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

Conscious Conversation:

Sense the wider space, “external considering”. Be aware of the tone of your voice, the volume in the room. Gain expanded attention.

Judgement leads to fear. It is easier to work with excessive enthusiasm than fear.


We incorporate a major emphasis (much more so than in more conventional contemplative circles) on mindfulness and conscious awakening, informed here particularly by the inner teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and their parallels and antecedents in the great sacred traditions, particularly Sufism.

“if you keep the rule, the rule will keep you.” (Rule of St. Benedict)

monos = monk – become a single one, singleness, in the state of oneness

Gospel of Thomas = when you can make the inside like the outside, Logion 22

Singleness is not about celibacy, about active non-duality. An enactment of a higher causality = a miracle. The crucible for the seeing heart, not a lifestyle. Become a servant of reality.

Embrace both the outer and the inner conditions.

Merton – making your itsy bitsy statues, eg. little icons, little candles, little altars = what contemplation has become.

We are a school that goes into this outer form. What is it about piety that becomes judgment?

Jacob Needleman Lost Christianity, introduced CB to the work of Thomas Keating & Gurdjieff – Needleman says the missing element is conscious attention. Can’t do work in the Christian path without this. Establish more conscious being.

In Search of the Miraculous 2nd influential book for CB in terms of Gurdjieff work, the science of attention

Gurdjieff work similar to mindfulness training

After seven years drifted away. Particularly the secular and lack of devotion (understood that devotion can easily drop to the lower levels) and the intellectualism/cerebral work. People were not permitted to entrust themselves to the beloved. So CB retired to the monastery and Centering Prayer, then met Rafe.

Recommends The New Man, Maurice Nicoll also The Psychological Commentaries

St. Benedict meets GI Gurdjieff

St Benedict divided day into two parts & four quadrants. There was an intentional rhythm between these two parts. Dialogue between daily living and prayer (7x a day from the Psalms). Also activity done together and activity done alone. The hermit was highly esteemed.

The Four Quadrants of Benedictine Experience

Part 1. Ora

a. Lectio Divina – alone

b. Divine Office – together

chanting he Psalms, a yogic practice – brings both physical and emotional centres

Part 2. Labora

a. “craft” or art – alone, composed Gregorian chant, illuminated Scripture etc.

b. Manual Labour – together

opportunity to move with the moving centre – a lot of rhythmic work

Benedictines also recognized the importance of community. The community is a good mirror. To see where we are stuck and also a vehicle for service. About each others’ becoming, not just your own – about the community.

Good to take an inventory of your life and look at the balance of prayer alone/together and work alone/work together. Notice what is unbalanced. Should be able to move seamlessly between quadrants with no preference.

Gurdjieff – three-centered awareness. We are three-brained creatures. All three need to be working together in dialogue:

  1. Intellectual Centre – perception through separation, measures and weighs, sequential. Our mind – we train it excessively and we think we are our mind. We then forget where our feet are. The slower of the three systems.


  1. Moving Centre – intelligence in movement, through sensation. eg. ski – learn a new language, find a sense of balance. The lexicon of spiritual motions – eg. full prostration = third eye blessing the earth (forehead meets the floor). These things cannot be explained in words, eg. the Movements.


  1. Emotional Centre – corresponds with the nervous system – centre is in the solar plexus. The fastest of the systems. Prone to negativity and distortion. It is a lot of work training this centre, purifying it from my and me.


Higher Emotional Centre– more related to the heart.

All three centres need to be brought online, equalized. eg. mindfulness needs to be grounded in sensation, not about thinking about it.

The Emotional Unloading spoken about by Keating will not become undone if people are not grounded in sensation – Meditation gets things moving (“psychological diarrhea”) , need to ground this.

Gregorian Chant was/is a balance to the hard physical work eg. “Salve Regina” brings one directly to the heart/the feminine, was taken out of many monasteries (Latin)

Tools for conscious labour and intentional suffering: Self-Observation, Attention, External Considering, Non-Identification

Inner Task for Outdoor Work – relax you eyes, keep them a little more peripherally focused, soften your focus