A 'channel triathlon' from Dover to Prague

The route from Dover to Prague

Abhejali Bernadova from the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Zlin, Czech Republic completed a unique 'channel triathlon' - swimming the English Channel from Dover to Calais, then cycling through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and finally a 182km run to Prague - a total of 1111km. It took her 7 days, 12 hours and 5 minutes.

Sri Chinmoy encouraged his students to practice sports as part of their spiritual life, and some of his students have been inspired to use their inner spiritual capacity to achieve remarkable feats of endurance. In 1985, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre first crossed the English Channel, and since then members our group have completed almost 50 channel crossings.

When you climb a mountain or swim the English Channel, you may call it a silly adventure, but I take it as part of our manifestation. In the world of manifestation, there is an outer history and an inner history. One is in the mind and one is in the heart. The mind’s history we will forget the next day, but the history of the heart we will forever remember.

....In an adventure, if you do not meet with immediate success, you have to feel that eventually you will succeed. In the beginning, the idea of swimming the English Channel seemed impossible. Now a number of our girl disciples are doing it, and one older man is defying age and conquering the Channel. So if somebody else fails, you should not give up. Either you will do it, or there will be somebody else to come who will succeed.

Sri Chinmoy

Abhejali started on Monday September 13 at 3am from Dover. Contending with a force-5 gale, she completed the crossing in 15 hours and 33 minutes. The only other successful crossing on the same day was a 5-person relay team. It was her last chance to swim this year and the swim had already been postponed a few times.

Current restrictions did not allow her to stay in France, so she had to take a detour back to Dover and then take a ferry to France.

She then cycled from Calais to her hometown of Cheb, near the Czech/German border. The cycling leg, which took her 4 days, was approximately 900 kilometres through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

She arrived in Cheb on Saturday afternoon, then ran 182km to Prague, arriving on Monday afternoon. Her daily average was 220km cycling and 2 marathons running.

Abhejali completed her first English Channel swim in 2011. Seven years later she completed the Oceans Seven, a list of seven noted long-distance swims around the world. With her swimming she tries to inspire others to overcome their own limits and show that many of these limits exist only in the mind.

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An interview from 2017 where Abhejali talks about her English Channel swimming experience
Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

Peace Week in Bulgaria

Inspired by Sri Chinmoy, our members not only organise meditation events, but also joyful and dynamic events for the public, to spread the feeling that the world is one human family. The most popular event is the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, which is a global torch relay that has visited over 155 countries. It is founded on the simple idea of passing a peace torch from hand to hand, to millions of people around the globe.

In September 2021, a Peace Week was held in Sofia, Bulgaria with many peace-themed events. The highlight was a ceremony where we presented the Peace Run Torch-Bearer award to some of Bulgaria's most talented athletes.

I believe that this award is a bridge between the countries of the world and unites them in a unique way, because sport is a language that does not need translation wherever you go. Ivet Goranova Olympic karate champion

I am honored to receive this medal of kindness and peace. I want the world to be better and I think sport is the strongest weapon to live in a more peaceful world. It is no coincidence that all wars have stopped during the Olympic Games. I am a dreamer and I know that we can live in a beautiful fairy tale with a good ending. Stanimira Petrova. World and European boxing champion

Thank you for this invaluable award. We must appreciate the real things and stand firmly on the ground. Let's be more humble, better, to live in harmony and to help everyone around us. Ivaylo Ivanov European champion, No 1 Bulgarian athlete 2020

It is a great pleasure for me that you are awarding me with this title. We have come a long way in the last few years in preparation for the Olympics, a lot of pain and hardship. It is a great honor for us athletes that people respect what we do. Hristo Hristov European weightlifting silver medallist

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The honorees were congratulated in a video message by Bulgarian footballing legend Hristo Stoichkov:

Not just a prize or a medal in your glamorous collection, this award is a symbol of the pursuit of peace and understanding of all mankind and you are its most worthy bearer.

Hristo Stoichkov

The event also featured a concert for peace by Mandu and Visuddhi Trummer from Austria.

