If your idea of pure joy is a trail race involving a lot of mud, rain, stream wadings, steep and seemingly endless hills, inching through a pitch black 300 metre long limestone cave, and navigating 22 or 35 kms (depending on your degree of insanity) of slippery farm tracks, you’d have loved our recent April 28th adventure competing in the Waitomo Caves Trail Run in New Zealand’s North Island.
Five runners from the Auckland Sri Chinmoy Centre recently competed in this great event and enjoyed themselves immensely, traversing the amazing limestone studded hills with their outcrops of wind sculpted stone.
The spirit and power of place was overwhelming and humbling – the landscape seemed like an ancient battlefield, filled with giants and Titans and strange Beings turned to stone. Across the green landscapes and ridgelines the fists of rock reared up into the sky, resembling fleeing invaders lurching back to the sea after some mythological battle, now frozen mute and turned to stone by some fatal curse. Were they stranded there at daybreak, a raiding party from some barbaric underworld undone by the sudden dawn, or defectors from the faraway mountain fortresses seeking refuge in the dark forests? It was Lord of the Rings stuff! But the mute limestone features would not soften or speak as we passed.
Mother Nature threw everything at our brave few – rain, wind, cold – but our runners relished the challenges and placed well in the event. Movement and meditation belong together. We were exulting in the freedom of wellbeing, the beauty of landscaps, the wonderful camaraderie of the running fraternity, the silence of the hills, the dance of this wonderful life.
Because you are greater than you know. Meditation gradually introduces us to a hidden, deeper and remarkable part of our nature that is usually veiled by the endlessly busy mind and our immersion in the dramas of everyday life. Regaining control of the mind, learning inner stillness and silence, is the beginnings of a whole new self-discovery. We have a mind, but we are much more than mind. Our deeper spiritual nature is a source of great capacity and power.
Because you can be happier than you are today. One of the early-on benefits of meditation is a growing happiness – you’ll wonder ‘Why am I feeling so good today?’ Outer happiness is always dependent upon people and circumstance, and thus changeable; inner happiness is one of the lasting fruits of meditation, and is unaffected by outer circumstances entirely. Happiness is really an inner achievement, a rediscovering of the soul’s joy in existence itself.….
Because inner peace is your life’s most enduring treasure. Peace is another of the fruits and benefits of regular practice, like the fragrance of an inner flower. It comes in different forms – inner calm, equanimity in the face of life’s challenges, egolessness, a widening capacity for love and kindness. Peaceful people are very powerful people.
Because you’ll find your life’s deepest purpose. Every human being is unique, with different gifts and purposes – inner stillness won through meditation reconnects us with an inner wisdom, the heart’s intuitive intelligence, a clarity about our own special direction in life. Meditation is a life-navigator, shows us where to go, gives us the courage and freedom to follow our own unique path through life.
Meditation will upgrade your health! Stress, tension and negative emotions silently erode our life-force, but as we decrease these negative influences through our meditation practice, the positive health benefits become very apparent – increased vitality, a greater sense of general wellbeing, better sleep. Happiness and inner peace are powerful health factors and restoratives.
A new relationship with the world. The way we feel and function in our outer life is determined to a very great extent by our inner life – our happiness, our confidence, our moods. We often have little power to change events in the outer world, but we can change the way we react to them - our whole experience of life is colored by our own consciousness. Meditation balances the inner and outer worlds and brings out the bright colors of our nature – joyfulness, serenity, loving-kindness, strength. These emerging positive qualities reshape our very experience of life, for everything starts within.
A ripple in the pond. Our own daily meditation also has an effect upon the world, since in the vibrant web of energy everything is connected. Every thought and action spreads out into the world like a pebble tossed in to a pond. If you are able to achieve a calm and quiet mind, you will be bringing peacefulness, calmness, tolerance and beauty into the world around you. Your own deepening peace is the highest thing you can do for our troubled planet. “Be the change you want to see in the world” as Gandhi put it. This is also the teaching of quantum theory – consciousness is the ground of all being, the universe is a single conscious entity, we are its ongoing architects and creators.
