Unperspectival, Perspectival, Aperspectival: Exploring Jean Gebser, Lesson II

Jean Gebser’s cultural home base was the world of art. He was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso’s, and examples culled from art history dot the landscape of his The Ever-Present Origin, illustrating almost every significant point he makes. It’s not surprising that his master interpretive lens, perspective, should itself derive from the domain of art.

Yes, perspective. Just like you learned in elementary school art. When you first began drawing pictures, probably as a preschooler, Mommy and Daddy and your big sister were always bigger, no matter where they appeared in your picture, because that’s what they were! Then someone taught you about foreground and background, and you learned how to make things at the back of the picture smaller to show that they were farther away. You learned to turn your house at a slight angle on the page so that you could show two sides of it at once. You may or may not have consciously realized that you were learning how to proportion the various bits and pieces in relation to a hypothetical point on the horizon. But your drawings got more orderly, and they began to convey a sense of depth.

That’s ...

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Mystical Hope Chapters Four & Five: The “Kernel of Gold” at the Center of You

In the middle of winter I discovered in myself an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus

This quote is the epigraph for “Dying Before You Die,” the fourth chapter of Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God, by Cynthia Bourgeault. I like to sit with these words that were chosen for this page, allow them to go inside. It’s personal; brings us right into the heart of our own experience. For me, it brings up a flood of warmth and gratitude for the hard stuff. When all is stripped to the very bones, when nothing is left—Merton says—when everything is taken away:

…to that point of final destruction, and the last little bit that’s left before destruction, a little kernel of gold which is the essence of you—and there is God protecting it…

Merton says that we know this: that we will be ok, looked after. That this knowing is “built into that particular little grain of gold,” and that when we are brought to our knees, when all is lost, something in us finds that we have a magnetic center that will always be, that ...

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Stages Versus Structures: Exploring Jean Gebser, Lesson I

The introduction to this series, entitled An Invitation to Begin the Healing Work, was posted November 10, 2020, and is an invitation to dive in together with the work of Jean Gebser, seen first through the eyes of Jeremy Johnson in his book Seeing Through the World: Jean Gebser and Integral Consciousness. Lesson II will follow closely on the heels of Lesson I, so stay tuned!

If you’ve cut your teeth on the Ken Wilber roadmaps, the Gebser terrain will at first look reassuringly familiar. The familiar levels of consciousness are all right there, even designated by their familiar names: the archaic, magic, mythic, mental, and integral. Nor is this surprising, since Wilber explicitly acknowledges Gebser as the primary source of his model.

There is one crucial difference, however. In Wilber, these are stages of consciousness. In Gebser, they are STRUCTURES of consciousness.

Perhaps the significance of this nuance escapes you (it certainly escaped me initially). But on this nuance, actually, all else turns.

Stages EVOLVE. They are like steps on a ladder, building sequentially one upon the other in a journey that leads onward and upward.

Structures UNFOLD. They are like sections of a ...

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An Invitation to Begin the Healing Work: Exploring Jean Gebser, Introduction

Well, the oasis of grace miraculously opened, and now it’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get on with the healing work! I know that my own first assignment has something to do with helping to expose—and hopefully defuse—some of the reactivity and sanctimoniousness that boils just below the surface in my immediate peer group, the spiritual liberal intelligentsia.

Sometimes a book simply falls off the bookshelf when the time is right. In this case, it wasn’t the bookshelf, but my nightstand, where for the past year this modest, aqua-covered text had been slowly inching its way down in my pile of unread books. To whomever the now-unremembered giver may have been, THANK YOU! It has definitely proved to be the right book for the task now at hand.

The book is called Seeing Through the World by Jeremy Johnson and is a brilliant introduction to the teaching of Jean Gebser, a name you may not even have heard of. As I devoured the book in a single weekend (fortunately, it’s short), I could feel my world once again gently rocking on its foundations, always a good sign that a book has really hit home ...

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Stonington 2020 Audio Files: The Imaginal Realm

A small gathering of friends met with Cynthia at Stonington Maine September 6-10, working on some of the Gurdjieff exercises in Joseph Azize’s new book and doing a deep dive into Cynthia’s new book, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.  These are the rough recordings from most of the teaching and practice sessions during that week.  They will be available at no cost until the beginning of next year.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Informal Gathering

Monday, September 7, 2020

Introduction: Overview of our work together and Atmosphere Exercise (1 hour 28 minutes) https://northeastwisdom-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/zoom0016.mp3 First Morning Teaching: The Worlds (1 hour 4 minutes) https://northeastwisdom-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/zoom0017.mp3 Second Morning Teaching: Ray of Creation (52 minutes) https://northeastwisdom-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/zoom0018.mp3 Afternoon Web exercise led by Andrew Breitenberg (not recorded) Evening gathering: Parabola article by Lewellyn Vaughan-Lee, followed by conversation and dialogue (1 hour 27 minutes) https://northeastwisdom-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/zoom0019.mp3

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Morning Meditation and Teaching: Atmosphere Exercise and Gurdjieff’s Creation Myth and Exchange Between the Worlds (2 hours 4 minutes) https://northeastwisdom-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/zoom0020.mp3 Morning Atmosphere Exercise led by Andrew ...

