For many, the path to transcendence is one that can only be taken through a lifetime of meditation. This is a popular belief among Buddhist monks, who spend countless years of their lives sitting and finding serenity, peace, and ultimately nirvana through contemplation of the world around them. And it’s been a long held belief that the only path to enlightenment is done with the power of the mind, and that there are no other ways.
The truth, as always, is a little more complex than this, and there are a lot of spiritual leaders around the world that belief transcendence can be achieved in other ways. Sri Chinmoy, for example, was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the 21st century, and spent his life showing people that there was an alternative to a lifetime of quiet prayer. He did this by creating the Self Transcendence races, which were aimed at giving people the chance to reach enlightenment by pushing their bodies to the ultimate limit.
Understanding Sri Chinmoy
Before we look at the Self Transcendence Races, it’s important to first understand the man that created them. Born in modern day Bangladesh, Sri Chinmoy was born to poverty conditions, but he began his meditations at the young age of 11 years old. From here, he would dedicate 20 years to his meditations, and would eventually move to the United States in the 1960s. He made a name for himself as a spiritual teacher, and slowly built an empire for himself around the country, opening a number of different centres.
Chinmoy would become so well known that he would eventually have over 7000 students, but perhaps his most famous feats came in the form of lifting people up above him, a spiritual metaphor as much as a physical one. And he would go on to lift some of the most famous people in history, including Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
The 3100 Mile Transcendence Race
Above all, however, he was most well known for his 3100 Transcendence Race, which is currently the longest marathon in the world. The race is only performed by athletes that have spent countless months getting their bodies into shape, as it means having to run the equivalent of 2 marathons a day, but for 52 consecutive days. It’s such a long race that many of the athletes have a hair cut halfway through, and the vast majority of participants never come close to finishing it.
The idea of the race is to reach transcendence by pushing the body to its true limits, similarly to how the mind reaches enlightenment by being pushed to its limits. The event takes place in Jamaica, New York City, over a strength of just 883 metres, meaning that runners will need to complete the circuit by finishing almost 6000 laps in total. It’s not an easy event by any measure, and it’s only suited for those that are at their absolute physical peak.