July 18: Here And Now

Sometimes you are injured so what, you do your best.  Sometimes it is hot and you do your best even if it is only 100 laps.  The next day is nice weather and you can do 130.  I always say the most important thing is to do your best.“….Pranjal

For most of  humanity the idea of doing your best is a lofty theoretical concept yet it is something that is all too rarely practiced in every day life.  It is something that we all treasure and whole heartedly believe in.  In truth it is an abstraction that we think about a lot and yet so rarely actually perform ourselves.  Conveniently we are often disappointed when we don’t witness it in others around us and yet are reluctant to be critical when we ourselves give some significant percentage of ourselves that is less than 100%.

There may be some great task or endeavor in the future that we determinedly have every real intention of giving our all.  Then when that moment arrives we are assailed by doubt and insecurity and make some feeble pledge that most definitely next time we will rise up to meet the challenge.  Perhaps we might feel embarrassed to see our actions judged critically by others and use the excuse, ‘but o yes I can do better.’

As well we think that if we really unleash the full power of our capacity than we will be diminished and weakened because of it. Instead of realizing that only by giving our all can we actually expand our capacity and then ultimately transcend our achievements in the not too distant future.

4o year old Pranjal Milovnik is a rare and special individual who, when he uses the phrase, ‘do my best’, backs it up and authenticates the words with powerful and practical action.  When he came here 8 years ago for the first time it was his credo and it is one that he has yet to abandon or waiver from an iota.  Come early and stay late.  Don’t waste time.  Don’t worry, don’t analyze,  just open the door of your heart and go.  If the day is hard and you are hurting great.  If the day is good and you feel well also great. Either one is fine.

For Pranjal the present moment is the only moment.  The important thing is not the finish line ahead, it is not tomorrow, is not the next lap, or even the next step. It is now. The opportunities that exist in the future mean nothing if you simply do not take all the ones that are right in front of you.

His spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy lived this way, taught his students to attempt it, and felt all of the world could be a better place if in fact that giving and doing your best, is not just important, but essential for all our lives.  Eventually when we discard all the binding chains of our limitations we just might realize who we are within.  Find ourselves at the summit heights of perfection and realize that ultimately we had to do so little to arrive there.  That it is our inner pilot who is waiting patiently, to not just lead us to the goal but also to take us there as well.   We only need to allow him to act in and through us.

HERE and NOW
God tells me:
“Cry not like a beggar
For your own liberation.
Smile and strive,
And strive and smile
Like a hero supreme
For My complete manifestation
Here on earth.”

photo by Jowan

Read the rest of this entry »

July 17: Life Of The Beyond

“I enjoy the race most, all its good qualities and everything when I am completely down.  That amazes me every time.  I had zero energy, I was walking all day and then everything came to me.   All the sympathy from the other runners.  How I love this race.  All the memories from the past.  Wow so inspiring. It is not inspiring to be down but somehow you are more inward.”     Stutisheel

This morning I found myself slipping spontaneously into the same light easy pace and rhythm that Stutisheel was running.  We have run many miles here together over the past 9 years and also had many conversations.  As each runner has their own distinct form and style of running each also has their own unique way of trying to interpret just what it is that brings them here and makes them do this most remarkable thing.

Even if I were to take each and every explanation I have heard about the Self Transcendence race over the years sifted and sorted  through all the enlightened and thoughtful insights and images I doubt any of it would really convey what it is actually like to be here.  What it is to run effortlessly along on a sun bright day with a man from the Ukraine who is nipping at the heels of 2000 miles and with a smile and a nod is still 3 carefree weeks away from another 1100 more miles.

The running in these drowsy early dawn hours feels effortless and I literally  have to tear myself away lest I be captured up in his cheerful relentless orbit and never ever leave.  It is in these sublime and deeply moving personal moments that I feel the soul deep impact of what the Self Transcendence race is.

When its world and it message resonates within me with crystal clarity.  That I have made, if only briefly, a leap from my rather ordinary mundane life into the one the runners inhabit totally.

