The Journey School FAQs
The Journey School is a school of transformative spiritual psychology and practice of The Church of Conscious Harmony (CCH). The Journey School consists of the following components:
- An annual, yearlong curriculum consisting of a weekly email which includes art, Scripture, teachings from the Work of Inner Christianity integrated with contemplative Christianity, homework exercises and practice suggestions, links to definitions, readings and related resources.
- A weekly Thursday evening class exploring the ideas and practices of the Work of Inner Christianity integrated with wisdom from the contemplative Christian tradition.
- Weekly Journey Groups, the primary place for the processing of our Work on the spiritual journey and the nurturing of spiritual community in a small group setting.
- Work Partners, one-on-one partnering with another to set daily Work aims and to report on one’s observations and struggles while on the spiritual journey.
- Gurdjieff Movements, sacred dances having as their aim equilibrium and unity of being.
Are there levels of participation in The Journey School?
Yes. One can engage in The Journey School at a level that fits your available time and spiritual hunger:
- Receive weekly email only; all levels of participation will receive the email
- Attend the Thursday night class
- Participate in a Journey Group
- Having a Work Partner.
- Participating in the Gurdjieff Movements
- Committing to the vowed life of an Oblate, living the Oblate Rule of Life.
Who can participate in The Journey School?
The Journey School is open to anyone, anywhere, who wants to make God-devotion and transformation into Christ the center of their lives. Ones does not need to live in the Austin area or be a member of The Church of Conscious Harmony. All that is required is the intention to participate in The Journey School at one or more of the levels of engagement.
How do I join The Journey School?
One joins The Journey School by registering online. Registering to receive the weekly email can be done at any time. To be a member of a Journey Group, participate in the Gurdjieff Movements or to be an Oblate, registration needs to be by January 31, 2022.
Does it cost anything to participate in The Journey School?
There is a suggested donation of $250 to help support costs, though any amount will be joyfully received.
How is The Journey School organized?
A team of very committed people are involved in the organization and staffing of The Journey School. Spiritual and programmatic leadership is held by the Abbot/Abbess in collaboration with the Minister. Writers and Presenters support the curriculum and Thursday night teachings; and facilitators hold center for each Journey Group. Additional support is provided by the Church Business Manager, Office Administrator and others.
What’s the difference between The Journey School and The Church of Conscious Harmony (CCH)?
CCH offers many opportunities to deepen one’s relationship with God – The Journey School is but one – though a principal one. In addition to The Journey School, there are worship services, a youth program, other classes and an extensive retreat ministry. Although The Journey School is part of CCH, it is possible to participate in The Journey School and not be a formal member, or attend other programs of CCH. It is also possible to be a member of CCH and not participate in The Journey School.
Will CCH offer in-depth study options apart from The Journey School?
Yes. There will be elective classes offered throughout the year, open to all.
Does The Journey School have a campus?
Yes, at The Church of Conscious Harmony in Austin, Texas. The Journey School holds the weekly Thursday evening class online. Some Journey Groups meet on campus, others meet online.
What is a Journey Group?
A Journey Group is the primary place for the processing of our Work on the spiritual journey and the primary place for the nurturing of spiritual community in a small group setting. Discussion is shaped by the weekly curriculum content and how participants are engaging with it in their daily lives. Journey Groups involve a one-year commitment, beginning in February and concluding in December. Each weekly meeting is 1-1¼ hours in length.
Who facilitates the Journey Groups?
Certain experienced members of The Journey School are selected by the Abbot/Abbess to serve as Journey Group facilitators. These individuals undergo training for their role and are mentored by Journey Group Guides, long-time Work students and experienced members of The Journey School. Ideally, facilitators are Oblates of CCH. They make a one-year commitment, renewable, to serve the community in this way.
Do I have to belong to a Journey Group to participate in The Journey School?
No, you can participate in The Journey School by receiving only the weekly email, though attendance and participation in the Thursday evening class is highly encouraged because of the sharing and nuancing of the teaching which cannot be conveyed simply by reading the email or listening to the recording.
What is the nature of the Journey Group time together?
The Journey Group represents the second line of Work, which is, Work with other people. …
- We are to feel the need for coming together, to be present with others, to share a relation of reciprocal attention.
- We arrive on time and we expect to end on time. In the case of an absence, we are expected to send a message to everyone in the group notifying them of the absence.
