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Bruno Barnhart’s Movement I: The Sapiential Awakening

Bruno Barnhart brought me right into life in the world when he opened the second chapter of The Future of Wisdom with the words, "Wisdom begins in wonder. Something profound awakens when a child opens a book and finds its pages full of light, the words radiant even though their meanings remain indistinct." He ends this first paragraph of the second chapter, entitled, "Movement I: The Sapiential Awakening," saying: "spiritual wisdom… is always a beginning… a simple, luminous fullness" and that, in the "cold clarity of the modern West, it is often the poets who catalyze the awakening of a sapiential consciousness." Bruno leads us on a spiral journey through the Christian sapiential tradition, beginning with three quick, broad strokes. The first—the Awakening! above—speaks to the reader directly and personally, and comes out of his own spiritual awakening as a young person. It sets the tone, alerting the reader that this is about a living Wisdom, not a concept, or shell of an idea. The second stroke takes us from poets and children, enchantment, eager spirits and new discoveries to the event of Christ as "the coming of the divine Wisdom to humanity as a human person." This, is real.

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Getting Started on Bruno Barnhart’s “The Future of Wisdom”

For the next five months Northeast Wisdom will be posting responses to Bruno Barnhart's new edition of The Future of Wisdom in conjunction with the 'Year of Bruno Barnhart' and the Northeast Wisdom study groups that will begin this month. These groups will meet monthly, the first group on the Second Friday evening and the second on the fourth Wednesday morning, from February through June. There are a number of local study groups that are happening simultaneously, community organized, and we welcome any sharing that comes out of these groups on Breaking Ground. We hope to bring a different voice each month to these blog posts, addressing the five chapters in conjunction with the study groups. The first contribution below is Bill Redfield's response to the Introductory first chapter. Enjoy! While maintaining that a Sapiential or Wisdom Christianity has been an integral part of the Christian tradition from the beginning and generative through the first twelve centuries, Barnhart cites our present age as the time of its restoration and renewal. In this introductory chapter Barnhart illuminates the essential inner movements of a Sapiential Christianity (an Eastern turn, a Western turn, and a global turn) as well as the contextual and

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Two Offerings: Northeast Wisdom and the New Year

[caption id="attachment_4366" align="alignleft" width="292"] Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand[/caption] As the year 2018 came to a close, the board of Northeast Wisdom met several times to discern into the coming year. We noticed a number of things. The creative initiative and growth in the individual and local group lives of the greater Wisdom community is clear. In 2018 we had seen the first publication of Cynthia's current and immediate talks and writings. The further embodiment of the practices community-wide is telling, as is the growing participation of younger generations. We noted a stronger Northeast Wisdom website, welcoming community participation, and new forms of gathering platforms and materials, coming to the fore as groups study and practice together in their communities and in cyberspace. More Wisdom Schools and retreats are being offered around the country by emerging postholders; and explorations where related Wisdom traditions meet are taking place. A conversation is beginning that is discussing the lineage more directly, without unbending fixation, in small groups and larger retreats. These are but a few of the impulses that were bearing new fruit in 2018 and promise to deepen and grow into 2019. Our work is to support these creative endeavors, and help

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The Calling of Northeast Wisdom: To Be the Gathering Thread

[caption id="attachment_4339" align="alignleft" width="266"] "The Calling," original artwork by James Fissel, courtesy of Judy Skeels.[/caption] A year ago in this space I posted a blog on behalf of the Board of Northeast Wisdom—a piece entitled “What’s Next for Northeast Wisdom: A Short History to An Emerging Vision.” Again, I write on behalf of the Board, but this time my focus is on some of the “Emergents” that are arising from that vision. Note that I say “are arising, “rather than “have arisen.” For we are Teilhardian at heart and embrace an evolving notion of who we are and who we are becoming as a community. The sense that Northeast Wisdom is to serve as the Gathering Thread for our particular branch of the broader Wisdom lineage grows ever stronger as the image which best encapsulates the work we are called to do. Which, of course, leads to the obvious next questions—the how, the what, and the where this thread gathers. This branch of the Wisdom tree we serve is a diverse community. Our connection is not one of geography, of organizational membership, of educational achievement, of employment, or of affiliation with a particular religious tradition—though our roots are decidedly Christian.

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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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