Every Voice – Maha Ghosananada

6 September 2018
Every Voice – Maha Ghosananada

Step by Step – URI’s Journey of 10,000 Miles

The Venerable Maha Ghosananada, renowned Buddhist monk from Cambodia and international peacemaker, attended the first URI Global Summit Conference in 1997. He was a tiny man but stood out with his bright orange robe and matching orange knit cap. His gift to URI during that meeting was his sweet silence and his listening, beaming face. His stature, however, as the unstoppable courageous monk, who walked across Cambodia to stop the killing, and his subsequent role in the peace process for Cambodia, both elevated and humbled URI’s nascent sense of purpose. Maha’s loving presence gave profound meaning about peace and spiritual leadership to the gathering in 1997. His truth, wisdom and simplicity resound for us still.

In the preface to Maha Ghosananda’s book, Step by Step, Meditations on Wisdom and Compassion, Jack Kornfield wrote, “If he could come out of this book he would smile or laugh with sparkling joy… just to be in his presence, to experience his smile and the infectious loving kindness that flows from him, is healing to the spirit.”

Here is a selection from Step by Step, Meditations on Wisdom and Compassion by Maha Ghosananda.

Each Step is Prayer

The Buddha called the practice of mindfulness “the only way.” Always in the present. At this very moment. From moment to moment. In all activity, in this very step. This is why we say, “step by step –each step is a meditation.” When the children see me off at the station, as I walk up to the train they shout, “slowly, slowly, step by step, each step is a prayer!” and all of the passengers look and smile. This saying as become famous!

The children do not know English well, but they know this sentence by heart. They are the new Cambodia, and already they know the way to peace.

In Cambodia we say, “A journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step.”

Slowly, slowly, step by step. Each step is a meditation, each step is prayer.

Maha Ghosananda (1913 –2007) was a highly revered Cambodian Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, who served as the Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism during the Khmer Rouge period and post-communist transition period of Cambodian history. His monastic name, Mahā Ghosānanda', means "great joyful proclaimer." He was well known in Cambodia for his annual peace marches.

Read more posts in the Every Voice series, which presents thought-provoking quotes showing how people all over the world give voice to URI.

Every Voice – Maha Ghosananada

Maha Ghosananada at a 1997 URI gathering.