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The spirit of the Peace Run continues
During 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was scheduled to run across the European continent starting in Portugal and finishing in Prague, the Czech Republic in October, but recent events have made this not possible. However, whilst staying in their respective towns and countries, members of the Peace Run have been eager to keep alive the spirit of the Peace Run, by continuing to run on their own, and dedicate these runs to the same cause of peace and upliftment of the human spirit.
In this spirit, the Peace Run has welcomed runners to commit to a daily mileage so that each week, the 'virtual' team can target a particular mileage of between 60-160km a day. The idea is that, although physically we may be separated, we can still seek to maintain an inner connection and keep alive the universal dream of bringing together humanity in a spirit of friendship and peace.
“Peace does not mean the absence of war, peace means the presence of harmony, love, satisfaction and oneness. Peace means a flood of love in the world family.”
– Sri Chinmoy
This 'virtual' Peace Run is open to anyone who would like to join in the simple aim of dedicating some of their weekly running to the spirit of peace. Before beginning their run, participants from the virtual peace run have briefly meditated on the concept and feeling of peace as a way to make their individual runs meaningful to this wider goal.
“Our soul lives in Peace and lives for Peace. If we live a life of peace, we are ever enriched and never impoverished. Unhorizoned is our inner peace; like the boundless sky, it encompasses all.”
- Sri Chinmoy
In the first week of the Peace Run, the team have completed a total of 511 km, which is equivalent of running from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina - to Struga on the border of Albania and North Macedonia. The local organiser for Bosnia, Amur gave this enthusiastic report.
"It is like dream come true even if it is Virtual Peace Run. We had two groups of local runners in Sarajevo and Banjaluka united with the same idea to run for peace. Cities were closed during some periods of the day but we found the way by sharing the distance among us and running whenever possible. We could not run in groups because of social distancing regulations but it did not change our feeling that we did something together for the cause of Peace".
The Run team is usually a global, international team of runners, so for the 'virtual' Balkan leg, runners from afar afield as Australia, Britain and Germany have participated - offering their individual runs to the total km. Tirtha from Germany felt that dedicating the run to peace was a significant way to feel the inner presence of peace.
"As we don’t have a torch here, I took a tulip, symbolic of a torch, to meditate on Peace on the anniversary on April 27th. Especially on that first day, I really felt a little glowing light inside my heart while I ran. I even thought, that people, whom I met on the way, must have seen it, too. It gave me so much joy".
Stacey from New Zealand has been running through an early Australian winter, but despite the cold, she felt the powerful memories from her previous Peace Runs inspired her individual runs.
"The weather was all over the place this week, wet, windy, sunny and always cold! The sound of rain on the roof and heavy winds, or the feel of your cold nose and hands as you prepare to leave the house makes it not so enticing to step out the door. But it was the memories of all of the Peace Run's over the last few years, the warm hearted people we met, the hope and promise you feel for this world of ours as you carry the Peace Torch, that helped me to take the first step each and every day."
Although our current situation is very challenging, it also brings a renewed focus on what is important to value and cherish. The virtual Peace Run is a reminder that - wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourself, we can still make a very meaningful contribution to creating a better world, where we value peace, friendship and offering goodwill to others.
Finding joy in life at home
Many of us around the world are finding ourselves in the unusual situation of being confined to our homes. When we are confined to our place of residence, it can remind us how much we miss meeting friends, enjoying the freedom of nature - we can even start to miss our work environment and the chance to speak to colleagues. However, whilst we live through this challenging situation, there are a few things we can consider to make the most of the situation.
Routine. If we are not used to being fixed in one place, it can be daunting to have 16 hours to fill. The best way around this is to create a routine, with hour slots for things like exercise, work, study, reading, entertainment, meals. Having a fixed routine helps to avoid falling into a trap of passively looking at screens to pass the time. It can also give a sense of accomplishment if we do our work for a few hours in the morning, we can feel like we deserve some relaxation. Another part of a good routine is to do something different at the weekend - have a day of doing something very different.
