Does God run? Yes, He does. He runs with the help of man's heart.

Part II — Questions and answers on running

Question: Why is it so difficult to progress or excel in sports?

Sri Chinmoy: In life, fortunately or unfortunately, nothing is easy. If things are easy, then we will be satisfied with our self-complacent life. Like a frog, we have to jump, jump, jump! If things are easy, if we always succeed, then we won't value our capacities or appreciate our achievements. At every moment we must value not only our successes and achievements but also the efforts we make. We must value at every moment not only what we become but what we are doing in the process of becoming. We cannot separate the effort from the result.

Unfortunately, we do not appreciate our efforts. We admire and adore only the result. For years and years we practise hard. Then, in ten seconds the race is over. Afterwards, the world only remembers that there was a champion in Helsinki or Melbourne or Mexico. But for that, how many years of preparation did it take? Four, eight, ten, twelve years! This the world doesn't appreciate. It only appreciates the victory, not the preparation.

Question: Is there a limit to any record?

Sri Chinmoy: There is only one limit: how much God wants to reveal Himself through each individual. The only limit is God's Will. God waits and waits and waits. Then, if He sees that somebody is receptive or that somebody has worked very hard, He may do something through that individual.

For God, this is quite natural, but we call it a miracle. If we feel that something is a miracle, then we have more faith than if we feel something is natural. At night the flowers are closed, and in the morning all of a sudden the petals open. Because we are seeing it every day, we feel it is natural. We go to sleep at night and are totally unconscious. The following day we get up, and we feel it is perfectly natural. Again, one day we don't get up, and then it becomes unnatural; we call it death. But if we take it from another angle, everything is a miracle. After four or five hours of sleeping, all of a sudden we get up, like the flower opening its petals. Everything that we experience, we can take as a miracle. Is there anything that is not a miracle in life?

Records will always be broken. But that doesn't mean that someone will be able to run one mile in a minute. In the inner world it is quite possible to run a mile in a minute. Occultists can do it. In a fleeting minute they will be able to run a mile. But that is something else. At that time they are not in the physical, whereas you are talking about achieving something in the physical. But on the earthly plane, Bannister, Lande, Scott, Maree, Coghlan and all the other great runners will go on breaking records, and the world will continue to progress.

Question: How much importance should we give to physical exercise in comparison to our regular work?

Sri Chinmoy: You are working very hard at your business, but you are thinking that that is the only work you have to do. You are giving one hundred per cent of your attention to your business and not even one per cent to your body. You have to feel that the body is also something necessary. So when you are here taking exercise or practising sports, you have to think that this is the only thing in your life. Otherwise, while you are practising sports you will still be thinking of your business. Each time you practise sports, feel that this is the most important thing, more important even than selfless service or meditation. If you give importance to this, you will get extra energy from it for your work.

Question: How do you feel about bicycle training to improve running?

Sri Chinmoy: I did a great deal of bicycling when I lived in India in my youth. For at least two and a half hours every day I used to cycle as I did errands around the ashram. It does not increase running speed at all, but something is better than nothing. Sometimes cycling can actually be a hindrance to running speed, because it develops special kinds of muscles which do not complement the speed muscles. Bicycling does help for endurance, but if you want to increase your running speed, then I don't advise it. You can cycle for endurance, or if you are injured and cannot run. For a little bit of stamina you can do it. But again, cycling stamina is totally different from running stamina. If one wants to become a good runner and maintain a five-minute pace, then cycling is not the answer. Quality road work is the answer.

Question: What is a good exercise to strengthen the legs when they get tired from standing all day?

Sri Chinmoy: If your legs get tired from standing all day, there are two exercises that are very good to strengthen them. One exercise develops the knee muscles. You sit on the floor with one leg straight, and the other leg bent with the knee up, both hands on your hips. Then you switch, bending the straight leg and straightening the bent leg. Then keep switching.

The other exercise is to do a deep knee bend on one leg, with the other leg out in front of you, and then stand up again, still keeping one leg in front of you. First you do it with a flat foot, then on your toe. If you can do it three or four times, your legs will have tremendous strength from top to bottom.

