July 31 Here I am Alive

rainMost will look back at this years race no doubt as the wet one.  The year in which the rain came heavily and it came lightly and it came in every descriptive form of precipitation in between.    It sprinkled and it pounded and then it would go away only to dart back with a soggy full throated roar. Today will be just like that.  The rain switching on and off so often you just might like to call the person holding the switch and ask them to please make up their mind.

If you had the luxury of just sitting and watching it might be amusing to see swirling rivers flowing past your feet and little Niagras tumbling off of van roofs. But not if you are trying to cobble together 60 soaking miles of puddles, with shoes and socks flooded nearly every step of the way.

It is the year in whichSnapshot 2009-07-31 20-00-30 at the start of the day one never had enough dry shirts,  dry socks and dry shorts.  When shoes became damp so often they never really dried.  Causing then, on dry days, a stew of musty odors to rise up and out of sport bags.  When one umbrella was not enough.   When if you were foolish and ever tempted the weather gods they would eventually find an opportunity to strike you with a merciless downpour on the far side of course leaving you many minutes away from the timid shelter of an awning covering your folding chair.

Yet they will also be able to say that it was the cool one.  The one in which there were no 90 degree days in July which has not happened in more than 100 years.  The average temperature for the month just a little over 71.  Maybe there was some meteorological bargain that was enacted on some distant plane that said simply, “We will keep it cool but your are going to have the wet instead.”

prstutvlad1Saturday will be something of historical note.  Sahishnu believes that never have 3 runners finished on the same day ever before.  Tomorrow which is day 49 will see Vlady, Pranjal, and Stutisheel finish their long journeys.

by Shraddha April 81

by Shraddha April 81


My mind

Is a homeless cloud.

My heart

Is a soundless sky.

My life

Is a goalless rain.


Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 22 by Sri Chinmoy.




Read the rest of this entry »

July 30 Now I Have to Really Work

sup4With each new day that Suprabha continues to return to the course it is becoming clearer and clearer that something truly miraculous is happening here.  It is not obvious in her slow measured walking.  Nor does it show in any way in the small numbers that are painstakingly gathering by her name on the plastic board that hangs on the fence.  Her appearance and manner continue to be content, patient, and unflappable.

Yet were most would fearfully see the vast distance still looming forbiddingly in front of her she does not.  Going into day 47 she has 647 more miles yet to journey.  The last two days she has not made even 40 miles.  Making a hasty calculation, at her present rate, she has more than 2 weeks of hard unforgiving slogging left in front of her .  It all seems impossible what she is trying to do and yet she seems now, more than ever before to be embraced by some dynamic hope that seems capable of smashing impossibility in a heart beat.  She is oblivious to doubt and insecurity and any nattering fear that may come and pester is swished away like a tiny bug.  But encouraging words can come faster and easier than the labored steps she puts in each day.

sup6She is leaving the course early each evening as her Doctor recommended.  Last night the skies opened up with a torrential downpour just as she was about to go home.  In this way she is following her Doctor’s orders but confesses that she is doing a little more mileage than they recommended. She lives anew each day.  Hope is still fresh and alive in her.  If the strong pain comes back she will be mindful of its message.  She is not about hurting herself in any way.  Adversity is something one must battle for a life time.  Permanent injury is quite another.

It is so early and it is so late.  47 days ago she came here with a simple dream to finish.  It is the same one she has cherished for the past 13 years.  Now the future is not so obvious, yet if nothing else about what what will happen here over the next few weeks is obvious it is that she embodies fully the spirit and heartfelt essence of never giving up.

supFew if any of us have ever faced the ferocious challenge that is now in front of her.  How many of us would simply give into discomfort, comfortably knowing that we would still be safely judged as heroic for going so far.  It is quite another thing to fearlessly push through the clouds of adversity when the bright daylight on the other side cannot yet be seen.

In the future it just may well be writ that if ever one wanted to cite an example of one who did not give up, it just may well be Suprabha and what she did here at the 3100 mile race.

