Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Month: December, 2015

Holding Tension – 8 quotes from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s book – The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective

51E4hrZVAiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Making room for real life

“With the Enneagram the point is to call our illusions by name and to unmask them, so that there will be room for real life instead of self-deception.”

2. The inner richness of melancholy

“’Normal’ quiet happiness, of the sort others – apparently enjoy, seems to a FOUR at once attractive and repellent, for that could mean the end of the sweet wistfulness that FOURs need to feel ‘themselves.’ The inner richness of melancholy seems to be more attractive than what others carelessly call ‘happiness’…”

3. Efforts to avoid pain

“Among the life tasks of SEVENs is to get wise to their overhasty rationalizations. They can reach the stage where because of all the planned and organized joy they are no longer capable of rejoicing spontaneously and from the heart. Sometimes they become peculiarly pigheaded and tense in their efforts to avoid pan.”

4. A place of silence

“TWOs, like all heart types and activists, need a place of silence and objectivity, where they can be alone, where they can make friends with themselves and seriously reflect – with their heads, that is. TWOs are inclined to think with their hearts. In their aggressive phases they can, under certain circumstances, switch off their heads altogether…”

5. Inner hiding place

“The temptation of NINEs consists in belittling themselves – especially in their own eyes. At first glance NINEs seem humble. In reality this often conceals false modesty and fear of revealing themselves. Because they are often not very convinced about themselves, they like to stay in the background and cultivate the self-image of not being anything special. They can enter a room and then leave it without anyone taking notice of them. They don’t draw the attention of others to them, and do nothing to make themselves conspicuous. NINES are dependent on others’ noticing them and coming up to them. When this happens, they are surprised (‘Oh, you’ve noticed me!’) and can come out of their inner hiding place.”

6. Regularly retreat to be alone

“FIVEs hate intrusiveness and intruders… FIVEs protect their private spheres like the apple of their eye. FIVEs who live in a community must regularly retreat to be alone and refuel. Most FIVEs find too many people and too much closeness fatiguing and exhausting. They need time for themselves, to order their thoughts and feelings and to focus internally on new encounters.”

7. Being able to laugh at themselves

“ONEs are affable people so long as they don’t take themselves too seriously. The way out of their predicament always consists in relativizing themselves and thus freeing themselves from their false self. The greatest freedom of ONEs lies in being able to laugh at themselves, because they see that their own perceptions are only part of the total picture.”

8. Holding a very real amount of tension

“If we are unwilling to live askew for a while, to be set off balance, to wait on the ever spacious threshold, we remain in the same old room for all our lives. If we will not balance knowing with a kind of open ended not knowing – nothing new seems to happen. Thus it is called ‘faith’ and demands living with a certain degree of anxiety and holding a very real amount of tension.”

What do you like about the enneagram?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Any good journey outward requires a good and arduous journey inward. In The Mystical Imagination, Mark Votava carefully guides us on an inner journey of formation marked by an honest account of our truest need and our greatest contribution in the world. It awakens us to the possibility that God can in fact be expressed and experienced in our heart of hearts, pouring over into meaningful acts of love and service. This book is a true gift.” Christiana Rice, co-author of Altered, Leadership Coach and Community Cohort Facilitator with Thresholds, neighborhood practitioner

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Mark Votava wrestles with ‘the tension between the real and the possible’ in his Tacoma neighborhood, in community relationships and inside himself. His humble witness invites us to consider and practice simplicity, love, growth, and gratitude. This profoundly honest text is chock full of ideas born of experience. A battle with depression, an intentional choice to leave employment as a school teacher and instead take jobs as a janitor and a dishwasher and the struggle to overcome anger and bitterness give him the authority to bring relevant recommendations. Votava’s wise words on forgiveness, reconciliation and letting go of control have the ring of one who knows. This book covers essential territory for building healthy communities of Jesus for the long haul.” Kelly Bean, Executive Director, African Road, co-planter Urban Abbey, co-founder Convergence, author of How to be a Christian Without Going to Church: The Unofficial Guide to Alternative Forms of Christian Community

Dead Ends in Our Thinking – 5 quotes from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s book – The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective

51E4hrZVAiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Pretending to be free and original

“The FOURS try desperately to create an outer world of self-created ‘symmetry.’ In fact they demand it of life and are often dogmatic and controlling about what is acceptable and what is not. They will not participate in an ugly world because they once knew a perfect and whole world like the ONES try to create. While pretending to be free and original, they are deeply bound by a deeper set of absolute criteria about what is good and what is not good. ‘I will be special’ is the mantra of a person who once knew a PERFECT COSMOLOGY of which they were an essential part. They once knew the eternal WHOLENESS/NOTHINGNESS of God, how it included and incorporated the DARK. They try to make it happen in the world of forms and symbols, but seldom let themselves enjoy it. The serenity of the ONE is unworthy of them, yet they once lived there. They refuse to return to the garden, but keep making ‘movies’ about it.”

2. Achievement, efficiency, and success

“We Americans have an extremely hard time seeing through the lies of our system. America, that ‘kingdom of the good,’ is exalted above every impure motive. This kind of deception is part of our system and lifestyle. It is vital for us as Americans to understand the energy of THREES if we wish to analyze the mentality of our country. The rest of the world has an image of the ‘ugly American,’ superficial and hollow, the image of an artificial world packaged in plastic without substantial content. But we Americans cannot and will not see ourselves this way. Above and beyond that, starting out from America the whole earth has been coated over with the ideals of THREES. The world economy is based on achievement, efficiency, and success. Anyone who can’t keep up gets booted out.”

3. At the expense of the dark side of life

“The gift, or fruit of the spirit, of SEVENS is joy. But that doesn’t mean that on the way to integration they should turn into weepy wet blankets. The life-theme of SEVENS is joy – and it may continue that way. But the joy should not come at the expense of the dark side of life, and banal idealism must not deny reality. Sober joy is joy in the face of and despite all the difficulties of life…”  

4. The dead ends in our thinking

“The Enneagram spells out the pitfalls or dead ends in our thinking. At the same time it gives each type a specific invitation or call to conversion…”

5. Hostile and violent

“False Consolation: EIGHT goes to FIVE. The energy of a neurotically repressive EIGHT is hostile and violent. At point FIVE (‘I am wise’), the EIGHT begins to brood, to doubt, and to ponder. Fear arises, above all the fear of losing power. Very few EIGHTS willingly retreat into silence. Often their silence is the result of sickness or physical weakness; in the case of violent criminals it can be the involuntary solitude of a jail cell. In a state of enforced silence, EIGHTS sometimes experience for the first time a profound powerlessness, which they had never before tolerated. The fear that others could take advantage of their weakness and avenge previous humiliations gets the upper hand. Feelings of guilt arise…”

What fascinates you about the enneagram?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Mark Votava’s book is like a smooth stone in a churning stream. When all around us seems to be prone to speed, consumption, movement and success, The Communal Imagination is a sure and unwavering call to simplicity, presence, attentiveness and collaboration. Read it slowly. It calls us to nothing less than a new way to be human.” Michael Frost, author of Incarnate and The Road to Missional  

Inner Work – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s book – The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective

51E4hrZVAiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Radiate an ease and assurance

“The special talents of THREES often cause them to radiate an ease and assurance that inspire confidence. This allows them to spread a good atmosphere around them. They have an easy time getting jobs done efficiently and competently, aiming for and achieving personal goals, as well as inspiring and motivating other people and making it possible for them to get ahead too.”

2. Idealism

“The temptation of SEVENS is idealism. It has several aspects, SEVENS must be sure that they are working for a good cause, one that brings joy to them and to other people. One result of this is that they deny and repress the aspects of their activity that might hurt other people… One of the most frequent defense mechanisms is rationalization. A SEVEN can repress thoughts about the injustices of the world economic system, arguing that it wouldn’t make the poor any happier if we gave up our money and our possibilities. The pain of a separation can be softened for a SEVEN by looking for rational reasons why a relationship failed – and quickly turning attention to the positive aspects of a new situation…”  

3. Develop a healthy realism

“Among the life task for FOURS is to develop a healthy realism and direct their longing toward reachable goals. FOURS have to work at seeing that their attention remains in the present and doesn’t continually digress into the past or the future. FOURS must find their energy without constantly slipping from one extreme into the other, without being up one minute and down the next. It must not always be euphoria or depression. Their ‘objective observer’ has the job of asking: ‘Isn’t a little joy and a little sadness enough – at least now and then?’”

