Insight Poems






At the end of each journey most people offer a few lines sharing their insight gleaned on the journey. Below are some of them over the years:


The Circle
We have come to the foothills
of love and death
to measure a world
that is wanting for nothing.
And in the pause before each breath
sits the God of a thousand eyes,
and with each of his thousand hands
he tries to mend what is broken.
The dull ache of the world,
a dusty place filled with monkeys,
the brooms ever sweeping,
the skinny chickens in their cages,
the child brides,
the mosquito's hunger for blood,
each of us, a leaf rustling
on the Tree of Life.

The rickshaw driver's bent back,
a hundred fires burning
the soft eyes of the cows,
a woman selling flowers in the dark,
the chants of hope and perseverance.
It is all claimed now,

territory of the heart.

- Monika Andersson

Experience the sights and smells
Feel the sun against your skin
Be overwhelmed by the vibrant colors
Appreciate the beauty in everything
Become one with the colors,
the vibrancy, 
the diversity, 
the culture, 
the people

- Katherine Brown


Lovely sweet people
Beautiful lands in contrast
North to south
Romantic limestone
Mountains. Silence
Quiet contemplation
Great travelling companions
Fantastic food
Singing nuns. Brothers.
Sanghas’ happy songs
Violence confronted and healed

- Audrey Taylor


Good Evening Vietnam,
From Hanoi to Saigon, Caves
Temples, Buddha in the fog.

Thay, Sangha greeted us
Tea, food and peaceful gathering
Bud ride, boat ride, friendly guide….

Floating on the Mekong river,

Returning to the source

- Ming Cheung


My mother is my home 
Her deep wrinkles form grooves in the earth to sooth my feet

Mother Ganga engulfs the souls of cremation and brings them to heaven 
Her walk is interrupted by gravel, dirt and noise

She wears her colors bright.
Turquoise , fuscia, saffron draping her fortresses with maternal love 
They protect me with the awakened masters that came before me.
Layers of brick and ancient stupas that hold treasures of absolute truth 

She feeds and nourishes my soul with sugary black tea and spicy tongue burning flavors
My mother cocoons me in her womb of elements
She wraps her branches around my thin soul and holds me tight in the web of her stories of past lives
She holds the gods and goddesses and their wisdom sutras in the earth, water and sky
She is the mother of all yogis 

Her river is vast and flowing ready to cleanse and purify all her children 
I love my mother unconditionally 
She will never disappoint me and if I leave and don't come back 
She will be there if I return 
My mother India loves me

- Betty Riaz


Sacred Journey

How does one begin?
One sees with one's eyes yet feels with one's heart. 
My heart has been broken wide open and filled with joy and wonder.
India's child has touched my soul.
Full brown eyes
Sweet Cherub face
A joyful "namaste"
Tiniest of head wobble
Glimmer in her eye
She has reached into my heart and pulled me into her world. 
Such is the way of this sacred journey. 

Namaste 🙏 everyone! 
-Debra Swanson


How fiercely our house is burning
Our shared house

This burning that takes from us
Everything we have loved
Everything we have created
Everything we know

And yet, on the next in breath
We create it all again

Practice happens everywhere
In the dusty fields and the naked children
In the stray dogs
And the chaotic markets

Difficulty fosters the way
As beauty nourishes

Every moment suffused with bliss
Suffering is here in this precise moment
Begging our compassion
For all sentient beings

As the red sun rises calling the new day
Over the fog laden fields
As shadow figures wind their way
Down ancient roads

We make our commitment
To wholeness, to mindfulness

And these are the merits of practice
An awakened heart
An open mind
The courage to act

"To study the way is to study the self
To study the self is to forget the self
Mind and body drop away"
(Paraphrased from Dogen zenji's Genjokoan 13th century)

Friends, we have arrived.

Thank you for sharing practice.

-Jane Steinberg


I don’t know but maybe
Devotion and Wisdom inter-are
Under the ceiling of leaves
We touch the stories of one
            Man’s awakening
With our hearts and our heads

While Gods and Goddesses
Eavesdrop from behind
Enormous trees

I don’t know but maybe
Thay, Shantum, Kali, Shiva
The Ganga, Jules, Barb
And even the crows
Are humming the very same tune.
-Annie Mahon

Life is beautiful
The sunrise on the Ganges and everything is illuminated through the people.
Each moment becomes a precious teacher:
The space between a beggar's open hand and my response
The joyous dance of schoolchildren
A cup of chai
Farm hospitality experienced on a rooftop
Every tree is a Bodhi tree.
Every sentient being is our mother.
The Sangha is a garden.
The sun sets on Vulture Peak as we vow to follow the spiritual path.
The Buddha is still teaching.
-- Mike Salazar


Walking between heaven and earth
Walking on the paths of Buddha
Touching the earth with my feet
Looking at the blue sky with my eyes
Feeling the warm and golden sun on my skin
Breathing in –
Smelling the taste of India –
Breathing out
Being between heaven and earth
Getting close to Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha
Feeling a big calmness, peace, a silent harmony and happiness in me.
Thank you Buddha, thank you Thay
Thank you Shantum,
Thank you Sangha
-Monika Sauer-Meder


India ....

TV advertising says "Incredible India"
Incredible India it is!
Beautiful trip in Buddha's footsteps
Difficult, tiring, challenging, uplifting
Buddha came alive
Shantum's beautiful stories and places we visited
Brought Buddha to us as a real person,
Human being, beautiful and great teacher
Sanga - we could not ask for better friends
Peaceful, caring, kind, loving people
Sanga - we could not ask for better friends
People of India - beautiful and proud
People of India showed us what is important in life
India a great teacher...
Incredible India...
-Hanna Reysner

Path of Awakening

In Buddha's footsteps each yogi walks
While Shantum gives his daily talks

The teachings bring the Buddha alive
We learn to let go; not needing to strive

We will be traveling soon; leaving India behind
But our hearts will remain, being loving and kind.
- Jack Dyer

Four Haikus:  Impressions from India's ancient monasteries
High up the plateau
Within sacred solitude
Monks practice the Way

