Question: Could you speak of competition as a human condition?

Sri Chinmoy: When competition is based on separativity, it gives us a deplorable experience. If there is a sense of separativity, I see you as one individual and myself as another. If I want to compete with you, unconsciously or consciously I may adopt foul means, and vice versa. At that time we have totally forgotten our higher inseparable oneness.

So when we try to compete with others in this way, when we feel that we are one existence and someone else is another existence, at that time competition does not help us at all. Here we are singing the song of separativity, and separativity is something that can never give us abiding joy or satisfaction. The sense of separativity is nothing short of confusion, and confusion and destruction are intimate friends.

But there is another kind of competition which is self-excellence. Here one tries to transcend one's own achievements. It is done only in one's own consciousness, in one's own reality. Yet inside one's own reality, the universal Reality is there; you, he, she, everybody is there.

Suppose I was assailed by doubts for three hours yesterday with regard to the world in general. Today I will try to compete with my own reality not to have so much doubt. Today I will try to take the side of faith and I will try to develop more faith in my existence. Here I am competing with myself, with what I had and what I was yesterday. I am not adopting any foul means. I am not trying to conquer others or lord it over them. Far from it. As a human being, I am in ignorance; teeming ignorance has covered me. But I am trying to disperse these clouds of ignorance forever. If I compete with my own capacity and bring more illumination to the fore from within, then I can transform my nature, expand my capacity and fulfil God's Will more devotedly and unconditionally. This kind of competition is worth doing.

I am always competing with myself, with my lower self. I am trying to bring my higher self to the fore in order to illumine my lower self, so that eventually there will be no lower self at all; it will be all higher self, all a self of total illumination. This kind of competition, according to me, is good. I am not involving others and I am not adopting any foul means. Here I am competing with my own achievements in order to make progress. And progress — transcending effort and continuous progress — is what we need.

Progress is a relative term. What you call perfection, I may not call perfection. Perfection is satisfaction, and each individual's idea of satisfaction is different. A child throws a ball against the wall and breaks something. He gets joy and that is his perfection. You stand in front of a child with a piece of candy and beg him to take it, but he has no time. He runs some place else because his time is so precious. He does not collect the piece of candy from you. That is his satisfaction.

In the spiritual life, the seeker's perfection, which is satisfaction, comes from his constant, self-transcending achievement. We sing the song of self-transcendence. We know in the process of evolution how high we have climbed the reality-tree. If yesterday we climbed to one branch, today we will try our utmost to devotedly climb one branch higher. This eagerness, this intense cry to transcend oneself, is true satisfaction.

I always say that the goal is not static; the goal is an ever-transcending reality. Satisfaction is our goal, but we see that the goal itself is climbing high, higher, highest and running far, farther, farthest and diving deep, deeper, deepest.

A child's goal is to learn the alphabet. Then his goal becomes kindergarten, primary school, high school and college. And when he completes his university course, if he is sincere, he comes to realise that there is much more, infinitely more, for him to learn. Once a university student was boasting of his achievements. He said to Mother Earth, "I have completed my course. So look at me, look at what I have achieved." But Mother Earth said, "My son, you have just learnt the first letter of the alphabet. Now sit down and learn the rest."

The goal is constantly going high, higher, highest. Whatever we achieve can be today's goal, but it can never be tomorrow's goal. Tomorrow's goal is something infinitely higher, infinitely more illumining and infinitely more fulfilling. Perfection, which is satisfaction, is nothing short of constant self-transcendence. So here I wish to say that we do compete, but we compete with ourselves, with our own achievements, not with others.