July 21 Determination

vlady***Vlady awoke this morning to the sound of falling rain.  Today is his 38th birthday and there are many who might be be disappointed to spend their birthday splashing around all day outdoors.  He has however not a harsh word for the weather.  Instead he calls it compassion rain.  His focus is only on what he has to do today, and for those now rapidly decreasing number of days left in front of him, in order to complete 3100miles.  He tells me that 2 years ago he was also running on his birthday at a 24 hour race.  He starts this special day with a little more than 700 miles left to go.

vlady cakeThere is really no place else he would rather be.  Of his experience being here he says, “I am really proud of it.” His fellow runners are also proud of him.  Not just because of his superb performance here but as well because he has seemed to embrace the 3100 mile race experience with every fiber of his being and with all the glowing devotion of his heart.




vlady13








Picture by Shraddha April 79

Picture by Shraddha April 79







BIRTHDAY OBSERVANCE

Heaven’s birthday I observe on earth,

Inside my silence-soul.

Earth’s birthday I observe in Heaven,

Inside my vision-goal.

Heaven is one year younger than my beauty;

Earth is one year younger than my duty.



Excerpt from Europe-Blossoms by Sri Chinmoy.

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July 20 Protected and Guided

neil armstron40 years ago today history tells us that the first man walked upon the surface of the moon.  Neil Armstrong, who was 38 at the time said, as he stepped down from the space craft, “this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

petr and pinkHistory may not make much note of Petr’s 32nd birthday today but his running friends surely made it extra special for him this morning.  For 3 years this young man from the Czech republic  has had his birthday right here in Queens. The celebrating is kept to a minimum but there is still time to appreciate a runner who as of last night has completed a lot more than one small step.  Over the last 36 days he has run 2452 miles and has so far run 181 more miles than he did at this same time last year.

start2There are lots of unfathomable mysteries when one tries to study  the frontiers of science and technology.  There are mysteries at the 3100 too but they mostly involve the infinite capacities of the heart and not the mind.

This morning on his table when he arrives Petr will find a new shirt and a pink ball.  He says, “I really appreciate simple things.  Somebody knew that I like the color pink, and from this pink ball I got tremendous joy this morning.”

Photo by Bhashwar July 81

Photo by Bhashwar July 81




My birthday song:

I plan to soar,

I plan to roar.

The bird in me

Will teach me how to soar.

The lion in me

Will teach me how to roar.

I plan to love,

Below, above.

The lover in me will teach me

How to love

Within,

Without,

Below, above.


Excerpt from Transcendence-Perfection by Sri Chinmoy.




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July 19 The Quest for Immortality

flux factor introThey spilled out of the bus on the Grand Central Service road.  They saw a sign for the off ramp of the Utopia parkway but knew they were not anywhere near paradise.  It was quite clear that the bus that had picked them up in lower Manhattan had now taken the group only as far as an inconspicuous Queens neighborhood.  The group was taking part in a ‘Flux Factory Mystery Bus tour,”  and only the guides,   Jason Eppink and Matt Green had any idea what was happening on this block in which the same dozen runners kept passing them by.  The only thing the group knew for sure was that the subject of the tour was, ‘The Quest for Immortality.”

flux group introThe group has been told to stay out of the way of the runners as they kept going round and round past them.  They were respectful but it was clear none could understand what was happening here.  I ask one girl what she thought was happening and she replies, “are they training for a marathon?”  Another, who says he is an artist in residence, tells me he has no idea what is happening, but says, “it is an adventure, a great adventure.”  The tour group moves in the opposite direction of the runners and eventually they walk into the open area in front of Thomas Edison High school.  Matt reads from an article on the race that was published several years ago in Harpers magazine.

flux factor1Matt then tells them that since the race started in June no matter what any of them  have done the runners have only been just here running around this course.  No matter the weather, no matter any other circumstance, they have been living their lives here around this block, in which the Flux Factor group have only just meandered around about half of.  He suggests that they try and walk around the full block themselves and picture what it might be like to see it thousands and thousands of times.  He says, “try and get inside the head of the runners and think what it might be like for them.  How intimately they would become acquainted with this block.” Matt Green talk

I speak with Matt as his mystery tour group starts to investigate more of the course.  He doesn’t remember when he first heard about the 3100 but says that when he read the article in Harpers, “I was floored when I read it. I couldn’t believe this was humanly possible to do.”  This is for Jason and himself the first stop on their first tour.

rupantar and flux2When they get to the counting area Rupantar starts to tell them more.  He describes self-transcendence as being eternal.   That what you achieve today simply becomes the starting point for tomorrow’s next challenge.  “There is no end to it. You have to draw upon all your capacity and use it during the race.  Everything is accelerated here.  It is like the Everest of running.”Rupantar talking

flux and runnersEventually some, but not all, will take a slow and leisurely circuit of the loop.  I ask one mystery tour person when they return, what their experience has been like so far. It immediately becomes clear that they are still enmeshed in a cloud of incredulity.  They had noticed the flowers and bits of garbage more than they had noticed the runners.  They saw tidy homes and signs on the parkway that led to other places but had not read any message on the faces of those that passed.  The quest for immortality of course takes more than just one life and more than one loop of a block in Queens.