Stone chiseled to forms
A crumbling Gautama
Knows impermanence

Words from long ago
Suffering, craving, ceasing
The path uncovered

Silence .... What is this?
Breath, a bird's song, bees buzzing
Arising, ceasing

- Craig Moseley

Buddhas and Boddhisatvas
Past Present and Future
From all Ten Directions
Inhabit and Bless
This Holy Golden Dusty Land
This LAND of Buddha Fields
Manifest in Mustard Grass,
Cows, Incomprehensible
Buddha Shrines
Radiate in the Primordial
Earthen Presence of Villagers
Gently, Powerfully
Enrich my heart
Magnify my Buddha mind
Support my Path
My Island with No Boundaries

I Wonder and Smile and Cry
At your Impeccable Grace

Peace in the radiant sunset
Happy with my Love

- David Cohn


I came to walk in your Footsteps
I felt your presence in a cave
I received your blessing under the Bodhi tree
Oh blessed one I pay homage to you

-Liz Philippou

The Bodhi Tree, The Ganges,
Shantum and the Sangha.
These things are now a part of my life
And I feel a richness beyond belief.
It is almost too much to have to be
In the moment. But I will manage.
Thanks to everybody.
-Michael Trim


Rainbow coloured saris
Moving through green fields
Breathing in I smile
Feeling the clours       
Hearing the sounds

I smell chai
I step unsure of my destination
But happily moving
Flowing like the river
Growing like a tree

We share the same breath
Knowing that I am free
Breathing in I smile


- Sasha

Abiding in silence
Absorbing the moods of the sacred sites
“I” recedes
Our sangha grows in understanding and
Aspires to thoughts ephemeral, slipping away.
Villages old as time
New as the youngest child
Dust, color, sound, trash, smiles,
Combine and blossom into
The flowers of the Dharma
Abundant gratitude to our teacher and our fellow pilgrims
-Priscilla Fox


I came to India
And had a lesson on impermanence
Whilst visiting the ruins of the great centre
Of learning at Nalanda
I came to India
And had a lesson in attachment
When my view on how Vulture Peak should look
Was challenged by reality
I came to India
And had a lesson on suffering
When I witnessed the flinching of a pack-horse
When sand was loaded onto his back
I came to India
And had a lesson in inter-being
When I discovered the cloud in my bowl of rice
Whilst eating mindfully
I came to India
And had a lesson in loving-kindness
From my patient and encouraging
Sangha friends
I leave India
Full of gratitude to Shantum and to India
For showing me what it was
To walk in Buddha’s footsteps
-Jane Spry


The gentle sway of the leaves
In the morning breeze
Tells me
The unseen moves the seen
The metaphor of the road
Shows me
The faded white broken line
Down the middle
As only a guideline
Swaying is flexibility
   is elasticity
   is resilience
   is longevity
That’s how things endure
-Genevieve Velasquez


In the footsteps
Of the Buddha
Modern day pilgrims
From western lands
Explore a slice
Of India
Sit mindfully
In the Bamboo Grove
Or atop Vulture PeaK
Gaze at the horizon
As the sun
Exploding in color
Descends as evening arises
Monks continue
To chant and pray
Thoughts drop away
The glorious experience
Of Now
- Linda Cantor


No Buddha, no pilgrims, no trip to begin
No beggars, no sickness, no words of Fa-Hsein
The lotus is empty, the ox has no cart
But tales of India have colored my heart.
-Angie Parrish
Brush Stroke

Vibrant orange, saffron, fuchsia
bending in a field of stunning green.

Bright white smiles and flashing brown eyes.

Earth mud walls topped by pale straw shafts in the grey dawn.

The Buddha sleeping peacefully among his red and gold robes.

Orange, saffron, fuchsia
white, brown
mud, straw, grey
red and gold.

Such are the colors of the palette of India.

The eyes flutter open and Sleeping Buddha pushes himself to a sitting position.
"Let us continue our journey," he says, as I prepare to leave.
- Valerie Nelson


Twenty-five centuries of tradition
In twenty days of travel
Yet I am not weary.
At the sound of the bell
I follow my breath back home.
-Rick Rankin


We breathe with the Buddha
We walk the path of former pilgrims
We smile to our teachers, family and friends
and are inspired by the Muslim soldier chanting with
devotion to Shiva in the hallowed
Saptparni cave near the sacred
Jain temple
The bullock cart passes, birds call
Children wave, smoke rises, mists clear
--the path is true.
- Shantum Seth


Sravasti  Jetta Grove  India

Overflowing gratitude
there are no words….
Such great honour to walk in your footsteps, Beloved Lord Buddha.
We both saw the emerald blue kingfisher, the elegant cranes, the flowers, fresh with dew.

Spring is in the air again
I renew my vows and will continue to walk your path.

Deep gratitude to my teacher
Thich Nhat Hanh, who
supports me and gives
me the tools to do so.

I bow deeply here, and
touch the earth that
once you touched.
-Maigriet Versteeg

No special insight today
If  I die the day after
this trip is over, I’ll
die happy
Blessings Shantum


My name is Buddha
I sat under a tree
If you think kind thoughts
You can be me.
My name is big Sid
I drive a Harley
Become aware
And you will be free.
-Jim Futransky


Marigold candles flicker on the Ganges,
carrying aspirations and regrets,
While widows’ nests of light
guide their husbands’ souls to heaven.
Swept up in the dust and grime,
unsettled flakes of gold
flutter through a shaft of light
illuminating the Buddha’s smile –
The same sun sets
as the wild geese fly north.
-Annie Harrison


