Question: I like to play tennis very much. It inspires me, while running never really did inspire me. Does it give the same benefit to the body and spiritual life to play tennis as it does to run?

Sri Chinmoy: I will never say that running is better than tennis. If you accept the inner philosophy of tennis, which is “love and serve”, then you can derive so much benefit. Also, tennis can give us so much joy because we are playing with someone and there are so many different movements of the body. Tennis is an excellent form of recreation. When you are playing tennis, you are getting so much innocent joy. Because of your joy, you are becoming like a child once more, and that happiness itself is helping you to make progress.

But I wish to say that running has its own inner value, which tennis cannot offer you. While you run, each breath that you take is connected with a higher reality. While you are jogging, if you are in a good consciousness, your breath is being blessed by a higher inner breath. Of course, while you are jogging if you are chatting with one of your friends about mundane things, then this will not apply. But if you are in a good consciousness while you are running, each breath will connect you with a higher, deeper, inner reality.

Running also has a special symbolic meaning. In the spiritual life, we are eternal runners, running along Eternity’s Road. We do not say that we are eternal tennis players on that road. These are two different subjects, like history and geography. If you can do both, if you can run two or three miles a day and play tennis as well, then you will get benefit from being both the eternal runner and the eternal server. But if you have to make a choice, and if you like tennis more than you like running, then you have only to play tennis. Again, if you want to get the benefit of a higher force or higher reality for your physical body, then running is absolutely necessary. I am not saying that you have to run the fastest. Even while jogging, you can feel that you have two breaths. One is a higher breath. Something is pulling you up or you are carrying yourself up. The other is your body’s breath. The two are combined together.

In my case, if I have to make a choice between running and tennis, then immediately I will be ready to give up tennis. If I have to make a choice, then I will say that tennis can wait.