The concept of soul. ‘What did your face look like before you were born?’ asks a Tibetan master of his disciple. To the mind the question is nonsensical, but not so for the instinctive intelligence of the heart. The puzzling inquiry reminds us of some essence of ourselves that is neither body nor mind, something birthless and deathless that never ceases to exist. The teachings of all the great sages and pathfinders over the centuries also share this belief in the reality of the human soul – and it is in the silence and stillness of meditation that its wisdom and guidance can most easily be felt and experienced. In everything of life – decision-making, problem solving, the search for fulfilment and happiness – our access to our intuitive, deeper Self is the key to showing us our way forward, with meditation training us to reconnect with these deeper capacities.
Making friends with the universe. We start meditation with self-effort, but over time we come to understand that all effort – like the law of attraction – seems to attract grace, as though everything needed is gifted to us by a benevolent universe. Spiritual masters call this ‘grace’. The direct experience of this can shunt years of skepticism and agnosticism to one side and open our minds to a mysterious and beautiful and responsive universe, to the idea of a creator or presiding intelligence behind the appearances of what we call reality. Here a whole new science of meditation awakens – ‘bhakti yoga’ – where the finite is now conjoined with the Infinite.
Meditation as sacred quest. From cradle-rock to last breath we live in a busy, enchanting and all absorbing world – the ability to stay in touch with our spiritual purposes, the quest for happiness and enlightenment and God-discovery, is rarely uppermost in our lives. Meditation is a reality check, reminding us of what is truly important in our lives, and equally, what is not. It lifts our lives above the everyday necessities and needs – eating, sleeping, working, surviving – and reminds us of a deeper truth and purpose, the great quest that lies at the heart of all human life, and the great happiness and liberation that will be won at the end of all striving.
Fitness has been a theme in the Sri Chinmoy Centre over the past month or two, with a number of us having a shot at some great trail runs – the Tarawera trail race near Rotorua with distances up to 50km, the recent Riverhead Rampage multi-distance run out in Woodhill forest near Kumeu in Auckland, and then again last weekend’s Motutapu/Rangitoto island event. This last one had us in the half marathon option, a fairly tough course that included the highest climbs over the trig points on both islands, long hills, rocky lava fields along Rangitoto’s foreshore and some great fast downhill stretches through the narrow forest tracks.
It’s great to have challenges, and I remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s comment that to live fully, every day we should attempt something that scares us. So I’m looking ahead next to April’s Waitomo ultras down in the Waikato, the longer distances being 22km and 35 km. If that sounds easy, take a look at the topography and the elevation profiles for this event – the hills are endless!! Eleanor would be proud of me.
Some of our keen trail runners are having a bash at Mt Ruapehu’s Ring of Fire threesome relay earlier in April,2018, three person teams covering some 22km each around the mountain’s flanks, and one or two doing the whole distance solo. Our youngest runner likes the other quotation about challenges: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for”.
So we’re all heading out into the uncharted open seas and exploring what we’re capable of.
Running offers these insights along with many other benefits conferred. And as a meditator, I always notice the relationship between fitness and training and the flow-on effects into my spiritual life, the greater ease of cultivating a still mind, still body, slow breath.
Not to mention how the disciplines of training and eating really well take us up to a level of wellbeing that’s really amazing – energy, self-belief, inspiration to take on other kinds of challenges and to live life as fully as we can.
Reprinted with the kind permission of IndiaNZ Outlook newspaper
Three champions: Harita Davies, Alison Roe, Abhejali Bernardova
The national Sri Chinmoy Centre hosted a rare sports presentation last month that brought together two remarkable women athletes to venues in Auckland and Wellington in what proved to be inspirational occasions for the audiences. The two evenings were part of a “Meetings with Remarkable People” national series of free talks, in which outstanding men and women share their experiences and encourage others to tackle their own life’s dreams and challenges. February’s recent talks were titled ‘Challenging Impossibility’ and featured two extraordinary achievers : Czech ‘Oceans-7’ ultra-distance swimmer Abhejali Bernardova, and Kiwi runner Harita Davies, the only NZ woman to ever compete in and complete the world’s longest certified running race, the gruelling, New York based 3,100 mile ultra.
Guest speaker and Czech swimmer Abhejali Bernardova outlined the rare feat of attempting the seven great ocean challenges. She had completed the previous six most challenging crossings over the past ten years, including the North Channel (Ireland to Scotland), the Molokai Channel (Hawaii), the English Channel, the Catalina Channel (USA), the Tsugaru Strait (Japan) and the Strait of Gibraltar (Spain). Among numerous other remarkable swims Abhejali had completed was the Robben Island to Capetown crossing in South Africa, a stretch of water known for its dangerous sharks. The rules of the Open Water Swimming society require that the Ocean-7 crossings must be swum without the aid of a wetsuit, and the attempts accompanied by an official witness.
