Wisdom Waypoints is offering the timeless and succinct Cynthia Bourgeault classic, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart, as the subject of a book discussion group beginning January 25 with live monthly Zoom meetings through May. Much more than an introductory book–though it is excellent in that capacity–The Wisdom Way of Knowing serves as a perpetual source of foundational Wisdom, one that is returned to again and again by Wisdom practitioners of all kinds.
In Cynthia’s words, “The purpose of this book is to try to get back to the original containers. I want to introduce you to the Wisdom tradition itself…as its own clear vision of human purpose and the practical technologies for getting there…to show you how to use the teachings of Wisdom to transform your own life.”
~ Bill Redfield
(As we begin again our foundational Wisdom Book circles, we offer this reposting of Bill Redfield’s introduction to The Wisdom Way of Knowing from January 2020.)
When the Wisdom Waypoints Wisdom Council first considered this book study on Cynthia Bourgeault’s, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, I was the quickest to volunteer to write a companion piece. Thus, I got Chapter One!
The reason I was so fast to volunteer is that this book has changed my life as much as any other. Don’t get me wrong—there are many very fine books out there, and certainly all of Cynthia’s would easily qualify; but this book is unique in a very specific way. While all the rest of Cynthia’s books, along with other countless spiritual classics, may discuss the view from the unitive viewing platform, The Wisdom Way of Knowing shows us the way to get there.
This is a book of Wisdom methodology. As much a roadmap as a travelogue, it turns out to be a precise description of a specific passageway of spiritual transformation. From a tightly confined and completely self-referential orbit around what Cynthia will later on in the book describe as an acorn-self, we can learn to jettison to the next orbit out, to a deeper self, the oak-self—the one that is not completely preoccupied with self-protection and self-enhancement. This more spacious orbit orients us to the whole. We begin to experience that we are integral parts of a greater whole and that our life purpose directs the part (this me-part) to the whole.
As you read this work, you might well have a deep sense of familiarity. It is as if we have always known the truths that are being articulated here, but they have been mostly forgotten by us as individuals, by us in our cultures, and by us in our religions. Several re-readings of The Wisdom Way of Knowing will yield additional insights and deeper understandings. That is not because we didn’t read it carefully enough the first times around, but because further consideration will bring deeper levels of recognition and remembrance to the surface.
Joining the Benedictine balanced formula of ora et labora with the three-centered knowing of Fourth Way Gurdjieff work, Cynthia begins this chapter with a description of a Wisdom School. Indeed, this is the heart of the methodology. Submission to a simple way of being together as human beings is the means by which Wisdom is transmitted and eventually integrated. It is precisely here that the Benedictine influence with its balanced and rhythmic movement through the day is joined to the integrated three-centered knowing that brings all these systems of knowing online and working together. This fusion of the esoteric and Christian mystical methodologies helps to till the soil of the participants so that they can then receive the seeds of the Wisdom teachings. Thus, a Wisdom School is as much about creating and tending the receptivity of the container as it is about the delivery of the teaching. Here, then, the Wisdom experience becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Cynthia brings forth the succinct observation of Maurice Nicoll:
“As one’s level of being increases, receptivity to higher meaning increases.
As one’s being decreases, the old meanings return.”
This says everything about the methodology of Wisdom schools. Drawing on the rhythmic balance of the time as well as a deeper experienced sense of embodiment and vibration, Wisdom schools work to wake us up. Thus, Wisdom is, as Cynthia suggests, state-dependent. When hearts, minds, and bodies are attuned, we can become open and receptive to Wisdom’s teaching.
Wisdom schools, it turns out, have always been part of the human march through history. They have been used to raise the level of understanding when this course has either taken a wrong turn or faltered off course. In the Western Christian tradition, however, the memory of Wisdom has all but been replaced with intellectual and rational thinking. Thus, although it seems a steep uphill climb, the recovery of Wisdom in our time is vitally critical. The work of Northeast Wisdom is but one manifestation of this effort. And Cynthia’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing is a critical guide in directing this work.
Wisdom Waypoints encourages local Wisdom Practice Circles to revisit
The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart
in your own local gatherings this year. May we all glean the ‘next layer accessible for each of us’ as we engage more deeply. May this book re-inspire our Wisdom Community this year!
“How could an ancient cosmology have anything to say about our modern world? That’s the astonishing part: the Wisdom cosmology is bold, spacious and remarkably contemporary. In fact–and this is what drew me to it in the first place–it contains some missing pieces that somehow fell out of our Western cultural worldview and are crucially needed as we grapple with the questions of our meaning and accountability in a fragile and overstressed world.”
~ Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing
Wisdom Way of Knowing Book Circle
A monthly series of posts from the friends and leaders of the Wisdom Waypoints Book Circle Series on: The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault