ARRCC Petition to Hon Barnaby Joyce MP Deputy Prime Minister
The petition calls for the House of Representatives to:

  • commit to deeper, more urgent reductions of Australia’s greenhouse emissions;
  • develop a plan, and support families and communities, to ensure we achieve zero net emissions well before 2050; and
  • provide more help for our neighbours affected by climate change.

Edge of the Sacred Conference, Alice Springs, July 2016.
Josephine Pretorius
For some years when we’ve heard Father Laurence speak about meditation he has mentioned dadirri…that inner deep listening and quiet still awareness spoken of by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (AO). Miriam-Rose is an aboriginal elder from Nauiyu in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory, and in July a number of us (below with Miriam-Rose, Judi and Paul Taylor and Donna Mulhearn) were able to go to Alice Springs to be with her at The Edge of the Sacred conference 

It was a privilege to hear Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann reflect on Dadirri at the recent Edge of the Sacred conference in Alice Springs.  She described it as a gift that Aboriginal people have to offer their fellow Australians. It is a quality of inner deep listening and still silent awareness ( that we connect to by listening rather than by always talking and asking questions. The time, she said, is becoming right for non Indigenous people to start slowing down and hear the Aboriginal message. As I type this from jottings in my notebook I enter again the space she was able to create simply by being who she is, ordinary, not rushing, telling the odd joke, comfortable with silence.  She sat and spoke with us rather than to us. When she said “the land is alive and beautiful and we are part of it, that we are all sacred”, we felt the truth of what she said.
Aboriginal land has no fences. Boundaries are formed by hills and trees. patterns run through the family and through the country. The Spirit runs through us like telegraph lines from the person into the ground. The bush is like a book – you can read the signs. The state may own the top soil but we are still flesh underneath. The beautifulness in country is not lost.

Home is one place or everywhere. Connection is to your place of birth and then to where you live now. Its how you feel about a place. Being appreciative of where you are and who you are with. Listen to past, present and future and also to your being. We come from the past. We have no choice but to carry what has not been lost, to pick up and go forward with what has been left to us. The whole of life draws us into a spirit of listening for the right time.

Aboriginal people learn from listening rather than from asking. They don’t talk much but they feel more. To be still brings peace. Listening to nature strengthens you to listen to others.  Waiting is not frustration, it is patience, waiting for the right time, for things to fall into place, rather than trying to rush. We can be with our children in this way by walking alongside them in their life journey, being with them, caring for them when they are grown, in good and bad. Walking with them in their education so they learn Aboriginal culture, as well as going to school. It makes them strong in who they are so they can say ‘I am Aboriginal’ and be comfortable in two worlds.
In closing Miriam advised us that we will go away and grow the beauty we have felt. It is a gift she is able to impart because she is connected to it within herself, her family and others as well as in country.
Josephine Pretorius

The Indigenous People of Australia have a depth of spirituality that can enrich our Non- Indigenous spirits in so many ways. One of these spiritual gifts is Dadirri. Take a little time to reflectively read the following article and message from a remarkable, spirit -filled Aboriginal Woman from Daly River, Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. Having grasped a sense of this rich Indigenous gift, consider using, in some way, the suggestions which follow the article.

Dadirri - A Reflection By Miriam - Rose Ungunmerr- Baumann

NGANGIKURUNGKURR means 'Deep Water Sounds'. Ngangikurungkurr is the name of my tribe. The word can be broken up into three parts: Ngangi means word or sound, Kuri means water, and kurr means deep. So the name of my people means 'the Deep Water Sounds' or 'Sounds of the Deep'. This talk is about tapping into that deep spring that is within us.
Many Australians understand that Aboriginal people have a special respect for Nature. The identity we have with the land is sacred and unique. Many people are beginning to understand this more. Also there are many Australians who appreciate that Aboriginal people have a very strong sense of community. All persons matter. All of us belong. And there are many more Australians now, who understand that we are a people who celebrate together.

What I want to talk about is another special quality of my people. I believe it is the most important. It is our most unique gift. It is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. In our language this quality is called dadirri. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness.

Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call "contemplation".

