April 21 Six and Ten Day Race… Keep Going

At last it is time for the start of the 6 day race

Sahishnu introduces all the runners

Kate Condon is back after an 11 year absence

Runners at the start

A 360 view of the introductions and start

Everyone is eager for the start

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April 20 Six and 10 Day Race…Dive Deep Within

The weather has been cold and windy as the race enters its 4th day

At the end of 72 hours

This morning this is the moment when Ashprihanal set a Finnish record for 300 miles

Budjargal is 2nd with 279

The finish line is still many days away

Ilvaka in 2nd with 200

A 360 view of the race

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April 19 Six & Ten Day Race… Much to Learn

At the end of 48 hours

It has been rainy and damp most of the night

Don Winkley has 68 miles

A time for umbrellas, Elena has 126 miles

Some visitors who enjoy the weather more than the runners

To see the race in 360 click below

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April 17 Start of 10 Day Race 2018…The Inner Journey

The course has mostly dried out since yesterday and in the morning the 10 day runners are signing in

Yuri will be running

Getting the banner up

Alex from Fort Worth

tents are mostly up

Giribhu

Petra is not running for 4 more days

Sergey and friend

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Day Before 10 Day Race 2018

Under some very challenging circumstances.  George and Erlinda Biondic set up their tent in Flushing Meadow the day before the start of the 10 Day Race

Overnight and into the morning hours rains were heavy

But Bipin is confident the course will drain by morning

Construction continues

The dugouts are the last of the major building

Once the frame is up a tarp is put over

By noon the sky was clearing

Don Winkley runs tomorrow

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6 & 10 Day Race Set Up April 15

There are still 2 days before the start of the 10 day race

Bipin and his crew have been working hard now for the past few days getting everything set up

There are many helpers like Dan who have helped with the setup many times

The kitchen at least has a roof

Race director Rupantar

Tents are going up

Tents

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Continue To Move On

A few months ago while visiting Cambodia I spoke with career UN diplomat, His Excellency Davidson L Hepburn. Having absolutely zero political experience I was curious and hopeful that he might shed some light on what is currently happening in the world and whether or not he was still optimistic.

“There are many answers to this question but I feel strongly that we spend a lot of time in talking about the bad things that are happening in our lives instead of talking about the good things.”

Ambassador Hepburn doesn’t suggest that we push negative thoughts into the background. “You need to have them in the foreground so that people will know that there are good things and evil things in the world.”

“But I feel that if we make up our minds to what we are doing here. This meditation group is the answer to all the problems that we have. I am impressed that you all are so dedicated to this. You can’t concentrate a great deal on the evil that is happening in the world. It is not going to stop. You have to continue what you are doing. It is very good. In that way you counteract the evil that is happening.”

When asked if he can detect progress in the world. “I don’t think it is possible for us to determine the degree of progress that we have made in achieving peace.   I feel we have to look at this step by step.”

Ambassador Hepburn told a cute story. “I asked a little girl, what was peace, and she said, peace is when I am fighting with my sister. That to me made a great deal of sense. Because once you have got this thing out of you, you have communicated it in a way. You are then able to go on to the next step.”

“You can’t concentrate on the bad things. If you are going to concentrate on anything then you should concentrate on the good things. That will then pacify your concerns about the evil that is in the world.”

“When I walk around here, (Siem Reap Cambodia) when I see what is going on. I don’t understand the people. I don’t understand the culture, but I do see, what I consider to be a great deal of suffering and pain. But these people don’t seem to be dwelling on that.”

“They go along with their lives. They try to make it work, as effectively as they possibly can. The moment you slink off into a corner, and concentrate on the negative things that are happening. The worse it is going to be.”

“No matter how bad it gets you should be concentrating on what’s good. When I leave here, what I do is concentrate on this mediation group. You can’t imagine what help, what kind of assistance, what kind of joy I get from being a part of this.”

He recalls Sri Chinmoy once saying, “you must continue to go on. Success is ahead of you, and if you give up before you reach the end than you are going to be losing out on what might have happened.”

Ambassador Hepburn then gave reference to his long friendship with Adhiratha. How he never gave up on him. “I think that says a lot for the kind of thing that I think we should be doing in our lives.   To continue to press on with what we have in ourselves.”

He speaks about the very close and brotherly relationship that he maintained with Sri Chinmoy over the years. “He was able to do so many different things with his life and that emanated from him.”

“He made you feel as though you were part of this. My concern always is that when I leave being with the meditation group (Return to the Bahamas). Whether or not I will be able to have this experience continue with me.”

Ambassador Hepburn is 85 years old and is still maintaining a busy schedule. I asked whether he agreed with Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy about no retirement. “Of course there isn’t. That is the whole point.”

“I think if you are talking about peace continuing, if you give up by believing that you have accomplished just what you have worked for. Then that is the wrong way to look at it.”

“I think you should continue to build on whatever you have done. Once you have stopped then you have defeated the purpose.”

As for the future, “I try and not set a benchmark. My goal is to continue to do what I am doing and to see what benefit I can get out of it for others. Not for me.”

“But it is very difficult when you look what is happening around you and see that you are faced with so many trials and tribulations. You can easily wonder, what in the world am I doing this for. But that is when you fight.   That is when you continue to move on.”

Currently Ambassador Hepburn is trying to set up an institute for International Relations. “All I want to do is bring people together. And this is what I think the meditation group is doing.”

“This mediation group consists of over 100 countries who get together to try and bring about a kind of love that is lasting. That is never going to fade away. Some of us may fall by the wayside but you can rest assured that the foundation has been laid. That is what I think is so very important. “

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There is a saying in the Sanskrit scriptures: Charai veti, ‘Move on, move on!’ This was the realisation of our Vedic seers. If you don’t move on, you will be caught by ignorance. So always be alert, cautious and careful, and move on, move on, move on. If you move on, one day you will reach the Goal, where ignorance will not dare to touch you.”

30 July 1974

Sri Chinmoy, The ambition-deer, Agni Press, 1974

*Dr. Davidson Hepburn was the President of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural  Organization (UNESCO) 35th Governing Council (2009 -2011).  During that time he encouraged many to visit World Heritage sites around world.  He explained why in messages he sent to the Sri Chinmoy Oneness- Home World Harmony and Peace Runs which he has experienced in his native Bahamas, Kazakhstan, Malta and other locations

*”I was delighted to see the Run visit a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites… drawing attention to the efforts of the international community to protect so many cultures around the world.  Initiatives such as the …Run contribute significantly to the realisation of one of UNESCO’s principal mandates: mutual understanding and our shared determination to build and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony”  See the full video message from UNESCO with sub titles in 25 languages for the 25th anniversary of the runs at http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/25.html

* Dr. Hepburn showed his continued commitment in 2018 as he personally visited the Angkor World Heritage sites in Siem Reap Cambodia with many members of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home international torch relay teams from around the world. Also part of the tour were many longtime friends from the Peace Meditation at the UN from when Davidson Hepburn was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of his country during the 1970s and 80s (a decade) at the UN in NY. It was where he first became friends with Sri Chinmoy.

 

Visiting at Angkor Wat temple

Visiting with Monks in Cambodia

I Have To Do Something

“You have to be careful how you use the word ‘me.’ If you start using the word me you have already lost the game,”says Chandika

I have always found being around Chandika a refreshing and energizing experience. I recently heard that she had a significant disciple anniversary approaching, and was curious about how she planned to celebrate it. I also wanted to learn more about the long path she has taken in order to get to this place.

What I hadn’t expected was that she was not going to take any credit for it. “It is not always about the ‘me’, it is always about the ‘NOT-ME’.”

“So when my 50th anniversary comes along it is going to be Guru jumping up and down saying, 50 years what shall we do? We shall do great things.”

