Day 24…Very Sacred (July 11)

Nirjharini loves to cook and she loves cooking in particular at the Divine Enterprise in Oslo.  Her home now for quite a few years.

When you see her in her element, which is in a comfortable kitchen, humming with activity, and filled with the delicious scents and sounds of great food being prepared you know she is in her own perfect world.  One that she seems ideally qualified for.

For the last 25 days she has found herself working in a much different kitchen far from cool Norway.  Instead she is in Queens NY where she and her devoted crew 4 ( who come from 4 different countries )have taken on the task of filling the stomachs and energizing the spirits of 10 incredibly hard working runners.  Runners whose metabolism is so finely tuned and specific at times, that she has to speak to each one individually to make sure that her menu and all her recipes are perfectly tuned to their needs.

This is the 14th summer that she has volunteered to organize the race kitchen at the 3100 mile race.  Not a job that many would seek out but one that found its way to her when her late spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy made a request of her to do it.  Since then she has taken it upon herself as a sacred duty.  One that compliments her own service to the Oslo restaurant and one that 10 runners and countless other hungry eyes and hungry stomachs are grateful that she does. (myself included)

When I ask her what is different now that the race is nearly half over.  “It is changing all the time.” Recently Aklanta (race Doctor) came to give medical support to the runners and he suggested that she try and make her food more alkaline.  “Because as the runners run along acid builds up in their body.”

Mirka from the Czech Republic is one of her first time helpers who comes in with Nirjharini at 4:30 to start the first food preparation.  “Most of the times she is before me.  She is a real early bird.”

I make a joke with the girls, that they have been here so long they must be ready to go home.  Kamaneeya says, “I want to stay until the end.  It is really great.”

Giribhu from Germany says, “It is wonderful to be here and be part of the race.” Mirka  shakes her head at the suggestion of leaving.  She, like all the very dedicated girls working in the comfortable kitchen, is very happy and fulfilled by being able to share in the unbelievable adventure of the Self transcendence 3100 mile race.

Mandra from New Zealand, who will come in later for the late shift shows me a menu board she is working on.  Some items are listed but not all.  She says she will make it up as she goes along.  “It is fun that way.”

Nirjharini adds, “I love this race and have been doing it for 14 years.  It is always very special.  This race every year it is very different.  Depending who is running and who is working with me in the kitchen.  Each person brings a different aspect to the race.  It is my selfless service to Sri Chinmoy and it is very sacred.  For me being able to serve all day is very special  and inwardly very highly rewarding.”

A soulful smile
Is the nourishing food
Of love.
A fruitful cry
Is the fulfilling food
Of oneness.

Continue reading “Day 24…Very Sacred (July 11)”

Day 23…Intensify Your Inner Cry (July 10)

A conversation with Ananda-Lahari as he makes his way around the course is always for me a great wake up call.  A crystal clear reminder of how beautiful and simple life can be when you dedicate yourself, as he has done now for 13 years, to the 3100 mile race.  Doing some pretty basic math, that means by the time August rolls around he will have spent nearly 2 years of his life going around the loop.  Doing one of the simplest things a human body can do, move forward.

It is a journey that he seems to never grow tired of, refrains from complaining audibly, though I am pretty sure his love of the course and the event is such that the grumbling words are not there any way.  He seems to have an almost complete absence of negativity of any kind.  He seems to be simply immune to such negative thoughts and feelings.  Thus they can find nothing to cling to, either in his mind or in his heart.

I asked him this morning if some days are better than others.  “Yes, just like in life.  Some days are better and some are worse.”  I follow this up with what makes a bad day.  He ponders this for a moment.  “We have to go beyond.  Actually there are no bad days.  So I was wrong. (smiles) There is only a wrong attitude.”

As for what makes a good day, “when I can cry sleeplessly for God.” He doesn’t know for sure what stops all of us from summoning this cry.  He says it must be our own ignorance.

He experiences it most profoundly here and says that when he is not at the race he cannot invoke it in the same way.  “This is the place where it intensifies your inner cry.  The race really helps me to focus on the things that are important in life.”

Ananda-Lahari says for all of us our goal should be to find our true selves.  “To dive deep within and bring forward our good qualities which are inside.  Which are peace, love, and joy.  These kind of things.  To feel God inside you.”  He feels that our lives should not be based always on our outer circumstances.  Though we of course have to take care of all significant responsibilities, such as work and family.

“I love the philosophy of Sri Chinmoy and I try to fully identify with it.  As I understand it, and as I have read in his books.  Is that we should not worry about our bad qualities, instead we should concentrate on what is good in us.  Try to cultivate it and focus on it and there may then be one little spark.  This spark may grow and then illumine the things in us.”

