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The Perennial Tradition

Friday, November 25, 2016

We must finally go back to the ultimate Christian source for our principle—the central doctrine of the Trinity itself. Yes, God is “One,” just as our Jewish ancestors taught us (Deuteronomy 6:4), and yet the further, more subtle level of meaning is that this oneness is actually the radical love union between three completely distinct “persons” of the Trinity. The basic principle and problem of “the one and the many” has been overcome in God’s very nature. God is a mystery of relationship, and in its deepest form this relationship is called love. The three are not uniform at all—but quite distinct—and yet completely oned in mutual self-emptying and infinite outpouring. God, and all of creation, is a mystery of relationship!

We humans are not autonomous beings either; though we are seemingly separate, we are radically one, too, just as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. We really are created in God’s “image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26f), much more than we ever imagined. Trinity is our universal template for the nature of reality and for how to reconcile unity and diversity at every level.

We are not seeking some naïve “everything is one”; rather, we seek much more: the deeper “unity of the Spirit which was given us all to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). We must study, pray, wait, reconcile, and work to achieve true unity—not an impossible uniformity, which was the tragic mistake of both the early notion of Christendom and a later notion of Communism.

Julian of Norwich says, “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person,” [1] and “In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are in one person.” [2]

This is not some 21st century flabby fabrication. This is not pantheism or mere New Age optimism. This is the whole point; it was, indeed, supposed to usher in a “new age” (Matthew 19:28)—and it still can, and will. This is the Perennial Tradition. Our job is not to discover it, but only to retrieve what has been discovered—and lost—and rediscovered again and again, in the mystics and seers, and prophets of all religions.

Gateway to Silence:
All truth is one.

[1] Julian of Norwich, Showings, 65.
[2] Ibid., 51.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, Vol. 1, No. 1 (CAC: 2013), 13-14. (This issue of Oneing, a limited edition publication, is no longer available in print; however, the eBook is available from Amazon and iTunes. Explore additional issues of Oneing at

Image credit: Tree with visible roots in Kiental, between Herrsching and Andechs, Germany,
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