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Mystical Hope, Chapter One: Awakening in the Body on the Journey to the Wellsprings

“Come, are you ready to set out?”

The first chapter of Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God ends with the above words, Cynthia extending her hand to all who want to travel on a path to the wellsprings that lie far beyond the familiar hope for an outcome, resolution of challenge or difficulty, or wish for change. Listening for words we usually connect to hope, I can taste how these belong together. They are of a particular arena—hope as related to something concrete in the world, outside of ourselves, a circumstance, future event or situation. Hoping for or about something, hoping for something to be different than what it is. The journey Cynthia is inviting us to is of another color, a distinct flavor and fragrance.

I love the tradition in the spiritual life of “hints.” Shakespeare described a hint as “an indirect suggestion intended to be caught by the knowing.” As we set off on this journey to a mystical hope, we are given a hint even before turning to the first page of Chapter One, from Symeon the New Theologian, born in 949. His words speak directly to ...

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Stonington Imaginal School Serves Up Rich Bread for the Journey

My heart is filled with gratitude and reverence for the sixteen plucky souls who accepted the invitation to join me for a tiny, on the ground Wisdom School in Stonington this past September 6-10. Officially we broke ground on my new book, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm. On a deeper level we engaged together in the soul-searching work of exploring the pandemic from the standpoint of imaginal causality and attempting to generate some of those missing “spiritual nutrients” in whose absence the heart of our collective humanity has been slowly withering. At the head of the list was an element I call “paschal courage:” not the reckless courage that states “God is on my side; I’m invincible!” but the quietly gathered equanimity of the cross that affirms “Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s.”

We studied, prayed, chanted, conversed till long into the night, did Gurdjieff movements, practiced Centering Prayer and tonglen, drank in the healing air of Stonington, and released the web of our hearts back into our planet. It was a wonder to be in each other’s presence again.

In this journey into what lies beyond ...

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Finding Your Wisdom Voice: A Virtual Program

All of us have lived through those occasions on which someone has asked us about our pursuit of, and interest in, Wisdom. Instead of giving a comprehensive and articulate explanation of Wisdom and our involvement in it, we struggled with how to convey our experience. Why, we have wondered, is this so hard to explain…?    Wisdom is like nothing else we have ever studied or encountered. From our first exposure, we all intuited its life-changing possibilities. And rather than a learning of some completely new field or discipline, our exposure to Wisdom’s teachings has mostly been a recognition of something we had already deeply known, but which we couldn’t ourselves bring forth or quite articulate.    There is no Wisdom curriculum that can learned and then parroted. Wisdom’s way of knowing must necessarily be experientially taken into the whole of our being and lived as our own. But in this process, it is the articulation of this truth and the sharing of this experience that actually feeds and furthers the integration itself.   We must remember that in order for Wisdom to have its full weight and heft, it must be worked through the integrity and authenticity ...

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Shiftings Are Afoot; Gratitude for Bill

Dear Northeast Wisdom Community,

Shiftings are afoot!  First of all, with immense gratitude for his years of service, we announce Bill Redfield’s retirement from the Northeast Wisdom Council.  In a recent letter to the Council, Bill wrote:

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that I am stepping down from my work on the Board (Council). Having served since its inception, I have seen the growing stability of our organization in promoting the proliferation of Wisdom in our time. We are serving as an anchor for the various outposts in our greater Wisdom community. I can sense the future growth of our organization in a wider reach that may end up being national and, even perhaps international, in scope.

Because of the demands of my own Wisdom work, I feel unable to give to this post the time and energy it deserves. While relinquishing this board position, I do want to assure you that I remain committed to NEW and will continue to vigorously support it in every way I can.

I offer deep bows of appreciation to Cynthia and her teaching over these many years. She continues to chart a path forward ...

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“The Secret Embrace” with Cynthia Bourgeault: Join a Spirituality and Practice Course—Beginning Now

What Matters

Only the Divine Matters,
And because the Divine Matters,
Everything Matters.
 

Join us, and Spirituality & Practice, for an online retreat with Cynthia Bourgeault, a crystallization of her work with Father Thomas Keating’s final gift to the world—a small collection of poems created literally in the last year of his life. These words are offered out of his own experience in what Cynthia names as “the last stage of Thomas’s own spiritual journey as he emerged fully into what he liked to call ‘unity consciousness.'”

In the first session email yesterday, Cynthia articulates three reasons why this collection is significant: for what he is giving us to see, through both his knowing “belonging,” “suffused in this oneness;” and the cost, what was taken, when he entered into the dark night of a “wilderness journey.” In regard to the importance of the poems for their relevance to us today, Cynthia speaks to how they illuminate the path Fr Thomas Keating lived as he walked with the transformative fire—words that can accompany us as we walk into and through the upheaval, unrest ...