- We need to be wholly present and prepared to speak, to have reflected on, engaged and be ready to share how the week’s homework has impacted our lives, omitting “story” except to give context.
- We share experiences from our own lives, not abstract ideas. We share three-centered observations using “I” statements and Work language.
- We listen deeply with directed attention. We are here to work on ourselves.
- We observe our reactions. We become aware of our judgments, the urge to interrupt, the preparation of “a response.” Then, we non-identify and Self-remember.
- We do not teach or play the teacher role. We do not give advice. We do not criticize what others share. We gather to care and to work in the moment, not to fix or remove pain. We pray for others who seem to be in crisis. God does the healing.
- We are receptive to the Facilitator’s and perhaps other’s invitation/ encouragement to frame our sharing using Work ideas and language.
- We assure that our sharing is not disproportionately long, nor do we wait to the last minute to share. If we are regularly one of the first to speak, or the last to speak, we are invited to work against this mechanicality.
- We keep the sharing in the group confidential.
- If we are consistently struggling with your Journey Group Facilitator or other Group members, prayerfully seek counsel from the Abbot/Abbess or Minister.
We abide in gratitude for this Work, for our time together, that there are others who have Aim, Wish and are willing to work. This is a rare and precious gift known by few, a vessel of possibility for the unfolding of deep, conscious love.
What is an Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony?
An Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony consents to journey deeper into Christ, what theologians call Theosis, what Jesus called “abiding with him,” and what St. Paul called “union with Christ” or “putting on the mind of Christ.” Participation as an Oblate is a declaration of intentional relationship to the Divine Mystery that is God and to all creation. Oblates participate in The Journey School and in addition take a vow to live by the Oblate Rule of Life.
How does one become an Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony?
To become a CCH Oblate, a vow is taken, renewable each January. The vow is born of a personal hunger and commitment for transformation into Christ and a wish to live a committed life in service of this aim. The vow is to God alone, yet lived out through and with The Church of Conscious Harmony community. With the annual vow, CCH Oblates commit to God and to the Oblate Rule of Life so to actively participate in the spiritual journey while engaging the transformative process as “monks in the world.”
What is the CCH Oblate Rule of Life?
In addition to participating in The Journey School, including a Journey Group, there are ten practices that comprise the CCH Oblate Rule of Life:
- Twice daily Centering Prayer practice: A twice-daily practice of 20-30 minutes of Centering Prayer is the foundational and essential practice for consenting to God’s love, presence and action.
- Daily reading of Scripture: Reading Scripture in the manner of Lectio Divina is a foundational daily practice. Using a daily liturgical reader, such as Give Us This Day or Magnificat is suggested.
- Daily study and application of the ideas of the Work of Inner Christianity: Ordinarily, this will mean reading a selection from Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries. However, there are many other resources from enriching Work teachers such as G. I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, J. G. Bennett, Beryl Pogson, Jeanne de Salzmann, et al.
- Daily conscious movement (e.g., tai chi, yoga, walking): As incarnated beings, love of God with our whole being must incorporate our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Care and movement of the body are a means of being fully human and integrating the energetic movement that can arise in the body through contemplative practices.
- Weekly immersion in a Eucharistic worship service: The Eucharist provides an opportunity to see ordinary matter in an extraordinary way, inviting us to perceive the mystery of Christ everywhere and in everything. It is an unbroken transmission of God’s love for us and Presence within all creation. Oblates can participate in Eucharistic worship at The Church of Conscious Harmony on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. Those who are traveling or live out of town are encouraged to partake in a local Eucharistic service or the Church’s online offerings.
- Meeting with the Minister or Abbot/Abbess at least annually: We recognize the value in maintaining contact and opening ourselves in vulnerability to how we’re doing with the Rule of Life and the spiritual journey.
- Sunday Seva or Youth Educational Service (YES) program service: Service to the community and one another is an expression of love for God and one another. Oblates are expected to participate in a Sunday Seva team or YES program service to the Church community. For those who reside outside of the Austin area, the Oblate selects an area of regular service to their local spiritual community.
- Commitment to attend a multi-day Centering Prayer retreat: Extended time away from the demands of day-to-day life in the silence with others is a foundational experience in the contemplative life. Oblates are encouraged to attend a 10-day retreat, but any multi-day Centering Prayer retreat will open us to receiving untold gifts of spiritual and psychological enrichment.
