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50th Anniversary of Sri Chinmoy's first European Lecture Tour
50 years ago - during the winter of 1970 - Sri Chinmoy made his first European Lecture Tour, offering several university talks at prestigious universities around the UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
Sri Chinmoy's students in those countries have released a commemorative booklet to mark the occasion, with many charming and illumining stories about their own spiritual lives.
Sri Chinmoy's first university talk was at the ancient city of Canterbury, at the University of Kent with the title Is death the end? Other university lectures included How to conquer fear in Paris and The University at Oxford's Keble College
In these early talks, Sri Chinmoy sought to demystify spiritual philosophy, and offer a practical and direct understanding spiritual life of the world and spiritual life we face. The talks have a very mantric quality, with sentences that could serve as mantras in their own right.
Sri Chinmoy would often begin a talk with a short meditation and, after the talk, invited questions on spiritual topics. The talks were well received by audiences of up to 300, with many attendees offering comments of appreciation after the talk; a common observation was how Sri Chinmoy appeared to be imbued with peace, even whilst giving the talk and answering a variety of questions.
Aspiration. What do we mean by this term? The inner cry, the mounting flame within us. Aspiration is reality’s constant necessity.
Receptivity. How can we have receptivity? We can have receptivity if we grow into purity and sincerity. When sincerity and purity loom large and important in our earthly existence, then we can easily have receptivity.
Talk: The Higher Worlds, University of Cambridge, 23 Nov 1970.
During these university talks, Sri Chinmoy also established his first European meditation centres. After the talk, seekers often came up to Sri Chinmoy to say they were moved by his talk and would like to become his disciple. Some of the earliest Sri Chinmoy Centres were established at this time, including Janaka and Janani Spence who helped to found the first Scottish centre in Glasgow - a Sri Chinmoy Centre, which continues to this day.
In Ireland, Sri Chinmoy's arrival was covered by the Irish press, which published interviews with him in four major newspapers. Sri Chinmoy gave also gave a talk on Attachment and Detachment at Trinity College, Dublin on 1 December. Sundar Dalton, who was present at that first talk mentioned how he went out of curiosity on the encouragement of a friend:
Sri Chinmoy had a strong spiritual vibration I had never experienced before. I felt he was truly sincere and found myself wanting to continue. After the talk, we went to a small room at the top of Trinity College, where we meditated with Sri Chinmoy.
describing his experiences at that talk
Sundar Dalton helped found an early Dublin Centre, before moving to Paris and then New York, where he has been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for the past 50 years.
Andrea Marcato wins the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
The 2020 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race has ended in Salzburg Austria, with three out of the five runners completing the nearly 5,000km distance within the alloted time.
This year's first place was Andrea Marcato (38) who grew up in Lughetto, a suburb of the city of Venice. His time of 43 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes is a record for a first-time entrant. He also set multiple Italian distance records during his run and is now ranked fifth worldwide.
I am really happy that I basically covered all the distances, which are available in the world. So I am really happy and satisfied now. The feeling of deep satisfaction, inner peace and joy, which I perceived for a whole month after finishing 10-day races motivated me to run the world's longest certified road race. A feeling which I did not get after 24-hour races.
after finishing the race
Second was local Salzburg resident, Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer (52), who works as a manger of a music instrument shop in Salzburg. He finished with a personal best time of 49 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes.
Nirbhasa Magee (41) from Ireland also completed his fourth consecutive race. This was despite a mid race sickness that forced him to walk for several days. Fortunately, he had enough miles in the bank from earlier in the race.
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, from Slovakia and Milan Javornicky, 46, from Czech Republic could not finish within the allotted time, but cheerfully raced for 51 days finishing with 2799.6 miles and 2,713.9 miles respectively.
The world's longest certified road race took place on a 1 km loop at Glanspitz Park along the river flowing through Salzburg, Austria. The race involves covering the equivalent of over 118 marathons - 4989 km - in succession. They can run or walk as much as they want between 6 am and midnight. Usually the competition takes place in New York, but due to covid-19 it was shifted to Salzburg.
