Friday 9 January 2015

Trust: The Supreme Daring

One of my favourite movies is “The Last Samurai”.  It is a beautiful movie based in 19th Century Japan.  I love the movie because it’s filled with loads of samurai life-wisdom. 

Capt. Nathan Algren, (Tom Cruise) is an American army officer hired by the Japanese Emperor to help train his army.  The Emperor wishes to eradicate the ancient Samurai warrior class which, in his opinion, is hindering the westernization of Japan.  The samurai are led by their chief Katsumoto (Ken Wantanabe).  

Tom Cruise becomes fascinated by the samurai, their pure lifestyle, and their pursuit of perfection. He switches sides and ends up supporting the samurai against the Emperor’s armies. His change of heart is brought on, in no small measure, due to the gorgeously attractive lead actress, Taka (Koyuki).   

In one of the scenes, Tom Cruise is fencing (using a wooden sword) with a Samurai warrior who keeps beating him every single time.  Tom’s mind is not focused and so he loses each duel.  A large crowd has gathered to watch and are joyfully betting on the outcome of each round. 

Tom has a friend in the crowd, Nobutada.  As he gets whacked by the wooden sword again and again, Nobutada runs up to him, to give him some advice.
The following exchange takes place.

“Nobutada: Please forgive; too many mind.
Tom Cruise: (puzzled) “Too many mind?”
Nobutada: Hai, mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind the enemy – too many mind.
Nobutada: No Mind!
Tom Cruise (pretending to understand): No mind!”

The mantra of “no-mind” relaxes Cruise while at the same time increasing his “awareness” of his surroundings.  He becomes “present” in the “moment” and goes on to excel in the next duel.

Osho has always said that “No-mind” is the key to enlightenment.   I believe that every marathon runner has “No-mind”.  If we had minds we wouldn’t be doing this race!  But unfortunately that is not the kind of “No-mind” which the enlightened Masters refer to.

So I, like most mortals, have “too many minds”.   There is a mind, which tells me each night that tomorrow morning, I must wake up early and go for a run.   In the morning, another mind speaks to me and says, “It’s cold and dark out.  Why don’t you take rest today and run tomorrow instead”.  Later in the day another mind speaks to me and says, “Oh! You should have gone and exercised today morning. You’ve wasted the day.”....Too many minds!!

But now, race day is close at hand and I need to focus on race day performance.  It is now time to set race day targets.

I have set one of my minds on running a personal best!

Running a personal best is quite tricky.  To run a personal best is challenging because it means that one is setting oneself up to achieve something one has never done before.  It means that I have to go into a zone which I have never been in before.  Some amount of pain may be inevitable and I need to be prepared to hurt.  Being mentally prepared for the pain to come means I won’t lose courage when the wheels start to come off.

But I’m a pragmatic guy. I am too full of knowledge and not enough wisdom.  And as I said, I have too many minds. And so I wonder...must I not have a back-up plan?

If after a few kilometres, it seems that plan A is not happening, must I not have a plan B and then a plan C and perhaps even a plan D?  

So plan A is that I want to run 42.2 in 4:00
Plan B is to run it in 4:10 (helps with the 89km Comrades Ultra start-line seeding)
Plan C is to run 4:20 (a respectable time)
Plan D is to run sub 5:00 (to simply qualify for the Comrades Ultra Marathon)

Based on my current training and my half marathon time in November 2014 (ADHM) of 1:52, I believe that Plan B (4:10) is achievable on January 18th 2015. Besides, 4:10 would also be a personal best.  

But I also believe that for a personal best to really be a personal best, it has to be harder than what I have ever believed possible.  I can’t keep a target which is within my comfort zone. I must reach for the stars.  And I believe, wrongly or rightly, that a 4:10 is well within my comfort zone.   But is 4:10 really the “best I can do”? 

I have therefore come to the conclusion that my plan A has be out there, beyond the limits of the possible.   But as I plan to pursue a 4:00 hour marathon, I am very worried.  I am not a champion like Prefontaine who believed that “The best pace is a suicide pace”.  I know that going for a 4:00 and misjudging my pace and ability could be committing just that: Suicide!   Not only will 4:00 become out of question but even 4:10 might be lost. And so, I am plagued with doubt.

