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Mind Body Heart

Wisdom Is Loving

Friday, February 21, 2020

Mind, Body, Heart

Wisdom Is Loving 
Friday, February 21, 2020

The first principle of great spiritual teachers is rather constant: only Love can be entrusted with Wisdom or Big Truth. All other attitudes will murder, mangle, and manipulate truth for their own ego purposes. Humans must first find the unified field of love and then start their thinking and perceiving from that point. This is the challenging insight of mature religion.

All prayer disciplines are somehow trying to get mind, heart, and body to work as one, which entirely changes one’s consciousness. “The concentration of attention in the heart—this is the starting point of  all true prayer,” wrote St. Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894), a Russian monk, bishop, and mystic. [1] Apart from Love, any other “handler” of your experience, including the rational mind or merely intellectual theology, eventually distorts and destroys the beauty and healing power of Wisdom.

The second principle is that truth is on some level always beautiful—and healing—to those who honestly want it. Big Truth cannot be angry, antagonistic, or forced on anyone, or it will inherently distort the message (as the common belief in a punitive God has done for centuries). The good, the true, and the beautiful are their own best argument for themselves, by themselves, and in themselves. Such deep inner knowing evokes the soul and pulls the soul into All Oneness. Incarnation is beauty, and beauty needs to be incarnate—that is specific, concrete, particular. We need to experience very particular, soul-evoking goodness in order to be shaken into what many call “realization.” It is often a momentary shock where we know we have been moved to a different plane of awareness.

This is precisely how transformation differs from simply acquiring facts and information. Whereas information will often inflate the ego, transformation utterly humbles us. In that moment, we know how much we have not known up to now, and still surely do not know! Such humility is a good and probably necessary starting place and, I would say, the very seat of Wisdom.

Love is luring us forward, because love is what we already are at our core, and we are naturally drawn to the fullness of our own being. Like knows like; to paraphrase Meister Eckhart, “God’s own whole being is poured out into identity. It is God’s pleasure and rapture to place God’s whole nature in this true place—because it is God’s own identity too.” [2] Like an electromagnetic force, Infinite Love is drawing the world into the one fullness of love. When we are comfortable in our true identity, we will finally be unable to resist such overwhelming love. (Some saints said even the devil would be unable to resist it in the end.) So don’t fight it, resist it, or deny it now. Love will always win.

[1] Theophan the Recluse, as quoted in The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, ed. Timothy Ware (Faber and Faber: 1997, ©1966), 183.

[2] Meister Eckhart, Qui Audit Me, Non Confundetur, Sermon on Sirach 24:30. See Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation, Raymond Bernard Blakney (Harper and Row: 1941), 205. Note: The verse number here is from the Latin Vulgate Bible known to Eckhart; the source text is Sirach 24:22 in later translations.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 90-91, 92-93.
For more on this year’s theme of action and contemplation, listen to the third season of our podcast Another Name for Every Thing, which launched February 15!

Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: A Wisdom way of knowing . . . requires the whole of one’s being and is ultimately attained only through the yielding of one’s whole being into the intimacy of knowing and being known. . . . It doesn’t happen apart from complete vulnerability and self-giving. But the divine Lover is absolutely real, and for those willing to bear the wounds of intimacy, the knowledge of that underlying coherence—“in which all things hold together”—is both possible and inevitable. —Cynthia Bourgeault
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