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The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,809 ratings  ·  139 reviews
If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. Cynthia Bourgeault is a masterful guide to Jesus's vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teachings for yourself ...more
Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Shambhala Publications (Boston/London) (first published 2008)
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Eleanor Stoneham
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What is wrong with modern Christianity? Did Christianity get off on the wrong foot almost from its inception? That is the thesis of this thought provoking and challenging book, a fascinating new take on the Jesus Christ we thought we were familiar with.

The starting point of the book is the Gospel of Thomas, restored to us when it was found among the Nag Hammadi scrolls in the Egyptian desert in 1945. These scrolls date back to early Christianity, being at least as old as the four canonical gospe
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I didn't consider myself Christian when starting this book. I heard a talk of Cynthia's that made me want to carry on the conversation. I loved this book. There's so much that I need to re-read to understand more fully and I know this has that internal kernel of truth which excites and inspires me. Ultimately it is the idea of oneness with the creator which has jump started me down a new and lovely path. Thank you Cynthia . ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wisdom is not what you believe about Jesus or even what know about him. Wisdom is when you encounter him, recognize him, and enter the mind of Christ.

Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, goes through familiar canonical gospel material, the beatitudes and hard parables, and the “Gnostic” gospel of Thomas to explicate how Jesus asks us to free ourselves from our primitive selfish nature and by emptying the self make room for the divine. It is the path of kenosis, the path of self-emptying love.

Kathleen Dixon
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kathleen by: Anne Moller
As I've written in each of my progress updates, I've really enjoyed this book, and there are insights from here that I will be able to use in worship and with study groups.

I'll just note a little from the last chapter:
p.186 {quoting from Gurdjieff, with regards to The Last Supper] Jesus .. opened up a classic "subtle body" channel between himself and them, using bread and wine as the specific vehicles of his presence.

.. the bread and wine became an instantiation, "a specific instance," of his ow
JoAnn   W.
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this a very heavy book that takes a lot of concentration, mainly for me because there was so much brand new material in it. The author, an Episcopal priest and mystic, knows her subjects and has a fine intellect, so is not just a "touchy-feely" New Ager.

She uses the latest discovered, ancient texts, the history of Christian mysticism, recent psychological theory and Eastern thought to promote her hypothesis and make her case.

To me this is a book that needs to be read more than once for t
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Cynthia Bourgeault has incredible insight into the deep meanings of Jesus' teachings that go far beyond the literal (and superficial, in my opinion) interpretations of his teachings. She is an Episcopal priest who has a deep intimate relationship with her spirituality which is not limited by concepts and dogma. After reading this book, I became increasingly interested in the Gospel of Thomas (which she quotes quite often). I feel like I have been renewed to the wisd ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
I read this last week with a dear friend. Its reading made a mini retreat for bothh of us.

The author is an Episcopal Priest. The basis of her book is Kenoia (being in the mind and heart of Jesus) as opposed to the duality and conflict,dogmatism and doctrinal teaching (some of which are not really doctrine) that most of us have grown up with in our religious training.

Each chapter presents very thoughtful insight (I will read the book again) enough to munch on and meditate upon.

Ms. Bourgeault use
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Cynthia is a gift and one of the few modern theologians - that I have read - who can bring Christ and his teachings to life and relevance 2,000 years later. I thank her for continuing to breath fresh air into the life of Jesus and revive the true mysticism of his teachings and his ways. There is no forcing of belief with this work...rather a presentation that captures the soul's own yearning to believe and entices the relief of surrender. ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Mixed feelings about this one. I almost gave it a three, but I did appreciate a lot of what she's trying to do--re-imagine Christianity in light of the Nag Hammadi scriptures. Christianity, as traditionally imagined in the Western mind, is in trouble. Bourgeault is attempting to bring us back to these early texts that were only recently discovered and even more recently researched by scholars. They indicate a much more mystical understanding of the faith--one that appeals to me greatly. But she ...more
Adam Ross
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book because it came with an endorsement by Richard Rohr, the Franciscan monk who has meant so much to me in my growth as a person and as a Christian. This book by Cynthia Bourgeault may well be one of my favorite books of the 2015 reading year. I don't agree with everything to be found here, but the meat of the book is so extraordinary and so helpful for those with eyes to see and ears to hear that I didn't even mind. Early in the book she declares that Jesus had no interest at ...more
Debora Smith
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book which changes and enhances what you were ever taught about Jesus and Christianity. Jesus did not come to start a church - he came to share his wisdom via a path of inner transformation. Who knew the "New Age" started so long ago!? Challenging and transformative - seeing the Kingdom of Heaven as a state of consciousness....shifting our perception from our minds to our hearts. The end of the book describes Christian Wisdom Practices: centering prayer meditation, sacred re ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I reluctantly accepted the loan of this book from a friend who inscribed it, "Please return this to me so I can share it with others." Now I know why. I am getting my own copy, and giving copies to my meditation group. Cynthia's intellect and insight have "saved" Christianity for me. One of the reviews said it so well, "Cynthia Bourgeault needs to be read by everyone trying to make sense of a Christianity that has been tainted over the centuries. She returns us home. Her wisdom gives me great ho ...more
Jean Marie Angelo
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a thoughtful and scholarly theory about Jesus and his teachings. It provides answers and perspective to someone like me — a follower of Jesus who has always felt that there was more to his ministry and mission than what was written in the scripture stories that became the New Testament. Especially helpful was the review of the Christian wisdom practices: centering prayer; lectio divina; Tazie chant; welcome; and Eucharist.
Jean Doane
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This will be the text for an online course I will be taking beginning September 15. The instructor is the author, Cynthia Bourgeault. I am looking forward to reading it again at a slower pace and savoring it. I hope to incorporate the practice of centering prayer as part of my daily routine. That is an audacious goal. Even if I do not attain it, I will gain from encountering this expansive understanding of Jesus and his teachings.
Scott Beddingfield
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding new look at Christ. Helpful to me in both my practice but also with scripture interpretation (especially Gospel)Interesting take on Paul and the Christian Church. Bonus chapter with practical suggestions for Centering Prayer/meditation that in some ways seemed more helpful than her "Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening." ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: religious
The notional concept behind this book is one with which I largely agree: namely, that Jesus was a teacher of the wisdom tradition. His heavy reliance upon parables and the mystic quality of many of his pronouncements bear witness to this, and the rich history of wisdom teachers in that age makes this a perfectly reasonable and rational assumption.