“I like this idea and I am trying to live by this.  It gives me joy.”

If we do not intensify
Our inner cry,
How can our heart fly
In Infinity’s sky?

Continue reading “Day 23…Intensify Your Inner Cry (July 10)”

Day 22…Why I Am In The Race (July 9)

She has completed 3 full weeks here at the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race and Kaneenika has 1325 miles to show for it.  Her performance thus far has been consistent and impressive.  So well that she is in fact in 3rd place overall, and if it really mattered much, at this point she is just 40 miles behind 2nd place.

I ask her if at this point, which is nearly half way, if she ever gets more relaxed about the race.  “I was  just thinking about that.  That I wanted to be more relaxed.”

“There isn’t a point when you can be relaxed.  But today I  was thinking that maybe I should be more relaxed.  I think that in my mind I need to be more relaxed.”

When I ask her how this can be done.  “I think the answer is to think more about the Supreme.  To remember why I am in the race.”

“Sometimes you  just accumulate the miles.  But sometimes you get into a state where you see that there is much more going on here.  It is not just the numbers on the board.  There is a duty that we runners have here to inspire the world.  To do our best.  To transcend what is in our way.”

“You go through so many moods and emotions.  I think the hard part is when you struggle.  You are tired, you are sore, but you know that there is always a solution.”

“Sometimes it comes from outer help.  Sometimes it is more from your brothers and sisters and their encouragement.  From the people here and whoever.  I realized at the beginning of the race.  This is my 3rd race here. I started noticing things that I didn’t notice before.  The big pine tree. (she points ahead) I didn’t notice that it is so magnificent.”

“I thought it is just like in life.  You go through your daily routine.  It is up to you how you take the circumstances and what you take from it.”

I mention that she is in 3rd place.  “I am trying to not think about it.  It is still too early in the race.  You just never know what is around the corner.”

You can make the fastest progress
If you can say,
“I came into the world
To love God, only God.
I came into the world
To serve God, only God.
I came into the world
To manifest God,
Only God.”

Continue reading “Day 22…Why I Am In The Race (July 9)”

Day 21…What You Do Inwardly (July 8)

Nirbhasa starts day 21 with 1300 well run miles and now a clear glimpse of the halfway point which is about 4 days away just now.  Vasu, who is in first place has about a full day of running between them.  Smarana in third is about a day behind.  For Nirbhasa it is now most definitely about enjoying the experience as much as he can.  Soon enough he will be making one last dash up 84 th ave and crossing the finish line.

“You know day 21 is the same as day 1.  You just take each day as it comes and stay in the moment.  You know of course if you do 1,000 miles or 1,300 miles it is really nice. It shows that you have made some progress.  That somehow the goal is not such a far cry anymore.”

“But really it is not the accumulation of distance it is what you do inwardly here that counts.  When you wake up every day that is what you try and work on.”

“I have been making the daily mileage requirement every day.  That is quite  nice.  Obviously it seems my body is adjusted to the race this year.  In a way that it wasn’t 2 years ago.  So it is nice to not to have to think too much about that.  Because if you just go a certain speed.  Then not think too much about laps or miles.  You are happy.  You are on a certain speed.  Then you can just keep going.”

“The beauty of being here is that it gives you a forum to really work on your inner life.  With a dedication that it might not be possible to achieve in the outer world, unless your really really consciously set aside time.”

“I have been in 24 hour races where you can see people who do it by kind of pushing.  You can do it by sticking on headphones and putting on loud music and willing your way to the finish, somehow gritting your way through the pain.”

“But definitely in races beyond a certain distance.  You really need to go beyond the mind.”

“If you can just stay in your heart the miles just somehow accumulate.  Some times I find myself here running going forward and it is just happening.  You are going forward and the race somehow has its own momentum.  You just have to stay in the moment and really appreciate the beauty of what it is.”

My heart runs
The world’s longest race,
And not my mind.
My Lord runs ahead of me;
My breath runs behind.

6 August 2005
New York

Continue reading “Day 21…What You Do Inwardly (July 8)”

Day 20…Inside The Dream (July 7)

Just last year Yuri was running the Self Transcendence 3100 mile race for his 4th straight year.  In what was perhaps an unexpected turn of events, Yuri won the race in 46 days and 1 hour.  In another unexpected turn of events he is once again back here at the race but this time as an early morning set up man.

Before the sun peaks its light over the rim of Thomas Edison High school he is pulling chairs and gear out of the trailers and getting the camp ready for a long long day for the 10 runners entered in this years race.