Picture by Shraddha April 79

Picture by Shraddha April 79

Oneness, oneness, oneness! Oneness with the temptation-life I do not want, precisely because temptation is frustration. Oneness with the earth-bound life I do not want; for earth-bound life is nothing short of limitation. Oneness with the Heaven-free life I want, for the Heaven-free life is Eternity’s Peace, Infinity’s Bliss and Immortality’s Life.


Excerpt from The Vision-Sky Of California by Sri Chinmoy.


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July 18 A Bigger Part Behind It

supTomorrow evening when Suprabha retires for the day she will have completed more than 2000 miles.  It is almost impossible to fully understand the miracle of this 53 year old woman from DC and what she has done here and what she seems to be able to continue to do.  Not only is she 14 years older than any other runner here, she is, and has been since the beginning, the only woman to do the 3100 mile race.

A few days ago I saw her running with Agnikana, a young woman from the Czech Republic who is a very talented runner in her own right.  She tells me, “I count Suprabha as my hero.  I think she is on a different level of runners.”

Agnikana is very fast over 2 miles and is in awe of what Suprabha does here.  She says, “I could never do what she does.  I admire her like anything, but you have to be somewhere else to do this thing.  It is not in the legs.  Of course it is sup agni 3about running but you need here something more than running.  Running is just one part, but I think there is a bigger part behind it.”

She adds, “what I admire about Suprabha is that she is surrendered to everything.  If it is raining, it is great that it is raining.   If it is sunny, it is great that it is sunny.  She is positive about everything.  This is something I really love about her.”



photo by Bhashwar December 1979

photo by Bhashwar December 1979

Do not run with the mind. Even if today you fool the mind, tomorrow the mind will come back with redoubled trickeries to make your life miserable. You should say to the mind, “You stay with your trickeries. I want to play with my heart-toy, not with you. You consider your toys as beautiful, but I don’t agree. In those days I was a fool; I enjoyed you. But now I am wise. I want to enjoy my heart-toy. The heart-toy always brings me happiness and newness, newness and happiness.”

When you run, if you can make yourself feel that inside your heart Somebody is running or your heart is running or you are running with your heart, then tiredness disappears, the power of distance disappears. Only the power of oneness, oneness, oneness with God’s Will appears.

Excerpt from Run And Smile, Smile And Run by Sri Chinmoy.


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July 17 More Than a Mere Spectator

spectatorsThere is another endurance sport going on now that regularly captures a world wide audience of millions.  There are 20 teams of 9 members each in the Tour de France this year and since 1903 millions have lined the scenic highways of France to watch. (photo courtesy of Zehnfinger)

Most seem to like the vantage of viewing the race on the steep uphills so that they can observe the riders for just a fraction of a second more, as they make their often painful ascent up a mountain pass.  Scott Martin wrote,”To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain…at cycling’s core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach.  It doesn’t matter if your’re sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with home made brownies.  If you never confront pain you are missing the essence of the sport.  Without pain there is no adversity.  Without adversity, no challenge.  Without challenge, no improvement.  No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy.”

Professional bike racing is of course nothing like the 3100 mile race.  The 12 who run here will never receive a yellow jersey, a large endorsement check, or outer acclaim of any kind.  They will have pain, they will have adversity, and they will have a joy experience that will resonate within themselves and in their lives for lifetimes to come.  All who strive for self-transcendence at first believe it is all their own effort that allows them to proceed.  Ultimately they realize that the doer is not themselves at all.  It is only with their heart’s surrender that they will succeed.

tirtha1Tirtha is here this morning after arriving in New York last night from Germany.  She says, “I had to come out.”  When she arrived last night she says, “I just dropped my bags and came.”  She has come for the weekend just to be part of the race first hand.  She is now an experienced multi day runner herself and knows something about what it is like to be out running for days and days.  She also knows that the 3100 is a much different experience than the 10 day race she has now run twice.

She often used to be in New York at Fathers day and so on many occasions was here when the race had just started.   She points to a spot on the sidewalk where she says she used to stand.



photo by Pulak

photo by Pulak


God definitely wants you

To be more than a mere spectator.

