The Ever-Transcending Goal

For as long as I can remember, competing at the Olympics has been a fairytale-dream of mine...

Running for Peace

It's mid-day in Auckland on a summer Thursday. The Domain grandstand, a popular landmark for local runners, has been transformed by a bright array of helium balloons. The Auckland Girls Grammar School band are belting out a succession of festive songs and a large body of lunchtime runners are warming up, out to do justice to a new mile circuit of the park.

Moments of Eternity

Moments of Eternity


There are moments, instances of sheer wonder and beauty, capable of kindling and revealing the imperturbable eternity living in our souls.

Instances of eternity filled with splendour, light, love, joy, however manifesting in time and its flow and the discontinual reality of our human, temporal existence, yet oblivious of these self-imposed limits, revealing the true eternal nature of our Innermost.

They live suspended in the spaces of spirit which remain quiet and untouched by the ephemeral and finite, awaiting the receptivity and openness of the human vessel tuning its soul towards its Source.

They are unpredictable, come unexpectedly, unannounced, be it in times of introversion or seclusion or in the bustle of daily activities whose empty torpor and aimless gropings they dissipate and illumine with musings of inspiration, purpose, harmony, light.

The bountiful gift descends, is revealed, opens us to its grandeur, and without expectations, gives us the freedom to be and discover ourselves, with or without itself, whether through awareness or blindness, appreciation or oblivion, gratitude or pride, in the end all different expressions of that unfathomable, endless game of oneness that gives a quality of the unlimited, multiple and infinite to our apparently limited, finite, time-bound self.

A conscious acquaintance with these spiritual realms containing such splendour and beauty irradiates the time-bound which strives for the timeless, keeps my heart afloat in the surrounding ocean of darkness and blindness, in tune with the Light and the Grandeur of my Creator and His reflection in my Soul.

The eternity contained in these fractions of time ignites in me a sense of utmost gratitude, boundless appreciation and love.  

I cannot but equate these instances of eternity as vision, intimacy, communion with the Divinity within, around, above.

All is stillness.
All is silence.
All is being.
All is Beauty, Love, Delight.

(Reykjavík, 08/03/2004)


 

The Guru-Songs of the Song-Guru

If Sri Chinmoy had never walked this earth but sent only his songs, they alone would suffice to perfect mankind.

Why run 3100 miles?

3100 miles (or nearly 5000km) sounds like an eternity and believe me, it also feels like an eternity. Very often, I have been asked why am I doing such a long race?

This is not a question that you can answer in a few words; it needs a lot of background description. First of all I love any kinds of sports and I started running when I was six years old. Running is so simple, you just need your running shoes, a running shorts and a shirt. When I was 10 years old, I did my first half marathon, just for myself. I was never really a very fast runner, but I liked the movement, the challenge and the feeling of satisfaction, after the training. So I was running with no real goal, but for the satisfaction of running and feeling fit itself.

Things changed rapidly, when I got in touch with Sri Chinmoy, who became my spiritual mentor. A major part of Sri Chinmoy's philosophy is "Self-Transcendence" in every walk of life - that is to say, whatever you do, you can improve and you can go one step further, transcending your previous achievement. That was and still is something for me, that strikes me and inspires me in everything; to go beyond yesterdays achievement. Many restrictions are creations of the limited mind and we think that this and that is not possible, but once we try it, we find that it is not only possible but also attainable - if we believe in it and cultivate patience. One of Sri Chinmoy's students, Ashrita Furman is a shining example of self-transcendence in action. Ashrita has set more than 200 Guinness records and he is still going on.

I think every runner has at one point the dream to finish a marathon. In the beginning it is a far fetched dream, but as you start training, it becomes more and more a reality. Then the big day is coming, you are standing at the starting line and …
Hours later you cross the finish line and you are in ecstasy, you did it; a mental barrier has been lifted. Years back, many people thought the marathon runners to be crazy folk, and now you see 30,000 participants in the New York Marathon; marathon running has become something honorable.

