"AWARENESS" (excerpt) A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words — ANTHONY DE MELLO, S.J.

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---Sumi-E-Bamboo painting - “Awareness” by Rebecca Rees


ARE WE TALKING ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY IN THIS SPIRITUALITY COURSE?
Is psychology more practical than spirituality? Nothing is more practical than spirituality. What can the poor psychologist do? He can only relieve the pressure. I’m a psychologist myself, and I practice psychotherapy, and I have this great conflict within me when I have to choose sometimes between psychology and spirituality. I wonder if that makes sense to anybody here. It didn’t make sense to me for many years.

I’ll explain. It didn’t make sense to me for many years until I suddenly discovered that people have to
suffer enough in a relationship so that they get disillusioned with all relationships. Isn’t that a terrible thing to think? They’ve got to suffer enough in a relationship before they wake up and say, “I’m sick of it! There must be a better way of living than depending on another human being.” And what was I doing as a psychotherapist? People were coming to me with their relationship problems, with their communication problems, etc., and sometimes what I did was a help. But sometimes, I’m sorry to say, it wasn’t, because it kept people asleep. Maybe they should have suffered a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom and say, “I’m sick of it all.” It’s only when you’re sick of your sickness that you’ll get out of it. Most people go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get relief. I repeat: to get relief. Not to get out of it.

There’s the story of little Johnny who, they say, was mentally retarded. But evidently he wasn’t, as you’ll learn from this story. Johnny goes to modeling class in his school for special children and he gets his piece of putty and he’s modeling it. He takes a little lump of putty and goes to a corner of the room and he’s playing with it. The teacher comes up to him and says, “Hi, Johnny.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the teacher says, “What’s that you’ve got in your hand?” And Johnny says, “This is a lump of cow dung.” The teacher asks, “What are you making out of it?” He says, “I’m making a teacher.”

The teacher thought, “Little Johnny has regressed.” So she calls out to the principal, who was passing by the door at that moment, and says, “Johnny has regressed.”
So the principal goes up to Johnny and says, “Hi, son.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the principal says, “What do you, have in your hand?” And he says, “A lump of cow dung.” “What are you making out of it?” And he says, “A principal.”

The principal thinks that this is a case for the school psychologist. “Send for the psychologist!”
The psychologist is a clever guy. He goes up and says, “Hi.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the psychologist says, “I know what you’ve got in your hand.” “What?” “A lump of cow dung.” Johnny says, “Right.” “And I know what you’re making out of it.” “What?”
“You’re making a psychologist.” “Wrong. Not enough cow dung!” And they called him mentally retarded!

The poor psychologists, they’re doing a good job. They really are. There are times when psychotherapy is a tremendous help, because when you’re on the verge of going insane, raving mad, you’re about to become either a psychotic or a mystic. That’s what the mystic is, the opposite of the lunatic. Do you know one sign that you’ve woken up? It’s when you are asking yourself, “Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy?” It really is. Because we are crazy. The whole world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics! The only reason we’re not locked up in an institution is that there are so many of us. So we’re crazy. We’re living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. We’re crazy to the point, I’ve come to believe, that if everybody agrees on something, you can be sure it’s wrong! Every new idea, every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one. That man called Jesus Christ—minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. The Buddha— minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said, “Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy.” That’s well and accurately put. You’re going to hear lots of blasphemies during these days. “He hath blasphemed!” Because people are crazy, they’re lunatics, and the sooner you see this, the better for your mental and spiritual health. Don’t trust them. Don’t trust your best friends. Get disillusioned with your best friends. They’re very clever. As
you are in your dealings with everybody else, though you probably don’t know it. Ah, you’re so wily, and subtle, and clever. You’re putting on a great act.

I’m not being very complimentary here, am I? But I repeat: You want to wake up. You’re putting on a great act. And you don’t even know it. You think you’re being so loving. Ha! Whom are you loving? Even your self-sacrifice gives you a good feeling, doesn’t it? “I’m sacrificing myself! I’m living up to my ideal.” But you’re getting something out of it, aren’t you? You’re always getting something out of everything you do, until you wake up.
So there it is: step one. Realize that you don’t want to wake up. It’s pretty difficult to wake up when you have been hypnotized into thinking that a scrap of old newspaper is a check for a million dollars. How difficult it is to tear yourself away from that scrap of old newspaper.

