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Spiritual Significance of the New Year
Happy New Year! Sri Chinmoy loved newness, encouraging us to keep our spiritual life fresh and spontaneous. “Every day, when morning dawns, we should feel that we have something new to accomplish,” he said. Thus, Sri Chinmoy saw the New Year as a golden opportunity to renew our inspiration for the spiritual life, and to make new promises to our souls – similar to making New Year’s resolutions.
For over 40 years, Sri Chinmoy gave annual messages for New Year’s encouraging seekers to strive for world harmony, and becoming the best a person can ever be. In the early days, Sri Chinmoy offered these messages during his public New Year’s Meditations, taking place early December at sacred venues such as Riverside Church by Columbia University. Later on, Sri Chinmoy’s travels during Christmas and over New Year’s took him to numerous countries where he befriended heads of states and locals alike, incorporating New Year’s Messages into his free Peace Concerts.
First New Year Message, 1966
Sri Chinmoy offered his first New Year’s Message on January 1, 1966. It was a soulful prayer to become aware of our divine heritage. It reminded us of God’s blessings — sweetness, joy, light and peace — sparkling divinely in us, while honouring our New Year’s spiritual resolutions.
New Year’s Message for the Year 1966
May humanity climb up one rung in the ladder of divine growth, and realise in its soul the Sweetness, Joy, Light and Peace of the Supreme.
Out of the pure fulness of the heart, may the lips of Truth speak and the hands of Truth act in the year 1966.
The New Year — what can it teach us? It can teach us the secret of spiritual self-reliance. It can teach us how we ourselves can be our Masters and Saviours.
From the New Year we can learn that God is God only when God is OUR God and not MY God. From the New Year we can learn that Truth is Truth only when Truth is OUR Truth and not MY Truth.
At every moment it is we who can make ourselves a blessing to ourselves and to the world at large.
May the universal embrace of the New Year flower into a permanent smile of Victory on the Face of the Supreme.
Sri Chinmoy 1
When the New Year Dawns
Sri Chinmoy frequently reminded us that the New Year offers a new opportunity to make spiritual progress, in blessing us with hope, light and firm determination to keep transcending (or improving upon) our present capacities. In his book The Outer Runner and The Inner Runner (1984), Sri Chinmoy’s essay on “When the New Year Dawns” likens a spiritual seeker to a runner:
On the eve of the New Year, a new consciousness dawns on earth. God once again inspires each human being, each creature, with new hope, new light, new peace and new joy. God says, "The New Year dawns and a new consciousness dawns within you. Run toward the destined Goal." We listen to God, to the dictates of our Inner Pilot, and we run toward the ultimate Reality. The New Year energises us, encourages us and inspires us to run toward that ultimate Goal.
When the New Year dawns, we have to make ourselves conscious of the fact that we have to transcend ourselves this year. We have to go beyond our present capacity, beyond our present achievement. When we have that kind of firm determination, God showers His choicest Blessings upon us.
God always wants us to move ahead; He does not want us to look back. We know that while a runner is running fast, if he looks back, he will stumble. Similarly, if we are constantly looking behind at the year that we are leaving aside, we will think of our sorrow, misery, frustration, failure and so forth. But if we look forward, we will see hope dawning deep within us. Every day in this New Year is equally important.
Sri Chinmoy 2
May your New Year’s resolutions stay fresh and illumining every day, fulfilling your life goals!
- All of Sri Chinmoy's New Year messages from 1967 to 2007 were published in two volumes here and here.
- Sources: The photographs are taken from the Sri Chinmoy Centre gallery3, and the aphorisms from Sri Chinmoy's poems and writings 4. The last picture is one of Sri Chinmoy's spontaneous Jharna Kala artworks – one of over 140,000 paintings created by Sri Chinmoy over a span of 33 years. 5
- 1. Source: My Consulate years by Sri Chinmoy, 1996
- 2. Source: The Outer Runner and The Inner Runner by Sri Chinmoy (1984)
- 3. The first three photographs were taken by Sarama Minoli, Kedar Misani and Bijoy Imhof
- 4. Poems in image 1 and image 3 taken from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, part 39 (2004); poems in image 2 and image 4 from Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, parts 172 and part 169 (1992)
- 5. This particular painting was created in 1976, and is part of a collection donated to the Zürich Sri Chinmoy Centre.
Sri Chinmoy's first European Lecture Tour - 50th Anniversary
50 years ago, during the winter of 1970, Sri Chinmoy made his first European Lecture Tour, offering several university talks at prestigious universities around the UK, Ireland, France and Switzerland.
