July 11: A New Goal

“It is a point you achieve and then you go for a new goal.  The goal is ahead, far ahead.  It was something to celebrate and to smile for.  It was a nice achievement but I have something more to do.”

Yesterday Jayasalini achieved something historic for herself when she reached the half way point in the 3100 mile race.  A tremendous achievement since it was a longer distance over a greater period of time that she had ever run before.

“Definitely it is a golden opportunity to feel the presence of God inside.  To feel that it is all around you and that everything is so pure and divine.  Some moments that you have here are hard to describe.  They are just so beautiful.  It is definitely a golden opportunity to please the higher part of you.  And you feel that this is the right thing to do.  At this very moment and you do your best.”

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Her world for these past 26 days, as is that of each of the 14 runners, is completely different from that of yours and mine.  So diametrically detached from the familiar world that we all inhabit.  So remote from all our physical reference points that even as we look and applaud and appreciate we see only a glowing fragment.

Though it helps us to see and identify with it as best we can.   We all can stand and cheer and help for hours but then you go home while they still continue on. Hour after hour, and day after day.

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Your work may be difficult so you take a break.  You get bored so read a book or watch tv.  We all have a complex world of distractions and temptations at almost every moment trying to snatch and grab our attention.  While Jaysalini has absolutely nothing in front of her but a hard concrete sidewalk.  That and the absolute dedication and commitment that she will not stop her long hard journey, which she began 26 days ago for anything other than the finish line.

It is so simple and so pure what the runners are striving for here.  Any other undertaking in comparison that gathers our attention, or energy, or commitment seems complex, futile, and in some ways meaningless.  Because if you can see in even some small way that what the goal here is actually perfection itself, than how can we not applaud and be inspired by what they are doing. Seek out  our own glowing embers of inspiration that also burn within each of us.

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For even in our darkest slumber, even when the crush of the world seems to bind us tight, our unflagging perfection goal continues to beckons us to move on.  Beckons us to run on our own inner path that has no barriers, has no limitations, and will one day show us a sweet victory just by taking even one step more.

 

Each day
I have a new goal,
And this goal
Lives beyond the horizon.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 30, Agni Press, 2002

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July 10: Self Transcendence Is Eternal

“In this race the weather is everything.  This morning was one of the best days we have had, with low humidity and absolutely everyone is flying around the course.  This is the 26th day of the race and we have had only 2 hot days and I wouldn’t even say they were hot.  I wouldn’t classify them as really hot since we haven’t reached 100.  Which we consider really hot weather.”

“We still have a long way to go but now is the time to really get some miles in.  Right now you can store some miles up and when the real hot weather comes you can back off.  And everyone seems to be doing that.”

This was a little comment that Rupantar, the race director made this morning on the fly.

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Rupantar has been the Marathon team’s director for a long time.  He is here already at the course before the sun has peeped over the horizon and long before any of the runners have even pried their aching slumbering bones from bed.  He along with Vajra and Misha gets the camp ready.  When that is done he then he jumps into his car, which will now have to pass for a taxi and pick up the 3 girls and Stutisheel. The rest of the time it performs the unqualified yet valiant service of a delivery van.  Something the Toyota car company would not have thought possible.

Then as the dwindling minutes gradually evaporate he picks up laundry, unloads water and starts making a list of shopping to do for the day.  And yes, check the counting book to see if anyone is going to show up to count laps.  Then with just a little less than 2 minutes before 6am,  he cries out the same thing in the same pitch as he does every day.  “Everybody to the start.  We are starting on time.”  Said in just the way your mother probably spoke to you when she woke you up to go to school.

For the last 26 days and 18 years he has done this same job.  The absolute necessary skills go well beyond your imagination and probably the capacity of most CEO’s as well.  For there is before him a rolling sea of endless tasks. All that must be done like clockwork each day. Also let us not forget the things that suddenly rise up like storm clouds.  Then there is just the little bits and pieces.

Which means he always has to be positive, and find a way to  fix broken things and broken hopes.  There is always movement, and in the endless dance of life here there is simply no time for worrying or doubt or indecision. It requires Rupantar to always be enthusiastic, optimistic, and encouraging.  Abilities that don’t come too often by themselves and most definitely not in the extraordinary collection that he seems to have.

