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The power of contemplative prayer, Christian non-duality and attention of the heart with Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault

Modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, Cynthia Bourgeault divides her time between solitude at her hermitage in Maine, U.S.A., and traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and wisdom path. Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault is one of the foremost international speakers on contemplative prayer, described by Richard Rohr as “one of the few spiritual teachers to give us genuinely fresh insights”. Author of many books including The Wisdom Jesus.

In this article, we share the transcripts of a talk by Cynthia titled the Power of Contemplative Prayer: Christian Non-duality  and Attention of the Heart and organized  by WCCM in association with Contemplative Outreach, it was recorded on November 8th 2016 at St James Priory, Bristol. 

Cynthia will also be the speaker of Contemplative Presence in a Traumatized World on 5th April,  the fourth session of the series Unified  Consciousness:One Mind One Heart. In this session, she will highlight the unitary relationship between contemplation and action. 

About Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault stands still in the centre in many senses, also as a mystic, an Episcopal priest, a world teacher about prayer, wisdom and the contemplative life. A prolific writer, an internationally known retreat leader and also last but not least a mother and a grandmother. Cynthia has long been associated with a particular form of contemplative prayer: centering prayer and worked with practitioners and teachers as well known as Thomas Keating and Richard Rohr. Her focus on contemplative prayer has taken the more particular form recently of inter-spiritual dialogue. She’s a member of the Global Peace Initiative for Women and the Contemplative Council and the recipient of the 2014 Contemplative Voices Award from Shalem Institute. Here in the UK, many of us will have come to know Cynthia Bourgeault in particular through her published work which includes the Holy Trinity and the law of three.

The Power of Contemplative Prayer: Christian Non-duality and Attention of the Heart

It’s a thrill to be here in bristol. I’ve always known it was a beautiful city from the outside. But I’m saying it’s a beautiful city from the inside to see so many people here, driven I’m assuming by a common yearning for those treasures of love and silence and equanimity and blessing that are opened up in the practice of meditation. So it’s a thrill to be with you on this cold rainy transition of the season night. And I would have to say, if you haven’t figured out by now that I hailed from the United States, you may know that we’re going through the eye of the needle tonight in a political election that will have an impact on the whole world. And so to have a whole group of people gathered together intentionally in silence, praying in your heart that all may be well on our planet is I think a blessing and it’s certainly a personal one to me. I don’t consider you so much an audience as compatriots on the road, colleagues of the heart as we build a different kind of a planet on the foundations that have been so beautifully handed on to us in our traditions.

So my first purpose tonight is to really give you a little bit of a trailer on my most recent book that will be out sometime in December, figuring in publishers’ slowdowns and others, but it’s called ‘the Heart of centering Prayer, non-dual Christianity in theory and practice’.

We’ve got a few little cards about it around and about you know. But since I know very, very well that we have a mixed audience of practice tonight with people about equally divided between those that do centering prayer, those that do Christian meditation and those that do other practice as a nun. I don’t want to set up the talk in a way that I’m talking only about centering prayer because what I really have to say tonight is relevant across the board.

If you’re doing a practice of kind of contemplative prayer, of meditation by any Christian path, what I have to say tonight is about that. So we’ll take that commonality and work from there. Some of the technical nuts and bolts in my book have to do with specifics of centering prayer, but that doesn’t concern what we’re going to be about tonight or what the book is going to be about tonight. As I think most of you know, in the 1970s we had a real awakening in Christianity, a real change when the contemplative awakening began in earnest with the introduction of parallel simple practices of meditation into the Christian tradition. Considering prayer and Christian meditation, offering these two parallel tracks which made it possible for the first time really in about 1500 years, for Christians, particularly lay Christians working in the world to do a serious practice of sitting meditation without having to engage in other traditions.

So this has been very, very important. It was really a sea change in how Christianity was understood and practised and I think this has had a profound impact on Christianity as we now know it today. It’s amazing to think that we now have a history about 40 years long of people who have voluntarily subjected themselves to a rigorous daily practice of meditation and have therefore opened up and initiated in themselves all the changes that come about, the changes in perception, the changes in attitude, the changes even in physiology, in neurology that happen when you really open yourself and take on meditation as the basis of your life practice. So we’ve got a 40-year track record now of people in at least the hundreds and thousands if not the millions in Christianity who have been experiencing this, taking it on and letting it do its thing inside them.