Sample the ambrosial experience that sustains and illumines them here at every moment.   Deliberately push aside all thoughts and notions and simply observe the profound capacity of the race to uplift, to inspire, and to transform anyone who enters its always wide open door of universal acceptance.

And yet these sweet moments are as fleeting as the twinkle and glow of a firefly here on a hot July night. I will cover barely a mile while Stutisheel goes on and on.  The rest of the day I bask in the glowing memory of sharing a few laps with him.

Replay the words and thoughts and feelings that continued to swirl around inside.  To recall what it was like to be immersed in a luminous sea of unlimited divine possibilities.  Eventually the call and snare of the harsh material world would once again draw me back up onto its o so familiar pebbled shore.  Yet a hope within still burns bright that maybe tomorrow I can step away from the hard defined reality that binds us, and once more freely journey just a little farther and deeper into the life of the beyond.

The Beyond

Is in my heart’s cry

For my nature’s transformation

And

For the constant Satisfaction

Of my Beloved Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy, Silence-Seed And Sound-Fruit, Agni Press, 1975.

Photo by Jowan 2007

Read the rest of this entry »

July 16: Inwardly Find A Way

Once you get in, it is like life, you have to accept the blows, and there are a lot of good things that come along with it. Once you learn how to focus.  The bad things pull your psychic energy and your emotions.  But eventually if you take the right attitude, with a lot of support and help from friends.  Reminders of what you should be doing or thinking. “..Arpan

Sometime a little over 2 weeks ago Arpan’s 3100 mile race experience drifted radically off from the familiar ground that he has known and been accustomed to now for more than 30 years of distance running.

For the first time  he found himself veering off what he hoped would be a total sun bright course that he could follow all the way to the finish line.  Instead when his shin splints showed up out of the blue he found himself suddenly shoved into a hard dark place that did not seem like it was ever going to let him free.

With his lengthy experience in running he always knew that the 3100 could not be conquered without some suffering but certainly not with the intensity and the relentless ferocity that he has been pummeled with thus far.  For just after the shinsplints lightened their tenacious grip his Achilles problem roared up to take its place.

The world which Arpan found himself inhabiting was a place in which pain has become a most intimate and constant companion. It is not that he has not been here before.  When you have run so hard in so many races over the years it is inevitable that just about all the hardships of our life’s physical reality will find some way of tormenting you and try and chase away your dreams. This time though the life lesson he has been given is a master class in how to transcend the physical limitations of the body.

Over the years he has guided and inspired countless other runners as they too battled with tremendous adversity.   Help them find some unique formula too push beyond the clutches of injury or adjust tactics in how to discipline the mind and open the heart.  To renew their acquaintance with faith and hope.

In just one weeks time he will have his 60th birthday here on the course.  There is not a single person that does not wish for him that on that day he have a joyous celebration like he has never had before.  That indeed all his days be joyous and bright right up to and including that glorious moment that he victoriously crosses the finish line.

It is easy to look at all this playing out here on this very public and very visible wedge of concrete in Queens.  It is quite another thing to even catch a faint glimpse of the inner reality not just for Arpan but in fact for any of the other runners as well.  For we can at best only perceive a faint wisp emanating from the surface of this vast world of self transcendence.  We can only ponder while they the runners live and breathe the totality of the 3100 mile race.  The true destinations of each of their journeys is well beyond the farthest reaches of our speculation and perhaps beyond our dreams.

Photo by Abakash 2004

Do not allow circumstances
To frighten you.

Do not allow situations
To torture you.

Look beyond appearances.

Yours will be
The unmistakable happiness.

Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 19, Agni Press, 1981.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

July 15: Beginnings

The wobbling first steps of a young child are always one of the historic experiences in their lives.  It is a unique and precious moment when they are able to pull themselves upright from the ground and move forward on their own,  life ever afterwards is never the same.  Their world, as they daily grow stronger and more adept, expands dramatically till gradually there is no place that they cannot go.  The dimensions of their lives become unlimited when for many months their universe was defined only by what they could see from lying in a crib.

