June 30: Get Inspired

There are many things in our lives that we are fond of or attached to but probably really do not ultimately give us much joy or any sense of an inner thrill.  We often try and erect safe fences at the outer boundaries of our mental perception of the world around us and then carefully try and monitor and judge what if any new thing we will allow into our life. As for truly offering ourselves, we mentally negotiate little contracts with the not so subtle stipulation that we need to get back at least as much as we are willing to give.  All this creates a safe predictable life but one that will never extend our experience beyond the boring and limited confines of the material world.

Here at the 3100 quite a different experience is offered to any and all who accept its open invitation to be part of it in any way.  There are moments when it is possible to see the race as some vast Niagara of unconditional surrender.  12 runners have made a Supreme leap of faith 2 weeks ago into an unfathomable transcendence experience.  One that their hearts and beings did not even try and bargain for anything in return.

On the inner plane an eventual outcome may already be realized but it is still weeks and miles away from being revealed.  For now however real achievement is not so much based on how many miles they have accumulated but how much they each selflessly and willingly give of  themselves.   The real reward is each precious moment that they unfasten themselves from limitation and fix their gaze on the limitless now.  Remember who they are within and where their journey ultimately leads to.

Photo by Jowan 2007

He is intellectual. What does it mean? It means that the weight of his head far surpasses the weight of the rest of his body.

You are spiritual. What does it mean? It means that the weight of your heart far surpasses the weight of the rest of your body.

There is a striking difference between his head and your heart. His head quite often does not love his body. His head belittles the body’s capacity and the needs of the physical. But you have a different story to tell.

Your heart loves your body. Your heart inspires your body to love God. From its own personal experiences your heart tells your body that there is only one way to be happy and fulfilled and that is to love God and serve God in every way.

 

Sri Chinmoy, Earth-Bound Journey And Heaven-Bound Journey, Agni Press, 1975.

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June 29: Frutiful Opportunity

Any time in the past few weeks that I have felt tired, or sore, or simply just draped myself with a large heavy coat of self pity I have had to stop and give myself a sharp wake up call.  For no matter how bad things might seem to be for me there are 12 runners here who could at any moment look at my inconsequential suffering and gladly exchange it with theirs as quickly as changing shoes.  For the measure of any of my suffering in this time, if it were examined more closely, would be like trying to gather dust blowing on a breeze.  For how bad really are most of our self declared failures or disappointments.  Is it not we who bring upon most of our life tragedies by simply releasing the tiller of our life boat and then finding ourself unsurprisingly sailing into a rocky cove of indulgence or ignorance.

If you can imagine, even for a moment the burden that each has to bear and just how any of us might weather the ordeal if it was us in their places.  If it was we whose lives where by now so intimately embedded into the fabric of this block that we became a permanent fixture here.  Mobile of course but never ever straying very far these past very long and full 2 weeks.  The irony as well, that even though we had covered more than 700 miles in that endless time,  the finish line is still so far away that it is not even yet a glimmer in the darkness.

Sometime yesterday Arpan slowly and gradually renewed an old acquaintance with shin splints.   Each of the past 7 days he had gradually increased his mileage.  His enthusiasm and energy level yesterday was sky high and he was the cheerful Arpan that most people know.  He is still cheerful today but his body certainly is not.  I will not repeat what he is saying in the above picture as Pedro tries to massage his shins.  Select some appropriate colorful descriptive language that you still would repeat in front of your Mother and you would no doubt be not far off.

On a personal level you cannot help but be sympathetic and a little miserable when a friend is suffering like this.  He, like all the runners are attempting something monumental and significant.  There is no fine print in the contract of our lives that we can choose to disagree with or make exchanges with our personal experiences.  Select from an exclusive menu in which every moment will be full of delicious peace and bliss.  In 2004 he rode this same rough patch for 9 days and then ultimately broke free of his pain and reached his goal.  Knowing Arpan, even though the finish line his still far away, the chances of him surrendering to his pain are much further.

 

Sri Chinmoy 47 mile race 1980…photo by Shradha

We can think of ourselves as two halves: imperfection is one half, and our sincere cry for perfection is the other half.

One side is weakness, and the other side is strength. With our inner cry for perfection, let us run towards our destination and reach the illumination-shore.

When our being is fully illumined, then dark, ignorant forces are afraid to come near us. Before we reach the destination, they challenge us.

But once we reach the illumination-destination, the ignorant forces do not dare enter into us because they feel that they will be totally destroyed.

