A review of Cynthia Bourgeault’s ‘Practicing Living Presence – Part One’ by Brian Mirchell…
In late June Cynthia started an important series of posts with a message to students, sharing her ideas and suggestions for “a worthy project for our Wisdom circle to take on.” Cynthia also presented a riveting keynote address at the American Teilhard Association (ATA) annual meeting. Find links for both below.
THE ‘COMMON GOOD’ BLOG SERIES BY CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT
Cynthia provides an orienting emphasis toward the evolving terrain of the ‘Common Good’ and the rebirth of moral leadership. She provides explicit aims and suggestions for Wisdom students who are “up to the challenge of holding the post during this epochal consciousness shift.”
You can find the full series on Cynthia’s website here:
“… the more relationship, the more complexity, the stronger the flow of consciousness. For Teilhard, consciousness, relationship, and the personal are an unbreakable triad. Each implies the other and cannot be sustained apart from the other.”
Cynthia shares how Teilhard’s potent understanding of the ‘Hyper-Personal’ aligns with the emerging Integral structure, as described by Jean Gebser in his book The Ever Present Origin. The complementary perspectives of these two visionary 20th century thinkers leverage each other and point the way toward a renewed confidence in the maturity and profundity of the Western unitive vision. Teilhard set forth a characteristically Western and enstatic approach to the highest states of realized consciousness — a vision independently confirmed and concluded by Gebser.
Weaving it all together, Cynthia helps us imagine a radically unified, relational field as the ultimate destination of the evolutionary journey.
“The Person represents a higher evolutionary stage on the journey. Teilhard intuited that from his evolutionary map, Gebser confirms it chapter and verse from his phenomenological map.”
Cynthia’s talk is followed by short presentations from authors of recent publications on Teilhard’s life and work.
Watch below or on YouTube:
This video is generously shared by the American Teilhard Association, recorded at their annual general meeting on June 12, 2021. The ATA explores and builds on the life and work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and aims to make his visionary thinking more widely available. To learn more, or to become a member of the ATA, please visit their website at teilharddechardin.org
FEATURED AUDIO TEACHING
In both Cynthia’s ‘Common Good’ message, and her ATA presentation, she draws squarely upon Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionary vision. Teilhard’s prophetic writings and ideas offer us essential wisdom to understand our times, and points us toward a more unitive, Integral consciousness to meet the emergent and unfolding future.
A full description and ordering details available here:
After a short hiatus in her series of reflections, Cynthia Bourgeault continues with a new post drawing upon Jean Gebser’s Ever Present Origin and his perspectives on Integral consciousness.
Go Beyond the Mind, LESSON 13
When I say that the ability to access and sustain the Integral structure of consciousness is developmental, I mean just that: it is fundamentally a question of physiology, rather than of moral virtue or mystical yearning. We cannot think, pray, meditate, or conceptualize our way to it. It is fundamentally a matter of preparing the entire body to receive it. To embody it.
The Abkhazian-born Kebzeh teacher Murat Yagan once commented: “Spiritual practice is fundamentally about strengthening the nervous system.” I believe he is 100% correct here, and that the failure to recognize the full implications of his observation has been the largest single impediment to would-be-integralists trying to till the inner ground for this emergent new structure of consciousness. As in the classic case of the word “repentance” (metanoia in the original Greek, noia being “mind” and meta being “greater than” or “beyond”), what’s actually being asked for here is not to “think differently,” but to “go beyond the mind.”
… what’s actually being asked for here is not to “think differently,” but to “go beyond the mind.“
Cynthia’s newest reflection is part 13 in an unfolding series. You can find links to all prior posts in this series at the bottom of the page here.
Jean Gebser (1905-1973) was a German-Swiss philosopher, linguist, and poet, best known for his theories on how humans transition through particular ‘structures of consciousness’. Cynthia recommends the book Seeing Through the World by Jeremy Johnson, as helpful introduction to Gebser’s foundational work.
What’s new with our Principal Teacher Cynthia Bourgeault?
Recently we’ve heard from a number of you wondering what Cynthia is up to while in-person events and retreats are widely curtailed.
Well, unless you happen to spot her on the high seas, here are some opportunities to tune into Cynthia’s activities and catch some of her upcoming appearances:
CONVERSATIONS & BLOGS
- Cynthia and Integral Christian Network hosts share their converging interests and inspiration drawn from Jean Gebser’s influential Ever Present Origin.
- This engaging dialog includes the emerging scope and potential for an Integral mode of Christianity.
