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The Daily Dharma – August 2, 2021

Continuing from Mystical Christianity: A Critique from Within

Abstract oil painting of a bright white light with a colorful tail of red, orange and yellow colors flying through a dark violet background.
Soar Painting Seamus Berkeley

In my own Catholic tradition, the official church has invariably kept mystics, hermits, charismatic types, and “prayer people” at arms’ length – at least until they have been dead for a hundred years and can be sanitized. I understand this, because their experiences usually cannot be packaged for mass consumption. In fact, I am convinced that most of the major beliefs and doctrines of the Christian churches can be understood, relished, and effectively lived only by nondual consciousness, by contemplatives, by people who know how to be present to the naked and broad now (i.e., Jesus is “fully human and fully divine,” Mary is both virgin and mother, bread is still bread and yet Jesus, etc.). They alone know deeply and include widely. As Karl Rahner is often quoted as saying, “The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ . . . or he will cease to be anything at all.”

The great mystics of every tradition invite us to know better, to draw from the resources of our own tradition and see in a way that honors debate, reason, and order while also moving beyond them. Can we answer the mystics’ invitation? Can we begin to attain the mystical gaze Rahner suggests we must? I think we are on the very edge of history – and about to be edged over – by the depth of the need and from the depths of our own desire.

Richard Rohr
from The Naked Now; Learning to See as the Mystics See