At The Feet of My Master

Recently Pradhan Balter, a student of Sri Chinmoy for over 30 years, published a book – At The Feet of My Master about his life and experiences with his Spiritual Teacher. His books offers an insightful and illumining account of his 30 years as a disciple of Sri Chinmoy.

You can visit his site: At The Feet of My Master, where it is possible to order.

pradhan

We asked him a few questions about the process of writing.

Why did I write the book?

If you would allow me, I would prefer to re-word the question to “Why was the book written?” At the time of writing it, there was no intent…no purpose beyond offering something nice to Guru. In fact, the book evolved as a result of a series of experiences I had with Guru

As you know, “sitting at the feet of the Master”, historically speaking, is a position of great honor and opportunity. But I never felt that this was a reflection of me or my own inner capacity. There was nothing about me that “earned” this role. It was, frankly, a boon given to me. I was a piece of fruit that Guru chose. He could easily, and in fact, did choose many others for this role. I felt, therefore, that the role didn’t belong to me and it was my responsibility, or even mandate, to share the experience with others.

This “experience sharing” would typically only take place privately in front of a few friends or spiritual-family members and always in the form of story-telling.

The very first time I formally wrote a story down on paper, I did so only because I thought Guru would enjoy it. I knew that if he liked it, he’d have me read it, but if not, no harm. It was on a Christmas trip in Tenerife. I wrote about an experience which I called NOAMS: No outer attention misery syndrome. It was very frank. It’s easy for me to be frank about my own personal experiences, so here I wrote about how my life changed when Guru first asked me to work on him, how I became very attached to the role, and how I received a very lovely public “blessing-scolding” because of that, etc, etc. So, I was delighted when Guru told me at a group function, “I read your story. Please read it aloud. You have a copy?” I replied that didn’t but I could easily tell the story.

Continue reading “At The Feet of My Master”

Seeking a Spiritual Path

Adhiratha Keefe has published a short account of how he became a seeker and then student of Sri Chinmoy in the early 1970s.

Adhiratha with Sri Chinmoy in early 1970s

Adhiratha also shares some of his experiences as a student of Sri Chinmoy, including participating in the World Harmony Run and being involved in other initiatives for peace.

Jamaica Hills, Queens, New York

A few years after arriving in the US in 1964,  Sri Chinmoy moved to the New York suburb of Jamaica, Queens. Throughout his frequent international travels, Sri Chinmoy made his home in a quiet street of this suburb of New York for over three decades. Over the years, many students of Sri Chinmoy, from the US and all corners of the world, moved to the area to set up enterprises and be closer to their spiritual teacher. This has helped the area to be one of the most multicultural and multi-ethnic areas in the US.

The World's Largest Seesaw by 164 Street, Jamaica Hills, Queens. A new Guinness World Record set by Ashrita Furman dedicated to his spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy August 27th 2010

In a recent New York Times article, the area was described as a great melting pot  – ‘whose residents cite harmonious diversity as a defining element.

Three storefronts stand shoulder to shoulder: a modest grocery, whose sign declares Indian-Pakistani-American roots, selling Indian DVDs, two for $5, and asking 75 cents for a microwave-warmed vegetable samosa; Annam Brahma, a new Indian vegetarian restaurant with the motto “Food Is God,” one of several businesses with exteriors painted a light blue to signal devotion to Sri Chinmoy, the late Bangladeshi spiritual teacher who made his home in the area; and St. Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church.

That stretch goes some way toward capturing a neighborhood whose residents cite harmonious diversity as a defining element… (NY Times article)

The 3100 Mile Race

For the past 14 consecutive years, in June, July and August, the neighbourhood also plays host to the world’s longest certified race the 3100 Mile Race. The race can last upto 52 days. One of the most remarkable things of the race is that it is run around a single block. Local Residents and local school children have become accustomed to this remarkable race which has been one of the features heralding the start of the summer.

Local residents explain how they have come to appreciate the presence of this unique race which occurs between 6am and 12pm every day for those 52  days of summer.

Members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre have a strong presence in the area with a number of business enterprises painted in a defining blue. Some of these local stores include:

  • The Smile of the Beyond – a breakfast and luncheonette diner on Parsons Boulevard
  • The Divine Robe – A specialist clothes shop
  • Guru Stationary – Small independent stationary store
  • Guru Health Foods – a busy independent health food store managed by serial Guinness World Record Breaker, Ashrita Furman.
  • Annam Brahma – a popular vegetarian restaurant.
  • Panorama Cafe of My Silence-Heart

Weekend in The Alps

Recently, several European centres met up in Salzburg for a weekend of games, sport, music and meditation in the beautiful surroundings of the Swiss Alps

Report by Standa Zublaty, Czech

Over the weekend of 22-23 May, members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre met up for three days of sport, music, meditation, games and above all – the beautiful nature of Austrian Alps near Salzburg. Evening programs included a few musical performances, meditations and comic quiz games. During the day various activities such as running, hiking and boat trips were organised – giving people the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature.

