The Faces of Time: Exploring Jean Gebser Lesson XI

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 of ourselves. It conveys a reassuring sense of continuity, and its functional indispensability in maintaining the fabric of a well-ordered society is so obvious that ...

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Join us for a Monthly Vigil of Remembrance in the season of COVID

“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 equally important care for the living, those left behind, for the loved ones left behind.“To heal … To heal, we must remember.”           ~ President Joe Biden, February ...

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The Wisdom Jesus Book Circle: What Did Jesus Teach?

Dear friends, and you who are following or joining us in our online The Wisdom Jesus book study,

We meet early next week to take a deep dive into Chapters Three-Five, “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You,” “The Path of Metanoia,” and “A Gospel of Thomas Sampler.” All three of these sections revolve around the question that opens Chapter Three—”What did Jesus actually teach?” Cynthia points us back to the words of St. Paul: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5), and then reminds us that what is central to the Jesus path is “not just admiring Jesus, but acquiring his consciousness.”

How do we put on the mind of Christ?  How do we see through his eyes?  How do we feel through his heart?  How do we learn to respond to the world with the same wholeness and healing love?”

 

These questions, Cynthia says, are at the heart of Christianity—and they’re more about right practice than right belief.

Crucially, she argues that the “Kingdom of Heaven”—the very ...

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The Whole World Needs the Whole World

Our friend Bill Espinosa considered Abdul Aziz Said to be his spiritual teacher for many years. In honor of his recent passing, Bill has shared his remembrance, “Peace and Unity” in the Community Forum. This article, written by Said twenty years ago in the aftermath 9/11, is a beautiful example of his life and work, and so we offer it here. As Bill says, “May the Peace and Unity of his Being remain and inspire us in the difficult months ahead.”

A Time for New Syntheses and New Narratives

September 11, 2001 is more than a tragic event of death and destruction. It is an advent of transformation into a new consciousness. We are at the conjunction of two perspectives. One is the emotional perspective, the perspective that all was peaceful and well. Why did this tragedy happen? Our peace has been shattered. The other perspective is born of resentment, pain, and suffering that have been building for a long period of time, particularly among those who did not experience the period before September 11 as peaceful. In order to draw lessons from this tragedy, we cannot limit ourselves to the first perspective. We have to ...

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The Horse, The Carriage, and the Driver: A Gurdjieffian Slant on a Gebserian Conundrum, Exploring Jean Gebser Lesson X

In my last post I invited us all to begin thinking more specifically in terms of the gifts and strengths contributed to the whole by the magic and mythic structures of consciousness. By now we’ve been working in Gebser long enough to see how that popular Wilber cliché, “transcend and include,” in fact merely muddies the waters. The “more primitive” structures of consciousness are not simply folded into the new structure like eggs in a cake batter. Rather, like rooms in a museum, they continue to stand in their own integrity, each with its own center of gravity and way of making connections. They are all needed to create that “paroxysm of harmonized complexity” through which the Integral light can shine.

This is true on both the micro-and macro-level. It is true in the healing of our own souls, and it is even more true in the healing of our culture. For Gebser, the individual and cultural expressions of evolutionary consciousness are joined at the hip. The outer world is not simply a gateway or metaphor for our inner journey. If anything, the flow is in the opposite direction. Conscious evolution is measured in Gebserian scale by the ...

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Online Options to Study with Cynthia Bourgeault: Available Now!

It occurred to me that people may want a little guidance as to how to pick and choose among the sudden embarrassment of riches of Cynthia Bourgeault online course options currently opening up for registration. Here’s a bit more information to help you make your selections:

 

I would love to have as many hands as possible on deck for the Spirituality & Practice e-course, Spiritual Gifts from the Imaginal Realm, which will launch February 18, 2021 and run through the six weeks of Lent. This is my pilot online course unpacking the material in my recent book Eye of the Heart. I will be trying to present the basic building blocks in a way that is broadly inclusive (even if you haven’t read Eye of the Heart) and practical, based in actual practices that people can do to help our entire planet through the perilous eye of the needle we’re collectively facing. If we could get a thousand people on this course—anchored by seasoned Wisdom students —we could change the world. No kidding. It’s a pretty easy pace: two-emails a week, with an accompanying spiritual practice, text for reflection, and 24/7 access to the Practice Circle ...