So this has of course opened up and developed a whole new kind of person who exhibits and we’ve even seen out there now that neuro meditation has become more and more common, and you can wire people up to FMRI and see what’s happening in the brain when meditation is engaged. And we see measurable data on the effects in stress reduction, equanimity, brain plasticity, rebalancing, all of these fruits of meditation plus those fruits that our own tradition has constantly pointed us to: the opening up of a different way of seeing a different, whole system of perception that grows out of seeing the world through this angle. So we have this whole databank of Christians that are really living in a sort of different Christianity. A Christianity that is not so much tied to their head, their intellectual rationals, their dogma, their theories but to the actual insight that comes to us from the cushion.

So what I’ve gotten interested in is that this also opens up to us for the first time a new window of interpretation on the ancient core texts of our Christian mystical and contemplative tradition. And because as they like to say in the inner tradition that the lower cannot perceive the higher, there are certain things that can only be perceived from the level at which they’re written. What we mainly have had in our tradition is this great mystical tradition of people who have seen who viewed, who understood, who have applied these deep powers of luminous insight that we’re always called in our tradition: Contemplation. That body of data has by and large been interpreted by scholars who use their own rational methodology but often can’t see the subtle connections that are available only in the process of practice and in the fruits of practice.

So I began to see that, chapter and verse, as I worked on my own in centering prayer. Now, as many of you know, the core text for the practice of centering prayer is the cloud of unknowing, that 14th Century anonymous British spiritual classic. And I had first met this book for years and years, years and years before I ever got interested in meditation in my earlier work, I was a graduate student and I worked on this as a piece of medieval literature. So I read all the things that people usually say about the cloud of unknowing that ‘oh, it’s a classic of Christian love, net of love mysticism and on and on’ The scholars go from the practice of centering prayer and working closely with centering prayer and kind of leveraging my experience on the prayer cushion with what was said in the book, I all of a sudden began to see something very different about the cloud of unknowing. It is not, as scholars have said, a tree ties about love mysticism, that it really is an extraordinary early study in what you would call now the phenomenology of consciousness.

In other words, the levels of consciousness and how you move from one state to the other with very specific insights and instructions about how to do this. And so I said ‘wow’. And I was realizing that in the light of my experience with centering prayer, I understood things about the cloud that I’d never seen being said by scholars who were studying it in English literature as a subset of the early English vernacular literature. A whole different ball park. So in other words, I realized that what we have when we do the practice of meditation is that we open up a lens of contemplative seeing upon the texts. And what I proposed to do in my book ‘The heart of centering prayer’ is to look through that lens and see what it can tell us about Christianity’s well-hidden practices and understanding of non-duality. So that’s the history, that’s what the book is up to in a nutshell.

And what I’m going to unpack for you this evening and an even tighter nutshell. this will be Julian of Norwich compacted nutshell upon nutshell. But, at any rate, I remember years and years and years ago, it was just my luck to be flying home from the west coast from California on an aeroplane one day just at the end of the breakup of the first conference, the ending of the first conference on science and non-duality. And at that conference, those conferences have been going on for probably a dozen years now. And at the end of that particular conference, I overheard two gents in the aeroplane sitting in front of me talking about it and listening to all the speakers as well. There was the Dalai Lama and the usual suspects of Buddhism the great Hindus, the great neurologists of our time.

And somebody said, well what about the Christians? And the other fellow says, well, there were no Christian speakers because Christianity has no tradition of non-duality. That’s what it often looks like when you read the texts from the outside. The reasons usually given for the assumption that Christianity has no tradition of non-duality is because the language in which Christian mystical and non-dual experience is couched, the language in which it’s written is usually in terms of the metaphors of love and nuptial union and personal betrothal with God. And from a Buddhist perspective, as you look at it, you say, aha, they’re stuck in a personal God they’re stuck in affection, they’re stuck in sentimentality,. Therefore they’re not non dual. So it’s on that basis that I’ve heard said many times that the Christian religious tradition has no third-tier representative text.

I think that’s completely wrong. But I think that in order to unpack the language of Christian non duality, you need to adopt the view from the meditation cushion. 

So what I want to do is talk about some things that become very, very clear once meditation enters your life, not only as a tool for personal transformation but as a tool for interpretation. As an interpretive lens on the tradition that we’ve received. So that’s where we’re going to go. 

What does Non-Duality mean?

