Aspiration-body, illumination-soul, part 2

Part I

The following questions were asked by Franco Columbu, who has held the titles of Mr. World, Mr. Universe and two-time Mr. Olympia. Sri Chinmoy is sincerely grateful to Mr. Columbu, who is himself a supreme authority on bodybuilding and weightlifting, and from whose illumining books Sri Chinmoy has derived tremendous inspiration.

Franco Columbu: How important are yoga stretching exercises to the mind?

Sri Chinmoy: If one is practising stretching exercises thinking that he will be able to achieve peace of mind, then he is totally mistaken. No matter how many stretching exercises one takes, no matter how many hours one spends stretching, one cannot get peace of mind. Peace of mind comes only from one’s prayer-life and meditation-life. I have a few students who are extremely good at stretching exercises. But unfortunately, their minds can easily defeat a monkey in restlessness. So if a bodybuilder or weightlifter wants to have peace of mind, then he has to be a God-lover consciously and devotedly.

Franco Columbu: Are there yoga stretching exercises which benefit nerve conduction or nerve supply to the muscles?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, there are some Indian asanas that can offer a fresh supply of energy to the nerves, and to a certain extent the muscle-power can be increased by taking these exercises. If one is interested in this, he can go to some Hatha Yoga experts who can demonstrate and teach those particular exercises.

Franco Columbu: What will be the percentage of change or help to the mind when one does bodybuilding?

Sri Chinmoy: Simply by bodybuilding, one cannot help the mind, since the mind is already far superior to the body. We can see many bodybuilders and weightlifters who are extremely, extremely strong, but their minds are not particularly brilliant. But if one can control the mind while bodybuilding, then the body can get tremendous help from the mind and the intuitive faculties.

Again, to some extent the mind does get satisfaction from the strength and dynamism of the body. But if we are talking about the mind that has to empty itself of uncomely thoughts, doubts, fears, anxieties, worries and negative forces, then mere bodybuilding cannot be of true importance from the spiritual point of view.

A strong mind is a mind that has conquered or can easily conquer the power of negative forces when they come to assail it. In order to have a mind that can be of real service to mankind, a mind that is illumined, one has to enter into the spiritual life. For the spiritual life has the secret of secrets to release the mind from the meshes of limitations and the prison cell of ignorance-night.

Franco Columbu: What will be the change in the mind when someone is training professionally in comparison to someone who is not training professionally?

Sri Chinmoy: There is not necessarily a great difference between the mental attitude of the amateur bodybuilder and the professional. But there is a possibility that a professional will pay more attention to money-power, name and fame, whereas the amateur practises only out of a desire for self-improvement or a love of the sport. To some extent he has freed himself from greed for money or fame or success, which is a heavy load to carry on one’s shoulders.

Sometimes the professional gets joy only by displaying his capacities, whereas the amateur gets spontaneous joy merely from developing his capacities. But again, many amateurs also love to display their strength and physical development. To a great extent it is a matter of inner attitude. While practising, the amateur needs to concentrate only on self-transcendence and self-improvement, which give him tremendous joy. But the professional is obliged to think of contests and competitions if he wants to be successful. He may get joy from his practice as well, but satisfaction will come only when victory descends upon him, and his capacities are recognised by others. He has to work harder than the amateur, because success-life is his goal, whereas progress-life is the goal of the amateur.

Of course, in success there can also be progress, since one usually has to reach a certain standard in order to defeat others. But while practising, the professional may not keep in mind the supreme necessity of progress. So the professional carries either consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, a heavy burden to his difficult destination, while the amateur just walks, runs and flies to his beckoning destination.

Part II

The following question was asked by Mary Roberts, 1985 International Federation of Bodybuilding Women’s World Professional Champion.

Mary Roberts: I have been bodybuilding for approximately seven years. I find that now I am very interested in helping other women learn to compete. Do you feel this is a proper attitude for a champion to have?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are a truth-seeker and a God-lover, then it is absolutely the proper attitude, for it means that you have enlarged and expanded your inner capacities. You have established your oneness with other competitors and you are helping them. By helping others, you are increasing your own power of oneness. From the spiritual point of view, you are doing absolutely the right thing. If you live only in the world of personal success, then perhaps it would be a mistake for you to teach others. But if you live in the world of your own inner progress and if you are for the world of universal progress, then undoubtedly you are doing the best possible thing.

Part III

On 27 September 1986 the Vision of Asia cable television programme interviewed Sri Chinmoy about his weightlifting. Following are excerpts from the conversation.

