Section VII – (was B) Getting to know Sri Chinmoy and friends
Section VII – (was B) Getting to know Sri Chinmoy and friends
- The Absolute - A life poem for daily contemplation - posted on family wall in 1973 (*B-11)
- Using a picture ,developing a sacred space, sharing with friends (*B-2)
- Restaurant and other work sharing experiences and selfless service (*B-3)
- A birthday surprise. (*B-4)
- Sports from a different perspective - Athletics : run, cycle, Swim, (*B-5)
- Daily Practice of meditation Related Activities (*B-6)
- Watching with amazement - avoiding reverential awe (*B-7)
- Advice on visiting friends in Ohio (*B-8)
Section VII – (was B) - Getting to know Sri Chinmoy and friends
(*B-1) The Absolute – A life poem for daily contemplation - posted on family wall in 1973.
I mentioned to one of Sri Chinmoy’s students that I had been reading the book My Flute. It was shared with me that the first of the poems “The Absolute” was very special. Sri Chinmoy had said that if one could mentally repeat the poem soulfully every day, one could make the fastest progress towards God-Realization. Since “God Realization” was high on my priority list at the time, I started saying it and feeling the message until I memorized the poem. I was staying on the third floor at my parent’s home and I wrote out the poem on colored paper and taped it up in the bathroom on the second floor next to the mirror, so I would see it every day to remind myself.
No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought;
The final end of Nature's dance,
I am it whom I have sought.
A realm of Bliss bare, ultimate;
Beyond both knower and known;
A rest immense I enjoy at last;
I face the One alone.
I have crossed the secret ways of life,
I have become the Goal.
The Truth immutable is revealed;
I am the way, the God-Soul.
My spirit aware of all the heights,
I am mute in the core of the Sun.
I barter nothing with time and deeds;
My cosmic play is done.
Excerpt from My Flute by Sri Chinmoy, published by Agni Press in 1972.
Tradition of qu0tes: My mother had inspiration and humorous quotes all over the kitchen wall so putting something up didn’t seem too out of the ordinary. Years before, some quotes I burned into wood and sent home from Ohio, had made it to the kitchen wall. See end note: 1
I was at my parents a short while before I found a more permanent place in Queens but the Absolute poem stayed on the wall at my parents for many years until that room got repainted. Then my mother carefully removed it from the wall and presented it to me when I was out for a visit. I recently found that hand written copy and keep it near my morning meditation area. I wonder how much more progress I could have made if I kept saying that poem daily all the years in between.
“If one can mentally repeat my poem ‘The Absolute’ soulfully every day, you can make the fastest progress towards God-Realisation”. –Sri Chinmoy from “A day in the life…” page 32, printed by Agni Press 2008.
(*B-2) Using a picture ,developing a sacred space,
Previous experiences with shrines, logs or special items in a room,
- Room shrines: When I was growing up we would sometimes make small shrines in our rooms to Jesus, Mary or the nativity scene. It would not be too permanent but would stay for a time, possibly related to a specific event and then slowly fade away. On the wall of our house there were a few spiritual pictures. I remember most definitely a picture of Jesus Christ with his heart expanded on the outside of his body (The Sacred Heart of Christ).
- Tree stump Shrine: At the University, during the first year for some reason I was inspired by a 3 foot high part of a tree trunk that I found somewhere and brought back to my room and put it upright under the window as a sort of shrine to the outdoors. I remember I was having a hard time with math calculus problems and somehow the tree trunk seemed to bring a sense of calm or deeper reality to the space.
- Other sacred space examples: At least one yoga facility, that I attended during my extended search had a special meditation place where there was a shrine. And I had been to temples and shrines at different parts of the world during my travels as a merchant seaman. But it didn’t occur to me to have anything like a sacred space of my own during my early seeking.
- Essential invisible to eye: Maybe because I was moving around a bit but also because I was in a phase where I considered most “externals” as “non-essential”. (Living out the quote: “only with the heart can one see rightly – what is essential is invisible to the eye” refer to end Note 2.
- Facing East - the inner shrine: I was looking for some sort of inner confirmation and didn’t see any apparent or direct connection to outer situations. However, during the beginning yoga practice I would try to face east for the sun salute which was recommended in the book I read. It seemed harmless and if it did help so much the better. It was basically an agnostic approach. I couldn’t say absolutely that it would make no difference so I felt my experience would be the ultimate test..
- Sharing a view of Personal Shrine: I was going to a number of different group events and I met one student who went regularly to see Sri Chinmoy but was also interested in the Jain teacher I was also going to see once a week. This person told me about the benefit of a special place to meditate and showed me a small shrine that had pictures of spiritual teachers on it. I was not too interested at the time but it was one of those experiences that kept coming back into my mind when I began to consider what might help me speed up my inner journey..
Helpful: Later I came to know shrines and sacred spaces were part of many people’s aids to going deeper. Even if they were not “essential”, many had obviously found them helpful. Here is a quote from my UK Friends explanation:
- Your own special space
“It is best if you have some part of your house dedicated solely for the purpose of your daily meditation, a place set aside for yourself and your own self-discovery. You can decorate this space with anything that inspires you and brings the beautiful qualities in you to the fore – candles, pictures of mountains or sunsets or any nature scene, fresh flowers, a statue of the Christ or the Buddha if you are religiously inclined, beautiful poetry that inspires you to go deep within – you can really make this place your own Aladdin’s Cave of inner wealth and treasures, so that every time you sit down, you are automatically reminded of the goal of self-awareness you are striving for through meditation. As you go deeper into meditation, you will find out different things that inspire you, and you can continually update your meditation space to reflect that. - http://www.srichinmoybio.co.uk/blog/meditation/how-to-maintain-a-lasting-meditation-practice/
This was Sri Chinmoy Answer to a related question: Question: As far as physical surroundings are concerned, where is the best place to meditate? (published in 1974)
Sri Chinmoy: We have to be sensible when we choose a place to meditate. If we try to meditate in the street, a car will come and run us over. If we decide to meditate in the kitchen, what kind of meditation will we have there? There will be all kinds of noise, activity and smells to disturb us. Instead of meditating on God we will meditate on food.
We will get the best result from our meditation if we have a shrine in some quiet corner of our living room or bedroom. But while we are seated before our shrine, if we do not feel an inner shrine within our heart, we will not have a satisfactory meditation. Wherever we meditate, we must enter into the heart where we can see and feel the living shrine of the Supreme. At our inner shrine, it is all safety, all protection. We are guarded by divine forces there. If we can meditate at this inner shrine, we are bound to make the fastest progress, because there we will meet with no opposition. In the mind there is a constant battle raging. The mind is like Times Square on New Year's Eve; the heart is like a lonely cave in the Himalayas.
· Using Flowers: The purpose of regularly having flowers on a shrine to help in meditation took me a long time to comprehend, yet alone practice. At first all I could see was that flowers “cost money and died quickly”. See Sri Chinmoy’s explanation here: Question: How can we use flowers to help us in our meditation? http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1421/1/19 and end note: 3
Tested aids or experiences of those ahead on a similar journey: It had been previously been explained that if one was trying to make inner progress it was acceptable and wise to request inner support and guidance from those who had already become familiar and had easy access to these advanced states of consciousness. Also if one gave inner permission to a real spiritual master, that person could guide. However, I couldn’t understand how having a picture or some flowers might help one remember or invoke the presence one was seeking.
- Advanced inner traveller: It gradually seemed sensible that an advanced inner traveler may actually know ways to more efficiently complete the journey. There appeared to be at least a grain of truth to this different approach. Mentally it didn’t make complete sense but I was beginning to open to a different type of logic. It seemed possible that inner guidance might help sincere seekers on aninner journey to discover truth and light. I couldn’t see any down side to admitting I wanted to go fast and would appreciate any help I might receive. Also it seemed to have some integrity to try what others seemed to be suggesting unless it “felt” wrong as opposed to just innocuous, bothersome or a bit embarrassing (hey and I really going to try this, which only a last year/week I told others I thought was a joke and useless) or flaky.
- I was willing to share with others who cared to ask, the little I did know and began to believe there may be advanced seekers who could likewise help expedite my journey.
- Photos as aids to deeper awareness: Slowly I became open to the idea that looking at pictures of those who were widely respected as being “masters” might help bring one a sense of the advanced states of consciousness they experienced. Unfortunately, the spiritual figures I was most interested in at first (Buddha and the Christ) did not seem to have any photos readily available. There were quite a few artists “imaginative” renditions of these historical figures. But my mind at the time considered them less valuable than an actual photograph. Later I began to not automatically dismiss artists’ renditions. Instead I would just try to be open to see if I “felt” something in artist’s paintings or drawings of spiritual figures to discover its value as a tool to inspire my personal practice.