“God gave me a particular place to be on earth, including a Mother who reached to be a 100 years old, and till the end in perfect health.”   Chandika says her Mom was proud to reach that milestone, and that Guru was also very enthusiastic about it. He also considered her to be one of his disciples. “She was on Guru’s team,” says Chandika. Her Mom felt it was her soul’s promise to the Supreme to live to be 100.

Chandika’s own first steps on the path she says were largely influenced by her two older brothers. “They were sincerely seeking, so there was much to learn there.” She felt her own aspiration very early on was gradually gaining strength and that her brothers were a positive influence on that.

For Chandika, a critical turning point came for her when it was time for her to decide where to go to college. She had been awarded a scholarship at a large, far-off university, but when she returned home after visiting there, she had doubts. In order to make the right choice, she cast the I Ching to determine whether going to that school was the right choice. She was surprised when it told her not to go.

Instead it advised her, “You don’t need to go far away to find what you need in life. Stay close and you will be fine.”

In the end she went to the smaller, nearby college where her brothers had gone. “I felt very protected,” she says about her life at that time.  Then when her brothers, who had become disciples, showed her Guru’s picture, she felt completely ready to make the same move herself. “Everyone knew this had to be the next step for me.”

As she recalls this historic moment, she doesn’t hesitate to suggest that this outer connection could have taken place much earlier;  she feels she should have been with her brothers right from the beginning, when they had first met Guru and became his disciples.

Even though she hadn’t been there from the start physically, when her brothers had the opportunity to show Guru her picture, Guru said, “I have already seen her many times in the inner world.” Chandika says that Guru knew that eventually her entire family would become his disciples.

Chandika remembers that one of her brother once cast her astrological chart, and it indicated hat she would most likely move forward towards her goal in a very direct and singular way, fast as a flying arrow. More importantly, the goal would be absolutely fulfilling. “That way was going to be filled with joy.”

She feels that in a way Guru had already started preparing and guiding her, long before their first actual meeting.

All the same, “I was desperate to go forward and take the next outer steps.  I couldn’t get to Guru fast enough,” Chandika says.  Then, finally, she took a spring-break trip east to New York.  She traveled in a car with a bunch of strangers.   She was able to see Guru for the first time. when she went with other disciples to JFK, to meet Guru when he landed in New York after a trip to India.  The next day she meditated with Guru and disciples at Guru’s home in Queens. “That was very very life-changing.”

On the return trip back home,the others in the car told her they noticed that she had changed. She, herself, felt as if a switch had been turned on, and that her life now glowed with a more powerful inner light.

At the end of her school year, she moved to New York as quickly as she could. She feels that those years–the late 60’s and early 70’s– particularly in America, were special. At that time Guru was attracting the many, many young seekers whose destiny it was to become his disciples.

This was a rapidly growing young community of young disciples, all of whom had come to the spiritual life in their own unique ways, and all were experiencing spirituality and accepting guidance from a Spiritual Master in ways that earlier they could never have dreamed possible.

Chandika says, “that after a year or two on the path you are then in it for the real thing. You are rooted in your growing. The Supreme doesn’t want you just to play games and do tricks.”

“I have always taken seriously what Guru has given me to do,” Chandika says.  Over the years, what that is has continually become more clear to her, and that has been particularly so since his passing in 2007.

Chandika says the short version of the meaning of her name is: “the Goddess of light, power, grace, and luminosity. It is not what I do, it is what I am. There is much more that I need to learn, and this is the time when we are getting closer to our more mature ages. I have to see how I am going to manage the rest of this incarnation. I think the most important thing is to do so with grace.” Ultimately, of course, my purpose is trying to please the Supreme in his own way.

Chandika says that, even though she was fortunate to be able to spend quite a lot of time with Guru, some her most powerful spiritual experiences have taken place when she wast not in Guru’s physical presence,  but Guru inspired and instructed her from a distance.  These were significant lessons completely learned from within.

She tells the story of how, one day, she felt as if someone had hurt her, and she was feeling sorry for herself. Then she imagined herself as a fragile baby duck, and the other person as also being a vulnerable cute tiny animal. “In this way Guru tricked me out of my difficulty. The affection between me and the other person was always there, it was simply another reality. All I had to do was find it.”