To give an insight into this unique endurance test, Andrea Marcato went through 9 pairs of running shoes and the pain of burning feet. To ease the pain in his feet, he soaked them in ice for 5 minutes every day. The vegetarian lived only on whole-wheat toast with avocado and cheese to achieve the goal of eating 10,000 calories per day and to avoid digestion problems. Despite that, he lost 10 kilogrammes of weight. Second placed Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer gained 3 kg of weight. He preferred ice cream, cakes, whipped cream and mascarpone shakes with chocolate or fruits to take in the necessary calories. When mental crises appeared which slowed him down he listed to or sang meditative songs to regain his speed.
The 3100 Mile Race was initiated by Indian born meditation master, athlete and musician Sri Chinmoy for talented runners in 1997. He himself participated in many marathons and ultra races. Sri Chinmoy describesthe benefit of a multi-day race with the following words:
“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.”
The race received significant interest from Salzburg locals and the national press. Many locals remarked on how the race brought a special energy and happiness to the local park where the race was held.
- Highlights of the race
- Salzburg.ORF.at - English translation and link to news article
- Irishman on verge of completing 3,100 miles(link is external) at Independent.ie
Commemorating 50 years of service to the UN
In 1970, with the blessing of then Secretary-General U Thant, Sri Chinmoy began meditations at the United Nations building in New York, and he devotedly continued this service for 37 years until his passing in 2007.
I am extremely fortunate to be blessed by the soul and the heart of the United Nations. Long thirty-four years ago, U Thant, the third Secretary-General, made a request to me to offer my prayerful service to the United Nations. Since then, every Tuesday and Friday I have been going to the United Nations to offer prayers and meditations. All the diplomats, delegates and staff are welcome to take part. We have a well-established Meditation Group at the UN Headquarters to love and serve the United Nations: the Body of the World and the Soul of the World.
The programme, Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, still has an active series of meditations. To commemorate 50 years of service, the group recently released a commemorative booklet with excerpts from 50 talks that Sri Chinmoy gave at the UN building.
The group also regularly participates in programmes to celebrate other UN events and days, such as the International Day of Happiness and International Day of Peace . Recently, they have also relaunched their Seven Minutes for World Peace programe, which Sri Chinmoy initiated in 1984.
Recently, they have been working on a website detailing the group's work, and their extensive activities over many decades.
Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
On 13 September 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race began in Salzburg Austria, with five intrepid runners from Italy, Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia taking to the start line.
Over the next seven weeks, the runners will endeavour to complete the epic challenge of running 3,100 miles (just shy of 5,000km) which means they must maintain an average of 60 miles ( 96 km) a day.
For the past 23 years, the race has been run in Jamaica, Queens, New York. However, it was clearly not possible to run the race this year in New York as usual. But many runners and race supporters were keen to maintain this special annual race, and so finally (after exploring courses in the Czech Republic and Slovakia) a venue has been found in Salzburg, Austria. The race field has been limited to five runners and will strictly adhere to local health standards to ensure the safety of runners and helpers.
The race was founded by spiritual teacher and ultra-runner pioneer Sri Chinmoy, who saw distance running as a vehicle to enable runners to bring to the fore their physical, mental and spiritual capacities to complete this unique challenge. This year will mark the 24th edition of the race.
“We have to believe in a higher Power.
Only by believing in a higher Power
Can we go beyond and beyond
Our limited, human capacity.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In this year's race, these are the five runners:
- Nirbhasa Magee, 41 (IRL), living in Reykjavik, Iceland - 3 finishes, ranked 22nd
- Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, Kosice Slovakia - 6 finishes, ranked 25th
- Ushika Muckenhumer, 52, Salzburg, Austria - 1 finish, ranked 30th
- Andrea Marcato, 38 (ITA), living in Zurich, Switzerland - first-time runner, two times over 1000km in 10 day race
- Milan Javornicky, 46, Celakocice, CZE - first-time runner, 569 miles in ten-day race
Over the next two months, you will be able to follow the race through photos, videos and race reports. Definitely we welcome visitors trackside, so if you are in the area (or if it's safe to travel) please come and stop by! We hope you will be inspired by the efforts and inspiration of the runners in this race. Race Director Rupantar Larosso who lives in NY, US said on the eve of the race "It is great the race is going ahead and I wish all the runners and supporters the best of luck"
Canvas for Peace honoured in Italy
The Canvas for Peace is a unique 160-meter long patchwork of artwork created by a wide variety of local people and community groups in Palermo, Italy. Recently, the canvas was accepted by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella as a token of peace, friendship and unity.
