Aspiration-body, illumination-soul, part 1


We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.

Sri Chinmoy

Part I: Preface to Questions from Bill Pearl

The following questions were asked by five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, who has also won the coveted title of “World’s Best Built Man of the Century” and been entered into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. In 1978 he was elected IFBB National Chairman of the Professional Physique Judges Committee, and he has served as a consultant for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to train astronauts as well as top executives. Since 1954 when he first opened up his innovative gyms — which offered more to a wider range of people than any had before — Bill Pearl has personally programmed over 200,000 bodybuilders and trained more physique stars than any other individual.

Bill Pearl: Are you seeking uniqueness in the weightlifting field so you can have a larger impact on a larger group of people?

Sri Chinmoy: I would like to say in all sincerity, instead of ‘recognition’, our term is ‘the manifestation of God’s Compassion’. Name and fame as such, what most of the world craves, is not what I want. Only I want the manifestation of God’s Will, to show that the spirit can be manifested in and through the body. Previously spirit and matter were separated. Matter was one thing and spirit was another. Spirit wouldn’t touch matter; matter wouldn’t touch spirit. Everything I have achieved is by virtue of my prayer, meditation and spiritual life. Now my Lord wants my prayer-life and meditation-life to work through my physical, earthly body in this way. So we use the term ’manifestation’. From my weightlifting, there will be many people who will be inspired to enter into the spiritual life. Again, spiritual people will be inspired to enter into the physical world. Otherwise, if one’s body is not fit, one cannot get up in the morning to meditate; one cannot do anything well.

The physical and the spiritual must go together. While transcending myself, if I achieve something unprecedented, then that is quite spontaneous. My goal is not to be a bodybuilder or a weight-lifter of the highest magnitude. If what I am doing is considered unprecedented, then it is well and good. But I will not aim at a world record as such. It is not that I will try to break a world record by hook or by crook — far from it! I will try to transcend myself. While transcending myself, it is up to the Will of the Supreme if I will do a little better than others have done.

Bill Pearl: I think it’s just amazing that you’re capable of doing such tremendous feats of strength. You’re going to be a great inspiration to a lot of people.

Sri Chinmoy: I am a seeker and a God-lover. God is trying to inspire humanity in a new way in and through me. The spiritual Masters of the hoary past thought the inner life and the outer life could not go together. In India some of them think this even today. Our spiritual Masters, in order to realise God, used to live in the Himalayan caves or in one solitary room for 20, 30 or 40 years. They were afraid of entering into society. They said that the outer life could never be transformed because they felt that inner inspiration or aspiration did not function in the outer life. But my Beloved Supreme — who is my Lord, who is your Lord, who is everybody’s Lord — feels that if we neglect the body, the outer life, then how are we going to be perfect in every aspect of life and how are we going to manifest Him? The body is the temple and the soul is the shrine. If we neglect the temple and do not keep it in good condition, what will happen to the shrine? If we pay attention only to the shrine, then how can the temple do something for God?

Of late I have been reading articles written about you by your real admirers in Strength and Health magazine. I also have many articles written by you. They are so inspiring, so inspiring. In 1972, when people were saying unkind things about the old champions, your friend inspired you or instigated you to enter into competition again. Then in London again you became Mr. Universe. I read those articles with such joy and got such a real thrill from them.

Bill Pearl: I really, truly appreciate that. So would you say that what you’re attempting to do is to show people what can be done and how far a person can go if he puts his mind and heart and soul into a specific endeavour?

Sri Chinmoy: That is precisely what I am doing! I am not a bodybuilder, I am not a weight-lifter; I am a God-lover. Because I am a God-lover, my Beloved Supreme is trying, in and through me, to inspire people who are trying to aspire. Among the bodybuilders and weight-lifters there are also people who love God and want to have a higher life, an inner life. So He is trying to utilise me to be of service to them.

Part II: Questions from Jim Smith

The following questions were asked by Jim Smith, the Registrar of Records for the British Amateur Weight lifters’ Association and the World Masters Weightlifting Champion in the two-handed standing press. Since winning his first title in 1959, Jim Smith has dedicated his entire adult life to amateur weightlifting. He is also an international referee and a teacher of young hopefuls. Organiser of four British national weightlifting contests and creator of the weightlifting pentathlon, Jim Smith has a depth of experience on both the competitive and official levels that makes him one of the great authorities on the sport of weightlifting.

Jim Smith: Could you please tell me your training schedule?

Sri Chinmoy: It takes me practically 50 minutes — sometimes even an hour — just to warm up by doing general stretching exercises. I was an athlete, so I know quite a few stretching exercises. Then, after the stretching, I do 200 push-ups. Then I use some of my exercise machines. All these things I do almost every day. It takes me 3 ½ hours altogether. But I practise for 2 hours, and then I take a few minutes’ rest before continuing.

Once every ten days I don’t do everything. I do four or five items fewer. Otherwise, almost every day I do all the exercises regularly, without fail. So this is my schedule. And at our tennis court I also have three or four exercise machines that I use.

Jim Smith: You must understand why I am so impressed. I have lifted weights for 35 years now. I have not normally trained more than four times a week and not more than three hours in any one session.

Sri Chinmoy: If I do not train like this, mentally I become weak. If I skip certain things, I face a kind of mental barrier the following day, as if I am starting from the very beginning. When I go out of town — during Christmas and other times — and I do not have all the facilities, there are quite a few things I cannot do. Then, when I come back and start practising again, I do not suffer. But when I am here in New York, if I do not practise regularly and do all my exercises, then I feel sad the following day.

Jim Smith: I can understand that. But I don’t know anybody, apart from the Bulgarians and people like that, who trains so much. Now, about your calf raise, I can only tell you that in England we don’t recognise the calf raise as a competition lift.

