Day 39 - Evening - At the Dharma Yatra

Beginning of the end of the Dharma Yatra 2007.

I arrived here 6 days ago, I think.  (I say "here" speaking about the Yatra, even though we changed place every day.)

Very powerful, as always, is a Dharma Yatra.  The collective energy of 150 people walking in silence, in a single line, can produce or induce many things.

I will write more tomorrow or in the next days, and will update the website.  The Yatra carried me away without giving me the possibility to leave a note on the website before, just after I sent my last email to everyone from the corner of a street outside a little village, stopped on the side of the road, standing beside my bicycle with my laptop sitting on my solar panel.  (Apart from giving electricity, I also noticed that a solar panel is very useful to use as a table - in combinaison with a bicycle - to put a laptop on in a stable way, as well as for protecting a camping stove from the wind.)

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:

Day 30 - Evening

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I will have time.  Meanwhile, you can practice your French by reading the French version (by clicking on "French" on top of the right column).

Day 27 - Evening

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I will have time.  Meanwhile, you can practice your French by reading the French version (by clicking on "French" on top of the right column).

Day 24 - Evening

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I will have time.  Meanwhile, you can practice your French by reading the French version (by clicking on "French" on top of the right column).

Day 2 - Mid-day

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I will have time.  Meanwhile, you can practice your French by reading the French version (by clicking on "French" on top of the right column).

Day 21 - Evening

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I will have time.  Meanwhile, you can practice your French by reading the French version (by clicking on "French" on top of the right column).

Day 20 - Evening

Text to be translated from the French version later on, when I have time.  I’m on the Alps, currently at 1450 m altitude, going towards the Oberalppass at 2040 m.  Hopefully today.  It’s only 15 km away.

Day 18 - Lunch in Liechtenstein

I’m now in Liechtenstein.

Yesterday, after having started very early (my roof had gone at 5:00 am very sharp, typical German), I cycled under the rain and under the big rain towards the lake Constance (Bodensee).  Then I found myself in Austria.  I haven’t really noticed that I’d pass via Austria.

At 7:30 am I already had done 30 km.  I couldn’t really stop anywhere, it was way too early, it was alternatively raining or about to rain, and I was in this lukewarm zone where you’re not really neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, but if you stop then you’ll start to be cold, you’ll realize how much the water got in everywhere it could and you’ll be uncomfortable.  Sometimes (even often) there’s no real choice, you have to go on.  If I stop, I’m a stranger, an alien, in this cold and humid country.  On my bicycle, while moving, I’m at home, I’m fine.
And something might happen later on, by continuing to go on.

But I was trusting, I knew that I didn’t really had to worry, that something would (or would not) happen and that I would be fine.

I crossed to Switzerland without wanting it, while trying to follow the directions for a café with a wireless LAN (Internet access) that someone gave me.  I do not cycle back to where I came from.  For me, was has passed on the road has passed and there are so many things just waiting in front of me that I very rarely go back to where I come from, no matter why.  (And it’s also to Spain, more than 1500 km further in front of me, that I want to go!)  I go on, forward, that’s all.

So I followed the Rhine for a while on the Swiss side, before going back to Austria at another bridge.  I hadn’t finished with Austria yet (and it’s cheaper in the Euro zone).

At 16:30, after 70 km and a huge number of fruitless stops to try to find an Internet access with a warm soup, it was still grey and rainy, showers where cyclically soaking everything again and I was strongly looking for an Internet access to find someone from the Hospitality Club ( ) to host me for the night.  Sleeping under the tent wasn’t too much appealing, I would have loved to be a bit dry and to avoid humidity.  Passing by Feldkirch, Tom, a very friendly-looking young man greets me, tells me something in German (obviously!) and invites me to have a coffee at his house.  He also had an Internet access and offered me hospitality for the night.
I could wash clothes (with a machine!), warm myself up, change a tire on my bicycle, dry up my tent (the door of yesterday’s truck had to stay open, so it was still raining a bit on me) and sleep dry.

There are people, like that, that appears just when you need them.  I’m very grateful for that…

Day 16 - Evening

It was raining.  It still rains.  A rain that says that it won’t stop much soon.  With clouds that say that they have their things to do for a while.

It was raining, so I continued to cycle.  I normally stop for the evening at about 18:00, but then it wasn’t worth stopping to put up the tent under the rain just to get wet everything which wasn’t already (my luggage).  So I was continuing.  A good rain, the kind you need to be fully drenched, after a few hours, if you got any little opening for it.
I was having wet only the feet (I have sandals), the tip of the nose and the end of my arm sleeves, more or less.  But it was beginning to be late, I was needing to eat, put up my tent and sleep, ideally before its dark.  But the rain didn’t care, and the horizon wasn’t announcing me any change coming with the kilometers.

At a village I went towards the church, with the intention to ask for hospitality for the night.  I don’t know if that’s something that you can really do, but that doesn’t matter, I wanted to go and do it.  I turned around the church for a few minutes, trying to figure out where the church people could live, but without finding anything.  I was about to leave and continue when the church bell ran 3 times to tell me to wait.  So I stopped, not knowing where to go and knock, and the driver of a long white double truck got out of his van and came to me.  He offered me to sleep in the back of his truck.

So here I am, in the back of a big truck, with a load of gypsum pallets, after having eaten a very nice meal of Italian pasta in the restaurant with the truck driver (who very kindly invited me and paid the bill).  I have a roof until 5:00 am, then the truck goes away.

The floor here is a bit wet, so I put up my tent in the truck.  It’s pouring rain a few meters over me, but I don’t mind either, I’m at home here, I’m safe, for these few hours.

I’m going to sleep.

Day 16 - Afternoon

….Life is so full….

It seems to me right now that this is one of the most intense trips that I have ever done.  I somehow knew it would be, and that’s why I wanted to do it….

I just left Nicole, a friend from the Sangha (community of like-minded people – see Wikipedia, for example: ), in her little house perched on the near top of a hill in the middle of other high hills, in the Allgäu, something that could be described as the lower Alps.  A very typical Bavarian landscape.  With cows running their bells all the time, chaotically, symphonically.

It rains now.  But I don’t mind so much.  It feels like leaving a (meditation) retreat.  Not so much for the "leaving", but more for the sensibility that is often there after a retreat.

What is this life?
Some people do know.  And I want to be with them.

I am surrounded by them.

I just sat in a bus stop, to have a rest for eating.  Appetite is there but doesn’t really come.  So I just sat, eyes closed, in this bus stop, with my sunglasses so as not to bother anyone, meditating with the loud cars and trucks resonating all around me.

Now I need food, my body tells me.

I’m about to arrive to Switzerland.  The mountains, the real ones, are there.  I remember my first view of them, far in the clouds, when I was still in a plain, following the Iller river.  I somehow never thought I would arrive up to here.
And now the real part, the real fun begins - or has already begun.  Now I’m really into this trip.  My life is just cycling, moving, going further.

People often ask me (in German) if I’m on vacations.  No, I’m not on vacations.  This is my life, there is nothing outside of it.