This looks like a good one:
The Third Eye: (Newly Released)
Contemplation and Non-Dual Consciousness
"To know who you are in God is to know the true self." This theme from Fr. Richard's upcoming book to be published in 2008. To understand our live through "thinking" only, is to miss much of our humanness and to be caught in a consciousness of duality. We must bring back the ancient prayer of nonthinking, of being re-minded of what we knew once. We do this through awareness, contemplation and a practice of silence and stillness. Without this third eye, "we are not able to see the human in Jesus and we are not able to see God in ourselves." - Fr. Richard Rohr
Sounds like zen.
"We must bring back the ancient prayer of nonthinking, of being re-minded of what we knew once. We do this through awareness, contemplation and a practice of silence and stillness."
We've addressed this from various angles, especially seeing how such an approach verges on Quietism, although I'm not giving him a fair shake with such an excerpt. The article wasn't directly linked.
"Without this third eye, "we are not able to see the human in Jesus and we are not able to see God in ourselves."
What does he mean? That to encounter Jesus one must silence the mind? That's not the witness of Christian mystical traditions, as far as I know them. Most folks aren't looking for a relationship with Jesus, or any deity, when practicing non-dual meditation. As Phil said, it sounds much more like Zen than Christian meditation.
If the excerpt doesn't have a significantly different context, then Rohr is not even taking pains to clarify the important differences between prayer and meditation in Christian practice. He's mixing metaphors, and taking poetic license, but that's not necessarily even practically useful. There's a lot of implied need to equate things that aren't, from each pov, the same.
One other thing that has always puzzled me about these notions is the glossing over the automated nature of the mind. From a Christian pov we could say it is simply the mind's fallen nature to continuously generate thought, whether we intend or not. And it is easy enough to know this regardless of religious orientation. Nobody can still the mind. It is simply impossible except for a few seconds. Even a full minute probably includes the internal dialogue proferring the thought of "not thinking."
You may know this, but in Christian teaching, if in fact the mind is stilled, it is usually understood to be a state in response to infused contemplation, or the work of supernatural grace. For Teresa of Avila, as I understand her, the "Prayer of Quiet," a prelude or foretaste of infused contemplation, there is no need to silence the mind, or even for the mind to be silent. And it may also be the case for infused contemplation where the mind can dilly dally while the will and affections are taken up in the Holy Spirit.
Rohr uses the term "infused contemplation" to refer to "natural contemplation" and says this is what Eckhart Tolle teaches. He clearly doesn't know the language of our mystical tradition nor its rich history of discernments on these matters.
Nevertheless, I should read the book before critiquing it. Already, however, I'm left wondering what he means by a "consciousness of duality" and what the heck could possibly be wrong with that? If he means the kind of judgmentalism that goes around pronouncing good and bad on things and events that are neither, then count me in. From what appeared in his magazine, however, I think he means something else, and it's not contemplative unity.
Originally posted by w.c.:
"From a Christian pov we could say it is simply the mind's fallen nature to continuously generate thought, whether we intend or not."
When and how does the fall occur in relation to the development of language (when presumably this automated thinking began)? I've thought of the fall as the moment creation becomes distinct from God, at the big bang or before. But was there ever a time when the human mind was still ie. pre the development of language, a time, early in our evolution, when we had silence - a paradise of the mind. Or, given that the subconscious pre-dates language, were our minds at one point a riot of images and symbols, a riot of restless energy? Hard to know for sure. All of this is necessarily cloaked in mystery.
Feel free to open another thread if needs be.
I've been getting into the Orthodox writers recently. So far as I understand it, their view is that logismoi or thoughts are temptations. It is being seduced or distracted by these thoughts that is the problem. The solution is nepsis or vigilance, and hesychia or stillness. But I don't know if they believe there ever was a time, before the Fall, when there were no thoughts. Maybe someone who's read more than I have can enlighten us!
I just thought I'd bring the book to your attention since I saw you were discussing non-duality in another thread.
"Sounds like Zen". So is that good?
WC, I did paste the direct link; at least I thought I did.. I don't know what happened.
Seems you all have your mind made up concerning non duality? Actually I think non duality can mean different things to different people.
In the way that I understand and experience it, I understand what Rohr is saying. But then maybe I am biased.. I used to go to his talks and masses when he was here in Cincinnati :-)
Yes, Phil, maybe you should read the book first.
