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Clear Impressions: Commentaries on Elements of the Exercises Part I

In her March 23, 2020 post "Pandemic Homework," Cynthia says: "This is a permanent and collective reset of our collective human conscience and will resolve itself only as a few more of us become willing and able to step up to the plate to live a different reality." Cynthia encourages Wisdom devotees round the globe to take four steps in this direction, the first of which is this: "Get Joseph Azize’s new book, Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises (Oxford University Press, 2020)." Then: "Work diligently with some of the Gurdjieff exercises here assembled for the first time." How to begin? "Let your own intuition guide you; if an exercise calls you in particular, work with it. The goal is not to knock off all five exercises in one day or even one week! In their original settings, folks would sometimes work with a single exercise for months. I have tried to select a group that together highlight some of the distinctive features of Gurdjieff's method. Each exercise works with a slightly different skill set, to a slightly different end. Be gentle with yourselves and the exercises, like lectio divina! No need to rush through...enjoy the ride!"   Clear Impressions is one

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Wellsprings of Life: New Quaker Wisdom Chants, Available for Download Now

"This new album sparkles with the message of joy and steadfastness, even while sailing on troubled seas. One can drink these chants in, almost like an elixir of hope."         ~ Cynthia Bourgeault   Paulette Meier's new album, Wellsprings of Life: Quaker Wisdom in Chant is available now for download, offering song medicine for these times. "It seems as if this season of Holy Week is a good time to get these chants out there!" Paulette says, "The words uphold such a deep faith in the power of the Light to overcome darkness and death, a faith that is surely needed in the world crisis we are in now." In the liner notes to the collection she writes: "As an activist, when I first discovered the Quaker faith I wondered what enabled Friends to take huge risks to follow their conscience in the causes of religious liberty, women’s suffrage, abolition of slavery, and peace. How did they stay loving in the face of brutal oppression? I found answers in the texts from which these chants come. The practice of deep stillness, alone and in their communal worship, led to a deep sense of surrender and to the “Living Water” of the

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Raised Cyber-Eyebrows: More on Internet Technology and the Pandemic Homework

As I expected, I am receiving plenty of raised cyber-eyebrows about the third instruction in Pandemic Homework to: radically decrease or discontinue altogether your use of internet technology to support social distancing.Please don’t jump to the conclusion that I am calling for an immediate cold turkey here—more like a gentle challenging of some assumptions we’ve all bought into a bit too automatically, and a phased step-down as we learn to shift to the real network of global intercommunion. I continue to believe that the only authentic “worldwide web” exists in the Imaginal realm: i.e., in that subtler and quantumly more powerful bandwidth of energetic communion which links not only all beings of this planet, but also beings in all realms, including those on the other side of the life/death “divide.” It is from here that we receive our help—and it is here, too, that we give it! It is where our real human contribution to calming the inflamed heart of our planet can be must efficaciously offered. This is in fact the subject of my forthcoming book, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm, which ironically would have had its maiden teaching voyage right now at

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Foundational Points for the Five Pandemic Homework Exercises

I am very grateful to Joseph Azize for his willingness to make five of the Gurdjieff exercises available to us within the cyber confines of our Wisdom School Community. These exercises are powerful tools of healing, cleansing, and clarity, and even when practiced individually or in small groups, they have a power to significantly shift our present planetary atmosphere. They are something you can actually do: to steady yourself and ready yourself for the deeper energetic work that actually connects us and empowers us as a human species to do the alchemical work we were placed on this planet to do. The five exercises I have recommended are all examples of what Gurdjieff calls “transformed contemplation.” For now—and in direct cognizance of the needs of our present global crisis—let me offer a slightly different definition than even Azize gives. “Transformed Contemplation” is 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. We receive something for

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From the Eagle’s Nest…. (the background to the instructions)

This post follows quickly on the heels of "Pandemic Homework", Cynthia's previous post and her own "recommendation for inner work during this time of profound planetary readjustment." It is the "fuller explanation" promised in that post, which contains four points of inner and outer work to engage in in these times. This work has been given in the light of this pandemic being more than temporary—rather, "a permanent and collective reset of our collective human conscience (that) will resolve itself only as a few more of us become willing and able to step up to the plate to live a different reality." I am keenly aware of the irony in all this. Here I sit on my prayer cushion in the remote seclusion of Eagle Island, more than twenty-four hours now elapsed since the island’s only other occupant headed ashore for an undisclosed period of time, taking the mailboat with him. It’s me, the eagle, the deer herd, the communion of saints. And nothing much in between. But I did not come out here for social distancing, I came for listening. The way hermits have been doing it for millennia, at the intersection of the worlds, the intersection of the

