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Cosmic Forgiveness

Friday, September 1, 2017


Cosmic Forgiveness
Friday, September 1, 2017

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned. —Annie Dillard [1]

The Gospel accepts that life is tragic, but it graciously adds that we can survive and will even grow from this tragedy. This is the great turnaround! It all depends on whether we are willing to see down as up and learn to draw upon the Infinite Source.

We should have been prepared for this pattern, given that the whole drama was set in motion by a seeming “transgression” of Adam and Eve, and then the whole world was redeemed, say many Christians, by an act of violent murder! The problem is part of the solution. The genius of the biblical revelation is that it refuses to deny the dark side of things, but forgives failure and integrates falling to achieve wholeness.

Jesus is never upset at “sinners”; he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners! Jesus was fully at home with a tragic sense of life. He lived, died, and rose inside it. Jesus’ ability to find a higher order inside constant disorder is the very heart of his message—and why true Gospel, as rare as it might be, still heals and renews all that it touches.

Jesus found and named the unified field beneath all the contradictions, which Annie Dillard speaks of. If we do not find that unified field, “our complex and inexplicable caring for each other,” or what Buddhists call the Great Compassion, there is no healing to life’s inconsistencies and contradictions. Paul would call the unified field love: “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Mature spirituality is about getting you back and down into the unified field, where you started anyway.

The forgiveness we truly need goes beyond forgiveness for this or that transgression. Ultimately, we each need universal, cosmic forgiveness for being who I am and for reality being what it is. The struggle to forgive this simultaneously broken and unified field of reality breaks us through to nondual consciousness. This is key! And, remember, in that inspired story of Adam and Eve, it is God who “made tunics of skins to clothe them” and take away their shame and sense of separateness (Genesis 3:21). God reminds them of the unified field, or “the house of belonging” as poet David Whyte loves to call it [2], even as they depart the garden of innocence and naivety.

Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a clean heart. —Psalm 51:10

[1] Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (HarperPerennial: 2013, ©1982), 19-20.
[2] David Whyte, The House of Belonging (Many Rivers Press: 1997).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 53, 58-59;
The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 106; and
True Self/False Self, disc 5 (Franciscan Media: 2003), CD.

Image credit: The Return of the Prodigal Son (drawing detail), 1642, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Teylers Museum Haarlem, The Netherlands.
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