Picture by Bhashwar June 81

Picture by Bhashwar June 81






Do not give up!

He who gives up

Never reaches the Satisfaction-Shore.

Who knows?

Each attempt of yours may bring you

Many exceptionally heart-enlightening

Heaven-prosperities.


Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 87 by Sri Chinmoy.









Read the rest of this entry »

July 29 My Soul’s Wish

p and sup



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.




Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 224 by Sri Chinmoy.
.
.
.
.

sup and asOf course we got it all wrong. That is, we being all those who thought that somehow Suprabha would just surrender to her injury and limp away from her beloved 3100 mile race.  Of course we made the kind of mistake that mortals make when trying to comprehend the unfathomable mystery which is Suprabha and perhaps more largely, the race itself.  Of course she found a solution that allows her to snatch back another day, more laps, and even perhaps many more miles.

No one is saying she can once again reach the summit, but only she knows how far her heart and spirit will allow her to continue.  For now she has seen a doctor, had x-rays, been given some exercises to help, and found hope when for a while there seemed not to be any.  She tells me that her hip problem is being described as a unique connection between the ball of the hip, which is round, and the socket which is in her case a triangular shape.  She describes it as, “imagine putting a round peg into a square hole.”  One cannot really imagine these impossible things nor can we, any of us really know what she will do next.

She warmly greets Petr this morning who is just 18 miles from finishing.  He is in a rush to speed through the final laps and finish early.  He slows as she congratulates him and compliments him on his performance.  He tells her how glad he is to have her back.

by Bhashwar 1981

by Bhashwar 1981




Give up everything

If you have to.

But never give up

Your heart-beauty’s

God manifestation dream

On earth.







Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part141 by Sri Chinmoy.





Read the rest of this entry »

July 28 Hard Decisions

picture by Jowan

picture by Jowan

The late night air is thick and still.  Yet at the same time there is a steady drumbeat of anticipation building in the gathering crowd.  It is clear that  something wonderful is soon about to happen here on this little dimly lit sidewalk.

Picture your restless unbridled excitement as a child, moments before you received some new toy and this is what it is like at the scene of the 3100 mile race this evening.

a rewardIt is gone just past 10, and singers are gathering bits of music.  Others chat amicably while continuing to keep their eyes open for the runners who are relentlessly shuffling up to the pale illumination by the scoring tables, and then slowly disappear again off into the dark.  Everyone’s eyes are mostly looking for just one figure to come by, Asprihanal Aalto.  Each prancing appearance into the scoring table light means he is drawing ever tantalizingly closer to the magic number, 3100.

Then of course it happens.  Bells start to ring with jangling intensity.  Voices cry out hooray.  Dozens of hands hurl a blizzard of flower petals up into the air and within this whirl of joy the slight 38 year old Finnish runner arrives and at last crosses  the finish line.  The night disappears momentarily when dozens of camera flashes go off in a carnival-like explosion of brightness.  The gift everyone was waiting for has arrived.  It is simply the angelic smile of joy and satisfaction on the face of Asprihanal. Tonight he is a champion of this race but his inner victory is for everyone.

a and supSahishnu announces, “Ladies and gentleman 2009 3100 mile champion Asprihanal Aalto.  He finished in a time of 43 days, 16 hours, 28 minutes and 6 seconds.  That is the 5th fastest time in history.”  He mentions that if he had not had his sick day he would have been on track to break his personal best record.  “It is a remarkable achievement.”  Asprihanal finish

There is a moment when someone calls out, “what will you do tomorrow, go to the beach or play tennis?”  His answer, “When you run you don’t have to make these tough decisions.”

As joyous as Asprihanal’s finish is there is also a feeling of melancholy.  Suprabha’s hip pain has just been getting worse and she has decided to take off the evening and see what it feels like tomorrow morning.  This has never ever happened to Suprabha before, and all are wishing her well.

picture by Bhashwar June 81

picture by Bhashwar June 81





My dauntless determination

Is my final decision,

And that final decision itself

Is the most inspiring beginning

Of my God-realisation.





Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 46 by Sri Chinmoy.









