July 22… We Are One Family

For those interested in simplifying their lives, at least temporarily.  Running for 18 hours a days for 52 days may exemplify a stripped down, superbly focused lifestyle that is hard to beat.

Yes it is brutally hard and unrelenting.  But once you are immersed in this world wholeheartedly the rest of the clutter and superficial enticements that constantly nag us tend to disappear.  Or at least in theory that is the case.

50 year old Vasu Duzhiy who is running the race for the 5th time however is in another league altogether when it comes to his steadfast devotion to the race.

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Each of the runners over the years have come here have brought remarkable skills and qualities. But in all honesty I have never met anyone whose life has been so stripped of external distractions and problems quite like Vasu.

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1000 miles the Distance from St Petersburg to Vienna

As he starts day 34 he has 1000 miles left to go and 19 days in which to do it.

Because he has run so well up till now he only has to run 52 miles a day in order to make it.  But for more than a week his blister has been hobbling him physically.  True to his sweet nature however he remains unrelentingly cheerful.

Moments after we start our little run together he has just memorized the Daily Poem.  One which Sri Chinmoy composed on this day in 2007.  He recites it for me in both English and Russian.

At the moment he is running well but says he had a bad morning (which means he could only walk slowly).  “To be happy helps me so much.  This is our medicine.”

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I ask though, when it is hurting so much how can he still be happy.  “I think Guru does it.  I try to be in his consciousness.  I try to pray.  I try to sing.  I try to meditate.  I also speak with other runners.  This also helps because everybody has some problems.  If we speak or joke it helps.”

“I think it is good.  We are one family.”

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When asked if he is looking forward to the end.  He smiles and says, “I hope that I can finish.  Do it for Guru’s victory.”

“Everyday I get many letters and it helps me so much.”  Vasu says that one person is sending him a poem about smiling every day.  “It is so nice.”

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He feels that since he first started running the race 5 years ago more people are now interested in the 3100.

And a comment that could only come from Vasu.  “I am grateful for my blister because many disciples have shown their kind hearts and inspired me to run.  We are a big family.”

flower vasu good-1360554

I must never lose
contact with my
Lord’s Compassion-Eye
and His Forgiveness-
Heart. Never.

Guru Sri Chinmoy
July 22nd, 2007

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July 21… We Depend On Grace

“I had a really good day yesterday.”

Atmavir did have a good day yesterday, and of course it didn’t hurt that it was also his 38th birthday.

You can see it on the scoreboard and you can see it clearly in his smile and his relaxed and happy attitude today.

The mileage by the way, which is a lot easier to check, was 66 miles for yesterday.   This gives him a 32 day total of 2151 miles.  Which means the remaining distance left in front of him is 1049 miles.  Which is just about the distance from Zlin to the other side of Moscow.

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What is another good indicator of his mood is that when he ran by me late in the morning he heard me talking with someone about problems.  He called out, “there are no problems.  Only opportunities.”

“I had a really good time yesterday.  I was able to maintain a good consciousness all day.”

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Not too many days ago Atmavir was simply having a tough time.  For 2 days in a row he was getting mileage in the 40’s and could barely run.  “It happened on Saturday and Sunday.  Usually those days are the best on the weekend.”

“It is like a party time.  There are many games going on and there are no kids going to school.”

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“Saturday I stopped running.  I had an empty battery.  I didn’t feel as though I was pushing too hard but I just didn’t have a lot of energy.  So I took it easy.  I went home for a few hours.  I really had to recover.  It turned out to be my best day here so far.”

“I slept for an hour.  Then I felt that I should meditate.”  Atmavir says the meditation was such a powerful experience that he felt as though he was being showered by light and was so moved by it that he cried.

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When he came back to the race he felt as though it was now a completely new start for him.  “A new life.  Everything was new.”  Atmavir says he was surprised that Sopan independently also felt like he too was having a new start at the same time. “A new journey.”

“It was an experience that both of us had on the same day.”

When asked if there is a particular song that he likes, he says he really likes, ‘All your Grace.”

“I like its inner message because we really depend upon grace here.”

Atmavir says that are times when he is running when he is particularly aware that grace is the power behind it.

“There is a flow.”

flower atmavir-1360189

All Your Grace, all Your Grace,

All Your Grace, all Your Grace,

My Lord Beloved Supreme!

