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New Book on Swimming Self-Transcendence
Recently, Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team member Abhejali Bernardová published a new book in Czech entitled "Until the Water Runs Out?" - it tells of her spiritual journey through long-distance swimming. After the book release, she was interviewed in a podcast where she explains in more detail about her swimming, her inspiration of Sri Chinmoy and the use of meditation to help in her personal self-transcendence.
Transcript of Interview with Abhejali
After the book was published Abhejali was interviewed for a podcast, "Tough Girls Podcast" This is a selected transcription of some of the questions.
Could you tell us about yourself?
I am forty-four years old and I am from the Czech Republic, which is a landlocked country. But I love swimming in the ocean. I was the fourth woman to finish the challenge called “Oceans Seven.” And just recently I did an ultra-triathlon that included swimming the English Channel and then biking and running all the way to the Czech Republic. I just love challenges, and I’m so happy to be able to share my adventures with your listeners.
Why is the book titled Until the Water Runs Out?
It is a theme of the book, based on advice from Channel General Freda Streeter, mum of former “Queen of the Channel” Alison Streeter (Sri Chinmoy lifted both of them). Her advice to swimmers is to swim until there is no more water, until you get to the other side. There is no use in stopping and looking around, no point in asking how far to go still—you just have to swim until the water runs out. And we also should live to the fullest until the water of our life runs out.
I would like to know more about what self-transcendence means to you?
It means trying to do more than I did before and have goals that can be maybe a little bit scary and then finding ways to achieve them. One side is the sports side, but also for me, it means being a better person than I was before. I think these sports achievements help me in achieving that because so much that I learn during the swims or the runs is transferable to my day-to-day life. Not only everything goes according to plan and stuff like that. You have to find a way to go around and just keep going until you get there. I remember even for my first English Channel swim: It never happened to me during the training, but after I started swimming—maybe forty-five minutes into the swim—I got seasick. Everything else was going fine, but I just couldn’t eat or drink anything, and I was feeding the fish every twenty minutes or so. But I remember you just have to go and keep going. As long as you give it your all, then you are happy and you are making progress.
Tell me a little more about the meditation? How and why did you get into meditating? You mentioned a name, could you repeat that name?
I started meditating with Sri Chinmoy when I was eighteen. There wasn’t any outside reason for me to start meditating. I had a happy childhood. I was happy, and everything was going well, but somehow maybe—not really consciously—I felt there was something missing in my life. So I saw this poster for a meditation class and I went to see what was going on. I really liked this feeling that I felt in my heart during the meditation exercise that we did that evening. Somehow it made sense for me to continue doing these exercises and trying to find something deeper within me. I guess it’s also why I started doing long-distance swimming and running. Just to know myself better, to get more outside of my comfort zone and kind of dig deeper to see what is there. I think we are just really limiting ourselves with what our mind tells us we can do or we can’t do. With the meditation, I’m calming my mind and opening my heart and then I can see that there is so much to explore and so much more to do. So, it somehow made sense to put all of this together.
Tell me about Oceans Seven? What is the Oceans Seven challenge?
The Oceans Seven challenge involves seven swims around the globe that are difficult in some way or another. One of them is the English Channel. Then the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, which is even colder than the English Channel. I never really wanted to swim this one. Then there are some warm-water swims like Hawaii’s Moloka’i Channel, which is really long. It is more than 2k, which is a marathon distance. Then there is Cook Strait in New Zealand, Tsugaru Strait in Japan, Strait of Gibraltar which is from Europe to Africa which I really loved. And there is Catalina Channel, which is from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. So, those are the seven swims and there are tides, there are waves, there are swells, there are some marine animals that are kind and not so kind. So there are different challenges in the swims.
Tell me about some of your magical moments during the ultra-triathlon.
When I was planning the event, I wanted to show that we are one world-family. That even though England is 1,000 kilometres away, we are still very much alike. And then during the swim and the bike I was just so grateful to have people around me that were fully there for me. The teams were so great, they worked so well together. I was just so proud of them. I liked the sunrise during the event, definitely my favourite part of each day when I do these ultra distances, the new promise and looking forward to what each day will bring.
Do you have a mantra or a motto that you apply to your challenges and events?
I have one that I really like and it’s “I can do it; I have already done it.” It’s actually what Sri Chinmoy advised people when they were swimming the English Channel, to really use the imagination even while training, to tell yourself “I can do it.” “Imagine that you are swimming to the French shore and I am there. And just visualise it and then make it a reality.” That’s my favourite. And I use mantras and singing when things get tough. There is a song that Sri Chinmoy composed, “I am swimming the English Channel today.” So I was singing that song quite a lot during the swim.
Would you mind sharing a little more about what your main goal is in life?
My main goal I would describe as really knowing myself, what I am, why I am here, what I am supposed to do and just being me. Being the best version of me and getting better every day, becoming a better person.
You said that “I can do more” and you were wanting to challenge yourself, to push yourself, tell me more about swimming the English Channel. Because you heard about it through your sports club, what happened then? Did initially you not sort of decide to take it up straightaway? Did it come back a few years later?
So the motto of our team is “Self-Transcendence” so in a way I was looking for things where I would transcend myself and my friend was inspired to swim the English Channel and since I had the connection with swimming she asked me to be on the boat as her support team. So, of course, I said yes but then that solo swim changed into a relay and I already had holidays booked so I said, “Okay, I will be part of that relay.” But then I remembered because it was kind of a last minute change to a relay we came to Dover to train and the water as you know is very cold in the English Channel and I was really, really skinny and a runner and it felt really cold. And we waited maybe for three weeks for good weather and I remember telling my friends that I never really wanted to do the Channel because it’s just so cold and to remind me if ever I have the idea to swim it that it is really cold but two years after that I was there standing on the British shore ready to swim solo. So I guess the philosophy of Self-Transcendence was so much in me that I just had to do it.
How long did it take to do the seven swims?
I did the English Channel which was the first of the seven swims in 2011 and I finished the Cook Strait in 2018. So basically, eight years.
Eight years, wow. So almost like one swim every year?
Yes. 2011 then 2012 I actually swam around Manhattan. I didn’t really plan to do the Ocean Seven so I just liked the idea of swimming around Manhattan because New York is where I did my six-day race and I did a marathon there so I liked the idea of seeing Manhattan from the water. The next year I did Gibraltar Strait which is the shortest of the swims. Then I never really wanted to do Catalina Channel because there are sharks there. When I was a teenager I saw the movie Jaws then, of course, you still have this vivid image of the shark trying to eat you. So I had to get used to the fact that if they are home and I’m there on a visit and they are not there to eat me but they just live there. Kind of things were coming my way. I had a friend who lived by Catalina Channel, you can use my kayak. There were different things kind of pointing for me to do the Catalina swim. It was really beautiful, it was just like this magical swim where the conditions were really nice. There was the bioluminesence in the water. There were dolphins swimming with us, it was like this beautiful, magical experience and I knew I had to do some more swims. It was kind of evolving and I really was resisting to do. I heard about Ocean Seven but I knew about the cold North Channel and I was totally resisting, I can’t do that it’s just too cold.