 

I realize I need to begin a little bit with a better definition of this term non-duality. It’s one of those terms, that’s everywhere and my book publishers did what all book publishers did do and say, let’s get the word non-dual in the title somewhere because it’ll sell better, because things sell better if they have non-dual in the title now at least among the spiritual thing. So we put it in. But I think a lot of people really don’t have a clue what non-duality means. It’s one of these words like soul, which has been so kind of gerrymandered and privatized and there are a million different definitions out there that you might do better to just declare a moratorium on the use of the term until everybody could agree at least on a baseline. Non-dual is getting to be like that.

 

What people agree is that it [non-duality] seems to point to a higher state that has something to do with oneness. But beyond that, interpretations go off in radically different directions. That and they range in a gamut going from on the one hand definitions that say, well non-dual simply means that your paradox to tolerant. You don't think in black and white.
Cynthia Bourgeault, WCCM
Cynthia Bourgeault

You can live with ambiguity. That’s the kind of sort of low-end definition of non-dual. That won’t pass any muster by the more rigorous standards in which the term was applied in the Eastern traditions from which the term emerged. Some people say it’s a mystical experience. Some people say, well, if it’s the top, it’s if it’s the top and the Eastern traditions to call something non-dual, then it must correspond with the top in the Western tradition which we have classically called unitive. 

And a lot of people will say, well, the Buddhists, you know, the Eastern version of non-dual and the and the Western version of punitive are the same. They’re talking about the same thing. Yes, but not quite, yes: in that in the Eastern traditions that by and large the experience of unity, the experience of oneness that’s called non-dual has to do with essentially a monistic flavor. In other words, the discovery that I am that the ground luminosity is my own identity. That radiance is my true nature, that I am one with the buddha nature. So, it has a recognition, it has the tendency to recognize one’s oneness with something.

Whereas in the unitive in the West, there is this irreducible relationality. As a matter of fact, the imagery used for it has to do with mystical marriage. As I said, no nuptial union, the uniting with the beloved so that the two become one in union rather than in identity. They’re describing in a way a similar state, but it has a very different feeling towed to it. And I think these differences are important differences.

One of the first things I do in my book is to propose a new way of looking at this whole question of non-dual and suggesting that maybe…

we shouldn't be seeing it as a new and more exalted state of spiritual attainment, but as a fundamental shift in the window or the lens of perception and a fundamental shift in it caused by a re wiring as it were of the operating system, so that essentially you're running a different program of perception
Cynthia Bourgeault, WCCM
Cynthia Bourgeault

What what I said in the book: “clearly there’s a big shift in perception that takes place between non-dualistic and dualistic levels of consciousness resulting in those signature experiences of oneness and an unboundary read flowing sense of selfhood. But what if this shift is not primarily about what one sees as, how one sees that it be tokens, not so much a new level of conscious attainment as a permanent shift in the structure of consciousness as it were a rewiring of the operating system.”

So, according to the way of looking at things that are current in present maps of the levels of consciousness that all the works on what Kim Wilbur likes to call ‘the 1st and 2nd tiers of consciousness’ up to and including the integral level, all work with increasingly sophisticated uses of a fundamental, the classic binary operating system of perception.

In other words, perception through differentiation. Our brain sets up the perception all field immediately with an inside and an outside. A subject and object. And our attention goes from subject to object and we distinguish among the objects by their differentiators. I am me by function of that I am not you. I have these characteristics that make me, me. It’s a program of perception. It’s an operating system of perception. The world swirls around us outside and is navigated by breaking it up then into finite bits which are then manipulated through a set of standard binary operations. More or less, better or worse, good, bad. In this operating system identity is conferred by differentiation and to be self-aware means to be able to stand outside yourself and reflect back on yourself or to be able to navigate your way forward and backward along the arrow of time through memory and imagination.

This is the fabled self-reflexive consciousness. The mind that has brought the Western world into existence. The ‘I think therefore I am’ mind upon which the foundations of modern civilization rest. And it’s by far an evolutionary achievement. But it’s not all there is.

A different way of structuring the field of perception.

Imagine that there might be a different way of structuring the field of perception. An alternative way of wiring the brain that did not depend on that initial bifurcation of subject-object, inside-outside, me-you. But that could perceive the whole entire pattern at one whole holographic lee. The way a symphonic conductor does when he or she stands in front of an orchestra and looks at a score and doesn’t see 80 points, 80 parts running different parts. But here’s one single sonic pattern in which all is differentiated but all belongs. Imagine that there was that kind of a perceptional pattern that works on vibrational resonance rather than mental abstraction. Then one would indeed experience that signature sense of oneness.