All Your Grace, all your Grace,

My soul and I are able to join

In your birthless and deathless Race.

-Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Race Songs

*Click below to read rest of report*

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July 20… To Be More Inside

I asked Surasa the question that I suspect many people have been wondering.  How are you?

“If you don’t ask about my legs than I am fine.”

Surasa never stops smiling and for the past week she has more or less not stopped walking.  What is not within her reach right now seems to be the ability to run.

The pain from shinsplints has restricted her mobility but not her poise.  A solution seems painfully elusive as does now the likelihood of breaking her own world record from last year.

“It doesn’t want to leave me.  I have to kick it out.  But I don’t know how to kick it out.”  Yesterday after Mitch the chiropractor adjusted her she had a few sweet precious hours of freedom.

But the pain soon came back as did the frustration of a problem that seem not to have any solution.  Or at least a quick and easy one at this time.

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“I think the solution is to pray more.  To be more inside.”

“The character of the race now is totally different.”  Surasa describes that it is actually harder to walk now than it was earlier to run before she had the problem.  She feels that going slower takes even more energy than when she can run freely.

“It takes so much effort just to move forward.”

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“I can only say thank you, thank you to all those who are thinking about me.  It is always very very touching when I hear people say, that they pray for me.  It really touches me deeply.”

“Each ultra runner eventually has this same experience.  That an injury comes.  In this race so many are suffering.”

surasa camp-1350856*with Vishvarupani*

“I am so spoiled.  In the last few races I had no problems.  Now I have a new experience.  It is okay.”

“I think it is so important to stay positive.  No matter what happens we always have to accept all the things that come.  It is just part of the race.  So it doesn’t make sense if you complain.   You just loose energy.  It is so important to have positive thoughts.”

flower surasa-1350741

My Lord,
Do give my heart the strength
To love You most intensely.
My Lord,
Do give my life the strength
To need You most sincerely.
My Lord,
Do give my legs the strength
To run most speedily.
My Lord,
Do give me the strength
To manifest You here on earth
Most unconditionally.

Sri Chinmoy, My Race-Prayers, part 2, Agni Press, 2006

*Click on Read More to see rest of the report*

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July 19… An Amazing Experience

“I am alive and happy.”

Speaking with Yuri this morning he somehow makes what he has just done look deceptively easy.  Late yesterday evening he completed 2000 miles.  For the few who were there to witness it. Some bells were rung and he slowed for just a moment and then quickly kept going.  He still has a long long way to go.

Today it is day 31, which will mean he has spent a full month circling Thomas Edison High school.  His 2009 miles (3,233km) would take him just about to the coast of Portugal from his home in Vinnitsa in Ukraine

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“My body is not used to the heat.  That is why I have to put in a lot of effort in order to overcome it.”

Of course it has been hot and humid for the past few days but today is a delightful break for Yuri and all the runners.

As a comparison, the temperature today in Vinnitsa is 68 F (20 C).  Where as the typical temperature here is in the high 80’s F ( near 30C)

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“There are many ways to overcome it.  Dr Kumar recommends salt water with lemon.  I also take special pills that protect me from the heat.  I put ice underneath my hat and when that doesn’t help I take ice into my hands.  The most important thing though is your inner state.”

“I begin to pray and this prayer makes me whole.  Then nothing from the outer world can harm me.  It is a very strong method.”

Yuri video lyalya*translation by Lyalya*

“I have already said that the first half of the race is very hard.  But in the second half of the race you open up.  You are very receptive.  I had an experience in the evening just as everything was starting to cool down.  All the confusion and noise was gone.”

“I was very relaxed but at the same time very focused.  In one moment I felt as though I was expanding.  At the same time I became more subtle.  It lasted for what seemed a long time.”

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“I felt as though I became the size of the whole universe.  I was in every dot of the universe.  I was everywhere and everything was in me.  At the same time I was very subtle.  I felt as though I was almost invisible.  I was very receptive.  I could still feel everything.”

“This was a very strong inner experience.  I have never had anything like this before.  It comes again and again when you immerse yourself in this state of being.”

“It is an amazing experience.”

flower yuri-1350453

Morning begins.
I begin to pray.
God begins to give.
In silence supreme
He gives me His All.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 20, Agni Press, 2003

*Click on read more for rest of the report*

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July 18… Step By Step

“This is the quietest area at least at night time.” Ananda-Lahari points his right hand towards a low brick wall where the Enthusiasm Awakeners sing each morning and also were Sri Chinmoy once used to come as well and practice his music.

