Thursday, 27 August 2015

Islam in Australia - a very ancient connection

It should be remembered that settlers in Australia since 1788 
have long had Muslims in their midst. 
 Northern Australia and indigenous people have a longer history. 
 The Editor of this blog can recall a news item 
from when she lived in the Northern Territory between 1993-97. 
A very elderly woman had returned to Australia. 
She had left many decades before because she married a Macassan 
and had now come back to spend her last years on country. 

Each year from the early to mid-1600s to 1906 AD1 at least a thousand ‘Macassans’ – from the extreme corner of the island of Celebes (now modern day Indonesia) – voyaged to northern coastal Australia in search of trepang. Otherwise known as bĂȘche-de-mer, sea cucumber or sea slug, trepang was considered a delicacy in China where it was later sold. Early records including navigator and explorer Matthew Flinders’ A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814) commonly refer to the trepang fishermen as ‘Malay’, but a more accurate term is ‘Macassan’ (Macassar was the major port of origin for many of the boats). During the three hundred or so years of seasonal contact, the coastal societies of northern Australia, from the Kimberly region, across Arnhem Land and down into the southern Gulf of Carpentaria underwent a dynamic process of transformation (Clarke 315-16). The centuries long encounters between Aboriginal and ‘Macassan’ societies produced both wanted and unwanted social change for coastal Aborigines. After all, Indigenous meetings with foreign ‘Macassan’ communities were formed against the backdrop of imperial incursion and cultural expansion from elsewhere. 

Please read more here

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Islam in Australia - our oldest mosque

The oldest surviving mosque in Australia, although we know that some Australian Muslims have ancestors who were here...

Friday, 21 August 2015

Lama Zopa Rinpoche speaks of samsara, visits to old folks' homes and caregiving

The Incredible Teaching of Caregiving“We also went to see quite a number of old folks’ homes. Also recently in...
Posted by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Thursday, 20 August 2015

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Celebrating Sukkot: a luncheon club talk - Wednesday 30 September 2015

Pictures below from here
Celebrate Sukkot 
in the very heart of the Melbourne CBD
The Council of Christians and Jews (Victoria) 
would like to invite you to a Luncheon Club talk on:
For God's Sake - who speaks for god? 
Passion, tolerance and extremism

Date: Wednesday 30 September 2015
Time: 12:00 pm to 1:00pm
City Sukkah in "old City Square", 
Swanston Street in front of Starbucks and the Westin Hotel

About the speaker:
Born in Zimbabwe, raised in South Africa Rabbi Ralph Genende is a well-known and popular Modern Orthodox Rabbi. Ralph was Senior Rabbi to the Auckland, New Zealand Jewish community for ten years. He then became College Rabbi at Mount Scopus College and rabbi of Beit Aharon congregation. Currently Rabbi Genende is Senior Rabbi of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, one of Melbourne’s largest congregations, Senior Rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, Chair of the Religious Advisory Council to the Minister of Defence (RACS), Executive Member of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, board member of AIJAC and member of the Premier's Mulitifaith Advisory Group. Rabbi Genende is a trained counsellor with a Masters degree from Auckland University. He is married to Caron, a psychologist and they have three children – Eyal, Daniella and Yonatan.
Cost: $10.00 including lunch
RSVP: phone 03 9429 5212; email: 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Brimbank & Maribyrnong Interfaith Network: Spiritual Care and Family Violence Forum for Chaplains and Pastoral Carers

Australian consciousness of family violence and violence against women and children is extending beyond the level where we have been for about forty years.  A major contributor to making us more aware is Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year. Our nation is the middle of a rethink and an extension of our knowledge.  Because of this, please consider this event.

