This weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico 1,800 people are gathered to hear teaching on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
The conference is organized by the Center For Action And Contemplation. Keynote speakers include Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, and William Paul Young.
Richard Rohr spoke first beginning by quoting part of a poem by Mary Oliver, “To Begin With the Sweet Grass” in which Oliver writes:
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?
Behold, I say—behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.
Rohr went on to say:
Without the contemplative mind, the rest of our church life, theology, and practice doesn’t go to any depth. It doesn’t transform.
All attempts to reform that begin with dualistic thinking leave us in an ocean of confusion.
Our job is to teach people to see. The divine way of thinking says you don’t get to know something and then love it; you must love something first and then you will come to know it. You make a silent gaze at anything and you begin to see from a more whole place.
For too long we have begun with analysis and calculation which is too small a perspective. The contemplative mind which is the mind of Christ, the divine mind, sees thing more wholely, in their completeness, from a deeper, larger way of seeing.
A paraphrase of Einstein that is said to accurately reflect his teaching says that
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift
The left brain/right brain metaphor is a partial, over-simplified way of describing human consciousness but it describes something that is real.
Left brain consciousness sees meaning in winning and getting more. It analyzes, criticizes, evaluates and sees things in their parts; the only meaning in life it sees is winning and getting ahead of the other. The reasoning mind that was supposed to help has become the master instead of taking the role of servant. We have to find ways to relativize this overbearing calculating mind, otherwise it takes over and we fall prey to repetitive and useless obsessive thinking.
Everyone of us is addicted to our way of thinking. And, when our way of thinking takes over and calls itself “truth,” then we are in trouble. There is no dialogue, no humility, no intuition around reason.
The entire world is symbolic. Everything is a metaphor. We need to see metaphorically. Everything is a pointer beyond itself; this is the early stage of mysticism.
We need to move to full access knowing; we need to shift from thinking in terms of depreciation to appreciation. In depreciation the mind minimizes, whittles things down. Depreciation needs to enter a bigger world. It needs contemplative prayer.
Don’t confuse unity with uniformity.
The genius of the Trinity is that it holds One and Three. Divine unity protects diversity. The contemplative mind has the capacity to see beyond the diversity to the core, the unity.