August 5: Something Beyond

“It is a very very special morning.  This is the last morning of the race.”

Jayasalini describes how now, with just 41 miles to go, she wants to absorb every last drop of the experience she has had these past 51 days.  “The fragrance of the course, the beauty of the course.  To be grateful, grateful, for every morning.  For every step.  It is a very special morning.”

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“I know that many many people are waiting for me back home.  I got so many many experiences here, that I think that I definitely have changed, something changed inside me.  First you receive, you absorb, than you want to share it.”

“To be honest it is beyond beyond my understanding, what is happening here.  What’s I felt during the whole race, is that I need to be here for this very moment.  I need to do what I have to do.  This is taking one step after another, and be grateful for every step.  I feel that this is what the Supreme wants me to do.  To be here and to run, and to be grateful and to be happy.”

“To accept whatever comes, and just move forward.  No matter what happens.  Come what may.  Just go on.”

“What is happening in the inner world, it is beyond my understanding.”

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“The last couple of weeks were much slower.  The 109 laps that you need to do in average in the beginning it seemed very very doable.” (Jayasalini did 104 yesterday) I was pretty constant.  But now it feels like an Everest.  The last couple of weeks I have averaged 105 laps.  I was counting every night when I went home.  I have a table on my wall.  So I was more or less conscious of where I was.  I tried not to worry at all.  At some point I realized that the Supreme would take care of the mileage.  I said to the Supreme that it was all up to you.  I will just try and think of you.  To be with you inwardly, all the time.”

“From that time I just stopped worrying.  Of course sometime thoughts come.  Deep inside I felt that whatever happens is the best.  This is just an experience that the Supreme wants me to go through.  I will just do it.”

“I admire every runner on the course.  From every runner I feel something special, an energy or quality.  The way that Sarah runs is really beyond my understanding.  How was it possible for her to run so so fast and so strong.  How is it possible to do this on your feet each day.”  She describes her experience of just Sarah passing her on the course with such speed and power.  “I don’t know how it was possible.”

“This is one of the questions that I still have no answer.”

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“William is so so focused.  All the time during the whole day.  He can be looking just a few meters ahead.  You can see that nothing else exists around him.  Just he, himself, and running, moving forward so fast.”

“Nidhruvi’s experience I also admire her.  I bow to her soul and to her determination.  I ask myself many times.  How I would feel if I had this experience.  I don’t know if I could stay.  To continue like she does.  Still to be cheerful.  Still to smile.  That is amazing.”

“I feel that what is happening here can inspire many many people.  William’s example yesterday, that he finished at his age.  At 60, to run so fast.  To do this is something beyond. This is an example that will inspire many many people of his generation.  And also young people.  I hope and I feel that more girls will want to come to this race.  I feel it strongly.”

“For me to be here and do every step is to please the Supreme in his own way.  This was my only goal.”

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This Japanese Maple tree has observed the countless comings and goings of many people over the years.  It has survived and flourished in a place that it is exposed to lots of activity.  Directly in front of Thomas Edison High School.

It was planted in a small and simple ceremony on October 11th, 1975.  As part of a celebration to mark Sri Chinmoy’s recent completion of 100, 000 Jharna Kala paintings.  They would be followed of course by millions more.

Nearly 30 years have passed since then.  The little tree now grown large, and despite all that has happened in and around and to it, it somehow still endures.  In its own way offers the beauty of nature to all who would see it.  And also still offers something deep and inner to all who can feel it.

 

Photo By Bhashwar October 11,1975

Photo By Bhashwar
October 11,1975

Something divine may be
Beyond your need today,
But it can never remain
Beyond your need forever.
For every day
A new message from Heaven
Is touching the earth-shore.

 

This little running movie is still my favorite.  It is rough in parts and yet tells something about Sri Chinmoy and his love of running that I have never repeated.  Made in March 2009.

