In a nondualistic kinda way.
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation
When I first learned contemplation in my Franciscan novitiate, I was taught a practice of silent, wordless prayer. Over the decades, I have learned there are many paths to contemplation, a myriad of ways to access nondual consciousness. Regardless how we practice—with stillness, breath, observation, chanting, walking, dancing, calm conversation—contemplation calls the ordinary thinking mind into question. We gradually come to recognize that this thing we call “thinking” does not enable us to love God and love others. We need a different operating system, and it both begins with and leads to silence.
Even through practices full of sounds and words, contemplation helps us access a foundational silence, a deep, interior openness to Presence. One of our faculty members, Barbara Holmes, writes: “An ontological silence can occupy the heart of cacophony, the interiority of celebratory worship. . . . Silence [is] the source of all being. . . . Silence is the sea that we swim in.”  And yet we’re often oblivious to it. Thus, the need for practice.
In my book The Naked Now, I call non-silence “dualistic thinking,” where everything is separated into opposites, like good and bad, life and death. In the West, we even believe that is what it means to be educated—to be very good at dualistic thinking. Join the debate club! But both Jesus and Buddha would call that judgmental thinking (Matthew 7:1-5), and they strongly warn us against it.
Dualistic thinking is operative almost all of the time now. It is when we choose or prefer one side and then call the other side of the equation false, wrong, heresy, or untrue.
But what we judge as wrong is often something to which we have not yet been exposed or that somehow threatens our ego. The dualistic mind splits the moment and forbids the dark side, the mysterious, the paradoxical. This is the common level of conversation that we experience in much of religion and politics and even every day conversation. It lacks humility and patience—and is the opposite of contemplation.
In contemplative practice, the Holy Spirit, [Gaia, Energy] frees us from taking sides and allows us to remain content long enough to let it teach, broaden, and enrich us in the partial darkness of every situation. We need to practice for many years and make many mistakes in the meantime to learn how to do this. Teachers of contemplation show us how to stand guard and not let our emotions and obsessive thoughts control us.
When we’re thinking nondualistically, with this guarded mind and heart, we will feel powerless for a moment, stunned into an embarrassing and welcoming silence. Then we will discover what is ours to do.
Cathari, (from Greek katharos, “pure”), also spelled CATHARS, heretical Christian sect that flourished in western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Cathari professed a neo-Manichaean dualism—that there are two principles, one good and the other evil, and that the material world is evil.
Catharism was a heretical, Christian dualist or Gnostic revival movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe, particularly what is now northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries.
“Of course it did. We wouldn’t be in this jam if it hadn’t.
The nature of our independent choices means that sometimes we’re seduced by a decision that turns out to be a mistake.
Worth considering for next time:
Was it a failure of strategy (wrong choice) or execution (bad follow through)?
Are we thinking long-term enough?
Are shiny objects swaying our judgment?
Is it the arrogance of being sure we’re right, or the impatience of not waiting for more information?
What about the desire to go along with (or against) the crowd?
Or perhaps we’re trying to teach someone a lesson when we’re actually hurting ourselves.
Often, we’ll be in a jam because we failed to act at all. And sometimes it’s because we didn’t leave ourselves enough of an out in case of a pothole, because, as we all know, it rarely works every time.
A passion for forward motion is the single best way to improve the status quo. And the more forward motion we make, the better we’ll get at figuring out if its a good idea next time.”