We come from all places
To witness new life
So beautiful and simple
With hardship and strife.
We gather together
So different but same
To form a true Sangha
With Buddha to blame.
His trials of Life
We witness and feel
His birth through his death
To our hearts feel so real.
This has all taken place
Many generations ago
With life moving on
Through its ebb and its flow.
The black to the white
The mix goes to gray
The unity of culture
Calls people to pray.
Hindu and Muslim
And Buddhist are here
This reverence and devotion
To all seems so dear.
It seems not to matter
What path they might take
They just keep it true
In the life that they make
The life is so real
Yet complex and true
You look at a child
And a smile penetrates through.
The beauty shines bright
In every which way
From the piles of dung
To the piles of hay.
This everyday life
So busy and full
The touch of the beggar
The charge of the bull.
They strive to be happy
None look to be sad
It’s for the breath of life
That they seem forever glad.
The huts made of thatch
Some bricks form the wall
The stupa lies empty
But ever so tall.
The Buddha is gone
And generations have wept
But he does still live on
And his teachings are kept.
We are all grateful
To learn and to share
The family of the Sangha
Towards each we all care.
So as we depart
To go our own way
With hopes to reunite
Some other precious day.
With thanks to our teacher
Our mentor and guide
In our minds and in our hearts
He will ever abide.
-Bob Spina
Breathe On This!
Breathing in I hear Bob speak the
Dharma and I know it’s the way
Breathing out I hear Nena say
It’s enough, okay?
Breathing in my heart pounds in view
Of sights without match
Breathing out I can’t stop staring
At the desperate dog scratch
Breathing in I am stunned by the
Sun’s rising on Vulture Peak’s top
Breathing out as I wait on the bus
For Nena to shop
Breathing in as we arrive at the
Gleaming five-star hotel
Breathing out as we leave the cold room
To draw water from a well
-Allan Hunt Badiner


Buddha land serene,
Long lost, mindful rover,
Stones, gates, pilgrims, beggars,
Himalayan devotees, fervor undying,
Light the world forever with released imagination
No duality, death and life,
Buddha lives, everywhere
Love surrounds, compassion omni-competence!
Miracles! Minute by minute!
Inconceivable impatience! Determination! Joy!
Live transmission flowering Ganges
Evaporated, gone subterranean,
Risen flown with clouds,
Crystallizes, waits on mountain peaks,
Fires of feral greed,
Glaciers melt cascades.
-Bob Thurman


And then another jewel,
Walking a grass path through a small village,
Oxen tethered to a door. One dog looks and barks,
Hay stacked, houses with thatch, a woman stands, children stare expectantly,
Then through mustard flower fields to
A large tree sitting quietly.
This is a priceless jewel.
-Mark Rice


The Romance Is Over
I have thought of her often
Through the years
Since I was young
Her mystical nature
Held me
And beckoned to me
And over the years I heard rumours of her
And dreamt of the day
When I would meet her myself
And I came
Carrying my idealistic
And romantic visions
And now
As I sit in her lap
I realise that the rumours were lies
Feeble attempts
To describe what cannot be described
By language alone
She shows me things
I was not prepared to see
Awakens feelings
I have fought to keep a lid on
Shares things I struggle to comprehend
And gives lessons reserved for graduate students
The romance is over.
And now I can discover her true beauty
Which lies beyond
My superficial fantasies
And is far greater than anything
I could have imagined


Journeying through the East Gate
Lord Buddha seals my fate
Precious moment. Wonderful moments
Alas the suffering ends.
-Millie Foye, Loving Presence of the Source


Unlike a Thai tourist,
Buddha’s gold rubs off on me…
Transforming strangers in to
Dharma friends
A patient teacher clearing
The way.
Sunrise meditation opening
My heart.
Stepping gently on the
Path together.
The journey’s alchemy
Slowly processing
Timeless fields,
Dignity of ordinary
Work and
Curious smiles.
Into golden truths
That touched my heart.
-Jon Lea Fimbers-Hetzel, Joyful Presence of the Source


Three Views
After so many years of chanting
“O Sariputra! Form is no other than Emptiness,
Emptiness no other than Form…”
I know something about Sariputra
The one-winged Sarus crane
Avidly accepts his keeper’s food
But doesn’t like the khadi cloth,
Thrown on his head,
Being shown off for the crowd.
Sitting under the Bodhi tree
I know I could keep going deeper,
Now how to nurture
The spark that remains?
-Bill Greenberg


Pilgrim’s Landing
The full moon is rising and
The pilgrims – long adrift and searching –
Find themselves cast up at last by
Providential seas upon a welcoming shore
Where sweet sandy earth, underfoot
Inspires the opening heart
To gladness passing words.
And cries go up where dances move
To the drumbeat heart in orbits
Round the hot and crackling fire
And smoke and cinders rise to
The all-receiving silence of the sky.
-Gene Kirkham


Buddha is
Breaking bread
Blaring horns
Khaki sky
She is
Broken eyes
Begging hands
Old dusty lands
He is
Grey and tattered
Red bride and wrinkled
Maroon and old
Buddha is a
Long jostling road
Going nowhere
But home
Our of this burning house of worldly existence
-Joan Halifax Roshi


Pilgrim’s Promise
You there in the woods,
Thank you, brother.
I have been standing
In the shade
Of your many trees:
The sita ashoks of your birth,
The bo tree of your awakening,
Deer Park of your wheel
Still turning,
The twin sals of your death,
Jeta’s Grove, and Bamboo Grove.
Why am I here?
To honour you.
It took you a hundred
thousand eons, plus four
incalculable, working hard,
to become the teacher
that you were.
Thank you for your effort.
Why else am I here?
O let you know, brother,
That I’ve put my queer
Shoulder to the wheel.
I a pilgrim, white haired
And resolute, with fresh shit
On my socks and slippers,
Am learning to kiss
The leper’s wounds
With unconditional regard,
Though I won’t buy
His postcards or his film.
When I was Anguli Malla
Ahimsa, you taught me once –
Remember? – how the ocean
Of suffering is immense,
And how, if I only turn
Around, I’ll see
The other shore.
And I see it now – just there!
For as long as it takes –
Eons, incalculable –
I too will work to build
A vessel big enough
To cross the ocean
Of sorrow and bring
All beings home.
-Eric Kolvig


I wept under the Bodhi Tree
I did not understand the beginning
Until we reached the end.
Everyday is a pilgrimage
Navigating tempestuous seas of
Mental formations,
Battling inner demons
Trying to get clear –
In the present moment.
So many peoples
So many people
We are not along.
But in this together.
Here I grapsed
The interconnection of all being
The living soul
The compassionate heart
Of the world.
            -Stuart Abelson


On Intimations of Morality at Gridhhakuta
This surely is not the Vulture’s Peak;
But an eyrie where one can seek
The eagle’s cry to take care
And live each moment, truly aware
Of the looming presence of the vulture’s beak.
- Ashok Desai