Despite rough seas and strong currents making any chance of a crossing very difficult, Abhejali Bernadova last month succeeded in swimming the Cook Strait and became the 10th person in the world to complete the seven oceans challenge. She completed the swim in 13 hours and 9 minutes, arriving at the tip of the South Island around 9.20pm. For several hours during the swim, and only six miles from the South Island, Abhejali was fighting merely to hold her position and not be pulled back towards Wellington. Finally, around 6pm when the currents settled she was able to continue making headway.
The window of opportunity is always a small one in attempting the Cook Strait crossing, as swimmers can only make their attempt during either the full moon or on the half moon. At these times the currents and tides are at their calmest. With cyclone Gita hitting New Zealand three days earlier, Abhejali had to cancel an earlier attempt due to rough seas – as it was, Abhejali battled high swells, seasickness and painful stings from jellyfish encountered in the water.
Abhejali’s most arduous swim was the Molokai Channel off Hawaii, a 22 hour epic in strong currents and with seasickness preventing her from being able to eat or drink and regain energy. Remarkably, she completed each of these seven great swims on her first attempt. While 348 have completed the seven summits challenge – the scaling of the world’s seven highest mountains – so far only nine swimmers have completed the ‘Oceans-7’ challenge. Also a Czech 24 hour, 100km and 6 day race running champion, Abhejali is now the 10th person, 4th woman and first from a landlocked country to do so. The first woman to complete the challenge was Swedish Anna Carin Nordin.
Abhejali was crewed on her swim by several friends and also Harita Davies, who in 2017 became New Zealand’s first woman to compete in and complete the world’s longest race – the Self Transcendence 3,100 mile race inspired by spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. Both women share a practice of meditation learnt from Sri Chinmoy, who inspired many people to believe in their unlimited potential and reach unprecedented goals. Harita also spoke at the ‘Challenging Impossibility’ evening and talked about her recent 3,100 mile epic. She jogged and ran over 96 km every day for 54 consecutive days in an ultra event described by the New York Times as “The Mount Everest of Ultramarathons.” The 3100 ultra has runners circling around a half-mile city block in suburban Queens during the heat of the summer, and only six women have ever completed the 3100 mile distance in the previous twenty events. Only one other New Zealander has ever attempted the challenging epic journey.
The two speakers showed footage of their respective achievements and shared inspirational stories, nutrition and training tips, and insights into our limitless potential when mind/body/spirit can work together. Harita comments: “Many of us go through life wondering about what we might have done if we had dared to attempt something daunting and difficult. 3100 miles really frightened me, but I decided to venture into that frightening place and challenge myself and see what I could learn. It’s one of the best and happiest and most amazing experiences I have ever had. For a spiritual Master like Sri Chinmoy to give such importance to physical endeavors signifies a new direction in spirituality. It acknowledges the great contribution that the body is capable of making to the ultimate perfection of our human life.”
Sri Chinmoy writes: “At every moment we have the golden opportunity to go high, higher, highest on the strength of our inner mounting cry. Each time our aspiration, our mounting cry, touches the highest pinnacle, it is fired again. The goal that it touches need not and cannot be the ultimate Goal, for today’s goal is tomorrow’s starting point. Again, tomorrow’s goal will be the starting point for the day after tomorrow. There is no end to our realisation. There is no end to our self-transcendence…. In order to transcend, two things are of paramount importance: our personal effort and God’s Grace. By personal effort alone, we cannot transcend ourselves. Again, God’s Grace will not do anything unless and until we are receptive. If we can receive God’s Grace and properly use it, then only can we reach the Highest. A sincere seeker is transcending his previous reality at every moment. Like a potter who accepts clay and moulds it into something beautiful, a spiritual seeker accepts the life of ignorance and tries to transform it with his inner wisdom-light.”
From the strict spiritual point of view nothing is ultimate. Everything is transcending. We call something ultimate according to the realisation of our goal. But tomorrow we can climb up and stand on top of the reality which we yesterday considered as the ultimate and perfect it. Today’s ultimate consciousness has to be transcended by tomorrow’s more intense aspiration.”
