Forest Sangha Newsletter October 1993
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Editorial:
Gnosis and Non-Dualism, Ajahn Sucitto
Servant of the Buddha, Buddhadasa Bhikku
The Long Path to Peace - Cambodia
Turning the Wheel in the West; Ven. Sobhano interviews Aj. Amaro
Gone on Tudong; Monastic experiences
The Road and the Path; Ajahn Sucitto
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Gone on Tudong

This year twenty-one bhikkhus and four nuns walked thirteen different routes throughout Britain and Europe. Tudong can be a very uncomfortable experience - you can get wet, cold, lost, hungry, and physically exhausted. But it can also be a magical, inspiring time. Jos Razzell asked some of the monks and nuns to reflect on their time on tudong.


I always come back with the strong, very powerful sense of the role of the alms mendicant, connecting with people, going out and doing what monks and nuns were doing in ancient India. This was the first year that monks went on their own, without an anagarika, and had to rely on people feeding them. So many people wanted to help, my heart was filled with a sense of tremendous inspiration and gratitude. I am absolutely convinced that if you went out trusting completely in Dhamma, then Dhamma would provide for you: the Dhamma of peoples' goodness.
Ven. Sudhammo - Bishops Stortford to Cromer, with Ven. Sobhano.
It was very clear, especially when you were out walking on the mountains, how vulnerable the human body is. I'd never realised before just how easy it is to get stuck on a mountain somewhere and die! And how easy it would be for me to have sat down and said, I've had enough, I'm lost,' and just stopped. That clarified why I need to live with the Sangha, because in monastic life you come to the point when you just think, I've had enough, I can't go any further, I just want to stop and die, but the whole momentum and support of the Sangha keeps you going when you would otherwise stop. And then you realise that actually it's all right to keep going.
Anagarika Sheila - Edinburgh to Harnham with Sr. Candasiri & Jos Razzell
I always come back with the strong, very powerful sense of the role of the alms mendicant, connecting with people, going out and doing what monks and nuns were doing in ancient India. This was the first year that monks went on their own, without an anagarika, and had to rely on people feeding them. So many people wanted to help, my heart was filled with a sense of tremendous inspiration and gratitude. I am absolutely convinced that if you went out trusting completely in Dhamma, then Dhamma would provide for you: the Dhamma of peoples' goodness.
Ven. Sudhammo - Bishops Stortford to Cromer, with Ven. Sobhano.
 
People recognise that you're out of your box and so they come out of theirs to meet you.

 
It was very clear, especially when you were out walking on the mountains, how vulnerable the human body is. I'd never realised before just how easy it is to get stuck on a mountain somewhere and die! And how easy it would be for me to have sat down and said, I've had enough, I'm lost,' and just stopped. That clarified why I need to live with the Sangha, because in monastic life you come to the point when you just think, I've had enough, I can't go any further, I just want to stop and die, but the whole momentum and support of the Sangha keeps you going when you would otherwise stop. And then you realise that actually it's all right to keep going.
Anagarika Sheila - Edinburgh to Harnham with Sr. Candasiri & Jos Razzell
It's not difficult for the Irish to understand us when we say that we are penniless, we are homeless people. We can see the value of a society who still have a sense of religious significance. The monks we met in Ireland were very humble. They had been celibate for forty or fifty years, and they still lived like janitors, very keen to serve the people. It's totally different from our school, from Theravada. The more we live in the monastery, the more we become a kind of big teacher. It's very powerful for me to see that; the preference of Western people, for equality and fairness.
Ven. Pannasaro - Dungarven to Bantree with Aj. Subbato & Ven. Khantiko
"Getting old, ole' boy, aren't you?" was the not so subtle message of this tudong. With a young Ven. Jotikaro kindly carrying at times nearly half my gear, the body creatively found a seemingly endless variety of ways to pack up without knocking me out of action. Even got me feeling a bit embarrassed, sitting in a white dressing gown in the Casualty Unit of Salisbury's Odstock Hospital, with EGG machines on one side - backpack on the other - X-rays etc. Especially having immediately followed so timely yet so timeless a visit there with a Buddhist practitioner whose vibrancy radiated all the more as he drew so intimately close to death. Yes, those 'who know' would be probably quick to ascertain that tudong offers us many virtues; not least of which is humility.
Ajahn Santacitto - Chithurst to Devon with Ven. Jotikaro
It seems to be very good for one to get physically exhausted. Sometimes in the monastic settings here in Europe, the tiredness comes more from the mind than the body, with the pressures of counselling, teaching, things like that. Everything is heightened by the physical tiredness - a cup of tea in the mountains is absolute ambrosia, but here we have tea all day long and get bored with it. It's totally meaningless. One can see that the real suffering of modern materialism is the endless attempt to hold life, to make it comfortable and safe. On Tudong you realise that life needn't be very comfortable and you can still be happy.
Ajahn Sumedho
When you go forth with very little, you enter into a state of insecurity which dismantles your little private box. People recognise that you're out of your box and so they come out of theirs to meet you. For people to have a time when they come out and can do a simple good deed without any demand or pressure is a precious opportunity. Ajahn Sucitto - Lourdes to Mount Segur with Aj. Sumedho & Nick Scott
Having to carry everything on one's back mile after mile makes one quite passionately dedicated to carrying the minimum. The smallest amount of toothpaste. The minimum water, socks and handkerchiefs, every item scrutinised with increasing zeal. One cannot afford to carry something 'just in case.' If there's any possibility you won't need it, leave it! This attitude really helped my life back at the monastery.
Venerable Varado - North Devon to Wales with Aj. Ariyesako & Ven. Sugato
the open road

Let it be:
The mind flutters in the heart's warm breeze.
The road rests on the blue hills
like a bow on a fiddle:
and we can walk forever.

Ajahn Sucitto

I didn't realise what we are for the lay people. Usually when people come to the monastery we don't have such direct contact. Sometimes I doubt what I am doing, but when I was walking I saw how people really appreciate what we are doing and have an incredible love for it. Each time we stayed somewhere it was this powerful experience. Someone said to me, 'It is so delightful to see you Sister, you are bringing the Sangha with you, you are bringing the Dhamma into our house, and for that we feel we don't give enough.' And they were looking after us so well. It was amazing because we didn't do anything special, but just to be there, you are bringing the Sangha, the Dhamma into their house. That is a blessing.
Sister Upekkha - The Ridgeway, with Sr. Abhassara & Jenna Ghouse.