Meet Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia has recently been honored by the annual Watkins Review as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in 2021

Meet Our Founding Teacher

Cynthia Bourgeault is a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader. She divides her time between solitude in her seaside hermitage in Maine and a demanding schedule travelling globally to spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom paths. Her roots are firmly planted in the Benedictine monastic tradition, her wings soar in the Christian mystical lineage, and her wisdom is tempered by daily mindfulness and embodiment practice learned through more than thirty years of participation in the Gurdjieff Work. An emeritus faculty member at The Center for Action and Contemplation, she has been honored as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in 2021.

I’m Cynthia Bourgeault

I practice and teach the Christian spiritual arts …

“Contemplation is not a pious lifestyle”
“We meet at the depths where the great traditions embrace each other.”
“Contemplation is engaged and evolutionary.”

“How You Get There is Where You’ll Arrive …”

Cynthia grew up in the rolling countryside just west of Philadelphia and experienced her first tastes of silence and mystical presence during the weekly Meeting for Worship at the Quaker school she attended. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, where she specialized in early music and liturgical drama: training that would prove to serve her well in her later work as a spiritual teacher. She studied at the Philadelphia Divinity School and was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1979…

What’s New With Cynthia?

Blog

Cynthia’s published articles cover a breadth of topics that take us on a journey toward a deeper embrace of our human frailty, messiness, and limitations as the very path and locus of transformation. Read up on Cynthia’s theological insights on the cutting edge between contemplation and “ordinary” life.

Video and Podcasts

Here’s you’ll find Cynthia in lively conversation with some leading-edge spiritual commentators on topics of both perennial and current interest

Upcoming Events With Cynthia

News and Events

New Interview with Cynthia: Chalice Magazine, a German publisher dedicated to sharing the works of English author and mystic Reshad Feild, recently engaged Cynthia to share her perspectives on a number of timely and thought-provoking topics. In this short excerpt she responds to a question about loyalty and reciprocity in the spiritual teacher and student relationship:

“A true teacher is a finger pointing to the moon – through the purity of that pointing, the student is able to see the moon, and by the light of that moon, the student sees the beauty and purity of the teacher. Thus, loyalty is never demanded, but only patience to trust the process and trust the teacher until the eye of the needle has been navigated. And even here, the student’s personal integrity is never violated, even for the most sincere of reasons. Reciprocity grows out of mutual respect, humility, and trust, as binding on the teacher as on the student.”

Find the full Chalice Magazine interview here >>>

Imaginal Systematics: New Eye of the Heart Book Review

This new review of Cynthia’s book Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm is provided by David Lorimer from Paradigm Explorer, the journal of The Scientific and Medical Network, edition 2011. Read it here.

Upcoming From Cynthia…

NOW AVAILABLE! Imaginal Wisdom School eCourse with over 40 video sessions now launched on the Wisdom Way of Knowing.  Details and registration HERE.

Cloud of Unknowing E-Course with Cynthia Bourgeault at Spirituality & Practice begins September 6. Learn more here. Watch Cynthia’s I AM HERE trailer for the course here.

Cynthia’s Latest Book

Mystical Courage: Commentaries on Selected Contemplative Exercises
by G.I. Gurdjieff, as Complied by Joseph Azize

“Embodied, three-centered awareness is the missing link, not simply for the sake of personal wellness, but as a direct link to higher faculties of perception embedded but not yet activated within us.”

Eye of the Heart Continues to Make Waves

Eye of the Heart has been honored as one of the 20 best spiritual books of the year by Spirituality and Practice., acknowledging Cynthia’s book among the “exceptional contributions to today’s spiritual renaissance.”

What others are saying about Eye of the Heart:

A brilliant synthesis that both situates the imaginal world and gives it more meaning than it has previously had…” —from the afterword by A. H. Almaas

“This book is nothing less than a map to the meeting of the worlds at the crossroads of our own souls …”  —Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy

Cynthia has an amazing ability to take potentially complex ideas and to explain them with clarity and kindness. Only someone who has actually traversed these realms and knows them well could accomplish such a feat, and she does so with beauty and grace.”  —Russ Hudson, co-author of The Wisdom of the Enneagram

Eye of the Heart is an immensely original piece of thinking, feeling, writing. There is nothing like it.”  —Roger Lipsey, author of Gurdjieff Reconsidered

“The weaving of personal, metaphysical, and contemporary political insights is amazing, seamless, and intercessory in and of itself. We need this kind of weaving and interpenetrating in our culture just as we need it between the realms.”  —Tim Shriver, author of Fully Alive

Learn With Cynthia

“Wisdom isn’t knowing more … It’s knowing with more of you.”

Books

Cynthia is the author of more than a dozen books—and counting! The topics explored in theme range widely within the her four core areas of interest: Centering Prayer, Christian Wisdom, The Western Esoteric Tradition, and Conscious Love. She is famous for both her bold, original  insights and her accessible style.

Online Courses

These online courses provide an easy way to dive in deeper to some of Cynthia’s most powerful teachings without having to leave home! Each course offers self-paced email lessons that include video or audio recordings, written reflections, contemplative practices, and more.

Audio

Here you’ll find a rich assortment of audio resources, ranging from polished teaching sets to raw audio files from recent groundbreaking teaching events.

Ask Cynthia

Ever had a question you wanted to ask Cynthia? Here’s your chance.

Here’s one question Cynthia answered from one of her Wisdom Schools: “What does inner awakening look or feel like from the inside? Can it be seen from the outside?”

