Excerpts from daily meditation
10/01/2021. When we are going through a divorce, afraid for our child, facing disease, facing death—whatever is happening can be a gateway to . . . clear and limitless compassion. . . . To cultivate the tenderness of compassion, we not only stop running from suffering, we deliberately bring our attention to it. Tara Brach.
09/13/2021. A torture chamber was an unfortunate metaphor to keep people from never loving, trusting, or hoping. I am not sure it ever really worked because you cannot threaten people into love.
09/14/2021 In the first five centuries of Christianity, many of the church fathers affirmed universal salvation. It seems we were much more hopeful at the beginning that the Gospel really was universally good news! The message of Inclusion, also known as Universal Reconciliation, is not new. It was [a] widely held position . . . of respected early church fathers and founders throughout the first five hundred years of church history. . . In the end and consummation of the universe, all are to be restored into their original harmonious state, and we all shall be made one body and be united once more into a perfect [person], and the prayer of our Savior shall be fulfilled that all may be one. —St. Jerome, 331–420.
09/15/2021 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . . . For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15–20). The visionary writer of the book of Revelation hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” singing praises to the Lamb (Revelation 5:13), and perceives a climactic event of transformation where the One who sits on the throne says, “See, I am making all things new” (21:5).
08/22/2021. God wanted everyone, regardless of their religious standing… to know the mystery … Christ is in you. Mystics throughout the ages, however, knew Christ as another name for everything—in its fullness.
08/20/2021. When we choose to “behold” things instead of begrudging them, we begin to see that everything is a revelation of the Divine—from rocks to rocket ships, from a Rembrandt to a Rothko. The naked now, which God always inhabits, … where God, in every moment, is perfectly hidden and, at the same time, perfectly revealed.
08/10-13/2021. Domination is a relation that does not work the same in both directions. One gains privileges from which the other is excluded. Jesus modeled the path of kenosis. It means to “let go” or “to empty oneself.” God is the love that gives itself away for the sake of more love. He did not run from the things that broke his heart. When you release your attachment to something and make it useful to God’s movement, you are practicing kenosis. Jesus seems to recognize that it’s either a world of domination or it’s a world of love.
08/07/2021. The way to free yourself from pain is to feel it, not to run away, as difficult as that may be. If you’re suffering, it means you have a heart. Suffering is evidence of your capacity to love… The world needs your suffering, your courage, and your strength.
08/05/2021. We often attempt to keep grief separate from our lives, and how welcoming our grief can open us to compassion. It is the accumulated losses of a lifetime that slowly weigh us down—the times of rejection, the moments of isolation when we felt cut off from the sustaining touch of comfort and love. It is essential for us to welcome our grief, whatever form it takes. When we do, we open ourselves to our shared experiences in life. Grief is our common bond. Opening to our sorrow connects us with everyone, everywhere.
08/04/2021. You cannot succeed in mourning your loved ones. You cannot fail. Nor is grief a malady, like the flu. You will not get over it. You will only come to integrate your loss. Grief is not a process that can be rushed but must be allowed to happen over time and in its own time. Not to believe everything I think—how to shift from regretting the past and fearing the future to abiding with what is. In this case, a totally [messed up] thing. The ultimate [messed up] thing. I sat with that.
08/03/2021. The great wisdom traditions are trying to teach us that grief isn’t something from which to run. It’s a time of transformation. It is what it is, and somehow God is in it.
08/02/2021. If we want to walk with Job, with Jesus, and in solidarity with much of the world, we must allow grace to lead us there as the events of life show themselves. I am convinced that people who do not feel deeply finally do not know deeply either.
08/01/2021. In Jesus, God comes along to show us: “Even I suffer. Even I participate in the finiteness of this world.” God is not merely tolerating human suffering or instantly just healing it. God is participating with us in it. Living it alongside us and with us.
07/07/2021. In Christ we see humanity as one body and our differences as gifts, not threats, to one another. In Christ, Paul came to realize that people aren’t different because they’re trying to be difficult or evil—they’re different because the Spirit has given them differing gifts. . . . More than ever before in our history, we need a new kind of personal and social fuel. Not fear, but love. Not prejudice, but openness. Not supremacy, but service. Not inferiority, but equality. Not resentment, but reconciliation. Not isolation, but connection. Not the spirit of hostility, but the holy Spirit of hospitality. Brian McLaren.
06/20/2021. Of course, there are no times when nothing is happening. Spiritual growth can be gradual and hidden. Tend only to the birth in you and you will find all goodness and all blessing—Meister Eckhart.
06/08/2021. The relationship described in the Song is one of mutuality; the lovers are evenly matched in the force of their desire. They are equally vulnerable in their desire to be desired by the other; they are equally determined to give and receive pleasure… Because it teaches that in seeking the pleasure of another we may find our own deepest pleasure and in the commitment to another we may come to know ecstasy.
06/06/2021. To be human, to have a body, to be sexual is good!”… God did not play a trick on us humans, saying “I’m going to give you sexual desire, but don’t you dare really think, feel, or act sexually!” But that’s what happens with dualism and when we view God as separate.
05/18/2021. Etty Hillesum (1914–1943), living at the Westerbork transit camp, first as an employee of the Jewish Council and later as an inmate, Hillesum did everything in her power to help others. As the war continued, she fully accepted the “cruciform nature of reality” and chose to love ever more consciously… When we are no longer able to change a situation . . . we are challenged to change ourselves.
05/03/2021. You can face your own sorrow, your own wounds. You can stop wanting some other life, some other past, some other reality. You can stop fighting against the truth of yourself and, breathing in and breathing out, open to your own experience… until you also discover the liberation that comes with stopping the struggle and becoming fully present in your own life. This is the real path to peace and freedom. You could do this for yourself; you could do this for your family. Our whole world will benefit. (Claude AnShin Thomas, Vietnam veteran)
04/26/2021. “All this is only the beginning of the birth pangs.” Apocalypse is for the sake of birth not death. Anything that upsets our normalcy is a threat to the ego but in the Big Picture, it really isn’t. “Your endurance will win you your souls.” Falling apart is for the sake of renewal, not punishment. Jesus says “Stay awake” four times in the last paragraph of Mark 13:32–37. It’s not meant to strike fear in us as much as a radical rearrangement. In the book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse), John is trying to describe what it feels like when everything falls apart. It’s not a threat. It’s an invitation to depth. It’s what it takes to wake people up to the real, to the lasting, to what matters. It presents the serious reader with a great “What if?”
04/18/2021. The core message of the incarnation of God in Jesus is that the Divine Presence is here, in us and in all of creation. The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in everything. It is to mirror things correctly, deeply, and fully until all things know who they are. A mirror by its nature reflects impartially, equally, effortlessly, spontaneously, and endlessly. It does not produce the image, nor does it filter the image according to its perceptions or preferences.
04/11/2021. Friendship… It is crucial to allow God, and at least one other trusted person to see us in our imperfection and even our nakedness, as we are—rather than as we would ideally wish to be.
04/09/2021. We are all one in love… In our lives here, moreover, that love indwells all and weaves us together in ways we cannot fathom. Julian of Norwich
04/02/2021. Jesus died “for” us not in the sense of “a substitute for us” but “in solidarity with” the suffering of all humanity! … he is proving that we needn’t be afraid of death, or shame. I am not only utterly alive, but that I am utterly loving. There’s nothing you can do to separate yourselves from me.
03/15/2021. Love, which might be called the attraction of all things toward all things, is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it… it means giving up our separation, superiority, and control.
03/05/2021. Christ renames reality correctly, according to what reality honestly is, putting aside whatever we think it is or whatever we fear it is. Reality is always better than any of us imagined or feared.
02/12/2021. But awe (joy unspeakable) … sometimes comes in hard packages. It takes both great love and great suffering to stun us and bring us to our knees. God is there in all of it, using every circumstance of our life, to draw us ever more deeply into the heart of God. Barbara Holmes writes: We are not headed toward a single goal: we are on a pilgrimage toward the center of our hearts.
02/04/2021. If you understand it, it is not God. —St. Augustine. John of the Cross says that the dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation. It is about freeing you from your ideas about God.
01/21/2021. “You, all of you, are sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). In Paul’s estimation, the old world was forever gone and a new world was born in which everyone is free.
12/16/2020. Staying awake comes not from willpower but from a wholehearted surrender to the moment—as it is… This may be the most difficult “letting go” of all, for the idea of our individual “selves” is the primary illusion of our lives.
12/15/2020. (Philippians 2:5–8) Kenosis, which means “letting go” or “self-emptying,” is clearly the way of Jesus. Meister Eckhart (1260‒1328) said, “God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of subtraction.”
11/18/2020 How do we put on the mind of Christ? How do we see through his eyes? How do we learn to respond to the world with that same wholeness and healing love? “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now). It’s a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place. . . The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation (John 151-9).
11/16/2020 The two images on which Jesus is building in this parable of the mustard seed are a therapeutic image of life and healing, and a fast-growing weed. What a strange thing for Jesus to say: “I’m planting a weed in the world!” Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence and simplicity are planted and they’re going to flourish, even wildly so. The old world is over.
09/21/2020 The proof that you are a mature Christian is that you can see Christ everywhere else. Authentic God experience always expands your seeing and never constricts it. What else would be worthy of God? In God you do not include less and less; you always see and love more and more.
09/15/2020. The African American has endured the denial of their very humanity. Theirs is one of countless foremothers and forefathers who died under the lash, were sold as commodities, were treated as less than human beings, but who struggled and survived despite and in spite of all the forces arrayed against them. It is the story of their encounter with Jesus Christ who enabled them … Dr. Diana L. Hayes
09/13/2020 When we can trust that God is in the suffering, our wounds become sacred wounds and the actual and ordinary life journey becomes itself the godly journey.
09/02/2020 Our separate self is who we think we are, but our thinking does not make it true. It is a social and mental construct that gets us started on life’s journey. Please understand that the separate self is not bad or inherently deceitful. It is actually quite good and necessary as far as it goes; it just does not go far enough. When we are able to move beyond our separate self, it will feel as if we lost nothing important at all. Of course, if we don’t know that there is anything “beyond” the separate self, the transition will probably feel like dying. Only after we have fallen into the True Self, will we be able to say with the mystic Rumi (1207‒1273), “What have I ever lost by dying?” We have discovered true freedom and liberation. The True Self cannot be hurt.
08/31/2020 Thinking creates the separate self, the ego self, the insecure self. The God-given contemplative mind, on the other hand, recognizes the God Self, the Christ Self, the True Self of abundance and deep inner security.
08/17/2020 Sooner or later, some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter our lives that we simply cannot deal with using our present skill set. We will be led to the edge of our own private resources. We will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it (8:14). We will and must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life … can get us to let go of our egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey.
Unexpected weaknesses, failure, and humiliation force us to go where we never would otherwise. If we are honest, there always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand. Some kind of falling, what I call “necessary suffering,” is programmed into the journey.
07/23/2020 Jesus says to Mary Magdalene, “Do not cling to me” (John 20:17). He is saying “Don’t hold on to the past, what you think you need or deserve. We are all heading for something much bigger and much better, Mary.” This is the spiritual art of detachment. We are shown that eventually even the greatest things in our lives—even our loves—must be released and allowed to become something new. Otherwise we are trapped. Love has not yet made us free.
It is love but not addiction. The True Self has everything, and so it does not require any particular thing or person. It can love and let go. We only have to look around at all the struggling relationships in our own lives to see that it’s true. Only the True Self knows how to enjoy and picture a love of already satisfied desire. The True Self and separate self see differently; both are necessary, but one is better, bigger, and even eternal.
06/07/2020. Maybe it will be me the next time — not because of who I am, but because of how you see me in relation to how you see yourself. What lies about me do you believe? What lies about yourself do you believe?
04/14/2020. God refuses to be intellectually “thought,” and is only known in the passion and pain of it all, when the issues become soul-sized and worthy of us… it’s when we’re uniquely in the hands of God, safely held in the loving hands of God, even if we do not yet fully realize it. All of us experience the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust, but we do not all experience pain in the same way, so try not to judge others too harshly for their reactions.
03/30/2020. we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us— in deep and mysterious ways that become the very matrix of life and especially new life.
03/22/2020. When we carry our own suffering in solidarity with humanity’s one universal longing for deep union, it helps keep us from self-pity or self-preoccupation. We know that we are all in this together. It is just as hard for everybody else, and our healing is bound up in each other’s.
03/01/2020. Sometimes we meet people who are free from themselves. They express what moves them, and then they take a step back. They play an active part in things, but they don’t think they have a corner on the truth market. Without this kind of “inner work,” of simultaneously putting ourselves forward and taking a step back, community is doomed to failure.
12/31/2019. Either we see Christ in everyone, or we hardly see Christ in anyone.
12/28/2019. God, who is Infinite Love, incarnates that love as the universe itself. Divine incarnation took the form of an Indwelling Presence in every human soul and in all creatures, but each in a unique way.
12/16/2019. The goal is to become spiritually awakened, to have found some degree of detachment from our own emotions. Our emotions are not bad unless we are attached to them. Emotions are helpful indicators and symptoms of what’s going on, often subconsciously, within us. … We are all trying to get our programs for happiness met by one another and by things, when only God can really meet our longings for unconditional love and authentic joy. Otherwise, we are going to be hurt and hurt others in the process. … We’ve got to stop depending on other people or outside events to meet our needs. We need to reverse the flow and draw it from the inside out—based on the absolute union between God and the soul—instead of from the outside in.
