Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage


January 2016

Thanks Michael


I would like to introduce you to my youngest brother Michael. A creative and passionate soul.

He was a beautiful man with a big heart and a ‘missing him’ ache still rises at times when the world reminds me of the richness his presence gave to my life..

Michael is my inspiration for what I call the ‘street level’ aspect of my pilgrimage.

As I travel around in the 8 locations helping spread the dharma I will have opportunities to connect with people from all walks of life.

Before Michael died a few years ago,  every fortnight I would visit him in a block of flats that was full of people who tussled with life – addictions, mental illness, prison time. Michael’s struggle with schizophrenia made those visits difficult in many ways.

Walking up the steps to his door, listening to violent arguments behind closed doors, people passing me on the steps and suddenly vomiting blood and others sitting outside talking rapidly with words that made no sense- all regular occurances.

I regret I was a silent witness often in the early days. I didn’t have the strength at the time to do anything other than see my brother, spend time with him and make sure he was okay. After he died my family put on a barbeque for the guys in the flats. Many of them had befriended and helped Michael as he became sicker.

We wanted to thank them. We told them we would provide everything for the lunch. However, when my family arrived, the guys had put together a few dollars to buy paper table clothes for the rotting picnic tables and had put some bowls of nuts out to share. The tenderness of these beautiful acts of generosity in such an physically ugly setting was deeply moving.

I will never forget a speech one of the guys made thanking my family ( my parents, my daughters, their partners and children) for spending time with them. He shared what it was like when people crossed the street rather than walk close by them.

So having my wonderful brother Michael in my life gave me the unexpected gift of regular opportunities to begin learn to look people in the eye and smile even if there was an initial sense of wanting to pull back.  Really he was teaching me the third stage of the metta bhavana- the development loving kindness.

I discovered that if I continued to give in to any slight sense of aversion then I would, in all likelihood, miss many worthwhile moments with fellow human beings.

So I will remember this lesson whilst on the pilgrimage.

Yes I will be wise and of course my aim is to stay safe but already there is a smile when imagining those moments meeting wonderful human beings I don’t ‘know ‘ yet.






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Can you help me?



I am about to  engage full-time in Dharma work in Australia by setting out on a teaching pilgrimage that will cover Triratna Buddhist Centres along the east coast from March 2016- April 2017.

I need your help to raise funds to cover some of my living expenses.

This money is needed to help with costs for food, internet and phone, travelling – petrol, train, car upkeep costs and retreat costs.

I’d really appreciate you considering supporting me in reaching my goal so I can hand out little Buddhas where they are needed and share the profound teachings of the Buddha that bring freedom and release from suffering.

$4,900 raised since Jan 2016      GOAL $11,400

Make a donation here




A web or a net…….

On a balmy Melbourne night this week I sat with a tinge of horrified anxiety watching Facebook friend requests from around the world spill into my laptop.

Its like you’ve arrived for the big event and I am still in my pyjamas.

I just don’t understand how the Buddhas in my Pocket pilgrimage started without me!

A few days beforehand a friend had helped set up the Buddhas in my pocket blog, fundraising and Facebook pages for me.

I imagined I had to push a big red button or something on the 17th March – the official launch date.

On March 17th, the plan still , is to go to the Melbourne Buddhist Centre and ritually have my kesa placed around my neck where it will stay for 14 months……that’s also the date to place in my pocket some of the 39 little buddhas already donated to give away as needed.

But no… this is not my pilgrimage , this is not my journey alone.

I can make plans and itineraries, imagine how it will look..but then I have to give it all up, put it all down. It will unfold in its own unique way.

Certainly there is no Ryokan quietude outlining this path.

Already this pilgrimage demands that I be proficient in the 3rd stage of metta bhavana.

( if you don’t know what this is then consider going to your nearest Triratna Buddhist Centre to learn a meditation practice that will change your life )

Unconditional love and acceptance of all sentient beings…whether I know them or not….whether I know how they know me or even why they want to go on pilgrimage with me…this is the task.

This profound teaching of interconnectedness and insubstantiality is not a web to be tangled up in but a stunning jewelled net where beauty is reflected and reflected again.

I was drawn to the richness and truth of Indra’s Net in my early days as a Buddhist.

In this virtual space it will be a treasure… to remind me to hold a wider gaze than the screen of my laptop at all times!

Maitripala x

To finish : a timely endorsement from the President


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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage