If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. Cynthia Bourgeault is a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teachings for yourself.
Inspired by the Nag Hammadi discoveries and influenced by more than 30 years of study with Fr. Thomas Keating and other contemplatives in a variety of wisdom traditions, Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, encourages seekers to reach beyond the Western tradition of Jesus-as-Savior to embrace Jesus more wholly as a wisdom teacher. Through a transformative lesson in vocabulary, giving new meaning to perceptions like “head,” “heart” and “repentance,” she offers a fresh reading of the Beatitudes, challenges us to explore the more complicated messages imbedded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and emphasizes a notion of “self-emptying love” that allows for a shift in consciousness from ego-based analysis to acceptance of divine abundance, which in turn sheds new light on examinations of the Passion, crucifixion and ensuing events. Guided chapter primers on centered meditation and chanting further prepare readers to test the open waters of welcoming the “flow of… deeper sustaining wisdom.” Though strict legalists may not warm to this new spiritual perspective, other students of faith will find an especially intriguing and engaging path waiting for them. (Aug.)
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Cynthia Bourgeault, Ph.D., is an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader. She is the author of several books, including Chanting the Psalms and Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.