He wants you to take part

In His Cosmic Drama.

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 152 by Sri Chinmoy.


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July 16 Try to Value Everything

ananIt is never a good idea to be complacent.  There is no upside to it really unless you enjoy being surprised and shocked and perhaps even worse, find yourself wandering down familiar dark corridors.  The 3100 mile race has a way of inspiring and refreshing you sometimes that you never dreamed was possible.  All the runners have turned the corner well past the half way point and for most it is just now a final 1000 mile sprint for home.  I was talking with Ananda-Lahari this morning and he was telling me about an experience he had with Dr.Pradhan just the day before.

He was testing his muscles when at one point he says to him that he has anan12detected that he does not have enough gratitude.  When I heard Ananda-Lahari say this my mouth just dropped.  It is one of those little jewels of wisdom that carries profound weight and is also one, that not just 3100 mile runners need to have in their hearts and lives.

He tells me that when he heard it his reaction was, “this is really cool.  It was kind of shocking in the first moment.  You don’t expect from a Doctor that he is going to speak about that.”  He realized with that diagnosis that he had not been working on that quality enough and the prescription will in the end, profoundly change his day and perhaps even the rest of his race.


Picture by Bhashwar Dec 1979



The outer running is a burning desire to achieve everything that we see here on earth. The inner running is a climbing aspiration to receive from Above a vast compassion-sky and to give from below a tiny gratitude-flame.

The outer running is an extraordinary success on the mountain-summit. The inner running is an exemplary progress along Eternity’s sunlit Road. Success is the ready and immediate acceptance of the challenges from difficulties untold. Progress is the soulful and grateful acceptance of the blessingful joy from prosperities unfathomed.

Excerpt from The Outer Running And The Inner Running by Sri Chinmoy.

Picture by Bhashwar December 1979








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July 15 How to Look Beyond

Diganta AdhikariFor several weeks we have been playing a little game between the two of us.  He has been counting down the days until the new Harry Potter movie was to come out.  He tells me the number of days to go and I say simply, We will go at midnight when you are finished.  This morning he greets me with a very enthusiastic, “Today.”  My answer, “let’s go now.”

The Half Blood Prince will be the 6th movie in the saga of Harry Potter and his magical friends at Hogwarts school of magic.  For Diganta Adhikari this will be his fourth installment of the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.  He is a big Harry Potter fan but most certainly he will not be going to the movie tonight or any time soon.  There is the little matter of completing 1,213 more miles.

He has been listening to all 7 of the Harry Potter books on his MP3 player over the last 2 years and is no longer certain if he has heard them all 2 or 3 times.  It is also not clear how much he really listens to the books as he runs or instead just lets the words flow through his mind to help keep his thoughts calm.  The very real journey he is taking with his physical is so difficult there can be no fault in finding some momentary simple pleasure in a world of innocent fantasy.

harry potter
Image from Wikipedia
If perchance he might lose track of reality then some of the words spoken by the Master of the Hogwarts school can from time to time bring his world back into perspective.  Dumbledore once said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”  Diganta of course is living his life very large at the moment.  He is 93 miles ahead of last years pace.  Dumbledore also said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart also be.”  To see him run here this morning on a day when millions are clamoring to go to the movies and he is instead really only thinking of putting one foot in front of the other.  When you see how lightly and patiently he runs each new lap it is clear that here at the 3100 it is unmistakable where his treasure and his heart both can be found.  They are in each new step he makes along the way.

Picture by Bhashwar 1980

Picture by Bhashwar 1980



YOUR IMMORTALITY’S TREASURE

Indeed,

Your flaming heart

Is your life’s triumphant crown.

Indeed,

Your illumining soul

Is your divinity’s soaring height.

Indeed,

Your serving life

Is your immortality’s diamond treasure.


Excerpt from Europe-Blossoms by Sri Chinmoy.











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July 14 America the Beautiful

push good flagThe day begins with the course bathed with soft golden light.   The air is sweet, light and cool, in other words it is a perfect day for running long and far.   Shortly after the race starts I will spend time with Push tookar who is running here for his second year.  At one point he will recount what it was like 10 days earlier when America was celebrating its Independence day on July 4th.  He will admit that in the beginning of his trips to the U.S, that he had very little understanding or real appreciation of America, which is so much more different than the tranquil ordered world of his home in Switzerland.

diganta longThere is only one American running the race and that is Suprabha.  All of the 11 others come from distant places across Europe and also Australia.  Pushkar will tell me of a special moment when he came to feel in his heart a real appreciation for America that had taken a long time to develop.  For these runners who have traveled so far the only glimpse of America that they are able to have or even have time to appreciate is this hard half mile block in Queens.  They do not get to see the purple mountains majesty, the fruited plains, or the amber waves of grain.  For almost two months this is their world, and other than a microscopic commute to and from from the course, they see nothing else of this vast country.

