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Celebrating Sri Chinmoy's 27,000 Aspiration-Plants poem series
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the completion of Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration Plants, the second of Sri Chinmoy’s three epic poetry series. Sri Chinmoy wrote the first poem on July 10, 1983 - just one week after completing the first series, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames - and completed the last poem in the series 15 years later. The series was published in 270 volumes containing 100 poems each.
Sri Chinmoy announced his vision of 27,000 poems even before he had completed his Flower-Flames series, during a trip with his students to Japan in December 1982. The first volume was published in time for Sri Chinmoy’s birthday in August 1983, and he gave the book out as a gift to all of his students attending his birthday celebrations, asking them to try to to feel the poems inside their hearts. Sri Chinmoy finished the final poem on 24 January 1998 while on his annual Christmas vacation with his students - at the time they were in Cancun, Mexico. To mark this achievement, he invited his students who were present to form groups to chant the mantra Supreme 27,000 times.
Sri Chinmoy would always find ways to make his students part and parcel of whatever he was doing. and to claim his achievements as their own. At the time, many of his students around the world came up with fun and spontaneous celebrations to mark their teacher’s achievement. For example, in Canada, his students created a huge red and white Canadian flag made from 27,000 snowballs on a prominent hill near the Parliament Buildings. A Reuters cameraman happened to walk by and took a photo of the flag which ended up appearing in newspapers across Canada the next day. In New Zealand, Sri Chinmoy suggested to his students there that they shake 27,000 people’s hands, giving each of these people a card of poems and a sweet. In the words of Jogyata Dallas, one of the organisers: “This unique challenge quite consumed us for some time. We visited school assemblies, announcing a handshaking-record attempt to honour our Guru’s achievement; stood at escalators in shopping malls with a microphone to introduce ourselves, and armed with a hand-held manual counter to accurately record numbers; visited universities and busy streets; toured towns, distributed 27,000 sweets and gave away 27,000 large cards – each carrying an explanation and a sample sprinkling of 27 poems, like this one:”
If you want to remain always happy,
Always perfect and always fulfilled,
Then always keep inside your heart
A pocketful of sweet dreams.
“Everything about this unusual commemoration charmed people a lot, and left 27,000 spirit-awakening, heart-warming mementos with their 27 inspirational poems scattered throughout this peace-hungry world.”
This year, Sri Chinmoy ’s students held various commemorations to mark the 20th anniversary of the poems’ completion in 1998. At the time, many of his students were very involved in proofreading and printing the books, and they vividly recalled what powerful meditative and transformative experiences they had working with such vast numbers of poems.
The inner meaning of the 3100 Mile Race
The Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence Race is the world's longest certified footrace - however, the race is about much more than records and the outer competition. It is seen by the runners and crew to be more like a pilgrimage - an opportunity to transcend oneself and experience a reality of pushing the body and mind beyond their usual limits. This years race featured entrants from Russia, Israel, Austria, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Scotland and the USA.
Taking just under 45 days, Vasu Duzhiy was crowned the winner of the 2018 Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. It was his seventh straight finish, and the third time he was the overall winner. The epic feat involved averaging 69.4 miles (111.693 km) per day.
The quiet-spoken Russian, who works as a foreman in a lumber company when not running, spoke at the finish about how winning the race is just one aspect of a much bigger picture.
“Everybody who finishes the race is the winner. I think the race is a game of the Supreme, and we just play our roles. It makes no difference if you win or you are second or last. It is just a game that you need to play your own role...
If by running here we are able to inspire others to go to to try new things and go to their limits. To do something in their own life. To be a better citizen of the world.”
Vasu Duzihy 1
The runners of the 3100-mile race have to contend with the hot and humid New York weather. In addition, they have to face the challenge of running on hard surfaces for up to 18 hours a day for 52 consecutive days. At this race, there is no prize money or commercial presence. Occasionally, some outside media do visit the race, but mostly it involves long days of running around a modest and diverse borough of Queens.
Outwardly, there is little reward for sacrificing two months of your year to come to this concrete block in New York. But, hidden behind the modest outer appearances, there is an inner pull which attracts runners to keep coming back.
Second to finish the race was first-time entrant Kobi Oren from Israel. At the finish line, he explained that during the race he felt the inner necessity to see the race more as a pilgrimage and less as a competitive event. By changing his attitude to the race, he feels he was able to enjoy a very profound experience.
"If it is just to run 1,000 miles three times more then it is worth nothing. So I thought to myself, I want to do something else. So when I decided to change after I had completed my first 1,000 miles. Which I did in a record time of 13 days I decided I had to live differently. Then came the change.”