I have always felt a deep gratitude for my enduring love of running and those long ago first encounters with that great inspirer of running, Sri Chinmoy. One of the simple truths about our lives is that most of us might never have laced up our sports shoes and become runners at all had it not been for him. He introduced us to the dormant athlete in each of us, inspired us to challenge great distances, and created a modern spiritual path that encouraged physical excellence along with the practice of meditation in a most successful, dynamic way.
An excellent sports achiever and marathoner himself, Sri Chinmoy always saw in us our deeper undiscovered capacities, something better and larger than what we saw in ourselves. He inspired us, encouraged us to tackle great challenges, gave us self-belief and a sense of wonderful possibility. We became runners and musicians and channel swimmers and mountaineers, we dared to attempt great things. Our fitness gave us strength and confidence, a foundation of wellbeing – we walked and ran through long nights of heat or rain, toed the start line at marathons, ran multi-day epics that banished the word ‘impossibility’ from our thoughts. All those possible selves that we might never have discovered, the unlived lives, the dormant possibilities he awoke! Sri Chinmoy hugely changed our lives!
His comments and profound insights about the spiritual significance of running, the many benefits conferred, are illumining for anyone interested in happiness — and who among us has not felt a growing mastery over mind and body, a more intense aspiration, an elation that is the soul’s joy, a widening world of personal possibility? Perhaps most importantly for us, running has opened up an inner doorway, a portal through which we can sometimes glimpse and feel the boundless potential that all the wisdom teachings speak of, and that we are truly unlimited if we only dare to try and have faith.
August 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, and some of the following memories and stories gather together a few tribute stories and treasures from our worldwide family of runners. May the next 40 years of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team bring the beautiful sport of running to countless people, inspire the many awakening truth-seekers of the world, and bring Sri Chinmoy’s message of self-transcendence to an ever-widening audience of receptive hearts.
“We run. We become. At every moment we are running to become something great, divine, sublime and supreme. While we are becoming, we feel that we are in the process of reaching our ultimate Goal. But today’s Goal is only the starting point for tomorrow’s new dawn.”
— Sri Chinmoy
In the early 1970s, Guru’s visits to Puerto Rico were always a full-on experience of pure joy and excitement. In those days, we would see him nearly every day.
One evening, out of the blue, Guru asked us all to meet him early the next morning in a nearby park to “take exercise!” Little did we know that this first morning session with our Coach Supreme was only the beginning of a new wave of dynamic athleticism that would grow into one of the defining qualities of our Path.
We were certainly a motley crew that morning in the park, having stayed up quite late the night before. We groggily stood before him in a wavering line following his lead in all manner of exotic stretches, jumps, twists and hops! Guru was in such great shape, so limber and full of joyful energy as he led us through the exercise repertory of his ashram days. For most of us, on the other hand, this was the first time we ever did this kind of thing to our protesting bodies!
On that hot and muggy tropical morning, we soldiered on, following Guru as he did his favourite run-skip-twists through the park. When it was all over, we dragged our aching, limping bodies into the nearby ocean for some well-deserved healing therapy!
That morning was soon followed by short races around the block, with Guru cheering us at the finish line with stopwatch in hand, giving everyone tips and encouragement, planting the seeds for a lifetime of integral spiritual fitness. Soon, training for the New York City Marathon and putting on races for the public began. The floodgates were now open!
Today, the source of hundreds of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team events around the world, the unparalleled 3100-mile race, and our Path’s central mantra of “self-transcendence” can, in a sense, be traced back to such humble beginnings as that tropical morning’s exercise session in the park, led by our very own Champion of Champions.
In 1980 Sri Chinmoy was personally fully immersed in long-distance running, which he had just begun in June of 1978. He had trained seriously for the rest of 1978 and into 1979 to run his first marathon on March 3, 1979 in Chico, California. Even though he had not been running for many years prior to 1978, he had a very good athletic background when he was growing up. He was a top track and field athlete in his youth, excelling in short sprints and track races, and for two years he was decathlon champion in his spiritual community. He was an excellent soccer and volleyball player as well.
But fitness can be lost quite rapidly if an athlete does not keep up the training into middle age. Sri Chinmoy decided to bring back that fitness and even go beyond the endurance and strength he had in his youth by beginning his training seriously again at the age of 46. By doing this he inspired many younger students of his to start getting into shape, whether they had previously been athletic or not.
