Richard Rhor on CBC Radio’s Tapestry

Richard Rohr was on CBC’s Tapestry yesturday. It was an excellent interview, and he really got me thinking. This whole thing on non-dual thinking really resonated with me. It is sort of along the same lines of Will Braun’s article in the latest Geez magazine about needing to be right and being zealous about the truth. There is something about this ability to be a non dual thinker that I need to put my finger on, but I’m not quite there in understanding it but I like it. Here is what Rohr had to say about it which got me thinking.

Dualistic thinking is the binary way that the normal mind starts working. We all start there. We need it to get through the day. It only understands tall in relationship to short. And that’s convienant and important. But in terms of reality; reality is different than words. There is 250 degrees difference between tall and short, between fat and skinny, but for the sake of easy conversation we all submit to this lowest level of thinking; which is dualistic. It leads you to easy rights and wrongs, good and bad. It’s the way we deal with pretty much everything. Liberals and conservatives, black and white, gay and straight. It makes for convienant, easy conversation. It doesn’t really help you touch reality.

Interviewer: So no room for paradox, subtlety or mystery.

There is no understanding of paradox. Jesus I am convinced was the first clear non dual teacher of the west which is why we’ve largely ignored is sermon on the mount, his parables, and much of his teachings. They don’t lend themselves to dogma, or doctrine or dualistic, either or thinking. The line I usually quote is “My father’s sun shines on the good and the bad. His rain falls on the just and the unjust.” That’s non-dual thinking. That’s today’s gospel.

Interviewer: You cite all or nothing thinking, black and white thinking, as one of your biggest sins? Did this drive in you to move beyond non dual thinking spring from what you see as your own greatest thing.

I’ve been fighting this all my life. I’ve looked at the patterns of my life and when I surrender to that simplistic, either-or, all or nothing thinking, it’s made me make my worse mistakes. It’s allowed me to hurt people unnecessarily without even knowing I was hurting him. It has allowed me to not be compassionate; to not be patient, to not be merciful, to not understand situations, to read them wrong. The dualistic mind operates by reading everything by what I like and by what I prefer. It reads everything egocentric. You don’t even realize you are egocentric, you just think you are defending some great truth; you’re usually not. You are defending what you are comfortable with and you call that objective truth.

3 Comments

  • Hey Nathan – thanks for posting this. It’s really in line with a lot I’ve been wrestling with lately too. It is intriguing how often “either/or” thinking even finds its way into more liberal discourse as well (i.e. a liberal may consider themselves capable of dualistic thinking…until you hear them in dialogue with a fundamental conservative, at which point they may be as equally “either/or” as their opponent). Genuinely being free of dogmatism is something very few us ever achieve; at least I for one know that I have a long way to go. (Damn, but I love being right so much!! It’s addictive, really!)

  • This is really what I’ve been wrestling with too James! Down with dualism!! Hey hey ho ho, dogmatism has got to go! Hey hey ho ho, dogmatism has got to go!

  • Absolutely. Non-dualism is the ONLY way to think! haha…

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