Follow Your Blissters: Satish Kumar's StoryMay 26th, 2021
By Will Gethin
What would you do in the name of peace? Would you walk over 8000 miles? That's exactly what former monk and legendary peace and environmental activist, Satish Kumar, did.
In 1962 Satish and his friend E.P Menon set off on a two and a half year Peace Walk from India to the United States with the goal to reach the four nuclear capitals of the world; Moscow, Paris, London and Washington D.C.
Along the way, Satish endured many extraordinary challenges and hardships. From sand and snow storms and hunger to being kicked out of Russia then imprisoned in Paris and being held up at gunpoint twice. Satish's pilgrimage is a classic example of mythologist Joseph Campbell's 'The Hero’s Journey' with all its trials, tribulations and inner transformation.
Campbell famously defined The Hero's Journey as a map for living and transformation. It is a sort of travel guide or map to reach fulfilment — or, as he called it, bliss. 'Follow your Bliss' was a famous mantra of Campbell's which he later updated to ‘Follow Your Blisters’, acknowledging that when you truly follow your authentic calling you’ll inevitably meet considerable challenges and it’s through life’s challenges that we get to overcome our fears and grow. Satish’s walk is a classic example of ‘Following your bliss and blisters’ – the journey was gruelling and immensely tough. With his feet severely blistered in the mountains of Afghanistan a few weeks in, he almost turned back. Yet he soldiered on and the bliss he gained was all the greater for the challenges endured. Satish’s Peace Walk also helped to carve out his path in life which has fulfilled and inspired him ever since as an emissary for peace and a fairer, greener world. As Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, says:
“Satish’s whole life has been one long walk for freedom, justice, harmony and peace.”
My experience of following my bliss and blisters has impressed on me the importance of following our own authentic calling even when it feels difficult or potentially risky. In the Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas, Jesus says:
“If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.”
People on their death beds are said to regret not the things they did do, but the things they didn’t have the courage to do. Do you dare to do that thing you “can’t not do”? Are you ready to boldly show up and step into your fullest expression?
Follow Your Blissters is a new podcast series exploring mythologist Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey as a map for living and transformation, and how leading spiritual thinkers have experienced it in their lives.
Listen to Episode One with Satish Kumar now
Read Satish's new book Pilgrimage for Peace: The Long March from India to Washington, published on Thursday 27 May. Available at www.resurgence.org.
Discover more about Will Gethin and The Heroes Journey here