We Do What We Are Called to Do

I get daily reflections from Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation. This morning I opened my e-mail to find this excerpt from Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, a wonderful book I wrote about when I was reading it a year or so ago.

This morning’s excerpt is a succinct exposition of a state we hopefully are all moving toward

In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us. We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves. Ironically we are more than ever before in a position to change people—but we do not need to—and that makes all the difference.

We have moved from doing to being to an utterly new kind of doing that flows almost organically, quietly, and by osmosis. Our actions are less compulsive. We do what we are called to do, and then try to let go of the consequences. We usually cannot do that very well when we are young.

Now we aid and influence people simply by being who we are. Human integrity probably influences and moves people from potency to action more than anything else. An elder’s deep and studied passion carries so much more power than superficial and loudly stated principles. Our peace is needed more than our anger.

Our growth and maturity is not about caring less about the world and those around us. But it is about letting go of the ego, about acting out of love and not compulsion, and about simply being who we are.


Non-Dualistic Thinking

One final post prompted by my reading of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upwards.

Rohr gives one the simplest, yet completely accurate description of dualistic thinking. He writes that dualistic thinking is the “well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison. And for some reason, once you compare or label things (that is, judge) you almost always conclude that one is good and the other is less good or even bad.”

Rohr presents “seven C’s of delusion, suggesting that the dualistic mind compares, competes, conflicts, conspires, condemns, cancels out any contrary evidence, and crucifies with impunity.

In contrast, when we grow into nondualistic thinking (he also uses the terms contemplative thinking and both-and thinking), “you no longer need to divide the field of every moment between up and down, totally right or totally wrong, with me or against me. It just is. This calm allows you to confront what must be confronted with even greater clarity and incisiveness.

Dualistic thinking is not inherently bad. Rohr suggests it is very helpful – even necessary – in the first half of life. The hope, however, is that as we move to the second-half of life, we can grow from dualistic thinking to nondualistic thinking. “Nondualistic thinking presumes that you have first mastered dualistic clarity, but also found it insufficient for the really big issues like love, suffering, death, God, and any notion of infinity. In short, we need both.”

For what it is worth, regarding how we move to nondualistic thinking, I think Rohr’s The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See is an wonderful book to read.