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Immortal Diamond – R. Rohr

June 18, 2016

ID RRDissolve the distractions of ego to find your authentic self. This book likens True Self to a diamond, buried deep within us, formed under the intense pressure of our lives, that must be searched for, uncovered, separated from all the debris of ego that surrounds it. In a sense True Self must, like Jesus, be resurrected, and that process is not resuscitation but transformation.
The author quotes St Catherine of Genoa shouting through the streets of town: “My deepest me is God!” And then he points to Colossians where it says: “The mystery is Christ within you — your hope of Glory!” (1:27)

Rohr talks about the False Self as the “small self” that involves four splits from reality: We split from our shadow self and pretend to be our idealized self; We split our mind from our body and soul and live in our minds; We split life from death and try to live our life without any ‘death.’; We split ourselves from other selves and try to live apart, superior, and separate.

He gets very repetitive as he tries to say the same thing over and over again in slightly different ways.

I am not sure of the orthodoxy of: You do know, I hope, that it is formally incorrect for Christians to simply say, “Jesus is God,” although that is the way they do think. But it misses the major point and goal of the whole incarnation. Jesus does not equal God per se, which is for us the Trinity. Jesus, much better and more correctly, is the union between God and the human. That is a third something—which in fact we are invited to share in. Once we made Jesus only divine, we ended up being only human, and the whole process of human transformation ground to a halt. That is the way the dualistic mind works, I am very sad to say.’ For some of you, these paragraphs could be the most important in this book.

When we tried to understand Jesus outside the dynamism of the Trinity, we did not do him or our­selves any favor. Jesus never knew himself or operated as an independent “I” but only as a “thou” in relation­ship to his Father and the Holy Spirit, which he says in a hundred different ways. The “Father” and the “Holy Spirit” are a relationship to Jesus. God is a verb more than a noun. God is love, which means relationship itself (1 John 4:7-8).

Christianity lost its natural movement and momentum — out from that relationship and back into that relationship—when it pulled Jesus out of the Trinity.’ It killed what is the exciting inner experience and marginalized the mystics who really should be center stage. Jesus is the model and metaphor for all of creation that is all being drawn into this flow of love, and thus he always says, “Follow me!” and, “I shall return to take you with me, so that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:3). The concrete, historical body of Jesus represents the universal Body of Christ that “God has loved before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). He is the stand-in for all of us. The Jesus story is the universe story, in other words. His union with God that Jesus never doubts, he hands on to us—to never doubt. (Quite simply, this is what it means to “believe” in Jesus.)

I’d never thought before to link the two angels of Luke’s resurrection story with those of the ark of the covenant.

He confuses panentheism with panetheism: As St. Bonaventure (1217-1274) put it, “[God] is an intelligible space whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere…. [God] is within all things, but not enclosed, outside all things but not excluded, above all things but not aloof, below all things but not debased…. [God] is supremely one and all-inclusive, [God] is therefore ‘all in all”‘ (1 Corinthians 15:28).1 You can either accuse St. Paul and St. Bonaventure, who is proclaimed a “Doctor of the Church,” of pantheism, or admit that we are the ones who do not get it yet.

He twists the Vincentian canon to apply to all religions, which is surely not its intention: We can still use the Vincen­tian canon and look for truth that is somehow held “everywhere, always, and by all.”

 The title is taken from a line in a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem. He uses this image to describe the processes and pressures of life, which God uses to “construct this hard and immortal diamond, our core of love.”

ID RR 2Quotations:

I am writing this book for secular seekers and thinkers, believers and nonbelievers alike, and that huge disillusioned group in recovery from religion itself. Surprisingly, these are often more ready to see and honor Mystery than many religious people are. I can no longer wait for, or give false comfort to, the many Christians who are forever “deepening their personal relationship” with a very tiny American Jesus—who looks an awful lot like them. I would much prefer to write for those like Jane Fonda, who said recently, “I feel a presence, a reverence humming within me that was, and is, difficult to articulate.” Well, Jane, we are going to try to articulate and affirm that humming here.