- Judge for yourself, Try and see resulsts: Since I had been inspired by the books I had read and the people who had claimed to make some progress by looking at spiritual figures pictures, I came to the tentative conclusion that there seemed nothing wrong with at least in giving it a chance. Now that seems pretty easy to say and comprehend, but part of my mind didn’t quite like it. My mind still felt one should just be able to barge in and say “OK you got this “ inner awareness” or “realization”? Fine give it to me. The mind wanted to “Possess” this consciousness”. My experience until that point was that if I really concentrated hard on things with my mind I could “crack” the puzzle. So, it was some time before I began to experiment on a regular basis with using a picture to enhance my personal meditation.
- Learn by gazing: I knew from experience, that I had sometimes learned by “feeling out” situations and the “intuitive” feeling had later been shown to be correct. So I reasoned maybe this “awareness” or learning was similar. I also related this gazing at subject to a sports metaphor of watching a tennis pro perform to see how he made a shot or watching the gymnast to feel how a move was made. But I think it was my heart slowly, subtlety, patiently and persistently “whispering” that it was “worth a try” that made the difference.
- I first used a picture of Sri Chinmoy in an advanced state of consciousnessto assist my meditation that I had seen on the back of one of his books. I would just turn the book around, lean it against the wall and gaze at the picture. Sometimes I would just “wonder” what he felt to be in that consciousness - beginning to use my imagination. Or I would say a short inner prayer or mantra requesting his assistance (mentally I would sometimes think something like “if he was willing and able”). It didn’t seem to be necessary to believe that he would or even could do anything specific. If I sincerely opened to the possibility, the proof would be in result.
This just observing to see if it worked or “ show me” seemed like an OK approach? I did feel something subtle but progressive happening most times I did this – so I continued. It worked as good or better than other aids I had tried (looking at a candle or a flower). Putting together gazing at the picture of a spiritual master in a “high consciousness” and chanting peace, light, love, OM or AUM seemed to have the most perceptible and immediate effect. I could get back quicker to the best meditations I had previously had at a shoreline, a sunset or on a mountain and not have left my room. I found this pretty amazing especially the first few times. Later I began to just expect it as the opening round and go on from there. There seemed to be a number of different ways to open the inner door, but with experience some of the ways I tried seemed more reliable, sweeter or more often accessible. It was interesting trying from different outer starting points to see what worked sometimes. A few times it was so quick that I was a bit “giddy” from the experience. Almost saying out loud “ Wow “It was such an accelerated change form my starting state.
- Hold that feeling, space, note. Then came the challenge of trying to hold on to (or extend) that peaceful or inspiring inner space once attained. This ws another issue to be faced a bit later (and still). At first it never occurred to me that one could /should/ would want to or be able to extend. I was just grateful when I would touch that intense inner space for a few minutes.
- If I was at work or a social situation then the looking at a picture didn’t seem to work for me. Most times it didn’t even occur to me that something could be done. Later I discovered that I could chant inwardly for what I wanted in various situations. Peace and Poise were big needs especially if found the inner anger rising in tense situations. It was slow going transferring the feelings I could begin to experience in sitting meditations to “daily living”. Much later I was able recognize that by doing a daily practice at home and sometimes a few moments during the day, I would “remember” more often what I had in my “inner pocket”. If I somehow remembered I could begin to reach in to use what I needed.
- Remembering inner poise: This remembering to me was the closest thing to “grace” that I could recall. I couldn’t at first seem to sense any difference between when I had the poise or wisdom to “bite my tongue” and when some stupid remark or lame joke I would make would just make a bad situation worse. However, after a few experiences where I felt unhelpful thoughts or strong negative feelings arising that I was able to control, I did see significantly better results for all involved. My goal became to simply do this in more situations. Still working on this one.
- Sending the advance inner team: Many years later Sri Chinmoy was answering a question from someone whose birthday we were celebrating. He explained that if we knew in advance where we were going the next days or even a month later we could consciously send the force or light of our inner meditation there hours or days in advance. Some people who had difficulty getting up in the morning were advised to send this force from their dynamic meditation from the night before to assist them the next morning. Sort of like having a welcoming friend already in the difficult place when you arrived to help.
- Sharing with friends: I began to share with my friends what I was experiencing. Some found it credible while others were less interested to hear any details. I also didn’t have very good language to express what I was feeling and wanted to be surer of the consistency of the experience before making any definitive statements. It didn’t stop me from making feeble attempts to communicate some of it from time to time with people I cared about or who seemed sincere in their questions of me. In most cases I began to learn that the best I could say was “this is what I have experienced up to this point”. Or it feels like the right approach for me to explore further at present..
(*B-3) Work and Restaurant sharing experiences at Annam Brahma and Smile of the Beyond - work as selfless service.
Working or spending time in a local spiritually based shop or “enterprise” is a great way to get to know more about a community, test out ideas and experiences with others that share a common aspiration in a natural setting.
Work as a fun adventure:I am fortunate that I had the opportunity since I was quite young to work at many different types of jobs. (I began helping after school and weekends on a paper route early ( 8 or ten) because my older brother had a route. I had my own route by 11. At 15 I began working all summer at the beach concession – and loved it). In addition to the sense of independence( and some “real money at 90 cents an hour) I experienced the benefit of what was often learned while doing “something else”. Working on a common task or as part of a team for a common goal has some known theoretical benefits that are only really confirmed by active participation. By my mid-twenties I had worked various places including as, merchant seaman, city government urban corps assistant, landscape gardener, construction laborer, postal worker etc. (Stories in previous sections) . In the early 1970’s, when I came for an unintended and temporary visit to Manhattan, I found myself going out to Queens near where I was born.
Work expands world knowledge: I felt my previous working experiences in different locations where I lived, had given me a flexible set of skills and a good understanding of how the world worked. It also provided some tolerance and acceptance for the varieties of human perceptions and expression. Even difficult work situations, after some reflection, seemed to widen my sense of the world.
Curiosity and Learning from fellow seekers: When I became more involved with the Sri Chinmoy community I immediately wanted to help out. From my upbringing and the community experience during and after University years I knew things that were important only happened or grew if people “pitched in”. There was also sincere curiosity about this new group I was starting to associate with. But I think a good part of my real motive on this occasion was to have a chance to get a better felling for what I was doing. My heart kept giving me assurances. But my mind couldn’t put it all together. I still had a lot of questions about how those on this new path related to their place in the world. I knew I had my work and community back in Ohio - but what about all these others. How were they intensely following the spiritual life and at the same time participating in the world? What did Sri Chinmoy say or think about all of this? I had plenty of opportunities to share my thoughts and questions. Sometimes I was quite challenging to the others around and I have to express my gratitude for their patience.
Variety of people amazes: Being around the community, even after a few years I was still somewhat amazed by the different back grounds and approaches of the various individuals involved. I had previously experienced that people have their own unique ideas and sometimes quite different experiences and reasons why they may be attracted to and participate in a similar lifestyle. Working closely with people from the Sri Chinmoy group confirmed that here too, individuals did share a common aspiration and also a genuine appreciation for the goals and practices of a path. However, the prioritization of activities and importance they give to different aspects could be strikingly very different. Those moved by different things, may carry all manner of cultural or other baggage from their upbringing and personal previous experience. But the variety of people involved provided me with a diverse group to discuss and get their take on Sri Chinmoy, his approach to the world and their personal approaches to daily life.
Stated Goals and Patience with the process. I also had to learn not to mistake peoples currently understood philosophy for their whole truth - time and experiences change and broaden understanding. In these and other settings I was able to observe the “ heart vs mind” continuum and combination. Growing wisdom suggested not to be too disappointed when what people aspire to be and what currently exhibiting in their actions seemed far apart.
One older gentleman started wearing a badge to the regular Sri Chinmoy Centre meetings which said something like “forgive me or be patience – God is not finished working on me yet”.
A related quote from Sri Chinmoy:: "Be kind, be all sympathy, for each and every human being is forced to fight against himself."From http://www.srichinmoybio.co.uk/quotes.html
The extended conversation:some of my best and long lasting relationships were forged working alongside individuals who were trying to consciously follow a more aspiring life. This often allowed for relaxed discussions of life’s questions within the routine of manual tasks. A conversation could go on in pieces over a number of days.
Sharing quotes and summaries:Remembered quotes or summaries of others writings would become part of the philosophical conversation. However if chats began to touch on life’s deepest questions or “spirituality”, I paid much more attention. If something seemed to strike a significant cord from a summarized understanding put forth by another, it would be noted. However, as people quoted spiritual figures, it became more important to read the original sources if possible rather than take too seriously others paraphrase of their understanding - especially if something doesn't feel right. I knew that over the centuries some famous spiritual teachers’ quotes had been changed or interpreted to justify a totally different agenda.
