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Center for Action and Contemplation

Humility and Honesty

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Spirituality of Letting Go: Week 2

Humility and Honesty
Thursday, September 8, 2016

The only people who grow in truth are those who are humble and honest. This is traditional Christian doctrine and is, in effect, the maxim of Alcoholics Anonymous. Without those two qualities—humility and honesty—we just don’t grow. If we try to use religion to aggrandize the self, we will end up just the opposite: proud and dishonest. Humility and honesty are really the same thing. A humble person is simply someone who is naturally honest about their own truth. You and I came along a few years ago; we’re going to be gone in a few more years. The only honest response to such a mystery is humility.

Growth in the spiritual life takes place not by acquisition of something new. It isn’t like the acquisition of new information, which some call “spiritual capitalism.” In reality our growth is “a treasure hidden in a field” (Matthew 13:44). It is only discovered by the release of our current defense postures, by letting go of fear and our attachment to self-image. Then the inner gift lies present and accounted for! Once our defenses are out of the way and we are humble and poor, truth is allowed to show itself. God could not risk giving truth to proud and power hungry people; they will always abuse it. Truth shows itself when we are free from ideology, fear, and anger.

Being so certain that “I know” won’t get you anywhere, spiritually speaking. The truth is, “I don’t really know anything!” Our real heroes might be those who know they don’t know, like Forrest Gump! Perhaps Gump is a metaphor for what we call beginner’s mind. Only such non-knowing is spacious enough to hold and not distort wisdom.

Similarly, meaning is not created; it is discovered. There is nothing new under the sun in terms of the soul. Our universe is an enchanted one. The twentieth century added nothing to the wisdom of the soul. It was all there already. It is still all there. You’re not going to be appreciably better than your grandma (or some pre-modern ancestor), even with all your education; in fact, I hope you’re as free as she was when you die. I hope you can say “I love you” as she did when you die. The great patterns are always the same: either fear or love, illusion or love. Healthy religion is always about love. All we can do is get out of the way.

Gateway to Silence:
Surrender to love.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1999), 120-121.

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