Conversations of the Heart VST Summer School
Cynthia Bourgeault Wednesday 9-15 July 2007

Contemplative practice doesn’t change what you think but how you think.

It is not piety but practice that makes it possible to actually put on the mind of Christ.

Jesus was a non-dual master.

The Gospels are pitched at the level of the non-dual. The mind needs to be rewired to think in non-dual terms. Contemplative prayer begins to rewire our mind in a non-dual perspective.

The core of Christianity’s problem is trying to do non-dual teaching with the dual mind.

There is no other. There is no enemy that thing you think is getting in the way of your journey is the thing out of which wings will sprout.

Turn over the reins of your personal life force to God so there is no movement apart from God. This is the final passage most of us struggle to hold on rather than giving up the fuel – handing over our being at the most existential level.

It is not possible to die before you are invited to die – this is the gift of relative age. It happens in the last bit of your life. When you die this way you become Eucharistic; your life is poured out – it has no independent functioning.

We equate transforming union with bliss – few people are willing to find the point of nothing.

Br. Roger (d. 16 August 2005) – his life had become nothing but the sheer glowing fire of divine love – no more questions, simply an issness.

How does the leaf decide which way or when to fall off the tree?

We use egoic consciousness for choosing believing that it we don’t use egoic consciousness for choosing, choosing will not happen – this is not true. When you get out of the way and access a level of consciousness beyond egoic consciousness, action happens. The decision comes with the turning itself.

We have a problem when we seek to dissolve the ego to get into the non-dual. How could a religion of love be founded on war? We have created a problem by turning the ego into the bad guy. The thing we call “ego” is in fact a function of perceiving the world through the egoic operating system.

Operating system = a set of conventions and hard-wiring that allows a thing to do its thing. By three years old we all have an egoic operating system installed.

The egoic operating system is the grammar of perception built into the human brain. It is a binary operating system. It perceives through differentiation, views the world in terms of balanced pairs.

Sees inside as “you” (subject) and everything else as outside/“not you” (object). This is nobody’s fault; it is built into the brain which perceives by comparing, contrasting and seeing differences, perception through discrimination.

When you use the egoic operating system to ask “Who am I?” the natural answer is – “You are a person with distinct bits that make you unique. You are not like anyone else. You need to hold on to these unique characteristics because they give you your identity.”

From the point of view of the spiritual journey, the egoic operating system is a disaster.

How can a system founded on differentiation discern unity?

Because your hard-wiring is grounded on differentiation, you experience a background level of anxiety because something in you yearns for unity. But, as you approach this unity you begin to cease to exist.

The missing piece has been that the problem of unitive work does not lie in moral failure, but in a failure of perception.