Venu: The Flute of Lord Krishna

It is not an easy thing to fully describe and share meaningfully even one experience in our lives little alone try and express the totality of a lifetime.  A little more than a year ago, Venu, who had been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for 40 years passed away.  His exemplary life of devotion and dedication to his Spiritual Master was unique and were it not for the exhaustive logbooks that he meticulously kept none of us could possibly understand just how remarkable his life really was.

For all those whose own lives intersected with the dynamic and powerful orbit of Venu’s, we knew at least something about how relentless and all consuming his training regime was.  You could not help but be aware of this because he seemed to be perpetually training and preparing for one event or another.  Particularly the swim run in San Diego, which was like a yearly sacred pilgrimage for him.   It was only when his journey on the earth plane had made its final lap, that those of us who loved and knew him well tried to take some fuller account of this life.  A life which always seemed to brim with enthusiasm, optimism, and tireless dedication to the inner life.

Somehow the task of cataloging his life by going through his log books fell upon Astika, who had lived with Venu for almost 40 years.  Over the course of a year he tried to take stock of  the information collected there. Which chronicled not only in fine detail the trajectory of his physical accomplishments but in a very special way illumined his inner life as well.  Astika sifted through all the meticulous details kept there and also the personal notes and photos kept within them.  This then are portions of his loving recollections of his brother friend Venu, as written in his recently published book…….Utpal

Photo taken by Sri Chinmoy

Photo taken by Sri Chinmoy

I was in the San Francisco Sri Chinmoy Centre with Venu for almost four decades, lived in the same house with him for years, ran races with him, worked side-by- side with him, talked running and cycling with him right to the end. I shared his enthusiasms for many things and took issue with him over some other things. He was my friend, a very good friend, but it wasn’t until the day I opened the pages of one of his training logbooks that I really met him face to face and heart to heart. Until that day, I had no idea at all of who he really was, nor did I possess any proper sense of the heart that beat so devotedly within his breast.

To meet Venu through the day-to-day entries of in his training diaries, is to meet ones own self face to face. It is to see and feel the rise and fall of an ocean vast energy, the same life energy that animates each and every one of us. It is to be swept along in the streaming drama of that energy. To bear witness to Venu’s struggles, to see how he managed his successes and failures, is to gain a valuable perspective on our own.

For this reason, we have made his logbooks available to everyone. The entire collection is, or soon will be, posted at the Sri Chinmoy website. I recommend them to everyone, regardless of your gender, personal interests or spiritual orientation. To open the pages of Venu’s training diaries is to take a stroll down to the seashore of this vast ocean of energy and feel the ebb and flow of it as it moved through the veins of one very good man. You won’t need to be an athlete to benefit.

Venu-and-CKG-1976

For those who knew Venu even casually, this will come as no surprise; he carefully observed and evaluated everything he did. He was a meticulous record keeper, particularly when it came to his workouts. He was a true believer in original self- knowledge; it was the only kind of knowledge he really trusted. As a consequence, he scrutinized his body’s response to exercise and diet as well as a number of other experiences very closely. Many people do this; to one degree or another, we all do it.

What separated Venu from most is that he acted upon his observations in a most disciplined manner, changing his daily routines, his diet and exercises accordingly. But beyond athletics, he changed his thoughts and opinions as well, according to an ever widening range of observations. He was a student of the hard science of yoga almost as much as he was a devotee of the yoga of love. And yet, the notations in his logbooks are almost cryptic in their brevity. He does not analyze or offer an opinion on anything, not even his own workout routine. Partly, this is because his logbooks were always meant to be a private notebook to himself. They didn’t exist to explain or narrate anything to others. The brevity of his entries was also because Venu believed that opinions were… well, just opinions. His view was that our understanding even of ourselves, much less the world, was very a subjective and individualized thing. “Reality” for him was in the numbers and the personal experience that came from generating those numbers.

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Progress Is Not A Prisoner Of Time: The 47 Mile Race 2014

You tell the world:
Progress, progress, progress!
Progress within, progress without.
That progress is not and cannot be
A prisoner of time.

Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: The Master-Key Of The Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990

Guru792

Photo by Shraddha

Sometimes there are moments that are so sweet and precious that we never want to let go of them.  But time, as it always does, and of course as it must do, eventually snatches at the edges of our memories.  The past cannot hold on to us for long.  At best we can only extract from our trans-formative experiences that which can enrich and prepare us for the next challenge.  In so doing we lighten our burdens and leave behind hopefully, at least some of our imperfections and doubt.

For those who want to dedicate themselves to living on a spiritual path there is no stopping, there is only progress and moving forward.  The beyond does not tire, the dream reality of tomorrow continually beckons to us, the summit of perfection will always be our ultimate destination.

In 1980 the 47 mile race was still very new and very challenging. For the students of Sri Chinmoy there was always a powerful incentive to run the race just as there continues to be one now.   At the stroke of midnight on August 27th it was Sri Chinmoy’s birthday.  There was no better offering to your spiritual teacher than to run the very race that he created.  One in which for 2 years straight, both in 1979, and again in 1980 he ran the 47 himself.

In that race in 1980 he ran 1 hour and 15 minutes faster than he had the previous year.  His time was 11:27:24 and because of his physical ailments he would never run the race again.

What also happened on that remarkable night was that Virendra ran a time of 5:09:30. As someone who came in 5th that year and was just a little more than an hour behind I have a very real sense of just how remarkable Virendra’s achievement really was.

virendra-finishing

Photo by Shraddha

Two years ago when asked about that night Virendra said,

“It is an offering from my side and it is grace from Guru’s side.  I couldn’t have done it without it.  I remember once about 2 hours in where I had my focus really solid.  I was kind of in autopilot, and I was running and running.  I didn’t have a single idea how many miles I had run or what the pace was.  I remember looking down at my legs and saying, wowwww, who is making these run?  They are just going by themselves.  I remember telling the counters, I don’t want to hear any splits.  I don’t want to hear my marathon time.  I don’t want to hear anything.  Just wake me up with one lap to go.  I had no emotional attachment to that race whatsoever.  It was a job that had to be done and that is it.”

“I am so happy to have that kind of treasure to put at Guru’s feet.  I really felt at that moment how big it was.  We were chasing 6 hours and then out of the blue comes this 5 hours. I remembered thinking, Guru is going to like this.”(laughter)

sign-vajin

Now it is 34 years later and no one has even gotten close in those many years, that is except Vajin.  Who 2 years ago at age 32 made a very serious attempt to surpass Virendra’s achievement.  “The funny thing was that I was hoping to break the record, than I don’t have to do it any more.  (laughs)

“But that’s not how Guru works.  He doesn’t want things to come easily.  He wants you to work for things.”

At the time he also said, ““I am definitely going to try it again. ” He was just 1 minute and 26 seconds off the record.

“It is so satisfying because you put so much into it. It means so much having Guru run this race and Guru run with this flag. This race has a special consciousness. There is no other race that can compare to this. It is a race purely for the soul and for the spirit, and for our Guru. For me it is such a significant race to do. I mean to come here and share it with my brothers and sisters from all over the world.”

 Progress:  A short film of Sri Chinmoy running the 47 mile race in 1979 and 1980

There is no end to our inner progress, no end to our inner progress. Progress, progress, progress! My Guru, your Guru, everybody’s Guru is the Supreme. I tell you in all sincerity, the Supreme Himself is progressing. Now, can we believe it? We cannot believe it. Our mind will not believe it. How can the Absolute Highest be progressing? Infinity we cannot measure, Eternity we cannot measure, Immortality we cannot measure. But when God, out of His infinite Bounty, opens up our third eye, we can see that God Himself is progressing. Not only on earth and in Heaven, but in His own highest Reality, I tell you, God is progressing, progressing.

.
You can say that God is absolute. That is true, absolutely true. But in His absolute Reality also, progress can be made. When God used His Vision to create the universe, His Vision was always Self-Transcendence, Self-Transcendence.

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Therefore, the terms that we use—Infinity, Eternity and Immortality—He far, far exceeds. God’s Infinity we cannot believe; our mind will never believe it. The mind can only believe so much. The heart, on the strength of its identification, can go very far. But if we are in the soul-consciousness, we see that the Absolute Supreme Himself is expanding, diving deeper and climbing higher.

