Caroline Mathews's Reviews > Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
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Oct 30, 2015

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I've finished reading "Falling Upward" by Fr. Rohr. Not only that but also, I am familiar with much of his research material. I’ve read Bourgeault’s "Centering Prayer;" Chodron’s "Start Where You Are;" rather much of the Jung, the Xavier, and Pearson’s "Six Archetypes We Live By." When you read a Kindle edition, you don’t usually find the bibliography until last. There isn’t a huge option for an early thumb-through.

The index of words, some explained and others neglected, is missing Taoism, but the idea of falling upward into the second life is prominent in Chinese Taoist art. Images of Ma Yaun's "Two Sages …Under a Plum Tree" and "Self-Portrait" by Shen Chou came into my mind quickly and quietly as I read.

Not only for the Taoist, but for the rest of us, life is change. There is the quick, constant change, particularly that shifting of fortune captured daily in Eastern culture by anyone who plays at the "I Ching;" the larger, seasonal rotation and stages of life changes (to everything, turn, turn, turn….); the heroic life's journey into self-awareness i.e. "The Odyssey" and "Monkey;" and finally, even our Western notion of retirement at age 65.

The premise of "Falling Upward" is that one must experience the downs of life’s first half in order to fully comprehend, contemplate, and appreciate the ups of the second half. The ups of the second half , which may never be forthcoming, calm us into a new understanding of our impending, inevitable deaths that are not extinction at all but are instead, life everlasting.

The book is not simplistic. It is I who am cramming the whole thesis into a nutshell for the sake of time and tide – which always changing, wait for no man.

I woke up an hour ago from a sound sleep remembering my friend Mohammed who is from Cairo. His father retired several years ago. Mohammed told me that in this “second” half of life, male Muslims become contemplative and studious. The burdens of living are lifted somewhat and they can pursue the Koran and the meanings of life and death. Sure enough, the old gentleman began to spend more time outside of the city in his birth village where he also owned all the land. He read, he talked, he saw a different side of himself.

You've read some of my reviews. You know how I get about research and bibliography. You know these types of works become topic papers to me and that I begin to speed read. Yet, the thesis was a good (even if not a new) one, thought provoking, well-said, and well annotated. And the book got me thinking, didn’t it? That is the sign that something is worthy of reading. It gave a new name and further meaning to a concept as old as our collective mythology and certainly well documented by the words of Jesus himself.

What sunk in was, first and foremost, that familiar line of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” Don’t be afraid to think, to study, to reappraise, to act, or even to die. If the packaging will no longer hold you with your new thoughts, knowledge, ideas, and actions the book suggests you become a new package! Death? It’s nothing to fear, if one is prepared to look at it through the eyes of the Master.
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Ruth What sunk in was, first and foremost, that familiar line of Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” Don’t be afraid to think, to study, to reappraise, to act, or even to die. If the packaging will no longer hold you with your new thoughts, knowledge, ideas, and actions the book suggests you become a new package! Death? It’s nothing to fear, if one is prepared to look at it through the eyes of the Master


Ruth This is from Caroline's review ... Loved it!


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