Mittwoch, 15. Juli 2015

Zusammenfassung keltische und native Spiritualität (Schöpfungsspiritualität)

aus den daily meditations von Richard Rohr
Sunday, July 5, 2015 - Saturday, July 11, 2015
Lived outwardly, the inner experience of union moves us toward compassion, justice, and inclusivity. (Sunday)

One of the non-dual gifts of Celtic and Native traditions is their openness to inspiration and wisdom from nature, beauty, and signs and symbols that speak deeply to the unconscious. (Monday)

We are called to live in harmony with each other and all created things. (Tuesday)

We must now rebuild on a foundation of original goodness, not any original curse or sin. (Wednesday)

When we forget the roundness of life, the inter-being of all creatures and the Creator, we lose our sense of true identity and belonging--to that very circle. (Thursday)

Initiation teaches you that both dark and light, joy and grief, good and evil are part of the journey. (Friday)

Intimacy with Creation
"In every religion we find the need to consecrate our participation in the natural world. This is especially evident in the tribal religions of native peoples. Their songs and prayers express a great courtesy toward the natural world. For example, the refrain 'We return thanks' in the thanksgiving ritual of the Iroquois Indians--first to our mother, the Earth which sustains us, then to the rivers and streams, to the bushes and trees, to the elements, and finally to the Great Spirit who directs all things--reveals the intimacy of their relation with the entire Earth community." [1]

A Navajo chant expresses the depth of this intimacy with, and participation in, nature:

The mountains,
I become part of it . . .
The herbs, the fir tree,
I become part of it.
The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,
I become part of it.
The wilderness, the dew drops, the pollen . . .
I become part of it. [2]

We also are able to "become part of it" when we are aware that we share the Spirit of God with all creation, as the following passage by Celtic theologian Pelagius affirms:

Look at the animals roaming the forest: God's spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God's spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God's spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and sea: God's spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent. . . . When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look even at your crops. God's spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God's spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God's eyes, nothing on the earth is ugly. [3]

Go out into the natural world and look with God's eyes; listen with God's ears; know your place within God's good creation.

[1] Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, ed., Earth Prayers: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations from Around the World (HarperOne: 1991), xxi.
[2] Ibid., 5.
[3] The Letters of Pelagius as quoted by J. Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1997), 10-11.

For Further Study:
J. Philip Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1997)

Richard Rohr, Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004)

Richard Rohr, Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate (Center for Action and Contemplation), CD and MP3 download 

Huston Smith, The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions (Harper Collins: 1986)

Additional Resources:


Aus den daily meditations von Richard Rohr
Friday, July 10, 2015   
Life and grace seem to move us along, often without our notice, toward greater maturity, inclusivity, and non-dual wisdom. But at certain points along the way, we are prone to getting stuck unless we have 1) some kind of initiatory experience, 2) some healing rites of passage, and 3) almost always the aid of some guides or elders. When our familiar way of living is challenged by any new wisdom, any great love or great suffering, we are unlikely to let go of our past certitudes because the unknown and the lack of control are just too scary. Our culture has unfortunately lost the rather universal tradition of initiation, and there are now few true elders to lead us onward. Instead of rites that encourage us to let go and begin anew, we are urged--both by the Church and by society--to perform better, to do the "right" thing, and to be even more successful. We gun our already existing engines. I believe that without some inner experience of powerlessness, and the wisdom that potentially comes with it, most individuals will misunderstand and abuse power. Paul would call this "the folly of the cross."

Native religions emphasize harmony, balance, and wholeness as the goals that follow from authentic initiation, instead of merely providing people with a list of do's and don'ts. A religion of mere moral requirements, in my experience, just leaves people in a continuous seesaw of deflation and inflation, with a strong undercurrent of denial and delusion. The search for balance and harmony--darkness and light, winter and spring, angels and demons--was the more primitive way of keeping us safely inside the always-truthful paschal mystery of Jesus.

It takes a contemplative mind to be content with such paradox and mystery. The daily calculating mind works in a binary way. Either-or thinking gives one a false sense of control. The small mind works by comparison and judgment; the great mind works by synthesizing and suffering with alternative truths. The ego cannot stand this suffering, and that is exactly why it is so hard for many religious people to grow up. Initiation based religion is not moralistic, but mystical and contemplative, and eventually unitive. It unveils the Great Spirit in all things, and in us, and then we are able to live with all the seeming contradictions in between, with no primal need to eliminate them until we learn what they have to teach us.