Music by Parichayaka

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August 4: Doing What We Love

How Sarah feels about completing the race. Which will happen in just a couple of hours.

“It is just absolute gratitude.  A runner’s life is up and down.  Success and failures and everything in between.  I think especially after last year definitely I value it.  But it is just such a team effort.  Because nothing would happen without all the track workers and the race directors.  Everyone who adds to the race in any capacity.  So it is definitely that we are all traveling together.  It is not just personal success.

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Sarah as we are speaking is now just a few miles from the finish line.  She has just 15 miles to go.  She remarks how Pranjal finished the race just 2 days earlier and from the very first morning he never took a morning off.  He does as he does now for 5 years without  break, ran at least 2 miles.

“I think that is what it is just about.  Doing what we love.  So I am feeling a little guilty.  Everyone is putting in this huge effort.  We runners are just doing what we enjoy.”

“A few times during the race I felt, we are so eager to reach a certain result.  But you know that old saying, about the journey being just as important as the destination.  It is so true.  Looking back at all the fantastic memories.  Every day of the race has been just awesome.”

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“Physically sometimes there is just nothing you can do.  You just have to try and be happy.  It happens to all of us sometimes.  You have to surrender to a slow pace.  That’s okay.”

“So many people have offered, not only material things, but encouragement.  But this is what the world will be based on encouragement and not criticism.”

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I ask her then what she feels the the Self-Transcendence race may mean to the world at large.  “This has been one of the main things on my mind.  With all the different conflicts going on now.  There is not personally much we can do.  I think this draws the world’s attention to something that offers hope.  It is about the hope of human aspiration.  It definitely does something.”

“If we keep focusing on the darkness and the conflicts.   Things won’t really improve.”  She appreciated all the media that in fact did come out to follow the story here.

“Just to see the race.  You don’t really have to know very much about it.  Just to know that it is going on I think it does something really special.”

I ask if she will come again.  “If life circumstances allow it. I don’t know what the next year will hold for me.”  I mention all the runners who regularly come back, “it is the main part of their spiritual life.”

“I have to be open to what life brings.  Certainly, even now I am thinking about next year, and how to improve.”  She then mentions the possible appearance of some of the big names who did not attend this year.  “I think the energy is going to be amazing.”

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I mention all the other girls who have attended this race and suggest that she must in some way be inspiring a whole generation of young girls that something like running 3100 miles is possible.  “Well firstly I put Suprabha in a different class.  She has done the race 13 times.  Her whole life is amazing.”

“I think it is just time.  Sometimes we just want things to happen.  I wanted to try this race 7 or 8 years ago, but it was just not the right time. I hadn’t got the experience.  I just needed to develop a bit more.  It is a matter of enjoying your running and see where it takes you.  And of course relying on the spiritual side.  Keep praying to God.  If he wants it for your life it will take place. But if he wants a higher goal, than being a good runner.  He just might have more inspired plans for you.”

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A movie made a few years ago on the race

If at every moment we can feel that our highest Divinity is with us, in us and for us, and that we are with Him, in Him and for Him, then we are bound to create happiness and harmony in our own lives, in the lives of our family members and, eventually, in our world-family.

But we have to start with ourselves. First we have to dive deep within or fly high, higher, highest to discover our own highest Reality. Unless and until we have discovered our own highest Divinity and Reality, unless and until we have brought to the fore our own Inner Pilot, we will not be in a position to bring peace, harmony and bliss to our immediate family or to our world-family.

So let us pray and meditate to bring His divine Presence to the fore and let us be ready at every moment to listen to His Commands. If we can feel that our only task is to please Him in His own Way, then there is nothing that we cannot accomplish either for ourselves or for others.

Sri Chinmoy, Sacred Rock Welcomes Sri Chinmoy, Agni Press, 1994

CKG-Spinting)

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August 3: When The Time Is Right

“Maybe I have hidden from some of my spirituality.  I think this race has allowed me the time to really focus on that and what it means.  Maybe recognize that I am not the greatest force in the universe.”

