In April 2012, living a simple life, I dwelt in an apartment in Austin, Texas, enjoying the peace and quiet of nature. My activities were simple. I enjoyed meditation and chanting mantras. I gave hypnotherapy sessions to people. I jogged and hiked through the woods. I ran a small financial planning business that I had started back in 2001.
Every 6 months, my spiritual Teacher, Svami Purna, specially came to the US to hold retreats. In great excitement, I went to visit Him in Miami, Florida. During the retreat, I met Him in a personal darshan and asked for guidance. "Shall I visit India?" He said, "Not now." And I left the room, feeling the beautiful glow of His Energy. The next day, He asked me to come back to see Him in person. This was very unusual. As I walked into the room and knelt before Him, He said to me, "You are going to travel around the US in a vehicle and hold satsangs for people for 2 years." I accepted the proposal within a 3 minute conversation and then walked out of that second darshan, totally stunned. "Shall I tell anyone about this?" I thought to myself. "How can I make this journey easier? Perhaps I'll just stay in Austin and hold gatherings around there. How will I survive on donations? Will it be too cold to sleep in a van?" I was rather excited and agitated at the same time. What an honor to follow the guidance of the Sat Guru!
After the Miami retreat, I returned to my apartment in Austin, Texas and began to disperse my belongings. I gave away most of the nice clothes and even had a little garage sale inside that apartment. My friend, who was homeless at the time, came over, and I said to him, "Look around this place. Take anything. What do you want?" He said, "What will you do with that guitar?" It was a beautiful classical guitar from Spain. "It's yours!" I said nonchalantly. Then I sold my old car and bought a van that I called Persistence. I had a bed installed in the van as well as a battery and a solar panel to add a bit of luxury!
Driving around Austin, Persistence broke down around 10 times before she actually made it out of the city. I drove away with just a vanful of belongings and set off on a grand adventure across the continent. Thus began the journey of an American Sadhu.