Every Viewpoint Is a View from One Point


Every Viewpoint Is a View from One Point
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The genuinely new or different is always a threat to the small self. Unless there is something strong enough to rearrange our worldview, call our assumptions into question, and also engage our heart and body (“at the cellular level,” as I like to call it), we will seldom move to new interior or exterior places. God has a hard time getting us to join Abraham and Sarah in “leaving your country and your family for a new land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1-2). Yet that is our foundational paradigm for the journey of faith.

The Dalai Lama said it well: “Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” I would add: “Every change of heart is soon a change of mind.” This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality. Perhaps this seems strange coming from someone who writes and talks as much as I do, but my experience as a teacher has led me to this conclusion. Many folks over the years, even very good-willed people, have read and listened to my presentations of the Gospel yet have actually done very little—in terms of lifestyle changes, economic or political rearrangements, or naming their own ego or shadow selves. After all, “Isn’t church about believing ideas to be true or false? Isn’t religion about attending services?” Most people just listen to my ideas and judge them to be true or false. They either “like” or “don’t like” them. But thinking about ideas or making judgements about what is moral or immoral seldom leads to a radically new consciousness. Transformative education is not asking you to believe or disbelieve in any doctrines or dogmas. Rather it is challenging you to “Try this!” Then you will know something to be true or false for yourself.

So I will continue to encourage you to try something new: change sides, move outside your comfort zone, make some new contacts, let go of your usual role and attractive self-image, walk instead of drive, make a friend from another race or class, visit new neighborhoods, go to the jail or to the border, attend another church service, etc. Then you can live yourself into new ways of thinking, which then seem so right and necessary that you wonder how you could have ever thought in any other way. Without new experiences, new thinking is difficult and rare. After a new experience, new thinking and behavior comes naturally and even becomes necessary.

Gateway to Silence:
“Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” —The 14th Dalai Lama

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Eight Core Principles,” Radical Grace, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Center for Action and Contemplation: Fall 2012), 44-45.

Image credit: “Legend of St. Francis: St. Francis Giving his Mantle to a Poor Man” (detail of fresco), Giotto de Bondone. San Francesco, Upper Church, Assisi, Italy.