Run and become, become and run, part 8

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Street celebrity1

The other day I was doing hill work on 150th Street. Whom did I see? The great Australian runner Robert de Castella. He was planning to eat at Annam Brahma and he was doing some running before he went there.

RB 391. 15 October 1981

The boxer2

This afternoon I walked five miles and then I ran another three.

My five-mile walk was real fun! Databir was sleeping like anything in the car. But Vinaya was so good; he watched me every step of the way with his eyes wide open.

Baoul was driving. I was walking at random, looking for two-way streets so Baoul could drive alongside me. I had to always think of Baoul. I could walk anywhere, but driving was the problem.

We didn’t follow any of my regular running routes, so I didn’t know where the roads would lead us. It turned out to be uphill most of the way. As you know, I hate hill work. I was wearing six-pound weights on each leg. This is the kind of thing that boxers do to build up their legs. So I am another boxer.

The other day I used two-pound weights on my legs, then three. Gradually I will make progress and go up to seven and a half pounds.

RB 392. 15 October 1981

The three-mile run3

After my walk, we drove to Flushing Meadow Park. I was going to run another three miles with the great runners Sushobhan, Databir, Pahar and Vinaya.

As we were driving to Flushing Meadow, the four boys ran while I watched from the car. Three of them were running at under a six-minute pace.

Databir has the tendency to race, and his first mile was a 5:42. Then, how he suffered! It was too much for him, so he entered into the car with me and did not get out again.

Vinaya was running even slower than a nine-minute pace. We were waiting for him to reach Flushing Meadow Park, but he was too slow. We had to go back to get him.

During our run together in Flushing Meadow, only Vinaya ran slower than I did. One person, at least, surrendered to me!

RB 393. 15 October 1981

The truck drivers4

Today I ran five miles with the boys and then two miles on my own. When I was running with the boys on Main Street, some truck drivers started cutting jokes with us. They were standing next to their truck. As soon as they saw us running by at an eight-minute pace, they started jogging in place. Then they asked us, “Getting ready for the New York Marathon?”

RB 394. 17 October 1981

The jokers5

When the boys go jogging with me, I know they can run much faster. But the way they make noise, panting and breathing hard — “Hah, hah,” — they sound as if they are dying. They are all jokers!

RB 395. 17 October 1981

The fun run6

Today I ran three short races in New Jersey. At the beginning of the first race, a mile-and-a-half fun run, some children were in front of me. Children don’t run; they dance. One child absolutely wouldn’t move out of my way. Very politely I touched his shoulder and passed him.

Then, one black man and I were fighting and fighting to go ahead of each other. Finally I went three or four metres ahead of him. That was the time I had to make a wrong turn. Three girls who were just ahead of me made a wrong turn, and I followed them. These three girls and others who took the “short cut” didn’t go back the right way. But the race director happened to come at the very moment that I made the wrong turn. So he shouted at me that I had gone the wrong way. I was the only one who went back the right way. By that time the black man was four or five metres ahead of me. After some time I caught him again. But in the end he finally defeated me. We had a very good competition. The girls who took the short cut also defeated me.

RB 396. 18 October 1981

False encouragement7

At one point in the first race Pratyaya made me feel that the goal was very near. She told me to go straight, but actually I had to make another turn. Then, in the last race, she screamed, “Just cross the road and you can see the end!” But the end was not in sight.

Databir also gives me false encouragement. In the second race today he was saying, “The end is very near.” O God, I had to run about two hundred metres, and only then I saw the finish line way ahead of me.

Of course, these two and all those who cheer for me are only trying to encourage me. In a sense they do the right thing when they say these kinds of things. Encouragement comes and makes me feel that the goal is just in front of my nose.

RB 397. 18 October 1981

The policeman's wrong turn8

In the race that Rejean ran, just before my third fun run, the policeman in the lead car took a wrong turn. So the race ended up being two hundred metres short. What could Rejean do? He was the first runner and he was just following the lead car.