The Brimbank and Maribyrnong Interfaith Network invites you to:
Spiritual Care and Family Violence Forum for Chaplains and Pastoral Carers
Date: Thursday 17 September 2015       Time: 9am - 3pm

Reception Room, Maribyrnong City Council, 
Corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray 
(5 minutes’ walk from Footscray station)

The forum will bring together Pastoral Care workers and Chaplains in the community sector to consider the impact of family violence, appropriate spiritual care and the potential for healing and growth as we work with affected individuals and families.
  • Dr. Robyn Gregory, CEO Women’s Health West – setting the scene
  • Monique Toohey, Managing Director Nasihah Consulting – culturally appropriate responses
  • Jen Allen, Executive Director of Victorian Institute of Counselling and Coaching - keys to recovery
Includes group discussion and consideration of the implications for your practice.  
Cost - $40, $30 for SCA members (includes morning tea and lunch)
 To register please download and complete the form and submit by 10 September 2015.
More Information: Geoff Wraight, Baptcare Pastoral Care, Telephone:  0409 314 626 |  OR Gareth Fuller, SASHS Chaplain, Telephone:  0487 921 641 |

Brought to you by: The Salvation Army, Brimbank and Maribyrnong Interfaith Network, Baptcare, Brimbank City Council, Maribyrnong City Council and Spiritual Care Australia.

Mountview Uniting Church: Manus & Nauru - a sentence to endless death

Monday, 17 August 2015

Uniting Church Synod of Vic/Tas invites ideas and responses sharing with other faith communities in Victoria: Disability Plan 2015-2018

The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania would like to invite you to:
The Disability Actional Plan 2015 - 2018
Date: Friday 25 September 2015         Time: 3:30pm

Location: Uniting Church Centre, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Faith communities internationally, and increasingly in Australia, are responding to the needs of people with disabilities and their families, who wish to participate in worship and social activities. In recent times, The Buddhist Council of Victoria has undertaken to make its temples more accessible, and a number of Christian churches have been examining their responses, including architecture, attitudes and theology. The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has developed its 2015-18 Plan, and is interested in sharing ideas and responses with other interested faith communities in Victoria. You are most welcome to join us on September 25.
Special Guest: Ms Colleen Pearce, Public Advocate, Office of the Public Advocate
An Auslan interpreter will be present. Food and drinks will be available (please inform the organizers about dietary requirements).
Contact / RSVP: Ann Byrne, 03 9251 5404 
RSVP: Friday 18 September 2015        More information: 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Common Ground 2015 - Poetry and Spoken Word

Victoria: Common Ground - Poetry and Spoken Word

Common Ground 2015 will be a unique, multilingual project that utilizes poetry, spoken word, sound and film to build connections and understanding between young people of diverse faiths and cultures in Melbourne. Over an eight-week series of free workshops at the State Library of Victoria, facilitators and artists Abdul Hammoud, Ebony Moncrief and Sukhjit Khalsa will be collaborating with budding wordsmiths to create new poetry and spoken word pieces exploring identity and role of faith in our everyday lives.

Are you interested in poetry and spoken word?

Common Ground 2015 will be a unique, multilingual project that utilizes poetry, spoken word, sound and film to build connections and understanding between young people of diverse faiths and cultures in Melbourne. Over an eight-week series of free workshops at the State Library of Victoria, facilitators and artists Abdul Hammoud, Ebony Moncrief and Sukhjit Khalsa will be collaborating with budding wordsmiths to create new poetry and spoken word pieces exploring identity and role of faith in our everyday lives.
On Saturday 19 September from 2pm-4pm at the State Library of Victoria’s Village Roadshow Theatrette, the poets will transform their papered confessions into spoken word by bringing their own voices and stories up to the microphone. A selection of the pieces created during this project will also be set to soundscapes created by Melbourne-based producer CAZEAUX O.S.L.O accompanied by a video produced by Rogue Pixel and released later in the year.
Common Ground was established in 2013 to create a space for young people from two faiths that are often religiously and racially vilified (Sikhism and Islam), to come together and use spoken word and poetry as a medium for dialogue, friendship and interaction. This year the Common Ground Collective wants to bring the project back to the community and encourage young people from diverse faith backgrounds to join the project. Common Ground’s capacity to represent diverse cultures, faiths and identities through creativity offers a wealth of possibilities. It an opportunity to create interfaith dialogue around shared experiences to promote cultural cohesion and understanding.

Common Ground Workshops

Event Information

When: Every Saturday, 25 July – 12 September 2015 (8 weeks) from 11am-1pm
Where: State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000
Cost: FREE (please register for workshops by contacting one of the community liaisons below)
Register: see below
Performance: Outcome on Saturday 19 September, 2pm-4pm at the State Library of Victoria.