Sri Chinmoy: I am not competing with anyone. But please forgive me for saying this. The inspiration and creativity in weightlifting, let us say, includes very few lifts — the jerk, clean and press and a few others. But the weightlifting world is a vast world. Today we are living in the world of science; we are producing so many different things — quantity as well as quality. How is it that they are not recognizing more lifts, different kinds of lifts, in the Olympics and elsewhere? Some people challenge me and say my one-arm lift is not a recognized lift because I lift it from a rack. But what is wrong with that? Are imagination and variety not appreciated in this world?

Jim Smith: You’re obviously using all your previous spiritual training.

Sri Chinmoy: Previously I used to say 99 per cent, but now I give 100 per cent credit to my Inner Pilot, who is my source of inspiration and aspiration. Before each lift I concentrate, pray and meditate for at least three or four minutes. I do one heavy lift, and then again I meditate and invoke God’s Blessings and Protection. After doing one lift, they advise you to do the next lift as soon as possible — within a few seconds. They say that for a few moments the blood in your arm is still circulating rapidly. I don’t like that theory since, in my case, I depend on Grace from Above. So I wait at least three minutes or more between each lift when I am working with heavy weights. I pray and meditate and concentrate, and when I feel that I am inwardly energised, I try to lift. Before that I do not do it because I feel I owe everything to my Source, which is inner guidance. So I have to first enter into my Source for inspiration, aspiration, guidance and protection.

Sometimes there is no logic behind my performances. But again, inner inspiration is such that it does not correspond to outer reasoning. Many, many things I have done which my physical mind cannot believe. When I look at the weight, I am frightened to death. But then again, when I concentrate, I am not afraid of it. When I am one with it, I act like a hero. When I am not one with it, when my concentration or my oneness with the weight is not there, then I am actually frightened. But when I try to go beyond the mind, then these barriers do not exist. The mind feels that you have to go from one to two. But why go from one to two if there is something called Grace? Why not go from one to ten? Fortunately, I have succeeded many times with this approach.

Part III: Questions at a press conference

The following questions were asked at a press conference held in Queens, New York, on 12 August 1986.

Question: Why, at this point, are you having this press conference?

Sri Chinmoy: My students wanted me to have this conference so that we can serve more people with our inspiration and our dedication. Our philosophy is to aspire and inspire. A few reporters are here; they too can be of great service to humanity. We are all trying to do the same thing in our own way. I am lifting weights and you are writing articles, but all of us are trying to serve and inspire humanity according to our capacity and in our own career.

Question: When did you start weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: Last year, on 26 June, I started seriously. With difficulty I lifted 40 pounds with one arm at that time. Only by practising regularly and faithfully is one able to make progress. About four years ago a few of my students and I tried to lift a 50-pound weight with one arm. Some of my students did it seven or 10 times, but I could not do it even three times properly. Fifty pounds was such a struggle for me! And yesterday when my students and I were practising informally, I lifted a 50-pound dumbbell 40 times. So this is progress.

Yesterday when I lifted 50 pounds 40 times, I offered the result to my Inner Pilot. Again, the time I lifted 50 pounds only three times with such difficulty, that result also I offered to my Inner Pilot. In no way was I less happy four years ago than I was yesterday. I got the same joy then as I did yesterday. To be able to lift the weight three times was the capacity that God gave me at that time, and this is the capacity He gave me yesterday. So yesterday’s capacity I offered to Him cheerfully, just as I offered my previous capacity to Him. We should always offer our capacity cheerfully to God. What we have, we will give. If we have one flower, we will give it, and if we have 10 flowers, we will give them with the same joy.

Question: Weightlifting seems a most appropriate athletic sport to express our concentration. Is this why you started it?

Sri Chinmoy: I did not choose to start lifting weights. If one prays and meditates sincerely, somebody within him talks to him and tells him what to do and what not to do. You use the term ’God’; I say my ’Inner Pilot’. Last year, when I was praying and meditating, that somebody within me — you can call it an inner voice or a source of inspiration — asked me to start weightlifting. That is why I am doing it.

Now, about concentration, let us say somebody can lift 60 pounds with only his muscle-power. If the same person prays and meditates for a few minutes before he lifts, then he will have the strength not only of his body but also of his mind and his vital. Now he is getting help only from his physical. He is not getting inner determination from the vital or the tremendous will-power that is inside the mind. He is not even aware of these things. But if he prays and meditates, immediately he feels that his mind has tremendous will-power, tremendous concentration-power. If he thinks of his vital, he sees that it is full of determination. And his body is full of energy. All these good qualities he can feel when he prays and meditates. He feels that his vital, mind, heart and soul are all the friends of his body, and he takes help from them. If somebody has friends, then those friends come to help him when he needs them, and naturally his weightlifting becomes easier.

I am trying to inspire people who are not praying and meditating. I am telling them that everybody has a vital, everybody has a mind, everybody has a heart, everybody has a soul. But they are not utilising these members of their inner family the way I do. Otherwise, if I had to depend entirely on the physical, I could do next to nothing. My biceps are not even 14 inches, whereas the biceps of other weightlifters are 21 or 22 inches. My calves are not even 13 ½ inches, and theirs are 20 inches. Their muscles are gigantic compared to mine. I can lift as much as I do because I am taking help from the strength within me. My friends the vital, mind, heart and soul are helping me from within. They are my inner friends. So I am telling those people who are not now aware of the inner life that inner strength is something real. They will be able to increase their capacity tremendously if they also take help from their inner friends.