Question: Why do you do weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: I am not a bodybuilder or a weightlifter. I am a truth-seeker and a God-lover. I pray to God and meditate on God, and I encourage my students and other people all over the world to pray and meditate. Prayer and meditation are my inner secret and my outer secret. My muscles are next to nothing compared to the muscles of the professional bodybuilders and weightlifters. It is because of the strength of my prayer-life and meditation-life that I am able to accomplish these feats of strength. You may think that concentration, prayer and meditation are only for the inner life, but I wish to say that they are not. We can also use them in our outer life. Through God’s infinite Compassion and Grace, from my concentration, prayer and meditation I am able to bring forward inner strength, inner power, and use that power to increase my outer strength. The inner strength that enables me to lift elephants and aeroplanes is not my sole monopoly. Far from it! It is available to anyone who prays and meditates. Everyone can get inner strength from prayer and meditation. Once we have inner strength, we feel secure and confident. At that time our insecurity disappears and we have solid peace. When our mind has peace, when peace has inundated our entire being, we no longer quarrel with others, we no longer speak ill of others, we no longer declare war on others. It is only because of insecurity that individuals and nations become jealous of one another, fight with one another and try to show their supremacy. In the depths of their hearts they know they are weak, so outwardly they want to prove to the world that they are strong. But if inwardly they know they are strong, then their inner peace will come to the fore, and they will not feel the necessity of proving anything. So if we can develop our inner strength and inner peace, then this world will have harmony and the feeling of oneness. It will be our true oneness-home.

This morning I lifted an elephant. I am not a circus performer, but I do identify with the animal kingdom. The animal consciousness is also in the Universal Consciousness of our Beloved Supreme. In the spiritual world, the occult world, the mystical world, an elephant represents solid strength — not just strength but solid strength. On the physical plane also its strength is unparalleled. The 3,000-pound elephant could easily have destroyed all the human beings who were present when I lifted it. If you had put all of us together, we would have been no match for it. But the elephant was very mild and had tremendous poise and peace. In terms of strength, I am no match for that elephant. But just because it knew it was infinitely stronger than I, the elephant remained calm and quiet. That is why I was able to bless it and garland it.

Similarly, if a country is really strong, especially with inner strength, peace and poise, then like an elephant that country will remain peaceful. We call some countries super-powers, but this is all comparative. They have no inner confidence; therefore they are constantly quarrelling and fighting and trying to prove their supremacy. If they were really superior powers, they would identify themselves with other powers, both superior and inferior. Only when we are strong do we identify ourselves with another strong person. God is omnipotent; He is all Power. That is why He can easily identify Himself with us. Unfortunately, we are very weak, and that is why we find it difficult to identify ourselves with our Beloved Supreme. But again, He has given us the supreme secret for acquiring strength: prayer and meditation.

So I tell my students that we should always pray and meditate to bring forward our own strength from within. It is individuals who are responsible not only for their own lives but also for their countries and for the entire world. It is from individuals that the message-light of inner strength can and will enter into nations. And when oneness-light-strength enters into the nations, there will be no more war. It will all be oneness-song. We talk about peace, but talking is not the answer. The embodiment of peace is the answer. The revelation of peace is the answer. The offering of peace to the entire world is the answer. First we have to embody peace, and then we have to reveal and offer peace to the world at large. That is what I am trying to do with my weightlifting.

Question: This must be very difficult physically. Is it painful?

Sri Chinmoy: No, it is not actually painful, but it is a tremendous task, and very exhausting. Inner strength has to come to the fore, and the physical body has to receive the power that is coming from within. The physical body has to become a pure and perfect instrument of the spirit. I am doing these lifts with the physical body, but the strength and power are coming from within — from an inner source. I am not competing with anybody. I am competing with myself. Last month I lifted up an elephant in Connecticut. It weighed only 1,200 pounds. This morning the elephant I lifted weighed over 3,000 pounds. It was more than twice as heavy as the previous one. So here also I am competing with myself. If we can compete only with ourselves, then this world will definitely be a better world. If we compete with others, by hook or by crook we try to defeat them, and that does not add to the divine qualities and capacities of the world. But if we compete only to increase our capacities, to transcend ourselves and to inspire others, then we will be better citizens of a better world.

Question: Do you work out every day?

Sri Chinmoy: Every day I work out for at least three hours. I take about twenty exercises on different machines and gadgets, and I do many stretching exercises before I start. So this workout takes at least three hours.

Question: Why did you choose this way to show people your philosophy? I mean, is it something people can understand better?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, they can understand it better this way. I can lift up 500 pounds with one hand and I can lift up 1,600 pounds with my legs, but people find it difficult to understand what I am doing. They do not identify with a metal plate. But when they see a huge elephant or a plane or a sailboat, they can begin to imagine how heavy it is. Again, it is by virtue of prayer and meditation that I do it. Physically I don’t have the physique of a bodybuilder or weightlifter. I give all credit for my weightlifting to God’s Grace.

Part IV

On 24 October 1986 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by Joel Martin on Long Island cable television. This is a transcript of the interview.

Joel Martin: Let me introduce to you now a man whom I've grown extremely fond of over the years and whom I love a great deal. His achievements and his accomplishments are amazing. They have been reported world-wide. We will talk about those achievements with a Guru, a genuine Guru — really genuine — Sri Chinmoy. And Sri Chinmoy, of course, is an international figure.

Sri Chinmoy, I’m so glad you’re here again. As a matter of fact, you were with me about a year ago. Now you’ve been weightlifting, and it’s gotten a lot of attention in the newspapers. That’s why I thought we could talk a little bit about your achievements — physical achievements — which are considerable. And we’ll see some videos of it because a little while ago, Guru, when I was showing some of the material to the people here, a couple of them said, “Ah, I don’t believe it; you can’t lift 4,000 pounds with your legs or 500 pounds with one arm.” But that’s what you’ve been doing! Sri Chinmoy: I am extremely happy to be here, and I am extremely grateful to you for your encouragement. As you know, I am a truth-seeker and a God-lover, not a bodybuilder or a weightlifter. But my Inner Pilot wants me to be of inspiration in the physical world, so I am now in the weightlifting world.