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The tide of the race is just so powerful that Rupantar, like all who are part of this race can’t stick in their heels in the sand for long if ever.  The fast flowing movement of Self Transcendence simply does not allow it. His sub story if you will, along with those of the other race directors is amazing.  Just out of view of the glaring spotlight that shines upon the 14 runners, but at the same time facilitating the miracle of Self Transcendence that all the world can see and be inspired by.

He says, “Self Transcendence is eternal. You mention the word and there is no end to it.  This race is a manifestation of that, because something you achieve today becomes your starting point tomorrow.  You achieve something and say, O that is great, but then the next day you have to go beyond that.  That is what this race does.  You run 70 miles in one day and for most people that is a week’s worth. But in this race that is just the starting point for tomorrow.  Every day they come out here they have to go beyond themselves.

“Everyone runs within themselves.  It is all the capacity that each runner has and tries to manifest it during the race.  Everything is kind of exhilarated.  You have all kinds of difficulties but you have to find the solution for them.”

The runners, all 14 of them are the the real story here each summer.  They are the living breathing glowing embodiment of self transcendence.  But Rupantar, and all the many others who work and devote themselves to this event are also most precious players.   Who if they did not all devote themselves to this glowing vision of perfection as they so willing do, than there would just be an empty sidewalk here.

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Photo by Bhashwar………………… Rupantar running with Sri Chinmoy 1979

 

Rupantar: Is physical fitness absolutely necessary for progress?

Sri Chinmoy: Some of the spiritual Masters of the hoary past did not believe in physical fitness. But on our path physical fitness is of paramount importance; it is an absolute necessity.

The physical does not operate alone. The body, vital, mind, heart and soul go together. Let us say you are walking or running soulfully. Each time you draw in a breath you feel freshness and newness. At the same time, your soul is dreaming a new vision and your heart is also participating, watching to see if somebody is in front of you or just behind you. And the vital is full of enthusiasm. So you can see how physical exercise done in a soulful frame of mind can help the whole being.

*click link to read the rest of the answer*

Sri Chinmoy, You Are Your Life’s Progress-Joy-Drum, Agni Press, 1993

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July 9: Every Experience

In all the years the 3100 has been taking place here in New York it has never ceased to amaze, astound, and thrill, both athletes and the general public alike.  Words like impossible and unbelievable are regularly and futilely used to describe, in one hopeless fashion or another, just what it is that happens here every day for 52 continuous days.

No matter what adjectives you pull out of the dictionary to describe what it is and what truly happens, they simply don’t work.  Or perhaps better expressed, they only tell a small portion of what the experience of the Self Transcendence 3100 is.

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It is perhaps the very nature of self transcendence itself that it only reveals itself fully in an inner way.  Something our  mind cannot really comprehend and yet we recognize it just the same.  But where science has made great strides in deconstructing and analyzing the physical world, learning and developing our own inner reality is a task that only we can take for ourselves.

Our knowledge of sport and athletics changed dramatically after the second world war.  The world had changed so dramatically and people were interested in seeing how much they could accomplish using all the new enthusiasm for life that was spreading around the world.

Running saw many dramatic events take place that changed peoples ideas about fitness and physiology completely.  The impossible 4 minute mile was broken by Roger Bannister, and a coach in New Zealand name Arthur Lydiard recognized that athletes could do more training than they had ever thought possible.  By doing so they could perform as elite athletes like never before.

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In Britain a young runner named Ron Hill, born in 1938, was part of a generation of runners who were willing to try for themselves running distances and times that had never been dreamed of not too many years earlier.

He understood, early on in his competitive running life, that training as much as he could was necessary in order to be the best that he could be.  What Ron Hill’s career shows is a long list of achievements.  He appeared in 3 Olympics, accomplished 3 world records.  Won the Boston marathon in 1970 shattering the course record by 3 minutes along the way.  Would race in 100 countries by the time he was 70 and ran 115 marathons in his life.  The last being Boston in 1996.

But why the life of Ron Hill is not just a foot note is what he is still doing now,  just a few months shy of his 76th birthday.   Tarit tells me this morning the story.  “He started the streak in 1964 of running every day.”  The distance has to be a minimum of at least one mile.