After I did my first marathon, I heard about a 700 mile race in New York and I was thrilled about the idea. The problem was, that I thought that I did not have the capacity to do it. But there was a voice inside me that inspired me to try it and I finished it. Gradually I improved my stamina and my mental capacity to run the 3100 mile race. Who would have thought that one day I would run such a distance? With patience and determination and grace, is there anything that is impossible?

The Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, as it is called, is a very special race in many ways and on different levels.
It comprehends:

  • the eternity of our progress in life
  • the challenge of life
  • the endurance we need for our life
  • the patience for achieving  something
  • the mental poise we need in every situation of our life
  • the helpfulness of a positive mind…

What makes this race so special for me is that you can learn so much about yourself in a relatively short time. The distance of 3100 miles has to be done in 52 days, that makes 59.6 miles per day. Everything gets very intense in this race. For 52 days you have to be very focused and endure rain, heat, humidity, injuries and lack of sleep. You are really pushing the limits and you can learn day by day, how to tackle problems in a better way.

Here at this point I have to say that the longer the race is, the fitter your mind has to be. You can create so much energy when your mind is cheerful and poised. When your thoughts are running amok and are becoming negative, you are loosing your energy and you are just seeing negative reasons to continue. At this point meditation is very  helpful, it helps you to control your mind and gives it a positive momentum.

I want to tell an incident from a runner. At a 100km race in Vienna a friend of mine was running and he had done already 70km and he felt quite fresh, when his wife came and told him, “You look tired, you will not be able to finish the race.”
Sure enough five kilometers later he had to quit; the power of the mind.

During the race it is like a roller coaster, you have your ups and downs. Is it not the same as in day to day life? There are days we do not want to go out of the house, and life seems like a barren field. But if you continue you see that even after a very long tunnel you are going to see the light again. You just have to hang in, look for the positive and you will be rewarded. Here in the race you get plenty of opportunity to practice this experience and overcome it again and again. After such a race so many problems seem to be negligible, non-existing.

Smarana during the 2017 race

I simply love the opportunity to get this intense training of problem-solving drills. At the race you can not back off; you are confronted with the problems and you have to find a solution, or it will haunt you the next day and the following day.
In normal life you go and watch a movie or do something else to escape of the problem. Not at the race - "Face the problems and solve them!" is the motto.

Smarana finishes the 2004 race

You have to start the 3100 miles with your first step and many are to be followed. If you always think of the whole race, your mind can not take it, so you have to break it into smaller portions, laps, hours, days… so it becomes digestable. Similarly, in our life if we think of everything that we have to do, then it looks like an impossible task, so we also have to start with the first task, the second…until everything is done. Is this race not a great teacher for our life?

Sri Chinmoy took a very personal interest in this race and came nearly every day to encourage the runners. Everytime he came to the race I feel my spirit lifted and it gave me additional physical power. 

Al Howie, an ultra-running legend in the 80's who became the first person to finish the 1300 mile race organised by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. He said, "Every time I am coming here and I am running a race, I am leaving as a better person." Yes, that is why I am also running this race - to become a better person.

Giving meditation classes

DevashishuMy name is Devashishu and I live in London. When people ask me what I do, I find it difficult to give a concise answer. Currently I teach English (TEFL), I promote music and sports events, I write plays and perform in a music group, I do security work, I conduct surveys, I assist in the instalment of sundials and water features and on top of this I spend a third of each year travelling the globe – a jack of all trades and master of none. The one activity that has been a consistent part of my life for the past twenty years is the giving of meditation classes, through which I have earned not one penny but have discovered wealth of a different nature. 

In fact, when someone asks you ‘What do you do?’, they are actually asking ‘Who are you?’ They hope that from your response they will have a better knowledge of who you are. But in my experience, we know very little about our own existence, let alone of those around us. I grew up with meditation, and due to its capacity to imbue the journey of self-discovery with tremendous joy and strength, it has remained an integral and constant element in my life. 

I give meditation classes on the authority of my teacher, Sri Chinmoy. I am a seeker, and as part of my spiritual discipline, I have been given the opportunity to share my experiences and my limited knowledge with other seekers. That ‘sharing’ plays a vital role in my own journey of self discovery.  

