August 3: My Soul Was Pleased

Early this morning a young runner got up and set off for a training run with a special lightness in their step and a sense of eager anticipation in their heart.  They left before the day became heavy from the sun”s heat.  They found cool satisfying steps that led down a familiar country lane, or beside the bright waters of the Black Sea, or maybe it was even on the still streets of Kiev, before the cars filled the city with their confusion and their haste.

Somewhere in the Ukraine or maybe even in the Russian Federation a young runner went out running knowing that by tonight something  significant would  at last be realized.  Something that would take place far away but still be able to uplift their own dreams.

For no matter how you look at it, Stutisheel, over 8 years has been a consistent and true  inspirer of distance runners throughout the region.  Tonight in what is most certainly an historic event, he will complete the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race for the 8th year.

They may have never met him, perhaps only read one of his books, or attended one of his talks.  They may have never even fully committed themselves to the spiritual life, or maybe never even run as far as a marathon.  Yet still they have somehow heard of his historic accomplishments and felt in themselves an unmistakable inner thrill.

We know this to be true because once upon a time a young runner from Berdansk, Ukraine, felt this same thing.  His name is Sarvagata.  In Vinnitsa, also a young runner named Igor was dreaming of the 3100.  Both thinking it was impossible,  not just to run 3100 miles, but also to spend such a lengthy time here in New York so far far away from home.

Yet in their admiration of Stutisheel they found that the impossible was possible.  That he was just the first of many who would follow in his steps and find their own places on the starting line.  Find that transcendence is not to be taken lightly but with absolute willingness, cheerfulness, and surrender to whatever the inner experience commands that you do.

Now one can follow Stutisheel’s whole experience this year on his blog or this one.  See pictures of all the highs and lows and everything in between.  For some it just may be so remote and impossible that they can only shake their heads with wonder.  But despite this there is some runner who is out training and preparing themselves even now.  Stutisheel’s magnificent accomplishment shines like a distant star in the sky for them.  Yet each step they take draws them ever closer, so that one day they too might shine as bright as he.

We don’t really know what it has been like to have been here for these past 8 summers.  Each one adding something more to his inner life and to that of his family as well.  None of us has a shopping list to pick and choose what experiences we want to have in our lives.

It all looks so mundane and ordinary when you see him sit here like that.  Yet in a few hours more he will complete his 7th race.  Daughter Alakananda a huge part of this epic journey.

Start

Day 53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning the reality has not yet quite sunk in.  For Stutisheel just 56 miles remain.  Soon the race will be over and yet there is still a lot of experiencing of life to be enjoyed throughout the long day ahead.

He says that for the past week he has been doing his absolute maximum.  “I need a little more time to wake up, to feel something.”(laughter)

“A few days ago I asked the Supreme to help me get out of my mind.  I see that my mind has been indulging in negativity, and I suffer from this very much.” He says he prayed that he be relieved of this burden until the end of the race.  He laughs and says that in this he was successful, “no mind.”

“Somehow after Independence day (July 4), my speed declined.”  He says that for sometime he has been suffering from shin splints.  “It is a strange pain and I cannot do anything with it.  No previous experience helped me.”  He says it was Ashprihanal who actually understood what his problem was.  “Still nothing can cure it.” He has had it continually for the past 32 days. The other new problem is a sciatic nerve problem.  “But I am living with them happily and they are living with me happily also and don’t want to leave.”

“Now it is clear, that I am doing all that I can here.  I am quite happy.  I was not a slave to inertia, or weakness.  I was doing what I can do and my soul was pleased.  We have this saying, the body is dying but the soul is flying.  I felt it many times during this race.”  He says that he also heard this summer that Sri Chinmoy once predicted that no one would ever receive a permanent injury participating in one of these races.  “I found that so inspiring.”  He illustrates this by saying he was so able to recover from his leg problem last year that he could come back here again this year and once again complete the race.