Training for a marathon was a serious and arduous undertaking which most of the younger students of Sri Chinmoy had not attempted up to this point. Seeing how serious and enthusiastic Sri Chinmoy was in training himself inspired many of those who either had not yet run a marathon or wanted to improve their previous marathon times. In his first year of training Sri Chinmoy ran 7 marathons within 10 months. After his first marathon of 4:31:34 he ran another marathon three weeks later in 3:55:07! That’s an improvement of 36 minutes in less than a month. That was not only an inspiration to all of his students, but almost miraculous for a 47-year-old spiritual Master and former sprinter.
By 1980 Sri Chinmoy felt that his students needed more inspiration to train and race seriously, especially in the cold winter months of the Northeast when one can easily lose fitness with the excuse that it is too cold out to train or race. That lethargic notion was soon to be shattered when Sri Chinmoy sprang a marathon on his students in January 1980 in the subfreezing weather of Vermont. He travelled up to Vermont from New York to give a concert and decided that everyone could draw much inspiration from running in the beautiful countryside. Many of his students had made the long trip up north and were used to bringing their running clothes on overnight trips. But little did anyone know that they would be running a full 26.2-mile marathon! Those of us who were prepared to run took the challenge and ran the marathon. Others helped with the administration of the race.
It was an incredibly energizing and inspiring experience for those who had not even dreamed of running a marathon in subfreezing weather. Sri Chinmoy was helping the runners conquer not only lethargy but also unfounded fear and apprehension of something as harmless as a little cold weather. It also inspired everyone to also train in the winter and to be in shape for marathons scheduled early in the year, before the summer months. After that event, Sri Chinmoy instituted this race on a regular basis in the first week of February for the next three years in nearby Hampton, New Hampshire. He himself ran this cold but scenic race twice, in 1981 and 1983, when it followed the beautiful shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean in southern Nw Hampshire.
For a few years this iconic race was popular among serious local marathoners who wanted to qualify for the famous Boston Marathon. It was one of the last marathons available to potential qualifiers for Boston, which was a difficult race to get into at that time. The Boston Marathon, inaugurated in 1896, was the oldest annual running marathon. It became so popular by the 1970s that runners had to achieve qualifying times for their age groups to get in. Since Boston is always held in April, a serious marathoner has to train throughout the winter months to prepare properly for it. Sri Chinmoy’s Inspiration Marathon was a perfect race to encourage and inspire those runners who wanted to compete in Boston, which also was not too far away from Hampton, New Hampshire.
For many reasons the Inspiration Marathon was truly a jewel of a race and a gift to all those serious runners who, at least during that time in the early ’80s, wanted to derive not only fitness but also inspiring motivation and joy in their marathoning pursuits, and thus in life as well. I am grateful to be one of those runners who still benefit from that experience. I owe a debt of gratitude to Sri Chinmoy for that race as well as many, many other races, short and long, that he inspired over the decades through his involvement in the running world.
Sri Chinmoy founded the Marathon Team in 1977, both to encourage his students to increase their physical fitness as an aid to their meditation practice, and to offer sports events and a new kind of service to the running community.
He had been a champion athlete during his youth in his native India, excelling in sprinting, decathlon, soccer and volleyball in the spiritual community where he lived. This interest Sri Chinmoy brought to America in 1964, and like their teacher, his followers too became inspired by the many benefits conferred by running, and also by his personal example and his constant encouragement. A foundational belief at the heart of Sri Chinmoy’s sports philosophy is the ideal of “self-transcendence” — a belief in our almost limitless potential, the aspiration to bravely explore this through effort and undertakings, and an understanding of the power we can access when mind/body/spirit can together and be utilised in attempting great challenges.
The sprinkling of running races on the SCMT calendar would eventually become a flood, as new events of varying distances emerged. Sri Chinmoy himself ventured into long-distance running in 1978, completing his first marathon on March 3, 1979 in 4:31:34 and, just 22 days later, his fastest, in 3:55:07. Twenty more marathons and two 47-mile ultras followed. He was vividly demonstrating both his own pursuit of physical excellence and the power of his energizing message, even as he reached the age of 47 years and beyond.
By 1980, the Marathon Team was sponsoring marathons, 13-mile races, many road races and even a 24-hour event. Triathlons joined the schedule, as well as 70-mile races and weekly two-milers. Then, in 1985, distances attempted took a quantum leap and the era of multi-day races began in earnest.