How did you change your mindset around that, especially with the North Channel and to change your mindset to overcome the doubt, the worry, the fear or just the fact that do I really want to do this? Do I want to put my body and my mind? I’m getting cold just thinking about it. How did you change that perspective?
It was changed for me, it probably doesn’t make sense but what happened after Catalina I was really thinking what swim do I want to do next? And I knew about this swim in South Africa for quite some time that I wanted to do it to swim from Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was in prison for quite some time to Cape Town. It’s only seven and a half kilometres so it’s not a long swim but it is very cold. So I thought now is probably a good time because I’m used to the cold water to do this swim. When we got to South Africa the water was extremely cold. None of the local swimmers were swimming when we were there. We knew the water was okay, we could swim. And even though I knew it was really cold it felt weird not to give it a chance, to give it a try. And then the water was like nine or ten Celsius. Which is colder than the North Channel. Even though I was getting hypothermic towards the end we were almost there so it was okay and it was much colder than it usually is. So I thought maybe I just shouldn’t be worrying too much about the North Channel. And I love swimming so I somehow thought okay, let’s do it.
Sri Chinmoy Singers offer songs in Honour of Martin Luther King
1977 Ceremony for Martin Luther King Jr.
On 29th November 1977, Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditations at the United Nations sponsored a programme to honour the memory and life of Martin Luther King Jr. at the United Nations. Mrs King was the guest of honour and keynote speaker for the 10th anniversary of her husband's assassination. Sri Chinmoy opened the programme with a short meditation.
At the event, Sri Chinmoy also spoke about Martin Luther King saying:
"Martin Luther King, beloved king of the heart-world, unhorizoned vision of the mind-world, hero-warrior of the vital-world, life sacrificer of the body-world, to you my aspiration dedication-life bows.
The Saviour-Son gave humanity the lesson of compassion and forgiveness. India’s Mahatma Gandhi, with his message of non-violence, proved to be an excellent student. In America, the Absolute Supreme chose you to be His unparalleled student, to love divinely the soul of His creation and to serve unreservedly the body of His creation.
We, the members of the Meditation Group at the UN, bow to you lovingly, devotedly and soulfully."
- Sri Chinmoy, [Excerpt from: "Martin Luther King: Humanity's Aspiration-Hero". Printed in a bulletin of the United Nations Meditation Group, 29 November 1977] Sri Chinmoy said of Mrs. King "In you I see the living presence of our beloved brother."
In a time of worldwide division, Martin Luther King's words “I Have a Dream” set to music becomes a song of hope, unity and promise.
Listen to performance at:
Inspiration from the 2022 edition of the 3100 Mile Race
This year's Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race finished recently with 11 runners completing the distance or running as many miles as they could manage in 52 days. The race was founded by spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy, in 1997, as a vehicle to allow people to test their limits of self-transcendence. It is a challenging race which gives runners to dig deep into their physical, mental and spiritual reserves. This year's race around a block in Jamaica, Queens, New York, featured several days of heavy rain - one of the numerous outer challenges the runners had to face.
The women's champion was Susan Marshall from Auckland, New Zealand, she was inspired to take up distance running after observing how other runners were changed by the experience. As she relates.
“The people I saw who had achieved these races, they had a special quality about them which I felt quite drawn to,”
Susan Marshall also reported how the race's founder, Sri Chinmoy gave her inspiration to take on this unique challenge.
“He [Sri Chinmoy] believed we all had so many dreams inside of ourselves, but we often don’t have the courage or conviction or whatever to actually go out and fulfil them and these are the things which are going to make our world and our own lives something which is very meaningful to us,” (Kiwi Runner Susan Marshall's 5,000km race of self-discovery)
The winner for the third consecutive year was Andrea Marcato, in a time of 43 days, three hours 20 mins and 27 seconds. Throughout the race Andrea exuded determination, focus and concentration. After the race he mentioned how as well as his great physical fitness, he relies on the power of prayer and meditation to go deeper and persevere in the face of the physical challenges.
The race is promoted by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and requires an international team of volunteers to help count, cook and provide for the runners.
Video of the race
In this highlights video, many of the runners commented on the significance of the race and how it can help cultivate goodwill and oneness between people of different countries. Something picked up on by the media.
Finishing times 2022
- Andrea Marcato: 43 days 03:20:27
- Ashprihanal Aalto: 45 days 16:28:47
- Lo Wei-Ming: 46 days 15:01:43
- Vasu Duzihy 48 days 10:59:02
- Susan Marshall: 50 days 16:23:53
- Stutisheel Lebedev: 51 days 15:37:47
- Huang Lan Yang - 3,000.2 miles
- Stephen Redfern - 2728 miles
- Kaneenika Janakova - 2658.9 miles
- Ananda-Lahari Zuscin - 2637.5 miles
- Nirbhasa Magee - 1543.2 miles
Stories from the world's longest certified road race
You can keep in touch with the runners' progress on the official race website:
This year 11 runners started. Andrea Marcato, a 2-time winner of the race, is currently leading ahead of the race record holder and 17-time finisher Asprihanal Aaalto from Sweden. Susan Marshall from New Zealand is currently leading the women's race and has just crossed the 1500 mile mark.
The race often attracts friends from the ultra-running community. Recently, Gary Corbitt visited the runners to offer encouragment to the runners
The race was founded in 1997 by spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy, who saw these races as a unique opportunity for self-discovery and transcending one's own boundaries.
Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal. It is like a child who studies in school. First he studies in kindergarten, then he goes to primary school, then to high school, college and university. After getting his university degree, still he is not satisfied. He wants to achieve more wisdom, more knowledge. Similarly, every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life.
The race gets a lot of visitors and well-wishers. During this year's race we had a very nice visit by former President Xanana Gusmāo of Timor-Leste, who led his country to independence over 30 years ago.
Seven Minutes of World Peace
On 21 September, the International Day of Peace, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre from all around the world took part in Seven Minutes of World Peace. This initiative was first inaugurated in 1984 by Sri Chinmoy, in his capacity as the director of the The Peace Meditation at the United Nations.
Since its inception, individuals and groups from around the world have joined to offer their heartfelt wishes for a better world. It is a soulful prelude to the United Nations Peace Bell Ceremony, which marks the global International Day of Peace.
Sri Chinmoy wished to be remembered as a student of peace, feeling that the cultivation and sharing of inner peace was the most valuable thing we can do.
“This world of ours has everything save and except one thing: peace. And this peace has to start from within. If I have peace of mind, then only can I be of help to you. If you have peace of mind, then only can you be of help to me.”