“Quite often during this race I was comparing myself to the fellow who came here the first several years.  Back then, I would say I was a guy with abundant energy.  I used to really hold myself the first half of the race.  Don’t burn out.  Keep it for the second half.  Now many say that I am a wise man.  I am even.  Not sprinting anymore.  I just love the speed but I can’t.”

Click to play part one

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He describes some of his experiences with the Doctors who came here and tried their absolute best to help and cure all his ills.  They always try their best but ultimately the hand of fate will ultimately decide which pain to relieve or injury to cure.  “Still I am happy.”

While we are running we pass the Enthusiasm Awakeners who know that this is his last day and they come forward to give him a special cheer.  Also, a local morning exerciser. who comes by every day to power walk across the street, comes across to congratulate him.

Stutisheel also has many fond and vivid memories of Sri Chinmoy who he saw here at the race many times.  “When Ashprihanal finished this year.  I felt Sri Chinmoy’s presence vividly.  I was literally crying.”   He said he could envision his late teacher sitting at the finish line enjoying the finish.  Which for Ashprihanal as well are the brightest moments of his life as well.

“It was I believe 2006.  When like this year I was slow, but even slower, and it was a much hotter year than this one.  So by the end of the race I was not within the limit of 51 days, and it was so hard.  Constant heat, and I was walking, like dead.”  He had already completed 3000 miles but was in a tough way.  “It was really hard for me.”  At that moment Sri Chinmoy was at the course offering prasad to the runners.  Because the time limit had passed he was almost certain that Sri Chinmoy would suggest that he stop.  Instead he said, “Only 100 miles to go.”

He recalls a previous year when many of the other runners had finished and he was still on the course and struggling.  Sri Chinmoy at that time was there celebrating a runners finish and also taking the opportunity to ask who would come back and run the following.  He asked each in turn and eventually all agreed to come back.  Stutisheel says he had a lap to think it over.  Should he or shouldn’t he come again.  When he circled back around again he heard his teacher call out.

“Heh Stutisheel, will you run next year? Yes, if you want me too.  I want more people to run the 3100.  I could not resist his affection and concern.  I smiled spontaneously from within, and I said yes, and he was smiling so brightly.”

“I really adore the spirit of self transcendence, and when you do everything that you can, then the Supreme does the rest.  That Changes me.” As for a next year, he says, “everything is possible.”

Click to play part two

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“I think it is more sad than happy.”  Alakananda has been up most of the night working on her slide show and yet wants to be here and help her Dad on his last day.  “The last day is always a little bit sad.  You know, it is over for the year.  But now that we know that it is over for possibly for ever, it is a little more sad.  I guess that is life.  I feel there is always the next step.  You cannot always do the same thing for your whole life, and be happy.  Because there might be some other plans for you.  You have to be prepared that you have to go somewhere else farther, the next step.”

The tough experiences are always very tough of course.  But there is not enough love in this world, so those experiences actually make me feel that consciously.  That is pretty amazing.  I don’t think I have had that before, this is the first year.”

“All the runners are contributing to the general consciousness of the race which is my home.”

 

Click to play interview

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There never seems quite enough room to include all the wonderful people who help out or simply come by to inspire the runners.  Felix is a massage therapist who has helped a lot here.  He says, “there is a tangible vibration here that you will feel.” Mercedes and her dogs.

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Poem of the Day

Recited by Kodanda

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Enthusiasm Awakeners

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“Finishing in 6th place, in a time of 52 days 16 hours, 19 minutes, and 18 seconds, it is not his fastest but he is still ranked 17th all time out of 31, averaging 58.49 miles per day.

He is the champion of champions.  7 finishes in 8 attempts extraordinary.  I don’t know how many times around this course.  Thousands and thousands of laps.  Self giving laps, thinking about higher realities.  He has 7 peaks that he has reached, the Everest of ultra distance running.” Sahishnu

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If you forget to dream
Of higher realities,
The higher realities
Will never be manifested.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 22, Agni Press, 2001.

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