Joel Martin: We have to expound. I have learned what the term 'Inner Pilot' means. But for the people that don't know, it's so important. When we first met many years ago, you explained to me all about the Inner Pilot. Could you do it again?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, my Inner Pilot is the God who is within me, and all the time I listen to His Dictates. When we pray and meditate, we get inner guidance. He who guides us is our Inner Pilot.

Joel Martin: So it's that inner voice, inner sense, or inner guidance that we sometimes ignore, unfortunately. You are wearing, I think, the emblem of the United Nations, if I see correctly.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, this morning I was at the United Nations. I prayed and meditated there for about 45 minutes with delegates, diplomats and staff members.

Joel Martin: You do that regularly?

Sri Chinmoy: Twice a week — every Tuesday and Friday.

Joel Martin: You wear the most beautiful robes. Different colours have different meanings, yes? The last time we were together here you were wearing a red robe. This time you are wearing a sky blue, light blue, robe. Could you tell us the significance of that colour?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Sky blue has a very special significance in my life, for the predominant colour of my aura is sky blue. Sky blue signifies infinity in the occult world. So in the outer world, sky blue is my favourite colour, since in the inner world I embody this colour more than any other.

Joel Martin: People who watch me know that I've done many programmes about the occult and about psychic phenomena over the years. You don't have any quarrel with the spirit world or those things that we call psychic?

Sri Chinmoy: They are all my friends. I do not quarrel with them and they do not quarrel with me because everything that I am doing is for oneness, oneness, oneness. When I pray and meditate, I invoke God’s Compassion so that I can be one with the world all the time. My message to the world at large is the message of peace and oneness. It is the same message that I try to offer with my weightlifting.

Joel Martin: Since you mentioned lifting, I understand you recently lifted an eight-year-old elephant. What we can do now is see the videotape of some of your lifts so people will know that this is real.

There you are with a private plane. That was done out here in Suffolk County in East Moriches. The Newsday story where I read about it showed pictures as well. I think that’s better than 3,600 pounds. Sri Chinmoy: This is a regular plane. The next one is a seaplane. It is heavier.

Joel Martin: But this weighed more than a ballpoint pen. I mean, this was heavy also. Wow! Did it hurt? I've got so many questions. What do you think about when you do that — is it total concentration?

Sri Chinmoy: Total concentration! I do not think of anything; I do not think of anyone. Only I concentrate most powerfully on my inner resources.

Joel Martin: You're not pushing for people to all lift elephants, are you?

Sri Chinmoy: I want everybody to be physically fit.

Joel Martin: Guru, what if somebody were to say to you: "All right, it's remarkable. You have lifted an elephant, you have lifted a seaplane, a boat, various weights. How does that further the cause of world peace, which is so elusive?"

Sri Chinmoy: You have just seen me lift the seaplane, the elephant, all that. People know that it is on the strength of my prayer-life and my meditation-life that I am able to do this. There is no other way. As you can see, I do not have big muscles and my physique is not that of a bodybuilder or a weightlifter. So I entirely depend on my inner strength, which comes from God’s Compassion and God’s Grace.

When I feel inner strength, at that time I have peace of mind and I do not want to quarrel or fight. We quarrel and fight precisely because inwardly we feel that we are weak. One nation declares war on another nation, not because that nation is far superior, but because that nation feels in the depths of its heart that it is weak. I know I am weaker than you, but I want to show you that I am stronger. Perhaps you have also the same experience; you may think that you are weaker than I am, but you quarrel with me to show your superiority.

The other day with my calf muscles I lifted up an elephant which weighed 3,600 pounds. In terms of strength, a human being is no match for an elephant. Just because the elephant knew we could do nothing to it, it behaved well. So he who is really strong will not fight. For a human being, the only way to become really strong is to pray and meditate. When we pray and meditate, we develop inner strength, and this inner strength is nothing other than peace.

The reason I have entered into bodybuilding and weightlifting is to inspire everybody to pray and meditate so they can bring to the fore their own inner strength. If everybody brings to the fore his own inner strength, the world will eventually be inundated with peace. Peace is oneness, oneness is peace. If I am strong and you are strong, then definitely we have established our oneness, and this oneness is nothing other than peace.

Joel Martin: It's not that long ago that you began weightlifting, and you are fifty-five now. Before that you had been running for a long time?

Sri Chinmoy: I’ve been running for a long time, but owing to a knee injury I had to give up running. Then, last year, on the 26th of June, I embarked on this weightlifting project with a 40-pound weight. Our philosophy is progress. Recently I lifted up 503 pounds. I started with 40 pounds with one arm, but only a few weeks ago I lifted up 503 pounds.

Joel Martin: With one arm?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, and I weigh about 160 pounds.

Joel Martin: So that's better than three times your body weight.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. Again, it is all due to Grace from Above. This is my offering to the world at large. I want to show that if we pray and meditate, we shall acquire inner strength, and this inner strength is bound to give us peace of mind. If we have inner strength, we are not going to fight.