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Pandemic Homework

Dear Wisdom friends: Here is my own recommendation for inner work during this time of profound planetary readjustment. I will send you a fuller explanation as soon as I can, but the internet system has gone very wonky out here on Eagle Island, and you may need to be patient for my further elucidations of this admittedly countercultural course of action. For those of you who have seen an advance manuscript of my book, this would be a course of action founded on the laws of World 24 (Imaginal) and above, not the laws of World 48 (our earth plane) and below that are presently running the show—futilely, in my estimation. This is not a temporary crisis to “flatten the curve.” This is a permanent and collective reset of our collective human conscience and will resolve itself only as a few more of us become willing and able to step up to the plate to live a different reality. More on that to follow. For now, my “to do” list:  1.  Get Joseph Azize’s new book, Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises (Oxford University Press, 2020) Work diligently with some of the Gurdjieff exercises here assembled for the first time, particularly:                    

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Wisdom Meditation

Wisdom Community, Please note! We will continue after April 10 ~ see the details below. There has been an arising among many of us in our Wisdom collective...to FIND A WAY to gather virtually, during this time. This crisis offers us the opportunity to gather prayers and intentions from all around the world. Our technical ability to CONNECT ACROSS THE GLOBE has 'prepared us well' for such a moment as this and RISES TO MEET US as we engage in NEW ways of CONNECTING as a Wisdom community. To that end.... We will be offering a 30 minute collective Wisdom Pause "for Silence and Stillness" on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These PAUSES (Virtual Wisdom Practice Opportunities) will be offered twice a day at 10:30am EDT (7:30 am PDT) and 7pm EDT (4:00pm PDT), on M/W/F. Wisdom members of our collective will be leading each sit, with a time for chant, and meditation/stillness in each Zoom gathering. If you have never worked with zoom before, all you need to do is download the free ZOOM App, and then CLICK on the highlighted ZOOM address below, during the scheduled time of each gathering. Below are the zoom links: Important: all zoom Wisdom

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“Wisdom Way” Study, Chapter 3: Three Centered Knowing

This month, Marcella Kraybill-Greggo and Jeanine Siler Jones are teaming up to join Bill Redfield and Matthew Wright in highlighting a chapter of The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart as over 60 people in our Wisdom community join monthly for our zoom book discussion and deep dive into Cynthia Bourgeault’s seminal Wisdom book. You will find links to Bill and Matthew's posts below. Here, Jeanine and Marcella share their exploration of Chapter Three:In our own engagement with Wisdom, we continue to return again and again to this book and to this particular chapter, "Chapter 3: Three Centered Knowing."  This chapter lays out for us the how of being more fully present and open to higher meaning and the physiology of transformation. Since human beings are “three brained” or “three centered”, this teaching is foundational to spiritual transformation as we seek to know with more of ourselves online and available. We usually have one center we rely on or have a natural affinity towards. The inner tradition practices invite us to cultivate our "blind" or under-used centers with the intention of integrating and balancing all three. Cynthia says: When a person is poised in

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New Recordings from The Contemplative Society: Recovering the Mystical Heart of the Christian Wisdom Tradition

The Contemplative Society has the distinction of being Cynthia's first home as resident teacher of the Wisdom tradition. After offering a teaching in British Columbia in 1995, Cynthia returned to live there in January 1998, leaving the mountain monastery where her beloved Rafe had died two years earlier. In the "extension of the training" with Rafe that Cynthia writes about in Love is Stronger than Death, she says of that time, "I began to realize that the sphere of our "touching" came most intensely when I was in service to others: teaching, leading meditation retreats, building a new organization, The Contemplative Society, with a dedicated and growing group of people. More and more my teaching moved away from what I'd learned "by the books," and into what I was learning through the ongoing journey with Rafe. And it was during these times, when I knew more than I knew and shared it with a heart afire, that our continuing partnership was most radiant, both inwardly and outwardly visible." (p 229, Afterword) The Contemplative Society recorded many of those teachings—heart afire—from Cynthia's years in residence, and beyond. With most of 25 years itself in service to Cynthia's teaching, close to thirty

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“Wisdom Way” Study, Chapter 2: How the West Lost Its Wisdom

Our Northeast Wisdom study of The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault is off and running!  If you missed Bill Redfield's reflection on Chapter I, you can find it here.  If you're not participating in the online group, we'd still love to have you join the study in imaginal space, connecting from wherever you are with the energy of our collective engagement with one of our community's core texts.  As you read along, touch back here each month for a chapter synopsis and reflection from a Northeast Wisdom council member and feel free to share your reflections below. This month we're exploring Chapter II, "How the Christian West Lost Its Wisdom."  Cynthia begins by reminding us that the earliest followers of Jesus didn't follow him because they'd read about him in the Gospels--that he was the Son of God who rose from the dead--no, all of that lay up ahead.  There could be no "enlightened self-interest" at work.  Rather, they followed Jesus because something in them recognized something in him--"a meeting of hearts in the present moment that somehow conferred full knowledge and consent." Here Cynthia quotes Bruno Barnhart, who reminds us that Jesus' power as Wisdom master lies

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