . . .

Why do people do this? What is the function of such a discipline? . . . The contemplative psychological function of this physical stabilitas and of the adherent vow is that we let go of the idea that we have an alternative, we give up the possibility of withdrawing. As we know, one of the characteristic aspects of ego is that it always wants to have alternatives available: ego reflects a mentality that always wants to keep an exit open and therefore can never come to complete surrender and acceptance. Through the vow of stabilitas loci, we confront and surrender an important part of that mentality. We say, “This is my place, my situation, and that is what I want to work with, however it develops, for better or for worse.”. . . The limitation that this discipline imposes on ego proves to have another element: a flourishing of self-confidence and strength of mind that enables us to be in the situation we are in without any reservations. What may seem claustrophobic or restrictive actually turns into vast and hospitable space. [1]

Han F. de Wit

Fr. Richard Rohr:

Speaking from personal experience and my many years in Lenten hermitage (where I stayed in one small place for the forty days of Lent), I found a deep inner liberation in “giving up” my freedom to come and go as I chose. I am experiencing some of that same freedom in my hermit-like life necessitated by the pandemic. I cannot “fill” my life or myself up with outside experiences; I must simply “be” with myself and God.

Reference:
[1] Han F. de Wit, The Great Within: The Transformative Power and Psychology of the Spiritual Path (Shambhala Publications: 2019), 263–264.


“The anger made me brave and the grief made me sure.” The Book of Longings

Can not recommend this book more highly. Inhaling. -dayle

‘Lord God hear my prayer, the prayer of my heart.

Bless the largeness inside of me, no matter how I fear it.

Bless my reeds and my inks.

Bless the words I write.

May they be beautiful in your sight. 

May they be visible to eyes not yet born.

When I am dust, sing these words over my bones:

She was a voice.’


‘I felt all the women who live inside of me.’

-The Book of Longings

Jesus wasn’t a Christian.

November 29, 2020

Image credit: Catacombe Di San Gennaro (detail of the fresco of the Catacomb of Saint Gennaro), paleo-Christian burial and worship sites, Naples, Italy.

“If we look at texts in the hundred years preceding Emperor Constantine’s edict, it was unthinkable that a Christian would fight in the army. The army was killing believers. Christians were on the bottom but, by the year 400, the entire army had become Christian, and was now killing the pagans. In a two-hundred-year period, Christians went from being complete outsiders to directing the inside! Once Christians joined the inside group, they had to defend their power.

Before the imperial edict of 313 that pushed Christians to the top and the center of the Roman Empire, values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, and love of enemies were common within the faithful community. The church at that point was still countercultural and non-imperial—a social movement for the reign of God. After 313 we lost that free position. Christianity increasingly accepted, and even defended, the dominant social order, especially concerning war, money, and authority.

Imperial Christianity is always about power. It seldom teaches about nonviolence, forgiveness, inclusion, simplicity, mercy, love, compassion, or understanding in a primary way. Yet Spirit-led movements within Christianity have flourished and continued to emphasize the values that defined the early Church and made it so threatening to the social order.

I believe that any future church will be led by the Spirit back to those foundational values, making it a much flatter and more inclusive community.”

-Fr Richard Rohr

Center for Action & Contemplation

 

Some thoughts…

November 4, 2020

It shouldn’t have been this close. After four years of cruel practices and criminal behavior, too many Americans who voted said, “Yeah, this is good.” So much to unpack. Beyond a divided–deeply divided–nation, the people of the United States are in a cold war, seemingly separated by identity politics–tragically, much of the divisiveness is born of disinformation, state television, and far right social media platforms. It will not end. Even if DT loses, he will lead a shadow presidency, haunting and restricting through his amplified media, restrict and diminish forward moving policy. A deeply Republican senate, led by an evil spirit…not hyperbole…along with a 6/3 Supreme Court, will basically make Biden a lame duck, while he tries to heal a nation.

“Win or lose, a lot more people voted for him this year, after watching him as president for four years, than voted for him last time.” [social media post]

It is dark day in this country. And we have so much to atone.

Today, post election and with votes still be counted, coupled with coup behavior and rhetoric from the current president, democracy seems to be only a frame of mind in this country…perhaps it always has been.

From Sleeping Giants:

“No matter what happens with this election, we’re going to have to contend with a media and social media ecosystem that rewards, incentivizes and monetizes the worst of our society, from hate to disinformation to harassment. It’s cooked into the business model. We currently live in a world where the largest advertisers support a network that openly espouses xenophobic, white supremacist ideas, carelessly spreads disinformation and sics it’s viewers on people with whom they disagree, putting them in danger. We’re dealing with social media platforms whose algorithms give an outsized platform to content that aims to vilify minority groups, drive division and spread falsehoods every single day and platform violent extremists and racists who organize real attacks on their websites. What’s worse is that these outlets and platforms thrive on opposition. It profits them. It’s better for business. It’s not hard to see if there’s a new administration that things will get worse, not better. We need to be more vigilant than ever about asking the companies that support these networks and platforms what kind of world they want to live in and to truly live the values that they outwardly express to their customers. But we also need to ensure that these platforms do not dig further into our government, swaying their policies. We need social media platforms held to account rather than being asked to write policy. They have proven that they cannot be trusted to govern themselves. All of this is to say that, no matter the outcome of the election, the work of activists and researchers and journalists and especially lawmakers is only starting. And that it’s more imperative now than it ever was.”