Joel Martin: But somebody can also say that if I lift weights and get stronger physically, then why do I have to be concerned with peace? I can use that strength to be aggressive.

Sri Chinmoy: If you get strength from your prayer-life, you are not going to quarrel. If I get strength only from the physical — by taking exercises and so on — I may become aggressive. Boxers and wrestlers are only trying to destroy one another. But if I get strength from my prayer-life and my meditation-life, I will not use it for destruction. If I have a knife, I can use it to stab you or to cut a piece of fruit to share with you. If I am wise, I will use it to offer you a piece of fruit. A knife has strength, but what matters is how you use it. Similarly, an individual can use his strength for the right cause — to offer peace to the world at large.

Joel Martin: We have a short intermission here, and then we will have some photographs and visuals of what Sri Chinmoy has done in terms of weightlifting. Sri Chinmoy, internationally-known Guru. We will talk more about his weightlifting and his work for world peace through physical strength and meditation...

Back with you on the Joel Martin Show. Speaking to you, Guru, makes me feel genuinely uplifted — really! I don’t lie and I don’t fake. I’m sincere, and Guru Sri Chinmoy is a man I’ve followed for a very long time. We met back in the mid-1970’s. He’s very sincere, completely genuine and fascinating. And his work for world peace has been through music, it’s been through writing, it’s been through art, it’s been through sports and now, in the past year and a half, it’s been through weightlifting. He’s trained his body to lift incredible amounts of weight — elephants, boats, planes, all kinds of things to show what the mind can do. And he does it for world peace. Can we look at some of the visuals now? You’re going to see some of his recent achievements, some done here out on Long Island, some in other parts of the country. He’s been all over the world.

Here, Guru, we’re looking at you lifting I think about three times your body weight. This is 450 pounds. Where is this wonderful gym?

Sri Chinmoy: It is in my house.

Joel Martin: You've turned it into a gymnasium! How many hours a day do you spend on weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: Between three and three and a half hours every day — morning, afternoon and evening.

Joel Martin: Okay. I want you to see the next one. This is the calf-lift, is it? And you are lifting some of your students.

Sri Chinmoy: Most of them weigh over 200 pounds. There were five individuals.

Joel Martin: Those numbers — 1,384 pounds — represent a lot of weight. That doesn't affect the old leg injury?

Sri Chinmoy: No, fortunately.

Joel Martin: Fortunately is right. I think also we're going to see the sailboat. This weighed how much?

Sri Chinmoy: This was 4,000 pounds.

Joel Martin: Unbelievable! And when you document these lifts, obviously the reason is to show people that it really happened.

Sri Chinmoy: There were many people there to observe and prove to the world that this is something authentic. We want to inspire people. We would like to be of service to people, and we would like this service to be genuine.

Joel Martin: This was the seaplane that you lifted at East Moriches last Sunday. You see the numbers 3,632 there, folks? That's the weight of the plane, not its license plate!

Sri Chinmoy: There were five passengers inside, including the pilot.

Joel Martin: I can't even get myself out of bed in the morning. Are you saying that the average person — people like me and people who are watching — can do this?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! If I can lift, then what is wrong with you? It is all because of prayer and meditation.

Joel Martin: I pray and I meditate.

Sri Chinmoy: You pray, and that’s why you have peace of mind and your health is getting better. The last time I came here, you were not well physically. This time you are better, and I am so happy.

Joel Martin: I had a back injury last time.

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer-life solves all our problems. Only we have to have implicit faith in our own prayers.

Joel Martin: That's true. I'm going to come back to that. I think we have one more visual. This is where you bettered the one-arm press of 450 pounds and lifted 503 pounds. You don't lift that much every day, do you?

Sri Chinmoy: Every day I try. Now I’m practising to lift 604 pounds. I have failed 40 times. When I was trying to lift 300 pounds, I failed 212 times. God was teaching me patience. So, 212 times I failed, but I continued, and on the 213th time I succeeded.

Joel Martin: You said something before about faith in our own prayers. Let's come back to that point because it's so important.

Sri Chinmoy: Many people pray, but they do not have faith in their prayers. Doubt interferes. People say, “Perhaps God is not pleased with me. This morning I told a lie. Yesterday I quarrelled with my friend, so why should God listen to my prayers?” Because of this kind of thing, people do not have faith in their prayers.

Joel Martin: Guru, excuse me, but why _should_ God listen to our prayers? Doesn't He have better things to do than listen to me?

Sri Chinmoy: Who created us? Since God created us, will He not take care of us? If you have a dog, it is your bounden responsibility to take care of the dog. So, like that, God is the Creator and we are His creation. We are helpless. If the Creator does not take care of His creation, then how can we live on earth, how can we survive?

Joel Martin: We are going through a terrible problem everywhere in this country, with young people using increasing amounts of drugs. What has gone wrong that so many people are turning to that path, which is obviously a destructive one, rather than following your advice, which is obviously the best advice?

Sri Chinmoy: People want something that can be achieved in the twinkling of an eye. They do not believe in discipline or patience. If we lead a disciplined life and have patience, then we are bound to get all good things from our life.