When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.
Through the years, we have listened to our stories. They are told and sung, over and over, as the seasons go by. Today we still gather around the campfires and together we hear the sacred stories.

As we grow older, we ourselves become the storytellers. We pass on to the young ones all they must know. The stories and songs sink quietly into our minds and we hold them deep inside. In the ceremonies we celebrate the awareness of our lives as sacred.
The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again…
In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn - not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting. Our people have passed on this way of listening for over 40,000 years…
There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.
My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature's quietness. My people today, recognise and experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all. It is easy for me to experience God's presence. When I am out hunting, when I am in the bush, among the trees, on a hill or by a billabong; these are the times when I can simply be in God's presence. My people have been so aware of Nature. It is natural that we will feel close to the Creator.

Dr Stanner, the anthropologist who did much of his work among the Daly River tribes, wrote this: "Aboriginal religion was probably one of the least material minded, and most life-minded of any of which we have knowledge"…

And now I would like to talk about the other part of dadirri which is the quiet stillness and the waiting.

Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course - like the seasons. We watch the moon in each of its phases. We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth… When twilight comes, we prepare for the night. At dawn we rise with the sun.
We watch the bush foods and wait for them to ripen before we gather them. We wait for our young people as they grow, stage by stage, through their initiation ceremonies.
When a relation dies, we wait a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief and allow it
to heal slowly.
We wait for the right time for our ceremonies and our meetings. The right people must be present. Everything must be done in the proper way. Careful preparations must be made. We don't mind waiting, because we want things to be done with care. Sometimes many hours will be spent on painting the body before an important ceremony.
We don't like to hurry. There is nothing more important than what we are attending to. There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.
We wait on God, too. His time is the right time. We wait for him to make his Word clear to us. We don't worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) his way will be clear.
We are River people. We cannot hurry the river. We have to move with its current and understand its ways.

We hope that the people of Australia will wait. Not so much waiting for us - to catch up - but waiting with us, as we find our pace in this world.
There is much pain and struggle as we wait. The Holy Father understood this patient struggle when he said to us:
"If you stay closely united, you are like a tree, standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are still strong. Like that tree, you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to be reborn".
My people are used to the struggle, and the long waiting. We still wait for the white people to understand us better. We ourselves had to spend many years learning about the white man's ways. Some of the learning was forced; but in many cases people tried hard over a long time, to learn the new ways.

We have learned to speak the white man's language. We have listened to what he had to say. This learning and listening should go both ways. We would like people in Australia to take time to listen to us. We are hoping people will come closer. We keep on longing for the things that we have always hoped for - respect and understanding…

To be still brings peace - and it brings understanding. When we are really still in the bush, we concentrate. We are aware of the anthills and the turtles and the water lilies. Our culture is different. We are asking our fellow Australians to take time to know us; to be still and to listen to us…

Life is very hard for many of my people. Good and bad things came with the years of contact - and with the years following. People often absorbed the bad things and not the good. It was easier to do the bad things than to try a bit harder to achieve what we really hoped for…
I would like to conclude…by saying again that there are deep springs within each of us. Within this deep spring, which is the very Spirit of God, is a sound. The sound of Deep calling to Deep. The sound is the word of God - Jesus.
Today, I am beginning to hear the Gospel at the very level of my identity. I am beginning to feel the great need we have of Jesus - to protect and strengthen our identity; and to make us whole and new again.
"The time for re-birth is now," said the Holy Father to us. Jesus comes to fulfil, not to destroy.
If our culture is alive and strong and respected, it will grow. It will not die. And our spirit will not die.
And I believe that the spirit of dadirri that we have to offer will blossom and grow, not just within ourselves, but in our whole nation.

 Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann is an artist, a tribal elder and Principal of St Francis Xavier School, Nauiyu, Daly River, N.T.

© Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. All Rights Reserved.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr is to be the keynote presenter at this year’s "Edge of the Sacred" conference in Alice Springs, central Australia.  Dates 21 July to 24 July inclusive.  
For further Information about the above  Conference and for the brochure email Keith Castle, in Alice

OPINION 2, The Good Oil, March 15, 2016

Meditation a catalyst for ecological conversion and action

In light of the ecological crisis the world faces, meditation is generally not rated high on the list of responses. But maybe it should be, writes Donna Mulhearn.