The Canvas was paraded through the streets of Palermo as part of the Peace Weeek. The artists shared aphorisms on peace by Sri Chinmoy and their own artistic interpretation of their hopes and dreams for a more peaceful world.
May each and every
Human being on earth
Pray for a universal peace-torch.
The Peace Week in Palermo included many activities broadly based around the hopes and aspirations for a more peaceful world - it included events from art exhibitions to concerts and running events. A team of runners from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace run also took part and were deeply moved by the warm and enthusiastic reception of the local community.
In 2020, large scale events have been more difficult to organise, but those who participated in this memorable week are keen to keep the spirit and hopes of that event alive. Whilst large gatherings are difficult this year, we can still each, in our own way make a contribution to a better world. This year, the Peace Run has continued with small scale runs where possible and individual runners making their own efforts to keep the flame of peace going.
In this respect, the Peace Run team are most grateful that this banner has been accepted as a token of appreciation by the President of Italy.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles service was established by Sri Chinmoy in 1993. This project grew from an initial heartfelt request from Sri Chinmoy's dear friends, President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa, for help with the first modern hospital in Russia for children with leukaemia and other haematological diseases.
Now the humanitarian project is involved in over 40 countries, and shares not only medical and material supplies, but also has come up with many unique ways projects to share joy, concern and across borders.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
Doctors and nurses who are working in challenging conditions often mention the need on their units for more hope, especially, but also for courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness – for the medical staff as well as the patients.
In addition, children have also found dealing with the fear and isolation particularly challenging. One way to help them deal with these feelings is to show them a way in which they can help. In these challenging times, we decided to collect children’s drawings to support our doctors and medical staff. Doctors and nurses often cite the need for more hope, courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness - both for themselves and their patients.
In cooperation with the city officials of Nur-Sultan (the capital city of Kazakhstan) over 40 posters were placed in bus stops around the city with these drawings and Sri Chinmoy’s inspiring and encouraging poems.
Another example of this kind of cooperation is the Russian city of Stavropol, where we placed similar posters in city parks.
A fun interview with our Guinness World record holder Ashrita
Ashrita Furman became a student of Sri Chinmoy when he was just 16 years old, and has now been practising meditation for over 50 years. In 1979, he started using the power of meditation and concentration to break Guinness World Records. Since then he has broken over 800 world records, 200 of which still stand - he holds more records than anyone else on earth.
This is a light-hearted interview with a local news station where you can see Ashrita attempt some records in his back garden....
A simple humble way to make a difference
Some of Sri Chinmoy's students are doctors and nurses, and we often hear how hospital staff are searching for more courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness – for the medical staff as well as the patients. So we tried to do our part in our own small way.
When the pandemic was at its worst in New York, some of Sri Chinmoy's students donated money so that our local New York restaurants - Annam Brahma and Smile of the Beyond - could send 15-25 meals to Queens Hospital each day.
The nursing director and also the administrative the director of the emergency ward called every day, in spite of their intense schedule, to express their gratitude on behalf of the emergency room staff. Many did not have time to go to the cafeteria to get food. Often we would tape one of Sri Chinmoy's aphorisms taped onto the mealbox: they said the first time the staff received it and read the aphorism, it was the first time they had seen a smile on their faces.
The restaurant Pranaya in Zlín, Czech Republic also had a very nice experience for a few months sending food for local hospital workers.
Banners of hope
Through our Oneness-Heart-Tears and Smiles service, we are trying some simple humble ways to make a difference. For example, we have prepared banners and posters of different sizes with haiku-like positive affirmations on such topics as Hope, Endurance, Cheerfulness, Positive thoughts, Courage, Compassion, Kindness – all of a universal nature.
Hospitals in Italy
In March, at the height of the spread of Covid-19 in Italy, a message of hope spread throughout the country: “Andrà tutto bene”, meaning “Everything will be alright”. Laura Alongi, our co-ordinator, discovered a poem by Sri Chinmoy that included the English phrase, and created the banner shown here. Banners like these were placed in hospitals all over Italy.
Some of the remarks we have heard from these posters....
“Are these for us? Oh…then you love us.
“It’s just the right message for me”
“I’m waiting for this message”
“They are so powerful, I will frame them”
“It did me a lot of good, Doctor, you cannot understand what they meant to me”
One person applauded spontaneously after reading them. The poems appreciated most by customers were those about hope, smiling, and endurance.
