Is it true, asks Sufi poet Hafiz, that it is our destiny to turn into light itself? In this talk, filmed at Pitt Street Uniting Church on 18 December 2011, Dr Stephanie Dowrick talks at depth about the “unconditional welcome of love”so tragically often missed or forgotten in conventional religious thinking. Supporting this, she offers – as an interfaith teacher and minister – a quite radical view on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Stephanie says, “From the sources we have, including the Gospels loved by Christians, we see that Jesus’s mission was not about setting up a new religion: it was about opening us to the power of love that is our unconditional inheritance. This is the thinking of a revolutionary. And the message it inherently offers helps us turn around our usual divisive, judgemental ways of thinking that tell us we are right to keep some people safe but not others. Or that some people are special but most are not. Or that some lives are worth living but others can be squandered. It is also a message that defies our usual feelings of insufficiency: that we will get around to living more lovingly…but not quite yet! That others might be up to this…but not me!”
In the 2nd of these two videos (which completes the talk), Stephanie warns against easy self-righteousness or contempt for those holding traditionally divisive views. “It is very easy, in preparing a talk like this in 2011, with a 21-st century consciousness and especially with the love and gratitude I have for other faith traditions, to bemoan the terrible chasm between the inclusive welcome of love offered by Jesus of Nazareth and the horrors of exclusivism that have characterised so much of the history of Christianity. I do bemoan this.”
“Like you,” Stephanie continues, “I could weep that an uncluttered message of inclusivity and love could have been so dishonored. Yet, without in any way excusing those horrors, I must also see how they represent the ignorance that is also part of our familiar, fallible human condition. They, too, are members of our human family and deserving of our compassion even when we revile from their views… [Then later]… Ignorance is a term much used by Buddhists: and it is a profound one. It was also to save us from our ignorance – again, of who we are and what we are becoming – and also, what we can freely offer one another – that Jesus taught not an exclusive group of scholars but those who had most reason to be bitter, to be angry, to be unforgiving. And yet, through his example, through the beauty of his presence opening them to love, welcoming love, they were able to find in life the sweetness, the hope, the peace that truly surpasses all human understanding.”
The talk concludes with an exquisite reading from Rabbi Isaac Kook. You can hear the second part of this talk on the 2nd video> We thank Brad Harris for his work in videoing these talks and posting them on YouTube. We thank you for join us in learning more from love.