Ron-Hill

“Ron is a lovely guy and he is now 75 years young.  I have got to know him quite well over the last few years.  His streak was almost broken on 2 occasions.  The classic one was when he had a car crash.  It was quite a serious one.  He broke a couple of ribs and did something to his collar bone.”

“His first thought was not, O I have had a car crash but that I have already done my run this morning and that is sorted.”  The next day he is in the hospital and his wife comes to visit and believes that his streak has been unceremoniously terminated.  He is after all lying in a hospital bed with pins in place and bandages wrapped around him.  When his wife went home.  He had a chat with the nurses and said, “Can you help me out of bed.  I am going to walk around the corridors for 40 minutes.”

He told Tarit that those laps in the hospital was the hardest distance he ever completed.

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I ask Tarit the question, of what difference he sees between what Ron Hill continues to do and what the runners here are attempting.  “The guys here are doing an event.  They are motivated.  There is a start and there is a finish.  When it is your every day training, well Ron ran at a very high level, for a lot of that time.  In later years even with no competition coming up, he was more or less a recreational runner.  It is just so easy to skip a day.  To keep that streak going shows a tremendous inner capacity.  To have the motivation, to have a goal, and to stick with it.”

Come this December Ron Hill will have run every day for the past 50.  I ask Tarit if he will ever stop, “Nope.”  So he will run all the way to heaven.

Click to Play Interview:

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Ron Hill Quote:

I think that there are a lot of times when people try to create artificial boundaries between who they are in their private professional intellectual and spiritual lives. Those artificial boundaries don’t need to exist. We bring all of that to every experience whether we allow it to come through or not.”

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July 8: Food For The Soul

Each and every day the 14 runners at the 3100 mile race collectively accumulate on average  830 miles.  As of midnight last night, the end of day 23, when Pranjal was the last one to leave the course, the lights went out, and he pedaled home, they had run 19,105 miles.

Lots of things both big and small have to be perfectly in place, for this all to happen. Laps have to be counted, clothes have to be cleaned, and bodies have to be patched up, and coaxed and prodded to keep going.  All the little details and all the bits and pieces of an event like this are crucial.  Very little is left to chance.

But certainly the most important thing the runners need besides strength, determination, and a cheerful spirit, is food.

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Lots of food.  Nutritious, digestible, energizing, and packing enough calories to get them each through those long hard 60 mile days, and then back out at dawn the next day to do it all again.

And it can’t just be anything off the shelve or out of the back of the kitchen.  Runners like Sarvagata who is currently leading the race has run 1615 miles.  His body, as is those of everyone else, has now become an incredibly balanced  high performance marvel of nature.  Nobody can say for sure, but probably what each runner is doing on this brutal relentless course is not what the human body is scientifically capable of doing .  Yet somehow for the past 18 summers they miraculously still endure, enjoy, and go on.

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Nirjarini has been the main cook for a lot of those years.  This summer will mark her 11th time as the master chef of the race. A job she relishes and one that just inspires her in so many ways to come back again and again.

A chef for just 14 diners would be a simple job in any other setting than this one.  This one in which the 14 diners are never seated.  Instead they are constantly mobile and often nibbling, eating, and digesting thousands of necessary calories each day for 52 days.  This very exclusive clientele may be the most finicky, delicate, and yet satisfying patrons as you would find in any hungry corner of the country.

When I enter the kitchen this morning, Nirjarini is carefully cutting up some pink sweet desert.  “It is a raw cake.”

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“The raw thing started about 7 or 8 years ago.”  I ask her if the tastes and appetites of the runners is different now then it was.  “At first it was more like junk food.  They were into brownies and pudding and a lot of sugar and then it changed to the opposite.  This year I really feel that it has become a balance.  No extremes any more.  This year a little bit of everything.”

Pranjal has maintained a traditional diet, heavy on sugar, for many years.  “He is the easiest to feed.  And he knows what he needs.  And he can digest pretty much anything,”

“I feel in the race because it is so long, and the weather conditions are very difficult.  So they get extremely sensitive. So what they can have and what they can digest changes a lot. So we adjust to help them go through a hot day or a rainy day, or whatever is coming up.”

Nirjarini 2008

Nirjarini 2008

“Some have better digestive systems.  They are somehow easier than others.  We want to support them so that they can run well.  That is why I really try and cater to them.”

