Are you easy to like? Think for a moment about the people in your life who are genuinely self-confident (not bombastic or self-important!). Are they also the people who are easiest to like? If the answer is yes, here’s why. You know you can trust them. You enjoy their company. You don’t have to walk on eggshells around them. They don’t blow hot and cold. Sharing their company makes you feel better about yourself. Life feels good in their presence. You know they are capable of empathy. They awaken your empathy also.
In a series of five audio files, recorded at Mana Retreat Centre, NZ, October 2011, Dr Stephanie Dowrick teaches on the spiritual as well as psychological dimensions of what it means to be genuinely “well” – even when your physical health is compromised or uncertain. She also teaches on the vital topics of healing, the nature of suffering (and where and how it can be avoided or lessened), and – finally – on forgiveness. Her teachings include her perspective on Buddhism’s famous “Four Noble Truths”. The last of the files includes a Q&A in response to retreat participants’ questions.
What would you like to ask Stephanie Dowrick? What do you want to know about identity, self-awareness – and even how and what to question? In this hour-long MP3 file, you will hear others’ personal, courageous questions, asked in a safe retreat setting. And you may benefit from Stephanie’s considered responses.
Recorded late in 2010, this is a particularly wide-ranging interview with Stephanie Dowrick on contemporary views of the sacred, Stephanie’s journey towards writing about the sacred dimensions of life in Seeking the Sacred, and particularly about the inevitable social impact of our personal philosophies.
It gave me so much pleasure to prepare this talk and to consider the many ways in which the earth constantly “teaches” us – if only we will allow that. These lessons include awareness that whatever our differences, we are dependent on a single source; that the “seasons” of life are in a constant process of change; that every day is a new beginning; that we can and must be caretakers of the earth if we are to care for ourselves; that we are restored in the presence of beauty.
Do enjoy it. And don’t hesitate to “like” and comment on my Facebook page.
More than 100 years ago the pioneering psychologist William James wrote: “The greatest revolution in our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” How true this is when it comes to suffering.
“In life there is suffering.” We don’t even need to be familiar with Buddhism’s famous “Four Noble Truths” to know that. Turn on the news, listen to friends who are unwell or lonely, tune in to what may be happening in our own homes and hearts and there’s suffering in abundance, sometimes especially in the midst of material wealth.
This exquisite lotus, which I photographed on a recent holiday, only shows its ravishing beauty at night. It seems a particularly apt reminder that at the most difficult times we are in greatest need of loving kindness, thoughtfulness, harmony and beauty. It is also a stark reminder that our world needs, that we need far greater kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity and peace - and who will generate this, if not us?
In the short video Dr Stephanie Dowrick uses the familiar, yet wonderfully fresh “Mary and Martha” story from the Christian gospels to demonstrate the interdependence of reflection and action. It’s what she calls the “Yin and Yang” of spiritual life. Stephanie also points out that it is reflection that we often overlook or rush by or claim to have no time for; yet the quality of our reflection utterly determines the quality of our choices and actions.
This was recorded at the Interfaith service in Sydney, Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church, 21 August 2011. Join us for services each 3rd Sunday at 3pm. Or join our global community through these monthly videos.
We are now in our sixth year of interfaith services in Sydney. Yet sometimes even “interfaith” seems too much of a label (although I did use it on the census form when asked to nominate my religion…!). Perhaps it’s enough to know that the spiritually inclusive services we offer each month, 3rd Sundays, 3pm, at Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church in Sydney draw from the most sustaining wisdom teachings of all faiths, and also reflect the particular needs we have at this time for living an ethical and resilient life. We always have the gifts of exceptionally beautiful music. There’s time for talk and coffee afterwards and I can say without hesitation that all are truly welcome. Details follow:
Whatever else the sacred is, it points to this: we are members of a single human family, marvelous and terrifying in its diversity. If we want to blink a couple of times and take this even half seriously, we have to dig deep. It must be respect for all of life. Understanding this, I must regard your gift of life as precious whether or not I believe you “deserve” this. I must do you no harm and, moreover, I must wish you well whether or not I believe you “deserve” it. Like it or not, I see that our fates are linked.
