May 07, 2003

Walking for Peace (Part I)

We all want peace, but how do we find it? The longer I search for peace, the more I realize that peace will find me when I give up looking for it. But this giving up has to be a positive step of acceptance, not one of resignation. In any case, I wanted to share a recent experience of walking for peace along with monastics from the Nipponzan Myohoji Sangha. This is a Buddhist order who's spiritual practice is building peace pagodas and walking for peace.

I had my first contact with this group a few years ago when they were doing a walk to bring attention to the suffering that takes place in prisons in Massachusetts. I met sister Clare, who led the walk. One of the things that impressed me about her, was what she said when I invited her to visit one of my Buddhist prison groups. She replied "I have nothing to teach, I only know how to chant." Which, of course, was quite a wonderful teaching!

I met this years walk on a Monday evening in Foxboro, where the walkers were staying for the night. That night president Bush made a speech giving Iraq a 48 hour ultimatum. The next day I decided to join the walk for the day, and walked with them during the afternoon. I enjoyed the experience, and finally decided to join the walk into Boston over the next 3 days. I was unsure about whether or not this was the right thing to do, but as soon as I made the decision, everything fell into place. I told Brother Kato, the walk's leader, about my decision, and asked him what I needed to know or do in order to join the walk. He explained that the walk was for peace, so it was important that I was committed to non-violence in any situation that might occur while walking. Also, I was to leave any intoxicants and weapons behind while I was part of the walk. Being a bit of a smart-ass, I replied that while I didn't have a gun, I did have a more dangerous weapon than a gun that I'd be bringing along... my mind. Brother Kato replied immediately, that as long as I chanted while walking, my mind would be no problem. Very wise words indeed from the walk leader - at that point I knew I had made the right decision. The same evening I heard a wonderful story from a local woman who had joined us for dinner, about reading Zen and the Art of Archery and an adventure she subsequently had when she let go of her normal way of functioning and got into the flow. And all of my logistical concerns about where to leave my car during the walk faded away when I invited some of the walkers to stay at my house for the night, as one of them drove me to the start of the walk the next day. I was on my way.

Posted by BuddhaBoy at May 7, 2003 02:27 PM