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The week featured a lot of school visits! Visiting schools and youth groups are a huge focus of the Peace Run when we travel around the world. The children always love holding and running with our Peace Torch, and from the children our runners get a huge amount of inspiration and hope for the future of the world.

During the Peace Week, we planted many Peace Trees with the help of the children.

We also had a lecture on Peace, the UN and personal responsibility, given by Angikar Djorjevic from Serbia. Angikar has swum the English Channel, and also was able to speak about the importance of the UN from a personal perspective, having worked for many years at UNICEF in New York and Geneva.

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

A Twenty-First Century seeker

Pradhan Balter has been a student of Sri Chinmoy since 1973, and has given countless talks and workshops on meditation and the spiritual life in over 30 countries. He is a gifted storyteller, and loves to talk about his spiritual journey. He also spent many hours with Sri Chinmoy, and has a lot of stories to tell about that too.

A Twenty-First Century Seeker is compiled from recordings of many of Pradhan's talks, so the book has a very spontaneous, conversational feel to it. The book is really like a practical manual, covering all areas from starting meditation, to growing your spiritual practice and keeping it fresh after months and years have passed.

I am your highest consciousness

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Sri Chinmoy invokes the Supreme during a high meditation, 1973

The second time, the second day I met Guru, Guru was talking about drugs and the importance of taking a shower and being clean.

About drugs, he said something that to me was not only significant but epic. The words that he said stay etched inside me, scripted forever inside me: “The reason why you are taking drugs is because you are looking for an experience outside of yourself and higher than yourself.”

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

I see infinitely more than I say

On another occasion, Sri Chinmoy gives football advice to his students in Brazil, 2000

One time Guru said to me, “I see infinitely more than I say, and I say infinitely less than I see.”

As an example of that, one time in South Africa and another time in Venezuela, the disciples were playing soccer with the local boys. Guru was there for about 20 minutes at the end of the game. He seemed very informal and casual. After the game, the local boys went away and just the disciples came around Guru. I also came close because I was there.

I was astounded because Guru proceeded to talk for about 15 or 20 minutes about how the disciples should play. He spoke about every single boy on the team. To one boy he said, “You need to go more quickly. Don’t hesitate!”

In great detail, Guru was describing what had happened in the game. To each disciple on the team, he gave specific advice on how they could improve. In general, he said that we need to play from our hearts, dynamically, but not aggressively. At the end I was so amazed because he seemed so casual as if he wasn’t watching so carefully, but he had seen every single move. He was so conscious of everything. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

Introducing a Peace Concert for 19,000 people

Sri Chinmoy meditates at the beginning of the 2000 Peace Concert in Montreal , in front of 19,000 people.

Guru asked me to be Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the concert in Montreal, which turned out to be the largest Peace Concert in the world. By that time in my years on the Path, I knew that at least I should bring a necktie and a suit because you never know what Guru might ask you to do.

On the morning of the concert, someone calls me and says, “Guru wants you to be MC tonight.” Oh, wow! MC for a concert of 19,000 people in Montreal! And so, during the morning I try to prepare. What I want to say is: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Concert of a Lifetime!”

All I need to say is Sri Chinmoy will now offer the Concert of a Lifetime. That is what our ads said, and that was one of the things that have made it successful. But I want to deliver my welcome in my best consciousness, so I try to prepare a little speech with the proper intonation and smile and everything else. And then some of my friends are saying, “Oh, you should do this, Utsahi; you should do that. Oh, it's too long; it should be shorter.”

Anyway, so I have all these tensions, but basically I just want to be calm and happy while presenting my Guru to this huge crowd of people. So I am showered and dressed in white and just about ready to go when Prabhakar says, “Utsahi, Guru wants to see you.”

