Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

A picture of a young boy in an orange shirt holding a spindle of red string while is left hand grasps a section of the thin red string.

True Self and False Self:
Week 1

Sacred Breathing: All of It Is!
Friday, August 11, 2017

All people have access to their True Self from their very first inhalation and exhalation, which is the very sound of the sacred. It is the literally unspeakable Jewish name for God, YHWH. It cannot be spoken but only breathed: inhaling and exhaling with open lips. [1] It is the first and last “word” you will ever utter—most likely without knowing it.

William Stafford (1914-1993) described the True Self in his poem, “The Way It Is”:

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread. [2]

This thread is the True Self. And your True Self is who you are and always have been in God. At its core, your True Self is love. Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower. Most of human history has referred to the True Self as your “soul” or “your participation in the eternal life of God.” The great surprise and irony is that “you,” or who you think you are, had nothing to do with your True Self’s original creation. All you can do is nurture it, which is saying quite a lot. It is love becoming love in this unique form called “me.”

We are allowed to ride life and love’s wonderful mystery for a few years—until life and love reveal themselves as the same thing, which is the final and full message of the risen Christ, life morphing into a love that is beyond space and time. Christ literally breathes shalom and forgiveness into the universal air (John 20:22-23). You get to add your own finishing touches of love, your own life breath to the Great Breath, and then return the completed package to its maker in a brand-new, yet same form. It is indeed the same “I,” but now it is in willing union with the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). It is no longer just one, but not two either.

Note that Stafford doesn’t instruct you to not let go of the thread; rather, he offers a promise, foretelling the future: “You don’t ever let go of the thread.” Why? Because you can’t. Love has you. Love is you. Love, and your deep need for love, recognizes Love itself. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. Any fear that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is “absurd” (Romans 3:3, JB). Love finally overcomes fear. Your house is being rebuilt on a new and solid foundation. This foundation was always there, but it takes us a long time to find it; remember, “it is love alone that lasts” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Gateway to Silence:
I am love. 

References:

[1] See Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 25-26.
[2] William Stafford, The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press: 1998), 42.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 25, 176-179.

Self-Paced Online Studies

The Center for Action and Contemplation offers online courses to connect spiritual seekers around the globe. Explore Father Richard’s teachings in conversation with others.

Breathing Under Water: A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps
August 30-October 25, 2017

Immortal Diamond: A Study in Search of the True Self
September 13-November 22, 2017

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October 4-November 22, 2017

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Daily Meditations:
Rebuilding Christianity “From the Bottom Up”

Drawing from his own Franciscan heritage and other wisdom traditions, Richard Rohr reframes neglected or misunderstood teachings to reveal the foundations of contemplative Christianity and the universe itself: God as loving relationship.

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