RB 398. 18 October 1981

Time splits9

Third-class runners like me should not think of their timing. Even when you hear the timing, usually it is so slow that you do not get inspiration to go further. Sometimes in a two-mile race when you hear the time for the first mile you have the capacity to go faster. But in a marathon, at ten miles frustration starts because you are running so slowly. You are killing yourself, and then when you hear the time, you see it is so slow.

RB 399. 18 October 1981

Toledo Marathon splits10

When I ran my best marathon in Toledo, Gayatri would tell me one timing and Peter would say something totally different. The funniest thing is that Peter was standing two or three metres farther along than Gayatri, but the timing he gave me was less than hers. Then I started getting annoyed — who was giving the right splits? It turned out that Peter was giving the official timing and Gayatri had her self-chosen time. For four or five miles how I suffered because of the timing!

RB 400. 18 October 1981

A hard time11

In the third race today, one girl gave me a very hard time. Finally, I went ahead of her. For twenty metres she really died to keep up with me, but then she fell behind.

RB 401. 18 October 1981

The basketball player12

At the last race one man was so nice. He was a basketball player. After the race he came over to thank us for coming. The man was saying how young I looked and how unusual it was for someone my age to have such good speed. Niriha interviewed him. She became both a reporter and a camerawoman. Trishul missed his opportunity! He would have asked the basketball player so many questions.

RB 402. 18 October 1981

The competitive curse13

Sometimes when we run, we try to pass the runners who are ahead of us. But when they fall behind us, at that time pride does not come. We only feel miserable that we wanted to pass them in the first place. We wonder why we are killing ourselves. First we try to beat others. Then, when we go ahead of them, we curse ourselves for wanting to pass them. We feel it was better just to run behind them.

In one of today’s races, at least six or seven runners passed me. Then, one by one, I passed them and went ahead again.

RB 403. 18 October 1981

Guru's gratitude14

Today I ran three good races. It is all due to my disciples’ encouragement. All those who were in the bus and others who accompanied me to New Jersey deserve my absolutely most powerful gratitude. Because of their silver inspiration, gold aspiration and diamond sacrifice, I was able to accomplish what I have done today.

So these people deserve gratitude — G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E — in the purest sense of the term.

RB 404. 18 October 1981

The dog's message15

Today I was doing hill work on 150th Street. I was about to complete two miles when I saw the fat lady who used to have two dogs. Now she has only one dog; the other one died. The dog started following me. I knew the dog wouldn’t bite me; she was only trying to lick my left knee. I stopped running and the lady said, “Don’t be afraid of my dog. She is saying ‘Good luck’ to you!”

RB 405. 20 October 1981

Songs from running16

Quite often when I run, many songs appear inside my brain. This afternoon when I was running, two or three new songs came to my mind. Then, after I finished running, I had to sit down and notate the songs.

I will die, but I know my songs will live on. Indians, especially Bengalis, in every nook and cranny will sing my songs.

RB 406. 20 October 1981

The embarrassing run17

Today I ran four miles with Pahar in Flushing Meadow Park. So many silly and embarrassing things happened! Before I started, I put on heavy clothes — shorts, trousers, plus the thick rubber belt I use to support my back. The first mile, as usual, was at my bullock-cart speed: 9:25. My timing for the next two miles was 8:18 and 7:40.

After the third mile I said, “Now I want to run a fast mile — seven minutes or under.” I took off the rubber belt so that I could breathe more deeply. After two hundred metres, what happened? My trousers began falling off on my right side.

First I tried holding them up with my right hand, while I was still pumping with my left hand. Then they started falling down on my left side also. So I had to hold my trousers up with both hands. Whenever I let go, for a few seconds they would stay up and then they would fall down again. Because of this I could not run fast, so my timing was 7:50. Easily I could have gone faster! I forgot that I had on shorts underneath. I should have stopped and taken off my trousers.

