This evening in Miami there is going to be a major league baseball game. The Miami Marlins are going to host the Washington Nationals in Landshark stadium. It is a building which can host about 38,000 people. There is every reason to suspect that there will be a great turnout this evening though there is a chance of thundershowers which could happen as well here in New York. Schools are out across America right now and kids are looking for events in which to have fun. In fact, this is the season when a lot of folks, both big and small, are thinking hard and planning at length for the ideal summer vacation. Looking forward to a chance to do nothing at all.
The distance to Landshark stadium is just over 1000 miles. Right now, if most of the runners had been heading south instead of around this hard little concrete block in Queens they could be there right now. Of course no one here is thinking much about entertainment or pleasure of any kind really. The concept of just doing nothing is a luxury that none can afford, not even for a casual moment. Their thoughts may meander but their feet do not. They may be thinking of baseball and beaches and millions of frivolous things from time to time but mostly they do not. Their focus is only on the next lap and then the next one after that. Their minds may wander but never their feet or their hearts.
Few will witness what they will do here this evening. A handful will come by tonight to hand them treats, sing songs, and wish them well. Mostly they will share the miles with themselves and a dark sky with its threatening showers. We all hope of course that it remains dry but it might not. Our encouragement of them counts for something but their courage, selfless action, and heart felt dedication of their entire beings to Self-Transcendence here is much more powerful than the sum total of a world of best wishes. They are challenging the limits of the physical while at the same time embracing the unlimited power of the spirit. For those of us who watch, it is spectator sport that costs nothing. Our only admission to this, is our hearts oneness with all those who run.
They are not seen over at the 3100 mile race that much, but what they do in this little kitchen, a half mile away, is crucial to the well being of each and every runner. The food they make with such love and selfless dedication is constantly present, even if they are not. From the moment the race is set up in the morning, snacks are ready for the tired runners, who often snatch something the moment they arrive, and then again when they leave at night and even perhaps every lap in between.
Before the runners have even woken up the cooks have already started to prepare the fuel that will get them through the day, through the many weeks and miles, and right through to the very end of their 3100 mile journey. Their efforts here can not be measured on a board or marked in miles. What they accomplish can be seen only in the strength and well being of the bodies who will run those unbelievably long miles.
He has traveled the furthest to come here. His home in Perth Australia is just about the greatest distance it is possible to travel in one direction, from this gritty New York neighborhood, before you suddenly find yourself encircling the globe and heading back here once again. The distance to Perth is 11,600 miles. When Grahak completes this race for the 3rd time the distance he will have completed over these 3 years would almost take him home. As he starts the day he is in second place. By nightfall he will most certainly have completed 1000 miles
He is sometimes known as the 14th runner. Swami Paramesh Ananda is a neighbor and friend of the race. He can often be often found running around the course early in the morning, sometimes even before the setup crew has arrived. He was away the last few weeks and seems happy to be back and once again circling the sacred loop. He does not say much and most of the time it appears as though he is deep within his own meditation. Other runners will zip by but he makes a very purposeful point of running only around the loop. His respect for the runners and the course are unmistakable.
He says, “It is very nice here. The atmosphere is good. I like being around the disciples, their minds are peaceful.” He is very much aware of the self discipline all the runners have, which is similar to that of his own organization. He knows that their goals are anything but worldly. He describes it as not looking for outer stimulus but instead they are building inner strength. “I am happy to be here. I look forward to this kind of atmosphere. It seems that in his frequent travels there are few if any places in which the inner ideals are combined so seamlessly with outer dynamism. He says, “This is the right atmosphere, for the upkeep and advancement of my spiritual life. Which is all it is.”
“Everything we do should be for spiritual growth and progress. The world out there is thinking of other things, quarreling and pleasures. Very rarely do you come into contact with people who are thinking of spirituality.” He feels that it is Sri Chinmoy, who is still giving inspiration and strength that allows miracle of the 3100 to take place here. “The whole area is charged around here. I can feel it.”
At one time, in the early 1950’s, Jim Peters was the best marathon runner in the world. This English distance great broke the world record for the marathon 4 times. He was the first to run under 2 hours and 20 minutes. In this race he ran 2:17 which was his personal best. He was well known for giving all that he had in each and every race that he ran.
Most athletes understand this attitude. Holding nothing back in competition is what all the finest sports figures do. In distance running however the consequences of this can be devastating. In the commonwealth games marathon in Vancouver in 1954 Jim Peters collapsed from heat stroke just before the finish line. At the time he was leading the next competitor by 17 minutes. Some years later, when the Commonwealth games returned to Vancouver, he was invited back to complete his historic last lap of the track. Continue reading “June 26 Can Only Happen Here”
From space the Google map can easily take in the entire course. From this vantage you cannot see any pain, nor fatigue, nor heat, nor damp. You are not aware of any challenge of any kind. In fact, what you see from way up here is almost unreal. The buildings and cars look like toys frozen in time, on some child’s playground. They say every picture tells a story but this one speaks so little.
Over the past 10 days the constant drone of grumbling amongst the populace of New York has swollen ever larger with each new cloud burst. Each damp day has been consecutively followed by another and still another.
For the runners, as long as their feet stay dry then they seem to appreciate the coolness and cloud that are the collateral comrades of rain.
Taking care of the feet is a daily ritual for Ananda Lahari, Pranjal, Pranab, and Pavol. It will take each of them about 15 minutes to tape and prepare their feet before the start. With the many days of rain it was particularly important to do this as the wet conditions made it easier for the feet to blister
Suprabha is one who comes ready to run. She is less than 10 miles behind where she was this time in last years race. Like nearly all here she has passed the 500 mile mark.
There is at the race, a very basic rule of math. These shoes, belonging to these feet and legs and then attached to human beings, moving relentless onward will make these numbers grow every so inexorably greater. There is no science however that can speak to, or explain, the journey taking place within them all.
Sri Chinmoy once said of Ananda lahari, “he has the best smile.” When he is running around the loop he can make it look effortless. It looks as though the earth, sometimes has no claim over him, and that he could just as easily move above and beyond the clouds. Continue reading “June 22 Everybody Who Comes Here is Changing”
Today the sun will lift itself in a great arc across the northern skies. It will offer to the world below the most light it has seen and felt in the entire year. Nature today moves officially, according to the calender, into the wide and wondrous embrace of summer. The air this morning hangs ripe and heavy. The rain will come and go but today spirits are running high. It is Father’s Day. Many students of Sri Chinmoy have come to New York to pay tribute. They have come as they have come on this same day so often over the years. A 26 mile marathon will take place across the street in tribute. Today, on this the longest one of the year, there will be no doubt or question on why people have come to this very wet concrete street to run.