- Attendance at the annual weekend Oblate retreat: The annual Oblate retreat provides time away for inspiration and community building. Typically, the retreat will begin on Friday evening and conclude by 5:00 pm Saturday.
- Tithing: We give freely and receive joyfully. Tithing is an expression of valuation, gratitude and reciprocal maintenance for the spiritual sources which feed us. The practice of tithing brings God into our relationship with money, and through it, we acknowledge in faith that God is the true source of our supply. Historically, the word “tithe” meant a tenth. Today, we understand the amount of tithing to be a spiritual practice between ourselves and God. For some, this might mean a tenth of their income. For others, this might mean much more than a tenth of their income.
For questions about the Oblate program, contact the Abbot/Abbess, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I have to agree to live all 10 of the practices to be a CCH Oblate?
I live out of town and do not feel comfortable attending a Eucharistic worship service in my local community. Can I still be a CCH Oblate?
You may participate in the Church’s Eucharistic services on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 PM CT or Sunday morning at 10:00 AM CT online.
Out of Town Participants
I don’t live in Austin. How much of The Journey School can I participate in?
You can participate in all levels of The Journey School except the Gurdjieff Movements which are only offered in-person at the Church.
I don’t live in Austin. Can I be a CCH Oblate?
Yes. As an out-of-town Oblate, the Abbot/Abbess will be your primary point of contact. The Abbot/Abbess can also help you discern the Seva (service to humanity) component of your Rule of Life. Please email email@example.com for consultation in your discernment process, if desired.
The Thursday Evening Class
What is the Thursday evening class and its format?
The Journey School Thursday class meets online from 7:00 to 8:30pm CT and is led by The Journey School Abbot/Abbess and a presenter. There are periods of opening reflection, announcements, Lectio Divina, sharing from the prior week’s homework, teachings on the email that was just sent on that day and closing prayers.
Is the class open or closed?
Although structured for the benefit of those who are participating in The Journey School, the Thursday evening class is open to all who have a desire to study and practice.
Will I be seen on the online video?
Yes, participants will be seen when sharing unless their video is turned off.
Will the online video be recorded? Can I watch a class at a later time?
There is an audio recording of the class which is posted in The Journey School archives.
What is a Work Partner relationship?
Work Partners are one-on-one relationships working ideally daily with another, supporting one another, setting daily aims, and holding one another accountable. There are prerequisites for having a Work Partner. If new to The Journey School, you may register to have a Work Partner and, after six months, you will be contacted and assigned a Work Partner, if it is still desired.
What do Work Partners talk about?
The primary purpose of the Work Partner relationship is to set aim each day, to report on one’s observations and struggles in daily life while on the spiritual journey, and to discuss one’s engagement with the weekly homework exercises. For more details select HERE.
How long does this relationship last?
People who desire a Work Partner relationship are paired up by the Abbot/Abbess early each year. The relationship continues for the rest of the year.
What is a time guideline for Work Partner interactions?
Work Partners agree to talk ideally each day, almost always by phone. Typical calls range from 10-20 minutes but might be longer or shorter depending on circumstances.
What are the prerequisites to have a Work Partner?
To qualify for a Work Partner relationship, one must have been receiving the weekly Journey School emails, and attending the Thursday evening class for at least six months. If new, you can indicate your desire for a Work Partner in your registration and you will be contacted in July.
What are the Movements?
Gurdjieff Movements are exercises and sacred dances having as their aim equilibrium and unity of being, balancing the three centers, working in all three lines. Movements are accompanied by piano.
When is the time frame for Movements?
Movements begins in February and concludes in December. Participation involves a one-year commitment. Regular attendance is needed to support the Work of the group as a whole as well as each participant. Class will meet in the Fellowship Hall on or near the first Saturday morning of each month for two hours and two or three Tuesdays a month, from 6:00-7:00pm.
I don’t live in Austin. Is Movements offered online?
All participation will be in-person. There is no online alternative.
Who can participate in Movements?
Gurdjieff Movements will be offered to those who have previously participated in CCH Movements classes or participated in The Journey School in 2020 or 2021. Movements can be physically demanding for some people. Signature on a formal “waiver/release” document will be needed from each participant. Specific attire is also necessary for participation. Jack Stamps is the contact person for Movements. If you have questions, please contact the church office at 512-347-9673 and the office will put you in contact with Jack.