“I really love this race.   I am happy every day.”  It is now literally almost half way, and she says that she is so absorbed in what she is doing that she looses track of time.  “The race is like a different dimension.  I am not thinking too much about what day it is,  how many days left, or how much we have done.  Somehow I am in that feeling of ….Now!”

Harikanta is helping Nirjarini for the first time.  She has helped out at the 6 and 10 day races 3 times before.  “There is a difference.  I am very very happy in both kitchens. But here you only have 14 people but you really have to remember.  What to do for them.  What they like, what they don’t like.”  She admits to accidentally putting some tomato into one of Stutisheel’s sandwiches yesterday.

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She says, “I would be upset if I found tomato in my sandwich when I don’t eat tomato.  You have to really be concentrated.  It is not as intense as the 6 and 10 day race.”

Her friend Jayasalini who is also from Moscow is doing the race for the first time.  She says at first her friends were concerned for her.  “It so hard and so are the weather conditions are also.”  But jayasalini was very inspired to come.  “She is a very strong person.  She is very dynamic, and strong and good with people.”

It was the physical things that concerned her friends in Moscow most.  “In the beginning she was going through some hard times and adjusting.  But now she seems to be very happy. For me it is really really amazing to see her and I love to do a lap or two with her.  Just to speak with her.  She told me I would be happy to see more familiar faces when I am running.  So I felt I should come.”

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Nirjarini adds, “I am very happy she is wonderful to have.  And she is fantastic too.” Nirjarini points to Hastakamala from Perth who at that moment is working some wonders with some Nutella.

“They are chocolate chip pancakes filled with Nutella.”  Hatakamala says this is her first time working full time in a Self-Transcendence race kitchen.  Previous to now she had only helped out she says for about 2 hours once in a race in Flushing Meadow.

“Nirjarini asked me to come.  She said that you are the one.  I said, no, no, no.” She laughs as she recalls this earlier conversation that took place back in April.  Time has passed and she believes that it was the right choice.  “I think she was right.”

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“It is really great to be here.  And it is so true what she is saying about time.”  Meaning she too is really enjoying being in the moment.  In her ordinary life she says she thinks, “How much time before I come back to New York.  But here it is very different.”

She is a runner and for her the race is, “incredible.  On Sunday I was running for about 4 hours.  It was getting hot and when I stopped I felt a bit dizzy, all the things that would be 10 fold for them.  It is a real honor cooking for them.  We have a great team.  Everyone is beautiful.”

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Click to Play Interview:

Cooks

The body’s food
Is matter-made.
The soul’s food
Is spirit-made.
Gratitude-life,
Gratitude-heart for God
Is food for the soul.
Perfection-cry
Is food for the soul.
Heart’s awakening
Is food for the soul.

Sri Chinmoy, Transcendence-Perfection, Agni Press, 1975

Sri-Chinmoy-Febrauary-1998

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July 7: Surpass Ourselves

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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July 6: Experiencing First Hand

“Now I am experiencing first hand what the New York times calls the World’s toughest foot race.”

This morning I saw Tarit writing a story on his lap top.  He has been here since yesterday helping William.  A job that you might consider trivial, but it is one in fact which is far from simple and robotic.

It is no small task setting out drinks, fine tuning supplements, checking shoes, and generally sorting out a lengthy list of errands for this great Scottish ultra distance runner.  But the most important part of it all is to be a friend.  To be kind, to be patient, to be supportive, and to anticipate just what you have to do to get William Sichel to 3100 miles.  And also grabbing hold of a world record or two along the way.

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Between helping William on his clockwork trips through the camp, Tarit has been sitting on a plastic folding chair.  There with his computer perched on his knees, he is trying to bring to life the rather interesting combination of encounters and events that began first when William made a phone call 20 years ago. To his Run and Become store in Edinburgh.

For him right here and right now is the perfect opportunity to sort some of the special threads and moments of their long relationship.  Look at the little things, that didn’t seem to mean so much at the time, but over the years the fabric of something larger emerges.  Discovering a friendship that is quite fine and profound and one well worth traveling across an ocean to support.

Many lives intersect briefly for special moments in time, but once in a long while, a special bond is formed like it has with William and Tarit.  Starting with phone calls, and packets of running shoes mailed off to the Orkneys.  Somehow from this a true friendship began to form.  One which has now brought these 2 enthusiastic talented Scottish runners both thousands of miles across the Atlantic to a steamy little oasis in New York.