“Our primary aim should not be to surpass others but constantly to surpass ourselves. In the outer life, when we run with our friends, we are seeing who is actually the best. And we cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. But we compete not for the sake of defeating others, but in order to bring forward our own capacity. Our best capacity comes forward only when there are other people around us. They inspire us to bring forward our utmost capacity, and we inspire them to bring forward their utmost capacity. This is why we have competitive sports.”
Our trail running ultra-distance athlete Cheryll, a member of the Auckland Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, just competed last weekend, Feb. 11th, in the 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon, New Zealand’s most prestigious trail run. Part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, runners can tackle the 102, 87km or 62km distances or attempt the inaugural 100 Mile Endurance Run. The event is based in Rotorua, with great scenery including seven lakes, native forests, waterfalls and some of the most stunning
landscapes in the world.
The spectacular course runs through places of cultural significance to local Maori people, and around 1400 participants with more than 700 international athletes competed this year, including some of the world’s best elite ultra runners. Cheryll was out there in the 62 km event, an 11 hour run that saw non-stop rain, around 2,000 metres of climbing and lots of muddy trails.
” It was really tough, and I had to keep pushing myself to keep going and not allow the body and mind to get overwhelmed by distance and discomfort. But when you get to the finish line you just get this great joy and satisfaction. Running reminds me so much of life itself, it’s a kind of microcosm of daily living, everything that limits you packed in to a day of challenges. You learn a whole lot about yourself, and that you’re really unlimited if you dare to say ‘yes’, just keep going, bring forward all your resolve and strength. Then you know you have this inside you, that you can do anything.”
The following article by Jogyata Dallas is reprinted with the kind permission of the IndiaNZ Outlook newspaper.
For those with an interest in peaceful music and meditation, an upcoming free event in Three Kings will soon offer a very special opportunity. Auckland’s Sri Chinmoy Centre is hosting a Friday evening community program at the Fickling Centre, 546 Mt Albert Rd, featuring mantric songs, live music and guided meditations. Performing groups will draw from the vast repertoire of spiritual compositions by the renowned late composer Sri Chinmoy, who for over 40 years directed the non-denominational Peace Meditations at the United Nations in New York city.
‘An Evening of Peace’ will be held on Thursday, November 23rd from 7:00pm – 8:30pm in the Hillsborough Room in the Fickling Centre. The concert is entirely free, however seating can be reserved by texting to 0221887432, by phone (3091136) or calling in to the upstairs Mt Roskill library counter and obtaining admission-free tickets.
Sri Chinmoy playing the esraj
Sri Chinmoy saw music as a great unifier, a powerful force for world peace and a universal language uniting us together as one world family. He comments:
“Music transcends the barriers of nations, nationalities and religions. It is through music that the universal feeling of oneness can be achieved in the twinkling of an eye. When we listen to soulful music, or when we ourselves play soulful music, immediately our inner existence climbs up high, higher, highest. It climbs up and enters into something beyond. This Beyond is constantly trying to help us, guide us, mould us and shape us into our true transcendental image, our true divinity. …A river is flowing through us, a river of consciousness, and this consciousness is all the time illumined.”
‘An Evening of Peace’ is partly audience-interactive by encouraging concert goers to join with performers in singing some of the simple song chants, and trying the guided meditation exercises that precede and explain the music. Several meditation teachers from the Sri Chinmoy Centre will offer a range of different techniques to quieten the mind and guide listeners in learning how to meditate.
Sri Chinmoy always believed that spiritual, peaceful music can significantly contribute to a brighter future for all of humanity, requesting that his music always be shared free of charge. When asked about the relationship between music and silence, he commented: “Silence is the source of everything. It is the source of music and it is music itself. Silence is the deepest, most satisfying music of the Supreme. Silence is like a stream that goes to one place and becomes a river, or to another place and becomes a brook, or to the sea where it is totally expanded……”
“Silence is the nest and music is the bird. The bird leaves the nest early in the morning and returns to the nest in the evening. Similarly, in the spiritual world, divine music comes from the inmost soul of Silence. When we compare divine music and Silence, we must say that Silence is the all-encompassing nest. All peace, all joy and all confidence are inside that nest and from there the music-bird comes out and flies all over the world. While flying in the firmament, it offers delight to the lovers of music as well as to the Universal Consciousness. The Universal Consciousness is fed constantly by the immortal, divine and supreme Music of the Absolute.”
