You are running too slowly!1

One day when I was in Pondicherry recently, I was running near the Bay of Bengal. A little Tamil boy said to me, “Sir, you will not be allowed to run here tomorrow.”

I asked, “Why?”

He said, “Because you are running too slowly!

I said to him, “All right. I will not come this way tomorrow. Tomorrow I will go to some other place.”

Then he said, “No, come here! No matter how slowly you run, come here. I like you.”

All this was in Tamil.

  1. RB 861. 28 March 1982

Looking for Auroville1

Another day, I started my run at four o’clock in the morning. But even at that hour you can’t run more than 400 metres before you start perspiring! And the Pondicherry streets are so uneven and full of holes! Still, I ran fifteen miles — seven and a half out and back.

They had told me that Auroville is about six miles from the Ashram. So I set my timer-beeper at ten minutes. After it rang six times I thought that I should definitely have reached Auroville. From the light in the sky I saw that an hour had gone by, so I knew for certain that I had heard the beeper six times.

Then I started asking people driving bullock carts where Auroville was.

One person said, “Oh, you have already passed it!”

I asked myself, “How can it be? Did I run so fast?”

Another person said, “It is one mile ahead.” So I kept running until I reached it.

When I was coming back, three or four dogs attacked me at the same time — out of the blue. I stood there and shouted at them. While I was shouting, the owners of the dogs also started shouting. Then they started laughing at me, and I started shouting at them in Tamil.

  1. RB 862. 28 March 1982

The devotee1

One day I was walking along the Bay of Bengal. A young man was running by. When he saw me, all of a sudden he stopped and folded his hands.

I couldn’t understand why he would show such devotion to a stranger, since he was a European. Then he started running again.

The following day I was walking in the Ashram taking pictures when I saw this same young man running along the other side of the street. As soon as he saw me, he stood still and folded his hands. Then he came and stood in front of me with folded hands. He said, “I was your disciple once upon a time.”

I said, “You were my disciple?”

He said, “I come from Heidelberg. I was your disciple. I even came to New York once to see you.”

I said to myself, “O God, he came to New York and still I can’t recognise him!”

He told me his name. I asked, “What do you do?”

He said, “I am a taxi driver. Now I have become Sri Aurobindo’s disciple. But please tell me what I should do about my spiritual life.”

I said, “If you are Sri Aurobindo’s disciple, I am not the right person to tell you what to do.”

He kept asking me, so finally I said, “Now that you are inspired by the Ashram, you can go back to Heidelberg and do something for the Ashram there.”

He said, “But I don’t know any seekers there.”

I said, “Just try. From one it becomes many.” Then I asked, “Do you know Renate?”

He said, “Yes, I know her. She has gotten her Indian name, Minati.” I didn’t think he would know her Indian name, but somehow he knew it.

Then he said, “I am very grateful to you because I got the inspiration to run from you. You encouraged me to run. In New York I started running.”

  1. RB 863. 28 March 1982

Lost in London1

One morning in London I started running at 3:30 in the morning. I had no idea what streets I was going on, so I started remembering landmarks: “Here is a light, there is a mailbox, here is a store called Aladdin’s Lamp.” Like that I got six or seven landmarks to remember.

After running about three and a half miles, I turned around to go back. But I had forgotten two of the landmarks. I had no idea where I was, and I didn’t have any money with me. Anyway, where could I get a taxi at that hour? If I could have found a taxi, I could have gone back to the hotel and gotten some money from there. Then I got angry with myself. Why did I have to meditate while running instead of paying more attention to the landmarks?

At that very moment, when I was totally annoyed, one of my inner beings started making fun of me because I thought I was lost. Usually they are terribly afraid of cutting jokes with me. But this inner being said, “Although you have made a mistake, you are off by only half a block.”

I believed my inner being. I went just half a block in the direction it showed me, and I saw “Aladdin’s Lamp.” Then I had only two more landmarks to find. I had been out only an hour or so, but one of the landmarks had disappeared. Perhaps it had blown away; it was such a silly landmark! My inner being told me, “Definitely that is the place. Make a left turn there.” Again I believed my inner being, and soon I came to the last landmark, which was a mailbox.

If I could have gone into the park, there would have been no problem. I would have remembered the big building — Kensington Palace. But the park didn’t open until 5:30 or 6:00, and the streets were not at all familiar to me. As I passed a bicycle shop, the burglar alarm was ringing and ringing. Even after I had gone at least two blocks more, I was hearing the alarm so loudly! It was about 4:30, and at that hour there were absolutely no policemen out — not even one! Whom to tell? I didn’t see any person and perhaps only one car.

