Question: What is the spiritual purpose of competitive sports?

Sri Chinmoy: Our aim is not to become the world's best athlete. Our aim is to keep the body fit, to develop dynamism and to give the vital innocent joy. Our aim should not be to surpass others but to constantly surpass our own previous achievements. We cannot properly evaluate our own capacity unless we have some standard of comparison. Therefore, we compete not for the sake of defeating others but in order to bring forward our own capacity. Our best capacity comes forward only when there are other people around us. They inspire us to bring forward our utmost capacity, and we inspire them to bring forward their utmost capacity. This is why we have competitive sports.

Always there should be a goal. Having a goal does not mean that we have to try to defeat the world's top runners, far from it. In the spiritual life, there is no competition. But there is something which is very essential, necessary and inevitable, which we call progress. Our goal should be our own progress, and progress itself is the most illumining experience.

Let us say that we want to make progress; we want to transcend ourselves. Now, if somebody else is with us, immediately his mind or our mind will think that we are competing. In the ordinary life, we compete with others to gain supremacy. But in the spiritual life, we are not in competition with others. We are only trying to transcend our own capacity.

We can think of ourselves as two halves: imperfection is one half, and our sincere cry for perfection is the other half. One side is weakness, and the other side is strength. With our inner cry for perfection, let us run towards our destination and reach the illumination-shore. When our being is fully illumined, then dark, ignorant forces are afraid to come near us. Before we reach the destination, they challenge us. But once we reach the illumination-destination, the ignorant forces do not dare enter into us because they feel that they will be totally destroyed. They do not know that they will only be transformed and illumined.