Question: I am familiar with the weightlifting that you have done. Maybe you can give us a little better idea how you prepare for lifting the heavy weights, because I’m sure you don’t just work out with heavy weights all the time.

Sri Chinmoy: It is mainly a question of my mental preparation, my mental attitude, towards the weights. To start with, I do stretching exercises for 40 or 50 minutes. Sometimes I may take up to an hour. Then I do repetitions with a 10-pound dumbbell and then with 20 pounds. From 20 immediately I go to 300, 310 and 320 — like that. So it is not a gradual progression. I just use my prayer, my meditation and my surrender-life to God’s Will. I pray and meditate and, at the same time, I surrender the results to God’s Will. This is what I do.

Question: Do you have a regular physical training schedule that you go through?

Sri Chinmoy: I take exercise for each part of the body: arms, legs, back and whatever muscles are required to keep the body fit. I do at least 20 different exercises daily for my upper and lower body. Then I come here every morning to do calf raises and play tennis. If there is time in the afternoon, I play tennis again. At least three hours I spend on weightlifting and bodybuilding. Running is now out of the question because of my knee, but if I am able to jog some days, then I feel really happy.

Question: Could you compare running to weightlifting? Does one give you more pleasure than the other?

Sri Chinmoy: In my life running is unparalleled; it has no second. Weightlifting was never my forte. Right from my early years I disliked bodybuilding and weightlifting. I was a sprinter and decathlete, and I did not care for weightlifting at all. It was something foreign to me. But last year I started weightlifting because of an inner command. I always listen to the dictates of my Inner Pilot, and my Inner Pilot asked me to enter into weightlifting. That is the main reason, the inner reason, why I took up weightlifting.

The outer reason, one can say, was severe knee pain, which prevented me from running. So I have to do something to keep my body fit. But the inner reason is because my Inner Pilot, my God, has commanded me to lift. For that reason I do it cheerfully. But if I am asked to make a comparison between running and weightlifting, running will always remain my most favourite sport.

Question: Did your feeling about weightlifting change as you started to do it? Do you now like it?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, even now I do not really enjoy it. Only my surrender to my Inner Pilot compels me to do it. But I do it obediently and even cheerfully, and definitely I do it devotedly. As I said, I pray and meditate. As soon as I pray and meditate, I become a devoted instrument of God, and then automatically I become cheerful.

Question: Do you feel that your weightlifting will be an inspiration for others?

Sri Chinmoy: I do feel there are countless people on earth who do not believe in the inner power, the inner life. They feel that the outer strength and the outer life are everything. I do not agree with them. There is an inner life; there is spirit, and my ability to lift these heavy weights proves that it can work in matter as well.

We have to bring to the fore our inner capacities and inner power with our prayer and meditation. Standing against us is ignorance. But if our outer determination and our inner aspiration can go together, that means that two friends of ours are fighting against one enemy in our life’s tug-of-war, so we are bound to win. There are professional bodybuilders and weightlifters who have also come to the conclusion that there is something called the spirit, inner power, and it helps them considerably in their bodybuilding and weightlifting. These things are like friends. If I have an extra friend, I will take help from that friend.

Question: How does your weightlifting relate to your many other aspects of working for world peace?

Sri Chinmoy: Weightlifting goes side by side with this work. Everything that inspires a human being to be a better citizen of the world is good and divine. As a poet, if I can write inspirational poems, then definitely they will serve humanity’s aspiration. As an artist, if I can draw something beautiful and soulful, then again it serves and inspires mankind. As a singer and composer, it is the same. No matter what I do, if there is aspiration behind it, then that aspiration enters into mankind as inspiration. When I am composing or performing or doing anything else, the capacity of my aspiration will eventually enter into human beings as inspiration, and they will derive much benefit from it.

The things that I am doing are not my sole monopoly. Everybody can try them and everybody, if they are sincere and dedicated, will reach their goal. When I do weightlifting, I pray and meditate. When I compose songs, I pray and meditate. It is the prayer and meditation in each and every activity of mine that is helping me and others. But this aspiration-life is for all. Everybody wants to succeed. Everybody wants to achieve personal goals in his inner life or his outer life. Everybody wants to be a better person, to make progress, to go beyond. And the best and fastest way to do these things is to use prayer and meditation along with the outer things that are required to achieve the goal.

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 10 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 1/4 pounds for the first time on 11 August 1986 and 320 pounds on 21 August.

Question: Do you feel that the races you sponsor also help and inspire people?

Sri Chinmoy: Running is helping and inspiring people considerably, and in our races we have been inspiring thousands of people all over the world.

Question: It seems that everything which you are involved in is for mankind. Do you ever do anything for your own personal satisfaction?

Sri Chinmoy: Everything I do is meant to please God, my Inner Pilot. While pleasing Him, I am being satisfied. I do not have a sense of separativity. If I can consciously and soulfully please Him in His own Way, then I feel that I am more than rewarded. If I establish my oneness totally with you, then on the strength of my oneness, whatever gives you joy definitely gives me joy. My Inner Pilot is my highest reality-existence, and I am part and parcel of Him. So when I please Him in His own Way, I am more than pleased.

Question: If you want to use your weightlifting as an inspiration, why not use a more conventional type of lift that is more recognizable to the general public?

Sri Chinmoy: What you are asking is an excellent question. Why do I not do something conventional so that everybody can accept or reject it? There are two reasons. The outer reason is this: we have to go forward with new ideas. Why should I only follow the old system? Every day science is making new discoveries. If we go on reading the same old book, although it may be a good book, an excellent book, it becomes boring. So if somebody finds a new book, written in a different style, with different ideas, then everybody is delighted.