Around the world, students of Sri Chinmoy continue to observe this important day of peace with these seven minutes of silence, which participants can use to pray and meditate for peace in the world.
A wealth of stories from India's greatest epic
Sanjaya Spettigue from Ipswich, England has been studying meditation with Sri Chinmoy since 1976. Over the years, he has developed an encyclopediac knowledge of the Mahabharata, India's great epic story which is longer than the Illiad and the Oddyssey combined.
Now in his eighties, Sanjaya is still entertaining us and illumining us with these immortal stories. For the first time, 39 of these stories told over the years have been brought together for the public to enjoy on Radio Sri Chinmoy.
The Mahabharata, which means 'Great India' in Sanskrit, tells the story of the struggle which culminates in the 18-day battle of Kurukshetra and the destruction of most of the princely families of India. Its breadth of storytelling is such that it is said that 'What is found in the Mahabharata may be found somewhere else, but what is not found in the Mahabharata may not be found anywhere else.' The Mahabharata also contains the Bhagavad-Gita, or Song Celestial, the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna that is a foundational text of Indian spirituality.
Much of the tragic quality of the Mahabharata comes from the fact that the two sides of the struggle are closely related. In this story that Sri Chinmoy related which takes place during the battle of Kurukshetra, Vishma is the grandfather of Arjuna. Krishna had promised not to fight in the battle, but instead be Arjuna's charioteer.
When Arjuna saw Vishma advancing towards him on the battlefield, he said to Krishna, “We lost our father when we were quite young, and Vishma became our father. Such affection, such love he had for us! Is there anything that we would not have done for him? He is so dear to me. I cannot fight him.”
Krishna told Arjuna, “He is already dead in the inner world. You have to fight him!” Still Arjuna could not bring himself to fight with his grandsire; so Krishna came out of the chariot with his discus. When Krishna decided to fight, he said, “My love for my Arjuna is infinitely more important to me than my so-called promise. People will say that I am not a man of my word. I do not care. I want to prove that my love for my Arjuna is infinitely more important than preserving honour in the eyes of the world. I am prepared to go against the ordinary light of morality in order to win the victory for Arjuna.”
When Vishma saw that it was Krishna himself who had come to fight him, he came running to be killed. He said, “My Lord, my Lord, I know who You are! If You kill me, I will be the happiest person. On the one hand, I am so sad that You are breaking Your Promise. But again, I am so glad that I will die by Your Hand. Kill me, kill me! I am dying to die by Your Hand!”
Then Arjuna said, “No, no, I am ready to fight!” He pulled Krishna back into the chariot and fought Vishma with utmost determination. At last, Vishma lay dying, and Arjuna brought water to his grandsire. When Arjuna saw that Vishma was shedding tears, he said to Krishna, “Our grandfather did not do anything wrong. He was so good, so divine. Why does he have to suffer? Why are there tears in his eyes?”
Krishna said to Arjuna, “Why are you asking me? Ask him! He will tell you.” So Arjuna asked his grandfather, “Please tell me why you are crying, Grandfather. In our kingdom, there is nobody as divine as you. It was you yourself who told us how to kill you. Who else on earth would have been so noble? But now that your death is fast approaching, why are you crying? Are you afraid of death?”
Vishma replied, “You fool! I am weeping not because I am afraid of death, but because the Pandavas have suffered so much. Krishna, the Lord of the Universe, was all the time with you and for you. So how is it that you have suffered so much? I do not understand the Lord’s Game. That is why I am shedding tears.”
Krishna answered him, “This is my creation. You will never be able to understand it. My mystery is unfathomable.”
The Mahabharata is sweeter than the sweetest and, at the same time, deeper than the deepest. On the mental level, we cannot justify many of the things that Krishna did. But, again, his divinity is all the justification that is needed.
Sanjaya has been active in the interfaith movement in Ipswich for decades. For many years, he also narrated a short segment on BBC radio called Thought of the Day.
Tributes pour in for President Mikhail Gorbachev
On 30 August 2022, President Mikhail Gorbachev, (1990 Nobel Peace Laureate) passed away leading to an outpouring of tributes and gratitude for his life, work and common humanity. Members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre have begun holding special meditations and events to mark this most special personality and his towering contributions to the world. (photos to come)
Throughout his life, Sri Chinmoy frequently expressed his admiration and love for President Gorbachev saying.
"Among the world figures of our time, there are many whom I admire, but first and foremost is President Gorbachev……. He was the main instrument to liberate Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and so many other countries in the Eastern Bloc."
President Gorbachev and Sri Chinmoy, who were both born in 1931, first met on 29 May 1990, in Ottawa, Canada. Sri Chinmoy sincerely remarked about President Gorbachev.
"You are the master-key of the global heart. You have liberated the world from bondage-night, and you have brought to the fore the inner freedom which we need so desperately. Before, people were in darkness, and now you have brought light to them."
At this first meeting, President Gorbachev remarked to Sri Chinmoy. "I have heard so much about you and your work. We must work together for world peace." This auspicious first meeting led to several others over the next two decades as the two become good friends and kindred spirits working in their own way towards a more peaceful world. In 1990, at a time, when the President was beset by challenges, Sri Chinmoy published a book of tributes in his honour “Gorbachev: the Master-Key of the Universal Heart”, Agni Press, New York, which began with the tribute.
You are the most beloved
Of the chosen few
To be garlanded
By Father-God in Heaven
And Mother-God on earth
For your supremely unparalleled contributions
Towards changing the face and fate
Of the suffering world-community.
In October 2006, President Gorbachev met with Sri Chinmoy at Aspiration-Ground, New York.
Sri Chinmoy also published a second book of tributes, President Gorbachev: the home of Oneness-Peace-Dream-World including:
To me, not because of his
But because of his Olympian goodness,
He has become the world cynosure.
No man of integrity
Will dare to devalue him —
The test of this earth-planet
Is to realise
Who truly President Gorbachev is.
Not one but many
Most significant lessons
All human beings
Are learning from you.
To name only a few:
Never too late
To do the right thing;
Never too late
To be the right person;
Never too late
For the transformation of the mind,
For the satisfaction of the heart
And for the perfection of human life.
Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: the Master-Key of the Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990
Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: the Master-Key of the Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990
Sri Chinmoy, President Gorbachev: the home of Oneness-Peace-Dream-World, Agni Press, 2001
Sri Chinmoy, President Gorbachev: the home of Oneness-Peace-Dream-World, Agni Press, 2001
Sri Chinmoy, President Gorbachev: the home of Oneness-Peace-Dream-World, Agni Press, 2001
Sri Chinmoy, Gorbachev: the Master-Key of the Universal Heart, Agni Press, 1990
The Peace Run is on the move again!
Founded 35 years ago, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run has grown into one of the world's largest peace torch relays. At its heart is a simple premise: that inside our hearts each one of us have the same longing for a oneness-world-family. The run has now visited over 155 countries, and well over seven million people have held the torch.
