The Contemplative Society




The Contemplative Society

contemplative, silent prayer, centering prayer, cynthia bourgeault, benedictine

The Contemplative Society is an inclusive non-profit association that encourages a deepening of contemplative prayer based in the Christian Wisdom tradition while also welcoming and being supportive of other meditation traditions.

We offer a consistent and balanced path for spiritual growth and transformation rooted in prayer, silence, mindful work, and in the 1500-year-old wisdom of our Benedictine contemplative heritage.

The Society supports the work of Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault in her role of Principal Teacher and Advisor for The Contemplative Society and her vocation as a hermit and writer. We do so by sponsoring retreats, wisdom schools, and workshops led by Cynthia and other distinguished teachers of the Christian contemplative path, and through the sales of instructional and inspiration materials, in both textual and audio format, supportive of the contemplative life.

The Contemplative Society actively nurtures local teachers of the contemplative way and maintains an office to communicate with members and to provide a regular and balanced schedule of retreat, teaching, and workshop opportunities.


photo of Cynthia Bourgeault


A current schedule of upcoming


is available HERE


The most recent BLOG posting with Cynthia Bourgeault and other contemplative teachers and friends is available






The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity


Praise for The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three:

“The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity is upheld by some as a border checkpoint to restrict access, while it is disparaged by others as extra baggage to be left behind. Cynthia Bourgeault peers into it with the heart of a mystic and the mind of a philosopher and rediscovers it as a kaleidoscope of inspiration and a key to understanding … everything. One of the most fascinating, humbling, and awe-inspiring books I’ve read in years." ~ Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker/activist




Cynthia provided an introduction and thorough overview of The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three at the Cathedral of St. Philip Spirituality Conference in Atlanta Georgia. This presentation has been recorded and is available HERE.





Over the past few years Cynthia has provided online teaching in a virtual format sponsored by Spirituality and Practice. These archived courses are available on an ongoing basis. Details are available through the following links:


The Gopel of Thomas for Advent with Cynthia Bourgeault


The Gospel of Thomas with Cynthia Bourgeault


Centering Prayer with Cynthia Bourgeault


The Wisdom Jesus with Cynthia Bourgeault







Contemplative Remembering CD cover

How can ancient contemplative skills contribute to the needs of today’s world? In this teaching, Cynthia Bourgeault offers a compelling answer. In particular, she addresses the modern dilemma of how to end the cycles of violence between individuals, religions, and cultures without dishonouring or discounting those who have been victimized. Drawing on the seminal work of Connie Fitzgerald, Cynthia identifies memory and its relationship to selfhood as the key. She carefully guides us through Fitzgerald’s linking of the concepts of memory, the future, hope, belonging, and the prayer of no experience. As the self, anchored in contemplative practices, progresses through these connections, a new perspective arises that allows for healing and reconciliation: “There is a different sense of selfhood that emerges and on the basis of that emerging selfhood a whole set of actions are possible that are not possible for the egoic self.”



Now available as an 8 disc set and instant audio download. Click HERE for our ordering page.





Through Holy Week with Mary Magdalene CD cover

Cynthia Bourgeault uses scripture and liturgy to present Mary Magdalene as “The Beloved Companion” who opens her heart to the transformation of finite to infinite love. As Mary stands by Jesus in his anointing, crucifixion, entombment, and resurrection she emerges as the first Apostle.   Cynthia invites us to follow Mary as we offer “our own stumbling attempts at relational fidelity and witnessing [to go] deeper…into the heart of the transformative mystery.”


Now available as an 11 disc set and instant audio download. Click HERE for our ordering page.










Relearning Surrender cover

When we surrender and yield, we are putting ourselves in the company of Christ and Mary and all those who modeled this for us in their lives. Cynthia Bourgeault guides us to look deeply at Centering Prayer “the prayer of the experience of surrender,” as well as other meditative prayer practices, to better understand surrender as a gesture of love. By taking a fresh look at pain, pleasure, and personal boundaries, we discover our interconnectedness with God and all human beings, accessible only through spiritual surrender.


Now available as an 3 disc set and instant audio download. Click HERE for our ordering page.