For a week at least Tarit will be sharing this half mile block in Queens with William. Writing a new chapter of their friendship and perhaps Scottish sports history as well.

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“Whenever I have tried to explain the event it is usually met with curiosity, bewilderment, and bemusement.  And even….No Way!”

“It taxes the imagination just thinking about it.”

Tarit has been managing the Run and Become running store in Edinburgh for many years.  So for most Scottish runners it was the place you had to go to pick up a pair of shoes or running gear.  William lives in Sanday, in the Orkney islands.  A place that is now of course well connected to the rest of the world electronically.

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But 20 years ago when he needed a pair of shoes it wasn’t step out the door and hop in the car and drive to Edinburgh.  It was a seriously long trip, so when he needed gear he would have to call up the store in Edinburgh and purchase things over the phone.

He liked to call the store from time to time and ask questions about products that he had only heard about or seen pictures of in running magazines.  Through a couple of phone calls, “I found out he ran marathons.  He found out I ran ultra marathons.”

It didn’t take too long for this ex table tennis player from the Orkneys to become a good marathoner and run a time south of 2:40.  “He called the store one day and asked me.   Do you think I can run an ultra?  Of course you can.  You just have to want to do it.”

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So in the spring of 1994 William ran his first 40 mile race in preparation for the Scottish 100km championship in July.  He won the race and became Scottish champion of the event that Tarit was organizing.

“Over the years our paths have crossed many times.”

They have competed against each other and also been part of ultra distance teams.  “The 3100 mile race represents the biggest challenge he has ever taken.  And as I feel an instrumental part in his burgeoning ultra marathon career.  I found myself compelled to come and help him.”

Click to Play Story:

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Run and become.
Become and run.
Run to succeed in the outer world.
Become to proceed in the inner world.

Sri Chinmoy, Run And Become, Become And Run, Part 2, Agni Press, 1979

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Don Ritchie, Sri Chinmoy, Ongkar Smith at Run and Become

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July 5: No Place Like Here

“There is no place else like here.” Ananda-Lahari has spent each of the past 10 summers of his life coming here.  Here to this little half mile block in Queens.  One which looks very much like thousands of others tucked unevenly in and around New York’s often untidy urban sprawl.

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A place in which the cars roar past on one side.  Endless waves of kids zoom around in and out of the little park.  Splashing in the fountains, inventing games and making noise, being silly, but mostly having fun just like kids are supposed to be.

And a regular wave of older athletes.  Playing handball, basketball, within the noisy sometimes chaotic confines of the playground.  Or else their games spilling out onto the the great swath of artificial turf, where baseball, soccer, and something resembling cricket seems to be going on at all hours.

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In a place not like any other, at first glance, it doesn’t look special at all.  In fact it looks a whole lot like a big undulating block that you might find in many many other places, in many other cities, and maybe in many other countries.  Yet this reasonable logic immediately vanishes.  It disperses at practically the instant you come here and see it for yourself.

Certainly when you spend any time here, or you move about the course, you feel something happening to you.  There is an experience you get that is similar to that of waking up from a life time of deep slumber. Or perhaps you can interpret it as a sensation that the long shuttered windows and doors within you somehow get nudged open, if even just a crack.

And if your experience is not described to you in such a dramatic way, than it is safe to say you will feel energized and inspired here.  No matter what your mind might tell you.

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When you get even a hint of that feeling or experience than it becomes clearer just why Ananda-Lahari has done so many many thousands of miles over 10 summers right here..

There are countless different ways that a person can connect with or experience the Self Transcendence race 3100 mile race.  Each person who genuinely is inspired by what they see happening at the 3100 can make a deep an inner connection to it, even if their feet cannot bring them.

And in so doing begin to feel and maybe understand even for a moment just why, there is, No place like here.

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For him he says being here, “is like entering into another world.  It surprises me every year.  It is really intense from morning until night.”  Running he says on the course, “brings forward what I am here for.”

It all comes down to as Ananda-Lahari describes it, his spiritual life.  Something he takes seriously all year long but when he is here each summer

“It is like Come OnYou Have To Do Something.”

