July 21: Conscious, Constant, Unending Patience

It is just a few minutes past 6 o’clock in the morning and Grahak, with his hands resting on his hips is walking up the ‘hill’ for the first time today. Until just a few minutes earlier he had been running smoothly and then, about 5o meters earlier, he simply down shifted his body into its lowest gears and slowed noticeably.

Practically nobody else in the city would dare classify this slight incline on this Queens sidewalk as a hill.  The change in elevation is barely detectable and yet when you bring your eyes down closer to the surface of the sidewalk, the change is noticeable, not dramatic, not Himalayan, but only really obvious from that vantage point.

Yesterday Grahak climbed this hill, going in the other direction 119 times.  In most other places climbing a hill usually means you can take advantage of the gained altitude and use it when you are then able to coast down the other side.  The strange thing about this hill next to the Grand Central is that there does not appear to be another side that ever leads downward to compensate for the effort of going up.

Surveyors could explain this better, gps devices could analyze the calculable  differences between distinct parts of the course yet ultimately if you are one of the 11 runners here this spot is indeed the hill.  No matter how fast you have been running prior to reaching the hill the moment you arrive there you stop and then start walking.

New runners usually adapt to this strategy immediately on their very first day.  Either they simply follow the example of the veterans or some part of their beings recognizes that is a really good idea to slow down right here.  It is a tactic that has been in practice for 16 years.

Out of curiosity I took out a calculator just to add up all the laps that the runners have completed here so far this summer.  As of this morning the total is just over 43,000 laps, and counting of course.  Grahak has the biggest chunk of that since he leads the field with 4,424. (5649 is the goal)

Practically every aspect of the race offers an important message and significant lesson to anyone trying to reach a new goal for themselves or change or transform some aspect of their lives.  When we loose hope and give up on anything difficult then we become our own worst enemy.

Yet not even trying at all means the ultimate victory of our own ignorance.  What these runners prove and demonstrate is the irrefutable importance of simply always going forward.  Slow down if necessary, speed up when you can, for the goal  always grows closer each day, when at least you try.

There is not a single human being on earth who does not need patience. And we who are seekers of infinite Light and Truth need patience more than others, for we are consciously, soulfully and devotedly aiming at the highest Goal. We want to climb up Mount Everest in the spiritual life. So naturally we need conscious, constant and unending patience. It is not like climbing up an ant-hill or even an ordinary hill; it cannot be done in the twinkling of an eye. The higher the goal, the more patience we need.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy Speaks, Part 1, Agni Press, 1976.

Sri Chinmoy Running Up 150 st.
Photo by Shradha

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July 20: Like Soul Birds

“I think that it was after a short rain, I had just the feeling or I saw it inwardly that they are not just bodies moving on the track, but I saw 12 beautiful birds flying around the course.  Like soul birds flying flying, and flying.”…..Atmavir

When you ask most people what kind of gift they would like to receive on their birthday the average person, when given enough paper and enough ink could tear off a list that could stretch into endless futile tomorrows.  When you are feet are planted firmly on the earth than often you want only want what the world has and what the world is.

Atmavir, whose 34th birthday is today, has feet that are not stuck fast to the earth but instead are swiftly skimming lightly across the face of the earth.  And there are days surely when he and all the others who run here must and do rise up from this tired painful earth and take flight towards quite a different world.  Our eyes and minds can’t see it but in some bright lit corner of our heart we can be aware of this miracle.

When you timidly cling to the earth or allow the world to bind you to it, there can be no flight.  Golden dreams can pass just above your head and yet you cannot see them and do not dare to even reach out.  For 6 summers Atmavir has run here seeking out that other world.  He has clearly heard its call and by running each day and each summer attempted to seek out and become one with the inviting whisper of tomorrow.  No one can say how far really he has come but today at least he radiates contentment and his face beams with delight and joy.

Before coming here this morning he meditated and offered his gratitude to his late teacher Sri Chinmoy for the opportunity of once again being able to take part in this journey of Self Transcendence that he created 16 summers ago.

On this day 34 years ago his soul began its life journey here on earth.  Now with each step and each new mile his soul draws closer to the place from which it sprang.  A place you can arrive at only when your hands are empty and your  heart is full.

Question: What do the birds teach us?

