Toronto-based Hare Krishna monk Bhaktimarga Swami admits to having an addiction.
He can’t stop walking across Canada.
“The most inspiring moments come to you when you walk,” Swami said during an interview at Brantford’s Mohawk Park on Monday morning. “It clears the cobwebs from the mind because our bodies were meant to walk. It has a freeing effect.”
Swami is in the midst of his fourth walk across Canada since 1996. He said he has made the journeys to promote personal reflective pilgrimage.
Swami is completing his current walk in stages. The 59-year-old monk, who has lived in the Toronto Hare Krishna Centre monastery since 1973, began the journey in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, in September last year.
In May, after taking a break for a few months to fulfill other commitments, Swami picked up where he left off in New Brunswick. He has been walking about 30 km each day all summer.
“If you walk 40 km each day, you can walk across Canada in about six months,” Swami said. “But I will turn 60 soon, so I’m being more realistic and I’m doing 30 km each day this time. I’m raising friends, not funds.”
Swami plans to stop at the Ontario-Manitoba border later this year and restart his cross-Canada walk in May next year. He plans arrive in Victoria, British Columbia, sometime in 2013.
Swami said he was attracted to the spiritual paths of Hare Krishna devotees decades ago. Through his current walk, he hopes to send a message.
“We need to pull away from our electronic devices and cars and go back to the basics,” he said. “The benefit of people moving on foot is that it gives them a chance to interact with one another.”
Born John Peter Vis in Chatham, Ontario, Swami joined the Hare Krishna movement during the early 1970s and was a student of one of the movement’s spiritual leaders, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The National Film Board of Canada featured Swami in The Longest Road, a documentary that highlighted his first walk across Canada in 1996.
Swami is celibate, a vegetarian and abstains from alcohol, drugs and gambling.
“You can get a high from smelling the fresh air, the spruce, pine or corn plants,” he said. “Where there is simplicity, there will be clarity. Where there is complexity, there is an invitation for the compounding of problems.”
When he’s not walking across the country, Swami teaches bhakti yoga and directs Vedic dramas.
For more information about Swami’s journey across Canada, visit www.thewalkingmonk.org.