- The shared conversation includes personal experiences and insights on a range of spiritual themes and topics – see details and listen here.
Cynthia’s February video interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump
- Cynthia illuminates aspects of the Imaginal Realm and other key insights from her most recent book Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.
- Also offered are reflections on forgiveness and love, as well as suffering, confusion, and pain as conditions that contribute to transformative new arisings.
- Find the full topic outline and listen on BATGAP here.
- In an unfolding series, Cynthia offers illuminations flowing from Jean Gebser’s writings on structures of consciousness, and the relevance to our particular culture and times.
- Find the full series of blog posts on CynthiaBourgeault.org
UPCOMING EVENTS WITH CYNTHIA
March 30 – Online: Mary Magdalene and Attention of the Heart – hosted by WCCM.org. Information to register here.
- You can also find in-depth versions of Cynthia’s profound teaching on Mary Magdalene in the Audio offerings on our TCS website.
June 16 to Sept 21 – Online: The Divine Exchange – hosted by CAC.org. Registration now open! Find details here.
- TCS also offers a comprehensive audio teaching by Cynthia on The Divine Exchange here.
Cynthia in British Columbia: Plans for The Contemplative Society to host Cynthia on Vancouver Island Canada are still on hold until the pandemic restrictions are eased. Stay tuned for updates. NOTE: TCS members will be the first to be notified – to become a member find details here.
For Cynthia’s complete calendar with current listings refer to her EVENT SCHEDULE at CynthiaBourgeault.org
Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm by Cynthia Bourgeault has been chosen as one of The Best Spiritual Books of 2020 by Spirituality & Practice!
- In addition to hosting Cynthia’s current eCourse Spiritual Gifts from the Imaginal Realm, S&P has acknowledged Eye of the Heart among the “exceptional contributions to today’s spiritual renaissance.”
- find out more about Eye of Heart and some of Cynthia’s related conversations here.
Cynthia honored as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people of 2021!
- Congratulations Cynthia for recognition on the prestigious Watkins List! View the full Watkins list here.
The Contemplative Society is committed to recovering the mystical heart of the Christian Wisdom tradition.
All of our work is done by board members, volunteers, and a part-time Administrator. Please know that your contribution of any amount is gratefully received! Click below to support us with a donation or join us as a TCS member.
In this potent and engaging conversation, Cynthia Bourgeault is hosted by Paul Smith (author of Integral Christianity) and Luke Healy of the Integral Christian Network. Together they offer deep insights and personal experiences to illuminate the emerging scope and potential for Christianity.
The dialogue is infused by their shared appreciation and revelations inspired by Jean Gebser’s seminal work Ever Present Origin. As the conversation unfolds their reflections and transmissions provide a glimpse into how the Christian Mystical/Wisdom path is poised for full expression at this crucial time, through the multi-dimensional structures of an Integral consciousness.
“You feel Gebser’s deep mystical love for Christianity and for Christ. It’s as powerful as Teilhard’s actually, and it winds up saying very much the same thing: that there is something so intrinsically whole, beautiful, real, and sacramental in the path of emergence as it filters through Integral in a Christian mode. And not only is it absolutely necessary for the full realization of Integral, but there would be no full realization of Integral without it.”
– Cynthia Bourgeault
“God can be beyond us… and God can be as us, and also God wants to be near us as a personal connection.”
– Paul Smith
You can find the ICN podcast with Cynthia here or listen below:
Podcast topic notes and times:
The podcast starts with ICN’s David Pinkston offering a short guided “Whole Body Mystical Awaking” practice to open and ground your listening experience.
12:57 – Finding Gebser (“You don’t find books, they find you.”)
25:00 – Embodying wisdom in tumultuous times
34:37 – Cynthia’s thoughts on Gebser and G.I. Gurdjieff
40:17 – Paul discusses other embodiment practices and Whole Body Mystical Awakening
46:11 – Features of Western non-duality
52:30 – Moving Integral to the personal (2nd-person spirituality and spirit guides/presences, co-inherence!, I/it? Or I/thou.)
1:02:41 – Gebser and the Christ-mystery, Christ-teachers and the unfolding of human history
1:12:28 – Healing work from Cynthia’s and Paul’s perspectives
1:25:42 – Final thoughts
Cynthia Bourgeault’s ongoing series of reflections on Jean Gebser’s Even Present Origin and related topics can be found on her website blog page here: CynthiaBourgeault.org
Practices and writings offered by Paul Smith and Luke Healy, including recent reflections stemming from Jean Gebser’s work, can be found on their website here: Integral Christian Network
If you’re considering the multiple online course opportunities with Cynthia that are coming up, she provides this message to the Wisdom community and offers some additional input for consideration.
