Whur Are We Going?

Tucked away in the charming lobster fishing town of Stonington, Maine, a group of about 100 students gathered this past week for this year’s Wisdom Ingathering, exploring together with Cynthia Gurdjieff’s five Obligolnian Strivings in the mornings, and the 8 conversation-starter points that Cynthia recently published in a blog (“Whur We Come From”) on the key components of what comprises our Wisdom “lineage” during the afternoon sessions. Sprinkled throughout our time together was the usual rhythm of teaching, conscious work, and prayer that marks all of our Wisdom work… but this particular gathering carried a unique energetic signature that felt decidedly different. As all mothers can attest to, the signs of a growth spurt are usually evident in the preceding days in an angsty, unusually sensitive child. Suddenly they’re waking up at night, tossing from the discomfort of physical change that is often achy… but lack the self-awareness to be able to name what it is that they’re sensing. I’ve been living this recently with my five-year-old son Rowan. For three nights in a row he woke up, stumbling into my room, restless and uncomfortable… half asleep and unable to communicate clearly except for a moaning jumble of half-words of

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Christophany and the Holy Trinity

An earlier version of this article first appeared at Contemplative Journal Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity, Wisdom Community! Today is the day the Christian calendar dedicates to the Dance of Life, God as Lover, Beloved, and Love Overflowing—the divine dynamism unfolding creation as the disclosure of the Heart of God. As we contemplate this mystery, I’d like to share with you some thoughts inspired by a teacher our Wisdom lineage claims: the late Raimon Panikkar, easily one of the most significant Christian thinkers of the past century. Born in 1918 to a Spanish, Roman Catholic mother and an Indian, Hindu father, interreligious dialogue was in Panikkar's DNA. In 1946 he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, and in 1954 made his way to India to explore more deeply his Hindu roots. Years later, he would joke “I left Europe as a Christian; in India, I discovered I was a Hindu; and I returned as a Buddhist—without ever having ceased to be a Christian.” That gives you a sense of his expansive spirit. Panikkar coined for us the word “christophany.” Like “theophany”—a manifestation of God (theos)—christophany literally means “a manifestation of Christ.” Panikkar uplifted christophany as an alternative to

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Come Holy Spirit! The Pentecostal Fire

Dear Wisdom Community, I was asked by our own dear Laura Ruth if I’d share my Pentecost sermon from St. Gregory’s in Woodstock with our community here. Of course! I’m copying the text below; you can also listen to an audio recording here, if you’d prefer that. And here are the Scripture readings for the day. If you’d like to explore a bit more about the roots of Pentecost in Judaism, as well as my own reflection on this particular feast day’s relationship to our contemporary interspiritual movement, check out my article Pentecostal Fire, which first appeared over at Contemplative Journal. Come Holy Spirit, set our hearts on fire, Matthew I speak to you in the Name of the Holy Spirit, the holy Breath of God who breathes in all things, giving life, shaping justice, and calling us all into the fullness of love. Amen. Happy Pentecost, Church! Happy birthday, Church. Happy Feast of the Holy Spirit. Today is the day when the disciples of Jesus—that’s us—when the disciples of Jesus, scared and waiting and in prayer, keeping vigil in the Upper Room, bereaved of their Jesus, today is the day when they are charged with the Holy Spirit, set

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Holding the Post: Leadership Skills for Wisdom Practice Circles

What Cynthia has initiated is nothing short of remarkable. By crisscrossing this continent (as well as planting seeds all over the world) in a couple of short decades Cynthia has built the foundation of an emergent Wisdom community. But where do we go from here and how might we assist in this process…? My sense is that at this juncture in time the propagation of Wisdom may best be spread by the further proliferation of Wisdom Practice Circles. These “at home” groups give participants the opportunity to share and deepen Wisdom practice. For some this affords the opportunity to put a toe in the waters of Wisdom in order to see if a Wisdom School might be the next step. For others who have had the experience of attending a Wisdom School, a Wisdom Practice Circle offers a chance to solidify, stabilize, and integrate the learnings that have taken place. But besides how Wisdom Practice Circles might serve our individual development, they also serve to promote community. They become the gathering lights around which Wisdom students can be drawn and nurtured. Thus, community by community, we are gradually establishing Wisdom outposts that dot the landscape. And these Practices Circles are

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“WHUR WE COME FROM…”

“Teachers of contemplative Christianity, who acknowledged the limitations of human knowledge and the inconstant nature of human sentiment, instead encouraged a commitment to practice. A scripturally grounded commitment to practice and service – rather than a reliance on unsteady belief and feeling – is the fulcrum of contemplative Christianity.”  ~ Paula Pryce, The Monk's Cell From time to time in the unfolding life of a lineage, it becomes important to stop and ponder together “whur we come from” (as my teacher Rafe used to call it): i.e., the fundamental understandings that called us into being as a particular expression of the wider tradition of Christian contemplative Wisdom. As the Contemplative Society, our flagsghip Wisdom vessel, now celebrates its twentieth anniversary and a new generation of seekers and board members assume their turn at the helm, it seems like an appropriate occasion for just such a moment of reflection. Wisdom, like water, is itself clear and formless, but it necessarily assumes the shape and coloration of the container in which it is captured. Between formless essence and manifesting particularity there is a reciprocal dynamism; you can’t have one without the other. Our own particular branch of the great underground river of Wisdom came

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