A Weekend with Richard Rohr, Franciscan

Just finished sitting with Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan.  He is one of our living luminaries, who helps thousands to navigate the waters of spirituality, CAC.org.  His topic this weekend was on the Trinity, a daunting subject made most enjoyable by his affable presence.   His new book, Divine Dance: Trinity and your Transformation, is focused upon the question of the meaning of the Trinity.


What he makes clear at the outset is that all religious language about Deity is by necessity metaphorical or symbolic, not literal.   Using Kuhn’s notion of a paradigm shift, he suggests that it is time to jump into the sea of such a shift religiously, recognizing that most of our images of God are archaic and no longer functional, recognizing that many of our youth are fleeing the God of our Fathers!  Why?  Because of the static, imperial, monarchial, patriarchal image associated with that God.  That image of God is a dualistic image, creating not only heaven but also hell, not only saints but also sinners.  Such a dualism leaves the mind confused, uncertain and in a state of fear.  Not attractive to the searching soul.


Among Richard’s many great points is that: if God is love, then there is no room for Hell and the punishing judgment of sinners.  Have we fallen short of the glory of God, for sure, does God still love us unconditionally, for sure!  Such a realization requires unity consciousness, an awareness of divine unity.


In the evolution of consciousness, dualistic or binary thinking is the lowest level of thinking.  Such thinking splits the world into good and evil, good people and evil people, saved people and unsaved people, our tribe and them!  Richard points out that Jesus never spoke in such terms, that his great stories are all about “sinners,” at least those viewed as sinners by the orthodox tradition.


The Trinity as an image suggests that the essential point of all creation is that we were created for relationship.  Within the Trinity there is a movement of divine energy and of respect that infinitely values “the other.”  He used the image of a Water Wheel of Love in speaking about the Trinity.  He reminded the audience that God is met in our deepest subjectivity; God is not met as an object or as an “It!”  All real relationship occurs in the deepest recesses of subjectivity.  Within that space there is a self-emptying, a humility, that establishes room for the relationship, the inflow and outflow of God’s love.

Those who resist that Water Wheel of Love are oftentimes the very people who should be encouraging its movement within the institution of the church.  “We become what we behold,” he said.  When we behold God as an emperor, like the old Roman emperor, then that is what becomes of us and our institutions.  There is an unsatisfying restless search for power that is never fulfilled.  The institutional image of a hierarchical pyramid must shift to an eternal circle, a Water Wheel of Love.  In that circle we are transformed by God’s grace.

He suggested that we look for the prayers and hymns in our Abrahamic traditions that begin with “Almighty God” and realize that such an image can at best be only half true.  We have missed the “All Vulnerable God” and the recognition that it is in self-emptying and vulnerability that we discover the subjective reality of the most objective fact in the universe.  The cross is the powerful symbol of the vulnerability of God.


Consistent with all mystical teaching, the idea is that God can only be known by loving, by the movement of the Water Wheel of Love through our hearts and souls.  For this reason, a contemplative practice is vital to the spiritual journey, emptying ourselves to make room for this inrush of love.


He asked us to look at the basic building block of life, the atom, with its three elements, neutron, proton and electron, dancing around each other to give rise to all physical substance.  From Acts, he quoted Paul who suggests that in God “we move and live and have our being.”  He spoke of the impersonal, transpersonal and personal nature of God in which all creation adheres.  Within these three realms there is a movement of divine energy that creates, sustains and upholds existence.


When a paradigm shift begins to occur there is an opening of “awe and wonder,” what Einstein called the basic religious emotion.  Rohr clearly shared that mystery does not mean “unknowable;” it means eternally knowable!  The question is whether we have put ourselves in the current of the Water Wheel of Love, or are we resisting!  Instead of “transactional religion,” he called for “transformational religion” that puts us in the flow of God’s love.  This is the basic template for all existence.  But, unlike other species, humans are able to resist this flow.




As we look around, we see still see a predominantly “tribal consciousness,” low level consciousness that keeps seeing “good guys” and “bad guys,” “republicans” and “democrats,” “good” and “evil.”    Such thinking leads to narcissism and ego-inflation.  “Compassion is the only proof that you’ve met God,” he said.


Referring to our Biblical illiteracy, he suggested that we adopt a hermeneutic or interpretation of the Bible that empowers an evaluation based upon Jesus’ gospel: God is love.  In the New Testament, the only time Jesus quotes the Book of Leviticus, the Book of the Law in the Torah, is the positive injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He never quotes the many, “Thou shalt not”s.  As well, in the gospel stories, he is never upset with sinners only with those who are proud and unwilling to acknowledge their limitations.


God suffers with the sufferer.   We read in Study Group today:  “The endowment of imperfect beings with freedom entails inevitable tragedy, and it is the nature of the perfect ancestral Deity to universally and affectionately share these sufferings in loving companionship.” (110:0.1)   Those who do not experience suffering suffer from superficiality.  The quest to ignore suffering is the quest of ignorance.  Compassion only emerges through our ability to share in the suffering of our humanity.


In the Kingdom of God “there is nothing to earn or lose,” he suggested due to the incredible depth of God’s love.  If God is love, then there has to be at least two in relationship.  The supreme joy comes when the basic formula of three emerges. God is love, the Son is mercy and the Infinite Spirit is ministry.             The supreme joy of two parents is in the child, the third.  For that love to be experienced a contemplative self-emptying is required, a movement through disorder to a reordering, a metanoia, of our existence.


When we experience a humiliation, through anger, anxiety or fear, it is a lesson to be learned about the Trinity, an opportunity to not resist the Water Wheel of Love.  So, when you are moved to anger, anxiety or fear, know that you have a choice, to embrace and be embraced by the divine Trinity, or not!  Be thankful for the wonderful lessons you are learning to shift and dance!



Stillpoint shares research on depths of happiness


Dr. Marc Baxter, from The Nevada Institute for Spirituality and Healthcare, will be presenting research on the depths of happiness that can be developed as part of our spiritual journey.

Leading researchers are now demonstrating how happiness is both deeply complex and yet beneficial to our physical, mental and spiritual health.  Dr. Baxter will demonstrate how we are able to move beyond a surface level definition of happiness to ultimately experience it in a new, profound way that can transform us from within.

Developing more compassion, empathy, and mindfulness for ourselves, as well as for others, is one of the most powerful ways to increase happiness in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

The presentation will take place at Stillpoint located at 8072 W. Sahara Ave, Suite D, Las Vegas, NV 89117 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on May 7th.

There is no cost for the presentation though freewill donations are appreciated. Seating is limited so reservation is recommended. Online reservation is available at http://stillpointcsd.org/events/event/compassion-as-a-way-of-life/




Dr. Mark Baxter is a practicing chiropractor specializing in holistic health care through use of the functional medicine approach for over thirty-five years.  Dr. Baxter’s extensive education on patient dietary and lifestyle modification coupled with adrenal, sex and thyroid hormone balancing, autoimmune disease, healthy weight loss and targeted nutritional protocols result in effective prevention and treatment strategies for many “diseases of ageing”.

This integrative approach to health care also affects the balance of brain neurotransmitters, which control mood, emotions and cognitive function and sets the stage for enhanced spirituality.  When combined with meditative and other spiritual practices, this approach greatly enhances our ability to be truly connected with, and more fully express who we are as a person and as a spirit and also enhances our ability to experience greater connection with the source of our spirituality and of all Creation.

About Stillpoint:

The mission of Stillpoint is to provide a gathering place that is hospitable to and nourishing of the spiritual life. Our programs provide opportunities for spiritual development, personal growth and social transformation.


40 days of Lent Daily prayer and meditation inspiration

Daily Prayer & Meditation Inspiration

One pillar of the season of Lent is prayer.

During Lent, we have put together a list of forty questions to ponder (you might take one question for each day of Lent), in the spirit of, “Is God asking you…”.

  1. Will you believe that I love you without any reservations?
  2. Will you trust me?
  3. Will you let me be your strength?
  4. Will you let go of your own strong control?
  5. Will you believe in your own giftedness?
  6. Will you walk with insecurity for a while?
  7. Will you believe that I am inviting you to greater wholeness?
  8. Will you allow my grace to move within you?
  9. Will you open up your heart?
  10. Will you come to me in prayer so I can empower you?
  11. Will you be vulnerable with me?
  12. Will you look long at my love for you?
  13. Will you place your hand in mine?
  14. Will you give me your life?
  15. Will you take me to the places in your heart where you hide out?
  16. Will you drink of the living waters I bring to you?
  17. Will you unburden your heart to me?
  18. Will you take refuge in the shadows of my wings?
  19. Will you talk with me about what is really difficult for you?
  20. Will you thank me for always being there for you?
  21. Will you recognize your weak areas?
  22. Will you take shelter in the home of my love?
  23. Will you wait patiently for me to revive your spirit?
  24. Will you say yes to the growth I offer you?
  25. Will you be there for someone to lean on today?
  26. Will you allow me to walk with you?
  27. Will your spirit open up to my consolations?
  28. Will you rest in your weariness on me?
  29. Will you give me your ache so that I can heal you?
  30. Will you bring me your anxieties and concerns?
  31. Will you accept my compassion?
  32. Will you share the strength I’ve given you with someone else?
  33. Will you receive my love?
  34. Will you taste the nourishment I have for you?
  35. Will you be quiet enough to hear me?
  36. Will you trust me to raise up in you, the good things that have died?
  37. Will you accept my mercy?
  38. Will you listen closely as the story of my suffering is proclaimed?
  39. Will you stand close to Calvary and learn from me?
  40. Will you believe in the power of my Resurrection?

