Monthly Archives: November 2015

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 3)

World Harmony Run GB 2011 (12th June – 2nd July)

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As the countless drops

Of the boundless ocean

Or the myriad leaves

Of a huge banyan tree

Peacefully remain side by side

Even so all human beings

Will someday live side by side

In a perfect oneness-world.

~ Sri Chinmoy

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(See: http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/great_britain/news/2011.html for the daily web reports).

On the off years when there is not a continuous route through continents, each country organises special events and in 2011 the GB Team organised an international torch relay from John O’Groats to Land’s End. I was the Regional Co-ordinator for the South West.

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Once again I’ll let the photos do the talking 🙂

The route from Bristol to Land’s End:

Bristol Lands End route

A Bristol
B Wells
C Glastonbury
D Taunton
E Cullompton
F Exeter
G Dawlish Warren
H Torquay
I Dartmouth
J Kingsbridge
K Plymouth
L Looe
M Fowey
N St Blazey
O Eden Project
P St Austell
Q Truro
R St Agnes
S Porthtowan
T Land's End

Southwest schedule:

Date From To Total Miles
Tuesday 28th June Bristol Exeter 72
Wednesday 29th June Exeter Plymouth 77
Thursday 30th June Plymouth Eden Project 40
Friday 1st July Eden Project Marazion 54
Sdaturday 2nd July Marazion Land’s End 21
 Total 264

Generally when the European route comes through Britain we have never had the opportunity to visit the southwest so this was an amazing chance to showcase the region, and especially Cornwall to the runners. It was an opportunity for many people and children to experience that they too can make a difference and world harmony begins with them.

Summer, a cloud and a field, what more do you need

Summer, a cloud and a field, what more do you need?

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We assembled one of the most experienced international team of runners and they were a joy to work with and they responded in equal measure.

On top of Glastonbury Tor

On top of Glastonbury Tor

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Swapping the torch for some ice creams

Swapping the torch for some ice creams

We visited many schools where we gave presentations and gave the children the opportunity to hold the World Harmony Run torch and make a wish for peace and harmony as we teach them the motto, “Harmony begins with me”.

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World Harmony Run
Means the beauty
Of the universal heart
And the fragrance
Of the transcendental soul.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 57, Agni Press, 2008.

Intensity of wishing for peace and feeling harmony inside your heart

Intensity of wishing for peace and feeling harmony inside your heart

 

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It's fun to run

It’s fun to run

Enthusiasm of wanting peace and harmony

Enthusiasm of wanting peace and harmony

It's good to laugh

It’s good to laugh

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0629_50 0629_29 We had a great laugh with the children We had a great laugh with the children Surfers 0701_49 0701_46 0701_19 0701_20

Thumbs up for harmony

Thumbs up for harmony

Peace is friendship

Peace is friendship

Peace is a warm and friendly smile

Peace is a warm and friendly smile

When the Team reached Bristol the glorious weather began and we were blessed with the most wonderful summer weather of lovely heat and sunshine.

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At the Eden Project we presented Torch-Bearer Awards[1]. These are presented to members of the community that are beacons in promoting peace and harmony.  We presented the Torch-Bearer Awards to Tim Smit (the then Chief Executive and co-founder of the Eden Project), Gaynor Coley (the then Managing Director of the Eden Project) and Ken Radford (owner of People and Gardens http://www.peopleandgardens.co.uk/ )

From l-r Ken Radford, Gaynor Coley and Tim Smit

From l-r Ken Radford, Gaynor Coley and Tim Smit

Ken & Lorraine Radford of People & Gardens

Ken & Lorraine Radford of People & Gardens

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How can we have peace?

Not by talking about peace,

But by walking

Along the road of peace.

Sri Chinmoy

On occasion of the WHR visiting the Eden Project 30 June 2011.

By the time we reached Penzance even I couldn’t believe how glorious the weather was and showcased Cornwall to its best. Our international runners from as far as America and Australia couldn’t believe they were in Britain.

