August 5: Reach Our Highest

“I really believe there are some hidden secrets here, which we just have to reveal.  Each year I try to go more deep.  This is the place where we can really reach our highest.”….Atmavir

For 6 years in a row this place has been Atmavir’s 2nd home, a sacred place in which, through great personal sacrifice, and with tremendous focus and self discipline he has run 3100 miles each time.  Now for a brief time he sits upon a chair while his spiritual family celebrate his victory of once again reaching the summit of this impossible task.

There is of course a glaring irony in his achievement.  For all that he has struggled, and suffered, and sacrificed so much for, the reward for this effort is not visible in any traditional or tangible way.  What ever secret that has been revealed, what celestial height he has set foot upon and  what ever precious inner experience he has realized cannot be seen.

What he does have are the subtle precious jewels of experience within his heart, acquired through his devotion and  his inner faith.  The only thing most certain and definable is the calculable knowledge that he has completed the distance, nothing else is provable.

On this busy Sunday afternoon the course looks very far from being  a sacred place, where inner knowledge and illumination can be discovered and revealed.  The majority of those who are spending time here are busy at playing games and having fun.  The inner life is the last thing from their minds.  Kids are splashing in the fountain, men are swinging for the fences playing baseball and basketball.  A typical raucous afternoon in the park where all the diverse elements of  humanity are drifting here and there around this place in which Atmavir has sought the highest within himself.

What distinguishes him from everyone else is that his absolute faith in his running task here is unshakeable.  His eyes need not see proof of his reward, he feels and experiences his inner achievement in his heart, in a clear and unmistakable fashion.  The key to unlock the divinity in its fullest form and fashion is to simply run here each day all summer long.

For Atmavir there is a great similarity between running here and the story of the Bhagvad Gita.  Just as how Krishna instructs Arjuna before a great battle he feels that his lessons can be learned here by running.

Faith is not a mere emotional feeling to stick to one’s belief . It is a living inner breath to discover, realise and live in the truth . Faith is the exercise taken by a seeker of his own will to force himself to stay in the all-seeing and all-fulfilling Will of God.

Sri Chinmoy, Commentary On The Bhagavad Gita, Agni Press, 1971

Reaching inner perfection is like pressing down on a springboard.

If you stand on a spring and press it down, the harder you press, the higher you will go.

So in the spiritual life also, the deeper you go within, the deeper your focus of concentration, the higher the perfection you reach.

When you go deep, deeper, deepest, you can feel you are reaching high, higher, highest.

If you are sincere, if you are dedicated, if you are devoted, if you are soulful, if you are unconditional, at that time you will jump up like a spring to the highest when you go deep within

Sri Chinmoy, Perfection-World, Agni Press, 1974.

On Tuesday if all goes well it will be Vasu’s turn to cross the line

Start Day 50

So many things that can be seen but perhaps not noticed

Friends and champions keep coming back here.

Shadri cannot remember the first time she came but hasn’t missed a visit in years making each one count.

Stutisheel knows this is his 9th summer here

For Vasu it is his first time here but probably not his last

How to see the sacred within the very ordinary outer world.

After the other runners finished.  “The energy definitely changed that’s clear.  Now it is a little bit slower energy.  Not so dynamic.  But for me I just go my normal pace. I go according to the weather.  It doesn’t really affect me, I just go my own pace all day.  I try and do my best every day.”

He ran with a visitor last night who told him that this was for him the most humid summer he ever experienced since moving here in the mid 60’s.  “The humidity is really tough.  I am not complaining I am just saying it is very difficult for everybody.”  Atmavir has looked long and hard at trying to solve the problems of a NY summer.  Taking iron supplements appears to have helped him this year.  He says it is a problem with his blood that he first discovered many years ago now.  But one that he has yet to find the perfect antidote.

“The last 3 summers were really extremely difficult for me.  I had to find some key to deal with the problems.  For me running is no problem, the weather affects me the most.  In the evening when it is cooler I am running the fastest and not really even tired.  I know my muscles are quite strong.  I always have hope and faith that another year it will be better.”

“I mad friends with many people this year.  It is really amazing and spontaneous to talk to people.  I really love people.”

We run by the Enthusiasm Awakeners and he gets a huge applause. “I really treasure them.  They have such a power.  Such a big push for us.”

“This year I was really focused on not wasting time.  Not talking too much.  Mostly I was running alone.  I was chanting a lot, I was listening to the Gita which is my favorite book.  A conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.  For me the conditions here and the conversations in the Gita are the same.  They are very special and significant.  It is not a coincident that we are running the race here.”

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There can be beauty in the hardness.

