By Gail Paquette
Bhaktimarga Swami wears the robe of a monk in the colour saffron which he said represents courage and peacefulness.
Last Friday he walked into Belleville on his fourth walk across Canada.
Born John Vis, he was given his spiritual name which means ‘path of devotion’ when he entered the Hare krishna faith 30 years ago.
The path has taken him across Canada three times and to Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Fiji and Guyana by foot. This time he is going from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C.
He walks to encourage pilgrimage and self-discovery because he said, “That’s what monks do.”
“I want to encourage people to take more time to smell the roses, get introspective and find balance,” he said.
He talks to everyone he meets and said the most unusual things he has ever encountered on his journeys are rude people.
“It is very unusual to encounter people who are extremely rude but when I do they never stick around to talk. I just process it and think whatever is eating that guy up I wish the best for him and I hope he matures and grows,” he said.
He walks along city streets, highways, trails and waterfronts.
“I walk through places of activity and passion, not to have a good time at strip joints or go on shopping sprees but to talk to people and inspire them. I have a few words with everyone I meet,” he said.
He believes walking is good for the soul but admits it is not everyone’s thing.
“We live in a Tim Horton’s culture. I want people to get out of the car and experience life from a different perspective,” he said.
He encourages everyone through his blog, www.thewalkingmonk.org to join him.
“I believe in more walking, less squawking. If everyone just gave one hour to trekking a day we would see a different place,” he said.
At age 60, his plans for the future are clear. He will keep on trekking. When finished this journey he will begin another but will wait five years.
“Walking is like life, enjoy the trip and don’t be so anxious to get there,” he said.