In a garden there are many beautiful roses, and you have been seeing these roses all your life in that particular garden. Now if you add some totally new flowers, will they in any way take away the beauty of the garden? It may no longer be a conventional rose garden, but the new flowers will only add to the beauty of the garden. Roses are extremely beautiful, and we appreciate their beauty and fragrance. But if other flowers also can be added, then we appreciate them also.

If a tree has many branches instead of only one or two, and if these branches are of different sizes and shapes, then each one will offer new interest and new beauty. So this is the outer reason why I do the lifts that I do.

The inner reason is that if I want to please somebody in my life more than anything else, if I want to please that person at every moment consciously, soulfully and unconditionally, then I will do it. The person that I want to please is my Inner Pilot, my Beloved Supreme. My Inner Pilot wants me to do it this way, so I am doing it happily, cheerfully and unconditionally. But if He changes His Mind, if He wants me to do it in the conventional way, then I will do that. The inner reason is the main reason why I do these kinds of lifts. But if you are looking for outer justification, it is because if you have more than just roses in a garden, it only adds to the beauty of the garden and in no way diminishes the beauty and fragrance of the roses. Something new is always interesting and charming.

Question: Do you get discouraged that there are no signs of the world accepting peace?

Sri Chinmoy: I am not discouraged because anything that is great, anything that is enduring, anything that is going to last forever, takes time to come about. We sow the seed and gradually it germinates. After some time it becomes a tiny plant, then a sapling and finally a huge banyan tree. It takes such a long time for a seed to grow into a giant banyan tree, but that tree is something really remarkable, and it lasts for a long time. If just yesterday I sowed the seed, and today I look for the plant, then I will be doomed to disappointment. Everything takes time. I am in kindergarten, but my goal is to get a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. Why should I be discouraged if I cannot achieve my goal overnight?

The peace movement has been going on for a long time. But in terms of its success or progress, it is nowhere near the goal. Humanity’s search for peace has been going on for millennia, whereas our own peace movement has just begun. As long as we know that we are walking along the road and have not given up, then we know that eventually we are bound to reach our destination. So I am not discouraged. I will be discouraged the day I give up offering my peace concerts or peace prayers and meditations at the United Nations and elsewhere. If I give up, only then do I really fail. But while walking along the road, although the destination is far, far, far away, the very fact that I am trying and struggling gives me satisfaction.

As long as I am still on the road, even though I am only walking or crawling, one day I will be inspired to jog, the next day I will be inspired to run faster and the third day I will be inspired to sprint. If I do not have the capacity to run or sprint, then I will crawl. But if I give up and turn around and say, “This road is not meant for me; the world is never going to be peaceful,” then real disappointment will come into my life. If I stop my prayer-life or service-life, that is when I will be truly disappointed.

The success of our peace movement is up to the world. Today the world is not receptive, but perhaps tomorrow it will be. Every day we are not in a cheerful consciousness; every day we do not see the sun. But we cannot say that there is no sun. The sun eventually does appear.

Question: How can an athlete establish peace inside himself to give him strength?

Sri Chinmoy: An athlete can have the same kind of peace as a seeker who is consciously praying and meditating for world peace. An athlete can have peace on the strength of his oneness. Before he starts his competition, he can just take a fleeting second to feel: “No matter who is first, I will be equally happy, for whoever wins is my brother or sister. If I did not run or jump, there would be no competition, so that person could not be a winner. Again, if I win, it is only because others have also run and jumped.”

Now, if I have won the race, then naturally I will be happy. But when I look around and see that my friend or my brother, who has not done well, is unhappy, at that time do I get real happiness? I am being extolled to the skies because I have won, but my brother who has lost is doomed to disappointment. I sincerely love my brother, so how can I be happy? How can I have peace?

I will only have happiness if I can identify myself with his failure-life, if I can enter into his heart and feel the same sadness, suffering and shock that he is experiencing. I have already identified myself with my success-life, and I am very proud and happy. Now, if I can immediately enter into my friend’s sadness and be implicitly one with his suffering, then I will be really happy. At that time my victory will give me joy and my sincere identification with the other person’s defeat will also give me joy. This joy and happiness, you can say, is peace. Because of my victory I am getting happiness, which is peace, and also on the strength of my oneness with my friend’s loss I am getting peace.

Then I will offer my achievement to the Source, who has given me the capacity to win, and I will offer my friend’s sadness and failure-life equally to the One who alone can give victory and defeat. If an athlete can offer up the results to God, then no matter whether he is first or last he will be cheerful. This cheerfulness, along with his oneness with the winner’s or loser’s life, will definitely give him peace of mind.

This applies not only to athletics but to everything that we do on earth. Oneness, oneness, oneness! If we think of oneness before we do something, if we can maintain this feeling of oneness while we are acting and also at the end of our action, then there will always be peace. From the beginning to the end, we have to sing the song of oneness.

Let us say we are running in a marathon. There are thousands of other people going to the same destination. Bill Rodgers will run; I will also run. Bill Rodgers will be first and I will be last. But if I have established oneness with the other runners, then I will be equally happy because they are all part and parcel of my life. Then again, if Bill Rodgers has established his oneness with me and I come first, then he will get the greatest joy. He will not feel miserable that one part of him has reached the goal before another part. No!

Without oneness, no matter what we do, we are unhappy. Even when we are successful, the joy we get does not last. Immediately somebody will bring the news that another person has done better, or doubt will enter into our mind and we will feel that tomorrow somebody will defeat us. At that time imaginary unhappiness we bring into our lives. How can one have peace when he is all the time thinking that his achievement is not the best, or that somebody else will do better? But if we have established our oneness not only with the past and the present but also with the future, then we are bound to have peace all the time. If somebody does something better than we do, we feel that that person is only an extension of our own lives. Yesterday I did something with one name and form, and tomorrow, under the name of somebody else, I will do the same or better.

