Father Richard's reflection opens with these words: "Can we care intensely and
passionately and not care at all in the same moment? If we are seeking God's
will and not our own, it comes somewhat easily. We do the best we can, but we
are detached from any need for personal success or response. We can then care
and not care in the same moment. That is true spiritual freedom."
Non-Dual Thinking is the title given by Richard for the day. It is a concept that
is new but very old. I never heard it discussed until Fr. Richard started talking
about it a few years ago. Since then the idea of both/and as opposed to either/or
has changed the way I see and experience so many things.
In his work for today Fr. Richard lists some examples that are helpful for one who
is just beginning to look at non-dual thinking. He says, "All great spiritual
doctrines invariably have the character of paradox to them. For example, we believe
that Jesus is human and divine at the same time. Mary is virgin and mother at
the same time. The Eucharist is bread and Jesus at the same time. God is both
three and one at the same time." Interested isn't it ..... that we could
have been surrounded by this non-dualism while creating systems that are, at
their very foundation, dualistic.
The Question: What are the seemingly irresolvable paradoxes in your life? How do
you deal with them emotionally? Intellectually? Spiritually?
While paradox has not always been my way of thinking, it has been, for a long time, my way of being in the world. In spite of that truth, I had to find my own path to the spiritual
freedom that Richard talks about in the opening paragraph. My route is almost
always circuitous and therefore seldom easy, but I arrive at the right place
often enough to be encouraged by the journey. My path to experiences of this
freedom is paved with four mantras that I have used to teach for the past several
years. I usually teach them in tandum with the Old Testament book of Jonah. But
for this writing I will just speak to each one briefly.
1. Show up ... It is our task every day to show up for life. When presented with paradox some of
us dig in. We grasp for certitude and if certainty is a necessity then it is
impossible to show up for what is.
2. Pay attention ... We seldom pay full attention to things that are not as we want them to be. We are
so set on our own desires and agendas we cannot pay attention to what is, as
it is and often our habitual way of seeing will be dualistic.
3. Tell the truth ... Truthtelling may be a lost art. But if we can learn to tell the truth then we
are on the raod to being able to hear the truth. As Fr. Richard teaches us today,
many of the great truths are paradoxical. So I struggle to understand why we
ended up in a world where black and white, either/or thinking has replaced what
is true. Perhaps we have ended up here because we have grown so sure of ourselves
we think we can replace the truth with our personal beliefs and agendas. That
is an illusion
4. Don't get attached to the results ... This one is, by far, the most difficult for me. The big problem with getting
attached to the results is that it is that the attachment is accompanied by expectation.
And, as Ann Lamott says so well, "Every expectation is resentment waiting
In answering today's questions for myself I know what paradoxes are challenging me.
I'll share one that I am trying to find peace with.
My work means something .. and .. my work is like one drop of water in the ocean.
All I can do is prepare and show up for every commitment I've made and then offer the best teaching I am capable of
that day and in that moment.
Then I must pay attention to all that presents itself to me and take it as it is. If I am not open and attentive
my habitual ways of thinking will color how I see and hear and we most often
take in information dualistically.
It is my responsibility to tell the truth as I understand it at the time and then to be as honest as I can in acknowledging
all that I do not know.
And then I need to let it all be, not attaching to any results, knowing that I have done what was mine to do.
In that context my work does mean something and I can allow it to be what it is ....
important and insignificant at the same time.