This morning after I left the race I went for a run nearby in a local park. Quite by accident I happened to pick up a fragment of conversation that 2 runners were having as they passed by me going in the opposite direction. What I heard one of them say was, “If I could kill my enemies, the whole world would have more peace.” For some reason those few words crept into a little corner of my mind and just refused to vacate the premises.
The first reasonable thought that occurred to me was that the man was probably joking, and by some grand stretch of the imagination, and put into some more benign context, might actually have been just a small part of a grander and funnier narrative. In isolation of course it wasn’t, it was just spooky. It would be hard to imagine, no matter the scenario, that the man if he were to carry this out have any satisfaction whatsoever let alone there being more tranquility on a global level.
What occurred to me after digesting these observations was that for most of us, it is the tiny things that cause us and others to suffer the most frequent pain. An unkind word aimlessly launched and yet it still finds its trajectory inevitably striking anothers heart. A careless act that tumbles domino like into a series of cascading calamities. Or even one of our own negative thoughts that somehow gets imbedded into the fabric of our own fertile imaginations and simply festers and stealth-fully expands.
For Stutisheel however yesterday the tiniest thing that was causing him to suffer unimaginably, was a speck of grit that most of us could probably not see even if you put it right in front of you. Once it was removed from his eye however, he suddenly felt as though the weight of the world had been taken off his shoulders. He says, “that for 3 days I was crying and crying.” When I ask if this was figuratively or literally. “By the 3rd day it was both.”
“First it was just the eye that wanted to get rid of the particle, but cannot. I just took it and accepted it as it is. But yesterday I was on the verge, everything became so bad. I was on the limit of my endurance.” He describes a combination of hot weather, bad eye, and some pain in the legs. “Everything came together. I was almost…..crazy.”
Despite this he maintained his mileage, running well over 60 miles on each of the days. “We only know how to run.” At 7pm last night he says, “my savior came. God answers my prayers.” Maral showed up at that time, who is actually a dentist and asked to examine his eye. Within 30 seconds he said, “heh success, I have found it. In another minute I was released. It was a very small particle, like a piece of sand. I was astonished how this smaller than the smallest particle could make you crazy.”
I then asked what he may have learned from this. “First of all I am really happy, that despite the crying eye, the bad mood, and the bad weather, I was really stable with the miles. For me this is a good sign. Then, God answers prayers. That is my lesson.”
Click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/stutisheel.mp3|titles=stutisheel]
Yesterday Ashprihanal had a good day. He ran 133 laps, which was 3 more than any of his 2 closest pursuers who both had 130. It seems clear now that summer has at last arrived. For the next 3 days it will be typical New York weather, hot and muggy.
“This is how grace works,” he says. Sarvagata is having an extraordinary race. When you take into account the fact that he has never run a race anywhere near this far, what he has been able to achieve each and every day here really defies the imagination. Giving credit to grace is a good enough explanation for anyone. “It descends and I am transformed. I am surprised, delighted and happy.”
He had told me earlier about a profound spiritual experience that he had earlier in the race. At that time he was moved to tears by the power and beauty of it. He says in smaller ways this is continuing, nearly every day. “Bigger ones come a little more seldom. But still I am really really grateful.”
He says they could only take place here while running in the Self Transcendence race. “Absolutely, the intensity of this race. The one pointed concentration, consciousness. I am not so sensitive to say it for sure, but this place is kind of magical, because of all that Sri Chinmoy has put into it.”
When asked if he concentrates in any way on the laps he has to do each day. “That is very interesting. Sometimes at the beginning of the day I get a number. Like for example 140. I am really surprised. I don’t feel that I am great, for example, and then I start to think, ‘140,’ it sounds so great. It is a really big number.”
He had done 130 laps last night and I suggest that 140 is in fact a huge number. He says, “if I would think like that, I would never reach it. So I say, fine body, no problem. Because once I did 144. So I see, by God’s grace, that my body has the capacity to do 144. So 140 is not so bad.”