4. Want to be right at all costs

“False Consolation: ONE goes to FOUR. Unredeemed ONES want to be right at all costs and to judge others. They are overzealous, impersonal, and full of suppressed anger. When ONES are at the end of their rope, they direct their aggression against themselves and take on the subjective, melancholy, depressed, and self-destructive characteristics of an unredeemed FOUR… The arrogant self-image of the FOUR (‘I’m something special’) can also lead stressed-out ONES to begin to flatter themselves…”

5. A hard time accepting praise

“Most SIXES have a hard time accepting praise. They suspect there’s a trick behind it, that they’re being suckered. If you want to be accepted by a SIX, you should incorporate a minimum of constructive criticism in your praise: that will make it more credible.”

6. Inner work

“So long as we cling to our prejudices and identify with our preconceived views and feelings, genuine human community is impossible. You have to get to the point where you can break free from your feelings. Otherwise in the end you won’t have any feelings; they’ll have you. Sometimes one meets people who are free from themselves. They express what moves them – and then they can, so to speak, take a step backward. They play an active part in things, but you notice that they don’t think they’ve got a corner on the truth market. Without this kind of ‘inner work,’ which consists in my simultaneously putting myself forward and relativizing myself, community is doomed to failure… Learning it is really hard work…”

What do you know about the enneagram?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

 “Votava invites his reader to enter into a world where one is reminded of the wonders of life. Mysticism may not be that out of reach after all. The gifts God gives us – the body, the mind, the sounds and silence around us – are, in the end, the path to God. Mark Votava’s words are like drinking tea with honey, but don’t be fooled. The Mystical Imagination is not for the faint-hearted. The work of silence, of deep reflection and of material sacrifice are, as Christ warned us, a difficult path indeed. But what a beautiful path it is, if we are to trust Mark Votava’s wonderful instincts.” Jenna Smith, author of A Way: The Story of a Long Walk

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Embracing community is not simply a strong Christian value in which we all just try to get along, but rather is about becoming, together, the presence of Christ to one another and the world. Mark Votava invites us into that possibility in this book, in parts equally practical, personal and prophetic. It is high time for us to rediscover The Communal Imagination.”  Jamie Arpin-Ricci, author of The Cost of Community

Losing or Dying – 10 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Immortal Diamond: The Search For Our True Self 

51Y9Oq9eiML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A social construct

“Your False Self is who you think you are. Your thinking does not make it true. Your False Self is almost entirely a social construct to get you started on your life journey… It is your ‘container’ for your separate self. Jesus would call it your ‘wineskin,’ which he points out usually cannot hold any new wine… Your ego container likes to stay ‘contained’ and hates change.”  

2. Most notions of sacrifice

“Jesus knew that most notions of sacrifice largely appeal to our False Self, are not needed by the True Self, and are almost always manipulated and misused by people, most institutions, and warring nations…”

3. Conventional wisdom

“We pulled Jesus into our ‘conventional wisdom’ and seldom allowed him to be the teacher of alternative wisdom that he always has been.”

4. God’s standing in solidarity with the suffering

“The Crucified One is God’s standing in solidarity with the suffering…”

5. Intimate love

“Intimate love is the true temple that we all desire. I guess you have to want to love and to be loved very badly – or we will never go to this strange temple and will never find our True Selves. So God obliges and created us in just that way, with a bottomless and endless need to be loved and to love…”

6. Always feel like losing or dying

“Your False Self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union. After you have spent many years laboriously building this separate self, with all its labels and preoccupations, you are very attached to it. And why wouldn’t you be? It’s what you know and all you know. To move beyond it will always feel like losing or dying…”

7. Both a scandal and a supreme disappointment

“If we were truly being honest, God is both a scandal and a supreme disappointment to most of us…”