His first university talk was at the ancient city of Canterbury, at the University of Kent with the title "Is death the end?" Other university lectures included "How to conquer fear" in Paris and "The University" at Oxford's Keble College
In these early talks, Sri Chinmoy sought to demystify spiritual philosophy, concentrating not on the meaning of ancient slokas, but offering a practical and direct understanding of the world and spiritual life we face. The talks combined both a deep philosophy, and simple language which is relatable to the audience.
As well as giving lectures Sri Chinmoy began the talk with a short meditation and, after the talk, invited questions on spiritual topics. The talks were well received by audiences of up to 300, with many attendees offering comments of appreciation after the talk; a common observation was how Sri Chinmoy appeared to be imbued with peace, even whilst giving the talk and answering a variety of questions.
"Aspiration. What do we mean by this term? The inner cry, the mounting flame within us. Aspiration is reality’s constant necessity.
Receptivity. How can we have receptivity? We can have receptivity if we grow into purity and sincerity. When sincerity and purity loom large and important in our earthly existence, then we can easily have receptivity."
- Sri Chinmoy, "The Higher Worlds", University of Cambridge, 23 Nov 1970.
During these university talks, Sri Chinmoy also established his first European meditation centres. After the talk, seekers often came up to Sri Chinmoy to say they were moved by his talk and would like to become his disciple. Some of the earliest Sri Chinmoy centres were established at this time, including Janaka and Janani Spence who helped to found the first Scottish centre in Glasgow - a Sri Chinmoy Centre, which continues to this day.
In Ireland, Sri Chinmoy's arrival was covered by the Irish press, which published interviews with him in four major newspapers. Sri Chinmoy gave also gave a talk on "Attachment and Detachment" at Trinity College, Dublin on the 1 December. Sundar Dalton, who was present at that first talk mentioned how he went out of curiosity on the encouragement of a friend, but on entering the lecture hall felt.
"Sri Chinmoy had a strong spiritual vibration I had never experienced before. I felt he was truly sincere and found myself wanting to continue. After the talk, we went to a small room at the top of Trinity College, where we meditated with Sri Chinmoy."
Sundar Dalton helped found an early Dublin Centre, before moving to Paris and then New York, where he has been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for the past 50 years.
Andrea Marcato wins the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
The 2020 edition of the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race has ended in Salzburg Austria, with three out of the five runners completing the nearly 5,000km distance within the alloted time.
This year's first place was the Italian Andrea Marcato (38) who grown up in Lughetto, a suburb of the city of Venice. His time of 43 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes is a record for a first-time entrant. He also set multiple Italian distance records during his run and is now ranked fifth worldwide. After finishing he said:
“I am really happy that I basically covered all the distances, which are available in the world. So I am really happy and satisfied now. The feeling of deep satisfaction, inner peace and joy, which I perceived for a whole month after finishing 10-day races motivated me to run the world's longest certified road race. A feeling which I did not get after 24-hour races.”
Second was local Salzburg resident, Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer (52), who works as a manger of a music instrument shop in Salzburg. He finished with a personal best time of 49 days, 14 hours, 13 minutes.
Nirbhasa Magee (41) from Ireland also completed his fourth consecutive race. This was despite a mid race sickness that forced him to walk for several days. Fortunately, he had enough miles in the bank from earlier in the race.
Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, from Slovakia and Milan Javornicky, 46, from Czech Republic could not finish within the allotted time, but cheerfully raced for 51 days finishing with 2799.6 miles and 2,713.9 miles respectively.
The world's longest certified road race took place on a 1 km loop at Glanspitz Park along the river flowing through Salzburg, Austria. The race involves covering the equivalent of over 118 marathons - 4989 km - in succession. They can run or walk as much as they want between 6 am and midnight. Usually the competition takes place in New York, but due to covid-19 it was shifted to Salzburg.
To give an insight into this unique endurance test, Andrea Marcato went through 9 pairs of running shoes and the pain of burning feet. To ease the pain in his feet, he soaked them in ice for 5 minutes every day. The vegetarian lived only on whole-wheat toast with avocado and cheese to achieve the goal of eating 10,000 calories per day and to avoid digestion problems. Despite that, he lost 10 kilogrammes of weight. Second placed Austrian Ushika Muckenhumer gained 3 kg of weight. He preferred ice cream, cakes, whipped cream and mascarpone shakes with chocolate or fruits to take in the necessary calories. When mental crises appeared which slowed him down he listed to or sang meditative songs to regain his speed.
The 3100 Mile Race was initiated by Indian born meditation master, athlete and musician Sri Chinmoy for talented runners in 1997. He himself participated in many marathons and ultra races. Sri Chinmoy describesthe benefit of a multi-day race with the following words:
“Self-transcendence is the only thing a human being needs in order to be truly happy. So these races help the runners tremendously, although outwardly they go through such hardship. Eventually, when the race is over, they feel they have accomplished something most significant.”
