Question: Does the body have to be perfect in order to be a perfect instrument of the soul?1

Sri Chinmoy: It is true that the body has to be a perfect instrument of the soul. But to be a perfect instrument the body need not be a perfect body. The world's best athletes, the world's strongest men, are not necessarily manifesting the divine Will. Physical perfection does not indicate receptivity to the spiritual message or the light of the spirit. The message of the soul, our heart's inner cry for God, for truth, for light — these things are not connected at all with bodily strength. We become aware of our inner life only through prayer and meditation.

If our body is strong enough and healthy enough to perform its natural functions, and if it is capable of sitting quietly for two or three hours without any unusual difficulty or discomfort, that is more than enough. The body has to be a fit instrument, but that does not mean we have to become the strongest or the most powerful of human beings. It is sufficient to have the amount of strength our body requires to stay on earth and play our God-ordained role. The body needs adequate strength to be able to receive and manifest the message of the spirit. More than that is not required.

Suppose we want to meditate in the morning. If we are physically weak, if we have a headache or some other ailment, then how will we be able to meditate well? So we do have to give due importance to the body. But due importance does not mean extravagant concern. Early every morning, if we exercise for a few minutes or so, and if we have a proper diet, that is sufficient. Western exercises are definitely beneficial, but if we do Indian exercises, asanas, we get a special kind of relaxation that helps in meditation. Again, one can become expert in the Indian system of exercises without attaining any spiritual advantage. There are hundreds of Indian villagers who can do these exercises, but how many incarnations will it take before they even begin to accept the spiritual life?

I do not deny the role of the body. But we have to know how much we can expect from the body. If this body is five feet eight inches, then it will remain five feet eight no matter how hard I try to make it taller. A runner may reduce his time in the 100 metres if he practises, but eventually he will reach his maximum speed. The body's capacity is always limited. Its height, its strength, its speed all have a point beyond which they cannot develop. And, in the course of time, these capacities will gradually decrease.

But as long as we continue to pray and meditate, our inner capacities will go on increasing until we grow into something infinite and boundless. Our inner power, inner light and inner wealth have no limit. There is no boundary for the soul within us. Peace, light and bliss can be increased in infinite measure. So eternal progress and infinite peace, light and bliss are what we can expect from the spiritual life, whereas temporary fitness is all we can expect from hatha yoga or any other form of physical culture, no matter how faithfully and devotedly it is pursued.

  1. MUN 386. 1975.