Oct. 10, 2023 Live from the road

New York

Reported by Agraha Levine, Salil Wilson 2.0 mi

On October 11, 2006, exactly one year before Peace Run founder Sri Chinmoy's passing, there was a dedication to establish a Sri Chinmoy Street in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

On that day Sri Chinmoy commented, "You have blessingfully honoured me today by giving the name of the street in my honour. For that I am extremely, extremely grateful to you. But I am having a new experience here. I feel in all sincerity that you have given me the supreme task of lovingly and prayerfully welcoming people who pass every day here. You have given me the opportunity to be a guard on your behalf to welcome them and offer them my and your—our—loving gratitude."

"Every day during my prayers I shall inwardly see and feel that a most beautiful flower is being offered at the feet of this Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This place, this beautiful place, has also a most beautiful and powerful, powerful soul. During my prayers, my morning prayers, I shall offer a beautiful flower at the feet of the soul that here presides over the park."

Present for the wonderful ceremony with Sri Chinmoy were (l - r) New York City Councilman Jimmy Gennaro, Assistant Commissioner of Queens Parks Estelle Cooper and Administrator of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Commissioner of Queens Parks Dorothy Lewandowski.

We began with our traditional 2 mile race.

Sanjay Rawal won first place. He finished in 10.28.

As part of the program we presented the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Torch-Bearer Award to 11 eminent New York City region luminaries from many walks of life who are helping foster the ideals of peace and oneness to which Sri Chinmoy devoted his life.

Peace Run Executive Director Salil Wilson introduced the event, addressing the Torch-Bearer recipients: "When each one of you does something good, outstanding and transcendent, then all of us benefit.

Our Sri Chinmoy Choir performed two songs that Sri Chinmoy composed for the dedication which took place on October 11, 2006.

"Sri Chinmoy heart-garden Sings oneness-joy-songs, hearken!"

"Sri Chinmoy Street, Sri Chinmoy Street! Loves world-pilgrims’ hearts And admires their feet."

Quoting Sri Chinmoy, Ms. Ranjana Ghose, President of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, stated, "The world is a oneness-world-family, the family of humankind, and for that, what we always need is peace - peace for a greater oneness-world-family.

Agraha was instrumental in reaching out to many of our guests and for ensuring this event happens on a year basis.

Coach Jim Hurt, longtime Head Track & Field Coach, St. John’s University remembered fondly how Sri Chinmoy used to train on the St. Johns University track. “President Kennedy once noted that the greatest assemblage of brain power in one room was when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. And that is how I think of Sri Chinmoy. He was a modern-day renaissance man with mind and body united. His message of peace is more important than ever with what is happening around the world. “I still remember the very first time he came over to train at St. John’s. He was so disciplined in training every day. He was a great representative of what we all should strive for. One of his greatest impacts was to empower each of us to reach our full potential.”

Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Director Rupantar Larusso introduced long-time friend Richard Murphy.

Richard Murphy was Queens Borough Parks Commissioner for nine years he was in charge of maintaining and improving 7,000 acres of parkland. He then became Commissioner of Nassau County Parks. He is also a long-time friend of Sri Chinmoy and reflected on the positive impact Sri Chinmoy had on his life and said he was looking forward to a meal at Annam Brahma after the event. “When I first went to Annam Brahma, I felt very peaceful in that room. Especially now, I wish Sri Chinmoy was around still! As a former soldier, peace is what it is all about!”

Nikos Spanakos is an Olympian in Boxing from Greece, 1960. His roommate at the Olympics was Muhammad Ali, and he and his wife Barbara love traveling and discovering new cultures. “I thank you for inviting me here. Peace be with you.”