“God is the Supreme Musician. It is He who is playing with us, on us and in us. We cannot separate God from His music. The universal Consciousness is constantly being played by the Supreme Himself, and is constantly growing into the Supreme Music. God the Creator is the Supreme Musician and God the creation is the supreme Music. The musician and His Music can never be separated. The Musician Supreme is playing his Music Supreme here in the universe. “
Music lovers can simply turn up on the night for “An Evening of Peace’ as there is plenty of seating. Hot drinks and light food will be offered afterwards. Further information can be found at: www.meditationauckland.co.nz
Ultra-marathoner Harita Davies, a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, made history today by becoming the first ever Kiwi woman to attempt and finish the longest certified footrace in history, the gruelling multi-day 3,100 mile Sri Chinmoy Ultra Race, described by the New York Times as “The Mount Everest of Ultramarathons.”
Harita ran over two marathons every day for 52 days straight, circling around a half-mile city block in a New York suburb during the heat, humidity and occasional thunderstorms of this New York summer. She finished on Wednesday, August 9th after starting her epic journey back in early June. Only one other New Zealander has ever attempted this feat.
This year ten intrepid runners and one race walker began this epic journey, an ultra which only a few actually finish. To cover the distance of 3100 miles (4988.9km), the runners need to average 95.9km per day – that’s more than two marathons a day for 52 days straight, running between 6am and midnight.
42 year old Harita Davies is the first New Zealand women to ever attempt such a distance, finishing in 4th place overall and becoming a New Zealand record holder.
She came to running through Sri Chinmoy, her Indian spiritual teacher who brought his particular form of spirituality from India to America in 1964. Sri Chinmoy’s principles of meditation and self-transcendence are practiced by his 7000 plus students around the world, with running being a unique part of their spiritual training. Sri Chinmoy saw physical fitness, particularly running, to be a perfect way to go beyond the mind’s limitations, to challenge ‘impossibility’, and to develop the necessary qualities of discipline, determination, will-power and perseverance which are essential for the spiritual journey towards happiness. She comments:
“ Just to keep going is an incredible lesson for the rest of life, and not being deterred by obstacles. They make you stronger and really help you develop faith, confidence, patience, and perseverance, qualities that are so essential in our living.
“During the race I was much more aware of my inner reality than I am in my regular life, and of the importance of my state of consciousness. The race was a tremendous opportunity to pray or to meditate and to be closer to my heart, to feelings of gratitude and happiness – everything else just fell away and my running became centre stage in my life, teaching me something fundamental about life itself. The outer running and the inner running towards simplicity and happiness are inseparable.”
The following article by Jogyata Dallas is reprinted with the kind permission of the IndiaNZ Outlook newspaper.
Throughout our long history, humanity has always been guided and uplifted by the lives and deeds of our great teachers and leaders, the political greats like Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela; the humanitarians like Mother Teresa; the pioneering visionaries like Thomas Jefferson. In the spiritual realms, over long millennia India has provided us with so many of the great sages and Teachers who continue to remind us of the highest and deepest truths about our existence, the life navigators and exemplars pointing the way. These are all world figures who tower above nationality and self-interest and whose very names come to embody values and principles that linger long after their earth life, inspiring us for centuries. In the realm of these immortals, the name of one of India’s most recent luminaries shines brightly, the late spiritual master and peace-server Sri Chinmoy.
In Sri Chinmoy’s birth place of Bengal, there is a saying “A moment with the Beloved and the river changes its course”. History has proven the truth of this, how encounters with remarkable people in different fields of human life have inspired revolutions, remarkable charity, epochal change, great undertakings. They believed in us, raised us up, saw in each of us something remarkable and noble and better than what we saw in ourselves. They awoke in us a sense of great purpose and we cast aside any sense of inadequacy, instead daring and dreaming of great deeds. They may not have been involved in politics, but effected political change; never gave advice, but brought forward from within us a new clarity about our way forward, a new intensity of purpose. The rivers of lives and nations indeed changed their courses, nudged towards a brighter future simply through the power of their encouragement and conviction, their dauntless courage and the personal examples they set.
But inspiration can also manifest itself on the humble stage of our personal lives as well, in our attempts at self-improvement, tackling new challenges, finding the courage for some formidable undertaking. One such example is the recent brave effort of an Auckland athlete, Harita Davies, a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team who was initially inspired after reading a book by Sri Chinmoy about the limitless potential of human beings. Harita is poised to become the first Kiwi woman to ever tackle and finish the longest certified footrace in history, the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race held annually in New York city. Described as “The Mount Everest of Ultramarathons” by the New York Times, the 21st annual event has runners circling around a half-mile city block in suburban Queens during the stifling heat and sudden lightning storms of the NY summer.