In this recent short talk, Dr Stephanie Dowrick discusses some of the common obstacles to our personal peace of mind. These inevitably also “disturb” the peace way beyond ourselves. With a possibly surprising lightness and even optimism, she brings our attention to anger, greed and ignorance – all well known to most of us, all widely “normalized”, but none of them inevitable. Recorded at Interfaith in Sydney, Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney, Sunday 17 July 2011. (Every 3rd Sunday, 3pm)
All people are children when they sleep.
there’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.
If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
– God, teach me the language of sleep.
~ Rolf Jacobsen (Norway, 1907-1994)
Can we any longer afford to ignore our power to harm one another? Or to recoil, helplessly? “Doing no harm” is an active choice, one which perhaps has a higher ethical and social value than any other, as suggested in this extract from Stephanie Dowrick’s latest and most overtly peace-making book, Seeking the Sacred. She writes:
…“Do no harm” is the “other face” of the Golden Rule and one that we should take just as seriously. In fact, I wonder whether “not harming” or not hurting other people – near and far – feels more reasonably within reach than loving them?
Just published is the audio edition of Dr Stephanie Dowrick’s intimate, inspiring book, Seeking the Sacred, described by Claire Scobie in the Sydney Morning Herald as “A chalice of wisdom”. Whether you are a “seeker” or simply curious, this book speaks to some of our most pressing concerns, socially and personally, about what constitutes a more generous, rewarding life. Strong also on memoir and story, it lends itself particularly well to the personal voice of the author, and the intimacy of Stephanie Dowrick drawing out themes that touch all our lives. 12 hours; 10 CDs, beautifully produced at the Bolinda studios in Melbourne.
If your marriage or love relationship is worth saving – and many are! – then these steps may help. They will take you towards a renewed awareness of how you can lift your partner’s spirits – and your own – with consistent, trustworthy attitudes and acts of kindness, consideration and thoughtfulness. These are the most precious jewels you could ever give. They create an atmosphere of trust and affection where everyone can flourish. Such behavior makes you easy to love; it makes you delightful to be around. No investment we make will ever be more important than the time and thought we put into our closest relationships.
British writer and women’s retreat leader Gina Lazenby caught up with Stephanie Dowrick in Sydney recently. Here is a short video of Gina talking with Stephanie about her latest book, Seeking the Sacred, why she is an interfaith minister as well as a writer, big and small transitions and – particularly – identity and the stories we tell ourselves.
Pioneering psychologist William James is best known for his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, where he wrote, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Is this true for you?
I read that line when I was seeking new inspiration on the perennial theme of encouragement. Thinking about it for several days, I found it increasingly fruitful, not least because it seems to say that quietly appreciating our own lives and selves is rarely enough. With few exceptions, we crave to be acknowledged and appreciated by other people and most of all by those with whom we work or share our lives.
In this short, encouraging video Stephanie Dowrick speaks about sustaining a sense of peace and inner confidence even in the face of difficult events. Combining practical support and rare inspiration, she draws on the teachings of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan, Deuteronomy (“Choose life!”) and also reflects on the Four Noble Truths about the nature of suffering and our power to diminish or heal it.
This talk comes from the Interfaith Service at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, 17 April 2011.
Many years ago I remember listening to a singing group called “It’s a beautiful day”. Even then I had at least some realisation that it’s our inner attitude that lets us experience our days as beautiful and precious: each one of them. When it’s “just another day”, my outlook and energy levels lift dramatically when I can consciously value the small, the ordinary, the familiar. And now I am quite certain that those are the moments that are most devastating to lose when illness or death takes us from them – and them from us. They are also the moments easiest to overlook.
Good books don’t get old. Or stale. Trivia does curdle. Or goes right off. But some of the books that I treasure most and refer to most often seem as fresh as dew and were literally written two or three thousand years ago. I don’t want to be asked what I am writing next when my newest book Seeking the Sacred has been in the world just a few months. I am still working on it! I’m teaching from it, talking about it, pursuing further the ideas that interest me most…and welcoming your reading of it, your conversations and your comments.