Recollections on Sri Chinmoy: My 1999 Marathon experience
- The 1999 New York City marathon was a special experience for me for a lot of reasons. Many of Sri Chinmoy's disciples ran in that marathon, and many others helped at our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team aid stations. I think there were three such stations around the course.
The day before the marathon, we had a special function at Aspiration-Ground. Guru asked all of the runners to wear their bright yellow Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team t-shirts and pose with him for a group photograph. Just before the picture was taken, Sri Chinmoy folded his hands and entered into a meditative consciousness. I just remember looking at him at that moment, and thinking how he looked like a petrified lightning bolt, standing with his back straight, knees a little bent and hands folded. It was as if he was offering his prayerful blessings to untold future generations. He did have the rare capacity to enter into absolutely sublime and rarefied states of consciousness at his sweet will. I think that is called sahaja samadhi, where you can enter into ordinary earthly activities, but still retain your awareness of the Highest.
The following day I helped out at one of the aid stations, perhaps at mile 23. I will never forget the first group of runners to zip by the station. They were a pack of Kenyans, rail thin, moving like deer, beautiful. I've never seen ballet dancers move with such fluent, effortless grace. Some of them were just kids, fourteen or fifteen years old. While all of them were focused and concentrated, they still exuded a feeling of confidence and ease. Unforgettable. I think Guru said that runners from that part of the world have a lot of disciple and also a lot of purity, and this is what helps them to smash record after record.
Guru came in Vinaya's car and offered prasad to all of the aid station helpers. I think he gave us Indian sweets. When he gave me the prasad, he did not smile, but I saw that he gave the prasad with utmost soulfulness and concern. I can't put into words the thrill of getting prasad directly from the Master's hand.
I had been planning to leave the next morning. Someone told Guru, however, that the day of the marathon had been my birthday and that I had worked very hard at the aid station. Guru asked if I would be in New York for the next afternoon function. Guru's request was conveyed to me, so of course I changed my plans and decided to stay for another day.
I had never received personal attention from Guru before, so I did not know what to expect. I was nervous, but I was also really excited! I don't remember any details from the function. I just remember the end of the function when it was time for prasad. This time, Guru did not hand out prasad. It was just placed in plastic crates in front of him and we all came up and stood in line to take it
I took the prasad and bowed respectfully to the Master and he looked at me for half a second. And that was it.
I don't know another way to explain this, but that half second was the most extraordinary moment in my whole spiritual life. I mean, Guru could give you anything in the twinkling of an eye. I think in some way Guru was honoring me by not calling me up or giving me a flower and smiling at me. He knew he could give me his blessingful love and affection in silence and that I could receive it. It was the only time in my life, actually, that I felt that I really received what Guru wanted to give me.
I will never forget that experience, and I will never be able to thank Guru enough for his silent gifts.
With happy speed
I run and run
To cheerfully feed
My human race,
To transform my human face,
To begin a new journey's course,
To free the sunlit source.
From "A Soulful Cry versus A Fruitful Smile" by Sri Chinmoy
- Hi Moderator and Mahiruha, so nice to hear from you. Thank you for your help. I've printed off about 10 stories so far written by disciples for other people to read. Mahiruha, i also went to the Philadelphia Peace Concert. It was one of the best moments of my life.
- Hi Mahiruha,
1999 Marathon in New York I will also never forget. Maybe we were at the same aid station, but I can't remember which one it was.
First, the amount of food that was taken out of truck when we were preparing the tables, totally shocked me - it was enough to open the healthfood store. Then, when runners started coming to the table where I was standing and giving them drink, I couldn't believe my eyes how many of them was constantly coming and it lasted for hours. I remember, I was serving coca-cola and I couldn't stop for a single moment. In 1993 I ran NYC Marathon among 27 thousand runners and I thought I was prepared, I knew it would be thousands of them, but I didn't expect to have so many of them at our aid station.
When I was told that Guru is giving prasad just a few meters away I couldn't leave the table before someone has replaced me, and I've almost missed prasad. A feeling inside me that I have to be there and give them a drink was so strong that it was impossible to go away. Finally someone came and took it over and I was able to leave.
And then when I came to Guru to get prasad, reward came in the form of Guru's beautiful, broad smile, and I knew in the deepest depth of my heart that he was very pleased and grateful to all of us who were serving runners with all our happiness. And I realised how important to Guru was our selfless service that he offers to the world through each and every disciple.
As a memory on that special experience I still have a yellow apron with NYC skyscrapers and year 1999 on it.
Thank you for all the recollections that you and others wrote on this site, each and every story inspired me so much.