RB 407. 20 October 1981

Two divine beings18

The day before yesterday I ran seven and a half miles. After five and a half miles I came to the intersection where the Kew Motor Inn is.

It was about a quarter to eight in the morning. I was not in the middle of the street, but all of a sudden someone started honking. I looked around and saw a policeman on a motor bike. He was Puerto Rican. Since nobody else was around, I thought that perhaps I had done something wrong.

The policeman raised both hands and started screaming with joy, “Sri, Sri, Sri!”

I said to myself, “So, I have not committed any crime.”

When I reached Main Street, I was about to make a left turn. Then I saw that a car had made a right turn and was waiting across the street. The driver — a fat, black man — was signalling me to come across. When I came near him, he said, “You are a very nice guy. I love you.”

So, within eight hundred metres, I met two nice human beings, two really divine beings.

RB 408. 24 October 1981

First New York Marathon19

The first year I ran the New York Marathon in 1979, I became so tired after fourteen miles. Then I saw Lucy. She was doing stretching exercises, but I didn’t have the capacity even to bend. Then she went ahead.

As soon as I would come near Radha, she would take off. Then she would relax. When I would catch her again, she would run faster.

RB 409. 24 October 1981

Two Long Island Marathons20

At the start of the 1979 Long Island Marathon I was taking such long strides because I was running with Bhashwar, Bhima and a few others. The first thirteen miles I ran so fast! If I had not walked the last three miles, I would have finished in under four hours.

The following year I ran only thirteen miles, and Lucy skated the full twenty-six miles. I thought I was running behind Shephali and Savita, but afterwards I found out it was Shephali and Amy. All the time I was hiding and keeping behind them. Shephali didn’t recognise me at all.

RB 410. 24 October 1981

The oath21

About four years ago Barada defeated me at one of our races in Connecticut. At that time I took a solemn oath to defeat her. Three years have very nicely passed by and my oath still remains in Heaven. Barada has improved like anything!

RB 411. 24 October 1981

Running the New York Marathon22

During the New York Marathon at least five people recognised me, although I was not wearing a Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team uniform. Some of them called out, “Keep going, keep going! Don’t give up, Sri!” Some people were saying, “Go, Sri Chinmoy!” because Sushobhan, who was running with me, had on a Centre jacket.

Some of the 24-hour-race participants saw me and thanked me for the race. They are very nice people.

It is so funny! You pass people at fifteen or sixteen miles, smiling and smiling. Then, without any warning, cramps come later — at about twenty miles. Then you have to stop and walk.

One policeman said to me, “You can’t walk, you have to run.” He was encouraging me to run, but I was dying.

RB 412. 25 October 1981

The first competition23

I started my life of competition in Santa Barbara on 5 June 1979 with a three-mile race. My pace was 7:43. For the first four hundred metres I was running with excellent runners at a six-minute pace. Then everything went blank; I couldn’t see anything. After that I started walking for a while.

RB 413. 29 October 1981

The post-marathon one-mile race24

In the one-mile race this morning, at the last moment, coming around the last turn, I defeated Nemi. I said, “This is the time!” I got such innocent pleasure by defeating her. First I had to defeat Tanima, then Mitali and so on. Each time I went ahead of someone I got such joy!

RB 414. 29 October 1981

California races25

I was in California for two and a half days. We had several races. In the two-mile race, I did nine seconds over my best two-mile timing: 13:51. In San Diego we had a four-hundred-metre race. My timing there was seven seconds more than my best four-hundred-metre timing. One of our Seattle disciples bragged that he was going to win the two-mile race. Then Astika defeated him badly. But he did come in second or third — to everybody’s surprise.

RB 415. 1 November 1981

The private conversation26

During our seventy-mile race the young son of George Gardiner, the American record-holder for one hundred miles on a track, came up to me and said he wanted to talk to me privately. Then he told me, “You are a good person,” and he congratulated me on the sixth anniversary of my writing Transcendence-Perfection. He had his arm around my shoulder. Then, when Bhashwar took our picture, I put my arm around him. His name is John.

