Universal Heart Newsletter August 2014, from Stephanie Dowrick

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“We will never achieve what we can’t imagine.”

Interfaith service, Sydney, this Sunday 17 August 2014, 3pm: Peace for the world’s children * Next retreat at glorious Mana starts 25 September for 3 or 6 days *  Where are the men?  * YouTube talks * Regular inspiration on FACEBOOK  * Reviewing James Hillman’s A Terrible Love of War * A powerful prayer * A link to purchase guided meditations

Dear friends

It can seem as though there has been an avalanche of sad or tragic news in recent weeks for our world family. As we witness one social disaster after another, it can become hard to know how to react. Some of you have written to me or written on my public Facebook page about versions of compassion fatigue, or perhaps of feeling helpless when so much of the suffering arises from desperate and seemingly insoluble conflicts.  And yet, it is exactly at these hardest moments that we can and must renew our efforts for peace. This is not something between nations only; it comes very very close to home. Even in the privacy of our own minds we can stray far from our own deep source of peace and compassion. Buddhists use a powerful phrase: “skilful means” and it seems we – as a human family – most urgently need to discover the skilful means to live well alongside one another, accepting our diversity and authentically acknowledging what we share.

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“Practising peace” is far from passive. It is a lifelong spiritual as well as ethical commitment that reaches into and potentially changes every moment of our lives. Certainly it changes for the better the ways we think about ourselves and others; it also pushes us to value life itself more immediately and deeply. I have written so much about this, especially in Seeking the Sacred. In fact, in that book I suggest there is no “seeking the sacred” without also seeking and practising the peace on which respect, wellbeing and happiness depend. Some of you might prefer to hear a talk on the topic. There are a number specifically on peace and peace-making on the Interfaith in Sydney YouTube channel; and spoken talks also via this Spoken Talks LINK.  Each of us needs to think this through for ourselves: are we – however busy, distracted, unready – contributing to a more peaceful personal and collective world? Could we further commit to those vital minutes each day to centre our thoughts, open our hearts, and extend good wishes to all? Where in our everyday lives could our own choices bring greater kindness and happiness to others (and to ourselves)? You would be so welcome to share your thoughts, ideas, comments via my public Facebook page – increasingly a community page where people can offer one another and receive sincere support.

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You would also get beautiful peace-making support at our coming service – THIS Sunday, 17 August 2014, 3pm (prompt start). As always, the address is Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church, Sydney. (Cross street is Park. About a block from Town Hall station.) This service is particularly special as we will be praying and thinking about peace for the world’s children. The service will be joyful, uplifting, and celebratory. After all, if we valued children MORE, loved them more and less conditionally, so many of our collective decisions would be different.  On Facebook recently I suggested that when we ask, “What’s best for children in this situation?” we would in fact be asking, “What’s best for us all?”  Trish Watts and her Threshold choir will be leading the music. It would be very special to see some of you there – and please consider whether anyone in your circles would benefit from this wholehearted, welcoming invitation.

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This is also probably my last chance to remind you that our next spiritual Retreat at the glorious Mana (Retreat Centre) in Coromandel, New Zealand, starts on 25 September. You have the option of choosing to stay for 3 or 6 days. Those of you who have been receiving these newsletters for years know that I could not value the entire Mana experience more highly. The setting is sublime; the kindness is miraculously healing. If you feel that this is for you, please use the link above and contact Mana without delay. They can help with arranging a shuttle service from Auckland airport.

I also want to send out a special plea to any men who may receive this Newsletter, directly or indirectly! It is a real mystery to me why relatively fewer men participate in the Retreats, especially when the men who do come report such benefits. This is very much a time when we need to think deeply together about living more peacefully, with greater awareness of choice, and with a deeper, more confident sense of our inner resources. Do men, even more than women, feel that this is support that can be postponed? I’m not at all sure, but to men very particularly I would say, “This is the moment.”

Links follow that may be of interest to you, including a link to a recent article I wrote reconsidering James Hillman’s book, A Terrible Love of War. But what I want most to leave you with is this prayer from the great teacher Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, given to us before his death in 1935. What a moving, encouraging call it is, and how perfect for this very moment; it will be part of our service this Sunday.

Blessings to all, Stephanie Dowrick

Radiant is the World Soul, full of splendour and beauty.
The pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light.

They do not complain of evil, 
but increase justice.

They do not complain of heresy,
 but increase faith.

They do not complain of ignorance,
 but increase wisdom.

Stephanie Dowrick on Facebook

Universal Heart Book Club: “Stephanie Dowrick challenges humanity’s Terrible Love of War

An article on self-love and self-acceptance

A link to purchase Guided Meditations (including Peaceful Mind)

YouTube talks (Interfaith in Sydney)

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