Time + Intensity + Sincerity +At the beginning of my conscious spiritual journey I sometimes felt when dealing with others that years on a path was a good indication of depth of understanding and practice. After a while, I began to understand that the number of years around a community or ability to verbalize doesn't necessarily correlate with proportionate increased understanding. Some who understand deeply may not be best skilled to express their understanding. Their silent action and concern may be the best testament. Listening and practical meditation practices seem to be the best aid to making a positive contribution to the arena.
Increased Opportunities:I did witness that being in the proximate area with other (conscious or unconscious) good hearted seekers on a daily basis gives more opportunities for creative and illuminating interactions. Laughter and offhand remarks can sometimes provide illumining. Even sincere “in your face” challenges that give insight to our own foibles -especially from likeminded souls who have similar goals of self-discovery. (I mentioned in previous chapter how a good friends question was very useful when I wanted to stop even social drinking in Ohio) This outer support and unspoken encouragement can be especially important if trying to practice an inner discipline and self-transcendence that may go against the grain of the popular culture.
Selfless Service Many Benefits: I mention above some benefit to me of working alongside of others with similar goals. There are other benefits for a seeker who can work with the right attitude. I think Sri Chinmoy has explained best:
· “Real selfless service is that which does not expect a favourable result. Selfless service is only for the sake of self-giving; the result will come naturally. If there is an action, there will be a reaction. But the action will be performed not to please ourselves in our own way, but to please God in His own way. We shall act when we are inspired from within. We shall work soulfully and consciously. For seven hours, eight hours, ten hours we shall be inspired from within. If we work without inspiration, then we are working mechanically, like workers in a factory who do not want to be there. We have become another machine. Selfless service is not like that. It is cheerful, soulful, conscious and constant. First it is soulful service; then it is selfless; and finally, when it becomes unconditional .. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0284/2/43
· “During the performance of real selfless service, we get abundant joy. We don't have to wait for any result or after-effect. Selfless service itself is the greatest joy and highest reward.” From A God-Lover's Earth-Heaven-Life, Part 1, Agni Press, 1974. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0180/11
· “Selfless service is the golden bridge - Between this world of aspiration - And the world of God-realisation. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1417/2/70
· “Selfless service Is immediate progress. Instead of working for our little self, We serve our large Self,” - Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 92, 1983. - http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/ff_92
· “Aspiration includes both meditation and selfless service. …When we meditate, we go high, very high. We enter into a higher plane of consciousness which we then try to manifest. … If we climb up the tree and pluck mangoes, we are feeding ourselves, but this does not help humanity at all. But if we come down and share with others who do not know how to climb, then they will get the strength to also climb up the tree. This kind of selfless service benefits humanity tremendously.
· Each time we do selfless service we increase our capacity… we feel oneness with the rest of mankind … Each moment we do something selflessly we enlarge our consciousness from the one to the many. First oneness starts with our spiritual brothers and sisters and then it spreads to the rest of the world. Here it is an expansion, a discovery of one's own reality which is fulfilled in self-expansion.,,,we have to feel that this selfless service is not an act of sacrifice: It is an act of discovery. finding opportunities to do "self less service" inwardly or outwardly in a supportive community - Sri Chinmoy, Service-Boat And Love-Boatman, Part 1, 1974. (more at http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0196/2/12)
(*B-4) A birthday surprise.
Inspiring Poem – song
My birthday song:
I plan to soar,
I plan to roar.
The bird in me
Will teach me how to soar.
The lion in me
Will teach me how to roar.
I plan to love,
The lover in me will teach me
How to love
Poem 525 from Transcendence-Perfection by Sri Chinmoy. for Music Score see: http://www.srichinmoysongs.com/song/view/my-birthday-song-i-plan-to-soar...
Early Ambivalence toward Birthdays: Starting from when I was in grade school I had ambivalent feelings about Birthdays. I saw where it could cause some embarrassment (with who was invited to kids parities and everything around giving and receiving presents in a community where resources were limited). Later as I went into my “what is essential” phase, Birthday celebration seemed much ado about nothing. It seemed a hype to sell cards or waste of precious time. Everybody had one and so do the cats, dogs, goldfish and cockroaches....
Teacher values Birthdays: However I was now on a special path where I learned the teacher gave importance to birthdays. I had receivde a great experience on one of my first birthdays (noted previously). But I was taken aback on the second or third one. Sri Chinmoy had inspired some of my new friends who also worked somewhere in the UN community to have a little surprise party for me at a local house. That was a difficult moment. I had come to accept the possible blessing and encouragement from my spiritual teacher as part of this day. But a “birthday party” with cake, some small presents and cards from people I was only getting to know? Sri Chinmoy was not present at this event and I was a bit confused but tried to be gracious. I had to bite my tongue, and self-censor especially in the beginning of the event. It all turned out ok and I actually felt humility and was quite touched beyond my minds understanding.
Adjusting attitude on Birthdays: Over the years, I tried to adjust my attitude with varying degrees of success. Many can share stories of trying to be “more spiritual” on their day and the varying results. I am most grateful for Sri Chinmoy using my birthday to help me remember the spiritual life and my inner promise to aspire… Now I use the opportunity to try to meditate more…on the will of the Supreme - and how I can best do my part - throughout the year. Sometimes if it is possible, I will go out of town for my birthday to visit or and work on a project with some of Sri Chinmoy’s students at another location (and sometimes I can escape some of the outer formalities this way :-) ).
Over the years more was printed about Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of birthdays: Below are related quotes and links:
- Question: Are there any particular birthdays in one’s life that have more significance than the others, or do they all offer equal opportunity? http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1327/1/2
- “Each birthday Of an unaspiring man Is the destruction-dance of death. Each birthday Of an aspiring man Is the ever-increasing Satisfaction-Smile of God In His Vision's self-transcendence height.” From The Silence-Song, 1975. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0210/1/22
- “Is the power of one's prayer more potent on one's birthday?” see answerof ri Chinmoy, The Soul's Special Promise, Part 1, , 1994 http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0999/1/17
- On our birthday, “We should meditate on gratitude to God, our surrender to God’s Will and our wholehearted acceptance of our inner life. - from The Soul's Special Promise, Part 2, 1999. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1327/1/56
- “On every individual's birthday, God thinks of that particular individual as His unprecedented dream, that is unlike any other dream.” From Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 32, Agni Press, 2002. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1421/1/6
- Question:How can we best cheer up people who are always sad on their birthday? Sri Chinmoy: Just by telling them, “God loves you and God needs you, even if you are not aware of it. His Love for you is really unconditional and His Need for you is absolutely true.” – from The Soul's Special Promise, Part 2,, 1999. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1327/1/52
- Question: How can we remember the cheerful and childlike feeling that we feel on our birthday? See answer at-The Soul's Special Promise, Part 2, 1999. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/ssp-52
- Question: “Is it easier to hear the soul’s voice on our birthday than on other days? Sri Chinmoy: It depends on your meditation. On your birthday if you are thinking of how many gifts you are going to get from your friends or how many people are sending you telegrams or letters, and if during your meditation all those thoughts are coming, then will you be receptive? (see more at: The Soul's Special Promise, Part 2, 1999. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1327/1/22
Links to the music score 0f more Birthday Songs:
- Birthday is the vision-day of days - To spread the soul’s truth-promise-rays. Earth-life enjoys Heaven the song. Great gods, good souls in oneness throng. music score : http://www.srichinmoysongs.com/song/view/birthday-is-the-vision-day-of-days/19723/
Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy, happy, happy birthday!
We love your soul's rainbow-dream promise-play. Music score at: http://www.srichinmoysongs.com/song/view/happy-birthday-to-you-happy-birthday/20505
My birthday, my birthday, my birthday, my birthday!
God gives my heart , from His Heart, a very special Ray.
(*B-5) Sports from a different perspective - Athletics:
Begin running, Sri Chinmoy gave importance to the outer fitness as aide to inner life. For examples of what he has said on Sports including “The inner athlete” and answers to questions foro some top sthletes see Endtnote 4
Jamaica HS Track in Mornings:When I first came to Jamaica I had been practicing Hatha Yoga exercise for some time. I heard that some of the other students would go to Jamaica high School Track in the morning to run. So I began go there after my morning meditation to walk around the track and watch these others practice. Some of the people were also doing other things like throwing the shot put or the discus. At first I was just coming in my white meditation clothes. Later I figured out to go in clothes more suitable for running.
Sri Chinmoy arrives: To my surprise Sri Chinmoy would come some mornings. I didn’t know quite what to do. So I just kept walking around and watching everything.
