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Center for Action and Contemplation

Oneness: Weekly Summary and Practice of Childlike Sincerity

Saturday, September 28, 2019


Summary: Sunday, September 22—Friday, September 27, 2019

When we carry our small suffering in solidarity with humanity’s one universal longing for deep union, it helps keep us from self-pity or self-preoccupation. We know that we are all in this together. (Sunday)

God is the force that is binding, moving, sustaining, and transforming all of humanity and all of creation with every breath and every evolutionary shift on our planet. (Monday)

The whole thing is one, just at different stages, all of it loved corporately by God (and, one hopes, by us). Within this worldview, we are saved not by being privately perfect, but by being “part of the body,” humble links in the great chain of history. (Tuesday)

The freeing, good news of the Gospel is that God is saving and redeeming the Whole first and foremost, and we are all caught up in this Cosmic Sweep of Divine Love. (Wednesday)

Oneness is less a goal toward which life is pressing, as it is a return to the truth in which we have always been held. —Catherine T. Nerney (Thursday)

A heart transformed by this realization of oneness knows that only love “in here,” in me, can spot and enjoy love “out there.” (Friday)


Practice: Childlike Sincerity

James Finley, one of our core faculty members, writes:

We have each had a taste of nondual consciousness: the face of our beloved, a child at play, the sound of running water, the intimacy of darkness in the middle of a sleepless night. Our lives move in and out of nondual consciousness. In these moments, we intuitively use the word God for the infinity of the primordial preciousness with Whom we realize ourselves to be one. In these moments we realize that nothing is missing anywhere and what fools we are to worry so.

As I reflect on this, it dawns on me that the root of sorrow is my estrangement from the intimately realized oneness and preciousness of all things. I’m skimming over the surface of the depths of my life. Yet, I know in my heart that the God-given, godly nature of every breath and heartbeat is hidden in the ever-present depths over which I am skimming in my preoccupations with the day’s demands.

So, the question becomes: how can I learn not to play the cynic, not to break faith with my awakened heart? In my most childlike hour, I have tasted the presence of God that is perpetually manifesting and giving itself to me as my very life. While the value of my life is not dependent upon the degree to which I realize this unitive mystery that is always there, the experiential quality of my life is profoundly related to the degree to which I am learning to live in habitual awareness of and fidelity to the God-given, godly nature of the life that I’m living.

I cannot make moments of nondual consciousness happen. I can only assume the inner stance that offers the least resistance to be overtaken by the grace of nondual consciousness. Two lovers cannot make moments of oceanic oneness happen, but together they can assume the inner stance that allows them to be overtaken by the oceanic oneness that blesses their life.

My spiritual practice is to sit each day in childlike sincerity with an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the God-given, godly nature of myself just the way I am. This is my sense of what nondual consciousness is and the contemplative way of life in which we, with God’s grace, become ever more habitually grounded. [1]

For today’s contemplative practice, sit in a comfortable position with the simple intention to be in the Presence of God. With playful, childlike sincerity, offer the least resistance to being overtaken by the God-given, godly nature of yourself—just the way you are. Abide for five or ten minutes or more in this state.

You might want to open your sitting session with this prayer:

O God, give me a simple heart, free from duplicity and deceit, a heart which goes to You with childlike simplicity. [2]

[1] Adapted from James Finley, exclusive CAC Living School curriculum, Unit 1.

[2] Adapted from Dan Burke, “Simplicity,” Divine Intimacy (September 3, 2018),

For Further Study:
The Cloud of Unknowing with the Book of Privy Counsel, trans. Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Shambhala: 2009)

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork (Henry Holt and Company: 1996)

Catherine T. Nerney, The Compassion Connection: Recovering Our Original Oneness (Orbis Books: 2018)

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019)

Image credit: The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner (detail), Edwin Henry Landseer, 1837, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the weeks before she died, Venus somehow communicated to me that all sadness, whether cosmic, human, or canine, is one and the same. Somehow, her eyes were all eyes, even God’s eyes, and the sadness she expressed was a divine and universal sadness. . . . Creation is one giant symphony of mutual sympathy. —Richard Rohr
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