Day 34


From: Benoit Martin
Date: 2007-07-20, 12h51
Subject: News from the bicycle tour "2500 KM to Meditate!"


Dear friends form all over the world,

First, please accept my apologies for this non-personalized email.  It is the last one I will send you on this subject (the "2500 KM to Meditate" bicycle tour), as I didn’t want to send more to avoid flooding or annoying.

News from my travel:
I am writing you from my tent, lying down in a shady field on evening after a full day of cycling, somewhere between Bourg-en-Bresse and Mâcon (in Ain, France), in the midst of my 2500 km bicycle tour through Europe.

I started on June 18th from Leipzig, Germany (just South of Berlin), went to Austria, to Liechtenstein, crossed Switzerland and the Alps, and am now in France, the land of cheeses (with the heat we have today, the ones I bought this morning decided to melt and flow in my bags as much as they could!).  I have been cycling for 29 days.  Distance made up to now:  1462 km.

The first days were terribly difficult.  For those of you knowing a bit about Buddhism, one word concisely summarize my first 3 days:  Dukkha.
(For the others, see Wikipedia: )
Then, after having abandoned the idea of finishing this trip, things got better and the trip continued by itself.
I would never have thought to be able to come up to where I am now….

I had fantastic times on this travel, some very nice encounters, some beautiful moments.  As well as, obviously, some difficult times.  As in any life, in fact.
The day before yesterday, I met a young man (about my age) from Vienna in the middle of a 2 or 3 km long (and totally straight) tunnel for bicycles & pedestrians under a mountain.  He, also, was traveling by bicycle and was coming from far away.  Superb moment, odd meeting, in this place from another world, under the earth, lit by a dim light, walls (and almost the air) dripping with cool and cold humidity - while there was blazing light and almost suffocating heat where we came from, at the 2 ends of the tunnel, outside.  Brief, fleeting encounter, as I was going in one direction, him in the other one, and the humid coldness was forbidding us to delay too much.  Meeting permitted only a few minutes, perhaps 10 or 15, then life continued its course and the river which is his flowed in one direction and mine in the other, after heaving greeted (sp?) each other for a short moment, the time of the twinkling of a star.

A friend wished me, before I started this trip, a "bon bon profond voyage" ("good good deep travel").  It is how the trip was (is) for me…

My goal is still to go up to Catalonia, Spain, for a total of 2500 km by bicycle.  So I still have about 1000 km to do.  My goal is also to raise 2500 Euros (about 3800$ CAN, 3400$US or £1700) for the opening of the Open Centre meditation centre, and that is, in fact, one of the reasons for which I am writing you today - to ask for your help for that aspect of my journey, if you would wish to do so.

Until now, very generous donations totalizing 2028 Euros (about 3040$ CAN, 2750$US or £1375) have arrived to me, coming from 13 different countries - and even coming from donators I do not know at all!  I am writing these words and I am still positively surprised and touched by the generosity of people (including people I met on my way).  Really, some warm and sincere thanks to everyone.  Every donation, no matter its amount, be it a small handful of coins or a few days of salary, are very much appreciated and are also giving me tremendous moral support for the road yet to be made.
A few days ago, I meet a group a French people going out to play "boule" and, upon learning the purpose of my trip, the father of the small family went back to his home to get me 1 Euro to give me 1 more kilometer!  And yesterday, a very kind waitress in a small restaurant where I asked for water (and got Internet access as a bonus) made a donation of her tip of the day for the Open Centre.

So I humbly take the opportunity to remind you, but without insisting in any way, of this bicycle tour and fund-raising event dedicated to the opening of the Open Centre meditation center.  Life being as it is, too often we can have a multitude of nice intentions and there are many beautiful things that we would like to do but we postpone then a little bit and the ideas get drowned or lost in the turmoil (or simply the "dailyness") of daily life.
So, now is the time!  :)

(Note: For those that already had the generosity (or the blessing) to make a donation for this tour or for the Open Centre directly, please consider this section of the email as an extra and grateful "Thanks!" and not as an additional solicitation!)

Donations can be made by credit card directly via my secure website, or by check, bank draft or bank transfer in an account located in Québec (Canada), in the UK or in the Euro zone (details and instructions on my website):
All donations will go directly for the opening of the Open Centre.
I am also open to accept donations to support me personally in my expenses for this trip but, as written earlier, I wish that the priority be given to the Open Centre.