BY Donna Mulhearn*

In light of the ecological crisis the world faces, meditation is generally not rated high on the list of responses. But maybe it should be.

I remember distinctly, and fondly, experiencing a kind of awakening in the first days into my journey as a contemplative Christian. As a young backpacker, somehow, wonderfully, I ended up living and working as a volunteer at a Benedictine convent in a small town in the south of Ireland assisting eight elderly nuns. Needing help maintaining beautiful gardens on large grounds, my job was to tend to the flowers, cut the lavender, water, pull weeds. Free from having to achieve certain productivity levels, I took my time.

In silence I slowly handled each stalk of lavender, admired it, breathed its fragrance, felt the softness of its body; basked in a sense of wonder of its beauty and of the other flowers – each unique and exquisite. I did this for hours each day and, in the evening, sat on the balcony, took in a view which overlooked the harbour, watched the sun set into the ocean, and wept. It wasn’t just a sunset; somehow it was a message of love for me. I felt part of it.

I also felt as though, perhaps for the first time, I could see. As a busy Gen X-er I had finally slowed down enough to notice things; to experience awe, to pay attention.

Christian meditation is the work of paying attention, of presence. Also known as contemplative prayer, it is the prayer of stillness and silence; the prayer of the heart.

Benedictine monk Father John Main (1926-1982) recovered this ancient form of prayer from the early Christian monks, the desert fathers and mothers, who in turn were inspired by Jesus’ teachings on prayer in the Gospels. It is now practised by people from all walks of life all over the world, including young people and children in schools. Australia has a large and active Christian meditation community.

I, myself, and others who nourish a contemplative spirituality through a daily practice of meditation, testify to a shift in consciousness over time. This new consciousness includes a deeper awareness of who we really are and our connection to the whole earth community.

From this can flow a greater sensitivity to the needs of the other-than-human community, a desire to live in communion with nature, not dominate it, to lively more simply, more sustainably and to take action against policies and practices that degrade the earth.

Through this sense of connection, and the work of paying attention, meditation can be the catalyst for ecological conversion and provide energy for ongoing, sustainable action for the environment.

Pope Francis, writing in Laudato Si, repeatedly makes the link between a contemplative consciousness and ecological conversion.

“Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances?” (Laudato Si, 225)
Pope Francis and others say the environmental crisis is part of a wider spiritual crisis marked by over-consumption, waste, narcissism, disconnection from the natural world and each other and that a contemplation spirituality would be a helpful antidote.

More than 30 years ago, John Main, who went on to found the World Community for Christian Meditation, observed much the same: “I suppose none of us would meditate unless it had occurred to us that there was more to life than just being producers and consumers. All of us know that we cannot find any ultimate or enduring meaning in just producing and consuming. So we seek that ultimate meaning”.

A contemplative consciousness challenges the labels of ‘producer and consumer’ and leads to a deeper awareness of our true identity and inter-connection with all things. I believe the practice of silence, stillness and simplicity can transform the way we live as individuals and a whole society to a way that is more attentive, loving and sustainable.

It inspires my actions for the environment: a concerted effort to live more simply and reduce consumption to the ‘hardly anything new’ stage, investing in retro-fitting my house to ensure it’s more energy efficient, completing permaculture training to repair degraded soil and grow food ‘working with nature, not against it’.

Along with reducing my own footprint, I believe investing my time and energy in action and advocacy with others to challenge the big polluters, governments and corporations, is essential.

I recently found myself at a protest camp on the outskirts of the Leard State forest in north-west NSW. Ordinary people had travelled far and wide to try to stop Whitehaven Coal’s expansion into precious forest. Up against bulldozers ready to clear, it might have felt futile, but somehow it felt hopeful. Harnessing various non-violent strategies, people power all over the world has halted or minimised destruction of the environment at the hands of industry and will continue to do so.

I live as a contemplative activist in the Blue Mountains bush, and, just like admiring the lavender at the convent in Ireland, slowing down to experience a sense of wonder at the beauty here connects me, inspires me and sustains me to do more.

*Donna Mulhearn is an activist and meditator living in the Blue Mountains. 

