The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault – Wisdom School 19-24 September 2016 – Lake Cowichan

Caution: What follows is an artifact that may have more or less resemblance to the original material out of which it has been manufactured.

I was not present at Cynthia Bourgeault’s recent Wisdom School at Cowichan Lake. But I am close to someone who was and she took notes. So what follows is the first part of my transcription of the rapidly scribbled notes I have transcribed from a little lined Hilroy exercise book. They are good notes but only represent what the note-taker heard of the addresses and what the transcriber was able to decipher from these notes. So do not assume you are reading precisely what was said.


Tuesday a.m. 20 September 2016

Teilhard’s life question was: “How do things hold together?

His answer was that things hold together from the top not the bottom.

He believed that spirit and matter are connected as two phases in the evolution of consciousness. He had a mystical vision of the oneness of humanity which he saw as one body.

Teilhard wrote at the same time as Einstein whose theory of relativity blew apart the separation of spirit and matter. Everything is energy, dynamic phases are all connected.

Teilhard says he was writing about seeing not about metaphysics. He was not writing philosophy or cosmology but cosmosophy – reflection on recurrent patterns and meanings. Usually we can’t see the forest for the trees. He was trying to look at everything.

He derived a sweeping deepening reverence from looking at the cosmos. He sought to sense the innate intelligence of all things.

Our problem is that we have not been thinking big enough. It requires a contemplative mind to get the mystical sweep.

The 4 planks of Teilhard:

1. Cosmogenesis – evolution is the baseline perspective

2. Complexification / consciousness – what is the drive shaft for this? There is direction to how evolution works.

3. Evolution is Convergent – there is coming together. The lines are converging to a point – the Omega Point.

4. Omega Point – the point to which all things are converging is identical with the Cosmic / Risen Christ

There is an ascending order of challenge:

1. Evolution – everything is morphing.

2. Does evolution have a direction? There is a split agreement on this – most secular scientists would not agree that evolution has a direction; they see evolution as random or else nothing more than the law of the survival of the fittest.

3. Convergence is the opposite of expanding and endless inflation. Convergence at some point implies decreasing, diminishment. This is the eye of the needle. It is not easy to see. It is counterintuitive but not irrational.

4. Christ is the Omega Point.

Tuesday p.m.

Evolution is the new baseline – it is not a backdrop; it is the human story. It is not a theory of origins, not only about ascending or descending from the apes.

Transformation is only a sub-section of evolution.

Cosmogenesis means everything is in motion. Nothing is in a final, firm state. We tend to distrust change. The idea of eternal changelessness may just be imaginary.

String theory – the smallest thing is not a thing but vibrations.

What you thought was stillness, steadfastness, and stability is because we are looking at it from the wrong scale. Viewed at the proper scale everything can be seen as in motion.

Look at the night sky – think in terms of light years. Look way way into the past.

In 1650 Bishop James Usher of the Church of Ireland calculated the beginning, of the world based on his reading of the Bible, to be 23 October 4004 BCE.

When the biblical model failed, things began to fall apart – eg. the earth is not the centre of the universe.

The fact that the biblical and scientific vision were at odds with each other caused an existential angst – suddenly there was no heaven and no meaning in life. “Who gives a damn” was let loose.

There was a brave attempt to return coherence called “faith”; but the cost was high. It meant withdrawal from the modern world. But the payoff was also high. Fundamentalism grew representing a yearning for lost coherence. But it represented a failed attempt to restore the tarnished image of God.

Teilhard was the same generation as Camus and Sartre. His pastoral aim was to restore a source of hope by adopting an expansive approach in which the Christian story is not demeaned but enhanced.