Once submitted my resignation, I had a few weeks to decide what to do with my life, but I just needed the time it took me to drink a cup of green tea in my apartment to make up my mind: I would be a full-time pilgrim.
With the arrival of November (2002), I’d travel all over Japan by bicycle. The weeks before my departure I tried to get rid of all my belongings. The most valuable items I had were the books, especially the Sutras, such as the Flower Garland Sutra (a dozen volumes), better known by its Sanskrit name Avatamsaka, which I finally donated to a Zen temple in Kyoto, reminiscent of Antaiji, frequented by foreigners eager to feel the flavor of Zen.
The final chapter of this Sutra, a book in itself titled Gandavyuha, is one of the most fantastic reading I have ever found. It’s a narration of the adventures of a young pilgrim named Sudhana in his search for wisdom through a series of meetings with all kind of teachers: monks and nuns, a sea captain, a prostitute, a couple of lovers, ascetics, spirits, bodhisattvas, terrifying creatures, and so on, up to fifty-three encounters. His pilgrimage culminates visiting again the first of his teachers, Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, who certifies his awakening, but still tells him to visit a last master: Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Goodness. (Wisdom must be followed by wholesome actions).
The other major Sutra I had was the Lotus Sutra, and this I gave to a good Portuguese friend I met at Nagoya University (a big hug, Artur), an engineer more interested in spiritual matters than on silicon chips. The particularity of this Sutra is its numerous parables, some identical to those contained in the Bible, such as The Prodigal Son.
Reading these Sutras was a major source of inspiration. And they also influenced my decision to quit my job so I could travel with no hurry around the world. And that’s how I began my own pilgrimage, and how I also encountered great teachers.