Question: Do both activity and meditation form the essence of your teaching?Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy does not negate either the outer life or the inner life. Most human beings negate the inner life. They feel that the inner life is not important as long as they can exist on earth. Again, there are a few who think that the outer life is not necessary. They feel that the best thing is to enter into the Himalayan caves and lead a life of solitude, since the outer life is so painful and full of misunderstanding.
We do not believe in living either a life of solitude or an ordinary human life — the so-called modern life that depends on machines and not on the inner reality, the soul. We try to synthesise and harmonise the outer life and the inner life. The outer life is like a beautiful flower and the inner life is its fragrance. If there is no fragrance, then we cannot appreciate the flower. Again, if there is no flower, how can there be any fragrance? So the inner life and the outer life must go together.
The body is like a temple and the soul or inner reality is like the shrine inside the body-temple. If the temple does not have a shrine, then we cannot appreciate the temple. Again, if we do not keep the temple in good condition, then how can we take proper care of the shrine? We have to keep the body fit, and for this, running is of considerable help. If we are physically fit, then we will be more inspired to get up early in the morning to meditate.
True, the inspiration to meditate comes from within, but if we are healthy, then it will be much easier for us to get up at five or six o'clock to pray and meditate. In this way the inner life is being helped by the outer life. Again, if we are inspired to get up early to meditate, then we will also be able to go out and run. Here we see that the outer life is being helped by the inner life.
Both outer running and inner running are important. A marathon is twenty-six miles. Let us say that twenty-six miles is our ultimate goal. When we first take up running, we cannot run that distance. But by practising every day we develop more stamina, speed and perseverance. Gradually we transcend our limited capacity, and eventually we reach our goal. In the inner life our prayer and meditation is our inner running. If we pray and meditate every day, we increase our inner capacity.
The body's capacity and the soul's capacity, the body's speed and the soul's speed, go together. The outer running reminds us of something higher and deeper — the soul — which is running along Eternity's Road. Running and physical fitness help us both in our inner life of aspiration and in our outer life of activity.