Circumambulation (from Latin circum around, and ambulãtus to walk) is the act of moving around a sacred object or idol. Wikipedia
At Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, during a festival ceremony, all present have the chance to circumambulate the hall and offer incense at the main altar. It is a spiritual practice in many traditions – to walk in a clockwise circle around a stupa or a Buddha or Bodhisattva statue. There is merit, spiritual merit, generated through this circling, honouring, blessing, walking meditation.
Once, years ago, at a ceremony to install a statue in a ‘Buddha Garden’ in an open prison, I remember being given a flower, some incense and a candle to carry while we walked and chanted. We circumambulated three times, which is also traditional.
There is a long distance path looping around Throssel called Isaac’s Tea Trail. Here below is an interview with the chap, Roger Morris, who thought of and developed this trail. The interview by Anne Leuchars is to both publicize and commemorate the 21st anniversary of the trail’s opening. I am glad to say I’ve walked a few sections of the 37-mile path, at least once with Roger and Anne, and with several other monks and lay sangha. It passes through wonderfully varied countryside, full of history, and empty, for the most part, of other walkers. Where else do you find that?
Well actually, once a year the trail is filled with runners and fast walkers, covering the whole length of the path in a day. That’s not for everyone however, but if you are in the area it is worth spending time on some part of the trail. In spirit at least you will be circumambulating the monastery, as Throssel at directly in the centre of the loop. Walking manageable segments is the best way. Carrying a flower, incense and a candle is probably not a good idea though! And walking around it three times? Probably not!
Anne writes a blog Walking Isaacs Tea Trail where if you take a careful look you will see a post about…walking as a religious practice.
On a personal note, Anne is my hero, for several reasons, one being her skill at interviewing. Something I’d aspire to do in…the future. Also she is a great walking companion because she doesn’t race ahead of the ‘pack’. We have ambled together, gladly.