The 52 day race began on the 18th of June and finished on the 8th of August – competitors have to maintain an average of 60 miles a day, over two marathons every day for almost eight weeks! The race starts at 6 a.m. every morning and the runners can continue as late as midnight when the course closes till dawn. Only six women have ever completed the 3100 mile distance in the previous twenty events, with only one other male New Zealander ever attempting the challenging epic journey. The race was founded in 1997 by the late Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007), who pioneered many long distance events and has been credited with reviving multi-day racing, once very popular in the 19th century. The Auckland marathon team he founded hosts New Zealand’s national 24 hour championship race, and over thirty national road races and marathons annually.
Sri Chinmoy was a great believer in humanity’s potential – a philosophy he called ‘self-transcendence’ – and made headlines over twenty years ago when he predicted that the sub two-hour marathon mark would fall in the coming few decades. His prediction almost came true recently when Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, gold-medalist at the Rio Olympics and the best marathoner in the world, stepped up to the starting line at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track in northern Italy and ran the fastest time ever recorded – 2 hours and 25 seconds!
Many of the 3100 mile competitors describe the race as very much an inner journey as well, a test of mental strength, self-belief, the ability to endure through countless challenges. Harita comments: “Many of us go through life wondering about what we might have done if we had dared to attempt something seemingly impossible and difficult. 3100 miles really frightened me, but I decided to venture into that frightening place and challenge myself and see what I could learn. It’s one of the best and happiest and most amazing experiences I have ever had”.
“Just to keep going is an incredible lesson for life, and not being deterred by obstacles. They make you stronger and really help you develop faith, confidence, patience, and perseverance, qualities that are so essential for life. I like Eleanor Roosevelts remark, that it’s better we aim too high and fall short of our goal, than to aim too low and achieve our goal, and always wonder at the end what might have been possible if we had dared to aim a little higher.”
“For me, 52 days of running is a spiritual journey more than anything, confronting in myself during the long hours of each day the frailty of the body, the stubborn resistances of the mind, wearing them down till only the trusting heart is left. Out on the road, everything is simple, everything else falls away. There is only the essence of life, only its ultimate purpose.”
By Toshala Elliott
Meditation changes perspectives. That, at least, is one of the results I have derived from more than a couple of decades of close personal observation of my own meditation experiences. Not necessarily from the meditations themselves but from the gradual evolution of conscious understanding that has subtly changed the way one views things inwardly. (I hear you say…‘What?’) For instance, take infinity as an example – at school I was taught in mathematics that infinity is a stupendously large number that cannot possibly be imagined, but which may be used in mathematical calculations as a variable (∞) that may be multiplied, divided or subtracted. In essence:
∞ – ∞ = 0
There it is, in a nutshell: What Maths Taught Me. At the time this seemed rational and sensible, and enabled the minds of us teenaged students to comprehend infinity, pop it in a finite box, and use it at will. Even in casual conversation, if you wished.
Despite this education, for a long time the feeling has been growing in me that a philosophy that believes that infinity can be bounded by a hypothesis and used in mathematical equations is a limited one. One of the things that meditation enables one to understand is that the mind cannot fathom vastness, much less infinity. The universe itself is unable to be appraised by a mentality that requires boundaries and criteria to understand something. It can, however, be envisaged – and even felt – by the heart. The heart is the body’s seat of ancient peace and wisdom, this is where the soul resides, and where all the unknowable becomes clear… if you listen. And this is where the liberating understanding that infinity is a concept rather than a number, and is constantly transcending itself, springs from. In order to discuss infinity, the mind (and hence education) ascribes to it a substance, thereby pre-assuming finite parameters to infinity itself. However, this is a contradiction to infinity, which has neither substance nor
finite boundaries and which cannot therefore be ascribed the conventions of traditional arithmetic.
Sri Chinmoy summed it up nicely by saying, “When infinity is taken away from infinity, infinity remains,” which – it turns out – is an ancient philosophical concept from the Upanishads. Thus:
∞ – ∞ = ∞
Simply put: the philosophy of the heart that imposes no finite boundaries on infinity has an advanced understanding that infinity actually, really is……….infinite!