Joel Martin: Well said. I've got to ask you, before we conclude, Guru, where does this go? Do you have an ultimate goal with all of this?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not have any set goal; my goal is self-transcendence. I always try to transcend myself. I do not compete with the rest of the world. I compete only with myself, and I try to become a better human being. This is my ultimate goal. Every day I pray to become a better human being so that I can be of better service to mankind.

Joel Martin: Most of us, I guess, at one time or another are so much more concerned with the things that are around us than with the things that are within us. Maybe that's where most of the confusion is.

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, we look around most of the time instead of looking deep within. If we can dive deep within, then we will get the answers. The world around us is full of temptation. The world within us is full of illumination. If we can bring to the fore our inner illumination, then the outer world of temptation will be transformed into the world of illumination.

Joel Martin: You've done thousands of paintings, poems and musical compositions. Are you still doing these things?

Sri Chinmoy: I am doing everything. This morning I composed quite a few songs. We only increase our capacities. If I do something new, that does not mean that I will give up the old things. My poetry, my music, my art are all my friends. Weightlifting is like a new friend. I will not give up my old friends because I have a new friend. No, only I shall have more friends.

Joel Martin: And you're not here to say you're better, but to encourage us to do the best _we_ can.

Sri Chinmoy: I am not competing with anybody. Only I have come here to offer my inspiration and my aspiration.

Joel Martin: We're out of time. Thank you so much. It's been terrific to see you again. I didn't even get to ask you what the white flower means. It's for peace?

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely! A flower signifies purity, and white means divinity. When we have purity and divinity, then we have peace within us all the time. Joel Martin: Guru Sri Chinmoy, I thank you very much. Sri Chinmoy — native of India, living now in New York and frequently on Long Island, an international figure — has been with us for this half hour. It has been a very interesting half hour, and I thank you very much for being with us. Until next time, thank you, Guru.

Part V

The following question was asked by Ken Hall, Mr. America over 50, Mr. America over 40, Mr. Eastern America, Mr. East Coast, Mr. North East America, Mr. New York State, Mr. Empire State and Mr. New York City.

Ken Hall: I've been bodybuilding for over 40 years now. I've watched many changes come to this sport. One of the most significant changes in recent years is the increasing number of women who are entering this field. I feel this is a wonderful change, both for women and for bodybuilding in general. Do you agree?

Sri Chinmoy: Indeed, women should be encouraged to practise bodybuilding and weightlifting. Nothing good should be the sole monopoly of men. Women practise running, jumping, throwing, swimming and many other activities. As long as women practise and compete among themselves, then it is an excellent experience and an excellent achievement for humanity.

Part VI

The following two questions were asked by Terri LoCicero, Miss Eastern America, Miss Tri-State and 1985 New York Golds Classic Champion.

Terri Locicero: When I'm competing on stage and it is not going well — for instance, if the audience is not applauding or there is a technical problem with my back-up music — I have to struggle not to lose my concentration. How can I keep poised when problems arise?

Sri Chinmoy: Either you have to be clever or you have to be spiritual. If you are clever, you can say to yourself that it could be infinitely worse. By saying this, a kind of relaxation and mental peace or poise comes. But if you are spiritual, then before the performance you can meditate most powerfully for fifteen or twenty minutes. This will enable you to acquire tremendous mental power, and when you have this mental power, the problems that may arise during the performance will not be able to disturb you at all. Your mental power will be able to silence the power of the so-called problems before or during the performance.

Terri Locicero: When I win a contest, I'm on top of the world; I'm so happy! When I lose, I worry too much about why that happened. How can I learn to keep a proper balance when I compete in a contest?

Sri Chinmoy: There is only one way and that is through meditation. If you meditate, even when you lose you can easily feel the same joy that the winner feels. And something more, you can feel the joy of the winner as your own, very own. It is not self-deception. Meditation gives you the power of oneness. So the winner and the loser can easily become one on the strength of their meditation. Also, if you are the winner, on the strength of your meditation if you can for a few seconds establish your sympathetic oneness with the loser, you will not only get the joy from your victory but you will also get added joy. You will increase your happiness by becoming one with the loser. Your sympathy and concern will offer you great satisfaction, a kind of satisfaction that you will not get by winning.

Part VII

The following question was asked by Nina Schoenbaum, Miss Colonial America and New York State Representative for the American Federation of Women Bodybuilders.

Nina Schoenbaum: They say in bodybuilding, "No pain, no gain." To me, that sounds ridiculous. I've never been in pain. Bodybuilding is the fountain of youth — you get stronger as you go along. I've made gains without pain. Why do people feel they have to hurt themselves to improve themselves?

Sri Chinmoy: I see eye to eye with you. Not only bodybuilders but also many other athletes are of the opinion, “No pain, no gain.” But I wish to say that if God is standing at a particular place and I am supposed to reach Him, will it please Him more if I hurt myself and then run towards Him on one leg, or will it please Him more if I use both legs and run in a normal way? Either I can use my wisdom-light or my stupidity-height. If we say that only by hurting ourselves can we improve ourselves, it is almost like saying that we should overeat in order to strengthen ourselves, that we should eat voraciously so that overnight we can become stronger than the strongest. That is not possible! Slowly and steadily we shall try to increase our capacities, not by leaps and bounds, which can cause us injuries.