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Ray Krolewicz is unique in so many ways.  He is a perfect example of how one should never judge a book by its cover.  His somewhat grizzly exterior would on first appearance not give you much of a clue as to the kind, intelligent, charismatic, and generous individual who lurks beneath his now sun browned torso.  One that has rarely seen a shirt in 50 days and certainly not come close to any sunblock either.

All of us have beautiful and positive qualities within us.  Though sometimes the world and more regrettably we ourselves tend to forget this great truth.  But it is these bright aspects of ourselves that we are trying to expand and develop.  And it is the darker portions of ourselves, the not so user friendly qualities, that we either wish to cast off, or more likely, to radically transform.

What sets Ray apart from the others here is that he is the only one who was personally encouraged by Sri Chinmoy to come here and run this race one day.  When the invitation was given, he immediately asked, should I come this year.  Sri Chinmoy’s timeless reply was, you will know when the time is right.

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We can never control any aspect of time but for Ray something deep and significant was set into his heart that day those words were spoken.  A 59 year old school teacher from South Carolina, whose lifelong passion has been distance running this race of course would be the logical culmination of his achievements in the sport.  But with his best days perhaps slipping ever so subtly into the past.  Maybe it was just too big and impossible a thing to attempt.  It could easily have been an invitation to be ignored, if not forgotten.  But there again is the Ray Krolewicz who does not take words and promises and dedication to unachievable goals lightly.

He had fashioned his own unique relationship over 30 years with this Indian Spiritual Master living in Queens.  Now, even though he had passed almost 7 years ago, something inside of him at last called out.  Something he could not ignore, despite all logic that might dictate the complete folly of his quest to run 3100 miles.  Because of the man Ray is he knew but one option.  He had to come to run this impossible race because the time was most definitely at last perfect.

“I had 30 years when the message should have been perfectly clear.  From the day he picked up that shirt ( at a race in 1984 when Sri Chinmoy picked up a shirt that Ray had thrown at a chair), till somewhere midpoint in this race.  Dang, I had access to so much more.  I have had opportunities.  I have hidden from my own spirituality.  That would be the culmination of that story that started 30 years ago.  With this leader, this great man.  This connection with the Supreme or God.”

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“It finally all made sense somewhere when I was running around this block, and listening to people and sharing with people.”

“One of the most telling things about Yuri was after he had finished.  He was running the opposite way around the block.  He simply touched his heart as he went by.  In one of my poems I comment about that.  The poem ends.  As you touch your heart it strengthens mine.  That for me is the culmination of what I have learned.  That as each person touches their own heart, it strengthens mine and strengthens all of us.”

A short film from 2006

My Beloved Supreme,
Is there any right time for me
To do the right thing?
“My child,
Not tomorrow,
Not even today!
“The right time for you
To do the right thing
Is now,
At this very moment,
Plus
Here and nowhere else.”

Sri Chinmoy, My Lord, Make Me Your Happiness-Child, Agni Press, 1992

CKG-and-Ray

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August 2: Source Of Everything

Stutisheel completed the 3100 mile race for the 8th time today.

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It is a statement that by itself tells quite a remarkable story about this extremely talented and dignified man from the Ukraine.  For so few have even come close to accomplishing what he has just done.  Stutisheel as a runner is as gifted, composed and patient as any who have spent their long summers running around a school in Queens.

But there is more, much more to this great runner who has had his daughter Alakananda as his helper nearly every time he has run here.  And she of course has found her own victory in being the one to help and aid and console.  Or do whatever it is that a 44 year old multi day runner needs in order to go on through those impossible 3100 miles.

This world that they share and inhabit so intimately together is as difficult and as challenging as just about any person has ever attempted to do.  Yet they have found a way to conquer it, as they did again today.  Because it is not just another race, it has been their joint home now for 10 long summers.