NEITHER IS RENUNCIATION THE SOLUTION
Anytime you’re practicing renunciation, you’re deluded. How about that! You’re deluded. What are you renouncing? Anytime you renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce. There’s a guru in India who says, “Every time a prostitute comes to me, she’s talking about nothing but God. She says I’m sick of this life that I’m living. I want God. But every time a priest comes to me he’s talking about nothing but sex.” Very well, when you renounce something, you’re stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you’re tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it, you are giving it power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it.

This includes communism and everything else. So you must “receive” your demons, because when you fight them, you empower them. Has nobody ever told you this? When you renounce something, you’re tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don’t renounce it,
see through it. Understand its true value and you won’t need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands. But of course, if you don’t see that, if you’re hypnotized into thinking that you won’t be happy without this, that, or the other thing, you’re stuck. What we need to do for you is not what so-called spirituality attempts to do—namely, to get you to make sacrifices, to renounce things. That’s useless. You’re still asleep. What we need to do is to help you understand, understand, understand. If you understood, you’d simply drop the desire for it. This is another way of saying: If you woke up, you’d simply drop the desire for it.

LISTEN AND UNLEARN
Some of us get woken up by the harsh realities of life. We suffer so much that we wake up. But people keep bumping again and again into life. They still go on sleepwalking. They never wake up. Tragically, it never occurs to them that there may be another way. It never occurs to them that there may be a better way. Still, if you haven’t been bumped sufficiently by life, and you haven’t suffered enough, then there is another way: to listen. I don’t mean you have to agree with what I’m saying. That wouldn’t be listening. Believe me, it really doesn’t matter whether you agree with what I’m saying or you don’t. Because agreement and disagreement have to do with words and concepts and theories. They don’t have anything to do with truth. Truth is never expressed in words. Truth is sighted suddenly, as a result of a certain attitude. So you could be disagreeing with me and still sight the truth. But there has to be an attitude of openness, of willingness to discover something new. That’s important, not your agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. After all, most of what I’m giving you is really theories. No theory adequately covers reality. So I can speak to you, not of the truth, but of obstacles to the truth. Those I can describe. I cannot describe the truth. No one can. All I can do is give you a description of your falsehoods, so that you can drop them. All I can do for you is challenge your beliefs and the belief system that makes you unhappy. All I can do for you is help you to unlearn. That’s what learning is all about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning, unlearning almost everything you’ve been taught. A willingness to unlearn, to listen.

Are you listening, as most people do, in order to confirm what you already think? Observe your reactions as I talk. Frequently you’ll be startled or shocked or scandalized or irritated or annoyed or frustrated. Or you’ll be saying, “Great!”

But are you listening for what will confirm what you already think? Or are you listening in order to discover something new? That is important. It is difficult for sleeping people. Jesus proclaimed the good news yet he was rejected. Not because it was good, but because it was new. We hate the new. We hate it! And the sooner we face up to that fact, the better. We don’t want new things, particularly when they’re disturbing, particularly when they involve change. Most particularly if it involves saying, “I was wrong.” I remember meeting an eighty-seven-year-old Jesuit in Spain; he’d been my professor and rector in India thirty or forty years ago. And he attended a workshop like this. “I should have heard you speak sixty years ago,” he said. “You know something. I’ve been wrong all my life.” God, to listen to that! It’s like looking at one of the wonders of the world. That, ladies and gentlemen, is
faith! An openness to the truth, no matter what the consequences, no matter where it leads you and when you don’t even know where it’s going to lead you. That’s faith. Not belief, but faith. Your beliefs give you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity. You don’t know. You’re ready to follow and you’re open, you’re wide open! You’re ready to listen. And, mind you, being open does not mean being gullible, it doesn’t mean swallowing whatever the speaker is saying. Oh no. You’ve got to challenge everything I’m saying. But challenge it from an attitude of openness, not from an attitude of stubbornness. And challenge it all. Recall those lovely words of Buddha when he said, “Monks and scholars must not accept my words out of respect, but must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes gold—by cutting, scraping, rubbing, melting.”