It is not so easy to define the absolute beginning of many other things in our lives or in the world around us.  Sri Chinmoy saw in running a unique opportunity for people to explore and expand themselves in ways that are not so obvious until you actually put shoes upon your feet and then simply run.  He would never become a great distance runner himself but by his participation and encouragement many others entered this distance running world and continue to be amazed and illumined by transcendent experiences.

In the spring of 1985 the Sri Chinmoy marathon team put on its first 1000 mile race in Flushing Meadow.  7 years earlier Sri Chinmoy first intensively began his own distance running.  It would be followed by him inspiring the team to conduct many longer and longer races.  Yet with this first truly monumental evet it would mark the real beginning of a giant leap in what was possible for runners to do and to accomplish.  At that time they only had 16 days to complete the distance.

This morning one of the runners from that race came to the streets of Queens to watch and quietly observe what has come from that bold vision that took place 27 years earlier.

Nathan Whiting was 38 when he participated at that race. I asked him what he likes about these races.

“There is no sense of time.  It is like spending 20 years like a monk in a cave.  The race is a short version.

I ran 800 miles it was very difficult.  I think only 3 people finished it.  2 years later I won a 24 hour race.   That was my last year of running seriously.”

Being here he feels.  “It is so long .  They are here day after day, and they keep going.  It is a full exploration of many aspects of what they are and what they are searching for.”

“You don’t know why you are doing it.  You don’t know when you watch a person go by why they are at this moment or that moment.  It is never known.  10 years after a race you don’t know.”

“You still are learning why you did it.  You are still learning what comes from it.  To watch these particular runners, compete, but not compete.”

“They are transforming competition into a more serene and aspiring feeling.  It becomes aspiration, purely at certain points.  The purity of aspiration is always hard to achieve.”
Click to play interview

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Three people completed the full distance: 1,000 miles! Here is the proof that there are a few things the mind cannot understand-when the soul operates through the heart or through the vital. To run 1,000 miles is beyond the comprehension of the mind; the mind cannot imagine it!

Sri Chinmoy, Run And Become, Become And Run, Part 16, Agni Press, 1985.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 14: Encouragement -Strength

There is probably no sporting competition in which the support and encouragement of fans and loved ones does not play some vital role in the ultimate performance of an athlete.

Not that long ago when I was more active in running events the sound of someone shouting my name while circling a track or calling out from  the edge of a long challenging road always added a powerful lift to my spirits as well as to the energy of my steps.

This kind of encouragement always has the ability to somehow lighten the heavy burden of effort we feel weighted down about our shoulders.  Even when you find the last strands of hope slipping away from your grasp a cheer and clapping hands can ignite the embers of your fading dreams. That somehow the goal can be once again brought just a little closer and our arrival there that much more swift when others reach out with their hearts magnanimity and oneness.

No matter how solitary we might be or how indifferent to the world we might think we are, sincere encouragement from another is a truly valuable gift.  Our body may be oblivious our mind deaf but our heart will always be aware of encouragement and be uplifted by it.  It is also something that never diminishes or takes away anything from the giver.  Our bodies may lack at times energy and speed but our hearts can reach within to an unlimited source of strength that ultimately connects us all.  Yet we mortals somehow forget or loose the key to open this vast unlimited divinity within ourselves.  We all know inwardly that when we help another rise above the darkness we are bringing the glowing promise of tomorrow just a little bit closer for all of aspiring humanity.

 

 

 

Our outer journey
Needs God’s Compassion-Eye
For its encouragement.
Our inner journey
Needs God’s Satisfaction-Heart
To reach its destination.

 

 

 

July 13: Best Out Of Themselves

The 4 young men were on the playing field for much of the morning.  When they first arrived  they did a long routine of strength and conditioning exercises but it was not clear what sport they were preparing for.   It was obvious though that the slightly older of the 4 was a coach to the rest.  His shirt was bright orange and the others attentively listened and watched his every move.