Most "primitive" traditions worldwide have initiation rites for both men and women, in various forms. For women these are usually fertility or puberty rites, as with the Navajo people--the Diné--whose Kinaalda ceremony ushers adolescent girls into womanhood. In the Celtic tradition, some people chose voluntary exile from Ireland, a permanent pilgrimage to an unknown destination, placing themselves entirely in God's hands. In Native American vision quests, the initiate cannot return to the village until he knows his sacred name and has met the Great Spirit. Perhaps this pattern of self-discovery of one's true name in God is the heart of initiation (see Revelation 2:17). After all, life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.

We are not just spiritually named; historically, people were usually marked on their body too, like Jacob being wounded on his hip by the angel. The remaining wound tells us that we have gone the distance and completed the necessary cycle. "I can take it, and I am not a victim, but renewed" is the message. No wonder the image of the Risen Christ is still wounded. I wonder if the prevalence of hazing, tattoos, and body piercings is not the secular substitution for what young men once sought by fasting, circumcision, scarification, shaving of heads, and knocking out of teeth. True initiation marks you indelibly and gives you your sacred name, but only when it is accompanied by an interior sacred wounding that reminds you both that life is hard and that you are indeed wounded and powerless before the Mystery of Full Life. [1]

Initiation teaches you that both dark and light, joy and grief, good and evil are part of the journey. No part can be excluded without breaking the whole, which is always a benevolent universe. This is the non-dual reality of our human evolution and existence. Native and Celtic religions depended much more on an initiatory experience that changed your consciousness than on a list of do's and don'ts that were supposed to enlighten you by supposed moral behavior. I have yet to see mere moral behavior enlighten anyone; it does, however, usually make them much easier to live with.

Donnerstag, 9. Juli 2015


aus den daily meditations von Richard Rohr
Thursday, July 9, 2015   
As I've mentioned before, the doctrine of Trinity is a powerful and totally non-dualistic image of reality. The Father, Son, and Spirit, as we named them, share in an endless mutuality of giving and receiving of an infinite love. We too are allowed to participate in this oneing of diversity through unitive consciousness. Reality is radically relational, and the power is in the relationships themselves. If reality is created on the model of the Trinity where Yahweh even speaks in the plural (Genesis 1:26), then intercommunion is the first and final shape of the universe.

The Celts readily welcomed the Christian Trinity perhaps because their own deities took shape in threes. For example "the goddess Bridget appeared in three forms: the goddesses of fire, of poetry, and of fertility, all three named Bridget" [1]. Celtic prayers and poetry are full of references to each member of the Trinity, as in this psalm by Columba (late 6th or early 7th century):

The High First-Sower, the Ancient of Days and unbegotten,
was without any source, limit, or foundation in the beginning and is,
and will be throughout unending ages forever;
With him is the only-begotten one, the Christ;
And the co-eternal Holy Spirit in the constant glory of the Godhead.
We do not claim that there are three gods; rather we declare that God is one,
But not at the expense of believing in three most glorious Persons. [2]

I believe the flowing waterwheel of the Trinity was intuited in the circle and "medicine wheel" of many Native American religions. Many Native images and metaphors take the shape of a circle, an endless ring symbolizing the interconnectedness of all things. In the words of Black Elk, an Oglala holy man:

You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.  

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children. But the Wasichus [white men] have put us in these square boxes. Our power is gone and we are dying, for the power is not in us any more. You can look at our boys and see how it is with us. When we were living by the power of the circle in the way we should, boys were men at twelve or thirteen years of ago. But now it takes them very much longer to mature. [3]

When we forget the roundness of life, the inter-being of all creatures and the Creator, we lose our sense of true identity and belonging--to that very circle. Tomorrow I'll share the gift of initiation as a way of bringing us back to home and center.

[1] Timothy J. Joyce, Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition, a Vision of Hope (Orbis Books: 1998), 19.
[2] "The High First Sower" (The Altus Prosator) by Columba, as quoted by Oliver Davies, ed. trans., Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1999), 405.

[3] John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; As Told Through John G. Neihardt (University of Nebraska Press: 1979), 194-196.