Deepening the Practice of Centering Prayer - Cynthia Bourgeult

In this five-day deep immersion retreat, Cynthia moves beyond the scope of introductory Centering Prayer material to focus on the true self and its expression in the world around us. We discover that it is through spiritual non-possessiveness, surrender, and self-emptying that our essence becomes connected to the flow of Being Itself. This path is not about self-expression and acquisition or storing up more calm, stability, or inner presence. As self-emptying becomes the whole path we find that there is no need to worry about being depleted. The process of relinquishing our will, our identity, and our vitality leads us to the dark night of the spirit. And it is through this passageway that we discover that we are not the source of our own energy. Cynthia also touches on the so-called dichotomy between action and contemplation.


Now available as an 7 disc set and instant audio download. Click HERE for our ordering page.






Audio Interview with Terry Patten: The Eye of the Needle and the Cave of the Heart: Cultivating a Pure and Single Heart in a World Stuffed Full of Way-Too-Muchness.

Their dialogue was illuminating and lively, and the recording is now available for those who missed it. Many have commented on the depth of this exchange and especially were appreciative of the useful and simple practice for making wise, non-reactive choices about life that Cynthia shared in the course of the conversation. The audio recording can be accessed here: Download Dialogues. Terry Patten also provides his thoughtful reflections on his conversation with Cynthia: Contemplative Practice and Rewiring the Heart-Brain.



Video Interview with Cynthia Bourgeault: Contemplation & Compassion

In this short video series, five great teachers discuss how the future of humanity lies at the intersection of
contemplation and compassion.
"… you are one undivided sphere of interchangeable consciousness in love … a concept which is really only accessible to the non-dual mind…” ~ Cynthia Bourgeault

(18 minutes). The five video interviews are available HERE.


Audio Interview with Patricia Albere and Cynthia Bourgeault: The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity

“We are recovering in general from the spirituality of the 80's and 90's that had a kind of narcissistic preoccupation to it…to one that has a much more and deeper diaphanous solidarity -- that we are here on this beloved planet to serve, and what Love really does in this quest of service is it erases boundaries, allowing us to form higher collective units. But we have to keep coming back to s sense of sobriety when we are dealing with the intoxicating language of Love -- if we lose we our bearings we can get swept over the waterfall of Eros. "  ~ Cynthia Bourgeault

(54 minutes). The full recording of this interview can be accessed and downloaded HERE.


Audio Interview with Patricia Albere and Cynthia Bourgeault: Love is Stronger than Death; The Mystical Union of Two Souls

“True love expresses the sacred promise that love is stronger than death.” Cynthia Bourgeault says in her book.  What kind of ‘soulwork’ can continue in a relationship that expresses ‘true love’?  Join author and Episcopal Priest Cynthia Bourgeault and Patricia Albere as they explore the reality of sacred union.

(55 minutes). The full recording of this interview can be accessed and downloaded HERE.


Audio Interview with Tami Simon and Cynthia Bourgeault: When Two Become One: Love Beyond Death

Sounds True founder Tami Simon and Cynthia speak about new insights on the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and the concept of the “abler soul”—when two souls come together to form something greater. (64 minutes). The full recording of this interview can be accessed and downloaded HERE.


Audio Interview with Terry Patten: Encountering the Integral Christ in Evolutionary Dialog

Beyond Awakening host, Terry Patten, also offers a blog post in appreciation of the wonderful dialog that unfolded, including a discussion of the Trinity as a transformational metaphor and “mystical mandala”, and a nuanced conversation about how radically non-dual consciousness expresses itself equally in deep contemplative silence, profound heart-devotion, and muscular, engaged activism and service in the world. The full recording of this interview can be accessed and downloaded HERE.



Audio Interview with Tami Simon: Encountering the Wisdom Jesus

Sounds True founder and interviewer Tami Simon recently spoke with Cynthia about kenosis and Jesus’ life understood as a sacrament, the Welcoming Practice, and a number of other enlightening topics.

Click HERE to listen or download this podcast or access the full transcription of this interview.