It is a typical Sunday afternoon at the 3100 mile race and for my ears it is raucous and loud and almost unbearable.  Just making one loop on a hot Sunday afternoon and you are constantly bombarded by hordes of people and volumes of sound.

“There is always noise on Sunday.”

Across the street as he tells me this a soccer football match is going on.  Car radios blare and then down by the baseball field an intense game is going on.

As we pass home plate the batter hits an enormous fly ball deep into center field.  Ananda-Lahari no longer notices, and many years ago ceased to care about all the distractions.

Distractions that come out of the usual turmoil of life, rolling and tumbling around him, and even for that matter, the existence of the other runners.  Who make little sound even at the best of times.  Who on this day at least gently shuffle past him.  Ananada-Lahari has been walking non stop now for the past 10 hours.

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“I try to stay focused.  Not to look left and not to look right.  But still sometimes I look.”

“I am not there yet but every year it is getting better and better.”

“If you go through a difficult period in your life and you go through it step by step.  It is much easier.”  Ananda-Lahari then describes that if he was focused on time it would just frustrate him.

“It is a very very precious experience for me the whole race.  Even if I am not doing well outwardly but still I make the effort.  Stay focused and I am doing my best.”

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When I ask him how many breaks he takes a day.  He says that this morning he decided that he would not take any breaks all day.

“I felt today that I could just go for it.  I want it to be my offering to this race.  Everybody is trying their best.  It doesn’t matter what speed.”

“What is the goal of life.  We are here so many years.  We have so many experiences.  We are inspired by so many things.  Some times we do better and some times we do worse.  Life is not (snaps his fingers.)  It is long long long.”

“The journey itself is the goal on one hand.  The goal here of course is to run 3100 miles, and all the runners are striving for it.  Everybody is trying their best to achieve it.”

Photo by Jowan 2007

Photo by Jowan 2007

Then Ananda-Lahari tells me a story that took place when Sri Chinmoy once came to visit the race in 2007.  “We were running from the other direction.  Every day we were getting prasad from Sri Chinmoy.  And exactly on that spot (points to the curb a few feet away.)

“He handed me an ice cream out of the passenger window of the car he was riding in.  He also was eating an ice cream and then he said, Oy, you need an extra blessing, and he handed me his ice cream.”

“It happened on a day when I was starting to crash down.  I was running 70 miles a day in 2007.  I was getting more and more tired doing it.  So I felt he was trying to inspire me.  So I got a very nice experience.”

flower ananda-lahar-1350041

Everything real
In the inner life
Has to be a matter of
Step-by-step progress.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 235, Agni Press, 1996

*For rest of report click on read more below*

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July 17… Stay in a Good Consciousness

“If the 3100 mile race is at one end of the race spectrum the 2 mile race is at the other end.  At the beginning.”

I spoke with Nirbhasa just after he finished running in the Self Transcendence 2 mile race on Saturday.  He was in the top 3 and so for his achievement he was presented a banana.  And as he said, the 2 mile race, which may take up to 18 minutes, can in any way compare to the 3100.

A race that as of today has just completed 28 days.  The total distance covered by all the runners in that time is 19,427 miles.

At this same point last year Nirbhasa had completed 1667 miles.  He has had first hand experience in every way with the 3100 and now that a few runners are struggling I ask him if he ever felt overwhelmed by it all.

“You definitely don’t do a race like this without really going up against it.  In terms of tiredness, in terms of injuries that fall across your way.”

“It is kind of interesting now because a lot of runners in this race have got different injuries and different conditions.  Fortunately for most of them they have done the race many times before.  You can see that they really understand that most important thing in minimizing their injury, and also trying to keep up as many miles as possible is to stay happy.”

“To stay in a good consciousness and to be cheerful.”

July 19 2015

July 19 2015

“Somehow when you are happy you just carry less weight around the course.  You are lighter and you are somehow able to move more easily.”

Nirbhasa then tells a story about 2 disciples of  the great Indian Spiritual Master Rama Krishna, who were able to not be trapped by ignorance by using 2 quite different methods.  One, Vivekananda could expand his consciousness and break the bonds constricting him.  The other Nag Mahasaya was so humble that he, “would get smaller and smaller and then simply slipped through the net.”

