In 1983 Guru asked me to do something very challenging—run across America from California to New York. The way that happened is, in itself, another story! But I had many fantastic experiences during my run, and one particularly wonderful experience occurred when I was running through Arizona.
I went up to what is called the high plains. They are about 7,000 feet in elevation, but it's all flat once you get up there, and it's this vast, open grassland. These are the Navajo reservation lands, and they are very sacred.
As I was approaching the entrance to these lands, I saw a fence and a sign saying something like, “You are now entering the sacred lands of the Navajo reservation.” I was born and raised in Hawaii, and the Hawaiians have a tradition that whenever you're going to enter an area out in nature, you always ask permission from the guardian spirits of the land who are there. You ask permission to enter, and you offer your gratitude for this permission. So inwardly, as I was running, I was asking permission to the guardians, the ancestors, of the Navajo and offering my gratitude.
At that point I had been running almost every day, 30 miles a day, for almost a month. For me, 30 miles meant running almost all day. So I was already in an altered state of consciousness—very inwardly directed and receptive. There were few outer distractions and no mental distractions. I was very present in the moment.
So in this altered state, as I was running, I could see not with my physical eyes, but inwardly with my mind's eye, a group of Navajo braves riding bareback. There were maybe ten or twelve of them, and they were riding in the distance in the same direction I was going. I knew that they were welcoming me. It was so incredible, so powerful, and so real. The hair on my arms stood up, and I could feel and even hear them. They were singing some kind of a chant—I could hear it inwardly, and it was so beautiful.
As Guru’s disciples, because Guru is with us and his consciousness and blessings are with us, his protection is also with us. Good souls and good spirits like these beings that I experienced know this, and that's why the welcome was there. And that's how I attribute that experience completely.
It took me about a week to completely cross the entire reservation—it was huge. I had so many incredible experiences with the Navajo people. On the very first day, the reservation newspaper came and interviewed me. A long article came out the next day and every day after that, people would drive by, stop, come over, and say, “You’re the one who’s running across America!” And we'd have these wonderful conversations. They were so nice, so loving and so sincere. The Navajo are very soulful people, and they're very connected to the land. They're very spiritual and they really love the oneness of all beings. It's very special.
The inner vision
And the outer courage
Must go together
For a fruitful journey
Far beyond all ignorance-boundaries.
Sri Chinmoy 1