Original Blessing

aus den daily meditations von Richard Rohr
Wednesday, July 8, 2015   
Yet another gift of Native and Celtic spirituality is their unashamed welcome of some kind of "original blessing" instead of starting with a problem like "original sin." Pelagius (354-418), one of the early Christian Celtic writers, opposed the doctrine of original sin coined by his contemporary Augustine. Pelagius saw that beginning with the negative--original sin--would damage rather than aid spiritual development. Beginning with the positive instead of a problem is the healthiest and most hopeful way to find wholeness. The Celts saw creation as good and as a theophany or revelation of God's very being just as Genesis had taught.

Philip Newell writes: "Eriugena, the ninth-century Irish teacher, says that if goodness were extracted from the universe, all things would cease to exist. For goodness is not simply a feature of life; it is the very essence of life. Goodness gives rise to being, just as evil leads to nonbeing or to a destruction and denial of life's sacredness." [1] According to Newell, Pelagius "stressed not only the essential goodness of creation--and our capacity to glimpse what he called 'the shafts of divine light' that penetrate the thin veil dividing heaven and earth--but, very specifically, the essential goodness of humanity. Pelagius maintained that the image of God can be seen in every newborn child and that, although obscured by sin, it exists at the heart of every person, waiting to be released through the grace of God." [2]

Those who live in close proximity to the natural world seem to come to know the universe as benevolent much more easily, despite its inherent violence and changeability. This belief leads to very different values than when your whole worldview begins with a theological or moral problem to be solved.

Huston Smith describes "primal peoples" as "oriented to a single cosmos, which sustains them like a living womb. Because they assume that it exists to nurture them, they have no disposition to challenge it, defy it, refashion it, or escape from it. It is not a place of exile or pilgrimage, though pilgrimages take place within it. Its space is not homogenous; the home has a number of rooms, we might say, some of which are normally invisible. But together they constitute a single domicile. Primal peoples are concerned with the maintenance of personal, social, and cosmic harmony. But the overriding goal of salvation that dominates the historical religions is virtually absent from them." [3] They are not primarily concerned with salvation as a way to escape from a sinful world and go to heaven or the next world. "They make it clear that we humans are not here simply as transients waiting for a ticket to somewhere else. The Earth itself is Christos, is Buddha, is Allah, is Gaia." [4]

Genesis began with six clear statements of original blessing or inherent goodness (Genesis 1:10-31), and the words "original sin" are not in the New Testament. Yet the Church became so preoccupied with the fly in the ointment, the flaw in the beauty that we forgot and even missed out on any original blessing. We saw Jesus primarily as a problem-solver rather than as a revealer of the very heart and image of God (Colossians 1:15f). We must now rebuild on a foundation of original goodness, and not on a foundation of original curse or sin. We dug a pit so deep that most people and most theologies could not get back out of it. You must begin with yes. You cannot begin with no, or it is not a beginning at all. [5]
[1] J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation (Jossey-Bass: 2008), 40.
[2] Newell, Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality (Paulist Press: 1997), 6.
[3] Huston Smith, The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions (Harper Collins: 1986), 377.
[4] Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, Earth Prayers: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations from Around the World (HarperOne: 191), xxi.

[5] Adapted from Richard Rohr, In the Beginning. . . (Center for Action and Contemplation), CD and MP3 download

Dienstag, 7. Juli 2015

The Great Spirit

aus den daily meditations von Richard Rohr
Tuesday, July 7, 2015   
The Romans had conquered much of Europe by the time of Jesus' birth. Yet while they ruled Britain, the Romans never occupied Ireland or parts of Scotland. This allowed the Celtic culture and Christian monks the freedom to thrive independently. They weren't controlled by Roman practicality or Greek thinking. When Christian missionaries arrived by the 3rd century, the Celts blended their pagan or primal spirituality with Christian liturgy, practice, and structure. As a result, Celtic Christianity was still grounded in the natural world, and they had much easier access to a cosmic notion of the Christ. [1] John O'Donohue writes: "For the Celtic people, [the great divinity called] nature was not matter, rather it was a luminous and numinous presence that had depth, possibility and beauty." [2] They had learned to respect the "First Bible" of creation before they started arguing about the second written one.

