We undertook an intense 6-weeks dialogic exploration, The Difficulty of Being Dharmic, as a part of the Dharma Drishti Sangha, Sept-Oct 2021. It created an experiential space to look at how our identities are shaped by colonisation and unhealed trauma of the past, attempt to find a deeper ground of being within and an expansive mind that is in harmony with the eternal flow of life, and working towards collective healing.
What we discovered was that this enquiry leads us to examining our processes of belonging, the hurts that we have internalised because of our belonging, “how have I been violated and how have I violated” – and how these narratives have been inherited by us through generations of being born in this context of colonisation. The Indian story particularly is a complex and multidimensional one.
Claiming and owning up to the colonised parts of ourselves would help discover the Healer Sage within.
Claiming and owning up to the violent and coloniser parts of ourselves would help discover the Dharmic Warrior within.
Discovering these two realities within ourselves, befriending, healing, reconciling, nourishing and bringing them together for action is the difficult, Dharmic journey that each of us has to undertake as an individual and as a collective.
One of the participants, Natasha Arnold, shares a poem by Miriam Rose, Aboriginal artist and educator:
A Lush Forest
“My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness.
My people today, recognise and experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all.
It is easy for me to experience God’s presence.
When I am out hunting, when I am in the bush, among the trees, on a hill or by a billabong;
these are the times when I can simply be in God’s presence.
My people have been so aware of Nature. It is natural that we will feel close to the Creator.
Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait.
We do not try to hurry things up.
We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons.
We watch the moon in each of its phases.
We wait for the rain to fill our rivers and water the thirsty earth…
When twilight comes, we prepare for the night.
At dawn we rise with the sun.
We watch the bush foods and wait for them to ripen before we gather them.
We wait for our young people as they grow, stage by stage, through their initiation ceremonies.
When a relation dies, we wait a long time with the sorrow. We own our grief and allow it to heal slowly.
We wait for the right time for our ceremonies and our meetings. The right people must be present. Everything must be done in the proper way. Careful preparations must be made. We don’t mind waiting, because we want things to be done with care.
We don’t like to hurry. There is nothing more important than what we are attending to.
There is nothing more urgent that we must hurry away for.
We wait on God, too. His time is the right time. We wait for him to make his Word clear to us.
We don’t worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) his way will be clear.
We are River people.
We cannot hurry the river.
We have to move with its current and understand its ways.
We hope that the people of Australia will wait.
Not so much waiting for us – to catch up – but waiting with us, as we find our pace in this world. ……
If you stay closely united, you are like a tree, standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber.
The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt; but inside the tree the sap is still flowing, and under the ground the roots are still strong.
Like that tree, you have endured the flames, and you still have the power to be reborn.
Our culture is different.
We are asking our fellow Australians to take time to know us; to be still and to listen to us…”
Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, 2021 Senior Australian of the year, is a renowned Aboriginal Artist and Educator who is dedicated to creating bright and fulfilling futures for Aboriginal children and youth. She was the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the Northern Territory and is the founder of the Miriam Rose Foundation. Miriam Rose speaks five local languages along with English and is responsible for establishing the highly successful Merrepen Arts centre in Nauiyu.