Asia West Pacific

Asylum Seeker: Find Your Inner Sanctuary

by Mochamad Faris Dzulfiqar,  Participant empowerment Training Indonesia ( 13 February-3 April 2021, from Bandung-West Java)

From left to right, top to bottom: Faris, Chandya, Lita, Rhaka, Wulan, Linda, Reza, Lintang. After the performance of Embodied Justice, Bandung, September 2020.

Saturday, 13 February 2021, I learned how to befriend others during the ‘Personal Transformation’ online workshop with Peace Place Pati. In the virtual room, 11 people from every Indonesian corner and age group gathered to understand the topic of ‘Friendship and Greeting’. Later, the workshop started with each person reading the AVP Cultures of Peace Approach. We processed personal feelings within small groups, found positive words starting with the sound of our first name, and played ‘a big wind blows’ game.

For me, this session felt like being served a sweet coffee. I deeply appreciated the acceptance and hospitality from all participants, and at the same time there were ways that I did not fully enjoy the positive vibes. The recipe for my bitter coffee is a combination of abandonment issues, misunderstandings, listening to others traumatic experiences, and learning existentialism philosophy that has made me both awake and aware.

During the course, I doubted the loss of positive words and the disorganization of the mind as indications of trauma. My scepticism stems from my focus on Wittgenstein’s statement, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (perhaps I understood this in too literal a sense). So it was strange to think the opposite, that the experiences in my world could limit my language. I imagine a person who has never learned specific positive words rather than the words have gone missing from them. Then think about this question: If our minds were imprisoned by trauma, where were the positive words stored? Perhaps they are in our inner sanctuary? An inner space to be visited again and again over the course of my personal development. And I have an urge to reach it, because I cannot go on passively accepting the toxic culture within my family, circle of friends, workplace, and contemporary society.

I thought unfortunately to find such a place I had to cross the wilderness of trauma. So below I offer a poem that tries to reach it, about asylum seekers as an analogue to my workshop experience. I cram many ideas into my poem. First, the fundamentals of peacebuilding, trauma definition, and points from the map of personal life change. Second, others’ experience of anxiety, insecurity, a feeling of being told one is a sinner under strict religious dogma, and the difficulty of saying positive words for their own sake.

My inner suspicions said, “Those who gather here (in this workshop) are runaways, illegal immigrants, or simply children who need fairy tales.” I believed there was a war within ourselves. Interestingly, since I found acceptance in this forum, an inner sanctuary emerged as if I were a troubadour, seeker, pilgrim, or samana. So, what do I mean by the ‘inner sanctuary’? Conscience? Empathy? The gateway to Nirvana that annihilates the ego? Whatever it is, I believe it is an initial condition, before we are programmed by cynicism, pessimism, and nihilism.

I adopted the word ‘flow’ with my name, Flowing Faris, because the sanctuary is a condition where my mind fills my whole body, flowing without pause. Borrowing from Takuan Sōhō’s saying, “I didn’t see my enemy, my enemy didn’t see me.” Thus, inner sanctuary is a condition that precedes traumatic experience, but is also unfamiliar, like adopting a positive word for my name, which becomes familiar as I revisit it.

About Mochamad Faris Dzulfiqar. Faris was born in 1996 in Bandung city. He had an interest in drama therapy, philosophy, and coffee making. At this moment, he is building a career as a producer and editor in Toa Damai and volunteers at the Youth Center of Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association Headquarter Chapter West Java and the Narrative Project channel.


Asylum Seeker

by Moch Faris Dzulfiqar
#cultures-of-peace


Eleven asylum seekers meet and leave within the typhoon that birthed nameless
gravestones said, “There is no man but a note of an unplucked string,”
but their heartbeats said, “all that is melodious is a dawn in the eye of a fighting seeker.”

makeover Earth, dancing Earth
as the asylum seekers, footstep
and parade of the fellow troubadour, pilgrim, samana,
and the wind with the tapering finger of a lute player
put a flower among our ears
to make us hear the invitation of honey
honed our tongue to the word that isn’t of an ant summoning spells
or a fermentation with all of its drunkenness
only a prayer from lays of hands

in the East, asylum seekers have to tame wild beasts
howling in their veins
and build a camp since the further things
in these steppes are not a mile between bush and tree
but a cold air among people
around a campfire

from the North the river flows
“Am I still called as Citarum when my blue is a bruise in your face?
And what I teach of life came from illness and itchiness
written in the ink of bile or the chimney that breathed out asphyxiated?”
even though we must ride a corpse
we sail the river to seek a purity of lotus lake
to bath out this muddy satan’s embrace
and then with the whole body
spelling the words of rain and rainbow
in the eye of a child

there’s a port city in the South
where an illegal immigrant fled into oblivion
sneaking in the nightmarish dark
terrorized by the flicker of light
angel of death watchful eyes
cut the dead knot of nerves
became a wounded animal
“Or at least gives us words, not an axe
for a mutilated body on a sacrificial altar.”

the legend said in the West there is a utopia
where everyone lives in the Liberty tower
there are no contaminated waters and the gods
baptized us with their names
alas my child, only a ringing echo
inviting and fading
lost with the asylum seekers

About Mochamad Faris Dzulfiqar. Faris was born in 1996 in Bandung city. He had an interest in drama therapy, philosophy, and coffee making. At this moment, he is building a career as a producer and editor in Toa Damai and volunteers at the Youth Center of Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association Headquarter Chapter West Java and the Narrative Project channel.