The one is the way to the many.
The specific is the way to the spacious.
The now is the way to always.
The here is the way to the everywhere.
The material is the way to the spiritual.
The visible is the way to the invisible.

We liberate ourselves from illusions and, cleared of all that congested weight, the burden of being a self, we surrender, entering awareness that is spacious and quiet and uncongested.

We just die into silence. Die to the past. Die to the future. Die to the breath. Completely let go. The silence reveals itself as refuge, as awareness that can be trusted, tenderly loving and resounding with the majesty and the mystery of the sacred. [1]

[1] Kathleen Dowling Singh, “Living in the Light of Death,” Oneing, “Ripening,” vol. 1 no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), 44-46.

As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. Separation from God, self, and others is a deep and tragic illusion. As we grow into deeper connection and union, the things that once brought meaning and happiness to our small self no longer satisfy us. We tried to create artificial fullness through many kinds of addictive behavior, but still feel empty and nothing, if we are honest. We need much more nutritious food to feed our Bigger Self. Mere entertainments, time-fillers, diversions, and distractions will no longer work.

At the more mature stages of life, we are able to allow the painful and the formerly excluded parts to gradually belong within a growing, unified field.

The great irony is that we must go through a lot of complexity and disorder (another word for necessary suffering) … We must go through the pain of disorder to grow up and switch our loyalties from self to God.

As we grow in wisdom, we realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. We see that life and death are not opposites. They do not cancel one another out; neither do goodness and badness. A radical, almost nonsensical “okayness” characterizes mature believers, which is why they are often called “holy fools.”  These wise ones do not have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore reality anymore. What is, is gradually okay (which does not mean you do not work for justice and truth, but this must be accompanied by a primal yes!). What is, is still the greatest of teachers. At the bottom of all reality is always a deep abiding goodness, or what Merton called “the hidden wholeness.” [1]

[1] Thomas Merton, “Hagia Sophia,” Ramparts Magazine (March 1963), 66. Also see In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, ed. Lynn R. Szabo (New Directions: 2005).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 113-115;
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 55-56, 61; and
How Do We Get Everything to Belong? disc 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2004), CDMP3 download.

In his book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, author Parker Palmer points out that “the soul is shy” and has to be coaxed out of the artificial boundaries that we have erected in our own lives.  Many things divide us from others, nature, God, and ourselves.  Unfortunately, the Church has historically focused far more on ‘original sin’ (i.e., ‘original separation’) than it has on ‘original union.’   As Richard Rohr points out, “We are originally from God and our ultimate destiny is to return to God.” (paraphrased)

As we overcome the illusion of separation, we feel more and more connected to everything.  As connection increases, so does love.  As love increases, fear decreases, and fear is the ultimate reason for separation.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)



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