On the weekend April 22-24, 2016, Donna will join many well-known speakers, including Laurence Freeman OSB, Emeritus Professor David Tacey, Anglican Bishop George Browning, Dr Susan Murphy, Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf and Catholic Earthcare, at a seminar on Meditation and the Environment in Sydney. Find out more here.

THE HUMAN VOCATION AS KEEPERS OF THE SPACE means that we are meant to live as part of the whole earth community in a way that secures spaces for both human and other-than-human life to flourish. The Creation story of Genesis is a story of God opening up these spaces for life.  All creatures are given habitat. The human being is born into this Garden of life but we are now encroaching on the space of others and are causing serious harm. The practice of meditation however is a way of hope. It is a spiritual practice that opens up the space of cosmic consciousness such that we might recognize our identity as creatures interdependent with all creation and in need of balance.

Meditation enables a way of life that restores harmony and balance; the balance necessary for life, for all to live.  Much of our contemporary culture and consciousness is about growing the ‘space’ of the economy.  The Genesis narrative however tells us that the oikos, the household of God, from which the word economy is derived, is about the balancing of ecology and economy.  When our focus is heavily weighted on economy we become split and unbalanced.  We veer in the direction of harm, rather than securing space for life to flourish. 

In Genesis, humanity is given the task of 'cultivating', tilling, keeping, the garden of Eden. The Creation story is a primal poetic narrative of meaning rather than fact. It is the meaning that matters for us at this stage of our evolutionary journey.

The understanding that the human vocation is to ‘keep the space’ derives from the earliest activity of the Creator in the Genesis story, who opened up the various spaces for particular creatures to enjoy their particular habitats.  God opened up the spaces of night and day, of the waters that would teem with living things; the sky with every winged bird according to its kind, and the dry ground; the space where vegetation could come forth. And God saw that all was good and desired an abundance of the various life forms within their spaces. And then the human being, the Adam, was formed from the same elements as the earth, the Adamah. And God saw that it was all very good and on the seventh day rested. Our vocation according to the creation story is to be keepers of the spaces and the whole space of the earth community. And the direction of creation is to come to the wholeness of God’s indwelling, to be a resting place, to rest with God. This is peace. This is shalom.

This peace however is significantly challenged in our current environment by the ecological crises we are now facing.  As others have said the ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis; a crisis of human identity. We have forgotten who we are. And when we forget who we are we forget how to live. Yet in this age it may be that we are waking up to that consciousness that re-members creation. We are realizing our co-creative vocation perhaps just in time. Our original gifting with the responsibility to be keepers of the space sees the need for us to collaborate with the whole earth community through the vivifying activity of the (w)Holy Spirit.

“The human task” says Rowan Williams, is “to draw out potential treasures in the powers of nature and so to realise the convergent process of humanity and nature discovering in collaboration what they can become.  The 'redemption' of people and material life in general is not a matter of resigning from the business of labour and of transformation – as if we could – but the search for a form of action that will preserve and nourish an interconnected development of humanity and its environment.  In some contexts, this will be the deliberate protection of the environment from harm: in a world where exploitative and aggressive behaviour is commonplace, one of the 'providential' tasks of human beings must be to limit damage and to secure space for the natural order to exist unharmed. “

Meditation is a form of action in and of itself and provides the basis for action which is contemplative.  Meditation, as contemplative practice, reminds us of who we are and how to live in a way that may preserve the interconnected community of creation. It heals our aggression and exploitative tendencies. The contemplative practice of meditation is an action of deep listening and it bears the fruit of real humility.

The convergent process of human and other-than-human nature, discovering in collaboration what we can become, requires of us deep listening and true humility. The truth of humility is that we are humus; we are earthlings, grounded and embodied beings whose habitat is within the sheltering space of the earth. We do not live on the earth but rather we are part of earth. Humility is the knowledge and experience of who we are and where we fit in the order, or relatedness, of things. The depth of our listening will be according to the extent of our relationship with the other with whom we exist in community. The Australian Aboriginal woman Miriam Rose Ungemerr from the Daly River in the Northern Territory describes such relational listening as Dadirri which she says is like our understanding of contemplation.  Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again.

