Thursday, May 22, 2008

100 Meters Sports Day 1980

"My prayer-life and meditation-life can never end. I have not stopped and I will never be able to stop praying and meditating. It is a one-way street, with no U-turns. Once you start, you have to go on. You can crawl, you can walk, you can run or you can sprint. If you want to take rest for a while and sleep, you can. But God will never allow you to go back to the starting point."

Excerpt from Meetings With Luminaries In The Philippines by Sri Chinmoy.

" If I give up, only then do I really fail. But while walking along the road, although the destination is far, far, far away, the very fact that I am trying and struggling gives me satisfaction.

As long as I am still on the road, even though I am only walking or crawling, one day I will be inspired to jog, the next day I will be inspired to run faster and the third day I will be inspired to sprint. If I do not have the capacity to run or sprint, then I will crawl. But if I give up and turn around and say, “This road is not meant for me; the world is never going to be peaceful,” then real disappointment will come into my life. If I stop my prayer-life or service-life, that is when I will be truly disappointed."

Excerpt from Aspiration-Body, Illumination-Soul Part 1 by Sri Chinmoy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shooting Hoops April 1986

A circus was held, every April and August during the celebrations, in New York. This video was shot during the circus, in April of 1986.
Basketball was not Sri Chinmoy's sport, but he loved all sports and games nonetheless. One of the performances during the circus that year, was having some of the young boys shooting hoops.
Here, he comes out and joins in the fun. For his own amusement, and to the delight of all who watched from the stands.

"Sport means joy. Sport means delight, inner delight. You know that we came from delight, we grow in delight and at the end of our journey’s close we enter into delight once again. The greatest gift of art is joy, and joy is the revelation of sport. They go together. But if you achieve joy through art, the joy is different. There the joy is coming in the mental and vital plane, whereas if you achieve joy through sport, it is coming on the physical and vital plane. But the
goal of art and the goal of sport are the same. Both embody the same ultimate goal and have the same goal. Inside art is greatest joy and inside sport is greatest joy."

Excerpt from Art's Life And The Soul's Light by Sri Chinmoy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Silence & Sound

Rageshri smiles as she tells me, “It was not easy, I was not a professional. I am a massage therapist.” It is a cool and rainy afternoon, on a spring day in New York. I have just heard her, and her friend Kushali, perform a song, composed by their spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy, in a conspicuously empty Panorama cafe. Their musical group, called Silence and Sound, have been performing for 8 years. They are closing in on their 600th concert and I, an audience of just one, not counting Phillip, who is washing dishes off in the distance, have just heard one of the most amazing musical performances of my life.

To be honest, if most people had known, that they were going to be playing their music on this wet and nasty afternoon, the place would have been packed. I had asked the girls to come here, so that I could video one of their arrangements and have this interview. I was selfishly happy to not have any others around to interrupt, but could not help but think, “who wouldn’t enjoy this exquisite music.”

Rageshri tells me, about receiving her Soul’s name, on Sri Chinmoy’s birthday in 2003. She tells me, that she was so surprised when she heard the meaning of her name. It was, “The Beauty and fragrance of Soul Melody in Aspiration Heart, in boundless measure.” She says, this confirmed for her, her whole connection to Sri Chinmoy’s music. She says, that since becoming his student, she would often wake up in the morning hearing his music inside her. She says with confidence, “This is the mission of my soul, to spread Guru’s music, to share it with the world.”

Kushali who has been sitting quietly next to her nods with approval. She tells me how they feel it is a great privilege to perform Sri Chinmoy’s music, and because the music has so much within it, and is so rich with possibility, that it is an easy task for them to do. I nod at this, but also remember, that earlier, I helped carry a very heavy keyboard into the cafĂ©, and that giving roughly 100 concerts a year is no joke.

They tell me about their joy, in performing in front of audiences large and small. Please note, I, as a private audience of one, do not count in their impressive record keeping statistics. Rageshri who has given many talks on Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy tells me how difficult it is for people to understand, what he is all about, just through words. They feel, that performing his music does it all, faster and easier, and does it immediately. They tell me, that when they perform, they can see the audience out in front of them as flower buds. As they play their music, they see these buds opening, until before too long, there is a whole garden blossoming in front of them.

Their route to playing Sri Chinmoy’s music was not a direct one however. When they first started playing together, they played only classical music, their first arrangement, that of a version of Ave Maria. Rageshri, who had only 4 years of formal musical training, while Kushali was a full professional, was not confident at first, playing with her more experienced partner. Kushali says though, “When I heard her the first time, touching the keyboard, it was amazingly professional. Technique was not important.” She felt that her touch was deep and delicate. She was so confident in her friend’s ability, that when she was hesitant of her abilities, she would tell her, “just remember your last incarnation, PLAY It, that’s all.”