- Waiting for the real runners: After bit I started running, more like walk-running. I sort of got used to waiting for the “real” runners who came from Manhattan each morning to start their training. I was all admiration for their discipline. I just had to walk a few blocks and some of them had to be back in Manhattan to go to work. The driver Vajra is anotheramazing story - his selfless service is legendary..
- Sports Day: Eventually there were little short fun runs at Jamaica High School track that Sri Chinmoy encouraged. Each year in August around Sri Chinmoy’s Birthday there would be event that became a big sports day competition. We would go in school buses to some place in NY or Connecticut and compete in many Olympic style running, jumping and throwing events.
- 3 miles is upper limit: One year there was going to be a long distance run. I think not more than 3 miles. I was so impressed that someone would be brave enough to run that distance and without stopping!. A handful of people joined in the attempt and we were all appriciation. I knew theoretically there were longer races for well trained and professional athletes like Olympic marathons (but that distance didn’t seem real for regular people)
- Marathon Training. In a year or two many of us had begun to train for longer distance. I was doing many miles around tht JHS track. I strted to really like the feeling. When some of my friends were trying to get me to go “out on the road” and run on the Jamaica streets. I resisted for quite a while. I had gotten into very comfortable "flow" at the track and couldn’t see how running out on the streets could be much better. I think I was afraid I might lose that inner feeling I was carrying from my meditation right before or that I might miss something at the track. (Like potentially Sri Chinmoy’s morning arrival at the track – which was always interesting. )
- Running on the Road. One morning when the boys came by the track on their run in the streets. They again encouraged me to join and I said OK. But I was a little concerned that I would not be able to keep up. I said I might just walk back. The first day was a bit tough and strange.
- They even for the most part ran in the streets not on the sidewalks like I expected. The run was lateer named the “Henley Hop” because a good part was on Henley road. When it met 188th street it would be almost 2 miles and served as a natural turn around. There was also the possibility to do an extra quarter mile and have some pretty good hill to run up. *That is a section of a road aptly named “foot hill” and circles around a final short hill at “Clover Hill”.
- Street runing joy: After a few times, I was sold on the running in the street. The distance piled up so much quicker than running on the track. It was freedom life as I started to also experience regularly the “runners high” each time after about 15 or 20 minutes. Eventually we started to enter some 7 and ten mile runs and then heard about the marathon!.
- NYC Marathon.It began to know that a number of people from the Sri Chinmoy Center were planning to run the NY marathon. So we started to train. There was much talk about LSD ( Long Slow Distance) and how one might survive the 26 miles. We were exhausted when we had completed a 7 or ten mile race. So now the marathon seemed to be quite a stretch. But then we heard about a training plan were the runner would start out much slower .The idea was to not run faster than you could easily carry on a conversation with normal breathing.
- (Sunil, Rupantar, Sahishnu, Adhirtha)
- Doing this a few time encouraged us because we saw how much further we could do if we didn’t run too fast. And the goal at this time was to just survive the 26 miles.
- which I / we did in 1977
"Members of the U.N. community may have seen many of their friends in the Meditation Group running in the 26-mile New York City Marathon, held this year on 26 October, (1978). Over thirty men and women from the Group joined the 11,000 other marathon runners at the inspiration and encouragement of Sri Chinmov, who believes that physical fitness and health are necessary for integral spiritual progress..(for our group: .men best) time of 2 hours, 49 minutes, and ... women (best) time) of 3 hours, 53 minutes.
Many members of the Meditation Group had completed a 47-mile ultra-marathon on 27 August, which was held in honour of Sri Chinmov's 47th birthday. On 28 September 1978 Sri Chinmoy received the distinguished service award from Runner's World magazine for his "dedicated service to humanity through the promotion of running." -pma-rpt-1978
- Runners shoes and shorts.
- Many stories can be told about these training events about discovering running shoes, running shorts and other clothing, drinking and eating etc. Some are quite humorous. ( – to be added of link to later).
- Try it in Practice first: One moral that seem to be repeated after a few running races experiences: don’t do anything a few days before the race training or during the race that you hadn’t previously tried during a practice session. Sometimes the over excitement before a race could cloud clear thinking. And upend a sensible training, eating or running shoe plan just before the race. (e.g. Why not do a marathon in new running shoes or add some special new food the night before?).
- 47 Mile run
- Eventually I completed a number of longer races including form 47 to 50 mile runs. (1978 to 1981).
- For more on the 47 mile race see Endnote: 5
- 50 mile race disappointment
- Ego running badly - cherfulness and joy nowhere: I did respectively in the long races until the 1981. Until that time I don’t think many of the girls on the SCMT had ever passed me. The 50 mile race ws scheduled to be on a three mile course at Rockland Sate Park and start at midnight. I don’t think I slept much the night before and the race was more difficult than I planned for. I got impatience about ¾ through and wanted to “ just finish” and somehow show "who was the boss" of this experience. I actually speed up but didn’t drink enough water. I was not listening to my body’s requests or even my previous experience of many marathons and 3 previous 47 mile races . My ego self was angry it was taking so much time and stubbornly (but not wisely) determined to show this race I was through. After wards I was nauseous and sick like I had never been after a race. Sort of like when I stayed up all night in high school after the senior prom and then tried to take the life guard test.
- A promse made and years later withdrawn: Later I said enphatically I would never do that distance again. And I kept my promise with some pride about it – until a few years after I had swam the English Chanel. By then I had learned to deal more with my stupid mind and the things I would say in haste. Then remembering why I had made the promise to not run longer distance and what lead to it seemed quite humorous. I had by then made it through much more difficult things training swimming in in the channel on so many occasions (for instance the cold was real challenge or where one couldn’t really just walk a bit as was possible in long foot race). But still I had to plan well because by then quite a few years had passed.
Staying cheerfull- and drinking water: I made sure to drink more water when I did long distance again and remember that cheerfulness was as important for me as having a good finishing time. More on Cherfullnes at Endnote:6
- Cycle – I loved the bike as a child. We treated it as if it was a horse on the open plains. The day I got my own bike was one of my happiest. After a certain age I could use it to travel to a friend’s house 3 towns away in Merrick long Island. Bicycle tag was a big favorite especially when visiting Merrick . Here was a big church yard right by my friend’s house near Narwood court. It would be mostly empty during the summer and on holiday or evenings. So you really got up some speed coming around corners and doing all sorts of evasive tactics to avoid or place the “tag”.
- Tricks - Impossibility Challenge: After spending so many hours on bike or thinking about bikes we discovered there were all sorts of tricks to be performed. Some of the things we tried seemed impossible and after crashing a number of times we came to the conclusion they really were impossible. One time I was so excited that I was actually able to sit on the handle bars and the bike kept moving forward. Unfortunately it hit a bump or curb and since was slowing down it sent me “chin first” to the pavement. I think it knocked me out and when my brother and friends got me home it was another visit of a “keefe kid” to the hospital for stitches. To the question of how it happened? – it was hard to explain to the older people – but the kids got it. It was a glorious 10 seconds. But I was seriously warned not to try that stunt again! I did spend some serious time trying to figure what had gone wrong – since those first ten seconds were so good..
- Circus shows Possibility: I remember years later we went with Sri Chinmoy to see a circus performance and these people were actually doing some of the things on bicycles that we had concluded were impossible based on our experience of almost “killing ourselves” . I was so happy to see that some of the things that we “imagined” and tried to do at that early age were actually physically possible for someone really skillful and trained. It was a happy time watching them perform. Probably good I hadn’t seen them when I was between 8 and 10 years old or I might not have lived to be writing this. By the way I did learn what I had done wrong with the handle bar trick. It is possible to: 1. use the trick just before you are going to dismount at the end of act or (2) face backwards while sitting on the handle bars and keep peddling – while looking forward over your shoulder. (I haven’t tried it but been was tempted on number occasions – just don’t like hospital visits. Or the problem of explaining to older people “what in heaven was the jack ass doing this time? And then the “Why?”
- Country riding: When I lived in Dayton Ohio, during and after college years we rode bicyces out into the country to visit friends and around town. Some were a few hour rides but mostly at a leisurely pace unless traveling alone.
- Training for the 24 hour Bicycle race in NY Central park. This was the first 24 hours bicycle race for any of us. A fun part was sometimes we would go to train at Flushing Meadow park n weeday evening after work. Then before dark, we would meet in parking lot by the lake with Sri Chinmoy to share stories, meditation and some refreshment. I was quite ecxciting and changed the whole work day. It always felt like we had and extra weekend joy experience in the middle of the week.
"24 Hour Pepsi Cycle Marathon - In the 1970s there was a 24 hour bike race around Central Park sponsored by Pepsi. For a couple of years Sri Chinmoy and many of his students took part.
