Speaker Series: A Quest for Wisdom
Drawing on the global richness of our spiritual community we are bringing inspiring and refreshing speakers from around the world to this Bonnevaux monthly series in 2021. (Speaker descriptions below)
€15 – €35
Register for talk 3:
9 March – Changing the Climate of Aggression and Restoring Trust
€90 – €210
Register for all 12 talks in advance and get 6 talks free, plus lifetime access to the recordings of all 12 talks.
30 March – Cynthia Bourgeault (8-9:30 PM – French time)
Mary Magdalene and Attention of the Heart
She’s known as a lover, but what is love? Cynthia will explore the often sensationalized relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus as a pathway of conscious love, grounded in the contemplative quality of ”attention of the heart” – whether in celibate or partnered modes. If contemplation is—as John Crysostom said—, “knowledge impregnated by love,” Mary Magdalene is one its shining exemplars. Her transformation from wounded victim to “Apostle to the Apostles” pours hope into our wounded world. We can be cleansed and renewed in its healing waters. Cynthia will begin to show us how.
8 April – Charles Taylor (8-9:30 PM – French time)
Listening to People We Don’t Like
How can we explain the deep divisions which have arisen in so many democracies today associated with what is called “populism” (even though I don’t think this is the best term)? I will offer some ideas about how to understand these disturbing and dangerous problems: and then consider how to overcome them. It must involve learning to listen to and understand others who may at first seem alien and even repugnant to us. The role of meditation in this enterprise is new at a social level. It has obvious relevance to helping us meet the challenges- and can be transformative.
20 May – Rupert Sheldrake (8-9:30 PM – French time)
Ways to Go Beyond
Combining scientific research with his knowledge of mystical traditions, Rupert will look at seven spiritual practices that are personally transformative and have measurable effects. Including sport, fasting, animals and holy days and festival, he will show how these practices give a greater sense of connectedness and happiness. He will also discuss whether spiritual experiences are illusory, as some claim, or if they give direct connections with higher realms of consciousness.
10 June – Liz Watson (8-9:30 PM – French time)
Imageless Prayer and the Power of Imagination
It doesn’t sound as though imageless prayer and the activity of the imagination will be good companions. But many things take us by surprise when we habitually give ourselves over to meditation. “Once again I have been suddenly redeemed by an image”, Etty Hillesum notes in her diary, as prayer works its transformation in her.
15 July – Dr. Julia Kim (8-9:30 PM – French time)
A Healthy Society
What are the different ways of viewing “health”? Dr Julia Kim will explore these and offer her perspective on Gross National Happiness as an alternative paradigm, particularly in contrast to focusing on biomedicine and the healthcare system in isolation from the larger social justice and environmental concerns.
16 September – Bela Hatvany (8-9:30 PM – French time)
A Caring Economy
Our current money system creates a painful sense of scarcity – hot having – and high disparities between rich and poor. Bela is not suggesting a revolution but an intelligent evolution recognising that the pillars of the economy are food and energy but that we work better together in empathy and care as ‘homo empathicus’ not just ‘homo economicus’. Money is created as debt but it can be distributed as rain. A change of vision and consciousness – in which meditation plays an important part is called for now.
29 October – David Lorimer (8-9:30 PM – French time)
A Quest for Wisdom
This talk will draw from a newly published collection of David Lorrimer’s Essays highlighting the inescapable need to find a sense of purpose on the path of our lives. David brings a contemporary and erudite perspective to the timeless questions of the nature of life and death, meaning and purpose and the secret of living in harmony with each other and the planet.
9 November – Marco Schorlemmer (8-9:30 PM – French time)
A Healthy Intelligence for Our Digitised Societies
In this talk we will reflect on the phenomenon of intelligence and its role in today’s highly digitised societies, which mainly emphasise the functional, problem-solving dimension of intelligence, to the neglect of its evaluative and liberating dimensions. We will also highlight the need of nourishing a more balanced and healthy intelligence for these societies, and thus argue for the importance of experiential wisdom practices today.
16 December – Kim Nataraja (8-9:30 PM – French time)
There are many articles in newspapers and magazines extolling the virtue of meditation as an anti-dote to stress. It is definitely a very valid and effective way to deal with the prevalent dis-ease of our age. But there is more to meditation, as many discover after a while. Meditation practised as a spiritual discipline leads not only to health but furthermore to total Wholeness of being.
21 January – Sarah Bachelard
Reconciling Opposites in a Polarised World
Always deepening her insight into what ‘contemplative Christianity’ means and what the options for the church of the future are, Sarah will tackle the dilemma of modern discourse – how to be committed to a good cause without increasing polarisation, how to practise peace in a culture spoiling for a fight.
9 February – Rowan Williams
Meditation – With or Without Expectations?
Should we expect “results” from meditation?’ We wouldn’t meditate without some kind of expectation but there’s the danger of turning meditation into a way of getting what we want (or think we want). Rowan will explore what sort of transformation we look for in and through meditation, and then think about how to find the balance between the risk of low expectations and the risk of ‘functionalising’ meditation to serve our own purposes.
9 March – Herman Van Rompuy
Changing the Climate of Aggression and Restoring Trust
How can we better understand those who feel acutely misunderstood, abandoned and lonely and so help change the societal climate, turning fear into hope, not for a few, but for many? There is still a ‘healthy’ ‘silent majority’ but this does not always make history. Since 2018, we have lived in a succession of crises (multiple crises) that reinforced fear and insecurity. Corona comes on top of it. How can we restore trust and avoid enemy thinking?
Sarah Bachelard is a theologian and leads the Benedictus Contemplative Church in Canberra, Australia. She studied theology at Oxford with Rowan Williams. She is a leading teacher with the WCCM and gave the John Main Seminar in 2019, A Contemplative Christianity for Our Time (2020, Medio media) which is the title of her most recent book.
