Laps for nothing

Today I ran in Meador Park.

50 laps of this place:

What happened to the double marathon?

Well, I did drive to Dallas on Saturday and stayed in a hotel. I go up at 3:15 to get ready for a 5am race start. At 3:30, I received an e-mail from the RD cancelling the race due to thunderstorms. Any reasonable person would have gone back to bed, figured out how to have a nice day in Dallas and started the second marathon the next day.

Not me. Unfortunately, I was wired, completely wide awake even though I had hardly slept. I couldn\’t face the idea of spending 24 hours in that hotel room. I didn\’t think I wanted to go run around the lake for 20 miles just as a training run (remember it was a severe storm alert). In fact the only idea  that resonated with me was: If you leave for Houston now, you can have I45 all to yourself. Have a nice run when you get home. Save the hotel money.

Before I know it, I\’m on the road at a high rate of speed.

So, no marathons at all this weekend.

Today, as I mentioned, I did an 18+ mile jog walk. It was 80F to start at 8:30 am and 88F when I finished 4.5 hours later. I was completely sweaty the whole time. I drank 60 oz of sports drink and 2 Mountain Dews. I stopped mainly because I was out of drink.

This gave me plenty of time to review my behavior patterns regarding races. I reviewed the various times I\’ve quit races and the various times I\’ve not bothered to even start. I reviewed my Boston Qualifying races and my lack of desire to go to Boston. I reviewed the reason I run alot. I reviewed the marathons I\’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

It is clear that I no longer adhere to the numbers game. I see it as an illusion. Specifically, I had planned to complete my 50th marathon this year; furthermore planning it for a race in September where I would be with friends and they could pat me on the back for my accomplishment. That won\’t happen now.

But was it not an ego goal to begin with? Contrast that with my regular running of laps. I got involved with lap running as a method for self transcendence and prayer. Meditation as it were. If my overall spiritual quest needs detachment from this world, then running laps for no reason is best. So then I quickly drop my worldly ego running goals. Worldly ego goals is: running 50 marathons so I can tell everyone. Self transcendence running: 50 laps in a park on a hot day.

I read books by Henri Nouwen about downward mobility. I read a book by Anthony DeMello about breaking through the illusion. I read books by Paul Brunton about the spiritual quest and glimpses of the Overself. I really want the relationship with the Christ Within more than 50 marathons. So I let go. I drop the world like a rock. I do laps in the hot sun.

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Self Transcendence

This morning, I read the opening pages of \”Waking Up\” by Sam Harris, noted atheist. It was yet one more description of enlightenment; that experience of self transcendence which causes people to know the love behind the world. In his case it was caused by the drug ecstasy.

I have read many such stories of enlightenment experiences and tried the techniques.

Of myself I can do nothing. I can only sit quietly. I realize I have had glimpses of love and the vastness of the universe; but they are subtle compared to the enlightenment experiences described by others. But I can\’t take the drugs, fast enough days, undergo monastic profession, run far enough, have a brain injury or even reach a deep enough despair.

Of myself I can do nothing. My spiritual path is the one of the tortoise not the hare. Whatever I wish for, I cannot change this. I can\’t take the drugs. I can only love what is here in my daily life. My self transcendence happens to be a conscious action. It is not dramatically emotional and this is the main difference between me and the so called enlightened. I didn\’t get a main event. I got my life here and now. I got a decision, a choice of thinking now. I got a choice of perception here and now.

It has been more than 30 years since the moment I stood in the Jaffa Gate in the old city of Jerusalem and considered God for the first time. Since that time, I have grown in conscious contact with a power greater than my small self. THIS!

Winding Down

I am a big fan of the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race 3100 Mile Race. It takes place over 52 days. Today is day 47. 4 people have finished.

I love to check every day to see how many miles people ran and read the inspiration in the blog. I send my mind off into mental running and run forever. This year, I had some days off in July, so I got to do actual miles myself. I went way farther in July than any month ever in my life.

But the race is winding down. 4 more people to finish in the next few days. I won\’t have that inspiration when the race is over.

I am a person who is continuously thinking about my life and what it is for. I keep trying to eliminate busyness so I can ponder my depths. I can\’t say I ever find anything. But also, I keep turning outward into the world and being busy with stuff out there. My ego keeps trying to win at something in the world; like career advancement or signing up for races.

My ego will never know God. My ego is a spiritual materialist.

But I. Am I more than an ego? Despite my reading to the contrary, I believe I am more than a small self but a soul or higher connected being. I believe there is an unsuspected inner resource. Something more.

The thing is: I know I am making progress but my ego doesn\’t know.

I am more than 55 years old. I won\’t be leaving a legacy as I was taught 20 years ago in corporate seminars. I have a great job and where I live is nice too. But as the days pass, these things don\’t satisfy. My ego wants more. But there is no more.

The answer has to be inside. That is just all there is to it.