Registration / more information

  • please contact the Community Liaisons:
  • Ajit Singh 0413 172 357
  • Amona Hassab 0423 682 508
  • Zakia Baig 0469 925 341 ... or ...
  • Jess Fairfax, Project Officer, Multicultural Arts Victoria, email or call 9188 3681
  • Robyn Gawenda, Project Officer, Multicultural Arts Victoria, email or call 9188 3681.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Standing united: the 14th triennial Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia held in Perth - July 2015

 AUGUST 2, 2015

august crosslight cover
More than 300 members of the Uniting Church in Australia met last month at the 14thtriennial Assembly, held in Perth. Church gatherings such as this represent a microcosm of issues facing society. Our relationship with Australia’s First peoples, multiculturalism, same-gender marriage, asylum seeker policies and foreign aid were just some of the subjects discussed throughout the eight days.  This month, Crosslightbrings you a snapshot of news and reflections from Assembly.
All of the August Crosslight stories are available hereCrosslight is also available in digital form, so you can read it from your iPad or tablet device.
If you are not able to get to a Uniting Church congregation but would like to continue to receive Crosslight each month, we can arrange to deliver it to you, whether you are in Australia or overseas. Subscribe here to receive Crosslight in your letterbox every month.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Read this book for free: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: the teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn

Following the post below
which references 
Dropping Ashes on the Buddha:
the teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn,
I have found a .pdf copy of the book 
which I am embedding below
so that you can read it right here by scrolling down.


A Zen master explains death and the life-force

One of the most brilliant sites on the 'net is a site called Brain Pickings run by the marvellous Maria Popova.   The site is a miscellany of stuff. You never quite know what Maria will come up with next.  Please go to the site and explore.  Interfaith friends, I hope, will enjoy this.

A Zen Master Explains Death and the Life-Force to a Child and Outlines the Three Essential Principles of Zen Mind