Not, however, because one had broken into a whole new bandwidth of spiritual experience, but because that tedious translator mechanism of the self-reflective brain had finally been superseded. You see oneness because you see from oneness, the brain and the heart are rewired in a way that you’re running a different program, like in computer language, upgrading your operating system. And I believe that non-dual and those third tiers they’re often called now ‘states of consciousness’ are an upgrade in the operating system so that one essentially is no longer running at least as your normal mechanism. This distinguished, differentiate, this versus this me versus that kind of program that characterizes life in the usual rational intellect. You are perceiving from a larger and deeper space. So that’s my working definition of non-duality. It’s not a theological definition, but a phenomenal logical definition.

It talks about how perception works. Now, if that sounds sort of experimental and new age I can say that I didn’t think it up myself, I learned it from the cloud of unknowing. Because as I began to do this close textual study based again on the view that from 30 years of working with the cloud in in the practice of centering prayer and trying out these really difficult and counterintuitive instructions and plugging them back in. I said ‘wow, he’s talking about a rewiring of consciousness, he’s describing again and again. But most clearly in chapter eight whole new section, a whole new system of perception that is based on what you see when you move beyond that self-reflective awareness. So once I began to see it there I could begin to see it everywhere and it began to make so much sense out of the tradition.

Imagine trying to talk about levels of consciousness in 14th-century vernacular English which has only been around at that point for less than 100 years. The author of the cloud is writing at precisely the same time as the Canterbury Tales. But there is an awareness of these states of consciousness and so based on this I’d like to share with you for the rest of the time of the talk and I know this is something of a fast forward but their ideas that I want you to think about in a big way and go back and work within the book if it interests you, because I think they can be documented: A few three corollary observations about the Christian non-dual to tradition. Once you make the shift in seeing that non-dual really has to do with running a different operating system of perception. So the first, the first of these three assumptions I’d like to share with you is:

  • This reference to this non dual, what Christianity means by non dual is most closely approximated in the word contemplation – that what what is being in the classical ways alluded to and referred to as contemplation in the Christian tradition and in the Western tradition in general, most closely matches what is in the Eastern traditions intended and portended by the term non dual

  • Remember in the tradition, one of the things that has happened nowadays and it’s a kind of byproduct of the fact of opening up meditation to the masses is that we have in some sense, dumbed down our understanding of contemplation. In the early days of the church and the neo-platonic tradition, from which so much of Christian mysticism comes, all we knew about contemplation is that it was something terribly high.

People talked about it as a kind of knowing beyond knowing a knowing, impregnated by love. It was regarded as a gift that one could hardly speak about. Nowadays you know, as a result of being a gift so high people essentially gave up on it. And that was the problem that Thomas Keating and John Main had to face in the 1970s when nobody in the church was meditating, nobody had given up on contemplated prayer. It’s just for monks at the end of their days. So we have it back again and in Christian meditation, but in particularly considering prayer, there’s this idea that contemplation is resting in God beyond thinking, beyond emotion, beyond desiring. and that centering prayer while it’s never seen as contemplation itself, God knows, it is seen as an access route to that. So that’s a partial truth.

So much of our modern reconstruction of ancient practice is a partial truth. And the partial truth. What’s true in that partial truth is that you can’t get to contemplation by thinking. You have to shut off the rational mind, you know, trying to get to meditate to contemplation by thinking is like asking your typewriter to run the internet. It doesn’t have an operating system that can do that And so since most of us are so reliant on our thinking and our sense of self would, that goes through it and the emotions that are tied into it. And the reactivity ease, It’s like running around in a squirrel cage. And the contemplative path says that until you can stop that, forget it, whatever we mean by contemplation you’re not going to get there. So these simple meditative practices really do allow one to suspend end, run or rest in a deeper presence that can be sustained by mental work.

And in that sense, they are absolutely prerequisites to the emergence and to the experience of those quoted higher states. But that being said, contemplation is not simply emptiness. It’s not nothingness. It simply is nothingness from the point of view of the lower faculties. And the tradition has insisted that there is a content imparted in contemplation, a deep knowingness, a knowingness that cuts so deep that it is a slice of divine life, of divine knowingness that somehow downloads into your being and lives and speaks itself through and in the innermost marrow of your life. So it’s something very high. And so I think that what we see particularly in the Cloud of Unknowing, is that the author preserves that definition. And he realizes that contemplation is a whole different state and system of perception And he also is very, very clear as he says it, that that it is work.