Exercise routine. An essential part of any daily routine is having exercise. This can be anything you are able to do. If you are allowed out for one piece of exercise, you will appreciate even more the opportunity to run. Sri Chinmoy encouraged running as an excellent complement to meditation and the inner life. Running helps to clear the mind and cultivate a sense of dynamism.
“In the morning if we can energise ourselves with physical activities, then we can accomplish so many things during the rest of the day. That is why I say sports and physical fitness are of supreme importance. If we neglect the physical and let the body become weak, then the mind also becomes weak.” – Sri Chinmoy
If we are regular, we will feel better for giving the body much-needed exercise. If running is not possible, we can definitely be inventive with home exercise routines, even in the smallest of spaces. There are 650 muscles in the body, try to give them all a workout!
Meditation. If you have never tried meditation before, now is a great opportunity, in that it will be much easier to find time. The best is to choose a fixed time - a time when it will be quieter in the house like early morning is excellent. Generally, it is best to learn to meditate from meeting like-minded people who can offer guidance and meditate in a group. But, since that is not possible at the moment, you can still do your best to learn on your own. Don't worry about how good you are at keeping the mind still. The most important thing is to cultivate the inner hunger and feel meditation can really change your life for the better. We have a home meditation course here.
Singing. It is always good to try something new. Singing can be an excellent way to lift our spirits. Here there are some simple meditation mantras. If you can get into the flow of the mantras you will find you can gain the benefits of meditation without having to worry about quietening the mind so much.
Dealing with stress. This can be a stressful time. We may worry about the health of our friends and relatives, and we may have worries about our own financial situation. For many of us, life has been turned upon its head. Rather than filling our minds with worry and concern, it is better to spend that time offering our goodwill and prayers to our friends and family. When we worry, we only offer a negative energy. Instead of worrying, we can use the same time and energy to offer our concern and best wishes to those around us. This will give a sense of doing something in a positive spirit.
Do you want to be always happy?
Then give up fighting
And learn the beautiful art
Learn to switch off In these times, we do need to keep up with what is happening in our society, but we don't need to become news addicts, checking our phone several times through the day. Once or twice is best. Avoid scrolling through news feeds and social media - especially first thing in the morning and late at night. If we are filled with anxiety, watching the news or spending too much time reading things online can exacerbate these worries.
Read something new. Many of us are now working online. We work on a computer and we then relax by watching a screen. By the end of our day our eyes can get tired and our head a little fuzzy. Reading a good book is an excellent way to enter another world and escape the world of computers and phones.
Speak to friends. We are social beings, if we are isolated, it is even more important to keep in contact with friends. Sri Chinmoy was a great advocate of speaking on the phone and not relying on impersonal electronic communication. He observed that when we send texts and emails, it only touches the mind of the other person. But, if we speak to a person, we can bring our and their hearts to the fore. It is a good discipline to get in the habit of ringing one friend per day, and seeing how they are getting on. It will give more inspiration than just sending a text.
Meditation at home
Many people around the world are finding themselves in the unusual situation of having to stay indoors for prolonged periods. One effective approach to this challenging situation is taking the time to learn and practise meditation. Meditation is very effective for helping to cultivate inner peace and happiness - the most powerful antidote to dealing with the stress and anxiety of outer turmoil.
Students of Sri Chinmoy give free meditation classes all around the world, but at the moment most of these have temporarily been put on hold. Although it is best to learn meditation in person, we can always try to make the best of the situation we face. Hopefully, the pages on this site may offer a start to your meditation journey.
“When we meditate, we make our mind calm, quiet, vacant and tranquil, and we receive Light from above in infinite measure.”
How to get started
If you would like to get started with meditation, there is an introductory page on meditation here.
There is also a Meditation home study programme here.
The most important thing is to try and schedule a time for your meditation - either in the morning or evening. A good routine which might combine exercise, reading, meditation, leisure can be a good strategy for dealing with living from one place.