12/13/2019. Grace isn’t a gift for getting it right but for getting it wrong! But as any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge; and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, harming you and those around you, particularly those you love.
12/12/2019. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” (John 8:32) and I always feel compelled to add, “But first it will make you miserable.” There is no other way to describe the humiliation and grief that comes from seeing your own failures and weaknesses clearly, perhaps for the first time. Only in the presence of Great Love do any of us have the courage to attempt that kind of inventory.
12/08/2019. Transformation has little to do with intelligence, willpower, or perfection. It has everything to do with honest humility, willingness, and surrender. We are all addicts. Human beings are addictive by nature. “Denial of the existence of addiction in your life is not a mark of moral accomplishment but a sign of blindness.” Tim King. “Stinking thinking” is the universal [root of] addiction. As a society we have agreed upon certain beliefs, cultural lies – the superiority of the white man, the headship of the male, the entitlement of the wealthy, etc. Prayer and contemplative thinking is our hope to relearn our foundational truths.
12/02/2019. Some of our most painful experiences – whether death, divorce or disease – often turn out to create a capacity in us for greater love … It is only when we lose our certainties that will we be able to deconstruct our false images of God to discover the Absolute Reality beneath all our egoic fantasies and fears.
11/12. … each of has the capacity to offer something new to the world. It does not come quickly or easily, but few things of any depth or value ever do. … It is frightening and enlivening. It demands no less than everything, and it gives back tenfold.
11/04. Science is finding that the world is an integrated whole rather than separated parts. Nothing in the cosmos operates independently. We are all holons, which are simultaneously whole in themselves, and at the same time part of a larger whole.
11/02. Jesus used the Jewish practice of midrash as a way of participating in this dialogue. Midrash is a method of interpreting Scripture that fills in the gaps, by questioning and imagining a multitude of possible interpretations. Midrash allows the text and the Spirit of God to open up the reader to transformation, instead of resisting change by latching onto one final, closed, and certain interpretation. This open-horizon approach was common for most of the first 1300 years of Christianity, where as many as six levels of interpretation and numerous levels of truth were perceived in any one Scripture text.
10/21. … control over chaos, majority rule, fear of the other, fear of the unknown, and idealization of a family unit that Jesus himself neither lived nor idealized.
10/17. After a while, even the densest of us may have our eyes opened to that something which transcends all superficial distractions of disability: the unimaginable beauty of every person.
10/13. Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form—without filters, judgments, or commentaries.
09/26. In October of 1968, just minutes before his death, Merton told a large audience of Asian monks at a Calcutta conference: “My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
09/22. I am not alone in my tiredness or sickness or fears, but at one with millions of others from many centuries, and it is all part of life. —Etty Hillesum (1914–1943), a young, Dutch, Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz, truly believed her suffering was also the suffering of God. We know that we are all in this together. It is just as hard for everybody else, and our healing is bound up in each other’s. Almost all people are carrying a great and secret hurt, even when they don’t know it. It is all the suffering of God. … A Crucified God is the dramatic symbol of the one suffering that God fully enters into with us—much more than just for us, as many Christians were trained to think. What creates such altruistic and loving people?
09/15. We all have to admit that our secret thoughts are often cruel, attacking, judgmental, and harsh. The ego seems to find its energy precisely by having something to oppose, fix, or change. Thomas Keating (1923–2018) wrote: If you overcome your enemies, you’ve failed. If Ou make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded.
09/14. One of the best ways to identify your shadow is to pay attention to your emotional reactions toward other people. Sure, your colleagues might be aggressive, arrogant, inconsiderate, or impatient, but if you don’t have those same qualities within you, you won’t have a strong reaction to their behavior.
09/09. Become who you are. Become all that you are. There is still more of you—more to be discovered, forgiven, and loved. Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961)
08/20. Jesus abhors both passivity and violence as responses to evil. His is a third alternative – the love of enemies. To our most bitter opponents we say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you… But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom.
08/15. What did [Meister Eckhart (1260–1328)] teach? Essentially, four principles that [Gottfried] Leibnitz would later call the Perennial Philosophy, because they have been taught from age to age in culture after culture:
• First, there is a “light in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable” : unconditioned, universal, deathless; in religious language, a divine core of personality which cannot be separated from God. Eckhart is precise: this is not what the English language calls the “soul,” but some essence in the soul that lies at the very center of consciousness. As Saint Catherine of Genoa [1447–1510] put it, “My me is God: nor do I know my selfhood except in God.”  In Indian mysticism this divine core is called simply atman, “the Self.”
• Second, this divine essence can be realized. It is not an abstraction, and it need not—Eckhart would say must not—remain hidden under the covering of our everyday personality. It can and should be discovered, so that its presence becomes a reality in daily life.
• Third, this discovery is life’s real and highest goal. Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts.
• Last, when we realize this goal, we discover simultaneously that the divinity within ourselves is one and the same in all—all individuals, all creatures, all of life. . . .
08/08. It is not something that we achieve for ourselves, it is something that comes when we let go. We have to abandon everything – all words, thoughts, hopes, fears, all attachment to ourselves or to any earthly things, and let the divine mystery take possession of our lives. It feels like death, and it is, in fact, a sort of dying … Bede Griffith
07/16 I would say that my only real definition of a Christian is one who can see Christ everywhere else and even in oneself.
07/14. Many Christians are scared of the word “mysticism.” But a mystic is simply one who has moved from mere belief … to actual inner experience of God.
06/24. Can you let others convert you to the Love that you truly are? Rabbi Danya Ruttenber. That moment when we say, I accept you—even though being with you is awfully hard right now—that’s love. Maybe, as our hearts overflow, we find that love can, naturally of its own accord, extend wider, until it encompasses caring for all things, and connection to everything—until our love becomes Love itself, the very flow and force of the universe.
06/21. If the bad news is that we can know another, and be known, only as deeply as we know ourselves—and coming to know ourselves can be a long and arduous journey—the good news is that love helps and inspires us to develop this deeper self-knowledge. . . . For this reason, relationships can help us face and understand ourselves more rapidly and profoundly than any other aspect of worldly life. Seen in this light, love becomes a path of awakening… so the path of love expands in ever widening circles. As a [couple] become[s] devoted to the growth of awareness and spirit in each other, they will naturally want to share their love with others.
06/17. Instead of looking to a relationship for shelter, we could welcome its power to wake us up in areas of life where we are asleep and where we avoid naked, direct contact with life. This approach puts us on a path. It commits us to movement and change, providing forward direction by showing us exactly where we most need to grow. The Buddhist psychologist John Welwood (1943–2019)
06/11. Like the Christ Mystery itself, the deep feminine often works underground and in the shadows, and—from that position—creates a much more intoxicating message. While church and culture have often denied women roles, offices, and formal authority, the Divine Feminine has continued to exercise incredible power at the cosmic and personal levels.
05/01. The human ego fixes upon roles, titles, status symbols, and concocted self-images … They are not, in that sense, objectively “real.” Nor are they our true and deepest self. All of these images must die if we want the Real, but they do not die easily because we have mistaken them for elements of our real self for most of our life. We all suffer from a tragic case of mistaken identity.
The Real is that to which all the world religions point when they speak of heaven, nirvana, bliss, eternity, or enlightenment. Our mistake was that most Christians delayed this inner state until after death. This distorted and misshaped the spiritual search, making it into a cheap reward and punishment system—for later.
The human ego wants two things: It wants to be separate and it wants to be superior! This is why Jesus says this self must “die” for something much better to be “found.” As long as the ego is in control, not much new will ever happen.
04/16. But Jesus walks the victim journey in an extraordinary way. He neither plays the victim card himself for his own aggrandizement, nor does he victimize anybody else, even his murderers. He forgives them all.
04/04. We deal most fruitfully with loss by accepting the fact that we will one day lose everything. When we learn to fall, we learn that only by letting go our grip on all that we ordinarily find most precious—our achievements, our plans, our loved ones, our very selves—can we find, ultimately, the most profound freedom. In the act of letting go of our lives, we return more fully to them. Philip Simmons (1957–2002)
03/10. The conclusion seems to be that to share in the divine life I must accept the vocation of consciously living in this self-creating universe. . . . [This] means that I need to know something about the whole thing, how it works, how it’s moving, how to take my place in it, make my meaningful contribution to this general improvisation.
02/23. We made God as small as our own constricted hearts. We picked and chose, saying, “Oh, God is really only in my group, in baptized people, in moral people, etc.” Is there that little of an Infinite God to go around? Do we have to be stingy with God?
02/18 Light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else. … It can even enable us to see as God sees, if that is not hoping for too much.
02/15 Light is less something we see directly and more something by which we see all other things. When Jesus Christ calls himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), he is not telling us to look just at him, but to look out at life with his all-merciful and non-dualistic eyes. We see him so we can see like him—with the same infinite compassion.
02/07. Some people feel called and agree to not hide from the dark side of things or the rejected group, but in fact draw close to the pain of the world and allow it to radically change their perspective. They agree to embrace the imperfection and even the injustices of our world, allowing these situations to change them from the inside out, which is the only way things are changed anyway.
02/06. If forgiveness needs to be bought or paid for, then it is not authentic forgiveness at all. Love and forgiveness must be freely given or they do not accomplish their deeply transformative healing. Self-serving love does not change the heart. It must be free and undeserved love or transformation does not happen. … that idea reduces any notion of a universal or truly “catholic” revelation to one planet, at the edge of one solar system, in a universe comprised of billions of galaxies with trillions of solar systems. A religion based on required sacrifices is just not glorious or hopeful enough or even befitting the marvelous creation.
01/30. Matter and Spirit must be recognized as inseparable in Christ before we have the courage and insight to acknowledge and honor the same in ourselves and in the entire universe. Jesus is the Archetype of Everything.
01/25. Jesus is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. To allow what God for some reason allows—and uses. And to suffer ever so slightly what God suffers eternally.
01/18. What name might we give to this center? The apostle Paul suggests the word kenosis. In Greek, the verb kenosein means “to let go,” or “to empty oneself,” and this is the word Paul chooses to describe “the mind of Christ.”
Here is what Paul has to say (Philippians 2:6-8):
Though his state was that of God,
yet he did not deem equality with God
something he should cling to.
Rather, he emptied himself,
and assuming the state of a slave,
he was born in human likeness.
He, being known as one of us,
humbled himself, obedient unto death,
even death on the cross.
01/16. “Love your neighbor as yourself”—as a continuation of your very own being. It’s a complete seeing that your neighbor is you.
01/15. The kingdom of heaven is some more subtle quality or dimension of experience accessible to you right in the moment. You don’t die into it; you awaken into it. The Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. Cynthia Bourgeault
01/12. Jesus stayed close to the ground of wisdom: the transformation of human consciousness. He asked timeless and deeply personal questions: What does it mean to die before you die? How do you go about losing your little life to find the bigger one? Is it possible to live on this planet with a generosity, abundance, fearlessness, and beauty that mirror Divine Being itself? Cynthia Bourgeault
01/02/2019. Jesus did not so much love people once they changed, but he loved people so that they could change.
12/22. Contemplation is any way one has of penatrating illusion and touching reality. Paula Parker
12/17. Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that come from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
12/14. When you meditate consistently, a sense of your autonomy and private self-importance—what you think of as your “self”—falls away, little by little, as unnecessary, unimportant, and even unhelpful. The imperial “I,” the self that you likely think of as your only self, reveals itself as largely a creation of your mind. Through regular access to contemplation, you become less and less interested in protecting this self-created, relative identity. You don’t have to attack it; it calmly falls away of its own accord and you experience a kind of natural humility.
If your prayer goes deep, “invading” your unconscious, as it were, your whole view of the world will change from fear to connection, because you don’t live inside your fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In meditation, you move from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being fear-driven to being love-drawn. That’s it in a few words!
11/30. The only thing blocking the emergence of this whole and wondrous other way of knowing is your over-reliance on your ordinary thinking. If you can just turn that off for a while, then the other will begin to take shape in you, become a reality you can actually experience. And as it does, you will know . . . your absolute belonging and place in the heart of God, and that you are a part of this heart forever and cannot possibly fall out of it, no matter what may happen. Cynthia Bourgeault
11/22. The ordinary mind and its delusions die in the Nearing Death Experience. As death carries us off, it is impossible to any longer pretend that who we are is our ego. The ego is transformed in the very carrying off. Kathleen Dowling Singh
11/16. The True Self is the Risen Christ in you, and hence, it is not afraid of death. It has already been to hell and back.
11/12. I have come to believe that the time of dying effects a transformation from perceived tragedy to experienced grace. … A transformation occurs from the point of terror at the contemplation of the loss of our separate, personal self to a merging into the deep, nurturing, ineffable experience of Unity. Kathleen Dowling Singh
11/10. The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved…
To love God is to love what God loves. To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions.
11/07. God created this evolving universe because God is Love and each of us is God’s gift to the world… Teilhard might say that God has an evolutionary “project” for creation that God wants to accomplish. . . . God wants creation to become fully conscious that it is imbued with divine love and living in that love.
11/05. Where the welding takes place is normally the strongest place of all on a steel bar. It’s the breaking and the welding and the mending that creates the real beauty of relationship… We finally realize we are falling ever-deeper into something we can never live up to—a sustained vulnerability, a continual risk.
