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Center for Action and Contemplation

Think Globally—Act Nonlocally!

Friday, August 19, 2016

“Quantum Entanglement” has been a popular buzzword around the Living School this past year—and with good reason! It’s a brilliant way of picturing what scientists have been describing for years as “nonlocalized action”: the mysterious way that things not in direct physical contact can still interpenetrate and infuse each other.

For Carmelite spiritual teacher Constance Fitzgerald, this concept of nonlocality is at the heart of what she calls “spiritual generativity.” Her revolutionary article, “From Impasse to Prophetic Hope” (first delivered as the keynote address to the Catholic Theological Society of America in 2009), was on my reading list during our Prophecy and Justice course this past spring, but it’s well worth sharing more widely.

“Like another Carmelite, Edith Stein, who died with her people in the extermination camp at Auschwitz,” Fitzgerald writes:

I am suggesting to you theologians the powerful influence of a spiritual generativity. The evolution of spirit or consciousness of which Stein speaks happens not just or mainly through a physical propagation but through a spiritual one in which people “bear fruit by virtue of the atmosphere which radiates from them on the environment and . . . by means of the works which they produce in common and through which they propagate their spirit.”

“This idea of spiritual generativity may sound far-fetched or ungrounded,” Fitzgerald continues,

until we consider what scientists are discovering and speculating about the true nature of the world. . . . Scientist David Bohm’s explanation: there is a deeper and more complex level of reality than we experience, an “implicate order of unbroken wholeness” from which all our perceived reality derives. If such a fabric of interconnectedness exists in nature, it is no stretch of the imagination to apply it to consciousness. Genuine contemplatives have testified to this long before scientists.

As you receive this in your email box, the Living School will shortly be gathering for its fourth annual Symposium (can you believe?) and to honor and congratulate our second class of “sendees.” Our ranks of alumni have just doubled, and we on the core faculty and staff offer those of you in the 2016 cohort our heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.

On momentous occasions like this, there is often a bittersweet component to the mix. Along with a justly felt pride and elation, there can also be a deep feeling of grief for what seems to be the end of our common life together. Sometimes this underlying separation anxiety can express itself in a slightly-too-frantic effort to nail down regular ongoing gatherings and projects to keep us all in touch. “When will we see each other again?” is always the shadow side of “consummatum est. . . .”

Meanwhile, out in our restless and volatile wider world, the backdrop for our Living School Symposium has been irrevocably set by two other portentous gatherings: the Republican National Convention on July 18-21, followed closely by the Democratic National Convention on July 25-28. As the dust settles and our world hangs more than ever in the balance, feelings of helplessness and foreboding naturally arise. Things seem to be playing out according to deeper, more archetypal forces than we can rationally understand, let alone manage. Add to this Brexit, the spate of recent gun violence, the ugly resurgence of racism and isolationism—and the picture looks bleak indeed. In a terrifying way, our planet seems to be spinning out of control.

In both of these instances the concept of spiritual generativity can come to our aid. It reminds us that the real channels of exchange in this universe, the greater wisdom holding and shaping the course of this world, operate on the imaginal plane, not just the physical one. There are deep, invisible ley lines crisscrossing space/time through which flow the energies of compassion, wisdom, intention, prayer, and hope. In them and through them, things shift more than we dare believe. Through them flows the ever-surprising energy of third force. And in them, all like-hearted spirits remain forever connected, and our energies flow together to bless and support our planetary journey in ways we can’t even imagine.

We stay in touch by doing the work.

Love and blessings,

Cynthia Bourgeault signature


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