Dear Friends and Friends of Friends of Open Sanctuary
I am writing to warmly invite you to our first Wisdom Circle in 2022. It is to be held at Open Sanctuary (the old All Saints Church on Corkhill Drive between Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba) on Saturday 19th March beginning at 3pm. Everyone is welcome.
As most of you will know, Open Sanctuary is a contemplative community, sensitive to spirit, Country and environment. On many occasions Linda has encouraged us to practice ‘deep listening, a spiritual skill, based on respect. Sometimes called 'dadirri', deep listening is inner, quiet, still awareness, waiting – and available to everyone’. The indigenous practice of dadirri increases our awareness of ‘what is’ around us, and can lead to a sense of inner participation in the energies and images that make up our world. There are those who see this sort of practice as ‘The Aboriginal Gift - Spirituality for a Nation’ that is ours to accept, something that would help us meet the emotional and spiritual challenges of our own time here in Australia. The Aboriginal Gift - Spirituality for a Nation is the title of an important book by Eugene Stockton, and more recently a talk given by Dr David Tacey through the Eremos Institute. I believe in our own way we at Open Sanctuary are accepting and working with this great gift.
In my own life I have come to value enormously this sense of participation through deep listening and waiting. I have come to link it to the original consciousness that perhaps characterised our experience when we humans lived in the paleolithic. There was little veil between our inner and outer worlds. Our psyches activated easily and we thought spontaneously in metaphor. Wind, breath and spirit were all one experience. There are times when I feel the fluttering leaves in the tree, caressed by the breeze, as movement and energy within myself. I feel alive and connected. In this sense of connection I have taken to talk to the world around me. I often pass cows in the paddock on my walks, and they stare at me ‘knowingly’ as I talk to them. I imagine their lives as mothers and little calves. I have come to cherish that different trees have different characters. They have presence. They ‘talk’ in different ways. Even rocks have presence when I am in that dadirri spacetime. I am attaching a photo of me talking to my favourite rock. And looking into the night sky I imagine the fascination of the ancients in the mystery before them, looking for movement and patterns, signs and portents, but most of all feeling surrounded by and fully part of the mystery that is sometimes exhilarating, sometimes terrifying. I am not having a separate experience in my isolated self; I am sharing in Experience far greater than myself. I love all that dadirri and similar concepts and practices stand for, and so grateful to have come to know about it and be guided in my spirituality by it.
But I am also a child of our own age. How different. We live at the other end of history to the paleolithic. We have been on a huge journey as human beings in which we have increasingly separated ourselves from the Cosmos, from the world around us. We have come to know the world not personally and subjectively but impersonally and objectively. With this knowledge we have acted upon our world to shape it to our wills and wants. We have abstracted the physical world, the world we can measure, from our phenomenal world, the world we experience as human beings, and reduced it to mathematical formulae which enable us to predict and experiment to our own advantage. Modern science is without a doubt a great triumph. But there is an enormous cost to this triumph that needs to be redressed.
The idea of a Wisdom Circle for me has arisen as a response to what is happening in our world, both locally and globally. We have reached a point in our history when we have unprecedented knowledge and technology, but we don’t seem to know how to act. We court disaster not knowing how best to act. Many think we just need more scientific knowledge and technology, and then we will be all right. But scientific knowledge and technology can empower our actions but cannot tell us how best to act. For that we need a different sort of knowledge, a knowledge that does not only work with the parts but a knowledge that also has a sense of the whole. Wisdom enables us to act in a way that is best for the Whole.
There are many wholes in our lives. A relationship with another person is a whole; wisdom is knowing how best to act in a way that is of benefit to both persons. A family is a whole; being a wise effective parent is to know how to act in a way that is of benefit to all the members of that family. Work places, associations, clubs, churches, organisations are all wholes made up of parts. They work for everyone if the leaders are wise and everyone bears the interest of the group at heart. States and countries are wholes needing wise leaders who inspire trust and goodwill.
Our planet is perhaps now our most significant Whole, and this is where there is a major shift from the past. The paleolithics lived within the mystery. They had little or no sense of planet Earth as we do. Since space travel and the circulation of actual photographs of our beautiful Home in our vast Universe, we have been able to see and imagine this most significant Whole as never before, Planet Earth. This is the symbol that will centre our Wisdom Circles at Open Sanctuary. This symbol will not only centre our thoughts and feelings now in what is happening in our lives and in the world, but will also focus our thoughts and feelings about our whole story as a human race. Sounds big? I guess it does, but we will only bite off bits at a time. Whereas the ancients once looked unguarded into the majesty and mystery of the heavens and balanced this with descent into the womb of the earth in rock shelters and caves, we now ascend above the Earth in imagination and vicarious association with those who have travelled space and stood on the Moon, to view the Whole that is our home in an endless SpaceTime and to ask ourselves the big questions of how it is now best to act. And we seek the Wisdom of the Whole that lies within the vast structures of our unconscious psyches, gifted to us by the evolution of matter and consciousness in the great Story that brought us here.
Underneath the clash of identities that marks our public and private lives now is the undeniable fact that we are all human beings in One World, parts of the One Whole. We all share the same underlying identity. How then can we best act locally and globally in ways that will be of benefit to this One Whole. How can we then use our science and technology to empower our actions? This is what the Wisdom Circle is exploring. We need to do what we need to do, in our own little ways, trusting the Mystery.
At the time of writing the World has been plunged into the possibility of a Third World War that would be the result of one man’s complex foolishness and cunning, however much he thinks his own country might benefit. Cunning is invariably self-interested and ego-centric. It is the opposite of Wisdom. Wisdom dares to love, dares to trust, dares to be open.
At our first Circle on March 19th we will look at Wisdom in an introductory way. In our second Circle on the 2nd Saturday of April we will be honouring Noel Davis, one of nature’s wise persons and long time member of Open Sanctuary, who died a year ago. Noel is buried at Open Sanctuary. His memory is honoured amongst us; his spirit is alive and well. We will be welcoming and blessing the completion of his last book of poems, organised and published by Trish Delaney.
Hope to see you there at both occasions.
PS. This is me talking to my favourite Rock