8. In finding your True Self

“…in finding your True Self, you will have found an absolute reference point that is both utterly within you and utterly beyond you at the very same time…”

9. Our False Self does not let go easily

“Our False Self does not let go easily. But that doesn’t mean the False Self should be attacked or eliminated. In time, it will reveal itself for the false wizard that it is. If you go out after it directly, it will only disguise itself further, while you in the meantime get to feel quite virtuous…”

10. The death of the False Self

“What the ego (the False Self) hates and fears more than anything else is change. It will think up a thousand other things to be concerned about or be moralistic about – anything rather than giving up ‘who I think I am’ and ‘who I need to be to look good.’ Seeking any kind of higher moral ground, as we are almost all trained to do, is often a way of avoiding the death of the False Self, which is why Jesus so often mistrusts moral achievement contests…”

Which quote do you like the best?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“I underlined and highlighted this book like crazy. I’m chomping at the bit to reflect on all that stood out to me. Votava’s book is the kind that demands further reflection. It is deep, challenging, and convicting. Indeed, the Holy Spirit used this book to expand my imagination and to help me better see the sacredness of life.” Marlena Graves, author of A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

A New Depth – 5 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel

51XJ05B0NVL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_1. Acceptance and peace

“To sum up, the best response to the ordinary wanderings of the imagination is to ignore them; not, however, with a feeling of annoyance or anxiety, but with one of acceptance and peace. Every response to God, whatever it is, must begin with the full acceptance of reality as it actually is at the moment. Since it is part of our nature to have a wandering imagination, however much you might want to be quiet, accept the fact that thoughts are certain to come. The solution is not to try to make the mind a blank. That is not what interior silence is.”

2. Our instinct to possess

“The attitude that reinforces the false self more than anything else is our instinct to possess something, including our own thoughts and feelings. This instinct has to be relinquished. Most of us are starved for spiritual experience. When it begins to happen, everything in us reaches out for it. We can’t help ourselves at first. As we learn through bitter experience that grasping for spiritual experience gets us thrown out on the banks, it dawns on us that this is not the way to proceed. If we can let go of our clinging attitude toward this deep peace, we will move into a refined joy and an inner freedom where spiritual experience no longer looms so large. We can have all we want of divine consolation if we don’t try to possess it. As soon as we want to possess it, it is gone… Once we know that our destination lies beyond any kind of spiritual experience, we realize that it is useless to hang onto anything along the way…”

3. A new depth

“Sometimes all you need is to wait and not lose heart. When that oil well runs dry, you will move to a new depth. Or again, it is like being in an elevator that gets stuck between floors. You just have to wait until whatever it is that is an obstacle has been removed.”

4. In the present moment

“Divine love is not an attitude that one puts on like a cloak. It is rather the right way to respond to reality. It is the right relationship to being, including our own being. And that relationship is primarily one of receiving. No one has any degree of divine love except what one has received. An important part of the response to divine love, once it has been received, is to pass it on to our neighbors in a way that is appropriate in the present moment.”

5. Christ dwelling in every person

“The insight into Christ dwelling in every person enables one to express charity toward others with greater spontaneity. Instead of seeing only someone’s personality, race, nationality, gender, status, or characteristics (which you like or do not like), you see what is deepest… This Christ-centered love takes us out of ourselves and brings our newly found sense of independence into relationships that are not based on dependency, as many relationships tend to be, but are based on Christ as their center. It enables one to work for others with great liberty of spirit because one is no longer seeking one’s own ego-centered goals but responding to reality as it is.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“So much of the new locality movement is about strategy, rhetoric and technique. In contrast, Mark Votava offers a soulful path for living locally in community with others for the good of the world. He is a masterful compiler of the best wisdom of the mystical Christian tradition and writes with honesty and characteristic intensity. This is a serious book for people who want to live awake to the sacred in all of life.” Mark Scandrette, activist, founder of ReIMAGINE and author of FREE, Practicing the Way of Jesus and SOUL GRAFFITI

Ordinary, Down-To-Earth Ways – 8 quotes from Carl McColman’s book – Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality

51cXLXJj9yL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_1. Paying attention to God

“Inside ourselves, we often ride the waves of distracting thoughts, passionate feelings, or chaotic impulses that can divert our attention from simply paying attention to God in watchful silence…”

2. Listening for God in the silence

“…the ability to listen to others is an essential skill for anyone living in a communal setting… In a larger sense, obedience ultimately means listening to Christ… Because a truly humble person is authentic, down-to-earth, and not self-obsessed, such a person often makes a good listener; part of true compassion and hospitality is the ability to listen well to others, and contemplation is, at its root, a prayer of listening for God in the silence.”

