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At this mid-way time through BAM, I am already reflecting on what a journey it has proven to be and what a rich and profound time it has been connecting with others. I have been well aware of the plight of ‘boat people’ fleeing persecution in their homelands and trying to make their way to safety in Australia - only to be held in detention here and treated like criminals - but for the first time today I met with someone who has endured these experiences and survived to tell others of their plight. Sunday sees the launch of Refugee Week in South Australia and World Refugee Day is 20th June. That night our sangha will host the man I met today and two supporters from Justice for Refugees SA, to hear how much is happening to advocate for political change in this country, as well as how local communities are providing friendship and practical support to those who have been released from detention. When you start looking, there are so many ways we can get involved and that is certainly what BAM has inspired us to learn about.
Part of my reflection has been the nature of journeying and how and why people undertake travel of epic proportions around the globe. Tomorrow night, one of our sangha who was in northern China earlier this year, will share with us her trip to Dunhuang and the Mogao caves, famous for their statues and wall paintings spanning 1000 years of Buddhist art from the 4th to the 14th centuries. The famous 7th century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (on our Triratna Refuge Tree) passed this way on his epic pilgrimage to India to find Buddhist texts, and he miraculously survived to return to China and translate the teachings.The endurance of the human ‘spirit’ astounds me.