Derek: "It is being seduced or distracted by these thoughts that is the problem. The solution is nepsis or vigilance, and hesychia or stillness"
Dereck, that is more like my understanding of non duality.. to be vigilant, aware, still... or as Eckhart Tolle says: Being
Katy, for sure, I should read the book before giving a detailed review, and I will. In the meantime, however, what we do have are other writings and talks Fr. Rohr has given on this topic.
"Non-duality" can indeed mean many things, so I hope that he explains his meaning in the book. For the life of me, I don't know why people aren't saying "union" instead . . . unless they intend a pantheistic ontology that fails to recognize a distinction between God and creatures. Alas, that is too often the case.
- - -
Re. thoughts before the Fall . . . are all thoughts bad? Do they all lead away from God? I don't think so. That said, it's quite difficult to know what human consciousness was like before the Fall. Here's Jim Arraj on this topic:
Yes! That is the way I understand it... intuition, instinct, awareness.. a knowing in the depths of their hearts.. I think the trouble started with the tower of Babel.. people been babbling ever since. :-) :-) :-)
Why aren't people saying "union" instead? I don't know.. too many different words and terms for the same concept. The same with spirit and soul.. they are often used interchangably, but from what I studied on the topic there is a big difference between the two.. then add "heart", "mind" and other words.
Stephen, Derek, others with the stomach for it:
See the new thread "Evolution of Consciousness" on the Religion and Culture forum. Bring some beer and pretzels.
Is it necessary to make a distinction then between the Fall of man, in this evolved state, and the fall of nature? Presumably earth wasn't a paradise before the human Fall, and there would be conflict and violence among these pre-human groups. Or was nature created just as it is, kind of perfect, or complete, in its instability and flux?
As you know, a literal interpretation of scripture (and even Paul in Romans) suggests that mankind's Fall resulted in a fall of nature, resulted in death etc. Obviously these hominids knew death.
Stephen, I've never understood the "fall of nature" to imply that prior to the fall, there was no death with the plants and animals. I think nature was just as it is now, only after the Fall, the relationship between human beings and nature became perverted from the disharmonious relationship between humans and the creation.
The traditional understanding has also been that the first humans were not destined to die. Some take this to mean "spiritual death" and others mean that even the body itself was to live forever. Hard to sort that one out.
Phil, and all
Well said, Phil, about the relationship between humans and creation.
Also I believe that the body itself was destined to live forever; that humans died spiritually and eventually died physically. When Jesus became the new Adam, he caused us to be able to live forever once again. My favorite subject, but I guess this thread is getting off topic.
I finaally discovered the graemlins.
Yes, yes, yes.
We have BINGO!!!
See this .
Howdy folks. I have a two day interregnum of my Floridian vacation for grass-cutting, school registration, football physicals and other such chores, then its "back to the beach." Below is a unproofed summary of Fr. Rohr's The Third Eye from some rather sketchy notes. There's nothing new in his approach here except for his emphasis, perhaps, on praxis vis a vis our realization of True Self.
Father Rohr spent five weeks, this past Lent, in a hermitage, in solitude. He spent this time reflecting and writing a new book, The Third Eye. On Easter Monday, he made a presentation of an outline of these thoughts and this conference is available in a 4 CD set.
It�s not until the 3rd CD of this 4 CD presentation that Fr. Rohr speaks directly to or defines the Third Eye per se. His use of this descriptor, he then explains, is derived from two 11th Century monks, Hugh and Richard of the Monastery of St. Victor in Paris. The flowering of this thinking in his Franciscan tradition, he tells us, took place in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Although the metaphor is similar to the same concept of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, it is independent of those in that there was no contact between those and this Christian conceptualization.
As I mentioned elsewhere, we are talking about the eyes of 1) sense, 2) reason and 3) faith.
Basically, Fr. Rohr is amplifying his teaching on contemplative living, which continues to be heavily informed by his love of Thomas Merton. He makes frequent references to Merton, False Self and True Self and compares and contrasts them in many different ways, using many different adjectives and metaphors.
Fr. Rohr likes the word �realization� and sees it as being richer than the word �experience� for he describes the robust encounter of God as a �total body blow,� where not only head and heart are engaged but the body, too. Unfortunately, we �localize knowing� and too often try to access God only in the top 3 inches of the body and only on the left side at that. This dualistic, binary or dyadic thinking, which we employ in math, science and engineering, or when we are driving a car, is of course good and necessary. It is the mind that �divides the field� into classes and categories and then applies labels through compare and contrast exercises. It is the egoic mind that is looking for control and order, but, unforunately, also superiority. It can lead to both intellectual and spiritual laziness, however, to an egoic operating system (Cynthis Bourgeault), which views all through a lens of �How does it affect me?�
An aside: Rohr says that all that participates in love in our lives is forever, even your dog. So, there�s one view of heaven among others.