*Translation by Lyalya*

For me each time we have talked over the years he usually speaks from a mystical perspective.  One, not unattached or fully removed from the push and pull of the every day physical challenge.  Yet at the same time he yearns tirelessly for the divine.  Putting more emphasis on the challenges to his heart and of course the rewards of looking within first while moving along as quickly as possible.

This morning when we talked again after he had finished setting up I asked him if he had any mystical experiences so far this year on the sidelines.  He smiled at me and said no.  Those have to be earned.

“This is a dream of Sri Chinmoy this race.  It is a unique race. Last year I was inside this dream and this year I am watching from outside.  I am observing the runners.  How they change.  How they move.  This is an amazing experience.”

“To be a runner here is to be inside the life, and right next to Sri Chinmoy.  But when you are a helper like I am this year you are an observer.”

When asked if he will be back next year.  “This is my dream.  I really want to.”

As for what he has learned over the 12,400 miles he has run here.  “You have to love God.  You have to love him very sincerely, very deeply, and very devotedly.”

It is not a difficult task
To make my Lord Supreme happy.
He just asks me to smile and smile,
And never to stop.

Continue reading “Day 20…Inside The Dream (July 7)”

Day 19…To Be An Instrument (July 6)

Sometime late this morning Nidhruvi will be the 9th of the 10 runners to pass the 1,000 mile mark.  For most of us this would be an achievement of a lifetime but for Nidhruvi it is just one very early milestone on the way to achieving the ultimate goal of 3100 miles.  As it is still only day 19, and with 33 more potential days to recover missing miles ahead.  It is still way too early to say that the ultimate goal for her cannot be reached.

Something much more interesting is happening for Nidhruvi here than can be observed on lap sheets and score boards.  She tells me that before she even came a Doctor in Austria did not have much hope that her knees would do her bidding.  He recommended that she wear heavy knee supports.  Ones that may have relieved stress but would have most certainly been uncomfortable and encumbered her running.

As she talks about different maladies that have made her acquaintance over the past 19 days she is not gloomy whatsoever.  These crippling problems she has learned to somehow to not be a prisoner to them.  Recognize that yes, they are there, but then let go.  To remove the strangle hold of fear and doubt from the equation.  Let the Supreme do his job in and through her, and on her part be an instrument.

I ask Nidhruvi if she is having problems today.  “No not really.  It is always up and down.  There are always some challenges every day.  So it is pretty normal.”

She has done many many multi day races and I ask her if there is anything that distinguishes one from the other.  “In a way they are all similar.  You know how the challenges are.  But in a way they are very different and not different.”

I ask her if she was ever frightened about taking up any of her very hard races.  “There was always a bit of fear with it but the excitement, happiness, and joy is much stronger.  You are totally excited and want to explore new things.”

“I started with 700 miles at Wards island in 1996 I think.  I remember there was one moment there which I have never forgotten.  I just knew I had to go back there.  So this was not the first or last race.  This I knew for sure.”  She understood it was all part of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self transcendence.  If you have the capacity keep going.”

“You want to be useful and try and give it a chance.”

“I think my task this time is for me to offer my total surrender.  This is the feeling I had even before I entered into this race.   I had a slight feeling that it all may not work out the way that I wanted.  When I started I could see it already coming that this race is different.”

“I promised myself that I just want to be a good instrument.  A humble and devoted instrument.  I am doing my best, and I hope I can inspire lots of people on earth.  I know that they are out there and they are praying for me, which is so fulfilling and touching.”

Start again
With your willingness-mind
And selflessness-heart
To be an unconditionally choice instrument
Of your Inner Pilot.

Continue reading “Day 19…To Be An Instrument (July 6)”

Day 18… I am Playing A Game Here (July 5)

Late this morning Andrey Andreev will complete 1000 miles here at the Self Transcendence race.  It is an incredible achievement since prior to this moment the furthest he has ever run before is 627 miles.  The people in camp will bring out a box of small brass bells which will be rung vigorously.  There will be shouts of appreciation, photos will be taken, but Andrey cannot stop for long.  He still has a long long way left to go.

All the runners are under the watch of a fearsome schedule, particularly those who have dropped below the rate they need to finish.  For them they have the arduous additional responsibility of gaining back miles in order to reach the goal.  Andrey started out needing to do 109 laps a day.  Now because of some low mileage days he needs 111 laps which he was able to do yesterday.

When we speak this morning he tells me he feels amazing.  When we talked last he mentioned that he was working on staying happy more.  I asked how that was working out for him.  “Hmmmmm, maybe not completely.”

