By Michael Trigilio
On Sunday, April 18, 1999, a number of engaged Buddhists and peace activists joined in a "Walking Meditation for Peace" in Austin, Texas on the State Capitol Grounds. The demonstration was sponsored by the Texas Hill Country Chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Austin and San Antonio Sanghas, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The walking meditation was an expression of solidarity and humility regarding the tragic war in Yugoslavia. Aware of all who have suffered in this conflict-Albanians, Serbs, NATO soldiers, POWs-we practiced Noble Silence and touched the Earth in the name of peace with each step.
A demonstration through silent walking meditation is a radical variation on traditional protest marches. We were not gathered to espouse any political agenda or to approach this conflict with a dualistic paradigm. We were simply walking to be in touch with the intense suffering of the people embroiled in this conflict.
About 75 people gathered on the Capitol steps. We invited five bells and began walking one step per breath in silence. A Sangha member printed small cards explaining Noble Silence, walking meditation, and the reason for the walk, in case anyone asked what we were doing. The walk was a tremendously profound and significant practice for me, albeit very somber.
After a long hour of silent, slow-walking meditation, we gathered people in a circle and handed out a dozen small meditation bells and gongs. We then invited the bells 108 times, which I was told was a traditional Tibetan peace ritual. Afterwards, two young Tibetan girls chanted a lovely chant in Tibetan, which they had prepared for this event. It was stunningly beautiful. Then, we bowed to each other and began speaking quietly, as we walked to our cars.
Michael Trigilio, True Birth of Peace, is a peace activist and student in Texas.