It occurred to me that people may want a little guidance as to how to pick and choose among the sudden embarrassment of riches of Cynthia Bourgeault online course options currently opening up for registration. Here’s a bit more information to help you make your selection(s).
Spiritual Gifts of the Imaginal Realm
I would love to have as many hands as possible on deck for the Spirituality & Practice e-course, Spiritual Gifts from the Imaginal Realm, which will launch February 18 and run through the six weeks of Lent. This is my pilot online course unpacking the material in my recent book Eye of the Heart. I’m trying to lay out the basic building blocks in a way that is broadly inclusive (even if you haven’t read Eye of the Heart) and practical, based in actual practices that people can do to help our entire planet through the perilous eye of the needle we’re collectively facing. If we could get a thousand people on this course—anchored by seasoned Wisdom students —we could change the world. No kidding. It’s a pretty easy pace: two-emails a week, with an accompanying spiritual practice, text for reflection, and 24/7 access to the Practice Circle, plus two zoom conferences, dates to be announced. Full details and registration here.
Introductory Wisdom School
If you haven’t yet taken an Introductory Wisdom School, here is your window of opportunity: the Online Introductory Wisdom School offered by the Center for Action and Contemplation, now open for registration with a March 1 launch date. This twelve-week course is a carefully crafted remake of the original course brilliantly filmed by Robbin Brent at our on-the-ground Wisdom School in North Carolina in 2015. It’s both comprehensive and interactive and will cover all the material you would have covered in an on-the-ground school with a powerful flavor and ambience of the original still remaining. It’s the usual prerequisite for all further Wisdom Study, giving you both the basic concepts and the basic practices you need to get started on the right foot. It will also be offered again in the second half of 2021, so that may be a factor in your course selection. Find out more and sign up here.
The Divine Exchange
I’d like to call your special attention to The Divine Exchange, opening for registration on the CAC site on March 3, with a launch date on June 16. This course is actually “Intro Wisdom, part II.” It’s a deep dive into the notion of exchange—i.e., giving and receiving—both as it shows itself as the linchpin of Jesus’s teaching and as it emerges as the cornerstone of Christian Wisdom metaphysics in the notion of “exchange between the realms.” It’s the tie-rod connecting The Wisdom Jesus with Eye of the Heart, and laying out a powerful pathway of healing and practical action in our world today. If you’ve taken an Introductory Wisdom School, this is your next step. Details here (registration not yet open).
If you haven’t yet taken an intro Wisdom School course …well, you can still do both courses consecutively if you’re up for a Wisdom marathon this summer…or you can take your chances and leap into Part II, then pick up part I in the fall. I think this is actually manageable since the CAC course is so well shepherded and interactive, and I’d put it out there for your serious consideration.
EXCHANGE really does hold the key to how so many pieces of our broken world fit back together again, and the more of us that can be thinking in these terms, the more we can begin to articulate—and start walking—a visionary path of action, grounded in the Christ heart.
I hope to meet you on one course or the other…maybe all three! Blessings, Cynthia
Additional note from TCS
MEETING THE MOMENT WITH LOVE with WARD BAUMAN
Just to make the offerings even richer with abundant choices, don’t forget about our upcoming 5-day retreat: MEETING THE MOMENT WITH LOVE with WARD BAUMAN. We’d love to have you join us for this online event, February 15 to 19 (approximately 2.5 hours each day). Full details and registration can be found here.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you”
Dear contemplative friends,
Rumi’s words are a reminder that in 2020 we’ve felt deep wounds in the body of the world. Just like we await the birth of the Christ light in this shadow time of year, the world is aching for healing Light amid its myriad wounds. The Light is manifested as radical hope in each of us and shines as divine love in all our global body. Cynthia Bourgeault reminds us:
“Hope’s home is at the innermost point in us, and in all things. It is a quality of aliveness. It does not come at the end, as the feeling that results from a happy outcome. Rather, it lies at the beginning, as an impulse of truth that shines forth. When our innermost being is attuned to this impulse it will send us forth in hope, regardless of the physical circumstances of our lives.” (Mystical Hope, pg 87)
The Christian wisdom tradition is well equipped to resource us with all that we need to live into this hope, and to awaken to the ground of divine love that sustains us. We are so blessed with teachers like Cynthia Bourgeault who help us reflect us on our spiritual unfolding and with eloquence and lived wisdom guide us on our spiritual journey.