We come as doubters on the trip.
Me a Jain, Harsh a Hindu.
Doubts about Buddhism,
Doubts about U.P,
Doubts about Bihar,
Doubts about spending the millennium in a vihar
We went to Sravasti, Lumbini,
Kushinagar, Sarnath, Bodhgaya, and Rajgir
We saw some,
We heard some,
We meditated some,
It got better and better along the way,
We leave as believers.
Thank you Shantum.
Thank you Gitanjali.
- Kamini


We have walked in sacred places
Where trees stood wise and tall.
And learnt as we sat in vast spaces
Of the great teacher’s compassion which flows to us all.
We climbed to reach those rocks of ages
Vibrant in splendour so sharp, so stark.
As our teacher spoke of great sages
I asked, “is there some light where it was dark?”
The light is there in us, all teachings do say.
Now following our teacher, warmed by sangha’s affection
The cold mists of wintery day start wondering away.
New thoughts that come say, “it is time for a new reflection”.
-Sita Nanda


When Shantum was a child
He followed in my footsteps.
Now I am following his footsteps
On the Path of the Buddha.
On this journey I am learning
To breathe deeply, to act mindfully
To smile and to be aware
To experience the freshness of a flower
The beauty and clarity of a stream
And to be free as a bird.
To feel the mother’s love at Lumbini
The childhood of Siddharth at Kapilavastu
The serenity of the morning meditation at Sravasti
And the teaching under the neem tree at Sarnath.
To enjoy the candlelight parikrama
On the last millennium night in Bodhgaya.
Under the Bodhi tree where Buddha gained enlightenment.
To be conscious of the beauty of the sunset at Vulture’s Peak
And the tradition of learning at Nalanda – the lotus given.
To appreciate life and its impermanence in Kushinagar
In the place of the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana.
For the joyous journey I want to thank you
Shantum and Gitanjali and all my fellow pilgrims
For the harmony and grace, for better understanding
And PEACE that has been brought to me
By all of you.

 -Leila Seth


The Struck of Strucks!!
(this should be sung)
And the last word is to be guessed by the sangha.
In Sravasti, we admired the Sri Lankan chitra
We were all held captive by ………. (Sanghamitra)
At Lumbini, the birth of Buddha we did view
Steaming baths, Christmas carols, Mayadevi’s fading……. (statues)
Going on to Kushinagar, still following our breath,
What struck us most there was the meditation on………. (death)
In Varanasi, the Ganga at sunrise was rare.
Rimpoche contrasted with the monk who had his nose in the………. (air)
Bodhgaya – the lotus surrounded by lights
Fog came to clear the fog of our minds at………… (midnight)
Venuvan, Nalanda, the heart sutta,
We watched the new sunset at………… (Griddhakutta)
Smiling and sharing and reaching real depths
I’ll remember this sangha – “In Buddha’s………… (Footsteps)”
-Gitanjali Varma


In spring Bodhi light
Leaves and prayer flags ripple wind:
Soft mantras of peace.

-Charles Ham


Breath after breath
Step after step
In silence and song
We walked along

-Linda Ballantine


I came to India on a quest
Booked a ride with Shantum Seth
We drove around
Ourselves we found
As we walked in the Buddha’s Footsteps.
-Marty Evans


Women, graceful, cross the fields.
Am eternal rainbow
Calls my heart home
To the great mystery of life and death.
-Vicki Pollard
A billion people.
A million sight.
A thousand sounds.
One hundred monks chanting prayers
Ten serene and sacred places.
One simple Master’s hut.
Which is the greater number?
- Richard Ranklin


Finding India
I came to India seeking my heart,
That Dharma name Thay did to me impart.
Mindful moments I found, unmindful ones too,
Breathing in, breathing out, really brings skies of blue,
I found so much to do and so much to see,
From Theresa’s “pure heart” to Buddha’s old tree,
I found all the extremes from the high to the low,
My emotions, my suffering – I’ve sure come to know.
But the people I found meant the most, you see;
For I found in each face a reflection of me.
And so in the moment, to home I must start,
But now inter-being, finding India in my heart.
-Bob Balderson


Spring smiles on India
Dusty path dressed with blossoms
Breathing in the smells
Breathing out with bells.
Stopping thoughts on the spot
Where the Buddha once walks
And now in Thay’s footsteps
A smile rises from my depths
O’ the bliss to travel mindfully
In the sweet company of monks and nuns
To keep arriving without end
Never running, always a smile to send.
-Allan Hunt Badiner
Arising and Falling Away
In and out
Arrival and Departure
England and U.S.
Hong Kong and Italy
Gandhi’s Death and Life
Delhi Waiting and Boarding
Ganga and Himalayas
Bamboo grove and Vulture Peak
Marigolds and Hot springs
University and Museum
Bodhi tree and Vajra Asana
Tibetan chanting and Rustle of leaves
Mahant’s farm and Monastery
Mustard and Rye
Care and No care
Christopher and Dalai Lama
Preeti and Well
Lifting and Placing
Ganga Sunset and Sunrise
Fire and Water
Dhammekh and Dharmarajika
Lion capital and Teaching Buddha
Neem and Mango
Bikhuni Kusuma and Samdhong Rinpoche
Shiva and Buddha
Deep and Slow
Holyman and Rogue monk
Cremation and Burial
Jaggery and Sugar cubes
Black face and Red horn monkeys
Jasmine and Cowdung
Banana and Orange
Bangles and Bindis
Silk shirts and Khadi gamcha
Sugarcane and Lentils
Thais and Burmese
Sri Lankans and Japanese
India and Nepal
Love and Aversion
Coming and Going
Sita Ashok and Saal
Owl and Kingfisher
Ashoka and Constantine
The Other Group and Us
Kitch and Art
English and British
Spring and Winter
Panna and Manoj
Calm and Ease
Shed and Temple
Palace and Monastery
Relics and Rice
Bumpy and Smooth
Smile and Release
Jeta Grove and Anathapindika park
Stupa and Stupa
Cutlet and Eggs Meat and Veg
Stories and Struck
Birthday: Father and Son
Hindu and Muslim
Jain and Buddhist
Theravada and Mahayana
Aloo and Gobi
Gobi and Aloo
Bell and Conch
Hat and Turban
Pilgrimage and Sangha
This is because that is
That is because this is
Present moment wonderful moment.
-Shantum Seth