He seemed very knowledgeable about what he was teaching. Eventually it became obvious that he was showing them how to pitch.  They gathered round him as he demonstrated how his fingers neatly  hugged the seams of the ball, his arm swinging effortlessly up and over his shoulder, and than the snap of his wrist as he released the ball.

His voice with its thick New York accent sailed much further than the trajectory of his pitches.  Eventually one of this students strode up onto the mound with enthusiasm, a smile, and a warm and limber right arm.  He started firing the ball across the plate.  The catchers mitt sizzled as the ball smacked loudly against the leather.  A clear and confident sound not unlike the tidy comfort you sometimes get when a car door thunks closed, neat and tight.

I had no reason to believe that the young men practicing at America’s favorite pastime would take any interest at what was happening just outside the fence beyond them.  That they would even notice the endlessly circling parade of runners  going around and around in the still morning air.

I would have thought they were thinking only of fast accurately thrown balls evading the powerful swipe of a big wooden bat.  Maybe allowing their dreams to drift them away from a little patch of green here till they landed under the bright lights of some giant stadium with the fate of the game resting on their young energetic shoulders.

Yet at one moment I was near the fence when the coach came over and spoke through the fence to Sarvagata.  “We wit you man.  Running 3100 miles is no joke.”

No big announcement is made at the starting line this morning.  It all looks much like it has on the previous 26 days.  Yet today, as the now 11 runners strode forward for the 27th time into the joys and pains of another long long day of running, the future can no longer be blank or faded.

For what distinguished this day from all the many that have already swept by and the many more yet to come is that this day is the precise middle point of the race.  There are now no more unlimited tomorrows but instead a very precise and, stingy for some, number of days that are available ahead.  This subtle  yet unavoidable reality hoovers in the air like a relentless scent that cannot be disturbed by any breeze.  For this morning marks the  official half way point.

For some, who gratefully find themselves flying confidently towards the inevitable finish line, it makes not much difference what day it is.  Yet for those who are struggling or perhaps still trying to tap into some yet undiscovered reservoir of speed and strength, no longer blind to this stark bare  truth can they be.  If you do not have 1550 miles on the board you are not halfway.

If we practise meditation regularly, faithfully and devotedly, not only do we come closer to our Goal, but the Goal itself comes running toward us.

Halfway along the path, the Goal and the runner meet to fulfil each other’s needs.

By reaching the Goal, the runner fulfil his task, the task of realising the highest possible Truth.

And by reaching the runner, the Goal makes the manifestation of the highest Truth not only possible and practicable but also inevitable.

The Goal and the runner fulfil themselves as they fulfil their respective roles in the life of aspiration and in the life of manifestation.

 

Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 1, Agni Press, 1974.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 4: Each Time You Take A Step

Today America is celebrating the biggest and boldest of all its major holidays, for it is the 4th of July, American Independence day.  There will be flag waving and barbecues from coast to coast.  People are getting out early in their cars and are heading for beaches and parks and playgrounds.  This year it is taking place smack dab in the middle of the work week so it will be the briefest possible of celebratory breaks in this busy country.  For tomorrow everyone will have to get back to work once again.

There will be some people of course for which today will represent something other than sunscreen and sandwiches.  For deep within the exterior of things both large and small is usually some purpose and vision that is not so easily noticed by those who simply  don’t take the time to really look.

Just like the run taking place here,  America itself has deep and powerful inner qualities, that resonate and sparkle within the fabric of American life.  Critics will always be able to catalog a lengthy list of the shortcomings of America just as if you try you can find fault with any other country, with yourself most certainly, and for a hopeless few even be critics of God.

Sri Chinmoy spent most of his life living in America for he felt that from this special vantage point here the Supreme could manifest in and through him countless visionary projects that would help inspire and uplift the entire world.

