Tell the Tale: The Wisdom of Story with Roger Lipsey, Cynthia Bourgeault

May 19, 2019

A talk by biographer Roger Lipsey, joined by special guest, Cynthia Bourgeault

A master biographer, Dr. Roger Lipsey has taken on an enigmatic subject: G.I. Gurdjieff, a philosopher, choreographer, composer, writer and mystic who is undeniably one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the last century.

Dr. Lipsey will give a talk on the role of story-telling in the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and in other traditions on Sunday, May 19th at 2:30 p.m. at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge 02138. He will be joined by Cynthia Bourgeault, the noted author, retreat leader, and Episcopal priest, who contributed an invaluable foreword to the new book. In the course of the talk, there will be ample time for Q&A with Dr. Lipsey and Rev. Bourgeault about the new book and its central figure, G. I. Gurdjieff.

Refreshments will be served. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“All is story,” Gurdjieff once said to a young man in his circle. “Man pays for story. Story is like soap, it cleans off smell of work. You know how to play role of story-teller and role of story. After, you clean of body and mind. In story you make yourself known to others.”

Story is part of every wisdom tradition, every practice tradition. Guidance and instructions about practice are typically austere: they speak to our possibilities and require understanding and perseverance. Stories are of another nature. They lighten the burden. They are precise entertainments, memories carefully preserved, little revelations. If you listen closely, they reveal the lives and character of teachers and the deep humanity they embodied. And, no less, they reveal the lives of pupils. They create a sense of companionship, even across centuries.

G. I. Gurdjieff lived among his pupils for nearly forty years. He taught them with force, precision of word and gesture, and ready humor. As part of his unique approach to teaching, he was a consummate teller of tales — and was himself the subject of innumerable anecdotes. In this talk and exchange, Dr. Lipsey and Rev. Bourgeault will share some of these tales and also look at teaching tales drawn from other traditions ancient and modern.

Copies of Gurdjieff Reconsidered will be available for purchase and signing. The book is a discerning look at Gurdjieff’s profound influence on contemporary Western spirituality. Seventy years after his death, there are centers dedicated to his teaching now quietly thriving in cities throughout the world. With new insight and great sensitivity, Dr. Lipsey revisits Gurdjieff’s contribution to the essential ideas of man’s evolution and spiritual potential, a living teaching that continues to be handed down through practice and story.

Roger Lipsey is the author of Hammarskjöld: A Life, recognized as the definitive biography of Dag Hammarskjöld; of two studies of Thomas Merton including Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton; and many other books and essays. Forthcoming with Shambhala Publications (winter 2020): Politics and Conscience: Dag Hammarskjöld on the Art of Ethical Leadership.

Cynthia Bourgeault is a widely read author, Episcopal priest, and retreat leader. She divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine and a demanding schedule traveling globally to further the rediscovery of the Christian contemplative path. She is the author of numerous books, including The Wisdom Jesus, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, and The Heart of Centering Prayer.

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