Perhaps we can think of Celtic Christians as a para-church, on the edge of the inside of organized Christianity. Like the desert fathers and mothers who influenced them, Celtic spirituality focused on rather different things than the mainstream church. The Celts drew on their own cultural symbols and experience to emphasize other values than the symbols of "Roman" Catholicism. For example, Celtic Christianity encouraged the practice of confession to an anam cara or soul friend more than to an ordained priest. They also saw God as a deep kind of listening and speaking presence, as in "The Deer's Cry." In this poem, O'Donohue sees God "pictured in sensuous detail as the divine anam cara. At every moment and in every situation, God is the intimate, attentive and encouraging friend" [3] much more than any kind of offended deity who is "making a list, checking it twice, going to find out who's naughty or nice."

Pelagius (c. 354-418), a British monk and theologian, trusted original blessing more than original sin (which we'll explore tomorrow in greater depth), and focused on the individual's ability, through grace, to grow into fullness. It is a shame that the later tradition ignored his insights to defend Augustine's doctrine of original sin. Some claimed that Pelagius denied the importance of grace whereas he was just emphasizing orthopraxy over mere belief systems. In one of his letters, Pelagius wrote: "You will realize that doctrines are inventions of the human mind, as it tried to penetrate the mystery of God. You will realize that Scripture itself is the work of human minds, recording the example and teaching of Jesus. Thus it is not what you believe that matters; it is how you respond with your heart and your actions. It is not believing in Christ that matters; it is becoming like him." [4]

"Celtic Christianity" doesn't refer to a unified tradition, as there was great variation from place to place. Lacking the structure and support of the organized church, radical forms of Christianity never thrive for very long, starting with Pentecost itself and the first "sharing of all things in common" (Acts 2:44-45), the desert fathers and mothers, and the early Celtic monastics. Unless such groups become strongly institutionalized, and even juridical about it, they tend to be short-lived or very small. Without the Irish monks, much of Celtic practice and thought would not have been passed on to us at all. Not surprisingly, Celtic theologians Scotus Eriugena and Pelagius were later seen as heretics by some of the Church. But para-church movements are wonderful experiments that challenge the rest of us. They are like a new room with a new view offering the rest of us an essential viewpoint that we have often lost. [6] The edges preserve the values that the center does not know how to integrate, as we see today in Twelve Step spirituality and various ministries of healing and forgiveness.

Native American spirituality similarly exists on the edges of society without validation or integration from the government and popular culture. Native lands, of course, were largely invaded by Christian cultures. American Indians were forced to leave their homes. Their children were taken to schools where their culture was often stripped away. Canada has recently concluded a lengthy process of Truth and Reconciliation--fostering transparency and healing for what happened in the Indian residential schools--and I hope the United States will someday follow suit.

From the Native Americans' marginalized position, they have a unique "bias from the bottom" that we would do well to pay attention to. We could learn from them, among other things, that land cannot be owned and Spirit cannot be divided. The Earth and all its inhabitants belong to the Creator who made them. We are called to live in harmony with each other and all created things. Creating harmony is invariably an absolutely central idea in most Native religions. When Pope John Paul II met with the Native Americans in Phoenix, Arizona, he told them that they knew something that is taking Catholics a long time to learn: that the Great Spirit has always been given and is available in the natural world, just as it is written in our own Scriptures (Romans 1:20). Unfortunately, we moved all-knowing of God largely into the realm of argumentative words, which extremely narrowed the field of knowing and actually experiencing. [5]

Montag, 6. Juli 2015

Finding the Sacred Everywhere

Aus den daily mediations von Richard Rohr
Monday, July 6, 2015   
Unfortunately, many of the popular images and ideas about Native and Celtic spirituality are romanticized opinion. Since there are few written primary sources, there is no way to prove or disprove many claims. For all their weaknesses, "religions of the book" have a documented, verifiable tradition. Much of the lore now circulating seems to be based on modern projections--what we wish and imagine Celtic and Native spirituality to be--rather than founded on original sources or solid research.

The Celts did create the richly illuminated Book of Kells (which includes the four Gospels) around 800 AD, but there were few other texts and few people could read in Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages. "The Deer's Cry" or "St. Patrick's Breastplate" attributed to Saint Patrick was most likely written in the 8th century by someone who was influenced by the 5th century missionary. Most Native American tribes depend on oral teaching and story-telling rather than written language. For example, Chief Seattle's famous speech, given in 1854, no longer exists in its original form. The most popular version circulating today was actually written for a film in 1972.