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Photo by Jowan

Part of a Longer Answer:

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

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July 4: Continuous Self Transcendence

Today is the great American Holiday, Independence Day.  From coast to coast and through all its 50 states  people will be celebrating, enjoying themselves, and perhaps reflecting, if even for a moment what this country at its very heart represents to them.

In the grand scheme of time it is a new country compared to many.  Its history just a brief flicker compared to that of much of Europe and Asia.  Yet nearly 230 years ago something new and profound was created here when the 13 original colonies came together and established something the world had never seen before.

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As written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–”

Now these words and ideas that the founding fathers hoped to establish have influenced governments and continued to inspire people everywhere.  It was something that had never happened before.  A new country created by those who wanted to make a world in which all its people would have freedom, equality, and that all voices could be heard. Thus to create an even more perfect home for all who lived there.

flower-parvati

There are many, both those who live away and even those who call it home who say that America could be a better and more perfect place.  That the vision of the founding fathers has to yet to be realized and manifested.  Scholars can argue and the average person can either reject or deny such claims.

The truth is that great dreams take time to reach fruition.  That the loftiest vision is not always brought forth in an instant, in a year, or even through several long centuries.

The 14 runners here today know all too well how long and hard some journeys can be.  For each, their goal is still so far off and so distant that they can barely see it, though in their hearts they still believe that it will one day come.

photo by Bhaswar 1976

photo by Bhashwar 1976

America does not claim perfection, as far as I can see. America does not claim illumination, as far as I know.

Now, does America claim anything? Yes, America does. What does America claim?

A colossal preparation: not only for its own illumination and perfection but for the illumination and perfection of the entire world.

Sri Chinmoy, The Liberty Torch, Agni Press, 1976

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July 3: When Good Things Happen

Have you ever owned a piece of clothing that you could simply not bare to part with.  Perhaps a great pair of shoes, a hat, or for my generation a pair of blue jeans.  Pants that took weeks of wearing to break in.  To finally feel as though they had become  part of you.  Then they became even better when they faded to the point that they were still blue but only just.

Beads, baubles, and bangles will last a life time but clothing never lasts beyond a certain point.  No matter even if it is your most beloved wearable item.  It will inevitably one day expire from fashion or from function.  Classic fibers, cotton, wool, and silk, simply start to fall apart over time when worn.  Even new high tech clothing will work wonders for perhaps a brief while longer.

Then there is the problem of your own personal dimensions.  Perhaps asking the clothing to continue to do what it was supposed to do when you were a size b and now your horizons have expanded to some letter just a little too far down the alphabet to look decent or remain modest.

Then there is that special purgatory when the clothing sits befuddled in a closet or in a drawer waiting to make at least one more appearance.  You can’t wear it and you can’t throw it out.  What do you do?

ray-shirt2

Yesterday Ray wore a shirt that most folks would have simply thrown out a decade or more ago.  It is worn down to the point where the cotton is almost translucent and to be honest it is just a little snug.  You can still read the writing and it is clear, that even for a guy who never wears a shirt, he has taken extra special care of this particular running singlet.

30 years ago this week Ray was given this shirt for taking part in the New York Road runners 6 day race on Randalls Island.  The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team were also there as volunteers to assist with the scoring of the race.

As Ray describes its story now, “It is a silly little thing.  Earlier in the run I had worn that shirt.”  He mentions the obvious.  He doesn’t like to wear shirts.  So at some point in the race on the first day, he took it off and threw it at his chair.

“When I threw it I missed the chair.”  He tells me that Sri Chinmoy who was near by noticed  this, and so went over and picked it up and laid it on the back of the chair.  “I thought that was really cool so when I came around I thanked him for it.   So we just started talking.”

There is a look of reverence in his eyes as he says, “Guru touched this.  That shirt has been very protective for a long time.”

“Maybe it is like Jesus washing his disciples feet.  For this great man to bend down and pick up the shirt of a competitor.  And just take care of him.  In his heart, in his essence.  It said a lot to me about this guy who I didn’t know a lot about.”

“Every day he would come out and walk for the rest of that 6 day and I would talk to him every day and that is how I got to know Guru.”

Ray Yesterday

Ray Yesterday

Over the years their paths would cross many times at different races.  A relationship that continued even on and up to his passing in 2007.  Ray never stopped cherishing his moments with Sri Chinmoy. His fading singlet just reminded him of the very unique and sweet relationship that they had.  When he did poorly at one race he would try and give something back by doing better at the next race.