From the Unreal to the Real…

… and so went the chant we said twice a day at the ashram. It was a Catholic Benedictine ashram and I was a volunteer for a year before entering the order.

flick….I was swimming laps in a chlorine soaked pool. I was in the 6 year old age group. Orinda Country Club. Dark green speedo.

flick….I was riding a horse. A paint quarter horse. I had trained him to show in trail class. We won a championship.

flick…. I was riding my 10-speed bicycle down a hill in the east bay hills. I was wearing one of the first Bell bicycle helmets available.

flick…I was running cross country for UC Davis.

flick… I had landed at KCI. Rented a car. Driving down I29, I got my first look at Kansas City. My new home.

flick…. I was sober.

flick… I was out of work so I meditated alot.

flick… Contemplative prayer.

flick…. Kicked out of the monastery.

flick…. running for self transcendence.

flick…. I live in Texas.

flick… What if I allowed my mind to fly free? I mean really free. I mean let go.

Everyone would think I was weird and they might not like me. Do I care any longer? How do I stop eating the King\’s dainties for good? I am no longer going to try to validate what I believe. I will just believe it.

A dream. My mind expanded. Possibilities emerged. Soaring is occurring. I want to keep flying. I am a living metaphysician, monk, runner.

Stability

Benedictines take vows of Obedience (to a prioress), Conversatio (conversion of morals) and Stability (to the monastery). I was in Benedictine formation and completed my novitiate. So even though I didn\’t make profession, I was completely formed by the Benedictine method. Regardless of public witness of vows, which I lack, I did write these vows out formally and make them to God. So in my heart, I made these vows.

And I\’ve never been able to escape thinking about them for more than 10 years since I made them.

I was thinking about stability this morning. I need stability in the cave of my heart and stability of intention and action. Being stable on the inside seems like it should manifest as stability on the outside. In some areas, like the engineering profession, I\’ve been an engineer my whole career. But not one employer.

So this morning, my small mind was continuing a struggle which is not a struggle. See, I\’m a process safety engineer. I live in Houston where job openings abound. I\’ve almost been with my current employer for 5 years. My small mind wants to apply for a job or two, just to see how much more money I could make. That is a ridiculous idea. I make enough money and I have a great job.

As I type this, I can feel the agitation of my small mind that continuously struggles. Why does it do that? What is the root cause?

For one, there is a dopamine reward cycle involved with achieving change. another dopamine reward cycle involved with self importance, and winning. It is very difficult to resist the lure of dopamine.

I don\’t want to make a change. But I don\’t know how to calm my small mind. Usually, I follow the small mind\’s dictates eventually. But this goes against stability at the present moment. And I want stability in order to continue putting my energy into contemplation and stability of heart. I don\’t want to waste my energy making job changes. My intention is spiritual growth and my actions should be in that direction; not following the small mind and achieving in the world.

How will I contain the constant agitation of my small mind? There are more agitations than job changes. I will continue to return to my prayer word. I will continue to stick to my habits of Conversatio, spiritual study, contemplative silence. I know this is obedience to the Spirit and not the small mind. I am spirit, not a small mind.

Self Transcendence

So inspiring, the amount of miles completed at the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race, which ends in 6 days:

 And here is why my foot hurts (Haglund\’s deformity):

Today is my Friday and next week is business travel. Almost as soon as I get back, I go to a race in Wyoming where I\’ll also see a friend.

I am ready to do slow walking in the Houston heat. I actually love doing this. Very meditative.

Surprising Progress

Wow. I\’ve spent so long seeking enlightenment. But now I feel like that is a non-issue.

Here is an example: Since 2006, I\’ve followed the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race (  http://3100.srichinmoyraces.org/ ). I\’ve tried to seek self transcendence by doing miles and miles. Today, when I was reading the blog, I realized I\’d rather be engaged with my life. that is, I\’d rather be actually doing my job at work than endlessly running around a block.

So that is weird for me. I guess that reading Merton helped me to let go of the past. Or I realize that all is spiritual and there is no need to suffer. Just allow it.

Not that I am stopping running or stopping my Course in Miracles study; but that I appreciate the path laid before me.

I\’m just a marathoner. I\’m a professed engineer.

This morning, I had a 3 mile run around El Lago in the early morning darkness. It was hot a sweaty and I loved it. What more could a person want?

I have a closet full of brand new Asics Nimbus running shoes. What more could a person want?

I\’m holding airplane tickets to go to 2 running races. What more could a person want?

I don\’t need to fast, run a hundred miles, sit cross legged for days, follow a guru. Just have Being.

That is what I have Being; my most valued possession.

Relinquish

Jesus said, lose your life to save it.

I think he was talking about the ego life in this world. The Course in Miracles discusses this at lenght throughout the text. Below is one example.

I keep trying to drop ego identification. My running self transcendence project is just that. My downward mobility is just that. I\’m going to try this weekend and for awhile to practice outrageous renunciation. It means not going in actural marathon races but doing a self transcendence private marathon. Can I do it even if it is summer in Houston? It means getting up early just as I would for a race.

