Question: I have been reading some of your writings, The Outer Running and the Inner Running, as well as some things on meditation. In one talk that you gave before the New York City Marathon a few years ago, you told your students to run their best, but if they happen not to run their best time, if they fail in their personal expectations, not to worry about that at all. You said the main thing was their cheerfulness, that the running itself was the most important thing. I also know that you do have a special respect for champions like Carl Lewis. Can you reconcile these two attitudes for me?

Sri Chinmoy: Both ideas can easily go together. I appreciate athletes like Carl Lewis and other world champions because I feel that they are a great manifestation of God. Let us take running as a garden. One rose may be most beautifully blossomed. Again, there are also many little buds. So I tell the little buds, "If you are not blossomed fully today, do not worry. Only pray to God to let His Will be done in and through you. And if you are cheerful, you will receive more inspiration, more aspiration."

Let us say I wanted to run the marathon in four hours and I complete the distance in four and a half hours. If I am doomed to disappointment, tomorrow I may not go out to run, I may even give up running. But if I cheerfully accept the result, then I will receive added strength. Today I have failed to achieve my goal, but failures, as you know, are the pillars of success.

Hundreds of times I failed to lift 300 pounds with one arm. But I continued, and afterwards I went on to lift 7,000 pounds. Our philosophy is never to give up. If we give up, how can we continue? And if we do not continue, how can we maintain our cheerfulness? To all my students I say, "Remain cheerful, no matter what the results." We are spiritual people. We know that it is our bounden duty to offer the results of what we do to God. He has given us the capacity to run. It is He who is running in and through us. So let us offer our gratitude to God.

Carl Lewis and other super-excellent stars in various walks of life we take as members of our family. Being spiritual seekers, we feel that the whole world is ours — not in the sense of possessing the world, but in the sense of embracing the world. You, he and I are all one. So if some member of the family does something, we feel it is our bounden duty to appreciate that person.

It is all one world. For my weightlifting programme, I have given the name Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart. Carl Lewis perfectly fits in with us. So do Roberta Flack, Narada Michael Walden, Bill Pearl and countless others. They are all members of our family. They love us and we love them. When a member of our family does something good, we feel it is our duty to appreciate and admire that person. In this way, we increase his capacity. Mutual appreciation is the right thing.

To those who are not champions, I say, "You do your very best, and place the results at the Feet of God." To those who are champions, if they do not do well at a particular time, I say, "Do not be disappointed! Do not give up!"