There is an old traditional kind of Dhamma propaganda. It's simply walking form one place to another while keeping precepts and maintain peace in one self. Actually its the original way of Dhamma "propagation" suggested by the Buddha.
The "founder" of that we call Dhammayietra is known as Preah Maha Ghosananda, a Cambodian Buddhist Monk who spend his times of leaning overboard (mainly in a thai forest monastery) while at the same time his fatherland was destroyed and his whole family was killed.
In 1969, while Maha Ghosananda was practicing meditation in the forest, news reached him of the devastating violence occurring in Cambodia as the American ‚secret bombing‛ campaign was unleashed. The United States began a series of bombing raids in Cambodia that lasted for fourteen months, as part of an attempt to shut down the Ho Chi Minh trail and end the Vietnam War. The bombing campaign, known as Operation Breakfast, quickly destabilized Cambodia. Hundreds of thousands of refugees flooded into the city of Phnom Penh. Cambodia became increasingly consumed in the conflagration of the expanding war.
In 1970 a military coup took place, and the monarch was replaced by a pro-American government. As the war escalated from 1970-75, Cambodia was thoroughly
engulfed in violence and fully engaged in the war. Before the American war ended, over 2,750,000 tons of bombs had been dripped on Cambodia – more than the total tonnage dropped by the Allies in all of World War II. Cambodia, a tiny country, is about the size of Washington State. An estimated 500,000 Cambodians were killed during the American bombing campaign. Every day, as Maha Ghosananda listened to the news from Cambodia on the radio, he was consumed with anguish. His meditation master advised him to concentrate on his spiritual practice – to foster peace within his own heart – and to wait for the right time to return to his people.
Christopher Titmuss visited Ghosananda in his meditation hut on one occasion during the American bombing in 1973, and remembered the ‚sadness in his
eyes.‛ Ghosananda said, ‚The rivers of Cambodia are full of blood.‛ Over time, Ghosananda received crushing news that his parents, all his brothers and sisters, and many of his fellow monks and nuns had been murdered. He wept, he said, every day and could not stop weeping. But his teacher, nevertheless,
strongly urged him to stop. ‚Don’t weep,‛ he was told, ‚Be mindful. Having mindfulness is like knowing when to open and when to close your windows and doors.
Mindfulness tells us when is the appropriate time to do things…You can’t stop the fighting. Instead, fight your impulses toward sorrow and anger. Be mindful. Prepare for
the day when you can truly be useful to your country. Stop weeping, and be mindful!‛ Ghosananda sat for a long time and reflected upon the killings, and upon
what his teacher had said. He realized that the dead were dead. They were in the past. Gone. All his family, all his friends, were gone. He thought about the future, and saw that it was totally unknown. He decided to do the only thing that he could do, which was to take care of the present just as well as he could. ‚The present is the mother of the future,‛ he said. ‚Take care of the mother. Then the mother will take care of the children.‛ So he went back to practice, back to his breath. For, as he said, ‚Breathing is not past or future. Breathing is now.‛ The weeping stopped. ‚There is no sorrow in the present moment,‛ he later
explained. ‚How can there be? Sorrow and anger are about the past. Or they arise in fear of the future. But they are not in the present moment. They are not now.‛ For nine more years he went on with his practice in the Thai forest, secluded in a hut, and there he gained the clarity and stability of mind, the understanding and the love, that are the fruit of very deep meditation.
Taking the First Step to Peace
Since 1992 an annual ‘Dhammayietra’ -literally, a ‘pilgrimage of truth’- has been held in war-torn Cambodia. The hundreds of participants walked over long distances for peace and reconciliation, providing an example of a peaceful alternative to the norm of violence that has prevailed in Cambodia.
It's very important to do not misunderstand the concept of Dhammayietra with what is broadly known as simply peace-activism although even the annual Dhammayietra has such tendency. The focus is to maintain peace in one self rather to proclaim and transport a hypocritical message (as we can observe although the so called engaged Buddhism activism). So it's very important to understand the way of the Buddha and to maintain this principles of not-harming although the time of walk alive.
Everybody having done such walking meditation a ‘pilgrimage of truth’ will understand its impact on the own person as well on uncountable people he might meet on his way.
Dhammayietra was established in war times and had direct effects on people who did not only hear stories and possibilities of peace but also could face its existence by there own experience.
Today Dhammayietra faces many problem, one thing is that it is easy an object of political tools and the other is the broadly misunderstanding of what is peace and the unseen ongoing war in the world. "He have already peace. What should that be good for?" is a questions people engaged in Dhammayietra will face all the time. This wars of today, the destruction of our world, the normality of lack of virtue and moral, this tendency after sensual pleasure and its effects is so present and real for most of the people that it would be simply impossible to argue the issue.
How ever, there are moments people are aware and there are occasions where such people face also the fourth divine messenger. People might have met the three messages already. In doing the ‘pilgrimage of truth’ in the right way one would be such a messenger for many.
I would like to introduce into Dhammayietra and moving people here:
Preah Maha Ghosananda passed away 2007-03-12
Venerable Santidhammo Bhikkhu is a American Monk who came in touch with Maha Ghosananda and tries to carry his message by heart. He did not only wrote many works about Maha Ghosanadha and the Dhammayietra, but also tries to reconnect Cambodian Monks with the rest of the Buddhist world.
Who ever feels that he likes to follow the heritage of Maha Ghosananda, he also maintains a facebook site: Maha Ghosananda on Facebook
A maybe very unknown person is Oddom Van Syvorn. A strong laywoman who was an side of Maha Ghosananda from the very beginning of the Dhammayietras. Till today she organizes nearly alone the annual walking, and cares of all worldly troubles, fights political intrigue, negotiated with all who feel to disturb the walk and makes the fundraising for the walk. I guess it's worthy to call her the person who keeps it still alive. She even would teach the participating monks as well as laypeople about how to understand the walk, how to act, how to use it rightly.
While the participator would have a safe and secure attendance, she would sleep somewhere, maybe between the boxes of an supply truck (today hardly people would participate if there is not a kind of worldly secure they are used to).
Bod Maat is also a legend of practicing non-violence since thirty years in Cambodia. Since the time of the first refugee camps on the Thai border, he was always in contact with Maha Ghosananda. Till today people speculate if he is still a Christian priest of a Buddhist. He is one who lives as an Ascetic, without modern tools of any kind and carries the message of the wise people in the past. You can meet him just in person or you would not.
I also like to provide those books to get some ideas of Maha Ghosananda and more important the Dhammayietra:
"Step by Step" (English transcription, pdf) Use it responsibly
"Schritt für Schritt" (German transcription, pdf) Use it responsibly!
The work of Santidhammo Bhikkhu:
"The Buddha of the Battlefield" (english, pdf)
"Der Buddha auf dem Schlachtfeld" (free translation- not finally corrected, pdf)
"The Buddha of the Battlefield - khmer language" (khmer, pdf]
Autobiography of Preah Maha Ghosananda titled " The Buddha of the Battlefield" written by Venerable Santidhammo is available now in paper cover. The books are free with no cost. If you are interested in getting the books, please contact Atammayatramma Buddhist Monastery,19301 176th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, WA 98072. Tel: 425-481-6640, Fax:425-481-2142.
And one important thing is, that one does not go far to enter our daily war zones. So we can practice it everywhere.
Slowly! Slowly! Step by step, every step is a prayer every step is a step toward peace.
Here is a very nice story (incl. pictures) from a Cambodian boy participated in the 22 Dhammayietra 2012: Watopotians and the Dhammayietra March