Ever since a couple of days ago when I read Ashrita Furman’s blog post about his recent Guinness record for pushing an orange with his nose, I have been pondering the spiritual life lessons it offers me. In this post Ashrita describes that he decided to try to improve on his own Guinness World Record for pushing an orange with your nose for the distance of one mile. He sometimes makes a second attempt on a particular record because someone else subsequently improved on his previous record – such as the world’s longest pencil.
In this instance, his record for the orange still held and he decided to do it again simply to see if he could improve on his own skill achieved in August 2004. What better lesson in the philosophy of self-transcendence is there? Nothing compelled him to improve on the time of 24 minutes 36 seconds set in 2004 except his own thrill in competing with no one but ourselves. He wrote, “since nobody had broken it in a few years, I decided to go after it myself.” This spirit exemplifies Sri Chinmoy’s fundamental teaching that self-transcendence offers a fulfilling and meaningful path in life. Sri Chinmoy states,
“What gives life its value
If not its constant cry
Even though Ashrita describes that pushing an orange with your nose is quite difficult and can even leave you slightly bruised and bloodied, he took up the challenge. This in itself is a powerful life lesson to contemplate and consider how it applies to our ordinary and not so ordinary daily activities.
Beyond this message of self-transcendence, an even more powerful wisdom beckoned to me after reading this story of breaking the orange push mile record for the second time. Ashrita chose to attempt a record in which Sri Chinmoy was present the first time he set it. Now that Sri Chinmoy passed away on October 11th, having his teacher as an outer witness to the event was no longer possible.
Ashrita’s first orange nose push record was done inside the JFK airport, Terminal 4. Sri Chinmoy visited him during this effort and he describes that he felt powerfully blessed and encouraged by the presence of his beloved spiritual teacher as a witness to the record.
I am guessing that it is not a coincidence that Ashrita decided to break this particular record once again now that Sri Chinmoy’s physical presence is no longer possible. If Sri Chinmoy were to witness this second attempt, it would be an inner subtle reality, not a face-to-face interaction.
Since the airport terminal was not available like back in 2004, his first new attempt at the record was undertaken on an outdoor track under less than ideal conditions. In the blog post you can see a photograph of how Ashrita’s face got scraped and scratched by the rough surface. He missed the record by only 11 seconds so decided to try again to find an indoor surface and a very unripe orange to roll more quickly along.
He ended up doing it a local shopping mall in Queens and he describes that part way through the attempt he realized his time was a little too slow to break his own record. He stopped to meditate and invoke Sri Chinmoy’s inner guidance. After this prayer, a completely new technique of pushing the orange magically emerged and his speed significantly improved. He broke the record by almost 2 minutes doing it in 22 minutes 41 seconds.
Ashrita’s experience offers tremendous inspiration and solace to all of us who are students of Sri Chinmoy. By having the courage to recreate a record that previously included Sri Chinmoy’s physical presence and blessings, he gave us all the chance to see how Sri Chinmoy’s blessings and guidance still operate in our lives despite the absence of his physical presence. Through a simple moment of heartfelt prayer and meditation, an entirely new and improved method of pushing the orange emerged from the inner realms.
Sri Chinmoy’s last poem in the final book sold while he was still on Earth states:
“My physical death
Is not the end of my life –
I am an eternal journey.”
Ashrita’s new orange push record vividly demonstrates this truth. In our lives, Sri Chinmoy’s presence is and will forever remain eternal.
Related Post from my Blog at the Sri Chinmoy Centre:
Ashrita Furman balances 700 eggs for a new Guinness Record.
My Photos of the World’s Largest Pencil.