The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind--A New Perspective on Christ and His Message

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by Cynthia Bourgeault

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590305805
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 08/12/2008
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 69,821
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, 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.

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The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind--A New Perspective on Christ and His Message 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Christianexistentialist More than 1 year ago
Bourgeault invites us into the other 270 degrees of Jesus so often missed by Western Christianity. Draw a circle around the Near East where Jesus lived and taught and only 90 degrees of that circle touches Italy and the West. Those of us brought up in the Western Catholic tradition have a 90 degree creedal view of Jesus. Bourgeault reminds us that Jesus was a First Century Jew and a Wisdom Figure. Like most Near Eastern Wisdom Figures he told stories that were more like riddles than didactic teachings. Like most Wisdom Figures Jesus called people into a new reality - the Kingdom of God. Bourgeault delves into 'extra-canonical' literature to prove the valid point that the church of the West has indeed suppressed and even distorted the Jesus of the Near East. The Gospel of Thomas is one source that she uses in her arguments. This and other writings are recent finds that bring to light a fresh look at Jesus. Her arguments are sound and deepen our perspective on Christ. She invites us not to disown the 90 degree Jesus, but rather to embrace the 360 degree Jesus! Her insights into the Sermon on the Mount and several of the more enigmatic sayings in the Gospels are most helpful. Her last chapters give practical in-put for us to deepen our own spirituality through such spiritual practices as lectio divina, centering prayer, and chanting. I found this book to be most helpful. If you are a progressive Christian you will welcome its insights. If your are a fundamentalist, you will find it most disturbing.
rainermaria63 More than 1 year ago
Abject moral depravity from birth as the problem for which Western Christianity is the answer has never struck me as an accurate naming of the problem. Given the growing number of people drifting away from church and the many more who pay no attention to the church at all, it appears I am not alone. If only we could do a better job naming the problem. Perhaps then we could see Jesus as the one who speaks to that problem in a way that makes him worthy of our deepest devotion of heart and mind. Cynthia Bourgeault offers a wise and articulate naming of the problem that vexes every human being and for which Jesus as the answer makes complete and total sense. The Wisdom Jesus introduces the reader to an understanding of Christianity not familiar to most Western Christians, but one that has always been there, waiting to be rediscovered as the ancient, timeless, refreshingly practical perspective of the Wisdom Tradition of Christianity. The Wisdom Jesus opens our eyes to the problem, to our binary way of viewing the world which, if not made conscious, holds us captive and unable to experience the liberating truth that though we are in the world, we are not of the world. I do believe there is a future for the church and that the time is coming when those who have walked away from the church will be led to take another look. They will discover that Jesus knew us far better than we know ourselves and gave us all we need to enter into the fullness of who we are already in God's eyes. The excellent, very accessible writing and insights of Cynthia Bourgeault gives me totally renewed hope that Western Christianity has a whole other personality that we are going to be delighted and deeply grateful to meet.
vpfluke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. Cynthia Bourgeault is able to integrate the basics of the faith with the wisdom tradition, which some people feel veers too closely to gnosticism. Bourgeault is able to take some of the early texts which have come to our awareness in the last few decades and to weave them into a lived faith that makes sense to those of us who practice a more traditional type of Christianity. She understands the power of the basic gospel story, and one can be grabbed by the drama of the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Jesus. She brings informative insights from her wisdom perspective that only adds to our appreciation. Jesus' route of self-emptying love (represented in Greek as kenosis) is beautifully described. The radical change that Jesus brought to human understanding and action can be a challenge but worth following, The final third of her book takes a look at a number of practices that can enable one to follow Jesus' path: centering prayer, lectio divina, and psalm chanting. Her penultimate chapter on welcoming requires quite a change of personal processing of the world around us. The final chapter on the eucharist seems a bit foreshortened -- maybe this will be expanded in a future book.