In 1978 the Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team entered by far the largest team of 197 riders in the event. The team captured many prizes such as: best riding team, logging 38,605 miles; best ten member team, with 3,150 miles " more at https://cycling.srichinmoyraces.org/cycling_articles/24_hour_pepsi_cycle_marathon
- "members of the Meditation Group (at the UN), most of whom practiced for only four weeks before the race, also tested the limits of their endurance in this event as part of a team of 114 men and 83 women who proved by their total team mileage of 38,605 miles that qualities developed in meditation , such as concentration, determination and dedication, can be utilised to expand the physical capacity in a very tangible way." -pma-rpt-1978
(Sri Chinmoy competing in Pepsi 24 Hour Race 1978)
"Sri Chinmoy himself inspired the team to a striking overall victory by riding a total of 230 miles, 55miles better than his total of 175 miles in the previous year's marathon. In addition to receiving first prizes for the best riding group and the best uniformed riding group, the team took first prize for the best 10-member riding team, with a top mileage of 3,150 miles-more than a thousand miles better than the closest competing lD-member team-and first prize for the best lD-25-member riding team, with a 24-member entry pedalling 6,355 miles. ..(Ashrita) Furman, a popular magician at many of the Group's benefits for UNICEF, took third place overall for the men, with a total of 410 miles." -PMA-rpt-1878
- Resting experience: Durin the first year (1977) I went inside a tent to rest for an hour at about 2am and woke up 3hrs later very stiff. I still was able to complete over over 200 miles. that experience was really helpful becuase the next year, I knew not to lay down even if I stoped to rest and broke 300 miles. Then one year a few of us went on bus together to another state for an evvent the weekend after the Pepsi Cola 24 hour event. Many of us finshed the double century (200 miles -dawn to dusk). It amazed the race handlers at the time. We registered and stayed up with the leaders for the first 100miles and none of them had heard of us before. I ws doing real good til about 175 miles. Then I had to use my hand to move one of my knees up and down to finish.
Swimming starting slow going the distance.;
- (details in this sub section might be in a separate page related to swimming - to be decided later) – If moved to another location or page -there should just also be a short summary and link from here)
- Below sub section covers beginning of distance swimming and the Start of Channel Swim in SC Center and Marathon Team – ak memories
1. Preparing for Small Triathlon –learning to swim distance:
2. “Athletes” transcending
3. Half mile swim contributions- as part of team long distance
4. Individual 6 mile slow swims in celebration
5. Why not the Channel for a fast, trained swimmer
6. Who else will try the channel?
7. Thirteen Mile test swim – encouraging result
8. Team Sharing inspiration from many sources
9. Eighteen mile test - Milford Massacre
10. Encouragement and Grace- 1985 Success and later years
1. Preparing for Small Triathlon –learning to swim distance:
- In 1979 friends began to organize the first “Sri Chinmoy Triathlon” (Shandhani Fitch who has been involved with Sri Chinmoy Marathon time for a long time confirmed this was in Grotton, Long point Connecticut 1979 – will check to see if he or others have photos form that race).
· I remember going with friends to Rockaway beach in the New York City borough of Queens. It is said to be largest urban beach in the United States, stretching for miles along the Rockaway Peninsula facing the Atlantic - it is about a 20 minute drive form where we were living in queens. Could be hours if took public transport or weekend traffic.)
· Our goal was to see how well we could swim in open water and what distance. We were testing to see we had enough of a base to try to prepare for the one mile swim part of the upcoming triathlon.. I practiced every stroke I knew (crawl, breast stroke, back stroke, elementary back stroke, dog paddle with treading water (just in case) J .
After a few times we started to believe if we kept treading water at difficult time we could make it through the mile which seemed like a heck of a long distance to swim.. By 1979 we had already completed the 24 hour bicycle marathon in NYC central park and some 26 mile running marathons so we weren’t too worried about the running and cycling if we could just survive the swim which we were thankful came first when we should be the least tired)...
Sri Chinmoy Triathlon, Groton and Mystic, CT: July 29, 1979
The day of the event I had to do all the strokes I knew from boy scouts during the swim part to keep going - even the dog paddle.
2. “Athletes” transcending
During the event one of the people cheering us on during the last run section yelled out “Adhiratha you are an athlete” and it was the first time I really thought I was, ( not just a slow long distance runner or bicycle rider) My uncle who was a good swimmer in his day and had been a lifeguard at Jones beach had appreciated the members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Tesm’s running and (and subsequent leg muscle development) but made jokes to me about not having enough upper body strength and definition to be fully balanced. From the beginning swim training – we began to fill out the upper body.
3. Half mile swim contribution- as part of team long distance
· A few years later (1981) around the time of Sri Chinmoy’s 50th Birthday, a swim was organized in Connecticut in the middle of summer where I think we all swan about a quarter of a mile. We took turns following markers across a pond somewhere to make 5O kilometers or some distance to celebrate one of Sri Chinmoy’s anniversaries.. I think it went on for 24 hours or until we covered some predetermined distance. I remember swimming at night with a small row boat beside me and following the flash light. Sri Chinmoy came at some point (I think late evening) to support our event and as he was leaving said sweetly to the organizers “what an adventure”. I realized that is what it was. It was something to come to Connecticut in middle of the night to join with friends just to swim a small part and experience the camaraderie with summer night the stars and the water.
4. Individual 6 mile slow swims in celebration
A few years later someone else (possibly Shradhha Howard who worked at UN and many years later swan across the English Channel in 1988 on 3rd attempt) was the main organizer for a longer swim.
I t was agreed that we would all do about 6 miles (10K) within an eight hour period. There was a line stretched out across a pond and a swimmer had to follow it out and back for a lap. Counters were on the beach. It wasn’t competitive but we knew what each was about when we took breaks. We were all quite slow but because of our other distance training we all knew by now how to pace ourselves. I think I was the best time with over 5 hours to do six miles (which in the swimmers competitive world is very, very slow). Most very good swimmers can knock off a mile in less than twenty minutes. I passed the person ahead of me with a few laps to go when he got out to get a drink and I didn’t get out to rest. So I was able to finish the distance first. We all felt great when in a little more time many of us had completed the distance. 6 miles was not a joke swim, especially for us recreationally swimmers. We were feeling sore during and afterwards. But it was in different parts of the body from the usual leg, knee and feet pains of running and biking distances..
5. Why not the Channel for a fast , trained swimmer
A few summers later (1984) one of the European students of Sri Chinmoy who had been a fast speed swimmer in school requested Sri Chinmoy’s Guidance on training to possibly try to be swimming in the Olympics. Sri Chinmoy encouraged him to try the English Channel crossing. The swimmer did not really train so much for distance and found the cold too difficult without allowing for acclimatizing. He tried at end of season in October of 1984. He did a very quick few miles but then had to come out of the water shivering. The captain of pilot boat that was responsible for being alongside the swimmer was very impressed with the speed. In future years this boat captain (Dave White) would escort many swimmers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. Years later Dave still remember this first swimmerwho was so fast but unprepared for the cold.
- But something quite good came out of the unsuccessful attempt in 1984. It served as a cautionary tale to many future swimmers who initially wanted to spend less time in Dover, England getting used to the cold water and waiting for the right tide.. Unless a swimmer had already recently completed a number of multi hour cold water swims, it was necessary to leave sufficient time to acclimatized to cold water and actually do many long swims in the similar conditions to be faced on day of event. Better to find out what it was about and adjust the preparation while training in the relative privacy and low cost of swimming many hours in the harbor of Dover or Folkston. This sure beat having this experience and realizing more cold-water training was necessary, for the first time while already in the channel for the first attempt. Once a swimmer is in the water for an official attempt there are a few other deeply involved at that point (boat pilot, crew, helpers and observers) and closly watching every move. So many quickly (or eventually) figured out iIt was best not to wait for the actual event to realize move preparation wsa required, Not to mention the considerable sum on renting the boat for the day..
· 6. Who else will try the channel?
The following April Sri Chinmoy mentioned that he felt some for the students could succeed if they trained properly. Some of those who had done the 6 mile swim the earlier year stood up to said they would try. I was not present (probably working late at UNICEF) but had a healthy respect for the channel and didn’t want to volunteer. I was very afraid both of that sort of distance and the cold which all seemed to add up to a monumental undertaking. At the same time I was sweetly inspired that someone would even think of attempting this feat and just for the sake of self-transcendence. So I secretly at first, started to g to the pool to see how much I could improve and began speaking to those who were seriously training.
7. A thirteen Mile test swim – encouraging result
At some point Sri Chinmoy suggested that anyone who was going to attempt to swim the channel should first do a 13 mile and then an 18 mile swim before going over to Dover England to try.
So I signed up for the first 13 mile test swim I think at end of May which we organized for Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island. There were helpers in Canoes and my friend from grade school and college arranged for a camper recruitment van from a local college would be on the shore where we could change our clothes. Sri Chinmoy came to the start and meditated with us before the swim.