July 12 2015

July 12 2015

“For the 3100 mile runners that is what we kind of have to do.  When we are confronted with all of these problems.  You really  have to become very cheerful and light of mind.  Slip through the problems that way.”

“It is amazing when you see some of the runners experiencing problems at the moment.  How they are able to still keep up a reasonable level of mileage.   It certainly slows them down it certainly means lost miles.  But if they weren’t happy it would be infinitely infinitely worse.”

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Be kind, be all sympathy,
For each and every human being
Is forced to fight against himself.

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July 16… The Vision Of The Race

“Inwardly it is definitely a good morning.”

I am moving along with Stutisheel this morning at a pace that even by my standards is leisurely.   For the great champion Stutisheel who is here for the 12th time it cannot help but feel that it is agonizingly slow.

Yet this is all he has right now as he starts day 28.  Now with 1561 very hard miles yet to go and a rapidly diminishing window of time in which to do it.

“I am feeling the effects of a few very hot and humid days.  So I am undergoing some kind of crisis.  But life is life.”

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As someone who has observed the race for a long time I cannot help but feeling awkward at asking these kind of questions of a man who is bravely facing one of perhaps his greatest ordeals.  Yet he says this experience is not new, it has happened many times.

“For 3 days we had high humidity right from the beginning of the day.  90% at 6 a.m. and the temperature was rising.  “So the conditions were not easy.”

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“I am very eager to run and when I am not able to run it creates a pressure that you can say is a kind of discouragement.  But inwardly I feel very solid and positive.  Everything is okay.”

“I believe that this is my source.  When you are well balanced inside then the miles will come.  But it doesn’t work the other way around.”

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Stutisheel had recently been asked by someone what he had learned over his many years running the race. “It is not about understanding.  It is not about describing particular qualities.”

“The vision of the race is way beyond our comprehension.  What Guru put into this race is beyond description it is beyond words.”

“So what I am learning here is, to feel more, to become more, and to give more.”

flower stutisheel-1340467

There are so many
ways to please God.
The easiest way
is to SMILE at
God.

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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July 15… A Simple Life To Be Perfect

Today presented an unmistakable reckoning with just how hot and humid it can get during the 3100 mile race.  Not a record setting one to be sure but still the kind of day when doing anything outdoors is hard little alone trying to run 60 miles.

When I catch up with Baladev he is mixing his own concoction of salt water.  Playing with the fluid as he poured it back and forth between 2 cups.  “The salt keeps the body hydrated.”

“The hottest was 30C and today it is going to be 34C.  A little bit more and it is humid.  The humidity makes it more fun.” (smiles)

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Temperature 90 at 10:28

Since today officially marks the start of the 2nd half of the race I ask him about that.  “I am not thinking about how many days.  Or how many days I will be here.  I don’t think about tomorrow I only think about today.”

“This lap.  You never know what will happen at the next corner.”

“This is a simple life.  We all need a simple life to be perfect.”

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“When you study something at school you then use that knowledge in the rest of your life.  Here when we run we study during the whole race.   Naturally we use what we learn here during the rest of the year.”

“We learn many good things like simplicity, patience, courage, and gratitude.”

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Baladev says the meditation he experiences here while running is quite different that what he practices at home.

“This is a moving meditation.  When you are sitting at home you don’t move.  Totally different.  I like this one more, because you never fall asleep when you run.  When you meditate sitting at home you can go to sleep very easily.  When you meditate and run sleeping does not come.”

“Usually the evenings here are very  nice, and the early morning.” As Baladev runs away from me I cannot help but notice the message printed in big letters on the back of his shirt, Peace, Love, Joy.

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Without a steady mind,
A pure heart
And a simple life,
Nobody can make
The fastest progress.

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July 14… Everybody Inspires Me

When compared to all of the great and all of the terrible events happening in the world right now clamoring for our attention.  One man in New York having a problem with a blister would not seem to worthy of any notice what so ever.

But to all those who follow and identify with this little community perched temporarily on a little rectangle in Queens, Vasu’s problem is a big deal.  You may have never met him in person, or even listened to the sound of his voice.

But if you have been following the race over the past few years you have seen in his face and in his eyes all the sincerity and devotion to conquering the impossible that you may ever need to see expressed in a lifetime.

