Wisdom Lineage Summary
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
Friday, December 25, 2015
What makes people so unkind and hurtful to one another? Sometimes the more petty and unnecessary it is, the more astounding it is. Where does this come from? Why is it much easier for humans to wrap themselves around problems, negativity, and blaming than around joy?
Humans make hard and impossible the very things they want the most! This tendency seems demonic. Such contrariness must be the meaning of any original wound or “sin.” We really are our own worst enemy. It is not just that we send our unresolved pain and fear toward others, but that we choose to abide in them ourselves. We refuse resurrection on a regular basis and then wonder why we are unhappy. Maybe we just need to be told how deep and hidden the problem is, and that there is another way. Normally we have to see a model, we have to know or meet one enlightened person and let them rub off on us. All holiness is contagious and never a private possession. You don’t acquire it, you fall into it. Like the Twelve-Step program, it “grows by attraction more than promotion.” The proliferation of pulpits throughout the Christian world pretty much show that we over-relied on promotion, but even that was normally “saving the supposed saved.”
Negativity works in many immediate and seemingly good ways. It unites a fear-based group far more quickly than love does, especially if you do not recognize or admit your own fears. Fear unites the disparate parts of your own False Self. The ego moves forward by contraction, self-protection, and refusal, by saying no. Sad to say, contraction gives you focus, purpose, direction, superiority, and a strange kind of security. It takes your aimless anxiety, covers it up, and turns it into purposefulness and urgency, which shows itself in a kind of drivenness. But this drive is not peaceful or happy; it is filled with itself. It is filled with agenda and sees all of its problems as “out there,” never “in here.” Witness American political agendas, if you want an overwhelming example of this level of consciousness.
The soul, however, does not proceed by contraction but by expansion. It moves forward, not by exclusion, but by inclusion. It sees things deeply and broadly, not by saying no, but by saying yes, at least on some level, to whatever comes its way. Mary’s kind of yes (Luke 1:38) does not come easily. It requires that you let down some of your ego boundaries, and none of us likes to do that. What I mean by Mary’s kind of yes is an assent utterly given from beyond, no preconditions of worthiness required, a calm, wonderful ability to trust that someone else is in charge, and the foundations are good and going somewhere. It is a yes that is pure in motivation, open-ended in intent, and calm in confidence. Only grace can achieve such freedom in the soul, heart, or mind. We hardly know how to think this way by ourselves.
Jesus came to reveal and resolve the central and essential problem—humanity’s tendency toward fear and hate. The pattern is so deep and habitual within humans that we even make religion itself into a clever cover for our disguised need to remain fearful and hateful. The ultimate disguise whereby you can remain a mean-spirited person is to do it for God or country. You are relieved of all inner anxiety; you can maintain your positive self-image and even some kind of moral high ground, while hidden underneath are “the bones of the dead and every kind of corruption,” as Jesus said (Matthew 23:27).
Love is the totally enlightened, entirely nonsensical way out of this pattern. Love has to be worked toward, received, and enjoyed, first of all by recognizing our deep capacity for fear and hate. But remember, we gather around the negative space quickly, while we “fall into” love rather slowly, and only with lots of practice at falling. We’ll spend the whole next year of meditations exploring this kind of Love.
Gateway to Silence:
Keep me in Your truth.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014), 65-70.