Question: When you were practising to lift 303 pounds, how did you maintain your enthusiasm in spite of failing so many times?

Sri Chinmoy: I failed 213 times. So many times I failed and failed. But now I am trying to do 320 pounds. God knows how many days it will take. What I did yesterday was a personal record. But all the time I am competing with myself. This also is what I teach my students to do. Always compete with yourself; do not compete with anybody else. It is stupidity on our part to compete with others. If I think that I am the best boxer, immediately I will turn around and see a Muhammad Ali there. In any field, if anybody claims to be the best, I tell you, he is a fool, because sooner than at once somebody else will come up out of the blue and defeat him. But if we compete only with ourselves, we will remain not only the present but also the future champion.

Today I have lifted 300 pounds. Tomorrow if I can do 310, then who is defeating me? I am defeating myself. So here there is no defeat; there is only progress, and progress is what we want. Success we cannot depend on, because somebody will always come along and make our success pale into insignificance. When we live in the success-world, sooner than at once we are doomed to frustration. But when we live in the progress-world, always there is tremendous joy. This joy comes not only from transcending one’s capacities but from the effort itself. Say I have set my goal at 300 pounds, and I cannot do it. The very fact that I have been devotedly practising and practising gives me joy, and the tenacity or perseverance that I am showing is itself progress. Anything that we do devotedly and soulfully helps us make progress.

So always we have to compete with ourselves in every field. If I have teeming doubts, then I will pray and meditate to minimise and decrease my doubts, and that will be my progress. If I have ten desires — I want a Cadillac, three houses and so forth — then I will reduce my desires to nine, then eight and like that, finally, to one or no desires. This is how we can have peace of mind. If we have wisdom, we will try to minimise our earthly necessities and increase our Heavenly necessities. With our prayer-life and meditation-life we will try to become a better person by minimising our uncomely qualities like jealousy, insecurity and impurity. But if we have an iota of purity or an iota of love, then we will try to increase it. Positive qualities we shall try to increase and negative qualities we shall decrease and diminish. This is our philosophy.

In order to do that, we have to accept the world and live in the world. Here on earth each of us has to become a good person. If we can become a good person on earth and leave behind us our good qualities, then the whole world will make progress as we go farther and deeper and higher. In this way, each individual has the capacity to offer something for the betterment of the world.

[NOTE: Sri Chinmoy lifted 303 ¼ pounds for the first time on 11 August 1986 and 320 pounds on 21 August.]