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Marie Beuzeville Byles – A Woman with Spirit, Determination, and Vision

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Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, we feature the trail-blazing life of Marie Beuzeville Byles, a petite Australian woman with a big vision. Marie was a pioneering conservationist, the first woman solicitor in New South Wales, a remarkable mountaineer, and one of the first Buddhists in Australia.

Marie Beuzeville Byles was born in England in 1900. Her mother, Ida Margaret, was a vegetarian, an artist and a suffragette. Like her mother, Marie honored the lives of all sentient beings, and also chose to be a life-long vegetarian.

Up until 1918, it had been illegal for a woman to practice law in Australia. Marie, determined to set new trails, then enrolled in law school at the University of Sydney. Determined and disciplined, she went on to earn her Bachelor of Law degree in 1924, becoming the first woman allowed to practice law in New South Wales. Ms. Byles was not interested in seeking money nor fame through her legal practice. Rather, she used her solicitor’s skills to stand up for women’s equal rights and nature conservation.

Marie had another love in her life, and that was mountaineering. She never accepted the social norm at that time that women had to wear dresses, and did all her climbing wearing long pants. Before long, she had mastered the skills needed to climb high altitude mountains and successfully ascended Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, and the second highest in the southern hemisphere.

Raised a Christian and forever the seeker of truth, Marie Beuzeville Byles examined the deep psychology of Carl Jung and studied the writings of nonviolence and justice leader Mahātmā Gandhi. Travelling to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Tibet and Âu Lạc, also known as Vietnam, in 1938, she became acquainted with Buddhism and found the peace she had been searching for. Retiring from her professional legal practice at the age of 70, Marie spent much of her time in solitude and meditation. When she passed away, she gifted her property and cottage to the National Trust as a sanctuary where future generations could come to meditate and enjoy the natural beauty of her land.

Marie Beuzeville Byles was a remarkable woman, a shining example for us all. She taught us to love nature, to seek truth, to stand up for what is right, and to never give up, in order to create a better world for all sentient beings.

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