My name , Maitripala, given to me on the occasion of my 1999 Ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order , means Guardian of Loving Kindness.
I have largely been trying to live out the teaching in this name in a family setting whilst working as a Primary school teacher. It’s been a life rich and meaningful. My family has now grown and my wish to simplify my life to be one focused on sharing or practising the dharma every day grows stronger ever year.
As I come to my 60th birthday I am free enough from major responsiblities to engage in a long held dream to go forth on pilgrimage and see what emerges.
I had always imagined a slow walking pilgrimage through forests, with nights spent sleeping outside or in huts. Ryokan and Thoreau kept this dream alive for me across decades.
However, this pilgrimage will not be completed on foot. At times I will use a car or trains
( hopefully not too many planes ) to travel 10,000 kms up and down the east coast of Australia over 14 months.
After taking leave from my teaching job in 2015 I had access to a seamless dharma life when living and working at Tiratanaloka retreat centre in Wales. It was a wonderful experience.
I knew on my return in July last year I had to leave my paid work as a teacher and find a way to share the Dharma in Australia. We have very few financially supported positions in our Order in Australia. Although there was no clear path to follow this dream of focusing on dharma full-time in 2016 I decided I just needed to leave anyway and start the journey and see what happened.
So I wrote to the 8 Triratna Centres/groups currently offering meditation and Buddhism classes in Australia.
Could I come and do what might be useful? Would they provide me with food and bed when I visit? I was delighted with the 8 positive responses that came back.
My official pilgrimage start date is March 17th.
The result was a pilgrimage that drew itself into my consciousness mainly during meditation.
It was like something had lain dormant for a long enough time and with a door opened it unfolded in a magical way to reveal itself.
I knew I would need to fundraise support for my other living costs so to the idea came to ask for sponsorship to wear my kesa ( ritual garment) every day for a year.
As Order members we usually wear kesas during offical duties like leading activities at our centres or on retreat.
Having it on every day means I have to be prepared to have my faith and my practice visible and revealed at all times in a way that is very different to what I am used to.
I am confident I will find this challenging! What will I do on the days I just want to be invisible??
And then the little Buddhas made their presence known. Again in a meditation….I instantly knew the pilgrimage was of course going to be a Buddhas in my Pocket pilgrimage.
I write elsewhere on this blog of how the street level of this pilgrimage appeals to me as a potential live example of Indra’s Net- this Net that is a beautiful Buddhist symbol revealing the truth of Interconnectedness.
So I suppose as I write more will be revealed.
I have never written a blog. Apart from a small family group on Facebook I have never accessed the worldwide nature of Facebook and all that brings. This will be a spiritual practice indeed!
I guess there are different purposes, rules and voices for these technologies but I think i will just stumble forward as a beginner and hope my authentic voice will be enough.
You can’t possibly not be ready
It will take
It will take just what is needed and more
Breathe in deep down into the belly
Step off, straight up and over the edge