A very dear friend whom I met in Berlin told me these wise words. Again and again I came back to them when I fell into doubts about the Peacewalk. Doubts like this one:
How is me walking around the Earth going to create peace?
Before I started I didn’t understand this myself. The more I walked, the more I understood that I didn’t have to understand. Just walk and peace will come in unexpected ways.
A few days ago while resting in the warm shade I read a book by a man named Bernie Glassman.
1996 he organized a retreat at Auschwitz Birkenau. Yes. A retreat at the former concentration camp, called a “bearing witness retreat”. On his first visits years before, Bernie felt called to summon people from all kinds of backgrounds and religions to meet here, to bear witness to the aftermath of one of the most horrible deeds in human history.
He didn’t know how this retreat would create healing and bring peace. He just knew that it would. One of the daily rituals in this retreat was to say out loud the names of those murdered.
Can you imagine sitting next to the railways chanting name after name, family after family?
The impact on the participants and the related communities was so strong and beneficial that the retreat has been repeated anually ever since.
Out of his devoted work for peace, healing and compassion, Bernie has founded the Zen Peacemaker Order, which organizes similar Bearing Witness retreats in Bosnien Hercegovina, in Rwanda and also in the streets of Paris and NY. While the typical meditation retreat means to pull ourselves away from our ordinary life to focus inwardly, these retreats instead throw us out into the unknown.
One of the main tenets of this order is Not Knowing
Which is exactly what I’ve been practicing most of the way.
Not knowing where to sleep each night.
Not knowing if I will have enough money for food.
Not knowing if my wagon will still be there when I wake up.
Not knowing even the slightest how my peacewalk will help create peace.
But I walk anyway. I keep walking, and I do begin to understand.
To walk into the unknown creates peace in itself. In my heart, which is connected to your heart, the heart of the trees around me and the heart of the Earth under my feet.
More Friends of Walk2Peace!
The reason I started reading about the Zen Peacemakers was a book I got recommended to read by one of their members. The book’s name is “at Hell’s Gate” and it is the biography of a deeply inspiring man named Claude Anshin Thomas.
Only 17 years old he enrolled in the Vietnam invasion by the US. During the combats he killed hundreds as a helicopter gunner and came back with medallions. But not like the hero he thought he would be. Depression and drug use followed and he felt gravely isolated from the very same country he had sworn to protect against “the enemy”.
It was only when he met “The Enemy” face to face that his path to healing and peace began. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh came to the US and Claude was recommended to go to his talks as they were inviting Vietnam veterans. This led to a life long friendship and Claude moved to the Zen monastery in France.
Claude participated in the global “Interfaith Pilgrimage for Life and Peace” that took place in Europe and Asia 1994. It began in Auschwitz, continued through war torn Bosnia, to Israel, Iraq, Cambodia and Vietnam before its end in Hiroshima.
In 2020, a similar global peacewalk will begin in India. It’s currently being planned by the Indian peace movement Jai Jagat! (Which means Victory for all!)
The movement is based on Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and makes peace education for youths, organizes Grass roots campaigns for just economies and sustainability, and much more.
In short they are making Peace projects all over India the coming 3 years, culminating in a peacewalk from India to Geneve, Switzerland!
There is so much peace in our world. So many people doing great things.
Today I’m not even walking, just resting.
I dont know if that creates peace. But I do know that it creates a lot of ease in my legs.
If you found inspiration in this or my walk, you are most welcome to support with 5-10$ at the Patreon site.
Peace for all!