Poverty, Chastity, Obedience:
“Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, E

The initial commentaries on the “Web” exercise speak to the relationship between a personal "atmosphere" and the "web" that comes into being through group work together, and remains, undispersed, when the group is apart. As a potential exchange between the group atmosphere and the planetary atmosphere grows, Cynthia invites us here to consider how the monastic vows support, with "due humility and awe," the group work possible at this level. Welcome to Cynthia's latest post in her Pandemic Homework series, the fifth of her Commentaries on the "Web" exercise, from Joseph Azize's new book on the work of G. I. Gurdjieff. See the links to all the posts in the series at the end of this post, where you can also learn more about the book. We encourage you to share your comments below. Now, to Cynthia: You might picture Gurdjieff’s "web" as a two-directional amplifier. Directed inwardly, it enables individual group members to draw continuing replenishment from the collective strength of the whole. Directed outwardly, it boosts the magnitude of the group’s common aim to a point where “you can have a reciprocal action on a whole city.” Through the amplifying effect of its web, the group becomes a real

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The Meeting of Christian and Taoist Wisdom

In May of 2020, Allen Bourque spoke with Laura Ruth on behalf of the Northeast Wisdom website, to talk about how his three decades of work in the Taoist tradition interfaces with his love of the Christian Wisdom tradition. Allen, Laura and Kerstin Lipke worked together for five years during Wisdom retreats at Hallelujah Farm, in New Hampshire. Beginning on June 16, 2020, Allen is offering a zoom course on Taoist practice for the Wisdom community called "Taoist Practices for Our Emergent Reality: Grounding, Embodying and Extending Our Hearts." You will find more information about the course at the end of this post.   LR:  Lets’ jump right in: What’s your central message? AB: I want to bring out three core aspects of Taoism, how these dovetail with facets of Wisdom Christianity, and how together they bear on our current world transition. The first issue is the practices themselves, which are the primary offering I make. Since ancient times, Taoism has been, fundamentally, a practice-oriented tradition. In fact, the title of the original text—which pre-dates the Tao Te Ching—is Inward Training. Those practices are most often done communally as well as privately and the practices are far more central to

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Global Warming Revisited:
“Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, D

Welcome to Cynthia's third commentary on the "Web" exercise in this Pandemic Homework series, details of which you will find at the end of this post. Please post your comments below!   In the meantime, Cynthia has extended an invitation: Today, Thursday, May 21, Ascension Day, I will offer myself in the Four Ideals Exercise on behalf our entire planet. Anyone care to join me? Not nailing down a specific time…just "whenever…" real time will always flow into the infinite NOW. I wonder if our casually joined atmospheres could indeed "warm the earth" on this day of cosmic arising.... In regard to the special invitation above, see the "Four Ideals" (pp. 229-240) in the book Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation & Exercises. If you do not have access to the book, you can find resources available online. Now, back to "warming the earth" through the "Web" exercise! The first three commentaries on the "Web" exercise speak to the relationship between a personal atmosphere and the web that comes into being through group work together, and remains, undispersed, when apart. The far more interesting possibilities implicit in this exercise, however, open up for me in the opposite direction: between the group atmosphere and

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The Foundational Gesture to Enter the Divine Dance is Surrender: Chapter VI of the Wisdom Way of Knowing

Welcome to a monthly series of posts from the leaders of the Northeast Wisdom Book Study Group. In January the class took up The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart by Cynthia Bourgeault. The study group is full, but we invite you to follow along with these posts (links to the other chapters are at the bottom of this article), perhaps with your own small gathering. Lovingly re-read over and over, this little book is chock full of the basic tenets of the Wisdom tradition including its clear synthesis of the Benedictine Ora et Labora and Gurdjieff's Three Centered Knowing and the central role of the heart. Nan Delach brings you this month's post on Chapter VI: Freedom and Surrender: The Anthropology of Wisdom. Chapter VI describes a willing deconstruction of our small self, our acorn (p. 64), and a balancing of our three centers, such that we can effectively articulate the gesture of surrender. A gesture of spacious openness—not a collapse into capitulation—but a relaxed inner stance that allows for a balanced, truly measured response. One with courage, strength and fullness of heart. We begin by letting go of our false sense of

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Yin and Yang: “Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, C

For any of you who are new to the website: Welcome! And welcome to Cynthia Bourgeault's third commentary on the "Web" exercise; part of an ongoing series of posts that began in late March 2020 in the midst of the global covid-19 pandemic. Gurdjieff called these exercises "Transformed Contemplation," which Cynthia says is a "contemplation that actually transforms something, both in ourselves and in the world. It is a kind of sacred alchemy, which is to be understood within the context of Gurdjieff’s great vision of 'reciprocal feeding': the exchange of physical/energetic substances between the realms which maintains the whole cosmic ecosystem in a state of dynamic equilibrium." More information and links to the series can be found at the end of this post, where you will also find a place to share your comments and questions. Here's Cynthia: The Web Exercise is unique in the Gurdjieff repertoire, Azize comments, “in that it requires the members of the group to work at it in conjunction with each other, both when they come together as a group and while they go about their usual [i.e., separated] activities” (p. 200). The exercise thus has a kind of “yin and yang” quality to

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