Rowan Williams has recently retired as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and before that was Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. He has written widely on theology, spirituality and literature, and his most recent books include Candles in the Dark and (with Mary Zournazi) Justice and Love: A Philosophical Dialogue. He has a long history of engagement with WCCM.
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman van Rompuy is a Belgian politician who served as Prime Minister of Belgium and later as the first permanent President of the European Council, 2009 to 2014. He is acknowledged as a seasoned statesman of stature and wisdom. He also contributes frohis contemplative experience in regular talks to his fellow meditators in the WCCM.
Cynthia Bourgeault is a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, and theologian. For thirty years she worked closely with Fr. Thomas Keating as a student, editor, and colleague and has taught and written extensively on Centering Prayer. She is a core faculty member at the Center for Action and Contemplation and founding director of an international network of Wisdom Schools. In addition to her work on Centering Prayer, she is the author of numerous other books on the Christian Mystical and Wisdom tradition, including The Wisdom Jesus, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, and her most recent, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.
Charles Taylor is a Canadian philosopher who has made major contributions in many fields of social and poetical theory, philosophy of mind and moral thought. Despite his diverse range of thought he calls himself a “monomaniac”, concerned with only one fundamental aspiration: to develop a convincing ‘philosophical anthropology’. His great works, ‘Sources of the Self’ and ‘A Secular Age’ have changed the way these topics are viewed and appreciated. He has always been active in politics and social questions. A patron of the WCCM, he gave the John Main Seminar in 1988 on ‘Christian Identity and Modernity’.
Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a spiritual student of Bede Griffiths, is a biologist and author best known for his ideas on ‘morphic resonance’. A former academic at Cambridge, he has extended the horizons of science in his fields with daring and original work, for example in unexplained human and animal abilities. His books include ‘The Science Delusion’ and, most recently, ‘Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work: Seven Spiritual Practices in a Scientific Age.
Liz Watson is a member of The World Community for Christian Meditation and lives by the sea in Cornwall,UK. She has served the meditation community in various capacities over the past 28 years, including a term as UK National Coordinator. She now focuses on teaching meditation in a wide range of settings – speaking and writing – leading retreats and offering spiritual direction. For WCCM she has recorded the CD ‘Images of Meditation’ with its accompanying booklet, contributed chapters to the book ‘Journey to the Heart’ and to the website ‘Contemplative Path through the Crisis’.
Dr. Julia Kim
Dr Julia Kim is a leading expert in global health, wellbeing, and sustainable development, and the Program Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan. Prior to living in Bhutan, Julia worked as a medical doctor and HIV researcher in Africa and Asia, before serving with the United Nations (UNDP and UNICEF) in New York. Together with the Centre, she currently leads retreats & international programs that combine meditation & inner leadership, deep nature immersion, and action learning – to spark individual and social transformation towards an economy of wellbeing. Julia has been an invited speaker at the “Wisdom Together” Conferences (Stockholm and Oslo), Schumacher College (UK), the School of Life (Australia), the Mind and Life Institute (USA), “ICLIF Leadership Summit Asia” (Malaysia), Leadership Matters: Business and Politics as Drivers for Inclusive and Sustainable Development” (German World Bank Group Forum). She is also an Associate of the Presencing Institute – a global network that views the integration of compassion and mindfulness-based practices as a core capacity of 21st-century innovation and leadership. She holds degrees from the University of Manitoba, Cornell University, Tufts University, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
My wife and I started meditating in 1973. We have 6 children and 11 grandchildren. I have founded and co-founded a few organisations which have worked on serving all constituents in a balanced way. We have gone into bankruptcy. Meditation has enabled us to weather all of this with some semblance of equanimity. We are now in our eighties. I nearly died a few years ago. As my body broke down I went into fear. Now that I am still here I am practicing with the intention to be fully present when I die. I am also active in doing what little I can to help humanity to move into The Care Economy.
David Lorimer is a writer, lecturer, poet and editor and Programme Director of the Scientific and Medical Network (www.scimednet.org) who has received many kinds of recognition for his lifetime achievements. His interests range through many disciplines and traditions, united in a quest for spiritual truth. From merchant banking he progressed to a life concentrating on the horizons of philosophy and science. He has written more than a dozen books, including ‘The Spirit of Science (1998)’ and most recently a collection of essays, ‘A Quest for Wisdom’. He is also Chair of the Galileo Commission which seeks to expand the evidence base of science of consciousness beyond a materialistic world view. He lives in France.
Marco Schorlemmer is a research scientist at the Artifical Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council. His research is on knowledge representation and reasoning, multi-agent systems, and computational creativity. He also serves on the board of the ‘País Conscient’ association, which continues the ‘National Plan for Values’ initiative launched by the Catalan government. Marco is a meditator of WCCM, leader of a university meditation group, and coordinator of the WCCM in Catalonia; he is also serving on the Meditatio Council as contact for Science & Technology.
Kim is a retired College Lecturer and Head of Department of Modern Languages. She has been a contemplative since her youth and joined The World Community for Christian Meditation in 1993. In 1998 she became a Benedictine Oblate to the Community and since 1999 her service to the Community has been to be the Director of the School of Meditation. In that role she has led retreats and given talks in many parts of the world. In 2016 she stepped down from the role as School Director and is concentrating on Spiritual Direction and her writing.
She loves sharing with others the teaching of our tradition. For her meditation is a transformative process and therefore she highlights the ways in which psychological insights can help us to be transformed into the person God meant us to be. On the latter topic she has written a book Dancing with Your Shadow, 2007. Other books include Journey to the Heart 2011, Sharing the Gift 2013, Food for the Journey 2014 and The Transformative Experience of Meditation 2019.