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World’s Largest Lollipop

August 27, 2009. On the occasion of Sri Chinmoy’s birth anniversary, New Yorker Ashrita Furman unveiled the world’s largest lollipop with a weight of 6,706 pounds (3041 kg). It surpasses the previous Guinness World Record for a giant lollipop by almost 2,000 pounds (907 kg). Ashrita Furman, holder of the most Guinness records, was the architect behind the feat accompanied by an international team of over 25 assistants.

World's Largest Lollipopr
World's Largest Lollipop – Photo by Jowan Gauthier

The 6,706 pound (3041 kg) lollipop is 10 feet (3 m) in diameter and 10 inches (25 cm) thick. The huge red candy is made of sugar and corn syrup, which was melted in hundred 100-gallon (380 litre) pots. Including the stick it has the height of 25 feet (7.50 m). This size ensures Ashrita Furman a new entry into the Guinness Book, because the previous largest lollipop was 4,759 pounds (2158 kg).

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Joy Weekend – South of France

This Joy Weekend was in a place called Sommieres – a medieval town, complete with castle, next to the Vidourle river. While walking around it’s narrow alley-ways it was not too difficult to imagine life many hundreds of years ago. Is all of France this beautiful or are our French brothers and sisters just good at finding wonderful locations? Even the weather was perfect…

After our huge meal (I lost count of how many courses there were) we had our function. Manjula had just returned from the Harmony Run, so we saw a slideshow of some pictures she had taken. Then we played all kinds of games until it got quite late.

In the morning we had our usual early meditation followed by 2-mile race (this time thankfully it was not up and down a huge hill!)

The afternoon function featured numerous French singing groups including Ashcharjya’s group and the newly-formed Bhashini’s group, and an amusing play featuring Bhashini speaking in French and Natashira and Helene? speaking in English. This was all topped-off by an amazing performance of magic from Oindrajalik who had doves appearing from all kinds of places and many other tricks that astonished us all.

Many thanks and gratitude to the French disciples for organising this Joy Weekend which was inspiring, aspiring, amusing, stomach-filling, dynamic and yet relaxing and well organised. It is amazing how much you can receive from one weekend.

By: Suswara Payne

World’s largest pencil unveiled in New York

World's largest pencil

An international group of volunteers led by multiple Guinness world record holder, Ashrita Furman, have just constructed a 76 foot long pencil in Queens, New York, the longest pencil in the world. The pencil was unveiled to coincide with a commemorative function celebrating 76 years in the life of Sri Chinmoy, the internationally respected artist and humanitarian.

The pencil weighs in at over 18,000 pounds, with a 2 1/2 foot long eraser at its end. The ‘lead’ alone weighs over 4,500 pounds, and is made using a graphite core 10 inches thick, which had to be sharpened at the end using a powerful Sawzall reciprocating electric saw instead of your average pencil sharpener. A whopping fifty gallons of paint were needed to finish off the outside of the pencil. In all, an estimated two million regular pencils could be made out of the materials used in the construction.

Forty volunteers from twenty different countries spent two weeks constructing the pencil, working from 7am to 8pm every day with the occasional night shift as the project neared completion. For the project leader, Ashrita Furman, this record will be added to the 70 Guinness records he already holds. Ashrita, a health food store manager from Queens, has held the Guinness ‘versatility’ record for holding more Guinness world records than anyone else on the planet for the past twenty years. Ashrita first began breaking records way back in 1979, and since then has performed feats such as somersaulting the entire length of Paul Revere’s ride in Massachusetts, underwater pogo sticking in the Amazon, performing almost 10,000 situps in an hour under the Eiffel Tower, and bouncing the fastest mile on a pogo stick in Antarctica! In fact, he led a team to break this very same record back in 1996, building a 20 1/2 foot pencil which weighed 560 pounds, and which currently resides in the Guinness Record Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada. This record was shattered in 2002 by the famous stationery company Faber-Castell, who built a giant 64-foot pencil to adorn their offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Ashrita’s motivation in breaking records is to show people what is possible if they truly believe in their own potential. ”We should always push ourselves to do something greater“, he says. “What I love about the Guinness Book is that I can just go through it and choose something that I’ve never done before, train for it, and become the best in the world at that event. In a way, that’s also a challenge for me: to figure out how to train, the best way to train. The underlying principles are the same in my case, because in the end I’m going back to the inner stream, to the principles of discovering your own inner resources.