Kobi Oren 2
While it may be hard to comprehend the inner and outer experience of immersing yourself in such an all-encompassing race, the runners suggest that being cut off from the stressful aspects of ordinary life and becoming dedicated to the goal of self-transcendence on the physical, mental and spiritual planes helps to bring about a very different inner reality.
“For me, it is almost like connecting to a different world. You become detached from all that you have experienced before. You become connected to a new world, a new experience.”
Sopan Tsekov 3
2-time finisher from Bulgaria
The 3100 Mile Race was founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1997, evolving out of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team's pioneering promotion of multi-day distance events. Sri Chinmoy was a great believer in the physical and spiritual benefits of running, and would come to the 3100 Mile Race course every day to offer encouragement and support to the runners. Sri Chinmoy saw this striving for self-transcendence as process which could give a real sense of satisfaction. As Sopan remembers:
“12 years ago when I completed my 2nd race here in 2006, he (Sri Chinmoy) was giving an interview to a journalist of a local TV station. It was four hours before my finish and, as I was running by, I heard Sri Chinmoy saying, 'we can be truly happy only when we constantly transcend ourselves, both inwardly and outwardly.'”
Every year, some of the runners will not be able to quite finish the distance within the allotted time frame of 52 days. The first past of the race took place during an intense heat wave, which challenged even the most veteran runners. Kaneenika Janakova from Slovakia is the women's course record holder, winning the female race in 2017 with a time of 48 days+14:24:10. However, in this year's race, physical difficulties mid-race caused her to slip, and at one point she was over 40 miles behind the daily average needed to finish the race. However, like the other runners, she approached this philosophically and saw it as a challenge to overcome.
“What I am observing is that my miles are not what they should be to finish the race. But just the same I feel that the more the race is happening, the more I want to continue.”
(after 3 weeks) 4
Over the past few weeks, she has steadily recaptured the lost ground and now seems likely to finish on the last day.
William Sichel hails from a tiny island in the Orkney Islands, Scotland with weather and conditions almost the complete opposite to a humid New York summer. At 64 years old, he is the oldest person in the race (in 2014, he became the oldest finisher at 60 years old).
He is also just a few miles off the finishing pace but is appreciating the opportunity of this unique race - which gives such a range of emotions and feelings - all within the same day.
“This is all such an unusual experience, in every possible sense. Both athletically, physically, and mentally. It is such an unusual thing to do. There are only a handful of people in the whole world that have ever done this.”
“But those are the experiences that you take with you to the grave. But you have to do them to get the benefit that they will always give back to you.”
William Sichel 5
- Jowan - Spontaneous Beauty
Quotes from the runners
- Utpal's blog - Perfection Journey
Interfaith music concert in Auckland
Recently, the Auckland Sri Chinmoy Centre organised a memorable evening of music as part of their contribution to the local interfaith community. At the event, there were ten local groups performing from various traditions. The concept was for different spiritual and religious groups to come together to share a free concert of peaceful and meditative music.
There were singers and instrumentalists from Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Tzu Chi and various other musical traditions. The evening showcased the diversity of Auckland’s cultures and their spirit of co-operation.
The concert – ‘Sounds of the Sacred’ – was held at the Fickling Centre in Mt Eden and was enthusiastically received by a capacity crowd.
Throughout his life, Sri Chinmoy often participated in interfaith events, as an active reminder we all come from the same Source. Sri Chinmoy also felt music was a powerful vehicle for bringing to the fore a sense of heartfelt oneness. He taught music can easily cut across social and religious divides by touching the heart of all who listen.
“Music will play a most important role in bringing about world oneness, for music embodies the Universal Heart, the Oneness-Heart. Music transcends the barriers of nations, nationalities and religions.”
Sri Chinmoy 1
Monk Party perform Ami Kandibona - published at Radio Sri Chinmoy.
Inspiration-Letters: Experiences with Sri Chinmoy
Inspiration-Letters is a periodical collection of writings by members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, each on a different topic. For the most recent edition, the topic was Experiences with Guru, featuring writings from Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and the USA.
Guru - a Sanskrit word for a spiritual Master - is the name by which Sri Chinmoy's students usually refer to their teacher, and each of these essays offers a glimpse through the student's eyes of what having a spiritual teacher of Sri Chinmoy's calibre is like.