When you do that, you’re listening. You’ve taken another major step toward awakening. The first step, as I said, was a readiness to admit that you don’t want to wake up, that you don’t want to be happy. There are all kinds of resistances to that within you. The second step is a readiness to understand, to listen, to challenge your whole belief system. Not just your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, your social beliefs, your psychological beliefs, but all of them. A readiness to reappraise them all, in the Buddha’s metaphor. And I’ll give you plenty of opportunity to do that here.

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SOURCE:
AWARENESS
(excerpt)
A de Mello Spirituality Conference in His Own Words
ANTHONY DE MELLO, S.J.
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"Getting Back to Our First Nature: Why the Mind Is the Key" by Fr. Richard Rohr

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When the importance of some form of meditation is pointed out to us, we often think we are being told about an esoteric, high-level, Buddhist practice, something largely unnecessary for ordinary folks. We imagine that meditation is an add-on for the elite and the few; and largely pursued by those who are already introverts. (I am coming to prefer the word
meditation for the disciplined practice itself, and contemplation for the non-dual mind, eyes and behavior that result from such practices.)

Meditation is often presented in a way that misses how urgent and central the underlying problem is for each and every one of us: we are all well practiced in a repetitive way of thinking -- and the problem is not
what we think nearly as much as our universal entrapment in our own compulsive way of thinking. The problem only becomes clear when we fully realize that we are all victims of the mind and its hard wiring. The human capacity for true inner freedom is initially quite small in all of us, because our mammalian brain pretty much runs the show -- until love, suffering or meditation expands it.

I have become much more patient, forgiving and even loving, as I realize that most people have little choice in their initial knee-jerk reactions to almost everything. What it means to be a spiritual person is quite simply to become someone who is
expanding one's bandwidth of free, conscious responses to the moment. Normally, this can only happen for those who experience being held safely inside of love (which many of us would call God).

We are all conditioned, programmed, wounded, addicted, repetitive, habituated and compulsive in our brain
processes -- which indeed largely determines the content of what gets in and what stays out. True free will is largely a myth, as most of us initially operate almost entirely out of conditioning and culture (read The Social Animal, where I think the author, David Brooks, makes this point on many levels). We now even recognize that many (most?) of our early attempts at friendship or sexuality are little more than "eroticized wounding" of one another, as we all act out of our own deep needs and hurts. God surely understands this; however, since we do not, we find it hard to forgive one another.

To clarify, the problem in meditation is not the
what of our thoughts but the how of our thoughts. How do we receive the moment? Or do we receive it all? Maybe we attack it, push it away or deny any moment that asks something of us. We all must see these deep unconscious patterns or we are minimally free or conscious.

Jesus puts it this way, "Be careful how you see!" and in another place, "Be careful how you hear!" If we do not take ownership and responsibility for our inner processes (
largely unconscious tendencies to fear, judge, eliminate, dismiss, attack, merge, take control, pull back and endless variations on these which are eventually "second nature" to us), we quite simply do not see reality or truth -- or others -- at all. We remain addicted to ourselves and our compulsive reactions, which seem entirely real and compelling because we have no distance from them. Perhaps this is the core and the real meaning of sin, and perhaps sin is simply an older word for what we now call addiction. It is indeed a disease, but a disease that can be cured!

Jesus rightly and humbly said of his executioners, "You do not know what you are doing" (Luke 23:34), and I would further add, "Or why you even need or want to do it." Meditation gives us a necessary distance from ourselves when we are faithful to its practice of silence -- instead of too quickly jumping on board with our own feelings and opinions, which are initially "all about me!”

Many of us resist meditation because we think we are being told not to value the mind and its capacity for reason, logic and necessary judgments. That is not the point of meditative practice at all -- in fact, authentic meditation will sharpen and deepen these very faculties, along with purifying our emotional responses -- by getting "us" out of the way with our obsessive and repetitive, even narcissistic and therefore unhelpful, reactions. Without some depth of spirituality, most of us are indeed totally predictable. We cannot act with freshness or freedom; we largely re-act with our dominant mammalian brain in the same old way over and over again, even when it is not working for us.

A good teacher does not take away our "good mind" but simply frees us from how we addictively process information. When we change our
how, normally our what takes care of itself. And we will naturally move toward compassion, patience, understanding, forgiveness and inner freedom. We will learn to operate by our "first nature" instead of the learned, largely unconscious, "second nature" responses.