~

Sharing other voices:

While it’s too soon to know the presidential race outcome, this is clear: we must do more to counter the alternative information space FOX News and other Trump media create for Republicans. The race should not be this close given the objective reality of Trump’s performance.

-Evan McMullin, Former: CIA ops officer, GOP policy director, independent presidential candidate

Incredible how competitive Trump is with 230K Covid deaths and kids being locked in cages and everything else. Even if Biden wins he will have to govern in a trump country. This is who America is.

-Gabriel Sherman, journalist

To be clear, this wasn’t a presidential election, it was just a survey on how much this country loves racism and most white people checked the box for “very satisfied.”

-Robin Thede, actress and writer

“When a country shows you who it is, believe it the first time.”

-Anand Giridharadas

“I think the democratic sadness you’re seeing on social media isn’t fatalism or resignation to a Republican win–it’s sadness that we’re not seeing a full scale repudiation to Trumpism.’

[associate professor in Austin]

Before being Republican or Democrat, be human. Regardless of who wins the US election, no one has greater power over you than you. Our minds & hearts are much greater than any politics, and as sovereign beings, we get to choose peace, empathy & humanity.

-Jennifer Rose


From Fr Richard Rohr today, the day after election:

A Call to Be One
Wednesday,  November 4, 2020

I return once again to the prophetic words of Sister Joan Chittister who calls us to make an unflinching commitment to act with integrity—out of the fullness of our being—not simply our pragmatic, comfortable, or fearful selves.

As a people, we are at a crossover moment. It is a call to all of us to be our best, our least superficial, our most serious about what it means to be a Christian as well as a citizen. . . .

Where in the midst of such polarization and national disunity is even the hope of oneing, of integrating the social with what we say are our spiritual selves? . . .

Even the ghost of an answer makes serious spiritual demands on us all: To heal such division means that we are obliged to search out and identify our own personal value system. It requires us to admit to ourselves what it is that really drives our individual social decisions, our votes, our political alliances. Is it the need to look powerful? The desire for personal control? . . . Do we have the courage to confront the debased with the ideal—even in the face of ridicule and recrimination—or is cowardice our secret spiritual sickness? In that case, our national health can only get worse.

A national cure also surely demands that we begin to see tradition as a call to return to the best of the past, not a burden to be overcome in order to secure the best of the present. It is the sense of a commonly held tradition of the common good—once a strong part of the American past—that we clearly lack in the present. . . .

[We must] make “Love one another as I have loved you” (see John 13:34) the foundation of national respect, the standard of our national discernment, the bedrock of both our personal relationships and a civilized society. . . .

To be one, we don’t need one party, one program, one set of policies. What could be duller, more stagnant, more destructive of the soulfulness it takes to create and preserve the best of the human enterprise than such a narrow-minded view of planetary life?  What we need is one heart for the world at large, a single-minded commitment to this “more perfect union,” and one national soul, large enough to listen to one another for the sake of the planet—for the sake of us all.

So where can we look for oneing in the political arena? Only within the confines of our own hearts. Politics—government—does not exist for itself and, if it does, that is precisely when it becomes at least death-dealing if not entirely evil. . . .

In the end, politics is nothing more than an instrument of social good and human development. It is meant to be the right arm of those whose souls have melted into God.

More from Richard:

I consider Quaker author and activist Parker Palmer a true elder. He has clearly “fallen upward”—humbly learning and growing over the years while also generously giving of himself to build a better future with the next generation. From that vantage point, Palmer writes:

For those of us who want to see democracy survive and thrive—and we are legion—the heart is where everything begins: that grounded place in each of us where we can overcome fear, rediscover that we are members of one another, and embrace the conflicts that threaten democracy as openings to new life for us and for our nation. . . . 

Of all the tensions we must hold in personal and political life, perhaps the most fundamental and most challenging is standing and acting with hope in the “tragic gap.” On one side of that gap, we see the hard realities of the world, realities that can crush our spirits and defeat our hopes. On the other side of that gap, we see real-world possibilities, life as we know it could be because we have seen it that way. . . .

If we are to stand and act with hope in the tragic gap and do it for the long haul, we cannot settle for mere “effectiveness” as the ultimate measure of our failure or success. Yes, we want to be effective in pursuit of important goals. . . . [But] we must judge ourselves by a higher standard than effectiveness, the standard called faithfulness. Are we faithful to the community on which we depend, to doing what we can in response to its pressing needs? Are we faithful to the better angels of our nature and to what they call forth from us? Are we faithful to the eternal conversation of the human race, to speaking and listening in a way that takes us closer to truth? Are we faithful to the call of courage that summons us to witness to the common good, even against great odds? When faithfulness is our standard, we are more likely to sustain our engagement with tasks that will never end: doing justice, loving mercy, and calling the beloved community into being.

