Dear Wisdom School Zoom Participant,

Welcome! We are so glad that you will be joining us on ZOOM through Mercy Center to explore the nature and presence of evil as a discernible force during this special winter time Wisdom School. This topic is a challenging but pertinent one for our planet right now!

Experience has taught us that orienting people around what to expect can help in creating a strong container during the event, and answer some common questions. Please read the following orientation, especially for those of you who will be attending an offering with us for the first time.

Online Platform and Resources. All of the retreat-related information and content will be available on this course platform. We will be posting the recordings of all the event sessions except the conscious work periods, so you can access those you’ve missed or wish to hear again. We will do our best to make the recordings available by the end of each day. NOTE: You will have access to the course platform and recordings for one month – until March 21, 2023.

Chat and Questions. The Zoom chat function will be off during most of the live event sessions, however there will be some question and response opportunities when we will open the chat to collect your questions, and our Zoom hosts will be your liaisons for passing those questions along. Alternatively you can submit written questions here. These will be passed along to Cynthia and she will respond as she is able in the live sessions.

Zoom Link. You can find the Zoom link and Password here. We will be using the same link throughout the 5 days, which starts with the Zoom Registrants Welcome and Orientation on Friday, February 17th at 7:00pm Pacific Standard Time.

Retreat Schedule. You will find the Wisdom School daily rhythm and full schedule here. Please remember that all of the times listed are for the USA Pacific Time Zone. The Zoom room will be open 10 min prior to each session. We suggest you aim to connect a few minutes before each session, to ensure your connection is working and to settle in.

This Wisdom School is not a typical Centering Prayer Retreat. There will be an integration of the themes and an invitation to a ‘wisdom way of knowing’ through a typical and rigorous Wisdom School daily rhythm with periods of teaching, centering prayer, chanting, seated Gurdjieff Exercises (guided attention practices), an invitation to conscious work with an inner task (this could be simple common tasks around your home), Gurdjieff Movements, and silent contemplative free time.

Teachings/Themes:  We will be packing a lot into our exploration. We will start with a brief overview of the metaphysical terrain, then move to a much closer examination of the psychological aspects as we explore how full-fledged evil emerges out of the ordinary stew of human woundedness and neurosis, and how quickly it can escalate into collective psychosis and societal breakdown. Above all, we will be looking at strategies and practices (both ancient and contemporary) to survive and protect oneself in the close encounter with evil, and ultimately to disarm, or at least mitigate, its toxic effects on the human soul.

Required Reading: If you’ve not been to a wisdom school and/or Cynthia’s teachings are new to you, we request that you read The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart by Cynthia Bourgeault, if at all possible, before you attend.

Additional Recommended Reading and Preparation Resources are listed here.

Some Guidelines and Contemplative Silence. Although we will not be observing silence the whole time, deep listening asks us to be willing to put aside common distractions like social media, computer games, internet use, and excessive texting. We encourage you to spend some time prior to the wisdom school deciding how you might want to limit your use of additional technology during the duration of the event, to be as present to stewarding your own atmosphere as well as the group atmosphere. At the end of each day after our final evening gathering, we will enter into the Great Silence through to breakfast the following morning, to allow for a time of integration. Each virtual participant can plan for and discover their own unique dimensions of the Great Silence in the context of where you are joining us from.

Create a Wisdom School Space. Wherever you will be joining from, here are few tips for creating an environment conducive to this Wisdom School:

  • Find a place in your home (or wherever you are joining from) that has a strong internet connection and space for you to be able to move around in and to sit for the teachings, reflection, and meditations.
  • You may also want to have a candle nearby to light as a way of acknowledging the sacredness of your space.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and ensure you have what you may need nearby (speaker or headphones, water, extra layer of clothing, etc.).
  • Above all, consider the responsibilities you may have to tend to in your life as a piece of the wisdom school, so that everyday demands and concerns become part of the work. Rather than experience them as a nuisance, allow them to become chances to draw you deeper into presence and to integrate these teachings into your day to day activities. There is great value, not just for those of us who are attending via Zoom but also for the in-person group, when we share this kind of intention. Your presence will have an impact on the entire retreat container.

For full event overview and team bios see here.

Technical Assistance. If you require help please contact the Course Platform Host Eilen at