I wonder if this is what Paul was referring to when he told the Corinthians who were "speaking in tongues" (a momentary surrendering of the logical left brain function) that they must not remain children in their thinking, that there is a "grownup way of thinking" (1 Corinthians 14:20). I think meditation teaches us a grownup way of thinking.

Ian McGilchrist states much the same in his contemporary study,
The Master and His Emissary. He posits that the right brain was meant to be the master that first received the full context and meaning of a moment, and the left brain was meant to help us place this larger experience inside of words and seeming "logic" so we could communicate it to others. It was meant to be the emissary of the master. But after the printing press was developed and books were published, the left brain took over. McGilchrist states that our entire civilization has now turned the original prototype upside-down, and we begin with supposedly left brain logic and argumentative words -- staying on a perpetual hamster's wheel that we cannot move beyond. I honestly believe that meditation is the only way to get off the hamster's wheel, and to stay off it.

So here are our choices: we can practice meditation, speak in tongues or stay in perpetual non-dual states of deep love and immense suffering (which is normally impossible). So the best ongoing way for most of us is, quite simply, to meditate every day.

SOURCE:
https://cac.org/richard-rohr/rr-articles
Getting Back to Our First Nature: Why the Mind Is the Key
by Fr. Richard Rohr


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"Losing Yourself to Find Yourself" by Anthony de Mello

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Lets get back to that marvelous sentence in the gospel about losing oneself in order to find oneself. One finds it in most religious literature and in all religious and spiritual and mystical literature. 

How does one lose oneself? Did you ever try to lose something? That's right, the harder you try, the harder it gets. It's when you're not trying that you lose things. You lose something when you're not aware. Well, how does one die to oneself? We're talking about death now, we're not talking about suicide. We're not told to kill the self, but to die. Causing pain to the self, causing suffering to the self would be self-defeating. It would be counterproductive. You're never so full of yourself as when you're in pain. You're never so centered on yourself as when you're depressed. You're never so ready to forget yourself as when you are happy. Happiness releases you from self. It is suffering and pain and misery and depression that tie you to the self. Look how conscious you are of your tooth when you have a toothache. When you don't have a toothache, you're not even aware you have a tooth, or that you have a head, for that matter, when you don't have a headache. But it's so different when you have a splitting headache. 

So it's quite false, quite erroneous, to think that the way to deny the self is to cause pain to the self, to go in for abnegation, mortification, as these were traditionally understood. To deny the self, to die to it, to lose it, is to understand its true nature. When you do that, it will disappear; it will vanish. Suppose somebody walks into my room one day. I say, "Come right in. May I know who you are?" And he says, "I am Napoleon." And I say, "Not the Napoleon . . ." And he says, "Precisely. Bonaparte, Emperor of France." "What do you know!" I say, even while I'm thinking to myself, "I better handle this guy with care." 

''Sit down, Your Majesty," I say. He says, "Well, they tell me you're a pretty good spiritual director. I have a spiritual problem. I'm anxious, I'm finding it hard to trust in God. I have my armies in Russia, see, and I'm spending sleepless nights wondering how it's going to turn out." So I say, "Well, Your Majesty, I could certainly prescribe something for that. What I suggest is that you read chapter 6 of Matthew: "Consider the lilies of the field . . . they neither toil nor spin." 

By this point I'm wondering who is crazier, this guy or me. But I go along with this lunatic. That's what the wise guru does with you in the beginning. He goes along with you; he takes your troubles seriously. He'll wipe a tear or two from your eye. You're crazy, but you don't know it yet. The time has to come soon when he'll pull the rug out from under your feet and tell you, "Get off it, you're not Napoleon." In those famous dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, God is reported to have said to her, "I am He who is; you are she who is not." Have you ever experienced your is-not-ness? In the East we have an image for this. It is the image of the dancer and the dance. God is viewed as the dancer and creation as God's dance. It isn't as if God is the big dancer and you are the little dancer. Oh no. You're not a dancer at all. You are being danced! Did you ever experience that? So when the man comes to his senses and realizes that he is not Napoleon, he does not cease to be. He continues to be, but he suddenly realizes that he is something other than what he thought he was. 

To lose the self is to suddenly realize that you are something other than what you thought you were. You thought you were at the center; now you experience yourself as satellite. You thought you were the dancer; you now experience yourself as the dance. These are just analogies, images, so you cannot take them literally. They just give you a clue, a hint; they're only pointers, don't forget. So you cannot press them too much. Don't take them too literally.