Coach Ron St. John is a long-time friend of ours who served for many years as the Head Men's Basketball Coach at York College of the City University of New York and later went on to become the Director of Athletics. He arranged for Sri Chinmoy to run on their new track and even hosted and ran beside Carl Lewis and Sri Chinmoy. Coach St. John also spoke about the special place he keeps in his home and in his heart for all the gifts he has received from Sri Chinmoy. “I remember coming to Annam Brahma for a meal with the President of York College, City University of New York. We were treated like royalty. Sri Chinmoy always put me ten levels higher than I thought I was. I have saved everything he gave me in a special place in my home. Sri Chinmoy lives with me, because I believe in peace around the world.”

Larry Carthan was an extremely successful Wall Street trader when he retired 29 years ago. Then he turned to sharing his true inner love of music with inner city children at the request of a principal-friend who saw that his children were not learning in traditional ways. To everyone's delight Larry bought with him the Elite Marching Band – a band he directs and is now widely acclaimed throughout New York City and beyond. Through music Larry has helped countless students discover their paths to fulfilling careers. “Whenever I go out, I look at the spiritual realm always. I am here and I have brought the kids out with me to experience this, something that they probably will never forget for the rest of their lives. It is important that we be advocates for kids. It takes a lot of true love and patience. I really cherish this award!”

Larry added, “We are going to play a little something for you. These are all my scholars back here. They are part of West Prep Academy which is in Harlem, and their principal is Carland Washington who has been doing a great job.”

Shifu Shi Yan Ming is a 34th generation Shaolin warrior monk, who is the founder of the USA Shaolin Temple. He trained at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China from the age of five. He is the founder the USA Shaolin Temple in Manhattan, where he has taught countless students, including many celebrities, plus made media appearances for National Geographic, Time magazine, and many more, including an American samurai action film. “It is my great honour to be here. This is a very meaningful award for me to help me continue to give my precious lifetime to help as many people as possible and to do the best that I can do. Life is so precious! You can spread peace, love and respect to the rest of the world. That is why we are here today. You are doing good things. You are bringing people together. Please continue doing this wonderful work.”

Shifu Shi Yan Ming very kindly shared with us a demonstration.

Ms. Nilima Silver, Programme Coordinator of Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations introduced Rebecca Cohen.

Rebecca Cohen and her colleague Seema Aghera are the co-founders of the Brooklyn Book Bodega. Their mission is to increase the number of 100+ book homes in New York City. They provide books these books, plus create a passion for learning. As a true educator, Rebecca believes in experiential, inquiry-based learning which is at the heart of children reading. “While we have given out a lot of books, each book is meaningful. Because a kid who holds a book spends time with the book and comes out different on the other side of it. I join in hoping with you for a more peaceful and safer world, and one way we get there is through our kids.”

Craig Gilbert is the President of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut chapter of the US Olympians and Paralympians Association. He competed in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 in Team Handball. After graduating from West Point Academy, he became a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army serving in Afghanistan. He has been hugely helpful to our programme today by sending out a letter to all his Olympians strongly encouraging their participation.

“It has been an honour to work with numerous Olympians and Paralympians over the last seven years to bring them back into the family. Many of the people that Sri Chinmoy has known – Carl Lewis and many other Olympic athletes and Paralympic athletes – were very, very important to him…We do not accomplish anything by ourselves. We accomplish things not individually, but we do it with the people around us — friends, coaches, teammates and family.”

Tahl Leibovitz is an American para table tennis player who has played in five Paralympic Games. He has won two gold medals and two bronze medals in the Atlanta and Athens Paralympics. “I am part of an organisation called Peace and Sport. We all do the best that we can, and we just have to be kind to each other. Sport is kind of an equalizer – it really does bring everyone together. Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world better though sport.”

Anna Norgen Mahon has been national champion in the women’s hammer throw and a member of the 2004 USA Olympic track and field team. She holds the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools of Brookfield, Connecticut. “As a lifelong educator and athlete, I feel that continuing to learn and always growing is important for all of us – and to do so in peace and love.”

Anna and her mother.

Prof. Kusumita P. Pedersen introduced Prof. James Lynch, who is the Chair of the Department of Business Management at the Koppelman School of Business at Brooklyn College, and has won their teaching award as well as publishing many journal articles on spirituality, ethics and leadership in a business context.

