Dozens participate in march to honor memory of MLK Jr.

Zen Buddhist priest leads silent march to stand up for peace in peaceful way

rboone@theolympian.comJanuary 21, 2013 

About 100 people walked silently around Capitol Lake on Sunday, an event in its sixth year to honor the memory and nonviolent principles of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The event was co-hosted by the South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship and Open Gate Zendo.

Koro Kaisan Miles, a Zen Buddhist priest and a resident teacher at Open Gate Zendo, led the group single-file around the lake, while his son Hadashi Miles was at the tail end of the line, providing enough space for those wanting to participate midtrek.

About 80 people gathered at noon to take part in the walk, and then others joined as they made their slow walk around the lake.

Attendance in this year’s walk was much improved after last year’s snowstorm, Hadashi Miles said.

Although Sunday was cold, at least there were no snow and ice on the ground, said Miles, who runs a meditation center in the Aberdeen area.

Hadashi, which means barefoot in Japanese, said that sometimes he has walked around the lake barefoot, but not last year or this year due to the cold weather. Past Januarys have not been so cold, he said. The noontime temperature in the Olympia area was 34 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Before the walk, Koro Kaisan Miles said the slow, meditative walk was a way to stand up for peace in a peaceful way. Others agreed.

Kobai Whitney, who runs a meditation center in Aberdeen, said he has participated in every walk except for one.

For him, it’s impressive to see a large group of people remain silent “against all the screaming we do politically, and values-wise,” he said.

Whitney, a Buddhist, embraced Buddhism for its lack of dogma and for what he called “a method to be happy,” he said.

Jessica Morgan, 65, of Tumwater also took part in the walk with her partner Charlie Barlow. Morgan, who has been studying Buddhism since 1996, is a student at Open Gate Zendo, she said. The walk, her first, was an act of peace and a reminder to be mindful of others.

“It’s easy to forget in this day and age,” she said.

The walk also was completed in honor of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, who spoke against violence during the Vietnam War and incorporated the idea of silent, walking meditation.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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