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Representing Mecca: The “Four Ideals” Exercise, Part VI, C

Sharing from my notes on Tuesday morning during the Imaginal Wisdom School at Valle Crucis in North Carolina, Cynthia offered an inner task for the day:

 

In a place outdoors and completely alone, take off your mask and draw ten precious conscious breaths of air. Taking in that clear fresh air, standing in our fractured biosphere where we have over sanitized and over protected, engage through your breath—homeopathically—the immune system of our collective body and earth, and on the outbreath offer your own precious gift of breath back to the world.

This morning, Cynthia offered a live transmission of the first part of the “Four Ideals” exercise in morning prayer; and you will find a taste of what she shared there in these pages of the “Four Ideals” commentaries.

This is the third post on the “Four Ideals”—the last of six exercises Cynthia offered as “Pandemic Homework” to strengthen and stabilize our being in service to these times—and part a series of posts which began in March 2020. We suggest you begin the “Four Ideals” with the first and second of these Part VI posts, which you will ...

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Four Persons, Not Four Principles:
The “Four Ideals” Exercise, Part VI, B

We recommend beginning your reading about the Four Ideals with Cynthia’s post “Preliminary Remarks: The ‘Four Ideals’ Exercise, Part VI, A” found just before this one on the home page. In it she introduces elements of the exercise, and offers guidance for us to find our own way into the actual practice of them. It is not necessary for you to be familiar with the Pandemic Homework, this series of blog posts and the Gurdjieff exercises, in order to receive the taste and fragrance of them through these commentaries. There is much to ponder here and you will find more practical information at the bottom of this post.

Yesterday, at a retreat happening in North Carolina and online, Cynthia spoke about the Imaginal World and how these exercises help us to grow and stabilize our ‘beings’ in order to gather and hold the grounded presence required to experience, and then offer to this world, a glimpse of connection with a new way of being. Beautiful work, that is challenging and so needed for our world. The Four Ideals is the last exercise in a set of six, and the most complex. Check out the entire ...

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Preliminary Remarks: The “Four Ideals” Exercise, Part VI, A

Cynthia’s opening remarks at her first on the ground retreat in the United States since the issuance of the pandemic stay at home guidelines, took place last Sunday, August 17 2020, in Valle Crucis, North Carolina. She referred to the work of individuals and small groups, across the country and world-wide, who are taking up these Gurdjieff exercises, emphasizing that she felt the embodied heft of their contribution, and the gift of these practices to bear the fruits of the spirit. Cynthia encourages each of us to take our own steps into these exercises gently—and seriously—listening within for the preparation and timing that serves us. More specifics follow below!

The Four Ideals is the last exercise in the Pandemic Homework series; links to Cynthia’s commentaries on the other exercises and to the book can be found at the end of this post. We welcome your voice in the comments section below. Now, let’s hear what she has to say as she introduces the Four Ideals exercise:

The Four Ideals Exercise is complex and demanding. It will draw on all the practices you’ve been working with in the exercises to date, then up the ante still another ...

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Here and Now: You, Me and Northeast Wisdom

Yesterday, my feet hit the dirt road that leads to the trail to White Rocks and Hunger Mountain as the dogs tumbled out and my sister rose from the stone wall which was our meeting point. The morning cool, clear; pierced by the deep blues and greens of the season. There are still certain things we can count on. August still rolls around. It has been particularly hot already, but that which signifies August is still comforting—the suddenly cooler nights, the trees crowned with a mature green; material, substantial. Solid and dark.

The orientation of the light has changed. I imagine it is part of the breathing rhythm of the physical material earth with light—the outside air, the space around the bodies of things, is saturated with a light that both beats down and subtlety wanes. As if the earth is drawing the light to itself, drinking it in. In the Spring of the year it is as if it pours up and out as nature awakens, light radiating from the leaves themselves as they utter forth, light finding form in new leaves and tree flowers, shining from within the substance of earth as she populates herself with new ...

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Northeast Wisdom Welcomes Bob Sabath: Calling the Helpers

What follows is a recent portrait of Bob Sabath, offered through his invitation to us to practice with him, and through sharing the heart of his experience in a recent practice circle. In September of 2019, Bob joined the Wisdom Council. He was already serving as a much beloved consultant to the Council’s questions about how to update the website. This discussion centers around who are we and who do we serve? What do we bring to the Wisdom community and how can the website best reflect that? Beyond that, Bob brings to the Council his deep insight and experience, born from his earnest work with the Fourth Way of G.I. Gurdjieff, intentional community and spiritual practice for all of his adult life.

Only a few months after he joined the Wisdom Council, Bob learned he was “taking a new class, from Dr. Burkitt, of Burkitt’s Lymphoma.” What follows are notes from his path, and an invitation to practice that Bob offered to the Wisdom community as he was facing the aftermath of treatment, at the end of May 2020. In his words:

June 1, 2020

This past Thursday, May 28, was the final ...

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