Father Richard believes that true forgiveness is only possible through a larger transformation of consciousness within us:
We cannot sincerely love another or forgive another’s offenses inside of dualistic consciousness. In our habitual, dualistic way of thinking, we view ourselves as separate from God and from each other. We have done the people of God a great disservice by preaching the gospel to them but not giving them the tools whereby they can obey that gospel. As Jesus put it, “cut off from the vine, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The “vine and the branches” is one of the greatest Christian mystical images of the nonduality between God and the soul. In and with God, we can love and forgive everything and everyone—even our enemies. Alone and by ourselves, we will seldom be able to love in difficult situations over time through our own willpower and intellect.
Nondual consciousness is a new way of seeing. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye” (Luke 11:34). Spiritual maturity is largely growth in seeing. Full seeing seems to take most of our lifetime. There is a cumulative and exponential growth in perception for those who do their inner work. There is also a cumulative closing down in people who have denied all shadow work and humiliating self-knowledge. This is the classic closed mind and heart that we see in some older people. The longer we persist in not asking for forgiveness, the harder it becomes because we have more and more years of illusion to justify. Allow conversion as soon as possible! It gets harder with time.
All physical shadows are created by a mixture of darkness and light, and this is the only spectrum of human vision. We cannot see inside of total light or total darkness. Think about that. As the shadows of things gradually show themselves as understandable and real, we lose interest in idealizing or idolizing persons or events, especially ourselves. As Jesus says to the rich young man, “Only God is good” (Mark 10:18). All created things are a mixture of good and not so good.
This does not mean we stop loving other people; in fact, it means we actually begin to truly love people and creatures. It does not mean self-hatred or self-doubt, but finally accepting and fully owning both our gifts and our weaknesses; they no longer cancel one another out. We can eventually do the same for others too, and we do not let another’s faults destroy our larger relationship with them. This is why contemplative, nondual thinking is absolutely necessary for human flourishing. It is the change that changes everything else. It makes love, forgiveness, and patience possible. Without it, we are forever trapped inside of our judgments.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 206, 213–214.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on shadow work.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Katrina Lillian Sorrentino, Entelechy 4, (detail), 2022, photograph, Spain, used with permission. Belinda Rain, Meadow (detail), 1972, photograph, California, public domain. Katrina Lillian Sorrentino, Entelechy 11, (detail), 2022, photograph, Spain, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Seeing what is. Acknowledging. Clearing the air. After the vines are ripped from the wall, allowing new growth.
Story from Our Community:
With 4 kids, a husband recently fired from a job he loved, and my stressful work in tech—my family is searching. I look forward each morning to the beautiful teachings in the Daily Meditations reflecting love, forgiveness, and community. I take that little nugget of sunshine and share it with my family. What a gift! —Mary A.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.