Because far too many religious folks do not seri­ously pursue this “reverence humming within them,” they do not recognize that something within them needs to be deeply trusted and many things must be allowed to die — not because they are bad, but because they perhaps cannot get them where they want to go. Spirituality tends to be more about unlearning than learning. And when the slag and dross are removed, that which evokes reverence is right there waiting!

Many religious people seem to think that God, for some utterly unexplainable reason, loves the human past (usually their own group’s recent past) instead of the present or the future of this creation. As Jaroslav Pelikan so wisely put it years ago, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living, and I suppose I should add, it is tradition­alism that gives Tradition such a bad name.”‘ We can do much better than substituting mere traditionalism for actual God experience.

Our identification of God with the past has done the present and future no favor. Old mistakes are still mistakes, and we do not need to keep repeating them. For much of the world, this preoccupation with the past comes across as a divine approval of everybody else’s death (non-Christians, heretics, Native peoples, “sinners,” women, the poor, slaves, and on and on), and never our own. Many people have lost all interest in our grand spiritual talk and our Scriptures because they too often have been used by people who are themselves too small (who are stuck in their False Self).

As Zen Masters are known to say, “Avoid spirituality if at all possible; it is one insult after another.” They know that true religion “insults” your ego and does not give it easy comfort.

As Thomas Aquinas, no Catholic  lightweight, put it, Prius vita quam doctrina (“Life is prior to doctrines”).

“Could human life’s central task be a matter of consciously discovering and becoming who we already are and what we somehow unconsciously know?”

I believe the Christ is the archetypal True Self offered to history, where matter and spirit finally operate as one, where divine and human are held in one container, “where there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female (Galatians 3:28).  This Christ is going before us into an ever new territory, into “Galilee,” which was the forgotten backwater of the Roman Empire and the Jewish religion.

The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference.”

Death is not just physical dying, but going to full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, beyond where I am in control, fully beyond where I am now.”  This is an important word for people who seem caught up by fear, a fear that divides and conquers.

When you go into the full depths and death, sometimes even the depths of your sin, you come out the other side – and the word for that is resurrection.” The idea of resurrection plays an important role in this book, and while he affirms a physical resurrection he wants us to move beyond arguments about the historicity to engage the promise of resurrection, of transformation of our lives that can begin prior to the crossing over that is death.

“What dies?  Your False Self – and it is just a matter of WHEN, not IF.  Who lives?  The God Self that has always lived, but now includes YOU.  And note that it is a WHAT that dies, and a WHO that lives.

“the most effective symbol … the greatest and most beautiful (symbol) that the human heart seeks and desires” that of the resurrection, “A universal pattern of the undoing of death.”

“There is something in you that is not touched by coming and going, by up and down, by for or against, by the raucous teams of totally right or totally wrong. There is a part of you that is  patient with both goodness and evil to gradually show themselves, exactly as God does. There is  a part of you that does not rush to judgment. Rather, it stands vigilant and patient in the tragic gap that almost every moment offers. It is a riverbed of mercy. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives, and also lets go of all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgment itself), an aware ness is not as such “thinking.” It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs of war that most of life is—before it is forever over and gone. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation. In her Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila says, “The soul is spacious, plentiful, and its amplitude is impossible to exaggerate…the sun here radiates to every part…and nothing can diminish its beauty.” This is your soul. It is God-in-you. This is your True Self. And you know what? Your soul is much larger than you.”

The Song of the True Self

Within us there is an inner, natural dignity. (You often see it in older folks.)

An inherent worthiness that already knows and enjoys. (You see it in children.)

It is an immortal diamond waiting to be mined and is never discovered undesired.

It is a reverence humming within you that must be honored.

Call it the soul, the unconscious, deep consciousness, or the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Call it nothing.

It does not need the right name or right religion to show itself.

It does not even need to be understood. It is usually wordless.

It just is, and shows itself best when we are silent, or in love, or both.

It is God-in-All-Things yet not circumscribed by any one thing.

It is enjoyed only when each part is in union with all other parts, because only then doesit stand in the full truth.

Once in a while, this True Self becomes radiant and highly visible in one lovely place or Person.

Superbly so, and for all to see, in the body of the Risen Christ.

And note that I did say “body.” It begins here and now in our embodied state in this

world. This, the Christ Mystery travels the roads of time.

