The Path to Loving Consciousness: The Univocal Message of Three Wisdom Traditions

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It seems behind a shadow of a IMG_20170707_153112089doubt to me that a person engaged in the spiritual dimension of life lives a happier, healthier, and more meaningful life than someone operating within the material paradigm only. And so it is my deep, abiding desire to offer “spirit” whenever possible to students, which is accompanied by an array of luminous qualities: depth, beauty, subtlety, mystery, connection, resonance, fulfillment. As Richard Rohr says, “The only real sin is superficiality.” Continue reading

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Individualizing Psychospiritual Growth: Matching Enneagram Types with Spiritual Practices

Screenshot 2019-12-26 at 6.33.06 PM.pngOur last day of class in “Service, Society, and the Sacred.”

“Everywhere people ask: ‘What can I actually do?’ The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: We can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order.” 

-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, p. 297

“The testimony of the greatest humans who have ever lived is that the way to make the most of ourselves is by transcending ourselves… When you transcend yourself, the fact will be confirmed by the quality of your life. We will attain – even if only momentarily – a transparency and a radiance of being which results from living both within and beyond yourself. This is the promise and the excitement of self-understanding.”

-Don Richard Riso, co-author of Personality Types and the Wisdom of the Enneagram

The near absence of research on secular, school-based spirituality programs in youth reflects the general shortage of those types of interventions. This is an explorative time for spirituality….

– Cobb, McClintock & Miller, p. 253 in Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Well-Being


Is it possible to customize – or, to use the educational term, differentiate – something as nebulous and abstract as psychospiritual growth? In my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class over the last month, I have been attempting to do just that through the application of  a personality typing device called the Enneagram to students’ spiritual practices.  Every semester students come away with very positive experiences using this combination of study of the Enneagram with a spiritual practices project to help them become better versions of themselves.

In this entry, I first set the stage by describing the context of this unit of study. Second, I share the overall student self-reported results for the unit. Finally, I allow the students to speak for themselves about their experience. Overall, this blog entry attempts to take anecdotes that I often hear about these topics and put them into a more organized format to demonstrate the impact that such a curriculum may have on students. Continue reading

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The Courage to Deal with Negative Emotions: A Welcoming Prayer Approach


Cynthia teaching at Lake Cowichan’s  “Luminous Wisdom” Wisdom School
in April, 2019


One of the most impactful teachings I’ve come across recently is David Hawkins’ map of consciousness, which assigns energy values to various negative (low scores) and positive (high scores) emotions, as seen in the figure below:

The lowest scores – shame, guilt, apathy, grief, and fear – lead to inertia, while those a bit higher on the scale – desire, anger, and pride – generate hyperactivity. All of these, however, keep us stuck in the red zone of negativity. All of us, one would assume, prefer to be in the higher energy states of trust, optimism, and forgiveness, or higher yet – love, gratitude, joy and peace. How do we get there?

The gatekeeper emotion between the lower and higher energy states, according to Hawkins, is courage. What does it mean to deal courageously with negative emotions? Continue reading

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What is Awakening? An Energetic Christian Perspective

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“The Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place.”

-Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus, p. 30


I chanced upon an interview with a former sImage result for gradual awakening miles nealetudent, Miles Neale, who was recently interviewed on one of my favorite podcast series, “Buddha at the Gas Pump,” about his new book entitled, “Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human.” One of the first questions during the interview to  Miles was, “What is awakening?” As my curiosity to hear Miles’ response was piqued, it dawned on me that I, too, am soon to publish a book with the word “awakening” in the title.[1] So how would I reply to such an important question? Continue reading

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The Struggle to Make Sense of Moral Relativism at an Elite School

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My students’ apathetic response to a clip from the movie “The Corporation” about a day trader’s enthusiastic response to the devastation of 911 and the invasion of Iraq in 1991 prompted inner soul searching about the efficacy of teaching elite international school students. Continue reading

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Practice Makes Perfect: A Missing Piece in Teaching for Purpose

Even back in 2011 I was grappling with how to teach for purpose in my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class. This blog entry shares some new insights I’ve had recently about how to facilitate student growth towards this most vital of life tasks.


Most of us would probably agree that gaining a life purpose is among the most important ingredients of a life well-lived. It appears so fundamental to personal fulfilment and social progress that it seems imperative that we teach about it in our schools. But last semester when a classroom conversation segued my Humanities I in Action curriculum into a 3-day exploration of purpose, a brief survey of the internet and reviewing resources I read during my doctoral studies left me fairly clueless how to teach towards this goal. Indeed, my own daughter, Christa, who is working with a leading researcher in the field, explains that we are only at the beginning of understanding purpose from a research perspective. Thus, we educators are left in a quandary: how do we teach students about this all-important goal of purpose? Continue reading

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What is Love? Exploring Human Yearning for the Divine with Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee

Screenshot 2019-07-27 at 11.03.10 AM.pngIntroduction

Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee is a Sufi teacher who has had mystical experiences since his teenage years. As a Sufi, he focuses on connecting to God through the yearnings of the heart, which when realized turn everything on its head. I was particularly taken by a teaching video on love in which he eloquently – even rapturously – explores his own experiences in the context of the Sufi understanding of love. Continue reading

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