RB 416. 1 November 1981

The massage27

Later, when I completed thirteen miles during the seventy-mile race, this little boy, John, came up to me and started massaging my calf muscles. He said, “You are tight!”

RB 417. 1 November 1981

Meditating on George Gardiner28

When George Gardiner finished the race, he folded his hands when he saw me. But he was feeling very sick, so he went into the medical tent. His son John begged me to please come see his father. So I went into the tent and meditated on him. Then he was all right.

George couldn’t believe I was meditating on him in the tent. He sat up and said, “Thank you for everything.” Before he got his prize, over the microphone he thanked me for saving his life.

RB 418. 1 November 1981

The big hand29

After the race I gave John a special prize for the way he encouraged the runners right from the beginning of the race. I told him that he was a very good boy. Many times over the microphone he had asked the spectators to give the runners a big hand. So then I asked everyone to give him a big hand.

RB 419. 1 November 1981

Running equals30

Today while I was running I saw Boiragi running. Then later I saw his wife Mitali running. Boiragi can defeat me badly, but I can defeat his wife badly. So we are equal.

RB 420. 2 November 1981

Birthday hill work31

Today was Nancy Barr’s birthday. I saw her when I was doing hill work on 150th Street. She was also doing hill work. She ran and ran with me. I was going up when she was going down, and she was going up when I was going down. I didn’t know it was her birthday at the time, but later I found out.

RB 421. 2 November 1981

Two-mile rivals32

In the two-mile race at the park where Cahit’s running club practices, I will never forget that my first rival was Mitali. Next came Melissa and third was Amita. Then at the end it was Lucy. I was telling her to go and she was telling me to go. In this way we finished the race. After the race the singers sang the song about Cahit.

RB 422. 6 November 1981

The guard-runner33

Today at the United Nations the guard saluted me as I came in. He said, “I was the only runner last time in your race for the Security and Safety Service.” Sal ran with him so he would have competition, but towards the end Sal stopped. That’s why this guard got first prize.

RB 423. 7 November 1981

Gary Fanelli in Philadelphia34

Gary Fanelli is now growing long hair and a beard and moustache. So at first I could not recognise him when he started running with me in the Philadelphia Marathon. He ran alongside me for at least three hundred metres. He said to me, “Guruji, I didn’t know that you would be here. Otherwise, I might have run.”

I told him, “Outwardly I could not contact you on your birthday, but I meditated on you inwardly.” His birthday was the day before the New York Marathon. He said, “I thought of you on my birthday.”

He said he was going to Honolulu to run the marathon on December 13th.

RB 424. 8 November 1981

Practice marathons35

The first mile of the Philadelphia Marathon was no good. The road went up into the sky. After two or three hundred metres it went up, up, up — like a building! As soon as I started the race, I had no life energy.

I am very tricky. I just run the course and if I don’t complete it, I call it practice. Otherwise, if I take it too seriously, I suffer. I think, “Oh, I have to complete it.” But this way I don’t have to worry. I just start and do as many miles as I can.

RB 425. 12 November 1981

Pace problems36

Pahar has given me a schedule for seventy miles a week. Up to Saturday, it is possible for me to follow the schedule. With greatest difficulty I do it. But when Sunday comes, I am totally lost. How can I do twenty more miles in one day? I am not able to fulfil Pahar’s desire. I stop at seven or ten miles, so it doesn’t add up to seventy miles.

I feel that if I run very slowly, I will be able to run a higher mileage during the week. Sometimes before I start out, I am determined to run at a twelve-minute pace. Since it is an Indian bullock-cart pace, I think I will be able to run farther. But what happens is that I start at about a 10:15 pace. Then it becomes 9:50 and then 8:15. Each mile that I do in a good time gives me such joy. But by the time I reach five miles, I am finished.

The problem is that when I run at a ten-minute pace, it is boring. An eleven or twelve-minute pace is out of the question. It is not even running! But a nine-minute pace becomes too difficult. So I can’t figure out what to do. One moment it is too slow, but if I speed up, the next moment I am completely exhausted.

