There are lots of good reasons why we love to watch and play sports. Humans have been engaging in competition from the moment we could throw a rock or kick a ball. There is a natural instinct in all of us to challenge ourselves to be as good as we can be, and also from an inner view, becoming all that we are within.
Those who we think of as naturally gifted and abundantly talented are admired and often described as being superior athletes. But to excel means mostly that they have practiced and trained and prepared to perform as well as they have.
Sri Chinmoy says.
Why do we watch sports?
To receive inspiration, enthusiasm,
Joy and courage.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 15, Agni Press, 1999
At this momentous time of year there is an unusual confluence of many of the great sports all happening simultaneously. Football, tennis, cycling, just name it. Even if you are not an enthusiast there is probably some sport, some team, at least one athlete, or competition that will catch your eye sometime this month. It is an extraordinary time to enjoy sports and be inspired by them. To realize even for a moment what our bodies and spirits can individually and collectively accomplish.
Sometimes there are moments in sport that are truly historic. In late September of 1941, Ted Williams was attempting to get his hitting average up to .400 for the entire season. A rare and spectacular thing. Going into his final 2 games, a double header in Philadelphia, his average was .397. A number that would have gotten him .400. Because at the end of the season it would have been averaged upwards. But that was not how he wanted to measure himself.
“If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want more than my toenails on the line.”
Before these games he said: “I kept thinking about the thousands of swings I had taken to prepare myself,” Williams said years later. “I had practiced and practiced. I kept saying to myself, ‘You are ready.’ I went to the ballpark the next day more eager to hit than I had ever been.”
In those 2 games he not only played all the innings, but he also managed to hit fairly 6 out of 8 times at bat. This meant he finished the season with an average of .406. Something the then 23 year old ball player, as well as no one else in all of professional baseball, has ever managed to repeat in 73 years.
“It was something that required a kind of nonstop consistency,” Williams said on the 50th anniversary in 1991. “I never thought of it as going 2 for 5 every day, but that’s what it adds up to. I had to maintain my focus throughout. Although I never imagined that all these years later, no one else would do it again.
Long after the World Cup, the tour De France, and Wimbledon have finished 14 runners will be still diligently circling this block in Queens. This morning around 10am one runner, Sarvagata became the first to pass 1550 miles, the momentous half way point. As he came up the course to the scoreboard the picture above was how he looked.
For just a moment he paused. “There are a lot of nice numbers, inspiring. Today 1550 is shining even brighter than 3100. Because now it is there on the wall.” Then he continued on his way to reach a goal still a long long way off.
Question: What is the purpose of competitive sports?
Sri Chinmoy: Our aim is not to become the world’s best athlete. Our aim is to keep the body fit, to develop dynamism and to give the vital innocent joy. In competitive sports, our primary aim should be not to surpass others but constantly to surpass ourselves. In the outer life, when we run with our friends, we are seeing who is actually the best. And we cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. But we compete not for the sake of defeating others, but in order to bring forward our own capacity. Our best capacity comes forward only when there are other people around us. They inspire us to bring forward our utmost capacity, and we inspire them to bring forward their utmost capacity. This is why we have competitive sports.
If we can learn to participate in competitive sports devotedly, then we will get real joy and make real spiritual progress. But if we compete egotistically, then we are bound to suffer both inwardly and outwardly. In that case, even if we stand first, we will not obtain blessings from the Supreme, and if we do not stand first we will curse ourselves.
Sri Chinmoy, The Body: Humanity’s Fortress, Agni Press, 1974
Who knows exactly what happened, but just about every runner had an unusually great day yesterday.
Rupantar doing his morning video.
The girls putting themselves back together for another long day.
William arrives with a little more kick in his step. He had a good day yesterday.
Misha sorting out a new counter.
Pranjal fixing his feet.
Just down the block the boys are having a casual morning chat.
Start Day 23
It has to be hard to understand many things about this Self Transcendence race when you can’t spend time right here and absorb first hand some of its subtle and not so subtle aspects. That most runners should somehow collectively have good days we can try and understand for a lot of reasons.
Speculate for example that yesterday the weather was good, that they have acclimatized more, or one great performance inspired and lifted everyone else.
But how to describe and understand how Sarvagata ran 135 laps yesterday, (74 miles) cannot be comprehended even if you stood by the board all day long.
What is also surprising, to we spectators, is that maybe even he doesn’t know why or the how’s and wherefores of such a spectacular day of running.
“It is not my race,” is how he answered when I asked him about completing 1550. “I mean it is not my personal project.” Meaning of course that he is simply trying to be the best instrument that he can be.
His sister, Sarvadhara, has been at his side helping almost non stop since day one. I asked how important her presence here was for him. “I don’t think we have spent so much time together since she was a baby.” When they were both kids growing up in Berdansk in the Ukraine.
“Since then we have never had a chance to spend so much time together. It is a perfect opportunity and we both like it very much.”
“My name is Sarvagata. It means all that exists. Her’s is Sarvadhara, which means she who is in all and the supporter of all. If you read it carefully then you won’t need any more explanation. Why is our relationship so harmonious?”
This he says as a question and as well an answer.
“Here, right in the middle of everything, in the center of the world. I have to say that God exists. He loves me unconditionally, and he forgives me, you might say my darker parts. He makes the whole thing. It is oneness. What can I say?”
Click to Play Interview:
The distance he has run so far would take him from Berdansk to Frankfurt.
