After a failed mountaineering expedition to China and a foot injury that ended her outdoor adventures, Sydney lawyer Marie Byles embarked on a spiritual journey.
From the early 1940s, at her Cheltenham home, Ahimsa, Marie began a serious study of the Buddhist texts. Ahimsa, named after the precept of non-harm, was a modest structure, built to minimise damage to the local flora and fauna. It was a place where Marie practised her Buddhist ethics and developed interpretations that would influence later generations of Buddhists.
The State Library has the most comprehensive collection of Marie Byles’ writings, among them her unpublished autobiography, four books, and over 100 articles on Buddhism, other religions and matters of ethics. Marie’s books were published in England, with Footprints of Gautama the Buddha also released in the United States, and her articles appeared around the world. Marie’s writings reveal a knowledge of Buddhism gained not only from sacred texts but also from extensive travel and practice.