I find it difficult to accept the theory that physical pain is unavoidable in order to improve. True, we may at times get pain as we struggle with an exercise or with heavy weights. But that is a totally different matter. If we deliberately torture our body beyond its limited capacity with the hope of becoming stronger overnight, then there is every possibility that the body will revolt. This kind of training will tell upon our health.

Everything has a capacity of its own. This capacity has to be increased intelligently, and, in the case of a seeker, also soulfully. A seeker knows that he does not have to disable or damage any part of his body to prove to God how much he loves Him. He does not have to say, “Here is my love for You: I have come to You with my arms and legs impaired.” It is ridiculous. God wants us to come to Him as soon as possible. Injuring our bodies will in no way increase our speed. I am speaking here about spiritual progress, but even from an ordinary point of view, wisdom will not tell us to inflict pain upon ourselves just in the hope of gaining something valuable. Wisdom can show us the way to our destination without the intervention of pain.


The following question was asked by Jean Laguerre, Mr. New York State, Mr. Eastern America and Mr. Teenage Hercules.

Jean Laguerre: When I feel that I've honestly done my best, how can I feel that the outcome of the competition has been fair and just, if I didn't win?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to have a spiritual attitude in order to feel that the outcome of the competition has been fair and just, depending entirely on the capacity that you have shown. Inwardly you have to compete only with your own capacity. If you feel that you are in your top condition, then you will be satisfied even if the authorities judge in favour of someone else. Otherwise, if you are comparing yourself only with others, then naturally you will be dissatisfied if their capacity eclipses your capacity. It is quite possible for a seeker to feel satisfied with the outcome as long as he does his best in everything.

Part IX

On 26 October 1986 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed on “The First Estate: Religion in Review” by producer and host Dr. Russell Barber, highly respected religion editor and Emmy Award winner at WNBC-TV. Following is a transcript of the programme, which focused on Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting achievements.

Russell Barber: Guru Sri Chinmoy is a Master of meditation. In his pursuit of God and Truth, he has used his meditation powers to accomplish amazing things, from writing 700 books and composing 3,000 songs to creating over 140,000 esoteric paintings. He has now turned this Eastern discipline to weightlifting. In the world of weightlifting, Sri Chinmoy's progress has been remarkable.

Sri Chinmoy is with us today to explain how he uses meditation to excel in athletics. Thank you, Guru, for coming again to “The First Estate.”

I want to know more about meditation first. What’s the first lesson that you would give me as I try to learn how to meditate and use these special powers?

Sri Chinmoy: When we meditate, the first thing we have to do is to control our thoughts. We want to keep the mind as calm and as quiet as possible, so we will not allow any thought to enter into our mind.

Russell Barber: Would there be one particular thought that one would hone in on?

Sri Chinmoy: If one wants to, one can concentrate on God or on the Christ, Buddha or any other spiritual figure. But even that is not necessary. What is of paramount importance is not to allow thoughts to enter into the mind. But if one wants to repeat God’s Name, one can do so.

Russell Barber: Can anyone learn how to meditate?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, anyone can learn to meditate. Meditation is not the sole monopoly of any individual.

Russell Barber: How, then, does the peace that will come from our efforts at meditation translate into the kinds of things that you are now doing with weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: Prayer and meditation can be utilised in our day-to-day life as well as in our inner life. Up until now we have been under the impression that prayer is only for those few individuals who believe in the inner life. But now we feel that the strength of prayer should come to the fore and help us in the physical world as well.

Russell Barber: It certainly has done that in your case. We have a photograph that you were kind enough to bring us today that shows you lifting — with one arm — 360 pounds! It's quite an achievement. That's more than double your body weight.

Sri Chinmoy: Much more. My weight is 160 pounds.

Russell Barber: And even more astounding is the thing that you did this morning, which we have a videotape of — lifting a car that weighs 2,825 pounds. This is amazing. I'm not sure that I could ever achieve the kind of meditative power to be able to do that.

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly you can. Our prayer-life reminds us of the infinite capacities that we have deep within us.

Russell Barber: When you are exerting yourself in this very athletic way, are you praying at that moment? Are you thinking of God?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, I am praying and I am meditating. I do not separate my outer life from my inner life. Before I lift, I pray. While lifting I pray. And, at the end, after I have completed the lift, I pray again and offer my gratitude to the Supreme. I give not 99 per cent but 100 per cent credit for my weightlifting to my Lord’s Compassion. It is His Grace alone that is enabling me to be of inspiration to my brothers and sisters in the world like this.

Russell Barber: We have another videotape here that shows some of your other efforts at meditation, which we'll look at now. It's just amazing the things that you've been able to achieve. Here, for example, are some of the paintings that you have done. And we see you here in an archway with some of your 700 books. What are you trying to say to those of us who don't seem to have this kind of power? Are you trying to give us examples of how, through meditation, we can find God and achieve amazing things with our life?

Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely! Through meditation we can find peace. And once we have peace of mind, impossibility cannot exist for us. Our Lord Supreme will then be able to manifest Himself in and through us all the time, so there will be no such thing as impossibility in our life. If we pray and meditate soulfully, then we can transcend all our barriers — mental and otherwise.