3. The gift of stability

“The gift of stability is meant to inspire and encourage us to get to know our habitat, whatever it may be, so that our knowledge, familiarity, and sense of connection with it grows, so our love for it may grow as well. That love is a sign of our external stability, which can support the internal stability of seeking to love God, not in some abstract, idealized way but in a real-world way that makes a difference in the here-and-now circumstances where we live.”

4. A lifetime to blossom

“…we want to continue to grow even if we are in our eighties or nineties. Our physical bodies may do most of their growing in the first twenty or thirty years of life, but spiritually speaking we can keep growing throughout a long lifespan. But such spiritual growth is the fruit of perseverance, the result of a lifelong commitment. The choices we make for today – to love God, to be faithful to God’s call, and to make choices in light of the Gospel – require a lifetime to blossom.”

5. The school of love

“To enroll in the school of love, to embrace the life lessons that come through community, means stepping outside our comfort zones, our self-drawn boxes of safety, and embracing the adventures that God has in store for us; where God is in control, love and mercy are the purpose and the healing of the entire world is the goal.”

6. Ordinary, down-to-earth ways

“So even if we have ambition to give ourselves as fully to God as possible, it starts in very ordinary, down-to-earth ways. This includes plain old hard work, a willingness to listen, and a commitment to the ordinary demands of a mature, virtuous life. We must learn to practice humility, compassion, self-discipline, forgiveness, and mercy, especially toward others but even toward ourselves.”

7. Create or celebrate a bond

“Part of what is lovely about a gift, any gift, is that it can create or celebrate a bond, a connection between the recipient and the giver…”

8. We want everything now

“We have forgotten how to be patient. We want results now. We want pleasure now. We want everything now…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Communities are shaped though rhythms and rhythms are formed through practices. The values and culture of a community emerge from these rhythms and practices. In The Mystical Imagination, Mark Votava, explores how practices such as listening, questioning, silence, and communal dreaming form a mystical imagination which in turn forms us individually as well as communally. I highly recommend The Mystical Imagination to anyone who is seeking to grow a beloved community that is deeply rooted in a place, yet mindful of a reality beyond what we can see or touch. I believe our capacity to cultivate a mystical imagination determines our ability to become transforming and healing agents in our communities and our world.” Wendy McCaig, author of From the Sanctuary to the Streets, Executive Director of Embrace Richmond

The Beauty of Life – 10 quotes from Thomas Keating’s book – Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel

51XJ05B0NVL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_1. Let go of spiritual consolations

“The attraction to let go of spiritual consolation in order to let God act with complete freedom is the persistent attraction of the Spirit…”

2. Not take ourselves too seriously

“There is something playful about God… The playfulness of God is a profound part of reality. It warns us to not take ourselves too seriously, to realize that God created us with a certain sense of humor.”

3. The false self is an illusion

“Only God can bring our false self to an end. The false self is an illusion…”

4. The beauty of life

“…we shouldn’t lose the enjoyment of reality as it is, the value of just being and just doing. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to become like little children, to imitate their innocence, confidence, and direct contact with reality… If our value system doesn’t allow us to enjoy anything without putting a price on it, we miss a great part of the beauty of life…”

5. The value systems by which you have always lived

“When you withdraw from your ordinary flow of superficial thoughts on a regular basis, you get a sharper perspective on your motivation, and you begin to see that the value systems by which you have always lived have their roots in prerational attitudes that have never been honestly and fully confronted…”

6. Reality will tend to become more transparent

“As the unconscious empties out, the fruits of an integrated human nature and the resulting free flow of grace will manifest themselves by a significant change of attitude… Moments of silence will overtake you in the course of daily life. Reality will tend to become more transparent. Its divine Source will shine through it.”