Looking for more? Click here to view all our resources for Lent.

Defining God

The opening sentence of the Tao Te Ching says something simple yet very profound.

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name

What LaoTzu, the ancient Chinese sage, was referencing is the fact that as soon as we begin to describe the Divine, we are limited by our language and thus we fall short of an adequate explanation.

Recently a major media source in the U.S. gave its readers a challenge.  They asked them to define God.  This task initially seemed simple enough, however, there was a catch.  To describe God they could only use one word.

The top 10 results looked like this:

10. Omnipotent (all-powerful)

9. Fiction

8. Non-existent

7. Almighty

6. Imaginary

5. Amazing

4. Creator

3. Awesome

2. Everything

And the most popular response:   LOVE

There is an ancient legend in Christianity surrounding the youngest of Jesus’ disciples, John.

St. Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians, tells a story of John in his extreme old age.  Church leaders would carry him to the gathering place on Sunday and place him before the faithful.  No doubt the crowd would be hanging on his every word since he was the last living disciple of Jesus.  As John would open his mouth all he would say is, “Little children, love one another” over and over again.

Finally, when some grew tired of hearing this same mantra they would ask him why this is all he shares.

“Because”, he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”




Global Spirituality

This past month, a group from Stillpoint traveled north to Salt Lake City for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.  The event undoubtedly changed us as individuals and gave us a glimpse into the future of a Global Spirituality.

The very first Parliament of the World’s Religions took place at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  This event brought together 5,000 religious delegates from around the world and marked the first formal gathering of the Eastern and Western traditions and launched global interfaith dialogue.

1893 Parliament

Chicago 1893

Today, interfaith dialogue continues to grow and is showing the world tremendous signs of hope for the future.  The event in Salt Lake hosted 9,500 people from around the world who came to teach others about their traditions, learn from other faiths, and unite on our many common bonds.  Given what we see in the media, one would think this environment would be ripe for disagreements, proselytizing, and misunderstanding.  In reality, the opposite was true.  What really happened was a truly unique spiritual event.  One that we continue to foster at Stillpoint.

Despite the differences in culture, practice, and doctrines, all attendees found so much that was held in common.  Our beliefs that the care of the environment, poverty,  injustice, war, and suppression of women and minorities around the world are all signs of the spiritual failure of mankind.  As people of faith (and no faith) it is our moral imperative to speak truth to these darker aspects of our world.  Our faiths demand this of us!

Stillpoint: Center for Spiritual Development is an interfaith center for all who are seeking the Divine.  In light of this, look for all future blog posts to conclude with some links to stories of various spiritual traditions throughout the world.

Are You Ignoring Your Spiritual Alarm Clock?

Stillness – Thich Nhat Hanh

Charter for Compassion – Changing the world

What is Spiritual Development?

What Is Spiritual Development?

The answer to this question can never be simple, rather, to find the answer one must embark upon an exciting, unpredictable journey that lasts an entire lifetime.

There are as many spiritual journeys in the world as there are people. Our spiritual awakening happens as a result of many factors and experiences which make up our unique lives.

To boil it down to its simplest form, I believe the path of spiritual development encompasses four main areas in our lives.

  • Spiritual – our understanding of the metaphysical world
  • Mental – the development of the mind
  • Physical – our bodily connection to the spirit and mind
  • External – our outward actions toward others

“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.” – Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

The first category, Spirituality, is the broadest and most difficult to succinctly summarize. It can often be centered in one’s religion, personal spiritual practices, and affiliation with communities of like-minded individuals. We commonly see it as any practice done with the purpose of connecting with the Divine. At Stillpoint, our foundation is rooted in the ancient spiritual practices of Spiritual Direction, Lectio Divina Prayer, and Centering Prayer.

The Mental aspect of spiritual development centers on the development of our mind. The Christian tradition calls for a “renewing of the mind” in the book of Romans.  Buddhist sages teach of the need to “awaken” or “enlighten” the mind. Crucial aspects of this mental process are the need to develop imagination and to expand our knowledge. While these ideas are often seen as academic pursuits, they are also vital to a spiritual development.

The Physical connection to our spiritual development is often easily overlooked. All religions tend to agree on the importance of caring for one’s body or “physical temple” as described by St. Paul. The ancient traditions of Asia serve as an excellent example of the unity between mind, spirit, and body. Qi Gong, Tai Chi, martial arts and yoga all have foundations built on the importance of spiritual development. Even mindfulness in walking or jogging can have a deep influence in our lives.

Finally, we have learned from those who have gone before us that true spirituality will ultimately produce Service for the greater good of our human race and our planet. When we are infused with a Divine understanding of the world we begin to see in us a desire to bring justice and peace to those who are hurting and in need.

With these four cornerstones as the foundation of Spiritual Growth, Stillpoint: Center for Spiritual Development seeks to provide ways for everyone to be encouraged and strengthened on their journey.


Pace e bene,