 

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World’s Largest Flower Garland…The Amazing Things You Can Do When You Are In Your Heart

“We are trying to break the record for the world’s largest flower garland.  So we have 185,000 stems of carnations freshly arrived from Colombia.” …. Pavaka

flower3

The sun has just started to brighten up the large playing field in Queens.  Many hours earlier around 5 am Pavaka, had gone and picked up the huge mountain of boxes from a warehouse. Now that the boxes, filled with cool carnation flowers are stacked by the gate.   The real job of breaking the Guinness record has just begun.

beginning4

It is not something that Ashrita has not attempted before.  Being the man with the most Guinness records period he continually scours the book looking for new challenges.  But this record is uniquely special.  Tomorrow would have been Sri Chinmoy’s, his spiritual Masters 83rd birthday.

So he, along with the help of Pavaka, and gradually increasing crowd of fellow student disciples are attempting to do something which is not just record breaking but really awe inspiring.  It will take a lot of work, it will not be easy, and as the day progresses it gets hotter all the time.

beginning

Pavaka says, “we had gotten the record 2 years ago.  I think it was 2 and 1/4 miles I think, and that was since broken.  So now we are trying to get it back.  I believe it was broken in India.”

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan Old Record

“The 185,000 flowers is what we calculated would give us a 5 mile long garland.  Which would really break the record.”  Pavaka explains that the flower tops will be cut off of each stem and then a slim wire is inserted through a section of tightly bunched flowers.  This in turn is connected to another section, and so on.  This will continue until all the flowers are looped around the perimeter of the field.  “So it is not like it is 5 miles of a single strand.  There is a wire going through the whole thing.  We are going to assemble it in 3 foot segments.”

Pavaka actually works in the flower import business and he tells me he is familiar with the very farm in Colombia where the flowers were grown.  He told them that he wanted flowers for a special project.  “So they sent us very short carnations, at a very good price.  Those flowers flew from Colombia last Monday to Miami.  A week ago they were cut.”  He says that the short stems meant the flowers were less expensive to ship and also that only the blossoms will be used.

“Carnations are one of the hardiest flowers out there.”

 

pavaka-teaching2

I ask him, as one who works all the time in the flower business what he enjoys about this project.  “I am personally doing this as a volunteer.  It is quite a unique project and everyone working in the chain of it was quite interested in what we were doing.” There is also, to add to the pressure, a time limit on how long the project can take.  Pavaka says they have use of the field only until 1pm.  Now just 6 hours away.

He says he will stay no matter how long it takes.

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Jai Hind…..An Adaptation of ‘The Descent Of The Blue’

What did you think of the show tonight?

“I had very little expectations, because there were so many uncertainties, but it came off very well.”  Still wearing his wig of long flowing white hair Kaivalya answers me. Minutes earlier he and his 2 sons, along with a large cast had just taken their bows before a large and very enthusiastic audience.

kaivalya-bowing

I caught up with him as he was making a hasty exit from the performance space and heading back to his room in order to change out of his costume.  Taking quick strides up the hill he was approached every few meters by excited and happy audience members, who would either call out their congratulations, or reach out to shake his hand.  He is clearly moved by all the very real and fervent enjoyment that so many had for his project. Which was the once only performance of a  play entitled, Jai Hind (Indian independence victory slogan), based on a play by Sri Chinmoy called, The Descent Of The Blue.

For the moment he still eerily resembles the great Indian spiritual Master Sri Aurobindo.  The loud roar of approval from the crowd of several hundred, who had just watched his performance over several enjoyable hours  seems to still linger in the warm still air of this New York night.  It was an unequivocal triumph, but it was also a performance that resonated with an even deeper meaning.   For it was in many ways a promise at last fulfilled.  One that had taken its natural rich course of 15 years to finally arrive on the auspicious night of August 25th at the Aspiration Ground in New York.

Descent-of-the-Blue“In 1999 Sri Chinmoy phoned me up directly, and he said, I want you to do, Descent of the Blue.  Take as much time as you like.  3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours, what do you think?”

“I said, I don’t know Guru.  He said use as many people as you like.  Spend as much money as you like but do a very big production.  So I said fine.  It was the fall and Sri Chinmoy wanted it in August.  I can’t remember the time sequence but I was calling people all over the world.  Particularly people who looked Indian to take part.  I was preparing and researching, and reading books and going to the Sri Aurobindo society in London.”

