Most of us expect, at some point in our …

SnatakMost of us expect, at some point in our lives, that we will take a journey.  It may be something as simple as travel to distant lands, or one that is more difficult to assess and measure, an inner journey.  Here there are no simple and reliable vehicles of transportation. The scenery we pass along the way, is the pure landscape of our own consciousness.  There are paths we wander down that may seem predictable and others, in which the destination is just beyond the unknown.  Snatak is one, who for me has taken a journey with his life, that is both profound and unique.  It is one in which has seen the shifting goal of his life move from the improbable to what one can almost say is the impossible.  Yet for spiritual seekers, and for those who have the benefit of a spiritual master like Snatak, impossibility is a just a word to be stepped upon, as they boldly move forward in the great adventure, we call life.

by Pavitrata

A native of  Iceland, for the last few weeks he has been in Columbia with a group of Icelandic friends.  They are here conducting meditation classes in various parts of the country.  His visit here, which is just over 5,000 miles from his home, is not unique. For many years, he traveled for a few weeks each year, during the winter months, with his late spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy.  It is a tradition that has continued on.  Besides his 3 Icelandic friends he is also joined here with a group of about 100 fellow students of Sri Chinmoy from around the world, who are enjoying the groups first visit to Columbia.  Over the years Snatak has visited dozens of countries, and he has seen his own spiritual life blossom.   He has also attempted to share the philosophy and the teachings of Sri Chinmoy, wherever he goes.

“I am a spiritual farmer. God, out of His infinite Bounty, has entrusted me with the task of plowing the spiritual land. This is my first visit to your beautiful island. I have been here for about four hours. During these four hours, I have felt the Indian consciousness here in Iceland. India’s natural beauty I have observed here; India’s inner peace I have felt here. My presence here makes me feel that my life of aspiration and your life of aspiration in the inner world have built a bridge between spiritual India and spiritual Iceland. My Indian heart offers its soulful gratitude to your hearts of aspiration, for it is you who have given me the opportunity to be of dedicated service to you today. Nothing gives me greater joy than to be of dedicated service to the Supreme inside aspiring human beings.”

Excerpt from My Rose Petals, Part 4 by Sri Chinmoy. Continue reading “Most of us expect, at some point in our …”

Lelihana: The Climbing Flame

faceWhen she was a little girl lelihana says she used to look out from the windows of her music school and long to be outside with the children playing there.  For 7 years however, from the age of  7 until 14, her time was caught up in studying the piano.  The adventure and thrill of the sports world was always enticingly just beyond her reach.  At that young age she was simply following the steady predictable path that many Russian children do if they want to be able to reach University.  With her mom working in a kindergarten and her dad working as a cook the family did not have much interest in athletics. The rarefied world of international sport was far from being an easily anticipated option in her life. She admits that at the time, she just didn’t like music.

Of course great dreams and divine opportunities can stride into one’s life at their own time and in their own unfathomable way.   It was the encouragement of one of her music teachers who was able to shift the focus of her life.  He, along with others, saw in her an unquestionable wealth of talent that she had as an athlete, that far surpassed her musical abilities. It was clear to many that her feet could move her much further and faster than her fingers.

nike-start-2So at age 14 she at last found herself able to be outdoors, but it was not at playing frivolous games.  Instead, she quickly became focused on the disciplined and challenging world of track and field.  As she talks about it today she speaks with an easy confidence, as if she was destined for the life of a world class sprinter.  She advanced very quickly in the sport and by the time she was 15 she was winning meets.  When she was just 17 she represented Russia at a World’s junior competition in the 100 meters.  She ran her personal best at this time which was 11.84.  She says of this experience, “I was a little bit scared but otherwise it was okay.”

She has been competing internationally now for more than a dozen years.  Her specialty has become both the 400 meters and 4×400 relay.  The track and field world knows her as Olesya Zykina, but to those who are her fellow students of the late Indian Spiritual teacher, she is Lelihana, which means the Climbing Flame.  When asked what her spiritual name means to her she says, “I like it.  It is beautiful, this is my name.  When it is difficult for me I repeat my name.”