Once you have encountered this True Self—and once is more than enough—the False

Self will begin to fall away on its own.

This will take most of your life, however, just as it did Jesus.

The first principle of great spiritual teachers is rather constant here: only love can be entrusted with the Big Truth. All other attitudes will murder and mangle truthfulness. Humans must first find the unified field of love and then start thinking from that point. All prayer disciplines are somehow trying to get head and heart and body to work as one, and that changes thinking entirely. “The concentration of attention in the heart—this is the starting point of prayer,” says St. Theophane the Recluse, the nineteenth Russian mystic. Any other “handler” of your experience, including the rational mind or even mere intellectual theology eventually distorts and destroys the beauty and healing power of Big Truth. One of favorite fathers of the church, Evagrius Ponticus (345-399), said that you could not be a theologian unless you knew how to pray, and only people who prayed could be theologians. This is surely true.

Perhaps the second principle is that truth is on the same level always beautiful—and healing—to those who honestly want truth. Big Truth cannot be angry, antagonistic, or forced on anyone, or it will inherently distort the message. John Duns Scotus, in good Franciscan style, taught that the primary moral category was beauty itself, or what he called “the harmony of goodness.” The good, the united, and the true in this world will always be somehow beautiful too, and beautiful souls will recognize it immediately.

Do you want the Gospel to be small truth or Great Truth? This is the question Christians must ask themselves.

Science is no longer our enemy; instead quantum physics, biology, and other academic disciplines are revealing science as probably our new and best partner, much better than philosophy ever was. If something is spiritually true, it will also be true in the physical world, all religions will somehow be looking at that “one truth” from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary, as will all the disciplines of any great university. If we are really convinced that we have the Great Big Truth, then we should also be able to trust that others will see it from their different angles—or it is not a great big truth. No one wants to be our enemy unless they assume that we ourselves have chosen to live in our own small tent and cannot talk to them or do not want to talk to them on their terms. We are the one who have too often assumed ill will and have been far too eager to create enemies instead of realizing that other often enjoy very similar “good news” but inside different packaging.

I do not believe the will of God is a theory, an argued moral theology, or an abstraction in any form; it is seeking the truth of each situation in that situation as best as we can figure it out. What else could God ask of humanity, most of whom had no access to synagogue, temple, church, Koran, moral theology class, or Bible? Were they all utterly lost and rejected? Somehow the True Self in all humans has a natural a ccess to that “hidden will of God—if the mind and heart and soul are open and undefended (which is always the spiritual task and not easily achieved.)

God is a verb more than a noun…God is a process rather than a clear name or idea, a communion, Interbeing itself, and never an isolated deity that can be capture by our mind.

Christians believe that God is formlessness (the Father), God is form (the Son), and God is the very love energy between those two (the Holy Spirit). The three do not cancel one another out; rather, they do exactly the opposite. God is relationship itself and known in relationship, which opens up a huge conversation with the world of science and physics and therapy too. What a wonderful surprise this is, yet it names everything correctly at the core—from atoms, to ecosystems, to families, to galaxies. The doctrine of the Trinity was made to order to defeat the dualistic mind and invite us into nondual, holistic consciousness. It replaced the arugumentative principle of two with the dynamic principle of three. It leaves us inside the wonderfully open space of “not one, but not two either”…God is a circle dance of total outpouring and perfect receiving among three intimate partners, who receive their Total Self from another and then hand it on to another, who repeats the self-emptying act of love to a third…God only and always loves.

Diamonds are deeply hidden under miles, pounds, and pressure of earth and time, but like the True Self, like the thread, like the presence itself, they are there. And now YOU are there too.

My dear people, We are already the children of God. But what we are in the future is not fully revealed. All we know, is that when it is revealed, We shall all be like him (I John 3:2)

Many Christians begin Lent on Ash Wednesday with the signing of ashes on their forehead and the words from Genesis 3:19, which is just the first shocking part of the message.Dust you are, and unto dust you shall return. But then we should be anointed (“Christed”) with a holy oil on Easter morning with the other half of the message.

