All audio sets are produced by The Contemplative Society. Please visit contemplative.org for more titles and teaching.
In this newly revised teaching, Cynthia Bourgeault explores how conscious love flows from our deeper selves, beyond identification, craving, wanting, and needing. We discover that conscious love abides beyond all emotional states and polarities in a place where boundaries are diminished and our egoic perceptions dissolve. By living from this deep and ever present wellspring, we may feel pain, fear, and anxiety but it will not overcome us. Conscious love exposes the cages that trap us and guides us on the journey of transformation—a journey of out-pouring that comes from an open and relaxed heart.
Recorded LIVE 2001 in Victoria, BC Canada (revised 2015). Approximate running time: 4 hours, 45 minutes.
How can ancient contemplative skills contribute to the needs of today’s world? In this teaching, Cynthia Bourgeault offers a compelling answer. In particular, she addresses the modern dilemma of how to end the cycles of violence between individuals, religions, and cultures without dishonouring or discounting those who have been victimized. Drawing on the seminal work of Connie Fitzgerald, Cynthia identifies memory and its relationship to selfhood as the key. She carefully guides us through Fitzgerald’s linking of the concepts of memory, the future, hope, belonging, and the prayer of no experience. As the self, anchored in contemplative practices, progresses through these connections, a new perspective arises that allows for healing and reconciliation: “There is a different sense of selfhood that emerges and on the basis of that emerging selfhood a whole set of actions are possible that are not possible for the egoic self.”
Recorded LIVE 2013 in Pender Island, BC Canada. Approximate running time: 8 hours, 35 minutes
In this five-day deep immersion retreat, Cynthia moves beyond the scope of introductory Centering Prayer material to focus on the true self and its expression in the world around us. We discover that it is through spiritual non-possessiveness, surrender, and self-emptying that our essence becomes connected to the flow of Being Itself. This path is not about self-expression and acquisition or storing up more calm, stability, or inner presence. As self-emptying becomes the whole path we find that there is no need to worry about being depleted. The process of relinquishing our will, our identity, and our vitality leads us to the dark night of the spirit. And it is through this passageway that we discover that we are not the source of our own energy. Cynthia also touches on the so-called dichotomy between action and contemplation.
Approximate running time: 6 hours, 40 minutes
Recorded LIVE at Olympic Park Institute, WA, 2003. Revised and re-released in 2012
Be prepared to discover in this set of teachings the original desert fathers and mothers in a whole new way—as Christian disciples and sages. Cynthia begins by exploring how the desert is a perfect setting both physically and metaphorically for the spiritual seeker. You are invited to recognize your own personal desert and to work within its constrictions as you walk your individual path toward the divine. Cynthia quickly dispels the common misconceptions about the early desert fathers and mothers as rejecting the body and engaging in self-harming practices. Instead, the desert tradition is revealed as a model for present-day wisdom schools. The early Christian desert dwellers are seen as being dedicated to becoming transformed humans in the way of Christ—balancing asceticism and temperance, solitude and community, right dominion and humility, equanimity and passion, vigilance and nonattachment. Their practices and teachings serve as a guide today for bridging the material realm and the intense realm of deep prayer and for participating in the unfolding of a new humanity.
Recorded LIVE at Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona, March 8-14, 2014
In this recording, Cynthia Bourgeault looks at some of the great mystical texts in the Christian tradition that speak, for example, of “all things being gathered into Christ,” and “the image of the unseen God.” She asks, “Is there a fundamental law, an organizing principle in this particular space time continuum, in this great relational field, that is planted in the hearts of all sentient beings and that is wired to the Divine Mercy?” She argues that Jesus in his risen being, continuous with his earthly being, is the image of that principle. And further that if we have him we have the principle; and if we have the principle we have him. Christ is the originating principle of coherence that holds everything together. He is a “direct arrow into the divine ordering principle,” and that if we “encamp next” to him and to that principle, then “things become as simple as child’s play.”
Approximate running time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Recorded LIVE in Sorrento, BC, Canada, 2008. Revised and re-released in 2014.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a Jesuit priest, a mystic, and a well known paleontologist. He devoted his life to bridging the scientific and spiritual dimensions of human existence. In this recording, Cynthia presents Teilhard’s vision in a way that provides us with direction and hope for engaging with today’s local and global concerns.