The original people of Australia know, or knew, their identity as intimately connected with the other–than-human environment.  Djambawa Marawili, a Yolgnu man of Arnhem land, says that he sees himself as the ‘tongue of the land.’ The land has everything it needs but it cannot speak’ he says. ‘We exist to paint and sing and dance and express its true identity.’
“When I am in my homeland”, says Marawili “I know that my spiritual reality is here. I can see what is happening in our tribal country, in our land. We have significant ngarra (governance). Living in our country we can see what is happening in the future in a spiritual way.” Here are people who realize in the most profound and authentic sense their vocation as keepers of the space. This culture of his, the oldest living culture on earth, recognises the relationship between the space of country and the spiritual reality of the human being – indeed their very reason for existing, their human vocation. These people know who they are in relation to the ‘country’ (place) they belong to.

The practice of meditation is a path of self knowledge. Through it we understand ourselves as spiritual beings in need of more than material wealth to live fully. As spiritual beings we need space to simply be. In Christian meditation we begin by saying the mantra and eventually we listen to it. Our practice becomes one of listening in the space that the mantra keeps us in. We keep the space of consciousness through our practice and it keeps us, grounded in reality and rooted in the Love that keeps all space. Over time we re-member who we are as our fragmented self becomes integrated in the Self who holds us in being.

The ‘household of God’, the created reality, is one space consisting of a diversity of life. The contemporary over-emphasis on the economy, measured in material wealth, denies the space of the various ecologies that make up the whole earth system. Meditation can be a bridge between economy and ecology.   Through the regular practice of meditation our consciousness becomes healed of the split. We come to realize that economy and ecology must exist together in harmony derived as they are from the one Source. Meditation reminds us that our prosperity is to be found in the spiritual capital of knowing who we really are and how we might live in balance for the whole earth community. As we become more conscious so we live out our human vocation as keepers of the space; the space of creation that also keeps us. Ultimately we become that space in which God finds rest as we, more and more, rest in God who sees all creation as ‘very good’. 

Linda Chapman (speaker, Sydney Meditatio 2016)

There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself (cf. Laudato Si’, 118).

The COP21 conference, while historic, and hopeful, in having all leaders expressing a common goal to protect our common home, seems unlikely to bring about the profound changes so urgently needed for long term sustainability without a radical “ecological conversion”.  Rather, optimism is being focused on technological approaches to the multi-faceted environmental challenges we face.

 As leaders return to their respective countries, facing their immediate short term pressures - national interests, stagnant economies, security threats and thinking within the current paradigms of politics and the economy, short term goals are likely to take precedence.
As the symptoms of the multi-faceted crisis continue to grow, it becomes clearer that the crisis needs to be met at a deeper level. As Einstein said “no problem can be solved at the level at which it was created”.

 There was no acknowledgement of the need to fundamentally change ourselves, our relationships with each other and with the earth. The future will be determined by our capacity for connection.  Only with a real change in consciousness of our interconnectivity will fundamental change come about and a crisis can become an opportunity for a new humanity.  

Looking more deeply, we face a spiritual crisis. As John Main has said “our personal problems and the problems we face as a society are basically spiritual problems. Transformation begins with us. “It will require a radical awakening to the sacred interconnected dimensions of nature and our place in that web of relationships. Just as a healthy body depends on the health and harmony of individual cells, so does the collective body of life on earth.  Already three of the biosphere’s vital elements that are necessary for life to flourish on this planet– air, soil and water, are seriously threatened.
We are in the driver’s seat of evolution for many species, including our own and are challenged to a new way of seeing and being which acknowledge our dependence on a healthy planet for  a healthy economy  and healthy community of life.