Read the rest of this entry »

July 27 All Angelic

a7 cery goodWhen he arrived at the 3100 this morning Asprihanal was one very content and very satisfied runner. The fact that 63 long hot miles awaited him did not seem to faze him one whit.   In a just a few hours more, Asprihanal, the Flying Finn, will reach the end of his 3100 mile journey and will be able at last to fold in his gossamer wings and rest at last.  True he was never photographed soaring above the course but his feet most often seemed only to glance and lightly brush along the surface which most of the others had to stride relentlessly upon with hard and determined steps.

He made it look easy when it was not.  The great ones, no matter what the sport always make the most difficult thing look like child’s play.  If one can even come close to comprehend running 3100 miles you might picture hard warriors daily battling pain and fatigue.  Asprihanal  ran most often like a child enjoying continuous joyous ptranlay.  His late spiritual teacher said of him, “running for him is like us drinking a glass of water.”

The greatest of the Finnish runners Paavo Nurmi once said, “Mind is everything: muscle – pieces of rubber.  All that I am, I am because of my mind.”

as9Asprihanal has a much different perspective on his beloved sport.  For him the strength and endurance he exhibits comes from a far different reservoir of capacity.  It is one that can offer much more limitless stength and joy than the mind, which so often battles doubt as much as it savours determination.  For him it is his heart that has drawn him here for the 9th time.   It is only his heart that he truly obeys.  From it he finds the strength and capacity to endure.  And within it he will find his true reward, which comes not just when he crosses the line this evening, but also when he offered each step, each pain, and each glorious moment along the way.

To listen to one’s heart, the source of the most divine of inspiration is a victory in itself.  To act upon it, as Asprihanal does is to embody the teachings of his teacher in a profound and tangible way.  There is no trophy and glory for acting upon self-transcendence.  It is simply a victory of the heart and spirit.  It also inspires others who might not want to run 3100 miles but maybe they will be moved to go one step further in whatever endeavor their hearts have offered before them.

Once again he comes first, but when he glances over his shoulder at those who follow he will not see competitors.  He will see a unique running family cheering him on.   In turn, their oneness with him they also see their own victories in and through him.  And when the last of his fellows crosses the line he will see a final fulfilling satisfaction as well.  For only at that time will the race be truly over for them all.

picture by Bhaswar Mar 81

picture by Bhaswar Mar 81






Because of his angelic speed,

His heart enjoys

The beauty and purity

Of the higher worlds.


Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 94 by Sri Chinmoy.











Read the rest of this entry »

July 26 Days are Like Lifetimes

skyToday the dawn sky is breathtaking.  In more than 40 days of 6 am starts the sky has never been so beautiful as it is on this morning.  Because it is Sunday there is also a tranquility present that one cannot find on any other day.  Usually it is darker as well.  Somehow the combination of white cloud and humidity seems to accentuate the soft brightness in the sky.  It is such a powerful experience I wonder how many others are out at this moment  basking in its radiance.  By the time I make it to the race the pink glow has faded nearly away and the sky now is mostly gray.

petr bikeThe tired runners cycle to the start most likely oblivious to the magic moment, that had for a short while,  spread out in a vast enchanting panorama above them.  For some their journey is just a few short days away from being complete.  The inner world they inhabit much of the time however has vistas much more compelling than that which for a brief while played out across a New York sky.  They may not always see the beauty of the inner world they are traversing but it is there nonetheless.

Of course they are part and parcel of this world we all struggle sometimes to inhabit.  Within them however the journey of the Self-Transcendence runners is beyond our reckoning.  The laps we can count and log but they are traveling on a sacred journey that precious few can follow.  When they have completed their task in time they will seem as mortal as the rest of us.  For now though, as they are embraced by the bountiful spirit of Self Transcendence they are not like us at all.  And if we look closely we just might see their footsteps arching across a glorious inner sky.

picture by Shradhha September 1981

picture by Shradhha September 1981




I invoke the flaming dawn.

Someday, someday,

This life of clay,

This vital display

Surely shall die;

I shall own bliss-sky.