“A week ago when I was going through my clothes I knew I was going to wear that shirt.”  He just wasn’t sure which day he would wear it.  Whenever it came out earlier,he just knew, “this is not the day.”

“Guru always talked about that you would know when the time is right.”  Yesterday was the day, day 19.  “I had huge blisters, I got up in the morning and just wanted to focus on the run.  While I was running people would speak to me.  Wow, you are doing great.  It was a surprise to a lot of runners.”

Yesterday became Ray’s gift.  A gift to the other runners, a gift to himself, and a gift to a spiritual Master who bent down to pick up a carelessly tossed shirt 30 years ago this week.  Ray who had done 58 laps the previous day ran 114 laps yesterday.  In the heat, the thunderstorm, and all the torments that come when you try and run for 18 hours in New York.

“I think the message was.  You can feel terrible.  You can be half dead, and you can be out here not at your best.  You just never know when good things will happen and you will put together a great day and a great performance.  I think it was a message for everybody.  Through my shooting star day.”

Click to Play Interview:

ray

Sri Chinmoy and Rob de Castella

Sri Chinmoy and Rob de Castella in Australia 1984

On the inner plane
There is no such thing as luck.
Whatever good happens in your life
Is the result of conscious or unconscious
Inner preparation.

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July 2: New Horizons

“I think it was on day 11 when I passed the point of 673 miles.  From that point new horizons started to open up.  I have never run further.  Today is day 18 and yesterday I got to the point of 1000 miles.  Then I realized that this was 1,600 kilometers.  It really struck me this number, really.”

silouhete-jayasalini

“Of course I was waiting for this point.  I was wondering how I would feel afterwards.”

Nearly every runner would love to accomplish a world record, or a country record, or even a personal best each time they compete in any of the Self-Transcendence multi day races.  It is only natural.  Most of us have an incessant appetite to digest understandable facts and crunchable numbers and to improve.

Each of us, in one way or another have had bits and pieces of our lives added up and analyzed and scored in more ways that we can even imagine.

jayasalini-good2

For Jayasalini, much like it is for William Sichel, every new day here on the course, and with each new milestone crossed,  she will be setting a new mark in the Russian record books.  Smashing the marks set by others and also most likely creating a whole new catalog of new distance running records.  This will be a tremendous achievement without doubt, and one very much deserving of this champion Muscovite runner.

But to actually see this young, smiling, running phenom, you quickly realize that she is not running this, the hardest and longest race in the world to break records.  She runs inspired by something else.  Something she cannot see or even measure.  Something she feels with rich sweet intensity in her heart with each new step she takes.

This morning she also received a huge card and gifts from other members of her mediation group back in Moscow.

pre-jayasalini

“I am running not alone.  One of the messages I received said, just know.  We are running with you.  The whole Oneness-Dream-Boat-Shore is with you.  You are not alone there.  It is a great help.”

One of Sri Chinmoy’s final trips in late 2007 was to visit Oneness-Dream-Boat-Shore.

Question asked in 1991:

What do you think of the soul of Russia and of its role in the development of the earth’s consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: For years and years the soul of Russia has suffered a lot inwardly. Now the inner problems have been solved and Russia’s soul is awakened; it is fully responding to the higher light — the light that can change and, as a matter of fact, has already started to change the face and fate not only of Russia but also of many, many other countries.

Now we see many political problems and other problems, but these are all outer problems. What we notice now in Russia is the outer struggle. When the soul of Russia wants to act in and through an individual, it does so according to the potentiality and possibility of the individual.

The soul of Russia acts swiftly, confidently and self-givingly. It has many, many divine qualities, but its main qualities are tolerance, patience, determination and a one-pointed will to achieve its goal, whatever that goal may be. The goal can be higher than the highest, or it can be not so high.

Instead of using the word ‘Russia,’ let us speak of the soul of the Soviet Union. When the soul of the Soviet Union says “Yes,” it is positive in every sense of the term. Some other countries, on the other hand, may also say “Yes,” but inside their “Yes” the word “No” looms large.

Sri Chinmoy, Russia And Russia’s God-Blossoming Heart, Agni Press, 1991

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