Yet this very lack of codification allows the oral traditions easier access to the non-dual mind. Huston Smith writes that orality guards against the loss of "the capacity to sense the sacred through nonverbal channels. Because writing can grapple with meanings explicitly, sacred texts tend to gravitate to positions of such eminence as to be considered the preeminent if not exclusive channel of revelation. This eclipses other means of divine disclosure. Oral traditions do not fall into this trap. The invisibility of their texts, which is to say their myths, leaves their eyes free to scan for other sacred portents, virgin nature and sacred art being the prime examples." [1] That really makes sense to me, even though I also know it is open to abuse, just as the three "religions of the book" have always been open to abuse in the hands of immature people.

One of the non-dual gifts of Celtic and Native traditions is their openness to inspiration and wisdom from nature, beauty, and signs and symbols that speak deeply to the unconscious. Because they are not tied to one sacred text, they are free to discover and honor the sacred everywhere. Timothy Joyce writes: "To wish to learn from the Celtic Christian is to wish to sense the passionate presence of God in all of life. It is to find God in the ordinary events of life, love, eating, working, playing. . . . It is also to perceive that time and place do not separate us from what we ordinarily do not see and sense. The ancient Celts believed that the other world was always close to us and became apparent in the 'thin times' and 'thin places' in which the veil that usually obscured them was lifted." [2] They undoubtedly had much easier access to the spiritual world, but again with the caveat that they were even more likely to fall into the "Pre-Trans Fallacy" that I talked about before, which is what unfortunately allowed us to call them "superstitious" or even more unkindly "tree worshipers."
[1] Huston Smith, The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions (Harper Collins: 1986), 370.

[2] Timothy J. Joyce, Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition, a Vision of Hope (Orbis Books: 1998), 154.  

Two Rivers Leading to One Ocean

Aus den Daily Mediataions von Richard Rohr
Native and Celtic Spirituality

Sunday, July 5, 2015   
We are beginning to explore the next stage of my "wisdom lineage," non-dual teachers of all religions. This week I will introduce themes from two different rivers of spirituality, each with a variety of streams and rivulets that feed the larger bodies. For the sake of convenience I will call these themes "Native" and "Celtic." These simplistic labels encompass a great deal of variety and unique distinctions of place, time, tribe, and individual. It's all too easy to make generalizations that are not true of every group or person. Still, they have been influential in shaping my own worldview and spirituality, and I will share the pieces I can honestly name.

If it seems I veer into romanticizing or appropriating another culture's treasures as my own, please forgive me. Though I have no direct link to Native American religion, I have great respect for their cultures and what I occasionally witness here in New Mexico, where we live in the midst of the Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache peoples. I am especially grateful that in 1969, as a young deacon, I was assigned to serve in the Pueblo of Acoma. But I only know enough to know that I don't know much at all! Native spirituality is not intended for non-Native use or understanding. When we try to interpret or apply these teachings in our own context, we run the risk of "drastic adaptation" and "severe reinterpretation to fit our conceptions of reality." [1]

I also don't want to give the impression that all people or practices in these traditions were always highly enlightened; my guess is they likely had a similar amount of non-practitioners and non-believers as we do in organized religion today. It is important to know that early level development and final stages of maturity can often appear similar from the outside. Immature fantasy or mere superstition can first be mistaken for authentic mystical experience. Using Ken Wilber's terms, this is the fallacy of identifying pre-rational stages as truly trans-rational. The pre-rational stage, sometimes evident in primal or tribal people, is not bad or wrong; it is simply naïve and limited. All religion normally begins at the pre-rational stage. Moreover, even in lower stages of consciousness, someone may occasionally experience moments (or states) of high-level consciousness, and yet they normally return to their current stage of development. Under stress, behavior can reveal if the person is pre-rational or truly trans-rational. Hopefully we continue maturing, developing through rational and conflictual situations, until the soul is normally led to a true non-dual consciousness that is characterized by empathy, selflessness, and freedom from self and fear. Lived outwardly, the inner experience of union moves us toward compassion, justice, and inclusivity.

So with all these caveats, I hope you will find in this week's meditations further invitations to grow beyond the mere rational stage, to receive the gift of wisdom wherever you find it. For now, take a few minutes to rest your mind in silence. You might use the "Gateway to Silence" as a mantra or sacred word to lead you into contemplative prayer. Perhaps the Native and Celtic peoples were able to do this much more naturally? The evidence seems to point in that direction.