This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Emerging Christianity Conference

Day Two

The first speaker yesterday was Cynthia Bourgeault, a teacher of Centering Prayer. She talked a lot about the brain and the heart, and how we need to get beyond the often violent reactions we make when we are in our limbic/reptilian brain. More of the brain is available when we learn to relax into what is happening. The heart is also an organ of spiritual perception and the prefrontal lobes connect with it.

When the heart and brain are in "entrainment" there seems to be an alignment between visible and invisible realms. We have contact with the visionary/imaginal world. Jesus referred to this world as "the Kingdom of Heaven." It is the mysterious source or origin of things, "the reality looming on the surface from which things emerge." It is not "imaginary" but quite real and objective. Events don't just happen in the outer world. The resurrection of Jesus, for instance, is a fact on the imaginal plane which altered the disciples' consciousness.

This is an older way of seeing. Christianity began in this liminal, imaginal space. When the eye of the heart is opened that reality becomes manifest here and now.

"The truth does not need to be defended; it only needs to be lived."

Then she went into a strong critique of "liberal" thinking, which is overly timid and lacks conviction. It discounts the reality of the imaginal.

We cannot lose faith in the truth of the Easter kerygma. We have to find the fire and regain the confidence... but no longer on the literal and propositional level. On the imaginal level. It's not about believing the impossible but seeing the invisible.

Ken Wilber's stages of development. We have to move out of the rational and pluralistic and into the integral and non-dual consciousness. The burning-but-not-consumed-bush in Exodus is a good example of non-dual thinking. Both/and.

It is about "opening the eye of the heart and bending the knee of the heart to the grace which surrounds us."

Bourgeault's analysis was inspiring because it looked ahead with integrity towards what the new mind, or the mind of Christ, is beginning to look like... yet at the same time she sank her roots deep into the spiritual tradition. (The Eastern church has used language like "bringing the mind into the heart" for centuries.) I have to take her word for the physiological stuff, though.

After lunch Richard Rohr spoke again.

He built on this physiological side with the observation that the heart literally as a brain/neurons. Separating the brain from the heart resulted in 500 years of dualistic thinking in our culture, and centuries of attrocities.

Jesus talks much more about "how" than "what" to believe.

More later....

1 comment:

Anita said...

I appreciate these notes. Thank you very much!