I know that I have devoted a huge amount of my time and body to this race.  I have trained as hard as I could.  I have done long runs, short runs, hill repeats, intervals and fartlek training.  I have followed a kick-ass training program. I have trained harder than at any point of time in my life, and then some.  I have tested myself on smaller runs, I have done race-pace training on smaller runs, I have done some race-pace running in the second part of longer runs.

But then there is still this nagging issue of all these other minds. They keep tormenting me. 

“Run a 4:10”, says one mind, “it will still be your personal best.”  “Just run an easy 4:20”, says the other. “Just qualify for Comrades with a sub 5:00”, says the third.

Too many minds!!  Must I take the leap into the unknown 4:00 or rely on the safe 4:10? 

I think that in all this mental confusion I have been overlooking one critical component. And that component is: “Trust”  

In the Kaivalya Upanishads the great Lord Brahma says that, “To experience the Ultimate Reality, one must take refuge in trust, devotion, meditation and yoga.”

And I, for one, see parallels between the search for the Ultimate Reality and my personal best!

Osho says that in order to gain the Ultimate all the four things (trust, devotion, meditation and yoga) are essential but the key is “Trust”.  One needs to start with Trust.  Without Trust nothing works.

I seem to have the devotion, meditation and yoga partially in place. Trust however seems to be the real issue.  I feel that there is a Trust deficit.  Do I have Trust in myself?

Osho says that, “To believe in what we can believe is not trust.  To accept what our intellect can accept is not trust.  To trust what can be supported by our reason is not trust.  
Trust is to agree with what our intellect is not willing to accept, what our reasoning is not willing to accept.  It is the possibility of what seems to be an impossibility. Acceptance of the impossible is trust.  This is why Trust is the supreme daring!

Trust is utter madness.  The very meaning of trust is that you take a quantum leap.  When all logic and reason has been exhausted, there you take a jump; where the road ends, there you take a jump.”

A 4:00 marathon is utter madness.  It needs a quantum leap of faith on my part.  I’m going to take that leap.  Trust is the only answer.  I have to Trust myself, I have to Trust my training. I have to Trust in the impossible.  Wisdom can only come existentially.

So what do I plan for Race Day? Will it be too many Minds or No-Mind?

“Too many minds” is too much noise. I can’t have that. “No-mind” is for enlightened Masters.  I can’t have that either. 

I just want One Mind.
I just want One Plan.
I just want One Goal.
I just want to run a 4:00 hour Marathon! 

Trust is the Supreme Daring!   


  1. Great post Amit. On a logistical note, do you plan ot join in the 4 hr bus?

  2. Well encapsulated philosophy - mental clutter detracts from performance in all areas of life. Thanks for the 'no mind' and 'one mind' wisdom. Good luck on race day!

  3. Good luck, Amit! Seize your moment!

  4. Nice article n good luck for 4:00

  5. Hi champ, A 4 hr or maybe a sub 4 hr full marathon is what I sincerely wish for u !!!!! Thats my target too !! we will pair up........ what say !!!!!!

  6. All the best for your 4 and I am sure you will achieve it

  7. Hey Amit, great article. For me its my first SCMM half marathon. I had joined with a target to do sub 3 but VVMM I did it 2.22. Looking at your article let me dare a 2.15.

    All the best for your 4

  8. Hi Amitbhai great a very articulated article
    trusts is synonymous with faith and it rarely fails the followers
    so I trust that I will see you at finish line subfour

  9. Nice article! As everyone is training hard to achieve their personal best record this article will help to be focused. Thanks for sharing such a nice thought.

  10. Hi Amit,
    You have taken a great leap this year in setting a goal and why not . You are much much experienced player when it comes to running. I know you are a fighter and you will definitely do a 4.00 Hr race with smiling face at the finish line. All the Best to you and se you on 18th Jan.

  11. Good article . All the best in all your efforts!! Have a great run!!

  12. Motivating and Inspiring article .
    Wishing you all the best for 4hr marathon.enjoy your Run.