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Center for Action and Contemplation
Mystics on Fire with Love
Mystics on Fire with Love

The Wisdom of the Mystics

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Richard Rohr shares how studying the mystics can transform us and help us meet the needs of our times:  

We live in a time of both crisis and opportunity. While there are many reasons to be anxious, I still have hope. Westerners, including Christians, are rediscovering the value of nonduality: a way of thinking, acting, reconciling, boundary-crossing, and bridge-building based on inner experience of God and God’s Spirit moving in the world. We’re not throwing out our rational mind, but we’re adding nondual, mystical, contemplative consciousness. When we have both, we’re able to see more broadly, deeply, wisely, and lovingly. We can collaborate on creative solutions to today’s injustices. [1]

Can seeing with the eyes of mystics really have relevance in our busy modern world? I think it is not only relevant but absolutely necessary to change our levels of consciousness, which many religious traditions might have also called growth in holiness or divine union. As Einstein said (though now in my own words), we have tried to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s software—which often caused the problem in the first place. Through a regular practice of contemplation we can awaken to the profound presence of the unitive Spirit, which then gives us the courage and capacity to face the paradox that everything is—ourselves included. Higher levels of consciousness always allow us to include and understand more. Deeper levels of divine union allow us to forgive and show compassion toward more and more, even those we are not naturally attracted to, and even our enemies.

Mystics have plumbed the depths of both suffering and love, and emerged with depths of compassion for the world, and a learned capacity to recognize God within themselves, in others, and in all things. If we can read the mystics with an attitude of simple mindfulness, the insights and practices they share can equip us with a deep and embracing peace, even in the presence of the many kinds of limitations and suffering that life offers us. From such contact with the deep rivers of grace, we can live our lives from a place of nonjudgment, forgiveness, love, and a quiet contentment with the ordinariness of our lives—knowing now that it is not ordinary at all!

By applying the wisdom of the mystics to our daily and even momentary outlooks, we will be able to bring open-heartedness into the lives we lead and the work we do. Then we might just be able to recognize that the ordinary path can also be the way of the mystic. It is all a matter of the eyes and the heart.

Studying the mystics, and hopefully identifying with them in at least some small way, allows us into the seemingly simple yet always profound realm of those who have found their way close to God and all of creation. The path of the mystic is within our reach. [2]

[1] Richard Rohr, “The Need for Mysticism,” Daily Meditations, August 2, 2020.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, introduction to What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2015), ix–x.

Image credit: Wonderlane, Untitled (detail), Seattle, 2020, photograph, public domain. Click here to enlarge image.

A fire of love can fill us up and shine out with great strength.

Story from Our Community:  

I have been reading and listening to CAC material for years. I am so very grateful to be a small part of a community of mystics, exploring and living the truth and joy of God’s love. I feel so nurtured to fully embrace my own experience. I’m beginning to experience a relationship with Spirit that goes far beyond simple religion. —Gay E.

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