Tales of a Global Pilgrim Stars Stars

My name is Ben Viatte and I'm just like you: I'm not quite sure how I got here.

My search started six years ago, when I opened my eyes for the first time: I saw that I was free. So I started travelling the world in search of a new mindset. My current pilgrimage is bringing me from Europe, through the age-old middle-east, to holy India.

This blog describes my search for truth: my life travels since the start of my global pilgrimage in my 18's, and what I learnt from them.

joyful encounters

East Coast of Greece, February 2017

Joyful Encounters

The Greek beaches in February are deserted! It’s not every day you make an encounter like this one. This is Daniel, a real joy to meet, and we have a lot in common. We have two wheels, we love the unknown, we camp absolutely anywhere, and our next 5000 km will be on the same road! He started from his home in England: he’s going to China, I’m going to India. But at a different pace, obviously. You can follow him here, if you dig his style like I do.

thermopiles

East Coast of Greece, February 2017

Thermopiles Hot Springs

This is the middle of winter, right? Even in Greece, that makes it very complicated for me to wash myself, to wash my clothing. But just this one night, a miracle happened… This river I was crossing, coming down from a snow-capped mountain, just happened to be steaming hot. Of course I decided to sleep here! And I started the day by dipping into this wonder, at 6 am, under the moon-lit sky, and alone in the world. It felt like making love to nature. I can hardly believe it happened.

rehabilitation

East coast of Greece, February 2017
rehab-1

Rehabilitation

I have been on the road again for 12 days, and re-learning to walk went smoother than expected. My mind is settling back into the rhythm, my feet are relaxing into the steady pace of long-distance trekking. During the past 5 months of volunteering, my cart has been upgraded in countless ways: I now have a new machine with a new feel, strong, reliable, and ready for the remaining 6 countries I have to cross until I get to India.

The elements have been tough on me, and the cold has been… well, cold. I’ve had my share of freezing nights, huddled into a ball, wearing every piece of fabric I owned. I was a bit desperate, and with such a slow pace, deep in the countryside I couldn’t even find a shop… so I went from village to village asking for a blanket. It seems we always get what we ask for: without hesitation, this wonderful Greek family gave me the thickest blanket they had, and ever since I’ve been sleeping through the sub-zero nights like a kitten. Hallelujah. Meow.

meet ali

East Coast of Greece, January 2017

Meet Ali

Ali Taki is a friend, and teacher, who came organically into my life. He is always with me, and his eyes are always open. He is my reminder to open my eyes too. To sit back and breathe. To see the world around me in it’s infinite beauty, and not miss an instant of this sacred masterpiece.

first shoes

Evia, Greece, January 2017

Farewell, first shoes

I would never have thought that this pair of 20 euro sandals would have done so much for me. After 3’214 km, after 3.8 million steps, after 10 months of loyal service to my feet, after breaking 4 times and being repaired again, they finally drew their last breath to join Nirvana. It is with much meditation and gratefulness that I throw them in the trash.

And it is with a new pair of leather sandals, and thick socks wrapped in plastic bags, that I will soon hit the icy roads up to Turkey. I am still a volunteer at Sunshine House for only a few days, and I feel so blessed by my 5 months spent within this amazing family. It has enriched my life beyond words. I will carry these sacred teachings in my heart wherever I go.

servant of happiness

Servant of Happiness

Volunteering at Sunshine House has put me in the most enriching position. Tasks went from doing dishes and cutting fruits, to teaching taichi, playing music, and producing a video for the thai massage course. And they were all love. They all enabled our dear students to follow the spiritual path, the dhamma. And any task done in the name of dhamma is love.

jacob

Evia, Greece, October 2016

The Story of Jakoub

The Algerian man you see here is smiling, bright, and full of love. Like many of us, right? But when you hear what this man has been through, you’d be amazed he can smile at all.

In Algeria, 2015, he was locked away for religious reasons by a group of extremists. They tortured him for 5 days, tearing out all but 4 of his teeth and leaving permanent damage to his brain. He somehow escaped, barely alive, and ended up on a boat to Turkey. His situation there was hardly better, so he risked his life in 6 attempts to cross over to Lesvos, Greece, and saw his friend drown in his own arms.

But why am I telling you all this? Because every negative story has a bright ending. Such is the way of the world. After finally making it over to the island of Lesvos, his situation radically changed. At the refugee camp, he met a spiritual man named Pau who decided to take him under his wing. Pau raised money for a 40’000€ tooth operation conducted by the world’s leading doctors. You can check out the crowdfunding campaign here, if you’re feeling generous. The operation is halfway there, and the future is bright for Jakoub. Pau gives Thai Massage courses at the Sunshine House, so he also chose to bring Jakoub there and give him a taste of eastern spiritual practices. That’s where I met Jakoub. And where is he now? Starting a new life in Germany, with a brand new European passport and a BIG smile! And if you ask him what happened to his teeth, I swear to you he laughs about it.

Lesson learnt: next time you catch yourself complaining, remember how lucky you are to have all those teeth! Jokes aside, remember that some people have real problems, and even they manage to push through with positivity and love. Hats off to you Jakoub, a true inspiration.

sunshine-house

Evia, Greece. September 2016
mailbox

Sunshine House

Who would’ve expected such a spiritual Ashram-style community in the middle of a Greek Orthodox Village? Walk through the gate, and welcome to India. Buddha’s quotes line the walls, Amma’s face smiles to you with loving eyes, countless traditional instruments sit together, begging to be played. Renowned teachers give Thai Massage courses, Acroyoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and just about every eastern practice you can think of. Some are teaching, some are following, some are serving. But everyone trusts everyone, from the first day to the last, and everyone is on the path.

After 3200 km of walking, this is my first break, and it will last a few months. Here’s why: with such a lifestyle, I need to follow the seasons. I can’t expect to cross Turkey or Iran by foot in winter due to snow-blocked roads. So my winter will be Greek, thank you very much, and early Spring will set me on the road again to Turkey. My deepest gratitude to you, dear Sunshine Family, for sheltering me during this time of need, and for your role in making the universe a little more peaceful. Shanti Om.

a blessing

South-East Greece, September 2016

Blessing for me, blessing for them

Countless times have I been blessed by synchronicity. The world gives just what I need, just when it deems I need it. But this time, the divine clockwork has turned, and the world is using me to answer the prayers of someone else! This deeply spiritual couple living near Athens needed their roof fixed, but could not even consider paying for a new roof. “May a roofer come to our doorstep” was the wish sent out to the world, and fair enough, the world brought me there. So, needless to say, I fixed the roof, and no one got hurt!

Photo: A sacred Datura plant growing in the backyard.