This Christmas season, starting on Dec 22 2020 and lasting for 20 days until Jan 11 2021, we are offering a 20% reduction on our MP3 digital downloads, to give you access to all of Cynthia’s audio recordings, and those of other teachers who are part of our audio library. We hope you will check out these valuable MP3 resources by following this link to our Audio page. And when you order, use the coupon code “gratitude2020” to get the 20% reduction.
Wishing you all a most blessed Christmas and aliveness of Hope and Love in the coming year.
The Contemplative Society Board & Staff
Your year-end charitable donation to The Contemplative Society is gratefully received – visit our SUPPORT page here.
Writing just after the November 2020 US election, Cynthia Bourgeault shares this:
“Well, the oasis of grace miraculously opened, and now it’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get on with the healing work! I know that my own first assignment has something to do with helping to expose— and hopefully defuse— some of the reactivity and sanctimoniousness that boils just below the surface in my immediate peer group, the spiritual liberal intelligentsia.”
What unfolds is a series of blog posts where Cynthia provides reflections and insights being revealed through the writings and legacy of Jean Gebser (1905-1973).
Gebser was a German-Swiss philosopher, linguist, and poet, best known for his theories on how humans transition through particular ‘structures of consciousness’. As a starting point Cynthia recommends the book Seeing Through the World by Jeremy Johnson, which provides an introduction to Gebser’s foundational work. She writes “I could see that Gebser—through the brilliant eyes of Jeremy Johnson—was handing me exactly the tools to see where I’d been pinned for so long now, both personally and culturally . . . If you’re up for joining this exploration, I encourage you to buy Jeremy Johnson’s book and explore it firsthand.”
Cynthia’s series of blogs, starting with AN INVITATION TO BEGIN THE HEALING WORK, can be found here.
In the following podcasts and interviews Cynthia Bourgeault illuminates the Imaginal and some key insights offered in her groundbreaking new book EYE OF THE HEART: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm:
(Audio: October 2020)
In this two-part interview, Cynthia Bourgeault speaks with Encountering Silence hosts on her practice of silence, and thoughts on navigating through the particular challenges of our current times. From this interview:
Our own personal and collective fear of death is what’s holding us on one side of the divide, and if we could just get through that, we’d have a whole new set of tools in our grab-bag for rebuilding the planet on the other side of COVID.
— Cynthia Bourgeault
(Audio: September 2020)
Cynthia Bourgeault joins Terry Patten to explore what it is to live and imagine from the “eye of the heart” in a seemingly apocalyptic world. They reflect on how each of them is relating to death and also discovering new strength and guidance by keeping the company of saints, sages, and our courageous ancestors — one of the most important spiritual fruits of awakening into the “imaginal realm.” Cynthia suggests we aspire to “live the laws of the next world”, like those who began building great cathedrals they knew they wouldn’t live to see completed.
Some questions explored include:
- Can we become so intimate with our inevitable death, that we become impartial, courageous, and more profoundly alive?
- How can we “keep the good company” of the great contemplatives and our now-deceased mentors during times of darkness?
- How can we “live the laws of the next world” and become the “strange attractors” of wisdom to which others can gravitate?
(Audio: September 2020)
Cynthia joins the Goop team to discuss key existential questions that come forth for many of us, including:
- Are we all just irrelevant specs?
- Does our life actually have meaning?
According to Bourgeault, while humans are not the center of everything, our actions have profound influence on the well-being of the planet (and a system that extends beyond it). She says that a lack of consciousness has led to much of the mess we’re currently in, and she explains how we all play a particular role in amending the damage. Cynthia talks through how our fear of dying is problematic (and what a different approach to death could look like), what it truly means to live virtuously, and whether or not she’s hopeful for the future. (Spoiler: Mostly, she is).
(Video: May 2020)
Cynthia Bourgeault speaks with Science and NonDuality (SAND) hosts, providing an overview of the Imaginal Roadmap, offering a much broader perspective on our planetary situation at this point: a map which renews hope while at the same time ratcheting up the demand for personal spiritual transformation.
This groundbreaking book shares the evolution of Cynthia Bourgeault’s spiritual journey and offers a new map to understanding energy and our collective reality.
In Eye of the Heart, Cynthia Bourgeault investigates the imaginal realm–an energetic realm well known to the mystical traditions but often forgotten in our own times. It is invisible to the physical eye, but clearly perceptible through the eye of the heart.
“A brilliant synthesis that both situates the imaginal world and gives it more meaning that it has previously had… [Bourgeault] is a true representative of the Western spiritual tradition.” – from the afterword by A. H. Almaas