About 9 or more people completed the swim (I think it took us between 7 and 11 hours). Some of those who did complete the 13 miles decided then or soon afterwards that looking forward to a 18 mile second test then even colder water in the Channel did not give them sufficient inspiration to continue that year. However most were very encouraged by the team result for the 13 mile experience and it began to feel like someone might be able to do it in 1985.
· 8. Team Sharing inspiration from many sources
The few weeks after was a very heady and exciting time. We had already begun to read and share anything we could find about long distance swimmers and channel attempts including pilot boats, weather, what people ate etc. But now it was serious and for real. Some were definitely going to go to Dover in a few months and we had to begin preparations as if it could be any of still training..
· 9. Eighteen mile test - Milford Massacre
The next swim was then scheduled for a few weeks later at Milford Connecticut in Long Island Sound. Due to the colder water, rough weather and use of untested grease none of us made it more than 6 miles of the 18 mile swim. We called it the “Milford Massacre”
· .10. Encouragement and Grace- 1985 Success and later years
· With continued encouragement from Sri Chinmoy, and additional training in NY and in Dover a number of team members went to England in 1985. Some went to do a 6 person relay and build up more experience for 1986. However due to bad weather on their day they were not successful. But two who went to Dover planning solo attempts made it across the following days in 1985. (Ms. Vasanti Niemz of Germany on the 9th of Sep in 17 hrs. 01 mins. and Mr. Adhiratha Keefe of USA on 10th September in 14 hrs. 51 mins.)
· In subsequent years many from Sri Chinmoy Marathon team were among those successful. Each has their own story of training, transcendence and team support. Many of those who did not make it because of the distance, cold or rough weather still received memorable inspiration from the transcendence experience of the attempt.
· (see complete list of successful swimmers from Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from 1985 to 2010) :
- Channel swim and for UN Year of Peace - Point to other sites for information or pictures on English Channel swim and swims in 30 locations round the world for UN International year of Peace swims http://www.adhiratha.net/www/swim1/swim.htm
- Helpers make it possible.
On one of my attempts I had the good fortune of having my friend Karteek from Scotland as a helper on my boat. In August of 2009 he finished his 10th (that is TEN) successful crossings of English crossing - now that is self transcendence. In early days, years ago when he was first considering a channel crossing - he once asked me for about swimming. and preparation - He has since gone far, far beyond any advice I might have provided. We did spend much good time in Dover training and waiting for the tides and weather. And by the way, sice he had aleady been the chanel himself a number of times he was an excellent handler on boat for one later unsuccessful attempt of mine. ...
More about Karteek here: http://www.srichinmoycentre.org/node/8766. And don't miss "The Scotsman" article about karteek: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/topstories/-Businessman-hails-yoga-aft... And I went to stay and rest at Karteek's place in Scotland after one time.The city of Edinburgh is beautiful and majestic and the other friends there are great!
That even includes my friend Janaka Alan Spence who keeps beating me in 2 mile races after he tells me how injured he is before them :-) see more about Janaka here : http://www.poetseers.org/spiritual_and_devotional_poets/contemp/alan_spe... "author of poetry, novels, short stories and plays, was born in Glasgow. The city's sights and sounds permeate much of his work, including his first collection of short stories (1977). In dealing with Scottish urban life, he brings to bear a compassionate detachment."
For some recent (Jun 2011) photos see the reports of the harmony run in Great Britain - Scotland)
18 June: Glasgow – Edinburgh: http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/great_britain/news/2011/0618/
19 June: Edinburgh - Eskdalemuir http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/great_britain/news/2011/0619/
(* B6) Daily Practice of meditation Related Activities
see end of page https://adhiratha.srichinmoycentre.org/aspiration_intro (under construction) to be summarized here with pointers for details
(*B-7) Watching with amazement (to be expanded)
Settling back into NY & a spiritual journey
A Play in New Rochelle – Siddhartha becomes the Buddha
- (seeing Secretary General U thant and an unexpected "cooking" experience)
- I had been back in NY since around end of Feb 1973 and had begun to help out at the Queens “Annam Brahma” Vegetarian restaurant in April. I thought I would be soon going back to Dayton Ohio where I had work, good friends and "my stuff". Years before, I had read and liked very much Herman Hess’s book "Siddhartha" and some friends’ house cat also had the name. I also like Hesse’s “Journey to the East” and “Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game”. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that Sri Chinmoy had written a play about the Buddha and that U Thant, Secretary- General of the United Nations was going to attend the opening performance. It later became known that the students of Sri Chinmoy were invited to attend. I think the restaurant was going to close so everybody could go to the play.
- Volunteer assistant cooks Some of the people who ran the restaurant had their place near where the Play was to be staged so they were going to be involved with everything at that site. Then it turned out that the people who were the coordinators of the New Jersey Sri Chinmoy Center were going to be in charge of preparing the food for all the guests and they would be using Annam Brahma. Since I had been assisting at Annam Brahma the NJ people requested my help in cutting vegetables etc. the day before. I agreed and was also going to go to the play performance after in their car when we brought the food . So it all seemed to be working out fine: I had something to do to help; no real responsibility and the ride to the Buddha play where the UN S-G would be. It seemed I was in what my friend Sunil would later call the "cat -bird seat".
The Game changes: However, That morning when I came in to begin to assist at the restaurant, few were present. None who requested my help were present. I found out the main people from the NJ center who were organizers of the food had been also helping at the play location. On their way back to Queens in the late hours they had been in a very bad accident and ended up in the hospital. So it there was no one to direct the making the food. I wasn't too concerned about the food. Figured someone else would step in and take charge (there were two other restaurants and a bakery in Connecticut at the time who wee friends with the Annam Brahma owners and manager) or I figured they would have some juices and pass around some fruit, bread cheese or something..
- Do what you can: While we were waiting to see what would happen, a message came that whoever was at the restaurant in Queens should do whatever they could.
- One eyed man in charge: In a second, the whole atmosphere changed in the restaurant with those of us present just looking in shock or disbelief. For some reason people looked to me to give advice. I had been helping at Annam Brahma for all of one month. “ In the land of the blink – the one eyed man is king?” My previous qualifying “cooking” experience mostly consisted of :
- Heating up Boy Scouts weekend “food” – mostly things that could be eaten raw or lightly warmed on a sometimes fire. .
- Working cooking thousands of hamburgers and hotdogs at Jones beach during High School summers,
- Making “Saturday Stew” for the 9 keefe kids grow up (took all the left overs for week and put them in the same pot with water for "never the same again" soup.
- Working in sandwich shop in Dayton Ohio part time during a one year at University,
- Being a vegetarian for few years, I had learned how to boil rice and dump cans of soup or lots of cheese over it and of course heat up frozen vegetables and boil eggs.
- I had baked some experimental bread - some in Ohio using the popular “Tasajara Bread book” or my own fruit, vegetables for “rock Bread” creations without yeast .
- I had completed and eaten many personal experiments of adding the above knowledge and ingredients to a big pot of well boiled soy beans.
- Finally I had good sized ego that was willing to try most things in a declared "emergency" and a perfect result didn't have to be guaranteed. Because it was understood whatever we came up with would be was better than nothing.
No way out - It begins to sink in: So I got out the pot and started to boil soybeans. Unfortunately the beans had not been soaked overnight as we used to do to soften them up. So they would be many hours to cook and then not really soft. There were some tense monuments and some challenging words as we tried to figure out what to do. I think some other people showed up to help and began to do something else when I shared what I could offer. Somehow a salad and some other dish developed. About this time it seems we figured out that it could be a couple hundred people that we could be serving! That announcement sent me off the rails a bit. "Hot dogs any one" "order out at Mac Donalds? "I had no Idea what proportions to do. I think the idea began to sink in that I was not just sort of coking some "experiment" for my self and some friends who knew what they were getting into. I was possibly preparing something for people with big expectations and maybe even THE Secretary-General! My mind was into some confusion. But I was by now in too deep and didn't see any gracefully way to bail out. So we added a bigger pot and just carried on and somehow the time came to send the food off and I had a separate ride to the event. We stopped to see the people who had been the accident on the way to event. I was quite frazzled and exhausted by the time we got to where the play was staged. But at least I didn’t have to deal with the food – and see the results when people got some of my concoction on their plates.
A beautiful play and remarks revisited many times: Where I was standing I couldn’t really make out the actor’s lines or U Thant’s and Sri Chinmoy’s public comments. But I could see somewhat in the light drizzle. I was able to read the whole play after the event and also heard immediately people repeating U Thant's comments. I was at first sorry I couldn't hear the play or comments close up. But then in a short period I heard about a planned film of the whole event. Over the many decades since, I have seen and enjoyed the film t many , many times - and sometimes also thought of some of the personal background. I hope those who ate that evening from our "emergency" preparation by now have forgotten my last half cooked soy beans, tomato paste, onions (and god knows what else) creation .Ps I later heard they did have some other food and snacks for the guests :-).
