Highlights from Seeking the Sacred by Stephanie Dowrick

Cover of Seeking the Sacred

Highlights from this book

  • What we regard as precious, we will naturally protect.

  • Concern, connectedness, dignity, forgiveness, patience, tolerance, gratitude, and an inclusive intelligence: this is what the world needs. This is what we need.

  • Whatever our culture, religion, or language, we want food, shelter, and good health. We want to be able to get up in t he morning enthusiastically and sleep safely at night. We want health, safety, and happiness for our loved ones. We want to know that our lives are purposeful and sometimes gracious. We want to feel part of something greater than ourselves. We want and neeed inspiration and meaning.

  • Acknowledging your gift of life as sacred doesn’t mean I have to like you, agree with you, or support your views. It doesn’t mean that I have to lie down like a doormat for your feet. It doesn’t mean that I should stand by passively or indifferently if you are harming yourself or others. It doesn’t mean that I can afford to harm or diminish myself. What it does mean is that I have no right to denigrate, hurt, or kill you because you see the world and its problems differently from how I do. I have no right to crush your spirit to make myself feel bigger or more important. I have no right, either, to ignore or compound your suffering because it is taking place in a country far from my home, because your religion is not mine or because I loath and despise your political or cultural ideology. Nor dor I have the right to scorn or trample on my own precious, unique gift of life because it isn’t measuring up to the plan I had for it.

  • Tell people how innately worthless they are and their feelings of spiritual entitlement will be impoverished.

  • “Believing” in love as a value, and perhaps also in a God of love, while living unlovingly, is progressively less convincing.

  • Our inner changes are not always “convenient” to outer timetables. We can’t and we do not always move right along at a pace that others would like and we might also desire.

  • We are drowning in an ocean of self.

  • It takes tremendous courage to consider that whatever is unwelcome in our lives is not happening to us but possibly FOR us.

  • …to see our lives as sacred is literally life-saving.

  • Great doubt: great awakening. / Little doubt: little awakening. / No doubt: no awakening.

    — Zen teaching
  • How we think about ourselves will emerge loud and clear through the way we think about and treat other people.

  • We need to know that it always harms our own sense of self when we reduce “the other” to little more than an object of our contempt. Such behavior demonstrates a brutal ignorance of the subtle and even the gross complexities of each individual’s unfolding situation, and of spiritual claims that in our vast and uncomfortable diversity we are a single family.

  • Conditional love lets me love my life (and myself) when I am giving or doing “enough”. Unconditional love lets me love and value my life. Period.

  • Your inner critic and mine…knows little or nothing about sufficiency. On the contrary, [they] may mistake “sufficiency” for bigheadedness, for being “spoiled”, smug, or self-satisfied. Inner critics might vary their messages between criticisms, warnings, whining, bullying, or belittling, but are unlikely ever to be spacious, kind, light, or forgiving, or to remind us of the preciousness of this fleeting life, the preciousness of our own lives, and the capacities we have to meet even the most difficult moments with courage and hope.

  • Yvonne’s inner story paralyzes even her capacity to imagine effective change and, like any one of us, Yvonne will never achieve what she cannot first imagine.

  • Identity is always a mix of the conditioned and the chosen.

  • It took me so many years to discover that the value of my life does not rest on my work. My life—like yours—is intrinsically precious. Has intrinsic meaning. Is already a gift and always has been.

  • We receive love more confidently when we feel able to give it.

  • I am part of something wondrous. My life has value.

  • What seekers do need and often year for is…“a direct and unmediated contact with the Divine, free of the divisiveness, body hatred, and bias towards transcendence that disfigures all the inherited patriarchal religions.”

    — Andrew Harvey, “The Direct Path”
  • Yet a sense that our inner world is a place of love and a resource for all the highest qualities can be extremely difficult to grasp with the intellect alone. Surrender some of our usual ways of thinking is needed to make way for these kinds of experiences.

  • “We are not spiritual beings having spiritual experiences. We are spiritual beings living a human life.”

    — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
  • What a delight to find that you are not the center of an anxious universe, with other people waiting to judge and condemn you, but that instead you are part of an intricately connected, sacred universe, filled with people whom you can positively influence, support, and encourage—and who will sometimes similiarly support you.

  • Wisdom teaches me I am nothing. Love teaches me I am everything. Between these two poles my life flows.

    — Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • I don’t feel a need to know the details of the afterlife experience. I have a profound trust that my spirit knows where it came from and therefore knows where it’s going.

  • Worldwide spending on war and war readiness is greater than the sum needed for every human being on earth to have food, clean water and shelter, and the chance to live in their homeland.

  • When you know beyond all doubting that the same life flows through all that is and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spotaneously. When you realize the depth and fulness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the entire universe are included in your affection.

    — Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • “One of the conditions of enlightenment has always been a willingness to let go of what we thought we knew in order to appreciate truths we had never dreamed of.”

    — Karen Armstrong
  • “Believe nothing because someone wise has said it. / Believe nothing because it is generally held. / Believe nothing because it is written down. / Believe nothing because it is said to be Godly. Believe nothing because someone else believes it. / Believe only what you yourself discover to be true.”

    — the Buddha
  • The journey inward is risky. People know that instinctively. Maps that take us in that direction are handmade and patchy. What they may do for me today may not help me tomorrow. Staying awake demands mindfulness writ large.

  • “Horizons are smashed [and] people of different beliefs and cultures are colliding with each other. That transformation is really of the whole sense of humanity and what it means to be a cultured and world-related human being. Anything from the past–such as an idea of what [humankind] of this, that, or another culture might be, or should be—is now archaic. And so we have to leave our little provincial stories behind. They may guide us as far as structuring our lives for the moment, but we must always be ready to drop them and to grab the new experience as it comes along, and to interpret it.

    — Joseph Campbell, “The Open Life”
  • “We live at a pace where it is normal to jump when someone snaps their fingers. And to feel guilty and ashamed if we can’t. It’s so normal to ‘serve’ a whole fleet of ‘masters’ that we hardly know we are doing it: the masters of the media, of commercialization, of semmingly trivial things like what we should wear or eat or how slim or fit we should be, as well as the more obvious ‘masters’ of work and its demands.”

    — Jane Moore
  • We need time for reverie and daydreaming, a necessary precursor to any kind of original thinking or creativity, and so often ignored as we sit in front of electronic screens both for work and rest.

  • How we understand or accept the inevitability of death will starkly affect how we regard life, and move through it.