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For the better part of week he has been trying to get a large blister on the bottom of his foot healed just enough so that he can run again.  For 2 days straight he managed to walk only 37 miles.

When you consider as of this morning he has completed 1676 miles, a blister and a bad one at that is not surprising.  But then again this is the 5th time that he has run the race, so you might ask how could it happen like this.

Life can suddenly get a little complicated when you are running the equivalent of nearly 3 marathons a day.

St Petersburg to Astana 2291 km. Distance yet to go.

St Petersburg to Astana 2291 km.  Distance yet to go.

There are no easy answers either to the why or, how to fix it quickly.  You just might be surprised though at just how calmly he is taking this predicament when you consider there are still 1424 miles yet to go (see map).

When asked the obvious question if he is discouraged. “No.  It will get better with the grace of Guru.”

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“This is just an experience.”

When asked if it makes him stronger? “I hope.”

“Early in the morning I could hardly move.  Now it is much much better.”

“The first lap took me a half hour or more.  When I walked by the Enthusiasm Awakeners singers.  Something inspired me.  I felt as though I now had the power to run.  The next lap was better.  Then I could run again.”

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“I don’t know how long it will last but I will just keep going.”  Vasu also humbly wanted to thank everyone.  “Everybody inspires me.  Guru is working through his children to help me finish this race.”

3 hours later I run with Vasu again who has not stopped since early this morning.

“I think this is a miracle that Guru did for me.  I don’t know for how long but now it works.”

flower vasu-1330543

My Supreme, my Supreme, my Supreme!
May my soul, my heart, my mind,
My vital and my body
Always remain
In Your Protection-Cradle.
My Supreme, my Supreme, my Supreme!

3 April 2000, 9:39 a.m. Before doing fifty-two one-arm pushes with 700 lbs. (33 right, 19 left)

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July 13… My Capacity

Atmavir is running the 3100 mile race for the 9th time.  At the start of day 25 he has now completed 1659 miles and is now officially the race leader.  Which is not something he is all that much interested in.

What we observers should appreciate however is that the circumference of the earth is 24,900 miles.  A distance that Atmavir passed many days and miles ago.  He continues to move forward with a kind of grace, determination, and poise that is exceptional.  Particularly when you factor in that his reward for completing the race, if not in fact winning this year, will be something as intangible and yet still personally all consuming as inner satisfaction.

When asked how he feels today he smiles and says the same as every day.  Which of course is crucially important for those who are commanding as much stress and rigor as he and all the other runners are feeling as they try and take the race home to that impossibly distant finish line.

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There was a telling moment this morning as he was running freely along and came up behind the previous race leader Vasu.

Who now, because of bad blisters, is moving with the awkward gate of a man trying to drive at top speed when he unfortunately knows he has a flat tire.  As Atmavir came up behind Vasu, he ever so gently shifted into a lower gear.  A quick look of respect passed between them and then ever so kindly he shifted back into his normal speed and moved on.

“Each single year that I am here I feel that I am moving forwards.  I am more comfortable and relaxed.”

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“It is my secret.  I don’t want to push.  If I am forcing myself, or trying to compete with someone, then I don’t feel comfortable.  I want to stay happy.”

“Yesterday I saw one of the kids from the school he was wearing a bright colored t shirt and it said, Do Your Own Thing.”

Atmavir was inspired by this and feels it was a reminder of just how he should focus on his own running here.  “If you are open and receptive, you will pick these things up.”

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The first year he ran it was a much different story.  Then he was able to finish a few hours after the official cut off.  “I didn’t make the official limit and I also had a lot of injuries.  I got shinsplints in the first week.”

“I have set a goal but I am not attached to it.  I would like to beat my personal best which I set in 2009 (45 days, 3 hours).  I couldn’t succeed in doing this in all the years since.  But I think the problem may have been that in the past I started too fast.”

Atmavir says that the world record pace set by Ashprihanal last year moved everyone very quickly along with him.  This year he says that he has been given some really good advice.  “Don’t push too hard.  Take it easy the first part of the race.  I feel comfortable even though I have hard times sometimes during the day.  Of course the heat can still be a problem.”

“I am not going over my capacity right now.  It is a miracle that I am so consistent.  If I don’t fall under 60 miles on any day that is success for me.  That is real progress for me.”

flower atmavir-1330303

We may not see the Beyond,
But we do have the capacity
To feel the Beyond
Deep within us.

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