After two years where the Peace Run has not been able to have a full program of activities, we are very grateful to be on the road again with our international teams. There are quite a few simultaneous runs taking place all over the world.
Mongolian Peace Run
For the first time, the Peace Run will be making a circuit of this huge and beautiful country - a feat that will take 54 days and cover over 7000km.
The run started May 14 in the central square of Ulaanbaatar, and will complete its momentous journey on July 7.
Danube Peace Run
The highlight of the year 2022 in Europe will be a Peace Run along the full length of the River Danube, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. The Danube Peace Run will run through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova. The runners will carry the torch of Peace towards the Ukraine.
There will also be Peace Runs in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Finland, Bosnia, Macedonia, Slovenia and France.
Peace Run USA
Every couple of years, the Peace Run makes a giant journey through North America. We are still a little mindful of health and safety, so we have embarked upon a slightly more curtailed route this year, with two major loops north and south of New York City, and one-off Peace Runs in many cities throughout the United States.
New book: Being Our Higher Selves
A new collection of Sri Chinmoy's writings was released recently, titled Being Our Higher Selves: Guide to a Fulfilling Life and compiled by Bhadra Kleinman from New York. As the title suggests, the book is themed around the ageless question: how do we live the life that brings the most satisfaction to our soul?
Over his five-decade service, which included peace meditations at the United Nations as well as talks and lectures at universities and spiritual gatherings around the world, Sri Chinmoy was asked many of the questions that we all share - how we can have lives that are fulfilling, filled with delight and love? How we can move on from the past? And how can we bring our best selves to the fore? His answers are practical and heartfelt and awaken a sense of inner possibility which is often easy to forget in our daily lives.
Anniversary of Sri Chinmoy's Arrival in the West
Every April and August, students of Sri Chinmoy gather from around the world for a series of meditations, concerts, plays and athletic events. After two years of enforced absence, his students from around the world were grateful for the opportunity to come to New York to take part in a 10-day long celebration marking the anniversary of Sri Chinmoy's arrival in the West.
After his arrival in New York on April 13th, 1964, Sri Chinmoy soon began to establish meditation centres in countries across the globe. During his lifetime, Sri Chinmoy sought to be of service to aspiring humanity through offering meditations, concerts and other activities. His philosophy is one of inner peace and outer service.
In self-giving we become really happy. Real humility is the expansion of our consciousness and our service.
In this same spirit, his students around the world continue to participate in projects founded by Sri Chinmoy.
On 16 April 2022, the US Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was launched in New York with coordinators sharing plans for Peace Runs in the US, Europe and Mongolia. (See more at Peace Run) Sri Chinmoy referred to himself as a student of peace and taught that through inner peace and goodwill we could help to spread peace in the outer world.
“Peace is something spontaneous; it is something that unites us. Peace is something that we have to spread. But unless and until we have peace deep within us, we can never hope to have peace in the outer world.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Earlier in the celebrations, a public Songs of the Soul concert was held at All Souls Church, New York where several groups performed the prayerful and soulful compositions of Sri Chinmoy to an appreciative audience.
As well as public events, Sri Chinmoy's anniversary celebrations were marked by meditations and music performances at Aspiration Ground, a beautiful outdoor arena where Sri Chinmoy spent many years.
During one evening, a play was performed about several autobiographical incidents in Sri Chinmoy's life. This short vignettes give a revealing insight into Sri Chinmoy's own life and capture the sweetness, humour and hope of Sri Chinmoy's travels from a small Indian village to New York, the capital of the world. These stories have been published in books such as "My Consulate Years".
At the end of the Celebrations, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team promoted a six-day race at Flushing Meadows Park, New York. 29 runners took part in this Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence six-day race. The race was won by Budjargal Byambaa (men ) with 502 miles and Susan Marshall (women) 442 miles. More details of the six-day race.
Photos: Bhashwar Hart
Spiritual retreats - where joy is the most important thing!
Our teacher, Sri Chinmoy, prized spiritual company and us all coming together every so often for 'Joy-Days' - gatherings of meditation, singing and fun. Now that we can all travel again, it has become especially important to travel and share spiritual friendship with like-minded souls all over the world.
Bali Centre Celebrates International Day of Happiness
To celebrate the International Day of Happiness, on Sunday, March 20th, all disciples in the Bali Centre were invited to join for an afternoon Joy Day with a special “meditation in action” program. We started with a fun walk, jog or run around the monument at Renon, the main place where people exercise in the heart of Denpasar.
Then we returned to our Centre, a few blocks away, for meditation and singing to invoke the quality of happiness. We chose five songs about happiness such as “I Am Happy because I Still Need God”, “Perfect Happiness”, “The Children of Happiness”, “Optimism-Joy”, and “Wherever You Go”.
We have been trying to have a Joy Day once a month in Bali to help keep everyone inspired. Tourism is starting to open up again, and the disciples here are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to beautiful Bali again!
Australia Joy Weekend!
A golden opportunity was presented to me to come to Canberra for 1.5 months until the April Celebrations. Since my arrival in late February, I have been so fortunate to be immersed in a full-on Sri Chinmoy Centre life: working at our restaurant My Rainbow-Dreams, helping with meditation classes and races. The Joy Weekend we just had (12-14 March) was definitely a huge highlight!
Jindabyne, a beautiful nature-rich town near Canberra, is the location of yearly multi-sport race we offer to the public. Due to floods, this year’s race was cancelled, and it became our Joy Weekend location. Looking back, I am so grateful for this turn of events, as we were able to have so much fun together as a spiritual family! Disciples gathered for this occasion from most centres throughout Australia, representing Australia, China, Japan, Mongolia and New Zealand.
To kickstart this joy-filled weekend together, we took part in the 5km park run on Saturday morning near Sri Chinmoy’s statue located at Yarralumla Bay. Delicious breakfast followed at the statue. One of the many GREAT things about Australian Joy Weekend is that we have so many competent cooks from My Rainbow-Dreams! All of them (Hastakamala, Rathin, Sarankhuu, Stacey, Susan) took charge of different meals and it was HEAVEN in the appetite world, with different bakes, burgers, and fresh salad.
We are also blessed to have experienced, fun games & activities organizers: Prabuddha, Amalendu and Kishore. In just one day, we managed to put in (and enjoyed greatly): One-mile race, Triathlon (Swim, Run, Kayak) at Lake Jindabyne, and Joyathlon at the accommodation, both in girls & boys teams.
I chuckled at the contrast with a typical Japanese Joy Day we would have in Kamakura, for example. There, we would pay a prayerful visit to the Kamakura Buddha, followed by walks to a couple of more temples and a soba noodle lunch!