11/04. Self-hatred is also the hatred of God, because God and ourselves are united. —Thomas Keating
11/02. there’s no such thing as the deprivation of love, because the infinite love of God invincibly pervades and gives itself endlessly to everyone and to all things everywhere. There is no such thing as a deprivation of love, but there is the deprivation of the capacity to experience the love that is never missing. Therefore, my spiritual practice is to look within for the places that are blocking my ability to experience the flow of an immense tenderness that is endlessly giving itself to me in all situations.
11/01. it’s never earning the love, it’s always returning the love. … It’s not based in fear, but in ecstasy.
10/29. All spiritual disciplines have one purpose: to get rid of illusions so we can be more fully present to what is. These disciplines exist so that we can see what is, see who we are, and see what is happening. What is is love, so much so that even the tragic will be used for purposes of transformation into love. It is God, who is love, giving away God every moment as the reality of our life. Who we are is love, because we are created in God’s image. What is happening is God living in us, with us, and through us as our unique manifestation of love. And each one of us is a bit different because the forms of love are infinite.
10/26. For in accepting their seemingly unacceptable situation, they are transformed in ways that leave us feeling strangely touched and privileged to be in their presence. Being in their presence can open up in us a deep sense of how invincibly precious we are in the midst of our fragility… This is something people refuse to admit to themselves: at a given point you can no longer do, but can only be and accept. James Finley
10/23. For John of the Cross, his suffering opened up onto something unexpected. John discovered that although it was true that he could not find refuge from suffering when he was in his prison cell, he also discovered that the suffering he had to endure had no refuge from God’s love that could take the suffering away, but rather permeated the suffering through and through and through and through and through. Love protects us from nothing, even as it unexplainably sustains us in all things. Access to this love is not limited by our finite ideas of what it is or what it should be. Rather, this love overwhelms our abilities to comprehend it, as it so unexplainably sustains us and continues to draw us to itself in all that life might send our way.
This is why John of the Cross encourages us not to lose heart when we are passing through our own hardships, but rather to have faith in knowing and trusting that no matter what might be happening and no matter how painful it might be, God is sustaining us in ways we cannot and do not need to understand. John encourages us that in learning to be patiently transformed in this dark night we come to discover within ourselves, just when everything seems to be lost, that we are being unexplainably sustained by the presence of God that will never lose us. As this painful yet transformative process continues to play itself out in our lives, we can and will discover we are finding our way to the peace of God that surpasses understanding.
10/15. we are called to be both the agony and the ecstasy of God—for the life of the world.
10/12. we can’t think our way to God. That’s why I’m willing to abandon everything I know, to love the one thing I cannot think. [God] can be loved, but not thought. It doesn’t matter how much profound wisdom we possess … our understanding cannot help us gain knowledge about any uncreated spiritual being…
10/08. In meditation, we move beyond doctrines and dogmas to inner experience. It is a knowing by participation with—instead of an observation of from a position of separation. It is knowing subject to subject instead of subject to object.
10/05. Emphasizing perfect agreement on words and forms (which is never going to happen anyway!), instead of inviting people into an experience of the Formless Presence, has caused much of the violence of human history. … It is always subject to subject knowing, never subject to object.
09/30. They are never 100% right or perfect. This is the necessary and good poverty of all spiritual language. Remember, Jesus never said, “You must be right!” or even that it was important to be right. He largely talked about being honest and humble (which is probably our only available form of rightness). As Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) wrote in his Letters to a Young Poet:
I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves. . . . For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.
09/29. In the Islamic tradition, we are considered to be an amazing weave of heaven and earth [spirit and matter]. Islam does not see us as sinful beings to be redeemed, but as neglectful and forgetful beings endowed with the primordial light. Avideh Shashaani
09/20. Nine of Jesus’ healing stories are actually exorcisms. While the term may be off-putting, the fact that there are so many exorcisms in the Gospels speaks to their importance. I believe “possession by devils” refers to what we now call addiction. … At the very least, we are addicted to our compulsive dualistic patterns of thinking, to our preferred self-image, and to the usually unworkable programs for happiness we developed in childhood—which then showed themselves to be inadequate or even wrong.
09/19. The biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing.
09/17. Merton would tell him, “We don’t come to the monastery to get away from suffering; we come to hold the suffering of all the world.”  This can only be done by plugging into a larger consciousness through contemplation. No longer focused on our individual private perfection—or what Merton called “our personal salvation project”—we become fully human and usable by opening our hearts to God.
09/13. The Christian image of a torturous hell and God as a petty tyrant has not helped us to know, trust, or love God.
08/30. We are loved and chosen so that we can pass on the experience, not hoard the experience. In fact, if we feel a need to guard it, as if it were limited or scarce, that is the certain evidence that we have not accessed the Infinite Source within ourselves. It has to start with some kind of “I got it” experience which should lead to “But everybody else does too!”
08/01. All my suffering is rooted in mistaking my limited and labeled self (male, Jewish, white, American) as my truest Self; and that I can, with practice, shift my awareness from that limited egoic self to the infinite divine Self that is all Reality. Rami Shapiro
07/31. The term “perennial philosophy” . . . refers to a fourfold realization: (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source and substance of all creation; (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego; (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and (4) that peace, compassion, and justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, and violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality. The great sages and mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture. —Rami Shapiro
07/07. If your prayer goes deep, invading your unconscious, your whole view of the world will change from fear to connection, because you don’t live inside your fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In meditation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being driven to being drawn. Of course, you can only do this if Someone Else is holding onto you in the gradual dying of the False Self, taking away your fear, doing the knowing, satisfying your desire for a Great Lover. If you can allow that Someone Else to have their way with you in contemplation, you will go back to your life of action with new vitality, but it will now be smooth, a much more natural Flow.
06/21. Terry Pratchett has a character define sin thusly: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.” I don’t believe hell or heaven to be post-life destinations. I believe they are states of consciousness largely visible here and now. A world of objects is a kind of hell. A world of subjects—divine beings honoring the divinity in the other—is surely heaven. R
06/20. It is precisely the divine part of you that is great enough, deep enough, gracious enough to fully accept the human part of you. R
06/14. And whether or not we pray is as obvious as whether or not we have put our clothes on. R
06/11. Jesus, many mystics, and other wisdom traditions—such as the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—show that sin and failure are, in fact, an opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender. Mere counting and ledger-keeping is not the way of the Gospel. Our best self wants to restore relationships, and not just blame or punish. This is the “economy of grace.” (The trouble is that we defined God as “punisher in chief” instead of Healer, Forgiver, and Reconciler and so the retribution model was legitimized all the way down!) … “Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past.” Reality is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also both accountability and healing forgiveness. R
06/04. Holding the tension in love … Once we can stand in that third spacious way, neither directly fighting or fleeing, we are in the place of grace out of which genuine newness can come. This is where creativity and new forms of life and healing emerge. R
05/29. To meditate daily is to have chosen, accepted, and surrendered to a vocation. R
05/27. Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen to what it intends to do with you. … In other words, your life is not about you. You are about a larger thing called Life. You are not your own. You are an instance of a universal and eternal pattern. Life is living itself in you. The myriad forms of life in the universe are merely parts of the One Life—that many of us call “God.” R
05/20. So much of our lives is dictated by our preferences, what we like and don’t like. We all naturally gravitate toward what we find attractive, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But we need to be aware that there are things deeper than our preferences. If we do not recognize that, we will follow them addictively and never uncover our soul’s deeper desires. Often the very things that don’t appeal to us have the most to teach us spiritually.
05/05. Love is the most powerful force or energy in the universe. That power is multiplied in relationships. Love’s potency is released most powerfully among people who have formed a relationship (a union). —Louis Savary and Patricia Berne
05/04. In a true relationship, no one’s individuality is lost. It is increased. That is the beauty of Connections… These unions that enjoy a collective consciousness become the launching pads for the next stage of evolution, as we learn consciously how to create them and use them. R
04/30. At the end of your life, you’ll realize that every mentally ill person you’ve ever worked with is basically lonely. … That’s probably why God created the sexual drive—the instinct for personal intimacy and mutual giving of delight—to be so strong in most humans. R
04/11. What many of us miss, in our physical dis-ease, is that our bodies remain God’s best way of getting to us. . . . Deep suffering makes theologians of us all. R
03/31. I call the classic pattern of spiritual transformation “order-disorder-reorder.” Paul calls it “the foolishness of the cross.”
The transition to the second half of life moves you from either/or thinking to both/and thinking: the ability to increasingly live with paradox and mystery. You no longer think in terms of win/lose, but win/win. R
03/28. If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect, you can now do it for everybody else, too. If you have not forgiven yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others. R
03/25. Challenges and disruptions invite us to move from what I call the first half of life to the second half, from forming and serving the ego to the ego, in fact, serving the soul. With the guidance of the Spirit and the help of wise mentors and elders, all of life, including our “false” or small and separate self, can lead us to our True Self. R
03/24. To relate to reality in an immediately appreciative and non-manipulative way. The contemplative mind does not demand, is not needy, and is not easily offended. It allows other things and people to have their own voices without trying to impose its own agenda on them. R
03/23. This is like the] difference between a window (Aquinas) and a lamp (Scotus). Both give light, but the source of light for Scotus has already been given to the being by the creator. Mary Beth Ingram
03/22. Haecceity is our personal gift from God. Part of our vocation is to appreciate ourselves as the pearl of great price—because God does. R
03/21. Start with loving one situation or one person all the way through. That is the best—and maybe the only—first school for universal love.
03/20. All of it was given, never acquired, merited, or even fully understood. I just stumbled into Love again and again. And was held by it. R
03/18. Spiritual knowledge is to know things subject to subject (I-Thou), whereas rational knowing is to know things subject to object (I-it). There is, of course, a place for both; but most people have never been taught how to see in this deeper, nondual way, center to center and subject to subject—and that is the seeing that changes our lives. R
03/11. Contemplative prayer allows your mind to resonate with what is visible and right in front of you. Contemplation erases the separateness between the seer and the seen. .I have created mirrors in which I consider all the wonders of my originality which will never cease. R
03/10. we practice the art of mindfulness. That means we try not to live in the past or stew over the future. R
03/09. We cannot be violent toward someone or something when we see the divine in them. R
03/08. Animals and plants seem to excitedly take their small place in the “circle of life,” in the balance of nature, in the dance of complete interdependence. It is only we humans who have resisted our place in “the one great act of giving birth” (see Romans 8:22). R
02/28. Contemplative practice allows us to be content and even happy without fully resolving a seeming problem. It allows us to tolerate ambiguity and mystery. How else can we ever know God? Evolutionary thinking sends us on a trajectory, where the ride is itself the destination, and the goal is never clearly in sight. To stay on the ride, to trust the trajectory, to know it is moving somewhere better is just another way to describe the biblical notion of faith. R
02/22. The future can exist only when we understand the universe as composed of subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited. R
02/18. The Divine Presence is happening in, through, and amidst every detail of life. . . .
The incarnation of God did not only happen in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. It began approximately 14 billion years ago with a moment that we now call “The Big Bang” or what some call “The Great Radiance.” At the birth of our universe, God materialized and revealed who God is. R
02/13. God always and forever comes as one who is totally hidden and yet perfectly revealed in the same moment or event. … God initially speaks through what is … R
02/09. Wisdom people like Jesus have passed through a major death to their ego. This is the core meaning of transformation. R
02/05. Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God. —Matthew 5:8
When the heart is right, Jesus says, seeing will be right. He ties together heart and sight. R
02/04. A lifetime of received forgiveness allows us to become mercy: That’s the Beatitude. We become what we receive, what we allow into our hearts. R
02/03. Our supreme purpose in life is not to make a fortune, nor to pursue pleasure, nor to write our name on history, but to discover this spark of the divine that is in our hearts. —Eknath Easwaran
01/27. from our animal instincts and egocentricity into love and compassion; from a judgmental and dualistic worldview into a nondual acceptingness. This was the message that Jesus, apparently out of nowhere, came preaching and teaching, a message that was radical in its own time and remains equally radical today. R
01/22. Most people naturally feel that God must be pleased and placated. The isolated ego cannot imagine infinite and gratuitous love. Until we receive the Gospel on a cellular level, the little mind processes reality in some form of “tit for tat.” As a result, people spend more time fearing and trying to control God than actually loving God. In fact, we do not really know how to love God. When one party has all the power—which is, for many, the very definition of God—the only natural response is fear, denial (practical atheism), hiding, or seeking to manipulate the situation. The flow of giving and receiving in a love relationship is not possible with such an imbalance of power. … It is indeed the banquet that Jesus says no one wants to come to, and most even resent! (See Luke 14:7-24, Matthew 22:1-10.) God has a hard time giving away God, it seems. R
01/09. Contemplation allows us to see the truth of things in their wholeness. It is a mental discipline and gift that detaches us—neurologically and spiritually—from our addiction to our habitual way of thinking, usually in our left brain which likes to be in control. R
01/05. When we can see the image of God where we don’t want to see the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own. Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all. R
01/04/18. Finding God and finding our True Self—which is letting go of our false self— are finally the same thing. … It’s not about being privately correct; it’s about being fully
connected. It’s not about fulfilling requirements; it’s about a trusting relationship. R
12/30. “I want you to be you, all of you, your best you!” is what true lovers say to one
another, not “I do not like this about you,” or “Why don’t you change that?”12/23. Why
wait for heaven when you can enjoy the Divine Flow in every moment, in everyone? R
12/22. Our world is like a mirror; empty in itself, it can only reflect to the giver the
values it receives. R
12/18. we know our true and lasting life in the new “force field” that Paul calls the Body
of Christ, not in any individual or private perfection. If it is private, then it is not
12/13. Thinking knows things by objectifying them, capturing them as an object of
knowledge. But presence knows things by refusing to objectify them; instead it shares in
their very subjectivity. Presence allows full give and take
12/12. John of the Cross expressed it this way:
To come to the pleasure you have not, you must go by a way in which you enjoy not. To come to the knowledge you have not, you must go by a way in which you know not. To come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not. To come to be what you are not, you must go by a way in which you are not.
