But this principle is almost entirely unheard of—not because it is particularly hidden or buried, but because the conversation about it has so far gone on within circles that have been considered strictly off limits to traditional academic and theological inquiry. It does not belong to any body of knowledge that theologians generally consider germane to their studies. It is not a part of patristic theology, or the neo-Platonic underpinnings on which that theology rests. It is not a part of classic Christian hermeticism, or of the great tradition of sophia perennis. And while inklings of it can be discerned in certain Christian mystical streams (particularly those flowing through Jacob Boehme and Teilhard de Chardin), it was articulated only in the early twentieth century by the Armenian-born spiritual teacher G.I.Gurdjieff, and until very recently it has been studied and transmitted exclusively within that stream of contemporary esotericism known as the Gurdjieff Work.
That is about as far off limits as one can get...
Excerpt printed with permission from Shambhala Publications.
Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, is an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader. She is the author of several books, including Chanting the Psalms and Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.