Krishna, Buddha, Christ and others are spiritual Masters. They came into the world at different times, yet they are all one. Only they have different names and forms. With ordinary people also, when somebody does something great, he doesn’t have to worry that tomorrow his capacity will be eclipsed. No, tomorrow again it will be he, with a new name and form, who will accomplish something better than what he did today. In oneness there is always peace.

Yesterday I could lift 40 pounds, today I am lifting 60 and tomorrow I will do 70. I know that I am the same person who is doing the lifting, so I am not unhappy each time my previous record is surpassed. But if division starts, then I will be in trouble. There is always so much division even in our own being — especially between the mind and the heart and between the body and the vital. When I lift something, if there is division, immediately my mind will try to take the credit. Then the vital will say, “No, it was my determination,” and try to take the credit. The body will say, “Who lifted it up?” The heart will say, “It was I, part of my existence.” And the soul will say, “You know, if I don’t remain inside the body, all the rest of you are dead — heart, vital, mind and body.” So every part of me will want to take the credit for my success.

But because there is oneness, the soul is not telling the mind, vital and body, “Because of me you have won.” The body is not telling the other members of my life, “No, because of me you have won.” The body knows that if the vital does not offer determination, I cannot succeed. Again, the vital knows that if the mind is not properly controlled, I will not be able to lift. My soul, heart, mind, vital and body could have revolted, but they did not, because I have already established my oneness with them. Each one separately could have fought against each other, but they are not fighting because we have established oneness. So we have to always feel oneness the way the body, vital, mind, heart and soul of an individual feel oneness with one another and work together to reach the goal. In this way we are bound to have peace.

Question: Would you have any message for coaches who are training athletes?

Sri Chinmoy: My simple message that I can offer to coaches is to have a childlike heart, a oneness-heart with their students. They should try to feel constant oneness not only with their students’ outer needs but also with their inner needs. Most coaches help their students outwardly, but inwardly they are unable to help. But if they pray and meditate along with their students while the students are performing, they can help their students considerably. Coaches should practise the prayer-life and meditation-life and also encourage their students to do the same. On the outer plane they have wisdom; they know much more than their students. But if they do not take help from their own inner resources and also help their students on the inner plane, then their students may not or cannot develop to their greatest potential. Coaches should dive deep within and bring to the fore their own inspiration, aspiration, dedication, determination and will-power and offer these capacities to their students. In that way the students and the coaches will work together in their inner lives of aspiration and their outer lives of dedication, and the success they have will be tremendous and will last forever.

Question: Is there any kind of relationship that you feel you have with the weights when you step up to them?

Sri Chinmoy: On the strength of my prayer and meditation I try to enter into the material consciousness and become part and parcel of the weights that I lift. When I deal with matter, I try to become inseparably one with it. So when I lift up the weights, I feel that my life-breath has entered into the metal plates and that from the metal this life-breath has entered back into me. This is how I try to establish my oneness with the weights. In this way I feel life in the weights and the weights feel life in me. Otherwise, if I just touch them, they do not reciprocate, and we do not offer our life-breath to each other.

Question: Now that you have achieved a certain standard in the one-arm lift and calf raise, do you have other goals?

Sri Chinmoy: Ours is the philosophy of self-transcendence. Based on this philosophy, every day I am trying to become a better instrument of God. So in my case there is no such thing as an ultimate goal. As soon as I reach a goal, I know that my Inner Pilot will not allow me to stop. He will always want me to continue. As long as He grants me inspiration, aspiration and dedication, I will continue most faithfully attaining new goals.

Question: If I am compelled to adopt a sport which gives me less joy, can my inner progress be as great?

Sri Chinmoy: Your inner progress will always remain the same if you have a good attitude and the right approach to the goal. Because of some injuries or owing to circumstances, let us say that you cannot do the particular thing you want and you have to do something else. At this time you have to know whether you are doing this new thing to please yourself or to please God. If you are doing it to please yourself, then you may feel miserable, for you may feel that the old world which you were compelled to give up has given you so much joy, whereas you will not be able to derive the same kind of joy from your present life.

In my case, for instance, I have been running all my life and have derived tremendous joy from my running life. This new life — bodybuilding — is something totally new to me. I have had to say good-bye to my old, long-established friend and to make somebody else my close and intimate friend. Now, if I approach weightlifting thinking that I have discarded an old friend and am now trying to make a new friend, then naturally I will feel miserable. But there is another approach. I can feel that my old friend has played his role in my outer life, and now I have a new friend who is encouraging me and whom I am encouraging. That does not mean I will have nothing to do with my old friend. No! Still he is deep inside my heart, and whatever joy I got from him or gave to him I still have with me. I am full of love for my old friend and I am full of gratitude to him. But in the outer life, my old friend is unable to help me in any way, and I am unable to help him at the present moment.

With my new friend, which is weightlifting, I now have to establish the same kind of friendship. If I can have the same goodwill towards my new friend, and if my new friend can have the same goodwill towards me, then I will make the same progress. Inside the new friend also, I have to feel my inner Guide. Twenty years ago my Inner Pilot asked me to run, and I did it. Now, some unhappy injury is preventing me from running, but these are only outer circumstances. Even while I was in the prime of my running career, if my Inner Pilot had asked me to give up running and do weightlifting, if I had done it cheerfully, then as a seeker I would have made the same progress by doing weightlifting as I made through running. If He wants me to change my career or to change my way of life and to enter into a new field, then I can make the best progress by doing so cheerfully. A seeker can get lasting joy and make the fastest progress no matter what he does if he is doing it because he wants to please God, his Inner Pilot.