Excerpt from From The Source To The Source by Sri Chinmoy.







Read the rest of this entry »

July 25 Life is a Spiritual Experience

as and sup1For something that takes so long and is so hard, it is difficult to remember sometimes that precious moments can happen at the 3100 in an instant.

They can be so ephemeral, that your mind’s eye may not barely notice that something heart felt has taken place at all.   Yet a gift from the heart, which is freely offered, can be a treasure that not only lifts the spirit, but can also make each step a little lighter along the way.

The oneness of this little family here has only grown closer over the many miles and weeks.  When one runner experiences pain all will identify, in one way or another, with the others suffering.  When there is an abundance of joy in someones heart, than that all too can share in this and be enriched by it.

Here Suprabha is asking Asprihanal about his finish.  He is telling her approximately when it will take place on Monday.  She seems to be showing him all admiration for what he has done here in this his 9th race.  When she finishes he will be there for her as well.  Offering his pride and admiration to her who will have run 13.

ut3Utthal tells me that he has been coming daily and walking on the course of the 3100 for the past 5 days.  He says, “it inspires me.  It is definitely the place to be.”  When asked why he came out here now when the race has been on so long, he jokes, “I wanted to make sure they were serious, that they wouldn’t quit on me.”

ut4He tells me, “the runners really encourage me.  They ask me how many laps am I doing.  They keep right up on top of me.” Utthal will walk two laps this morning, not much compared to the runners but for him a real feat.  You can hear the laboured effort he puts into completing each step he takes.  Each day that he comes back here and repeats his 2 lap walk, will be another small victory on his life’s journey.  Many more could come and find their own sweet victory here in this place teeming with inspiration.  Utthal says, “life in its entirety is a spiritual experience.  I am in my heart most of the time, so I figure when you are in your heart life is a spiritual experience.”  Utthal interview

Picture by Bhashwar September 81

Picture by Bhashwar September 81






Once you enter into

The spiritual life,

You have to take each incident

In your life

As a God-given experience.


Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 16 by Sri Chinmoy.










Read the rest of this entry »

July 24 Coming Out of a Dream

pur2He walked into the Smile of the Beyond restaurant this afternoon and simply sat down like any other customer.  At first I was shocked just to see him in this much different world from the one that he had inhabited for the past 40 days, 18 hours a day.  It was not unexpected entirely, but still to see Purna-Samarpan there in a casual place where people ate vegi burgers, read newspapers, and generally watched the world go by he appeared at first to be out of place.

It seemed for me at least like a collision of worlds was taking place.  The world of  divine champions was now suddenly mixing with the mundane material world.

He looked happy and relaxed, and if I am in shock to see him, it is clear that he is far from being in tune with my world of blue walls and air conditioning.  He looks as though a large part of his being is still running around Thomas Edison High school pursuing the Everest of self transcendence.  He is sitting with a few friends and you can tell that this kind of unhurried casualness is something he has not had for a very long time.

pur4He says that in many ways just being there every morning for 40 days straight at 6am was a victory.  His back problem, that seems to involve a disc in his lower spine refuses to co-operate.  It creates pain and numbness and has made running impossible and even walking tedious and difficult.  By 9:30 this morning he knew it was time to say enough for this year.  He probably shouldn’t even have showed up at 6 and yet he did.  The alarm went off as usual and the inner call to come and stand once more on the line was just too strong to resist.

Pradhan will come again and lessen but not remove the pain.  It is a condition that promises no easy fix but with time and rest will sort itself out.  He tells me that he thinks his final mileage was 1885 miles.  It is a long way from 3100 but certainly many many more miles than the 305 miles which was the greatest distance he had previously run in a 6 day race.  His mood is light and he jokes that he has lost weight and gotten a tan over the past 40 days.  Then for a moment you can see his eyes drift back to where he was just a short while earlier.  He says, “It is like coming out of a dream.”