But then an unforeseeable set of circumstances arose that winter and the project was shelved, for what appeared to be an indefinite time period.  Gradually slipping away out of reach and almost tumbling into oblivion.

The passing of Sri Chinmoy in 2007 could easily have been the absolute end of any hope of the production ever finding its way to the stage.   Kaivalya however never completely gave up hope, as it was clearly something direct and significant that his Spiritual teacher had asked of him.  But over time his once powerful commitment had been reduced he says to just a small inkling.

But like so many of the great seeds of inspiration that Sri Chinmoy carefully planted and nurtured in the hearts of his students this one was to finally find new life.   He says that while visiting Portugal in early 2013 he performed in a short performance where he played the part of Sri Aurobindo.   Someone remarked afterwards.  That they liked the play but that they had also seen and enjoyed Kaivalya years earlier portraying Sri Aurobindo  in another play.  His reaction to their compliment, “my heart leapt, You know, you are right.”

Sri Chinmoy_at_samadhiIt was in 1958 while still living in the Sri Aurobindo ashram that Sri Chinmoy had written the original play, The Descent Of The Blue.”  He and his brothers and sisters had first come there in 1944.  He was just 12 years of age when he first arrived.  From then until he left the ashram in 1964 he grew up and developed in its very powerful spiritual, cultural, and athletic environment.

Sri Chinmoy’s play is a devoted and soulful appreciation of the life, of not just one of the towering figures of India, but also one, who through his divine wisdom, was also a source of inspiration to the world.  Sri Chinmoy was able to capture the transformation of a man from Indian revolutionary to one who became an enlightened spiritual teacher to the world.  A task in which the young Sri Chinmoy was uniquely placed, living in Pondicherry, to carefully and devotedly write about.

Between 1958 and 1962 the play was originally published in installments in an ashram publication.  In 1974 it was published intact some 10 years after Sri Chinmoy had established his own spiritual community in New York.  But now as Kaivalya pondered the challenges of at last bringing a lengthy play to a western audience, he came up with the best possible strategy.

“So I handed over the directorship to my son, (Devashishu), who has more energy than I have.  Both sons in fact said it is much too long a play for one evening.  So why don’t we split it in half.  We will do the political bit now and next year in August we will do the super mind bit.  I said fine.”

devasishu

“So Devashishu took over the directorship, and he wrote in bits to explain what was happening politically, he added lots more.  So the play was completely rounded off.”

For several days leading up to the big night Devashishu was rehearsing the play in a large back yard a few blocks from the performance space.  I spoke with him earlier.

boys2

“The project is a performance based on a play by Sri Chinmoy called The Descent Of The Blue.  It is the story of Sri Aurobindo a great Indian Spiritual Master, who was Sri Chinmoy’s master.”

Abhinabha plays the young Aurobindo

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August 5: Something Beyond

“It is a very very special morning.  This is the last morning of the race.”

Jayasalini describes how now, with just 41 miles to go, she wants to absorb every last drop of the experience she has had these past 51 days.  “The fragrance of the course, the beauty of the course.  To be grateful, grateful, for every morning.  For every step.  It is a very special morning.”

jayasalini-good

“I know that many many people are waiting for me back home.  I got so many many experiences here, that I think that I definitely have changed, something changed inside me.  First you receive, you absorb, than you want to share it.”

“To be honest it is beyond beyond my understanding, what is happening here.  What’s I felt during the whole race, is that I need to be here for this very moment.  I need to do what I have to do.  This is taking one step after another, and be grateful for every step.  I feel that this is what the Supreme wants me to do.  To be here and to run, and to be grateful and to be happy.”

“To accept whatever comes, and just move forward.  No matter what happens.  Come what may.  Just go on.”

“What is happening in the inner world, it is beyond my understanding.”

jayasalini-parvati

“The last couple of weeks were much slower.  The 109 laps that you need to do in average in the beginning it seemed very very doable.” (Jayasalini did 104 yesterday) I was pretty constant.  But now it feels like an Everest.  The last couple of weeks I have averaged 105 laps.  I was counting every night when I went home.  I have a table on my wall.  So I was more or less conscious of where I was.  I tried not to worry at all.  At some point I realized that the Supreme would take care of the mileage.  I said to the Supreme that it was all up to you.  I will just try and think of you.  To be with you inwardly, all the time.”

“From that time I just stopped worrying.  Of course sometime thoughts come.  Deep inside I felt that whatever happens is the best.  This is just an experience that the Supreme wants me to go through.  I will just do it.”

“I admire every runner on the course.  From every runner I feel something special, an energy or quality.  The way that Sarah runs is really beyond my understanding.  How was it possible for her to run so so fast and so strong.  How is it possible to do this on your feet each day.”  She describes her experience of just Sarah passing her on the course with such speed and power.  “I don’t know how it was possible.”

“This is one of the questions that I still have no answer.”

jayasalini-silouhete

“William is so so focused.  All the time during the whole day.  He can be looking just a few meters ahead.  You can see that nothing else exists around him.  Just he, himself, and running, moving forward so fast.”

“Nidhruvi’s experience I also admire her.  I bow to her soul and to her determination.  I ask myself many times.  How I would feel if I had this experience.  I don’t know if I could stay.  To continue like she does.  Still to be cheerful.  Still to smile.  That is amazing.”

“I feel that what is happening here can inspire many many people.  William’s example yesterday, that he finished at his age.  At 60, to run so fast.  To do this is something beyond. This is an example that will inspire many many people of his generation.  And also young people.  I hope and I feel that more girls will want to come to this race.  I feel it strongly.”

“For me to be here and do every step is to please the Supreme in his own way.  This was my only goal.”

flower-tree

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This Japanese Maple tree has observed the countless comings and goings of many people over the years.  It has survived and flourished in a place that it is exposed to lots of activity.  Directly in front of Thomas Edison High School.

It was planted in a small and simple ceremony on October 11th, 1975.  As part of a celebration to mark Sri Chinmoy’s recent completion of 100, 000 Jharna Kala paintings.  They would be followed of course by millions more.

Nearly 30 years have passed since then.  The little tree now grown large, and despite all that has happened in and around and to it, it somehow still endures.  In its own way offers the beauty of nature to all who would see it.  And also still offers something deep and inner to all who can feel it.

 

Photo By Bhashwar October 11,1975

Photo By Bhashwar
October 11,1975

Something divine may be
Beyond your need today,
But it can never remain
Beyond your need forever.
For every day
A new message from Heaven
Is touching the earth-shore.

 

This little running movie is still my favorite.  It is rough in parts and yet tells something about Sri Chinmoy and his love of running that I have never repeated.  Made in March 2009.

Music by Parichayaka

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August 4: Doing What We Love

How Sarah feels about completing the race. Which will happen in just a couple of hours.

“It is just absolute gratitude.  A runner’s life is up and down.  Success and failures and everything in between.  I think especially after last year definitely I value it.  But it is just such a team effort.  Because nothing would happen without all the track workers and the race directors.  Everyone who adds to the race in any capacity.  So it is definitely that we are all traveling together.  It is not just personal success.

silouhete-sarah

Sarah as we are speaking is now just a few miles from the finish line.  She has just 15 miles to go.  She remarks how Pranjal finished the race just 2 days earlier and from the very first morning he never took a morning off.  He does as he does now for 5 years without  break, ran at least 2 miles.

“I think that is what it is just about.  Doing what we love.  So I am feeling a little guilty.  Everyone is putting in this huge effort.  We runners are just doing what we enjoy.”

“A few times during the race I felt, we are so eager to reach a certain result.  But you know that old saying, about the journey being just as important as the destination.  It is so true.  Looking back at all the fantastic memories.  Every day of the race has been just awesome.”

flower-sarah-wide

“Physically sometimes there is just nothing you can do.  You just have to try and be happy.  It happens to all of us sometimes.  You have to surrender to a slow pace.  That’s okay.”

“So many people have offered, not only material things, but encouragement.  But this is what the world will be based on encouragement and not criticism.”

flower-sarah2

I ask her then what she feels the the Self-Transcendence race may mean to the world at large.  “This has been one of the main things on my mind.  With all the different conflicts going on now.  There is not personally much we can do.  I think this draws the world’s attention to something that offers hope.  It is about the hope of human aspiration.  It definitely does something.”

“If we keep focusing on the darkness and the conflicts.   Things won’t really improve.”  She appreciated all the media that in fact did come out to follow the story here.

“Just to see the race.  You don’t really have to know very much about it.  Just to know that it is going on I think it does something really special.”

I ask if she will come again.  “If life circumstances allow it. I don’t know what the next year will hold for me.”  I mention all the runners who regularly come back, “it is the main part of their spiritual life.”

“I have to be open to what life brings.  Certainly, even now I am thinking about next year, and how to improve.”  She then mentions the possible appearance of some of the big names who did not attend this year.  “I think the energy is going to be amazing.”

sarah2

I mention all the other girls who have attended this race and suggest that she must in some way be inspiring a whole generation of young girls that something like running 3100 miles is possible.  “Well firstly I put Suprabha in a different class.  She has done the race 13 times.  Her whole life is amazing.”

“I think it is just time.  Sometimes we just want things to happen.  I wanted to try this race 7 or 8 years ago, but it was just not the right time. I hadn’t got the experience.  I just needed to develop a bit more.  It is a matter of enjoying your running and see where it takes you.  And of course relying on the spiritual side.  Keep praying to God.  If he wants it for your life it will take place. But if he wants a higher goal, than being a good runner.  He just might have more inspired plans for you.”

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A movie made a few years ago on the race

If at every moment we can feel that our highest Divinity is with us, in us and for us, and that we are with Him, in Him and for Him, then we are bound to create happiness and harmony in our own lives, in the lives of our family members and, eventually, in our world-family.

But we have to start with ourselves. First we have to dive deep within or fly high, higher, highest to discover our own highest Reality. Unless and until we have discovered our own highest Divinity and Reality, unless and until we have brought to the fore our own Inner Pilot, we will not be in a position to bring peace, harmony and bliss to our immediate family or to our world-family.

So let us pray and meditate to bring His divine Presence to the fore and let us be ready at every moment to listen to His Commands. If we can feel that our only task is to please Him in His own Way, then there is nothing that we cannot accomplish either for ourselves or for others.

Sri Chinmoy, Sacred Rock Welcomes Sri Chinmoy, Agni Press, 1994

CKG-Spinting)

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August 3: When The Time Is Right

“Maybe I have hidden from some of my spirituality.  I think this race has allowed me the time to really focus on that and what it means.  Maybe recognize that I am not the greatest force in the universe.”

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Ray Krolewicz is unique in so many ways.  He is a perfect example of how one should never judge a book by its cover.  His somewhat grizzly exterior would on first appearance not give you much of a clue as to the kind, intelligent, charismatic, and generous individual who lurks beneath his now sun browned torso.  One that has rarely seen a shirt in 50 days and certainly not come close to any sunblock either.

All of us have beautiful and positive qualities within us.  Though sometimes the world and more regrettably we ourselves tend to forget this great truth.  But it is these bright aspects of ourselves that we are trying to expand and develop.  And it is the darker portions of ourselves, the not so user friendly qualities, that we either wish to cast off, or more likely, to radically transform.

What sets Ray apart from the others here is that he is the only one who was personally encouraged by Sri Chinmoy to come here and run this race one day.  When the invitation was given, he immediately asked, should I come this year.  Sri Chinmoy’s timeless reply was, you will know when the time is right.

flower-ray

We can never control any aspect of time but for Ray something deep and significant was set into his heart that day those words were spoken.  A 59 year old school teacher from South Carolina, whose lifelong passion has been distance running this race of course would be the logical culmination of his achievements in the sport.  But with his best days perhaps slipping ever so subtly into the past.  Maybe it was just too big and impossible a thing to attempt.  It could easily have been an invitation to be ignored, if not forgotten.  But there again is the Ray Krolewicz who does not take words and promises and dedication to unachievable goals lightly.

He had fashioned his own unique relationship over 30 years with this Indian Spiritual Master living in Queens.  Now, even though he had passed almost 7 years ago, something inside of him at last called out.  Something he could not ignore, despite all logic that might dictate the complete folly of his quest to run 3100 miles.  Because of the man Ray is he knew but one option.  He had to come to run this impossible race because the time was most definitely at last perfect.

“I had 30 years when the message should have been perfectly clear.  From the day he picked up that shirt ( at a race in 1984 when Sri Chinmoy picked up a shirt that Ray had thrown at a chair), till somewhere midpoint in this race.  Dang, I had access to so much more.  I have had opportunities.  I have hidden from my own spirituality.  That would be the culmination of that story that started 30 years ago.  With this leader, this great man.  This connection with the Supreme or God.”

ray-silouhete

“It finally all made sense somewhere when I was running around this block, and listening to people and sharing with people.”

“One of the most telling things about Yuri was after he had finished.  He was running the opposite way around the block.  He simply touched his heart as he went by.  In one of my poems I comment about that.  The poem ends.  As you touch your heart it strengthens mine.  That for me is the culmination of what I have learned.  That as each person touches their own heart, it strengthens mine and strengthens all of us.”

A short film from 2006

My Beloved Supreme,
Is there any right time for me
To do the right thing?
“My child,
Not tomorrow,
Not even today!
“The right time for you
To do the right thing
Is now,
At this very moment,
Plus
Here and nowhere else.”

Sri Chinmoy, My Lord, Make Me Your Happiness-Child, Agni Press, 1992

CKG-and-Ray

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August 2: Source Of Everything

Stutisheel completed the 3100 mile race for the 8th time today.

stutisheel-good

It is a statement that by itself tells quite a remarkable story about this extremely talented and dignified man from the Ukraine.  For so few have even come close to accomplishing what he has just done.  Stutisheel as a runner is as gifted, composed and patient as any who have spent their long summers running around a school in Queens.

But there is more, much more to this great runner who has had his daughter Alakananda as his helper nearly every time he has run here.  And she of course has found her own victory in being the one to help and aid and console.  Or do whatever it is that a 44 year old multi day runner needs in order to go on through those impossible 3100 miles.

This world that they share and inhabit so intimately together is as difficult and as challenging as just about any person has ever attempted to do.  Yet they have found a way to conquer it, as they did again today.  Because it is not just another race, it has been their joint home now for 10 long summers.

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Click to Play Finish:

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If we turn the clock back just a few years the story for Stutisheel here was a much different one than now.  Now with its victory of completing the race in a new personal best of 48 days and 3 hours.  A time nearly 9 hours faster than he has ever run this race before.

For in both 2011, and again in 2012 he could not find the right mix, or motivation, or magic, or whatever formula a runner needs to find their way to the finish line.  It had to be heartbreaking to come up short those 2 years in a row.  But Stutisheel did not show any sign of frustration or failure to the world.  For it was a burden that he alone had to carry and find the solution to succeed.

So last year was an off year.  He became an ironman triathlete, and maybe this as well was the cure for whatever it was that kept him from reaching the finish line.  He says of those 2 years when the goal was not reached that he eventually learned a lesson.  Something he believed was deep inside himself that he needed to do, and of course need not share with prying eyes.   For we all have hard lessons to be learned in our own hearts.  So today he and his daughter have reached out and climbed to a new glorious plateau, on this his 10th year, at the place they both call home.

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If there is another secret that made it all turn out so well, he says, “I am surrounded by people who believe in me.  This is so important in life.  Starting from childhood, Alakananda supported me like anything.  In all my crazy projects.”

He says there are many others and in particular points to one of the race directors Sahishnu.  “Somewhere during the middle of the race he was on the phone with Alakananda and said, your Dad will do a personal best.   You will see.  The finish was so far but he believed in me.”

“I am really lucky to have friends who believe in me.  It is very very important to me.”

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“And of course finally I dedicate my personal best to the 50th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy arriving in the west.  Who is the driving force and the source of everything.”

The winner of the race in 2006 who set the still record time of 41 days and 8 hours.

You will recover
Full confidence in yourself–Just feel once
That God will do everything for you.

You will discover
Full God-realisation in yourself–Just believe only once
That your source
And
God’s source
Are always the same.

Sri Chinmoy, The Goal Is Won, Agni Press, 1974

stutisheel-photo2

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August 1: I Will Be Happy

Are you ahead of last year’s pace?

“Not yet.”

“I want to transcend myself, so I have to run a little bit faster.” He has just 23 miles to run on this his last day of the race.  Vasu says he is doing this, because that is the name of the race, Self-Transcendence.

“If the Supreme wants he can do it through me, and if not, I will be happy.”

