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Launching the Year of Bruno Barnhart

Dear Wisdom community, In January 2015 we launched “The Year of Teilhard de Chardin” and tasked our network with becoming more and more acquainted with Teilhard’s expansive body of writing.  Since then, Teilhard’s stunning evolutionary mysticism and cosmovision have become a central thread in our Wisdom understanding. During that same Year of Teilhard, one of the planet’s Christian contemplative giants quietly passed into the unseen—the Camaldolese monk and priest Fr. Bruno Barnhart.  In many ways, Fr. Bruno’s work picked up where Teilhard’s left off—integrating Teilhard’s world-affirming, evolutionary, “Western” vision with the nondual depths of the “Eastern” traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism) into a powerhouse of Christian mystical synthesis. Bruno believed that contemporary Christianity was severely diminished, having lost touch almost entirely with our own depth dimension—“this depth of life and consciousness that has so largely disappeared from our Western civilization, and from our Western Christianity,” he wrote, “is wisdom.”  And so he gave himself to the midwifing of a new sapiential, or Wisdom, understanding of the Christian path. Significantly, Bruno did not believe we could go backwards.  Having fully internalized Teilhard’s forward-looking roadmap, he did not see the unfolding of Western civilization, secularity, and modernity as dead-ends or wrong-turns but (shockingly

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Solstice

This past weekend I spent time in a place of enormous beauty. The room was created for a group to enter into prayer and healing together for several days. I realize its beauty is more than appearance–the beauty is true–it reflects truth. Human beings came together, in the goodness of their hearts, and prepared a space. It was created with a depth of vision born out of and in relationship to the imaginal. Through that effortless patience, beauty and truth were revealed as one. Something unseen became known within me, the moment I walked into it. Interconnections were illuminated, pulsing and alive in the blood; between worlds, yes. And in the cells between us–the room, myself, and the other people gathered there. Several days before, I had the first dream I remembered in many months: I walk in to the room, openmouthed. There is a sparkling silence in the air, things have yet to begin, but the space is prepared, waiting. There are places for the musicians, where the music will come through. Children are there, others are coming. The beauty comes into me and fills my being unencumbered. The channel through my mouth completely open to what is there.

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Christophany and Advent

Christophany and Advent: A Broader, Deeper Incarnation There are probably many ways to know Jesus, but there are two general approaches. The first is from the outside, as an object of faith, adoration, or doctrine. This is the method of conventional Western Christianity. This method of knowing Jesus in traditional theology is called Christology. The difficulty in this method, however, is that the object of our knowing is culturally embedded; in other words, our sense of Jesus is dependent on Western methodologies and thought categories. This lens or filter, actually, any lens or filter, is called a cosmovision. For one thing, this Western cosmovision is a rather biased and slanted perspective that ends up having more to do with Greek thought forms and Roman legal categories than it does with who Jesus really was or what he really taught. That would be problem enough. But this perspective through our Roman and Western lens also makes it extremely difficult to converse meaningfully and sympathetically with the other peoples and religions of the world and difficult to connect with the legitimate experience and thought forms of the rest of the world. But the other way we can know Jesus is from the

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Is The Imaginal Realm Real?

Part 3 of a three-part blog series by Cynthia Bourgeault   I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the word imaginal does not mean “imaginary.” That unfortunate but all too understandable confusion was created by Henry Corbin, the noted Islamic scholar, when he introduced the term Mundus Imaginalis to name that intermediate, invisible realm of causality that figures so prominently in mystical Islamic cosmology. But Corbin was drawing here on a highly technical and quintessentially Islamic notion of Imagination as itself one of those higher and more subtle energies, possessing being, will, objectivity, and creative function. To our modern Western ears, the word “imaginal” may indeed seem to suggest some private, interior, or subjective inner landscape, “make-believe” or fanciful by nature. But while it is typically associated with the world of dreams, visions, and prophecy—i.e., more subtle form—the imaginal is always understood within traditional metaphysics to be objectively real and in fact comprising “an ontological reality entirely superior to that of mere possibility.” (Gospel of Mary Magdalene, p. 153.) It designates a sphere that is not less real but more real than our so-called “objective reality” and whose generative energy can (and does) change the course of events in this world.

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From My Heart to Yours

Dear Wisdom Friends, We are mailing and emailing this letter to those of you for whom we have contact information. If you've already read this and contributed, thank you so much. However, we also know that we don't have accurate mailing details or email addresses for many of you. So at the risk of being redundant, I would like to address you directly, from my heart to yours. Perhaps like me, you have been forever changed by hearing Wisdom’s voice as it has been articulated in Cynthia’s written or spoken word. Maybe like mine, your life has been dramatically changed by taking up this Wisdom path and its practices. And perhaps, also like me, you yourself have taken the first halting steps of attempting to articulate these principles and truths to those around you. This is the progression of Wisdom’s birth—from hearing Wisdom, to integrating Wisdom into our lives through practice, and then to sharing Wisdom’s reality with others. While, thankfully, Cynthia is still actively leading and guiding, we know that the work is ours to pass on and amplify. Northeast Wisdom seeks to propagate and facilitate Wisdom’s voice through us. We are all midwives in this. Working within this

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“Where” is The Imaginal Realm Located?

