The Outer Running and the Inner Running
The outer running is a powerful struggle for a great independence. The inner running is a soulful cry for a good interdependence. Independence brings to the fore what we have unmistakably deep within: a freedom-smile. Interdependence makes us conscious of what we eternally are: a oneness-satisfaction.
The outer running is a burning desire to achieve everything that we see here on earth. The inner running is a climbing aspiration to receive from Above a vast compassion-sky and to give from below a tiny gratitude-flame.
The outer running is an extraordinary success on the mountain-summit. The inner running is an exemplary progress along Eternity's sunlit Road. Success is the ready and immediate acceptance of the challenges from difficulties untold. Progress is the soulful and grateful acceptance of the blessingful joy from prosperities unfathomed.
The outer runner and the inner runner: two aspects of the seeker-runner. The outer runner does; therefore, he succeeds. The inner runner becomes; therefore, he proceeds. When he succeeds, the seeker-runner gets a new name: glorification. When he proceeds, the seeker-runner gets a new name: illumination. The seeker-runner's glorification is a beautiful flower that charms and inspires his entire life. The seeker-runner's illumination is a fruitful tree that shelters and nourishes his entire earthly existence.
The outer running is a colossal satisfaction, although at times it may be quite oblivious to the existence-reality of a quiet perfection. The inner running is a perpetual satisfaction in and through a blossoming perfection.
The seeker-runner has a shadowless dream of his full realisation-day in his outer running. The seeker-runner has a sleepless vision of his God's full Manifestation-Hour in his inner running.
The outer runner challenges the Himalayan pride of impossibility. The inner runner smilingly arranges a feast not only with impossibility but also with Immortality.
The outer runner runs through the golden gate and arrives at the sound-kingdom. The inner runner enters into the unique palace, runs up to its highest floor and places himself at the very Feet of the Silence-King.
Finally, the seeker-runner's outer running says to his inner running, "Look, I am giving you what I now have: my majesty's crown". The seeker-runner's inner running says to his outer running, "Look, I am giving you what I now am: my beauty's throne".
The Inner Runner
Each individual on earth is running towards his destination. If the runner is wise, he will be very simple; he will wear only the basic, necessary garments, and not something very heavy or expensive which will draw the attention of the spectators. If the runner is wise, he will also be sincere. Sincerity means that he will yearn only for the goal and not be distracted by the flowers and fruits that he passes along the way. If the runner is sincere, he will run only in his own lane. He will not enter into the lanes of others and disturb them. The wise runner will also be pure. When we are pure, we see clearly with our inner vision that not only are we running toward the ultimate Goal, but the Goal itself is also running towards us.
When we run in the outer world, we have only a few competitors, and the competition will last for only a few hours. But in the inner world we have many competitors, and it may take a long time to defeat them. Our competitors in the inner world are fear, doubt, anxiety, depression, worry and similar forces that are all the time trying to rob us of our joy. If yesterday we defeated them, today they will return to challenge us again. Inwardly we may not be prepared for the challenge, but with our little ego we say: "All right, I accept your challenge". Then what happens? Fear comes and runs ahead of us, while doubt holds our legs and jealousy pulls us backwards. If they were fair competitors, they would agree to run properly, but they don't. So even before we start, anxiety comes and strangles us.
If one day we are defeated, we should not feel that we are lost. We must always take failure as an experience. We should not take it as a finished product or as the culmination of an experience, but as part of an experience. If we think that failure is the end of our experience, then we are finished. In a long race, a runner may start out very slowly, and then gradually increase his speed until he reaches the goal. But if he thinks that because his start was slow he will never be able to reach his destination, then he is making a deplorable mistake. So I always say to take failure as an experience that is just beginning.
Unfortunately, after running a little, some people become tired and want to take rest. But in the spiritual life there is no rest. Once we have started to run, we cannot stop. If we grow tired and stop running, then ignorance will just pull us backwards. The forces of ignorance will attack us mercilessly and pull us back into the sea of ignorance. Since time immemorial, we have been running side by side with ignorance. But now that we have entered into the spiritual life, we are trying to run fast, faster, fastest. Previously we identified with ignorance-night. Now that we are awakened, we are trying consciously to identify ourselves with wisdom-light. If we can become one with wisdom-light, we will assuredly reach our destined Goal - the ever-illumining and ever-fulfilling Beyond.
When we run in the inner life, we have to feel that we are not only running against ignorance; we are also running with God. In a 100-metre dash, if one runner is 70 metres ahead of another runner, then the one who is far behind will not have any inspiration to run. But if the leading runner is only a few steps ahead, then the one who is behind feels determined to overtake him. That is why, when God runs with us, He uses only a little of His infinite Capacity. Only then will human beings have the inspiration and aspiration to catch Him and run with Him. God stays only a few steps ahead of us so that He can be seen, felt and ultimately realized.
The Whole Man, his Fulfilment and the Olympic Games
In all walks of life - especially in the athletic world - from the spiritual point of view the whole man represents perfection; the whole man represents satisfaction - perfection for satisfaction and satisfaction in perfection. Present-day human life, unfortunately, is a far cry from perfection for satisfaction and satisfaction in perfection. Indeed, it offers us a most deplorable picture. Man the body is ignorance. Man the vital is arrogance. Man the mind is doubt. Man the heart is insecurity. But there is also man the soul. The soul, which is inside the body yet far beyond the earth-bound body-consciousness, is the direct representative of our Inner Pilot. Man the soul is aspiration-flight. And finally, man the God is Satisfaction-Delight.