Essays in this edition
From the many incidents detailed in these seven essays, two themes stand out - how spiritual Masters such as Sri Chinmoy can infuse the smallest interactions and everyday occurences with spiritual power and meaning, and also how much he valued dedicated service and self-giving as a means of spiritual progress.
The Universal Guru by Mahiruha Klein, USA
Mahiruha recalls arranging a ceremony for Sri Chinmoy with the professors of the university where he was studying. more »
Being with Guru by Purnakama Rajna, Canada
"...I was never a disciple who had any kind of outer relationship with Guru. He never called me out of a prasad line to speak to me or ask me a question, and that’s the way it was for many of us. There were just too many of us for that to be a reality, but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t feel his inner blessings...in the blink of an eye Guru could send you a silent blessing that would leave you in bliss, almost unaware of the outer world..." more »
One summer afternoon by Jogyata Dallas, New Zealand more »
"...We were running up and down the ladder of consciousness, from mind to soul to mind to soul, being shown that inner peace, stillness, soulfulness are quickly accessible through practice and intent, that meditation can be found and practised anywhere..." more »
Angels and Elevators, and China Memories by Sharani Robins, USA
"...While the Christmas Trip with Guru included many highlights, what I remember most is an experience that might be classified as a morality tale...." more »
A few stories with Guru Sri Chinmoy by Suchana Cao, Argentina
Three short and cute stories from visits to see Sri Chinmoy in New York and from our yearly Christmas trip. more »
One touch by Patanga Cordeiro, Brazil
Patanga describes an experience showing how even the touch of a spiritual Master can bestow an experience that still remains with him to this day. more »
Three (well-documented) recollections by Dhiraja McBryde, New Zealand
"Fungible is the human memory – fungible and frangible and fragile. There are fungi in there – dry rot, and mildew and a few lurid mushrooms. We think that we remember, we think the old synapses are recording it all like dutiful stenographers, like scribes in the Akashic records department – but we are mistaken...." more »
Songs of the Soul Brazilian tour
Since 2008, the Songs of the Soul concert series has offered the music of inner peace in over 200 concerts around the world. Encouraged by Sri Chinmoy, his students have created music groups around the world to arrange and perform his music for the public, and the Songs of the Soul concerts bring together these music groups to offer Sri Chinmoy's music in a variety of different choral and instrumental styles. From 7 - 16 July, 30 visitors from 13 countries toured Brazil, playing concerts in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and Niteroi.
Some of the performers
In all, there were eight different performances; here are some photos and audio from four of them.
Mandu and Visuddhi
Paree's International singers
In total, 1560 people came to the concerts, and the audience enjoyed the performances very much, giving standing ovations on each of the nights. Among the nice comments we received was one from the director of the Niteroi municipal theatre, who said that in his 20 years as a director of the theater, he had never experienced something like these concerts.
Brazil, Brazil, Brazil, Brazil!
The Supreme Lord’s wonder-thrill.
The sports world’s summit-height,
Everywhere you are blossomed delight.
words of the song composed in honour of Brazil 1
North American Peace Run 2018
The international runners from the North American leg of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run is currently travelling around the United States, as it visits a multitude of towns and local communities which form a cross-section of American society.
The Peace Run was founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1987 to offer practical opportunities for those wishing to create a more harmonious world. The motto of the Peace Run is Peace begins with me - and one person at a time, the Run hopes to kindle the ideals of goodwill and peace inside the hearts of everyone they meet.
“World peace can blossom throughout the length and breadth of the world only when the world-peace-dreamers, world-peace-lovers and world-peace-servers desperately, sleeplessly and breathlessly long for the full manifestation of peace here on earth.”
Sri Chinmoy 1
Since starting in New York earlier this year, the Run has visited several US states, Mexico and Canada. The runners currently heading east through Illinois on their journey back to New York. The Run has been well received by countless individuals, schools and local community centres, who have joined the runners as they pass through their location.
The run has also featured on many local news networks, such as this live TV footage from KUSI in San Diego
- International Peace Run makes stop in San Diego - KUSI news.
Photos from the run
Conference on interfaith spirituality
Members of the Miami Sri Chinmoy Centre recently helped to organise a very successful interfaith conference in Assisi, Italy, which sought to examine how spirituality can play a role in bringing about a more just, peaceful, sustainable and happier world.