RB 426. 12 November 1981

The record-breaker37

In our half-marathon in Flushing Meadow Park today over six hundred people ran. One man from the Millrose Athletic Association broke his own national record for the half-marathon in the over-forty age group. After the race he started congratulating me and saying, “Everything was so good!”

RB 427. 15 November 1981

Two firsts38

Cahit Yeter stood first is his age group in the half-marathon. After he finished, he came back to run with me. Usually Rejean comes back to run with me. Perhaps today, after standing first overall out of so many people, he was dead, so he did not come.

RB 428. 15 November 1981

Guruji is dying39

When I was running, at one point two Indians were passing me. One of them said, “Namaste, Guruji. Namaste, Guruji.”

Then the other one said, “Oh, Guruji is running.”

I said, “No, Guruji is dying.”

They said, “Don’t die, don’t die!”

They were both wearing T-shirts with my picture on the front, which they had gotten at some other race.

RB 429. 15 November 1981

Everything is proper40

Another man running by me looked at me while he was passing me. He practically stopped and turned around. Then, looking at me face to face, he said to me, “Everything in your group is proper, proper!”

RB 430. 15 November 1981

Here is Sri!41

There were four or five young black boys watching the race. When they saw me, they started jumping up and down and shouting, “Here is Sri, here is Sri!”

RB 431. 15 November 1981

Our Rosie Ruiz42

Today we had a “Rosie Ruiz.” She started walking at one point during the race. Then she cut across the course and came out near the end. She didn’t run six or eight hundred metres of the course, and then she said that she had won. Fortunately, two other runners told Thomas what had happened and he disqualified her.

RB 432. 15 November 1981

Do you want a cigar?43

The first day in Florida while I was running, I saw a young man smoking a cigar. He said to me, “Do you want to have a cigar?”

I waved my hand and said, “No, thank you.”

The man ran after me and said, “You thank me and you are not taking one.”

This time I just ignored him, so he stopped bothering me.

RB 433. 29 November 1981

Strengthening the chest44

The same day, after fifteen minutes I saw a very nice old man running with his hands behind his head. He said to me, “Good morning.”

I asked him, “Is there any reason why you are doing that?”

He answered, “To strengthen my chest.”

In silence I said, “You don’t need to strengthen your chest, but I need to strengthen mine.”

RB 434. 29 November 1981

Freezing in Florida45

Another time I was running on a very cold day around five o’clock in the morning. Florida also can be quite cold in the winter. A newspaper boy saw me. He said to me, “Don’t keep running. Go home! You will be frozen up.” He advised me not to run, but on that day I ran thirteen miles.

RB 435. 29 November 1981

Waiting for the bus46

On that cold day when I was running, I ran by a girl waiting for the bus. Half an hour later, when I was returning, she was still waiting in that cold weather.

RB 436. 29 November 1981

The twenty-four-hour-race friend47

Before the start of the Jersey Shore Marathon, Dave Peabody, who had run in our twenty-four-hour race, came up to me. I asked him, “Your wife is allowing you to run? She doesn’t mind this time?”

He answered, “Oh no, she is very happy. She is here supporting me and helping me. Today she is smiling.”

Quite often his wife used to object when he ran races. When he ran our twenty-four-hour race, he didn’t tell his wife beforehand that he was going to do it. He just left her a note. But then she came to the race and watched him.

RB 437. 6 December 1981

The windy marathon48

When I ran ten miles in the Jersey Shore Marathon today, the wind was so bad. The trees were half bent. Three or four times I had to stop.

RB 438. 6 December 1981

Slow calculations49

Fortunately, today I took an oath that I would not get angry with my road crew, no matter what happened. At the second mile Sundar was supposed to give my split, but he couldn’t calculate it fast enough. So as I ran by, he said, “Eight…” and then there was a big pause. After I had gone twenty metres he said, “Forty.”

