The Olympic Spirit
Last Saturday, I went down to London to help with their 10 mile race in Battersea Park. Helped by beautiful weather and a post Olympic enthusiasm for anything athletic, there was a record turn out with over 250 runners.
Also at the event were several members and support crew from the Portugese Paralympic team. One of the runners had come across Sri Chinmoy at an earlier stage and was enthused by his philosophy. The athlete himself is quite an inspiration, showing how a disability like partial blindness is no barrier to a full and active life.
What impressed me most was the generosity of spirit shown by these paralympian athletes; they had such enthusiasm and were obviously happy to be taking part in our very small race. They were in no rush to leave, but quite happy to chat and inspire the regular runners after the race. The Portugese runner (who was running the Paralympic marathon the next day) also helped to hand out the trophies to the very appreciative runners. Even in a small race such as this, it was nice to have a link with the huge global event of the Olympics / Paralympics across the city. It was also a reminder of how sport, and the Olympics in particular can be so relevant and inspiring to everyday people.
This summer felt like our ‘annus mirabilis.’ It was a real privilege to be hosting the Olympics and take part in this global event which gave so much joy to so many people. Against the expectations of the inevitable doom-mongers, the Olympics showed how sport can really unite and bring out the best in people. Usually, I can’t bear to watch the news on TV or read newspapers, but for a short time they were so full of inspiring news and positivity, I actually really enjoyed it.
After coming back from Celebrations in New York, you often feel somehow transformed, purified and re-energised. To me, it felt the Olympics had a similar effect on the nation. So many people said they had never felt such a sense of pride and togetherness.
Sri Chinmoy wrote of the Olympics:
“The very word ‘Olympics’ is, for me, a magnificent thrill, absolutely a universal thrill, and it raises the consciousness of humanity in the inner world. True, in the outer world we may notice some wrong forces, but in the inner world the Olympics is a great opportunity for the upliftment of human consciousness.
The Olympics are an unprecedented, auspicious, glorious and precious Greece-vision. And what is this vision? This vision is nothing other than world-happiness. Happiness is love bubbling forth into the newness and fulness of true life, illumining life and fulfilling life.”
(from Sport and Meditation, - P 166, unofficial)
It was a real privilege was the opportunity to live and participate.
Of course, it helped that Great Britain did very well, and in the cycling especially.But, the Olympics was much more than winning and gold medals. It was the thrill of seeing so many athletes strive to do their best. It was an opportunity for thousands of volunteers to learn the joy of giving without expectation of financial reward. At the opening ceremony, it made my spine tingle to see so many nations come together in one small, but significant athletic stadium. The walk past of nations, reminded me of our own country walk-pasts when Sri Chinmoy would often want to show his international family to a visiting guest.
Even as the Olympics was coming to an end, you were thinking? Why can’t it always be like this? Why do we have to go back to worrying about budget deficits and such depressingly mundane issues? The Olympics shows that life can be so much better when there is a positive vision and dynamism. It is with a real sense of gratitude that there are events such as this.
Throughout the Olympics, one thought kept coming to my mind – how happy Guru is to be watching this from his heavenly viewpoint. I could almost feel Guru in the stadiums cheering on this noble human endeavour. Guru’s mission and philosophy shares so many precepts with the Olympics. The ideal of self-transcendence, the hope and dream of uniting the world in a oneness-world family. Pride in the achievement of your own country, but being able to cheer all your competitors with equal satisfaction.
The Olympics alone would have been life-transforming, but given Guru’s life-long service to the ideals of peace and working for a better future, it was very touching to see Sri Chinmoy honoured in an event near the start of the Olympics. A Moment’s Peace was an exceptional ceremony where many great Olympians and dreamers of world peace came together to honour and appreciate Sri Chinmoy’s vision and life. It deserves it’s own article - suffice to say it was very moving and uplifting.