Indigenous Wisdom from Down Under: Eddie Kneebone

Eddie Kneebone (1947-2005) was an aboriginal indigenous leader who taught with us when we sponsored a one-week Creation Spirituality workshop in Melbourne in 1990.  At the end of the week, as the faculty was saying our goodbyes to the several hundred students in attendance, he said, “this has been the first time in my life white people have invited me to teach.”  And he broke down and cried.

Eddie Kneebone, awarded the 2001 Pax Christi International Peace Prize. Photo courtesy of the Wodonga Institute of TAFE.

We became friends and I invited him to come to America and teach in our ICCS program at Holy Names College.  All of us learned a lot from his teaching and lineage.  He was an activist in his own country fighting for the rights of the first peoples there. 

He sat down for an interview that was published in the book  Creation Spirituality and the Dreamtime and some of his teachings follow.

Aboriginal spirituality is the belief that all objects are living and share the same soul or spirit that Aboriginals share.  Therefore all Aboriginals have a kinship with the environment.  The soul or spirit is common—only the shape is different, but no less important….Everything is equal and shares the same soul or spirit from the Dreamtime. 

Does this correspond to Meister Eckhart’s teachings about the “equality of being”?

Eddie Kneebone criticizes church buildings when they are presented as the only place to worship God. 

Aboriginal Elder and Indigenous Educator, Aunty Munya Andrews, explains why describing the Dreamtime is such a big question. Video by EVOLVE Indigenous Cultural Awareness.

I have found peace of heart—but not in a building.  I was told to ‘Go to church, that is where you will find God, inside the church.’…Man created the buildings that he calls church, God created the world.  If I look for God, then it will be in the environment that he built.

What is “Dreamtime”?  Says Eddie:

The aspect of being at one with the universe—not just the little piece of land that we stand on, not simply the environment around us, or the country that we live in—but the universe.  It is included in our lives.  It is a part of us.  During the daytime we can look outside and we see trees, birds, rivers, the wind in the clouds and the sunshine.  He says we can easily “take for granted” our environment.

Daytime is one thing; nighttime is another. 

The story of “Why Kookaburra Laughs at Dawn,” from A. W. Reed’s Aboriginal Stories of Australia. Video by Bedtime Stories

But at night the other half of our environment is revealed—the universe.  Every clear night we can look up and see millions of stars…The Aboriginals looked up at night and they didn’t see the stars—they never saw stars.  They only saw the campfires of their ancestors on their journey.  The bright stars were the ancestors who were not long gone; the dimmer stars were the ancestors further on the journey….

Notice how his tradition personalizes the cosmos. 

For me, Creation Spirituality as Matthew Fox talks about it, is like the Dreamtime in the way that it brings the entire cosmos into our lives, making it a part of us and us, a part of it.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: Mystic-Warrior For Our Times, chapter 11, “Indigenous Wisdom and Shamanism: Meister Eckhart meets Eddie Kneebone, Black Elk, and Bill Everson,” pp. 207f.

Banner Image: Eddie Kneebone, ‘Bones of Contention (Panel 6)’ (detail), 2005, acrylic on canvas. Photo by Ben Eyles Wodonga TAFE.

Are you busy bringing the entire cosmos into your life, making it a part of yourself and yourself a part of it?  How do you best do that?

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward


Join Matthew Fox for a thought-provoking 7-week course: Answer the Call for an Uncommon Life Through the Mystical Teachings of St. Hildegard, Tuesdays, 6/15 to 7/27. While the course has begun, registration remains open, with recordings of past classes available. Learn more HERE.

Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT

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5 thoughts on “Indigenous Wisdom from Down Under: Eddie Kneebone”

  1. Avatar
    Patrcia G. Ferrari

    I am so grateful for Matthews daily meditations. He brings to me in my small space all the wisdom of so many teachers , so many beautiful creative thoughts from the cosmos the earth and all the beauty of the universe. I am so blessed to have this in my life. I too am 80 years old like him. He is a a gem of creation too. Love and gratitude . Patricia Ferrari

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Patrcia, you and Matthew are two octogenarians who are in love with the wisdom and the beauty of the universe…

  2. Avatar

    I love this. It honors our experience, our lives on Earth. In A Course in Miracles they call our time on Earth “Separation from God” and call our lives here a dream. It is reverse from how the aboriginals see it. They call the Oneness of the Heavens Dreamtime and give real credence to the Oneness being in everything in Creation, certainly not separated from it. This touches my heart deeply.

  3. Pingback: “Down under” perspectives… | Christian Playbook

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