7. An attitude of total commitment

“Solitude is not primarily a place but an attitude of total commitment to God. When one belongs completely to God, the sharing of one’s life and gifts continually increases.”

8. Poverty of spirit

“The Beauty of poverty of spirit springs from the increasing awareness of our true Self. It is a nonpossessive attitude toward everything and a sense of unity with everything at the same time. The interior freedom to have much or to have little, and the simplifying of one’s life-style are signs of the presence of poverty of spirit.”

9. Spiritual disciplines, both East and West

“Spiritual disciplines, both East and West, are based on the hypothesis that there is something that we can do to enter upon the journey to divine union once we have been touched by the realization that such a state exists…”

10. The contemplative dimension of the Gospel

“If there were a widespread renewal of the… practice of the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, the reunion of the Christian churches would become a real possibility, dialogue with the other world religions would have a firm basis in spiritual experience, and the religions of the world would bear a clearer witness to the human values they hold in common.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Growing in love – 11 quotes from Thomas Keating book – Intimacy With God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer

7244521. The present moment

“We must seek God more and more in the present moment, which is in fact the only place where God can be found…”

2. God is present to everything

“God is present to everything… Yet we, in our turn, may not be present to God…”

3. Disintegration, distress, confusion, and darkness

“Every time we move to a new level of faith, there is an initial experience of disintegration, distress, confusion, and darkness. If we are not forewarned about the spiritual journey, it feels like something has gone wrong… This is the normal way that the present level of our understanding – our attitude toward ourselves, other people, and God – experiences that our life just does not work any more at that level. We are challenged or forced to move to a deeper level.”

4. Growing in love

“What moves us from one level to another? That is the question… We just keep listening, growing in trust, and growing in love…”

5. The great unknown

“A trip into the unconscious is a passage into the great unknown…”

6. Fall into silence

“As our idea of God expands, there is no word, no way, no gesture, that can articulate it anymore. Hence we fall into silence, the place we should have been in the first place.”

7. Affirms selfishness as the ultimate value

“We are living in a world that rejects love and that affirms selfishness as the ultimate value. The pressure from society is constantly insinuating itself through our upbringing, education, and culture…”

8. The divine life becoming healthy, strong, and powerful within us

“Our best criteria for judging whether our faith experience is really bearing fruit is in the growth of our desire for God – not a particular desire for this or that experience, but a general loving hunger for God. This is the most certain sign that the divine life is becoming healthy, strong, and powerful within us.”

9. Influenced by the false self

“…our ways of relating to God continue to be influenced by the false self…”

10. As we journey more deeply inward

“…as we journey more deeply inward… its effects lead us powerfully outward, toward… the capacity to relate to one another with the unconditional love with which Christ relates to us.”

11. Personal responsibility for our emotional life

“…one can’t do the spiritual life nowadays without some working knowledge of one’s own psychology. Unless one develops a healthy self-identity, the psychological resources for the journey are lacking. People who have been injured in early childhood and do not have a strong ego because they were oppressed or abused do not have a self to give to God. They do not have a self to relate either to God or to anybody else… They don’t want to take responsibility for themselves and the damage that was done to them early in life. They prefer external obedience to inner transformation. But without personal responsibility for our emotional life, however wounded it is, the journey will never really get off the ground. Our conscious life has to be our starting point, of course, but the biggest problem is our unconscious motivation. But have to be changed.”

What quotes do you like the best?

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A State of Presence – 10 quotes from Cynthia Bourgeault’s book – The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart

Bourgeault_Wisdom_Way1. Bringing the human organism into balance

“Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body. Bringing the human organism into balance…”

2. A state of presence

“This state of presence is extraordinarily important to know and taste in oneself. For sacred tradition is empathic in its insistence that real Wisdom can be given and received only in a state of presence…”

3. Through which one passes to Wisdom

“Presence is the… gate through which one passes to Wisdom.

