July 23: To Make Progress

“The physical is not the main factor in the race, although you use the physical to keep moving forward.  But something else is happening.  That soul’s world, that reality is what I am trying to think of more today.”….Arpan

Photo by Prabhakar

For some months now Arpan has been dreaming about this day, his 60th birthday.   Clearly visualizing  how he would be able to celebrate his soul’s day here, by running 60 miles on the course of the 3100 mile race.  For quite a few years he would come by himself alone and start running here shortly after midnight. Run throughout the dark night and into the warm bright embrace of the dawn.  Keep on going, lap after lap, mile after mile until he had run the exact same miles as was his age.  He called this project, his Ageathon.

Arpan 2009

His birthday has always been an important occasion for him over the years. On that special date each year he saw it as a perfect opportunity to offer his gratitude to his spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy, by running a mile for every year he had spent on earth.

A task that becomes ever more difficult as the required mileage relentlessly notches upwards while simultaneously the strength and endurance to accomplish it flows towards an unforgiving precipice of diminishing capacity.

What distinctly and ironically separates this simple wish from any other year is that as of this morning he has already coaxed, coddled, cajoled, and literally begged his reluctant body into already running 1988 miles on the course.

He has forged an all consuming epic battle here on this cruel sidewalk for 36 straight days. A tremendous achievement and yet one that also brings into striking clarity an almost insurmountable mathematical burden.

What seems so unavoidably evident now is  that the trajectory of his dreams will now no longer be able to carry his uncooperative body victoriously to the 3100 mile finish line.  The ultimate distance, barring some true divine intervention, will still be spectacular, and quite possibly record breaking.  As he moves further into the depths of the final 2 weeks the glimmer of what that goal will actually be will certainly grow more bright and eventually be revealed and manifested.

As he starts his running this morning he is confronted with both a physical dilemma and a divine opportunity.  For the first part it seems almost as though his physical has abandoned him at this most precious juncture of his life.  Quickly surrendering to a now growing list of injuries when it has served him impeccably through decades of endurance running.   What distance it will relinquish and grudgingly allow will be ultimately revealed at the stroke of midnight tonight.

More importantly though is the reality that Arpan is a true aspirant and spiritual seeker.  Before him over the next 18 hours of his birthday will be his heart’s gift and his soul’s treasure.  Instead of diving into the murky depths of his body’s pain he will attempt to rise beyond and above the physical horizon.  Allow the dimensions of his world not be defined and limited by what his grumbling muscles are speaking just now, but by what melody  his grateful heart chooses to sing for all eternity.

The ordinary human body is imperfection incarnate. This imperfection can be transformed into perfection only when the body voluntarily offers itself to the soul’s ever-growing Light, Wisdom and Bliss. A day is bound to dawn when the body will make this offering. Then the body and the soul will run together to fulfil the Supreme’s Mission—the mission of nature’s transformation, the mission of the revelation, manifestation and fulfilment of the highest Truth here on earth.

Sri Chinmoy, Eastern Light For The Western Mind, Agni Press, 1973.

Photo by Abakash 2004


Sarvagata arrives this morning and seems by his recent mileage to have once again returned to top form.

Honored by his small courageous band of brothers.  Happy Birthday is sung and Day 37 begins.

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“Yeah the ageathon.  I have done it enough this race where I may not have to do it today because I am suffering with a little injury.  Shinsplints in the right leg.  It was in the left leg a few weeks ago.  Now that one is basically just strong enough to keep me going.”

After the first shinsplints he had an Achilles problem that once that was cleared was followed by the next case of shinsplints in the other leg.  “My left leg was pretty much recovered.  I would say 95%.  It is my right leg that is now ailing me and I don’t know how it happened, but I tried to be careful.  Maybe it is the old body.  Like an old car, you fix one thing and then something else goes.”

“I am just trying to be happy on my birthday and try and figure out how to make my body work, so that I can stay here all day.”

As for the goal of running 60 miles today.  “Every year is different.  I think I deserve the credit of 60 miles since I have already done it here quite a few times.  It can be adapted.  I am not going to try run on an injured leg. ”

The other runners singing Happy Birthday.  “It means a lot to me.  We have a good team here.  I think we respect each other and support each other, and I felt it.  Every day we feel it.  Some people are doing really well and some people are having a hard time. There is a lot of love and a lot of support.”