Listen to Cynthia's beautiful and bold sermon delivered on Palm Sunday:

As Cynthia starts her sermon she refers to the congregation having just heard the traditional reading of the passion narrative, and invites us to consider an alternative message - one that places the mystery of love at the center of the Easter story. (Recorded April 17, 2011 at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC Canada)

Click HERE to access this recorded sermon.



anointing image

"Being" Mary Magdalene - A young woman shares her profound and personal experience of being touched by the Magdalenic energy while "being Mary" at a recent anointing service with Cynthia:

"As the entire congregation chanted over and over in beautiful melody, it felt obvious that opening as love requires no knowledge of scripture, no baptism, no earning of anything, especially worthiness. It didn’t matter that I don’t know the full story of Mary Magdalene because I was not doing anything. All that was required of me was to open in love."

Click HERE to read the full posting by Chela Davison.



Listen to Cynthia's radio interview discussing The Meaning of Mary Magdalene:

Jean Feraca from Wisconsin Public Radio, interviews Cynthia about her newest book.

As Cynthia asserts in the conversation, "to reclaim Mary Magdalene is to reclaim Christianity." (Recorded April 27, 2011)

Click HERE to access this recorded interview.




YouTube Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault on YouTube


photo of Cynthia Bourgeault

"The Spiritual Life" -- Cynthia Bourgeault at StillPoint

A short excerpt from an interview by Roy Petersen available HERE



"A Universe Haunted with Thou-Ness"-- Cynthia Bourgeault at StillPoint.


Another short excerpt from an interview by Roy Peterson available HERE



photo of Cynthia Bourgeault

Centering Prayer and the Foundations of Non-dual Awareness

At the 2012 Science and Nonduality Conference, Cynthia Bourgeault speaks on Centering Prayer and the contribution it has to bring to the growing body of data confirming the neurological underpinnings of nondual consciousness. What Christian mystics have long known as the practice of surrender, powerfully encapsulated in Centering Prayer's distinctive method of meditation, proves itself to be a powerful foundation for the movement beyond the dualistic perception (with the subect/object dichotomy as its driveshaft) into a unified—i.e., nondual—field of perception.


Click HERE to access this YouTube video.



photo of Cynthia Bourgeault

“The Gate of Heaven Is Everywhere”

In this remarkable and well produced little thirteen minute video, Cynthia Bourgeault discusses how contemplative spiritual practice can be integrated into the contemporary educational program of young people in the Hong Kong International School. With clarity and insight, Cynthia presents principles that apply to many areas of life and illustrate the profound inter-face that can exist between spirituality and practical daily living.


Click HERE to access this YouTube video.





photo of Cynthia Bourgeault

The Ways of the Heart: Kenosis, Abundance, Singleness Recorded on September 3, 2011, at Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, MA. (Produced and edited by Robert A. Jonas, Ed.D.,


Part 1 - Overview of the foundations and method of Centering Prayer (51:24)


Part 2 - Attention of the heart (54:20)


Part 3 - Putting the mind in the heart (55:34)


Part 4 - A chant and Q&A (18:20)



Shalem Institute Director interviews Cynthia on The Meaning of Mary Magdalene

Carole Crumley, Shalem's Senior Program Director talks with Cynthia about Mary Magdalene in relation to her three primary roles as apostle, intimate friend of Jesus, and purveyor of wisdom.  When these three roles are put together the implications for Christianity are profound and transformative. (Recorded on November 14, 2010)

Click HERE to access this YouTube video.



photo of Cynthia Bourgeault

Seeking the Divine host interviews Cynthia on The Meaning of Mary Magdalene

Dr. Patricia Ann Hill from Seeking The Divine TV show interviews Cynthia on "The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity". Click HERE to access this YouTube video.


You can access the full hour-long interview HERE.




Seeking the Divine host interviews Cynthia on The Wisdom Way of Knowing

Dr. Patricia Ann Hill from Seeking The Divine TV show interviews Cynthia on "The Wisdom Way of Knowing". Cynthia discusses her understanding of the meaning of Wisdom, including the differences between information, knowledge and Wisdom, and Wisdom as an integration of mind, body, and spirit.

Click HERE to access this YouTube video.


You can access the full hour-long interview HERE.





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Our work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and the following organizations:


Trust for the Meditation Process
Victoria Foundation
Vancouver Foundation