The great thing about meditation is that it is not complicated or need a lot of preparation. We can start right away - just find a comfortable place to sit still for 15 minutes and begin.
On this site, we have quite a few resources which will enable you to get started. These include
- What you need to get started with meditation
- Some simple but effective meditation exercises
- Music for meditation
- How to stay inspired and make meditation a regular part of your life
- Mantras and chants
Start of the European Peace Run 2020
Recently, the European Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run began in spectacular style in Lisbon, Portugal. From the presidential palace, the team of international runners were warmly greeted by the President of Portugal (Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa) and were later joined by many school children, officials and ordinary people as it began its continental journey. The European Peace Run will spend the six months covering 16,000 kilometres as it takes a message of peace and harmony to 36 different European nations.
The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1987 as a vehicle to combine physical dynamism with our inner aspiration to create a more peaceful world. Since its inception in 1987, the Peace Run has continued to grow and has touched the lives of countless people from all areas of the world. Its simple message "Peace begins with Me" is a unifying force which resonates with people from all cultures and background. Sri Chinmoy considered himself to be a 'student of peace' who strove tirelessly to offer a message of peace.
“Lasting peace must begin within the depths of the individual, and from there spread in ever-widening circles as a dynamic force for world change.”
– Sri Chinmoy
After the initial welcome, the Peace Run ran through the streets of Lisbon and went to the Restelo Stadium, giving the chance for many children to run with the torch and offer their goodwill to the spirit of the run.
Video of meeting with President
A new redesign for some of our favourite vegetarian restaurants
Sri Chinmoy's students have established vegetarian restaurants all over the world - you could say that working in these restaurants is an extension of our own spiritual practise, because they allow us to see and serve the divine inside everyone who comes through the door. Recently, two of our most beloved restaurants in New York and Seattle have undergone some renovation, so as to serve a whole new generation of customers and spiritual seekers alike.
The Smile of the Beyond was established in Queens, NY, way back in 1972 - almost 50 years ago! - and combines the charms of an old-style diner with a sumptuous array of vegetarian breakfast options, sandwiches, wraps and soups, with new dishes being introduced all the time. The diner has undergone a little bit of a refurbishment in recent months, and the new-look Smile was recently featured in a very nice article in Edible Queens.
The Silence-Heart-Nest, a veritable institution in Seattle's Fremont area for many years, has also had quite a considerable redesign, and now has a beautiful pure white colour scheme.
Sahadeva Orchestra tours the Balkans
Often singers and musicians from Sri Chinmoy Centres all over the world come together to perform Sri Chinmoy's music, going on tour as part of a large concert ensemble. One such ensemble is conducted by Sahadeva Torpy from London, and has come to be known as the 'Sahadeva Orchestra'.
Audio: Sahadeva Orchestra in concert
Their most recent tour in November - their second this year - took them to Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria. About 35 people joined the tour starting in Belgrade. The tour was widely covered on radio and TV.
As well as performing Sri Chinmoy’s music for so many people, the concert tour is a great experience for the singers and musicians. Most of us are non-professionals, and many of us grow and learn so many things in such an intense short time.
As the group conductor Sahadeva says: "Even though it’s exhausting and requires you to give everything, you have this magical feeling that the whole experience is a beautiful opportunity, and that your task is only to give your heart completely to the journey and be happy."
Peace Week in Palermo, Italy
Recently, a week of peace activities, inspired by the life of Sri Chinmoy, was held in Palermo, Italy. The aim of the week was to involve a range of people in initiatives including art, sport, interfaith meeting and a Peace Parade through Palermo, Sicily. The events were well attended and the week of peace was embraced by the local communities.
Sri Chinmoy dedicated his life to offering a message of peace. He wished to be remembered as a 'student of peace' as he felt peace was a subject we should deeply value and try to embody in our lives.
“This world of ours has everything save and except one thing: peace. And this peace has to start from within. If I have peace of mind, then only can I be of help to you. If you have peace of mind, then only can you be of help to me.”
