on the AT there are 'purists' and there are 'blue blazers' (we won't even mention the yellow blazers). The purists feel a thru hiker must absolutely hike by absolutely every single white blaze, some even extend this to carrying their full kit by every white blaze. Others even feel it is essential to complete the trail all in one direction from beginning to end. Does that sound like the middle way to you? To me it sounds like an Ascetic Practice, which is fine if time limited - it takes 4- 6 months to complete the trail so that works, and if it is acknowledged as an extraordinary effort outside of the life time pursuit of the middle way. Difficulty arises when ascetic practices are elevated on a pedestal and used to contrast and compare self and other. The problem is the promotion of duality in perspective. When the perspective is locked into dualistic thinking it limits and hinders insight. This leads to a deviation in experiences on the path from positive to detrimental in the ripples produced. You can tell I am a blue blazer, can't you? Yup, and this follows into Buddhist Practice. As a nunk, I with Venerable Sensei, follow the middle way. We Blue Blaze.
Funny that those ordained by Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma wear blue on their sleeve in tribute to her. She was a blue blaze advocate in my opinion. A compassionate and generous nunk, unhindered by fear, she presided at grand ordination events enabling those in diverse traditions to ordain who would not otherwise have had the opportunity.
There are many parallels between long distance backpacking and the Buddha Dhamma. Like sailing, backpacking provides a physical manifestation of the practice to reinforce the understanding on an experiential level.
As Blue Blazing Nunks we are taking a different path from the herd of Bhikkhunis in America today. Sensei is helping me to become a licensed acupuncturist, a primary care provider. As a side benefit she gets to live and teach in Santa Monica. When I have graduated and am providing care I am counting on her teaching those who come to me for wellness support and treatment of disharmony or illness. Her Awakening Stillness Qigong and Living Enlightenment classes dramatically improve individual and community wellbeing and to have the potential to integrate that with traditional oriental medicine is an exciting and powerful way to change the world. Mahatma Ghandi-ji said "Be the Change You Want to See," and we are.