12/11. Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or
resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go.
12/08. Christianity became so concerned with making sure everybody believed that
Jesus was God (faith in Jesus) that we largely ignored his teachings on detachment,
simplicity, nonviolence, and anxiety (the faith of Jesus).
12/04. But what’s even more shocking is that, in the name of this entirely inclusive
Jewish man, Jesus, we created an exclusionary religion that ended up repeating what he
condemned in his lifetime.
1 Jesus is a model for living more than an object of worship.
2 Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
3 The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
4 Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
5 Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
6 Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
7 Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
8 Peacemaking is more important than power.
9 We should care more about love and less about sex.
10 Life in this world is more important than the afterlife
11/26. And remember that truth anywhere is truth everywhere. With each rebirth, Christianity becomes more inclusive and universal, as it was always meant to be. R
11/25. I could tell you that God is not elsewhere and heaven is not later, but until you come to personally and regularly experience that, you will not believe it. Both Jesus and Buddha say the same thing: “Stay awake!” Contemplative practice gradually transforms our minds so that we can live in the naked now. R
11/23. Wisdom is a way of seeing and knowing the same old ten thousand things but in a new way. As my colleague Cynthia Bourgeault often says, it’s not about knowing more, but knowing with more of you. I suggest that wise people are those who are free to be truly present to what is right in front of them. Presence is when all three centers are awake at the same time! (Heart, mind and body).
11/19. Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. —Eckhart Tolle … To live in the present is finally what we mean by presence itself! God is hidden in plain sight, yet religion seems determined to make it more complicated. Much of low-level religion suggests that to find God you need this morality and that behavior and this ritual and that performance and this belief system. Western Christianity has largely refused to allow God to be as simple, obvious, democratic, and available as God has made (and makes!) God’s self—right here and right now.
11/15. Conscious love is “love in the service of inner transformation”—or if you prefer, “inner transformation in the service of love.” … if we are conscious and aware, they give us the daily practice and opportunity to try one more time! I find every healthy marriage comes to this conclusion sooner or later.
Cynthia writes: “For Jesus as for all teachers of conscious transformation . . . the work with a partner is in service of this goal. It is not intended simply to fulfill physical or emotional needs, but to accelerate the process of awakening.”
10/31. Life evolves toward ever-increasing wholeness and consciousness, and something more—love. . . . RR
10/12. When death comes, an extraordinary thing happens: through all eternity, we will no longer be knowing God through finite ideas of the Infinite. Rather, you will know God through God’s own knowledge of God which is Christ; and for all eternity, you will love God with God’s own love which is the Holy Spirit. JF
10/11. God’s will for you is Godself. When you, in the freedom of your will, want nothing but what God wills—that is, you live by and for the ever-deepening consummation of this union in love—then these two wills are united in love. JF
09/07. we finally realize that we are already as beautiful as God is beautiful, because God gave the infinite beauty of God as who we are. JF
09/02. After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger… Now hand all of this pain—yours and the world’s—over to God. Let it go. Ask for the grace of forgiveness for the person who hurt you, for the event that offended you, for the reality of suffering in each life. R
08/30. We must allow things to be only partly resolved, without perfect closure or explanation. Christians have not been taught how to live in hope. The ego always wants to settle the dust quickly and have answers right now. The People of God on the waves of time, carrying the contradictions, the opposites, the tensions, and the paradoxes of humanity—preserving and protecting diversity inside of a safe unity created by God. Forgiveness becomes central to Jesus’ teaching, because to receive reality is always to “bear it,” to bear with reality for not meeting all of our needs. To accept reality is to forgive reality for being what it is, almost day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. Such a practice creates patient and humble people.
Forgiveness reveals three goodnesses simultaneously. When we forgive,
1. we choose the goodness of the other over their faults,
2. we experience God’s goodness flowing through ourselves, and
3. we also experience our own capacity for goodness in a way that almost surprises us.
We are finally in touch with a much Higher Power, and we slowly learn how to draw upon this Infinite Source. R
08/25. The great illusion that we must all overcome is that of separateness. Religion’s primary task is to communicate union, to reconnect people to their original identity “hidden with Christ in God.” Sin is forgetting who we are. We are not punished for our sins; we are punished by our sins. Forgetfulness is what we must constantly struggle against.
08/24. Pope Francis is the first pope I am aware of who has had the insight and courage to say that Divine Love is the only absolute, not law, Scripture, church, or moral behavior. R
08/21. The full biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing. The ego makes life all about achievement and attainment. We view sin as any kind of moral mistake; but, sin is a mistake about who you are… R
08/09. the false self that dies slowly, and only after much testing and practice in surrender. … Your True Self is Life and Being and Love. R
08/08. The false self is no longer a threat or an enduring attraction once you have experienced the True Self. R
08/03. The only things strong enough to break open our heart are things like pain, mistakes, unjust suffering, tragedy, failure, and the general absurdity of life. . . . We must be led to an experience or situation that we cannot fix or control or understand. R
The image of the cross was to change humanity, not a necessary transaction to change God—as if God needed changing! Duns Scotus concluded that Jesus’ death was not a “penal substitution” but a divine epiphany for all to see. Jesus was pure gift. The idea of gift is much more transformative than necessity, payment, or transaction. It shows that God is not violent, but loving. It is we who are violent.
Duns Scotus firmly believed that God’s freedom had to be maintained at all costs. If God “needed” or demanded a blood sacrifice to love God’s own creation, then God was not freely loving us. For the Franciscan school, Jesus was not changing God’s mind about us; he was changing our minds about God. If God and Jesus are not violent or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. If God is punitive and torturing, then we have permission to do the same. Thus grew much of the church’s violent history. R
You can tell mature and authentic faith by people’s ability to deal with darkness, failure, and non-validation of the ego—and by their quiet but confident joy! R
Faith welcomes unknowing and mystery. Unfortunately, Christianity has settled for dogma, rituals, and tribal belonging, losing sight of the transformative way of faith. R
Contemplation addresses the root, the underlying place, where illusion and ego are generated. It touches the unconscious, where most of our wounds and need for healing lie. R
You shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. —Matthew 5:48
Jesus is not calling us to live without making mistakes or to achieve some impossible level of perfection. He calls us, as Jack Jezreel—founder of JustFaith Ministries—says, to love without exception. Jezreel reflects on this invitation to wholeness in the Center for Action and Contemplation’s journal Oneing:
We are either a people who love, embrace, and enter into a caring posture with our family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies (real or imagined) or we will spend our lives mercilessly trying to define who is lovable and who is not, who is worthy and who is not, who deserves my attention and who does not. Inevitably, we will end up loving people who look like us, think like us, and pledge allegiance to the same flag—and we will exclude the rest. In this truly useless pursuit, we will separate ourselves from God (through tribal worship), from the world’s good (by avoiding healing and restoration), and from our very souls (through self-preoccupation with ego).
The true spiritual quest is not that I become whole. Informed by the belief that the world is birthed by God and is precious and sacred and one, the true spiritual quest is that the world become whole—and we along with it. R
If your prayer goes deep, your whole view of the world will change from fear and reaction to deep and positive connection—because you don’t live inside a fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In meditation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being driven by negative motivations to being drawn from a positive source within. R
Both Francis and Clare let go of all fear of suffering, all need for power, prestige, and possessions, and the need for their small self to be important. They came to know something essential—who they really were in God and thus who they really were. R
The visible world is an active doorway to the invisible world, and the invisible world is much larger than the visible. R
Contemplation teaches us to say, “That feeling is not me. I don’t need that opinion to define me. I don’t need to justify myself or blame someone else.”
Gradually, we learn to trust the wounds and the failures of life, which are much better teachers than our supposed successes. It’s all a matter of letting go and getting out of the way. Thérèse of Lisieux would call it surrender and gratitude. She said, “It is enough to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself, like a child, into God’s arms.”  Until we discover this “little way,” we almost all try to gain moral high ground by obeying laws and thinking we are spiritually advanced. R
All awareness, enlightenment, aliveness, and transformation begins with recognizing that your DNA is divine and unearned as is everyone else’s. R
Francis knew that once you felt you owned anything, then you would have to protect it and increase it. … “live simply so that others may simply live.” R
When we read the Gospel texts carefully, we see that the only people Jesus seems to “exclude” are those who exclude others. Exclusion might be described as the core sin. Don’t waste any time rejecting, excluding, eliminating, or punishing anyone or anything else. Everything belongs, including you. R
Only our personal experiences of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move us from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. R
The common Christian reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (common in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God the Father (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109). Theologians later developed a “substitutionary atonement theory”—the strange idea that before God could love us God needed and demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to ”atone” for our sin. As a result, our theology became more transactional than transformational…. Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the divine incarnation; rather, God’s motivation was infinite divine love and full self-revelation! R
Jesus is the forgiving victim, which really is the only hope of our world, because most of us sooner or later will be victimized on some level. It is the familiar story line of an unjust and often cruel humanity. The cross is a healing message about the violence of humanity, and we tragically turned it into the violence of God, who we thought needed “a sacrifice” to love us. R
Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement. R
Jesus replaced the myth of redemptive violence with the truth of redemptive suffering. He showed us on the cross how to hold the pain and let it transform us, rather than pass it on to the others around us. R
God is in some very real way suffering. God is not watching it, but in it! … If you gaze upon the mystery of the cross long enough, your dualistic mind breaks down, and you become slow to call things totally good or totally bad. You realize that God uses the bad for good and that many people who call themselves good may in fact not be so good at all. R
May we bring greater love into our world, greater peace, if only through opening our hearts a bit more. Sanaya
If all our crucifixions are leading to some possible resurrection, and are not dead-end tragedies, this changes everything. If God is somehow participating in the suffering of humans and creation, instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it, that also changes everything—at least for those who are willing to “gaze” contemplatively. R
The Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from.  It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place.
Marion suggests specifically that the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus’ way of describing a state we would nowadays call “nondual consciousness” or “unitive consciousness.” The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation—not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans. These are indeed Jesus’ two core teachings, underlying everything he says and does. CB
For both Francis and Bonaventure, God is not an offended monarch on a throne throwing down thunderbolts, but a “fountain fullness” that flows, overflows, and fills all things. CB
The capacity to recognize and consciously mediate third force belongs to what we would now call unitive or nondual consciousness. Consistent contemplative practice is a non-negotiable in developing the alert and flexible presence that can midwife third force. CB
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. —Brené Brown 
“Weakness” isn’t a trait any of us wish to be associated with, and yet the apostle Paul describes no less than God having weakness! Paul says, “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). How could God be weak?
We are in a new ballpark here. Let’s admit that we admire strength and importance. We admire self-sufficiency, autonomy, the self-made person. This is surely the American way. This weakness of God, as Paul calls it, is not something we admire or want to imitate. Maybe this has been part of our resistance to this mystery of Trinity.
Human strength I would describe as self-sufficiency. God’s weakness I would describe as inter-being. Human strength admires autonomy and holding on. There is something positive about this; it’s not all wrong. But the irony is, the mystery of Trinity is much more about letting go, which looks like weakness. R
But even if we could develop a perfectly healthy ego, there would remain the suffering that arises from experiencing ourselves as nothing more than our ego. Ego consciousness, in and of itself, is not expansive enough to fulfill our hearts. Ego is not generous or gracious enough to bring us all the way home. God creates our hearts in such a way that only God will satisfy our longing. Jim Finley
We have to practice un-possessing, letting go, detaching from our thoughts and feelings, or they own us. With every idea or image that comes into our head, we have the opportunity to say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.” This frees you to intentionally choose your divine identity instead. R
In general, the more perfectionistic, legalistic, and ritualistic you are, the less contemplative you are. For the contemplative, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. R
Believe me, it is major surgery, and you must practice it for years to begin to rewire your egocentric responses. Contemplation is work, so much so that most people give up after their first futile attempts. The ego doesn’t trust this way of seeing, which is why it is so rare, “a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14, NJB). R
Feeling separate and superior instead of connected and compassionate?
The dualistic mind cannot process things like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, sexuality, death, or love.