Ashrita credits Sri Chinmoy with teaching him this philosophy of always transcending ones outer limits, and the record-breaking pencil is a token of appreciation for the tireless service Sri Chinmoy has performed in the cause of making people aware of what they are truly capable of. “I am not a natural athlete, but Sri Chinmoy has shown me that if one can be in touch with one’s inner spirit, anything is possible.”, reflects Ashrita. For over forty years, Sri Chinmoy has been making prolific contributions in the fields of art, music, poetry and athletics – all to give a glimpse of what we are capable of if we but aside the mind’s hesitations and pursue our dreams. Interestingly enough, a significant portion of Sri Chinmoy’s artistic ouevre is comprised of pencil and marker drawings – many of them form part of his ‘Soul-Birds’ series, in which he depicts the unfettered human soul in the form of a bird. To date, he has drawn over 15 million of these birds ever since he began the series back in 1991. “For me, birds have a very special significance on a spiritual level.”, Sri Chinmoy comments on his drawings. “They fly in the sky, and the sky is all freedom. So when the birds fly in the sky, they remind me of the soul’s infinite freedom. I feel that if people come here to view these birds, their inner hunger to fly in the sky of infinite freedom will be fed.”

Blog entries on the world largest pencil:

Inspiration-Letters: premium writing from Sri Chinmoy’s students

The Sri Chinmoy Centre has more than its fair share of good writers, and there are many wonderful articles put there by members describing their own inner experiences and reflections on life. One special section of the website is Inspiration-Letters, a periodical ezine edited by New Yorker Mahiruha Klein featuring articles from our very best writers. Each edition of the magazine usually contains submissions on a particular topic, and past editions have been themed on such diverse topics as meditation, humour, great poets, and extreme sports!

The most recent edition came out only yesterday, and is themed on the rather interesting topic of …miracles! The entries are not restricted miracles of the dramatic variety (although there are a few in there!), many of the writers take great joy from finding miracles in art, music, exploration and the simple incidents of everyday living. Enjoy…

Sri Chinmoy lifts the world’s smallest horse

The world’s smallest horse – named Thumbelina, weighing 57 pounds, and standing just 17 inches tall – her owner Michael Goessling and handler Tago DePietro were honored for their work to benefit children in need. In an award program entitled Lifting Up the World With a Oneness-Heart, 75-year-old fitness champion and world harmony leader Sri Chinmoy honored Thumbelina with three different lifts:

  • Thumbelina in the arms of owner Mike Goessling were lifted overhead as Sri Chinmoy used only his right arm to lift a total of 301 pounds
  • Thumbelina stood on a platform and was lifted by a special machine that was propelled upward as Sri Chinmoy used a hand gripper (see photo)
  • Using a modified seated calf-raise machine, Sri Chinmoy lifted a total weight of 567 pounds as Thumbelina stood between her owner and handler – and he lifted them 33 times!

Thumbelina is the first horse to receive the Lifting Up the World award. She is devoted to raising money and awareness for children in need around the world. “If anyone is right for the job, it is Thumbelina,” say her owners. “Every day, thousands of people fall in love with Thumbelina and every day, she gets one step closer to fulfilling her mission (of raising $1 million for children). It is amazing to witness such a tiny, loving creature accomplish such great works. She is a blessing that we are thrilled to share with the world.”

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Joy Days

Sri Chinmoy once told a student of his “All I want from you is to be happy and to realise God”. Perhaps many of his students are a good distance away from the second goal, but they can certainly try to achieve the first! In Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy, staying cheerful and happy of paramount importance; when we are depressed or frustrated, it is very hard to make spiritual progress. That is why over the years Sri Chinmoy has come up with one imaginative idea after another to keep his students happy and in the heart.

One thing Sri Chinmoy encourages in this regard is for his students from different meditation centres in different countries to meet up together to meditate, but also to have fun and be happy. These so-called ‘Joy Days’ offer a chance for his students to escape the pressures and responsibilities of the heart and partake of the kind of innocent joy we used to have as children. As well as meditation there could be team games, plays, novelty competitions, treasure hunts, singing and a whole lot besides. Often Sri Chinmoy’s students have to travel great distances to be a part of these Joy Days, but the whole experience serves to burn away the heaviness of the mind’s broodings and leave one refreshed and reenergised.

Over the past weekend there were two such Joy Days: students from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and other countries – over 700 students in total – met up for two days in Heidelberg, Germany, whilst a smaller Joy Day involving almost 70 students from England, France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland took place over two days in the Burren region of the West of Ireland. Joy Days in the former Soviet Union countries, where over one-third of Sri Chinmoy’s students come from, can involve over 1,000 students.

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New Guinness record by Ashrita Furman

Ashrita Furman, a long-time student of Sri Chinmoy and the holder of more Guinness world records than any other human being on earth, added another one to his tally yesterday. In an underwater pool in Key West. Florida he set the record for the longest time spent underwater, twirling the hula around his hips for 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

Ashrita credits Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence with inspiring him to break records. His records vary from the most cigar boxes balanced on one chin to the fastest mile balancing a milk bottle on his head. He is currently 52 years old, but if anything, he is increasing the rate at which he breaks records, breaking over forty in the past two years.

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An inspiring interview – Ashrita talks with ‘What is Enlightenment’ magazine about Sri Chinmoy, his meditation experiences and how he came to start breaking records.