“I am trying to be happy by sleeping more (jokes).  I am keeping my eye on my miles in order to beat the deadline.  This doesn’t allow me to be completely happy because so far I am a little behind the deadline.”

“I like everything about the race.  I like the place itself.”

“Although I don’t know exactly all the rules of the game, I still like to play the game.  I like everything that  surrounds this race.  I like people and I like to communicate with people during the day and during the evening.”

“I like how the people around us are watching us.  They are comparing their own day to day lives with our routines.  How they allow us to enter into their lives.  They are becoming our friends.”

“I have found out here that I am not on good terms with the sun.  So when it is really hot I cannot run.  This is a new experience for me.  I am trying to establish some relationship to the sun.”

“As for spiritual experiences I have so far only had one.  I am hoping that I will have many more.  Because I found that I had many more during the intensity of the 10 day race.  So I thought I would be having many more here.”

At this point we are coming upon the little alcove where Sri Chinmoy used to practice playing musical instruments, and now the Enthusiasm Awakeners still sing each morning.  “Their performance is always amazing.  I am really impressed how devoted they are to coming and singing each day.  That spot inspires me to focus more.”

Life is a game that is played
By the heart’s tears
And the soul’s smiles.

Continue reading “Day 18… I am Playing A Game Here (July 5)”

Day 17…My Purpose (July 4)

Yolanda is a perfect example of a person you need to spend more time with to understand them just a little better.  From a first impression you cannot help but be impressed with how much effort she puts into her race attire.   Now, in the 17th day of the race there have thus far been no repeats and when asked whether she has 52 outfits for each day of the race she is a little vague.  But I can gather from our talk that at least 30 days will likely pass and none will be repeated.

When you search even just a little beyond her outer appearance you cannot help but be impressed with her inner strength and beauty.  Here the inner person, is for me at least, much more appealing and interesting.  Beauty beyond all the well color coordinated outfits.

Her intensity and steadfast dedication to this impossible event is spectacularly beautiful and inspiring. Not being anywhere near a trained psychologist I suspect that what Yolanda has in amazing quantities is simply grit.

Which defined by Wikipedia says is, ‘ a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.

“Day 17, 962 miles.”  Yolanda is keeping incredible focus, as really all the runners do, on her progress.  She has a cushion at this point but there is still a long way to go.  Late this afternoon she will make 1,000 miles and I ask her if she paid any attention to her previous personal best in competition.

“No. I did 622 miles at the 10 day race.”  She of course has her hands full dealing with each day and each new challenge as they inevitably come along.

“I was feeling tired just now, and Vasu came by and asked me how was I feeling.  I said tired, and he said why?  I laughed so hard.  I am feeling a little better.”

“This is a lot harder than I ever imagined.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could push my body this far.  It sounds so easy. To walk or run for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over 7 weeks.  We are now approaching the 3rd week.  It is nothing like I had imagined.”

Yolanda is looking forward to making 1,000 miles later today.  “It gives me some motivation to get to 1,000 tonight.”

“What is really keeping me motivated is that I am meeting so many people.  Yesterday for example I saw a couple on the course, who were a little over weight.  They were ahead and just kept looking back at me.  I didn’t know for sure what they were looking at and as I got closer, I realized they were looking at me.”

“When I got closer to them I called out, have a good workout.  They said back to me, we want to look like you.  That really touched my heart.  There are a lot of people who come to this park each day and I have never seen them.”

Yolanda knows full well just how many laps she has to do each day.  “109 times keeps me in the game.  110 keeps me above the game, and I am still in the game.”  Yesterday Yolanda completed 110 laps.

“Being here I really believe is my purpose.  And this is my purpose right at this moment.  It is to inspire people to get healthy and fit by walking.  A lot of people think that the only way you can lose weight and get healthy and fit is to run or to ride a bike.  I for one believe that walking is a start and you can get healthy and fit, just by walking.”

Yolanda is the sole American in the race and on this beautiful 4th of July I ask her what the day means for her.  “It means peace.  For me the 4th of July means that you are free.  You are free to be who you are.  You are free to relax and show peace and show love.  Lots of love.  Be nice to everybody.”

My whole purpose in life
Is to be of service to mankind.
This I can do only
By offering inspiration
On the strength of my oneness.

Continue reading “Day 17…My Purpose (July 4)”

Day 16…Always Newness (July 3)

Sergey has been one of the bright surprises of this years 3100 mile race.  He has not had a lot of experience in multi day running only having competed in 4 multi day races in the past 5 years.  His personal best of 627 miles in the 2016 10 day race hinted at the potential but over the past 15 days his performance here has blossomed.

