Ashrita's Record Blog
Article in New Yorker magazine:
Twenty-seven thousand jumping jacks, done in six hours and forty-five minutes, was Furman’s first record, in 1979. Furman’s records involve at least seventy discrete skills, the bulk of which he learns for the attempt. Slicing apples in the air with a samurai sword took a year.
More on New Yorker website... (subscription required to read full article)
Guinness World Records: OMG!" the official YouTube channel from Guinness World Records, met up with Ashrita in his New York home and tried their hands at a few record breaking exploits.
Article from the Wall Street Journal:
'Most visitors to Antarctica go to see the penguins and the glaciers. Ashrita Furman went to hop on a pogo stick...It was just another day in the life of Mr. Furman, who holds the ultimate Guinness world record: The record for Guinness world records.'
Okay, I’m as open minded as the next orangutan but, if you ask me, the human currently skipping around the Safari Park is a few bananas short of a bunch – if you know what I mean. Let’s face it, humans walk weird enough as it is - using only two legs instead of on going all fours. But on top of that, this maniac is doing some awkward movement that my trainer calls "skipping". For God’s sake, it’s 85 degrees outside and the humidity is off the charts. What would possess anyone to do something like this? And, what's more, he’s making this loud grunting noise. You would think he’s being chased by a bunch of hyenas or something. On second thought, he kind of sounds like a hyena with indigestion!
The fact is that, from what my trainer tells me, humans and orangutans have 97% of the same DNA. Ah, but what a difference that 3% makes. Humans are pathetically weak, their arms are way too short and the lack of dexterity of their feet is shocking. And, to make things worse, they put coverings on their feet so they can’t practice picking things up with their toes even if they wanted to. And what is the story with how they make funny shapes with the hair on their heads?
Don’t get me wrong - I like humans in general, although some do smell fairly horrible. Of course, there are some really bad humans who still kidnap baby orangutans and try to sell them on the black market. In fact, that’s how I ended up in this Safari Park. Two of those mean people went to our rainforest in Borneo, shot my mother and, when they saw that she could no longer protect us, they chased after us. We were terrified. Once they caught us, they threw us in a crate and took us for a long ride. I don’t remember much after that but, fortunately, I was rescued and ended up in this Bali Safari Park. Read more....
We were in trouble. It was a beautiful day in May and Bipin and I were in Budapest, Hungary. In 10 minutes we were to attempt Guinness record for raw egg catching in front of thousands of kids. The guidelines for the record were quite simple. Two people stand 16 feet apart and one person throws raw eggs at the other person who tries to catch as many of the eggs in a minute without breaking them. The current record was 71 eggs and Bipin and I had done more than that in practice in New York, so we thought it would be “over-easy”. But our confidence was “cracked” when, just before going on stage to make our attempt, we did a trial run. Bipin was throwing the eggs as normal but, for some reason, when I tried to catch the eggs, they exploded in my hands, and I was being “shelled” by raw eggs!
We tried using different batches of eggs, but the results were the same. For some reason, Hungarian eggs are not as strong as American eggs and, in front of national TV and a few thousand kids, I was about to get egg on my face, literally! I remembered that my mentor, Sri Chinmoy, taught me that through meditation it is possible to surmount any problem. After a brief meditation, an idea popped into my head. I ran over to Parimal (one of my Hungarian friends) and asked if he could find us a couple of hundred organic eggs in a hurry! I hoped that organic eggs might have stronger shells.
With these eggs though, Bipin and I had the horrible feeling that we were “poached”. We climbed up on stage and took our positions. Looking out at the enormous parking lot in front of us, we could see the expectant look on the kids’ faces—thousands of ‘em. Read more....
There is something about standing on a ball and balancing that gives me joy. I don’t know why – maybe it’s the challenge or maybe it’s because it's so cosmic and looks so cool. Balancing on a ball, to me, is a form of performance art. In fact, several years ago, while looking for a venue to break the record for the longest time standing on a Swiss Ball (the large, rubber air-filled exercise balls found in gyms), I approached the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City. I suggested that I might be dressed all in red and balance on a bright yellow ball on the sidewalk outside the museum. They didn’t take my idea seriously, but I still can't understand why!
