Contributed by Prachar Stegemann, Race Director, Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team
Running and spirituality are two of mankind’s oldest, most enduring yet ever-new and ever-fulfilling pursuits.
In their hearts, running and spirituality are one – inseparable. Running and spirituality are parallel and identical quests: for truth, for meaning, for peace, happiness, satisfaction, self-discovery and transcendence.
What and why is the connection between running and spirituality so close and deep?
Both go to the very core of our identity, our purpose, our aspiration, our being. We are spiritual beings, eternally running.
It is common to imagine we are primarily physical and mental beings with a spiritual dimension somewhere in the background, as though spirituality comes as an optional add-on or bonus pack with our existence, something we can opt into or out of.
Yet precisely the opposite is true: we are souls, spiritual beings first and foremost, living in and experiencing, perhaps transiting through this material, temporal world. The spiritual is the source and essence of the mental, emotional and material realms, and not the other way around. Once we can realign our perception of ourselves, our lives and our world to see and feel everything from the perspective of the spiritual, everything – including running – assumes a deeper significance and offers a greater fulfilment.
We are all evolving: each of us, personally and collectively, socially, economically, culturally, historically, along with all species, our planet Earth, our solar system, galaxy and universe, every particle, light, time and space, all knowledge and understanding.
We are all flowing with the current of time, the river of progress, the inexorable sweep of evolution. We may have no idea where we have come from and no concept of where we are heading, but that we are evolving – somehow and towards some destination – is unquestionable. Evolution implies a journey towards a goal.
Thus the notion of travelling, journeying, progressing – running – towards a goal is intrinsic to our very being.
Running, then, is not just a metaphor for life – running is life and life is running. Inwardly and spiritually, we are constantly running towards a goal whether we know it or not.
Unless and until you can stop the wheel of evolution turning –spirituality is running, and running is spirituality. We are all runners, regardless of whether we call ourselves ‘runners’, just as we are all singers, whether or not we imagine ourselves to be ‘singers’: just as we are all running towards our ever-elusive goal, so are we all singing the song of life with every breath we take.
This is why, on a deep and intuitive level, we love running so much, for to run is to enter into the most natural state of pure being, akin to returning to the womb. While running, we can be and become most truly ourselves.
Running is the simplest self-expression, the purest revelation, the most natural manifestation in the physical realm of our very essence, an eternal, unquenchable yearning for progress through self-transcendence.
We were runners before we ever ran; we are runners while sleeping, standing and sitting still; we shall forever remain runners after all our running is done…
Just as one doesn’t need to read any books or attend any class or seminar, or believe in anything or anyone or pay any fee in order to pray or meditate effectively – for prayer and meditation come most naturally, perfectly and spontaneously from within – so also running connects us most effectively with our innate spirituality through its own simple, pure and spontaneous expression.
No analysis, no practise, no instruction, understanding, structure, equipment, preparation, beliefs or catechisms are needed.
To find spirituality through running, strip away all the paraphernalia, the headphones, the heart rate monitor, the theories, the technique, the plan, the training program, the jargon, and all expectation. Just run …