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What is the ‘Wisdom Way of Knowing’?



Wisdom is not knowing more, but knowing with more of you, knowing deeper—carving and digging your Being deeper and deeper so that it can receive more knowing. ~ Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault’s potent and unique approach to the ‘Wisdom way of knowing’ flows primarily from two sources or streams of spiritual heritage, the fusion of which enhances and activates our capacity for a deeper way of knowing.

ora-et-labora_flatThe first stream flows from the ancient lineage of Benedictine Monasticism. It’s from this great spiritual tradition that the template of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work) provides an essential and orderly rhythm for deepening formation. By balancing time for conscious work with time for prayer, engaged both alone and collectively, we enhance our capacity to “bend one’s being around truths not usually accessible at our ordinary level of awareness.”

The second main source Cynthia draws from is transformational sacred path known simply as “the Work,” as taught by the early 20th-century mystic, philosopher, and spiritual teacher GI Gurdjieff. This stream contributes what is essentially a method of ‘mindfulness’ for developing deeper awareness, conscious attention, and embodiment of ‘three-centered knowing’ and Presence. It is through the fusion of these two rich traditions that a full spectrum and integral Wisdom way of knowing can be most fully engaged and expressed.


I would encourage you all to not think of Wisdom as a new religion. It really is invisible. It’s like water. It takes the shape of any container. It’s a way of being present, and you actually live Wisdom in your being more than in your doctrines.” ~ Cynthia Bourgeault


Unlike the classic western association of Wisdom with intellect or information, the Wisdom way of knowing model emphasizes a wholistic approach utilizing ‘three centers,’ sometimes referred to as ‘three-brained intelligence’. The three centers include:

  • the moving center – including the instinctive inner operational systems of the body as well as the outward and voluntary interactions with the physical world through our five senses, movement, and rhythm.
  • the emotional center – associated with our capacity for perception of the divine, for intuitive understanding, for holding paradox, and for providing a sacred bridge connecting our mind and our body.
  • the intellectual/cognitive center – including our aptitude for gathering and analyzing information, reasoning, and making fine discriminations.

It is through the engaged exercising and communication of all three centers in synchronization that we are most fully present, most fully aligned in our Being, and most available and receptive to the Wisdom way of knowing.

More on Three-Centered Knowing, including practices for personal or group use can be found HERE.


“Wisdom cannot be accessed by the mind alone; it requires a transformation of the entire being.” ~ Cynthia Bourgeault


Some suggested practices to strengthen and enhance our capacity for this integral Wisdom are:

  • practicing Sacred Chant to awaken and purify the heart through sound and vibration in tune with the ‘frequency of love.’
  • building present moment awareness through means such as conscious practical work and attention on sensation.
  • contemplating and studying sacred Wisdom texts and writings. A common source recommended by Cynthia is the Gospel of Thomas, using the method of entering the text known as Lectio Divina (sacred reading).


“Wisdom is at the heart of all sacred and religious traditions, but without being trapped or limited within any one of them…” ~ Cynthia Bourgeault


glowing heartCynthia provides a very useful and succinct 15 point summary of Wisdom  HERE.






For an in-depth exploration of the Wisdom way of knowing, we recommend the following:

Book: The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault

The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart – by Cynthia Bourgeault




Book: The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault

The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind: A New Perspective on Christ and His Message – by Cynthia Bourgeault








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One thought on “What is the ‘Wisdom Way of Knowing’?

  1. Listening to your centering prayer helped me to begin to understand what moving the mind to the heart
    might mean. Thank you.

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