“I am just trying to be happy.  It is my soul’s day so….right now my body is not 100%.  I am going to try and not identify so much with the body.  And if I can identify with the soul, and I guess that is the whole reason for coming into the world, to bring the soul into the world to make progress.  Then the body will respond when it is time.  I just have to be patient.”

At this point Stutisheel shuffles up beside us.  “You know Stutisheel and I were running together on my birthday 8 years ago.  And Sri Chinmoy was coming around in a car being driven.  He stopped and handed me some prasad, some food, and he held my hand there, said some nice things.”

“There were tears in my eyes and I came back to Stutisheel and he was also crying.  So I am trying to remember that and feel that that blessing is still there.  That Sri Chinmoy is still here.”

“It was more than looking into your eyes, because sometimes even if his eyes were closed,there was a feeling of oneness, that was full of love and compassion.  Sri Chinmoy could identify with someone so deeply that you could feel that your whole being was being given a boost.  Like you become more than you think you are.  In other words he brings your soul forward, in a way that doesn’t even have to be physical contact, or eyes.  But in a way it is a reality that begins to become more clear.  Sri Chinmoy lived in the souls world.  It was a clear reality to him, but to us it isn’t very clear.”

He describes that any experience with Sri Chinmoy was very real but that it came from the inside out.  “It is not a mental excitement.  Something deeper.”

“It is hard to explain to people who don’t meditate or try and feel a spiritual side in their life.  Or even people who do but don’t experience that through running.  In this kind of event you can actually make spiritual progress and have spiritual experiences.  But if you try and do that and try and be soulful and happy as much as you can.  Then you will have experiences.”

“It is comparable to someone trying to climb a high mountain peak.  There is a lot of difficulties.  Your life is at risk in an outer sense.  There are a lot of harsh realities you have to face when you climb a mountain.  Something inside them drives them to feel such an uplifting experience, just to attempt it.  That they will go back there and do it again.  So it is hard to explain it unless you try it in your own life.  Whether it is running or climbing a mountain, swimming, whatever your endeavor is if it takes you to an experience of self transcendence.  A place where you are beyond where you have been before.  And beyond just the physical experience.  That is the experience we are striving for here.”

“Because we are multi day runners we try and see the maximum we can do on the outer plane.  It is not just about the miles.”

“I want to thank everyone that supports us either coming here and helping or virtually.  It really means a lot.  It is hard to respond to that support, but it does help us a lot.  I want to express my gratitude for all the people who do pay attention to this and have some feeling for it and offer their good wishes or support.  It is very meaningful.  So on my birthday, it is kind of like I want to give back some how, and not think about my problems, but think about all the blessings that we have gotten from people all over the world and from Sri Chinmoy.”

Click to Play Interview

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3 Comrades of the road.

Bird Watching

Steps and shadows

Grahak still chasing the goal.

Doggy treats

A happy moment

Behind it all

The sky is the limit

Arpan recites the Poem of the Day

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Enthusiasm Awakeners…Click to Play….

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Do you want to make progress?
If so, then take each problem
Not as a challenging
But as an encouraging friend of yours
Who is helping you to arrive
At your ultimate Destination.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 30, Agni Press, 1982.

4 Comments to “July 23: To Make Progress”

  1. kaushalya says:

    Happiest Birthday, Arpan! Oneness-hearts from everywhere are joined in wishing you divine good cheer, endurance and a soulful time on the journey.Courage!

  2. nirmala says:

    ….Allow the dimensions of his world not be defined and limited by what his grumbling muscles are speaking just now, but by what melody his grateful heart chooses to sing for all eternity…….No wonder we can choose this blog to read in our spare time. Not only that, this was the quotation that I personally most needed to read today. Happy Birthday Arpan ))))keep smiling. I remember when you installed the big mirror from Sri Chinmpy which I purchase on the Aspiration-Ground in our house, it makes everything look bigger and nicer since then, so is our gratitude, since then 11 girls live in joy and peace so to speak.

  3. nirmala says:

    you are not only an uplifer of that particular mirror but also an uplifter of the hearts around you, thank you Arpan for being part of the 3100 mile race you are real encouraging for us all.

  4. Hridayinee Williams says:

    Such an inspiring journal entry today, thank you! So many hearts are right there with you all. Happiest Soul’s Day Arpan! Hope the day was full of smiles. 🙂

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