Question: Is the practice of sports contrary to spiritual tradition?

Sri Chinmoy: There are many Indian ashrams where they say that running is not meant for spiritual people. They also say that singing is a waste of time. Some spiritual Masters will say, "Singing is all vital. Running is for animals in the jungle." So when I ask my students to sing spiritual songs and to practise sports, already we are fighting against an old tradition. Again, it is not very old. In the absolutely ancient tradition, in Vedic times and in the time of the Mahabharata, they practised archery and all sorts of things; they were physically strong. Then came an era for lethargy-prone people, so they separated spirituality very nicely from the physical, the vital and the mind. They created a big gap between the two and said, "If you are spiritual, you cannot do physical things, and if you are physically active, you cannot pray and meditate." But we say, "No, spirituality can be in the physical and the physical can be in the spiritual." This is our philosophy.

You are praying in the morning and then you are going out running. So everything you are doing together. This moment you are taking a step with your left leg; the next moment, with your right leg. Outer running you are doing and inner running you are doing. Inwardly you are concentrating and outwardly you are taking exercise. So for you, the body and the soul are going together.

Now, once the body has full faith in the soul and wants to go to the soul directly — without the help of the vital, mind or even the heart — then what will happen? When the vital sees that the physical consciousness all the time is in the soul and the body is radiating light, the vital will become miserable. First it will become jealous; then it will surrender and also go to the soul. Then, once the mind sees that both the body and the vital are with the soul, it will go there also. Then the heart will say, "O my God, I am so stupid. So many times I was with the soul. Why do I not stay there nowadays?" Then it, too, will go. So if the body can keep a direct connection with the soul, then the vital, the mind and the heart will also go. But one of them has to be convinced that the soul is always right. Either the mind or the vital or the body has to be convinced. So if the soul can convince one of the members, then the others will follow.