Kushali tells me, that during an interview once, she was asked the meaning of her name. She told the interviewer, that her name meant, The most powerful the most surprising in aspiration dedication activities to please our Lord Beloved Supreme in his own way. The interviewer said to her then, “so, that means you are the boss.” Both girls laugh at this.

They had been playing classical music exclusively for one year when in 2001 a friend asked them, “why don’t you play Guru’s music?” They describe their friends question as an obvious next step for them. They describe her as an instrument, in their musical careers, and wondered at the time, why they had not done it before. Very soon after, they were asked to perform at a concert in Moscow. They live in Kiev in the Ukraine. They had just 2 months to prepare a program. Each had full time jobs, Rageshri was selling software, and Kushali was teaching music to kids. Their predicament at the time, was that neither of them had any experience in arranging music. They quickly learned however to find an intuitive approach to Sri Chinmoy’s music. They quote for me, one of his aphorisms when describing what this meant, “My Gratitude Heart, always knows the way.” They felt that Sri Chinmoy himself, was guiding and showing them, how to arrange his music inwardly. Now they have arranged something like 100 songs.

In June of 2001 they performed 2 of his songs for him for the first time in Oslo. They were on the same stage as he was. At the time he was drawing pictures close by on the small stage. They describe how afraid they were at the time, to perform Sri Chinmoy’s music in front of him. They laugh as they describe how much they were shaking only to realize that the shaking was being caused not by their own nervousness but by the power of Sri Chinmoy’s hand on paper as he drew pictures.

In August of that year, they describe their challenging and difficult first concert, at the Aspiration ground in New York. It was to be a short instrumental performance and Rageshri admits to being in a bad consciousness before the performance. In the minutes before they were to go on, she just did not want to perform. Kushali says now, that she told her friend, “You will go, I am the leader, if you do not play now, or we will never play again.” Reluctantly she went forward and performed.

At the end of their performance they say, Sri Chinmoy folded his hands and bowed to them. They both describe it as a “WOW” moment. They say that it was significant, and that it confirmed for them, that he knew what was going on inside them at that moment. They realized, that in performing his music, everything changes. That a transformation takes place within them, when they are able overcome obstacles and to self transcend. In being able to get through this hesitancy in performing, they had gone beyond a personal barrier and he was as much pleased with that, as he was with their musicianship. This was for them the practical evidence of surrender. They say, that from that moment on, for them, “only Guru’s music matters.”

In 2002 their music went in another surprising direction for them, when Sri Chinmoy asked a friend of theirs, whether or not they sang, mentioning how proud he was of them. By August of 2002 they were incorporating singing into their program. By April 2005 Sri Chinmoy asked them after they had performed for him in New York how many concerts they had done. At the time it was 420. He said that they were super excellent musicians, and asked the assembled group that was watching, why could they not invite them to perform outside of the Ukraine. They were shocked at the level of generosity and appreciation that he had for them. They mention that other countries in Europe quickly set up concerts for them, and that in particular Austria was very supportive.

I remind them, as they now sit sipping hot chocolates, that not too many days ago I had witnessed them both doing something quite unbelievable for full time musicians. Rageshri had run 240 miles in the 6 day race, and Kushali had run 407 miles in the 10 day race. Rageshri describes how that she had helped, one of the girl runners in 2004, and had just caught the multi day bug. They felt at the time, that performing 100 concerts a year was already an ultra.

Yet when Rageshri saw how proud of her Sri Chinmoy was, after her first multi day race, it confirmed for her, that ultra running would be part of their lives. Kushali joined in shortly afterwards. She says of Sri Chinmoy that, “He inspires self-transcendence in every field.” They describe the running as a, purification for them. Then they laugh and say, it is also a vacation from music. They call the multi day races, “a real rest, the only place we don’t play.”

They have no doubts about them being unlikely poster people, for multi day runners. But they also recognize, that when others see them run, they have to say to themselves, “If they can run what about me.” They say, that like they celebrate after every 100 concerts, they also celebrate after each and every 100 miles during the race.

Sri Chinmoy has composed thousands of songs and many have been inspired by this impressive catalog of music. There is no other group of musicians, like Silence and Sound however, that have committed themselves to such an extensive and rigorous program of concerts, that is now extending itself to many countries. Clearly, they feel a commitment to the music, that is unparalleled. They tell me, “we felt Guru’s music was not in the professional world enough.” They wanted to fill this hole, with free concerts, wherever they could be invited to perform. However, they do prefer, that they be invited to beautiful venues, where the music can be better appreciated.