Sri Chinmoy: We all want freedom and we all need freedom. The birds teach us to liberate ourselves from earth’s bondage. This teaching of the birds is indeed sublime.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 3, Agni Press, 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 19: Someone Who Knows

“I don’t know how and why but I know there is someone who knows.  God knows, so I know this is my way.  I want to love God more.  I want to pray more.  I want to cry more for God.  I want to have more purity, simplicity, and devotion.  To please God in his own way.  I have hope and I have faith in God, and I know that one day I will run.”….Ananda Lahari

Over  last 12 days Ananda Lahari has barely run a step and yet he never stops and continues to walk on, hour after hour.  His chances of completing the full distance flew off long ago and yet his cheerfulness and quiet calm commitment have not.  Where many would become despondent and desperate when confronted by such a fate Ananda Lahari seems to increasingly continue  to gather up inner strength and poise.  Something not so apparent when you see his slight sweet smiling presence glide past.

This is his 8th summer here.  Like very few others he knows all too well the challenges thrown up in front of all those who approach the starting line.  On 5 previous occasions he has felt the ribbon break as he crossed the finish line.  He has been applauded and cheered and had songs sung in his honor.  Some years back he realized that running through a blue ribbon after circling the course 5649 times was not really why he needed to come here.

Not that he wouldn’t want to achieve this honor but perhaps more than most he is also aware of the real rewards and goals that can be experienced when you nudge and shift your focus from the glaring outer realty to the glowing inner one.

There is an obvious intensely difficult athletic competition and then there is the inner journey.  One with no finish line and no obvious reward.

Perhaps if he is still clinging to one tiny desire is that he once again find the strength and energy to be able to lift up his knees and run again.  But if it doesn’t happen it will not be any kind of tragedy at all.  For above and beyond everything else is much larger and all encompassing heartfelt wish,’To please God in his own way.’

If you want God,

open your heart and run.

If God wants you,

open your eyes,

close your ears and run.

Sri Chinmoy, A Hundred Years From Now, Agni Press, 1974.

photo by Jowan

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July 18: Here And Now

Sometimes you are injured so what, you do your best.  Sometimes it is hot and you do your best even if it is only 100 laps.  The next day is nice weather and you can do 130.  I always say the most important thing is to do your best.“….Pranjal

For most of  humanity the idea of doing your best is a lofty theoretical concept yet it is something that is all too rarely practiced in every day life.  It is something that we all treasure and whole heartedly believe in.  In truth it is an abstraction that we think about a lot and yet so rarely actually perform ourselves.  Conveniently we are often disappointed when we don’t witness it in others around us and yet are reluctant to be critical when we ourselves give some significant percentage of ourselves that is less than 100%.

There may be some great task or endeavor in the future that we determinedly have every real intention of giving our all.  Then when that moment arrives we are assailed by doubt and insecurity and make some feeble pledge that most definitely next time we will rise up to meet the challenge.  Perhaps we might feel embarrassed to see our actions judged critically by others and use the excuse, ‘but o yes I can do better.’

As well we think that if we really unleash the full power of our capacity than we will be diminished and weakened because of it. Instead of realizing that only by giving our all can we actually expand our capacity and then ultimately transcend our achievements in the not too distant future.

4o year old Pranjal Milovnik is a rare and special individual who, when he uses the phrase, ‘do my best’, backs it up and authenticates the words with powerful and practical action.  When he came here 8 years ago for the first time it was his credo and it is one that he has yet to abandon or waiver from an iota.  Come early and stay late.  Don’t waste time.  Don’t worry, don’t analyze,  just open the door of your heart and go.  If the day is hard and you are hurting great.  If the day is good and you feel well also great. Either one is fine.

For Pranjal the present moment is the only moment.  The important thing is not the finish line ahead, it is not tomorrow, is not the next lap, or even the next step. It is now. The opportunities that exist in the future mean nothing if you simply do not take all the ones that are right in front of you.

His spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy lived this way, taught his students to attempt it, and felt all of the world could be a better place if in fact that giving and doing your best, is not just important, but essential for all our lives.  Eventually when we discard all the binding chains of our limitations we just might realize who we are within.  Find ourselves at the summit heights of perfection and realize that ultimately we had to do so little to arrive there.  That it is our inner pilot who is waiting patiently, to not just lead us to the goal but also to take us there as well.   We only need to allow him to act in and through us.

HERE and NOW
God tells me:
“Cry not like a beggar
For your own liberation.
Smile and strive,
And strive and smile
Like a hero supreme
For My complete manifestation
Here on earth.”

photo by Jowan

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July 17: Life Of The Beyond

“I enjoy the race most, all its good qualities and everything when I am completely down.  That amazes me every time.  I had zero energy, I was walking all day and then everything came to me.   All the sympathy from the other runners.  How I love this race.  All the memories from the past.  Wow so inspiring. It is not inspiring to be down but somehow you are more inward.”     Stutisheel

This morning I found myself slipping spontaneously into the same light easy pace and rhythm that Stutisheel was running.  We have run many miles here together over the past 9 years and also had many conversations.  As each runner has their own distinct form and style of running each also has their own unique way of trying to interpret just what it is that brings them here and makes them do this most remarkable thing.