Love is always stronger than death, and unto that love you have now returned. I order you, O sleeper, to awake! I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you were created in my image. Rise, let up leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.Together we form only one person and we cannot be separated! (From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday, Easter Eve)

 Allowing others to define us: “Our ongoing curiosity about our True Self seems to lesson if we settle into any ‘successful role.’  We have then allowed others to define us from the outside, although we do not realize it.  Or perhaps we dress ourselves up on the outside and never get back inside…”

Defining ourselves outside of love, relationship, or divine union: “Your False Self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union.  After you have spent many years laboriously building this separate self, with all its labels and preoccupations, you are very attached to it.  And why wouldn’t you be?  It’s what you know and all you know.  To move beyond it will always feel like losing or dying…”

Longing for God and longing for the True Self are the same longing: “Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing.  And the mystics would say that it is God who is even doing the longing in us and through us…”

Do not fear, attack, or hate the False Self: “Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self.  That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway…  In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted.  God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them…”

Your True Self is who you are: “Your True Self is what makes you, you…”

Natural at detachment and nonaddiction: “Once your soul comes to its True Self, it can amazingly let go and be almost anything except selfish or separate.  It can also not be anything that you need it to be or others want it to be.  The soul is a natural at detachment and nonaddiction.  It does not cling or grasp.  It has already achieved its purpose in pure being more than any specific doing of this or that…  Soulful people, invariably humble and honest about themselves, are also risk takers…  The True Self neither postures nor pretends…”

The separate self is the False Self: “The separate self is the False Self, and the False Self thus needs to overdefine itself as unique, special, superior, and adequate…”

The True Self sees everything in wholes: “The True Self sees everything in wholes and therefore in contrast to the way the world sees things, which now appears upside down to them.  The False Self sees everything in parts and hierarchies and in reference to itself, which is not to see very well at all.”

Doing the work of growing up: “We do not really find the immortal diamond of the True Self.  It gradually appears as we do the work of growing up…”

To see what is and let it teach you: “The soul has no agenda whatsoever except to see what is – as it is – and let it teach you…”

“Our wounds are our glory,” as Lady Julian of Norwich puts it.

In a moralistically oriented religious group, there are always clear outsiders to be kept clearly out­side. Hiding inside this false moral purity are things like slavery; sexism; the greed of Christian emperors, clergy, and citizens; pedophilia; national conquest; oppression of Native cultures. Greed and war are eas­ily overlooked. That is no exaggeration if you read church history. We have not largely been dealing with any deep Jesus spirituality up to now but what some impatiently call “churchianity.” We Catholics had to canonize saints because they were the rare exception instead of the norm. The New Testament, in contrast, regularly calls all Christians “the saints.”

The good news of an incarnational religion, a Spirit-based morality, is that you are not motivated by outside reward or punishment but actually by looking out from inside the Mystery yourself. So carrots are neither needed nor helpful.

does your religion spend much of its time defining and deciding who cannot participate? When there is not much to enjoy from the inside, all you can do is keep yourself above and apart from others. Many groups still “forbid under pain of sin” worshiping God in another denominational space. Please. Such religion is nothing but groupthink and boundary marking, and is not likely to lead you to any deep encounter with God. Such smallness will never be ready or eager for true greatness.

If God is for you a tyrant, an eternal torturer, or with a smaller heart than most people you know, why would you want to be intimate, spend time with, or even “participate” with such a God? As Helen Keller once said, “I sometimes fear that much religion is man’s despair at not finding God.” Most groups picked a few moral positions to give themselves a sense of worthiness and discipline, or a few sacraments to “attend,” but loving and even erotic divine union still largely remained a secret or foolish to imagine. “I don’t have time for the mystics; we are running a church here,” a bishop once told me. I’m not kidding. And he was not a bad man or a bad bishop, but he was an outsider to the very Mystery that he talked about in the church he was “running.”

Playing king of the hill always overrides any actual party on the hill. Jesus makes that very point in his several parables of the wedding party or the great banquet (see Luke 14:7-24 or Matthew 22:1-10). Parties are about participation, not legislation. If there is not room for one more at your party, you are a very poor host. And God is not a poor host.

Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, and John Scotus taught the same thing clearly and unequivocally: “Deus est Ens,” that is, God is Being itself (IA is different from saying that God is a Being or Beings).

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