Study Guide Developed by Gil Stafford 1 Study Guide The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind— A New Perspective on Christ and His Message By Cynthia Bourgeault Begin and end each session with a prayer. Allow for a check-in period where each person can share for two minutes. Ask for people to share what they thought/felt about the readings for the session. What new insight did they learn? Was there something in the reading they found disturbing/disagreeable? General study questions for each chapter: Chapter 1—Jesus as Recognition Event What is your familiarity with the Gospel of Thomas? What is your level of comfort in using the Gospel of Thomas as a basis for biblical studies of Jesus? In your experience, how has disorientation given way to wonder? Who do you say that Jesus is? What in you recognizes Jesus—your recognition energy? Chapter 2—Jesus in Context For you, what are the most important authentic spiritual components of Christianity? What is your most important “living remembrance” of Jesus’ story? For you, what are Jesus’ most important wisdom teachings? What would a “journey of reintegration” look like for you? Chapter 3—The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You How is the phrase, “The Kingdom of Heaven” a metaphor for higher consciousness? How might you have experienced the heart as an organ of spiritual perception? What’s your perspective on Jesus’ call for a union-non-separation between God and humans? Chapter 4—The Path of Metanoia How might we practice the wound of love? How might you have experienced the vibrational field of God? How might we share “in the divine life through participation in this dance of giving and receiving?” What would “being integrated” look like in your life? Looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son, where are you in the story? Study Guide Developed by Gil Stafford 2 For you, what is Jesus’ most difficult teaching? Chapter 5—A Gospel of Thomas Sampler Read Logion 22 (page 57)—Where do you see your Self in the dynamic process the writer of the Gospel, or Jesus, is suggesting? Meditate for at least five minutes on Logion 42 “Come into being as you pass away.” How might we imagine our Self living in the “intersection of the timeless with time?” “It is not a ladder but a circle that brings us to God.” How might we see this in our study of the spiritual life found in The Wisdom Jesus? Chapter 6—Kenosis: The Path of Self-Emptying Love In reading Philippians 2:9-16, what does it mean for you to “take on the mind of Christ?” Karl Rahner said that “God is the prodigal who squanders himself.” How might Jesus be each of the characters in the story of the Prodigal Son? How are you each character in the story? How is the “Trinity, understood in a wisdom sense,” an icon of self-emptying love. What have been some alchemical processes in your life that have led you the moments of discovering your own soul gold? Chapter 7—Jesus as Tantric Master How are Jesus and John the Baptist, “symmetrically paired opposites?” How might we experience “the transcendence of separation and duality—through a complete self-emptying or self-outpouring?” How had Mary Magdalene fully moved beyond her egoic mind in order to “completely integrate what Jesus was about?” How can we do the same thing and become a “living spirit?” Chapter 8—The Incarnation How might the understanding of the Divine as “pure spirit, pristine consciousness itself, unmediated by any form of expression,” influence our concept of God? Consider Bourgeault’s statement, “The greater the gamble of self-disclosure, the more powerful the intimacy, and the more profound the quality of devotion revealed.” What might this reveal about our relationship with the Divine? What would it mean for Christianity if we saw Jesus as the bridge to God and not the sacrifice made on our behalf of our sinful nature? How might you see yourself as living a life as God’s very presence in the world, what Bourgeault calls “lived conscious sacrament?” Study Guide Developed by Gil Stafford 3 Chapter 9—The Passion What do you make of the statement, “Jesus is not particularly interested in increasing your guilt or your devotion, but rather, in deepening your personal capacity to make the passage into unitive life?” How we might we see ourselves as midwives for the revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven? What is the “Let it be” in your life? Chapter 10—Crucifixion and Its Aftermath Where might we find our own False Self in the crucifixion story? What character do we most closely relate with? Have you ever had an existential moment of “alienation” or “meaninglessness?” What do you imagine the divine self-disclosure looks like in the modern Harrowing of Hell? In other words, what does it mean, “If you want to live, you have to die?” “We wish God could only be light?” How might we see God in the darkness? What other “opposites” do we see being “held together” in God? Chapter 11—The Great Easter Fast How do we imagine Jesus’ “resurrected body” might be of a “more subtle density” that’s “appropriate to a different realm of being?” What do you think Bourgeault means by “The wisdom walk with Jesus is at every step of the way a recognition drama?” What does this statement mean to you? “Jesus is corporeally present only to the degree that people cannot yet see with the eye of the heart. As the eye of the heart opens, there is more and more freedom to release the physical traces and simply all the naked immediacy of love to meet heart to heart.” Part 3—Chapters 12-16 Discuss what spiritual practices the group has experienced. Ask the group to participate in Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and/or Chanting and Psalmody.