Question: During training an athlete sacrifices a great deal of time, and yet on the race day itself he may not be able to do well. What do you think is the attitude he should have toward this sort of thing?

Sri Chinmoy: It entirely depends on what kind of athlete one is. If one is a spiritual athlete, a seeker-athlete, then every day is a golden opportunity. No one day is special. Every day every hour, is a golden opportunity to become a better instrument of God; it is a life-long process. Therefore, every time one practises, one has to devote and surrender oneself to the Will of the Supreme.

If someone is not a seeker, but an ordinary athlete with abundant capacities, then he should feel that life is not a matter of self-giving or sacrifice. Life is only a matter of giving and taking. When he is training, which means he is preparing himself, at that time he is giving. Then, on the particular day when there is an athletic meet, on that day he is receiving world recognition. So the athlete gives and gives and gives for a few months and then there comes a time when he receives appreciation, admiration and adoration from the world. So how can there be any sacrifice? It is all give and take.

An athlete practises seriously for three or four months, and then during the competition he has to show his capacity. If he does poorly, he may think, "Oh, I made such sacrifices for so many months. Now what a deplorable result!" But it was not a sacrifice. He was only giving for a period of time, and now he is receiving the result in the form of an experience. The seeker who recognises his inner oneness with the rest of the world will not feel sad and miserable if he does poorly. Only he will say, "I did what I could during my practice, and now the result I am taking as an experience. Whether I was first, last or in between, the result has been given to me by my Lord Supreme as an experience." This kind of experience — both success and failure — is absolutely necessary for everybody in every walk of life.

From the spiritual point of view, we say there is no such thing as sacrifice when there is a feeling of oneness. The husband is offering something to the wife, or vice versa. On the strength of his oneness, the husband is doing something for his wife, and on the strength of her oneness, the wife is doing something for her husband. So here there is no sacrifice. I pick up a fruit with my left hand and put it into my right hand, and then with my right hand I eat it. My left hand comes to my right hand, and my right hand comes to my mouth; it is all oneness. But if you want to separate the different parts of my being, you can say that the left hand made a tremendous sacrifice when it gave the fruit to the right hand, and that the right hand made a tremendous sacrifice when it put the fruit into my mouth. If there is a sense of separativity, there is always sacrifice; otherwise, it is all oneness, all oneness. It is all part of God's Cosmic Game that I do this and you do that. There is no I, there is no you, there is no winner or loser. It is all one reality, a oneness-reality.