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The Seeing Heart and the Tools of Wisdom:
Chapters VII, VIII & Epilogue of The Wisdom Way of Knowing

WRITTEN BY HEATHER RUCE & SUSAN LATIMER

Welcome to Chapters VII, VIII and the Epilogue, in our continuing series of posts focusing on Cynthia Bourgeault’s foundational work, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart; where Wisdom postholders have shared, chapter by chapter, their experiences with this little book. You will find the links to previous posts in this series at the end of this post, along with a place to share your comments.

Heather Ruce opens with her comments about Chapter VII, while Susan Latimer closes this post with her summary of Chapter VIII and the Epilogue.

 

Chapter VII: Seeing with the Eye of the Heart, with Heather Ruce

Each morning we wake to find ourselves on a river upon which we have never been, we proceed in uncharted waters, and we do not know where we are headed. As Wisdom students we’ve learned that it is not so much about needing to know where we are going but rather knowing where to see from and how to find our way in unknown waters.

At this time, we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, economic fragility ...

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The Luminous Gospels: An Online Retreat (6/9-11)

Dear Wisdom Community,

Interested in an introduction to (or a refresher on) the Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and Philip?  If so, join us for a three-day online romp through these “Luminous Gospels”—next week!  We’ll be gathering twice a day at 10:00 and 2:00 EDT, Tuesday-Thursday, 6/9-11.  These three Wisdom Gospels came to light in the mid-20th century and give us new insight into the development of early Christianity, the metaphysics undergirding Jesus’ teaching, and the apostolic authority of Mary Magdalene.

We’ll begin by exploring Jesus as Master of Wisdom and Master of the Heart, and then unfold that vision Gospel by Gospel.  Used as essential texts within our Wisdom School community, these gospels offer a coherent and luminous map of the journey from timelessness into time, and finally into integration and conscious union–a journey that unfolds within what Jesus calls “the bridal chamber” of the human heart.

How does one become a “complete” or “fully” human being?  What is the “kingdom of God”?  How do we awaken the heart?  Come join us as we ask these questions, chant, pray, and learn ...

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Vertical Exchange:
“Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, F

In response to the growing awareness around the globe that we are in the midst of a time of profound planetary readjustment, Cynthia began to teach in what we are calling the Pandemic Homework Series. She 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. On Pentecost, Cynthia invited us to the “Web” saying, “I wonder if our casually joined atmospheres could indeed “warm the earth” on this day of cosmic arising.” May it be so, as we move into our days with the tender ardor of this Pentecost’s fire burning in our hearts.

You will find links to the whole of the series and to the book from which the exercises are drawn, as well as an opportunity to share your comments and questions, at the end of this post. Coming soon is Cynthia’s windows on the “Four Ideals” exercises, and her Pentecostal message.

We welcome you now to the last of the “Web” exercise commentaries.

One final ...

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Poverty, Chastity, Obedience:
“Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, E

The initial commentaries on the “Web” exercise speak to the relationship between a personal “atmosphere” and the “web” that comes into being through group work together, and remains, undispersed, when the group is apart. As a potential exchange between the group atmosphere and the planetary atmosphere grows, Cynthia invites us here to consider how the monastic vows support, with “due humility and awe,” the group work possible at this level.

Welcome to Cynthia’s latest post in her Pandemic Homework series, the fifth of her Commentaries on the “Web” exercise, from Joseph Azize’s new book on the work of G. I. Gurdjieff. See the links to all the posts in the series at the end of this post, where you can also learn more about the book. We encourage you to share your comments below. Now, to Cynthia:

You might picture Gurdjieff’s “web” as a two-directional amplifier. Directed inwardly, it enables individual group members to draw continuing replenishment from the collective strength of the whole. Directed outwardly, it boosts the magnitude of the group’s common aim to a point where “you can have a reciprocal action on a whole city ...

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The Meeting of Christian and Taoist Wisdom

In May of 2020, Allen Bourque spoke with Laura Ruth on behalf of the Northeast Wisdom website, to talk about how his three decades of work in the Taoist tradition interfaces with his love of the Christian Wisdom tradition. Allen, Laura and Kerstin Lipke worked together for five years during Wisdom retreats at Hallelujah Farm, in New Hampshire. Beginning on June 16, 2020, Allen is offering a zoom course on Taoist practice for the Wisdom community called “Taoist Practices for Our Emergent Reality: Grounding, Embodying and Extending Our Hearts.” You will find more information about the course at the end of this post.

 

LR:  Lets’ jump right in: What’s your central message?

AB: I want to bring out three core aspects of Taoism, how these dovetail with facets of Wisdom Christianity, and how together they bear on our current world transition.

The first issue is the practices themselves, which are the primary offering I make. Since ancient times, Taoism has been, fundamentally, a practice-oriented tradition. In fact, the title of the original text—which pre-dates the Tao Te Ching—is Inward Training. Those practices are most often done communally as well as privately and ...

