Buddhists, peace walkers pass through York

By GREG GROSS, The York Daily Record, March 27, 2009

York, PA (USA) -- While most 16-year-olds are likely worrying about that math exam or begging their parents to borrow the car for the night, Hai Palar has bigger things on his mind.

Since mid-February, Hai has been walking from his home state of Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., with a group of Buddhists and interfaith peace walkers as part of the Walk for a New Spring 2009.

"There's something that just feels really good to me . . . it feels fulfilling to me," he said.

On Friday, the group of about 20 walkers, whose ages range from 14 to 76, stopped by Faith United Church of Christ in York for dinner and a discussion with members of the community.

The group had planned to spend the night at the church before shoving off early Saturday morning toward their next stop in Abbottstown. They spent Thursday night at Trinity UCC in York.

The mission of the walk is three-fold, Buddhist nun Clare Carter said. It calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons, the renunciation of war and to convert the U.S. economy from what they call a war-based one to a peace-based economy.

For the past eight years, the walks have been organized by members of the New England Peace Pagoda. They stem from the days just after Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States, and likely parts of the world, were gripped with fear, Carter said.

"Nothing good could come out when we're frozen in fear," she said.

As a group of about a dozen local residents and the peace walkers talked, a number of the Buddhists Penn State Harrisburg in yellow robes listened as their hands worked feverishly to create little origami cranes.

Dolma Tenpa, a native of Tibet who lives in Springettsbury Township, said she hopes people can learn how to live without killing one another.

Before she left the church, she presented a Japanese Buddhist monk with a white scarf. Such scarves are given as a greeting or to people who are going on a long trip.

"I hope someday world peace," Tenpa said in broken English.


Origami cranes have become a symbol of world peace.

Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl, had lived through the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II but became gravely ill years later as a result of the radiation. While in hospital, she began folding the paper cranes to gain a wish that was promised by the Gods to people who folded a thousand cranes.

Her wish was to be for peace, but Sadako managed to fold a little more than 600 cranes before she died at age 12. After her death, her friends made the remaining cranes and buried them with her.

Presently, there are statues of her in Hiroshima and Seattle.