The Official Record: Here is the essence of how most of the rest of the world remembers that day: [make end note or leave intxt?]
On the evening of 25 May 1973, U Thant attended the first performance of Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha , a series of one-act plays based on incidents in the life of the Lord Buddha, written by Sri Chinmoy and performed by his disciples on an outdoor stage built for the occasion at Old Mill Farm in Harrison, New York. U Thant was accompanied by his daughter, son-in-law and young grandson. (more)
"Sri Chinmoy has done a most remarkable job in presenting the play in simple language understandable even to the uninitiated. His stress on the basic characteristics of Buddhism-on compassion, love, renunciation, peace-should stimulate the thoughts of leaders of men and leaders of thought everywhere I feel very strongly that only by the practical application of the teachings of great religious leaders, particularly the development of the moral and spiritual aspects of life as Sri Chinmoy has stressed in the play - love, compassion, tolerance, the philosophy of live-and-let-live, modesty and even humility-that only with this approach will we all be able to fashion the kind of society we want, a truly moral society, a decent society, a livable society, which is the goal of all great religions - May 25th, 1973. U Thant offered his comments following the premier performance of Siddhartha Becomes the Buddha by Sri Chinmoy, Harrison, New York
some other topics to be aded later:
- avoiding reverential awe
- speaking authoritatively of the soul
- Ckg personal example
- dealing with so many different situations and people
· Important hints when going in the right direction.
· Jharna Kala Gallery -sets the stage for early advice. Some time in the 1970’s (between 1975 and 1978) there was a Jharna Kala art gallery in southern Manhattan near NYU. (more on Sri Chinmoy's Art) It went between blocks. I think an arrangement might have been made with a landlord to give us the space for the gallery in return for us fixing up the location. At one point during at the exhibit, some long meditations were scheduled. It may have been during the time when I was inspired to wear a Kurta and Dhoti (traditional Indian dress) to events.
· Intensity and Self-consciousness. Many of us were sitting in front of Sri Chinmoy on the floor. I was at least half way back in the room to one side (so my height wouldn’t block others). At some point I began to have very straight posture and felt my breathing becoming very regular and it was a cross between praying and meditating. It felt very intense and I was sincerely involved in the feeling. AS this feeling continued for some time, because of the intensity of the experience was unusual for me, my mind began to have thought that I can only describe as deeper self-conscious and yet doubting. I was not doubting the essence of the experience but why I would have it and why now at this time at a public event. I didn’t seem to have "done" anything different to bring it on or "deserve it". Then my inner state began to be interrupted with the thought of maybe I was somehow being too intense, it almost felt too devoted to the practice compared to my usual consciousness. I think I notice my hands were folded in front of me and I was intently gazing in Sri Chinmoy’s direction scarcely aware of anything else. Yet my critical mind seemed to be separating from the experience. it seemed to be outside this intense inner directed part of myself criticizing me for somehow "showing off".
·Informalbreak and I don't want to leave: There was an "informal" break in the meditation session when something else began to happen (music or Si Chinmoy speaking). Most people took it as a sign to begin to relax more with some stretching and some people getting up. But I didn’t want to break from the position I was in. It seemed like I had discovered something in the space I found myself in and did't know how I got there and wouldn't know how to get back If I left.. I felt very focused and for some reason wanted to hold on to that little space and felt in some way my focused body and breathing were helping to keep the intensity. At the same time a part of me was observing my state and even saying that it might be “odd” or “too spiritual” behavior for me. I just stayed with the nice experience and in little while there was a formal break in the session with the announcement that we would begin again in a half hour or so.
·Almostforgetting during formal break: Most people got up and when I realized I was one of few left sitting I broke from my pose and slowly went around the gallery or for bathroom break. Then it seemed very quickly there was announcement that the meditation session was beginning again. By when I started to go to take my seat again I was not thinking about the earlier sensations. Someone came up to me just as the break was ending and explained briefly to me that Sri Chinmoy during the break said for him to tell me to keep doing what I was doing before the break in the earlier meditation session. Those words immediately made me remember and value even more the morning session. I asked the person to repeat again what our Guru had said and he whispered it to me again. Before that moment receiving Sri Chinmoy's message the whole experience from the earlier session had already started to be just a forgettable dream – at least for my mind. Sri Chinmoy's confirming message made it solid somehow and memorable. So I began to try to have the same intensity. I was not really able to do it the second session. But by trying it made me remember that I had the experience in the first session. From time to time over the years when I would begin to find that intense space again I would sometimes remember Guru’s message and it would encourage me. Many years later what Guru suggested that it would be good if we folded our hands in front of our chest and feel our heart for some special meditations I would remember this pose.
·AspirationGround - Standing Meditation: There were times across from Annam Brahma restaurant at the tennis court, which became Aspiration Ground meditation garden, that Sri Chinmoy would have us do a walking meditation. We would form one or many lines and come towards the front of the court where Sri Chinmoy was sitting or standing in a meditative mood. We would turn right after we came up close to him. The trick seemed to be to try to hold as much of the intensity one could feel while right in front of Sri Chinmoy, at the moment he was looking right at you.
· Slowing down the drifting of mind: As one walked around the circle again, the mind would begin to drift again to other distractions. But each time the circle was completed by facing or coming close to the front, the intensity of focus on inner aspiration would usually come back. Then the goal for me was to practice keeping some semblance of the intensity in my heart as I circled.
·Notingand reinforcing a practice: One time Sri Chinmoy requested us to circle around the outside of what marked the boudry of the “in-play” court. Just on the foul lines. It formed a sort of rectangle. As we walked in a line he suggested we " keep being “soulful “ or meditate". I think form time to time he would halt the walking and we were supposed to to continue to meditate as we were standing still. I don’t remember for how long we did this process, but during one point he sent a message to me via one of the people closer to him. He said I should stand at one corner while the meditation walking and standing was going on and just continue to keep meditating like I had been but remain on that spot. I maintained that position for quite a while. While mediating there, I also had sweet feeling again of the time years before in the Jharna Kala Gallery when he dad sent me a message. I said yes this is what it is supposed to be like to make real progress - this type of intensity.
Confirmation:I was so happy to be standing there without expectation, and feeling gratitude to be having this sort of experience. I felt so fortunate at the same time to have Guru to confirm, reinforce and help me focus and remember this way of being. It was almost like someone ran behind me as I was going through the process of first learning to ride a bike.
· Pumping the meditation pedals: First one felt what it was like to ride and they encouraged you by saying "yes you are doing it". At a certain point someone helping you ride the bike would say, "now you also pump on the pedals to keep your momentum up". It seemed like Sri Chinmoy was now trying to get me to go beyond the “coasting” that we could do based on the presence of his meditation. He was encouraging us to peddle a bit for ourselves to keep the momentum and eventually remember how to get back to that place outside of his physical presence.
· Assisting at Functions – standing next to Sri Chinmoy Some of the people who had been with Sri Chinmoy for a number of years where requested to assist when there were public events or many students were visiting from overseas (usually during April or August). During special times when seekers or others would come up close to meditate in a small group with Sri Chinmoy usually there would be one of us "assistants" on either side. Many of us had inspiring and sweet experiences while in these positions. There would be so much intensity present standing in close proximity to this some sort of inner fire. It seemed like Sri Chinmoy was presenting and offering a very intense presence to those who were sincerely seeking.
Somehow by being inside that immediate range we were exposed to a higher level of vibration. It was so amazing. It was like a switch went on and since we were atuned we were catching some of the excess light being sent out form his inner being.
· A humorous contradiction: Those of us assisting were supposed to stay alert:
- to help the seekers enter and exit during each of the group sessions;
- to notice if someone needed a chair;
- to anticipate that Sri Chinmoy would request a pen or paper if he was going to write or sign something; or
- to do the needful quickly if he wished to present flowers to some of the group during or after the session.
Sri Chinmoy would often look at each of the people in front of him, and we would also look at him and the seekers. The Sri Chinmoy would go into what seemed progressively deeper meditative state, while sometimes gazing far away. Then for us standing close the inner intensity would sort of sweep over us. The beginning of the deep meditation would draw us in and turn on our receptivity. Often at that point, if one didn't consciously try to stay grounded, it became easy to forget why we were standing so close and just go with that nice sweet and inspiring inner flow of this non-mechanical elevator. On occasion after a very intense meditation where the guests seemed especially receptive and comfortable with going deep within, both us standing on either side of Sri Chinmoy became preoccupied with this inner feeling We were not prepared or could not comprehend when Sri Chinmoy was requesting to get our attention for something. Someone from the audience would need to get our attention. It was startling to come back and realize you had “slipped away”. It later struck a few of us as humorous in that when sitting in the regular seat in audience we had to really concentrate to forget the call of the outer world with its trappings of daily responsibility. And here on stage in the intensity of close proximity we could drift into this deeper state without knowing. And then miss a cue to get some flowers or assist a seeker.
