Cascadia: Program Overview

CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL is an online program for people who seek to learn to access and live wisdom. Program participants enrol one year at a time and continue for as long as they find helpful. Although readings follow a multi-year cycle, new applicants can start the program any year as each year’s curricular focus serves equally well as an introduction and also leads to the next. This makes at least two or three years of program enrolment ideal as it provides exposure to most of the major curricular themes. Continuing involvement is supported by a fee structure designed to make the school less of a revolving door and more of a place where at least some of us can journey together over a longer time. However, at the end of each program year enrolled participants decide whether to continue in the next year or not.

The program begins with suggested preparatory readings that are offered at the point of program admission and the year’s reading list that is sent once the program fee is received. The online interaction starts each April and continues until the end of the subsequent March. Suggested readings and challenges and progress in living the things being taught form the core of this dialogue. This ongoing interaction is the foundation of the program and commitment to regular engagement in it is an expectation of all program participants. Dr. Benner serves as the primary mentor throughout this process although other mentors periodically also participate in the online interaction and videoconferences. Please note that all mentoring is provided within the context of the group.

Program participation requires a commitment of at least two to three hours a week. Suggested readings typically involve reading 30 – 35 pages a week but reading them contemplatively (slowly and reflectively) means that this will typically involve one to two hours a week. The other one to two hours in an average week will involve engagement with other program participants by means of our online communication platform (Ryver) and regular videoconferences (which are conducted on Zoom). Both platforms can be accessed by smartphones but both are optimally accessed (particularly Zoom) by means of a computer.

We recognize that not all weeks will be average, and that not always will videoconferences be scheduled at times that allow for everyone’s participation. However, a commitment to active, ongoing engagement with other program participants is required, this making the program not a good fit for the person who simply seeks a context for independent learning.


Wisdom is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or beliefs. This is why CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL is committed to inclusivity in our admission policies. Since, however, the program is offered within the Christian mystical/contemplative tradition, openness to pursuing a path of awakening within this tradition is important. Note, however, that this does not mean that the program teaches participants what to believe. Much more important, what we teach is how to know. (For more on the difference between believing and knowing see my blog, Beyond Belief, at

Applicants to CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL should be motivated to live their way into wisdom, wholeness and well being – and to learning how to do this within the context of active, committed engagement with other program participants. They must also have

  • Basic computer skills and an email account
  • Regular access to a laptop or desktop computer (not just a smart phone)
  • An established practice practice of contemplation (centering prayer, meditation, Tai Chi, regular periods of solitude, etc.), and
  • A spirituality that leads to engagement with the needs of the world.

Those who are new to contemplative practices will benefit from first receiving an introduction to contemplative prayer or meditation and the way in which they facilitate awakening of the heart. Contact us if you need help in finding a suitable program or readings that can guide you in this preparation.

Ideas and practices explored within CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL will stretch most applicants intellectually, theologically, and spiritually. The program draws from such diverse sources as evolutionary theology, cosmology, other faith traditions, aboriginal spirituality, and depth psychology. While background in these areas is not necessary, what is required is openness to these broader vistas and to the contributions science and other religions and spiritual traditions can make to Christian theology, spirituality and wisdom.

Preparing to Apply

Those interested in the program are strongly encouraged to begin preparing to apply well before submitting the application. This should start with a careful reading of Dr. Benner’s book, Living Wisdom – Second Edition (Revised & Expanded) which is available as a free PDF download at Note that a detailed discussion of your response to and interaction with this book forms part of the program application. Agreement with everything that is in it is definitely not required but your thoughtful engagement with it is a prerequisite.

The next step is becoming thoroughly familiar with the entire CASCADIA website, including the application.This should assist your discernment around whether our program is right for you at this point in time. It should also help you assess your readiness to apply and possibly suggest things you can do to prepare yourself to submit the strongest possible application. Last minute applications that are hurriedly prepared are seldom successful.