Even if I were to take each and every explanation I have heard about the Self Transcendence race over the years sifted and sorted  through all the enlightened and thoughtful insights and images I doubt any of it would really convey what it is actually like to be here.  What it is to run effortlessly along on a sun bright day with a man from the Ukraine who is nipping at the heels of 2000 miles and with a smile and a nod is still 3 carefree weeks away from another 1100 more miles.

The running in these drowsy early dawn hours feels effortless and I literally  have to tear myself away lest I be captured up in his cheerful relentless orbit and never ever leave.  It is in these sublime and deeply moving personal moments that I feel the soul deep impact of what the Self Transcendence race is.

When its world and it message resonates within me with crystal clarity.  That I have made, if only briefly, a leap from my rather ordinary mundane life into the one the runners inhabit totally.

Sample the ambrosial experience that sustains and illumines them here at every moment.   Deliberately push aside all thoughts and notions and simply observe the profound capacity of the race to uplift, to inspire, and to transform anyone who enters its always wide open door of universal acceptance.

And yet these sweet moments are as fleeting as the twinkle and glow of a firefly here on a hot July night. I will cover barely a mile while Stutisheel goes on and on.  The rest of the day I bask in the glowing memory of sharing a few laps with him.

Replay the words and thoughts and feelings that continued to swirl around inside.  To recall what it was like to be immersed in a luminous sea of unlimited divine possibilities.  Eventually the call and snare of the harsh material world would once again draw me back up onto its o so familiar pebbled shore.  Yet a hope within still burns bright that maybe tomorrow I can step away from the hard defined reality that binds us, and once more freely journey just a little farther and deeper into the life of the beyond.

The Beyond

Is in my heart’s cry

For my nature’s transformation

And

For the constant Satisfaction

Of my Beloved Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy, Silence-Seed And Sound-Fruit, Agni Press, 1975.

Photo by Jowan 2007

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July 16: Inwardly Find A Way

Once you get in, it is like life, you have to accept the blows, and there are a lot of good things that come along with it. Once you learn how to focus.  The bad things pull your psychic energy and your emotions.  But eventually if you take the right attitude, with a lot of support and help from friends.  Reminders of what you should be doing or thinking. “..Arpan

Sometime a little over 2 weeks ago Arpan’s 3100 mile race experience drifted radically off from the familiar ground that he has known and been accustomed to now for more than 30 years of distance running.

For the first time  he found himself veering off what he hoped would be a total sun bright course that he could follow all the way to the finish line.  Instead when his shin splints showed up out of the blue he found himself suddenly shoved into a hard dark place that did not seem like it was ever going to let him free.

With his lengthy experience in running he always knew that the 3100 could not be conquered without some suffering but certainly not with the intensity and the relentless ferocity that he has been pummeled with thus far.  For just after the shinsplints lightened their tenacious grip his Achilles problem roared up to take its place.

The world which Arpan found himself inhabiting was a place in which pain has become a most intimate and constant companion. It is not that he has not been here before.  When you have run so hard in so many races over the years it is inevitable that just about all the hardships of our life’s physical reality will find some way of tormenting you and try and chase away your dreams. This time though the life lesson he has been given is a master class in how to transcend the physical limitations of the body.

Over the years he has guided and inspired countless other runners as they too battled with tremendous adversity.   Help them find some unique formula too push beyond the clutches of injury or adjust tactics in how to discipline the mind and open the heart.  To renew their acquaintance with faith and hope.

In just one weeks time he will have his 60th birthday here on the course.  There is not a single person that does not wish for him that on that day he have a joyous celebration like he has never had before.  That indeed all his days be joyous and bright right up to and including that glorious moment that he victoriously crosses the finish line.

It is easy to look at all this playing out here on this very public and very visible wedge of concrete in Queens.  It is quite another thing to even catch a faint glimpse of the inner reality not just for Arpan but in fact for any of the other runners as well.  For we can at best only perceive a faint wisp emanating from the surface of this vast world of self transcendence.  We can only ponder while they the runners live and breathe the totality of the 3100 mile race.  The true destinations of each of their journeys is well beyond the farthest reaches of our speculation and perhaps beyond our dreams.