If a seeker wants to make progress, he has to identify himself cheerfully with the thing that he is practising, and he has to remember all the time that it is not personal success or personal glory but oneness-joy and oneness-peace that he is aiming at. Since his goal is certain, his approach to the goal should be sincere and direct, and he should throw himself into each activity soulfully, enthusiastically and unconditionally.

Question: Have you been working with a teacher, or do you set your own training?

Sri Chinmoy: Originally I didn’t have any outer teacher, but right now I do have a teacher. Bill Pearl, champion of champions, five times Mr. Universe, is kind enough to teach me. Mr. Pearl has given me a set of exercises. I am a bad student, but he forgives me. The other day I had a talk with him. I told him that I am unable to do all the exercises that he has given me; it is too much for me. But he is very kind. He said, do your own exercises first, and then try to adapt yourself to my schedule.” I am not totally fit for all the exercises that he has given me, but I will definitely start doing them very devotedly and faithfully. So Bill Pearl is now my Himalayan bodybuilding Guru, and my inner Guru is God the Supreme.

Question: Do you ever have doubts that you will achieve your goals?

Sri Chinmoy: If I had the doubtful consciousness, after several attempts I would give up. Doubt I gave up long, long ago. We doubt only when we are afraid of failure. But in my philosophy, defeat and victory we accept with equal cheerfulness. Whether my Inner Pilot wants to give me the experience of failure or the experience of success, I will be equally happy because mine is the way of surrender. If God gets joy by granting me defeat, and I have oneness with Him, then on the strength of my oneness I myself will have joy in my defeat.

It is the same with success. When I defeat my spiritual children in tennis, in no way do I get malicious pleasure. As an individual, if I have victory I am happy. But on the strength of my inseparable oneness with my students, if they are suffering, if they are sad that they have lost to me, I try to take their sadness into myself like a magnet, and then I get tremendous joy. So their defeat I take as my defeat, which is only an experience, and my victory I take also as just another experience.

If I take both defeat and victory as an experience, then doubt cannot enter. If I am unable to do something, it is an experience, and if I am able to do it, this is another experience. So how can doubt come? I see the experience that I get from victory and the experience that I get from defeat as equally good experiences; therefore, doubt cannot torture me. Doubt tortures me only when I say, “What will happen to me if I don’t do something, if I can’t do something?” If I don’t do something, the world is not going to dissolve. And if I do it, the world is not going to be saved. If I lose, the experience I am getting is coming from Above; and if I win, the experience is also coming from Above.

When we can see victory and defeat as equal, then there can be no doubt whatsoever. If I cannot do something, I am happy, and if I can do that thing, I am equally happy — because both are, after all, only experiences that I am getting, and these experiences my Inner Pilot is Himself having in and through me.

Question: How does one transfer your regimen and dedication for something like weightlifting toward something like running or something that is intangible, like art?

Sri Chinmoy: First one has to develop inspiration. Right now I am getting inspiration, and I am using it for weightlifting. I can also use it for tennis; I can use it for art; I can use it for composing songs.

Question: You have used the term ’new era’ when talking about your achievements. Could you explain what this means?

Sri Chinmoy: Anything that has been done in the past is recorded and is well appreciated. If a new idea or a new goal enters into a human being, then he becomes the pioneer in that particular field. When people normally speak about an era, they are talking about a period of time when an individual or a group of individuals has achieved certain things. An era depends entirely on the individual achievement or collective achievement that occurred during a number of years. But I see an era in terms of vision. I take an era as the vision of human beings for a certain period in life or in history. If somebody comes with new inspiration and new aspiration, he opens a new door for mankind to look forward and upward and offers a new vision. So ‘new era’ to me means the opening of a new door in our consciousness that allows us to go forward rather than stay with the past. Again, if there is something helpful in the past, we shall not discard it. The old way or traditional way or, let us say, the conventional way, we are not discarding. Because it is helpful and beneficial, we shall accept it. But if somebody discovers something new — a new method, a new approach to reality — then definitely he is embarking on a new discovery. And this new discovery itself brings in a new era.

Question: What would you like our readers to get from the example of your weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: It is very simple. It is said that Indian teachers do not accept society as such. It is said that they do not care for the world but they care only for their spiritual life, that they like to be in the Himalayan caves and practise austerity and so forth. As long as they can get their own realisation, it is more than enough for them. But the philosophy that I have been taught from deep within is different. My philosophy says that we have to be in the world and we have to be for the world. We have to be like a boat. The boat is in the water, but the water does not enter into the boat. This is the boat that is taking us from ignorance to knowledge-shore.

Also I would like to tell the world not to neglect the body-consciousness. God has given us the body. The body is the temple, and the heart is the shrine where the deity within resides. If we do not pay the necessary attention to the body, then the temple will be weak or defective. Without a fit temple, how can you help the presiding deity inside? So I feel that the body must be kept fit. But I will never say that one must have larger-than-the-largest muscles. No, only I say that physical fitness is of paramount importance, and by taking exercise, one can keep the body fit. Again, through my weightlifting I wish to tell the outer world that the world of spirit does exist. People see that my physique is nothing in comparison to the physiques of the professional bodybuilders. Their biceps will be 22 inches whereas mine are not even 14, and their calves will be 18 to 20 inches while mine are 13 ½. Yet I can lift weights that many of them cannot lift So what does it prove? It proves that the inner spirit, or the mental and psychic power, can be of great assistance to the body when it is brought to the fore. Otherwise my physical body would never be able to lift this kind of weight. It is my prayer-life and meditation-life that, through God’s Grace, are enabling me to do this. I am also trying to show that the inner world has to be a source of inspiration to the outer world. They should not be like opposite poles — North Pole and South Pole. No, they have to be united. The body and the soul must go together.

