Walk Like the Buddha

The Budha walk has its origins in the 1992 documentary movie
Baraka, in the scene where a monk is moving ever so slowly
and peacefully through a busy city street. We adapted that idea one
day in a large shopping mall in Edmonton, Alberta.

Four of us started moving in super-slow motion, one behind the
other, as the busy mall patrons passed us by. The action worked —
shopper after shopper stopped to watch as we made our way from the
ground floor to the main floor. People gathered, and many of them
wondered out loud what we were doing and why we were there. Some of
them thought we were part of the Fringe, an annual theater festival
in Edmonton. Others remarked that we were simply strange; one
person even suggested that we might steal something. Eventually a
mall security officer arrived and engaged us in conversation as we
continued our slow progression through the mall.

SECURITY: You have to stop that or I’ll have to remove
you.

US: Stop what?

SECURITY: What you are doing.

US: What are we doing?

SECURITY: You are creating a spectacle.

US: How are we creating a spectacle?

SECURITY: Well . . . uh . . .you are walking
slowly.

US: We can’t walk slowly?

SECURITY: No.

US [pointing to an elderly person moving across the mall very
slowly]: Well, what about her? She’s moving very
slowly.

SECURITY: No, she’s moving at the appropriate speed — you
are moving too slowly.

US: Can you show us what is the appropriate speed? I mean,
how slowly can we walk and still remain in the mall?

SECURITY [getting flustered]: No, you simply have to leave
the mall. Leave the mall or I will call the police to remove
you.

At that point, we left the mall. We didn’t feel the need to
press the issue with the police department. But as we walked off, a
strange thing happened. The crowd that had gathered started
clapping for us and jeering at the security officials. These
shoppers — primarily middle-aged people — were now applauding,
partly because of the absurdity of the situation and partly,
perhaps, because we all have a desire to stand up to authority and
we get a certain sense of catharsis when other people do.

We live in a time when we all seem to be out of breath most of
the time, running from place to place. The Buddha Walk lets you
take a much-needed breath. At the same time, the action breaks
people out of their routines, which is one of the first steps to
change.

And, besides, it’s one of the best actions for a lazy day when
you want just a little something to do.

Reprinted from An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism
Away (Between the Lines, 2004), a new book by Mike Hudema that
outlines 52 enjoyable ways to protest globalization, including
sidewalk chanting, guerrilla gardening, paint-by-number murals, and
radical cheerleading.

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