She is here almost by 6 am each day and is most definitely still here at night when he leaves. All the hours Sarvadhara spend here don’t add up to 18 but they are not far off. She says, “I have 2 breaks during the day. I sleep or I look for things that Sarvagata needs. Like special water or something medical. Or whatever he needs.”
The first year Sarvagata ran here she was only able to visit for about a day and then had to leave. The next 2 years are a little vague. But certainly she could not be more connected to the race and more importantly to Sarvagata’s performance than she has done now for the past 22 plus days. A job, that I joke, that at this rate she will soon be out of.
The shirt she is wearing has an inscription on it that says, ‘be positive.’ A quality that both she and her brother seem to exemplify. “Here I feel at home. I feel that I am doing the right thing. I feel that it is absolutely natural what I am doing here.”
“I feel that it is very easy to help Sarvagata, because he knows what he wants. So there is nothing difficult and nothing strange. We have the same sense of humor.” (laughs)
“I like being here. For me it is easy.”
She then describes the experience for her being here, as just like the quote from Sri Chinmoy published a couple of days ago.
There is no ‘inwardly’ and ‘outwardly’. If we feel that there is any difference between the inner life and outer life, then we shall always be failures. There should be no difference between the inner life and outer life — not even an iota.
If we have a good thought, that very good thought we have to manifest in the outer life. Inside and outside we have to take as the obverse and reverse of the same coin.
A coin has two sides, but no matter which side you are looking at, the coin has the same value. Each side is equally important. Whatever you have inside, whether it is a good thought or a bad thought, automatically gets expressed.
Sri Chinmoy, Run And Smile, Smile And Run, Agni Press, 2000
“It is not my job to know what is going on inside of him. We both have to do our jobs. He has to run and I have to help him. I do what I can. That is why there is no problem, because I try and do my job and only my job.”
Click to Play Interview:
Little treasures and big goals
Yuri had a magnificent day yesterday as well.
He had 125 laps. A particularly good day and not one he has accomplished that often.
Vajra is out on the course making it as beautiful and as pure as he possibly can.
Later on his jobs just don’t end.
Service with a smile.
“Yesterday evening was pretty nice. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold”
This morning it didn’t feel as though my legs had much energy.” He describes up and downs with energy in particularly if you are not careful with what you are eating.
He describes how well everyone looked yesterday. Almost as though everybody’s good day was in turn inspiring every one else. “It helps everybody do their best.”
“But it is still 30 days to the end of the race. So nobody can say what is going to happen.”
Pranjal had 123 laps yesterday. He is 46 miles ahead of last year.
The day at first is mostly overcast and then becomes brighter.
Stutisheel also had 123 laps yesterday.
This means he now has 1411 miles and will also be half way in a little more than 2 days.
He is having a great year here.
Counting and helping
Boy do I love that there is lots of free parking here.
Vasu moving through traffic on the course.
Vasu also had 123 laps yesterday.
He has 1395 miles and is still taking care of his feet, with a little help from Vajra.
The sky is the limit.
I am lost in a deep green wilderness. I can’t seem to find my way out to civilization.
If I don’t make it, and this letter arrives in your hands.
Please remember that I love you dearly.
It will be a much hotter day and even hotter for the next 3.
Sarah had 116 laps yesterday. The most that she has done in more than a week.
She has just had new heels put on some of her shoes.
She has 1376 miles.
Jayasalini had a typical day for her of 109 laps.
She has 1339 miles so far.
Getting great support and encouragement along the way.
Doing her very best.
Then you have to wonder just why so many runners had good days yesterday. Teekshanam had his best since day one.
He did 118 laps and now has 1325 miles. A tremendous achievement for a first timer.
He always seems to look so comfortable and efficient. Well within himself.
A great delight to everyone that he is doing so so well.
Nidhruvi passing 1316 miles.
She did 110 laps and is 19 miles ahead of last year.
She wanted to thank the Austrian sponsors for the day.
She has received lots and lots of support from home and it is clear that she likes it and that it is inspiring her.
Baladev had a good day.
He had 108 laps and now has 1313 miles.
That is 16 more laps than the previous day.
So you think this is comfortable. How about you give me your chair and you try sitting here.
Things moving and things that cannot change.
William’s table and some familiar faces going by. The temperature says 23C. But that is just for now.
An important part of William’s race for now is the presence of Tarit.
Willliam had a real good day yesterday with 113 laps.
Tarit takes the job of handling William as seriously as it may be possible to do. His own long distance running experience really helps.
William starts the day with 1247 miles and is moving comfortably throughout the morning.
Tarit by his side whenever he needs anything. Even the littlest thing like a slice of lemon in his drink he quickly runs and gets for him.
The shadows will become more important as the day becomes bright and hot.
Control tower, flight B6 is prepared to land and is now approaching runway 5.
Just a few days more and the race will be half way through.
Sopan had a tough day with 67 laps.
Ananda-Lahari had his best day since day 3.
He did 93 laps yesterday and has completed 1037 miles.
Every flower has its season and time to bloom.
Ray also had a fine Ray day.
He did 96 laps which is a really good number for him.
He started the day with 888 and by early morning had 900.
There aren’t too many pretty little flowers about the course this year. But every once in a while the really color catches my eye.
Yuri recites the prayer of the day.
Click to Play:
Song of the Day
Click to Play:
You are the one
To encourage the divine in you
To far surpass
Not only the undivine in you,
But also the human in you.
Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 22, Agni Press, 2001