This centre, the Open Centre, it is not for me.  I do not presently have the need to make a meditation retreat, I already did quite a few, and if I want to do more, I can go to India or elsewhere more or less whenever I want, that’s very easy for me.  This center, that is for other people, for people who are unknown to me (and possibly to themselves as well).
When you discover something as precious as what meditation can bring, at all levels, it’s simply normal that arises the wish to share that, to give this wonderful opportunity to others whom are seeking it.  I received, I received a lot.  So I also want to give back, in the ways I can.

There is a very nice 8 minutes presentation video about the Open Centre available on my website.  This video carries well, I think, the essence and the spirit of the Open Centre and the wider open community which is behind:

I was showing this video to a friend 2 weeks ago, during my bicycle tour, and I was struck and reminded how lucky I am to know people like these and to be able to help, a bit in my own way, to the continuous realization and manifestation of projects like this one.

Many friends that I deeply love and respect are in this video - I also am there, as well as Ulrika, my partner, and a few pictures of this video have been taken by Ulrika or I.  So, for me, the images that we see in this video are not some kind of far or distant ideal, as can be the almost-heavenly - and unreachable - images that the advertising world shows us (the "perfect" house, the "perfect" landscape, the "perfect" physical appearance, etc.).  These images are, for me - and for many people around me -, the reality.  I was there, I participated in it, and, I hope, I’ll be there as well in it in the future….
Yes, a "different" world is possible, and even is manifesting itself right now…

There were 2 newspaper particles about this 2500 fund-raising bicycle tour in local newspapers in Québec.  One is available online (only in French, though):
(There are some slight errors or deformations in what is being said in the article, but that doesn’t matter much, the basic ideas are well carried.)

So you will be able to continue to follow my trip on my website:
The website also contains more information about the Open Centre and about this trip, an interactive map (with Google Maps) where I put the GPS points where I am every evening, and my travel diaries (in French and in English - even though I haven’t yet translated everything into English, that will come).  I’ll also put photos from the trip, when I’ll have some time for it.

With my solar panel and thanks to some generous wireless (or even wired) Internet connections found along the way, I stay in touch during the trip, update the website and also work a bit on the different computer projects I am taking care of.

By the way (a reminder), for those of you who might need it, the technical support email address for the web hosting of SPUN inc. / is:


and the technical support email address for the Transactional Websites of is:


You can also write directly to me, as always, but there could be some delay longer than usual in my responses.

So my trip is continuing….
It is not finished yet, far from it, and obstacles and challenges are still in front of me:  There are the Pyrenees between here and Spain, and, at this moment, I have a beginning of tendinitis on my left Achilles tendon, which is a bit annoying (and not much useful at the moment, when there is still more than 1000 km by bicycle to do!)…  The same happened while walking the Camino de Santiago (the St. James’ Way) in Spain 4 years ago, so the pain was bringing up memories within me.  I restricted myself to a small day yesterday and today, drank incredible quantities of water and juice (it’s now over 30°C with a heavy sun during the day, after having rained almost all the time during the previous weeks!), got some Voltaren in a pharmacy - the same thing I was given in Spain, which had helped me a lot - and might take 1 or 2 days of rest if I have too (I don’t have much choice!).

So, story to be continued….  :)

That was the news from my trip and this fund-raising event.

I hope that you are well, wherever you might be on this planet.

Warm greetings & Metta(*),

-Benoit Martin

PS: This email was written and sent using solar energy.

(*) For the meaning of "Metta", see again Wikipedia:

Open Centre Presentation Video

8 minutes Open Centre Presentation Video:

A new adventure: 2500 km to meditate!

Dear friends,

After a few weeks of preparation, I am now ready to announce my next adventure, for which I am kindly asking for your help:

I am starting on a 2500 kilometers bicycle tour through Europe to raise funds for the opening of a meditation center called the Open Centre, in Spain.
My goal is to raise 1 Euro per kilometer to ride, which is 2500 euros (about 3800$ CAN, 3400$US or £1700).

The Open Centre is an Open Dharma project, with Jaya Ashmore, Gemma Polo Pujol, Ajay Singh (and others), the teachers and friends with whom I have done many meditation retreats in India, France, Spain, Israel and Québec, Canada.  The Open Centre project is also supported by UNESCO.

In early June, in a few weeks, I will leave on my bicycle from Leipzig, Germany, to go to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, France and Spain, climbing up to 2000 meters altitude 3 times while crossing the Alps and the Pyrenees.  I will stop a few weeks at the Tapovan Meditation Centre, in Dordogne, France, for the Dharma Yatra, the 2 week annual outdoor walk/pilgrimage I am taking part since 4 years already, and then arrive at the Open Centre in Catalonia, Spain, in mid-August.