Non-dual consciousness is a much more holistic knowing, where your mind, heart, soul, and senses are open and receptive to the moment just as it is, which allows you to love things in themselves and as themselves. R
My spiritual practice is to sit each day in childlike sincerity with an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the God-given, godly nature of myself just the way I am. James Finley
Non-duality is sometimes described as 1) non-polarization or the capacity to be open, inclusive, and tolerant of paradox. … 2) they tend to create the impression that non-dual is by nature blissful, exotic, or an “altered state of consciousness” … 3) “the unitive state,” the easterner sees that Oneness as identity—“I am that.” In the West, the unitive state is looked upon as relational: a mystical marriage, in which one is fully joined to God in love. Cynthia Bourgeault
Contemplation is a panoramic, receptive awareness whereby you take in all that the situation, the moment, the event offers, without judging, eliminating, or labeling anything up or down, good or bad. It is a pure and positive gaze, unattached to outcome or critique. Being present and conscious in this way does not come naturally to modern and postmodern people. … Reality does not need you to like it in order to be reality. This is a much more holistic knowing, where your mind, heart, soul, and senses are open and receptive to the moment just as it is, which allows you to love things in themselves and as themselves. You learn not to divide the field of the moment or eliminate anything that threatens your ego, but to hold everything—both the attractive and the unpleasant—together in one accepting gaze. R
But the diversionary temptations have been many. In the Franciscan worldview, separation from the world is the monastic temptation, asceticism is the temptation of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, moralism or celibacy is the Catholic temptation, intellectualizing is the seminary temptation, privatized Gospel and inerrant “belief” is the Protestant temptation, and the most common temptation for all of us is to use belonging to the right group and practicing its proper rituals as a substitute for any personal or life-changing encounter with the Divine. R
Now don’t let the word “mystic” scare you. It simply means one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience. R
“God is not only stranger than we think but stranger than we can think.” Contemplation is a vast opening to inner experience. R
Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space. Dualistic commentaries are lodged in your head; but in your heart, you can surround this negative thought with silence. R
Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom, from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself. (Tuesday)
As the “imperial mind” took over, religion had less to do with Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, inclusivity, forgiveness, and simplicity, and instead became fully complicit in the world of domination, power, war, and greed itself. (Wednesday)
We need nondual consciousness—the mind of Christ—to process the great questions of love, suffering, death, infinity, and divinity and to be unafraid of diversity and welcoming of union at ever higher and more expansive levels. R
And then go out and play some more … creating yet more perfection. Sanaya
But the Bible does not make transformation dependent on cleverness at all; rather, transformation is found in one of God’s favorite and most effective hiding places: humility. Read the opening eight Beatitudes in this light (Matthew 5:1-12). Such “poverty of spirit,” Jesus says, is something we seem to lose as we grow into supposed adulthood. R
Consciousness is never a mere personal possession, but as the Latin root (con-scire: to know with) indicates, it is first and foremost a shared experience, and it is the Holy Spirit who is the Sharer! … We all constantly draw wisdom from the ongoing evolution of consciousness, just as Christians first added the New Testament to the only Scriptures that Jesus loved and honored, the so-called Old Testament. R
It’s an inner knowing, that we are much more than physical beings, and we live on beyond our physical lives. It’s a knowing that we are spirit, or energy, first, and our physical world is a manifestation of that. It’s a knowing that changes our perspective on life, and everything in it. And with that knowing, comes the ability to stay in touch with our inner guidance, and our true purpose. … If you make just one New Year’s resolution this year, may I suggest that you make the resolution to commit to listening to your inner guidance more. AM
Ignorant hating, excluding, and killing is the universal sin of the world to this day. … Jesus said, “The world’s going to hate you” (John 15:18-19). When you can no longer play the game of judging, labeling, and punishing others, you will quickly become the outsider at most every cocktail party you attend. But Jesus has taught us how to hold the pain of the world until it transforms and resurrects us. This dangerous virus is what Jesus calls “the hidden leaven” inside the Gospel. R
Only love can move effectively across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy, a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, exactly like water. In fact, there is no form of life that does not need water. R
Human history is one giant wave of unearned grace, and you are now another wave crashing onto the sands of time, edged forward by the many waves behind you. You are a fully adopted son or daughter in God’s one eternal family. … If you are already at home with Love here, you will quite readily move into the eternal home of Love. R
“The essence of all religions is love, compassion, and tolerance. Kindness is my true religion.” the Dalai Lama
To be a person of faith means you see things—people, animals, plants, the earth—as inherently connected to God, connected to you, and therefore, most worthy of love and dignity. That’s what Jesus is praying for. R
The mystics always go to the Trinitarian level because here God is a verb more than a noun, God is a flow more than a substance, God is an experience more than an old man sitting on a throne. And we are inside that flow of love. R
The ego frames everything in a binary, dualistic way: for me or against me, totally right or totally wrong. That is the best the small egotistical self can do, but it is not anywhere close to adequate for God’s purposes. … Our goal is to illustrate both the image and the likeness of God. The image is given to all; the likeness must be personally surrendered to, allowed, and practiced. This is the core of Christian faith. R
As long as your ego is in charge, you will demand a retributive God; you’ll insist that hell is necessary. But if you have been transformed by love, hell will no longer make sense to you because you know that God has always loved you in your sinfulness. R
The demand for the perfect is the enemy of the possible good. … By very definition, vulnerability and unity do not compete or dominate. R
We must first succeed at good dualistic thinking before we also discover its final inadequacy in terms of wisdom and compassion. … Love is the lesson, and God’s love is so great that God will finally teach it to all of us. R
I did not want to be an ex-evangelical or an ex-fundamentalist. Too many people live that life of dis-identification, and I did not want to share their anger and “stuckness.” It was essential, therefore, for me to identify and embrace the gifts that had come to me from these traditions. This was the way in which I came to know that everything in my life belongs, that every part of my story has made important contributions to who I am. David Benner
The only true perfection available to humans is the honest acceptance of our imperfection. This is precisely what Divine Perfection can help us do; only God in us can love imperfect and broken things. R
This Divine Life is so large, deep, and spacious that it even includes its seeming opposite, death. … Notice how most of Jesus’ ministry is about healing people (yet I grew up in a church that hardly used the word “healing”). Notice also how many of those healings have to do with blindness, chosen blindness (John 9:41), the gradual healing of blindness (Mark 8:22-26), and the distorted worldviews that come from chosen blindness (Luke 6:39-42). “Most people do not see things as they are because they see things as they are!” Which is not to see at all. Their many self-created filters keep them from seeing with any clear vision. The whole of life is almost perfectly calibrated to get you out of your own way, which is normally achieved by having to give up control or through a persistent sadness, pain, or fear. Notice how the blind people invariably cry out to Jesus “Lord have pity on me” (Luke 18:39). R
The divisions, dichotomies, and dualisms of the world can only be overcome by a unitive consciousness at every level: personal, relational, social, political, cultural, inter-religious dialogue, and spirituality in particular. R
God is never an object to be found or possessed as we find other objects, but the One who shares our own deepest subjectivity—or our “self.” … To objectify God in any way is not to know God. R
“You violate yourself whenever you say “yes” in order to avoid conflict or confrontation.” Nancy Levin
Cynthia Bourgeault says, “We begin to discover that our Buddhist and Jewish and Islamic and Hindu friends are not competitors. Religion is not a survival of the fittest. There is a deep understanding that we all swim together or we sink together. Each religious tradition reveals a color of the heart of God that is precious.”
Jesus didn’t come to create a new or exclusive religion. He came to reform and reinvigorate the very meaning of all religion—and ground it in human nature and creation itself—which is universal. R
Contemplation is the end of all loneliness because it erases the separateness between the seer and the seen. R
There is a cruciform shape to reality, it seems, and loss precedes all renewal, emptiness makes way for every new infilling, every transformation in the universe requires the surrendering of a previous “form.” R
Instead of believing that Jesus came to personally fulfill you privately, how about trusting that you are here to fulfill Christ? R
Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person. All matter reveals Spirit, and Spirit needs matter to “show itself”! I believe “the Second Coming of Christ” happens whenever and wherever we allow this to be utterly true for us. R
The soul is urging you to be the presence of Love, and thus grow by raising the vibration of the Whole. Sanaya
Jesus, however, brings it front and center. A “crucified God” became the logo and central image of our Christian religion: a dying, bleeding, losing man. If that isn’t saying you win by losing, what is it going to take for us to get the message? R
Jesus does the opposite: he finds God among the impure instead of among the pure! He entertains the lost sheep instead of comforting those who think they are not lost. … The ego desperately wants to feel pure, saved, moral, significant, and superior. R
We aren’t really free until we’re free from ourselves: our ego, our reputation, our self-image, our need to be right, our need to be successful, our need to have everything under control, even our need to be loved by others—or to think of ourselves as loving. … The word “human” comes from the Latin humus, which means earth. Being human means acknowledging that we’re made from the earth and will return to the earth. For a few years we dance around on the stage of life and have the chance to reflect a little bit of God’s glory. We are earth that has come to consciousness. R
Jesus replaced the myth of redemptive violence with the truth of redemptive suffering. He showed us how to hold the pain and let it transform us, rather than pass it on to the others around us. R
Franciscan teacher, Blessed John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308), who founded the theological chair at Oxford, said that Jesus wasn’t solving any problems by coming to earth and dying. Jesus wasn’t changing God’s mind about us; rather, Jesus was changing our minds about God. That, in a word, was our nonviolent at-one-ment theory. God did not need Jesus to die on the cross to decide to love humanity. God’s love was infinite from the first moment of creation; the cross was just Love’s dramatic portrayal in space and time… Jesus was pure gift, and the idea of gift is much more transformative than any idea of necessity, price, or transaction. If God “needed” or demanded a blood sacrifice to love God’s own creation, then God was not freely loving us. If God and Jesus are not violent, punishing, torturing, or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. This is no small point! And, of course, if God is punitive and torturing, then we have full modeling and permission to do the same. R
Unless you can become the watcher, you’ll almost always identify with your feelings. They feel like real and objective truth.
Most people I know are overly identified with their own thoughts and feelings. They don’t really have feelings; their feelings have them. That may be what earlier Christians meant by being “possessed” by a demon. That’s why so many of Jesus’ miracles are the exorcism of devils. Most don’t take that literally anymore, but the devil is still a powerful metaphor, which demands that you take it quite seriously. Everyone has a few devils. I know I’m “possessed” at least once or twice a day, even if just for a few minutes! R
When the mind can judge something to be inferior, we feel superior. We must recognize our constant tendency toward negating reality, resisting it, opposing it, and attacking it on the level of our mind. R
When Francis said, after kissing the leper, “I left the world,” he was saying that he was giving up on the usual payoffs, constraints, and rewards of business-as-usual and was choosing to live in the largest Kingdom of all. R
God always became bigger and led me to bigger places. If God could include and allow, then why couldn’t I? If God asked me to love unconditionally and universally, then it was clear that God operated in the same way. R
Do you want to know
what goes on in the core of the Trinity?
I will tell you.
In the core of the Trinity
the Father laughs
and gives birth to the Son.
The Son laughs back at the Father
and gives birth to the Spirit.
The whole Trinity laughs
and gives birth to us. Meister Eckhart
When you find yourself drawing these conclusions, look deeply inside yourself and you will probably find that you are angry and projecting your anger onto God. This very human pattern is illustrated throughout the Bible, as the text mirrors both the growth and resistance of the human soul. I call it three steps forward and two steps back. References to the “wrath” of God are an example of the two steps back. But the whole text moves slowly and inexorably toward inclusivity, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness. … I do not believe there is any wrath in God whatsoever—it’s theologically impossible when God is Trinity. R
We dare to be free to love all those whom God loves, which appears to be everybody. How could God, who is Love, do anything less? R
There’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power. … Hebrew history preceded what Christianity repeated: we both preferred kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love. R
Even your sins will become good teachers. The Great Flow makes use of everything, absolutely everything. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more” (Romans 5:20). Even your mistakes will be used in your favor, if you allow them to be. That’s how good God is. R
Trinity was made to order to undercut all dualistic thinking. … Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing human can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will win. R
I had always believed that life happens to us. In other words, I believed that I was a victim of my circumstances, so I was always reacting to life instead of creating life. … The absence of light is darkness, the absence of love is fear. Anita Moorjani
But I believe mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand; rather, it is something that you can endlessly understand. There is no point at which you can say, “I’ve got it.” … Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between Three—a circle dance of love. God is Absolute Friendship. R
There is a certain fear of death that comes from not having lived yet. R
Without those two qualities—humility and honesty—we just don’t grow. … In reality our growth is “a treasure hidden in a field” (Matthew 13:44). It is only discovered by the release of our current defense postures, by letting go of fear and our attachment to self-image. R
Clare of Assisi spoke of “the mirror of the cross” in which she saw in the tragic death of Jesus our own human capacity for violence and, yet, our great capacity for love.  Empty in itself, the mirror simply absorbs an image and returns it to the one who gives it. Discovering ourselves in the mirror of the cross can empower us to love beyond the needs of the ego or the need for self-gratification.
