Wisdom Book Practice Circle: The Wisdom Way of Knowing | Chapter 4, 5: A Call to Depth and Action, Individually and Collectively

The Wisdom Way of Knowing

These two chapters, written more than two decades ago, are more relevant and pertinent than ever. And it’s no coincidence that they are preceded by an explanation of the three centers of knowing. It seems to me that the more poised we are in those three centers, the more we will be able to understand, embody and live out the important truths laid out in Chapters Four and Five.

In Chapter Four Cynthia describes the limits of our “one-brained” operating system, suggesting that our contemporary world “now has the capacity to end itself either in a violent Armageddon or in the slower but no less lethal route of systematically poisoning our planetary environment” (p.43).

Two decades on, here we are.

We will get nowhere trying to address huge cosmological questions with one-brained consciousness. So this begs the questions: are we as a collective still spiritual adolescents? How can we grow up?

I love the analogy of the divine hologram. In a world “starving for coherence and purpose,” each one of us—and how vital this is right now—has a part to play. Everything depends on us finding out what our contribution is, what our particular manifestation of divine love is, and playing it well. How well do we—can we—connect with the intermediary realms that are all part of the divine hologram? How are we engaging our energies of attention, will, prayer and love? Are our hearts awakened sufficiently to be able to perceive the subtle energies of the psychic realm—that which actually governs our universe? To what extent are we accessing or living in that realm—that kingdom of heaven within us—abiding there, drawing from there, being nourished, sustained, informed from that place?

Reading these chapters I am so struck by the responsibility upon each one of us. In a sense it is a requirement—that we each need to discover, deepen into, and live out of our own particular “innermost aliveness.” That our every effort, action and thought contribute to the energetic and psychic realms—the divine hologram. How are we enacting and manifesting the “qualities of God?” To me these questions are profoundly empowering and vital, and it is at the intersection with the timeless and time that we are asked to abide. At the still point in a turning world. We each have a crucial and unique role to fulfill and contribution to make.

Cynthia suggests that we humans stand midway between the purely material and purely energetic, with a range of versatility in both. That our real purpose in the cosmos is related to the extent to which we are able to move back and forth between these two planes. This is where the true secret of our existence is revealed.

This then leads us to ponder what kind of sacred alchemy might take place inside our hearts. It is our job to offer our hearts, bodies and minds to “birth” and “body” the “names of God,” so that the invisible becomes visible. As Cynthia puts it: “Whenever we are able to move beyond the laws of the purely physical while still in form, we set aflame the names of God, releasing the energy and beauty of the divine aliveness to the outer world” (p. 56). We human beings are the consummate artisans of energy. Whether we like it or not, we contribute generatively or destructively to the delicate homeostasis by which the visible and invisible worlds are held in harmony.

And so, as we each seek to engage meaningfully and generatively with and within a troubled world, and face our individual and collective futures, these chapters are a stark reminder and an enormous challenge. In the unique circumstances of each of our lives, what are we generating? What are we contributing psycho-energetically? Fear? Panic? Anxiety? Greed? If we could realize that the psychic toxins we generate in the imaginal realm actually have a direct effect on the sensible world, we would think twice.

As Cynthia put it:

We need to feel the hologram again. To sense the dance of colors that is the real divine aliveness shining through the snakeskin of our outer world. We need to experience our own personal aliveness as part of the greater cosmic aliveness. Above all, however, we need to allow our outer lives to break up, if necessary, in order to release the divine aliveness within and to understand once again the meaning and beauty in this gesture. (p. 59)

It would appear that we are facing an enormous leap in the evolution of consciousness. What an opportunity for course-correction. As we look out at our world, what are the seeds of new birth—in our individual lives, as a species, and as a planet? How can we each dig deep into the core of our beings, in to Being itself, to have our hearts broken wide open, to suffer consciously, to fundamentally and foundationally surrender, and live in an abiding state of surrender? Only out of this radical inner stance of committed willingness and availability will our planet be transformed.

Heather Vesey comes from a long line of missionaries in China. She grew up in the Himalayas in Northern India, where her father was a doctor specializing in community health care. These were profoundly formative years for Heather, where her Christian faith was nurtured—mainly through family worship with her parents and their colleagues. During these years she also developed and absorbed a deep appreciation of other religious traditions and cultures.

Heather returned to England at the age of eleven—later on worked in Bolivia looking after street kids and completed a Health Studies degree in London—and then moved with her husband Nicholas to the home of Julian of Norwich, where he was vicar in a parish. Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr and others came to speak at their church, and a deepening interest in the contemplative life began to grow. Heather and Nicholas spent some months in Richard Rohr’s community in Albuquerque before Heather enrolled in the Living School at the Center for Contemplation and Action, and then served as a mentor to Living School students.

Heather, Nicholas, and their two children, Sam, 20, and Jessica, 18, moved to America in 2014 to help serve in the Aspen Chapel in Colorado where Heather is Director of Contemplative Work and currently leads services and meditation classes.

Heather is involved in the wider Wisdom Community, and does her own one-on-one Wisdom Mentoring. In 2019, together with Cynthia Bourgeault and Ed Bastian, she organized the “Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Thomas Keating,” at the Aspen Chapel, sponsored by both Wisdom Waypoints and The Spiritual Paths Foundation. Recordings of the sessions are available at the link above; you may read more about the event in an article Cynthia wrote for the Northeast Wisdom homepage blog here: Thomas Keating: An Interspiritual Celebration ~ and Online Public Video Archive. See also Heather’s contribution of written and photo vignettes, in the 2017 Stonington posts on Community Forum: Mornings with Teilhard; Celebrating Rhythm & Community; The Voyage with Saint Brendan Begins and Singing Praises on the Journey.

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