This process can be brutal, but it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise the “I” that I am cannot separate from its identification with its own thoughts and feelings. Most people become their thoughts. They do not have thoughts and feelings; the thoughts and feelings have them. It is what the ancients called “being possessed” by a demon. So we start with wiping the mirror until we can see what is objectively there. But let’s go further than that: wiping the mirror until even the eye that is watching the mirror is not taken too seriously. The watcher can become self-preoccupied, which only distorts things further. So we have to observe, but also not let the observer become an accusing tyrant. If we get past that temptation, we no longer ask questions about whether we’re doing it right. We stop pestering our soul with questions like “Am I pure?” “Am I holy?” “Am I good?” “Is my technique proper?” They all fall away. It starts with mirror-wiping. It starts with doing the discipline faithfully. When the veil parts and we see love, the self-conscious watcher, preoccupied with doing it right, just forgets the self (Mark 10:18). After worrying that I don’t know about myself, a lovely question then arises. Who cares? My watching and judging don’t change what is, but often become a concern with watching and judging itself. Prayer, however, is not finally self-observation but rather to “fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
Richard Rohr Everthing Belongs
Whenever we’re led out of normalcy into sacred space, it’s going to feel like suffering. It’s letting go of what we’re used to. That causes suffering. Part of us always has to die. If that readiness isn’t there, we won’t enter into sacred space. The prophet leads us into sacred space by showing us the insufficiency of the old order; the role of the priest is to teach us how to live in the new realm. Unfortunately, the priest too often operates separately from prophet. He talks of a new realm but never leads us out of the old order where we are still largely trapped. Such priesthood is commonly ineffective, although quite popular. In this new realm, everything belongs. The awareness is often called a second naiveté. It is a return to simple consciousness. The first awareness is a dangerous naiveté. It doesn’t know but thinks it does. In second naiveté the darkness and light coexist, paradox is revealed, and we are finally at home in the only world that ever existed. This is true knowing. Here death is a part of life, and failure is a part of victory. Opposites collide and unite, and everything belongs.
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: the Gift of Contemplative Prayer