Theme:
Trinity: Part 2

Trinity: Part 2

Summary: Sunday, May 12—Friday, May 17, 2019

When all three of those divine qualities start drawing you, and when you’re at home with Infinity, Immanence, and Intimacy—all Three—you’re living inside Trinitarian spirituality. (Sunday)

Living faith in the God of Jesus Christ means being formed and transformed by the life of grace of God’s economy: becoming persons fully in communion with all; becoming Christ to one another; becoming by the power of the Holy Spirit what God is: love unbounded, glory uncontained. —Catherine Mowry LaCugna (Monday)

[Raimon Panikkar’s word cosmotheandric] is the fusion of cosmos (world), theos (God), and andros (man) and suggests a continuous intercirculation among these three distinct planes of existence in a single motion of self-communicating love. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau (Wednesday)

From a metaphysical standpoint, the Trinity is primarily about process. It encapsulates a paradigm of change and transformation based on an ancient metaphysical principle known as the Law of Three. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Thursday)

Once you experience God as all-vulnerable, then perhaps God stands in solidarity with all pain and suffering in the universe, allowing us to be participants in our own healing. (Friday)

 

Practice: Ecstatic Dance
Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that, energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance. —Gabrielle Roth [1]

God cannot be known by thinking but by experiencing and loving. As you read about the theological framework and practical implications of Trinity—perichoresis or circle dance—I hope you will take many opportunities to explore this concept in your lived experience.

Here’s one way you might play with a childlike spirit and feel Trinity’s flow in your body. You may even lose track of where you, the dancer, end and the dance itself begins.

Adapt this practice for your own body’s abilities and needs. For example, you might move from a seated position if you’re not able to stand or use colors and images as inspiration if you’re not able to hear music.

Choose a favorite or new piece of music—classical, world, contemporary; anything that calls you to move!—and find a place in which you can listen and move without inhibition, barefooted if possible.

Allow your body to lead, following the invitation of the music. Let your mind take a back seat and tune in to the sensations of each part of your body.

Feel your feet connect with the ground. Let limbs and joints turn and bend as they will. Swing and sway your head, shoulders, hips. Sink deep into your body, remembering what it is to be a human animal.

Dance until you are pleasantly tired and then gradually slow your movements, perhaps to another musical tempo. Continue moving in smaller, gentler ways: breathe deeply, stretch your arms and legs, roll your head.

Come to a seated position and rest in stillness.

References:
[1] Gabrielle Roth, https://www.5rhythms.com/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publishing: 2016), 51.

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013)

Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company:1997, 2016)

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1991)

Raimon Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man (Orbis Books: 2004)

Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016)

Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, William Paul Young, Trinity: The Soul of Creation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

Trinitarian Revolution
Friday, May 17, 2019

I think we are in the beginnings of a Trinitarian Revolution. History has so long operated with a static and imperial image of God—as a Supreme Monarch and Critical Spectator living in splendid isolation from what he (and God is exclusively envisioned as male in this model) created. His love is perceived as unstable, whimsical, and preferential.

Humans become like the God we worship. So it’s important that our God is good and life-giving. That’s why we desperately need a worldwide paradigm shift in Christian consciousness regarding how we perceive and relate to God. This shift has been subtly yet profoundly underway for some time, hiding in plain sight. In order to come together in politics and religion, to take seriously new scientific findings in biology and quantum physics, and for our species and our planet to even survive we must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything.

In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn popularized the phrase “paradigm shift.” [1] Kuhn said that paradigm shifts become necessary when the plausibility structure of the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork “fixes” that a complete overhaul, which once looked utterly threatening, now appears as a lifeline.

I believe we’re at precisely such a moment when it comes to our image of God. Instead of the idea of the Trinity being a theological conundrum, it could well end up being the answer to Western religion’s basic problem.

