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

Three Tools in Gurdfieff Work: Attention, Self-Observation, Non-Identification

  1. Attention – the heart of the work. A vibratory channel of another order of reality.

Have to move from involuntary (passive) attention to voluntary (active) attention.

When unconscious, we are asleep. Our attention is grabbed. Inner or outer noise grabs us. The power of the object lies within it. It goes to what is interesting.

“donner l’attention” – “give attention” rather than pay attention. Place and hold your attention

“What you pay attention to you energize” – the energy no longer lies in the object but the subject.

Attention needs to be voluntary and non-identified. “I am attending” so I don’t get lost in the object. Attention that knows I am here doing this.

Attention can expand if grounded in sensation. Real attention expands, is not divided.


  1. Self-observation – is present only when thinking is not present, a direct seeing of your state

Not the same as introspection. The Work stays away from introspection.

Sense your head as energy. Sometimes it is like a beehive in terms of energy.

Observe: posture, gesture, movement, facial expression, tone of voice – experiment with different ways, the idea is “play” not “should” “What if we try it this way?”

Outer gesture reflects inner emotional states. This is where we lose free attention and move into sleep. No blame. There is more value in being asleep and waking up rather than just staying away.


  1. Non-identification – identification = a form of attachment to your sense of self-image, asserting or claiming a sense of identity in a particular task

Hard to spot, partly because it is so valued in our culture, but it is always negative.

Manipulating a situation to make it all about you makes for high maintenance people.

Hard to spot in self, but easier to spot in others. “I am a person who needs….” See it in the voice, tone, gestures.

In your self can spot in your moving centre. Notice interior bracing – strengthening the small self.

Not about becoming whimps – genuine flexibility, that they are available to do anything

Need to have enough being to be nothing.

Rule of St. Benedict chapter 7 or 11 – teaching on humility = teaching on non-identification. Humility is not about subservience, but about freedom. The ability to move freely without a need to defend self.

Opposite = “vain glory” – spiritual practice for the ego = all about me. Desert Fathers watched this like a hawk, makes us entitled.

All forms of identification are exclusive – excludes others



 We are an esoteric or “gnostic” School to the extent that these terms have come to be understood as designating that stream of Christian transmission through which the radically consciousness-transforming teachings of Jesus have been most powerfully transmitted and engaged. But we eschew esotericism as simply mental or metaphysical speculation, and we affirm the primacy of the scripture and tradition as the cornerstones of Christian life.

We are an esoteric or gnostic school = essentially an orthodox Christian path

“gnosis” means knowledge, related to nous. Knowledge which emerges from a higher level. Mentioned by Paul in the Greek all the time. Gnosis was one of the fruits.

4th c. it was re-defined and attributed to heretical knowledge

Gnosis grows up as the shadow of the master story. Early Christianity – no master story till the Creeds – ie. it began in much diversity, geographically, culturally, and understanding. Superstition to refined understanding = plethora of texts.

368 AD – Athanasius = the Bible. John not agreed on yet – feministic lines, healing lines, etc.

Later the idea of correct and not correct was developed

Jesus never asked people to worship him, but to follow him = transform your heart. Never said put me on a pedestal

Gospel of Thomas earliest sayings could date to 30-60 AD, dated linguistically, very early and in line with the other Gospels


Thursday Evening (Questions & Reflections)

Exoteric – the outer, the public face of the church. Gateway into the tradition. Morality, ethics, community is the container

Mesoteric – about practice. If people walk this well, will lead them to the esoteric.

John “I am the way…” at the exoteric sounds harsh, at the mesoteric it is about practice

Esoteric – hears statement in John as particular and universal. Paths are interchangeable. Not about competition, but embrace. Esoteric is inaccessible without a transformed being

Collect for Purity – asking to fill the heart space

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

“You must trust the invincibility of the heart” – Rafe

Any act of relaxation or return to presence allows you to re-establish yourself in the wider consciousness. The centre of where you carry yourself shifts when you relax.

The heaviness we bring to our work does not lie in the work itself, but the attitude we bring to it.

When we are light and spacious, it brings energy, when pushing through adds heaviness.

Non-dual seeing does not erase particularity, it illuminates it. It is the difference between a stained glass window with our without light

Don’t lose ability to discern.

No longer “I” looking at the sunset just sunset. Like learning a new language, no longer inwardly translating, just speak it.

Question if Jung’s self is the same as Gurdjieff’s “real I” or perhaps more coarse.

Enstatic experience rather than ecstatic experience. Doesn’t draw you out of yourself. Not about being completely lost in the object of your devotion. Collapse at the subjective not the objective pole. Just the infinite pole.