Around the turn of the century, the great yogi Swami Vivekananda visited Britain. He gave lectures and taught the basics of yoga and meditation to British seekers – Vivekananda was one of the first to bring the great spiritual traditions of India to the West. He stayed several months and it included a trip to Loch Lomond, where he chose a spot on the lake to meditate.
Last week I was in Yorkshire. When in Yorkshire, I often like to cycle into the picturesque Yorkshire Dales – picture postcard villages, limestone crops and sweeping meadows.
But this time I was drawn to the rugged industrial towns and moors of Calderdale – the windswept moors above Haworth and the old industrial towns of Todmorden and Burnley.
Just out of living memory, this part of the world was at the heart of the industrial revolution – with cotton and steam transforming the world. Yet, this once brave new world now stands forlorn as industrial history; derelict buildings stuck in the wrong age; the odd chimney retained as a tentative tourist attraction for towns struggling to cope with relentless economic change. Continue Reading →
One of my favourite comedy sketches – The Four Yorkshiremen.
“Corridor, we used to dream of living in a corridor.”
I managed to use the Four Yorkshiremen Sketch as a somewhat convoluted introduction to an article on spiritual discipline and obedience.
See: The discipline to follow a spiritual life at Write Spirit.
‘Stories Volume I’ is a collection of Indian based stories written by Sri Chinmoy.
In many cases, they are based on traditional Indian stories from the age of the Mahabharata and Puranas. It also includes stories about the Moghul Emperors, and great Indian spiritual Masters of the recent past, such as Lahiri Mahasaya and Troilanga Swami.
The stories are told with great simplicity and directness, but at the same time contain profound spiritual lessons.
In recent years, I have tried to get into the Mahabharata, but have often found it difficult due to the sheer volume and complexity of the stories (plus a never ending list of characters with difficult names!). This collection of short stories is a very good way to gain an insight into some of the main characters, such as Sri Krishna and Arjuna. After reading this collection, I now have a bit more confidence to delve into other Indian spiritual classics. I would recommend this book as a very good introduction for those seeking to gain an accessible insight into the spiritual history of India. Continue Reading →
Last weekend I rode my first 12 hour time trial championship. It was the National TT championships. I finished in 2nd place.
This is photo by Vilas, who helped me through the day, passing bottles e.t.c.
It is a different challenge to ride a 12 hour race, compared to short five minute hill climb. You can’t compare. One thing I like about 12 hour time trial is that it is a different kind of self-transcendence where you are riding an unknown distance. The most successful part of the day was when I was able to relax, get into a good rhythm and the feel the ‘flow’ of constant cycling.
Sri Chinmoy once said cycling reminds us of evolution – the constant movement to seek progress and transcendence and move into a better cycle. I like that metaphor.
“While we are cycling, we are reminding ourselves of evolution, of how the world is evolving in cycles. When we think of our planet, we think of a wheel turning; our life also is evolving like a wheel. So cycling reminds us of the process of evolution and of how everything goes in cycles.”
- Sri Chinmoy, Significance of cycling
As a general rule I try to avoid politics. However, the recent referendum on EU membership is more than your average political issue. Save living in a cave it’s been hard to avoid. In particular I am concerned how it has divided the nation on grounds of identity, nationality, age and more.
For me the ideal political climate is one where there is calm, and respect for people of different nationalities, race and political views. I also hope the nation will aspire to the ideal of unity in diversity. The UK is melting pot of different nations, cultures and nationalities. Understanding that, despite these differences, there is more that unites than separates is very important for creating a society where everyone feels welcomed. Continue Reading →
Yesterday was our last running race of the season. A four mile race around the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile in Cutteslowe Park. We have a ‘grand prix’ series with runners from different categories getting points and trophies.
Before driving, I have a short meditation. Sri Chinmoy advised meditating for a minute for protection from accidents. I often find that this one minute of meditation can be very useful for remembering something I have forgotten. When you have a big event, you can get a little stressed and start to ‘rush’ When you start to rush, you can forget things. When you start to worry you might be late, you rush a little more. But, then you forget something important, and it is a real problem.
This one minute of meditation can be tempting to skip. But, last night it saved me forgetting an important file with all the previous results in. If you get somewhere a minute later, it never matters, but if you travel all the way and have to come back, that takes a long time. So the moral of the story, is meditate, clear your mind, and just maybe something from within will prompt you to remember something important. It has happened many times to me. Continue Reading →
Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was a champion boxer, and truly inspiring individual. One of those rare people who everyone feels a connection with.
Sri Chinmoy said to Muhammad Ali:
“You are changing the face and fate of mankind. Your very name encourages and inspires. As soon as people hear ‘Muhammad Ali,’ they are inspired. They get tremendous joy. They get such dynamism to be brave and face ignorance. Your very name does that. That’s why I am so grateful to you, so proud of you.”
– Sri Chinmoy (Sept 1977, during meeting with Muhammad Ali, New York.)
I have watched quite a few youtube videos where Michael Parkinson interviewed Muhammad Ali, and I get so much joy watching them.
If anyone else had been saying the same words “I am the greatest” it might have fallen flat and you thought the person arrogant, but with Ali, his self-belief and deeply held convictions were infectious. I think it was because underneath the bravado, you knew this was a deeply courageous and good person.
US President Barack Obama said of Ali:
“Ali shook up the world – and the world is better for it,” Obama said.
“He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing,” Obama added.
Cheesy photo – Caution Cyclist
I just need to try a bit harder to come up with those puns. Continue Reading →
Sunday morning is a good time to take photos. I wanted this bus to disappear and take the bridge with just nature. But, in the end, the splash of red in the distance gives the photo a bit more interest, contrasting with the various shades of green from the trees. Continue Reading →