All athletes, without fail, are potentially great and good. A great athlete is a little man tirelessly inspired. A good athlete is a simple life sleeplessly awakened. The great athlete in us seeks excellence. The good athlete in us seeks transcendence. Excellence quite often arrives at a dead end. Transcendence always reaches an ever-new beginning and an ever-new dawn. Excellence is success and transcendence is progress. The athlete in us is the discoverer of success and the inventor of progress. The outer world is success-thirst. The inner world is progress-hunger.
There are two worlds: the outer world and the inner world. Even so, there are two competitions: the outer competition and the inner competition. The outer competition begins and ends. The inner competition has a beginningless start and an endless finish. In the outer competition, we compete with the rest of the world. In the inner competition, we compete with our fear, doubt, anxiety, worry and so forth. In the inner competition, we compete with our ignorance of millennia.
Just because time and again we have had deplorable defeats and failures, we must not retire from the athletic world. No, only we have to aspire more soulfully, more devotedly and more unreservedly. We are the connecting link between our aspiration and our inspiration. Aspiration we are; inspiration we offer. Our aspiration-longing is our ultimate becoming. Because we long for something, eventually we become that thing. Our longing is our self-transcendence. Transcendence will always lead us far beyond the domain of cancerous fear and poisonous doubt. Freed from fear, we become great. Freed from doubt, we become good. Greatness influences the outer man. Goodness inspires the inner man. Greatness, no doubt, eventually triumphs; but goodness eternally reigns supreme in the heart of aspiring mankind. Greatness haughtily and incorrectly says, "I have everything. I am everything". Goodness humbly and soulfully says, "My Beloved Lord Supreme is all Compassion to me. Out of His infinite Bounty, at His choice Hour, He will grant me what He has and what He is".
Let us all aspire. To aspire is to widen our horizons. Our eternal journey's eternal cry is man the God. Our infinite Goal's infinite Smile is God the man. Let us share this unparalleled wisdom with the rest of the world and thus liberate bondage, radiate love, lengthen peace and strengthen oneness. Oneness manifests fullness, and fullness is the whole man.
Since we are primarily dealing with the athletic world, let us go to its source: the Olympics. The Olympics are an unprecedented, auspicious, glorious and precious Greece-vision. And what is this vision? This vision is nothing other than world-happiness. Happiness is love bubbling forth into the newness and fullness of true life, illumining life and fulfilling life.
The Olympics tower above all man-made differences. They are infinitely bigger than race. They are eternally brighter than colour. They are supremely better than religion. They are not only constantly one with the evolution-hunger of aspiring mankind but are also humanity's satisfaction-meal and perfection-nourishment.
The human athlete in us clings to great expectation. The divine athlete in us clings to an existence-life which is surrendered to God's Will, Him to please in His own Way. The Supreme Athlete in us is God. God the Supreme Athlete has three members in His immediate Family who walk in His Footsteps: His son, Speed; His daughter, Skill; and His son, Strength. Skill helps her brother, Speed, and this way Speed achieves supreme victory and supreme glory. When necessity demands, Skill also helps her brother, Strength, and Strength achieves boundless glory and boundless victory. Again, when it is necessary, the sister helps both the brothers together to achieve supreme victory and supreme glory. Meanwhile, all the time the Father watches. While watching, He blesses His daughter, Skill, inside the gratitude-hearts of His sons, and the three children, in return, offer to the Father their victory's breathless silence and deathless sound.
A Great Champion
A great champion is he who wins all the races.
A great champion is he who participates in all the races.
A great champion is he who does not care for the results of the races - whether he is first or last or in between. He races just to get joy and give joy to the observers.
A great champion is he who transcends his own previous records.
A great champion is he who maintains his standard.
A great champion is he who remains happy even when he cannot maintain his standard.
A great champion is he who has established his inseparable oneness with the winner and the loser alike.
A great champion is he who, owing to the advancement of years, retires from racing or terminates his career happily and cheerfully.
A great champion is he who longs to see the fulfilment of his dreams - if not through himself, then in and through others. It does not even have to be in and through his own dear ones; it can be in and through any human being on earth. If someone who could not manifest his own dreams is extremely happy when he sees his vision being manifested into reality through somebody else, then he is a really great champion.
A great champion is he who meditates on his Inner Pilot for the fulfilment of His Will before the race, during the race and after the race.
A champion of champions is he whose inner life has become the Vision of his Absolute Supreme and whose outer life has become the perfection-channel of his Beloved Supreme.
A great champion is he who sees and feels that he is a mere instrument of his Inner Pilot and that his Inner Pilot is racing in and through him, according to his own capacity of receptivity.
Run The Planet thanks the Sri Chinmoy website (www.srichinmoy.org) for the permission to reprint the article "The Inner Athlete - Four Talks" by Sri Chinmoy. Sri Chinmoy is a spiritual teacher who is trying to inspire and serve mankind with his soulful offerings - his prayers and meditations, literary, musical and artistic works. Runners can also visit the Word Harmony Run (www.worldharmonyrun.org) and the Sri Chinmoy Races (www.srichinmoyraces.org) websites.