Photo by Abakash 2004

Do not allow circumstances
To frighten you.

Do not allow situations
To torture you.

Look beyond appearances.

Yours will be
The unmistakable happiness.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 19, Agni Press, 1981.

 

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July 15: Beginnings

The wobbling first steps of a young child are always one of the historic experiences in their lives.  It is a unique and precious moment when they are able to pull themselves upright from the ground and move forward on their own,  life ever afterwards is never the same.  Their world, as they daily grow stronger and more adept, expands dramatically till gradually there is no place that they cannot go.  The dimensions of their lives become unlimited when for many months their universe was defined only by what they could see from lying in a crib.

It is not so easy to define the absolute beginning of many other things in our lives or in the world around us.  Sri Chinmoy saw in running a unique opportunity for people to explore and expand themselves in ways that are not so obvious until you actually put shoes upon your feet and then simply run.  He would never become a great distance runner himself but by his participation and encouragement many others entered this distance running world and continue to be amazed and illumined by transcendent experiences.

In the spring of 1985 the Sri Chinmoy marathon team put on its first 1000 mile race in Flushing Meadow.  7 years earlier Sri Chinmoy first intensively began his own distance running.  It would be followed by him inspiring the team to conduct many longer and longer races.  Yet with this first truly monumental evet it would mark the real beginning of a giant leap in what was possible for runners to do and to accomplish.  At that time they only had 16 days to complete the distance.

This morning one of the runners from that race came to the streets of Queens to watch and quietly observe what has come from that bold vision that took place 27 years earlier.

Nathan Whiting was 38 when he participated at that race. I asked him what he likes about these races.

“There is no sense of time.  It is like spending 20 years like a monk in a cave.  The race is a short version.

I ran 800 miles it was very difficult.  I think only 3 people finished it.  2 years later I won a 24 hour race.   That was my last year of running seriously.”

Being here he feels.  “It is so long .  They are here day after day, and they keep going.  It is a full exploration of many aspects of what they are and what they are searching for.”

“You don’t know why you are doing it.  You don’t know when you watch a person go by why they are at this moment or that moment.  It is never known.  10 years after a race you don’t know.”

“You still are learning why you did it.  You are still learning what comes from it.  To watch these particular runners, compete, but not compete.”

“They are transforming competition into a more serene and aspiring feeling.  It becomes aspiration, purely at certain points.  The purity of aspiration is always hard to achieve.”
Click to play interview

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Three people completed the full distance: 1,000 miles! Here is the proof that there are a few things the mind cannot understand-when the soul operates through the heart or through the vital. To run 1,000 miles is beyond the comprehension of the mind; the mind cannot imagine it!

Sri Chinmoy, Run And Become, Become And Run, Part 16, Agni Press, 1985.

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July 14: Encouragement -Strength

There is probably no sporting competition in which the support and encouragement of fans and loved ones does not play some vital role in the ultimate performance of an athlete.

Not that long ago when I was more active in running events the sound of someone shouting my name while circling a track or calling out from  the edge of a long challenging road always added a powerful lift to my spirits as well as to the energy of my steps.

This kind of encouragement always has the ability to somehow lighten the heavy burden of effort we feel weighted down about our shoulders.  Even when you find the last strands of hope slipping away from your grasp a cheer and clapping hands can ignite the embers of your fading dreams. That somehow the goal can be once again brought just a little closer and our arrival there that much more swift when others reach out with their hearts magnanimity and oneness.

No matter how solitary we might be or how indifferent to the world we might think we are, sincere encouragement from another is a truly valuable gift.  Our body may be oblivious our mind deaf but our heart will always be aware of encouragement and be uplifted by it.  It is also something that never diminishes or takes away anything from the giver.  Our bodies may lack at times energy and speed but our hearts can reach within to an unlimited source of strength that ultimately connects us all.  Yet we mortals somehow forget or loose the key to open this vast unlimited divinity within ourselves.  We all know inwardly that when we help another rise above the darkness we are bringing the glowing promise of tomorrow just a little bit closer for all of aspiring humanity.

 

 

 

Our outer journey
Needs God’s Compassion-Eye
For its encouragement.
Our inner journey
Needs God’s Satisfaction-Heart
To reach its destination.

 

 

 

July 13: Best Out Of Themselves

The 4 young men were on the playing field for much of the morning.  When they first arrived  they did a long routine of strength and conditioning exercises but it was not clear what sport they were preparing for.   It was obvious though that the slightly older of the 4 was a coach to the rest.  His shirt was bright orange and the others attentively listened and watched his every move.