When we start to meditate we soon become conscious that we are dealing with an infinite source of energy, an infinite intelligence. Through the regular daily practice of simple techniques, we develop our capacity to conduct that energy. This development of capacity is an expansion of consciousness. If you imagine a vast lake then through our meditation we are creating a passage or a river. But for there to be a river and a constant flow of water there needs to be an outlet to the sea. That outlet is vital to the health and vibrancy of the river. In the silence of meditation we discover a profound source of peace, light and bliss and we need to offer these qualities to the world around us. This can be done in a number of ways and for me the meditation classes have provided the perfect way. 

I have been fortunate to see many countries and to date I have given classes in the UK, Ireland, France, Austria, the Czech and Slovak republics, Poland, Greece, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, the Bahamas, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the United States. 

Despite what we see and hear on our daily news programmes, I have discovered a world of astounding beauty. In each and every place I was greeted with the warmth and hospitality that I have come to know as the universal hallmark of the human heart. The ideals of compassion and friendship are valued by the majority of the people with whom we share this planet. There are many cultures, races, religions and political viewpoints, and in spirituality we find a common ground that far transcends the illusion of separation and limitation. In all human beings there is a profound thirst for satisfaction and it is in meditation that we can find a true and fulfilling way to slake this thirst. 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to give meditation classes. When I am standing before a class I feel the tangible joy and satisfaction of my teacher and am reminded that I am, indeed, the eternal student.

- Devashishu Torpy

Video on Meditation

Video

 

Running and Me

"Why do I run? I run to get inspiration. I run to increase my dynamism. I run to enjoy the beauty of nature and feel my connection with that beauty, which to me is something very sacred. Most of all, I run because running has changed me as a person and is changing me still. Through running, I'm becoming.

Is running a form of meditation? Well, sometimes yes. I have certainly had meditative experiences while running, especially during races where the intensity of the event triggers in turn an intense concentration - which is of course one of the gateways into the experience of meditation.

As with meditation, I feel the proof of the spiritual value of running is not necessarily in how you feel at the time. While running I may feel tired, drained, generally having a tough time (though thankfully these occasions are the exception rather than the rule!) but running has definitely taught me valuable spiritual lessons, and helped me to bring my good qualities more to the fore. After a run or a race, even if the experience was challenging or difficult, I invariably have a lighter mood, a happier demeanour, a feeling that life is simpler than we think and full of positive opportunities.

When I trained for my first marathon, it seemed like an impossible task. When I completed that first marathon, it brought home to me how anything is possible - how tough challenges will surrender in the face of determination and perseverance. Running has given me that confidence and optimism, and also more belief in myself and in the divine grace that is there to help all of us when we attempt the improbable (I should give up using that word "impossible"). When I ran my first ultramarathon, I realised that there is no limit to our achievements - we can keep going one step further.

Running has its pitfalls, most notably the injuries that one can sustain (though with hindsight all mine were avoidable, had I known then what I know now!). Coming to terms with being unable to run, and the process by which the injuries were surmounted so I could run again, was in itself an inspirational journey. In those times when I could not run, I was aware of how my consciousness suffered - something was most certainly missing. Thats not to say that one cannot follow the spiritual life without running, but for me it has become an essential ingredient, and were I ever deprived of it for good I would need to find another source of purity, simplicity and dynamism to complement my practise of meditation.

As well as an avid runner, Garga also organises many sporting events, such as this triathlon in Portishead.

I worked for many years in a running shop, meeting hundreds of runners every month. Not all are conscious that running has a spiritual side, and some would dismiss such a notion as fanciful. Most runners, though, do find the activity inspiring and a source of immense satisfaction. I'm convinced many or even most runners are growing spiritually through their running, developing self discipline, determination, perseverance, detachment and numerous other spiritual qualities; not to mention the most significant spiritual quality: happiness, pure and simple. Anyone who takes on the marathon, for example, must learn how to contact their inner reserves - not just their physical reserves of energy but also their will power and the strength and inspiration that abide in one's heart and soul. If you doubt this, go to your nearest marathon and look at the faces of the finishers. You may be surprised at what you see; in their eyes, in their smiles, in the way they are finding fulfilment through as simple an activity as running.