In 1976 his Liberty Torch project began here, and like nearly all of his brand new creations it would eventually expand and grow into something even vaster and all encompassing.

In 1987 that vision expanded beyond the shores of America and became global with the creation of the Peace Run.

You can keep the spirit of the Peace Run burning throughout the length and breadth of the world if you can imagine that each time you take a step, you are offering to the Supreme a new joy. With each step you are taking, feel that you are placing a new flower of beauty, purity and divinity at the Feet of our Lord Beloved Supreme. I am using the word ‘imagine’, but it is not imagination; it is reality itself.

Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 17, Agni Press, 1999.

Dear Readers please note that there will be a brief period of no new posts. I appreciate your tireless support and humbly ask for your patience as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 3: Run With God

At the 1952 Olympic games in Helsinki an English middle distance runner named Roger Rannister was disappointed at finishing 4th in his race the 1,500 meters.  For him his time was a personal best and also a British record but his achievement came without a gold medal attached.

After that race he seriously considered retiring from sport altogether.  It took him 2 months to finally make his decision.  What he there and then decided was also the same serious goal as all the best middle distance runners in the world.  He decided that he wanted to become the first man to run the mile in under 4 minutes.

At the time he was studying medicine and as was the custom of the time he had to try and find a balance between his studies and his training.  His schedule was so rigorous however that in fact he only had time to train around 11 o’clock each night. 2 years later on May 6 1954 at the Iffley road track in Oxford England in front of 3,000 spectators and news reel cameras history was made when he ran 3:59:4.

The earth seemed to move with me. I found a new source of power and beauty, a source I never knew existed.”

Click to play video:     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz3ZLpCmKCM

Pure sporting competition has a way of pulling and pushing us automatically to new and greater heights.  Whenever most people see this picture of Bannister even if they don’t recognize him or his achievement that day it still carries profound inspirational value as a moment of perfect transcendence.  Bannister of course would go onto other competitions but later in his life felt that his contributions to medicine were of much more importance to the world.

By now I have taken thousands of pictures of the 3100 mile race and none will have quite the thrill and power of this one of him setting his world record.  Yet I suspect, despite the limitations of my skills as a photographer, the faces of those who run here can and do communicate much more than meets the eye. Something subtle which is immediately recognizable to those who understand and identify themselves with the inner runner in all of us.

World history of a different sort is being writ large and bright upon this little concrete rectangle in Queens every day.  One that can inspire the mind  and illumine the aspiring consciousness within the hearts of God Seekers everywhere.

When we run in the inner life, we have to feel that we are not only running against ignorance; we are also running with God.

In a 100-metre dash, if one runner is 70 metres ahead of another runner, then the one who is far behind will not have any inspiration to run.

But if the leading runner is only a few steps ahead, then the one who is behind feels determined to overtake him.

That is why, when God runs with us, He uses only a little of His infinite Capacity. Only then will human beings have the inspiration and aspiration to catch Him and run with Him. God stays only a few steps ahead of us so that He can be seen, felt and ultimately realised.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

July 2: Surrender To The Experience

The currents of life are so strong that it is nearly impossible for any of us to remain static or immobile for long.  There is no safe lofty perch to cling to and from which we can then view the tsunami of the world beneath us shift and evolve without us being caught up in its relentless power and force one way or another. Even trying to retreat into our own past is impossible for inevitably we are flung back into the present.

We can try an lock down the doors of opportunity, stuff cotton wool in our ears and be deaf and immune to the calls and cries  of humanity around us but inevitably something deeper and higher in us will snatch away our deafness and defeat  and pull us back into facing the divine task lying in front of us.  Our goal is patient and our goal is kind.  Despite allowing ourselves to be temporarily engulfed in billowing clouds of our stubborn resistance the call does not tire or surrender to the forces that would hold us back.

Our long  friendship with  ignorance will and must one day come to an end.  For on the skybright horizon of eternity is our destination.  When we can listen to our only true friend within and answer to his call we will then no longer recognize hesitation or delay in any guise. At this time our name will be nothing other than transcendence itself.  And just beyond one more name awaits us, perfect perfection.