Relinquish, relinquish. Let it go. Give it up. Peace is there right after you relax and let go.

So, here I go again, hot sweaty miles with absolutely no purpose other than to forget my ambitions.

From A Course in Miracles text 4.III:
\”Salvation is for the mind, and it is attained through peace. This is the only thing that can be saved and the only way to save it. Any response other than love arises from a confusion about the \”what\” and the \”how\” of salvation, and this is the only answer. Never lose sight of this, and never allow yourself to believe, even for an instant, that there is another answer. For you will surely place yourself among the poor, who do not understand that they dwell in abundance and that salvation is come.

To identify with the ego is to attack yourself and make yourself poor. That is why everyone who identifies with the ego feels deprived. What he experiences then is depression or anger, because what he did was to exchange Self-love for self-hate, making him afraid of himself. He does not realize this. Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane \”arrangement\” with the world. He always perceives this world as outside himself, for this is crucial to his adjustment. He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him.
If only the loving thoughts of God\’s Son are the world\’s reality, the real world must be in his mind. His insane thoughts, too, must be in his mind, but an internal conflict of this magnitude he cannot tolerate. A split mind is endangered, and the recognition that it encompasses completely opposed thoughts within itself is intolerable. Therefore the mind projects the split, not the reality. Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification, for everyone believes that identification is salvation. Yet consider what has happened, for thoughts do have consequences to the thinker. You have become at odds with the world as you perceive it, because you think it is antagonistic to you. This is a necessary consequence of what you have done. You have projected outward what is antagonistic to what is inward, and therefore you would have to perceive it this way. That is why you must realize that your hatred is in your mind and not outside it before you can get rid of it; and why you must get rid of it before you can perceive the world as it really is.\”

Downward Mobility

This topic of downward mobility comes up as I ponder next weekend. I want to go to San Antonio to walk a marathon; and yes, spend about $250 in the process. I\’ll get to support some friends. I\’ll get to struggle with my own stupid marathon adventure. I\’ll get to forget about work.

I need to forget about work. See, I have an interview for an internal job today. Everyone thinks I\’m a shoe-in to get the job. That may be true, but they probably won\’t announce who gets the job very quick If anything, my employer is never quick. Waiting kills me. In this case, its not like I won\’t have a great job either way. But I feel inner pressure to know.

Downward mobility is what? Something in relation to Christ. The concept is important to me; but it is vague in my consciousness at the moment. I can\’t remember what is in my soul or how to honor it.

I could walk a marathon by myself in Seabrook. But in San Antonio, I get to do it with P and D and T and J and L and W and maybe others I know. M might be at the aid station cheering me. Why balk at this idea just cuz it costs money and time and gasoline and tires?

San Antonio is as good as it gets for me.

My workout this morning included 35 min on the treadmill. My foot feels pretty good. Maybe jogging/ walking a marathon on a concrete bike path wouldn\’t kill me.

Self transcendence is the cleansing experience of 6-7 hours in a hot Texas park.

Some people (Anton Krupika) get to climb mountains every day.

Consciousness Is

I didn\’t get up when the alarm went off today. I thought my foot would be hurting and that I\’d not be doing miles (since I did 20 yesterday). But alas, the foot feels pretty good, so I\’ll head out shortly.

In the mean time, I lay in bed and wondered: what can I do to be more spiritual? See, I reached an impasse. The Course in Miracles says that Spirit does not know ego, but ego incessantly tries to achieve recognition.

I came down and started my study. I thought about the Marathon Monk, the ultra runners, the cloistered nuns, the Zazen practice, the traumatic brain injury. I conclude that these people achieve the belief in God because their ego let go.

If I stick with the ACIM definition that the ego is a belief system described as autonomy from God, then the people who achieve enlightenment through the above listed means have achieved the required letting go.

But my life is somehow not on one of those paths. My attempts to do those things have failed. I return to the reality that I am attempting to use consciousness to transcend consciousness. And that is when I realized: just let consciousness be.

That is the answer, don\’t attempt transcendence. Let it go.

My first inkling of God was on a hot day in Jerusalem where I watched Hassidic Jews in fur hats and coats praying at the Western Wall. I perceived that they had something I wanted. And so my ego swung into action and began its pursuit of God. In itself that is not a bad thing. Looking at it another way, I heard the call of God to return to Him.

In the moment, any given moment, I can return to God. But there is no associated achievement. And so I become confused. Americans are supposed to achieve. But God consciousness is not an achievement. It merely is.

So, I don\’t need to be a marathon monk, or a cloistered nun, or fast for 40 days, or live alone on a hill top, or get in a car wreck, or have cancer, or etc. I need to let go in any moment. This is in fact what I have been doing. I not only let go, but also take up Spirit as my mode of living.

My ego wishes for more, but that is all there is.