All you have to do is just find your joy in this moment. Even if you have other obligations, make a commitment to do at least one thing that brings you joy each day. Even doing just that will bring you closer to who you truly are. And the more you become who you truly are, the more the Universe will give you what is truly yours. Anita Moorjani
The cross was Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of undeserved pain as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world. R
Contemplation is largely teaching you how to let go—how to let go of your attachment to your self-image, your expectations, your very ideas. … As you gradually learn to let go, you learn how to rest in what some call “the eternal now,” a kind of present satisfaction with the present as it is. You don’t need to manipulate or change the moment in order to be happy. R
The Gospel, truly interpreted, wants everybody to win, to live in a world of freedom and joy. It isn’t a win/lose model where only a few win and most lose. … The task of healthy religion is to communicate to you your inherent dignity and the dignity inherent in everything else too. R
We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. … “Buddha” literally means “I am awake” in Sanskrit. … We have to learn to see what is already here. Such a simple directive is hard for us to understand. We want to attain some concrete information or achieve an improved morality or learn some behavior that will make us into superior beings. We have a “merit badge” mentality. We worship success. We believe that we get what we deserve, what we work hard for, and what we are worthy of. It’s hard for Western people to think in any other way. R
The only thing that matters is that you allow yourself to be all of who you are! It’s that simple! Just be yourself—your true self! Be the love that you are. Shine your light as brightly as you can. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy the ride and have fun—lots of fun! Anita Moorjani
When you’re able to welcome your own pain, you will in some way feel the pain of the whole world. … Now hand all of this pain—yours and the world’s—over to God. Let it go. R
The binary, dualistic mind cannot deal with contradictions, paradox, or mystery, all of which are at the heart of religion. … The very nature of spiritual truth is that it is paradoxical. … The times where we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God or, alternatively, to evade the mystery of God. R
It is the process of overcoming seeming opposites by uncovering a reconciling third that is bigger than both of the parts and doesn’t exclude either of them. Such truth moves you and the conversation to a different level. Wisdom teachers have usually taught in a dialectical manner because they come out of inner experience … R
The dualistic mind cannot deal with paradox or contradiction, but the nondual mind can. In fact, it almost relishes and revels in mystery. R
Let me give you some of Jesus’ and Paul’s paradoxical teachings that at first seem like contradictions, but when you hold them both together, when you live inside of them, “the third something” emerges. R
Jesus doesn’t tell us that he and the Father are one so that we’ll worship him. No, it’s to lead us to have the same experience—that you and the Father are also one. R
To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions. … In a very real sense, the word God is just a synonym for everything. So if you do not want to get involved with everything, stay away from God. R
One of the signs of non-dual consciousness is that you can actually understand and be patient with dualistic thinkers, even though you can no longer return to that straight jacket yourself. R
Silence is God’s primary language; “everything else is a poor translation,” as Fr. Thomas Keating wisely observes.
We learn the dualistic pattern of thinking at an early age, and it helps us survive and succeed in practical ways. But it can get us only so far, that’s why all religions at the more mature levels have discovered another “software” for processing the really big questions like death, love, infinity, suffering, and God. Many of us call this access “contemplation” or “prayer.” It is a non-dualistic way of seeing the moment. … Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic; but pure experience is always non-dualistic. R
Of course, the ideal world is never going to come so we can just ignore 99% of the actual teaching of Jesus, as the institutional church (and I too!) have usually done. We concentrate instead on things that Jesus never once talked about, like birth control, homosexuality, and abortion—bodily “sins” because the body can most easily carry shame. R
If God is perceived as absolute otherness, it eventually creates absolute alienation, which is most of Western civilization today. Add to that any notion of God as petty, angry, or torturing, and the mystical journey comes to a standstill. R
And so, in a way, souls do clamor to have the earthly experience, for the soul’s greatest desire is to add to the growth of the whole. Sanaya
Are you doing that? Can you see your challenges for the growth opportunities they are? When you graduate from Earth School, not a one of you will say, “That was easy,” but you will be met with such gratitude that as your humanity slips away you will know with all certainty why you went: to serve. Sanaya
Anything less than the death of the false self is useless religion. R
If we are in a state of negativity, what Julian of Norwich calls “contrariness,” we won’t be love or see love. We must watch for this contrariness—we all experience it quite frequently—and nip it in the bud. RR
In the Hindu tradition, darshan (or darsana) is to behold the Divine and to allow yourself to be fully seen. Many Hindus visit temples not to see God, but to let God gaze upon them—and then to join God’s seeing which is always unconditional love and compassion. During your time of contemplative prayer, allow God’s eyes to behold your nothingness and nakedness. Imagine God looking upon God’s Self within you, loving what God sees. If thoughts, emotions, or sensations distract you, return your awareness and attention to receiving God’s gaze.
When your practice has ended, commit to seeing God’s presence in someone or some creature this day. If appropriate, you might greet them by placing your palms together at your chest, bowing, and speaking “Namaste.” (Namaste is a familiar Indian greeting which means “I bow to the divine in you.”) Or you might say, “The Christ in me sees the Christ in you.” If it is uncomfortable to speak these words aloud, carry them in your heart. Bring this loving gaze and an inner stance of humility and recognition to all you encounter. RR
At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak [God’s] name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship [and daughtership]. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. Thomas Merton
Merton—as well as anyone deserving of the title mystic—believes that God is always recognizing God’s Self in you and cannot not love it. This is God’s “steadfast love” (hesed) with humanity.
I am using the terms True Self and false self as they were used by Thomas Merton. In his classic New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton writes:
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man [or woman] that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him [or her]. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy. 
That’s why the false self is so fragile. It’s inherently insecure because it’s almost entirely a creation of the mind, a social construct. It doesn’t exist except in the world of perception—which is where we live most of our lives—instead of in God’s Eternal Now. When you die, what dies is your false self because it never really existed to begin with. It simply lives in your thoughts and projections. It’s what you want yourself to be and what you want others to think you are. It’s very tied up with status symbols and reputation.
Whenever you are offended, it’s usually because your self-image has not been worshiped or it has been momentarily exposed. The false self will quickly react with a vengeance to any offenses against it because all it has is its own fragile assumptions about itself. Narcissists have a lot of asserting and defending to do, moment by moment. Don’t waste much time defending your ego. The True Self is untouchable, or as Paul puts it “it takes no offense” (1 Corinthians 13:5). People who can live from their True Selves are genuinely happy.
We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves. . . . For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which does not even exist. A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin. 
What we call sins are actually symptoms of the illusion that we are separated from God. Yet most people attack the symptom instead of the cause!
You have been given something so much better: “For all belongs to you, you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). Your True Self is already home free! To know that is to be “saved.” RR
Merton rightly recognized that it was not the body that had to “die” but the “false self” which is always an imposter posing for “me.” It is no surprise that Buddhism is saying the exact same thing, and often with even greater clarity. RR
It is growing up, yes, but even more it is waking up. RR
The single and true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. RR
The only perfection available to us humans is the ability to include and forgive our imperfection. … Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact, salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. RR
What seems to distinguish those who are most deeply and wholly human is not their perfection, but their courage in accepting their imperfections. . . . . Living wholeness is participating in the dynamism of love that gathers everything together into greater unity and consciousness. It is to live with an openness of mind and heart, to encounter others, not as strangers, but as parts of one’s self. David Benner
All you can do is fall into this Wholeness that holds you when you stop excluding, even the dark parts of yourself. … Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance. RR
Never expect or demand perfection on this earth. It usually leads to a false moral outrage, a negative identity, intolerance, paranoia, and self-serving crusades against “the contaminating element,” instead of “becoming a new creation” ourselves. … Those who agree to carry and love what God loves, both the good and the bad of human history, and to pay the price for its reconciliation within themselves–these are the followers of Jesus. RR
Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity is the only world there is! It is rather amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere. … Once you see that your “sin” and your gift are two sides of the same coin, you can never forget it. RR
How much more love would you bring into this world if you cared not what others think? Sanaa
The quality is already within you, but if you don’t choose daily and deliberately to practice loving kindness, it is unlikely that a year from now you will be any more loving.
Drawing upon this source of love, bring to mind someone, and send loving kindness toward them. RR
Within contemplative prayer, we present ourselves for the ultimate gaze, the ultimate mirroring. Before this gaze of Love, we gradually disrobe and allow ourselves to be seen, to be known in every nook and cranny, nothing hidden, nothing denied, nothing disguised. RR
The real moral goals of the Gospel–loving enemies, caring for the powerless, overlooking personal offenses, living simply, eschewing riches–can only be achieved through surrender and participation. These have often been ignored or minimized, even though they were clearly Jesus’ major points. RR
The path of union is different than the path of perfection. Mysticism does not defeat the soul; moralism (read “perfectionism”) always does. Mysticism invites humanity forward; moralism excludes and condemns itself and most others. RR
For to see your face is like seeing the face of God (Jacob)
Gospel holiness has little to do with moral achievements or the elimination of defects (that is an ego need). It is almost entirely about receiving God’s free gift of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. We know God by participation in God, not by trying to please God from afar. RR
We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. … In fact, I would say that the demand for the perfect is the greatest enemy of true goodness. RR
“A truly spiritual person loves everyone,” Wayne Knoll
One of the easiest ways to discover your shadow is to observe your negative reactions to others and what pushes your buttons. Most often, what annoys you in someone else is a trait in yourself that you haven’t acknowledged. RR
All physical shadows are created by a mixture of darkness and light, and this is the entire and only spectrum of human vision. We cannot see inside of total light or total darkness. RR
Because we have avoided liminal (threshold) space, we have created a very smug and middle class kind of Christianity that has little wisdom or compassion to offer the world today. Much of the work of authentic spirituality and human development is to get people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough that they can learn something essential and new. RR
The ego is that part of the self that wants to be significant, central, and important by itself, apart from anybody else. It wants to be both separate and superior. It is defended and self-protective by its very nature. It must eliminate the negative to succeed at this. The ego is what Jesus called an “actor,” usually translated from the Greek as “hypocrite”. … Our problem is not usually our shadow self nearly as much as our over-defended ego, which always sees, hates, and attacks its own faults in other people, and thus avoids its own conversion. RR
The genius of the pure Gospel is that it incorporates failure into a new definition of spiritual success. This is why Jesus says that prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors are getting into the kingdom of God before the chief priests and religious elders (see Matthew 21:31). This is supposed to blow your socks off. RR
All sin is merely disordered love, which is searching for a pure and true love. God is very patient with us while we learn how to really love. As we integrate and forgive our shadow self, life gradually looks very different. Life becomes many shades of pastel instead of just several primary colors. We finally see what we have never dared look at before. This is the birth of compassion. The journey toward Biblical faith will often feel like losing our vision (note Paul’s conversion in Acts 9) and being given by grace a whole new pair of eyes. RR
God is actually quite wild and dangerous, but we domesticated divine experience so much that a vast majority of people have left the search entirely, finding most religious people to be fearful conformists instead of adventurous seekers of Love and Mystery. RR
A good minister will always open up larger vistas for you, which are by definition risky, instead of just “rearranging the deck chairs” on a sinking Titanic. Liminal space is a threshold between the familiar and the completely unknown. RR
If we are to speak of miracles, the most miraculous thing of all is that God uses the very thing that would normally destroy you–the tragic, the sorrowful, the painful, the unjust–to transform and enlighten you. RR
The crucified and resurrected Jesus shows us how to transform pain without denying, blaming, or projecting it elsewhere. In fact, there is no “elsewhere.” Jesus is the victim in an entirely new way because he receives our hatred and does not return it, nor does he play the victim for his own empowerment. He suffers and does not make the others suffer because of it. He absorbs the mystery of human sin and transforms it rather than passing it on. He does not use his suffering and death as power over others to punish them, but as power for others to transform them. Jesus is the forgiving victim, which really is the only hope of our world, because most of us sooner or late will be victimized on some level. It is the familiar story line of an unjust and often cruel humanity. RR
– Don’t take yourself seriously
– It’s not about you
– Give all credit to Spirit
– Love is all that matters
The subsequent New Testament texts do not reveal any self-pity, resentment, or anger in Jesus. He never asks his followers to avenge his murder. Compare this to almost all historical stories of the death of a leader. An utterly new attitude (Spirit) has been released in history; it’s a spirit of love, compassion, and forgiveness. RR
The greatest desire of the soul is that you come to know your true self and not take ego too seriously. Sanaya
True transformation means your motivation foundationally changes from security, status, and sabotage to generosity, humility, and cooperation. RR
Christians pinpoint “original sin” in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though the phrase is not in the Bible. I think a much truer description of Adam and Eve’s experience would be “original shame.” They hide when God comes looking for them, and when God asks why, they say they feel naked. Then God asks Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” The implication is, “I sure didn’t.” A few verses later, we see a very nurturing image of God as seamstress, sewing garments and covering the two humans to protect them from their shame (see Genesis 3). How different than the much later and opposite notion of God shaming people for all eternity in hell. The older tradition reveals the deep mystery of transformation: God even uses our shame and pain to lead us closer to God’s loving heart. Of course! … In spiritual direction, so many people start with the premise, “If I behave correctly, I will one day get God to love me or even notice me.” We tend toward this behavioral model. But the biblical tradition actually teaches that first we must see God clearly, often by experiencing God’s mercy for our bad behavior–and then our right behavior will follow. We first must encounter and experience God’s original blessing, choosing, and loving of us. If you start with original sin or shame, normally the pit is so deep you never get out of it. This is why more and more the modern world resents Christianity, as any child would understandably resent a foundationally rejecting parent. I am afraid this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s try preaching original blessing and see if that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy instead! RR
God’s way of restoring things interiorly is much more patient–and finally more effective. God lets Jonah run in the wrong direction, but finds a long, painful, circuitous path to get him back where he needs to be–and almost entirely in spite of himself! RR
The transformative dance between attachment and detachment is sometimes called the Third Way. It is the middle way between fight and flight, as Walter Wink describes it.  Some prefer to take on the world: to fight it, to change it, fix it, and rearrange it. Others deny there is a problem at all. RR
Protecting infinite, empty, and merciful space is precisely what you do in contemplative practice. Most of what we call thinking is narcissistic reaction to the moment. Moment by moment, you’re judging things and labeling them, whether they attract or repel you. That really isn’t thinking, but self-centered reactions and the stating of your preferences to yourself. It takes work to return to the Ark of the Covenant, the placeholder space within you that is quiet, that doesn’t get caught up in all your commentaries and emotional evaluations, up and down, in and out, with or against. Some kind of contemplative practice will allow you to watch yourself doing all of this and notice how futile it all is. In contemplation, your inner witness is still, like the golden cherubs, and lets everything else float by. It observes and learns from your thoughts and sensations, but it doesn’t attach to any of them. It lets go and lets go and lets go.