*Translation by Lyalya*

5 days ago he comfortably ran past that mark of 627 miles and as of this morning, as he starts day 16 he has 911 miles completed.  Every new step taking him further and further into personal self transcendence.  When we met this morning I joked with him.  I asked if he had at last got the hang of the race yet or did he need a few more weeks.   “A lot has happened but it has not become any easier.”

“Every day new surprises and new experiences, and new tests.  Because of that the race is becoming more and more interesting to me.  You don’t know what to expect.  Always newness.  It forces you to be in good condition, good spirit, and good form.”

“Every day you have to solve new problems, on a physical level, on a mental level, and on a psychic level. But it is good that this race has with it many experienced runners.  Who have already overcome this arduous challenge, and they are giving me lots of support.”

“They very gladly and easily share their experience and help me in my hardest moments.  Their presence here touches and inspires me.”

“Even though I only have 4 hours of sleep.  It is so amazing how fast my body adjusts itself and I find new strength to get up and run again.”

When asked if Sergey has any special places on the course he laughs.  By coincidence we are coming up to the children’s playground at one end of the course.  He says he appreciates it most in the evening when the heat of the day is over, “it becomes a real happening place over there.”

“Kids have so much endless, tireless energy.  Me on the other hand by that time of day I already have no energy.  When I pass by and see the kids running around the fountain and playing on the slides.  I just soak in their energy.”

Sergey tells me that the most telling experiences he has had thus far have been mostly inner and connected to the mental work he has to do here.  “Especially during the day, sometimes I have very very tough moments.  When my physical strength just abandons me.  On one hand I may even have just gotten some rest and I have come out on the course and am ready to go again.  But I can’t even make one step forward.”

“I just don’t even know what to do next.  I don’t have any strength at all.  Then I just start crying.  God please give me some strength.  (he is laughing as he shares this)

Always something new,
Illumining and fulfilling
Has to be our choice.

Continue reading “Day 16…Always Newness (July 3)”

Day 15…This Is Paradise (July 2)

So many marvels, both grand and small take place at the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race that you could never record them all.  Sometimes it is hard enough to just record the important things, like the laps of course.  Throughout each runners day things happen, that will not only lift them up but in many ways touch and inspire many others.

Vasu, who is running for his 6th time is so incredibly exceptional in his unfettered devotion to the race that I often feel inadequate when I speak with him.  He is devoid of any artifice or superficiality.  When he says that running here is like being in Paradise I can only aspire to be able to see the race so purely as he does.  For in his unswerving clarity of vision is something I feel lacking and I suspect that the rest of us could all wish we had even just a little more of, such tireless dedication to the divine within.

This morning he tells me a little story about seeing a small boy getting his shoelace wrapped up in his bicycle and thus forcing him to fall over.  Without hesitation he checked on the child, released the lace, and got him on his way.  Only latter on the far side of the course was Vasu approached by the boys Father, who promptly thanked him.

Who knows how much that brief act of kindness ate into his mileage for the day.  It did not matter to Vasu.  Nor does it matter when he stoops down on many laps to pick up bits of trash.  His only wish is to make the course as clean and pure as possible.  For of course there is no trash in Paradise.

When asked if every morning is a good morning, he says, “Yes of course. Yes every morning is a good morning because we are here.  This is paradise for us, this is grace for us.  This is a privilege to be here.”

Vasu says that of course self transcendence is doing better miles if possible.  “If we cannot do more miles we try and do self transcendence maybe inwardly.  We try to pray more.  To meditate more.  To be more happy.  To invoke the consciousness of the Supreme.”

There was a period in late winter after the severe injury to his back that Vasu was doubtful that he would be able to come this year.  “Once I ran and after I did it, I couldn’t run for 5 days or more.  He had no idea, if it was just wishful thinking to come and run the race this year, or maybe it would be somehow possible.

First to reach 1,000 miles at 6pm

Vasu says that he inwardly asked his late teacher Sri Chinmoy if it would be possible to run.  He then had a dream in which he saw a small child.  He tried to play with the little boy, “but he was a little bit heavy, and my mother told me it was my back.  I put the child back on the ground.”

“The child was so nice so beautiful that I still wanted to play with him.  I understood then that I needed to increase the capacity of my back, in order to play with this child.  Because this child is a 3100 mile race child.”

“Now each day I try and play with him, to run with him.  I imagine that we are both the same age.  We play together and I am happy.”

In Heaven,
We see Paradise.
On earth,
We make Paradise.

Continue reading “Day 15…This Is Paradise (July 2)”