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Global Warming Revisited:
“Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, D

Welcome to Cynthia’s third commentary on the “Web” exercise in this Pandemic Homework series, details of which you will find at the end of this post. Please post your comments below!  

In the meantime, Cynthia has extended an invitation:

Today, Thursday, May 21, Ascension Day, I will offer myself in the Four Ideals Exercise on behalf our entire planet. Anyone care to join me? Not nailing down a specific time…just “whenever…” real time will always flow into the infinite NOW.

I wonder if our casually joined atmospheres could indeed “warm the earth” on this day of cosmic arising….

In regard to the special invitation above, see the “Four Ideals” (pp. 229-240) in the book Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation & Exercises. If you do not have access to the book, you can find resources available online.

Now, back to “warming the earth” through the “Web” exercise! The first three commentaries on the “Web” exercise speak to the relationship between a personal atmosphere and the web that comes into being through group work together, and remains, undispersed, when apart.

The far more interesting possibilities implicit in this exercise ...

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The Foundational Gesture to Enter the Divine Dance is Surrender: Chapter VI of the Wisdom Way of Knowing

Welcome to a monthly series of posts from the leaders of the Northeast Wisdom Book Study Group. In January the class took up The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart by Cynthia Bourgeault. The study group is full, but we invite you to follow along with these posts (links to the other chapters are at the bottom of this article), perhaps with your own small gathering. Lovingly re-read over and over, this little book is chock full of the basic tenets of the Wisdom tradition including its clear synthesis of the Benedictine Ora et Labora and Gurdjieff’s Three Centered Knowing and the central role of the heart.

Nan Delach brings you this month’s post on Chapter VI: Freedom and Surrender: The Anthropology of Wisdom.

Chapter VI describes a willing deconstruction of our small self, our acorn (p. 64), and a balancing of our three centers, such that we can effectively articulate the gesture of surrender. A gesture of spacious openness—not a collapse into capitulation—but a relaxed inner stance that allows for a balanced, truly measured response. One with courage, strength and fullness of heart. We begin by letting go ...

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Yin and Yang: “Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, C

For any of you who are new to the website: Welcome! And welcome to Cynthia Bourgeault’s third commentary on the “Web” exercise; part of an ongoing series of posts that began in late March 2020 in the midst of the global covid-19 pandemic. Gurdjieff called these exercises “Transformed Contemplation,” which Cynthia says is a “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.” More information and links to the series can be found at the end of this post, where you will also find a place to share your comments and questions.

Here’s Cynthia:

The Web Exercise is unique in the Gurdjieff repertoire, Azize comments, “in that it requires the members of the group to work at it in conjunction with each other, both when they come together as a group and while they go about their usual [i.e., separated] activities” (p. 200). The ...

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The Group Atmosphere: “Web” Exercise, Commentaries Part V, B

In this ongoing series of posts, Cynthia has taken a deep dive into the underlying tenets of her March 2020 letter to the community entitled Pandemic Homework. The first item on the emergent to-do list was to begin to work with specific Gurdjieff practices—exercises which she has written about in her Commentaries on the Elements of the Exercises. This post is the second of a six-part essay on the fifth practice, called the “Web” exercise. You will find links to previous posts in the series at the bottom of the essay, along with a link to the book of exercises. We invite you to share your comments below as well.

Cynthia continues here with the second part of her Commentary on the “Web” exercise:

Just as there is an individual atmosphere, so there is also a group atmosphere, formed from the aggregation of individual atmospheres. Gurdjieff picturesquely calls it a web. When this web is clear and conscious, it can become a tremendous source of support and transformation, both for its individual group members and for larger planetary purposes.

Gurdjieff may never have heard those contemporary buzzwords, “quantum entanglement” and “non-localized action,” but in this ...

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Preliminary Remark, The “Web” Exercise: Part V, A

I had not originally planned to include this exercise in this introductory sampling and still have serious misgivings about sharing it now. There’s a significant risk that some of you may be tempted to try it out under inappropriate conditions and wind up in a hall of mirrors.

But the exercise so clearly furnishes the bridge, both conceptually and practically, between the “Atmosphere” Exercise we have just been working with and the magisterial “Four Ideals” Exercise upon which we are about to embark that to leave it off the table turns out to be impossible. You will meet a new side of Gurdjieff here, a whole new depth to his collective and compassionate engagement with the world, that few commentators, even those senior in the Work, have sufficiently noticed.

So here’s the caveat up front: Please do not try out this exercise with your newfound friends in your online spiritual study group. Repeat: DO NOT!! It needs to be anchored in actual on-the-ground experience, lived cheek-to-jowl with your fellow seekers, shored up by a hefty component of practical physical work. Full engagement of the moving center is mandatory for understanding, for as in The Rule ...

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