Samita ASBL

Ven. Vimala on Tudong through California

By Ven. Vimala

In June and July 2024, I will go on Tudong together with an attendant over the California Coastal Trail. We are planning to start near Los Angeles and walk north towards the Bay area.

Tudong is the Buddhist practice of wandering from place to place without a fixed goal and without any money or sleeping arrangements, being dependent on the goodness of the people we meet for our food and other necessities. We will sleep out in the open but will carry a light sleeping bag and a tarp for shelter and go on alms-round in the places we encounter. We will generally follow the California Coastal Trail where this is possible but have no set itinerary where we will be at a certain time and we might sometimes stay in a place for several days to meditate. The purpose of the Tudong is to practice and to walk mindfully without a set goal for the day.

‘Tudong’ is the Thai form of dhutanga, meaning literally ‘means of shaking off’, i.e. the practices that emphasise renunciation, and it can refer to the thirteen dhutanga austerities, or to the forest bhikkhus who live observing all or some of these and other renunciate practices, or more narrowly, to the custom of walking for weeks, months, or even years on end with just a bowl containing spare robes and essentials such as a razor, sewing equipment and matches; a water kettle; and a ‘glot’ – a large umbrella with mosquito-net which acts as a tent. Mostly dhutanga walks are undertaken by bhikkhus of the forest monasteries when they are considered stable enough and well grounded in the Vinaya-discipline. You have to learn to live simply to go tudong, and to handle yourself with skill in the face of such difficulties as not finding alms food, disease, and bad weather. Moreover, for a foreigner there are the problems of language and custom, and as a meditator outside the shelter of the teacher, doubts about one’s practice and one’s purity, I could see quite clearly that it would be enormously strengthening to walk through that lot and keep on going, and its flavour and appearance very much fitted those ideals of homelessness and simplicity that had led me to take ordination.

From Ajahn Sucitto’s blog about the first Tudong in Britain in 1982

If anybody wants to support Ven. Vimala with travel expenses and equipment like a small backpack, sleeping bag and shoes, you can do so via the donations page. (please mention it is for Ven. Vimala)

if you are living in California and would like to support Ven. Vimala when they pass near where you live, please send your contact details to tilorien.office@gmail.