“The first time I did 141, it was like a bell inside. It was so nice.” This experience doesn’t happen every day. (laughter) “I have different kind of days. A couple of days I had a problem with my Achilles.” At this point he says he simply asked some of his fellow runners for advice. “The best expert was Ashprihanal. He had this problem in 2 races or maybe more. He was so nice, so kind. He told me everything about it. I don’t know what healed this achilles. Ashprihanal’s big heart, or all the treatment that I used.”
“This is the amazing thing about this race. All the runners don’t hide anything. If they have something they offer it with so much enthusiasm. I have an image of all my fellow runners, who did this race 7,8, times.” He feels that through the sacrifice of all those who have run the race before him that they have somehow changed, not just he nature of the course, but the very fabric of the road itself. “They made it softer.”
“On another time Stutisheel said, you see, I am passing you. And I told him. Stutisheel, you passed me with 8 races. You are 8 races ahead of me. I will never reach you. Whatever experience I have now, it is because of you. Because you suffered so much, and worked so hard. You plowed this concrete with your golden feet. I am so so grateful to him, and for all those who did it, and still do it. So this is my daily experience. When I am thinking about all those people around me, who offer me everything they have, selflessly, everybody.”
I ask him if Ashprihanal, who is now just 35 miles ahead of him, has any effect on his daily running. “Let me tell you about Ashprihanal, he is a demigod. A running demigod. He is forever and forever the best of the best. So there is no competition with demigods, for human beings like me. When I see his light feet, you know his dance. I cannot say he is running, he is dancing all the time, in Ecstasy. He inspires me so much, and makes me lighter. When I see his style I feel so much light and joy. When I run behind him, it is all inspiration.”
” Places and numbers are not so interesting. When I start to think about them then I start to get injured.” As we pass the board he sees that his total is currently 1973 and smiles. Telling me that that is his birthday. He does listen very carefully to the counter but is not ruled by it. For example he is able to learn simply when it is time to break and occasionally pass a significant milestone.
“I really concentrate on the race, on my shoes, on my food, and my laps. Not because I compete but because if you do that you can avoid injuries, and you can stay focused.” He describes feeling the grace so powerfully enter him that he has to be careful not to simply loose control and do too much. If that happens than a price will be paid, if not the next day than certainly the following.
I mention that many times I have taken his picture and there seems to be pain in his expression. “That is not pain. That is my inner cry.” He describes that particularly in the morning the body resists what it needs and has to do. He compares starting in the morning to taking off from a launchpad in a rocket. “First you need a good start to overcome gravity.” He describes how he really wants to offer his gratitude to his late teacher with each moment that he runs here.
As for pain. “You can’t run 28 days and have no pain.”
Yesterday Dimitry showed up to be a helper for him until the end of the race. He is a friend and he says, “I am very happy he is here, and I already feel it. Stutisheel said a helper can save you one or 2 days over the entire race.”
click to play interview[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/sarvagata.mp3|titles=sarvagata]
Click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/baladev.mp3|titles=baladev]
click to play[audio:http://perfectionjourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/parvati.mp3|titles=parvati]
Question: Is Grace the most important thing?
Sri Chinmoy: Grace is most important. But Grace will descend only on that particular person who cares for Grace. Grace will help you to have discipline. Grace does everything. Grace is like sunshine. If you keep your windows open, then only can the sunlight enter. But if you keep your heart’s door closed, then how can sunlight enter? There are spiritual people who keep all their doors and windows open so that the inner light can enter and illumine their entire being. But there are others who will enjoy sleep when the sun is out. You are up praying and meditating but your brother is fast asleep. True, the sunlight is for everyone. But you are utilising the Grace most divinely, whereas your brother is not utilising the Grace at all. Grace is for everyone, but how you utilise it is of paramount importance.
Sri Chinmoy, Perseverance And Aspiration, Agni Press, 1976.