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

These are the real impossibility-challengers

Sri Chinmoy taught that spiritual growth means self-transcendence, constant expansion, always going beyond the boundaries set by our minds. To make that a concrete reality for us, he advocated long-distance running. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team was a pioneer in the field of ultramarathons, specially in multi-day races, such as the triple ultra (700, 1,000 and 1,300 miles) and the six and ten-day races. In 1996, the team directed an unprecedented distance: 2,700 miles. The next year, Sri Chinmoy asked the team to put on an even more astounding race of 3,100 miles! Here was a race that defied all reason; only those willing to dive deep within and draw upon on the strength of their hearts and souls could even attempt the race. Since then, every year, (with the exception of the 2020 Covid hiatus, when the race was run in Austria), a small field of warrior-runners has braved the heat and humidity of summertime New York to circle a small sidewalk loop in Queens from 6 a.m. to midnight. for a maximum of 52 days. With the crucial support of many dedicated volunteers to set up and maintain the race site, to prepare food for runners and helpers, and to provide medical assistance, the race has led to many ultra records, has won the admiration and astonishment of the world, and has demonstrated the power of soulful determination and dedication.

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Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

My Jharna-Kala Surprise

Sri Chinmoy painted over 140,000 mystical paintings that he referred to as 'Jharna-Kala', which means 'fountain-art' in his native Bengali. This painting is the one selected by Aruna that Sri Chinmoy refers to as his favourite.

This was in 1984, I think. I was about 8 or 9 years old.

Guru was at Progress-Promise having a Jharna-Kala painting session. It was those big Jharna-Kalas, not the huge ones, but maybe 2 feet by 3 feet or something, not the little ones but the bigger ones, and quite a few of them.

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Normally Guru had Ranjana or Sanatan or a few Jharna-Kala girls assist him by taking the finished Jharna-Kalas from him. But on that day, I assume Ranjana was not there and Sanatan was not there. Guru called me to come up on stage and assist him with his paintings.

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

'Concern is not a mere dictionary word'

Vijaya (centre) after her successful swim, with Alison Streeter and Kevin Murphy. Alison and Kevin are the 'Queen and King of the Channel', with the most individual female and male channel swims.

On 9 September 2007, Vijaya Claxton, a student of Sri Chinmoy from New York, became the oldest American woman to swim the English channel. This story is told by Sahana and Bahula, who were her assistants on the support boat, and Nilima, who was keeping Sri Chinmoy informed of Vijaya's progress that day.

Sahana: Vijaya made several attempts to swim the English Channel. On one occasion I was on the boat as one of her helpers. She was close to finishing, and had been swimming parallel to the French coast because she could not break through the tides and get to shore. Finally, we saw the lighthouse which signaled the end of the coast. The pilot came out and said, “Whatever you guys do—praying or singing—do it. But if she misses that lighthouse, then there’s nothing I can do. She’s in the open sea, and we’ll have to pull her out.”

I immediately called Nilima, who was at Sri Chinmoy’s house with a small gathering of disciples. Vijaya had been fighting and fighting for nearly 22 hours and now everything was very, very close. At any moment she could be thrown into the open sea. Within minutes of Sri Chinmoy’s being informed, the pilot came out and said, “I can’t believe what just happened. The current changed direction. We’re putting the dinghy out.”

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

How I learned my most important meditation-lessons

I think that I learnt all of my most important lessons in meditation by simply observing Guru, just by being there around him. “God does not expect you to be perfect. He just expects you to be available.” Yes, just being available was almost enough.

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Sri Chinmoy taught his disciples mainly through silent meditation

I tried to feel that what I saw and felt in him was also within myself. So you begin with imitation, imagining inside yourself that self-same calm, that poise, detachment, radiant peace. Then imagination becomes a slowly blossoming reality, you can feel these qualities growing inside yourself – beneath the dross of imperfections, your little divine Self remembers and stirs. Guru was a mirror – look hard and often enough and there you are, smiling back at yourself.

Guru taught us many things that are simply not found anywhere else, little secrets unique to our path. And not just taught but brought them into our consciousness as the living breath of our discipleship, drilled us over and over until each lesson had sunk in. ‘Soulfulness’ for example – where else is this found? In our singing – “Be more soulful!” In our meditations – “Please be more soulful!” Or filing slowly along in a walk-by procession – soulfulness!

To be as close as possible to the consciousness of our own soul – its sincerity, purity, humility, sweetness – and then to maintain this as long, as deeply, as often, as consciously as possible in our lives.

Cross-posted from www.srichinmoycentre.org

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