In the spiritual life, one's spiritual practise must take first priority in one's life. Each morning when the day begins, I rise early to meditate. After meditation I sing spiritual songs, and give myself time to assimilate my meditation. Then, I get on my running shoes and head out to greet the day. Whatever the weather, its invariably a beautiful morning."

Garga Chamberlain
Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Race Director, Bristol

Next

My love of spiritual poetry

The inspiration for my poetry began as a young child growing up in the Caribbean. On cool dark, wintry nights, in the village of Hermitage, St Patrick's on the island of Grenada, the boys and I would sit on the side of the road telling Annancy [traditional folklore] stories until the early hours of the morning. Our only, yet precious comfort, was the taste of piped water coming directly from the 'boiling' springs. Of course, the stories themselves gave tremendous joy and inspiration, together with a deep sense of love and brotherly comradeship. I have not heard stories such as ours since, neither have I encountered the purity and self-giving nature of this life-energising water on those cool dark nights.

It was not until the early 70s that I continued my work. The divine poet, to me, is inspired unconsciously, as well as consciously. As to whether the inner accolade that comes from poetry is greater when the poet is conscious of the higher force or not conscious, I leave for others to decide. What is do know is that some of my earlier works, while written for the mundane, contained many lofty and sublime pieces. This I was only able to recognise with my spiritual awakening and the depth of inner awareness given to me on Sri Chinmoy's path. So even prior to my conscious awakening, I was unconsciously reaching for higher ideals.

 

My first poems that I wrote on Sri Chinmoy's path were 'prayers' written in the 80s, composed to assist me in my life of spiritual pursuit. Sri Chinmoy's style of devotion, yearning and aspiration for the Supreme had influenced me deeply, giving me the strength and necessary tools to re-commence my work.

What is a poet? I was once sitting at home when I received a letter, which had a most profound effect upon me. there and then I started composing a poem:


"Thank you"
Said the devotee to his gurubhai.
The words echoing from his inner core,
While joyful secretions trickled down his cheeks.
Happy was he in the waves of gratitude
Suddenly taking hold of his heart.
O lord, immeasurable is Your beauty,
How diverse Thy ways of expressing it!
This moment: stillness, repose, and the next...
Flowing gladness, wondrous delight,
An awakening of psychic tears and thankfulness.
Brother gurubhai, appreciation for thy faith in Man.
Long lives thy soulful inspiration.


Again at a gathering in Shepherds' Bush [in London], I experienced a 'flashing' of the wholeness of life and its interconnectedness, which prompted me to write the following poem:

Interconnectedness
I smiled at the server,
Who lovingly handed me the drink.
The swami had just finished
A most stirring speech.
Musicians played hauntingly,
While the vocalist sang melodiously
To rapturous applause,
And the drumming of the tabla mesmerised the crowds.
Upstairs, where I now sit,
The aroma of palatable food and cheerful noises,
Permeate the soulful atmosphere.
Servers diligently seek to see
That all is fed and trays are taken away.
Tables are wiped clean,
While floors are swept.
All is buzzing with life.
Downstairs, the pungent smell
Of incense, still lingers on,
And the deities stand majestically
At their respective places.
The shoes racks swell with pride,
And the book tables quietly wait their turn
In this game of life.
Silently I sit, not moving, but
Marvelling at the intricate web and
Beauty of Truth's Creation.
Each part of the whole,
Playing his or her tune, and dancing with God.


Some of my most inspired works came as a direct result of experience in mediation. I have enclosed one below:

In the Presence of Thy Sanctity

As I sit down before Thy sacred shrine,
Your stillness-peace within I feel.
Grace points me to an inner thrill,
I know the effort is not mine.
Around me all is calm, serene,
Your spirit percolates my being.
Before I even think of Thee,
Thy bliss is flowing ever free.
Your love is sanctimonious, keen,
So selfless for a wretch like me,
When all I have done is enter in,
The presence of Thy sanctuary.

The point here is to show that the divine poet, whether he is conscious or not conscious of the Supreme, writes primarily from a Higher inspiration flowing through his soul, heart, mind, vital and finally fingers and pen in order to be dynamically used to an esoteric or psychic flow. Thus Sri Chinmoy, with his direct inner vision, does infinitely better than I can, and so I would finish this writing with a poem of his which illustrates fully - in my view - the soul of the inspired poet as well as the poet with direct perception of life's inner transcendental beauty.

