Part VII

//The following question was asked by Nina Schoenbaum, Miss Colonial America and New York State Representative for the American Federation of Women Bodybuilders.//

Nina Schoenbaum: They say in bodybuilding, "No pain, no gain." To me, that sounds ridiculous. I've never been in pain. Bodybuilding is the fountain of youth — you get stronger as you go along. I've made gains without pain. Why do people feel they have to hurt themselves to improve themselves?

Sri Chinmoy: I see eye to eye with you. Not only bodybuilders but also many other athletes are of the opinion, “No pain, no gain.” But I wish to say that if God is standing at a particular place and I am supposed to reach Him, will it please Him more if I hurt myself and then run towards Him on one leg, or will it please Him more if I use both legs and run in a normal way? Either I can use my wisdom-light or my stupidity-height. If we say that only by hurting ourselves can we improve ourselves, it is almost like saying that we should overeat in order to strengthen ourselves, that we should eat voraciously so that overnight we can become stronger than the strongest. That is not possible! Slowly and steadily we shall try to increase our capacities, not by leaps and bounds, which can cause us injuries.

I find it difficult to accept the theory that physical pain is unavoidable in order to improve. True, we may at times get pain as we struggle with an exercise or with heavy weights. But that is a totally different matter. If we deliberately torture our body beyond its limited capacity with the hope of becoming stronger overnight, then there is every possibility that the body will revolt. This kind of training will tell upon our health.

Everything has a capacity of its own. This capacity has to be increased intelligently, and, in the case of a seeker, also soulfully. A seeker knows that he does not have to disable or damage any part of his body to prove to God how much he loves Him. He does not have to say, “Here is my love for You: I have come to You with my arms and legs impaired.” It is ridiculous. God wants us to come to Him as soon as possible. Injuring our bodies will in no way increase our speed. I am speaking here about spiritual progress, but even from an ordinary point of view, wisdom will not tell us to inflict pain upon ourselves just in the hope of gaining something valuable. Wisdom can show us the way to our destination without the intervention of pain.