PRACTICING LIVING PRESENCE: Discovering the Mind of Christ Within, Part Two
This description is shared by Brian Mitchell as an introduction to “Practicing Living Presence: Discovering the Mind of Christ Within – Part Two”, 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.
The teachings that comprise “Practicing Living Presence: Discovering the Mind of Christ Within – Part Two” continue Cynthia’s exploration of Kabir Helminski’s book “Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness & the Essential Self”. I was just now flipping through Chapters 10-18 of my copy of the book and noticed that there is not a single page that doesn’t have red underlining, stars, brackets, exclamation marks, NB’s or some other form of notation that I used to draw my attention to what Helminski is saying. I made those notes some twenty-five years ago and, all these years later, the wisdom that Cynthia extracts from those pages continues to affect me on a daily basis. Listening to her interpretation of the text again – as well as reading her Chapter transcripts – all but literally bowl me over. Lest you think it’s just me to whom this has happened I can tell you that they’ve also done the same to the two editors who have been responsible for bringing this material back to life after all this time.
These teachings will last. They will last as long as there are individuals and groups seeking Wisdom on the Christian contemplative path. Newcomers and old souls all – revelation follows revelation. In asking myself why I find Cynthia’s work so remarkable in this particular teaching I’ve come up with a couple of reasons. First is the original text. It is undoubtedly the very best investigation into what Presence actually means – what IT IS. Helminski is brilliant.
Second is Cynthia and her ability to dig deeper and deeper from within her own Christian roots in which she was aided tremendously through the back-and-forth interplay that took place between her and the serious group of students, of committed fellow seekers, who probed, questioned, and spoke their own truths as they walked the path with her – the path that we too are walking. Their interchanges took Cynthia into more and more expansive fields – and the resulting crops that we get to harvest are the consciousness food of a lifetime.
The third reason is that the group met for a period of three years doing practical exercises as outlined in Lynn Bauman’s “Living the Presence: A Manual for Contemplative Christian Practice”. During that time they and Cynthia got to know each other and themselves in a manner which is, alas, not commonplace. There is nothing to pull us into a deeper knowing that a group of committed individuals gathering and working together for a prolonged period of time – and they met for over three years. Myself I facilitated a group working with the Helminski and Bauman material for three years in my hometown – but wasn’t blessed with having Cynthia’s transformational observations to guide us.
In essence then I would unhesitatingly recommend these teachings to each and everyone of you who are reading this. If you actually commit to practicing the wisdom contained within these reflections you will be brought into a connection with the Presence, with Christ, that you cannot imagine. As Cynthia reflects at one point in Part Two: “That’s just the itty-bitty beginning of the Jesus skill: to impact the world with the energy of your love, perfectly connected and flowing through a perfectly pure heart. And to the extent that your heart is pure and unfragmented – and as I said earlier, unfragmented means that the glue is conscience, as it has been pieced back together by the power of conscience – then the “I” of your heart is purified and then the love that comes through you can be directed to the planet. It takes a long time to begin to develop these skills and, of course, they can be misused. But once you begin to travel within that great electro-magnetic field of love, the world changes dramatically.”
Blessing upon you as you journey.
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 TWO