Six of us thrown together
Traveling, seeing, teaching, listing
Learning, loving, growing, experiencing
One perfectly balanced group
Each person dependant on and separate from
And affected by each other
Bright coloured saris
Green fields, blue sky
Smooth dark-skinned babies
With black under eyes
Sun sets and fires glow
A blanket of smoke covers
The sky for night.
-Amy Dolce


The Eyes
I see eyes everywhere –
We arrive in Delhi and I am
Overwhelmed by the stares.
Shantum says, “Look into
Their eyes and you will know”.
So I look more deeply.
I see:
The curious eyes
The eyes that light up with
A smile with “Namaste”
Or “Shukrya”
The eyes of compassion
The ageless eyes
The laughing eyes
The sad eyes
The tired eyes
The eyes that show the depth
Of the soul.
The eyes that harden to
Keep me out.
And in all the eyes I
See my own reflected.
-Ruby Grad


With Shantum in India
From Buddha’s birth to Buddha’s death,
We wondered round with Shantum Seth
In fields and temples, peace was there,
Then chaos in the market square,
A land of contrasts, joy, despair,
Of faith and beauty,
All is there, in India.
Morning mist in Lumbini
The snow capped peaks
Of the Himal are there,
As we sit near the
Parakeet-filled tree.
In the woods at
Lumbini, hyenas call
And the crane wades in
The shallows
And in the porch of the
Temple a bees’ nest hangs.
Buddha’s mother walked
Here once – did the hyenas
Call then and the crane stand
So still?
-Aileen Dempsay
In the footsteps of the Buddha
I have felt India with my feet
With my tongue I have tasted India
With my nose I have absorbed the smells of India
With my ears I have heard the sounds of India
And with my eyes I have seen the colours of India
-Caroline Bluck


















Travelling the Buddhapath
Helping establish here and now
Each present – a travelling sangha

Posture upright and stable under the Bodhi Tree
All still – body, speech and mind
The Buddha here illuminating the path
Hearts awaken, watering seeds of
Compassion, joy and equanimity

- Blythe Marston

I walk
I walk behind (from the past)
I walk forward (to the future)
But always I walk here, today.

Each step is on the path of my
Life journey
Trust the journey

- Beverly Kropp


Ringing Bells
Little awakenings
Deep Listening
All the names
So familiar
Hanoi Hilton
Cu Chi
Mekong Delta
Heart openings
Along the way

- Roberta Brown Root


Strangers mostly, together
For a common desire,
So different but the same.
Explorers, searchers, seeking
A peace filled journey, a mark
In time and of time
Gratitude for the many gifts
Received from the presence
Of each member of the travelling

- Alice Jefferson

Twelve Burmese Days
Golden face of the Buddha: reflecting inward/reflecting outward.
A green plastic bucket filled with roses: cut and tied for offering.
Buddhist announcement printed on card: curved inside a metal vase.
An empty bottle and discarded snack packet: surrounded by bright green weeds.
Another shining Buddha face: haloed by neon lights.
The whorls of a bull's ear, its rippled coat: a creature tied with frayed rope.
Three boats circling in to land at Inle: pink clouds reflected in water.
A woman in green with a star in her hair: steering the boat beneath a bridge.
Three young nuns: slipping into their shoes arrayed in ranks.
A girl on the riverbank between shadows of a bridge: boats wait for sunset.
The bicycle rickshaw, worn and tattered: seen from above.
A monk with a smartphone frames his brother: pagodas at dusk.
-Stephen Batchelor


A cool breeze
Sending smells of incense, food and flowers
The sound of hundreds of small bells
Chanting, murmuring, laughing.
Breath! Who is the breather?
Breathe in and breathe out, smile
I am arriving, arriving here within,
Beneath the golden rock
Letting go of all the amazing moments
Letting go of you all
My dear friends.

With lots of love and gratitude for this wonderful journey
-Regula Bacas


Heart’s Opening

My Heart Opens
To the impermanence of life
As I release my beloved’s ashes
Into the Ganges
And witness the fires
Of bodies burning
On the Ghats of Varanasi.

My heart opens as I sit
With our Sangha
At the foot of the Bodhi tree
Looking up into its branches
And feeling that we too
Are part of the great
Continuation of awakening.

My heart opens in the
Gardens of Lumbini
Surrounded by the love of
The Sangha
The beauty of the Trainings
And my joy in
Receiving a new name.

Along the path, my heart
Opened -

-  In the bouncing bus
As I shared and received
Deep teachings from
My sangha sisters and brothers

-Sitting on the ground
And receiving Shantum’s
Wisdom and Kindness
Through the Buddha’s story

-Trusting in the caring
Energy of Mathews
And Jagdish -
Knowing they would
Always get us home.

And now my heart opens,
To the sadness of
Journey’s end
And the joy of its
Continuation -
Within all of us.
-Jeff Johnson


Every day beauty, learning
Every day journeys within, beyond.
Earth, sky, water.
Caves, stupas close to heaven, landscapes that float.
Every day friends, open, sharing, loving.
Challenges, humour, tears, laughter.
Thinking, being.
We have come far yet we are home.
Thank you.


We end our time in India
where we began, the perfect O.
But all has changed within that space
From city streets to water's flow.

Zoe gained a sari's grace, while William spilled a thousand drops.
Robyn laughed with tribal force, and raining torrents spoiled the crops.
Nick wove his charm over young and old, tho Rebecca stayed beyond his reach
Teachers joined as equals here, but
Thomas was the one to teach!
Ethan rearranged the car, and debated long into the night.
Sanjana brought a game of cards, flipping notions of wrong and right.
Olivia fought a noble fight against the microbes lurking here.
Fortified by tea and toast, she faced the battle with good cheer.
Amanda dug up language roots, unflappable through all of time
Hannah's shoes were metaphor, white like the Taj above the grime.
And Shantum led with measured steps, rich with lore and tales to share.
We followed like a string of ducks
Trusting lives into his care.

We moved by plane, by bus and foot
By pedal rickshaw and by cart
Along the pathless path we wove
A journey into India's heart.

Dawn, and flame, and steaming shit, and children's hands, and cripple's crutch.
Beating rhythms, ringing bell, silence, fireflies, beggar's touch.