He seemed very knowledgeable about what he was teaching. Eventually it became obvious that he was showing them how to pitch.  They gathered round him as he demonstrated how his fingers neatly  hugged the seams of the ball, his arm swinging effortlessly up and over his shoulder, and than the snap of his wrist as he released the ball.

His voice with its thick New York accent sailed much further than the trajectory of his pitches.  Eventually one of this students strode up onto the mound with enthusiasm, a smile, and a warm and limber right arm.  He started firing the ball across the plate.  The catchers mitt sizzled as the ball smacked loudly against the leather.  A clear and confident sound not unlike the tidy comfort you sometimes get when a car door thunks closed, neat and tight.

I had no reason to believe that the young men practicing at America’s favorite pastime would take any interest at what was happening just outside the fence beyond them.  That they would even notice the endlessly circling parade of runners  going around and around in the still morning air.

I would have thought they were thinking only of fast accurately thrown balls evading the powerful swipe of a big wooden bat.  Maybe allowing their dreams to drift them away from a little patch of green here till they landed under the bright lights of some giant stadium with the fate of the game resting on their young energetic shoulders.

Yet at one moment I was near the fence when the coach came over and spoke through the fence to Sarvagata.  “We wit you man.  Running 3100 miles is no joke.”

No big announcement is made at the starting line this morning.  It all looks much like it has on the previous 26 days.  Yet today, as the now 11 runners strode forward for the 27th time into the joys and pains of another long long day of running, the future can no longer be blank or faded.

For what distinguished this day from all the many that have already swept by and the many more yet to come is that this day is the precise middle point of the race.  There are now no more unlimited tomorrows but instead a very precise and, stingy for some, number of days that are available ahead.  This subtle  yet unavoidable reality hoovers in the air like a relentless scent that cannot be disturbed by any breeze.  For this morning marks the  official half way point.

For some, who gratefully find themselves flying confidently towards the inevitable finish line, it makes not much difference what day it is.  Yet for those who are struggling or perhaps still trying to tap into some yet undiscovered reservoir of speed and strength, no longer blind to this stark bare  truth can they be.  If you do not have 1550 miles on the board you are not halfway.

If we practise meditation regularly, faithfully and devotedly, not only do we come closer to our Goal, but the Goal itself comes running toward us.

Halfway along the path, the Goal and the runner meet to fulfil each other’s needs.

By reaching the Goal, the runner fulfil his task, the task of realising the highest possible Truth.

And by reaching the runner, the Goal makes the manifestation of the highest Truth not only possible and practicable but also inevitable.

The Goal and the runner fulfil themselves as they fulfil their respective roles in the life of aspiration and in the life of manifestation.

 

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 1, Agni Press, 1974.

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July 4: Each Time You Take A Step

Today America is celebrating the biggest and boldest of all its major holidays, for it is the 4th of July, American Independence day.  There will be flag waving and barbecues from coast to coast.  People are getting out early in their cars and are heading for beaches and parks and playgrounds.  This year it is taking place smack dab in the middle of the work week so it will be the briefest possible of celebratory breaks in this busy country.  For tomorrow everyone will have to get back to work once again.

There will be some people of course for which today will represent something other than sunscreen and sandwiches.  For deep within the exterior of things both large and small is usually some purpose and vision that is not so easily noticed by those who simply  don’t take the time to really look.

Just like the run taking place here,  America itself has deep and powerful inner qualities, that resonate and sparkle within the fabric of American life.  Critics will always be able to catalog a lengthy list of the shortcomings of America just as if you try you can find fault with any other country, with yourself most certainly, and for a hopeless few even be critics of God.

Sri Chinmoy spent most of his life living in America for he felt that from this special vantage point here the Supreme could manifest in and through him countless visionary projects that would help inspire and uplift the entire world.

In 1976 his Liberty Torch project began here, and like nearly all of his brand new creations it would eventually expand and grow into something even vaster and all encompassing.

In 1987 that vision expanded beyond the shores of America and became global with the creation of the Peace Run.

You can keep the spirit of the Peace Run burning throughout the length and breadth of the world if you can imagine that each time you take a step, you are offering to the Supreme a new joy. With each step you are taking, feel that you are placing a new flower of beauty, purity and divinity at the Feet of our Lord Beloved Supreme. I am using the word ‘imagine’, but it is not imagination; it is reality itself.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 17, Agni Press, 1999.

Dear Readers please note that there will be a brief period of no new posts. I appreciate your tireless support and humbly ask for your patience as well.

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