Question: Quite a few people in the past and even in the present have divided the physical and spiritual development.

Sri Chinmoy: People are clever. But cleverness and wisdom are two different things. Seekers in the hoary past wanted their own salvation, their own liberation, their own realisation. The spiritual seekers had problems of their own, but they were able to overcome these problems on the strength of their aspiration. But as soon as they dealt with the world, the problems they encountered were enormous, and they could not cope with them. As soon as they started mixing with human beings who had not reached the highest, they met tremendous problems. So they withdrew. They said, “I will remain at the top of the mango tree. I climbed up the mango tree and now I will eat mangoes to my heart’s content. I am not going to come down to share with you. Your ignorance is like a hungry wolf. If I come down to share with you, then you may devour me instead of taking the mango from me.” So they did not accept the world. Instead, they became clever.

But if a seeker is wise, then he will develop his oneness with the world. The same God who created me also created you. He who gave me the capacity to have illumination is infinitely higher than I am. But out of His infinite Bounty, He gave me the little capacity I have. If He could give me a little capacity out of His boundless Compassion, then will I not share it with you? If I have got something nice from somebody, if I am a good person, then definitely I will share it with others.

If one is a seeker, at every moment the world will ridicule him. But if the seeker feels the necessity, the command from within, to help the world, then he sees that the world is only one step behind him. If he has wisdom-light, on the strength of his oneness he will say to the world, “I know a little more than you; I am a little more aware than you because of my spiritual practice. But we are still brothers.” He takes the outer world as his younger brother and feels that he has a little more knowledge and wisdom. So he tells his brother, “I am not the Father, but I will take you to Him. I am not taking you to myself but to the One from whom I have received my own illumination. I know where our Father is. I will take you to Him, and He will give you Joy. Just come with me.” The spiritual figures must say, “I am not the Goal, but I know the Goal. I am the guide.”

When the mother feeds her child, sometimes the child does not want to eat. But the mother feels it is obligatory on her part to feed her child. Otherwise, the child will not be able to live on earth. Sometimes the child is very bad and will resist the mother in every possible way. But the mother keeps trying because she knows that the child has to eat. Similarly, people who are fully awakened feel it is their bounded duty to be of service to the world, which is their little brother Even though the little brother is not listening to them, they keep trying because they know that they have something really good, which will be of tremendous help to their little brother. This is the attitude of the modern-day spiritual Masters. It is like the mother and the child. You may not accept me, you may kick me countless times, but still I keep coming to you because of my oneness with you.

God gave me my oneness with Him; then He gave me His oneness with His creation. So God the Creator and God the creation are one in my life. God the Creator and God the creation I have to accept together. If society and the outer world are God the creation, then how can we separate them from God the Creator? They are inseparably one, like water and ice.

Part IV: Questions Asked by Reporters in Greenwich, Connecticut

The following questions were asked by reporters in Greenwich, Connecticut, on 23 September 1986 when Sri Chinmoy lifted an elephant using a modified calf-raise machine.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, please explain to me what you hope to show people by lifting an elephant.

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, I would like to make it very clear to you that I am not a bodybuilder; I am not a weightlifter. I am a truth-seeker and a God-lover. I pray to God and meditate on God daily, and I always wait for His inner Guidance. For the past 15 months, my Inner Pilot, God, has been telling me not to neglect the body but to be of inspiration to the world of strength. That is to say, we have to accept the body as something most important in our life. The spiritual figures of the hoary past neglected the body and the world. They remained in the Himalayan caves or in the forest — in isolated places. They felt that the body is useless and that a seeker cannot derive anything good from the body. But I do not see eye-to-eye with them.

Interviewer: What then do you hope to show by this display of strength?

Sri Chinmoy: You can see that I do not have tremendous muscle-power. I do not have a superb physique. People who lift heavy weights can show large muscles, but I don’t have that kind of developed muscles. What I wish to show by these feats of strength is that prayer and meditation can definitely increase one’s outer capacities. I hope that by doing this I will be able to inspire many people to pray and meditate sincerely as part of their regular daily routine.

Interviewer: So in a sense your concentration and your meditation are going to help you lift this animal?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, if I can lift this elephant, I will give 100 per cent credit to the Grace of my Lord Supreme, for I know that my physical strength alone is not enough. When I stand in front of a world champion — Mr. Olympia or Mr. Universe — I see how small my muscles are.

Interviewer: Why all this publicity? Why do you do it in such a public way? Why not lift weights at home?

Sri Chinmoy: I do lift weights at home, but who is going to know about it or be inspired by it? If I don’t do it in public, then how am I going to inspire mankind? The other day I lifted 400 pounds in my room. Luckily it was recorded on video so we can prove it. We also have an automatic camera that takes still pictures. But if there were no videos and still pictures taken, do you think anyone would believe me?

Interviewer: So when people see you doing this and they see that you are not a big, muscular man, what message do you hope they will receive?

Sri Chinmoy: The message that prayer and meditation can help them in all aspects of their lives. If they want to become physically strong, then they can gain much by practising prayer and meditation. On the strength of my prayer and meditation, I have been able to build up my strength and to accomplish something in 15 months which otherwise would have taken me 30 or 40 years to do. Or perhaps I would never have been able to do these things. So my message is that if one needs strength, then uncovering one’s inner strength through prayer and meditation is the fastest and most effective way to get it.

Interviewer: What do you do inwardly, what do you think of when you are lifting these very heavy weights?

Sri Chinmoy: I concentrate and meditate on strength. I try to get strength and draw force from the Universal Consciousness.

Interviewer: Now why are you adding more weight to what you have just lifted?