The miles are not all hard

“If I was here as a journalist I would be more with different runners.  Now I am focusing a lot on Pradeep.  I think you see here 11 personal struggles unfolding as the race goes on.  11 stories developing all the time.  I came in the latter stages of the race so the game is set kind of.  You know who is going to make it and who is not going to make it.  It is kind of the end of the story.  It is like 11 different stories and 11 different experiences.  At the same time there is this overriding sense of oneness.  It is not really like a race.  It is a race in fact which everybody is trying to race against themselves.  It is not like a marathon in which you compete against others.  I think that sense is very important, that there is this oneness and at the same time everybody is struggling.  There is just a tremendous amount of suffering that they go through.”

“You really have to be here on a daily basis to get into it.  Because if you are only here once in a while you just see them go around and around.  Nothing much is happening.  AT the same time lots of things are happening.  You need to be here for that.”

We are looking at the board with all its numbers.  “It is almost incomprehensible. It is a whole different ball game.  It is a whole different sport.  I really have tremendous respect for the runners.  Running a marathon is like a warmup for these guys.  To see them going around and around and around is unbelievable.  I have tremendous respect.  Sometimes I think, wow, maybe one day I will run this race.  If I look far into the future that is.”

“The degree of suffering is inspiring.  They go through such suffering and they bear it day by day by day.  That is really something that you can take home.  In the marathon there is also suffering.  It may be more intense but there is much less time.  You are suffering maybe for half an hour, in the last part of the race.  All these guys have tremendous willpower which is an important quality in marathon running as well.  Willpower, determination, all these qualities and you see them here all the time.”

“I think one of Pradeep’s greatest strengths and what I really value in him as a friend is his constant cheerfulness.  His attitude is so good.  He is always smiling and he is always happy.  He is just honored and grateful that he can run this race.  He had been dreaming about this race for years.  Him just to be here is already the greatest blessing.  Also how he deals with everything is so….such poise. He just accepts everything.”

“Physically he does have a big challenge.  He cannot eat everything.  His body is not as strong as some of the other runners.  It is really great seeing him give his best shot and being so cheerful about it.  Physically I know he is going through tremendous suffering and pain.  It is really an inspiration.”

“Also what it teaches me is that the body is an incredible machine.  You can heap and heap such mileage on it and it just bounces back with such strength.  That may be another point for the marathon.  That you can improve the body even though now you may be a 3 hour marathoner.  This race teaches you that if you go at it you can become a 2:30 marathoner and if you keep at maybe you can become a world class marathoner, 2:15, 2:10, whatever.  So there is always this sense of progress.  The body is able to make progress and improve.”

“Pradeep has been telling me that the biggest difficulty is the first week, when you suffer like anything.  Then at a certain point you snap.  The body snaps out of it and the body feels kind of refreshed.  It sometimes it happens that after 5 or 6 weeks into the race you get your second wind.  That is incredible.  That is really inspiring, that if you have that in this race, you can certainly have it in other races too.  To use that ability the body has to transcend.  It is the biggest lesson of this race, transcendence.  We can all transcend.  And many times we don’t believe it.  Our minds doesn’t believe it.  But here they prove it.  If you watch this race it is the biggest proof there is that we can transcend all the time.  I think for runners of any category that can be a great lesson.”

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Pain is momentarily relieved and runners run

Music fills the air

Vasu will be next

The numbers all finally fall into place

The goal is won

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this man just finished the 3100 mile race for the 6th time.  Atmavir Spacil finished the 3100 mile race in 49 days, 9 hours, 48 minutes and 58 seconds.  Which is an average of 62.745 miles a day or 100.978 km a day.  He is still ranked 7th all time.  This is an amazing achievement 6 in a row.  He has such a heart when he runs.  He runs with his heart.  A tremendous competitor but one of the nicest guys in ultra running history.”….Sahishnu

“I am very grateful that you came.  Hopefully see you here next year. I always feel I have a family here.  It always feels like home, my second home for me.  I would love to come next year again.  I love it here.”….Atmavir

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Shadri recites the Poem of the Day

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   Enthusiasm Awakeners….Click to Play….

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The outer runner runs through the golden gate and arrives at the sound-kingdom. The inner runner enters into the unique palace, runs up to its highest floor and places himself at the very Feet of the Silence-King.

Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974.

2 Comments to “August 5: Reach Our Highest”

  1. kaushalya says:

    In the dead of winter, we will be able to come back to Perfection Journey,and be energised by the immortal experiences and insights chronicled so well by our reporter and photographers. How lucky we are to have this to inspire us at any time. Gratitude to absolutely everyone!

  2. […] rewards may not be visible to the spectator or armchair race follower, but are substantial. Read : August 5th 2012 Reach Our Highest Best wishes to all ultrarunners around the globe, Mark D & Family Here are the final […]

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