Question: How does your philosophy of self-transcendence, in which you state that mankind should strive for progress instead of success, apply to the up-coming Olympics?Sri Chinmoy: All the athletes should bear in mind that they are competing not with other athletes but with their own capacities. Whatever they have already achieved, they have to go beyond.
The presence of all the great athletes at the Olympics represents a great opportunity. When an athlete has to compete with the rest of the world, there is every opportunity and possibility that he will transcend his own capacities. This is what is of paramount importance, and not whether he defeats others or not. God, the Author of all good, will be extremely pleased with the athlete only when he transcends his own capacities. We are all God's children, God's creation. If one of His children transcends himself, then the Father will be the happiest person. But if one member of the family defeats another member and gets joy while the other person becomes miserable, then where is the Father's joy?
If we are one with the rest of the world, then we feel joy in others' joy and their sorrow is also our sorrow. But most of us have not yet attained that consciousness. So it is always advisable for the athlete to keep in mind that he is competing with his own previous record. If he can transcend his own achievement, then it will be a true gain and a true achievement for the whole world.
What is of paramount importance is the individual's attitude. The athlete has to feel that he is establishing a new record not for his own glory but in order to increase the capacity and improve the standard of the world. The winning athlete has to feel that he is representing all of humanity. Then, with a devoted and soulful heart, if he can soulfully offer his achievement to the Supreme Athlete, his Source, at that time he is doing absolutely the right thing. If this is his attitude then let him try his utmost to break world records. But if he wants to defeat the rest of the world only to bask in his own glory, then he is making a deplorable mistake.
The Olympic athlete should feel that he is a member of the world-family, and his goal should be his own continuous progress. If he can continually transcend his own achievements, he is bound to achieve satisfaction, for progress is nothing short of satisfaction. The two go always together. If he cares only for success, then even if he succeeds he will not get abiding joy. For in the twinkling of an eye he will look around and see his achievements being shattered here or elsewhere. But his own progress is like a seed that eventually becomes a sapling and then a giant banyan tree which will give him a continuous sense of satisfaction. When he is progressing, at that time he is growing, he is glowing and, like a river, he is constantly flowing to his Vastness-Source, the Sea of Oneness.