Sunday, August 28, 2011

the contemplative mind

Photo by Thomas Merton
"I think the contemplative mind is the most absolute assault on the secular or rational worldview, because it really is a different mind—a different point of view.

"The mind that I call the "small self” or the "false self” reads everything in terms of personal advantage, short-term effort, “What's in it for me?”—and “How will I look?”, “How will I look good?” As long as you read reality from the reference point of the small self of “how I personally feel” or “what I need or want,” you cannot get very far. The lens never opens up.

"Thus the great religions have taught that we need to change the seer much more than just telling people what to see—that is contemplation."  - Fr. Richard Rohr OFM
I don't know how you change (transform) the mind other than by meditation / contemplative prayer or profound suffering.  Fr. Thomas Keating says that with contemplative prayer one can find in a short time what can take 20 years in a monastery. 

This is what Gerry Straub had to say this week:
"Faith, hope and love, the triptych of the spiritual life, are nurtured stillness. The art of contemplating divine truths grows out of the art of remaining still. The soul that waits on God, patiently and unhurriedly, will eventually be filled with the realization he or she is infinitely loved." - Gerry Straub


  1. interesting - i've been thinking about this kind of thing lately - the marxist prof lecture i was listening to criticizes xtianity for always looking to the future, while 8 billion people live in extreme poverty

    waiting on god - sounds kind like beckett -still seems true

    there's something out there in the bushes i say to myself today

    and ghosts in my head - ahhh!

    one thing the prof said i did like which i told my daughter grace last night while we were lamenting our lack of a big screen t.v. - "there is only one religion in america, that people will die and kill for and that is money that is the only real religion in america"

  2. Beth,
    Good posting today....thanks. Two thoughts came to mind. The first was a quote that I saw somewhere (maybe here) some time ago and have had pinned up since.....

    "Religion isn't about believing things. It's about ethical alchemy. It's about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness"....Karen Armstrong

    I like this quote as it speaks to the need for one to take personal responsibility to enact your own changes prior to the gifts arriving. Perhaps enacting one's own changes is a gift to the self before one realizes the benefits and blessings that will come one's way. In a sense then the whole process is a gift.

    I like the Richard Rohr quote and believe it's true although I'd change the phrase "we need to change the seer" to "the seer needs to change the seer". Not trying to be critical of the quote as I think this is what Rohr is really saying it just seems that by using "we" there is a danger of having some expectation of being changed by others or led by others. It seems to me that community can be supportive but it's really a deep personal work. Maybe I go too far. Maybe not.

    This is my second time commenting on your site although I've been following it for some time and clicking all over the place here. I saw once or twice that you mentioned Jim Finley and have seen Richard Rohr mentioned before as well. Details aren't out yet but the two of them will be presenting a three day conference in February at Loyoly Marymount University here in the Los Angeles area. Thought you might like to know.

    This being my second time commenting I decided that there is no reason to be "anonymous" so the name is Robert.

    Thanks again for what you offer to us all......


  3. I think that I agree with you, g. monkey, about money being the real religion of america. I love it that Grace hears that message early in her life.

    You know, Simone Weil has a book "waiting for god". I read it awhile ago and now you have me wondering if it correlates with what Gary is saying.

    Welcome back to the comments box, Robert. I'm never sure who's out there and it's nice to know that other people are on the sort of same wavelength that I am.

    I think that Rohr, being a Franciscan priest, identifies himself with the Church and uses we in that sense. The Church should be more concerned with helping people with this personal transformation - new way of seeing. But I agree with you that it is deep personal work. Inner work. I just don't see how we can grow until and unless we honestly look at and deal with what we're doing, at a very personal level. I've found that it takes me a lot of journaling, and centering prayer (and welcoming prayer) have been real gifts. I don't know if I would have come to these things other than through the efforts of the monks (Trappists and Benedictine). In my opinion, they take psycho therapy to another (simpler) level: prayer. Yet they water down nothing. Anyway, I'm getting carried away. Thanks for reading!

    PS (I just love this Merton photo of the paint cans. He really had an eye for form.)

  4. The paint can photo is worth loving. Intersting that it's "a trinity" of sorts. Seen like that I'm reminded how important it is to realize that I've no need to go anywhere on this journey but that the beauty and grace of things is "right here" in plain view in the simplest of things. It's there even if I'm not paying attention and seeing it. It cares not what I'm doing. There is a continual offering coming my way. Slowly I'm learning to quietly pay attention. The slow grinding awakening. Pretty cool.

  5. Yep, we're surrounded by it and immersed in it, and it really doesn't matter if we know it or not, but it sure is cool when we get those "glimpses", Robert!

    You're really lucky to be having Rohr and Finley there at the same time. They both always have something to say to me. I had read a couple of Finley's books (and really liked them), but only recently heard him speak (via CD). There was something very calm and gentle in his way of speaking that made his message penetrate to a deep place. At least that's how I experienced it. I was resonating with what he was saying at a place deeper than I was consciously aware of. Glad that the Jesuits are maintaining their prophetic edge out there in LA. I've recently heard that "good" Catholics are calling Richard Rohr a heretic. What a pity.

  6. The good news about Rohr being labelled a heretic is one, he's in good company looking back over time, and two, it shows he's on track with the truth. The "callers" are usually just scared.


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