Where I strongly disagree with Bourgeault, however, is in her casual dismissal of canonical scripture, her elevation of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas ab
Aidan Owen
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent. There is so much that is wonderful in this book, but I particularly appreciated (this time around) Bourgeault's examination of traditional Christian doctrine in the light of contemplative relationship with Christ.

For example, from the chapter on Incarnation: "I have often suspected that the most profound product of this world is tears. I don't mean that to be morbid. Rather, I mean that tears express that vulnerability in which we can endure having our hearts broken and go rig
Paul Rack
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding summary of the spirituality of Jesus and Christianity, using the Wisdom tradition. She depends a bit too much on the Gospel of Thomas and occasionally quotes without footnotes common misinformation about the early church. However, this book is a tour de force showing Jesus as a revolutionary, non-dual thinker. It is well-written, and opens up a whole new understanding of Jesus' mission and ours as disciples. Highly, highly recommended. ...more
Peggy Lo
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I really enjoyed her different perspective on Jesus and his message. To borrow a cooking term, it's like fusion. But at the same time she's trying to look back and look what Jesus originally taught. In some ways it's similar to Richard Rohr's the Naked Now but more personal in tone and she walks through several suggested practices at the end. ...more
Matthew Hundley
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
I like to challenge myself to read books about Jesus that don't necessarily fit with my beliefs. There are points in The Wisdom Jesus, such as Bourgeault's explication of the beatitudes which was brilliant. But most of the time her "all roads" and "zen" laden conversation about Christ got a bit too off the narrow least for me. ...more
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
We used this book as a study class at my church - it was transformational for many - especially those who have a hard time with traditional church. The traditional truths are still there, but perhaps viewed through a different lens so more people can see it.
Jan 12, 2010 is currently reading it
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This has got to be the most mind blowing book on Jesus I've ever read; I took notes and go back to them frequently. I want to memorize them! ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book completely shifted my understanding of Christianity and Jesus. Powerful.
Kim Owens
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a life changer for me. Love this book.
Dan Salerno
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cynthia Bourgeault's The Wisdom of Jesus is not for the theologically faint of heart. It will challenge you. Beginning with Bourgeault's suggesting that when Jesus used the word "repent," he was asking us to change our mindset from a binary to a non-dual system. ("Repent," from the Greek word meranoia, literally meaning "beyond the mind.") Implying a movement from dual thinking to a perspective of wholeness.

I appreciated her take on The Beatitudes. Specifically "blessed are those who hunger and
Jordan Kalt
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Bourgeault's thoughts on kenosis (the self-emptying wisdom path of Jesus) are extremely good. The overall lens of Eastern mysticism and wisdom teaching she applies to the Jesus story may be a remarkably helpful suggestion to many Western Christians, but I find it difficult to think they would recognize much of this as Christianity.

It may be culturally arrogant of Westerners to think their tradition has the final say on what Christianity is, but I have to wonder if Bourgeault's approach is reall
Terri Milstead
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book before I took Bourgeault’s Introductory Wisdom School through the Center for Action and Contemplation as it was suggested that students become familiar with her thinking ahead of class. The class and the book often flowed deeper than my own waters currently reach, but this a journey and that is just fine. At the end of this book are chapters on spiritual practices that will be helpful to me as I go into 2021 seeking to stay awake, present, open to what is going on around me ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cynthia Bourgeault manages to navigate complex physical, cosmological, and spiritual spheres with eloquence and grace. Her tone is easy and approachable, and her methods of teaching are both abstract and grounded, with theories and higher-level concepts, as well as everyday application instructions. She had me looking at the crucifixion, resurrection, and other foundation beliefs from entirely new perspectives (as in, standing on my head, sideways, from another planet reorientations), and her va ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bourgeault captures the open mindedness that so drew me to the Episcopal Church. Her approach to the teachings of Jesus draws on the idea that there were many directions that His teachings spread, not just to the west that we are familiar with. To look with value and integrate those traditions as well. I found her reasoning to be well thought out and I think it can add a new dimension to my spiritual practice. Cynthia Bourgeault and Fr. Richard Rohr are two of my recent favorites.
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Modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, Cynthia Bourgeault divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine, and a demanding schedule traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom path.

She has been a long-time advocate of the meditative practice of Centering Prayer and has worked close

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