They do not know that they will only be transformed and illumined.

 Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974.

 

The body’s painful experience is the soul’s fruitful opportunity.

Sri Chinmoy, To-Morrow’s Dawn, Agni Press, 1982.

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June 28: Happiness Beyond That

We are now almost about to crest into the apex of summer.  It is the classic time in which there is a convergence of all kinds of world class sporting events, which are going on now or are soon about to.   From my vantage point behind the counter of a certain food establishment I daily hear endless comments from passionate sport fans about their favorite teams or individual athletes.  Speculation and predictions ramp up to stratospheric levels as the events imminently approach.  Later after the competition is over there is either tears or cheering and always a detailed analysis about what went right and or what went wrong.

Not all of us love or identify with every sport but in general, top level athletic competition of any sort has a way of connecting with us on one level or another.  We intrinsically realize that we can never become smarter, or prettier than we already are.  Yet  deep inside the tantalizing but illusive possibility always exists, that if we try even just a little bit we can always raise up our fitness and athletic ability. That this tiny improvement in our physical body will also in many ways uplift our own life experience and our perception of ourselves.

The Self Transcendence 3100 mile race however will never and can never be broken down into hard digestible bits.

There are no winners and losers and for those who get real inspiration from what is happening here it has little or nothing to do with the plastic numbers tallied up in a neat row beside each name.

So precious few have the capacity to even take part here and yet its blazing inspirational value can brighten  the lives of countless people.  And not just those who dash over to the course for a few minutes now and then and happen to live in Queens NY.

Many as well around the world feel their hearts respond in a deep and uplifting way whenever their thoughts turn even momentarily to what is taking place here.

It happens because Sri Chinmoy created this event not jut to challenge a handful of gifted runner athletes by setting an almost impossible goal but also to inspire all of humanity with the eternal message of self transcendence.

One that all of us must eventually listen to no matter how deaf or tired we think we might be today.  For within, we are all one with all those who run here.  We are not gifted with its pain or its glory, but how can we for long resist  the immortal goal that they are reaching and rising up to become.  One that calls not just to them alone but to each and all of crying and struggling humanity.

We are all seekers who wish to transcend our present realities.

Why do we want to transcend? We want to transcend because the life of ignorance, bondage, imperfection and death cannot satisfy us.

We want to achieve something. We want to grow into something which is eternal; we want to grow into the very image of Immortality.

 Right in front of us there are two worlds: the world of desire and the world of aspiration.

When our life belongs to the desire-world, we feel that satisfaction is always a far cry.

When our life belongs to the aspiration-world, we feel that satisfaction is our birthright. The life of desire is a life of self-chosen bondage.

The life of aspiration is a life of God-chosen transcendence.

 

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 3, Agni Press, 1974.

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June 27: The Impossible Is Possible

For 18 hours a day the lives of the 12 runners here are intertwined in an intricate blend of poise and pain and of sky high dreams and grinding despair.  For 10 days straight they have never been further from each other than the unyielding dimensions of this unforgiving New York city block.  Yet at other moments despite even the scuffing proximity of another runner’s foot steps filling their ears right beside them, they could not be more alone.

Sometimes feeling so vulnerable and helpless that it is almost as though they are cast adrift in a limitless sea.  One in which they themselves courageously and willingly immersed themselves.   Setting off from one safe comfortable shore 10 long days ago and now their goal still remains so far off that it seems to be way beyond the mightiest cast of their loftiest imagination.

The smiling faces of helpers weave in and out of the fabric of the day in a unscripted choreography of generous service and sublime intentions.  Even the most well meaning and sympathetic presence however will soon eventually slip away as the day grows stifling or the heavy shadows of night tumbles down about them.

The runners here of course may feel for a time that they are alone but still they can never ever be separated from the mountain task poised threateningly and immobile in front of them.  So daunting to reach that at times even their precious allies hope and determination scatter timidly to the sidelines replaced instead by doubt and fatigue as they try to steal their places in their hearts.

Grahak on the phone with Canberra friends

Grahak’s friends back home in Australia have been keenly following his progress here.  The yawning gulf that separates him physically from home is not so great that emails and faxes cannot be dashed off and in his hand almost instantly.  There is a large group that really cares for him just as there are others following all the runners from Bulgaria, Switzerland, and all the other countries represented here.  Dear ones trying to bridge the yawning physical chasm between them.  Reaching out and sending love, hope, and prayers that are greatly appreciated and will always find an inviting reception in the hearts of those running here who need it most.

