72,000 Burning Candles: A Celebration and A New Guinness World Record

In was in 2005 when Ashrita first came up with the idea of setting a new Guinness world record in order to celebrate Sri Chinmoy’s 74th birthday.   At the time it seemed like an impossibly difficult if not dangerous thing to do.

All of the above of course were true but in the end it turned out to be an amazing and inspiring success.

Of course great records can never last for ever and a few years later Ashrita assembled another large team in order to try and take back the record this time with 48,000 candles.

Fast forward 11 years and once again the record is broken and the goal is to break the new record of 50,000 burning candles

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“It was very exciting all the candles merged into one single huge flame.  It was very exciting.”

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Swim Run Trio: Harriman State Park 2016

Video of the event

Registration

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Sri Chinmoy’s 47 Mile Race 2016

The footage is less than 2 minutes long.  A mere fragment of much greater event that probably could never be captured adequately by a super 8 film very well anyway.

Yet it shows Sri Chinmoy completing the 47 mile race in 1980 for the 2nd time.  A performance that took him 11:27:24  to complete and which surpassed his previous best by  74 minutes.

*photo by Bhashwar

Now there is a new generation following in those same footsteps as their late spiritual teacher 36 years later.

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Many who have never even had the opportunity to see Sri Chinmoy little alone remember how powerfully he once used to run

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Pratyaya the race director remembers those early days

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Petra gets ready for a long night

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There is a profound sense of calm as people register

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Most have a clear sense of why they do this most difficult thing of running 47 miles starting at midnight on August 27th.

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The time of quiet does not last long

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Know that as much as it is gift to their teacher it is also something that will offer much more in return.  A dedication.

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Even for those who do not run tonight but who instead help there is a sense of purpose and dedication.

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The race is an opportunity for all to feel part of something great and beautiful that lies both within and without.

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August 27th: Sri Chinmoy’s 74th Birthday 2005

This is a short film that captures some of the highlights of Sri Chinmoy’s birthday celebration in 2005

*Photo by Prashphutita 2003*

O my rainbow-heart-sky,
In you I see
The beauty of the Unknowable,
In you I feel
The silence of the Unknowable.

28 August 2005
New York

August 9… To Beautify The World

Her story is almost perfection itself.  Or at least one that most accurately reflects how we mortals struggle and strive against adversity.   Then when we least expect it we accomplish that once insurmountable task that had risen up in front of us.

Click below to hear the sound of Kaneenika’s finish:

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In turn we are rewarded or we find the true meaning of just how precious the goals that come to challenge us truly are.  Hopefully we  learn and grow stronger.   Understand just a little better what we must do in order to reach up and draw ourselves closer to our own perfection.

Last year Kaneenika in her first attempt at 3100 miles made it to 3014 miles.

A result that some might call a defeat.  But in the peculiar divine world of the Self Transcendence Race it was another kind of victory. One that does not step up onto a visible podium, but instead shines brightly in the summit of the heart.

When we meet this morning I joke with Kaneenika that tomorrow she will not be here

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“It is true.”

“It is always very inspiring and encouraging to get messages from people.  Quite often I get messages from people I don’t even know.  It reminds me that people really follow this race and appreciate what we are doing here.”

“It is so special.  When I read these messages they are like a joy pill and a pain killer in one.  Also an energy boost.  It is so nice to know that people have so much oneness.  I am so grateful.”

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“This race may look like an individual sport but we have all these supporters and all these helpers.  They just carry us along.  The race wouldn’t be possible without the helpers and everybody around the world who follows the race.  All those who send good wishes and pray for us.  That is the beauty of this race.”

“When I was a new disciple.  I was watching the race for the first time.  I was here in New York for the summer.  At the time Rupantar asked me if I would think about this race.  But I couldn’t think anything.  It was so beyond.”

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“Then he told me that Sri Chinmoy once said that when we are doing races like this.  Something good happens somewhere else.  So I believe that something like that is happening.  I don’t believe that Sri Chinmoy created this race just for us to go around and around.  That it is really for humanity to make progress.”

Later at the finish line she shares another story.  One that took place when she was really having a tough time.

“I was running on the far side of the course and I met a girl who was running in the opposite direction.  Then she smiled at me and said you are amazing.  I didn’t know her and I didn’t even know if she even knew about the race.  So I just smiled back at her out of my misery.  And it felt good.”

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Click below to hear Sahishnu’s speech and Kaneenika’s speech:

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She says that she then came upon a mother walking with her little girl.  “I smiled at them and they smiled back at me. I thought wow.  I am feeling much better than I felt before.”