In meditation we have a pathway to an inner transformation of our sense of who we are, and collectively to offer a force for creating change from the inside out; one connected with the heart as well as the head.  Laurence Freeman expresses this challenge “great shifts in consciousness need to be worked out at the individual as well as the communal level.”
Janet O’Sullivan

Attentiveness and ecology
It would be hard these days for anyone to be unaware of growing concern over ecological issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, energy use, and so on. Many people now think that we are living in a potentially catastrophic situation. One of the most striking things about what might be called a ‘crisis of ecology’ is that it does not exist on its own but seems to be profoundly connected to a wider spiritual or existential crisis which underpins Western culture. The ecological and spiritual crises, together, reflect a sense of profound dislocation or alienation: from other people, from the Earth, from God, and from ourselves. The theologian J├╝rgen Moltmann expresses it well: ‘What we call the environmental crisis is not merely a crisis in the natural environment of human beings. It is nothing less than a crisis in human beings themselves.’ Typically, ecological questions are difficult and complex, requiring input from many areas of life, including technology, economics and politics. But because they are connected with a broader crisis of existence and meaning, ecological questions also call for input from philosophy, theology and spirituality.

It is perhaps obvious that a crisis of spirituality or meaning might have something to learn from contemplative practice and understanding. But a contemplative ethos can also contribute significantly to the task of raising ecological consciousness. There are a number of ways it can do this, and the focus here is specifically on the cultivation of attentiveness.
Meditators know that attentiveness is the backbone of our daily practice. It is the act of paying attention which brings our minds to stillness and firmly roots us in the reality of the present time and place. Every time we still our body and start to say our prayer word we begin anew the journey of becoming truly present to ourselves, to the world, and to God. Attention is a vital spiritual practice because it integrates us. To the extent that disintegration and dislocation characterise our frenetic and distracting world, it is the practice of paying of attention which puts us back together again and makes us whole.

Being attentive is also an important part of ecological consciousness because the deterioration of our biophysical world is a sign that human beings have not attended carefully enough to how the Earth works and how it needs to be treated. On the whole, we fail to really notice the planet’s awesome power or its fragile vulnerability, and we tend to forget that air, water and soil comprise the lifeline on which all living beings depend for their physical survival. We have failed to notice, and comprehend, the impact of our actions on animals and plants whose habitat and lives are sometimes easily, and thoughtlessly, compromised or destroyed by enterprises such as mining, urban expansion and logging, and on which our society has become increasingly dependent.

In Western society we tend to be rather good at emphasising what is general, universal, or abstract. To some extent, this is what has got us where we are now – in both helpful and unhelpful ways. What we are sometimes less good at – and it is likely this has contributed to our ecological neglect is attending to what is specific and tangible. Freya Mathews, a Melbourne ecophilosopher, says that to understand the nature of the cosmos one must engage with the particular because that is how the world communicates—in particular, rather than universal terms.

Engaging with the particular involves cultivating the habit of attending, focusing, being truly and personally present to the other members of the Earth community. Instead of admiring landscape from a distance, it involves more consciously connecting and empathising with a particular forest, stretch of river, animal or group of animals, being receptive to its spontaneity, truth and reality. By closely attending to the other parts of the Earth community in their tangibility, immediacy and particularity, it may be possible to truly hear the voice of the other, to make an empathic and spiritual connection, and in so doing expand our own level of ecological awareness and sensitivity.

It is the very practice of paying attention, the same practice that lies at the heart of meditation, which is employed in the ecological step of turning to the other, of attending to the other in its particularity. In both ecology and meditation, the act of paying attention takes us beyond ourselves and beyond distractions to make physical and spiritual connection with ultimate reality. The act of paying attention is a rich contemplative practice that can provide the foundation for both spiritual and ecological transformation.
Deborah Guess, ACMC Victoria


Outline of Programme and Speakers


                  Fr.  Laurence Freeman
                  Bishop George Browning
                  Rev. Linda Chapman

                  Fr. Laurence Freeman
                  Prof.David Tacey
                  Dr. Susan Murphy
                  Prof. Mark Diesendorf
                  Q&A :  Speakers with  Geraldine Doogue

                  Fr. Laurence Freeman
                  Donna Mulhearn
                  Workshop presenters 



Fr Laurence Freeman is a Benedictine monk and the spiritual guide and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation and travels widely as an international speaker and retreat leader.
Through The World Community for Christian Meditation, an ecumenical contemplative community, Fr Laurence continues the work of teaching Christian Meditation and restoring the contemplative as the essential and central dimension of  Christian spirituality.