James is also a spiritual leader, and is a Dharma Teacher as authorized by the lay Buddhist movement the Risshō Kosei-kai.

James served for many years as President of the Buddhist Council of New York. He is also Vice Chair of the Board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. “I am deeply thankful to Sri Chinmoy and also to all of you. One of the things we say in Buddhism is that we are born, we die and in between we decide how we are going to serve. Each one of you has taken time out of your day and your life to come here at this moment thanks to the Honorable Venerable Sri Chinmoy – and his love for this planet and this world, plus his hope for peace. In a real sense, he still lives. Sri Chinmoy still lives through your hands, your feet, your tongue, your willingness to go out and share kindness, peace and love in all that you do.

“Every moment of your life is precious! Every moment of your life is precious! I think Sri Chinmoy was trying to say to us, ‘Every thing we do with our life is making a difference.’ As we say in Buddhism, ‘Many in body, one in mind.’”

Steve Yellen is the Executive Director and CEO, Athletes United for Peace and also the founder of Basketball in the Barrio. A former UTEP player and now a financial adviser, Steve says, "We want people to come here and steal our idea…Basketball can be something special that brings us all together around the world." We are deeply moved that Steve has travelled here from El Paso, Texas to take part in today’s ceremony. “Madame President, I absolutely loved the line that you used about Sri Chinmoy that he played peace on many fields. I feel so honoured to meet all of our Olympians. It reminds me that sport always seems to lead social change. We are trying to bring Mexicans and American youth together through basketball in thirty border cities across America. And today Madame President inspired me to learn much more about Sri Chinmoy. I love this.”

Zakia Haywood, Director of College Track & Field and Special Projects at The Armory in New York City and a Torch-Bearer recipient from 2022, introduced Maria Romano.

Maria Romano founded the Quick Silver Striders, a top running club in Jamaica. She is a community service running coach for New York Road Runners and also teaches walking and physical fitness to seniors. “I have known the Sri Chinmoy community for years. I have run many of your races. I love running, and I love to help people run and reach their goals. I like to help both children and adults. Running brings me peace.”

Marcus McLaurine is an American jazz bassist, composer, and educator. As one of the most sought-after bassists in jazz, he has shared bandstands with Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell and the Count Basie Orchestra, plus many more. He has also served as an adjunct professor at William Paterson University for the past nineteen years, teaching acoustic and electric bass. “This is a very special event for me! I used to see Sri Chinmoy running in the neighbourhood. He is such a great inspiration not only to that neighbourhood, but also to the world. Peace is actually what we need more of right now!”

Race Director Pradhan Balter presented awards to the top finishers of the two-mile race.

Top three in the women's race.

Second and third place in the men's two mile race.

Marcus and Kamalakanta finished by soulfully sharing two of Sri Chinmoy's musical compositions.

Thank you to everyone for joining with us this today.

Torch carried by
Abhejali Bernardová (Czech Republic), Adhiratha Keefe (United States), Agraha Levine (United States), Anjali Das (United States), Arpan DeAngelo (United States), Bishwas Polissar (United States), Jamini Young (United States), Lunthita Duthely (United States), Mahiyan Savage (United States), Natabara Rollosson (United States), Nikolaus Drekonja (United States), Nilima Silver (United States), Nirbhasa Magee (Ireland), Papaha Gosline (United States), Pradhan Balter (United States), Pranlobha Kalajian (United States), Purnahuti Wagner (Guatemala), Ranjana Ghose (United States), Salil Wilson (Australia), Sanyogita Sisler (United States), Subarnamala Riedel (Germany), Tanima Bossart (United States), Tilvila Hurwit (United States), Vasudha Deming (United States), Vihan Hernandez (Guatemala), Vrishaketu Pelletier (Canada).  
Nikolaus Drekonja, Purnahuti Wagner, Vihan Hernandez
The torch has travelled 2.0 mi in New York.

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