One highlight of the games was the final of Picking & Moving Marbles with Chopsticks. It was a match between Chelsea, representing China, and Harashita, representing Japan! Onlookers cheered the contestants with “Go for it!” in both Chinese (“Jiayou!”) and Japanese (“Ganbare!”) with great excitement, as both of us moved the marbles from one container to the other with intense concentration.
Meditations and functions were of course an essential part of our being together over the weekend. Besides the soulful group meditation, we had Sushmitam’s Group singing (after 2 years!) and hilarious plays by both girls and boys. We are once again so fortunate to have such talented producers on both girls’ and boys’ sides (Susan and Rathin), as well as talented and entertaining actors (Kuvarani, Sushmitam, Luke and Grahak, to name a few!)
A very special highlight of our evening functions was our video calls with Stutisheel from the Kyiv Centre on Saturday night, and the entire Vinnitsa Centre (also in Ukraine) on Sunday night. Stutisheel’s stories were heartbreaking. His strength was incredible to watch and feel. We were so proud of him, and were grateful that we are all part of this peace-invoking oneness-family. Singing for disciples at Vinnitsa Centre, and listening to their singing the Ukraine and Russia songs,were moving and empowering–a sweet exchange of our oneness-hearts.
On our final morning, we went out for various long activities according to our fitness level and liking. The toughest one was the 23 km run up on Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia. This feat was bravely and triumphantly completed by 5 of our strongest runners: Bayarkhuu, Prachar, Sarankhuu, Stacey, and Susan. Others enjoyed 12 km hike/run, mountain biking, and serious (and successful) shopping!
With ear-to-ear smiles on our faces we parted, heading back to our respective centres. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude (with a Japanese bow)
Italian Joy Weekend
On March 19 and 20, an Italian Joy Weekend was held in Milan, featuring a programme on the theme of Peace and a Peace Walk in nature. We also celebrated the 6th anniversary of the inauguration of Sri Chinmoy's statue in Italy. Here you can see us at the top of Monte Grona (1736 m) from where one can admire one of the best views of the Pre-Alps, near Lake Como, in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region.
The inner significance of the New Year
Happy New Year! Sri Chinmoy loved newness, encouraging us to keep our spiritual life fresh and spontaneous. “Every day, when morning dawns, we should feel that we have something new to accomplish,” he said. Thus, Sri Chinmoy saw the New Year as a golden opportunity to renew our inspiration for the spiritual life, and to make new promises to our souls – similar to making New Year’s resolutions.
For over 40 years, Sri Chinmoy gave annual messages for New Year’s encouraging seekers to strive for world harmony, and becoming the best a person can ever be. In the early days, Sri Chinmoy offered these messages during his public New Year’s Meditations, taking place early December at sacred venues such as Riverside Church by Columbia University. Later on, Sri Chinmoy’s travels during Christmas and over New Year’s took him to numerous countries where he befriended heads of states and locals alike, incorporating New Year’s Messages into his free Peace Concerts.
First New Year Message, 1966
Sri Chinmoy offered his first New Year’s Message on January 1, 1966. It was a soulful prayer to become aware of our divine heritage. It reminded us of God’s blessings — sweetness, joy, light and peace — sparkling divinely in us, while honouring our New Year’s spiritual resolutions.
New Year’s Message for the Year 1966
May humanity climb up one rung in the ladder of divine growth, and realise in its soul the Sweetness, Joy, Light and Peace of the Supreme.
Out of the pure fulness of the heart, may the lips of Truth speak and the hands of Truth act in the year 1966.
The New Year — what can it teach us? It can teach us the secret of spiritual self-reliance. It can teach us how we ourselves can be our Masters and Saviours.
From the New Year we can learn that God is God only when God is OUR God and not MY God. From the New Year we can learn that Truth is Truth only when Truth is OUR Truth and not MY Truth.
At every moment it is we who can make ourselves a blessing to ourselves and to the world at large.
May the universal embrace of the New Year flower into a permanent smile of Victory on the Face of the Supreme.
Sri Chinmoy 1
When the New Year Dawns
Sri Chinmoy frequently reminded us that the New Year offers a new opportunity to make spiritual progress, in blessing us with hope, light and firm determination to keep transcending (or improving upon) our present capacities. In his book The Outer Runner and The Inner Runner (1984), Sri Chinmoy’s essay on “When the New Year Dawns” likens a spiritual seeker to a runner:
On the eve of the New Year, a new consciousness dawns on earth. God once again inspires each human being, each creature, with new hope, new light, new peace and new joy. God says, "The New Year dawns and a new consciousness dawns within you. Run toward the destined Goal." We listen to God, to the dictates of our Inner Pilot, and we run toward the ultimate Reality. The New Year energises us, encourages us and inspires us to run toward that ultimate Goal.
When the New Year dawns, we have to make ourselves conscious of the fact that we have to transcend ourselves this year. We have to go beyond our present capacity, beyond our present achievement. When we have that kind of firm determination, God showers His choicest Blessings upon us.
God always wants us to move ahead; He does not want us to look back. We know that while a runner is running fast, if he looks back, he will stumble. Similarly, if we are constantly looking behind at the year that we are leaving aside, we will think of our sorrow, misery, frustration, failure and so forth. But if we look forward, we will see hope dawning deep within us. Every day in this New Year is equally important.
Sri Chinmoy 2
May your New Year’s resolutions stay fresh and illumining every day, fulfilling your life goals!
- All of Sri Chinmoy's New Year messages from 1967 to 2007 were published in two volumes here and here.
- Sources: The photographs are taken from the Sri Chinmoy Centre gallery3, and the aphorisms from Sri Chinmoy's poems and writings 4. The last picture is one of Sri Chinmoy's spontaneous Jharna Kala artworks – one of over 140,000 paintings created by Sri Chinmoy over a span of 33 years. 5
- 1. Source: My Consulate years by Sri Chinmoy, 1996
- 2. Source: The Outer Runner and The Inner Runner by Sri Chinmoy (1984)
- 3. The first three photographs were taken by Sarama Minoli, Kedar Misani and Bijoy Imhof
- 4. Poems in image 1 and image 3 taken from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 39 (2004); poems in image 2 and image 4 from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, parts 172 and part 169 (1992)
- 5. This particular painting was created in 1976, and is part of a collection donated to the Zürich Sri Chinmoy Centre.
Spiritual experiences on the pandemic frontline
These past two years have been extremely difficult for everyone, especially for our healthcare workers. Two nurses who are members of our Centre, Kritagyata Nicholls from New York and Florbela Caniceiro from Portugal, share their experiences of how their spirituality has helped them and the people around them.
Hope, courage, endurance and cheerfulness
by Kritagyata Nicholls, New York
I am a neonatal and pediatric intensive care nurse, with a background in psychiatric nursing. In 1991, Sri Chinmoy asked me to co-ordinate his humanitarian service programme The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
When wondering how we could be of assistance during the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, I recalled my years in the neonatal ICU of Lenox Hill Hospital, where I would silently recite one-line poems of Sri Chinmoy’s while I was working. That one phrase became a powerful vehicle to bring a sense of peace and poise into our daily challenges at the unit.
At the beginning of the pandemic, our team also listened to interviews with doctors and nurses who were working tirelessly in our hospitals to save lives. They spoke of the need for hope, courage, endurance and cheerfulness.
Researching Sri Chinmoy's poems on these themes, we created Thoughts for the Day, which brought inspiring and encouraging words of wisdom to medical teams. Posters and banners were prepared for hospital Emergency Departments and related services.
The response was most inspiring from hospitals in Italy, Germany, Russia and the USA. I would never have imaged a huge banner of poetry in an emergency room, yet doctors and nurses found that the wisdom conveyed by these poems was deeply valued by patients and staff, and provided them with hope, strength and encouragement.
Our Work with Children
As a nurse, I saw first-hand how devastating the lockdowns and restrictions were deeply impacting children’s emotional health. Our experience has been over the years, that once children participate in making things better, it empowers them, giving them a sense of fulfilment in the knowledge that their efforts are really making a difference.
After listening to a speech by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, on the impact of the pandemic on the lives of children worldwide, and being aware of Sri Chinmoy’s dedicated service to the UN for 37 years, we initiated programmes to connect children in different nations.
In Kazakhstan children drew artwork as an expression of gratitude to doctors and nurses. The artwork was displayed as a huge poster at 40 bus stops in the capital city of Nur-Sultan, being placed just before the International Day of Healthcare Workers. The installation will be in place for almost a year.
We have had an ongoing programme called Drawings of Love where children send drawings to support children and adults around the world. This year children in Russia created artwork for children undergoing chemotherapy at the Raisa Gorbachev Memorial Institute in St. Petersburg. As both the donor and recipient children were experiencing a lockdown, this mode of communication coordinated by our team was most gratifying for all participants. Messages of encouragement, friendship and comfort were exchanged and turned into slideshows to share via hospital TV with all pediatric patients.
Comment by Ambassador Mehrotra
We had the opportunity recently to tell Ambassador Lakhan Mehrotra, Former High Commissioner from India to Sri Lanka, about our work with hospitals and children, and he said, "Sri Chinmoy’s words act as balm on bruised souls, and inspire those engaged in serving victims of Corona!"
The inner connection
a personal story from Florbela from Portugal
I have been a nurse for 31 years and a student of the spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy for 12 years. I have been a frontline worker in the fight against the pandemic, either conducting individual or institutional screening tests, treating the sick in their homes, and now most recently doing vaccinations.
The last two years of my life have been like all of us, very difficult. But for health professionals they were beyond difficult. They were frightening and during some periods, absolutely lonely. The move away from our family and the fear of death were always very present.
But what I would like to share with you all, is not the difficult part of this experience, but the fact how much being a student of Sri Chinmoy has helped me personally, and allowed me to help co-workers and – above all – our patients.
Meditating daily gave me the confidence and courage I needed to reassure colleagues that together we would make it! It gave me enough peace to always convey to the patients the relief they needed, for the fear that flooded them.
Reading Sri Chinmoy's books allowed my mind to have a period of rest, optimism, and to be refreshed to continue receiving all the information, which came several times a day and had to be put into practice quickly to protect people.
Sri Chinmoy's music made me feel his presence, his concern and love for all of us. It gave me hope!
Sri Chinmoy's videos were my companion when nothing else made me happy.
The inner connection with my spiritual Master saved me, in the most difficult time I have experienced so far.
But it goes even further. It has enabled me to help many patients during this most challenging time for humanity, and continues daily to enable me to help all the people I care for.
What I have received from Sri Chinmoy during the past 2 years cannot be expressed in words. I can only say: Gratitude! Gratitude for being able to have this life experience, is what I feel inside me the most.
A new book about nature and spirituality
Listen to Nature: Living in Harmony with the Earth is a new book which presents a collection of Sri Chinmoy's writings on the environment. Through poetry, prose and question and answers, Sri Chinmoy explains the root of our own environmental crisis, how we can learn to love nature and why there is reason to be hopeful of creating a better future.
The new book has a foreword contributed by Jane Goodall, the renowned primatologist and UN Messenger of Peace.
[Sri Chinmoy] stresses the need for a deep spiritual connection with the natural world of which we are part and on which we depend.. Let us heed the words of this spiritual teacher before it is too late."
The book also includes several practical meditation exercises, where Sri Chinmoy offers us the opportunity to meditate on aspects of nature we often take for granted. Sri Chinmoy feels that developing this inner connection with Mother Earth not only feeds the natural environment, but can also bring peace to humanity.
Nature has its own rhythm, its own harmony, its own peace and joy. When you are identified, consciously or unconsciously, with universal Nature, it is all vastness and immensity. There you lose your own outer existence, the feeling that you are separate from other persons. In that state of unified oneness, you become totally one with universal Nature; you become part and parcel of the Vast and the Infinite. You forget your ordinary life, which is your physical frame, your name and your outer existence. In that state, you do not have to make your mind calm and quiet, for the mind is not functioning; you have already become identified with the treasure of universal Nature's consciousness.
Whilst Sri Chinmoy expresses his sadness at the way humanity has damaged Mother Earth, he explains this damage to the environment is a manifestation of the division, fear and greed which are predominant in human minds.
At the same time, Sri Chinmoy offers a message of hope, that through prayer, meditation and identification with Mother Earth we can help to heal the planet and restore the natural beauty of earth.
We must not underestimate the power of spirituality. Prayer and meditation mean new life. When we pray and meditate, at every second we are invoking God’s Compassion. We are saying that Mother Nature is being destroyed. But we have to know that Mother Nature is nothing other than God the creation. We are praying to God the Creator to save God the creation. So He who created this earth can once again create a new creation on the strength of our prayers and meditations.
This medium sized book is an excellent gift for anyone who has love for our planet and wishes to understand both what is going wrong, but also how we can help to protect and renew our connection with nature.
Exhibition of Sri Chinmoy's Jharna-Kala art
A week-long exhibition of artwork by spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy took place in Sofia, Bulgaria in November. Sri Chinmoy began painting mystical artworks in November 1974; he called them Jharna-Kala, which means fountain-art in his mother-language, Bengali. In 1991 he expanded his artwork to include bird drawings representing the freedom of the human soul. Many of the 102 artworks on display in Sofia displayed these bird drawings.
For me, birds have a very special significance. They embody freedom. We see a bird flying in the sky and it reminds us of our own inner freedom. As I said before, I am a Truth-seeker and a God-lover. So I feel that inside each of us there is an inner existence which we call the soul. The soul, like a bird, flies in the sky of God’s Infinity. So the birds we see flying in the sky remind us of our own soul-bird flying in the sky of Infinity.
Sri Chinmoy 1
The opening night featured a concert of Sri Chinmoy's music performed in Indian classical style by Kanala Auer (Austria, sitar), Sadanand Magee (Ireland, tabla) and Ushika Muckenhummer (Austria, tanpura). Ambassador of India, Mr. Sanjay Rana and his wife attended the concert as special guests. After the concert, Ambassador Rana said: "We really moved to a different world. Thank you for bringing Indian music to our hearts here in Bulgaria.”
Messages of hope from Portugal
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Sri Chinmoy Centres throughout the world have sought simple, humble ways to make the situation more tolerable. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, we offered food from our restaurants in the USA and Europe to local hospital doctors and nurses. Sri Chinmoy founded the Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles humanitarian organisation in 1991, where members of the Sri Chinmoy Centres could work together on humanitarian projects such as these.
One initiative that has brought a lot of joy: sharing large colourful banners with messages of hope, perseverance and encouragement from Sri Chinmoy's writings.
It was first started in Italy, and since then it has become an international project. The following stories are related by two members of our Sri Chinmoy Centres in Portugal:
Inspiring Messages of Hope for Children During A Global Pandemic
by Simone Tome, a professor at University of Porto, and graduate student Vera Marques
In Portugal, we were energized by the international Happiness-Banners initiative, and we contacted schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly to see if they would like to have a banner. Five pioneer Portuguese primary and secondary schools have chosen to participate in the project so far. Each institution made its own selection from a group of 27 aphorisms, and these aphorisms were printed on banners in different colors of the rainbow.
Even though it was already the end of the school year, after exams and while final meetings were still taking place, ceremonies were organized for the delivery of the banners in two of the participating schools. At one of the school ceremonies which took place on the last day of classes, there were students singing and playing Sri Chinmoy's song, Your Heart is as Beautiful as the Rainbow. They had prepared to perform in record time, as they had only one day to learn and rehearse the song.
As I listened to this melody, I felt as if I were rocked, enveloped in an inner peace, and felt so happy to see my students transmitting, in such a harmonious way, this message of hope that remains in our hearts. Many thanks to the humanitarian organization for these moments.
There were students at schools that received the banners who were inspired to show what they experienced inwardly from the messages of hope on the Banners.
Even after the school year ended, there were students who made drawings with their own encouraging messages to give to children who are patients at the Raisa Gorbacheva Memorial Institute of Oncology in St. Petersburg, Russia. (The Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles organization has offered much medical equipment and many medical supplies to the Institute over the past two decades, and maintains an ongoing relationship with staff there.)
Comments by Teachers at Participating Schools
When the clouds shake our certainties, a breeze of strength and hope brought by Sri Chinmoy's inner peace comes to heal our hearts and souls
Professor Helena Fonseca
I felt an inner strength that made me feel that everything in life is worth it. Every day is born to present us with so many opportunities! Let us allow ourselves to be carried away by the breeze of peace and love and by the current of harmony, hope and goodness and, in this way, we build, day after day, a more fraternal and colorful world. This initiative is a hymn to solidarity and a call to do well.
Professor Júlia Miranda
“It was with great pleasure that I attended the session to hand over the banner presented by the organization Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles. This banner will be an instrument for changing the school climate, by stimulating positive feelings such as joy, kindness, happiness and hope”.
Professor Conceição Vasconcelos
(the messages on the banners) provided students, in class assembly, with true moments of community. They were able to analyze and reflect on various subjects, such as: children's rights; the importance of play to our ability to grow and be happy; the Importance of interaction with others; our need to dream and strive to achieve our goals; the impact that a simple smile can have on another; and the acceptance of the others, with all their differences.
In your meditation you see beyond the superficial distinctions of race, sex, language or religion, as the Charter encourages us to do. You concentrate on the truths and the ideals which unite all mankind: the longing for peace, the need for compassion, the search for tolerance and understanding among men and women of all nations.
United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar 1
after meditating in his private office with Sri Chinmoy on January 13, 1983
It is very beautiful to see how these initiatives are making children feel part of a global family, fulfilling the principles of the UN in such a natural and simple way. Inspired by the phrases of hope on the banners that their schools received, they took action, drawing pictures with messages to make another human being happy.
This is a golden opportunity, also, for the children who offer these drawings, as they offer their good will and encouragement to human beings who are like them but who find themselves on the other side of the world, in totally different circumstances.
This is a story of UN principles in action, as is Sri Chinmoy's legacy. His life and work are an exceptional testimony to the ideals of the United Nations and are also the source of inspiration behind this initiative of Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles.
- 1. Sri Chinmoy (1995). The Garland of Nation-Souls: Complete Talks at the United Nations. Florida: Health Communications, Inc.
Andrea Marcato wins the World's Longest Race
On Sunday 17 October, Andrea Marcato won the 2021 Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile in a superb time of 42 days plus 17 hours 38 minutes and 38 seconds. The time placed him as the third fastest runner of all time. Even more remarkable is how during the race he was able to increase his daily mileage totals towards the end of the race - running 30 consecutive days of 70+ miles.
On the final day, he ran 76 miles, to finish towards the end of the day. After nearly 43 days of running 16 hours a day, he was inspired to run very fast the last few laps to beat the previous 3rd best runner by just one minute 21 seconds. Andrea reported feeling unaware of his body for these last momentous laps, a reflection of the real self-transcendence runners can achieve during the race. It was Andrea's second consecutive first place in the race, and 18 hours faster than his previous time in the 2020 Salzburg edition. In an interview, after the race, he explained why he wanted to do the race and paid tribute to his helpers:
“It is a drive that you feel from within. Once you do it there is this inner call.”
“Without my helpers, I would not be able to perform at that level. Definitely I could finish the race, but not in this way.”
To Andrea, like other runners, the race was as much about the inner challenge as the physical feat.
“The inner part of the race, somehow I realized that the race for me was already done. It was meant to be like this. When you struggle in the race you think it is about you, and your effort. But in the end I realized it was already meant to be like this. The inner part already knows in advance what is going to happen.”
Marcato a student of Sri Chinmoy, grew up in Lughetto, a suburb of Venice in Italy. He currently works in a vegetarian food factory in Zurich, Switzerland. To complete the race he had to eat about 10,000 calories per day in small portions while running or walking. He did not take a nap but ran almost continuously for 18 hours per day. He went through 15 pairs of running shoes and consumed over 10,000 calories a day. He ate an alkaline diet of avocados, watermelon, mandarin oranges, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, steamed vegetables. Despite consuming 10,000 calories he lost 10kg during the race.
The Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race started on September 5 and continues until October 26. The contestants each have 52 days to complete the race. To meet their goal of 3100 miles (4989 km) in 52 days, the participants must log an average of 59.6 miles per day - more than 2 marathons. This adds up to a total of 118 marathons in succession. The race has been described as the "Mount Everest of ultrarunning".
However, more than 4,000 people have reached the summit of Everest since 1953. Only 49 have completed a 3,100-mile race in 24 years.
Seven elite runners from seven countries took up the challenge in the world’s longest certified running race.
The only woman competitor 46-year-old Harita Davies (USA), who was born in New Zealand, will finish the race late in the evening on Monday, October 25 if she keeps up the pace.
Taiwanese runner Lo Wei Ming (58) is expected to finish second on Saturday, 23rd October. He runs in sandals, is known as a rock star in the running world of Taiwan. Vasu Duzhiy (Russia) is in position to finish third. Takasumi Senoo (Japan) is hopeful to finish on Day 52, the final day of the race. The other competitors are Stutisheel Lebedev hailing from Ukraine and Ananda-Lahari of Slovakia.
The 25th Annual 3100 Mile Race is taking place on a 0.5488 mile loop around Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School (165-65 84th Ave). The 3100 Mile Race was initiated by Indian born spiritual teacher, athlete and musician Sri Chinmoy in 1997. Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) himself participated in many marathons and ultra-races. He described the benefit of a multi-day race in the following way: "Self-transcendence is the only thing a human being needs in order to be truly happy. So these races help the runners tremendously, although outwardly they go through such hardship. Eventually, when the race is over, they feel they have accomplished something most significant."
Top 5 Finishers of all time
1. 40:09:06:21 Ashprihanal Aalto,44,Finland
2. 41:08:16:29 Madhupran W. Schwerk,50,Germany
3. 42:17:38:38 Andrea Marcato,39, Zurich SUI (Italy) (2021)
4. 42:17:39:59 Galya V. Balatskyy,43,Ukraine
5. 43:10:36:39 Grahak Cunningham,35,Australia
A 'channel triathlon' from Dover to Prague
Abhejali Bernadova from the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Zlin, Czech Republic completed a unique 'channel triathlon' - swimming the English Channel from Dover to Calais, then cycling through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and finally a 182km run to Prague - a total of 1111km. It took her 7 days, 12 hours and 5 minutes.
Sri Chinmoy encouraged his students to practice sports as part of their spiritual life, and some of his students have been inspired to use their inner spiritual capacity to achieve remarkable feats of endurance. In 1985, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre first crossed the English Channel, and since then members our group have completed almost 50 channel crossings.
When you climb a mountain or swim the English Channel, you may call it a silly adventure, but I take it as part of our manifestation. In the world of manifestation, there is an outer history and an inner history. One is in the mind and one is in the heart. The mind’s history we will forget the next day, but the history of the heart we will forever remember.
....In an adventure, if you do not meet with immediate success, you have to feel that eventually you will succeed. In the beginning, the idea of swimming the English Channel seemed impossible. Now a number of our girl disciples are doing it, and one older man is defying age and conquering the Channel. So if somebody else fails, you should not give up. Either you will do it, or there will be somebody else to come who will succeed.
Abhejali started on Monday September 13 at 3am from Dover. Contending with a force-5 gale, she completed the crossing in 15 hours and 33 minutes. The only other successful crossing on the same day was a 5-person relay team. It was her last chance to swim this year and the swim had already been postponed a few times.
Current restrictions did not allow her to stay in France, so she had to take a detour back to Dover and then take a ferry to France.
She then cycled from Calais to her hometown of Cheb, near the Czech/German border. The cycling leg, which took her 4 days, was approximately 900 kilometres through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
She arrived in Cheb on Saturday afternoon, then ran 182km to Prague, arriving on Monday afternoon. Her daily average was 220km cycling and 2 marathons running.
Abhejali completed her first English Channel swim in 2011. Seven years later she completed the Oceans Seven, a list of seven noted long-distance swims around the world. With her swimming she tries to inspire others to overcome their own limits and show that many of these limits exist only in the mind.
Peace Week in Bulgaria
Inspired by Sri Chinmoy, our members not only organise meditation events, but also joyful and dynamic events for the public, to spread the feeling that the world is one human family. The most popular event is the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, which is a global torch relay that has visited over 155 countries. It is founded on the simple idea of passing a peace torch from hand to hand, to millions of people around the globe.
In September 2021, a Peace Week was held in Sofia, Bulgaria with many peace-themed events. The highlight was a ceremony where we presented the Peace Run Torch-Bearer award to some of Bulgaria's most talented athletes.
I believe that this award is a bridge between the countries of the world and unites them in a unique way, because sport is a language that does not need translation wherever you go. Ivet Goranova Olympic karate champion
I am honored to receive this medal of kindness and peace. I want the world to be better and I think sport is the strongest weapon to live in a more peaceful world. It is no coincidence that all wars have stopped during the Olympic Games. I am a dreamer and I know that we can live in a beautiful fairy tale with a good ending. Stanimira Petrova. World and European boxing champion
Thank you for this invaluable award. We must appreciate the real things and stand firmly on the ground. Let's be more humble, better, to live in harmony and to help everyone around us. Ivaylo Ivanov European champion, No 1 Bulgarian athlete 2020
It is a great pleasure for me that you are awarding me with this title. We have come a long way in the last few years in preparation for the Olympics, a lot of pain and hardship. It is a great honor for us athletes that people respect what we do. Hristo Hristov European weightlifting silver medallist
The honorees were congratulated in a video message by Bulgarian footballing legend Hristo Stoichkov:
Not just a prize or a medal in your glamorous collection, this award is a symbol of the pursuit of peace and understanding of all mankind and you are its most worthy bearer.
The event also featured a concert for peace by Mandu and Visuddhi Trummer from Austria.
The week featured a lot of school visits! Visiting schools and youth groups are a huge focus of the Peace Run when we travel around the world. The children always love holding and running with our Peace Torch, and from the children our runners get a huge amount of inspiration and hope for the future of the world.
During the Peace Week, we planted many Peace Trees with the help of the children.
We also had a lecture on Peace, the UN and personal responsibility, given by Angikar Djorjevic from Serbia. Angikar has swum the English Channel, and also was able to speak about the importance of the UN from a personal perspective, having worked for many years at UNICEF in New York and Geneva.
3100 Mile Race starts again in New York
Sri Chinmoy founded the 3100 Mile Race in 1997, and this year for the first time, it will be starting in Queens in September instead of its usual summer timeslot. The race started on September 5; runners have 52 days to complete the distance before the race ends on October 26.
Seven runners are participating, including two new runners: Lo Wei Ming from Taiwan, and Takasumi Senoo from Japan.
Last year, the race could not be held at all in New York, and was instead held in Salzburg, Austria. The race also features the winner of that race, Andrea Marcato from Italy. There is one female runner; Harita Davies, a New Zealander living in the USA, who won the race in 2019.
You can keep up with the latest race updates on the 3100 Mile Race site