We end our time in India
where we began, the perfect O.
And all's contained within that space,
From city streets to water's flow.
                -Emer Page and Leah Merrill


Every day a floating leaf makes me stop.
Held to the sun or moon I read with the heart.
Imprinted they link to feelings, emotion.
Thus, thank you for your teachings.
Shantum for kindness and an open heart
Githu for strength, voice, thoughtfulness Amanika for spontaneity, candour, joy, energy Arocles for love and the capacity to express love Amanda for honesty and willingness to be vulnerable Nancy for independence and resilience Brooke for wisdom, softness and warmth Jan for gratitude and courage Phil for positivity and presence Katie for questioning and curiosity Joe for acceptance and flow Connie for self-care, self knowledge and humour Martin for everything!
-With love, always, Ursula Armstrong


Breathing in,   I see sunset at Vulture Peak
                        I see waving village children
                        I see garbage and manure
Breathing out, I see India

Breathing in,   I taste rice milk
                        I taste masala chai
                        I taste funky Asian food
Breathing out, I taste India

Breathing in,   I hear bamboo grove
                        I hear chanting
                        I hear car horns
Breathing out, I hear India

Breathing in,   I touch the footprint of Buddha
                        I touch the napkins of Lumbini
                        I touch my dusty suitcase
Breathing out, I touch India

Breathing in,   I smell incense
                        I smell moldy carpets
                        I smell cow dung
Breathing out, I smell India

Breathing in, I savour the rich textures of India
Breathing out, I sit in the richness of India
Breathing in, I’m in India
Breathing out, I smile
- Tan, Sheau Yun

My Buddhist pilgrimage
Has been like a Haaj to Mecca.
I can go home and die.
Now I realise that is wrong.
I can go home and live until
I die.
- Robert Arnold


The Buddha
Our teacher showing us
The Buddhist path
In ways multidimensional
In eleven directions
With your mindful kindness

- Anne Arnold


The universal in me
Thought conceives a form
A vacuum fluctuation
A mind manifests
- Werner Doyle
The Pilgrimage
In the steps of the Buddha.
Dharma teachings.
A part of sanghas everywhere.
How grateful I am of the many arms reaching out to me!
I belong to you and you
Belong to me!
- Ruth Eppsteiner

Leave the statues behind –
Walk with me beside a quiet lake.
Leave the temples behind –
Sit with me beside the Bodhi Tree
Listen with me and
Hear the Dharma
That’s enough-
Just the Dharma
-Carole Burke
Oh India, every time I return to you, you break open my heart.
Oh Buddha, every time I return to you, you fill my heart
And leave me grateful.
-Fred Eppsteiner


People, people, people,
And more people.
I am India.
I am a repository of ancient humanity.
I am deeply connected to the earth,
Even in the humblest marketplace, my fruits and vegetables
            look stunning.
I am a celebration of brilliant color.
I am enthusiastic, open-hearted children.
I am way too poor but overflowing with human sprit.
I live life right out in the open.
I gave birth to the Buddha and Gandhi -
            who can top that?
-Kate Bourne


1.  American Haiku
We used twenty-one
cameras to take one pic-
ture in Bodghaya.
-Molaan Mosell


There once was a Great One called the Budd Ha
Who Went some time without much Food -Ha!
            In Sarnath He Spoke
            A Sermon to many a Folk
Which put everyone in a much better mood-Ha!
There is a Buddha Scholar Named Stephen
Whose Students wanted to know what He's seen
            He lectured In Caves
            which were some of my faves
about a middle path to keep one quite Even
-Kevin O'Brien


Sitting in the breeze from the field,
Ashoka stupa is the start of our travel.
Carrying a cushion, we sit anywhere, as we like,
Our thirty is a travelling Sangha
-Tsutomu Kambe
I have been to India
I have been to India
and walked in the footsteps of
the Buddha.
I have been to India
the land of Mahatma Gandhi
walked where he walked
saw the power of a simple life
built on morality
and taught to others.
I have been to India
and rode in a caravan of rickshaws
through streets exploding with color
with sounds and smells of life being lived
riding to the fabled Ganges
the mythic river
giving life to many while
washing bodies and clothing
receiving ashes and small children to rest
not refusing my flower offering
and all the while
constantly moving silently. 
I have been to India
land of shrines and ruins
telling of an ancient time
a time of learning, teaching
and holy reverence
I have been to India
dominated for hundreds of years
free for sixty
with promise of a fresh start
I have been to India
where neglect and poverty
are beyond any words to describe
and yet…
and yet…
I have been to India
history, depth and
startling beauty
in the eyes of the children
gentle, soft loveliness of the women
and the men?
I see them teetering on the brink
of possibility
taking hold of who they are
beyond what is
to what they can be.
I have been to India
-Carole Wong Chesek


Snuggled in our mountain lodge
Every day, a gift of impermanence
Flashes of lightning, twinkling Tibetan eyes.
The heart opens, and then we vanish.
-Chris Germer


India. Stunning.
Shantum. Gifted.
You. Inspiring.
Dharma. Compelling.
Uprising. Invigorating.
Others. Fascinating.
Children. Heartbreaking.
Dad. Precious.
Me. Blessed.
- Leslie Young Giase


With my dear Sangha family, dressed in white (most of the time), I dove into Incredible India, teeming with life.  With sense doors open, having seen and known the precious home of the dear Lord Buddha and graced by the people, the land, and the traditions, my way has been confirmed. I depart this pilgrimage richer and wiser with a wish in my heart for greater peace for all beings.

-Fran Oropeza


India, mother of the Buddha,
Lays us bare
With her love and her pain
We learn to care.
-Chris Germer


(Please forgive the typist; Some of the Pali letters are not properly conveyed because at least the diacritical signs are not available.)
pubbadesananam Magadha
paccanam kosalani ca
sabbe pabbajjika saha
anupatipade Buddhe
pubbe tunni bhavam satim
pacca paribbajjikanam
majhimamaggam annasum
anupatipade Shantum.  
The Magadhans of the Eastern land,
And the Kosalans from the West,
All wander about together
In the footsteps of the Buddha.
Silent, mindful, in the morning
Adventure in the afternoon,
Coming to know the Middle Way
- In the footsteps of the Shantum. 
-Andrew Olendzki
Only one person awakened alone, the Buddha.  The rest of us need help from each other.  I thank each of you for helping me find a new meaning for Sangha. 
-Diane Moongrove


We sat at his house outside of Delhi.  I was still in shock from the contrast.  He said, “You will become one organism”.  I looked at these strangers puzzled.  Today in Sravasti there is no “I”.  “I” have been taken by this organism, by India... overwhelmed with gratitude. 