This takes years of practice, until letting go becomes an art form. You learn not to be so opinionated, not to be emotionally dragged up and down, but to stay in this quiet place that watches everything come and go with calm equanimity. When you learn how to stay here, you’ll recognize you are not your thinking and you are not your feelings. RR
Can you be willing to be patient with yourself until God gives you the grace to be patient with the sisters? Can you accept and love yourself and not become your own adversary? Can you bear serenely the distress and personal trial of knowing that you have the weakness of impatience? Thérèse of Lisieux
Paul says “Jesus became sin” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus became the problem; he became the broken, imperfect one. He entered into solidarity with the sin of the world rather than stand above or apart from it. Jesus absorbed evil. RR
Often the only thing that can break down your natural egocentricity is discovering that the qualities you hate in others are actually within you. …
Unless you somehow “weep” over your own phoniness, hypocrisy, and woundedness, you probably will not let go of the first half of life. The gift of tears helps you embrace the mystery of paradox, of that which can’t be fixed, which can’t be made right, which can’t be controlled, and which doesn’t make sense. But if you don’t allow this needed disappointment to well up within you (good guilt), if you surround yourself with your orthodoxies and your certitudes and your belief that you’re the best, frankly, you will stay in the first half of life forever and never fall into the Great Mercy. Many religious people never allow themselves to “fall,” while many sinners fall and rise again. RR
If the psyche moves in normal sequence, the leaven of self-criticism, added to the certainty of your own specialness, will allow you to move to the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Wisdom Literature (many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Job). Here you discover the language of mystery and paradox. This is the second half of life. You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions, even in yourself, even in others. And you can do so with compassion, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance. You realize that your chosenness is for the sake of letting others know they are chosen too. You have moved from the Torah’s exclusivity and “separation as holiness” to inclusivity and allowing everything to belong. We don’t move toward the second half of life until we’ve gone through the first half and the transition period. The best sequence, therefore, is order-disorder-reorder. And you must go through disorder or there is no reorder! No exceptions. RR
Christians consider Jesus the most perfect human to ever live. Yet church and state, Jerusalem and Rome, high priest and the emperor’s representative all declared Jesus wrong, wrong, wrong. RR
By definition, authentic God experience is always “too much”! It consoles our True Self only after it has devastated our false self. RR
Paul was a radical teacher. He strongly critiqued his own religion, Judaism, for seeking salvation through the law, and then the new Christian movement for being exclusionary. RR. Jesus was hated for two things, 1) breaking the Sabboth and 2) including the sinner. Religion wants us to fulfill its requirements and to separate ourselves from others. Jesus was free and would not separate himself.
Jesus himself walks this path of being a loser, a failure. He shows us that God isn’t only a winner or a victor but a victim, not just spiritual but material. … So the sooner you can trust and allow the precipitating event (death), the sooner you will understand the resurrected life, and you’ll live by a life not your own. That’s the whole Gospel in a nutshell. RR
If you only move from success to success, or you never live in solidarity with the suffering of others, you normally know very little about your own soul. RR
“Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others.” Bill Wilson
God forever sees and loves Christ in you; it is only we who doubt our divine identity as children of God. … Yet the vast majority of Christians still believe in a punitive God and a pathetic notion of retributive justice, which is totally unworthy of God. RR
Projection, we tend to see our own faults in other people instead of in ourselves. For instance, we see how someone else is controlling the whole situation. The only reason that upsets us is because we’d like to control the whole situation! Brothers and sisters, it takes such detachment from the ego (the seat of “self-centeredness”) to recognize the truth of that, to bring it into the light and weep over it. RR
I understand “possession by devils” as a primitive but absolutely truthful way of referring to what we now call addiction. In each case, the person is in some sense trapped by a larger force, and is powerless to do anything about it. The only cure for possession is “repossession.” You have to be repossessed by Something Greater than the disease. RR
Having control is a major desire and illusion in the early years of life, yet many hold on to it until their last breath. Try practicing to release control early; it will make your second half of life much happier. RR
Hidden in plain sight … RR
Our wounds are God’s hiding place and hold our greatest gifts. It is no surprise that a dramatically wounded man became the central transformative symbol of Christianity. RR
All great spirituality is about letting go. True spirituality mirrors the paradox of life itself. It trains us in both detachment and attachment: detachment from the passing so we can attach to the substantial. RR
Discover and say yes to your unique way of participating in God’s love and healing, which is already working in every life, in every place, and simply asks for you to join. RR
My deepest me is God! God is no longer just out there, but equally in here. Until that transference takes place and you know that it is God in me loving God–God in me worshipping God, resting in God, enjoying God–the whole point of the incarnation has not been achieved, and we remain in religion instead of actual faith experience or faith encounter. RR
I think some form of contemplative practice is necessary to be able to detach from your own agenda, your own anger, your own ego, and your own fear. What you are doing in contemplation is moving to a level beneath your thoughts: the level of pure and naked being. For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love, trusting that love is the unceasing stream of reality. RR
It will feel like dying because it is the death of the false self. The small, separate self is shattered, and your True Self is revealed. The True Self is all about right relationship, not requirements. It’s not about being correct; it’s about being connected, which you always were–you just didn’t realize it. This is the self that is capable of contemplation because it no longer reads reality from an egocentric position. RR
The evil and genocide of World War II was the final result of decades of negative and paranoid thinking among good German Christians.
Apparently we cannot afford even inner disconnection from love. How we live in our hearts is our real truth. RR
For God is not a being,
But Consciousness supreme
That manifests as all that is
And the spaces in between. Sanaya
“I am. I am a manifestation of God. . . . I feel that divine Presence and how that divine Presence is producing this life. It’s all some unfathomable huge unity right now. . . . I feel so harmoniously related to everything that exists. We’re all manifesting out of this Oneness, this divine Presence. . . . RR
Teresa of Ávila said that the sinner is actually one who does not love himself or herself enough. … We only have the courage to face our deep illusions when we are entirely loved and accepted by God or by somebody who acts as God toward us. So, with great irony, our faults are the crack that lets grace in, exactly as the Gospel teaches. We must bring our root sin to consciousness rather than deny or repress it. RR
It is a wonderful tool that can help us see and let go of the false self–which masks the image of God within us–and allow us to live from our True Self–the unique manifestation of Love that God intends us to be. Our True Self, is a one-of-a-kind reflection of God’s love in the world. There’s a part of us that has always been in union with God. Gradually we learn more and more to trust our deepest soul and draw our life from that Source. We learn how to live more consistently from this true identity of original blessing, who we are in God and who we will be through eternity. Then we know that any notion of heaven is not just later, but has begun here and now. RR
Christina Cleveland writes, Jesus “was so passionate about creating a diverse family with us that he crossed metaphysical planes, abdicated his privilege, morphed into physical form, and spent 30 years on earth just hanging out with us–all the while knowing that his pursuit of diversity would ultimately cost him his life.”
There is no other form for the Christian life except a common one. Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas. RR
We first came to understand the possibility of “Full and Final Participation” through Jesus, who clearly believed that God was not so much inviting us into a distant heaven, but inviting us into the Godself as friends and co-participants now. RR
We had thought our form was merely human, but Jesus came to tell us that our actual form is human-divine, just as he is. Jesus was not much interested in proclaiming himself the exclusive or exclusionary Son of God, but he went out of his way to communicate an inclusive sonship and daughterhood to the crowds. We were to imitate him more than worship him, it seems. The awesome and even presumptuous message of divinization is supported by Genesis 1:27 where we are told that we are “created in the image and likeness of God.” Many tomes of theology have been written to clarify this quote. The word “image” describes our objective DNA that marks us as creatures of God from the very beginning. It is the Holy Spirit living within us as a totally gratuitous gift from the moment of our conception. “Likeness” is our personal appropriation and gradual realization of this utterly free gift of the image of God. We all have the same objective gift, but how we subjectively say yes to it is quite different. We already have image; we choose likeness. RR
Every time the Christian church divided or separated, each group lost one half of the Gospel message. … Both sides always lose something good. This is the very sad result of dualistic thinking, … There you have it: We are called to participate in the very nature of God, which is Love. RR
To be a Christian is to objectively know that we share the same identity that Jesus enjoyed as both human and divine, which is what it means to “follow” him. RR
Religion’s primary and irreplaceable job is to bring this foundational truth of our shared identity in God to full and grateful consciousness. This is the only true meaning of holiness. This is the freedom of the gospel – inherently participating in Love. It should not be a moral contest. RR
Relationships are your greatest teachers. They need not all be pleasant for the greatest growth to occur. Sanaya
We are the ones who need to move into the worlds of powerlessness for our own conversion! When we are self-sufficient, our religion will be corrupt because it doesn’t understand the Mystery of how divine life is transferred, how people change, how life flows, how we become something more, and how we fall into the great compassion. Rara
One of the most transformative experiences is entering into some form of lifestyle solidarity with the powerless, by moving outside of your own success system, whatever it is. RR
Suddenly we have a God who is anything but a police officer. This God finds grace for those who break the law and finds life and freedom among the lepers and the sinners who do not have good manners. … Only converted people, who are in union with both the pain of the world and the love of God, are prepared to read the Bible–with the right pair of eyes and the appropriate bias, which is from the side of powerlessness and suffering instead of the side of power and control. RR
As long as we really want to be on top and would do the same privileged things if we could get there, there will never be an actual love of equality, true freedom, or the Gospel. RR
You are of value and dignity, because God dwells in you, or even further you are an extension, an aspect of God.
When we reject our relatedness to the poor, the weak, the simple, and the unlovable we define the family of creation over and against God. In place of God we decide who is worthy of our attention and who can be rejected. Because of our deep fears, we spend time, attention, and money on preserving our boundaries of privacy and increasing our knowledge and power. We hermetically seal ourselves off from the undesired “other,” the stranger, and in doing so, we seal ourselves off from God. By rejecting God in the neighbor, we reject the love that can heal us. … Compassion continues the Incarnation by allowing the Word of God to take root within us, to be enfleshed in us. The Incarnation is not finished; it is not yet complete for it is to be completed in us. Tara
Another way to look at this is a series of Order > Disorder > Reorder. Most conservatives get trapped in the first step and most liberals get stuck in the second. Healthy religion is all about getting you to the third, Reorder. There is no nonstop flight. You must learn the wisdom. … The easiest path of growing up spiritually, and in many ways the most natural, is to start with some “law and order.” Then we must critically recognize that Order cannot solve all or even most problems, especially pain and suffering. Finally, without rejecting either Order or Disorder, grace will move you toward God’s Reorder. This is enlightened awareness, which is not nearly as common as we would like. RR
Large organizations–including the Church–and governments get away with and are even applauded for killing (war), greed, vanity, pride, and ambition. Yet individuals are condemned for committing these same sins. Such a convenient split will never create great people, nations, or religions. RR
True spirituality is about keeping your heart space open. It is daily, constant work. The temptation is to close down: to judge and dismiss and hate and fear. If you don’t have some spiritual practice that keeps your heart open, even in the midst of suffering and “hell,” it’s easy to end up grumpy and filled with fear and negativity. You have to work to live in love, to have a generosity of spirit, a readiness to smile, a willingness to serve. Regularly check in with yourself, asking, “Is my heart open? Is love flowing from me? Or am I constricted?” A consistent, chosen spiritual practice like contemplation gradually allows such an awakening. By daily practicing “a long, loving look at the real,” sooner or later, you fall into the Real, into Love; and then you live your life from that Source. And this Source is infinite. Once you plug into Love and stay connected, you’ll find the energy always flows out; it’s never sucking in. Living in God’s abundance–in this diffusive, excessive, infinite Love–you find you always have plenty to share.
The apostle Paul knew Jesus as the ‘crucified’ God, not the ‘Almighty.’ Only vulnerability allows all change, growth, and transformation to happen–even in God. Who would have imagined this? RR
If your primary motivation is to love, there is no such thing as failure. RR
God is an Infinite Flow–which we eventually call Trinity. God is much more a verb than a noun. All things exist inside of that Flow, come out from that Flow, and return to that Flow. Only for a while are we allowed to choose to act from within this Flow consciously, freely, and happily; or alternatively, to resist it. The very nature of Being is communion, infinite generosity, and unhindered giving and receiving between three, which then becomes the template for the whole universe, from atoms to galaxies.
It’s not that this Being we call God occasionally decides to love; love is the very nature and shape of God, who cannot not love! The Flow is always and forever in one positive direction. We ourselves are already participating in this love, this divine “dance” (perichoresis) of Being, even when we do not know how to enjoy it or consciously join in the dance. We are still dancing anyway. Divine Life knows and sustains us in our deepest being (Acts 17:28), even when we fail to say thank you. RR
Romans 8:18-39, beautifully paraphrased by Eugene Peterson:
I don’t think there is any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. This created world itself can hardly wait for what is coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back now. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment. Meanwhile the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. We are also feeling the birth pangs. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. [This is what I call “negativity capability,” or the rubber band pulled back which increases the momentum forward.]
