Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #17:

“Some go to church and think about fishing, others go fishing and think about God.”

Tony Blake

Perhaps churches are for those who have little or no imagination. It isn’t that one cannot find God there; it’s that God is also everywhere. The Divine flourishes in each and every crack, crevice, within and without.

Most people go to church in order to get holy. We needn’t go to church or temple or mosque, to GET holy. Ideally we go to be reminded that we already are holy – holy and sacred; with no exceptions.

The reason to go to any religious gathering, then, if we are interested in going at all, is to be reminded of this holiness.  The Divine is everywhere and dwells among us, and within us. It’s great, then, to gather and celebrate this essential reality. At the mature levels of all religions is a common goal: union with all beings and with God. I cannot say “I love God but hate humanity.”

Mystics are people that seem to be living quiet, disconnected lives, but actually they are about expanding the world’s consciousness and evolution. Foundational to mysticism is transforming the entire world. Such is a world would be where we recognize all people to possess value, and that we all are morally obligated to respect the intrinsic goodness and sacredness in one another.

This is a tall order with huge consequences. Honoring the humanity of all our fellow beings means that if they are hungry, ill, or oppressed, we must help. This is a most inconvenient truth. This requires a response on social, political and economic terms.

Mystics do this transforming of the world by first confronting their own personal isms, biases, and blind spots. These are the things that get fueled in everyone from fear. “Heal thyself, physician.”

When we start first with ourselves, other people show up differently.

I am not going to go into this current state of our society where fear is being used to separate and pit one group against another, and thus appealing to the worst of humankind. Let’s, instead focus on the basic truth that there is only one human race. All the differences bantered about are pure nonsense, and a huge insult to everyone.

Some people define spiritual maturity as “just trying hard to follow rules of the Bible.” This falls very short of what is actual maturity. Soren Kierkegaard said it best: “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”

Not surprisingly, the two personal barriers towards spiritual growth people self-report are:

(1) “I’m not motivated to grow spiritually” and,

(2) “There are too many distractions that get in the way.”

Furthermore, a majority of responders report they’re satisfied with the level of spiritual maturity they presently experience. Growth is seen as threatening.

This seems to belie a common apprehension regarding change. Change is avoided even when the present situation isn’t working. Fear of the unknown; fear of the cost change may require, as well as, all sorts of anxiousness around leaving the status quo can deter us from otherwise making chooses we know are needed.

The greatest obstacle to a great marriage – or great career – or a great life – is a good one. It’s a “Don’t rock the boat” kind of thinking. So we settle for a so-so, or a sort-of-okay marriage, job, life. I call this not living. Rather, it’s a settling for an “arrangement.”  

“Deep down, each one of us is a mystic. When we tap into that energy we become alive again and we give birth. From the creativity that we release is born the prophetic vision and work that we all aspire to realize as our gift to the world. We want to serve in whatever capacity we can. Getting in touch with the mystic inside is the beginning of our deep service.” Matthew Fox

Mysticism isn’t an exclusive club for the few “so heavenly minded [they’re] of no earthly good” belong, as Johnny Cash sang. Mysticism isn’t only found in monasteries or ashrams, but in ordinary people, in all of us.

The spirituality 99.9% of us are called to isn’t to a monastic life. It’s to a spirituality rooted in our family life, work, and sexuality. It’s a spirituality of the mundane and ordinariness of our day in and day out lives. We live in the world. The holiness is found within the messiness and craziness of our ordinary lives.

Ultimately we are each called to maturity. I like to describe it as being self-differentiated. It‘s the capacity to remain calm and present in the midst of the anxiousness of others. The fancy-schamcy language is to be a non-anxious presence. This is only possible if we are conscious and present.

A reflective life is essential for being a mystic of monasteries and a mystic of main street, USA. We don’t start by asking what the world needs. Reflection as to what makes you come alive; and then go do it. What the world needs is people who have come alive. 

While they are not alone on this score, fishers are people who slow down their minds enough and have a better chance at living a more reflective and conscious life.