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The Law of Three as Spiritual Practice

In January of this year, twenty-two of us gathered in Bethlehem PA, for a Law of Three as Spiritual Practice Wisdom School. We came together from Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Toronto, Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Held in a rhythm of a traditional Wisdom school, this Wisdom School offered a very 'practical teaching' of the Law of Three with daily break out times for small groups to explore how to apply the Law of Three within our own lives. Working with an experienced 'anchoring facilitator', each group of three or four people engaged current life happenings, working together with the map of the Law of Three as the lens. In 2013 Cynthia Bourgeault published The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity. The following year Marcella Kraybill- Greggo attended a Wisdom School where Cynthia unpacked her book, highlighting key teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. The “Law of Three” refers to an assertion that every phenomenon is a new arising that comes into being through three distinct lines of action. The first force is holy affirming, the second force holy denying, and third force holy reconciling. This teaching posits that the Law of Three is

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A Call to Prayer as a Wisdom Collective: A South Bend Parable

Dear Wisdom Community, I feel like I am caught in what a member of my Law of Three group called “a Parable”. I wonder if others might be called to meet me here in service of, oh, maybe nothing less than …Wisdom in our nation. Call it the South Bend, Indiana Parable, which this week is a story of a police shooting, white on black, that occurred right down the street from where I live. And, this HAPPENS to come in the middle of our mayor, Pete Buttigieg's, booming presidential campaign and thus it becomes a national story, which of course it already is. Our local story=our national story. For background see my blog of this morning, Violence, Racism, and Presidential Politics. My Law of Three group helped me see the triangle, and with the triangle, the possibility of “new arising.” Affirming force: the cries, the screams for justice. Denying force: the FUTILITY of all efforts so far on the part of the mostly white establishment at correcting either overt or underlying problems and so the violence (white on black, black on black etc.) keeps happening and even escalating. I told the Law of Three group that the only thing

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Bruno Barnhart’s Movement IV: The Global (Postmodern) Turn

I loved this chapter!—particularly the way it weaves together and synthesizes the voices of Teilhard de Chardin, Ewert Cousins, and Karl Rahner—each of them pointing in their own way (planetization, a 2nd Axial age, and the "world church") to a truly universal, incarnate, global understanding of Christian spirituality.  Wow!  I’ll share a few words by way of summary here, before our Zoom book study group meets this Friday… but know that they're rushed and inadequate to the wonders Fr. Bruno actually unfolds in these final pages. In this fourth movement, Fr. Bruno explores Teilhard’s vision of a coming human unity: in Teilhard’s words, “there is only one way in which the tide can flow: the way of ever-increasing unification”… the present “social in-folding” is simply an extension of the “process of cosmic in-folding which gave birth to the first cell and the first thought on earth.”  Barnhart points to the ways in which large scale human tragedies and disasters (the two World Wars, for example) “rather than fracturing and dispersing humanity, have forced it more tightly together.”  We can only hope our current climate crisis will do the same.  There is an insistence here that there is no ultimate going

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A Virtual Holy Week Retreat: The Call and The Response

[caption id="attachment_4631" align="alignleft" width="387"] Looking Down the Ravine[/caption] It was an out-of-the-box idea, but one that I thought was worth trying—a virtual Holy Week retreat. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this would interest so many—and from all over the world. Providing three recordings each day as well as a Zoom gathering that broke participants up into small groups, this online program provided choices for participants based on their needs and their time availability. This successful first run will be followed by future programs—even Wisdom Schools—online. Also, this Holy Week program will return next year and will be expanded into a full Lenten retreat. Stay tuned! Rather than try to explain the intricacies of the week, let me instead share some of the results. Bill and Sarah said, "Our journey through Holy Week with you was breathtaking, even from the Imaginal. The day before the week began, I was in the car, listening to Bill Bryson’s account of climbing Mt. Washington, including his description of emerging at the summit, exhausted, to find all the auto-road tourists. The very next day I’m back on Mt. Washington with you!  "There is so much to comment on. I was going

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No Question: A Pilgrimage to India with Rev. Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan Owen, OHC

Thousands of questions are silenced as if dissolved. There are neither doctrines nor heresies. The possibilities are endless, [living] creatively in me. ~ Paul Klee, 1916   Chennai, the city we used to call Madras, splays itself along the southeastern edge of India, fully exposed to the surging foam of the Bay of Bengal. We arrived on the festival of Pongal, lights whirling, colours strewn, bonfires glowing in the night forests like perforations to the earth’s inner core. India. Massive, effervescing, filled with a life energy that cannot be easily quieted. The first day some of us picked our way across hot sand to the shore where cows were not altogether happy about their baths in the sucking waves, ablutions to give festal thanks for the growing season’s first fruits. [caption id="attachment_4583" align="alignnone" width="375"] Cows Bathing in Preparation for Pongal Festivities[/caption]   Each of us had our reasons to join Rev. Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan Owen, OHC, on this pilgrimage to the land of St. Thomas, Ramana Maharshi, and Fr. Bede Griffiths. There in Tamil Nadu, South India, we would sit before Thomas’s tomb and climb into the cave where the apostle lived and taught; we would rest at

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Not a mistake. Not a disaster. Not over: Bruno Barnhart on “Movement III: The Western Turn” in The Future of Wisdom

