Friday, July 22nd, 2016
“Walking Monk” Heads Across Iowa
A late-night flight brought me to Saskatoon to attend yet another Chariot Fest. Forwarded to me was an article by Dann Hayes for “The Des Moines Register.”
Bhaktimarga Swami, known as “The Walking Monk,” says “the walk before” encourages him to keep walking, which got him started on his most recent walk, a walk across America.
Bhaktimarga Swami (formerly John Peter Vis) is a Hare Krishna monk who is walking across America to promote a healthier global lifestyle, a strong spiritual foundation and a simple meditative life.
“I’m also out here to integrate with people,” the 63-year-old Canadian said. “It’s kind of like a workout and a work-in…to take time to process life.”
He is also walking to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Hare Krishna movement.
On this particular day (Wednesday, July 20) he started just outside of Brooklyn on Highway 6 and was stopped just east of Grinnell.
Born in 1952 in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, Bhaktimarga Swami adopted the monastic lifestyle of the Hare Krishna order in 1973.
Traveling on foot is a common practice in various traditions, he said, and it’s an effective way to reach out and communicate the importance of morality and ethical priorities.
“You learn to take it all in,” Bhaktimarga Swami said. “The heat, the wind, the rain, the traffic, the cold, the black flies, the mosquitos, the public attention or none. With all of that you learn detachment from the externals and how to go within to be happy.”
Bhaktimarga Swami said that during his travels he has had a number of different experiences. He usually starts a walk very early each day – recently to beat the heat in Iowa he has started around 4 a.m. And with wearing an orange robe he has been mistaken for a number of different things in the dark, including an escaped convict.
That normally brings the police, but after a brief discussion, he continues on his way.
In Iowa, Bhaktimarga Swami had only good to say for the law enforcement community.
“The police have been terrific,” he said. “The cops are nice here in Iowa.”
This tour is made of three parts – he started last fall in Boston, went to Butler, Penn., then into New York. The second leg started in Butler and brought him to Grinnell. He plans on stopping near Grand Island, Neb., before continuing on the third leg next summer.
This isn’t new to him, he has trekked across Canada four times, Ireland, Israel, Guyana, Trinidad, the Fiji Islands, Mauritius and other countries. He was featured in a National Film Board of Canada’s documentary titled “The Longest Road.”
He averages about 20 miles a day, he said.
“While I walk I also meditate,” Bhaktimarga said. “As a monk you have that obligation to yourself – take to the elements and toughen up inside.”
Thank you Dann Hayes.
May the Source be with you!