Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm’

Living in direct provision means Aung Marma is more vulnerable to infection from Covid-19. He worries, but also keeps calm by taking exercise, keeping busy and meditating

My name is Aung Marma. I was born in 1991. I’m originally from Bangladesh. My ethnicity is Marma, which is one of the 13 ethnic groups in Bangladesh. My religion by birth is Buddhism.

Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim, and for that reason most of our ethnic groups have to face fatality from Islamic extremists and we don’t get justice for what happened to us. Which is why we migrated to neighbouring countries, India and Burma.

As we are Buddhists, the impact of Islamist extremists came on us. Once we were attacked in 2003. Then I went to Sri Lanka for my safety and for further studies in 2008. And I started my studies at university level. In 2016, when I went back to see my mother who was sick, I was attacked by some Muslim settlers and I had flee to Burma for my life.

And from Burma I made a false passport and returned to Sri Lanka. From Sri Lanka I came to Ireland in June 2019 for my safety and to raise my voice for our people, who are suffering at the hands of extremists and are seeking refuge from the world. I hope my voice will be heard by the whole world someday.

So now I am here in Ireland, living as an asylum-seeker and living in the direct provision system.

Living in direct provision means you are more vulnerable to being infected by the Covid-19 virus, since we have to live with many people in the same building.

The Irish Government has taken the initial steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and the managers and workers in our centre have taken all the precautions to prevent infection from the virus. Honestly, I do not have any objections to the management and to the authorities.

I know this pandemic affects different people in different ways. I have seen that some of my friends seem very stressed worrying about their families and their

future. I do also worry, but I keep myself calm, knowing that the pandemic will be over sooner or later.

In Buddhism, the Buddha has taught us about Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering) and Anatta (constant change) – in this world every phenomenon is changeable and not permanent. If one comes to understand the truth as truth, so they can live in calm.

So my idea is to keep myself busy by doing activities. When you’re staying home, do some physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise can be done by yourself and mental exercise can be done by practising meditation. Meditation helps people to understand the reality of things by being attentive to what’s

going on around you. And meditation also helps you to see the impermanence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to ask people to be wiser and calmer to face this disaster and to take every precaution imposed by the authorities. I thank the Government of Ireland for taking the initial precautions for preventing the pandemic. And I would also like to see the laws and rules continue to be implemented until Covid-19 has been completely uprooted from Ireland.

I am well aware that people have reasons to break the rules of government, but if we break the rules we will have to face more fatalities from coronavirus, that is for sure. Therefore, we must be far-sighted and act wisely.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of all of the Clare PPN.

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