The contemplative mind goes beyond the tasks of the dualistic mind to deal with concepts like love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. It doesn�t need to �divide the field� for such tasks.
The contemplative mind is practicing heaven in that it sees the Divine image as being �equally distributed� and present in all others. We see that presence, honor it and know it. The contemplative mind starts each moment with �yes.� It is vulnerable before the moment, opening �heart space.� It is present to people and does not put them in a box. So, in our primary level encounter with others, we do not prejudge. At the secondary and tertiary level, a �no� may be absolutely necessary. Once you know you can say �yes,� then it is important to be able to say �no,� when appropriate.
Rohr makes clear, in his words, that we �include previous categories� and �retain what we learn in early stages.� Our goal, in his words, is to master both dualistic and nondualistic thinking.
We must go beyond (not without) that part of our tradition that was informed mostly by Greek logic in order to be more open to paradox and mystery. Rohr described some of the early apophatic and nondual elements of the Christian tradition, especially in the first three centuries with the Desert Mothers and Fathers, especially in the Orthodox and eastern Christian churches, and describing John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila as the last supernovae. The apophatic and unknowing tradition has not been constant. For 400 years after these Carmelites there has been no real tradition. He credits Merton with almost single-handedly retrieving authentic contemplative teaching that has not been taught for almost 500 years. This type of mysticism, he, like Merton says, is available to all but it takes a type of humility to �let go of our control tower.�
We and others are living tabernacles, even given the contrary evidence. That God dwells in us is the foundation of human dignity.
Fr. Rohr discusses the Gift of Tongues in this contemplative vein and notes that when it died out, prayer-based beads emerged. He apparently went on to discuss prayer beads in other traditions but that part was truncated.
Fr. Rohr notes that the East and West differ in that more emphasis is placed on discipline, practice and asceticism in the East, while, in the West, we emphasize surrender and trust.
Our Christian path is more one of letting go and yielding of self. He believes that most of us, a very high percentage, have enjoyed unitive moments, but that there was no one there to say �that�s it.� He thinks that it would be useful to retrieve our contemplative tradition because we apparently need some degree of discipline or practice to keep seeing and trusting our unitive moments, our union, our communion. The Spirit will thus teach us all things and re-mind you that you are in union with God, that you are select; you are chosen; you are beloved. We need to learn how to live in communion, now, for that is what we�ll enjoy in heaven.
Fr. Rohr then describes practices that open up this contemplative mind: silence, stillness, solitude, patience about needing to know everything, poetry, art, body movement, music, humility and redemptive listening. He describes how we need to stand back and compassionately and calmly observe reality, without initial regard for how it affects us, but to see persons and events nakedly, seeing our drama almost as if it wasn�t us. If we cannot thus detach, then we are over-identified. Whenever we�re defensive, it is usually our false self. What characterizes an addict is typically all or nothing thinking. We do not hate the False Self. We must simply see it. It is not our �bad� self, just not our �true� self. We need to better learn to hold together opposites and contradictions. A modern retrieval of our ancient practices of contemplative seeing can foster this type of nonjudging awareness. Rohr says that a master of nondual thinking needs to also be a master of dualistic thinking. Our Catholic tradition has great wisdom in retaining icon and art and symbols and music. The primary teachers of this approach to God and others and all of reality are great love and great suffering. Our primary paths have been suffering and prayer.
When head and heart and body are all connected, that is prayer. This, says Fr. Rohr, is not esoteric teaching. Everybody has the Holy Spirit!
What appears to be the new theme emerging from Fr. Rohr�s latest thought is that of supplementing and complementing our traditional approach to belief-based religion with more practice-based religion. In particular, he sees great wisdom in retrieving those practices which have been lost or deemphasized that we can better cultivate a contemplative outlook. In prayer, we are like �tuning forks� that come in to God�s presence and seek to abide inside of a resonance with God. We need to set aside whatever blocks our reception, especially a lack of love or lack of forgiveness.
Fr. Rohr does describe much of Buddhism as gifting one with �practices� and not �conclusions.�
Be well, everyone!
Back to those dang jellyfish and, yes, no joking, even sharks. I saw one ten yards off the beach in shallow water, Saturday!
Phil, I hope Louisiana was good to you! I did have fried oysters and cold beer in Florida! And thought about ya
None of that, as you say, sounds new. Attempts to develop a sound psychological basis go back to Adrian Van Kaam, or perhaps earlier with W. Norris Clark and other Thomists embracing phenomenology. And I do support the urgency of Rohr in bringing, or seeing, psychological depth in our spiritual traditions, or where it needs to be culled from obscurity in centuries of tradition. And in some important ways this psychological depth was simply missing. One senses its presence in the actual lives of the saints, but less so in their teachings where ascetical practices may have been overly harsh, if not for all, then certainly for various personalities. But John of the Cross, for instance, seemed quite gentle with his directees, while harsh to himself, at least from our persepctive. So I do think there is ample room for fresh psychological air.
The hazard, however, is in not emphasizing clearly enough the distinction between supernatural grace and natural mysticism, as Phil has pointed out again and again. And I know you see this too, but you leave Rohr perhaps too much uncritical space to meander. For this distinction is almost unique to Christianity and Judaism (Sufism?) - where God and creation are completely ontologically seperate. Where the soul is completely saturated (to its own limits) with supernatural presence is exactly where only the saint can speak clearly, or in silence. The rest of us can only infer, and often infer wrongly, as I suspect BR's has of John of the Cross.
So just as Rohr, in the brief review you give, may highlight the need for a better psychology, it may be left to somebody else to point out his errors. For myself, it is just unbelievable that somebody would mistaken the two - supernatural grace and natural mysticism - after experiencing them both. And if having experienced them both, the descriptions are quite easily made, at least for the simple purpose of avoiding confusion. And so where Rohr may fail to do this it is hard to conceive as an accident, or the result of poorly chosen words or concepts.
The growth or enlightenment he describes, beyond momentary "unitive" experiences, requires supernatural grace and its unwelcome path of transformation via aridity, none of which he speaks of, at least in your review. Nobody can even truly desire this fully without such grace, so speaking of it as a kind of goal from within the existential spirit of creation isn't entirely helpful without pointing out the pre-venient nature of grace.
w.c., I cannot speak for Rohr, of course, but y'all seriously misunderstand him, in my estimation. I have been immersed in his thought and in Merton's, on whom he relies heavily, and so have had less concern, better positioned to give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. I did, after all, properly anticipate what he was going to be about vis a vis the Third Eye over against a more jaundiced view.
I can only reiterate this response to Phil
I also responded to Phil as follows and it speaks to this concern:
All that said, it could be that Rohr's apparent conflation of "infused" and "natural" contemplation was a typo and should have read "supernatural."
More likely, though, he is not talking about natural mysticism whatsoever when he uses the term "natural contemplation." Because of his heavy reliance on Merton, my most educated guess would be that, when Rohr uses the term "natural contemplation," his meaning is the same as Merton's. These distinctions date back to the early Church Fathers and are not the same being drawn by Jacques Maritain, on whom Merton also heavily relied.
In this usage of the word natural, it is not being distinguished from supernatural, such as when Maritain distinguished natural mysticism. Natural contemplation, in this other sense, is not called natural with respect to its origin but with respect to its object. As William Shannon explains:
Also, Wayne Teasdale:
All that said, as I mentioned previously, Merton would not see the distinction between such as supernatural and acquired contemplation as differing other than in degree, where the Holy Spirit is concerned. And the same thing would apply to the Holy Spirit being active even in what we call natural mysticism (as distinct from natural contemplation). There is certainly a distinction to be made vis a vis fullness of realization or experience of the Holy Spirit, as would be expected for those blessed with the unmerited gift of moving, as I said, "more swiftly and with less hindrance toward this Giver of all good gifts."
Where Rohr is concerned, I badly do not want our concerns to be interpreted as overwrought, our rhetoric as overheated or excessiviely pejorative, especially when his errors, to me, are only "so-called". I do not want to have my charitable interpretations of him construed as disingenuous either. If I am strident, it is only because I am very much in earnest. This is a difficult medium with no nonverbal cues, so I toss out those caveats for any casual passers-by, who do not know the history of our long friendships.
I hope this helps. I would contribute more but am very out-of-pocket with vacationing.
I mentioned, on the nonduality thread, the dialogue between the transcendental thomists and their account of thematic grace and the peirceans and their account of grace as transmuted experience. The Lonerganian account of conversion does clearly distinguish between the secular conversions (intellectual, affective, moral and social) and religious conversion, but its theological anthropology is still very optimistic with its transcendental thomism. The Peircean account does not see everyone longing spontaneously for the beatific vision, as Rahner and Lonergan might seem to have suggested with their account of the "supernatural existential." What Rohr describes is a more robustly contemplative outlook and prayer life that would be accessible, in my view, to many as they pass from the purgative to the illuminative way, not without occasional, fleeting unitive experiences. This is distinct from abiding in the unitive way and infused contemplation per se. Rohr describes most transformative growth as fostered mostly via prayer and suffering, surrender and trust, as I mentioned. He sees some additional practices as well warranted is all.