RB 439. 6 December 1981

The crowded start50

Just after we crossed the starting line, it was very crowded. At one point a lady and I were stepping on each other’s toes. I was trying to take off my jacket. A man right behind me said, “Come on, get out of the way.”

Ranjana said to him, “Take it easy. You've got three hours!”

RB 440. 6 December 1981

Do it quickly51

While I was watching the Long Island Marathon, Ranjana was sitting in the car waiting for me when a policeman started bothering her. He asked her for her license and registration and took them into his car. When I came back I went up to the police car and acted disheartened and disgusted. I said, “Do anything you want to do, but do it quickly! You can fine us, but do it quickly!”

When I said that, he threw away the ticket. When I spoke to him, he calmed down and we didn’t pay anything.

RB 441. 6 December 1981

The food of champions52

The second-best marathoner in the world now is our great friend, Robert de Castella. Yesterday he ran the famous Fukuoka Marathon in two hours, eight minutes and eighteen seconds — only five seconds behind Alberto Salazar’s world record.

While his wife was away in Canberra, he had to cook for himself. So he consulted our Sri Chinmoy Cookbook. He liked the recipe he used very much. So the world’s second-best marathon champion eats our food. His father also likes us very much and reads my books.

RB 442. 6 December 1981

Editor's preface to the first edition

Sri Chinmoy’s interest in running dates back to his youth. At the ashram, or spiritual community, where he lived from the ages of 12 to 32, he was the top-ranked sprinter and, for two consecutive years, decathlon champion. It wasn’t until the fall of 1978, however, that he first became interested in long-distance running. Since then, he has pursued the sport with the same one-pointed intensity that he has brought to his various literary, artistic and musical pursuits. For Sri Chinmoy, running — like writing, painting and composing — is nothing but an expression of his inner cry for ever-greater perfection: perfection in the inner world and perfection in the outer world. “Our goal is always to go beyond, beyond, beyond,” he says. “There are no limits to our capacity, because we have the infinite Divine within us, and the Supreme is always transcending His own Reality.”

Sri Chinmoy regards running as a perfect spiritual metaphor. “Try to be a runner and go beyond all that is bothering you and standing in your way,” he tells his students. “Be a real runner so that ignorance, limitations and imperfections will all drop far behind you in the race.” In this spirit he has inspired countless individuals to “run” — both literally and figuratively.

“Who is the winner?” he writes in one of his aphorisms. “Not he who wins the race, but he who loves to run sleeplessly and breathlessly with God the Supreme Runner.” As a fully God-realised spiritual Master, Sri Chinmoy has consecrated his life to this divinely soulful and supremely fruitful task. At the same time, on an entirely different level, he has made some significant contributions to the sport of running. He was the inspiration behind several long-distance relays, including a recent 300-mile run in Connecticut and the 9,000-mile Liberty-Torch run through all the states held during the 1976 Bicentennial. He has composed several running songs, which his students have performed at a number of races. His students have sponsored Sri Chinmoy Runs throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia as an offering to the running community. Moreover, Sri Chinmoy has encouraged his followers around the world to take up running as a means of overcoming lethargy and increasing their spiritual aspiration on the physical plane. Two hundred of his disciples, for example — most of whom were novice runners — completed last years’s New York City Marathon.

In the year he has been running, Sri Chinmoy himself has completed seven marathons. He averages about seventy to ninety miles a week, with most of his running done late at night or in the early hours of the morning. During his runs he has been chased by dogs, accosted by hooligans, greeted by admirers and cheered on by children. Sometimes he has had significant inner experiences; other times he has suffered deplorable outer experiences. As a spiritual Master of the highest order, Sri Chinmoy views these experiences — both the divine ones and the undivine ones — with a unique perspective. The running world is nothing but the human world in microcosm, and Sri Chinmoy’s reminiscences stand as a remarkable commentary on the whimsical, poignant, funny, outrageous and, above all, supremely significant experience we call life.