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Suriyavamsa's Dharma Walk Through Scotland

On Tue, 8 July, 2014 - 14:08
Candradasa's picture
Candradasa
Over on our Features channel (encompassing the stories that make our home page each week, plus original new Dharma content) we’ve a remarkable ongoing series of posts from Suriyavamsa, the newly installed President of Triratna Highlands in Scotland. He is marking the start of his time in that position by making a ‘Dharma Walk’ (a pilgrimage of sorts) from Inverness to Glasgow (that’s 165 miles or so!). And he’s blogging it for us from his trusty Blackberry…

So far it’s made for a very moving account of what it is to be out in the wild, amongst the elements, with plenty of space and time to reflect on the nature of this human existence and our place as particular beings in history. Actually, it’s far more quietly eloquent than that makes it sound, but the big themes come through easily enough as Suriyavamsa faithfully recounts his journey, his practice, his trials, and his joys at being on the road in his native land.

There’s something too about the pictures he sends from his phone whenever he can get a signal! They communicate the remoteness of landscapes (internal and external) and the fagility of life at the edges. And they bring us too moments of deep, private intimacy - the glory of a country road as it opens up suddenly around a corner in the light, a dead shrew being eaten by beautifully coloured beetles, a still pool of water in a glen as the walker comes upon it…

Suriyavamsa’s is just over halfway through his walk so there’s plenty of magic to come. + follow Triratna Features to get updates from the road!

Here are some of the best bits so far:

Day 3: “A good night’s sleep after another long stroll and the old body is surprisingly uncomplaining. Walked down the Forres-Dava main road with Andy for a bit, then his wife Iona picked him up and I was crossing Dava moor on my own. I felt like the drifter in Western movies taking his departure from the homesteaders. I reached the uneven grassy path of the Dava Way along an old railway embankment and my lower limbs sighed in relief. Now making Porridge on my little Trangia stove amidst the bird song…

This morning’s reading from the An Cathach Beag (my book of pujas and readings)

Maintain the state of undistractedness, and distractions will fly away.
Dwell alone, and you shall find the Friend.
Take the lowest place, and you shall soon reach the highest.
Hasten slowly, and you will soon arrive.
Renounce all worldly goals, and you shall reach the highest Goal.

If you follow this unfrequented path, you will find the shortest way.
If you realize Sunyata, compassion will arise within your hearts;
And when you lose all differentiation between yourself and others,
Then you will be fit to serve others.”

Picture: “Vajra strapped to the top of my pack in the midst of Dava Moor. I picked it up from the Triratna Highlands Buddhist Centre shrine and shall place it on the community shrine at Dhanakosa and finally on the shrine of the old mother ship, the Glasgow Buddhist Centre.”

Day 4: I’m into my third 10,000 tara mantras already, at the end of each 108 I recite Atisha’s Short Praise:

From your sublime abode at the Potala,
O Tara born from the green letter TAM
Whose light rescues all beings,
Come with your retinue I beg you.

The gods and demi-gods bow their crowns
To your lotus feet O Tara.
You who rescue all who are destitute,
To you mother Tara I pay homage.


Sometimes its the only thing keeping the old bones going. Tomorrow its on to Aviemore.”

Days 5 & 6: The Lairig was sublime - great threatening ugly lumps of rock dwarfing me as I walked by, huge corries, crags and snow high above. Glen Tilt on the other hand was beautiful - the lower reaches are a romantic ideal - waterfalls, crags and rocks, mists and birch and hazel woods.

Along the way I chanted some, did the metta bhavana, most of a puja (got muddled up with the entreaty verses) and lots of reflection and catching up. It feels like a solitary in that I’m reflective and sensitive and I am bursting into tears easily over lots of things - fond childhood memories, parent grouse putting themselves in the way until the chicks can escape, Rolf Harris’s victims (seen in a newspaper stand in Aviemore).

Today it rained a lot and my blisters were worse, so the looooooong walk down Glen Tilt was hard and weary. By the end I was swearing at everything - wet grass, rain, the length of the road, lambs stuck in front of me on the road.

I’m now in a bar and having dreamt of pasta, cheese and chips for miles, ordered too much and now I’m feeling a bit sick! Thus the fool proceeds.”

Days 7 & 8: Yesterday I walked through the Killiekrankie pass walking by the Barry and the Tummel (I’m getting to know some important rivers, I’ve been walking by the Tay today!) On the way I stepped round the grave of the commander of King William’s Dutch regiment, the remains of a rare Jacobite victory. Wandering about in this landscape has made me more sympathetic to the Jacobite cause and its relation to current politics…

I made a detour today to visit St. Mary’s Grandtully, an old church that looks like a byre on the outside, and inside too but for exquisite paintings on the ceiling - 16th C. folk Baroque with everything from angels to turkeys to moral instruction and aristocratic crests.

I’ve been doing rough sums as I sit here - 113 miles so far, 96 to go. The blisters are holding up but the stabbing sciatic pains in my right thigh are getting stronger and I’m getting more and more exhausted, apart from that I’m fine, if still all emotional. If I can make it to St. Fillan’s healing stones in Killin (27 miles further), I’m in with a chance! Watch this space…”
Days 1 & 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Days 5 & 6 | Days 7 & 8 | Day 9 | Day 10

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