Standing Tall: Imaginal Wisdom School in Arizona

This past week (February 25 – March 2) a group of about 65 of us gathered in the Arizona desert amongst the saguaro cacti for a wisdom school with Cynthia on the Imaginal Real.

I am so incredibly struck by the strength, stability, resilience, and sturdiness of these magnificent tree-like plants living in such an extreme climate. Despite their narrow bases they withstand great winds. They stand up to forty feet tall for over 150 years. I have learned that they have one deep tap root that extends down into the earth more than two feet while the rest of their roots radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall but are only 4-6 inches deep. Together these roots tether this large cactus to the earth. Inside they have a circle of what resembles very strong bones (like spines or ribs) and in fact when they die, these wooden bones are used to build fences and roofs. They obtain moisture during the rainy season to sustain themselves during the dry seasons. And they provide homes for many birds and critters who rely on them for shelter and safety.

When I look at the mountain sides covered in these majestic saguaro, I recognize that they stand as a large community revealing what it looks like to stand as they do with strength, stability, resilience, sturdiness, and dignity. They show us how to rely on that which is below and that which is above to tether and nourish ourselves. They model through their very nature how to offer the beauty of their presence and care to others. We have these same capacities. These saguaros can help us remember this and learn to embody them more fully.

Let’s stand like they do and be a source of good in the midst of all that is going on in the world and especially send our care to those in Russia and the Ukraine.


And, here is an invitation for the whole Wisdom School Community for Lent which comes directly from Cynthia’s teachings this week on Gurdjieff’s notion of working with ‘creating sun’ and ‘creating moon’ in ourselves:

Cynthia says that creating sun in ourselves is about having the aim to strengthen affirmative, positive, and intelligent elements in ourselves and learn to wield them for the greater good. Creating moon in ourselves is about directly confronting habits, that which is in our shadows, our beasts, and false self patterns.

Creating Sun
This lenten season work to create sun in yourself. Pick a fruit of the spirit which draws you — love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness/generosity, gentleness, self-control, steadfastness/faithfulness/fidelity, patience. This could be a fruit you see in yourself that you would like to continue to develop or one that seems foreign to you. Take it on this season to understudy it as a way of creating sun in yourself. Strengthen this element within and learn to wield it. Intentionally feast on this fruit, live closely under its mentorship. Allow the nourishing affect on your being from placing yourself directly in its presence. More than just imitating it from the outside, although that may take you the first few steps, bring it into your own marrow. Pray with this fruit, chew on it, meditate on it, savor it, allow it to nourish every cell in your body and if you decide to fast from something, let the hunger that emerges as a result be that which tethers you to the fruit.

Creating Moon
Pick a habit to confront directly and tend to it this Lenten season. Rather than rejecting it and pushing it further into the shadows or completely inhabiting it, allow yourself to stand directly in front of it and wait in patience. Stand in the tension and as Jacob Boehme in The Way to Christ says “If you stand firm, if you do not bend, you will see and perceive great wonders. You will discover how Christ will storm the hell in you and will break [or tame] your beasts.” Let this be your practice of self-examination and let it lead you to repentance. Repentance which in Greek translates as metanoia and means “go beyond the mind” or “go into the larger mind.” As Cynthia says in The Wisdom Jesus “It means to escape from the orbit of the egoic operating system, which by virtue of its own internal hardwiring is always going to see the world in terms of polarized opposites, and move instead into that nondual knowingness of the heart which can see and live from the perspective of wholeness. This is the central message of Jesus. This is what his Kingdom of Heaven [World 24] is all about. ‘Let’s get into the larger mind,’ he says. ‘This is what it looks like. This is how you do it. Here, I’ll help you. . .” Allow your beasts to be brought into wholeness.

Cynthia reminds us that these two practices are not simply about ourselves, or even for our closest community but really for the Whole. That we might be part of repairing and healing the wounds present in the Collective psyche and soul. Trust the aid and help coming from World 24 and beyond as you engage these aims.


Heather Ruce, a member of the Wisdom Waypoints Board/Council, lives in San Diego, California with her husband Charlie. She works as a Wisdom Spiritual Director, working with individuals as well as facilitating groups and retreats focused on learning and practicing the Wisdom Tradition. To learn more about Heather, see her Postholder page here.

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