Just after this she came back into the camp and noticed a banner with Sri Chinmoy’s smiling face on it.  Also on it was the aphorism

Just one smile
Immensely increases
The beauty of the universe.

Sri Chinmoy, A God-devotion-teardrop, 2006

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“And I thought, is this the answer to my question.  This is why we run these races.  To beautify the world.  Wow, that is really powerful.  I was reflecting on this afterwards.  I thought Sri Chinmoy is so smart.”

“He gives us this incredible race.  To help to make this world more beautiful.”

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*Editors Note:  This will be my last post for the race this year.   My last attempt to document this incredible event, called the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race.  It is with deep and humble gratitude that I have offered these daily posts to all of you who have both dipped and dove into my little creations.  The race is well beyond what my words, pictures, and sound can do.   Hopefully you have been inspired and will also be able to accomplish in the near future your own self transcendence task.*

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August 8… A New Experience

This morning when Surasa ran by me she asked if I wouldn’t mind taping a message for her.  Of course I considered it a great honor to be able to to record this for all her friends and admirers.

“I have a message for my friends.”

“Dear friends all over the world.  I just want to tell you that you don’t have to worry about me.  I am really fine.”

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“There are other more important things and the world to worry about.  For me this is just about missing  a few miles, and what is that.   Of course it is a new experience for me.  Because in my other races, the last 2 were so good.”

“It is a new experience to walk for more than half of the race.  But I think new experiences are needed in life.  They are good in order to make inner progress.  And inner progress is of course what we want to make.”

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“So if everything stays like this then I will be able to do more than 3000.  I am more than happy about this.”

“So I am not at all disappointed or sad.   I really feel happy and peaceful inside.  I think this is important.  This makes me very happy.”

“But I want to thank you again for all your support.  Very soon it will be the end of the race.”

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At the start of the race in 2007 Sri Chinmoy spontaneously composed a poem about his beloved 3100 mile race.  The runners were standing in front of him. At first he was meditating silently and powerfully and then began to speak these words.

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan

Longest self giving journey

Heaven’s brightest smile

Earth’s proudest embrace

God’s Newest Victory Discovery

Self-Transcendence 3,100-Mile Race Songs

Photo by Jowan

Photo by Jowan

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August 7… How Can I Stop

When I meet with Baladev this morning he has just been reading a page full of poems that Sri Chinmoy wrote on the topic of never giving up.

I ask him what that means to him and he says, “right now I am not in a talking mood.”

Instead he uses the time to read them all to me.  In a thoughtful and compelling way. Sharing with me, that when he read them moments earlier they had made him cry.

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Each one a powerful message.  Each one adding another insight into humanity’s deep need, if not obligation to always continually attempt to move forward, even in the face of relentless resistance on all levels.

Baladev is an incredible example of never giving up.  This is his 8th summer here and as of last night he had completed 2664 miles.  A distance that would take him from his home town of Komjatice Slovakia all the way to Tajikistan.  With still 3 days left Baladev will accumulate well over 2700 miles.

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He has worn a special shirt this morning.  One that was custom made for him a few years ago.

“On my back is ‘Never Give Up,’ and on the front is, ‘Go Forward.’

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“When I have never give up on my back I feel as though it is pushing me to go forward, and I am between these 2 secrets. So I am moving.  How can I stop?”

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Never give up, never give up!
Even if you lose your way
A great many times,
You must realise that your destination
Is sleeplessly expecting your arrival.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 224, Agni Press, 1995

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August 6… God Has A Plan

Be good and remain
good; if you want
to be a supremely
chosen child of God.

When I go to meet Vasu out on the course he is reciting the daily prayer with Stutisheel.  Saying the daily prayer is something that he has done throughout this race, and as far as I know it is something so important to him that he has done this same thing every day in all the 5 years he has run here.

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Finish Songs:

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When he repeats the prayer it is not just done once, or twice.  He will say it many many times and for many of the prayers he has memorized them.  Letting the sacred words enter so deeply into his heart that they can never be extracted. Using them as guidance for not just each day but his entire life

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It is day 49.  Yesterday Vasu ran 66 miles, this morning he has just 18 miles to go.  He will finish a little after 10 this morning.  I joke with Vasu.  Since you have the whole day in front of you.  Have you made any plans

“No.”

“I have no plan.  God has a plan.”

Vasu says he will be happy when he finishes.  “The race has been very very nice.  Many disciples have worked on this race.  I want to say that this is team work.”  He adds that he has been singing the song Sri Chinmoy once wrote about team work.

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God-manifestation-teamwork
Is infinitely better and happier
Than any other teamwork.