-Ellen O’Sullivan


Mother India
Nothing Between
You and God
My True Home
-Valerie Bell
A trip starting with a pinch of sugar for good luck.
I stare out the window and watch scenes that end before I realize what it is I've seen.
It's a head on collision with humanity
A kaleidoscope - click, click
Change, change

Perception, illusion, gratitude, wisdom, awe
Traveling lightly unpacking prejudices and judgments
chai, ginger lemon honey hot water ma'am?
horses with ribbons and bells--pulling carts
Asi Foot Buddha
Reading under the Bodhi Tree
mustard, lentils, flax, sugar cane, rice, amaranth
patties-samosas, momos and poopoo
lunch from leaf plates in Bamboo Grove
beggars children and women - a moaning hum that stirs my heart - aching
cobras, elephants and tiger heads, camels
classical music, Jetta Grove

Mahindra, Hercules, chai, dark betelnut, wallah, tuk tuk, tata, jelabis, bindis, kheer, halwa, Hero, Naga paneer, dhaniyavad, Namaste.

-Gail Cyrkiel

Listening to you
teach has me reaching
beyond myself
to see I need not do
but just be.
  - Liz Gavin


-Christine Line



I had taken refuge in the Buddha
I had taken refuge in the Dharma
And now I've taken refuge in a Sangha

I learned to walk on this sacred ground
And closed my eyes where One had woken us
In the presence of Great Suffering I found hope

Every pilgrim has been my teacher
And Mother India offered up her fertile ground
What fruits will these seeds I've planted here produce
After I am transferred to my Native Soil?
-Erika Long
Buddha Haiku
Walking Buddha Path
Reluctance fades to yes yes
Frog jumps in Big Mind
-Perry Garfinkel


Like a Shepherd
He leads his flock
And gathers his lambs in his arms
Holding them carefully
Close to his heart
Leading them home.
-Mimi White, Nurturer of the Source


Life-giving river
Three Jewels teaches us a way
To sink deep, not drown.
- Mimi White, Nurturer of the Source


Haiku on Footsteps
Reluctant pilgrim
Found Three Jewels and took them home
Bodhisattvas smiled.
- Anne Bowdoin


- Willa Schneberg


For the sake of all beings I aspire to be happy and free
In his footsteps, finding the Buddha in a tree,
The breeze, a river.
Hanging out with Shantum
Teaches us how to be.
May the Dharma Wheel turn for ever.
-Barbara Hickling


Flashing colours of supple silk
Beating about sacred ground
Beyond earthy bricks
Buoyant, light, illuminated.
Eight feet on the path
Shifting clouds reveal the smoking mountain
Massive snowfields are delicate orange
And pink in the early sun
Something solid runs through us all.
-Jane Coatesworth


Beside the Temple at Bodh Gaya
Sitting still within the sangha
Down dropped a gift into my hands
One glowing orange luminous flower
-Madeleine Thomas


"And did you meet the Buddha on the way?"
I met the Buddha in rustling
            Leaves and the flash of a wing
I met him in a monkey's snarl
            And a dog's kind gaze
I saw him in groves of trees;
            Under mean thatch; in beggars' eyes
I found I'd brought him with
            Me in my heart.
-Gill Bleaden


The flexibility is born from weakness
Solidity is rigidity transformed.
After the rain has cleared the clouds
The great mountains are plain to see.
-Murray Corke


Empty Mind
Thinking of something to write
Nothing comes
Mind empty
Just as in sitting under the Bodhi Tree
-Derek Brocklebank


Vulture Peak
The kite glides effortlessly
Over Vulture Peak
Supported by the currents
Of compassion and peace
Emanating from the Buddha’s heart
As we sit in meditation far below
Magenta hues fill the sunset sky
And a tangible hush envelopes all
The Blessed One’s Cave
Held in the womblike darkness
The mind relaxes and opens
Soft and grateful
In knowing
That the Blessed One
Spent many agonizing days here
Aspiring for the greatest Truth
-Eloise Ross-Jones


Dear friends,
Let us see that there is no birth and death
So why complicate our life with stress
The world within and around is clear and free
So let us see that you are me
And I am you and that’s plain to see
The same is true for the birds and bees (and buffaloes and monkeys)
Come let us live in a world of love
So that there is no below and above
The laughter sings in the wind,
The flowers bloom and stars shine
And when the night falls all around
Let the candles burn on the stupa ground
The stupa comes alive like a fire in the starry night
The full moon will rise and show the way
Thank you dear friends/ Sangha
For walking the Buddha way
-Shantum Seth         


The Buddha’s footsteps are for me
The road to happy destiny
When I behold a suffering one
Compassion in my heart is born
-Bernadette McEwen


Children, laughing eyes, pleading
Eyes, vacant eyes,
Reaching, open hands, clenching hands, prayerful hands,
Surrendering judgment
As I fall deeply into the lap of
Mother India
Single bow
Exquisite grace
Soul’s refrain
Suspends the ear
Silent steps, softened twilight
Sea of grasses beaming yellow
Time slumbers
My heart blooms
-Gwen Faasen
From Lumbini to Delhi
The experience passes away
Like a leaf boat on the Ganges
But what will remain
Is renewed commitment
To compassion and equanimity.
-Jeff Theis
Deep in Jeta Grove,
An ancient well now runs dry,
Yet pilgrims still come.
-Weston Konishi


