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Center for Action and Contemplation

Nondual Spirituality: Bringing It to a Culture Addicted to Prosperity and Accumulation

June 7th, 2023
Nondual Spirituality: Bringing It to a Culture Addicted to Prosperity and Accumulation

Nondual Spirituality: Bringing It to a Culture Addicted to Prosperity and Accumulation

Raised in the Southern Baptist tradition of “fire and brimstone,” I embraced an American culture that glorifies power, prestige, and possessions. I had successfully followed the blueprint for the American Dream. As an educated, entitled white male and an unhealthy Enneagram Three, my addiction to achievement and wealth was magnified. The egocentric path I had chosen held intense fear, shame, and insecurity that I transmitted to others until my pursuit of peace and happiness inevitably failed. It took numerous small “deaths,” failures, and admissions of powerlessness, along with the wisdom teachings of Fr. Richard Rohr, to pull me onto a road of ongoing transformation.

In 2016, I attended a Rob Bell retreat that also featured Fr. Richard. A transformative moment for me was when Fr. Richard said that Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about humanity, but to change humanity’s mind about God. My Christian tradition had taught about a Zeus-like, white-haired God of wrath and retribution who would torture sinners for all eternity—without any hope of redemption.

A quote attributed to Albert Einstein reads as follows: “The most important question facing humanity is: Is the universe a friendly place?” At that time, my answer was “No.” I resigned as CEO of a 700-employee software company I had cofounded so that I could have time to face a difficult season of disorder in my life.

In 2018, I serendipitously met Damien Faughnan. I learned Damien was a c-suite business coach and he was on the board of the CAC. I told Damien that I had discovered Fr. Richard’s teachings and was going on a river cruise that summer where he was the featured speaker. Damien encouraged me to attend the Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP) at Ghost Ranch. I became an initiated man, but the liminal space into which I was ushered would continue for a long period.

In 2019, I was accepted into the CAC’s Living School. I experienced a lot of challenges during the program, including four surgeries (one for prostate cancer), a full-body rash for sixteen months, and the deaths of both my parents. And then there was COVID-19! The message of the paschal mystery gave me hope of resurrection during my many dark nights of the soul. The Living School is where I learned to embrace nondual thinking, shadowboxing, contemplative practice, detachment, and a universal communion with everything.

I know I continue to do so much wrong. However, I believe it is time for me to support the CAC’s teaching of the Franciscan Alternative Orthodoxy to a society that is addicted to the pursuit of financial prosperity. We need to share the gospel message of suffering, mercy, death, and resurrection to a consumer-driven, first-world culture that worships acquisition and accumulation

It’s time for those with power to use it for the common good, to stand up to the establishment, and to follow Jesus in proclaiming the Reign of God here on earth.

Damien recently gave me a second initiation. He invited me to “take a seat at the fire of the elders” and to be an executive elder to business leaders by helping them rediscover who they truly are. I accepted and am reordering my life. I believe that the perennial wisdom taught by Fr. Richard will echo through me as I hope to be a wounded healer.

In 2020, Fr. Richard seconded the motion and blessed me, just before COVID-19 disrupted everything. I purchased a Trinity icon in Santa Fe the week following Fr. Richard’s blessing. This icon is a reminder of the most important words to me in all of Fr. Richard’s writings: “To sum it all up, I do not believe there is any wrath in God whatsoever—it’s theologically impossible when God is Trinity.”1

1 Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016), 140.

Vance Brown spent his first half of life dutifully climbing the corporate ladder as an entrepreneur, CEO, and lawyer. He is now an Executive Elder at Thrivers Leadership Institute and desires to help other business executives who are living in “quiet desperation.” To learn more about Vance Brown, visit

This reflection appears in the Spring 2023 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.

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