SOURCE:
de Mello Spirituality Center
Losing Yourself to Find Yourself
by Anthony de Mello

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"Finding God in the Depths of Silence" by Richard Rohr

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When I first began to write this article, I thought to myself, "How do you promote something as vaporous as silence? It will be like a poem about air!" But finally I began to trust my limited experience, which is all that any of us have anyway.

I do know that my best writings and teachings have not come from thinking but, as Malcolm Gladwell writes in
Blink, much more from not thinking. Only then does an idea clarify and deepen for me. Yes, I need to think and study beforehand, and afterward try to formulate my thoughts. But my best teachings by far have come in and through moments of interior silence—and in the "non-thinking" of actively giving a sermon or presentation.

Aldous Huxley described it perfectly for me in a lecture he gave in 1955 titled "Who Are We?" There he said, "I think we have to prepare the mind in one way or another to accept the great uprush or downrush, whichever you like to call it, of
the greater non-self." That precise language might be off-putting to some, but it is a quite accurate way to describe the very common experience of inspiration and guidance.

All grace comes precisely from nowhere—from silence and emptiness, if you prefer—which is what makes it grace. It is both not-you and much greater than you at the same time, which is probably why believers chose both inner fountains (John 7:38) and descending doves (Matthew 3:16) as metaphors for this universal and grounding experience of spiritual encounter. Sometimes it is an uprush and sometimes it is a downrush, but it is always from a silence that is larger than you, surrounds you, and finally names the deeper truth of the full moment that is you. I call it contemplation, as did much of the older tradition.

It is always an act of faith to trust silence, because it is the strangest combination of you and not-you of all. It is deep, quiet conviction, which you are not able to prove to anyone else—and you have no need to prove it, because the knowing is so simple and clear. Silence is both humble in itself and humbling to the recipient. Silence is often a momentary revelation of your deepest self, your true self, and yet a self that you do not yet know. Spiritual knowing is from a God beyond you and a God that you do not yet fully know. The question is always the same: "How do you let them both operate as one—and trust them as yourself?" Such brazenness is precisely the meaning of faith, and why faith is still somewhat rare, compared to religion.

AND YES, SUCH inner revelations are always beyond words. You try to sputter out something, but it will never be as good as the silence itself is. We just need the words for confirmation to ourselves and communication with others. So God graciously allows us words, and gives us words, but they are almost always a regression from the more spacious and forgiving silence. Words are a much smaller container. They are always an approximation. Surely some approximations are better than others, which is why we all like good novelists, poets, and orators. Yet silence is the only thing deep enough, spacious enough, and wide enough to hold all of the contradictions that words cannot contain or reconcile.

We need to "grab for words," as we say, but invariably they tangle us up in more words to explain, clarify, and justify what we meant by the first words—and to protect us from our opponents. From there we often exacerbate many of our own problems by babbling on even further. In Matthew 6:7, Jesus had a word for heaping up empty phrases: paganism! Only those who love us will stay with us at that point, and often love will also tell us to stop talking—which is precisely why so many saints and mystics said that love precedes and prepares the way for all true knowing. Maybe silence is even another word for love?

Most of the time, "to make a name for ourselves" like the people building the tower of Babel, we multiply words and find ourselves saying more and more about less and less. This is sometimes called gossip, or just chatter. No wonder Yahweh "scattered them," for they were only confusing themselves (Genesis 11:4-8). Really they were already scattered people: scattered inside and out because there was no silence.

We are all forced to overhear cell phone calls in cafés, airports, and other public places today. People now seem to fill up their available time, reacting to their boredom—and their fear of silence—often by talking about nothing, or making nervous attempts at mutual flattery and reassurance. One wonders if the people on the other end of the line really need your too-easy comforts. Maybe they do, and maybe we all have come to expect it. But that is all we can settle for when there is no greater non-self, no gracious silence to hold all of our pain and our self-doubt. Cheap communication is often a substitute for actual communion.