“I must run 10 laps to go and 4 hours to do it.  It is not too easy.”

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What Vasu has done over the past few days has been to run incredible mileage.  Yesterday he ran 136 laps or 74 miles.   Which is very similar to what he had done just 2 days earlier.  What he has been demonstrating since day one is a complete dedication to the task of running 3100 miles.

One which is  based not just on his incredible physical strength and will power but also on his heart’s devotion.  A combination of qualities that when set in motion would appear unstoppable.  Yet from the start this morning that very thing of bettering his time from last year is far from certain.

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There are many inconceivable and imponderable mysteries of what this race creates in those who come and run in it and also who those who observe.  As someone on the sidelines who has watched Vasu’s steady progress through the days and miles how could you not but want for him to succeed.

To shave at worst even a small fragment of time off his performance from last year. Most of us would love to see him and all the others smash their performance bests each year.

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But the subtle and intangible rewards of running here are not so easily discerned.   For there is a victory not just to Sarvagata who came in first and those like Vasu who will claim the 3rd chair behind him this morning.  But to each and all there is a victory.  Even if the finish line is never crossed and remains elusive and distant still hundreds of miles away, when the lights grow dim.

At a little before 1030 this morning Vasu crosses the finish line for the 3rd time.  It took him 47 days, 4 hours, and 24 minutes.  His time is 1 hour and 15 minutes better than last year.

vasuf6Click to Hear Finish:

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A short Film from the race 2006

 

The fullness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.

Sri Chinmoy, Arise! Awake! Thoughts Of A Yogi, Agni Press, 1972

CKG-wards-island

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July 31: Inward To My Heart

I make a joke with Yuri this morning.  He is running so fast and easy. So relaxed and comfortable it is almost as though he could not possibly have been here, doing this very hard thing for 46 straight days.

Where are you going? I ask.

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“Inward to my heart.  I am in a hurry to go deep inside to my heart.  It is a good place and I feel very good there.”

“When I wake up I am like most people, I am in my mind.  But when I start running, I dive deep within my heart and start running there.  I am really happy there.  It is a wonderful place.”

So You will never leave the course?

“I actually don’t want to stop.  I felt such sorrow that I will have to stop today.  I want to continue.  It is such a beautiful place here.  What I experience here I never felt before in my life.  Nowhere.”

“Maybe this place is like a magnet.  It is pulling runners more and more from all over the world.”

He had said that coming here was a bit like going to school.  It was something that you progressed each year by attending.

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“It is more than school.  There are no limits.  You can dive deeper and deeper inside your heart or it is like flying higher and higher in the sky.  For me it is just that every time I come the experiences I have here are becoming deeper.  It is like a  very tall tree, and as you climb this tree.  Your view of the horizon is continually expanding, and you can see farther.”

Last year, in his first race here you could say that is was not an easy experience compared to this time.  He did manage to finish in 51 days and 4 hours.   But what has happened to him this year maybe one of the most improved performances by any runner ever.   His pace this year is such that when compared to last year he would have won the race with his predicted time today.  He started the morning 256 miles ahead of last year.  Nearly 4 days faster.

“Actually my results are not so important.  The most important thing is the consciousness in which you are running.  How you feel.  This year I feel much better inwardly.  I studied very seriously what Sri Chinmoy has said about this race.  He did not speak about the runners outer results.  For me the most important thing is not to be first but to be one with everyone here.  To feel oneness.”

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“Actually I feel that the most important thing is to share  with everyone what you are experiencing through oneness.”

He describes this experience that he is having as something he knows that we all have within our own hearts as well.  It is through running here that has awakened him to this.

“If I could I would just open my heart and give and show everyone what I feel and what I am.  Because this is much better than any words.”

Click to Play Interview: (Translation by Anastasia)

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Film made at the start of the race 2006

 

Across the street Sri Chinmoy ran the 47 mile race on his birthday August 27th 2 times.  The first time he ran in 1979 his time was 12:41:48.  The following year on his second attempt, when this picture was taken he ran more than an hour faster.  His time was 11:27:24.

My life’s only road:
Forward.
My heart’s only road:
Inward.
My soul’s only road:
Upward.

Sri Chinmoy, Morning blessing-call-prayers, Agni Press, 2010

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Photo by Pavitrata 47 mile race 1980

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