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing [the Godself] to the worst by sending [God’s] own Son, is there anything else [God] wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? . . . Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing. . . . None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing–nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable–absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
The church’s vocation is a privilege, like Israel’s itself, to bring God’s work to visibility and possibility. But also like Israel we made ourselves into a chosen elite–a country club for the saved–instead of a neon sign pointing beyond ourselves. RR
“The eye with which I see God is the same one with which God sees me. My eye and God’s eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love,” said the non-dual teacher Meister Eckhart … The great and, for some, disappointing surprise is that many people who are not correct are the most connected. … Eventually, we know that we are all saved by mercy in spite of ourselves. The supreme irony is that we are saved much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right! That must be the final humiliation to the ego. RR
All of creation is moving toward a wedding of divine Union, God and man in oneness blending. This creates very healthy, happy, hopeful, and generative people; and we surely need some now. All I know for sure is that a good God creates and continues to create an ever good world.
It is almost impossible for a person to stand before the face of God in a perfect balance between extreme humility and perfect dignity. … Salvation is giving us a face capable of receiving the dignity of the divine embrace, and then daring to think that we could love God back–and that God would enjoy this, or even care about it. RR
That is, of course, the way love works. It always overflows, reproduces, and multiplies itself. God is saying, as it were, “All I want are icons and mirrors out there who will communicate who I am, and what I’m about.” … Henceforth, it is not “those who do it right go to heaven later,” but “those who receive and reflect me are in heaven now.” This is God’s unimaginable restorative justice. God does not love you if and when you change. God loves you so that you can change. That is the true story line of the Gospel. RR
“You are loved and you are whole.” Holy Spirit
The love and presence of God, when it is planted in fertile soil, will always have an exponential yield. Rara
Darkness, mistakes, and trials are the supreme teachers. Success really teaches you nothing; it just feels good. RR
The marvelous anthology of books and letters called the Bible is for the sake of a love-affair between God and the soul, and not to create an organizational plan for any particular religion. The Gospel is about our transformation into God (theosis), … Low-level religion basically teaches humans what spiritual buttons to push to keep our lives and God predictable. RR
Love is an endless sea that you fall into. And once you fall into it, you can’t fall out. It’s not something you do. It’s something that is done to you, and all you can do is let go. RR
Franciscanism is sometimes called an alternative orthodoxy because it invites us all to sit at God’s One Abundant Table, while much of the Christian tradition has set a scarce table for very few. The Church too often assumed that people were very simple and so we had to make the laws complex to protect them from themselves. Jesus and Francis recognized that people are endlessly diverse, complex and mysterious, and we had best make the law very simple. Just love your neighbor exactly as you love yourself. RR
The only ones Jesus seems to “exclude” are those who are excluding others. Exclusion might be described as the core sin. Don’t waste any time rejecting, excluding, eliminating, or punishing anyone or anything else. Everything belongs, including you. RR
Humble honesty about our positive core, and a compassionate recognition that none of us completely lives out of our full identity, is the most truthful form of spirituality. … It is crucial that we understand Jesus was never upset with sinners; he was only upset with people who did not think they were sinners! How marvelous that our God-image is a wonderfully wounded and vulnerable man. This is a most unlikely image for God, unless we are able to comprehend that God is telling us something about the God Self–which is almost incomprehensible: God is also vulnerable. RR
How and why would God need a “blood sacrifice” before God could love what God had created? Is God that needy, unfree, unloving, rule-bound, and unable to forgive? Once you say it, you see it creates a nonsensical theological notion that is very hard to defend. A violent theory of redemption legitimated punitive and violent problem solving all the way down–from papacy to parenting. … In Franciscan parlance, Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity; Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. This grounds Christianity in pure love and perfect freedom from the very beginning. It creates a very coherent and utterly positive spirituality, which draws people toward lives of inner depth, prayer, reconciliation, healing, and even universal “at-one-ment,” instead of mere sacrificial atonement. Nothing changed on Calvary, but everything was revealed as God’s suffering love–so that we could change! Jesus was precisely the “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27) sacrifice given to reveal the lie and absurdity of the very notion and necessity of “sacrificial” religion itself. Heroic sacrifices to earn God’s love are over! That’s much of the point of Hebrews 10 if you are willing to read it with new eyes. But we perpetuated such regressive and sacrificial patterns by making God the Father into the Chief Sacrificer, and Jesus into the necessary victim. Is that the only reason to love Jesus? RR
This perspective allowed us to ignore Jesus’ lifestyle and preaching, because all we really needed Jesus for was the last three days or three hours of his life. This is no exaggeration. RR
Francis emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, and not just the proving or worshiping of his divinity. Even Christian art changed after Francis; take a look at paintings before and after Francis’ life (1182-1226) or Medieval Art from the 5th century through the 15th century. Francis fell in love with the humanity and humility of Jesus, which made Jesus imitable. But in most of Christian history we have emphasized the divinity, omnipotence, omniscience, and “almightiness” of Jesus, which makes actually following him–or loving him–seem unrealistic. We are on two utterly different planes. A God who is “totally other” alienates totally. … salvation is a gradual realization of who we are–and always have been–and will be eternally. RR
In general, the Franciscan tradition taught that love and action are more important than intellect or speculative truth. Love is the highest category for the Franciscan School (the goal), and we believe that authentic love is not possible without true inner freedom (contemplative practice helps with this), nor will love be real or tested unless we somehow live close to the disadvantaged (the method), who frankly teach us that we know very little about love. … Contemplation quiets the monkey mind and teaches us emotional sobriety and psychological freedom from our addictions and attachments. Otherwise, most talk of “change of life” is largely an illusion and a pretense. RR
To be afraid of change is to be afraid of growing up. Change and growth are finally the same thing. RR
Jesus is able to fully recognize that he is one with God. Jesus seems to know that it is the God part of him who does the deep knowing, loving, and serving. He seems able to fully trust his deepest identity and never doubts it, which is probably the unique character of his divine sonship. RR
A great jazz musician studies for years all the rules of jazz. Then he abandons all the laws, only to create the unique contribution he has to make. James DeLange
The space in between everything is not space at all but Spirit. God is the “Goodness Glue” that holds the dark and light of things together, the free energy that carries all death across the Great Divide and transmutes it into Life. RR
Grace is God eternally giving away God–for nothing–except the giving itself. RR
We are always connected. Carlos Delgado
As our freedom from our ego expands–as we get ourselves out of the way–there is a slow but real expansion of consciousness so that we are not the central reference point anymore. We are able to love in greater and greater circles until we can finally do what Jesus did: love and forgive even our enemies. RR
“God comes to us disguised as our life.” Paula D’Arcy
This world is the hiding place of God and the revelation of God!” RR
God’s life is living itself in me. I am aware of life living itself in me.
God’s love is living itself in me. I am aware of love living itself in me. RR
We must never presume that we see. We must always be ready to see anew. But it’s so hard to go back and be able to say, “I don’t know anything.” … For by and large, what blocks spiritual learning is the assumption that we already know, or that we don’t need to know. RR
“Religion starts elitist, but ends egalitarian. Always!” Ken Wilber
I also pray: “If I am in your truth, God, keep me there. If I am not, God, put me there.” St. Joan of Arc,
The simplest indicator that someone is living at all of the brain’s levels is that they are not violent in thought, word, or action. RR
Who would not rush toward surrender and communion with such a crucified God, who against all expectations, shares in our powerlessness, our failure, and our indignity? RR
The only way to give everyone equal and universal access to God is to base salvation/enlightenment on woundedness instead of self-created trophies. RR
Paralleling the teaching of Jesus, Bill saw that it is only vulnerability, surrender, and powerlessness that keep us open to ongoing healing and love from God, not grandiosity. This is also how human love relationships work: in a dance of mutual honesty and vulnerability, grace and forgiveness. Most addictions are not substance addictions (alcohol, drugs, food, consumer objects, etc.), but process addictions (patterns of thinking and reacting). Spiritual traditions at their higher levels discovered that the primary addiction for all humans is addiction to our own way of thinking. That should be obvious. Contemplation teaches you how to observe your small mind and, frankly, to see how inadequate it is to the task in front of you. As Eckhart Tolle now says, 98% of human thought is “repetitive and useless.” How humiliating is that? When you see how self-serving, how petty, how narcissistic, and how compulsive your thinking is, you realize that you, too, are trapped and unfree.  You might even call it “possessed.”
The first and cosmic incarnation of the Eternal Christ, the perfect co-inherence of matter and Spirit (Ephesians 1:3-11), happened at the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the human incarnation of that same Mystery a mere 2,000 years ago, when we were perhaps ready for this revelation. Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but the title of his historical and cosmic purpose. Jesus presents himself as the “Anointed” or Christened One who was human and divine united in one human body–as our model and exemplar. Peter seems to get this, at least once (Matthew 16:16), but like most of the church, he also seems to regress. Christ is our shortcut word for “The Body of God” or “God materialized.”  This Christ is much bigger and older than either Jesus of Nazareth or the Christian religion, because the Christ is whenever the material and the divine co-exist–which is always and everywhere. RR
[God’s] family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw. . . .” Did he say, “I will draw some, and tough luck for the others”? He said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all.” All! All! All! – Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bush – all! All! . . . Gay, lesbian, so-called “straight;” all! All! All are to be held in the incredible embrace of the love that won’t let us go. Desmond Tutu
Gandhi wasn’t concerned with defining God, but with experiencing God’s loving presence within. This was his motivation as he fasted for peace, as he embraced the untouchables (whom he called “Children of God”), as he advocated against nuclear weapons.
Once “the killing of God” becomes the very “redemption of the world,” the pathway was revealed. Forevermore the very worst things have the power to become the very best things. Henceforth, nothing can be a permanent dead end; everything is capable of new shape and meaning. There is no advantage to playing the victim, and we are forever warned against victimizing others. Henceforth, we are indeed saved by gazing upon the wounded one–and loving there our own woundedness and everybody else’s wounds too. Jesus didn’t project the problem on to any other group, race, or religion; he held it and suffered it and thus transformed it into medicine for the world. Jesus’ wounds were not necessary to convince God that we were loveable (atonement theory); his wounds are to convince us of the path and the price of transformation. RR
Jesus ended up being an exclusive Savior for us to worship instead of an inclusive Savior with whom we are joined at the hip. This created a disconnect and disinterest for both the heart and the soul. No wonder so many find the Christian message so utterly uncompelling–it became a cheap story line about later rewards for a very, very few and eternal punishment for the overwhelming many in all of human history. Surely it did not foster any love or trust of God, in fact, quite the opposite. RR
If you begin with the positive, and get the issue of core identity absolutely clear–a clear “Identity Theology” instead of endless moralisms about who is in and who is out–the rest of the journey is ten times more natural, more beautiful, more joyful and all-inclusive. What else should the spiritual journey be? When we started in the lower basement, most people never even thought they could get to the first floor, and just opted out. Isn’t this obvious at this point in Christian history? We clergy became angry guards instead of happy guides, low level policemen instead of proclaimers of a Great Gift and Surprise both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed at the heart of all creation. When you can see your connection with others before emphasizing your differences, you will be much happier, and it will be a much happier world, too. RR
“Imagination is more important than intelligence.” Albert Einstein
The Christ in me sees the Christ in you. Namaste.
The second half of life–represented by the forest dweller and the wise, enlightened person–moves the willing individual beyond the basic needs for separateness, status, and security to an awareness of their eternal, unchangeable identity as one with others and with God. Your concern becomes not so much to have what you love, but to love what you have. In the second part of life you have a great sense of freedom, no longer attached to outcomes but intimately involved in the process and relationships. You can trust that all will be well because all is held together by Love and Divine Presence.
Buddhism identifies Four Limitless Qualities: loving kindness (maitri), compassion, joy, and equanimity, they increase with practice and use. RR
The best and the worst of humanity; both in the same place, both brought out by evil.
“Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.”
–The 14th Dalai Lama
I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. Thomas Merton
Perfection is not the exclusion of the contaminating element–the enemy, to use Jesus’ language–but, in fact, perfection is the ability to include imperfection. RR
“when all in us that is not God dissolves, and we finally realize that we are already as beautiful as God is beautiful, because God gave the infinite beauty of God as who we are.” James Finley
“The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person” Julian of Norwich
“You only know as much as you do.” Pope Francis
“I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less.” –Francis of Assisi
There are those who cling to God as their ‘Life-line’, their only hope…
“The man who abides in solitude and is quiet, is delivered from fighting three battles: those of hearing, speech, and sight. Then he will have but one battle to fight–the battle of the heart.” Anthony the Great
All I mean by mysticism is experience-based religion whereby you come to really know something for yourself. It’s not just believing something; it’s knowing something. That’s why Paul is able to speak with such authority. He sees in wholes, not in parts, but those of us who see in parts just stay at the dualistic level and argue about the pieces. RR
It takes a long time to move from power to weakness, from glib certitude to vulnerability, from meritocracy to pure grace. In Paul’s letters, he consistently idealizes not power but powerlessness, not strength but weakness. It’s as if he’s saying, “I glory when I fail and suffer because now I get to be like Jesus–the naked loser God.” Only through humility is He found. RR
The more I understand the teaching of Jesus, the more I’m convinced that he gave Paul and us the necessary wisdom for the reform of all religions: non-dual consciousness, powerlessness, nonviolence, and compassionate action. (Friday)
“I live no longer; but Christ lives in me.” It’s not about being correct; it’s about being connected. R Rohr
“My faith is for me something I just can’t get away from, it’s as real as my sexuality.” Martina Blank
The Trinity clarifies that God is a fountain fullness of outflowing love. R Rohr