Envisioning the Future: Living from a Contemplative Heart
October 18-20, 2013
A weekend with Cynthia Bourgeault
As you listen to these tapes we hope the experience of being together at the conference will once again enliven you and further your commitment to contemplation and action as we continue to work in the Contemplative Action Frontier as Cynthia put it so well.
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In her keynote Cynthia explains the different ways people understand contemplation sharing how the true nature of contemplative work is to awaken the heart to hear the cries of the world. Understanding contemplation as prophetic, communal and visionary, she continues to explore this through the work of Constance FitzGerald, OCD. Drawing on Connie’s article, “From Impasse to Prophetic Hope: Crisis of Memory” Cynthia explores how Connie speaks to being radically open to God’s future because we are not holding on to the shrinking experiences of the past. This is part of an evolutionary consciousness that is a normal progression within the contemplative journey. It is an evolutionary leap into another kind of selfhood. Cynthia draws on contemporary brain research in asserting that it is a different brain talking to a different heart. It is non-dual perception and non-judgmental action. We achieve agency within a higher collectivity.
“Contemplative practice drives transformed consciousness and this drives transformed action.” Cynthia explores how critical “surrender” is to our understanding of contemplative practice. She challenges us to let go of our old understandings of this word and emotional reactions to it. Rather, she invites us to see that surrender allows us to develop interior alignment and that allows a new approach to our work out in the world. It is more of a relational word than a power word. It is entrusting the egoic self to a higher, guiding, compassionate intelligence where “Divine Source flows out of our life as our life.” She then teaches centering prayer and its companion piece, the practice of welcoming. In these practices we draw on the power of unconditional Presence to become our true selves. When you’ve changed and claimed your real self, you let go of the desire to change a situation. She then cautions us that in this practice you do not welcome the situation rather it is from your restored relationship with undivided being that you decide how to act. How you speak truth to power.
Perhaps the most challenging of her presentations, Cynthia explores some of her original insights from her newest work focused on the Law of Three. Her insights that the Law of Three holds the principle of change, of enlightened proactive change for contemplative activists, has much to offer to ICCD’s work on exercising contemplative power. (View that work HERE ) She articulates the three forces: one which serves the role of pushing or the arising of a new initiative; another blocks the unimpeded motion of the first; the third allows them to be in a new relationship which then gives rise to a new horizon. Working with this law has significant implications a key one being that opposition is not the problem. Working with this Law challenges us to live in paradox, ambiguity and complexity. We need to loosen up and lighten up. ICCD will be working and exploring the implications of the Law of Three as we move into the future.
The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity. Cynthia Bourgeault. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2013. www.contemplative.org
Relive how we put into practice the Law of Three applying it to the budget crisis and to the situation with women religious in the ecclesial arena. Please be advised that parts of this tape are hard to hear.
Enjoy the exchange between Cynthia and Nancy about how Cynthia’s work and the work of ICCD interface with each other. Then listen to the wisdom shared through the insights and questions of the participants.
Nancy provides a succinct explanation of the work of ICCD. You may want to share this tape with others who might be interested in this work.
In her final presentation, Cynthia inspires us to become part of the whole, to know in our hearts and in our bodies that no conscious act is ever isolated…it is always connected to the whole. She shared how “kenosis” or surrender that is part of contemplative prayer leads us to “jump in” God’s round dance. This round dance or perichoresis is the inter-abiding mutual love of the Trinity where the formless and infinite are always expressing itself in form, in us. She speaks from her own experience that to do this is to go beyond our head. It is our heart that is an organ of spiritual insight. The more we can stay in unconditional Presence the more of our true self we have access to. Our heart is the connection to the Divine. Then when we respond to the suffering and injustice we see we will be responding from this deeply ingrained response that is in alignment with our truest self where the Divine dwells. We need to sense that and not simply think it. Our heart is a holograph of God’s heart…we are not isolated…we do not act alone.
You might remember the chant Cynthia used throughout the weekend. Here is the tape of our singing it on Sunday morning. You may want to use it for your own contemplative sitting.
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