Cynthia Bourgeault – Luminous Wisdom Cowichan Lake Education Centre 1-7 April 2019 Tuesday p.m. (Nb: these are personal notes from Cynthia’s oral presentation and may not always be a completely accurate reflection of her teaching)

History, the early beginnings of Wisdom Schools: All Saints, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada – Cynthia asked to be a fill in for Thomas Keating at a Centering Prayer weekend. At that time retreats were led by Sr Marguerite, Margaret Haines and others who welcomed both the Christian Meditation and Centering Prayer traditions as well as Zen Buddhism. The Contemplative Society continues this same openness.

1997: TCS incorporated

Property on Salt Spring, Fairacres, was rented. First Wisdom School held here with the theme of Ora et Labora (the Benedictine model)

Rafe – avid disciple of the Gurdjieff work – interest in formation of conscious being which understood that this should affect the way you are in the world. Developed into what known today as “mindfulness.

“ora” = was added as an inner task, conscious training.

1999, Lynn Bauman and Cynthia led a retreat on SSI and introduced work with Kabir Helminski’s, The Living Presence, and the Sufi question of how do we wake up –  Gurdjieff-Sufi mix or St Benedict meets GI Gurdjieff.

The conscious work was missing in the Benedictine model.

Strong Sufi presence in Vancouver with Salome Dede and Baba’s influence.

Conscious work with the “Turning the Passion” event – “Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit” chant introduced with the turning practice.

Later Teilhard was added to the mix. Felt that Gurdjieff and Teilhard talked to each other.

Self-revelation of the divine heart.

A whole new way to be a Christian.

TCS developed deep roots in the Christian tradition but with a heart wide open to other faiths. Saw the need to work with the devotional heart to breakthrough to the non-dual. A very unique combination.

Wednesday a.m.


We are founded on a daily practice of sitting meditation, predominantly but not exclusively Centering Prayer, anchored within the overall daily rhythm of “ora et labora”, as set forth in the Rule of St Benedict.

Centering Prayer is congruent with the Christian mystical path.

Cynthia introduced to Centering Prayer at Big Sur Camaldolese Hermitage. Someone gave her a copy of Open Mind, Open Heart. She became trained as a presenter and realized she now had something to teach so began teaching CP.

CP as an opening to relational knowledge. The methodology of this tradition is dependant on ora et labora, a knowledge that comes from silence. We consciously get rid of what doesn’t help this. Develop a rhythm of life.

Method of CP

our thoughts think us and before you know it, you’re engaged. Being drops as associative thinking checks in. Associative thinking is passive ie. involuntary. We get stuck in our psychological self and our narrative.

need a certain level of being that is found in the gut, solar plexus, & heart

most other practices are about a single-pointed focus, “front-end.” CP works on the back-end – teaches you what to do when you get caught in thinking. Assumes you will think.

something watches within you and will notice. There is an other that will help. Something, or someone in you notices – the transpersonal consciousness.

Centering Prayer works with the gesture of release – not renouncing, more an “unefforting”

Much more value in letting go than the single-pointed focus. Encourages and confirms the sense that you are being met.

CP helps build this trust – something notices and brings you back. More and more in life you realize that something notices – way deeper than belief, doctrine or words. Just relate to it and trust it.

Mary Oliver – “Wild Geese” “announcing your place in the scheme of things” – you are a place that God occupies – trust this = moving to a place of “objectless awareness” – between thoughts.

attention is not about subject/object but becomes a place of being – holographic, more subtle. subject/object is a lower state – move to attention of the heart

becoming conscious as service rather than as ego-project

solar plexus = will

belly = belonging/safety/sacred

– the heart is the whole.

Teilhard – need constriction and tension for higher order articulation – pressure which forces things to evolve, complexity is necessary. Need to dig into the depth of the mess

Conscious work – work with the body, great way to move the thinking, worst way is to move thinking into emotions.

the “hereness” pulls you back = present moment awareness, opportunity for self-observation – not introspection, not concerned with the why but the what – watch: posture, gesture, tone of voice – how we pick up a tool, observe reactions, watch likes and dislikes

automatic gesture puts you back into auto-pilot

no judgment – just watch how you are.

Self-observation is in the Now

Morning Inner task – try as much as possible to watch when your mind pulls you out of the present moment, watch slipping into entropy, dullness – watch thinking/evaluating. Bring attention to your feet, stop and collect your attention so you can place it in the soles of your feet