Grahak was really looking forward to a phone call from Australia this morning.  He had received a text message that one was imminent.  His helper Satyakarma sorted out all the logistics.  He has been running hard the past 10 days and is even on pace to do a personal best and by doing so would set a new Australian record.

 

Alone he stood
Above all storms of life.

He stood alone
To challenge pain and strife.

Alone he stood
To feed a blooming race.

He stood alone
To change earth’s tearful face.

 

Sri Chinmoy, Kennedy: The Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1973.

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June 26: My Choice

How often is it that we feel that we have so many countless possible choices popping up all around us and then we fail to select any one of them and thus are unable to begin anything new in our lives.  The decision of any of the 12 runners to come or not to come here has to be categorized as one of the most fundamental and difficult ones that any person might have to decide in their lives.  Not coming means a summer safely removed from intense  physical suffering but also one in which true inner satisfaction and self fulfillment  is almost entirely eliminated as well.

Time and again when asked, each and every runner here usually feels that eventually there was no conceivable other option than to come here and run.  Almost as though the decision had already been made long ago.  Coming ultimately from a place deep within in which the mind is deaf to, but the heart has an intimate connection with and hears, and then tries to respond and act upon each and every soulful request.

When we allow ourselves to be caught up and enmeshed in all the world’s usual whims and wants than by default we scarcely have any real choices either.  Mainly it becomes only which temptation to give into.  To succumb to this fate  though is an almost virtual commitment to ignorance and allowing ourselves to be imprisoned by our own foolish desires.

It may not seem easy to move from darkness into light and yet if we believe and accept the simple truth that it is from light that we have come into existence.  Than it is into light that we must once again return and become one with our source.  It is only then that our journey’s victory may eternally and triumphantly be declared.

 

My success-choice
Has made my life
Miserable.

My progress-choice
Will make my heart
Always laudable.

Sri Chinmoy, My Bondage-Life Is My Self-Invention, Agni Press, 1993.

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June 25: A Finish Line Ahead

Yesterday the Self Transcendence race found itself with a brand new leader.  After 8 days of running Grahak  went home last night with 2 more miles posted on the board than Vasu, who is still recovering from a very bad blister.  Both runners have completed more than 500 miles.  For the rest of the sporting universe  and ultra runners in particular this is certainly an almost unbelievably daunting distance to be covered by foot power alone in so short a time.  Yet when you try and imagine just how much longer they will still have to stay out here and how much further they have yet to go, what has happened here thus far, is all no more than the gossamer flutter of a butterfly’s wing.

For most fans of competitive sport  the 100 meters is a race that is eye blink quick and seems to explode in front of us in a quick and powerful  blur of striding legs and pumping arms.  Yet yesterday the world saw something it has never witnessed before at least not here in America any way, when in the Olympic qualifying event, 2 girls finished in a dead heat for 3rd place with the same exact time of 11.068 seconds.  Even a camera shooting 3,000 frames a second could not determine who had reached the line before the other.

The USTAF officials puzzled over what to do for some time.  Even with their eyes squinting intently at the images of the runners frozen in a microscopic sliver of time as they crossed the finish line could not determine if one girl was there before the other.

For the watching world it is a puzzling conundrum that evaporates any conceit we might have on the infallibility of technology.  Even the rule books could not easily decide what to do next as most thought it was not simply possible.   For the 2 girls, Jeneba Tarmoh and Allison Felix whatever the eventual outcome might be is a life changer as only one of the 2 can take a legitimate 3rd place spot on the Olympic team.

What makes this really puzzling is that there was a brief moment when they had at first decided that Jeneba had actually beaten Allison.  She is quoted as saying,  “It hurts,” she said minutes after the race, battling tears. “I definitely feel God has a bigger plan. We always make plans and think we know best. And sometimes it’s just not the case.”

Here at the 31oo mile race time does not exist in the snap and spark of  nanoseconds but in the leisurely arc of the sun drifting across the sky. Victory here will not be much at all about who finishes first but more about how well and how far each runner journeyed within.  The podium here can easily accommodate all 12 no matter when they finish.  By the end of 52 days we hope all will eventually feel the tug of the ribbon grow taught across their chests when they cross over the finish line.  Feel it break apart and as well sense the splendid inner thrill that at last the weight and burden of all the days and miles spent here may at last be set free.

