Lama Zopa Rinpoche walking to Dra Karpo temple, the holy site of Guru Rinpoche’s body in Pharo, Bhutan, June 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

A student was taking time off after serving at a center for ten years and was planning to do a walking retreat for several months. Lama Zopa Rinpoche offered this advice:

Yes, doing 200,000 Vajrasattva mantras as you walk is very good. You can do this as if you are making pilgrimage, and at the same time you can do a sort of retreat, like Vajrasattva, while you are walking. Also you can do things like refuge or reciting OM MANI PADME HUM and so forth.

Many years ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave Chenrezig initiation and the commitment was 600,000 recitations of OM MANI PADME HUM. I met a very learned, expert monk in philosophy who had taken the initiation. He was making pilgrimage in Nepal and at the same time reciting OM MANI PADME HUM, the commitment he had received from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He did this while he was travelling. Of course he was very busy at his monastery, reading texts, teaching and educating others, and learning himself. So he did the commitment immediately like this, with pilgrimage in Nepal.

Bhutan June 16 2016 by Ven. Roger Kunsang

Family, Bhutan, June 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

It’s incredible to use the time like this. It’s so profitable and meaningful, instead of complaining, “I can’t get it done. I don’t have time, blah, blah,” but at the same time having so much time for gossiping and many other things, like eating, drinkingand so forth.

Also during the walk or pilgrimage or while travelling, you can, for example, do lamrim meditation. It’s not always necessary to be in a room, sitting on a cushion and closing your eyes. You don’t always need to do that.

Dzongdrakha - Place of Guru Rinpoch'es mind in Paro Bhutan, temple close by - June 14 2016 by Ven. Roger Kunsang

Dzongdrakha, place of Guru Rinpoche’s mind, Paro, Bhutan, June 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

You can follow the lamrim outline on guru devotion for however many months you are travelling. Meditate on guru devotion by following the outline, to develop from your side the realization that sees the guru as all the buddhas—one guru as all the buddhas and one buddha as all the gurus—until you are able to realize this from your side, without effort, stable.

Whenever you have this stable realization for weeks, months and years, for your whole life, then come all the realizations up to omniscience, including the three principal aspects of the path (the foundation) and tantra (the two stages) up to the omniscient mind. Then you can even achieve enlightenment in one life. You can achieve enlightenment quickly, in a brief lifetime of this degenerate time, like Gyalwa Ensapa, Chökyi Dorje, Milarepa and many others.

This advice, “Retreat While Walking or Traveling,” is from “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book,” published in May 2018 on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website:

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.