First Cynthia discusses Teilhard’s way of seeing, which draws together the evolutionary and contemplative perspectives. She then guides us through the key concepts of Teilhard’s vision: cosmogenesis, complexification-consciousness, convergence, and Christ Omega. We come to understand evolution not as being random and chaotic but as having an inherent purposeful trajectory. The overall movement of creation is toward more and more complex structures that can manifest higher and higher levels of consciousness until culminating at a Christ Omega point—that is, unity through differentiation and the personal.
While Teilhard’s language and ideas can be daunting, Cynthia’s teaching makes them understandable and relevant. From his concepts, she identifies three resources for anchoring deep hope and faith today:
- Trusting the cosmic trajectory
- Trusting evolution’s progression toward a higher form of collectivity
- Trusting the Spirit is present
Cynthia leaves us with three pragmatic challenges: moving beyond individual self-realization, facing our fear of convergence, and overcoming our fear of embodiment. By the end of this recording, Cynthia has honored Teilhard’s effort to reconcile the secular and the sacred and in the process has recognized Teilhard as a visionary for our time.
Recorded LIVE at Holy Isle in Scotland, UK, 2017. Released in 2018.
In this teaching, we learn how, in the great exchange of giving and receiving, we are fed by and feed other realms outside our earthly reality. We come to see the relationship among the visible and invisible realms not as a ladder of hierarchical steps to climb and escape lower states of being, but as an inter-abiding round dance of self-giving love. As we allow ourselves to participate in the freely flowing exchange of Divine creativity, love is made manifest. Moreover, we humans, as the embodiment of consciousness, are responsible for making that Divine love manifest in this time/space realm. Learn how, in following Jesus’ way, we release our essential Self as we help fulfill the deep yearning of the Divine.
Recorded LIVE at Rosemary Heights Retreat Center in Surrey, BC, Canada, 2008. Revised and re-released 2017.
In her book, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, Cynthia Bourgeault explores the hidden—or forgotten—nature of the traditional Christian symbol, the Trinity. She enriches Christian theology and history on the subject with G.I. Gurdjieff’s Laws of Three and Seven, discovering a guiding principle to help mend and evolve Christianity, humanity, and our relationship to the world (see The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three).
In this recording, Cynthia deepens and clarifies our understanding of her written work, helping to strengthen the listener’s resolve on the path to God. Basing much of her teaching on Gurdjieff’s Law of Three, Cynthia helps listeners learn how to hold the tension of opposing positions until the heart creates a new reality that subsumes both sides. The result is a radical change in relationship to the symbolic Trinity and its place in our ever-changing world. Cynthia also elaborates on Gurdjieff’s Law of Seven, connecting it to the musical scale and to the work of Jacob Boehme. The Law of Seven brings with it Gurdjieff’s Enneagram, which provides an opportunity for a new, kinesthetic approach to understanding the nature of the Trinity.
Recorded LIVE in Lake Cowichan, BC, Canada, 2014. Released in 2016.
Mary Magdalene is the apostle to the apostles, a wisdom teacher, a contemplative, a woman of spiritual purity, a bold and tenacious witness, and Jesus’ beloved companion—these views of the so-called healed prostitute are unfamiliar to most of us; nevertheless, they are views supported by growing evidence from biblical and ancient text scholarship. Cynthia Bourgeault guides us through this evidence with an approach that leads us beyond the Da Vinci Code craze and any feminist agenda. In the process, she offers to the thoughtful listener insights into the mystical aspect of Christianity.
In addition to Cynthia’s teachings, you are given the unique opportunity in this recording to be with Mary Magdalene as she accompanies Jesus during the last days of his life on earth. You will hear moving liturgy and beautiful chanting expressing Mary Magdalene’s devotional love as the retreatants recreate the anointing scene at Bethany. You will also walk with Mary Magdalene through her grief at the foot of the cross, her bewilderment and desperate longing at the empty tomb, her wonder and joy at her beloved’s resurrection, and her movement into apostleship.
Without contradicting canonical accounts, Cynthia restores Mary Magdalene as a central figure in the Paschal mystery. She models that the transformed human heart bridging the finite and the infinite as eros is surmounted and taken to the place where “love is stronger than death.” This is a spiritual path founded on the redeeming love of Jesus and passed on to the disciples by Mary Magdalene. Through Mary Magdalene’s witnessing and “substituted love,” we come to understand how the human heart is the gateway to the transformational mystery.
This set of talks deserves serious consideration by all Christians interested not only in their own spiritual journey, but also in the future of Christianity as the incarnational faith embodying the way of kenotic love—the way to the cosmic Christ spirit.