Parker Palmer’s understanding of the “tragic gap” recognizes that no matter what we do, we can never completely solve the problem. In all our actions, there is always a space left incomplete, imperfect, which God alone can fill. The search for “the perfect” often keeps us from “the good.” The demand for one single issue about which we can be totally right actually keeps us from reading the whole picture—often this is true in regard to voting.

gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

भगवतीप्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय

In our ugly and injurious present political climate, it has become all too easy to justify fear-filled and hateful thoughts, words, and actions in defense against the “other” side. We project our anxiety elsewhere and misdiagnose the real problem (the real evil), forever exchanging it for smaller and seemingly more manageable problems. The over-defended ego always sees, hates, and attacks in other people its own faults—the parts of ourselves that we struggle to acknowledge. We do not want to give way on important moral issues, but this often means we don’t want to give way on our need to be right, superior, and in control. It is our deep attachment to this false or manufactured self that leads us into our greatest illusions. Most of us do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.

The Heart Sutra (sometimes called The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom) is considered by many to be the most succinct and profound summary of Buddhist teaching—surely it must have something to say to all of us. It ends with a mantra that is considered “the mantra beyond compare” because of its daring proclamation of the final truth that takes our whole life to uncover and experience. It is enlightenment itself and hope itself in verbal form. It is the ultimate liberation into Reality.

Here is the Sanskrit transliteration of the refrain:

Gate gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā!

Here is how it is pronounced:

Ga-tay, ga-tay, para ga-tay, parasam ga-tay boh-dee svah-ha!

Here is the meaning:

Gone, gone, gone all the way over, the entire community of beings has gone to the other shore, enlightenment—so be it! 

This is not meant to be a morbid or tragic statement, but a joyous proclamation, in its own way similar to Christians saying “Alleluia!” at Easter. It is liberation from our grief, our losses, our sadness, and our attachments—our manufactured self. It accepts the transitory and passing nature of all things without exception, not as a sadness, but as a movement to “the other shore.” We do not know exactly what the other shore is like, but we know it is another shore from where we now stand and not a scary abyss.

I would like to offer you a short and inspired litany, and encourage you to make your own additions. The response in every case is a shortened to “Gone, gone, entirely gone!” (for the sake of brevity and impact). It might be called a Litany of Liberation or Detachment:

All the centuries before me:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All the nations of the earth:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All kings, generals, and governors:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All the wars, plagues, and tragedies:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All human achievements by individuals and groups:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All sickness, sin, and error:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All our identities, roles, and titles:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All hurts, grudges, and memories of offense:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All enslavement, abuse, and torture:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All disease, afflictions, and lifetime wounds:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All rejections, abandonments, and betrayals:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All human glory, fame, money, and reputation:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

Your logical, educated mind may say, “Oh, but these things continue in human memory, consciousness, and the standing stones of culture,” which is true and good. That is not the point this sutra is intended to communicate, however; this is ritual and religious theater, not rational philosophy. In terms of all those who preceded us, these things are indeed “Gone!” (Buddhism also uses the word “Empty!”) It takes just such a shock to encourage the ego to let go of the passing self, the false self, the relative self, the self created by memory and choice.

All comforts, luxuries, and pleasures:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All ideas, information, and ideology:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All image, appearance, and privacy:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All our superiority, self-assuredness, and expertise:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All human rights, ambitions, and fairness:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

All personal power, self-will, and self-control:
          Gone, gone, entirely gone!

This is the spiritual art of detachment, which is not aloofness or denial, but the purifying of attachment. It isn’t often taught in capitalistic societies, where clinging and possessing are both means and ends, accumulation is the primary measure of progress, and personal power or self-will is both the foundational myth and supreme idol.

In our world, detachment itself can become a kind of EXODUS, an abandoning—whether forced or chosen—of the very things that give us status, make us feel secure or moral, and oftentimes that pay the bills.

In his book No Man Is an Island, Thomas Merton discussed the spiritual link between detachment and hope. Yes, hope! This connection may seem a bit counterintuitive at first, if not contradictory. Yet, as he explains,

We do not hope for what we have. Therefore, to live in hope is to live in poverty, having nothing. . . . Hope is proportionate to detachment. It brings our souls into the state of the most perfect detachment. In doing so, it restores all values by setting them in their right order. Hope empties our hands in order that we may work with them. It shows us that we have something to work for, and teaches us how to work for it. 

We live in a time of great hostility, and the temptation from which we must defend ourselves is to pull back from others, deny our shadow, and retreat into our own defended camps or isolated positions. This temptation is not detachment, but the giving over of ourselves to the illusion of separation. True spiritual action (as opposed to reaction) demands our own ongoing transformation, often changing sides to be where the pain is, as Jesus exemplified in his great self-emptying. Rather than accusing others of sin on the Left or the Right, Jesus instead “became sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He stood in solidarity with the problem itself, and his compassion and solidarity were themselves the healing.

Therefore, “let us go to him, then, outside the camp, and bear the humiliation he endured. For there is no permanent city for us here, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13–14).

 

Richard Rohr

Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. signature
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