Chandika speaks confidently about the years that have transpired since Sri Chinmoy’s passing. She feels that the changes that have happened in her life, and continue to happen, have all been placed before her by Guru.

“Guru wanted everything to expand. I just try to see where he wants me to go next.  I feel Guru everywhere and in everything. He is so huge.   You can see him smiling in the sky. You can feel him all around me.”

“One of my main activities now is working with the brand-new disciples.” She describes a project that she did for the 10th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy’s Samadhi, which involved writing about the 10 most significant memories of Guru in her life.

“At first I began writing dutifully and then ended up just loving it.   There is a part of me that always wanted to be a writer.” She is now working on entire book about Guru in her life, and she feels as though she is in constant inner communication with Guru as she writes. “I am so happy because I feel we are spending time together.” The tentative title of  her book is: “Reminisces drawn from a lifetime with Guru.”

Chandika adds that her day includes writing for an hour, also well as hatha yoga, playing the tabla, and going to the pool to swim. “I feel completely free. There is no pressure.   Wherever my mind roams.”

The exact date of her upcoming 50th anniversary of her life as a disciple is January 13, 2019. She remembers that when her 13th anniversary was approaching, she was also powerfully inspired to undertake a self-transcendence project. “It is not enough just to be alive. I have to do something.” That year she set a goal of running 13 marathons and ended up completing 14!

She then refers back to her earlier comment about not being the doer. “It is not me deciding. It is like a force that comes and says – you can’t let this date go by without doing something.”

Something to do:
Love.
Something to love:
Oneness.
Something to look forward to:
Satisfaction in perfection.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 7, Agni Press, 1980

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An Epic Journey….Performing the Sri Aurobindo Play…Installment 3

A great swath of time has passed since the project first began.  A lot of time.  Yet as Kaivalya and his sons and a troop of male actors prepared for the 3rd installment of the Sri Aurobindo play the goal was now almost in sight.  Though at best current estimates the final piece of the puzzle would not be in place place until August of 2018.

Sri Chinmoy standing before Sri Aurobindo samadhi in Pondicherry

Kaivalya was in the midst of some last minute costume preparation as he once again recounted the story of how it all began.   For certain episode 3 of the play was minutes from being performed.  He believes the whole great project was first was set in motion in 1998 when Sri Chinmoy called him and said, “I would like you to do my whole, Descent of the Blue. (his play dedicated to Sri Aurobindo).  Take as long as you like, use as many disciples as you like,  and spend as much money as you like and make it a big job.  So I said fine and started working on it.”

Unfortunately an unforeseen set of circumstances came up and the project was put on hold.  “As you know when something is intended to happen and then it doesn’t happen it never reoccurs for a long long time.”  It was only after many years when he was performing in a small scene from the play that the spark was once again reignited.  “Then it came back to me what Sri Chinmoy had first asked me many many years ago.”

The trajectory of the play from then until now has seen the project influenced by a number of inspirations.  Not the least of course were the crucial contributions of his 2 sons Devashishu and Sahadeva.  They felt that breaking the play into instalments would heighten the overall experience and tell the story better than in just one long 4 hour performance.  Devashishu volunteered to write the scripts and Sahadeva offered to provide musical accompaniment.

Ultimately the first section took place in August 2014 and was followed by part 2 the next year.  After a gap of of one year in 2016 part 3 followed this past August which will hopefully see the 4th and final installment performed in August of 2018.

“We felt the first 2 performances worked well, then last year didn’t happen and we were all quite happy to wait a year.”  Kaivalya then mentioned all the bits of the actual story that will have to be concluded in order for the story to at last be complete.