The work of contemplation

He doesn’t use the word, the gift of contemplation. He says, the work of contemplation. And if you would do the work of contemplation. So he sees clearly in the 14th century that this is a state of consciousness that can be accessed by the work, by a set of practices and the set of practices he gives in the cloud are specifically intended to help further, that work. As a matter of fact, he’s writing this book for a young monk who has already been formed in the practices of the faith and wants to do the work of contemplation. So he basically says, all right, if you want to do this work of contemplation, this is what it’s about. And over and over again. He says ‘you have to restrain’, it has to do with reconfiguring your attention so that it’s not all the time running out to objects to think about even good and worthy objects, even the blessed Mary and her sorrows or the wounds of Christ not even worthy objects.

We have to keep pulling our attention back in so that it forms a resonant field of gentle diffuse objective attentiveness, which he calls love, and which he calls the cloud of unknowing because it doesn’t have sharp edges. You know, it’s not subject-object like our usual mind, but he clearly senses that as we’re able to do this work, we begin to access a different kind of knowing: a knowing impregnated by love. That is essentially the work and is the signature earmark of contemplation understood as a level of consciousness, all right there in the cloud. So the next thing from there that I go on to say in the book. And this is a really important aspect of our Christian understanding of contemplation, i.e. non-dual states, a very important one is that in the West, it is understood that this state of consciousness, this higher and more collected energetic bandwidth of consciousness that we call contemplation or non-dual awareness is not simply an extension of the mind, understood as the brain alone.

It isn’t teaching an old dog new tricks. It’s not taking the mind and bringing it to another level. It specifically requires putting the mind in the heart. That that is all over the literature, particularly in the literature of the Eastern Orthodox tradition and particularly in the literature of Sufism, that is air to the same tradition that the heart is an organ of spiritual perception but it will only that work that way as we put the mind in the heart. And it’s very clear that this putting the mind in the heart is not about, is not about getting your affections going. It’s not emo jing is not putting on a beautiful piece of Mozart and weeping. It has to do with essentially a physiology, again of attention that brings the energy of the mind into synchronous coherence with the heart. We talk about bringing it down.

It’s absolutely clear that the texts are talking about a practice that has a physiological component to it. So this emphasis is not always clear. It certainly is not emphasized in Eastern by which I mean Asian taxonomy, ease of consciousness at least as we know them in Western translations. I remember very well, a Buddhist master and someone asked him well how do you know this? He says, well, I know it with my mind. So I’ve come to suspect that in our Western translations of things that we’ve misinterpreted what the Eastern traditions no two, but that not being a subject that I have any standing on. I will, I’ll let that one go and just say that as far as the West, it’s absolutely committed to the fact that this kind of consciousness that this new upgrade for the operating system is not other than and cannot be had apart from putting the mind in the heart.

And there are all sorts of texts about their there are texts that talk about the burning of the heart and the warming of the heart. There’s a real physiological component very interestingly paralleled by recent research by the Heart Math Institute. That begins to give us now FmR I imagery of what happens when the brain and heart are are incoherent and when they’re not. So the whole thing doesn’t look as speculative as it might have looked in the 14th century. But so the practice in the West is all about bringing it into the heart. That you will know when consciousness is in the heart and until then you won’t know anything. So that is the West’s powerful contribution is the consistent reminder that these non dual states are not higher avenues of the mind alone, that they are embodied there in the chest, there in a resonance that is finally a new kind of a field of perception, very, very clear understanding there and the text over the whole body of of the literature Again, the cloud gets a piece of this, The best part of it is in the the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Simeon the new theologian, some of these wonderful masters in the middle Qalea who talk about something called attention of the heart, or vigilance, or nep sis, the greek word for vigilance in the West, we call it recollection And it’s very clear that this doesn’t mean vigilance like being, you know, they’re gonna rob me or recollection Like, let me think about christmas last year, it means very clearly holding a resonant pool of spiritual attentiveness of diffuse object lists as they call it in the buddhist tradition, object this awareness of a very high and shimmering and unbroken intensity in the region of the chest with a with a brain and training to it that essentially gives you and I’m going to use a disgustingly technological image that essentially gives you the attentional power pack to run a much more intense, vibrant holographic system of perception which is known as attention of the heart.