O Light of the Supreme
by Sri Chinmoy

O Beauty non-pareil, O Beloved,
Do burn the fire of beauty and splendour
   Within my heart.
By loving You, eternally beautiful I shall be.
May Lord Shiva's destruction-dance
Destroy all shackles of the finite.
May the light of the Supreme inundate me,
My heart, my heart, my all.
Having loved the Infinite,
The heart of gloom is crying
   For the bloom of Light
O life infinite, give me the eternal hunger
   Aspiration-cry.
The tiniest drop will lose it's raison d'etre
In the heart of the boundless ocean.
In fire and air Your life of the Spirit I behold.

Hallo, ich bin Gannika,

geboren im Flower-Power-Jahrzehnt

gannika.jpgIch habe mich von klein auf dem Sport verschrieben. Mit knapp zwei Jahren stand ich zum ersten Mal auf Schiern und laut Erzählungen wollte ich gleich gar nicht mehr runter. Jedenfalls machten mich Berge zum Snowboarden und Klettern oder auch Wind und Wellen zum Surfen extrem happy. Ich dachte immer, Sport in jeder Facette und noch etwas Musik dazu, das ist, was mich rundum glücklich macht. Das glaubte ich solange, bis ich etwas entdeckte, das unter Surfern sehr beliebt war: das Meditieren.

Einige Jahre später absolvierte ich in New York eine Tanzausbildung, als ich eines Tages entschied, den Meditationsweg zu finden, der zu mir passt.

Bei einem Vortrag über Meditation im Sri Chinmoy Centre ist eine Methode in meinem Kopf hängen geblieben, wie man seinen Meditationslehrer erkennen kann:
Man legt die Bilder von verschiedenen Lehrern vor sich auf, konzentriert sich der Reihe nach darauf und sollte dann ein wohlig-warmes Gefühl in der Herzgegend erhalten oder große Freude verspüren, wenn man auf das Bild desjenigen blickt, der für einen bestimmt ist! Also sammelte ich fleißig Bilder und kaufte Bücher von bekannten spirituellen Meistern und Meditationslehrern (und –Innen selbstverständlich!).
Um meinen 29. Geburtstag herum wurde ich zu einem Konzert von Sri Chinmoy eingeladen. “Da gehe ich hin“, war mein Gedanke. Gesagt, getan.
Zwei Tage nach dem Konzert hatte ich immer noch das Gefühl, auf einem süßen Wölkchen durchs Leben zu schweben. Für mich als bodenständige Alpenbewohnerin, ein völlig neues Lebensgefühl. Ich wusste natürlich überhaupt nicht, was los war, aber es gefiel mir sehr!

Mit meinem Studium war ich meist 8 Stunden täglich aktiv, nur das Tanzen bereitete mich plötzlich keine Freude mehr. So beschloss ich, meinen Studienplan zu ändern und nur noch Stunden in Hatha Yoga, Entspannungstechniken und Choreographie zu besuchen. Irgendwann kehrte ich leider wieder auf den Boden der Realität zurück oder besser ausgedrückt, das Schwebegefühl, das ich so cool fand, hatte sich verflüchtigt. Da erinnerte ich mich an das Ausleseverfahren zum Finden des geeigneten Meditationslehrers.
Ich hatte ja viele Bilder und hoffte, dass auch das Richtige darunter war. Andächtig legte ich alle auf. Bei einigen Bildern hatte ich ein echt gutes Gefühl! Aber das Bild, das ich bereits an der Wand hängen hatte und einen lächelnden Sri Chinmoy zeigte, machte mir die größte Freude.

Tja, so entschied ich mich für den Meditationsweg von Sri Chinmoy. Was für eine Lawine der Freude da bei mir ausgelöst wurde, das ist unbeschreiblich, sage ich euch!

In diesem Sinne wünsche ich allen viel Glück bei der Suche und unendliche Freude beim Finden des Weges!!

 

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