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“Doubt is a weakness in wholistic understanding and a lack of spiritual education. However, Doubt is required for the maturation of faith and self reliance. It is when we face doubts and difficulties that we determine whether our faith is an intellectual and conceptual one, or whether it is warrior strong, enduring, and anchored from the heartspace.
If you have faith, sooner or later it will be put to the test, and wherever the challenge comes from—from within you or from outside—it is…as Sogyal Rinpoche says, ‘simply part of the process of faith and doubt.’
As a Wholistic Fitness yogi we must all-Ways remember our maxim; There is no such thing as problems; only challenges…spiritual barbells waiting to be picked up so we may grow stronger and more whole.”
– steve ilg

photo: me, after a Time Trial. Below: in my “Race of Truth” position, the most important asana of all asana’s; the Time Trial position. both photos by the LA Times.


If we listen to the words of the New Ager’s and the rookies along the Spiritual Path, we keep hearing the same old thing;
“It’s not the end that matters, it’s the journey.”
Feeble ilg sez,
It IS the end…it IS the Finish Line…it IS the PODIUM that matters MOST OF ALL!
Why? Because the Podium of the “Human Race” is God’s Kingdom…it’s the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha (Dewachen).

Sure, the process…the Journey is absolutely fantastic and awesome and YES, it IS the “going” that matters, yet it is the ARRIVING that matters most!

In bicycle racing, the Time Trial represents the “Race Of Truth.” It’s just you against the clock. No drafting, no peleton, no nothing to save your skin-suited butt from utter embarrassment of how slow you are compared to your peers. Compared to the unforgiving, uncaring Clock.

If you need to confront Doubt as part of your spiritual journey; do a Time Trial. Really for once in your life, test your every ounce of muscle and mental fiber by going as fast as you possibly can along a pre-determined route. i don’t care if you run it, bike it, walk it, or wheel-chair it; just do it. Against others of your similar age and fitness. Against the clock.

It’s taken me decades to feel at ease within the high-end sustained suffering and incredible mental focus that is inherent to doing a Time Trial. At age 47, ilg is more calm, more confident, more fast than i was at 21. That’s because a TT is all about Self-Esteem, something i’ve lacked the majority of my life. Sure, it’s easy to see that i’ve overcompensated for my lack of Self-Esteem…i mean really, how many people do you know that have podiums in 23 DIFFERENT sports, 7 at the World Championship level? C’mon. And yes, all the heavy metal and trophies ilg has renunciated and re-accumulated will certainly furnish a Hero’s Image for my daughter, however, what matters most is that the message of my life rings soundly;
It’s more than just the Process that matters; it’s the Podium. Not until we reach the Podium of the Human Race – Enlightenment – are we freed from the samsaric circle of life, suffering, death, rebirth. If we relax too much into the Process, we are always in a “doing” incarnation…never a Wisdom Being.

In order to go as fast as i could along the 14-mile East Animas Time Trial on Day 3 of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic held two weekends ago, ilg had to pull out his best Zen. A Time Trial is basically the quintessential test of WF Lifestyle Principle Number One; Conscious Breath and Posture. I could write a book on “Zen and the Art of the Time Trial” and i probably should. However, there are limitless “shoulds” in the life of an ilg. Essentially, such a book would pivot upon these three points:

* stay low
* stay conscious
* stay empty

The common word among the above is ‘Stay’…as in sustaining…as in Vishnu; the yogic Lord of Perseverance. Without demanding Perseverance from within yourself, you will never succeed in the Time Trial – and ilg is speaking metaphysically here; i mean the Time Trial of your Soul…how much LONGER are you gonna be dinking around taking incarnations before buckling down and doing the Work of Enlightenment?

With every mile that passed beneath the tires of my bicycle during my Time Trial effort along the incredibly scenic East Animas Time Trial, i attempted to leave a wake of sacred joy, gratitude, and freedom. Sure i wanted to crush my opponents, yet that was subsidiary. As my heart-rate climbed, i attempted to apply skillfulness from lessons learned in Meditation to the effort and suffering coursing through my body. I consciously kept breathing peace and emptiness into my Being and rattled off my leg (ca)dance as fast, as poetically as possible to the tune, to the language of the ribbon of asphalt laid out before me.

When you get right down to it, the Art of High End Suffering in a Time Trial is not so different from the Art of Walking Peacefully upon our Earth. Awareness of breath is a fantastic way to preserve mindfulness, gratitude, and peace.

Soaring through the open air on a closed Race Course on your bicycle is so exhilarating. No source of energy is more nourishing than pure air being consciously and gratefully taken in and released from an Awakened Warrior Athlete. It’s pure Pranic Empowerment. If you train and practice steadfastly for such events as a Time Trial; your life will be transformed. Your decisions will come more cleanly, more quickly, more sacredly…

You’ll come to treasure the 10,000 Beings that make your life click moment to realized m(om)ent.

(above photo: Ananda and Dewachen at Bakers Bridge north of Durango, Colorado. The East Animas Time Trial race course crossed over the river at Bakers Bridge at this spot; mile 12.5…the remaining two miles were uphill. photo by ilg.)

If you continue to run away from your Doubts and Worries, then it will not matter if you enter the Kindgom of Heaven, for your Doubts and Worries will sully the beauty there and you’ll sadly realize you’ve turned Heaven into just another form of Hell. However, when we summon the courage to Practice, when we summon the Courage to toe the Start Line and do what it takes to finish in our best possible effort?
We instantly become Real(lized) Beings.
We’ve become the Truth of what we are, Here and Now…not in the fiction of our ahamkara*.
We’ve done what it takes to Race the Race of Truth…and like in skating over thin ice; speed matters.
A lot.
Go fast, yet be unhurried.
Big Difference.
Big Union.

Thank you for reading.
Now; get out and DO!

head bowed,
the coach who still does the do for you

(ps; ilg finished 14th in the East Animas Time Trial which, when added to his placing over the two other events in the preceding two days produced a 4th Place Finish from a starting field of 125 sport-specific cyclists. ilg made up most of his time in the Time Trial on the final 1 1/2-mile climb to Shalona Lake where he applied one round of the Mantra while standing on his pedals, and another round of the Mantra while sitting in the saddle, repeating this process until the Finish Line. ilg said at the finish, ‘It’s more important to me to be the athlete out there spreading the Dharma through my suffering instead of purging petty personal anger or unresolved lower chakra animalistic or hormonal energy.’)

* the egoic sheath of unrealized self.

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