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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

Month

January 2017

Meeting up with Lukas

Last year my friend and I unknowingly handed out little Buddhas to the same young man who was living on the streets of Melbourne at that time.

Separately we both had meaningful conversations with him and later when he found me on social media those conversations continued.

Recently I met up with Lukas, now off the streets, and selling copies of Big Issue to make a living.

It was great to talk with him further about what helped this transition from homelessness to more financially secure living.

He took time out from selling his magazines to have a hot chocolate with me.

In Lukas’ words:

” When you came across me it turned out to be near the end of my final year on the streets.

A month after receiving Buddhas from you and Julie, I got off the streets. 

I came across someone from a housing group who organised for me to get into crisis accommodation. And around that time I decided to try being a Big Issue vendor. 

I was given 3 months crisis accommodation and a social worker who guided me to find more long term housing in a boarding house.

When I first went onto the streets I had given up on life. So if it wasn’t for the people I met on the streets and the kindness that was shown to me I don’t know that I would have survived. 

There was hard stuff too of course. I had my stuff stolen so many times. It’s hard to trust many people when you are in that situation. 

But I am so glad I found the Big Issue because what they do for homeless and people with disabilities is fantastic.

I don’t think enough people know the extent of the great work they do.

It’s been going in Australia for 20 years.

They now have a program called the Big Issue Classroom. School kids come in groups most days and they hear about the marginalisation of people and what that means for some people’s life choices. So I am involved sometimes telling my life story. It was really hard at first and uncomfortable to talk about what I went through as a child. I tell them about my time on the street. 

The also have a Big Idea program for university students that are keen to come up with their own social enterprises. 

As I stand selling my the magazine I see lots of people with miserable faces walking past. People with obviously more money and things I have and they are so unhappy even though they have more. So I value a smile and kindness, a roof over my head and some food.

Pretty simple needs really.

I don’t want to try and get more things in my life. If I can make others smile and can wake up with a smile on my face then I am pretty content. 

Where I stand to sell the Big Issue magazine my daily aim is to meet everyone with a smile no matter what mood they seem to be in. It’s a come a bit of a social experiment.”

Lukas was still carrying in his pocket the Budai I had given him previously.

Before leaving I offered him to choose his third Buddha for this phase of his journey.

He was delighted to do so. He chose a Budai with its hands in the air with fruit in bowls- a symbol of abundance.

 

Buddha donated by  Jo Adelaide

 

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In the hands of the Order- Padmasiddhi

words from Padmasiddhi

“This gold coloured Kesa is worn by me to signify that I practice within our Buddhist Order as an Anagarika. It is special to me because it is a regular reminder of my commitment to go deeper with my efforts to cultivate Stillness, Simplicity & Contentment.

These are states of being that I want to attain for myself, so I can be “in the world, but not of it”.

They are also states of being that I would wish for others as I sincerely believe that if we can all be happy, living with a little less then our world may become more sustainable.”

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Ageless compassion

 

I turned up to the ‘Grandmothers against Refugee Children in Detention’ protest alone. But I carried with me the support of friends and family members who had helped organise 3 back packs with books and warm clothes for refugee children. It was hoped these children might be offered asylum in America as part of an agreement with the Australian Government.    Pleas to bring them to Australia from the detention centre on Nauru had fallen on deaf political ears.

It was a complete surprise when walking with a large crowd of protestors from Federation Square to Queen Victoria Gardens I was greeted enthusiastically by a small woman at my right elbow. It was my Aunt Marjorie. My Dad’s oldest sister. Here she was at 83 all decked out in purple, chanting and singing with gusto, walking with the aid of a stick after her recent hip operation.

It was lovely to share this event with my dear Aunt. She had been member of this group far longer than I and had taken a group bus trip all the way to Canberra earlier in the year to deliver a petition to Parliament House calling for the immediate release of refugee children from detention centres. Aunt Marj has a vibrant active relationship with compassionate action activities encouraged by her church.

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage