Double Quoted – Finding What is Genuine

by Richard Rohr, Listening for the Genuine, August 9th, 2019

[…] Matthew Fox writes:
The crises we find ourselves in as a species require that as a species we shake up all our institutions—including our religious ones—and reinvent them. Change is necessary for our survival, and we often turn to the mystics at critical times like this. Jung said: “Only the mystics bring creativity into religion.” [1] Jesus was a mystic shaking up his religion and the Roman empire; Buddha was a mystic who shook up the prevailing Hinduism of his day; Gandhi was a mystic shaking up Hinduism and challenging the British Empire; and Martin Luther King, Jr. shook up his tradition and America’s segregationist society. The mystics walk their talk and talk […] their walk. [2]

How do we find the path forward? Howard Thurman (1900–1981), a mystic who sought to make peace between religions and founded the first major interracial, interfaith church in the United States, urged people to “listen for the sound of the genuine.” Read these excerpts from one of Thurman’s talks several times to fully appreciate it:

There is something in everyone of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you can not hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born. . . .

Sometimes there is so much traffic going on in your minds, so many different kinds of signals . . . and you are buffeted by these and in the midst of all of this you have got to find out what your name is. Who are you? . . .

Now there is something in everybody that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in other people. . . . I must wait and listen for the sound of the genuine in you. . . .

Now if I hear the sound of the genuine in me and if you hear the sound of the genuine in you it is possible for me to go down in me and come up in you. So that when I look at myself through your eyes having made that pilgrimage, I see in me what you see in me and the wall that separates and divides will disappear and we will become one because the sound of the genuine makes the same music. [3]

[1] C. G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull (Pantheon Books: 1963), 375.

[2] Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations (New World Library: 2011), 2-3.

[3] Howard Thurman, “The Sound of the Genuine,” Baccalaureate Address, Spelman College (May 4, 1980). Text edited by Jo Moore Stewart, Spelman Messenger, vol. 96, no. 4 (Summer 1980), 14-15.

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