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Center for Action and Contemplation

Mature Spirituality and Ultimate Reality

Monday, August 29, 2016

Spirituality of Letting Go: Week 1

Mature Spirituality
Monday, August 29, 2016

The primary result of mature religion is to help us grow up early so we don’t keep going down the same dead ends and making the same mistakes over and over again—“doing the same thing and expecting different results,” as the Twelve Steppers say. Healthy religion names what’s real, what’s true, what really works, and what works in the long run—here and later.

This ultimate reality, the way things work, is quite simply described as love. Religion is supposed to teach us the way of love. Jesus even commanded it. Though I’m not sure that you really can order or demand love, it’s so all-important that the great spiritual teachers always do, saying with urgency, as it were, “You’ve got to love or you’ll never find your soul’s purpose. You’ll never find the deepest meaning of life itself.” Philosophically, you will never discover the Logos, the blueprint, the pattern, the template of all reality, what Jung would have called “the soul of the world.”

The wise ones recognize that without a certain degree of inner freedom, you cannot and will not love. Spirituality is about finding that freedom.  Most of us didn’t grow up thinking of religion as a path of freedom. We were taught a set of prescriptions, dos and don’ts, musts, oughts, and shoulds—against which we pushed back, like children always do. Yes, some amount of structure is important, as I tried to say in my book Falling Upward. [1] But that’s just first-level growth, and far too much religion stays right there, “milk instead of meat,” as Paul puts it (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Meaty spirituality must first of all teach us freedom from the self, from my own self as a reference point for everything or anything. This is the necessary Copernican Revolution wherein we change reference points. Copernicus discovered that Earth is not the center of the universe. Now we have to discover that we are not the center of any universe either. We are not finally a meaningful reference point. Although we do have to start with self at the center to build a necessary “ego structure,” we then must move beyond it. The big and full world does not circle around me or you. Yet so many refuse to undergo this foundational enlightenment.

Gateway to Silence:
Let be. Let love.

[1] See Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), disc 1 (CD).

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