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If we turn the clock back just a few years the story for Stutisheel here was a much different one than now.  Now with its victory of completing the race in a new personal best of 48 days and 3 hours.  A time nearly 9 hours faster than he has ever run this race before.

For in both 2011, and again in 2012 he could not find the right mix, or motivation, or magic, or whatever formula a runner needs to find their way to the finish line.  It had to be heartbreaking to come up short those 2 years in a row.  But Stutisheel did not show any sign of frustration or failure to the world.  For it was a burden that he alone had to carry and find the solution to succeed.

So last year was an off year.  He became an ironman triathlete, and maybe this as well was the cure for whatever it was that kept him from reaching the finish line.  He says of those 2 years when the goal was not reached that he eventually learned a lesson.  Something he believed was deep inside himself that he needed to do, and of course need not share with prying eyes.   For we all have hard lessons to be learned in our own hearts.  So today he and his daughter have reached out and climbed to a new glorious plateau, on this his 10th year, at the place they both call home.

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If there is another secret that made it all turn out so well, he says, “I am surrounded by people who believe in me.  This is so important in life.  Starting from childhood, Alakananda supported me like anything.  In all my crazy projects.”

He says there are many others and in particular points to one of the race directors Sahishnu.  “Somewhere during the middle of the race he was on the phone with Alakananda and said, your Dad will do a personal best.   You will see.  The finish was so far but he believed in me.”

“I am really lucky to have friends who believe in me.  It is very very important to me.”

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“And of course finally I dedicate my personal best to the 50th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy arriving in the west.  Who is the driving force and the source of everything.”

The winner of the race in 2006 who set the still record time of 41 days and 8 hours.

You will recover
Full confidence in yourself–Just feel once
That God will do everything for you.

You will discover
Full God-realisation in yourself–Just believe only once
That your source
And
God’s source
Are always the same.

Sri Chinmoy, The Goal Is Won, Agni Press, 1974

stutisheel-photo2

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August 1: I Will Be Happy

Are you ahead of last year’s pace?

“Not yet.”

“I want to transcend myself, so I have to run a little bit faster.” He has just 23 miles to run on this his last day of the race.  Vasu says he is doing this, because that is the name of the race, Self-Transcendence.

“If the Supreme wants he can do it through me, and if not, I will be happy.”

“I must run 10 laps to go and 4 hours to do it.  It is not too easy.”

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What Vasu has done over the past few days has been to run incredible mileage.  Yesterday he ran 136 laps or 74 miles.   Which is very similar to what he had done just 2 days earlier.  What he has been demonstrating since day one is a complete dedication to the task of running 3100 miles.

One which is  based not just on his incredible physical strength and will power but also on his heart’s devotion.  A combination of qualities that when set in motion would appear unstoppable.  Yet from the start this morning that very thing of bettering his time from last year is far from certain.

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There are many inconceivable and imponderable mysteries of what this race creates in those who come and run in it and also who those who observe.  As someone on the sidelines who has watched Vasu’s steady progress through the days and miles how could you not but want for him to succeed.

To shave at worst even a small fragment of time off his performance from last year. Most of us would love to see him and all the others smash their performance bests each year.

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But the subtle and intangible rewards of running here are not so easily discerned.   For there is a victory not just to Sarvagata who came in first and those like Vasu who will claim the 3rd chair behind him this morning.  But to each and all there is a victory.  Even if the finish line is never crossed and remains elusive and distant still hundreds of miles away, when the lights grow dim.

At a little before 1030 this morning Vasu crosses the finish line for the 3rd time.  It took him 47 days, 4 hours, and 24 minutes.  His time is 1 hour and 15 minutes better than last year.

vasuf6Click to Hear Finish:

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A short Film from the race 2006

 

The fullness of life lies in dreaming and manifesting the impossible dreams.

Sri Chinmoy, Arise! Awake! Thoughts Of A Yogi, Agni Press, 1972

CKG-wards-island

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