  1. RB 864. 28 March 1982

The San Juan Marathon1

At our marathon in Puerto Rico the runners had to run three times around the stadium at the start of the course. Our singers had taped running songs that were played over the loudspeaker, and they inspired the runners considerably.

Because of the heat, many people suffered after completing the race. For many it was a very painful experience.

The man who won had a time of around 2:30, and his wife stood first among the women. So husband and wife stood first together, with one hour difference.

The former champion finished in 2:51. I had a long talk with him, and many pictures were taken. He said this was his worst time in ten years. He blamed the heat. Also, the day before he had eaten Kentucky Fried Chicken, and he said that ruined everything. So remember, don’t eat chicken before a marathon!

  1. RB 865. 5 December 1982

The kiss1

During the awards ceremony after the Puerto Rico marathon, I was so embarrassed! I was giving a prize to a black lady who had placed in the marathon, and she leaned forward to kiss me. I immediately put my hand in front of my forehead. She said, “Pardon, pardon!”

  1. RB 866. 11 December 1982

The Puerto Rican Indian1

When I went to the World Masters Games held in Puerto Rico in September, on the registration form I wrote down my nationality as Indian. But the officials cancelled it and instead put Puerto Rican. That is how I became Puerto Rican and held the Puerto Rican flag during the march past.

Every day I got such tremendous joy and inspiration from the Masters Games. I enjoyed them like anything! They really created a Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The inspiration from the Games will last for some time. Now I want to break my own records. My goal is transcendence.

  1. RB 867. 2 October 1983

An unfair race1

In one race I saw a 92-year-old man running; he came in third. Quite good! But he came to me after the race and said, “Is it fair? I have to run with 85-year-olds!” Poor man. How could they have another category for runners over 90? So he was only third. He was a nice man. He had been a revolutionary in his youth, and had been in jail for 16 years. They wrote a nice article about him in the San Juan paper.

  1. RB 868. 2 October 1983

The brave hurdler1

There were 19 people registered in the over-40 category for hurdles. Out of these, only six actually came and participated. The rest were all injured. On the very first day of events people were practising hurdles. I saw at least two fall down. They seriously injured their knees and they were lying down. Most of them had very bad style. I don’t know how they can run like that. For old people like us, the organisers should lower the height of the hurdles.

One of the hurdlers was really brave. From the very first hurdle he was last. When I did hurdles in India I used to think my stride was horrible, but his was definitely worse. Dhananjaya took a very nice picture of him after the third hurdle.

At the fourth hurdle, he fell down and rolled three times. Then he got up and again started running! I could not believe it. He was so brave! I thought he would remain on the ground and they would bring a stretcher.

  1. RB 869. 2 October 1983

Autograph hunters1

In the 35-40 category, there was a woman who looked very small, but she was so fast! She stood second or third. After the race she came and stood in front of me. Her boyfriend came, too. They are from Chile. They wanted my autograph on a very small brochure. Dhananjaya was asking them their names. They gave him their names and I signed their brochures.

Then two people came who lived near Cologne. They also took my autograph. I told them I was going to Cologne next March to give a concert. Where is Cologne and where is Puerto Rico?

  1. RB 870. 2 October 1983

Begging for a photograph1

One Indian got four gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal. He was begging Dhananjaya to take a nice picture of him with all his medals. Then his manager became so jealous that he would not talk to him.

  1. RB 871. 2 October 1983

Coming in last1

Poor me! I always come in last, last, last. But how can everybody get a place? Just because some slow people like me also run, some faster runners stand first, second and third. If we did not join, there could be no competition.

Still, I am quite happy. The prayers of the San Francisco disciples worked: I have broken my 100, 200 and 400-metre records. Of course, these are my best times since I came to the West — not my Indian records!

  1. RB 872. 2 October 1983

Young but useless1

In the ladies’ group some of the participants are a little overweight and have grey hair. Others look quite thin and smart; in comparison, they look quite young. But when the race starts, sometimes those grey-haired ladies go so fast, and the younger-looking ones, who are thin and light, are useless.

  1. RB 873. 2 October 1983

Sometimes it is better to watch1

Twenty minutes before the semi-finals of the 400-metre race, my Filipino friend told me that the officials had allowed more people to join, and that I was definitely qualified to participate. When they announced that everybody was allowed, he said that he was prepared to compete. But since I had not qualified in the heats, I had not come prepared to run. Even if I had been prepared, I would not have been able to compete with those really good runners. Sometimes it is better to watch than to run.

  1. RB 874. 2 October 1983