He is the author of many books and articles including Light Within, Selfless Self, Web of Silence, Common Ground, A Short Span of Days, and Beauty's Field: Seeing the World. He writes a quarterly spiritual letter for the World Community and publishes Daily Wisdom, a popular daily email of one of his photographs with a short text .He is also the editor of John Main’s works.

Fr Laurence has conducted dialogues and peace initiatives such as the historic “Way of Peace” with the Dalai Lama, and is active in inter-religious dialogue with leaders of other faiths. He encourages the teaching of Christian meditation to children and students, and the recovery of the contemplative wisdom in the Church and in society at large. He is the Director of Meditatio, the outreach of the community to the wider world and secular institutions. For recent Meditatio events see



While Anglican Bishop in Canberra from 1993 – 2008,  in partnership with the then Governor General Sir William Deane and Doctor Lowitcha O'Donohue he founded the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra, an ecumenical centre for reconciliation and hope across the boundaries that have traditionally divided. The Centre’s theme is Wisdom working for the Common Good.  With a lifelong commitment to social justice as a core descriptor of Christian faith, this phase of  his retirement is spent pursuing justice for Palestinians and arguing that the environmental crisis is essentially a 21st century crisis of  the human vocation.  In retirement George has completed a PhD: Sabbath and the Common Good: Prospects for a new humanity.  This thesis will provide the background for his contribution to the Meditatio Seminar.


Linda established Open Sanctuary on the NSW South Coast at Tilba Tilba.  Open Sanctuary, a place of contemplative ecumenical gathering and creation spirituality, offers a space for intentional and inclusive friendship.
Linda is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Moruya, an Oblate of the World Christian Meditation Community and a Spiritual Director following her time at the Mary McKillop Centre, Sydney.

Linda has given expression to her passion for nature through her  involvement in the Diocesan Commission for the Environment, teaching eco-theology and as a committed campaigner and speaker.

She nurtures the Christian contemplative way, leads retreats and dialogues with other faith traditions



David Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra. He is an interdisciplinary scholar and public intellectual who has written extensively on spirituality, religion, mental health and eco-psychology. He is the author of fourteen books, including Edge of the Sacred; Re-Enchantment and The Spirituality Revolution.

David grew up in central Australia alongside Aboriginal cultures, and has a life-long interest in indigenous issues. David speaks regularly to religious conferences and seminars and his books have been widely published internationally and some have been translated into Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and French.


Susan Murphy is a former academic,writer, screenwriter, film maker, radio documentary features producer and widely published scholar in the fields of film and social ecology.
She is a Zen Roshi, the founding teacher of Zen Open Circle in Sydney Australia with a special interest in the way Zen and the indigenous Australian sense of 'care for country' come together.  Author of “ Minding the Earth Mending the World:The Offer We Can No Longer Refuse”, a Zen response to our slow-burning planetary emergency  which offers a profoundly hopeful second chance to engage with what it means to deeply mind the earth once more.

 Assoc. Professor MARK DIESENDORF

Mark Diesendorf is an Australian academic and environmentalist, known for his work in sustainable development and renewable energy. He was Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS 1996-2001 and is currently Associate Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at UNSW. He teaches, researches and consults in the interdisciplinary fields of sustainable energy, energy policy, sustainable urban transport, theory of sustainability, ecological economics, and practical processes by which government, business and other organisations can achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just development.

Author of many research papers, articles,  and books. his most recent book is 'Sustainable Energy Solutions for Climate Change' proposing ecologically sustainable and socially just futures for Australia and the world, creating visions of those futures and developing feasible strategies for the transition process.

Catholic Earthcare Australia, Speaker

Dr Vicki Grieves -- Honorary ARC Indigenous Research Fellow
Sociology and Social Policy Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney

Dr Grieves is Warraimay from the mid north coast of NSW and an historian.  Her research interests are to do with gender and race in settler colonial societies, the development of Indigenous knowledges in the academy, well being and cultural heritage management. The first Aboriginal BA (Hons) graduate in Australia, she has had a varied career as a manager in policy and program development contexts within the Commonwealth public service, universities and as CEO of Biripi Aboriginal Medical Service. See

Vicki Grieves, Aboriginal Spirituality: Aboriginal Philosophy: The Basis of Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Discussion Paper No. 9.



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