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The essence of "Run and Become"

Subarata Cunningham • Auckland, NZ

As a brand new disciple of Sri Chinmoy, Subarata was quite sure she would never take up running. Reluctantly at first she would jog a few metres, walk a little, then allow herself to be coaxed into another short stint of jogging. Very gradually the distances increased; then came the trips to New York for Celebrations, the many races, and the opportunity to run with Guru. Very slowly, running became established in her spiritual life.

Guru’s explanations about the spiritual significance of running, and the inner and outer benefits it conferred, were deeply felt by Subarata. She noticed the development of willpower and self-discipline, the fostering of aspiration and clarity of mind, a widening world of personal possibility. Perhaps most importantly for her, running opened up an inner doorway, a portal through which she could really feel her soul’s connection with her beloved teacher. Her running became an expression, an extension of her devotion.

Although ungifted with speed, she had doggedness and patience and accepted the physical challenges as a fast track in her spiritual journeying. “If this is what I have to do to realise God,” she once said in the middle of a painful multi-day race, “then I gladly accept it. This and much more—give me more.”

Subarata brought her tenaciousness and mental toughness to her participation in triathlons and ultra-distance races. She competed in three 700-mile races—in the Septembers of 1991, 1996 and 1998—completing the distance on that final thirteen-day outing with only three hours to spare. She never saw these events as a race or competition but simply as an intensification of her own spiritual life. All her mental barriers fell away, leaving her feeling her trusted teacher very close within her heart.

Subarata after a 700-mile race

Her running and her wonderful reason for running inspired many New Zealanders to tackle these great distances. (Guru’s spiritual name for her—Subarata—succinctly means “the message of inspiration.”) The New Zealand Ultra Runners Association ranked her as our nation’s second-best woman ultramarathoner of the twentieth century.

Subarata’s multi-day races gave her many inner experiences, and these experiences became her motivation in repeatedly attempting distances which were often frightening to her mind. In a sense she abandoned herself to them, surrendering and entrusting herself to her Guru. Running became centre-stage in her discipleship. Here she could deeply live the spiritual life in one of its purest forms, confronting in herself during the long hours of each day the frailty of the body and the stubborn resistances of the mind, wearing them down till only the trusting heart was left. In her running, as in her departure from this world, she most intensely invoked her Guru—in both, she most felt his responsive presence.  Out on the road, everything was simple, everything else fell away. There was only the essence of life, only its ultimate purpose.

article by Jogyata (Subarata's husband)

Sri Chinmoy meditates on Subarata's picture after her passing in 2000