– Sri Chinmoy
A global team of runners from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run were present at many of the activities - meeting local schools and communities to share the message of the run, which is "Peace Begins with Me." The Peace Run was founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1987 as a practical way to allow people from all walks of life and backgrounds to come together and share the common aspiration of humanity to work towards a more harmonious and peaceful world.
The Peace Run was warmly welcomed by local dignitaries, hospital staff, schools, interfaith leaders and were given a special welcome at the University Games.
President of the European Peace Run, Devashishu Torpy said: "It was a really good experience to meet so many welcoming people and feel their genuine wish to support the aims and aspirations of the Peace Run."
Paintings for World Peace and Harmony
During the week, the Jharna Kala paintings of Sri Chinmoy were displayed at 14 locations in the city, including Falcone Borsellino Airport, the Academy of Fine Arts, the Botanical Garden, the Faculty of Law, the Polididactic Hall of Viale delle Scienze, the Court of Palermo, and the Sant’Antonino University Library. Some of the art exhibitions were also the venue for short music concerts, by groups such as Mountain Silence.
Parade for Peace
A very significant event was a Parade for Peace, joined by many local people. It included a 100-meter long "Canvas for Peace" which was drawn by young school children, who all contributed their own artistic thoughts on themes of peace, harmony and brotherhood. The long Canvas for Peace was also joined by other groups to reach a total length of 150 metres.
This is just a snapshot of the many varied activities, which took place. More events and photographs can be viewed at the Peace Run website.
Peace quote by Sri Chinmoy from Sri Chinmoy, Run And Smile, Smile And Run, Agni Press, 2000.
Impossibility Challenger 2019 - Den Haag
Impossibility Challenger was an event founded in 1982 by Sri Chinmoy with the idea to give people the chance to transcend their limitations and make an effort to set a new world record or personal best. The event is organised by members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre and, in the past few decades, has been held in several cities around the world The unique event attracts a diverse range of participants who are keen to test themselves in the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of 'Impossibility Challenger'.
This years edition was held in Den Haag, Netherlands, and attracted a range of record breakers from quickest time to solve a Rubik's cube and tests of memory - to physical challenges such as the fastest running whilst skipping.
Sri Chinmoy encouraged this event because he felt that the personal effort and discipline of trying to better oneself could give a more meaningful understanding of our latent capacities and this effort to reach new achievements would give a genuine sense of happiness. Sri Chinmoy often described this effort of challenging ourself as a philosophy of 'self-transcendence'.
Either forget impossibility’s challenge
Or challenge impossibility’s pride
To become truly happy.
- Sri Chinmoy
At this year's event, one of the participants was Ashrita Furman, who holds the Guinness World Record for having the most world records. In a record-breaking career, since 1979, he has set over 700 Guinness Records and currently holds more than 200. At this event, he set a new record for cutting 59 kiwis in a minute and also - completing 66 rounds of juggling a burning torch, within one minute.
The event attracted a range of self-transcendence feats - including push-ups, paper folding, skipping, sack racing and fastest one-handed hand-clap. It also included an epic feat of poetry recital. American Mahiruha Klein recited, over a period of several hours, 1,000 poems of Sri Chinmoy from the poetry series "The Golden Boat" He later commented that he recited from memory 965 absolutely correct, with just a few slips in the other 35 poems. For Mahiruha, the long period of recital was not about the outer display of memory, but a very rewarding inner experience to become immersed in a world of spiritual poetry.
The event attracted substantial media coverage from the local Dutch press who covered the unique challenges of the event.
Songs for Peace in Hungary
Recently, at the world-renowned Kodaly Centre, in Hungary, over 800 school children performed a special concert for Peace. The concert to promote peace and harmony was held in honour of the UN International Day for Peace. The concert also featured 15 different songs by composer Sri Chinmoy. The songs were in English, Bengali and some translated into Hungarian.