Question: If one is in generally good health, what would cause pain and aches in the body?

Sri Chinmoy: It is one thing to have good health and another thing to deliberately maintain good health. Unless you are consciously keeping good health, at any moment you may be attacked by some forces. It is like having a large amount of money without knowing about it. If you are not conscious of it, you may easily lose it. If you are not conscious that you have a flower, you are likely to lose it. Anything that you have must have some place in your awareness. You may have good physical health, but perhaps in two months' time you have not thought of your body once, let alone tried to increase the strength of your legs or arms or to get some extra capacity.

Unless you touch something every day, it does not shine. Often I have told people to touch the furniture in their homes every day. As soon as you touch something, it gets new life. If you are aware of something, immediately it shines and gets a new luminosity. If you have good health, if you touch your health every day, it gets new life. By giving attention to something, you give new life to it.

Question: Why do we get injuries for no apparent reason?

Sri Chinmoy: There is always a reason, either in the inner world or in the outer world. In the inner world, if something is dislocated — if your consciousness has descended or if some hostile forces have attacked — you get an injury. Sometimes you are totally innocent, but the wrong forces, the malicious forces which are hovering around, can cause injury.

Again, sometimes in the inner world or in the thought-world you have done something wrong, and this can also cause an injury. Thought can be more destructive than a hydrogen bomb. Wrong thoughts, which are so destructive, may come and attack you, especially your physical, which is in ignorance most of the time. The wrong forces find it very easy to attack the plane which is fast asleep, because they will encounter no opposition there.

So, in the inner world either your consciousness has descended because of wrong thoughts, or some hostile force has attacked you, and that is why you get an injury which you cannot see any reason for.

Question: Always when I become very interested in the physical and playing sports, I injure myself to the point where I have to stop completely. Why does this happen?

Sri Chinmoy: What actually happens in your case is that when you enter into the physical world — playing tennis or other things — you do not give value to the physical as such. You remain in the mind. A portion of your existence you throw into the game and another portion you keep totally in the mind-world. It is like cutting yourself in half. You are keeping your body on the first floor, but your consciousness is always on the upper floor, in the mind. If you can direct more of your mental energy into the physical when you play, this will not happen.

You want to play; you want to win. But actually the concentration of the mind, the real concentration, is not in the physical itself. You know that you are playing tennis, but the concentration that the body needs from the mind is not there. There is a gap. The body without concentration from the mind is helpless. So, when you play, do not think of your mental work. Your mind may not be aware that it is thinking of the wrong thing, but it is one thing not to be aware of doing the wrong thing and another thing to concentrate consciously on the right thing. Inside you and all around you there are many beings. Because there is a gap between the mind's concentration and the physical activity, these beings can attack the physical. They need not actually be wrong forces, but they may create unfortunate experiences in life.

Question: How can we spiritually heal injuries?

Sri Chinmoy: It is a matter of inner capacity. One kind of capacity is to heal the injury by bringing down peace and light from above. Another kind of capacity is to ignore the pain altogether. During your meditation, if all of a sudden you have intense aspiration, then you can bring down more light from above to cure your injury. But you have to do this consciously during your meditation. If during the day you casually say, "Oh, how I wish I didn't have any pain!" that will be useless. But while you are meditating, if you suddenly remember your pain, that is the time to pray and bring down more light.

Again, you can increase your capacity to tolerate pain. Now you have pain, let us say, but still you run; whereas if you had had the same kind of pain four years ago perhaps you would not have been able to run. Again, sometimes the pain is unbearable and it is absolutely impossible to run. Then what can you do? But if it is bearable, try to run according to your own capacity. At that time, don't think of how fast this person or that person is running. Just go according to your own capacity and remain cheerful. All the time think that you are running only against yourself.

Again, if it is beyond your capacity to ignore the pain, in addition to praying and meditating, you can also go to the outer doctor. Light is also inside the doctor. But in some cases there is no way to cure the pain.

Question: How do you run through inner pain?

