Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! Here is a newspaper article from The West End Weekly in Rainy River, Ontario (population 1,000). The media response on Bhaktimarga Swami’s 4th walk across Canada has been amazing. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to collect all the articles as we are usually past the town when the story comes out. I am going to try to collect more stories when I get back home. (Maharaj is taking a break from the walk til next spring).
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jacquie Dufresne
Date: Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 8:22 AM
Subject: from Jacquie at The Westend Weekly
Talk about taking your doctor’s advice seriously!
I met the most interesting person in the office on Monday morning. His name is Bhaktimarga Swami and he is a Hare Krishna Monk from a monastery in Toronto who is walking across Canada.
He said he began walking on the advice of his doctor in 1996 and the next thing he knew he was walking across Canada. Now he’s on his fourth trip coast to coast.
“Walking some distance allows you to probe more deeply inside, to get to know yourself better.”
He walks about 30 to 35 kilometres per day and spends a lot of that time in meditation. Back at the monastery he would be rising at 4 am and spend the next four or five hours with the other monks chanting and meditating, but the body is made for walking so what better way to combine the two activities.
He said he enjoys meeting different people along the way. Sometimes they give a little something to assist in the journey. The scenery is fabulous throughout the country but his favourite is the Canadian Shield and the beautiful views through our area and into Kenora.
I invited the Swami and his driver companion and friend Daruka home for a relaxing break and lunch (which they provided). They are such warm, friendly, interesting people that easy conversation followed covering a pile of topics which often returned to young people.
We talked about how sad it is that so many young people today miss out on the fun of using imagination for entertainment instead of electronics. He said that one day, on a walk through a city, he felt tired so he laid down in a park right on a tennis court. He knew he wouldn’t be disturbed there because there wasn’t a soul to be seen throughout the entire playground on that warm sunny, summer afternoon.
We reminisced about the childhood games we used to play as kids, he on the farm, me in the city. Cops & robbers, cowboys, hide and seek, all of the things bikes, trees, a good hiding place and an imagination can muster up. He said one of his favourite games was Tarzan, making tunnels in the hayloft and swinging to the ground from the rope on the loft peak. Sure we got the odd broken arm but we had huge fun and grew up with loads of creativity.
Later I said, you must have had some excitement along the way. I was thinking of wild animal encounters, scary things.
He said yes, he did have an enchanter with a black bear but that wasn’t the most exciting thing. That occurred one night. Suffering from a case of insomnia somewhere around Shabaqua, he decided to quit trying to sleep and just get on with his walk. The excitement came in the form of his surroundings; lakes all around, a beautiful crisp moon, glowing pastel shades of the Northern Lights streaking back and forth across the sky and the sound of the loons calling in the night. Now that’s exciting, he said.
While we talked, Billy Jean, the ever so sophisticated green parrot, chatted away and enjoyed a lunch of peanuts and a banana at the kitchen counter. She rides with Daruka in the car but whenever there’s someone to visit or an occasion to speak to a group, she’s front and centre.
I asked Bhaktimarga (and believe me, that’s a mouthful to say) if he had a message, other than the value of walking, that he’d like to share.
He said yes. It is that we are not our body, we are our spirit. Our bodies all differ in colour, gender, shape, physical or mental abilities, sexual orientation, physical location. We should never judge or be judged by our bodies. Our spirit is what defines us.
Walking is one way of getting to know that spirit. “Walking some distance allows us to probe more deeply inside, to get to know ourself better.”
“My firm belief is that if every person in the world just gave one hour to trekking, we would see a different place. More walking, less squawking.” Now there’s something I don’t think Billy Jean the Parrot would agree with. I mean the squawking part.
So my first encounter with a Swami was far from anything I would have imagined. It was absolutely fun and very enlightening. And another good thingâ€¦.he’s going to stop by again on his next walk across the continent.