Yet as well within each and every one of us a race is constantly and continuously taking place.  Some may be fast asleep beside the track, and others still groggy and but trying to pull themselves up to full wakefulness.  The fortunate ones are those who have already started their race and are striding forward even if they can’t yet see the finish line ahead.

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June 24: Running Towards Our Goal

Putting off hard decisions and trying to nimbly sidestep the inevitable commitment to our life journey are options we quite often too readily take. This is possible however only when we indulge in the fantasy that our mind is ultimately responsible for observing or judging our actions.  In the grand arena of life our higher selves are not always successful when the mind, vital, and physical gang up and attempt to do battle with and delay our inner progress.

They want nothing to do with breaking free of the bonds of inertia and lethargy.   For the powerful chattering voice of our own unevolved ignorance always wants to take the easiest path which is to do nothing at all.  This strategy is a self delusion at best and at worst the stifling of our heart’s cry.  It can only inevitably delay but never ultimately defeat our true limitless divine destiny.

Here at the 3100 there there can be no procrastination or avoidance of a full spectrum of life’s challenges.  Problems rise up like roaring lions and must be either tamed or conquered.  The runners share a brotherhood and bond here like no other race anywhere else.  There are just too many miles to suffer and endure ahead not to reach out and inspire and offer aid to each other.  Vasu learned that in a very real way this morning.

“He is my friend, he teaches me how to be patient, and how to be a little bit more clever.” With these words Vasu tactfully describes an enormous and painful blister on his foot.  One that is shocking just to look at but more importantly, it had to be excruciating to him as he tried to eke out 60 miles on it yesterday.  But he is truly not alone in his suffering.  This morning Arpan who has been at this game for a very long time took time out from his own preparations to help him with a proper bandage.  This procedure takes so long that when the race starts they are still both on the sidelines, and do not start running for several minutes.

Vasu in just a few days time will be entering into unexplored territory in his multi day running career.  He says that this blister has taught him more about doing the race slowly and steadily.  Of Arpan’s assistance he is grateful and says, “it was a sacrifice.”

Click to play interview

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How fast can you leave aside your ignorance and go toward your own Goal?

Competition, if it is at all necessary, should be to see how far behind us we have left ignorance and imperfection and how fast we are running towards our Goal.

Let there be two sides: one, perfection’s side; the other, imperfection’s side. How fast are we running from imperfection and ignorance towards the positive side of Perfection, Truth, Light and Bliss? That and not rivalry with others, should be your competition.

Sri Chinmoy, Earth’s Cry Meets Heaven’s Smile, Part 3, Agni Press.

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June 23: Conquer Yourself

There are unfortunate moments in all our lives when we unwittingly define ourselves by what we cannot do.  It perhaps may be more accurate to clarify this even further and add, what we will not even willingly attempt to do.  If there is any lesson to be gained by observing the Self Transcendence runners who are at every moment climbing higher and diving deeper is  that impossibility and a lack of willingness cannot possibly coexist with  their heart’s boundless enthusiasm and their life’s soulful momentum.  That is not to say stray doubts and niggling worries don’t sometimes nip at their foot steps and try and wedge and creep themselves into their thoughts.  Ultimately bearing a burden of too much negativity of any sort will eventually shipwreck them on the shores of their own self imposed limitations.

 

Even impossible critics

Discovered in him

A perfect stranger

To fear-mountain

And doubt-forest.

ri Chinmoy, Mother, Your 50th Independence-Anniversary! I Am Come. Ever in Your Eternity’s Cries And Your Infinity’s Smiles, Subhas, Agni Press, 1997.

Sri Chinmoy continues to be a constant beacon of inspiration to those who crave and strive for their self perfection.  He is a figure whose sun bright life seemed to exist without gloomy limitation or dark boundaries of any kind no matter what he attempted.  Injury and age where just obstacles in his tireless life of service to humanity that he continually knocked down and refused to surrender to.  He attempted to wake up a dissatisfied sleeping world by showing us all that heaven was not an impossible goal but well within our grasp just inside our own hearts.  All we need do is inwardly cry and outwardly try.

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June 22: My Captain Commands, Go on! Go on! Go on!

As someone who has never run further than 50 miles  at any one time I know there will always be aspects of the race that I will never fully comprehend or appreciate.  I count myself as one of its true fans and am a sincere admirer of all that goes on here but there are certain inner experiences and most definitely the entire spectrum of its outer reality in which I will never have any admittance to or knowledge of.  Membership and comprehension belongs only to those who committed and sacrificed themselves fully on this ground and that group numbers barely more than 100 souls.

