Tag Archives: Falling Upward

Finding Your True Self

I’ve posted before about Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, which explores the two halves of life, represented by the false self and the true self. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Is this all there is to life?” then you’ve probably succeeded in creating your false self — which isn’t bad per se, it just doesn’t go far enough — and are ready to seek your true self.

For me, reading Falling Upward was like having a conversation with a wise, beloved friend. The pithy book is over much too soon, however, so I went looking for more.

In Immortal Diamond, Rohr carries on the conversation. The content makes clear that Falling Upward left readers wanting more — more tangibles in the form of explanations and practical guidelines (which are actually not necessary once you’ve discovered your true self). Immortal Diamond describes key concepts, such as the false and true selves, in greater depth than Falling Upward does, and the end matter includes six appendixes (or appendices, if you prefer — the Canadian Oxford lists both as acceptable) replete with diagrams and a list of personal practices to implement.

But these concessions to readers taking preliminary and tentative steps away from their false selves don’t diminish the book one bit. The fact that Rohr felt the need to write a second book on the subject fills one with only comfort and hope that such demand exists.

Any writer who synthesizes the world’s knowledge — as Rohr does — is a must-read. Rohr is a Franciscan priest, but trust me: you need not be religious to benefit from his work. That’s the thing about truth, it’s too big for any one tradition — religious or secular — to contain.

“Healthy religion,” Rohr writes in Immortal Diamond, “should be the most inclusive system of all, making use of every discipline, avenue, and access point for Big Truth.” It is this inclusiveness that, unlike in mere personal therapy, allows the spiritual teacher to identify false problems and wrong frameworks, in effect zeroing in on the big — and it is big — picture.

Ultimately, both Falling Upward and Immortal Diamond are about claiming the good news of the Gospels: you can have life and have it abundantly. That’s right: you can. And no, it has nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth dying on a cross for your sins — at least not in the way you might think, not in the way that many Christian churches would lead you to believe. In fact, there’s nothing to believe here at all. Rather, there’s something for you to experience, and my hunch is that you already know that.

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Falling Upward: No Editing Required

I attended a book study on Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward this afternoon. (I wrote a post about Rohr’s book previously.) Group members discussed “Chapter 4: The Tragic Sense of Life.” The tragic sense of life results from the realization that life is more about disorder and flaws than it is about order and perfection. Accepting the world’s disorder — embracing it, actually — is a necessary skill for personal growth in the second half (or spiritual half) of our lives.

We try so hard to impose on the world our desire for order. We want things to be perfect; we want to make progress, to be productive. We want to be in control. The end result isn’t pretty — not for us personally and not for the world (think war and violence and just about every “ism” you can come up with).

There was lots of good discussion at the book study, but the tragic sense of life won’t be managed or grasped or contained by any words I can string together here, and I know it.

Hey. Did I just give up trying to instill a little order around here? A little of my own point of view, my thoughts, my analysis? It feels good, actually, to simply accept what is.

In Acts, Jesus asks Paul why he is “kicking against the goads.” It’s time to stop kicking, because life is unravelling exactly as it will: no editing required on my part.

Trees 001

Is this tree rooted in place or falling upward?

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Falling Upward

Some books are like comforting, wise old friends. That’s how I feel about Falling Upward by Richard Rohr, the book I’m reading right now.

The book is about the further journey some of us take after the survival concerns of the first half of life have been successfully wrestled with — things like earning a living, mating, and child rearing.

Rohr is wise, incorporating a lifetime of knowledge into this little book. Isn’t that what the best writers do? They see connections everywhere and synthesize them for us; they put the human experience — our experience — into words. In this way, they leave us enriched, wiser, and comforted with the knowledge that we are not alone.

(On the topic of “little book,” the trim size is 4X6. I’m always a sucker for a trim trim, so to speak — it makes a book a pleasure to hold. And the jacket is well designed with nicely contrasting typefaces, beautiful neutral tones, and lots of great blurbs. One person calls Rohr “prophetic, pastoral, practical.”)

Rohr establishes rapport right away: He demonstrates inclusiveness and openness at the beginning of the book — sure indications of a wise soul. I find myself anticipating the moments I’m going to spend with this book.

Unfortunately, with only 167 pages, those moments won’t last long enough.

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