The conference was organized and planned by Elisabetta Ferrero of our Miami Centre, with the help of a talented international steering committee. Elisabetta, a professor of Global Studies at St. Thomas University in Miami, was joined at the conference by fellow Miami Centre member Durjaya Thomas Pliske, who is also a university professor. Assisi was chosen because it is the birthplace of St. Francis (1182-1226) who is widely honored as the patron saint of the environment. The delegates came from many backgrounds: environmentalists, organic agriculture, religious and non-religious spiritual groups, U.N. affiliates, supporters of the Earth Charter, indigenous cultures, scientists, the business-legal community, social and environmental justice advocates, educators and philosophers.
The conference members also had a two-hour meeting in the Vatican with Cardinal Turkson, who has been selected by Pope Francis to work out the practical implementation of the message in Laudato Si, a papal encyclical which Pope Francis calls on all the world's people to work together to preserve Mother Nature and make the world fairer. A day of the conference was given over to discussing this encyclical.
During his lifetime, Sri Chinmoy founded several initiatives to keep the dream alive for a better and more harmonious world, and participated in many interfaith initiatives in order to illustrate the underlying unity of different religions and spiritual paths. (more on our interfaith page)
"If we live in our oneness-heart, we will feel the essence of all religions which is the love of God. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion."
Sri Chinmoy 1
For his part in the conference, Durjaya offered a heart-centred meditation to the group and offered his own thoughts on these important goals of human endeavour. Speaking about the conference, Durjaya writes:
"Representing the Sri Chinmoy Centre, an organization devoted to promoting spiritual awakening, practice and service, I had the opportunity to share and work with seekers from other paths, some based in established religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto) and also from indigenous shamanic traditions. Although we had diverse approaches to spiritual Truth, we all had in common the understanding that there is no separation of self-transformation and world-transformation. They go hand in hand.
Whatever illumination we receive from our individual sadhana (spiritual work) to purify, illumine and transform our individual lives, that progress is spread into the world consciousness. This is true whether we progress through prayer, the creative arts, meditation, mental expansion and inclusiveness, selfless love and dedicated service or a yoga that combines all these." - Read full article by Durjaya
Festival of Meditation
Dublin's now-established annual ‘Festival of Meditation’ took place this June, with eight days of events in three different venues attended by approximately 325 people. The festival included talks, workshops and a public concert of meditation music with two international groups. The concert featured guided meditations and mantras so that the public could join in.
The concert groups
Both of the groups have played meditation concerts in many countries, and are very popular with audiences.
Mangala's Group - an international female singing group led by Mangala from the Dublin Centre
Ashru Dhara - male instrumental group from the Netherlands, Germany, France and Ireland.
The festival also included a weekend workshop on sports and meditation given by guest speaker, Abhinabha Tangerman from Amsterdam. Abhinabha has a 2:27 marathon personal best, and has recently entered the world of Guinness record-breaking, setting records in unique disciplines such as one-handed clapping and keeping balloons in the air.
The week finished up with an Evening of Music & Mantras which incorporated excerpts from Sri Chinmoy’s book ‘The Source of Music’
As the event was considerably over-subscribed, a follow-up week of introductory classes were organised which are currently on-going.
Impossibility Challenger 2018 in Portugal
Impossibility Challenger is a festival dedicated to pushing the limits of human possibility and achievement. The event was founded in 1982 by Sri Chinmoy and this year's (2018) edition was recently held in Leiria, Portugal. The event was organised by a team of volunteers from the Portuguese Sri Chinmoy Centres who welcomed participants from around the globe. During the event new personal, national and world records were set, ranging from long-distance swimming and one-handed clapping to successfully reciting poems.
Impossibility Challenger is open to anyone who wishes to try and set a world record or personal best in any non-Olympic discipline. Participants are free to tackle existing records and also create their own unique personal challenge.
The spirit of the event is to encourage individual self-transcendence in a joyful and supportive environment. It is a non-commercial event with participants motivated by the wish to challenge themselves and inspire others through their own unique ways. The event welcomes participants from all over the world and a diverse range of backgrounds.
Highlight from 2018 edition include
Abhinabha Tangerman (Netherlands)
- Completing 615 alternate one-handed claps in one minute.
- New record for consecutive one-handed claps in one minute.
- Successfully keeping two balloons in the air using only his head for 1 minute 9 seconds.
- Successfully keeping three balloons in the air for 39 minutes 49 seconds.
Ashrita Furman (USA)
- Catching 40 marshmallows with his mouth in one minute, that were shot to him with a home-made catapult.
- Extinguishing 102 burning blow torches in one minute using his tongue.
- Breaking 64 pencils with his head in one minute.
Ashrita has been the holder of the most Guinness World Records for over 25 years.
Andrea Mercato from Italy
- Swimming 200 km in a 25m pool in a total of 7 days.