Russell Barber: I assume that one doesn't have to engage in physical exercise to achieve a oneness spiritually with the world. I mean, a lazy person like myself hopefully could achieve that through prayer and meditation. What is the relationship, though, between athletics and peace?

Sri Chinmoy: Whatever we do in life — whether we are praying, talking to our friends or participating in sports — we are trying to receive joy at every moment. But joy we can have only when we have a peaceful life. We are all longing for joy, and joy abides only in peace. At every moment we are given the opportunity to feel peace in the depths of our heart on the strength of our prayer-life and our meditation-life. Prayer and meditation are not only inner experiences; they can be manifested in our day-today multifarious activities.

Russell Barber: On a more practical level, with regard to athletics, how do you feel about the fact that politics have been somehow made a part of certain athletic competitions, like the Olympics? Are you unhappy about that?

Sri Chinmoy: I am extremely unhappy, because in athletics we are always trying to establish a oneness-family. People come from various parts of the world to represent their own countries. They go beyond the barriers of their individual races. They conquer in their minds national barriers, and they try to offer the capacities that they embody. It is like the United Nations, with each nation a flower in the garland of nations. But when politics enters into sports, it is a very painful and deplorable experience. Politics should not interfere with our oneness-heart.

Russell Barber: You've been in the West some twenty-two years. You come from the Hindu tradition. You speak of peace, and whenever you come to "The First Estate" there is always a sense of peace that comes over us. I want to thank you for giving us this peaceful moment and good meditation. God bless!

Part 10

Sri Chinmoy answered the following questions asked by his students on 17 December 1986.

Question: Do you concentrate more than once on each metal plate before you lift?

Sri Chinmoy: How many times I concentrate and meditate! First, I do lots of easy exercises, along with concentration and meditation. Then, when I am ready to do my heavy lifts, before each lift I look at my picture of Mother Kali, who embodies tremendous power, and feel my oneness with her. In front of her picture I concentrate and meditate. Then I look at myself in the mirror and concentrate and meditate. After that I place my hand on the bar and concentrate. Then I look at each metal plate and try to inject my light there for the divine victory. After that, again I face myself in the mirror and concentrate and meditate most powerfully. Then I hold the bar and concentrate and meditate once more on each metal plate. That is why it takes such a long time.

_Question: As the weight gets heavier, the bar tends to bend, so it seems to really take more effort to lift it._

Sri Chinmoy: You are absolutely right. When it bends it seems heavier. The weight is already heavy, but anything that is not straight or firm is more difficult to lift. Also, I could have lifted it higher if it did not bend this way. When I lift the whole thing off the rack, I lose a little height because it bends more.

_Question: How is it possible for you to make the jump from 1,500 to 2,000 now, whereas before you could only go from 70 to 90 and then 100 pounds?_

Sri Chinmoy: That is my progress report. I always advocate progress. Sometimes when the boat is nearing the shore, it either capsizes or it increases its speed. In my case, luckily the boat didn’t capsize; it reached the shore very fast. As Bill Pearl has said, I have no preconceived ideas about weight and what is or is not possible to lift. So if you are not afraid of something, you just try it. If nothing bad happens, you are lucky. Otherwise, you may be miserable to the end of your life. Luckily, I was protected by my Beloved Supreme. Otherwise, any day some accident could have happened. After 1,300 pounds the bar was bending like anything. When I did 2,000 pounds, it was bent so much that many people thought it could break.

_Question: Guru, while you are lifting a very heavy weight, do you feel that you become one with the weight, or is it like an opponent that you are challenging?_

Sri Chinmoy: The weights are not opponents, but I feel that inconscience has challenged my aspiration and my realisation; it has challenged God’s Omnipresence. This metal has no aspiration, almost no light. So there I want to enter with my love. It is not with my physical power but with my love-power, which is oneness-power, that I enter into the metal. But you have to know that my oneness-power embodies tremendous will. It is not like the Battle of Kurukshetra in which two parties are fighting. No! Only one party has challenged God’s Light with ignorance or inconscience, and the other party is trying to conquer it not by force or aggression, but with love. The inconscience of the weights has challenged me, so I try to become one with them with my inner love.

_Question: When you keep making these enormous jumps in weight, what actually is progressing? Is it your receptivity to light, is it your human capacity, or is it that you are getting more help from Above, or what?_

Sri Chinmoy: It is not my receptivity to light or my receptivity to God’s Compassion that is progressing. It is just the opposite. I am experimenting with the receptivity of inconscience; I am trying to see how much of my light the inconscient metal can receive. Before I lift, on each metal plate I concentrate two times. Suppose there are twenty plates — ten on each side. First I hold the bar at the centre. Then I concentrate on each plate on the left side and establish my friendship with it for the divine victory. Then I go to the right side. On each plate I have a special way of concentrating.

On the one hand, the Divine or Supreme in me is blessing me with Compassion, and I am receiving. On the other hand, I am entering into this inconscient plane and seeing if the weights can be made receptive. If they were not receptive, nobody could lift them. But because these weights were receptive to me, I was able to lift them. Perhaps they would not be receptive to anybody else in the world at this time. Ask anybody in this world and let them try! I am not bragging; I am only saying that as I happen to be receptive to the higher light, even so — by God’s Grace — the weights have become receptive to that light in me. Otherwise, who can jump from 1,300 pounds to 1,500 pounds just like that? When it is such high weight, people will take two or three weeks, if not months, to increase only ten pounds.