To India I come
In search of the way
To let go of samsara
I do hope one day
We followed the Buddha
To his most holy sites
We travelled by bus
By day and by night
From Lumbini to Bodhgaya
We followed the path
We rode on the Ganges
Without taking a bath
Our hearts become truer
Our minds become clearer
We thank Eric’s meditations and talks
For bringing us nearer
Sid left me one night
Cause I told him don’t snore
But my Karma was right
And Tempa showed up at my door
We debated all day
But Tempa always proved right
I miss him a lot
I’m sure he could show us the light
I want to thanks Joan
For correcting my words
And teaching me that
There are no Buddhist birds
Joan says its love and compassion
You should send out to all
Develop patience and forgiveness
And you will stand tall
Our hearts are prayers to Reba
Who gave us a scare
Our minds should dwell on impermanence
As it is always there
To Jennifer and Garv
Who learned to hondel
I hope in the future
This will save you a bundle
To Shantum my friend
You’re gentle and kind
Your figure 8 head nod
Puzzles my mind
To all sentient beings
Wherever you may be
May your suffering cease
May you leave in equanimity
Joy and happiness to all
Keep the Buddha in mind
And just remember that
You must train that monkey mind
We sneezed and we coughed
All together a one
Now that our pilgrimage is over
I think it fun
I smiled and joked
For that is my way
You taught me the value of a Sangha
In my heart you will stay
- Barry Wagner


This trip has been a perfect experience for me. I knew it would be interesting, and I had been looking forward to it for a long time, but I had idea
That the contact would be so deep. I’m amazed at the things I’ve seen and the amount that I’ve learned about India, Buddhism, and myself, in such a short period of time. It has surpassed all of my expectations and I’m really happy I came.
Birds, Flowers, Incense
Not one word spoken
In the bamboo grove
I was smitten by some older Indian women
With saris the same shade of green
As the trees and grass
-Christian Crudo


After India...
Ï am free”, I state with a voice
Which echoes of the journey I’ve begun.
Having rid myself of plastic smiles, the
Fear, and the burning tears – I am
Reminded that life is a fragile chain
Of experience held together by love.
I have seen the riches to be sought
In broken places…
As I breathe in I know that the human journey
Boils down to one thing,
As I breathe out I strive to make
My love a force in the world…
And to let its healing power being
With me.
- Brandy Christensen


Going, going, going on
Guided by the footsteps of
The Buddha.
Wherever I am is home.
-Randi Brox


Walking the Footsteps
Watering the Seeds of Love
Lives Forever Changed
-Jerry Braza


Meeting the Buddha
Mr. B and I first met in England
In France our acquaintance deepened
In the amazing universe that is India
The land where Gandhi taught and walked
Among the green fields, parks and forests
I found Mr. B the man.
And walked in his footsteps
Along paths, across rivers and sand
Relics, construction, destruction
Revival and reconstruction
Where his historic Sangha had gathered
Now I must exchange the hubbub of India
For the hubbub of England
So difference but so similar
There also the Buddha is always available
But it was Mother India
Who gave the historic Buddha birth
Deeply I bow as I say goodbye
With deep gratitude to India and her people.
-Meg Stacey


Rural life in India floated gently by;
Walking to a cave where Gautam nearly died.
Gentle boys served us tea in bed
Beautiful stories through which we were peacefully lead.
We are all at one here in the park with monkeys, trees and pigs.
In the necklace of our lives.
-Nancy Snyder


Oh India,
Your sweetness drew me to you
The gentleness of your brave men
Who ferry cabs and sell news print in a vast Western City
Whose kindness and humility were an unforgettably sweet thorn in a
Bottle of self-importance
…to have walked your planted Earth
And breathed your million-filled air with you…
Now I have seen its source.
-Hugh Gamble McCormack


The cocoon encloses
A struggle ensues
Light peers though the cracks
The walls crumble
The butterfly soars
A Buddha is born
-Gitanjali Seth


A young prince who saw beings needed saving
Had an ascetic way of behaving
Under a tree in Uruvela
This insightful young fella
Saw the cause of our suffering is craving.
-Ellis Tingstad


Sitting Under the Bodhi Tree
Tibetan monks come in, take over
The whole space with their
Bowing, chanting. The microphone
Goes on, and they are the main
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, I
Am haughty and proud Tibetan, here
To preserve and protect the
Dharma, to show the others
Strong practice.
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, I
Am the Hindu woman who bows,
Leaves fruit offerings and rubs
Her head on the Bodhi tree trunk ,
Pours water on it and catches
The water and drinks it.
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, I
Am the Indian monk who gathers
Coins for the donation box, who cares
For the shrine, watching pilgrims do
Their thing. My robes are dusty pink,
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, I am
Middle-aged aMerican, with cushion and
Mat, Velcro and pack, sitting
Determined, still.
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree, I am
Korean Sangha, chanting sing-song Heart
Sutra, bowing and BOK.BOK.BOK
Sitting under the Bodhi Tree,
Leaves fall, dharmas bloom.

-Pat O’Hara


The Ganges at dawn
Pilgrims singing from a boat
Charm river dolphins.
Bodhi tree morning:
Three sound-circle mandalas –
Trumpets, drums, cymbals.
Lumbini garden –
Wild waves of maroon-robed monks
Joining the tea queque.
Vulture Peak sunset:
Walking down in darkness, turn
To see the full moon.
Sarnath at evening:
Rinpoche’s dharma – travel
With an open heart.
-Robert Bluck


I should like to be like an
Indian woman
Strong so I can carry a heavy bundle of kindling on my head
Gentle and loving as I massage
My baby’s limbs
Caring as I lead my buffaloes
Home at the end of the day
Patient while waiting for my
Best sari to dry
Wrapped in bright colours and proud to
Display my golden nose ornament
Full of devotion as I light the
Incense and place marigolds on
The household shrine
Part of the serenely eternal flow
Of life that pervades this
Beautiful land.
-Maargi Mazzanti


Dung dries by the road
Red saris pierce green rice fields
While egrets fly past
In Buddha’s Footsteps
Marble cooled by winter nights
Chills our pilgrim feet
-Caroline Bluck


How far away enlightenment is
To find the balance of facing in and
Facing out,
To be mindful through this lifetime
Would be enough.
-Vicki Seglin


His steps lie far beneath our own
Humus has covered brick and stone
The sal tree’s flower, the peepal’s leaf
Turns back to soil, mixed with no-gried.
(no grief = ashok, the tree under which the Buddha was born)
-Vikram Seth


Buddhist pilgrimage began
With total strangers ten.
Pilgrimage is ending –
With ten Dharma friend.
-Constance Sandham


Colour, sound, tastes, scenes, faces,
Distract my mind from
Buddha’s sacred places.
Back home, when stories
Of his life are told
Deep memories o these footsteps will unfold.
-Jan Peterson




















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