He spent 27 years of his life in prison. It was such a harsh place that he was allowed to receive only one visitor per year. He grew up in a world that gave him few rights and precious little freedom. Yet when he emerged from prison he left his bitterness and despair behind him. He knew that if he were to continue to hate he would never be free.
Instead he went forward to not only liberate his country South Africa, but also to become a shining example to the world as well.
To demonstrate, like no world leader had done before, that there is more power in forgiveness than there is retribution. Nelson Mandela on this day would have been 96. As a tribute to him and his life of service , the UN has declared July 18th, his birthday, as Nelson Mandela day in 2009.
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended….”Nelson Mandela
“I admire people who strive for further peace in the world. Who also inspire humanity for a better life of happiness and peace of joy. Nelson Mandela was a person who dedicated his life to achieve a better world, and a world of peace. I cannot compare myself to such a person. What I am doing is a humble offering. It is just a little drop that can give some inspiration to someone. This is one of my goals.”
“Yesterday I felt so much, that this world would be flooded with peace and that no war would be on earth.”
Click to Play Interview:
It was not a fair question. I had asked Jayasalini to compare her struggle, as well as that of all the runners here, to that of Noble Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela. A man who’s every word and action at one time spelled out the fate of his nation.
Each day she and the others move forward through their self imposed struggle for a goal, which is for her still 1100 miles away. She made 2000 last night.
Yet when you see her shining smile each day and as well the faces of all who run here. How they continue to endure and forge on against such an impossible task. We always have to be reminded at times of the true source of the inspiration that pushed and pulled them to come.
The irresistible tug of their heart and beings to come from so many far off places. That same power that continues to flood them from within with hope, peace and joy. The power that reaches out to the sometimes unreceptive physical. Yet somehow still their legs continue to find the strength to endure one more lap after another.
This same power Is also inside each of us as well, no matter that we sleep or that we also pursue our own great impossible dreams.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done…..Nelson Mandela
Dear President, yours is the life of a supremely chosen instrument, embodying both the excruciating bondage-pangs and the soaring freedom-dreams of your nation. The sweet hopes of your innocent childhood you unhesitatingly surrendered to Destiny’s challenging call. The loftiest goal of universal liberation you wholeheartedly embraced. Impossibility, defeat and bitterness are words never to be found in your oneness-heart-dictionary; unfathomable courage, unparalleled determination and indomitable strength radiate on every page.
Dear President Mandela, your life of unconditional sacrifice and your beloved country’s miracle-transformation are inseparable. Sleeplessly your lifeboat is plying between Africa’s bleeding heart-shore and Africa’s smiling soul-shore. Your triumphant peace-loving and oneness-building spirit the entire aspiring world shall forever love, cherish and adore.
Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy With Four African Peace-Immortals, Agni Press, 1996
The balloons are still up from late last night when Jayasalini made her 2000. She continued on for an additional 2 more miles.
It is now the start of day 34. Sarvagata continues to demonstrate his leadership by running 131 laps yesterday. His average is now 70. 2 miles a day. His previous best was 69.55. He is 784 miles from the goal.
William arrives and continues his battle to gain just enough extra laps each day to get back on pace.
Sarah finds a penny as she gets out of the car. Just to bend and pick up was a big chore.
The boys do what they have to and Sopan shuffles into view.
Stutisheel like every one else cutting up an expensive pair of shoes.
The girls quietly prepare.
Start Day 34
The weather is going to be ideal for many days to come.
“I found a rock for my son John who has always been in tune with ocean mammals. I knew he would like it.” It is a moment that is typical of the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race. Ray has been around the loop here now 2380 times over the past 33 days. If he has taken note of just about everything by now he still has another 18 days to do so.
Parvati’s mom Joey started a project of painting rocks sometime last year and many of them are here and there tucked away in special little nooks and corners around the course. Ray had seen this rock with a whale on it several days earlier and wanted to ask permission before he collected it for his son John. He is incredibly polite and respectful. At a time when you may wonder how it is even possible for any of the runners to remain as cheerful as they are.
“John has been around many Sri Chinmoy races when he was a young man. This is something that will go on John’s desk. I know the level of appreciation that he will have for it. I still had to ask for permission but I had been watching it for many days. I have been whale watching.”
As for his current pace. “My last 2 days have been 61 miles and 36 miles. That is 97 so the average is 40 something. I am still leaning a little to the left. When I had my big 100km day I leaned to the right. Took some rest breaks and it went away.”
“Yesterday I took 2 rest breaks and went fairly easy. (66 laps) Before this my easy days were 51 or 55 laps. So this easy day was greater than those.”
“My goal is to continue on. I don’t want to put a quantitative number on it. Because it is presumptuous to say one or the other. I would like to keep pushing. I would like to keep achieving. And I do have this thing of not being beaten by 1000 miles or less. So maybe my goal is 2101 miles. I won’t stop at 2000 nor will I stop at 2100. I am going to keep going until midnight of the last day.”
Click to Play Interview:
Ananda-Lahari had 74 laps yesterday.
He just keeps going
He has 1543 miles so far.
Sopan studies the lap sheets every morning.
