Rohr: Stream of Consciousness
“I’m sure that most people in the Western world have never really met the person they really are…We have to discover the face that we already had before we were born.. Imagine a river or stream. You’re sitting on the bank of this river, where boats and ships are sailing past. While the stream flows past your inner eye, I ask you to name each one of the ‘vessels’ or thoughts floating by. For example, one of the boats could be called ‘my anxiety about tomorrow.’ Every judgment that you pass is one of these boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let it move on. As soon as we own a boat and identify with it, it picks up its own energy. We have to practice un-possessing, letting go, detaching from our thoughts and feelings, or they own us. With every idea or image that comes into our head, we have the opportunity to say, ‘No, I’m not that.’ This is basic training in nonviolence.." Adapted from Richard Rohr, What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2015), 83-84. Wednesday, February 8, 2017 Richard Rohr Online Meditations
Rohr’s exercise gives us a daily practice or really a second by second opportunity to learn how to connect to the person God created us to be. I identify with his “streams” of consciousness. I know of no better word to describe how our mind seems to work. I see our thoughts and feelings as coming from a large computer constantly feeding us data. We do have a choice. We can believe or act on the data or not, but telling the data it is no good is like slapping the hand of the schoolboy with a ruler. The data is repressed and eventually leads to false data, ‘fake news’ so to speak and anxiety.
Other authors have talked about imagining that we are wearing some type of protective clothing that does have some holes in it. As we hear information or data from ourselves or others we make a decision as to whether to take that information into our body. Is this information about ourselves true to who we are? If we do decide not to take the data in, we say, “thank you, but this is not true for me.”
This is so reminiscent of centering prayer where we have a sacred word which helps us re-center as distractions come to mind. Many have suggested seeing the distractions like boats or barges on a river. We are to let them float by without engaging in them.
This is similar to Jesus’ reaction to Satan in the wilderness when Jesus is being tempted. Jesus did not dialogue with the devil. He quotes a line from scripture in respond to Satan’s request that he turn stone into bread, perform magical acts, or gain the world if he worships Satan. Again, a sacred phrase re-centers him and keeps him from entering into, engaging in conversation with the devil.
Rohr is asking us to do something similar for the distractions that constantly speak to us in our mind.
This is soul work.