- Jan 4, 2007[Dear Thomas, did you write this? If not, could you specify the online source?]
Ashrita Furman is the undisputed champion of Guinness world-record
breaking. Ashrita is one of many who have achieved remarkable feats
with the inner strength that they have learned to tap into with the
guidance of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy.
Who would have thought that a humble health food store owner and
self-confessed former nerd could end up breaking more than a hundred
Guinness world records?
Ashrita Furman, the holder of more Guiness records than anyone else
alive, has over the last 25 years broken 119 of them in a wide variety
of unusual and often hilarious ways like pushing an orange along the
ground with his nose, stilt-walking 8 km in less than 40 minutes,
standing on a Swiss ball for over 2 hours, pogo-jumping along the
street while holding a small dog, balancing a milk bottle on his head
continuously for 81 miles and spinning the world's largest hula-hoop
(his 100th record).
"Ask fans who's the greatest athlete of all times," The Christian
Science Monitor once wrote, "and you'll hear a familiar debate over
the likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth. Ask avid
readers of the Guiness Book of World Records, howevever, and you're
likely to hear consensus on one name: Ashrita Furman".
His urge to break new records has taken him all over the world, and to
numerous exotic places including Stonehenge, the Egyptian Pyramids and
the Great Wall of China. Just recently Ashrita broke four records in
four different countries in less than a month.
One of Ashrita's favourite attempts was in 2003 when he visited the
Kelly Tarltons Aquarium in Auckland to break the record for what he
calls `gluggling' (underwater juggling).
Ashrita jumped right into one of the fish tanks and started juggling
three lead balls. It wasn't long before a parrotfish swam over and
repeatedly bit his nose (a sign of affection, perhaps?), which brought
the attempt to a momentary halt. Undeterred by failure, Ashrita tried
a second time. 48 minutes and 36 seconds of non-stop gluggling later
and he had broken yet another Guinness world record. He is still the
Although Ashrita has a great deal of experience with breaking Guinness
world records, each one requires an enormous level of preparation and
endurance. When asked how the excitement of his latest records compare
to older ones he said "the first one was the biggest thrill because
throughout my whole childhood I had wanted to get into the Guinness
book of records but it's funny because there is a tremendous thrill
for me each time, it never fades, it never goes away". Ashrita
arranged his 103rd record to coincide with Guinness World Records Day
on November 9. It was for the fastest "fireman's carry", and called
for Ashrita to carry someone of at least his own body weight for one
mile in under 18 minutes. Fortunately Ashrita and his friend Bippin
weighed exactly the same. The attempt was very physically demanding on
both of them, and they collapsed in an exhausted heap at the end.
Bippin, who has helped Ashrita break many records over the years, had
mixed feelings about repeating the experience. "I don't look forward
to doing this again, no. [Ashrita] probably will though. I'm worried
because it's a new category and, as it's a fireman's carry, firemen
are going to latch on to it. So I can see us doing this again - but I
How does he do it? Ashrita says that intense concentration both during
and before each act of endurance allows him to make his mind calm and
clear so that he does not lose focus and become distracted by doubts,
fears and worries.
Ashrita credits his meditation teacher with showing him how to use his
inner strength to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and giving him
the inspiration to keep going. "In my teens I started searching for a
deeper meaning to life and studied Eastern philosophy and yoga. I
later attended a meditation evening with the Indian master Sri Chinmoy
, a meeting which changed the course of my life. Sri Chinmoy radically
changed the way I looked at things".
Ashrita says he had initial misgivings about the role of exercise in
spiritual practise (which Sri Chinmoy endorses ) because he didn't
consider himself much of a physical person due to his "life-long
commitment to nerdiness".
"But", says Ashrita, "I came to understand that the body is just an
instrument of the spirit and, if performed in the right consciousness,
physical feats can be just as or even more- uplifting than
meditating in a temple!"
Sri Chinmoy's ideal of continual self-transcendence - whether
physical, mental or spiritual - is one in which there is no ultimate
goal, for the achievement of today's goal is only the starting point
for an even higher goal, and a much greater level of satisfaction. Sri
Chinmoy says he wants to encourage people to improve themselves in any
way they can, and believes that this is the only way we can be truly
happy. His own self-transcendence is exemplified by more than 1,500
published books ; 18,000 musical compositions ; 150,000 acrylic
paintings and over 700 free concerts around the world. Most recently,
he demonstrated the power of inner determination by wrist-curling a
270 lb dumbbell, following on from his record-breaking 256 lb curl of
several weeks prior. Recently he also lifted two dumbells, with a
combined 740 lb total, overhead from their cradle on a custom-built
exercise machine to commemorate his 74 years on earth.
Sri Chinmoy's feats of strength have evoked glowing accolades from
prestigious members of the weightlifting community. Five-time Mr.
Universe Bill Pearl called the 256lb curl a "miracle". Wayne DeMila,
Chairman of the Mr. Olympia contest, said that out of all the
weightlifters and champion bodybuilders he had seen, "Sri Chinmoy is
the only one I have ever seen wrist curl a 200lb dumbbell".
Sri Chinmoy credits all his athletic achievements to the inner power
which he is able to access through his meditation and prayer. "What I
wish to show by these feats of strength is that prayer and meditation
can definitely increase one's outer capacities. I hope that by doing
this I will be able to inspire many people to pray and meditate
sincerely as part of their daily routine".
Sri Chinmoy says that this inner power is available to everybody,
because it resides within them. The difficult part is bringing it to
the surface so that it can be expressed in our daily life. "If we can
have a free access to our inmost consciousness, the cosmic energy is
bound to come to the fore. If we go deep within, it comes like a
spring, a never-failing spring. And when it comes, it permeates the
Many of Sri Chinmoy's other students have found creative ways to
combine fitness with self-improvement, and even with initiatives to
help inspire social progress. The World Harmony Run, now an annual
event which spans 80 countries across 6 continents, is an
Olympic-style torch relay in which participants run through their
respective countries to promote the spirit of international unity and
What next for Ashrita? The sky's the limit. He is showing no signs of
slowing down anytime soon, and so it looks as if he will be taking up
plenty of room in the Guiness Book for the foreseeable future.
For more information, visit www.ashrita.com
Videos of Sri Chinmoy's weightlifting can be viewed online at
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