We are happy to announce that the printing has begun! Cynthia Bourgeault’s new book Mystical Courage: Commentaries on Selected Contemplative Exercises by G. I. Gurdjieff, as Compiled by Joseph Azize will be available for purchase soon. Our friends at Monkfish Publishing have been busy preparing this collection of six G.I. Gurdjieff exercises from Joseph Azize’s book Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises illuminated by Cynthia’s own commentaries for, in her words, “a broader spiritual audience…connecting the dots between the familiar world of Christian contemplation and the brave new world of Gurdjieffian metaphysics and nomenclature…” (pg. xi). Cynthia worked these six exercises herself, with a small group of friends who have decades in the work, before bringing them to the larger Wisdom community for our collective work together—a suggested “pandemic homework” specifically gathered for these times.
In her introduction Cynthia speaks about the step in the Gurdjieff work that takes us beyond the pause and adaptations necessitated by the pandemic. She speaks about the opportunity when stopped in our tracks ...
All of nature with its forms and creatures exist together and are interwoven with each other. They will be resolved back to their own proper origin, for the compositions of matter return to the original roots of their nature.
Those who have ears, let them hear this.
Everyone who begins to study and know their own states is well aware that our experience is a constant dying and rebirth. We must not be frightened as we come to see this, although it really is a terrifying thing that we have no power to keep hold of our own life; that it has to be renewed or given back to us by something that does not come from ourselves.
But even when we do see the helplessness with which we fall into oblivion, at that moment when we are most trying to hold onto ourselves, we must learn to trust that there is something that calls us back, and will call us back. And ...
We see that at Christ’s death the whole world entered upon a cosmic spring the harvest of which will be the remaking of our universes in newness and splendor. At the moment of Christ’s death the veil in the temple was rent in two from top to bottom, the veil that hung before the Holy of Holies. The veil of the temple represented the whole universe as it stands between God and man. At the moment when Christ’s act of redemption is consummated, the whole cosmos opens itself to the Godhead, bursts open for God like a flowerbud. The universe is no longer what it was before.
The Son of God tore open the whole world and made it transparent to God’s light. The transformation of the world is even now a reality.
The Heart of the Heart of the world,
the Heart of the Heart of the world
Draw us deeper,
draw us ...
In stillness nailed
to hold all time, all change, all circumstance
in and to love’s embrace
Beloved One, creation longs to be held
in the great hands of your heart;
O let us know this now.
Into them we place these fragments, our lives,
that you may do with them as you wish.
Into them we also place this unconscious broken world.
We know that in You all will be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.
Now his body writhes in pain:
once it was my delight, now it is my sorrow.
Blood drains from arms that held me close,
now they are fixed and life has fled from flesh and bone.
As we take him from wood to earth,
all is silent, empty—
passion surrenders to another love
Take Off Your Shoes
~ by Adwoa Lewis-Wilson
Take off your shoes,
In fact, remove all your coverings –
The cloak of achievement, adornments of knowledge,
Every false veil of ‘self’.
For the place you stand is holy ground.
Here is where I will burn away all that is not real.
Here is where you remain aflame with my Spirit’s fire.
Take off your shoes,
Yes, all your coverings.
For here you have found the baptismal fount.
You may not enter this sanctuary other than naked,
The Wisdom Jesus asks us to gently question the Christianity of tradition, and turn towards the discovery of what it means right here and now to seek and find the Wisdom Jesus in our lives. To live the path and connect with the person who was called the Single One, Ihidaya, Master. We are being pointed to a path, an unfolding process. The Gospel of Thomas logion quoted on the first page indicates that to seek includes becoming troubled and confused before opening to wonder, sovereignty and rest. And this is all ok. It is real.
It is a path that relies on what Cynthia calls, “our own power of inner recognition” (pg. 3): an inner capacity that can perceive “through a raw immediacy of presence” within which we are able to connect with our “own direct knowingness…Out of this sovereignty is born—our own inner authority” (pg. 7).
“Recognition energy…is the capacity to ground truth a spiritual experience in our own being” (pg. 80).
As we curate life from the food in our atmospheres…
Earlier in Lent, I set the stage for one of the greatest rites of Jesus’ initiation—the Transfiguration—by mentioning the gospel which is probably one of the better known photographs of Jesus’ life. Jesus foretells his death and resurrection to his disciples. Explaining to them how he will have to undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and by everyone who is anyone, and be killed and then raised from the dead.
And Peter, being Peter, pulls Jesus aside in utter disgust and rebukes him. You have to always wonder from what plane Peter was seeing. And then there’s the moment. Jesus pulling back from Peter. I imagine some prolonged silence. Silence. Eyes darting around. And Jesus turns to the other disciples, which means turning his back on Peter, and yells, “Get behind me Satan! For you are putting your mind (your mind) not on divine things but on human things.”
It’s quite a ...
There are two other things you should know about Gebser’s “aperspectival” time: it is non-exclusionary, and it is purposive.
Linear or perspectival time, the time we’re used to, is exclusionary. Its linear, unidirectional flow provides sequencing and causality. Things that happen earlier cause things that happen later, not the other way around. To choose to do one thing often means choosing NOT to do something else. If you decide to become a monk, you can’t marry the girl of your dreams. If you’re an artist painting a full-on portrait of somebody’s face, you can’t simultaneously show their back. As the medieval author of The Cloud of Unknowing laments, “God never gives us two moments at once.”
It is not so in aperspectival time. Here everything that is qualitatively in a moment can and does display simultaneously, as time “irrupts” into the present from a greater coherence beyond it, where seeming opposites or dissonances are harmonized in a more capacious whole. This is the “intensification” that Gebser speaks of. All our possible “courses ...
Whatever you may take Gebser’s Integral structure of consciousness to be, its most striking characteristic is that it entails a radically different approach to time. Time presents in a strikingly different way in Integral. Gebser rightly describes it as a “fourth dimension,” and the capacity to grasp what he is laying before us here is frustratingly commensurate with our own attained capacity to begin to think, perceive, and connect the dots according to the conventions of this new language of temporicity.
For most well-educated Westerners, this will be the toughest nut to crack in the journey to the heart of Ever Present Origin. We are used to thinking of time as a duration, metronomically flowing from the past to the future. Even though we know theoretically that Einstein totally up-ended that illusion in his theory of Relativity, in the practical, commonsense world we mostly inhabit time still seems to flow steadily and to present itself as an objective backdrop against which we play out our lives, order our datebooks, and construct the narrative ...
“By way of loss, by way of such vast and immeasurable experiences of loss, we are quite powerfully introduced to the whole.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Sometimes I feel discouraged
And deep I feel the pain
In prayers the holy spirit
Revives my soul again
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the weary soul
~ traditional hymn
This past January 20, many in our larger Wisdom community joined together with a National Moment of Unity and Remembrance in honor and memory of those who have died from COVID.
…We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but ...