We are all truly unlimited
In the ’80s, I had a serious accident that resulted in a crushed vertebra, a broken wrist and a brain concussion. The specialist told me then: “Because of the damage to your vertebra, you will have back problems for the rest of your life.”
Being stubborn (or determined), I refused to believe this. How to heal a crushed vertebra? Someone had told me that running would strengthen my back. On the other hand, many people warned me that running would ruin what I had left of my fragile spine. Still, an experienced runner told me: If you wear good shoes, and if you run properly, you will strengthen your back. Also, never sit in the usual way because it adds pressure to the crushed vertebrae. I found a kneeling chair to sit on and I started running. Long story!
Between 1991 and 2016, I consistently ran for at least one hour per day, gradually improving over time and completing many races – from two miles to ten miles to marathons to ultramarathons. These included a number of NYC marathons and the Ottawa 24-hour Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Race, which I did many times and of which I am now the director. I have met many ultra-distance runners through all those years and am still friends with many of them.
Running in my case was a real purifier… after a few hours, no more thoughts, only running.
A little anecdote: At some point during one of these races in New York, a spectator asked me: “Why do you run?” I was then in such a state of non-thinking that I found the question rather awkward, if not funny! I could not even respond to this person!
The 47 mile race
My most special race was the annual 47-mile (75+ km) race in New York, which I first ran in 1994. Around 200 runners, starting at midnight with the “Invocation to the Supreme,” would run until they completed the distance. In my case, finishing would take 9, 10, or perhaps 12 hours. This race brought such special moments!
During one of my first races - As usual, along the track, there were numerous inspiring posters, but one particular aphorism caught my attention:
We are all truly unlimited
If we only dare to try and have faith.
I was still a young disciple, and did not yet fully appreciate Guru’s vision. For the first three to four hours of this race, every time I ran by this aphorism, my mind was full of doubts. I was in refusal mode, reacting with: It can’t be, we are NOT unlimited, and these words don’t make any sense. Only God is unlimited.
But as the race went on, my state of logical thinking was gradually being replaced by the faculties of my heart. I opened up and began to appreciate the deep meaning of this message. At the end of the race, I was persuaded that we ARE all truly unlimited. I appreciated even more the two “ifs„ that are part of the aphorism: “if we only dare to try and have faith.„ Ah – the miracle of running Guru’s self-transcendence races... and the way this aphorism opened new doors of my little mind and heart!
Tears of gratitude
When I turned 47, I wanted to offer my gratitude to Guru for each year of my earthly existence. The 47-mile race was a perfect opportunity for me to do this. At midnight on August 27th, we started our journey around a local high school. At each mile, I tried to envision how I was at age 6, 8, 12, etc., while offering gratitude for the 47 years of my life. Halfway through the race, I started to cry and cry and cry... for no outer reason.
My helper, seeing me crying and crying, was desperate. He thought I was dying or something, since I could not stop crying, mile after mile, and he was wondering what to do.
I told him not to worry; but how do you explain to someone, while running, that you are simply crying – no pain, no sorrows, simply tears of gratitude. Afterwards, I felt really purified, because for so many years I had not been able to cry at all. Education maybe... “Boys don’t cry..."
Well, now, even big boys can cry! At the time, I did not know Guru’s song In silence-love I cry, but it’s right on!
In silence-love I cry,
In silence-joy I fly,
In silence-song I give,
In silence-dance I live.
Sri Chinmoy 2