Contemplation. Non-dual when a certain threshold of attentional energy is gathered in purified, held in the heart so that it resonates It becomes a new seat of one’s identity and a new seat of perception. And I think this is the powerful, powerful it’s almost the leitmotif that cuts through the Christian tradition of mystical, you know, non-dual experience Very, very powerful teachings and treat treating treatments of it the access to the door. And how do you put the mind and the heart then? Well by the book, you know, two ways to practice that are core. The most powerful one in the nutshell is the practices that have to do with kin Nanosys, that’s the greek word It comes from Philippians in the bible when St Paul talks about putting on the mind of Christ and he says he christ though his state was that of God.

Yet he did not deem equality with God something he should cling to rather he emptied himself. That is the word in Greek can all sign from which we get stenosis emptying Non-clinging, non-hanging on. Non non bracing, non defending, non asserting. that whole that reaction And we do have data again, coming from the heart Math institute, that shows that when a person is able to do that to move from a state which is like this to a state like that, that there is a market re-entrainment of mind, brain and heart rhythms. So the practice of keno sis of letting go of non-clinging of you know, non constricting understood is basic spiritual hygiene is across the board is the first practice Jesus taught it. The Cloud of Unknowing teaches it Meister Eckhart teaches that Jacob Burma teaches it.

You won’t find it not taught in Christianity, but it’s not because people want you to just grovel and be humble and not assert yourself. It’s because that kind of collected energy when you’ve got this, you’re not gonna have any possibility of content, contemplative wholeness, you can have your ego and you can have your vindication, but you can’t have that deeper depth of being because that cuts it so it’s collected. Don’t let your energy wander out in these stupid squandered reactions. Bring it in, halted, it, gather it and allow something else of luminous knowledge to grow the other. The other practices have to do with the attentional practices of bringing attention into the region of the heart and with attention gathered there to begin to say that time tested prayer of Christianity Lord Jesus christ have mercy on me, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, You may have done that in your prayer life.

But I’ll bet you you’ve never done it first bringing your attention to the heart, bringing your sensation there. If you try it. I guarantee you it’s gonna be a whole different practice. It just splits you splits the universe out of its skin. And you understand the vibrational presence and intimacy of the Ryzen Master in a way that it can’t be touched by the mind alone Okay enough for that last point and then we quit. The last thing is I say that this is why the language in Christianity is so deeply tied to those languages of mystical marriage, of the beloved of the betrayal betrothal that which is often looked upon when scholars look at the work and say, oh this shows that they’re still believing in a personal god. So they’re they’re at a lower level of being.

It has nothing to do with the first causes. It’s not philosophy, it’s not big daddy got up in the sky that I love. It has to do with the core felt sense experience that when you are able to sit in that bandwidth of gathered attentional energy in the heart, the nature of it, the irreducible emotional signature of it is personal, is relational and is compassionate and Arthur words and those aren’t ideologies that are derived from thinking about it It’s an immediate felt sense experience that I know that many of you have when you sit in meditation and come out of it with this deep sense of a warm tenderness You don’t know where it came from. It came from. The fact is that the energy is connected and coherent in the heart. And so my sense is that that language can be looked at not to mean that we’re trying to talk about, you know, personally going out and marrying God or marrying Jesus in our soul.

It says that the nature of consciousness itself is relational. That’s what the word consciousness means. It’s with knowing that it’s ordered, that it brings with it a moral coherence, in french. There’s no word difference between words, conscience and consciousness, they’re the same And I think that’s true, that it gives you a deep sense of not the explanation, but the meaning that the world hangs together in love and that is the treasure that’s to be found at the bottom of the well of being in the cave of the heart as one begins to enter two begins to withdraw attention from all those things that claim us and pull us back into our little egoist mind and to hold together this intensely deep and quieter and still gathered pool of awareness in the heart that becomes for Christianity, the essence of contemplation and the essence of the non-dual.

So all of this, I say once again, I didn’t learn by reading scholarly books. It was the fruit And continues to be the fruit of 30 years on the cushion. But as we have more and more people doing that same thing, I think it becomes important to turn again to the core texts of our own tradition and look at them through the eyes of the heart and see what might be there in our Christianity what treasures may be there that we haven’t glimpsed before because we were trying to see them with the wrong pair of ice.

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