Sri Chinmoy: Inner pain is a joke. Outer pain I believe in. Sometimes I can't place my foot on the ground without getting such pain! But inner pain, which comes from frustration, depression, jealousy and insecurity, is a joke. Inner pain should be discarded like a filthy rag! Outer pain you cannot so easily ignore, but inner pain must be discarded.

If you have inner pain, if you are jealous of someone or are in an undivine consciousness, then the outer running will actually help you. When you are running and perspiring, when you are struggling, at that time the inner pain goes away to some extent. Otherwise, if because you are depressed you don't go out to run, then you are just a fool.

If you feel depressed while you are running, you can sing loudly and deliberately try to sing wrong notes. Then laugh at yourself. Some of my friends used to do this. They were good singers, but deliberately they would sing wrong notes while they were walking, and it would make them laugh. In that way they got rid of depression.

Question: When I run I sometimes get a slight knee pain. Should I stop running at that time?

Sri Chinmoy: If you get just a slight pain in your knee, and if the pain is bearable, then you should continue running. At that time, feel that if you run a hundred metres more, the pain will go away. Then, after you have covered a hundred metres, feel that the pain will definitely stop if you run another hundred metres. If you do this five or six times, then most of the pain will go away. Even if some pain remains, the mind has already taken away your awareness from it. Your mind has forgotten about it. But if the pain is absolutely unbearable, what can you do? You simply have to surrender to it and stop running, at least for a while.

Question: Sometimes I feel pain in my foot, and I start worrying that if I keep running, I might get a stress fracture. This happens even if the pain is not that bad and I know that probably nothing will happen.

Sri Chinmoy: If it is unbearable, excruciating pain, then something serious might happen. But if there is just a tiny pain in your foot, this kind of fear is only false anxiety that is coming to your mind. If you are worried, you can take rest for a few days and see if the pain goes away. If it leaves in just a day or two, you will know that it was nothing serious. In this way you will become more confident that nothing will happen to your foot if you run.

So if the pain is not that serious, you do not have to worry. Your foot is not going to give out. It is only that fear has entered into your mind, and the mind has created false anxiety in you, a false alarm. You should not cherish these fears.

Question: Should we run even when we are extremely tired?

Sri Chinmoy: As a rule, when we are extremely tired it is not advisable to run, for it will not help us in any way. At that time, running will be nothing but fatigue and self-destruction, and it will leave in our mind a bitter taste. But sometimes, even when we are not extremely tired, we feel that we are. At that time we are not actually physically tired. We are only mentally tired or emotionally tired, but the mind convinces us that we are physically tired. Our human lethargy is so clever! It acts like a rogue, a perfect rogue, and we get tremendous joy by offering compassion to our body. We make all kinds of justifications for the body's lethargy and make ourselves feel that the body deserves rest.

So we have to be sincere to ourselves. If we really feel extremely tired, then we should not run. But we have to make sure that it is not our lethargic mind, our lethargic vital or our lethargic physical consciousness that is making us feel that we are extremely tired. This kind of tricky cleverness we have to conquer.

With our imagination-power we can challenge the tricky mind and win. We weaken ourselves by imagining that we are weak. Again, we can strengthen ourselves by imagining that we are strong. Our imagination often compels us to think we cannot do something or cannot say something. We often use imagination in a wrong direction. So instead of letting imagination take us backwards, we should use it to take us forward toward our goal.

Question: How can I go faster? I find it so uninspiring to run slowly.

Sri Chinmoy: To a great extent, speed in running starts with the mind. You have to develop more imagination. Imagine that you are running fast and appreciate your speed. Then let the thrill and joy that you get from your imagination inundate you. This joy will increase your speed. You can also think of some people who really do run fast and try to identify yourself with them.

In your case, you do not have to look very far. Your husband runs much faster than you do. You have seen him running fast many times, so you can identify your legs with his. The next time you go running, as soon as you start, feel that you have borrowed his legs and from then on, whenever you want to run, feel that you will be able to use his legs.

This is all based on imagination. Of course, you can take quite a few exercises to increase your speed. Limbering and stretching exercises will help a little. But imagination plays a great role in increasing speed.