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Eremos Magazine - Current Issue

Magazine No 137 [ December 2016 ]

An invitation to mutuality, respect and further reflection.

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Inside this issue

VALE JENNIFER JOHNSTON 

THE ABORIGINAL GIFT WE WILL NOT RECEIVE By David Tacey 

REFLECTION ON EDGE OF THE SACRED CONFERENCE By Emily Hayes 

BOOKS FOR GROUPS AND INDIVIUALS lift out 

THE SPIRIT OF LISTENING By Sarah Bachelard 

DADIRRI deep listening to the spirit of place By Nicholas Coleman 

FENCED IN, FENCED OUT an australian exile By Glenn Loughrey

Editorial

We are delighted to devote this issue to papers arising from the Edge of the Sacred Conference, Exiled from Country: Deep Listening to the Spirit of Place, held in Alice Springs, 21-24 July 2016.

All the articles acknowledge the value of dadirri, or deep listening, which, according to David Tacey, is probably the world’s oldest contemplative practice. It is also the foundation of Aboriginal spirituality, law and belonging, and now in this issue we are invited to see its value in addressing some of the spiritual, social and ecological challenges in our world today.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr of the Daly River has said, ‘[Dadirri] is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our fellow Australians. It is the gift that Australians are thirsting for.’

Why then, asks David Tacey, do we refuse a gift so desperately needed and so generously offered? His paper explores some of the cultural and spiritual barriers that prevent our recognising the value of this gift.

But even when we do recognise its value, how are we to respond in a way that is not predatory, not ego-driven?

Writing at the time of the Four Corners Program on the Don Dale Detention Centre, and from her experience of working and living among the Arrernte people, Emily Hayes suggests that dadirri offers an alternative to fear-based approaches to social issues because it ‘has much to teach us about being present, turning away from fear and waiting’. She says, ‘I am not sure that a royal commission can help people feel less afraid.’

Yet dadirri is not an easy practice, particularly for Westerners. Sarah Bachelard reminds us that it is not enough to believe in the inter-relatedness of all things; the real challenge is to learn to live from a place of unitive rather than dualistic consciousness.

She proposes three dispositions (not techniques) that may support our practice of deep listening: poverty of spirit; awareness of the other and responding to what we hear.

Nicholas Coleman suggests that our sense of alienation from ourselves and each other may be self-imposed: ‘What if the original sin of our mythic ancestors is replicated in the choice (initially unconscious) to see ourselves as apart from, rather than a part of the Divine life connecting everything?’

He also asks: ‘What if we were less intent on teaching our ways and listened to their (Aboriginal) ways of addressing their issues?’

Glenn Loughrey provides another perspective on exile. His paper suggests that exile is what happens when dadirri – with its emphasis on deep listening and interconnectedness – is replaced by stereotyping.

Glenn shares his experience of being exiled, not only by the white community, but his own people through limiting stereotypes.

Dadirri is a gift, not a commodity we can appropriate. For these writers it has been an invitation to mutuality, respect and further reflection on their own tradition.

With season's blessings,

Frances MacKay

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