I ask them about the name of their group, Silence and Sound. They tell me simply that from true inner silence comes sound. They tell me that a few years ago when Sri Chinmoy was told, that they had given a performance in front of an audience of 900, that he was not surprised. He said, “what do you expect from them, they are super excellent musicians.” When someone tried to remind him that they had run in multi day races as well, he said, “You think I don’t know.” On many occasions he referred to them as the, “2 Ukrainian Greats”, or simply, “violin and piano.”

As they push on towards their 600th concert, and beyond, they tell me they feel that Sri Chinmoy is guiding them. They admit, that a few times they have wanted to give up, but always have found a way to continue. They are really relaxed and enjoying themselves as they reflect on their lives. They tell me, that humor is their savior. Even during some of the wet cold days of the recent race, they held onto their sense of humor. Dipali, who went on to win the women’s race told them in fact, that she appreciated this about them. That in the midst of such a challenge of running 100’s of miles, they could still laugh.

Kushali tells me, that their concert total at this point is 584. Just 16 shy, of 600 performances. I ask the obvious, how many more? They just laugh and tell me, “we will go on, and on, and on.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

24 Hour Bike Relay

"When we are running, we are reminded of our birthless and deathless journey along Eternity's Road. Then, while we are cycling, we are reminding ourselves of evolution, of how the world is evolving in cycles. When we think of our planet, we think of a wheel turning; our life also is evolving like a wheel. So cycling reminds us of the process of evolution and of how everything goes in cycles.

Once upon a time, in the hoary past, we lived in an era of truth. Now we are living in an era of falsehood. There was a time when truth reigned supreme, but now we see at every moment and every place that falsehood is reigning supreme. Our goal is to bring back again the golden age in which truth will be our inner guide and will reign supreme. So cycling reminds us of evolution, inner and outer."
By Sri Chinmoy from:
The 24-Hour Pepsi-Cola bicycle marathon in 1979 was the third year that Sri Chinmoy led a team into the event. It was held in Central Park in New York over the Memorial day weekend.

He would complete 160 miles. By now his focus was on running, which he had begun in earnest the previous June.

Just two months prior to this bike relay he had run his second marathon in a time of 3:55:07

Comments made by Sri Chinmoy in 1978 on the eve of that race.
"Here you are showing in boundless measure your physical capacity, your perseverance. Of all the qualities, perseverance stands foremost, not only in the spiritual life but also in the outer life. People start practising Yoga but they do not persevere: they do not pursue their journey. For two or three years they practise and then they give up. Here, if you can have perseverance for twenty-four hours, then you wil reach your goal. Spirituality, needless to say, demands much more perseverance."

Friday, May 16, 2008

100 Meters 1975

LIFE AND SPORTS CANNOT be separated; they are one. As a matter of fact, life itself is a game. This game can be played extremely well, provided the player develops consciously or unconsciously the capacity to invoke the transcendental energy which is always manifested in action.

In the life-game, each soul is running consciously or unconsciously toward the goal of inner perfection. There is not a single individual who has not left the starting point. Now, one individual may be behind another in the Godward race, but all are making progress and running toward the same goal.

When you enter into the spiritual life, it means that you have consciously begun your inner journey. If you are running consciously, then naturally you will reach the goal sooner than those who are still asleep. When you enter into the spiritual life, it means that you have consciously begun your inner journey. If you are running consciously, then naturally you will reach the goal sooner than those who are still asleep.
You may want to run toward the goal because you yourself have an intense inner cry. Your inner cry for truth and light and love has increased; so you are running toward the goal. Why is it that in you the inner cry has increased, whereas others are still fast asleep? It is because God has inspired you. It is not that you just come out of your house and decide to run. No, something within you, an inner urge, inspires you to go out and run. And who has given you that inner urge if not our Beloved Supreme?
  • Mind Body Spirit - collection of writings by Sri Chinmoy on the relationship between physical fitness and sport

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shot-put Sports Day 1976

With our imagination-power we can challenge the tricky mind and win. We weaken ourselves by imagining that we are weak. Again, we can strengthen ourselves by imagining that we are strong. Our imagination often compels us to think we cannot do something or cannot say something. We often use imagination in a wrong direction. So instead of letting imagination take us backwards, we should use it to take us forward toward our goal.

