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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Law of Three in Action: Weekly Summary

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Law of Three in Action

Summary: Sunday, March 19-Friday, March 24, 2017

This week guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault dove deeper into the Law of Three, a metaphysical principle found in the basic structure of the universe and in the Trinity.

The political and religious culture wars of our era could be eased by the simple courtesy of the Law of Three: (1) the enemy is never the problem but the opportunity; (2) the problem will never be solved through eliminating or silencing the opposition but only through creating a new field of possibility large enough to hold the tension of the opposites and launch them in a new direction. (Sunday)

A good part of the initial learning curve with the Law of Three is around developing a capacity to look directly at a situation and assign the forces (affirming, denying) according to the role they are actually playing, not according to pre-formed judgments or expectations. (Monday)

A new arising is not always a solution. Sometimes it is simply the infusion of a more subtle quality of aliveness in whose light the real meaning of the situation is transfigured (or at least made clearer). (Tuesday)

Third force is best accessed (or midwifed) through presence that can hold the tension of opposites. (Wednesday)

Third force contains transformative power because it does not take sides. Could it be said to be compassionately indifferent? (Thursday)

Imagine how the energies of our planet would shift if Christians en masse took seriously their obligation to work with the Law of Three as their fundamental spiritual praxis. (Friday)


Practice: Letting Go of Outcome

Cynthia reflects on how contemplative practice helps us get unstuck and be open to the creative power of the Law of Three.

When we can relax our usual binary thinking and allow space for the unknown, we may be surprised by an unexpected third force that arises and can put everything into motion again. Don’t be afraid of darkness, of the things that look like they’re going in the wrong direction. The soul has to go through this overwhelm. So often I realize the difficulty was exactly the thing that needed to happen in order for there to be clarity. Trust that even when it seems our world is moving backward—away from justice and peace—this friction can serve the Law of Three, moving us in a brand new direction.

Daily contemplation will help you be alert and receptive to third force, which serves as a catalyst for the new fourth arising. Here’s a simple exercise to help you begin developing equanimity: the capacity to stay neutral in the midst of strong emotions or opposition, and to not identify with a particular outcome—which is often how we “get in the way.”

First, try to notice when preference arises in day-to-day situations. Often we are so unconsciously operating from “like/dislike” that we don’t even realize how much it drives how we act, interact, and react. Try to notice when you slip into preference with playfulness and without judgment by simply setting the intention to catch when “like/dislike” enters the picture.

What happens when you let go of the need to assert your preference? Is there a deeper you that you can locate that is comfortable with letting go of like and dislike? How might this practice develop into the capacity to hold opposition without getting identified or reactive?

As with contemplative prayer or meditation, whenever you get caught by preference or in identifying with a certain outcome, simply return to that sacred gesture of surrender modeled to us by Jesus, saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done” (Luke 22:42).

Emerging from this spaciousness, you can now be guided by the Holy Spirit and become a vessel for the Trinitarian creativity to manifest new possibilities in our world.

Gateway to Silence:
No resistance, no new arising!

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013)
Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity (CAC: 2004), CD, DVD, and MP3 download

Image credit: Praying Woman (fresco detail), Catacomb of Callixtus, Rome, early 4th century.
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