Overall I believe the dialogue is good and important. I'll just have to wait and see if Rohr provides the clarity which Phil seems to believe he may be lacking. As you know, I'm keen on supporting processes of self-awareness. However, the relational path of supernatural mysticism isn't necessarily served by referencing the traditions as always needing an eastern-like makeover. Rohr, imo, must take care to avoid this, and, moreover, to avoid similar assumptions about contemplation made by John of the Cross' early translators, which Jim Arraj writes about. With Rohr's roots in Pseudo-Dionysian thought and Merton, he may be susceptible to a blending of acquired and infused contemplation. This is what I'm most wary of, and the loss of the distinction may bode just as poorly for those in the early stages as for those further along the way.
There's been a lot of theology played without a net, when it comes to East-West contemplative dialogue, to be sure. I do not see Merton and Rohr playing on such a court, thanks largely due, as it is, to Maritain. At the same time, I'm not one of those who think all regulation nets are exclusively sanjuanist.
I'm equally, maybe even moreso, concerned with the distinction being overblown into an insidious and arrogant ecclesiocentric pneumatological exclusivism. With Merton, I do see the distinction as being largely defunct on the theoretical level, irrelevant. The experiential differences between prayer forms, too problematical for generic considerations, are, instead, practical concerns that require discernment in a spiritual direction context, which has its own set of caveats. I'm all for cautionary notes, just not a preoccupation with same; they are "notes" and not banner headlines.
Well, given the weight that Rohr's writing may have among Catholics seeking psychological ground for their spiritual aridities, and the tendency among recent Catholic writers (described by Arraj) that falter around this notion, I'd say the experiential distinction is crucial. For those who make the distinction, I'm not aware of it being "blown-up" into what you describe, although knowing such sources would be equally important. For myself, the difference serves the spiritual path during all phases, based-upon what I've known personally so far, and what more mature persons tell me. It is, for instance, a directional support to tell somebody they are making too much effort at a certain jucnture of their prayer life. When I was told this it lead right away into an experience of Teresa's prayer of quiet, and since then into more infused contemplative moments completely "gratis." Prior to that I would have never known such a thing were possible, and this was after nearly 10 years of Buddhist and Hindu meditation. Now, did these previous 10 years help me ripen in terms of psychological readiness? Yes, that seems clear enough.
When I taught, or facilitated, a small prayer class at church, I was reminded of how much sheer effort in prayer is protective or defensive for psychological purposes. We can only stand so much intimacy, or fear its tranformative power (including the loss of our personal identification with the internal dialogue). Without upholding an active distinction between what Teresa describes as "recollection" and "contemplation," we aren't, imo, serving ourselves or others very well. It would be like failing to practically distinguish between the effort of understanding love and just letting ourselves be loved, even on the human level.
There is, I believe, a grace-based effortlessness in Catholic Christian spirituality, where the distinction is upheld, that is often lacking not only in the Oriental traditions, but among Eastern Orthodox and many Protestant churches. It is a richness that can easily get lost today, just as Arraj describes its loss for centuries since St. John of the Cross within his own community. This ease may get lost in too much writing about it, as "props" aren't necessarily supportive; yet, being relational, it is isn't anything like the ease of Zen, or non-dualist teachings.
Hi all. I'm just returning from several days on the road and am catching up on things. Thanks for the review, JB, and the dialogue, w.c. and JB. I'll just have to get and read the book by Rohr to form my own opinion, however.
For sure . . . which is why I'll have to read the book for myself. Evaluating a book or moview on the basis of a review is tricky business.
As Teasedale is quoted above, however, and as I have read that book and we discussed it as a Heartland Center team, I will say that I found him, at times, blurring the distinctions between the different types of mystical experience. At times, he (like Keating) seems to assume that any going beyond thought was apophatic contemplation, and that all apophatic contemplation was pretty much the same thing. I hope you all can see the fallacy, here. I'll have my antennae up to see if Rohr steers clear of this erroneous assumption.
- - -
from JB: All that said, it could be that Rohr's apparent conflation of "infused" and "natural" contemplation was a typo and should have read "supernatural."
Well, I hope readers are as generous as you are in making allowances for some of the things I've written. In fact, he repeated this conflation twice, which makes the typo explanation unlikely.
- see http://www.cacradicalgrace.org...tian%20Tradition.pdf
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