“Meaning is Not Explanation
It’s Resonance”

Cynthia Bourgeault Quotable Quotes
For Daily Practice

Compiled by Bill Britten, Photographer and Wisdom Student
November 2020

Compassion

“See from nonduality, act from compassion.”

“When you remove judgment, what’s left is compassion, not indifference.“The demand for compassion remains unchanged throughout the realms.”

“Compassion is the only field that contains all the perspectives.”

Attention

“Attention and surrender need to be in balance. They are the joysticks you use to navigate the cosmos.”

“Attention can’t be divided. It is whole. It can only be expanded.”

“Freed from the subject-object mode, attention magically turns into awareness.”

“The true self cannot be attained with the attention in subject-object mode. You can only find your true self in a place beyond the mind.”

“Centering prayer is all about the configuration of your attention.”

“What you pay attention to you energize.”

“Keep within! The hidden pearl within is your magnetic center, your equanimity, the Wisdom Way that you are cultivating.”

Sensing and Grounding

“As you learn to sense your feelings instead of immediately jumping up in your head and story, try going lower, into your feet, and even lower into the earth. The stability and support of the earth. What will flow through you will be your agency. The light that comes in your darkness will be your own.”

“The head will never get the motions that the body gets naturally. Surrender, obedience, attention. You can’t do equanimity in your head!”

“You can’t move a plank you’re standing on!

Sensation will move more easily than emotion or story.”

“Dwell not in WHAT you are, but THAT you are. From divided awareness to expanded awareness, using the modality of sensation.”

“Identification is one of our most insidious leeches on presence.”

Seeing

“With gathered attention and sensation, and turning off the dominance of the mind, you will see. The reward for seeing is more seeing.”

“Start building a nest where your witnessing presence can live.”

“See from nonduality, act from compassion.”

“Get to know what meets you.

There is a personal aspect to the universal laws.”

“Being a willing participant in the relational field is the thing. What we contribute is the power to see and reflect. Attune your being to see what’s happening in the field. Beware the “incomplete observation.” As soon as you make judgment, you are not seeing.”

“Imaginal seeing matches Imaginal selfhood.”

Time and Timeless

“We perceive wisdom entering from a higher level as the future.”

“The timeless wisdom that comes to us from another realm when we wake up is what we know as the future.”

“The future is not what lies ahead, but the larger dimensions of the whole. The outer layers of meaning. The past doesn’t cause the future, wholeness does.”

“Hold attention as a resonant field, pay attention to the patterns. The price of admission is your narrative self, which is grounded in time.”

“When you do conscious work, or any act of altruism, it is for the future.”

“Time is a measure of resistance. Replace duration with volume and depth.”

Surrender

“Letting go is a powerful act. Letting be creates new worlds.”

“Don’t correct back to positivity if what you want is equanimity.”

“Kenosis and self-calming are opposite ends of the spectrum.”

“Conscious labor and intentional suffering are the joysticks we use to navigate the universe.”

The Relational Field

“We derive our selfhood from the relational field. Nothing in the cosmos works in service to the individual.”

“Don’t watch the individual pieces, watch how they flow. The relational field has the properties, not each one of us.”

“Practices are not a means to get somewhere, but an expression of a relationship with something that is.”

“Health is in the quality and integrity of relationship. The drop is the ocean, not separated. The indwelling Divinity doesn’t replace you but suffuses you. So that what is hidden becomes manifest.”

Discernment

“Align with the highest possible outcome when wrestling with judgment. Align with wholeness and love. Better than ‘choosing.’”

“All judgment not founded in love will be inaccurate. All negative perception is skewed.”

“True discernment happens in the Imaginal realm.”

“If the path is in front of you, and you’re not sure if it’s “true” — take the wager, do the work of transformation. It will be better than sleep, which is the alternative.”

“Limit the amount of spiritual information. Reach out and connect with your path. Avoid spiritual materialism.”

Holding Our Post

“Our job is to hold a post in the resonant field. Keep your attention in yourself. Keep within, don’t let your attention be scrambled. Don’t fall asleep. Look for opportunities to be present and give presence.”

‘The three centers of awareness need to be in dialogue in order for you to think and be.”

“Our talent, our gift, is our willingness to enter the reciprocal dance with whatever cards we’ve been dealt in this plane.”

“The fruits of the spirit are attained as we begin to live at a higher level of being.”

Abundance

“Unbinding cleanses the lens of perception so we can see the abundance. To the extent that we touch and be in abundance in our own life, we become prophets of hope.”

“The deep surrender of self through Kenosis is the access path to abundance, not your will.”

Imaginal Causality: Exchange Between the Realms

“Imaginal causality is patterned. The heart is the instrument to read the patterns.”

“The three centers have to be online and balanced. Then we are able to maintain a stable access route to the higher information that’s always coming to us.”

“As you move into Imaginal causality, conscience takes the place of attraction and aversion as the mover of your being.”

“A conscious human being participates in the whole and generates the required radial energy through the transformed substance of their life.”

“What we call virtues or qualities in world 48 (our realm) are energy streams in world 24 (the Imaginal realm), subtle substances that are nutrients for our planet.”

“The fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are alchemical byproducts of conscious work and intentional suffering. What flows out as these qualities is the fruit of an alchemy that goes on deep within our being, using our being as the raw material, in which who we are and our pleasures and self-maximization is somehow changed through conscious labor and intentional suffering.”