· Work consciousness surrenders to. proximity elevator switch: The experience of quick change in consciousness was especially striking if one of us had come directly from work and was not in a very meditative or spiritual mood as the meeting started. We might even share this with the other. It was a feeling of being ill prepared and unworthy to be up close to sincere seekers and Sri Chinmoy meditating intensely. Sometimes before it became time for the seekers meditation the mind would be thinking that someone else should be doing this tonight. Except that since Sri Chinmoy specifically requested us to do a specific thing it did not seem right not to do it even in less than perfect consciousness. Standing up at the appropriate time and going mechanically through the motions while inwardly chanting seemed to be a good compromise. When it came to time for the seekers meditation, often the silent light switch apparently related to proximity would still function irrespective of what the outer mind was thinking a few moments previously. No accounting for the ways of unconditional grace. In time it became easier to do bit of both "inner and outer" by silently "gazing" at the seekers just above their heads and being mindful to stay alert in peripheral vision. This was a way to do the "job" and yet enjoy the beneficial rays for enhanced of state of peace.
- (*B-8) Advice on visiting friends in Ohio
- when I first came it was just for a visit to check out what NY had to offer to the spiritual and cultural search
- I would send my experiences with books and some pictures back to Ohio and thought about how to convey honestly and simply what I was experiencing. didn't have the words so I just felt if I sent some material they would be able to pick up what they wanted or what was meant for them. we had a saying "Take what you need and leave the rest behind" ( original source?)
- I had a dream about some other people in Ohio and what they were doing. It seemed I should be heading back there to share directly what I had learned, sort of to fulfill and inner unspoken promise we had made to each other who were sincerely searching and sharing.
- I was working some with a local restaurant and Sri Chinmoy came in one day. As he was leaving I approached and said I was thinking a lot about the community in Ohio and thought it might be time for me to go back. he meditated for a moment and asked if I could wait until he came back from his upcoming trip to Europe. I said certainly.
- The as he was outside the restaurant I approached him again and he requested to know what I wanted. I said since the feeling was so strong, maybe I should just go to visit right now. He said fine. When was planning to go I think some of my new friends in NY had some questions about if my trip would only be for a week to ten days. I really didn't want to miss the weekly meditation sessions since I noticed how much I got out of them. I would regularly do my daily meditation sessions by myself, But I received so much more in those days from the group meditation.
- So I went back to Ohio (I think for about 10 days) while I was there a friend told a third friend that they would like to go to NY to see what Sri Chinmoy was like, but didn't know if it would be OK with me. I confirmed that I did not think it was a problem. I then called my mother to mention that a friend wanted to come and see what was going on in NY and she readily agreed it would be fine for the friend to stay at the family home. My parents still had a house full of (6 or 7) children. (But all of our friends were always welcome as were relatives who might come to stay for extended periods). I think it also meant that I would be around for a bit again. For a few years I had not been much in NY before this last visit.
- A number of my friends form Ohio eventually came to NY and also helped out at the vegetarian restaurant as they were adjusting to New York. A few also eventually worked in the international community (that would be another story). One came just to hear a music concert and never went back for many years to Ohio,
1. On one side was Kurt Vonnegut’:character UNK :To Unk “And when you get settled down, all of you spend a lot of time trying to figure out why whoever made everything went and made it. – signed Unk – Unk had written the letter to himself before having his memory cleaned out. From THE SIRENS OF TITAN - Kurt Vonnegut Jr. http://www.polvoestelar.com.mx/babilonia/Libros/Kurt%20Vonnegut/Kurt%20V...
I think on the other side may have been :“Believe it if you need it,if you don't just pass it on”- Grateful Dead Lyrics."Box of Rain" Words by Robert Hunter; music by Phil Lesh http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/box.html
Or something like “Take what you need , leave the rest behind”:
"Take what you can use and let the rest go by". KEN KESEY.
- 2. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. (French: Le Petit Prince), published in 1943, is French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's most famous novella.
3. Question: How can we use flowers to help us in our meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: While you are placing a flower on the shrine, try to feel that this flower is reminding you of your heart, which you want to be as beautiful as the flower. You cannot see your heart, but you can look at a flower and say, "How I wish my heart were as beautiful as this flower!"
Then try to feel that this flower that you have placed on the shrine is breathing, the same way that your heart is taking in your life-breath. Connect your heart-flower and the outer flower. While you are looking at the flower on the shrine, feel that your breath is entering into it. Then again, feel that the flower has entered into your heart and there it is breathing. Your heart-flower and the flower that you have placed on the shrine are going to and fro, they are constantly interchanging. The flower that is on the shrine is entering into your heart, and again it is coming out to be on the shrine.
If you can do this during your meditation, then your heart will become purer than the purest, and you will be able to absorb God's Compassion, Love, Blessings—anything that He wants to give you—in absolutely abundant measure because your heart is all ready to receive.
By seeing something with our outer eyes, we can become it. By becoming something also, we can see it. But it is far easier to see something with our outer eyes and then imagine that we are becoming that same thing on the inner plane. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1421/1/19
See also Question: Why is it necessary to have flowers, candles and incense in order to meditate?
Sri Chinmoy: When we keep our physical body clean and pure, when we offer flowers at our shrine, when we burn candles and incense, these things give us an additional opportunity to convince our physical mind that we are doing something most significant. But this is not the ultimate reason. The ultimate reason is to make ourselves constantly aware of our inner aspiration, the mounting flame within us. Then constantly we have to fly within to our highest level of consciousness. http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0159/1/6
More searches on shrine questions or related topic at: http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/
4. · Sports
- Questions From Top Athletes
- Sport and Meditation
- Practical Tips
- Senior Citizens
- The Inner Athlete - Four Talks
- 5. In August of 1978 Sri Chinmoy suggested a 47 mile race in celebration of his birthday of 47 years. We hastily organized a 47 mile invitational race amongst the students, with help and advice from Ted Corbitt, the legendary runner and father of ultra running in the USA. Fifty-six out of 57 starters finished the race. Our interest in ultra marathons had been created. This particular race provided a springboard for excursions into longer and more demanding events. Talent began to emerge as well from our own group. Virendra Gauthier's time of five hours nine minutes still stands for the men, while Dipali Cunningham heads the women's standard in just over 6 hours, as well as having won the race 14 times for the ladies. Sri Chinmoy himself entered the race a few times and completed it in 1979 within the 13 hour limit with his inspiring determination. Excerpt from history of Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team http://us.srichinmoyraces.org/node/3910
- 6. Question: Some days I run much better and faster than others. How can I remain cheerful about my running on days when I cannot run my fastest?
Sri Chinmoy:Your running capacity changes every day because every day you are in a different consciousness. One day you feel light. One day you feel heavy. One day you feel inspiration and another day you feel no inspiration. But once you have been running for a while, you will have developed a basic running capacity, and this capacity will determine how fast you can run even on your slow days. If you can run a seven-minute mile, then one day if you are not in a dynamic mood, you will go at a nine or ten-minute pace. You will not go at a fourteen or fifteen-minute pace. Even on your worst day, you are not going to run slower than a nine or ten-minute pace.
On a slow day, if you want to maintain the same joy that you have when you are running well, you can play a trick on yourself. Imagine that instead of being forced to run at a ten-minute pace that day, you decided to run at that pace. If you feel that you are compelled to run slowly, then you will feel that your freedom has gone away, and you don't want to be anybody's slave. But if you feel that it was you who commanded your body to go at a ten-minute pace, then you won't feel miserable. Right from the beginning, if you feel that it was your decision to run at that speed, you will be as happy as if you were running at a seven-minute pace. - Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, Agni Press, 1974.
“Who is the winner? Not he who wins but he who has established his cheerful oneness with the result, which is an experience in the form of failure or success, a journey forward or a journey backward.” - Sri Chinmoy, The Outer Running And The Inner Running, http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/0645/1/14
“Let us say I wanted to run the marathon in four hours and I complete the distance in four and a half hours. If I am doomed to disappointment, tomorrow I may not go out to run, I may even give up running. But if I cheerfully accept the result, then I will receive added strength. Today I have failed to achieve my goal, but failures, as you know, are the pillars of success.” - Sri Chinmoy Answers, Part 32: http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/books/1421/2/9