When Does “Life” Begin?

In this third installment of what now looks to be shaping up as five-part series, I hope to bring a Wisdom perspective to that profound liminal sphere encompassing conception, birth, and the formation of the soul. For it’s in the metaphysical confusion surrounding these mysteries, I believe, that the roots of our present abortion conundrum really have their origin. Note that I say “a Wisdom perspective” rather that “the Wisdom perspective,” for the Wisdom tradition is by no means monochrome. My comments here reflect the strands of the lineage that have most directly informed my own understanding, specifically, the Gurdjieff Work and the Christian mystical/esoteric lineage running through the Gospel of Thomas, the Philokalia, Jacob Boehme, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. They also reflect some of the thinking at the forefront of contemporary embryology, particularly as represented in the work of Dutch embryologist Jaap van der Wal. THE BEGINNINGS OF LIFE The Wisdom tradition would affirm vigorously that life does not merely begin at conception; it is already well underway by the time of conception—“life” here understood not as a purely biological phenomenon, but as flow, dynamism, and intelligent purposiveness. In contrast to earlier, more mechanical models, which tended to

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Non-identification and Enlightened Action

Dear Wisdom Friends, I received the following in my inbox this past week from Jerry Toporovsky. Jerry is a senior teacher of the Gurdjieff Work and was the leader of our pilgrimage to Uzbekistan in 2015. I found it so appropriate to those of us struggling to understand the relationship between non-identification and enlightened action that I thought I'd pass it on. Thanks for considering! Love and blessing, Cynthia   There is much fear and anxiety about; the time we live in can be defined as such. There is little that most folks trust; people do not fear a specific thing but EVERYTHING and will do anything to escape it. Uncertainty and doubt lead to following snake oil salesmen - destroying the competing vitriol is rarely a solution. For us in the work the key is humility. We can be with anxiety and not attempt to escape; we can endure uncertainty and see that being so throws us off our smug island of certainty to a world of potential. We can even appreciate the pain and fear and allow them to wake us up. Let us not lose ourselves in our emotions and remain non-identified. Be an activist if you

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‘Communal Time of Prayer’ on behalf of Our World

Yesterday morning a desire 'arose' from among our Wisdom community to have a 'communal time of prayer' on behalf of our world. Our local (Bethlehem) Wisdom member said: “I was drawn back to the powerful experience many of us had when you, Marcella, were up in Maine (in Feb) and we all 'sat together’; different places but at the same time. Would it be possible for as many of the wisdom community as possible to pick a day and time to have a giant sit weekly? I feel that the light that would generate could only help”. This resonated deeply within me, as what catapulted through me over the weekend was "FOR THIS...we were asked to go to Stonington for that prayer weekend in February" (see "Conscious Circle" Ingathering). THIS WAS WHAT WE WERE PRAYING 'on behalf of', what we were preparing for. The ‘sensation’ of this recognition was so strong Sunday night, it literally felt like I was being pulled out of bed, onto my knees on behalf of our world. Then yesterday afternoon I met with one of my Law of Three midwife groups (see "To Midwife Third Force": Creating Law of Three Midwife Groups) to be reminded

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Abortion, Pro-Life, and the Secular State: A Modest Proposal

In my previous blog (concurrently posted on both the Contemplative Society and Northeast Wisdom websites), I invited members of our Wisdom community to begin to engage a conversation on the emotion-charged issue of abortion rights as a means to promote respectful dialogue to think beyond this singular issue. It is with no little “fear and trembling” that I launch a foray into this quintessentially Catholic moral ground. But to the extent that abortion has become the tail wagging the dog, chaining much of the Catholic political conscience to the decidedly un-Christian agendas of the religious right—and to the extent that this “elephant in the room” continues to go unmentioned in the otherwise compelling moral analysis recently emerging from Vatican—I feel some obligation as an American citizen and a wisdom teacher to at least try to get the ball rolling. Forgive me: this is long for a blog. But take it in small doses, and take your time.   SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS If my memory serves me correctly, in one of his earliest encyclicals the Pope already laid out some firm groundwork here when he warned against a myopic, single-point focus that inevitably twists moral issues out of context. That’s surely

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“A Surprising Ecumenism…”

Both my spirits and my hopes have been raised by the recent appearance of an important and already game-changing new article in the most recent edition of La Civilta Cattolica. This is a prestigious Jesuit publication, whose contents are personally vetted by the Vatican Secretary of State and which can thus be seen as a bellwether if not a de facto mouthpiece for papal policy. Entitled Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism, the article is the first attempt I have seen to drive a significant intellectual wedge into the murky moral alliance between conservative Catholicism and Protestant evangelical fundamentalism that helped to catapult Donald Trump into office and is still a cornerstone of his support.In this learned yet accessible study, co-authors Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa (a Roman Catholic and a Presbyterian pastor, both of them respected editors and close friends of the Pope) trace the rise of Protestant Fundamentalism in the early 20th century, exploring its major doctrinal assertions and detailing its increasing infiltration into American politics. They conclude with a pointblank rejection of these doctrinal claims as antithetical and dangerous to authentic Catholic belief. The article’s “blockbuster” assertion (understandably receiving wide play in

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