PRACTICING LIVING PRESENCE: Discovering the Mind of Christ Within, Part Three
This description is shared by Brian Mitchell as an introduction to “Practicing Living Presence: Discovering the Mind of Christ Within – Three”, a teaching by Cynthia Bourgeault. Brian is one of the intrepid team of volunteer editors (together with Peggy Zimmerman, Diane Walker, Harrison Russin, Katherine Jarrett, and others) who have worked diligently to transform the raw audio of this teaching into a format we can all listen to and learn from. We are grateful to Brian and the editing team for their devoted volunteer work.
In this last of Cynthia’s reflections on Living Presence she completes her comprehensive exploration of Helminski’s text within the context of inner Christianity. As I’ve alluded to in earlier blogs these teachings will last. They are based on the Wisdom teachings of the two great traditions of Sufism and mystical Christianity. The sharing of ideas between her and the students with whom she worked with for three years brought to light much that had previously been hidden. Aligning attention, will/willingness and surrender with the bottom line which is Presence she makes us conscious of the fact that we are capable of living in time what we actually are. She says: “Sufis like to say that God created the great mirror of diversity so that He could see Himself, so that Love could be fully manifest, so that God’s inner nature of generosity and self-giving can be known. But in our own culture you can’t automatically assume that. We’ve grown up for a hundred years now in this ‘Planckian theology’ that the universe was an accidental explosion controlled by the principle of survival of the fittest expressed in random combination. It adds reinforcement to a world view that we are isolated, embattled individuals; that we just happened to get here, that nobody particularly wanted us— I mean, there may have been a parent who wanted us, but there was nothing in the Cosmos that desperately called us to be here. When you get here it’s survival of the fittest and a race against death and finally you die and the whole mess is over. These kinds of assumptions have so much dominated the culture of our own time with its desperate sort of existential angst.
“My own sense is that Christianity has fallen by the wayside in this fray because it has been unable, by virtue of its own theological limitations, to state strongly enough why we human beings are wanted and needed. It can state that God loves us and because God loves us so much, here we are. That doesn’t really leave you with a cosmic enough sense of what you are called to do as a manifestation here, of the part you have to play in maintaining the cosmos and, if you will, maintaining the glory of God so that it burns brightly. Christians are so scared of talking in those terms that it’s hard to see that place.
“The whole inner tradition starts from the idea that you are desperately called, you are wanted and needed – your energy, your being. Your particularity is needed in a very tight tolerance as an expression of the glory of God, the love of God, the healing of God. Your final being is derived from that, from your willingness to accept your place given to you in the Cosmos and that all efforts to do anything else will merely lead to a confirmation of that sense of isolation and idiocy. The willingness and the humility to find your place and to serve leads you more and more surely into a certain being a stakeholder, as it were, in the heart of God.
“We live in an electro-magnetic field of Love and you know that your selfhood belongs unbroken, perfectly safe, infinitely and eternally bound in this Infinite Tenderness out of which it comes and to which it’s always returning. And once you know that, you are really free. You’re free from loss, you’re free from fear of loss. You realize you can’t be harmed. So the whole point of the spiritual journey is to get you to that as a stabilized state of consciousness. And to get you to this not for your own personal enhancement but because it’s only when you arrive at this state in a steady and consistent and dependable way that you’re really able to be in this incarnation full, abundantly, without being damaged, and with really being able to participate.”
Participating in, and doing the work, that Cynthia, Helminski and Bauman describe during these three volumes will unfold parts of you that have hitherto been hidden – which, in turn, will help in the transformation of our world. And, God knows, we need that.
– Brian Puida Mitchell
Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, is a modern-day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader. She divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine and tending to a global network of students and practitioners. Cynthia is a founding director and teacher for The Contemplative Society. Find all her offerings at CynthiaBourgeault.org
Click here for BIBLIOGRAPHY, REFERENCES, TRACK TITLES, Practicing Living Presence, Part THREE