Richard Rohr is a revered speaker, the author of more than 20 books, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, a regular contributor to Sojourners and Tikkun, and one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled on this website.

We live in a culture where everything has to be "a little louder, a little brighter, a little newer, a little more expensive, a little classier, and especially a little quicker." With all this stimulation and action, Rohr writes, silence gets pushed aside. In a lyrical tribute to this essential spiritual practice, the author salutes it as the very foundation of all reality, a living presence of itself, an alternative consciousness, a kind of wholeness that can absorb paradoxes and contradictions, and the ground and seedbed of all words.

There are two kinds of silence: the pause between conversations and the spiritual silence that demands a deep presence and attention to the present moment. Rohr is thankful for contemplative communities who are rediscovering this mystical path which provides an alternative to the recent emphasis on the rational mind and dualism (always antagonistic, either-or, right-or-wrong thinking).

Rohr is convinced that when religions lose the contemplative mind, or non-dual consciousness, the chance of war increases. The true self is rooted in compassion, which is love itself. One way of practicing this virtue is through intercessory prayer. Another way is by letting go of the mind's need to control and fix things. The contemplative mind enables us to have simple common sense and an inner peace that liberates us from the restlessness and stress of everyday life in our competitive culture.