← All books

Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm
by Cynthia Bourgeault


"Eye of the Heart" is a unique blend of spiritual memoir, exegesis, and prose poem. It guides readers on a journey into the "imaginal realm," a subtle, fluid realm suspended between form and formlessness, and a pivotal concept in the Western mystical and esoteric tradition.

Here's a summary of the book's key ideas:

  • The imaginal realm is not a place, but a set of governing conventions that make possible a certain kind of manifestation. It bridges the gap between the visible and invisible worlds, operating at a higher frequency of intensity and coherence.
  • The imaginal is a realm of interpenetration and exchange. It functions as a "cosmic intertidal zone" where the fruits of our human striving are offered to the whole, and we receive blessings, inspiration, and vivifying force in return.
  • The imaginal realm is not "imaginary," but objectively real. It carries real force and affects events in the physical world, often manifesting in dreams, visions, prophecy, and synchronicity.
  • The imaginal realm is intimately connected to the concept of "reciprocal feeding," a key idea introduced by Gurdjieff. This refers to the ongoing exchange of energies between realms, a dynamic process of transformation that sustains the entire "Ray of Creation," a hierarchy of realms from the Holy Absolute to the physical world.
  • Human beings play a vital role in this reciprocal feeding. We are "transformers," tasked with mediating between the imaginal realm and our physical world.
  • The imaginal realm is the realm of "cosmic assistance," where saints, teachers, masters, and abler souls reach out to support and guide us on Earth.
  • The conscious circle of humanity is a network of advanced beings on both sides of the life/death divide who work together to support and guide humanity's collective evolution.
  • The imaginal realm is accessed through the eye of the heart, not through mental speculation. This requires purification, a process of "polishing the mirror" and clearing the lens of perception.
  • The imaginal realm operates according to "chiastic" principles: events and experiences are not linear, but interconnected through a series of symmetrical patterns, often revealed through symbols, synchronicities, and timing.
  • To participate in the imaginal realm, we must cultivate our "second body" or "kesdjan body," a subtle, inner vehicle of consciousness that can move beyond the limitations of the physical body.
  • The key tools for this journey are conscious labor and intentional suffering. These practices allow us to shift our consciousness from egoic to witnessing, enabling us to operate under the laws of the imaginal realm.
  • The heart of the imaginal is love, which transforms from the raw, primal force of eros into the refined, compassionate agape through the process of human experience.
  • The conscious circle of humanity works through cosmic dialysis, guidance, and the generation of "third force," a catalytic force that breaks impasses and brings about new configurations.
  • The journey into the imaginal realm is a dance between our phenomenal self and our witnessing self, with both playing a crucial role in the process of spiritual growth.
  • Beyond physical death, the journey continues. We can cultivate a more permanent individuality in the "spiritual life world," and even after the second rascooarno, we can continue to grow and receive support from those on the other side.

"Eye of the Heart" is a rich and challenging exploration of the imaginal realm. It offers a new perspective on the Christian mystical tradition and a profound invitation to engage with the hidden realities of our own hearts and the universe around us.