In 2015, a fellow pilgrim from India sent me an email telling me that Bill Bennett was coming to visit her at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. He wrote The Way, My Way in 2013. I bought the book and was quickly engulfed by his hilarious take on the ancient path.
The first day of the Camino is by far the most difficult covering 16-miles with over 5,000 feet of elevation. Orrison is the one and only refugio between the traditional start (St. Jean) and end (Roncesvalles) of the first day. It is five miles from the beginning and precedes almost all of the grueling elevation. As a self described Type A person, Bill made arrangements to stay there in an attempt slow down and smell the proverbial roses of life. The only reason he stopped there was to cancel his reservation. The humor continues when he arrives in Roncesvalles and describes his internal fear while dialing his wife in Australia to explain that the first day did not convert him to Type B.
I began to read his blog and was quite mystified to see his photograph from Tiger’s Nest. We are both Camino authors, have both spent time at the same ashram in India, and have both hiked to the iconic cliff-side monastery in Bhutan. My intuition told me that I needed to become friends with this guy. We traded a few emails and eventually spoke on the phone a few times. It turns out that my new friend is quite famous and has directed or written over 16 films.
In the late 90’s he was approaching a green light and claims that a voice told him to slow down. He obeyed and immediately witnessed a large semi-trailer truck blow through the red light. Ever since, Bill has been determined to find out what that voice was, where it came from, and why his life was saved. Even though he is a big movie man, his expertise in not in the actual filming. To remedy this situation, he bought some camera equipment and watched several instructional videos on YouTube. Feeling some level of competency, he packed the equipment and flew to India searching for answers. He did not have a single interview set up when he arrived in Mumbai.
The search took him to some of the most remote and sacred places on the planet, to talk to holy men and mystics, sadhus and saints, research scientists and quantum physicists and psychiatrists. Over a three year period he spoke to some of the world’s leading experts on intuition, spanning the fields of science, religion, and spirituality. He discovered that intuition is part of a subtle energetic system that seeks to protect us and guide us along our life’s journey so that we can achieve our true purpose – and lead a life of fulfillment and contentment. He called it our PGS – our Personal Guidance System.
In January, I spoke to him on the phone as he was preparing to visit the US for some select screenings of the completed documentary. My plans to take my mom to Palm Springs fit well with his plan to screen the film in LA. In early February, we finally met face-to-face at a packed theater on The Sunset Strip. We also made arrangements to have breakfast the following day and we were lucky to break bread with him and his lovely wife Jennifer. At the end brunch, I asked if he would bring the movie to Boise and without hesitating he said, “Sure Mate.”
If you are in the Boise area, the film will screen on April 1 at 3:00 and April 2 at 7:30 at Edwards 21 on Overland. Ironically, Bill and his wife will beat me back to my own home. They are on a two-month non-stop screening tour across the US and will be driving from Seattle on March 28. I am not finished with Palm Springs until March 31, so they will have some time to chill at my house.
If you are not in Boise, his website has information on how you can host a screening in your own community.
The final quote from his marketing materials is the perfect summary. He says, “Making this movie changed my life. Watching it could change yours.”
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