For me, ‘faith’ is good and special enough. The main intent of this walk was to live in that; to walk solo across my native land without food or a means of obtaining it except the spontaneous generosity of people who didn’t know me. Furthermore it was a ‘tudong’, an ‘austere practice’ of carrying enough gear to stay reasonably warm, dry and clean, but with otherwise nothing much.
At the end of that first day my legs and back were so stiff that I could only get my tiny tent up bow-legged and bent-double, to then slump into it with my feet sticking out until I could summon the energy to negotiate getting my boots off.
A ‘Never Again’ sign lit up in my brain … only to be replaced the next morning by others: namely the dawn light filtering through the tent wall, the chorus of birdsong, and the luxurious reflection that there was no fixed time to do anything, no one to be responsible to, and no project to look into other than that of brewing some tea, breaking camp and putting one step in front of the next. ‘Must do more of this!’ chirps the mind on those dewy mornings, ‘This is why the Buddha wanted us to go forth.’
And so in due course, I’d get the pack on my back, step out of the woodland where I’d spent the night and move steadily onwards, letting the body dictate the pace. Yes, between the theoretical futures of ‘never again’ and ‘must do more,’ is the simple balance of: ‘now is OK, keep going’ – and that has to be negotiated with the body. In this way faith and inspiration get balanced by a direct present-moment discernment.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the Forest Sangha Newsletter, #89, January 2010,