'When are you going to stop breaking bones and start breaking records?'
This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »
The most significant experience I have had in the running world was when Guru asked me to run across America from California to New York.
So, this was, I think, 1983. This was before ultramarathons had started in the Centre. There were really no ultramarathons then, as far as I remember. We did have races, though, including marathons. I was the director of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team in Puerto Rico, we did many events. But in 1983, Guru asked me to go to San Francisco to be in the Centre there.
And so, I was there in San Francisco when the disciples in the Centre in Victoria, Canada, were going to have their very first triathlon. I think it was in 1983. Guru was going to travel from New York to Victoria. So, all of the disciples in California decided to drive up and help with the triathlon and to have a big Joy Day.
Now, just before we did that, I fractured my arm. I fell off a skateboard, so I had my arm in a cast. We drove up a week before and we had this beautiful triathlon. it was super exciting. Guru was so happy. That afternoon Guru had a function with all the disciples in a big meeting room. He was telling stories about the day and just having a really nice time and answering questions.
So, during this function, I was just sitting there minding my own business with my hand on the cast. Guru was talking to different disciples. Then he looked over at me and he said, “So, Banshidhar, when are you going to stop breaking bones and start breaking records?”
I was kind of surprised. I said, “Well, whatever you say, Guru.” He kept looking at me and wiggling his feet. And then he said, “No, why don’t you run around Hawaii?”
But one of my dear brothers, my good brother Nirvik—who actually just passed away about two weeks ago…. He used to live in Hawaii also. That's where I was born and raised. So, he told Guru, “Guru, there is really not a road that goes all the way around Hawaii.” In my mind I was thinking, “Oh, no, don't say that. It would be great. It's a nice little run of about 300 miles.”
So, Guru kept looking at me and smiling. I could see that he was thinking of something, seeing something. So, he says, “Why don't you run from California to New York?” I said, “If you say so, Guru.”
All of a sudden he said, “Okay, everybody, Banshidhar is going to run from California to New York.” I was in shock. Everybody started clapping and I did not know what had happened. I was sitting there in a daze. My mind was saying, “Wait a minute, it went from 300 miles around Hawaii to 3000 miles across America in one minute! Oh, man….”
Everyone was congratulating me. And I didn't know what was going on. In my head, I said, “Well, okay, whatever. So then after that, after the function, when Guru was going to leave, all the disciples went outside. We stood in a nice little line on each side of the path. When Guru walked by, he did his blessings. Of course, I was also out there. Guru came down the line, speaking with everybody and smiling. When he got to me, he said, “Come walk with me.” And so, I start walking with him.
I walked with Guru on his way to the car and he said, “Okay, good boy, start training, and when you are ready, let me know. I will tell you the date when you should start.”
So now remember, this was 1983. This was before the 3100-mile race and all of these ultramarathons. There was not a lot of information out there about how to train for something like this. But there were people, I would say, throughout history maybe about 100 people, had done that in the past, had run across America.
So, I started training. It took me maybe about a year to a year and a half until I felt that I was about as ready as anything. And then I told Guru, “I guess I'm ready.”
Guru asked me, “What would I like to call this run?” I said, “Well, how about Aspiration-Journey?” Then Guru closed his eyes. He smiled and said: “Everest-Aspiration-Journey.”
In the spiritual life,
Every day, every hour,
I must long for God’s inner Guidance
And God’s outer Guidance.
Sri Chinmoy 1