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The 2020 Annual Fundraising Campaign:
Your Generosity, Making a Difference

Dear Wisdom Friends,

Once again it’s that time of the year when I have the privilege of inviting you to renew your financial support for Northeast Wisdom.

Despite or because of the pandemic licking at our heels, your Wisdom Council has had a highly productive year, one of our best ever. As online teaching became “the new normal,” Council members Matthew Wright, Marcella Kraybill-Greggo, and Bill Redfield stepped up to the plate with a rich offering a of Zoom study groups and retreats. And of course, out there in the field, many of you were doing likewise in this time of planetary “pause and reset.” Hearty thanks to every one of you who have been holding down the post. It has made a difference.

This year we went back to the drawing boards, literally. In recognition of the growingly international character of our network (which now stretches from New Zealand to the Yukon) and the need to share resources more effectively and with an enhanced online outreach, Bob Sabath and Laura Ruth headed up a task force (also including myself and designer Andrew Breitenberg) to lay the groundwork for a major overhaul of our Northeast ...

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Mystical Hope Chapters Two & Three: Mercy, Meditation and Hope

Mercy is God’s innermost being turned outward to sustain the visible and created world in unbreakable love.

‘Stop hesitating!’ This has been my inner mantra throughout 2020. I have been saying yes to invitations to step up and lean in, even when I ‘don’t feel prepared enough’. That was true also when agreeing to write this blog for the Northeast Wisdom/ Wisdom Waypoints Book Study Group on chapters 2 and 3 of Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God, by Cynthia Bourgeault. The yes path. And, as I have attempted, multiple times to begin to write, my heart has felt full with the spiritual energy in this little book and the gratitude for its companioning in my own life through the years. Please read this as a heart offering for today. The richness and depth of this powerhouse book is to be savored and re-read and applied, for the rest of our lives.

As our Northeast Wisdom Council experienced the impact of the Wisdom Way of Knowing book circles in the spring of 2020 and considered what book to gather around in the fall, I felt a clear call for Mystical Hope. The ...

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Mystical Hope, Chapter One: Awakening in the Body on the Journey to the Wellsprings

“Come, are you ready to set out?”

The first chapter of Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God ends with the above words, Cynthia extending her hand to all who want to travel on a path to the wellsprings that lie far beyond the familiar hope for an outcome, resolution of challenge or difficulty, or wish for change. Listening for words we usually connect to hope, I can taste how these belong together. They are of a particular arena—hope as related to something concrete in the world, outside of ourselves, a circumstance, future event or situation. Hoping for or about something, hoping for something to be different than what it is. The journey Cynthia is inviting us to is of another color, a distinct flavor and fragrance.

I love the tradition in the spiritual life of “hints.” Shakespeare described a hint as “an indirect suggestion intended to be caught by the knowing.” As we set off on this journey to a mystical hope, we are given a hint even before turning to the first page of Chapter One, from Symeon the New Theologian, born in 949. His words speak directly to ...

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Stonington Imaginal School Serves Up Rich Bread for the Journey

My heart is filled with gratitude and reverence for the sixteen plucky souls who accepted the invitation to join me for a tiny, on the ground Wisdom School in Stonington this past September 6-10. Officially we broke ground on my new book, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm. On a deeper level we engaged together in the soul-searching work of exploring the pandemic from the standpoint of imaginal causality and attempting to generate some of those missing “spiritual nutrients” in whose absence the heart of our collective humanity has been slowly withering. At the head of the list was an element I call “paschal courage:” not the reckless courage that states “God is on my side; I’m invincible!” but the quietly gathered equanimity of the cross that affirms “Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s.”

We studied, prayed, chanted, conversed till long into the night, did Gurdjieff movements, practiced Centering Prayer and tonglen, drank in the healing air of Stonington, and released the web of our hearts back into our planet. It was a wonder to be in each other’s presence again.

In this journey into what lies beyond ...

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Finding Your Wisdom Voice: A Virtual Program

All of us have lived through those occasions on which someone has asked us about our pursuit of, and interest in, Wisdom. Instead of giving a comprehensive and articulate explanation of Wisdom and our involvement in it, we struggled with how to convey our experience. Why, we have wondered, is this so hard to explain…?    Wisdom is like nothing else we have ever studied or encountered. From our first exposure, we all intuited its life-changing possibilities. And rather than a learning of some completely new field or discipline, our exposure to Wisdom’s teachings has mostly been a recognition of something we had already deeply known, but which we couldn’t ourselves bring forth or quite articulate.    There is no Wisdom curriculum that can learned and then parroted. Wisdom’s way of knowing must necessarily be experientially taken into the whole of our being and lived as our own. But in this process, it is the articulation of this truth and the sharing of this experience that actually feeds and furthers the integration itself.   We must remember that in order for Wisdom to have its full weight and heft, it must be worked through the integrity and authenticity ...

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