God has forever redefined power in the Trinity! God’s power comes through powerlessness and humility. The Christian God is much more properly called all-vulnerable than almighty, which we should have suspected and intuited by the shocking metaphor “Lamb of God” found throughout the New Testament.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority, God is still “the man upstairs,” a substantive noun more than an active verb. In my opinion, this misunderstanding is partly responsible for the quick expansion of practical atheism and agnosticism we see in the West today. Rational and sincere people wonder, “If God is almighty and all-loving, then why is there so much suffering in the world?” But once you experience God as all-vulnerable, then perhaps God stands in solidarity with all pain and suffering in the universe, allowing us to be participants in our own healing. This does not make sense to the logical mind, but to the awakened soul it somehow does.

Let the Trinitarian Revolution take root!

References:
[1] See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th ed. (University of Chicago Press: 2012).

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 35-36, 171.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

The Law of Three
Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cynthia Bourgeault, one of our core faculty members and an Episcopal priest, has helped Christianity rediscover the powerful model of the “Law of Three.” This was originally developed by the Armenian-born spiritual teacher G. I. Gurdjieff (1866–1949) who saw it comprising what he called the “Laws of World Creation and World Maintenance.” Based on Trinity as flow and movement, this “law” describes the ways in which different elements work to create change and ongoing evolution. Today I’ll share a brief introduction from Cynthia’s work, but I invite you to read her full book The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: 

From a metaphysical standpoint, the Trinity is primarily about process. It encapsulates a paradigm of change and transformation based on an ancient metaphysical principle known as the Law of Three.

[The basic foundational principles are:]

  1. In every new arising there are three forces involved: affirming, denying, and reconciling.
  2. The interweaving of the three produces a fourth in a new dimension.
  3. Affirming, denying, and reconciling are not fixed points or permanent essence attributes, but can and do shift and must be discerned situationally. . . .
  4. Solutions to impasses or sticking points generally come by learning how to spot and mediate third force, which is present in every situation but generally hidden. . . .

Let’s consider a simple example. A seed, as Jesus said, “unless it falls into the ground and dies, remains a single seed.” [John 12:24] If this seed does fall into the ground, it enters a sacred transformative process. Seed, the first or “affirming” force, meets ground, the second or “denying” force (and at that, it has to be moist ground, water being its most critical first component). But even in this encounter, nothing will happen until sunlight, the third or “reconciling” force, enters the equation. Then among the three they generate a sprout, which is the actualization of the possibility latent in the seed—and a whole new “field” of possibility.

Actually, the entire Paschal Mystery can be seen to play itself out as a fairly straightforward configuration of the Law of Three. If you assign affirming as Jesus, the human teacher of the path of love; denying as the crucifixion and the forces of hatred driving it; and reconciling as the principle of self-emptying, or kenotic love willingly engaged, then the fourth or new arising, which is inescapably revealed through this weaving, is the Kingdom of Heaven, visibly manifest in the very midst of all the human cruelty and brokenness.

Reference:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three:Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013), 15, 16, 24-25, 74.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

God’s Ecstasy
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) brilliantly integrated learning across fields such as mathematics, religion, science, and philosophy. God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World—which she called “a book on science for Christians”—explores Trinity from both a scientific and contemplative point of view.

. . . Trinity [shows] itself as world, especially with the characteristic Trinitarian trait of living-together, symbiosis, mutual indwelling, interacting, sharing. From elementary particles in the atom, through atoms in molecules, molecules in cells, cells in organisms, organisms in societies, to social actions and even ideas—all of them being organized as systems—the Trinitarian image, as a Many-One, as a Community, has been present and growing. “Growing” (from the inside out) is the right word; the Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. God is creating a self-creating world.

[Or as I like to say, it just makes sense that God would create a world that continues to create itself! —Richard]

Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. So is spontaneous order, and adaptation by natural selection. What we now call complexity, and recognize as doing its creative work on the very edge of chaos, is at the heart of this miraculous picture. There may not be an external Designer and a micro-managing Providence from the outside, but neither is the world devoid of divinity. The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing.

I have called this creative act God’s ecstasy. Ecstasy means standing outside oneself. It is kin to the kenosis of Philippians 2:6—being God is not a thing to be clung to, so God empties Godself, taking the form of limitation in finitude, and is born as a universe. It is the defining divine act: self-giving, being-bestowing. Ecstasy has the connotations of extreme love and supreme joy. . . .