4. A quality of aliveness

“Each one of us, and every action we make, has a quality of aliveness to it, a fragrance or vibrancy uniquely its own. If the outer form of who we are in this life is conveyed by our physical bodies, the inner form – our real beauty and authenticity – is conveyed in the quality of our aliveness. This is where the secret of our being lies. Quality is the innermost, energetic essence of our own life…”

5. Alignment with your innermost being

“…in any situation in life, confronted by an outer threat or opportunity, you can notice yourself responding inwardly in one of two ways. Either you will brace, harden, and resist, or you will soften, open, and yield. If you go with the former gesture, you will be catapulted immediately into your smaller self, with its animal instincts and survival responses. If you stay with the latter regardless of the outer conditions, you will remain in alignment with your innermost being, and through it, divine being can reach you. Spiritual practice at its no frills simplest is a moment-by-moment learning not to do anything in a state of internal brace. Bracing is never worth the cost.”

6. The pure act of creativity

“The pure act of creativity cannot exist alone; it seems to require an opposite and equal act, which is pure reflection or pure awareness…”

7. Unitive seeing

“In fact, this is what the word ‘theology’ originally meant. It describes unitive seeing: not talking about God in linear, rational discourse but actually participating in the logos (or creative intelligence) of theo (God) as it shapes itself into new forms…”

8. A Wisdom path

“Indeed, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Christian in our own cultural times. Christianity is a Wisdom path par excellence. It doesn’t make sense at the literal level and can actually cause a fair amount of damage. Only when a progressive training of the spiritual imagination opens up the unitive capacity in a person does Christianity become congruent with its own deepest truth.”

9. By the beginning of the fourth century

“By the beginning of the fourth century, this intimate ‘Wisdom’ way of encountering Jesus was visibly fading…”

10. The era of the great creeds

“More and more, the encounter with Jesus came not through that deep, timeless opening of the heart but mediated by what might be called ‘doctrinal mantras’ – saying the right things and knowing the right things about Jesus. The fourth century became the era of the great creeds…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Innermost Way of Seeing – 7 quotes from Cynthia Bourgeault’s book – Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God

Product6386_Photo11. To get beyond linear, discursive thinking

“But the real point of meditation is not to reject all ideas and concepts; Christianity does not say that the way to end pain is to end thinking. What it says, rather, is that we have to get beyond linear, discursive thinking in order to access the realm of inspired visionary knowing where Christianity finally becomes fully congruent with its own highest truth, and its mystical treasures can be received into an awakened heart…”

2. The ground of hope

“The ground of hope is very real and immensely powerful – if you have the courage to yield yourself all the way into it. The real problem with much of our Christian presentation of hope and healing is that it does not push far enough: it stays at the fix-it level. Beneath that is something infinitely deeper and truer.”

3. Deeper intelligence moving inside you

“Meditation, then, becomes a way of screening out the noise, turning down the boom box of your egoic thinking to allow this other to begin to resonate within you… Whatever form of meditation you practice, it is in essence simply a method for detaching yourself from thinking (which tends to reinforce the egoic process) long enough for you to begin to trust this other, deeper intelligence moving inside you. It provides you with another way to think: from ‘beyond the mind’…”

4. Hope dwells deep within us

“Before we can really begin to work with the idea of hope dwelling within rather than coming from without, we need to have some picture of where and how it could dwell in us, what inside us could embody it. Obviously there is a paradox here, an eye of the needle to thread. We ourselves are not the source of that hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deep within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it.”

5. An abiding state of being

“For in overemphasizing this divine freedom it is all too easy to understate and miss that hope is not intended to be an extraordinary infusion, but an abiding state of being. We lose sight of the invitation – and in fact, our responsibility, as stewards of creation – to develop a conscious and permanent connection to this wellspring…”

6. Your innermost way of seeing

“But for me the journey to the source of hope is ultimately a theological journey: up and over the mountain to the sources of hope in the headwaters of Christian Mystery. This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange.”

7. The immediacy of the now

“These moments of mystical hope often bring with them an infusion of that timeless, expansive quality, jolting the ordered linearity of our lives into the immediacy of the now.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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