The St. Olaf centering prayer group recently discussed The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault. This book focuses on repositories of Wisdom carried in the world religions. In contemporary society, religion has been losing ground, and we are in danger of discarding an ancient path for opening the heart to wisdom. Ironically, modern quantum physics is uncovering and affirming this ancient wisdom. How is it that some recognize Jesus, and some, though in His presence, do not? It is not the head that recognizes, but the heart. Wisdom practice brings the body, heart and mind into a balance that optimizes the clarity of unitive seeing. Consistent practice supports the opening of the heart to the divine I AM. Practices, done in surrender, such as Lectio Divina, prayer and work (ora et labora), meditation, sacred chanting, and mindfulness, are tools that help us to open to the divine.
This little book emphasizes the "practice" part of wisdom tradition at the base of all world religions. At their headwaters all world religions are about surrender, detachment, compassion and forgiveness. Cynthia states that "Whether you're a Christian, Buddhist, a Jew, a Sufi or a sannyasin you still go through the same eye of the needle to get to where your true heart lies."
My reaction to this little book was one of gratitude to the author, for the concise pulling together of the threads of wisdom scattered in history. Much of the confusion in spirituality today comes from a lack of understanding of the path to awakening. The path is well known. It has been hidden and found many times in history. This book describes the what, the how and the why of wisdom practice. I recommend it to anyone who desires to deepen their knowing of the heart. Sources, both ancient and contemporary, religious and secular are well documented. I read it three times, and found it richer with each reading.