Anyway, a few months ago, I discovered that Guinness had created a new category for standing on a different kind of ball – a rolling globe - and I was intrigued. A rolling globe is a hard plastic ball often seen in the circus with performers balancing on them while slowly making their way up and down ramps. I figured that balancing on a globe would be easy since, unlike a Swiss Ball, it is stable. I ordered a 24-inch rolling globe from a circus supply company and, when it arrived, I was in for a rude awakening. I guess the rolling part of “rolling globe” is there for a reason! I could only stay balanced on the ball for a few minutes and discovered that, besides being a workout for the quads and abs, it is torture on the arches of the feet! Read more....
One of the many things I love about the Guinness Book of Records is that I can almost always find some new event I have never seen or heard of before, and this inspires me into new frontiers of exercise. I’ve derived hours of fitness training and fun from such discoveries as star jumping, orange nose-pushing, frog-jumping, can and string-walking and upside-down juggling. It is truly a joy practicing new events and experiencing my progress from day-to-day and week-to-week. As my meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy, says:
When my heart sings the song of newness,
My life becomes the dance of fullness.
Recently, the Guinness people began posting a database of records on their website, and it has been a goldmine of inspiration for me. Okay…some of the new categories are silly – like the record for the fastest time to blow a postage stamp for 100 meters. Other categories sound silly, but are actually quite difficult– like the record for jumping the longest distance on a pogo stick while juggling 3 balls. This seemed tailor made for me so I decided that I would try to break it, and I wanted to do it on Easter Island!
It has long been a dream of mine to visit Easter Island, but finding the time to go has been a challenge. Part of the mystique of Easter Island (called Rapa Nui by the natives) is the fact that it is so hard to get to. The island is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2200 miles off the coast of Chile and is the most isolated inhabited spot in the world. For most of my record-excursions, I plan on 3 or 4 days including travel time, but Rapa Nui required double that. This year, my annual Christmas retreat this year took me to Columbia, South America, and this 3 week sabbatical afforded me the opportunity to make a side-trip to this remote island. Read more....
It is a great feeling to bring joy to others…to make them smile or laugh. In fact, this is one of the main reasons I break Guinness records. I try to find an event that is not only challenging, but also has a joyful aspect to it. For example, one of my favorite record attempts is pogo stick jumping up Mt. Fuji in Japan. Not only were the kids in Japan delighted by the event at the time, but whenever I tell people about it, it almost always brings a smile to their faces. Read more....
My spiritual Teacher, Sri Chinmoy, teaches that the inner life and the outer life must go hand-in-hand. Whenever we do something outwardly, if we can touch it with our spiritual effort, we can accomplish things way beyond our imagination!
I could be accused of being consumed with record-breaking, but really, for me, it is much, much more than that. Breaking records has become an important part my own spiritual quest. Inwardly, the process of breaking a record requires me to go within and depend on the Divine Grace. Outwardly, whenever I break a record, I get tremendous joy and inspiration and hopefully I inspire others as well - or at least make a few people smile!
So, I am always looking for new ideas for world records. Sometimes, I’ll go through the Guinness Book and some record will jump out at me. Often, I’ll return to an earlier record which someone else had subsequently broken. And sometimes, an incident in everyday life will give me an idea for a new record that has never been attempted before. Enter the lunge! Read more....
Way back in 1974, after a meditation with his students, Sri Chinmoy invited us to suggest a spiritual quality. He then composed an aphorism especially for each of us around that quality. When my turn came, I suggested the quality “grace”. Sri Chinmoy meditated for a few seconds and then in a melodic voice, he composed an aphorism. I have learned so much from that aphorism and yet there have been times when I have forgotten those valuable lessons.
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with my good friend, Bipin, who often breaks records with me. This past July, Bipin and I were looking for an adventure and we decided to go to the Grand Canyon to attempt the 3-minute record for catching the most grapes in one’s mouth thrown from 15 feet away. Bipin is the thrower and he is a virtuoso at throwing small objects, especially fruit, very rapidly and with pinpoint accuracy. Upon our arrival at the Grand Canyon, we were awed by its beauty and vastness. That evening we explored the area for a suitable record-breaking location and decided to attempt the record the next morning right on the walkway of the Canyon’s South Rim overlooking the vast panorama. Read more....
- 1 of 9