Without the assurance of Jesus’ teaching and example, I would not have the courage or confidence to say what I have said throughout my years of teaching.
Only the second gaze sees fully and truthfully. It sees itself, the other, and even God with God’s own compassionate eyes. It is from this place true action must spring.
When we live on the edge of anything, with respect and honor, we are in an auspicious and advantageous position. When we are both inside and outside, we are an ultimate challenge, possible reformers, and lasting invitations to a much larger world.
Most of history has been content with cultural truth, denominational truth, national truth, scientific truth, rational truth, factual truth, personal truth, etc. These are all needed and helpful, but true religion affirms the Big Truth beyond any of these smaller truths.
The depth and mystery of God leaves all of us as perpetual searchers and seekers, always novices and beginners. It is the narrow and dark way of faith.
Few Christians have ever been seriously taught about their inherent union with God and will find all kinds of self-hating reasons to deny it. Only the True Self can dare to believe the gospel’s Good News.
Living Ourselves into a New Way of Thinking
The Eighth Core Principle of the CAC: We do not think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. This final principle is a fruit of Richard’s decades of companioning with others on the spiritual journey. He writes:
The form of learning which most changes people in lasting ways has to touch them at a broader and deeper level than the thinking mind. The Dalai Lama said it well: “An open heart is an open mind. A change of heart is a change of mind.”  This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality and the vision of our work here at the Center. This probably seems strange coming from someone who writes and talks as much as I have, but it is actually my experience as a teacher that 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 church reform. My preaching has remained in the realm of “good ideas.” After all, isn’t that what many think church is all about—attending services and believing ideas to be true or false? For most of us, if we’re honest, our lives rarely make space for any new practices or changed patterns or habits to emerge. In contrast, transformative education does not ask us to believe or disbelieve any doctrines or dogmas. It says, “Try this!” Then we will know something to be true or false for ourselves.
Here at the CAC we will continue to say: Try this, go here, change sides, move outside your comfort zone, make new friendships with people of a different race or class, let go of your usual role and attractive self-image, walk, pedal, or roll instead of drive, skip the tourist visits and spend time in local neighborhoods, go to the jail or to the border, help at a food pantry or literacy center, attend another church for a while, and so on. Then we can live ourselves into new ways of thinking, and we will wonder how we could have ever thought in any other way! Before new experience, new thinking is difficult and dangerous. Afterward, new thinking is natural and even necessary.
 Dalai Lama [Tenzin Gyatso], An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life, ed. Nicholas Vreeland (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001), 84.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Orthopraxy Leads to Real Orthodoxy,” Radical Grace 25, no. 4, The Eight Core Principles (Fall 2012): 43–45.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Brian McLaren on church as a school of love.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Claudia Retter, The Villa Stairwell (detail), used with permission. Claudia Retter, Via Galuzza (detail), photograph, used with permission. Arthur Allen, Untitled 1 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
This week’s images by Claudia Retter and Arthur Allen appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Stairs and buildings provide structure for our movement and safety. The CAC’s eight core principles guide us in exploring the context and substance of our lived experiences.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.