In 2004 Arpan and Stutisheel paid their dues here for the first time and found entry into this elite world of self transcendence running.   They would complete the 3100 miles barely a day apart.  Ultimately the difference between the 2 however could hardly be more striking.  Over the past 8 years Arpan went onto fill his summers with almost full time World Harmony running and did not return here again until this year.  Hopefully he will eventually become the oldest competitor to finish the race sometime after turning  60 later next month.

Stutisheel on the other hand seems to heave never left and for all intent and purpose made this sacred place here in Queens the home of his heart.  For him it is a steadfast and secure world even though it be one, which on the surface at least, is routinely buffeted by the gripes and groans of the usual human frailties.  Despite this he has continued to peel back the mysteries of his life and perhaps seen the trajectory of his inner life rise to heights he never dreamed that was possible in the last 8 years.

The calculus of all the numbers he generates each new day he sets foot on the course after so many years here is mind boggling.  Suprabha and Ashprihanal of course are the only others to surpass his statistical overall mileage accumulation. But from a simple human perspective, how can we even begin to understand what it is like to spend, more than a year of your life, more than 400 full days and counting right here relentlessly running in circles. There is no clear identifiable reward in any of this.  No fame and certainly no fortune.

If any of us were to attempt to gather up all of his hard earned miles and all the time he spent here, and then pile it all neatly up on clip boards, stop watches, and note pads.  None of it would make much sense at all.

But for Stutisheel who is a man in endless motion and in a real way maintaining endless progress in his inner life he is simply listening to a clear inner command to go on.  One that only 12 are truly and Supremely able to hear here.

My captain commands, “Go on! Go on! Go on!” The captain is the Lord Supreme within us. The captain has commanded, “Children, go on, go on.”  Sri Chinmoy, Reality-Dream, Agni Press, 1976.

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June 21: Survival

“I am just trying to survive.” Pushkar has clearly been shaken by the conditions on the road here yesterday.  They are dramatic words but also it is a dramatic time right now here at the race.  It is almost as though it has only just begun and the weather has erupted with its own spicy brand of fiery New York weather hell.  Day 4 will likely not be long remembered as when the race teetered on the precipice of a weather catastrophe, because that dubious distinction has already been won hands down last year when the weather got so hot that the race was forced to shut down for a day.  But June 20 was a bad day and today, June 21 just might prove to be its equal in ferocity.

What makes this weather situation so acutely trying is that it is in the first week that the runners try and attain their most efficient rhythm and flow.  Tune their bodies to the pounding here, and adjust all their habits and schedules that make their overall daily running performance operate smoothly.

Right now that is an impossible dream, one that has evaporated in a hissing cloud of steam.  Just drinking enough water and digging up the strength and resolve to go on one lap more is about all they have.  Every one of the runners save one had their mileage totals drop significantly yesterday on day 4.  The lone runner who actually did better was Arpan who miraculously discovered that a daily massage would keep him moving better.

We all cannot help but be concerned and sympathetic for the runners on days such as this.  Locally today it became a regular and almost worn out phrase as so many people grumbled about how hot it is and than added, “yeah, but imagine how the runners feel.” On a practical level it would be grim to imagine the weather clamping down upon us for many many more days when there are still thousands of miles yet to run.

Most certainly it won’t, and likely by Monday the world will push us back into a more sympathetic and typical weather pattern.  Yet in the great scheme of things positive and powerful inner experiences will continue to happen here no matter the what the weather decides to serve.  The numbers will come and go like the birds that flit on and off the fence and hop from one branch to the other.

The transformation of each and every runner has already begun here in the deep and unfathomable depths of their hearts.  Happening invisibly to most of the by-standing world but also richly revealing itself to the one for whom the transformation is gradually unfolding.

No one can divine or formulate the elixir of experience that will bring about our inevitable self transcendence and transformation.  Whether it be peace or or be pain, or any of the other innumerable experiences of the heart and soul. The most important thing is to at least begin the inner race. For without that the goal will never be reached and won.

“This survival of the fittest.”

HERBERT SPENCER

Spencer referred to the struggle to survive in the material life. But how to be the fittest in the spiritual life? By making oneself a conscious instrument of God’s Vision and Will.

Sri Chinmoy, Philosopher-Thinkers: The Power-Towers Of The Mind And Poet-Seers: The Fragrance-Hours Of The Heart In The West, Agni Press, 1998.

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