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The Sweetest Item We Could Think Of

ashrita and small one 2It has to be one of the humblest of all confections.  The lollipop is simply a small piece of hard flavored candy on top of a stick.  With absolutely no nutritional value.  Its sole purpose is to offer a modest measure of sweet joy to the consumer and perhaps allow them some brief time to enjoy its diminishing glistening sweetness in their hand as it is slowly licked into oblivion.

For Guinness champion Ashrita Furman, who has often taken on simple child like pleasures and escalated them into herculean accomplishments the task of constructing the world’s biggest lollipop seemed like a worthy challenge.

On the anniversary of his spiritual teacher’s birthday he has often turned to creating extraordinary sweet treats to honor him.  In what would have been  Sri Chinmoy’s 77th birthday last August 27th he and a large group of students created a birthday cake with 47,000 lighted candles.

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The 47 Mile Race 2009

sign-up-table----Somehow it was slipping away from me.  Like it always does, the 47 mile inspires and touches my heart like no other running event.  This year the night of the race was perfect.  The evening air was cool and light as the midnight start approached.  An impressive group had turned out to participate in a run that has now taken place on every August 27th for the past 31 years.

I had taken hundreds of pictures in and around the track lit bright by candles and dangling light bulbs.  Out on the still twisting streets I flashed even more shots of the smiling faces of the intrepid runners who ran with light and determined steps, at least during the early laps.

Throughout the long night more and more precious moments from the race where being captured by my camera and my microphone.  Those fragments of joy, of determination and of selfless service had inexorably gathered into a mountain of data stuffed onto digital memory cards.     After the race I faced  the daunting task of unraveling a story that now seemed much more difficult than tying on shoes and running the 47 miles itself.  A persistent case of nagging procrastination dogged my heels for weeks.  I felt myself almost uncontrollably sliding towards a precipice where the story was heading towards some digital oblivion.

Photo by Jowan
Photo by Jowan

Then on a recent bright Sunday, which seemed to be gilded more by the soothing promise of Spring than the gray dullness of late Autumn, I found myself out running on the 47 mile loop.  On an afternoon flooded with light and warmth I felt myself caught up in fervent tide of sweet memory.  From whence it came I do not know but soon my dawdling middle aged footsteps were feeling the selfsame effortless lightness and unbridled hope of all those many times I had run the 47 as a much younger man.   It was though  my own countless cherished memories of running the race were reaching out to me from my own not too distant past.   But it was not just my own memories that were calling out to me it was as well as though the inspired experiences of those who had just run weeks earlier were calling out to me to bring that magical night back into focus.  To find a voice for a magical event in which impossibility itself becomes banished in the boundless enthusiasm of those who take part in this most sacred of Sri Chinmoy Marathon team running events.

Guru-in-47As I rounded the corner near goose pond and made the sweeping right hand turn, across from Jamaica High school and looked ahead, I had a profound moment.  It was a vivid experience in which I felt as though I could clearly see Sri Chinmoy running on the road ahead of me.  He had run the full race himself on 2 occasions and had run on the course during the race at least one more time.  I remember clearly, during one race,  coming round this same corner only to be shocked to see the familiar form of my Spiritual teacher bobbing along under the dim street lights in front of me.

At the time he would have been either 48 or 49 years of age.  I was in my running prime and gradually I was overtaking him.  As I came up behind him, each step I took I felt myself repeating his name in silence to myself.

This was after all his birthday and it was in honor of him that I ran.  It could not escape me what a beautiful experience it was to thus find him there on the course as well.  I can remember my slow and inevitable approach from behind him and then my sweeping pass on his right side.  I can remember saying something as simple as, “Way to go Guru, way to go.”  I am not aware of any comment or remark that he may have made in return.  Nor do I remember any other time that I passed him again, though most certainly through the night I must have passed by him a few more times.  What I do recall however is how so much I wished to carry him with me throughout the night and lighten the burden of his steps.  Yet inevitably in time I would understand, that all along that it was he who was actually carrying me.

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