The International Sri Chinmoy Centre Girls Music Group
Consecutively performing 1,397 songs, for 27 hours 27 minutes 27 seconds.
Isilda Ferreira Duarte from Portugal
Creating the biggest cloth wheel "mother in law" with 1.98 metres in diameter and 6.18 metres in perimeter, using the traditional Portuguese technique. (World Record)
Núcleo de Espeleologia de Leiria and friends
Vertically ascending 5730 m and descending 5730 m on a climbing rope in 12 hours.
Gustavo Fonseca from Portugal (7-years old)
Folding seven different origamis with seven folds each in 27 minutes.
Hugo Rito from Portugal
Running a half-marathon distance (21 km) backwards in 3 hours 32 minutes 4 seconds.
Jorge Cardinalli from Portugal
Simultaneously spinning 21 plates on sticks for 1 hour 19 minutes 21.32 seconds.
Maria Leão and friends from the Sri Chinmoy Centre
Reciting 645 poems consecutively for 7 hours.
Radek Rosa from the Czech Republic
Pulling a 17,299 kg truck loaded with 13 people for 20 metres in 47.44 seconds.
Vaibhava Kuschnow from Austria
Climbing a 5B+ degree climbing wall, 10 metres high, with inline skates on his feet and without using the brake stopper. It took him only 56,20 seconds.
Carlos Vieira from Portugal
Cycling one-handed for 8 hours 6 minutes and covered a distance of 74,4 km.
Our 6-day Race champion Petra explains the link between running and meditation
Petra Kasperova from the Czech Republic took won 2018 Sri Chinmoy Six Day Race in New York this April with a total of 370 miles - at only her second attempt at running a multi-day event. Petra is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy, who felt that sports and meditation could go hand in hand as part of a fulfilling life. As well as offering free meditation classes and concerts around the world, Sri Chinmoy's students also organise athletic events, and have become especially well known for organising ultramarathon races such as the 6 day race that Petra won.
On the surface, these races are quite gruelling and the runner has to overcome many obstacles. However, as Petra explains, the key for her is just to stay happy.
"I try to go with the flow and do what gives me joy. Because it is about joy! Do not underestimate the power of joy. I mean, suffering and pain is part of it, but overlooking it all should be your fulfilled, joyful you."
Participants in these races are often out on the course for many hours at a time, and so learning to deal with having so much time on your hands is essential. For Petra, the practise of meditation is key:
"(Meditation) has been part of my life since 2010. It has transformed my life and I cannot imagine my life without it. It is something very natural, something that we all can do if we try to stop the constant flow of thoughts flooding our minds. It takes practise, patience, perseverance but it is 100% worth it."
"The techniques can change from race to race and even during a race. I like to repeat mantras, qualities and prayers...I try not to think at all, just to be focused. Repeating qualities like gratitude seem to keep my mind clear and make me more aware of what is going on inside of me and also outside of me...
I love identifying myself with the beauty and vastness of nature. I get a lot of inspiration and joy from Mother Nature. I also like to sing songs. I find that when the mind is focused, not roaming about thinking and daydreaming, I feel a constant flow of energy flowing in and through me, my intuition seems to work better, I am more present in the here and now and I feel more conscious of what I am doing and why."
Of course, one big question is why people would want to do these kinds of races. For Petra, these races are part of a quest for greater self-discovery and to be a better person. Her teacher, Sri Chinmoy loved the concept of self-transcendence - the idea that one could get tremendous joy and fulfilment by going beyond their perceived limitations. Petra describes running as "part and parcel of our spiritual path... Running is a symbol of self-transcendence, physical fitness, discipline, self-giving... which are all pillars of Sri Chinmoy's path."
"I find that running has made me stronger, not just physically but on many different levels. It is always when we go outside our comfort zones, outside what we think is possible, when we transcend ourselves in any field of life (not just running), that's the time where we need to dig deep, and when we do, we get glimpses of who we truly are and who we really want to be – for a happy self and a happy world."
Petra was recently featured in a new inspirational book 'Superhuman' by Rowan Hooper. The book highlights a range of people who have achieved notable features of self-transcendence. Hooper examines the inner strength, discipline and motivation of these different individuals who have achieved extraordinary things.
- Petra's Victory in the Six-Day Race 2018 at Run and Become
- Six-Day Race at Sri Chinmoy Races
- Superhuman by Rowan Hooper at Amazon
Photos: Utpal Marshall. Perfection Journey (Blog on finish of 2018 race)