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It was also a great occasion to introduce the World Harmony Run to my community of Penzance where I’m from and for my family to hold the torch.

My parents and sister holding the Torch

My parents and sister holding the Torch

We were very grateful for the Cornish Pirates Rugby Club to receive the Torch and we had a wonderful time meeting the players and the staff.

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Our final stretch of the run was from the Minack Theatre along the coastal footpath to Land’s End.

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m_0702_52 This was a great way to end the run and it took some time to get to Land’s End as the runners just had to stop and stare at the beauty around at every cove.

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The outer world
Needs
The beauty of harmony.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 50, Agni Press, 2009.

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The cliffs and the sea were just stunning.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  My cheeks and not my legs were aching by the end of the day.

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[1] http://www.peacerun.org/torch-bearer-award/  and Great Britain recipients: http://www.peacerun.org/gb/torch-bearer-award/

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 2)

World Harmony Run USA 2010

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In 2010[1] I had the wonderful experience of being part of the international team in USA and one of only few runners to complete the whole US route by running through every mainland US state.  As in Europe the format is the same but you tend to be running longer distances (average weekly miles of 120 – 150 miles) and it feels more of a pioneering spirit.

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Running through America tends to be a slightly different experience. The scenery and landscape of America is a sight to behold and so varied. Once you get out into the Midwest the horizon is endless and the sky so big and the roads so long as they disappear into the distance.  The beauty of nature tends to provide inspiration and energy for you to run long distances.

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As always I met some amazing people and what you get from American people is their enthusiasm and openness, and that ‘can do’ spirit which is so refreshing.

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As if it was destined, that year the US World Harmony Run returned to New York on my birthday of 17th August.  On 23rd August the Team officially finished our 10,000 mile, four month, 50 state relay at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza in Manhattan, New York with a closing ceremony. [2]

Closing ceremony

The photos and videos speak for themselves. This Run was a more heart opening experience for me than ever before. There were more times when you were running all alone and nothing but the sun on your back, the gentle breeze and the sound of your feet pounding the road. More so than ever before I appreciated the simplicity of life on the road and how the simple act of running with a flaming torch can touch so many peoples’ loves. The outpouring of love, enthusiasm and kindness of all the people I met was joyous. As always the children made an instant connection with the Peace Torch. Children tend to be all heart and love.

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As Sri Chinmoy commented in June 2007:

For children, we have the World Harmony Run. They hold the torch, and then they run, run, run, carrying the message of harmony. Now we do not have nay harmony. Throughout the whole world harmony is absent. The world is totally empty of harmony. The World Harmony Run has covered more than 76 countries. Little children run mile after mile and they get spontaneous joy. This joy we have lost because we have misused it, and we have done many things wrong. But children have done nothing wrong, so they have kept their joy. They get spontaneous joy, and they run and enter into their heart-garden, going from one flower to another. This world of ours needs harmony, harmony, harmony. Children are the most suitable to bring about harmony because for them it is something new and fresh. Children take each morning as a new dream.

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[1] See http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/usa/news/2010.html for the route through USA.

[2] See the full story and more photos http://www.worldharmonyrun.org/usa/news/2010/week18/0823.html

Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 1)

The beginnings – 2004, 2006 & 2008

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I became a student of a spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy back in 2004 and I have been practising meditation[1] for the past 11 years with the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres.  And in that year I was introduced to the World Harmony Run. Little did I know it but it was something that was going to become an important aspect of my life. I would experience some of the most joyous and happiest moments in my life.

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run (previously known as the World Harmony Run between 2005 and 2013), founded by the spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (http://www.peacerun.org/srichinmoy/) is a global relay that seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. Since its inception in 1987 the Run has traversed over 140 nations and touched the lives of millions of people. The Peace Run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause, but simply strives to create goodwill among peoples of all nations.