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Wisdom and Systemic Racism

As we continue on in the season of Epiphany, the veil still thin, we are invited to bring the gifts of Wisdom to that which is springing forth and desiring to manifest through form in the collective. We are in a conducive and fertile field for recognition, mending, and re-membering the mercy as we make our way through the collective traumas of our time.

Last March, the Covid-19 pandemic made way for another awakening to the ongoing racism and inequity embedded in the soil of the world, and in particular America. This overdue awakening brought turmoil and unrest, a necessary condition for growth. Time goes on and it is important for us to stay awake, to keep our hearts tuned, to receive the help available to us, to integrate the resources needed, for something unknown to unfold as the future beckons us into new structures of consciousness.

There is an ongoing need to be present to this collective pain body and re-enacted trauma as it intersects with the Wisdom tradition. In particular, we can draw from the Fourth Way teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff as a source of insight. The Fourth Way is all about making your life ...

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The Baton Has Been Passed: Now Can We Run With It? Exploring Jean Gebser, Lesson IX

The Baton Has Been Passed. Can We Now Run With It?

No, dear friends, I didn’t send you off on a wild goose chase to immerse yourself in 450 pages of some of the most dense and intellectually challenging prose ever crafted on this planet. That was not my intention when I launched this deep dive into The Ever Present Origin late last fall. My concern was—and remains—entirely practical: to help us find our way to a broader vision that might allow us to see more clearly where our nation—and more broadly, evolutionary consciousness itself—seems to have gotten hung up, and to try to set things back on course.

Gebser’s brilliant unpacking of the five structures of consciousness, together with his helpful delineation of how each structure moves from “efficient” to “deficient” expressions, help us to see more objectively where we’re pinned and to chart a course of practical action in some perhaps unexpected directions. The following post is a first effort in that direction, offered in deep gratitude for the profound work that those of you in the Wisdom community—joined by praying, caring, sincere people all over the planet—have contributed to pulling things back from the brink ...

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The Wisdom Jesus Book Circle & Opening to the Slow Work of God

Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  ~Howard Thurman

You invite us to drink from living streams. For in You is the very source of life; And in your Light do we see light.  ~Psalm 36, Nan Merrill, Psalms for Praying

 

What makes us come alive in times such as this, as we participate in the world as it is? Or, as Cynthia asks us in her foundational book, The Wisdom Jesus, “Could our own lives become such a perfect fusion of infinite love and finite form that light would pour from our being as an actual physical radiance?” (102). What does this radiance of being look like and feel like? How do we walk the Jesus path from the inside?

These are just some of the questions we will engage together as over 90 people from around the world gather this week in small groups under the spiritual care of eight seasoned Wisdom leaders. All the book circles will meet together on the same ...

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Integral as Theotokos: A Western Take on Origin: Exploring Jean Gebser Lesson VIII

Gebser names his book The Ever Present Origin, and Origin is indeed the center point around which everything else in his in his magisterial teaching revolves. But his vision of Origin is unique, to say the least, and highly elusive to our habitual perspectival modes of thinking. It comes closer to my own notion of “chiastic epicenter” as I unpack it in Eye of the Heart rather than to its usual mental/rational placement as the beginning point on a horizontal timeline (or even as what lies just “behind” that beginning point).

The first and most important thing to keep in mind about Origin-according-to-Jean-Gebser is that it does not mean “in the beginning.” In Gebser’s native German the word for origin is Ursprung, which literally means “sprung forth.” The concept is verb-based, not noun-based; it designates not a primordial state, but a primordial action. It is not “cosmic inflation” (the current scientific buzzword for the universal steady state apart from local irruptions into physical manifestation), the zero point field, or “ground luminosity.” These are all terms with which it would otherwise have strong resonance, but the feeling tone is off. As Raimon Panikkar puts it in  ...

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