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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Shape of Reality

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Faith and Science

The Shape of Reality
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

As I shared in my book The Divine Dance, and earlier this year, I believe that the Trinity is the very shape of the universe. Reality—like God’s own self—is a flow of mutual giving and receiving. [1] God as Relationship, or Trinity, can actually allow our scientific and spiritual cosmologies to finally operate as one, because we are inside of a flow instead of a prison.

Spiritual intuitions are almost always on some level correct. Only when we literalize them and make them wooden, mechanical, and fundamentalist do they lose the flow—and the flow is where the life always is. Show me a single example of life where there is not movement, growth, and change. What we could know as a Divine Wave, we have for the most part related to as a static particle god. This demotion made a whole bunch of Christian dogmas appear to be about magic—purely transactional exchanges with a later reward only for an exclusive few. Our “good news” was no longer catholic, or universal, but merely ethnic, cultural, and earthbound.

The “Perennial Tradition” (gathering common and recurring themes in all the world’s wisdom lineages) invariably taught some version of “as above, so below,” as Huston Smith insisted. “God in heaven” was usually seen to mirror any ideal “earth below.” We see echoes of this reciprocal language in the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). If we update this language for the quantum era—moving from the “Great Chain of Being” to the “Nested Holarchy of Being,” as the philosopher Ken Wilber puts it [2]—we can also speak of as within, so without. If all reality is a holon and has a fractal character, as physicists tell us, then each part contains and mirrors the whole. If the cosmos as we know it originates from a “Big Bang”—from a “Let it be”—that means that one point explodes with life and gives birth to the many lives. And the original DNA somehow remains intact.

When does this many cease to be one? When did this one ever not contain the many? Never! This is what the relational pattern of the universe is teaching us, from Godhead to geochemistry and everything in between. The shape of the cosmos—quasar to quark—is a reflection of the Trinitarian God.

How do we learn to recognize and participate in this flowing reality? Scientists and mystics alike tell us: Be present! Experiment! Stay curious. This is Contemplation 101. Let go of what you “think” is your mental center—it is normally too small to understand the atom, galaxies, or the energy that births and animates all existence. Such momentous truth can occasionally be caught but it is not easily taught. We relied far too much on verbal education instead of full- bodied transformation. Moses’ burning bush was not an intellectual exercise, nor did Teresa of Ávila’s ecstasies happen in a classroom. We rightly speak of faith as a “gift” as opposed to any reasoned conclusion. You fall into it more than reason toward it.

We’re standing in the middle of an awesome and major Mystery—life itself—and the only appropriate response to this is humility. If we’re resolved that this is where we want to go—into the Mystery, not trying to hold God and reality but to let God and reality hold us—then I think religion is finally in its proper and appropriate place. Anyone who has undergone God is humble; in fact, they are the most humble of all.

Gateway to Silence:
Divine Reality, endlessly knowable

[1] For more on the Trinity, see Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations beginning February 26, 2017,
[2] See Ken Wilber, “From the Great Chain of Being to Postmodernism in Three Easy Steps” (2006), 2, 4,

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 55-56, 73.

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