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An alternative mind



The Whole Person Blog: Week Five, Day Five, Part 2/2 - An alternative mind

Writings inspired by Fr. Richard Rohr: Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

Video presentation based on the book

Daily Meditations written by Richard Rohr on 12-Step Spirituality

Breathing Under Water online course

Thursday, January 30th, 2020


Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.


The ten Steps that precede this one have certainly weakened the ego through the proclamation of powerlessness, surrendering to a Higher Power, self-examination, admittance of wrongs and willingness to right them, requesting imperfections to be removed, making amends, taking accountability – this whole process has been a divine act of humility, vulnerability, and courage. All of which perfectly prepares The Whole Person: MindBodySpirit for Step 11, which may be the one that fully annihilates the ego, placing the last nail in the coffin, and simultaneously loosing, freeing, and liberating the soul.


"The word prayer, which Bill Wilson rightly juxtaposes with the word meditation, is a code word for an entirely different way of processing life. When you "pray," you are supposed to take off one "thinking cap" and put on another "thinking cap" that will move you from an egocentric perspective to a soul-centric perspective. Although it is not really "thinking" at all, but what Canadian writer M<alcolm Gladwell calls the genius of "thinking without thinking."


I'm reminded of Albert Einstein's famous quote: "No problem can be solved by the consciousness that caused it." Said another way, the same mind that got you into your mess, can't get you out of it. I recognized some years ago, when people are focused on resolving a symptom, they've confused the manifestation of their problem with the problem itself. This approach can't work, and it will never work without perceiving transformation as a sacrificial obligation, and joy will always be displaced to another day, any day but today :-(


I call the first perspective, "the calculating mind," and I call the second perspective, "the contemplative mind." These are two entirely different types of software, and since the first one is almost totally and always in control, and has become your only operative hardware, you have to be carefully taught how to pray, which is exactly what the disciples asked of Jesus, "Lord, teach us how to pray (Luke 11:1). If you do not learn how to pray, and change "your mind...by a spiritual revolution," you will try to process the big five human issues (love, death, suffering, God, and infinity) with utterly inadequate software. It won't get you very far."


I love Richard's descriptor for the ego, the calculating mind, as it perfectly frames all protective behaviors. Perfectionism is an egoic calculation that says if I appear perfect, people will look up to me and like me. People-pleasing says if I make others happy, they'll like me, and then I'll like me. Procrastination says if I avoid this task, I'll minimize the risk of rejection and increase the likelihood of remaining included and, therefore, liked. Of course, all of these behaviors occur at a completely subconscious level and is normal behavior for someone who believes they are a "NO," who has assigned a negative value to their being, and who struggles to see the goodness within themselves. To illustrate this, here's a video I just recorded, showing how a lack of feeling appreciated can be the root cause of a symptom pattern of low energy.


"Prayer was something you did when you otherwise felt helpless, but it was not actually a positive widening of your lens for a better picture, which is the whole point." Richard Rohr

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