Journey Towards Purpose: Christianity and the Re-emergence of the Non-Dual Mind

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Featured Speakers:

  • Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Franciscan friar and ecumenical teacher, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) and academic Dean of the Living School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This Inspiring Conversations event featured a discussion on Christianity and the re-emergence of the non-dual mind. The event began with a welcome and introduction by Thomas Schreier, was moderated by Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C., and featured Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., from the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The goal of the discussion was to explore what the non-dual mind is and how it can be achieved. 

Before Fr. Groody asked his first question for discussion, Fr. Rohr opened with an 11th century poem from the eastern church to get the audience thinking about the non-dual mind. Fr. Rohr then provided a brief background on his experiences while traveling and preaching. During his travels he saw many things, both happy and sad. He saw many disillusioned priests and people leading a wonderful life of action, but an unbalanced inner prayer life. For example, people who would say prayers, but could not hold a presence for God. 

As the discussion progressed, Fr. Rohr defined what he means by the non-dual versus the dual mind. Today, everyone splits into either liberal or conservative; people see things as either known or foreign, true or false. This separation often leads to divisiveness in today’s world. However, according to Fr. Rohr, with contemplative training, “known” and “unknown” is present, but does not need to be understood. Dualistic thinking can lead to arrogance, while non-dualistic thinking leads to humility.

Fr. Rohr noted that humans have a hard time thinking non-dualistically. For example, Mary is both a virgin and mother. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. There is contradiction everywhere, yet choosing a side can lead to arrogance. Fr. Rohr reminds the audience that Jesus never taught certitude. Instead, people are taught to be humble and to be okay with the fact that not every issue will be solved. That is called faith.

Contemplative thinking is the way Fr. Rohr believes people can rewire their brains from dualistic thinking. It takes practice and charts a new way of thinking into the brain. Before moving on to the Q & A portion of the discussion, Fr. Rohr led the audience in an exercise in contemplative thinking. He began with a psalm that members of the audience repeated, followed by four minutes of silence. The discussion ended with a short Q & A from the audience relating to where Fr. Rohr finds hope in times of darkness, how non-dualism can be integrated in institutions, and how to listen to God’s will.

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  • Many people lead a wonderful life of action, but are unbalanced within their inner prayer life, (15:30). 
  • Simply saying prayers does not transform the self, (16:00).
  • The untransformed mind sees everything as known and unknown. The transformed mind sees known and unknown but does not choose a side, (25:00).
  • Dualistic thinking leads to arrogance. Non-dualistic thinking leads to humility, (27:23).
  • Contemplative thinking is the only way to free ourselves from dualistic thinking, (39:28).

  • “What I too often saw were a lot of missionaries that were disillusioned, who were burnt out as we say. Who were tired. As I talked to so many of them, I came to think they have a wonderful life of action, but it isn’t balanced by an inner life. They said prayers, but they didn’t know how to hold presence.” — Fr. Richard Rohr, 14:53
  • “The untransformed mind sees every event, every idea, every person that comes toward it as either something I know or something I don’t know.” — Fr. Richard Rohr, 24:00
  • “What [Jesus] teaches more than love is faith. Where you know enough, and you know that God is good so you can live without knowing everything.” — Fr. Richard Rohr, 27:30
  • “Dualistic thinking creates an arrogant religion, not very likable people.” — Fr. Richard Rohr 28:00
  • “Part of the contemplative mind is being able to hold tension.” — Fr. Daniel Groody, 30:00