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

by Mark Votava

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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