Kaivalya’s role during the play is to act as the narrator and performs in character as the elder Sri Aurobindo.  “I have a very strong feeling of the play.  I feel really strongly connected.  In the play what I do is recall my whole life through all the other actors.  It will be quite nice next year when the 2 Aurobindos meet in heaven. (younger played by Abhinabha)

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Speaking with Abhinabha as he gets into costume in the final minutes before the performance starts it seems almost incomprensible to imagine that earlier in the day he was running a very fast marathon up at Rockland State park.  He says his race plan didn’t work out but he is being incredibly modest about his time for the race.  He was 3rd in a time of 2:39. “I was hoping to do a couple of minutes faster.”

He says that he was not in the least distracted by his role in the play which would follow fast on the heels of his marathon.  “Totally separate chapter.  The marathon was just a marathon and then when I came back this thing started.”  Abhinabha confesses that he had to learn a long and complicated script but that the blocking of the play and in a sense the one and only rehearsal took place only in the afternoon.  “It was the first real rehearsal.” Interestingly he suggests that running a fast marathon is a harder challenge for him then performing in a play.

“The marathon is a good reality check.  You can’t cheat it.”

This is now the 3rd time he has taken on the challenge of performing as the young Aurobindo.  “Every time I play the part something special happens, especially the first time.  It is not so much a mental or learning experience it is a spiritual experience I feel.  You are embodying a spiritual master of a very high caliber.  That does something to your consciousness.  The first time I felt tremendous peace, both after and during the performance.  I always feel so comfortable in that role.   It is a very very special experience.”

“I have always had an affinity for Sri Aurobindo both for his writings and his poetry.  So it was a huge honor for me and so it was a dream come true that I could play the part.” He also appreciates greatly how Devashishu was able to mold the original play into 4 self contained and meaningful portions.  “He knows how to draw a story into it while at the same time doing justice to the original play.”

Despite there being a gap of one year between parts 2 and now part 3 Abhinabha says, “I always had confidence.  I knew Devashsishu was planning for this year.  I was confident that it was going to happen.  I am looking forward to the last part because that is where Sri Chinmoy moves to the ashram with his family.   That is going to be very sweet for us. ”

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“People need humor, especially after running 26 miles.”  Devashishu was speaking just after completing his own theatrical marathon.  One in which he had to overcome a different set of obstacles.   Namely writing a hour plus script and then having a minimal amount of time to rehearse.

A few days earlier he had at least expressed some doubts about the project all coming together but now after a flawless performance he can happily confirm, “yes it has worked.”

He confesses that one of the reasons there had been some doubts was that he had gotten sick shortly after arriving in New York for celebrations.  “I was just a little under the weather.” Having written and directed and performed in many plays over the years he describes the enormous amount of energy needed to make it all happen.  During celebrations in particular many are involved in many different activities.  “Some of these guys are in 2,3, or 4 singing groups.”

When I mention how his lead actor had run a very fast marathon just earlier he says, “I can’t imagine.  A 2:39 marathon, rehearsing for a concert that is tomorrow night, and he is in a singing group that is performing every day.  So to do this is something.  But part of the aspect that makes this all so fun is that people are so busy that they are in a mode that is just all giving.  You just have to give as much as you can when you can.”

“There is something about the dynamism that you pour into each of the events.  But you get on a role here during celebrations.  You are doing this and you are doing that. I think it makes you lighter, I think it makes you brighter.  It makes your mind clearer and it gives you tremendous joy.”

When the play is happening he says the most important thing for him to do is to maintain the feeling  “What I am really concerned about is that Sri Chinmoy’s play the Descent of the Blue has such depth and profundity in it, and how it captures Sri Aurobindo’s consciousness that you want to somehow bring that consciousness over.  That is the main thing.”  From both the audience’s point of view and his own he feels that play on this Warm August evening managed to do that.

“There were moments where you really felt who Sri Aurobindo is and what he gave to the world.  Sri Chinmoy captures that so beautifully in his play.” As for if the final installment will take place next August he is not yet certain.  “When I sit down to write the play sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t  happen straight away.  It can take a while and usually at some point some fire pushes it through.  Some ideas come and it all starts coming together.

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2017 Sri Chinmoy Swim-Run Trio

Instructions

Start

Heading out to first buoy

First turn

First out of the water

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