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Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps by Richard Rohr
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Breathing Underwater Quotes Showing 1-30 of 68
“Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of "Christian" countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I'm afraid.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps
“...religion either produces the very best people or the very worst.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps
“You cannot heal what you do not first acknowledge.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“How you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“God does not love us if we change, God loves us so that we can change.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Only hour by hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“all mature spirituality, in one sense or another, is about letting go and unlearning.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“In my experience, if you are not radically grateful every day, resentment always takes over.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“All societies are addicted to themselves and create deep codependency on them. There are shared and agreed-upon addictions in every culture and every institution. These are often the hardest to heal because they do not look like addictions because we have all agreed to be compulsive about the same things and blind to the same problems. The Gospel exposes those lies in every culture: The American addiction to oil, war, and empire; the church’s addiction to its own absolute exceptionalism; the poor person’s addiction to powerlessness and victimhood; the white person’s addiction to superiority; the wealthy person’s addiction to entitlement.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“One has to wonder, do we really want people to grow, or do we just want to be in control of the moment?”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“We suffer to get well. We surrender to win. We die to live. We give it away to keep it.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“The New Testament called it salvation or enlightenment, the Twelve Step Program called it recovery. The trouble is that most Christians pushed this great liberation off into the next world, and many Twelve Steppers settled for mere sobriety from a substance instead of a real transformation of the self. We have all been the losers, as a result—waiting around for “enlightenment at gunpoint” (death) instead of enjoying God’s banquet much earlier in life.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different or better past.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Sacrificial religion was all exposed in Jesus’ response to any mechanical or mercenary notion of religion, but we soon went right back to it in many Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant forms, because the old ego will always prefer an economy of merit and sacrifice to any economy of grace and unearned love, where we have no control.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“When religion does not move people to the mystical or non-dual level of consciousness9 it is more a part of the problem than any solution whatsoever. It solidifies angers, creates enemies, and is almost always exclusionary of the most recent definition of “sinner.” At this level, it is largely incapable of its supreme task of healing, reconciling, forgiving, and peacemaking. When religion does not give people an inner life or a real prayer life, it is missing its primary vocation. Let me sum up, then, the foundational ways that I believe Jesus and the Twelve Steps of A.A. are saying the same thing but with different vocabulary:   We suffer to get well. We surrender to win. We die to live. We give it away to keep it.   This counterintuitive wisdom will forever be resisted as true, denied, and avoided, until it is forced upon us—by some reality over which we are powerless—and if we are honest, we are all powerless in the presence of full Reality.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“...organized religion is no longer good news for most people, but bad news indeed. It set us up for the massive atheism, agnosticism, hedonism, and secularism we now see in almost all formerly Christian countries.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps
“Breathing Under Water,” a title taken from a telling poem by Carol Bieleck, r.s.c.j., which seemed to sum up so much of the common message. I quote it here in full:   “Breathing Under Water”   I built my house by the sea. Not on the sands, mind you; not on the shifting sand. And I built it of rock. A strong house by a strong sea. And we got well acquainted, the sea and I. Good neighbors. Not that we spoke much. We met in silences. Respectful, keeping our distance, but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand. Always, the fence of sand our barrier, always, the sand between.   And then one day, —and I still don’t know how it happened— the sea came. Without warning.   Without welcome, even Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine, less like the flow of water than the flow of blood. Slow, but coming. Slow, but flowing like an open wound. And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death. And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door. And I knew then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning. That when the sea comes calling you stop being neighbors Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance, neighbors And you give your house for a coral castle, And you learn to breathe underwater.3”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Faith itself became a “good work” that I could perform, and the ego was back in charge. Such a mechanical notion of salvation frequently led to all the right religious words, without much indication of self-critical or culturally critical behavior. Usually, there was little removal of most “defects of character,” and many Christians have remained thoroughly materialistic, warlike, selfish, racist, sexist, and greedy for power and money—while relying on “amazing grace” to snatch them into heaven at the end.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“The game is over once we see clearly because evil succeeds only by disguising itself as good, necessary, or helpful.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Right Relationship With Life Itself Gerald May, a dear and now deceased friend of mine, said in his very wise book Addiction and Grace that addiction uses up our spiritual desire. It drains away our deepest and true desire, that inner flow and life force which makes us “long and pant for running streams” (Psalm 42). Spiritual desire is the drive that God put in us from the beginning, for total satisfaction, for home, for heaven, for divine union, and it just got displaced onto the wrong object. It has been a frequent experience of mine to find that many people in recovery often have a unique and very acute spiritual sense; more than most people, I would say. It just got frustrated early and aimed in a wrong direction. Wild need and desire took off before boundaries, strong identity, impulse control, and deep God experience were in place.2”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“It seems we are not that free to be honest, or even aware, because most of our garbage is buried in the unconscious. So it is absolutely essential that we find a spirituality that reaches to that hidden level. If not, nothing really changes.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps
“As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“most people do not see things as they are, they see things as they are!”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“you are often most gifted to heal others precisely where you yourself were wounded, or wounded others.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Thomas Merton who said: “The will of God is not a ‘fate’ to which we must submit, but a creative act in our life that produces something absolutely new, something hitherto unforeseen by the laws and established patterns. Our cooperation consists not solely in conforming to external laws, but in opening our wills to this mutually creative act.”5”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“Deep communion and dear compassion is formed much more by shared pain than by shared pleasure.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“If we try to change our ego with the help of our ego, we only have a better-disguised ego!”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“All Mature Spirituality Is About Letting Go”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“We must be honest here, and not defensive; the issues are now too grave and too urgent. Our inability to see our personal failures is paralleled by our inability to see our institutional and national sins too. It is the identical and same pattern of addiction and denial. Thank God that Pope John Paul II introduced into our vocabulary words like “structural sin” and “institutional evil.” It was not even part of the conversation in most of Christian history up to now, as we exclusively concentrated on “personal” sins. The three sources of evil were traditionally called “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” We so concentrated on the flesh that we let the world and “the devil” get off scot-free.8”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater
“We each have our inner program for happiness, our plans by which we can be secure, esteemed, and in control, and are blissfully unaware that these cannot work for us for the long haul—without our becoming more and more control freaks ourselves. Something has to break our primary addiction, which is to our own power and our false programs for happiness.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality And The Twelve Steps

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