JolleyG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just as the title suggests, this book offers a new perspective on the life and teachings of Jesus that differs considerably from the traditional Western teachings on Christianity. Cynthia Bourgeault, a contemplative Episcopal priest, proposes that Jesus was a master of the Ageless Wisdom who came here to transform human consciousness. She bases her thesis on the new information that came out of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts and specifically the Gospels of Thomas. Bourgeault notes that the Gospels of Thomas, in contrast to the other disciples¿ gospels, focus more on Jesus¿ teachings than on the events in his life. Due to this different focus, she thinks it is possible to get a clearer view of Jesus¿ mission and what he came here to accomplish with humanity.The main difference between Christianity as it is taught in the West and the Christianity that comes to us via these new sources is, in Bourgeault¿s view, the difference between ¿soteriology¿ and ¿sophiology.¿ Soteriology, or ¿savior-oriented¿ Christianity comes from the Greek word soter, meaning ¿savior.¿ Sophiology, on the other hand, from The Greek Sophia, represents the ¿wisdom path¿ most often associated with the East. Bourgeault says that for the earliest Christians, ¿Jesus was not the Savior but the Life Giver,¿ that he came forth as the Ihidaya, or ¿Unified One.¿ Sophiological Christianity focuses on the path and the idea that we can become just like Jesus by following this path. Soteriology, on the other hand, emphasizes the superiority of Jesus and the idea that we can only be saved through him, by allowing him to be our mediator with the divine.Using the computer as a modern metaphor, Bourgeault says that we come into the world with an ¿egoic operating system¿ based on seeing things in binary terms. However, we have the choice to upgrade this operating system to a ¿unitive operating system¿ based on the heart as the organ of synthetic spiritual perception. She claims that non-dual consciousness is what is really meant by the term ¿the Kingdom of Heaven¿ and that Jesus¿ teachings are attempts to push people beyond their limited analytic intellects toward non-dual thinking. The injunction to repent, she explains, actually means to go beyond the mind, the word ¿repent¿ being the translation of the Greek metanoia, or ¿beyond the mind¿ or ¿into the larger mind.¿As examples of Jesus¿ teachings on the path of metanoia, Bourgeault mentions the Beatitudes (¿non-dual teachings of the highest order¿), the Parables (which she likens to koans) and his ¿hard teachings,¿ such as the parables about the wise and foolish bridesmaids and the prodigal son. According to Bourgeault, the Gospels of Thomas belong to the sophiological tradition. This document is mainly a compilation of Jesus¿ transformational sayings or logion. Some examples of the logion are included in the book along with her interpretations of them.In terms of the actual practice of shifting one¿s consciousness, Bourgeault says that everything hangs together around a single center of gravity in Jesus¿ teachings. She borrows a word from the apostle Paul and calls this center of gravity kenosis, which in Greek means ¿to let go, to empty oneself.¿ Thus transforming our conscious is actually an emptying and a descent. Jesus emptied himself and descended into form. This contrasts with the usual idea of ascending the spiritual path.Related to this kenotic theme, the author says that the Trinity ¿is really an icon of self-emptying love,¿ that the three persons of the Trinity ¿go round and round like buckets on a watermill, constantly overspilling into one another.¿ In the process the energy of love becomes manifest and available. This inter-circulation of love is called perichoresis, or ¿dancing around.¿ Bourgeault says that in this way the Trinity becomes Christianity¿s yin-yang symbol, symbolizing or depicting how ¿God moves and flows so that love becomes manifest as the unified field of all reality.¿This conc
lavenderlady2 More than 1 year ago
I am enjoying this book very much. I have read a number of Cynthia's other books and find this one very readable. She expands upon what I learned in a retreat given by Michael Morwood. I am learning more about the Gospel of Thomas and who Jesus really was in his time and what he stood for. Very insightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ctfranklin28 More than 1 year ago
"The Wisdom Jesus" is an incredible book if you are open to viewing Jesus and his teachings from a different perspective. Bourgeault invites readers to view teachings like The Beatitudes and stories like the "Woman From the Bible" from a wisdom tradition (specifically kenotic) point of view. I had never heard of this tradition, even though I have caught glimpses of it while reading certain texts and in particular, the Gospel of Thomas. The kenotic perspective involves the "emptying" of one's self and desires to become more open to God's will. Bourgeault's book provides a brief journey to explain this perspective through selected Bible verses, reflection, and ends with a book of practices that readers can integrate into their daily lives: Centering Prayer Meditation, Welcoming Prayer, chanting, and more. I chose this book as part of my continuing study into the Gnostic Gospels and various alternative perspectives on Jesus' teachings. The book certainly presented a very unique (emphasis on the unique) way of looking at "traditional" Church doctrine. One really good example of this is the book's definition of "repentance". Traditionally, this is understood as "turning from sin". Bourgeault argues that we should go deeper and points to the Greek term often used for this concept ("metanoia"). In "The Wisdom Jesus", Bourgeault suggests that the term "metanoia" should actually be translated as "go beyond the mind" or go beyond your ego. The emphasis is on the internal (moving away from the pitfalls and obstacles of the self), not the external. It's a very interesting way of looking at Jesus'teaching, which I personally believe can be interpreted in many ways for spiritual progression. While this book was definitely an interesting read, it may not sit well if you are someone who is not open to this "alternate look". Bourgeault does an excellent job of providing an incredibly rich and informative journey with great side trips into various spiritual traditions throughout the whole book. If you are not comfortable learning about chanting or haven't read the The Gospel of Thomas, this book may not be for you. If you have read the Gospel of Thomas or similar literature and wanted to know how integrate some of that teaching into your daily life, this would definitely be the book for you. (Buddhists might also like this book as well.)
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I am blown away! Highly recommend this book
LucyTW More than 1 year ago
still haven't received either books ordered early November for Christams !