Part 2 of a three-part blog series by Cynthia Bourgeault   Traditional metaphysical maps based on “the great chain of being” will tend to situate the imaginal as the station “above” ours, the next more subtle realm in a great hierarchical procession extending from the pure, ineffable will of God through the logoic (causal), angelic, imaginal, and sensible (us). Sometimes—more helpfully, in my opinion—this procession is depicted not as a chain but as embedded cosmoses, like those old Russian nesting dolls. The nesting can be depicted in either direction. Sometimes the experience is that our world nests within the imaginal realm like a fetus in a womb; sometimes the impression is the opposite: that the imaginal nests within our world as a more subtle and interior reality. But of course the question is wrongly framed in the first place, still bearing the vestiges of those antiquated “flat earth” cosmologies (heaven above, hell below, earth in the center) that have proved so hard to eradicate from our minds. The language of modern physics encourages us to think in a different way: that these realms are “dimensions” of an unbroken and seamless whole, not occupying an actual geophysical locus, but embedded holographically

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Introducing the Imaginal

A three-part blog series by Cynthia Bourgeault   As many of you know, I have been breaking ground on a new book on the Imaginal Realm. While “breaking ground” may be a bit of an overstatement, I at least have a few rough sketches on the drawing board, which in the spirit of the season (thanksgiving and anticipation), I thought I’d throw out to you as trailers. These preliminary sketches have been shaped into three blogs; what final shape they will assume remains to be seen, but you can at least get a glimpse of what’s capturing my creative imagination these days. Enjoy!   What Is the Imaginal Realm? It’s all too easy when exploring topics as inherently elusive as the imaginal realm to stray into abstraction. Many of the world’s sacred traditions (though not all) acknowledge something roughly analogous to what I am here calling imaginal reality; the temptation is to launch into a scholarly or technical comparison of these various systems. Is the imaginal “the same” as the Platonic “intelligible universe?” The Hindu “subtle” level of consciousness? The bardo realms of Buddhism? Maybe yes, maybe no. That work of scholarly refinement I leave to others. What I want

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Wisdom Infused Distance Spiritual Direction Intensive Training Program

“I would like to attend your Spiritual Direction Training program, Marcella, but your program is located in Bethlehem, PA and I live in Georgia. I urge you to kindly consider creating a distance option for your program, that would allow others like myself who want a spiritual direction training program that incorporates the teachings and practices of a Wisdom Way of Knowing, to attend your program.” This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting as I finished up my last days of the Claymont Movement Wisdom School in March of 2016. This request came from one of my Wisdom colleagues who had been on the Movements floor with me all week and had overheard me talking about incorporating some Wisdom practices into the Moravian Theological Seminary Spiritual Direction program that I co-direct with my colleague Barb Martell. The request landed deep and wide within; a call bell of stillness and alertness ensued. I was intrigued. I responded to her request “Wow, I have not thought of creating a Wisdom infused distance option for our Spiritual Direction training program. Let me take this into my prayer, discuss it with my co director and the seminary, and get back to you!” This ‘out

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Wagner, Einstein and Teilhard

Here is a wonderful new blog post from Dr. Rudy Hwa -- an emeritus professor of Physics at the University of Oregon as well one of my one of my senior Wisdom Students, both chronologically (we’ve been traveling this path together for nearly two decades now) and in his recognized eldership in both the scientific and Wisdom communities. This delightful blog seamlessly weaves together his scientific rigor with his passion for music. It's a delight and a privilege to share it with you here. ~ Cynthia At a symposium held many years ago on a day between the performances of the third and fourth operas of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the musical director of the Ring said in answer to a question about Wagner: “Music without Wagner is like physics without Einstein.” That statement struck such a chord in me that I have been exploring its implications ever-since. As a physicist I know Einstein’s work more than I do about the works of Wagner and Teilhard. But my love for music, especially for Wagner’s operas, and my journey in spirituality put me at a place where I can enjoy a panoramic view of all three. My words to describe that view,

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Bruteau Collection Update

It is now closing in on the 2nd anniversary of my transfer of private documents into the Beatrice Bruteau archive at Emory University’s Pitts Library. My prior article for Northeast Wisdom titled Beatrice Bruteau Archive to Reside at Emory University published October 27, 2016 articulated the unexpectedly complicated yet highly rewarding process of procuring Beatrice’s works for the preservation of her legacy. Since her ideas have once more gained traction through the immeasurable inspirations of luminaries as Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault and Sr. Ilia Delio, it may once again be of some value (no matter how limited) in calling attention to how priceless this collection is. As her most immediate disciple and unofficial caretaker over the last year of her life, I absorbed a great deal from Beatrice about the unadulterated power of intentionally channeled presence. Our lineage-transmission process was anchored in a non-hierarchal indwelling of radically subjective love. It was one in which I was instructed to unbind discursive reason and an over-reliance on cognition, in order to make the dynamic boundary crossing over into who she was and what she experienced. This quantum leap into the beginnings of an “I-I” relationship were only first made possible by Beatrice acting

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