The children came from 23 different schools across Hungary and were led by the music group Mountain Silence. Mountain-Silence have performed at venues across the world for the past 25 years, but this was a unique experience as they were joined by so many other singers, to create a wonderful harmony of voices.
Sri Chinmoy was a prolific composer who composed many songs on the theme of the heart's aspiration and inner peace. One of his songs on peace reads:
A new world of peace,
A new world of light,
A new world of height,
Can alone give me
- Sri Chinmoy
The event created a positive and vibrant atmosphere in the famous concert hall, with the children enthusiastically entering the spirit of the music and creating a dynamic and uplifting sound. To further the aims of the Concert for Peace, members of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run made a brief presentation on how they have been running for peace around Europe.
Song from Journey's Goal, part 1 at Sri Chinmoy Songs
Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden Race
On 12 October, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team held their annual two-mile 'Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden Run' at the site of the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, New York.
The aim of the race is to celebrate Sri Chinmoy's belief that sport can be a vehicle for personal transformation and can make a small contribution to a better world.
The race is very much run in a spirit of appreciating the joy of running. After the two-mile race, there was a short peace walk with the Peace Torch - a torch carried by Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run to over 160 countries around the world. This short walk and ceremony gave everybody the opportunity to share in the Peace Run's message of oneness.
During this year's event, participants from all other the world were joined by several special guests and friends who shared their thoughts and wishes for creating a better world. We were joined by Ida Keeling, a 104 year old sprinter and former Bronx Borough President. Ida recently broke the world record for women aged 100-104 for the 100m sprint, completing the distance in 1 minute and 17.33 seconds (WR link). Still vibrant with life-energy, Ida is an inspiring example of Sri Chinmoy's philosophy of self-transcendence and never quitting because of age. After the race, she shared her secrets of old age, which involve eating well, staying positive and doing daily exercise. Ida was accompanied by her daughter Shelley Keeling, who is an accomplished masters athlete and who is the one who introduced her mother to sprinting. Shelley recently 2 Gold medals and 1 Bronze at the recent European masters games at the age of 68.
Also speaking at the event were Nadirah and Askia Muhammad from the Jamaica area of Queens, New York. Dr. Askia Muhammad is an imam who ministers to the Muslim community in Jamaica and is President of the Ummah Group, an organization dedicated to interfaith dialogue and spiritual development. He shared a very powerful opening prayer during the event. The Muhammads are parents of current 400m hurdles Olympic and world champion Dalilah Muhammad - asked about the success of his daughter, Dr. Askia modestly replied his greatest success was not to interfere with her God-given gifts - but only to gently encourage and support her daughter's decisions. Dalilah won the gold medal at the recent 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, setting the current world record with a time of 52.16 seconds.
We also were delighted to welcome our long-time friend Coach Jim Hurt, Head Track and Field Coach of nearby St. John’s University. Coach Hurt has spent 36 years with the St John's track and field and cross-country teams (the Red Storm); 29 of those years were as head coach, and he has had a tremendous amount of success in those years. Our final guest was Ms. Najibe Burger, who has served the Queens community in so many capacities - she is currently on the boards of the Queens Council of the Arts and the Queens Family Court, as well as being the President of Latin American Cultural Center of Queens.
Flushing Meadows Park has a very special connection with the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, having played host to our running events since the late 1970s and our multi-day ultra races since the 1980s. On October 11, 2006, exactly one year before Sri Chinmoy's physical passing, this iconic section of Flushing Meadows Park was dedicated by the New York Parks department as the Sri Chinmoy Heart-Garden to celebrate the legacy and vision for world peace that Sri Chinmoy had encouraged.
Sri Chinmoy felt that sport and running gave us the outer dynamism and the inner aspiration to transcend our previous achievements. He also saw sport as an opportunity to promote happiness and goodwill amongst competitors.
"In competitive sports, our primary aim should be not to surpass others but constantly to surpass ourselves. In the outer life, when we run with our friends, we are seeing who is actually the best. And we cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. But we compete not for the sake of defeating others, but in order to bring forward our own capacity."- Sri Chinmoy