The race received significant interest from Salzburg locals and the national press. Many locals remarked on how the race brought a special energy and happiness to the local park where the race was held.
- Highlights of the race
- Salzburg.ORF.at - English translation and link to news article
- Irishman on verge of completing 3,100 miles(link is external) at Independent.ie
Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race 2020
On 13 September 2020, the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race began in Salzburg Austria, with five intrepid runners from Italy, Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia taking to the start line.
Over the next seven weeks, the runners will endeavour to complete the epic challenge of running 3,100 miles (just shy of 5,000km) which means they must maintain an average of 60 miles ( 96 km) a day.
For the past 23 years, the race has been run in Jamaica, Queens, New York. However, it was clearly not possible to run the race this year in New York as usual. But many runners and race supporters were keen to maintain this special annual race, and so finally (after exploring courses in the Czech Republic and Slovakia) a venue has been found in Salzburg, Austria. The race field has been limited to five runners and will strictly adhere to local health standards to ensure the safety of runners and helpers.
The race was founded by spiritual teacher and ultra-runner pioneer Sri Chinmoy, who saw distance running as a vehicle to enable runners to bring to the fore their physical, mental and spiritual capacities to complete this unique challenge. This year will mark the 24th edition of the race.
“We have to believe in a higher Power.
Only by believing in a higher Power
Can we go beyond and beyond
Our limited, human capacity.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In this year's race, these are the five runners:
- Nirbhasa Magee, 41 (IRL), living in Reykjavik, Iceland - 3 finishes, ranked 22nd
- Ananda-Lahari Zuscin, 45, Kosice Slovakia - 6 finishes, ranked 25th
- Ushika Muckenhumer, 52, Salzburg, Austria - 1 finish, ranked 30th
- Andrea Marcato, 38 (ITA), living in Zurich, Switzerland - first-time runner, two times over 1000km in 10 day race
- Milan Javornicky, 46, Celakocice, CZE - first-time runner, 569 miles in ten-day race
Over the next two months, you will be able to follow the race through photos, videos and race reports. Definitely we welcome visitors trackside, so if you are in the area (or if it's safe to travel) please come and stop by! We hope you will be inspired by the efforts and inspiration of the runners in this race. Race Director Rupantar Larosso who lives in NY, US said on the eve of the race "It is great the race is going ahead and I wish all the runners and supporters the best of luck"
Canvas for Peace honoured in Italy
Recently, a large Canvas for Peace, that was created in Palermo, Sicily during the Sri Chinmoy Peace Week was accepted by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella as a token of peace, friendship and unity.
The Canvas for Peace was a unique 160-meter long patchwork of artwork, created by a wide variety of local people and community groups. They shared aphorisms on peace by Sri Chinmoy and their own artistic interpretation of their hopes and dreams for a more peaceful world.
May each and every
Human being on earth
Pray for a universal peace-torch.
- Sri Chinmoy
The Peace Week in Palermo included many activities broadly based around the hopes and aspirations for a more peaceful world - it included events from art exhibitions to concerts and running events. A team of runners from the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace run also took part and were deeply moved by the warm and enthusiastic reception of the local community.
In 2020, large scale events have been more difficult to organise, but those who participated in this memorable week are keen to keep the spirit and hopes of that event alive. Whilst large gatherings are difficult this year, we can still each, in our own way make a contribution to a better world. This year, the Peace Run has continued with small scale runs where possible and individual runners making their own efforts to keep the flame of peace going.
In this respect, the Peace Run team are most grateful that this banner has been accepted as a token of appreciation by the President of Italy.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
The Oneness-Heart Tears and Smiles service was established by Sri Chinmoy in 1993. This project grew from an initial heartfelt request from Sri Chinmoy's dear friends, President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa, for help with the first modern hospital in Russia for children with leukaemia and other haematological diseases.
Now the humanitarian project is involved in over 40 countries, and shares not only medical and material supplies, but also has come up with many unique ways projects to share joy, concern and across borders.
Drawings of Love and Gratitude
Doctors and nurses who are working in challenging conditions often mention the need on their units for more hope, especially, but also for courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness – for the medical staff as well as the patients.
In addition, children have also found dealing with the fear and isolation particularly challenging. One way to help them deal with these feelings is to show them a way in which they can help. In these challenging times, we decided to collect children’s drawings to support our doctors and medical staff. Doctors and nurses often cite the need for more hope, courage, strength, endurance and cheerfulness - both for themselves and their patients.
In cooperation with the city officials of Nur-Sultan (the capital city of Kazakhstan) over 40 posters were placed in bus stops around the city with these drawings and Sri Chinmoy’s inspiring and encouraging poems.
Another example of this kind of cooperation is the Russian city of Stavropol, where we placed similar posters in city parks.
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