If death is so enormous a mystery that we remain unable to wrap our grownup minds around it, despite comfort from our great poets and consolation from our great philosophers, how are tiny humans to make sense of it all? Although there exist some exceptional children's books about loss and grief, explaining death to a child remains one of the most challenging tasks for a human being to undertake.
Because the language of Zen, holding great complexity of experience in great simplicity of expression, is so organically suited to the child – children, after all, have a way of leaning their minds toward the profound by way of the simple – it is perhaps the best language we have in offering a befitting explanation, as much to ourselves as to our young ones.
That's what the great Korean-born Zen teacher Seung Sahn Soen-sa(August 1, 1927–November 30, 2004) offers in one of the chapters inDropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn (public library) – a tiny treasure of a book originally published in 1976, irreverent yet immensely spiritually invigorating, collecting his correspondence and conversations with Zen students in the West.
Soen-sa recounts his conversation with Gita, the seven-year-old daughter of one of his students at the Cambridge Zen Center, after the death of the center's beloved cat, cleverly named Katz. ("KATZ!" is the transcription of the famous Buddhist belly-shout, used as a way of focusing energy and intention during Zen practice.) Katz had died after a long illness and was given a traditional Buddhist burial, but the little girl remained troubled by his death. One day after practice, she came to the great Zen teacher for an explanation. He relays the exchange:
"What happened to Katzie? Where did he go?”
Soen-sa said, “Where do you come from?”
“From my mother's belly.”
“Where does your mother come from?” Gita was silent.
Soen-sa said, “Everything in the world comes from the same one thing. It is like in a cookie factory. Many different kinds of cookies are made – lions, tigers, elephants, houses, people. They all have different shapes and different names, but they are all made from the same dough and they all taste the same. So all the different things that you see – a cat, a person, a tree, the sun, this floor – all these things are really the same.”
“What are they?”
Illustration by Edward Gorey from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
With an eye to our tendency to mistake a thing's name for its thingness, Soen-sa answers by urging the little girl to contact the universal life-force of the metaphorical cookie dough:
“People give them many different names. But in themselves, they have no names. When you are thinking, all things have different names and different shapes. But when you are not thinking, all things are the same. There are no words for them. People make the words. A cat doesn't say, ‘I am a cat.’ People say, ‘This is a cat.’ The sun doesn't say, ‘My name is sun.’ People say, ‘This is the sun.’
So when someone asks you, ‘What is this?’, how should you answer?”
“I shouldn't use words.”
Soen-sa said, “Very good! You shouldn't use words. So if someone asks you, ‘What is Buddha?’, what would be a good answer?”
Gita was silent.
Soen-sa said, “Now you ask me."
“What is Buddha?”
Soen-sa hit the floor.
Gita laughed.
Soen-sa said, “Now I ask you: What is Buddha?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What is God?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What is your mother?”
Gita hit the floor.
“What are you?”
Gita hit the floor.
“Very good! This is what all things in the world are made of. You and Buddha and God and your mother and the whole world are the same.”
Gita smiled.
Soen-sa said, “Do you have any more questions?”
“You still haven't told me where Katz went.”
Soen-sa leaned over, looked into her eyes, and said, “You already understand.”
Gita said, “Oh!” and hit the floor very hard. Then she laughed.
Soen-sa ends the anecdote with an exchange intended to be funny, but in fact a tragic testament to contemporary Western education beinga force of industrialized specialization, deliberately fragmenting the unity of all things and deconditioning our inner wholeness:
As she was opening the door, she turned to Soen-sa and said, “But I'm not going to answer that way when I'm in school. I'm going to give regular answers!” Soen-sa laughed.
Illustration from The Book of Memory Gaps by Cecilia Ruiz
In another section of the book, Soen-sa examines the principles and practices that help us cultivate the pre-thinking mind necessary for truly tasting the metaphorical cookie dough of the universal life-force. Responding to a letter from a Zen beginner, a young woman named Patricia who had trouble grasping the value and very notion of "don't-know mind," he writes:
Throw away all opinions, all likes and dislikes, and only keep the mind that doesn't know... Your before-thinking mind, my before-thinking mind, all people's before-thinking minds are the same. This is your substance. Your substance, my substance, and the substance of the whole universe become one. So the tree, the mountain, the cloud, and you become one... The mind that becomes one with the universe is before thinking. Before thinking there are no words. “Same” and “different” are opposites words; they are from the mind that separates all things.
A few months later, in another letter to Patricia, he explores the three pillars of Zen's don't-know mind:
Zen practice ... requires great faith, great courage, and great questioning. What is great faith? Great faith means that at all times you keep the mind which decided to practice, no matter what. It is like a hen sitting on her eggs. She sits on them constantly, caring for them and giving them warmth, so that they will hatch. If she becomes careless or negligent, the eggs will not hatch and become chicks. So Zen mind means always and everywhere believing in myself... Great courage ... means bringing all your energy to one point. It is like a cat hunting a mouse. The mouse has retreated into its hole, but the cat waits outside the hole for hours on end without the slightest movement. It is totally concentrated on the mouse-hole. This is Zen mind – cutting off all thinking and directing all your energy to one point. Next – great questioning... If you question with great sincerity, there will only be don't-know mind.
Complement Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, indispensable in its entirety, with the great D.T. Suzuki on how Zen can help us cultivate our character, Alan Watts on death, and beloved Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn on how to do "hugging meditation."

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Baha'i chronicles, history, blog.

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Latest Blog Post

Baha’i Chronicles – A New Site Chronicling the History of the Baha’i Faith

by Naysan, in History, Resources
Here at Baha’i Blog we’re passionate about Baha’i history, and so we’re super excited to share with everyone a wonderful new site called Baha’i Chronicles, which aims to document the stories of the heroes and heroines of the Baha’i Faith, both past and present. Baha’i Chronicles ( is the brainchild of Neda Nassir Najibi and ...
Latest Video

The King and the Dervish

by Naysan, in Arts & Crafts, Storytelling
An animated version of the story of The King and the Dervish, reportedly one of Abdu’l-Baha’s favorites stories, about the nature of detachment.
Latest Audio

“Shine Ye” by Devina & Raneesha Saberi

by Naysan, in Music
Baha’i Blog’s “Studio Sessions” is an initiative where we invite Baha’is from around the world to share the Baha’i Writings put to music. In this Baha’i Blog Studio Session, sisters Devina and Raneesha Saberi sing “Shine Ye”, based on an excerpt from a tablet by Abdu’l-Baha. You can also watch the video of the recording ...
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