When Sri Chinmoy began weightlifting just over 27 years ago very few if any could have imagined just how far the journey would go or in fact that it would be remain an integral part of his life.  It can be argued that it appeared to be at the time, an almost plan B.  A second best athletic solution to his true favorite sport which was running.  Which at that time was being compromised by persistent physical ailments, particularly  his knees.  At the same time he said, “The inner reason is because my Inner Pilot, my God, has commanded me to lift. For that reason I do it cheerfully.”

A spiritual master has of course clear access to the highest heights of spirituality and there was no confusion or hesitation at any time when he was asked from within to attempt anything and everything he did.  On rare occasions he  was not always immediately successful, the case of his 300 pound lift is legendary.  For 4 long months in the summer of 1986 he attempted to lift 300 pounds 214 times.  For his students at the time it was a powerful lesson on the very nature of persevering when confronted by a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

His many lessons to his students and in fact to all of the aspiring world were demonstrated in powerful and yet clear and simple ways.  Certainly as exemplified each day here at his very own Self Transcendence race, the aspiring cry of the inner life cannot be separate or remain isolated from the soulful dynamism of our outer reality.

When we live in the progress-world, always there is tremendous joy. This joy comes not only from transcending one’s capacities but from the effort itself. Say I have set my goal at 300 pounds, and I cannot do it. The very fact that I have been devotedly practising and practising gives me joy, and the tenacity or perseverance that I am showing is itself progress. Anything that we do devotedly and soulfully helps us make progress.”

Read the rest of this entry »

July 1: Love The Unknown

Sri Chinmoy finishing 47 mile race 1980

There are times in all our lives when we genuinely feel inspired to attempt something really difficult.  To courageously step out from our safe well padded fortress of comfort and stability and venture into the unknown.

Young people of course do this on an almost daily basis because the nature of youth is to explore all the dimensions of their world and expand upon what they see, what they know, and what they do within it.

As we age it quite often becomes the norm to loose courage and loose hope that there is anything more that we can still achieve. That just maybe the life and world as we know  is already good enough.

Sri Chinmoy constantly worked upon and expanded the dimensions of his many worlds of achievement.  It did not matter whether it was sport, art, literature, or any other field of endeavor that he cared to take up.

His tireless  efforts to transcend himself was a luminous beacon of hope and inspiration for all those who felt defeated or bound by the world of limitation.   For any whose perception of reality had become stuck fast in  a prison without light and without the beckoning dreams arising from our limitless inner wealth.

Not just by speech but by practical repeated example he proved that nothing was impossible, that we should never give up, and that self transcendence was not just a good philosophy but we should also live by it, and feel that it was part of our very existence just like he did.

For those curious about any aspect of this philosophy and what it really means than even a brief visit to the race and you will become aware of what it is in action.  There is an unrestricted open invitation for anyone anytime anywhere to become part of it.  If not in a physical way than even through your heart’s oneness.   You can offer good will or even just good intentions but more importantly you must not leave without taking from it as well.

Take from it as much inspiration and illumination as you can.   So that when the next time a heart dream beckons for you to come.  You do not hesitate even for a moment and allow it to disappear without even trying.

My Lord Supreme,
When I pray to You,
I see the sky lifting me up
High, higher, highest.

.
When I meditate on You,
I see the same sky descending
Slowly, steadily and unerringly
And touching my earth-existence
Most compassionately.

.
My Lord Supreme, You are telling me
Not to be afraid of the Unknown,
But to love the Unknown
And become one with the Unknown,
For this unknown Reality
Will not remain forever unknown,
And my life’s perfection
And my heart’s satisfaction
Will grow in it.

.
My Lord, make me ready
And make me worthy
Of Your blessingful Promise to me.

.

Sri Chinmoy, My Sweet Father-Lord, Where Are You?, Agni Press, 1999.

 

Read the rest of this entry »