So because my receptivity was good, the divine Compassion acted through me and I was able to offer my light to God’s creation. There is so little of the divine light in God’s creation — next to nothing. But there I found an iota of receptivity, and because the weights were receptive, I was able to offer them light. If the metal had not cooperated, I could not have lifted it. So it is our mutual achievement. And it is through love-power that I did it, not through adamantine will-power.

On my face you do see determination-power and will-power when I am lifting. But it is love-power that actually makes it possible for me to lift these weights. Sometimes determination-power can be destructive, but in no way is mine destructive. While I am lifting you see my ferocious face, uglier than the ugliest. But it is not destruction-power that you are seeing; it is only adamantine will-power on my face, because I have to energise my arm.

I have to use a special kind of will-power — electric will-power I call it — on my arm, especially on my wrist. I have many, many types of will-power, but this one is absolutely my strongest and fastest. I keep a very special concentration on my arm, especially my wrist. Ninety per cent of the weight is supported by my arm. People will say, “Your shoulder, your back, your legs and many other muscles are also working.” But I know how much my leg muscles are working. Next to nothing! As I am lifting, my whole body is supporting the weight, but in no way are my chest or shoulders or legs actively helping me. My right arm is holding ninety per cent of the weight, and my wrist is holding at least seventy-five per cent of that. People will laugh, since my wrist is narrower than the narrowest. But I know that at least seventy-five per cent of the weight my wrist is holding. So I am always extremely careful with my wrist. All my dynamic energy and will-power are in my right arm and wrist. Otherwise, this tiny wrist would be crushed to pieces.

People say the world is not progressing. Always people say, “Oh, my grandparents were saints but everybody today is a rascal.” Always we feel that the past was golden, that the past had all the glory. Not only Westerners but even Indians will say that there is no occult power or spiritual power in the world today. Any kind of miracle they will immediately deny. Even if they see it with their own eyes, they won’t believe it. So now they can see it. With both the video and the camera I will be able to prove what I have done, but some people still won’t believe it. These people will never believe anything But again, some people who see my lift will be inspired by it to go one step forward in their own lives. I am for those people. I am not trying to prove to the unbelievers or disbelievers that I have done something. Far from it! Only I am trying to be of some inner service to people who want to go one step forward. They don’t have to lift 2,000 pounds, but perhaps they will take the inspiration that I am offering and make the effort to do something in their own lives which they previously thought was too difficult or impossible. In any field they can get inspiration to do something better than what they have been doing.

_Question: Guru, for you, using spiritual power is almost as easy as drinking water. But when you lift heavy weights it seems that you really have to struggle and afterwards you seem to feel a real sense of achievement._

Sri Chinmoy: You have to see on which plane of consciousness I am operating. Here I am dealing with gross matter. The physical plane has the least receptivity to light, but still the weights are receiving. If I am operating on the psychic plane and you are praying and meditating, at that time it is not so difficult for me to raise your consciousness because you are already in a higher plane, and you are consciously trying to receive. If you are already up a little bit, then it is easier for me to lift you further. But if your consciousness is in the abysmal abyss, then don’t I really have to struggle to lift you up even an inch? When I am dealing with the inner plane, already the standard of receptivity is higher. But the weights are all on the gross material plane, so it is with utmost difficulty that I manage to offer light to them. Again, when human beings who have been aspiring for many years fall, it is almost impossible to raise their consciousness. On the aspiration-tree at one time they were very high, but now they have descended considerably. So to lift those people even as much as I lift the weights is almost impossible. These metal plates are responding to my aspiration and dedication more powerfully than some human beings. Instead of going up like the weights, some human beings have gone down and they do not want to go up again. They are not incapable, but they are consciously and deliberately unwilling to receive light any more. So you can see the difference. With their extremely limited capacity the metal plates were aspiring, and that is why it was possible for me to do something.

_Question: Why do you do your serious weightlifting in the early morning?_

Sri Chinmoy: The early morning, before sunrise, is the best time. That is the choice time, the Hour of God. The world is still sleeping, and you are not affected by its hustle and bustle. This is the time for you to do anything that you feel is sacred.

The soul is always conscious and always ready to do something significant for God no matter what time of day it is. But the best time for the heart to receive direct help from the soul is either during deep meditation or just after you have gotten up, before the clamour and turmoil of the world can destroy your poise. At that time the soul and the heart are more powerful than the doubting mind, the aggressive vital and the lethargic body. All the worries, anxieties and other negative forces of daily life have not yet entered into you. The mind is calm and quiet, and a calm, quiet mind is of supreme importance when you want to do something really significant.

So anything that is most significant, anything that is momentous in your life, you should always try to do in the small hours of the morning. Or if you cannot do it then, the next best time is around nine or ten o’clock at night. But if you do it at night, first the mind has to be emptied, whereas in the early hours of the morning the mind is already empty. So it is a great advantage if you can do very special things in the small hours of the morning.

From:Sri Chinmoy,Aspiration-body, illumination-soul, part 2, Agni Press, 1993
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