First Steps

padakun-scope-graphic3Padakun is the Sanskrit word for the Buddha’s footprint and symbolizes, for us, his setting out on the path to fulfillment. Our Padakun journey starts out in 2012 with the publication of our field-defining book, Walk Like A Mountain: The Handbook of Buddhist Walking Practice (Sumeru Books). WLM introduces the concept of contemplative walking, the idea that contemplative acts can be and have been done for centuries in all religious cultures through walking practices. It initiates the study of these ideas and the many forms they take, most notably in the Buddhist tradition.

WLM-coverWalk Like A Mountain was consciously developed as a handbook so as to become a resource for active contemplative walkers. In Buddhadharma we know that the triad of faith-ethics-practice defines our tradition. No matter the depth of Dharma literature, no matter the determination to promulgate the faith, we are always called to exert ourselves through practice. Buddhists are, by definition, practitioners in action, even if that action is staring at walls or chanting the nembutsu.The book was partially developed with the intention of making walking practice, in its many forms, possible, easy and disciplined. What follows on the book then must attend to the needs of practitioners.

In the Afterword of Walk Like A Mountain: The Handbook of Buddhist Walking Practice, I reflected on where the trail of contemplative walking might take me, and those who walk along with me.

Those of us who have spent time on the trail know of the echoes and memories that follow us long after we reach the trail’s end. The poles and boots are stored back in the closet, we scan the photos, read over the journal entries, swap tales with our companions. Walkers, as we’ve asserted in this book, know the cycle of crossing and dwelling, of setting out and settling back. Every walk completed contains the seed or call for the next. What was over that hill? What would have happened if I took that side-trail. What would it be like in winter? Where might we walk next time?

Following the publication of Walk Like A Mountain, it became evident to me that the best vehicle, if I can use that wonderful Buddhist term, to accomplish these aims and more was through the establishment of a new enterprise. This enterprise would

  • engage in research to uncover the wide and deep history of contemplative walking;
  • document the experience of current and historical walkers (For more on our Survey and Interviews)
  • offer training and supports for people who want to use walking as the means of cultivating their whole person – body, mind, spirit and community; and
  • develop publications, to go beyond Walk Like A Mountain, in particular a future book, Discovering The Foot Prints: The Theory and Forms of Contemplative Walking

This is The Padakun Centre for Contemplative Walking – first steps in an emerging field. 

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