“Today at least during the first half of the day I felt a big improvement in my legs! I think due to several reasons. Imagine moving in slow motion for 11 days about 16 hours a day and more than half of the time with an effort to just make the next step, stay relaxed avoiding tension in painful arias of the body etc. …. and all of a sudden you can walk pretty much freely without much effort with OK speed…”
“It is a great feeling! My legs felt strong at least for some time! In general I have had a good strong overall feeling physically and mentally even thou my lower back affecting the strength of my legs often would cause me general tiredness which after a break is gone. A few things helped me in the past couple days… ”
“Yesterday night I got a laser acupuncture treatment of my back, Ray being a runner and coach with a lot of experience showed me several simple exercises which I like so far the most of all exercises I tried, I added an extra thick insole under my orthotics and for some reason yesterday I tried tying very tight one of my compression socks just above my left ankle which took away 90% of the discomfort/pain/stiffness in my left calf….”
“The tight compression sock looks very fashionable! And it does a great job!… Got couple of compliments! I am happy that some improvements are happening which shows also in my generally positive and relaxed mental state during the last 5 days! It is such a cool feeling to mentally being able to take the whole thing with the injury and dealing with it for 3 weeks already and at the same time stay positive! I also feel that all the runners are more relaxed and surrendered in a positive way at this stage of the race.”
Teekshanam had a good day yesterday with 90 laps
He has 1829 miles.
The weekend has arrived and athletes of all types will be coming by to compete and play.
I can’t wait to show you just how fast I am at 50 meters. At 3100 miles……well you have the wrong dog.
Baladev had 91 laps yesterday.
He created a very beautiful slide show the other day of sunset shots.
He has 1904 miles.
I am grateful to him for these shots because the evening sky has eluded me for the past month.
William is getting the job done. As he can express it best himself.
He had 117 laps yesterday.
Alan arrived a little late yesterday due to some mechanical difficulties with his plane.
He only needs to average 113 laps but at this rate he will catch up with the pace within the next week.
Yes, it is true. Just look at this green pasture, and it is on the other side.
Nidhruvi is nearly there. She did 108 laps yesterday.
This really is her world.
She started the day with 1959 miles and by afternoon she reached 2000.
jayasalini made 2000 late last night.
She is such a great athlete, and her crew spend long hours helping her in every way they can. Pati is up every night into the very late hours massaging her. She knows better than most the toll that Jayasalini is paying to get those 2000 miles.
She did 109 laps yesterday.
Many come here to exercise. Many know what is happening here and others simply march to their own songs.
The gate hasn’t been opened yet. Just get in line behind us and you will be number 3 to get in.
Camp sometimes a busy place.
Sarah did 112 laps yesterday and has 2044 miles.
She is so incredibly good at what she does.
Yet she also knows when to be playful. She tells the story of how this balloon floated across the highway and into her arms. “It is a sign. It absolutely flew into my hand. Cosmic hunh!”
Click to Hear conversation:
She then pauses to memorize the words to the song of the day.
He daily pace is 61.98 miles per day. Suprabha’s record is 62.49 miles a day.
I am just so glad to get home…..Now where did I put my keys?
Stutisheel without any signs of being worse for wear did his best day ever this year. 129 laps.
He has 2095 miles now and perhaps looking better now than at any other stage of the race this year.
He even does a skit with Alakananda and Sopan.
Vasu had 122 laps yesterday, and still occasionally runs with his healing stick.
We run past a couple of runners together and I ask him how Sarvagata manages to have days of 135 laps. “The energy comes but the body must be ready to receive it.”
When you ask him what problems he has had so far this year his list is quite long. But when he mentions any of them, whether it is a blister or shin or whatever there is never any complaint or feeling sorry.
“I think that every time we have some problem we then have an opportunity to pray to the Supreme more sincerely. Then he says there can be a miracle of miracles.”
He describes how one day here he felt as he was running suddenly there was a catastrophic pain. “I stopped, and I remembered about what happened to Surasa when she ran here her first time. She was near the finish line and just couldn’t move at all.” They ended up in her case having to get a car and to pick her up. Somehow she managed to finish the race on time.
Thinking about her Vasu started to pray very strongly for help. “Then I could move, though it was painful. After somebody helped me I started running again. I think in the normal life such an injury it would have been not possible to keep going. But now I think the Supreme takes care of everything.”
“When we get problems the Supreme tries to do something with it. He can get an experience in us and through us. It is his game. We are just his players.”
Click to Play Interview:
Well I came to play but I guess I am going to have to clean up first.
What do you have to complain about. My GPS said this was Jones Beach. I found the sand, but where the heck is the water?
Pranjal did 118 laps yesterday.
“I am feeling pretty good. I am having a problem only with one toe. It is not that bad actually.”
I just crossed 2100 miles so I just have 1000 miles to go. The last 1000 miles but they are going to be harder than the first 2100 miles.”
“My legs are not as strong as they were one or two weeks ago. So I cannot do as many miles as I used to do. It is just part of the race. I knew that it would come.”
“I am pretty fast compared to last year. I was much slower so I am quite happy. I try and do my best, that is the point.”
“I can’t complain about the weather because this year it is unusually pleasant. In this case we are really lucky.”
Yuri had 119 laps yesterday and starts the day with 220 miles.
He is 202 miles ahead of last year. At his current pace it could put him in the top ten list of competitors.
He looks so confident and seems to be enjoying himself so much. So it is no surprise that yuri is doing so well.
Sarvagata just continues to be superb
His 131 laps somehow look easy but they are not.
Always help from Sarvadhara who does not leave the course for long.
Maybe it helps knowing that you have 784 more miles to go…..and maybe it doesn’t
It is snigdhas birthday and she reads the prayer this morning.
Click to Play:
Song of the Day
Click to Play:
Smilingly you touch
The head of impossibility.
Carefully you feel
The heart of impossibility.
Powerfully you transform
The life of impossibility
Into definite practicality.
Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: The Master-Key Of The Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990