I will have my tent with me, which will be my home once more, my little camping stove will be my kitchen and the trees, the road, the rivers, the wind, the Sun and the rain will be my neighbours and companions along the way…

I will carry my laptop and digital camera with me, powered by a solar panel on my bicycle, so you will be able to follow my trip on the website I created for it:   (in French, English & German)

I then need your help for this event, as it is a fund-raising event.  I would then like to ask you for your support, for your encouragement, to allow me to ride these 2500 kilometers, to raise these 2500 euros for the opening of the Open Centre.

It is a good cause, to my humble opinion, and I would be honored to have your support for it.  I know that you do not have much money (few are those who think that they have a lot of money, even if they are millionaires! :) ), and your support, no matter the amount, will be very welcome and greatly appreciated.  A few dollars or Euros already means a few more kilometers for me!  (2500 km by bicycle can only be done 1 km at a time…)
Anyways, now, in 2007, what can you really do of any real importance with 50$ or 100$?
50$, it’s a tank-full of petrol (perhaps even not a full one), and there might well be no trace of it after 1 week.  50$, it can also be a dinner in a restaurant - not a fancy one - surely very nice, but that won’t last much longer than the time for digesting it.  200$ is a few new clothes, that might not be so needed after all, and that might not be worn so long passed the next ephemeral fashion trend.  1000$ or 2000$ is a week of vacation somewhere in a all-inclusive package, perhaps very nice, but that won’t last much either…   So is 50$ or 100$ really a lot of money nowadays?

I can’t offer you "permanence", but perhaps that I can offer you something else, more real, more "solid":  The chance to help others, the chance to permit people, including you and I, to have a place where it is possible to look at what really matters in one’s life, a place to learn to live with inner as well as outer harmony, a place to be loved and to learn to love oneself, to accept oneself with all what we can we find inside us, beautiful or ugly, a place to permit human beings to grow and to develop themselves, like flowers or trees in fertile soil, crystalline water and soft caressing Sun…
A place to welcome people from any religion or no religion, to allow them to speak and, more importantly, to allow them to be in silence, listening to what is being said inside.

To change the world to make it a better place, yes, to bring peace upon this world, yes.  But such a real change can only happen by starting first from inside oneself…  This is what I believe.

I am very happy to have the possibility to offer my energy and efforts to a project like the Open Centre.

More info about the Open Centre:

Open Centre presentation video:

For people of my country, in North America, Spain might seem a bit far, that is true.  But it is also a large step closer than India, the starting point of Open Dharma, the meeting point of many of my friends and I, and the source of a great wisdom.

I then invite you to make a donation to support this adventure, either
1-  by credit card or PayPal directly on my secure website at
2-  by check in any currency, made out to "Benoit Martin" and sent to:
    2500 KM to Meditate
    1981 DesMelezes
    St-Bruno, QC
    J3V 6A1
3-  or by bank transfer:
    - In a bank account in Canada with TD Canada Trust or Desjardins (please write me to have the bank account details)
    - In a bank account in the UK (please write me to have the bank account details)
    - In the Euro zone (Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, etc.) to this account:
        IBAN:  DE28 8605 5592 1802 919 208
        BIC:  WELA DE 8L

Any amount, even a few dollars is already a great support!

I would also be open (and happy) to have corporate sponsors.  For businesses (or even individuals) giving 75$CAN (50 Euros) or more, I will place a link towards your website from the Donators page (which is good for the SEO - Search Engine Optimization - of your website!).

All funds received will go to the Open Centre.  Open Dharma is registered in the US under the umbrella of Earthville Inc, a "501(c)(3) non-profit corporation", so donations are tax-deductible for US tax payers and some Canadian tax payers (those having income from the US, I think - please consult a tax specialist, I do not pretend to be an expert! :) )

I would also accept donations or sponsorships to support me for my travel and gear expenses, but I would prefer that the priority goes to the Open Centre.

As of now (on May 14th, 2007) I have received 188 euros (277$CAN) from donators from countries as diverse as Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Brazil! :

I would also ask your help by forwarding this message to those you know around you, or to your boss at the company you are working for.  I am attaching to the message the press releases in English, French and German, for distribution and unlimited publication.

I would also be happy to meet people I know and/or people I do not know along the way.  If you are located nearby the path of my planned route - see at  - send me an email to invite me!

Thank you very much for your support, wishing you a nice and pleasant day - or evening -, and wishing you to be truly happy.

Regards & Metta,

-Benoit Martin
Leipzig, Germany