Picture by Shraddha April 1979

Picture by Shraddha April 1979

My Supreme Lord,

I shall not accept any defeat,

Not because my ego-life

Cannot accept defeat,

But because Your transcendental Will

Does not want me ever to accept defeat on earth.

It is Your Will that You are executing

In and through me,

Your dauntless instrument.


Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 59 by SriChinmoy.


Read the rest of this entry »

July 23 Ageathon

arp21As the clock gradually approaches midnight, the number of runners on the course rapidly begins to dwindle.  No one is allowed to run past that time and when all the runners finally leave, all the helpers and all the vehicles leave as well.  Quickly the course becomes quiet, dark, and still.  Last night, just as there has been for a number of years on July 23, the course is kept awake all night by the steps of a lone runner who does not sleep but pursues a simple promise made so very long ago.

Arpan has come to run tonight what he calls his ‘Ageathon.’ Today he turns 57 and so at around 12:16 he sets off on a personal odyssey.  He plans to run the same number of miles as the years he has been on earth.  Back in 1978, 31 years ago when he turned 26, it must have seemed like a pretty good idea.  He had already run a marathon and so why not make his birthday special by running another and dedicating it to Sri Chinmoy his spiritual teacher who had inspired him to run in the first place.  Running that first marathon was a great experience.   It also seemed like a relatively simple idea to continue with.  He says, “so I figured every year, just one more mile.  But as time goes by the ones add up.” Stating the obvious he adds, “it is getting a little more difficult.”

arpanHe has done this run in many other places over the past 31 years, and like the disciplined and dedicated runner that he is he has never failed to complete his ageathon.  For the past few years he has done it right here on this, the most auspicious of venues, the course of the 3100.  Often he has been on the road with the Harmony run and has performed his birthday runs in far off corners of America.  Doing it here of course is special.  The sidewalk here has felt the countless steps of Self-Transcendence runners add up by the millions over the past 13 years.  Even Arpan himself ran the 3100 here in 2004.

arpIf one looks at running 57 miles by itself, it pales in comparison to the action and deeds of those who inhabit and run upon the course during the rest of the day.  Yet Arpan’s commitment and dedication to running over more than 30 years is an achievement that few can equal or challenge.  Who knows how long he will be able to pursue a dream that is constantly expanding  and becoming increasingly more difficult with each additional year.

Tonight no one will see him as he loops around and around the course.  He will go from one dim pool of street light to the next.  Sleep will taunt him, his legs will feel heavy and weary but he will not stop.  He will look to be a solitary figure on a dark and lonely night but he is not.  In his heart he carries a bright inner promise he made once long ago to his Spiritual teacher.  He will continue on no matter what.  One day his legs may not be able to pursue this sacred promise but surely the inner runner within him will never tire.


Picture by Bhashwar December 1979

Picture by Bhashwar December 1979


AGE

Our earthly age offers Heaven a mounting cry.

Our Heavenly age offers earth a fulfilling smile.

Excerpt from I Need This Book by Sri Chinmoy.

Age need not bind you.

Age need not blind you.

Age should only help you

To see the real in you

As soon as possible.

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 194 by Sri Chinmoy.










Read the rest of this entry »

July 22 Run for Eternity

workers“What do we have to do to be in this race?  Mateo and Hector are two guys from the department of transport.   They are part of a large crew, who thundered up to the course this morning.  They are here to repave the road beside the Grand Central.  They have been here early preparing the street and moving into place a parade of large bulky machines.  They will be here most of the day but certainly not as long as any of the runners.

worker2When they hear how long the runners have been here on the course and how long their days are Mateo says with incredulity, “that’s 18 hours.  Wow.”  They tell me that they will come around to the other side and see the small camp area before they go home.  They have listened carefully as the runners have passed and I explain which countries they are all from.  At one point they tell me, “how come there are no Spanish runners?”  I tell them not yet but if they start to train they can be first.  It is clear they have been paying attention to both those moving past them on the sidewalk as well as the road they are about to make better.

By Shraddha April 79

By Shraddha April 79







When we take the golden opportunity

To run the fastest,

We see that spirituality

Is for Eternity.