“The World Harmony Run carries this dream: through running we can unite people in the whole world.” – Tegla Loroupe

“When I carried the flaming torch, I felt so much oneness with all the people of the world. Each participant in the World Harmony Run will show that the hopes and dreams of man are more enduring than his fears. And the trials on the road to world-harmony are no greater than the courage of those who accept the challenge.” – Carl Lewis

 “Sport has incredible potential to promote peace and harmony in the world. Sport is a language that everyone can speak. It is not about the colour of your skin, your religion, your wealth, your disability – it is about being the best you can be. It is a wonderful foundation for life and for creating harmony in the world.” – Katrina Webb, Australian Paralympics Champion

Every two years continuous routes are organised in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australasia in which teams of relay runners carry a flaming Peace Torch. By passing the torch from one person to the next, the relay offers people from many nations the opportunity to express their hopes and dreams for a better, brighter future. People from all walks of life hold the symbolic torch to wish for a peaceful world. Passing the torch from one person to the next unites us together in our common aspiration to offer something positive to our world – together we can make a difference!

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In 2006 I embarked on an amazing 6 month journey with the European leg of the World Harmony Run that was to take me through 30 countries and leave me with such wonderful memories that they will stay with me forever.  As I reflect on what only can be said as the time of my life I cannot help but smile and feel a loving sense of joy and happiness.  My words cannot truly convey fully my experiences as what I write seems inadequate on the myriad of images swimming in my mind and how many people touched my heart.

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

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Varvarin, Serbia - I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech

Varvarin, Serbia 2006 – I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech 

“Each step the runners make brings people and countries closer. Cultural and any other differences diminish in the power of their wish for a better world for all of us. The runners carry the torch of peace, understanding and love from country to country. Its flame warms up the hearts of all people who see it. The whole world could be one happy family. So, we should seek harmony and international peace. We should not be separated, we should erase borders. Imagine a world where love rules, where people smile and laugh! It isn’t impossible! But you must do your part in it! Let’s strengthen international friendship!” 

Having fun!

Having fun!

On the Peace Run you have so much fun, but at the same time there is an appreciation of how much work each individual has to contribute to the whole team to make the Run function day to day.  People often comment that the running must be the hardest part – how to keep running up to 20-30 km a day, every day.  But I feel that the running generally is the easiest part.  What people don’t see are the stamina, discipline and resilience that runners need to keep going on the road under generally demanding and challenging conditions.  There is sleeping in a different place every night, having no personal space, and there is always something that needs to be done – whether cleaning the vehicles, washing your kit, writing the daily report for the website, sorting out the food provisions, and after all these evening chores, to fit in some much needed rest.  But for me, all this is what makes the experience so special.  It’s good to have routines and each new runner that joins generally adapts to a World Harmony Run body clock – long, exhausting, but very happy days, with blissful sleep at the end of each day.

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Team dynamics are rather an interesting part of the Run.  The common thread that links us altogether is our aspiration for oneness and harmony and how each runner can help create this in the whole family.  It is this sense of oneness that is created within the Team.  It is not always harmony within the Team, but you find that you learn as much about oneself as about other people.

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The World Harmony Run is in a constant state of flux and has an energy and momentum all of its own.  The World Harmony Run runners do not make the World Harmony Run, but all those people that we meet and those that hold the torch and all those children that so joyfully run with us – they make the World Harmony Run what it is.

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Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

All their wishes for a more harmonious world that they place into the flame are carried on to the next village, town, city, country and the whole of Europe and the World.  As a member of the international team I felt such gratitude to be given this opportunity to meet so many people.  For a fleeting moment the World Harmony Run torch touches peoples’ lives, but their heartfelt goodness, their smiles of young and old and express sincerity for harmony, joy and oneness remains for eternity.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

If you can create harmony
In your own life,
This harmony will enter
Into the vast world  

– Sri Chinmoy

[1] Running and meditation will be a forthcoming article.