Not a mistake. Not a disaster. Not over. This summarizes my reflection on Bruno’s analysis of the Western Turn in the re-emergence of Christian Wisdom in our time. I begin by noting that for those of us who are not scholars or academics, or who are old enough to have forgotten most of what we learned in our Western Civilization courses, the term “modern” calls up notions not much longer ago than the last hundred years or so: the age of automobiles and airplanes; of instant and constant communication through radio and television, email and internet; of quarks and quanta and other things we don’t really understand. That observation is perhaps a commentary on what is often perceived as the audaciously arrogant character of the West. But Bruno situates the modern Western turn as beginning nearly a thousand years ago, and he sees within that millennium the radical unfolding of the Christ-event in the arc of history of Western civilization. More particularly, it is precisely in, rather than in spite of, the predominantly horizontal-axis trajectory of that history, that he finds the deepening descent of the incarnation—of God coming into this world in ever-wider immanence and universality. He calls out

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Encountering the Heart of Silence: A Conversation with Cynthia Bourgeault in Two Parts

When people gather in silence, a deeper kind of collective, synergistic, numinous knowing unfolds. And that’s the only knowing that’s worth a damn, particularly when you’re working with the infinite.     ~ Cynthia Bourgeault On February 25, 2019 Cynthia was interviewed for a podcast on the Encountering Silence website, hosted by Carl McColman with Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson. These recording are available in two parts, as Episodes 58 and 59: Encountering the Heart of Silence: A Conversation with Cynthia Bourgeault (Parts One and Two). You will find all the links to these podcasts at the end of this post. All thanks to Cynthia and to the folks at Encountering Silence for this delightful interview! Encountering Silence describes the interview in this way: “Cynthia shares how her love for silence originated with her early education in Quaker schools, where she recognized silence as a “liturgical expression and mode of divine communion.” There she discovered silence not merely as the absence of noise, but as a sacred container of presence. For her, after a long meandering journey from Christian Science to Episcopal ordination, she became (in her words) a “Trappist junkie” as she began to study centering prayer with Fr. Thomas

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Bruno Barnhart’s Movement II: The Eastern Turn

Each month, a Northeast Wisdom voice is offering a reflection on a chapter from Bruno Barnhart’s The Future of Wisdom.  This month, it’s my turn with Chapter 3, “Movement II: The Eastern Turn.”  I admittedly found Chapters 1 and 2 a bit of a slog (somewhat overly academic and technical in language), but not without enough incandescent gems scattered along the way to keep me turning the pages.  For me, Chapter 3, however, hit the ground running! Here, Bruno brings the experience of nondual consciousness front and center, and (fascinatingly) ties it to baptismal identity (of all things!).  When I first read this book over a decade ago, this linking didn’t make much sense to me—it felt strange and forced, and left me scratching my head.  Reading it now, the same idea lit up for me beautifully.  "Little by little..." they say.  I’ll summarize and comment on some of Bruno’s main points from this chapter as we go. Bruno begins by looking at the 20th century encounter of Christianity with what he calls “the Asian spiritual traditions”—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism.  He points out that this encounter has significantly altered the way Christians think of “meditation”—less as “a process of reflection

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A Virtual Holy Week Retreat

Participation in Mystery Schools and Wisdom Schools both as a student and as a teacher has attuned me to the impact that holy days of all the traditions have on the energy field of our planet—and, therefore, on each of us. Intentional participation in the remembrance of these times not only draws us into their power and mystery, but also gives us an opportunity to deepen their effects. The marking of the Christian Holy Week—that period between Palm Sunday and Easter—can open us more deeply to power of sacrifice, liberation, and abiding love. The marking of the Christian Holy Week—that period between Palm Sunday and Easter—can open us more deeply to the power of its deepest meaning. The deep streams of betrayal, abandonment, death, love, fidelity, and sacrifice all flow together into a great river of confluence in our marking of Holy Week. Riding the currents of this great river, we are brought to a deeper understanding of what was being manifested and transacted in the Passion Mystery and of what is being asked of us in our lives. I am excited about this upcoming Holy Week Virtual Retreat and am particularly enthused about this program drawing together people who

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On the Imaginal

"I was delighted to receive this wonderfully creative exploration of imaginal reality by my student Josh Tysinger. Aside from simply his completely singular and wondrous mind itself, Josh’s claim to fame around our Wisdom network is that he was the one who stepped forward to journey closely with Beatrice Bruteau during her last few years of her life and the one who expedited getting her archive safely delivered to Emory University. Josh is her direct lineage bearer, and you will hear a bit of her voice and sparkle speaking through this mind-bending (to say the least) imaginal rhapsody." ~ Cynthia Over the past months, our teacher Cynthia Bourgeault has articulated her pioneering and breath-taking research into perspectives on the imaginal realm. Invigorated by her beautiful meditations on this most sacred of spaces, I broach this subject with only the most humble of intentions of initiating dialogue onto how it plays out in daily life. These are my personal beliefs inspired by her musings on the imaginal – ones I hope are in step with Cynthia’s own views on the matter. ~ Joshua To begin, I perceive the imaginal as connected with an intermediary flow-through area existing between the unconscious and

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