The cosmic complexity has supported the development of consciousness, and now we can know and understand and contemplate this beautiful and marvelous universe. We can appreciate it as the externalization—the ecstasy—of Creativity itself, of the trinitarian God: manyness so symbiotic as to be one whole living being.

The conclusion for the religious person should be that the world is God’s most personal work, therefore something for us to know and admire and revere, to take part in, to contribute to creating—since it is made as a self-creating universe. This is participating in the divine life. . . .

My hope is that others will get a sense of how the universe is radiant and exciting and how we are poised right on the creative edge, right where the new action is happening. God’s action, our action. A Self-creating universe that is God’s ecstasy, God standing—indeed, God dancing!—outside Godself, still doing the Godly things: being One, being Community, sharing being, indwelling, rejoicing, always being more.

Reference:
Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company:1997, 2016), 9-10.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

Pure Relationality
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I am one with the source insofar as I act as a source by making everything I have received flow again—just like Jesus. —Raimon Panikkar [1]

Catholic priest Raimundo (or Raimon) Panikkar (1918–2010) wrote over 40 books, many focused on comparative religion. Son of a Spanish Catholic mother and a Hindu father, Panikkar’s Hinduism led him to the depths of his Christian experience and allowed him to share spiritual wisdom in a way that was universal and accessible. He saw Trinity not as a uniquely Christian idea but as the very structure of reality. For him the Trinity overcame the challenges of monism (undifferentiated oneness), dualism (separation of sacred and profane), and pantheism (God and creation are indistinguishable).

CAC faculty member Cynthia Bourgeault shares Panikkar’s conviction that Trinity is all about relationship:  

One of the great pioneers of contemporary interreligious dialogue, Panikkar worked on the Trinity for most of his long and productive scholarly career. Between his early The Holy Trinity (1973) and his magnificent Christophany (2004) lie more than thirty years of increasingly subtle scholarship as he . . . comes to see the Trinity more and more as a dynamic mandala, entrusted in a particular way to Christianity but universal in its scope, illuminating the “dynamism of the real.”

Cosmotheandric is the term Panikkar invents to describe this dynamic relational ground. The word itself is the fusion of cosmos (world), theos (God), and andros (man) and suggests a continuous intercirculation among these three distinct planes of existence in a single motion of self-communicating love. The gist of this idea is already fully there in those profound images that cascade from Jesus’s mouth in the farewell discourses of John 13-17: “I am the vine, you are the branches; abide in me as I in you” (John 15:4); “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us. . . . I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one” (John 17:21-23).

The vision is of a dynamic, interabiding oneness whose “substance” is inseparable from the motion itself. Panikkar is emphatic that “being is a verb, not a substance,” [2] and the Trinity is the indivisible expression of the mode of this beingness. All speculation on the “substance” of the individual divine persons (as has dominated Western metaphysics for more than fifteen hundred years) thus starts off on a fundamental misperception; for, as Panikkar sees it, “the Trinity is pure relationality.” [3]

I (Richard) think this is very hard for Western individualists to comprehend. We like to assert our separateness and our specialness, which is the low-level preoccupation of the ego. Only the soul understands itself as radical relatedness. It knows that we are all good with one another’s goodness and sinful with one another’s sin.

References:
[1] Raimon Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man (Orbis Books: 2004), 116.

[2] Ibid., 129.

[3] Ibid., 173.

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity (Shambhala: 2013), 85.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

Practical Participation
Monday, May 13, 2019

The all-powerful truth of the Trinity is the Father, who created us and keeps us within him. The deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we all are enfolded. The exalted goodness of the Trinity is our beloved Lord: we are held in him and he is held in us. We are enclosed in the Father, we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are enclosed in us. All Power. All Goodness. All Wisdom. One God. One Love. —Julian of Norwich [1]

Over the next few days I’ll share other writers’ perspectives on Trinity which have helped form and clarify my own thinking. Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s (1952–1997) book, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, has helped to make the Trinity once again practical and participative more than mere abstract theology. LaCugna wrote:

The doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately a practical doctrine with radical consequences for Christian life. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity, which is the specifically Christian way of speaking about God, summarizes what it means to participate in the life of God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. The mystery of God is revealed in Christ and the Spirit as the mystery of love, the mystery of persons in communion who embrace death, sin, and all forms of alienation for the sake of life. Jesus Christ, the visible icon of the invisible God, discloses what it means to be fully personal, divine as well as human. The Spirit of God, poured into our hearts as love (Romans 5:5), gathers us together in the body of Christ, transforming us so that “we become by grace what God is by nature,” namely, persons in full communion with God and with every creature. . . .

Christians believe that God bestows the fullness of divine life in the person of Jesus Christ, and that through the person of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit we are made intimate partakers of the living God (theosis, divinization). . . .

God is not self-contained, egotistical and self-absorbed but overflowing love, outreaching desire for union with all that God has made. The communion of divine life is God’s communion with us in Christ and as Spirit. . . .

God moves toward us so that we may move toward each other and thereby toward God. The way God comes to us is also our way to God and to each other: through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is our faith, confessed in creed and celebrated in the sacraments.

Confessing faith is incomplete unless it becomes a form of life. Living faith in the God of Jesus Christ means being formed and transformed by the life of grace of God’s economy: becoming persons fully in communion with all; becoming Christ to one another; becoming by the power of the Holy Spirit what God is: love unbounded, glory uncontained.

References:
[1] Julian of Norwich, Fourteenth Revelation, chapter 54, See The Showings of Julian of Norwich, trans. Mirabai Starr (Hampton Roads: 2013), 149-150.

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1991), 1, 3, 15, 377.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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Trinity: Part 2

Only Emptiness Is Prepared for Fullness
Sunday, May 12, 2019

In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:
His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself.
Philippians 2:5-7

Could this first stanza from one of the earliest hymns of the church be applied not only to Jesus, but also to the entire Trinity? I believe so. The Three all live as an eternal and generous self-emptying, the Greek word being kenosis.

The Franciscan philosopher/theologian Bonaventure (1221–1274) described the Trinity as a fountain fullness of Love. Picture three buckets on a moving waterwheel. Each bucket fills and empties out, then swings back to be filled again. The Father empties into the Son, nothing held back. The Son empties into the Spirit, nothing held back. The Spirit empties into the Father, nothing held back. The reason they can empty themselves out is they know they will be filled again. They know that the center of the universe is infinite love.

But if you don’t believe that infinite love is the center of the universe, you live in a scarcity model where there’s never enough—food, money, security, health care, mercy—to go around. You can’t risk letting go because you’re not sure you’ll be refilled. If you’re protecting yourself, if you’re securing your own image and identity, then you’re still holding on. Your ego remains full of itself, which is the opposite of kenosis. This is the nature of almost all human institutions and systems created by the egoic mind.

Interestingly, the names, roles, and energies of each member of the Trinity are interchangeable. It’s not that important to typecast the Father as the only infinite one, the Son as the only immanent one, or the Spirit as the only intimate one. All is absolutely given to the other and let go of; but for the sake of human understanding, it’s helpful to identify three persons with different functions and gifts.

When all three of those divine qualities start drawing you, and when you’re at home with Infinity, Immanence, and Intimacy—all Three—you’re living inside Trinitarian spirituality.

I have often noticed these divine qualities in people who are marginalized, oppressed, called “poor,” or “mentally disabled” more than in many others. They have to trust love. They need communion. They know that only the vulnerable people understand them. They want to be in mutual relationship. They find little ways to serve others. They know that only a suffering God can save them.

You can take such a pattern as a sign that one lives in God. People filled with the flow will always move away from any need to protect their own power and will be drawn to solidarity with the powerless, the edge, the bottom, the plain, and the simple. They have all the power they need—and it always overflows, and like water seeks the lowest crevices to fill. No wonder Christians begin their spiritual journey by being dipped into water.

References:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Trinity: The Soul of Creation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download; and

Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 90-91.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau
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