I shut the door, left the key in the mailbox and put my backpack in the handlebar basket of my bike, an ordinary one. I’ll never forget the first pedal stroke that sent me into motion in that cold drizzle of a November morning. I somehow realized that it wasn’t a dream, it was happening! No job, no home, no belongings, no compromises… free as I never felt before.

A simple map of Japan and a compass made up my navigation instruments. I chose the roads in terms of beauty or ugliness of the landscape and the traffic. I moved slowly, without haste, stopping where i found interesting sites, usually temples. My first goal was to go to attend the meditation retreat of November in the mountains between Kyoto and Nara.

The daily search for a place where to spend the night became a daily ritual. Every evening I proceeded to recite the mantra of great compassion while trying to spot a temple, Buddhist or Shinto, where solemnly uttering the same rogatory. I asked to the visible and invisible beings to please show me a place where to spend the night. In my audacity, I even imposed a condition: that my presence won’t bother anyone.

Once I had located the place, I washed my feet, changed my clothes for more comfortable ones, deployed the insulating mat at whose head I always placed a picture of Master Hua, did yoga, meditated for one hour, lay the sleeping bag and I rested for about seven hours. At dawn, after washing up, I did stretching exercises and meditated again another hour. Then I dressed up and left for a new day of new encounters.

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