Question: Is physical fitness absolutely necessary for progress?Sri Chinmoy: Some of the spiritual Masters of the hoary past did not believe in physical fitness. But on our path physical fitness is of paramount importance; it is an absolute necessity.
The physical does not operate alone. The body, vital, mind, heart and soul go together. Let us say you are walking or running soulfully. Each time you draw in a breath you feel freshness and newness. At the same time, your soul is dreaming a new vision and your heart is also participating, watching to see if somebody is in front of you or just behind you. And the vital is full of enthusiasm. So you can see how physical exercise done in a soulful frame of mind can help the whole being.
No matter how old you are, if you want to make progress in your spiritual life, if you want to make progress in your vital, mind, heart and soul, then physical fitness is absolutely necessary. If the physical fails, everything fails. The physical is the temple. If there is no temple, there can be no shrine. I happen to be a spiritual Master, but I work so hard to remain physically fit. If I am physically fit, I know I will get tremendous joy. I am not physically perfect; I get so much pain in my back and my knee. But still I take exercise every day. I have completed 13 books since I left New York and drawn 4,000 little birds. If I had been bedridden, if my body had been racked with pain, I could not have done these things.
I am begging each and every one of my disciples to take exercise or run to keep the body fit in whichever way you can. If you are really physically fit, then you will be able to think more clearly in the mental world, and psychically also you will be able to accomplish many things that you otherwise would not be able to accomplish.
Physical fitness does not mean having the strongest body. We are not going to become wrestlers or boxers. No, no, no! Only we want to keep the body fit so that we are able to get up early in the morning to pray and meditate. Otherwise, it is very easy for the mind to convince us to stay in bed. Someone will try to get up early in the morning because his roommates are getting up. But then the mind will come forward and say, Who cares for their opinion? I know how good my roommates are; I know how great they are. Let them meditate for as long as they want; I am already 20 million miles ahead of them." This is how we convince ourselves to sleep and snore!
We say, "Easily I can get up at six o'clock to pray and meditate; only I don't want to." But we are not able to get up, although we convince ourselves very cleverly that we can.
Some people say, "The day that I meditate well is the day that all the hostile forces attack me. The dog is inside the door fast asleep. But if I open the door, then the dog will wake up and bite me. So the best thing is not to open the door."
But this is the wrong attitude. The house belongs to the Absolute Supreme, our Heavenly Father. The dog is watching whether we are coming with inspiration and aspiration. If the dog sees that we are coming, then immediately he will get up and show us where his Master, the Supreme, is.