There is a daily flood of cars sweeping to and fro nearby and many come to the nearby fields for sports, and school, and all kinds of other recreation.  None of these runners could be enticed from this block no matter how grand and scenic the vistas they might be offered.  Some individuals might claim that there are countless better locations for the race to take place but still it happens here.   The truth is probably that it could not ever take place in any other location because in some mysterious way this is the home of the 3100 and there can be no other.  Sri Chinmoy created it and placed it here and here it shall remain.

stut goodIn the early 19th century there was a visitor to America named Alexis de Tocqueville.  He came at a time when there was no motel 6, JFK airport, or really very many visitors of any kind at all.  He was considered a great observer of the young nation and wrote two significant books on the American experience.  He would say of America many deep and insightful things.  “America is great because she is good.”   He also wrote, “Life is to be entered upon with courage.”  If there are more courageous individuals than those who run here I do not know who they might be.

There is a unique and deep inner experience that is to be found here.  The runners all have their roots so far away and yet for a short but significant part of their lives they live it here on four inter-twined American streets. Their hearts may be traversing the inner worlds but their feet are not.  Sri Chinmoy once wrote:

SCAN0054Hope discovered America.

America has discovered promise.

Promise will discover Fulfilment supreme

In Perfection divine.

Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 5 by Sri Chinmoy.








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July 13 The Best of Times

birdCharles Dickens once wrote in his story, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way -“

There are moments at the 3100 when if you examine what is taking place here from a purely mental point of view you will never ever comprehend the significance of the events taking place on this little block and in the lives of those who have come here to run.

Yesterday Asprihanal had his worst day in 9 years and perhaps set a new all time low for race mileage when he ran just 14 miles for the day.  He was sick with numerous complaints and had to eventually leave the course and see a Doctor.  Today he has returned, and though weak, he has decided to forge ahead.  All are sympathetic to his situation but know that much bigger forces are at play when it comes to the runners and all the myriad of experiences they must endure.  No matter how close we watch we cannot ever understand.  We can however realize that what takes place here is incredibly significant in the lives of those who have taken it upon themselves to do it.  They endure and push on when most might think it is impossible.  Our thoughts can not go very far.  Only our hearts can ever hope to trace briefly their steps and journey where we have never been before.

moonEarly this morning a runner asked me to take a picture of the moon.  I take pride at trying to see and take in as much as possible when I am here but I had failed to notice it.  When I looked up I was surprised.  It is not often one can enjoy the moon when the sun shines so bright.

Look up and appreciate

The purity and divinity

Of the moon

And then fly beyond the moon

With your aspiration-cry.

Do not hesitate!

Excerpt from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 91 by Sri Chinmoy.

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July 12 How Could I Have Come So Far

everestThere are some great adventure challenges in this world that everyone can appreciate.  There is probably no corner of the globe in which the climbing of Mt.Everest is not still recognized as one of the greatest of human achievements.  It is has been 56 years since it was first climbed and yet the list is long of those who still want to do it. Courtesy of féileacán

malloryIn describing why he wanted to climb it George Leigh Mallory said, “If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go.  What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy.  And joy is after all, the end of life.  We do not live to eat and make money.  We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life.  That is what life means and what life is for.”  photo courtesy of 06eng

Mallory of course will attempt to climb Everest on 3 occasions, and on his 3rd attempt in 1924 he will disappear on his final push to reach the summit.  There is no life and death struggle going on for the 12 runners of the 3100 mile race.  They will not make headlines or receive glories to complete the event no matter how many times they run.  They run simply for the inner joy of doing it.  Sri Chinmoy once said of the race,

Photo by Pulak

Photo by Pulak

“Never think of sixty miles or 3,100 miles. Never take the distance in that way—never! Only run for the joy of it. When you run for the joy, even while you are running, sometimes you are thinking of me or of something very divine and sweet. Then by the time you would have normally come to nineteen miles, you will have covered twenty-three miles. You will ask, “How did I run so fast?” It is because your heart was enjoying some divinity when you were thinking of me or thinking of your soul. When the heart starts operating in and through the legs or the body, then the distance will always become much more. Otherwise, you will run five miles and then give up. When the heart runs, you will have already run twenty miles, and then you will say, “How could I have come so far?” The answer is because at that time you were in another world. The divinity of that other world was constantly helping you and supporting you.”

Excerpt from Run And Smile, Smile And Run by Sri Chinmoy.

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