Sri Chinmoy, My song-river-heart, part 2, 1992

Vasu says that this is true.  “For me the race is too hard and too long.  For me alone it is not possible for me to do it by myself.  But if we do it together it becomes possible.  And I am grateful for everybody and for Guru. They all gave me the possibility to do this.”

He says that he will miss the race when it is over.  His answer implying that there is no doubt that he will return again.

Vasu says that even though every other year he has continually run faster he doesn’t mind that his result this year is slower.

“I try to be happy no matter what I have.”

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A friend he tells me that he was surprised that he was going to come in 4th place.  Vasu says that when you attempt to run 3100 miles.  “It doesn’t matter 4th place or any other place.  I only think, can I finish the race?”

“I think it is only by the Grace of Guru that I have the possibility of doing it.  I am thankful to him and also to all his students who aspire to do it.”

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At the award ceremony Vasu is very emotional.  He tells everyone that Sahishnu had told him if he couldn’t speak he could just cry. (laughs)  “This is the victory of Guru and the victory of everyone of you. Thank you.”

I ask Vasu after all these years has he been changed by the race.  He repeats this prayer.

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Little by little I must
change my life only
in God’s own Way.

 Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2007, Agni Press, 2007

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August 5… A New Goal

“Three years ago I had a dream, and in that dream I saw that the distance for this race would be longer in the future.”

Click to Play Sound of Atmavir’s finish:

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For Atmavir this morning the finish line is just 41 miles away.  When he crosses it for the 9th time late this afternoon it will be the 9th time that he has done so.  A distance, should you be so curious to know is 27,900 miles.

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He talks about how fast the race went.  Which in turn spins the perspective back onto us.   A reminder of just how challenging, fulfilling, or frivolous we all spent our past 47 days.

What accomplishments and challenges did we so gracefully and powerfully succeed in like he and all the other members of the very small 3100 mile family.

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“I am sure it was not just me that noticed this.  I am sure all the runners did and also people who are watching.”

“So I am praying for a new goal.  It is really giving me great joy.  I am a dreamer and dreamers are walking above the earth.”

“I have strong faith.  This year I felt during the race that the capacity is already there.  It is just a matter of time.  A few more years, and it will come.

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“For me this race was the best so far.  I feel that they are going up every year.  Not just outwardly but inwardly.  They are getting richer every single year.”

47 Days: 11 Hours: 32 Minutes: 00 Seconds

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To-day’s Victory

We Celebrate

Only to invoke

A new Goal

Sri Chinmoy, My blessingful and pride-flooded dedication to the indomitable runners of the 3100-mile Self-Transcendence Race, 2006, Agni Press, 2006

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August 4… The Whole World Is In My Heart

It was the closes finish ever at the 3100 mile  race.  Last night at midnight both Yuri and Ashprihanal had put in an astonishing day of running.  Demonstrating unquestionably what it really means to dig deep, try harder, and for all of us mortals on the sideline, what appeared to be transcending themselves in a way that has not been witnessed on this little block in Queens ever.

*cover photo Jowan……translation Lyalya….*

It can get confusing when you try and track down the whys and wherefores of this sprint to the finish.  Keep in mind the distance between the 2 had been less than a sliver for days.  But yesterday with nothing to loose each took their performances to a level that had to be their absolute ultimate.  Yuri ran 79 miles and Ashprihanal 86 miles.

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They went home at midnight with just 8 miles separating them.  A gap, that with an extra day added would have been evaporated by Ashprihanal.  But no, the race was not to be won by its record holder from last year.  Yuri just had to run 5 more miles.  He was to be the champion this year.

“Do you think this is my victory? No this is the victory of the Supreme.”

“This is the victory of our teacher.  This is the victory of heaven.  This is the victory of earth.  The victory of humanity.  This is the victory of each and every one of you.”

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“It wasn’t a simple race.  You can’t understand it with the mind.  You can only feel it with the heart.”

“With me my teacher was always present.  One that loves me, and one that I love so much.”

“A samurai warrior has come to me and shared with me his strength.  All of you here are my friends.  Without your support it would not have been possible.”

“We are not just running on a concrete sidewalk.  We are not on a path that leads to wealth and fame.  This path leads us to the depths of our hearts.  The place where God lives within us.  Where it is his home.  I was there.  There is everything there in order to be happy.”

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“Happiness, joy, oneness.  All of this I want to share with you.”

“I am happy, so happy.  Guru is in my heart.  The whole world is in my heart.  You are all in my heart.  It will be like this always.”

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Click to Play the sound of Yuri’s finish:…46 Days, 01 hour, 10 minutes, 25 seconds

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A heart of gratitude
Finds divine Blessings
And divine Love
All along its way.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 187, Agni Press, 1993

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