Question: How can we concentrate better in sports without interference from ego?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are trying to conquer ego or jealousy, immediately your inner will comes to the fore. Then you will have your best performance. When you practise sports, try to compete only with yourself. Do not think that you will come in first or you will come last. Your goal is progress; your goal is not to defeat someone else. If yesterday you threw the shotput seven metres, then today you will try to do a little better. But if you see that you are not making progress, then you have to surrender to God's Will. When you make constant surrender to God's Will, there cannot be any ego. So, in three successive ways you can make your surrender to God's Will complete.

Excerpt from Great Masters And The Cosmic Gods by Sri Chinmoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

100 Meters 1976

This is Sri Chinmoy's 100 meter race at sports day in 1976. Just prior to it you will see the fastest boys run and then it will be his race.
On his left is Shraddha. To his immediate right is Pulak and then Sunil. I do not know the time of his performance

The Sprinter

Around 4:30 in the morning I was completing my run. It was not twenty-seven miles like some of my disciples; it was only two miles.

As I was completing my two miles near the famous bus stop on 150th Street, a middle-aged white American said to me, "Man, you are a sprinter-not good for long distance!"

I thanked him and smiled at him, and he also smiled at me. See, his intuition was working so nicely!

- 12 August 1978

Next Story

[Source: "The Sprinter" in Sri Chinmoy, Run and Become, Become and Run, Part 1, Agni Press, Jamaica, New York, 1979.]

Volleyball & Tennis 1976

It is Games day 1976. Sri Chinmoy is playing volleyball with some of the boys. Some are wearing uniforms, from the bicentennial relay held that year, called Liberty Torch. There are also some red uniforms worn by those who participated in Canada's Oneness Heart.

You cannot help but notice Sri Chinmoy's mobility and enthusiasm in playing sports. Below is a sequence of still shots that shows what height he was able to reach and his awareness of the net behind him.

Spiritually, What Can We Get From Games?...

Spiritually, what can we get from games? Volleyball, for instance, is one of those sports that they will be doing in the Senior Olympics.

Very good. I happened to be a volleyball player in my teens. I was the captain, the main instructor, in the place where I was brought up in India for many, many years. I used to play volleyball quite well.

From the spiritual point of view, there are many things we can learn from games. One is fellow feeling. Then, in volleyball there is something called a serve. Let us take the term 'serve'. By playing, we are serving mankind. You will say, "How?" Let us say you are playing volleyball, and I am in the audience. You are giving me joy and inspiration. You are playing so well, you are smashing the ball and doing all kinds of things.

Why do we watch sports? The world needs inspiration and enthusiasm. You play volleyball extremely well, and I am inspired by it. Then I go and play tennis. You have given me the inspiration, and I go and play some other game. But you gave me the joy, you gave me the inspiration, you gave me the courage. Like that, each person can get inspiration from another person to do better in their own respective fields.

Excerpt from Run And Smile, Smile And Run by Sri Chinmoy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

August 1974

In August of 1974 I took my first short movie while visiting New York for celebrations. It was all very new, and as a visitor I wanted to savor and remember every moment.

In this film Guru is just 42, his birthday is some days away. For many, this is a Sri Chinmoy you have never seen. It is however a Guru you won't forget.

"The transformation of life

Begins with a soulful smile
Of the heart."

By Sri Chinmoy

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Western Kingdom

It is also known as the Western Kingdom, but Morocco, for those of us who were there for the World Harmony run it was more than just a country. For us, it was a great warm and receptive heart. We met both famous Olympians and children from humble families

We ran across great stretches of country side and saw nature, both tamed, and at its natural best.

When you watch this short movie, I think you will see, that the ultimate experience there, was just to meet its people. To learn about their lives and understand that there are no borders to our world family.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

See the Pyramids along the Nile

We arrived in Egypt with absolutely no preparation and wanted to have a World Harmony run event there. By some incredible stroke of good luck, or perhaps fate, we met the General Manager of the Egyptian Athletic Federation, Hussien Fahmi.

He made everything possible. His receptivity and generosity were more precious to us than any of the antiquities or treasures that this wondrous nation has to offer.

We went to Luxor and had a fantastic time with the kids from the Barat youth center.

On the second day in Luxor we met with some of the kids at the temple of Karnak, near their training ground, and had a short run with them.

Here we learned, as much if not more from them, as they learned from us, about the far off places we came from.

Before leaving Egypt for Tunisia we had a few brief hours at the Pyramids in Cairo. It is a place, where it feels like the citizens of the world converge, in order to honor the glories of the ancient past. We hope that the World Harmony run helps, in some way, to make the future every brighter. That an ever increasing dream of peace is born anew, throughout the length and breadth, of this world we all share.