The spirit of the Peace Run continues
During 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was scheduled to run across the European continent starting in Portugal and finishing in Prague, the Czech Republic in October, but recent events have made this not possible. However, whilst staying in their respective towns and countries, members of the Peace Run have been eager to keep alive the spirit of the Peace Run, by continuing to run on their own, and dedicate these runs to the same cause of peace and upliftment of the human spirit.
In this spirit, the Peace Run has welcomed runners to commit to a daily mileage so that each week, the 'virtual' team can target a particular mileage of between 60-160km a day. The idea is that, although physically we may be separated, we can still seek to maintain an inner connection and keep alive the universal dream of bringing together humanity in a spirit of friendship and peace.
“Peace does not mean the absence of war, peace means the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction and oneness. Peace means a flood of love in the world family.”
– Sri Chinmoy
This 'virtual' Peace Run is open to anyone who would like to join in the simple aim of dedicating some of their weekly running to the spirit of peace. Before beginning their run, participants from the virtual peace run have briefly meditated on the concept and feeling of peace as a way to make their individual runs meaningful to this wider goal.
“Our soul lives in Peace and lives for Peace. If we live a life of peace, we are ever enriched and never impoverished. Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.”
- Sri Chinmoy
In the first week of the Peace Run, the team have completed a total of 511 km, which is equivalent of running from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina - to Struga on the border of Albania and North Macedonia. The local organiser for Bosnia, Amur gave this enthusiastic report.
"It is like dream come true even if it is Virtual Peace Run. We had two groups of local runners in Sarajevo and Banjaluka united with the same idea to run for peace. Cities were closed during some periods of the day but we found the way by sharing the distance among us and running whenever possible. We could not run in groups because of social distancing regulations but it did not change our feeling that we did something together for the cause of Peace".
The Run team is usually a global, international team of runners, so for the 'virtual' Balkan leg, runners from afar afield as Australia, Britain and Germany have participated - offering their individual runs to the total km. Tirtha from Germany felt that dedicating the run to peace was a significant way to feel the inner presence of peace.
"As we don’t have a torch here, I took a tulip, symbolic of a torch, to meditate on Peace on the anniversary on April 27th. Especially on that first day, I really felt a little glowing light inside my heart while I ran. I even thought, that people, whom I met on the way, must have seen it, too. It gave me so much joy".
Stacey from New Zealand has been running through an early Australian winter, but despite the cold, she felt the powerful memories from her previous Peace Runs inspired her individual runs.
"The weather was all over the place this week, wet, windy, sunny and always cold! The sound of rain on the roof and heavy winds, or the feel of your cold nose and hands as you prepare to leave the house makes it not so enticing to step out the door. But it was the memories of all of the Peace Run's over the last few years, the warm hearted people we met, the hope and promise you feel for this world of ours as you carry the Peace Torch, that helped me to take the first step each and every day."
Although our current situation is very challenging, it also brings a renewed focus on what is important to value and cherish. The virtual Peace Run is a reminder that - wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourself, we can still make a very meaningful contribution to creating a better world, where we value peace, friendship and offering goodwill to others.
Our newest divine enterprises open (with not-great timing)
Sri Chinmoy would sometimes encourage students of his to open divine enterprises, if he saw they had the capability to do so. These enterprises are often restaurants or coffee shops, and allows Sri Chinmoy's students to put their spirituality into action, by seeing the Divine inside each customer.
Two new divine enterprises opened recently in Europe - the timing has not been great to say the least, but the owners are taking it as a spiritual experience that they can learn valuable life-lessons from.
The owner of Heart-Garden Abhinabha from Holland shared some of his experiences during this turbulent time:
I had just bought a restaurant in Amsterdam, a waffle house, which I called Heart-Garden as a dedication to Sri Chinmoy, who had coined the term and used it often in his writings.
Before signing the contract, I had spent hours poring over annual turnover figures, discussing the deal with friends who were experienced restaurant owners and hiring lawyers and real estate agents to help me negotiate the best possible terms for the contract.
Needless to say, none of them had foreseen the coronavirus....
You can read the story in its entirety on our new Story-Gems website
Joy Cafe is a new coffee house that serves only the best of everything. It is beautifully decorated with Sri Chinmoy's artwork.