Sri Chinmoy: Because I feel confident that I can lift it.

Interviewer: Are you going for a world record?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I am not trying to break records. I do not compete with anybody else; I compete only with myself. You saw my capacity a few minutes ago. Now I am competing with myself. When I do weightlifting, my body is my world. If I can improve myself, if I can go beyond my previous achievements, then that is my goal. My own previous record is always what I am competing with.

Interviewer: Were you trying to understand the elephant?

Sri Chinmoy: I was trying to identify myself with the weight of the elephant.

Interviewer: I understand that you weigh only 160 pounds.

Sri Chinmoy: Today I have not weighed myself, but the day before yesterday, when I lifted 400 pounds, I weighed 159.

Interviewer: You are very relaxed for a man who has just lifted that amount of weight. It is incredible! Do you mind if I check out your muscles?

Sri Chinmoy: They are nothing. My biceps are not even 14 inches. That is why I am saying that my weightlifting achievements are all due to concentration and meditation. You may think that concentration, prayer and meditation are only for the inner life. But I wish to say no! We can use our inner strength for the outer life as well. From meditation and concentration we can get inner power, and this power can be used in the physical world as well. One way to lift up things is to develop large, strong muscles. But in my case, I have been training for only 15 months. So I entirely depend on the inner strength.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, with all the video cameras, the press and everybody running around here, isn’t this atmosphere a little bit inimical to meditation and the inner life?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said before, I do not believe in meditating in the mountain caves or in the depths of the forest. Our philosophy and way of meditation is to accept the world as it is. We try to become better and inspire others to make their lives better. Some say that meditation is meant only for the select few. But I say that meditation is for everybody, for we are all God’s children. Just because we value the outer life, we feel that prayer and meditation can be practised amidst our day-to-day activities — not only in a church or a temple or some other sacred place.

Interviewer: When you were standing on the platform, you were, I think, meditating. What were you thinking?

Sri Chinmoy: I was concentrating on the cosmic force or universal power and trying to draw it into my body.

Interviewer: And how do you do that? Were you thinking thoughts? Were you saying something?

Sri Chinmoy: No, I was not thinking. I was using something that goes beyond thinking and thoughts. It is called will-power. It comes from our third eye. I used the power of my third eye to collect all the inner forces that I have.

Interviewer: Would you hope to get more followers as a result of this?

Sri Chinmoy: No, no! I am not trying to get more followers from doing this. I only want to inspire people. I am trying to show them that if they pray and meditate, then this can also help them to be successful in their outer life.

Interviewer: What about breathing?

Sri Chinmoy: Before I lifted, I breathed in three times. The first time I offered my gratitude to God the Creator, who has created me. The second time I offered my gratitude to God the Preserver, who is preserving me on earth. The third time I offered my gratitude to God the Transformer, who is transforming my mind, my vital and my physical. I believe in these three aspects of God, so three times I offered my gratitude.

Interviewer: When you were holding the weight, did you exhale?

Sri Chinmoy: While I was holding the weight, I had to exhale. But in the beginning I was only drawing in life-breath.

Interviewer: What religion were you born into?

Sri Chinmoy: I was born into the Hindu religion, but now my only religion is to love God and to be of service to God. Love of God embraces all religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and others. I was born a Hindu, but being a God-lover, I love all religions and claim all religions as my own.

Interviewer: Do you also run?

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, I cannot run these days because of an injury in my right knee. But I take all kinds of exercises to strengthen my muscles. Daily I take at least twenty different exercises.

Part V: Question from Mr. Zehn Eckhardt

The following question was asked by Mr. Zehn Eckhardt of the U.N. Bureau of the German Press Agency, during an interview at the United Nations on 10 October 1986.

Question: I have read and seen on television that you have achieved quite a number of astonishing feats. What is the connection between your search for peace and what you are doing with weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: There is an important link between what I am doing at the United Nations and what I am doing when I lift up weights, elephants and so forth. In my weightlifting I am trying to show that if you pray and meditate, you can bring to the fore your inner strength. Now, if somebody is really inwardly strong, he is always at peace. When you have confidence and strength within you, then you do not go outside to quarrel or fight with others. If you are secure at home, then you do not leave your house and start quarrelling and finding fault with your neighbours. It is only because you are insecure that you try to fight with others, because you are always afraid that they are going to surpass you.

Because countries inwardly feel insecure, they go out and fight with other countries. But the country that is inwardly secure will not come forward to fight; such a thing is beneath its dignity. An elephant is not going to approach a dog and attack it. The dog will bark and bark at the elephant, making the world feel that it is so strong, but the elephant will just ignore the dog.

So when I lift up some heavy weight, I am hoping to inspire others to also bring forward their own inner strength. Inner strength is not my monopoly. Far from it. Everybody has it. Only it has to be brought forward. If everybody can bring forward his inner strength, then everybody will be secure and nobody will try to attack anybody else.

When we are inwardly strong, not only do we not attack the world but we feel our oneness with the world. And it is out of the feeling of oneness that solid peace comes. Because the different parts of your body have established oneness with each other, they do not feel jealous of one another. When your arm lifts a weight, your eyes or your ears are not jealous, because all the parts of your body have established their oneness. Every part of your body feels joy in the body’s achievements.

Similarly, when you and I feel our heart’s oneness, whatever you achieve I also claim as my own achievement. If I claim your achievement as my own, then how can I be afraid that you will surpass me? There is no fear or competition; there is only self-giving. I will give you what I have, and you will give me what you have. So oneness, based on inner security, is the only foundation for world peace.

From: Sri Chinmoy, Aspiration-body, illumination-soul, part 1 - , Agni Press, 1993
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