And so it begins…

Well, here I am, on the train!

I had hoped to be able to put some posts up before I left, but things were just so busy that I didn’t manage it.

It’s been scramble to get what needed to be done done before left, so my preparation has been a bit stressful. It’s amazing how many unexpected things come up that you don’t think about (at least, I didn’t).

For example, I tried on the rucksack I’ve borrowed from my brother on Friday, only to discover that even when lowered as far as it goes, it gets in the way of my newly acquired Tendai-gasa (or as one member of our temple calls them, mushroom hat)! No amount of fiddling about with strap lengths, even taking out the metal frame that was there for back support solved it, but I did manage to find a fairly cheap 45L pack that does the job. 45L isn’t all that much though, when you’re packing a tent, roll mat, etc. and going walking for 3 weeks.

But, members of the temple have very kindly given me food provisions, a mini torch, white tennis shorts to wear with a juban (white under-robe top) under my robe if the heat really takes its toll, and other items as well.

I’ve also received lots of good advice and tips about travelling and rambling. For example, did you know that the water at petrol stations that you fill your car radiator up with is drinkable? One member of our temple who is a plumber, assured me its all mains supplied, so it’s perfectly fine to drink as long as you let it run for 30 seconds first, so you’re not drinking what is in the pipes.

That might prove very useful! I remember when I had just become a Shami my master, Tsukamoto Shonin, instructed me to buy a one-month round-Europe train ticket and go and see as many different countries as I could. I slept on the trains, and woke p somewhere different almost every morning. During that trip I realised how important water is, and also, how expensive it is to buy on the move!

Mind you, there has also been some advice which I’m less inclined to follow. While soldiers in the army may urinate on their feet before a long hike to stop their feet getting blisters, I admit I haven’t followed their lead. I’m not ruling it out, but I think I’ll see how I go before I resort to such measures!

Anyway, I made it with my reduced size backpack onto the train this morning. I decided to leave the sleeping bag and other non-essentials behind – it’ll be warm enough in the tent.

The journey through london was the start of the trip, the start of a pilgrimage, and a time to spread the Odaimoku . Whilst I wear a Samue (Priests working clothes) most of the time, and also go through London in my black robe when doing Monk-y business (sorry!) I haven’t been on the London tube system before in my grey robes. They certainly do attract some attention, although most people are very subtle with their curiosity. I did catch one guy on the central line covertly taking a picture to send to a friend on WhatsApp…he just wasn’t as subtle as he thought.

It’s a very interesting feeling – when you take the ceremony to “leave home and attain the way” you are removing yourself from society. We’re taught to kill the old self who has such and such qualifications, such and such status, position, style, etc. Thats why we shave our heads and are given new name.

If you believe samsara can give you fulfillment, that is almost impossible to do, or at the very least extremely painful, because there will be a conflict between your old life as a lay person and your situation – you might become miserable as a priest. But, it can also be freeing in a profound way. Traditionally the monk engages with society, and especially the bodhisattva monk tries to guide and help people whenever they can, but neither has a personal stake in it.

Maybe the robes themselves symbolise this, no matter who’s wearing them. They represent someone who is very visible on a commuter-packed train. Definitely a part of their journey, but also in a way, not part of it.

I’ll leave it at that for now. We’re whizzing along past green fields now. I will stay in Penzance tonight so that I can have a look around and see Captain James’s house of course…I’m hoping local people might be able to help me plan the first leg of my route as well.

5 thoughts on “And so it begins…”

  1. ‘The Road Not Taken’
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one travellor, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other just as fair ,
    And having perhaps the better claim
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear
    Though as far that the passing there
    Had worn them really the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way
    I doubted if I should ever come back,

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference! (Robert Frost) …….you have chosen the right path Kanse… keep going!


  2. This is a very historical and exciting Mission for our London Temple! The history that we will learn from this journey will further connect the bond of Nichiren Shu Buddhism to the West. Please add Shami Kanse Capon in your daily dedications of merit.
    With Gassho…
    Kanjin Cederman Shonin


  3. In our tradition walking and peace walks are a central part of our practice ,i wish you the best of luck in your journey and spreading the sacred title ”NA MU MYŌ HŌ REN GE KYŌ” through out the land ,your journey will be a living prayer bringing the compassion of the Buddha to all and the message of the great master Nichiren….with my head bowed and palms raised my deepest and most respects on your undertaking .

    In Gassho Craig



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