Words are necessarily dualistic. That is their function. They distinguish this from that, and that's good. But silence has the wonderful ability to
not need to distinguish this from that! It can hold them together in a quiet, tantric embrace. Silence, especially loving silence, is always non-dual, and that is much of its secret power. It stays with mystery, holds tensions, absorbs contradictions, and smiles at paradoxes—leaving them unresolved, and happily so. Any good poet knows this, as do many masters of musical chords. Politicians, engineers, and most Western clergy have a much harder time.
SILENCE IS WHAT surrounds
everything, if you look long enough. It is the space between letters, words, and paragraphs that makes them decipherable and meaningful. When you can train yourself to reverence the silence around things, you first begin to see things in themselves and for themselves. This "divine" silence is before, after, and between all events for those who see respectfully (to re-spect is "to see again&rdquoWinking.

All creation is
creatio ex nihilo—from "a trackless waste and an empty void" it all came (Genesis 1:2). But over this darkness God's spirit hovered and "there was light"—and everything else too. So there must be something pregnant, waiting, and wonderful in such voids and darkness. God's ongoing—and maybe only—job description seems to be to "create out of nothing." We call it grace.
God follows this pattern, as do many saints, but most of us don't. We prefer light (read: answers, certitude, moral perfection, and conclusions) but forget that it first came from a formless darkness. This denial of silence and darkness as good teachers emerged ever more strongly after the ironically named "Enlightenment" of the 17th and 18th centuries. Our new appreciation of a kind of reason was surely good and necessary on many levels, but it also made us impatient and forgetful of the much older tradition of
not knowing, unsaying, darkness, and silence. We decided that words alone would give us truth, not realizing that all words are metaphors and approximations. The desert Jesus, Pseudo-Dionysius, The Cloud of Unknowing, and John of the Cross have not been "in" for several centuries now, and we are much the worse for it.

The low point has now become religious fundamentalism, which ironically knows so little about the real fundamentals. We all fell in love with words, even those of us who said we believed that "the Word became flesh." Words offer a certain light, but flesh is much better known in humble silence and waiting.

AS A GENERAL spiritual rule, you can trust this one: The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence. The ego prefers light—immediate answers, full clarity, absolute certitude, moral perfection, and undeniable conclusion—whereas the soul prefers the subtle world of darkness and light. And by that, of course, I mean a real interior silence, not just the absence of noise.
Robert Sardello, in his magnificent, demanding book
Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness, writes that "Silence knows how to hide. It gives a little and sees what we do with it." Only then will or can it give more. Rushed, manipulative, or opportunistic people thus finds inner silence impossible, even a torture. They never get to the "more." Wise Sardello goes on to say, "But in Silence everything displays its depth, and we find that we are a part of the depth of everything around us." Yes, this is true.

When our interior silence can actually feel and value the silence that surrounds everything else, we have entered the house of wisdom. This is the very heart of prayer. When the two silences connect and bow to one another, we have a third dimension of knowing, which many have called spiritual intelligence or even "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). No wonder that silence is probably
the foundational spiritual discipline in all the world's religions at the more mature levels. At the less mature levels, religion is mostly noise, entertainment, and words. Catholics and Orthodox Christians prefer theater and wordy symbols; Protestants prefer music and endless sermons.

Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs, and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people. Only time will tell the deep effects of this on emotional maturity, relationship, communication, conversation, and religion itself. Silence now seems like a luxury, but it is not so much a luxury as it is a choice and decision at the heart of every spiritual discipline and growth. Without it, most liturgies, Bible studies, devotions, "holy" practices, sermons, and religious conversations might be good and fine, but they will never be truly great or life-changing—for ourselves or for others. They can only represent the surface; God is always found at the depths, even the depths of our sin and brokenness. And in the depths, it is silent.

It comes down to this: God is, and will always be, Mystery. Only a non-arguing presence, only a non-assertive self, can possibly have the humility and honesty to receive such mysterious silence.
When you can remain at peace inside of your own mysterious silence, you are only beginning to receive the immense "Love that moves the sun and the other stars," as Dante so beautifully says—along with the immeasurable silent space between those trillions of stars, through which this Mystery is also choosing to communicate. Silence is space, and space beyond time. Those who learn to live there are spacious and timeless people. They make and leave room for all the rest of us.

Richard Rohr, OFM, a Sojourners contributing editor, is founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (www.cacradicalgrace.org in Albuquerque, N.M.

SOURCE:
Finding God in the Depths of Silence

by Fr. Richard Rohr
March 2013


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