Paradox Weekly Summary

Paradox

Summary: Sunday, August 21-Friday, August 26, 2016

The binary, dualistic mind cannot deal with contradictions, paradox, or mystery, all of which are at the heart of religion. (Sunday)

The very nature of spiritual truth is that it is paradoxical. (Monday)

The times where we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God or, alternatively, to evade the mystery of God. (Tuesday)

If you hold both sides seriously, that is the space in which you can grow morally, in understanding what really matters. That is the space in which you can go deep and learn mystery—which is endlessly knowability. (Wednesday)

The third way is not balancing or even eliminating the opposites, but holding the opposites, as Jesus did on the cross. To live inside this space of creative tension is the very character of faith, hope, and love. (Thursday)

“Third Force” energy is overcoming seeming opposites by uncovering a reconciling third that is bigger than both of the parts and doesn’t exclude either of them. (Friday)

 

Practice: The Welcoming Prayer

I’d like to offer you a form of contemplation—a practice of accepting paradox and holding the tension of contradictions—called The Welcoming Prayer.

First, identify a hurt or an offense in your life. Remember the feelings you first experienced with this hurt and feel them the way you first felt them. Notice how this shows up in your body. Paying attention to your body’s sensations keeps you from jumping into the mind and its dualistic games of good-guy/bad-guy, win/lose, either/or.

After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. It’s hard to do, but for some reason, when we name it, feel it, and welcome it, transformation can begin.

Don’t lose presence to the moment. Any kind of analysis will lead you back into attachment to your ego self. The reason a bird sitting on a hot wire is not electrocuted is quite simply because it does not touch the ground to give the electricity a pathway. Hold the creative tension, but don’t ground it by thinking about it, critiquing it, or analyzing it.

When you’re able to welcome your own pain, you will in some way feel the pain of the whole world. This is what it means to be human—and also what it means to be divine. You can hold this immense pain because you too are being held by the very One who went through this process on the Cross. Jesus was holding all the pain of the world, at least symbolically or archetypally; though the world had come to hate him, he refused to hate it back.

Now hand all of this pain—yours and the world’s—over to God. Let it go. Ask for the grace of forgiveness for the person who hurt you, for the event that offended you, for the reality of suffering in each life.

I can’t promise the pain will leave easily or quickly. To forgive is not to forget. But letting go frees up a great amount of soul-energy that liberates a level of life you didn’t know existed. It leads you to your True Self.

Gateway to Silence:
Welcome what is.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), disc 6 (CD). 

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, A New Way of Seeing . . . A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul (MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Holding the Tension: The Power of Paradox (MP3 download)

Image Credit: Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (detail) by Pieter Breugel the Elder, 1565.

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