We are all truly unlimited,
If we only dare to try
And have faith.

Sri Chinmoy

Part I: Preface to Questions from Bill Pearl

The following questions were asked by five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, who has also won the coveted title of “World’s Best Built Man of the Century” and been entered into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame. In 1978 he was elected IFBB National Chairman of the Professional Physique Judges Committee, and he has served as a consultant for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to train astronauts as well as top executives. Since 1954 when he first opened up his innovative gyms — which offered more to a wider range of people than any had before — Bill Pearl has personally programmed over 200,000 bodybuilders and trained more physique stars than any other individual.

Bill Pearl: Are you seeking uniqueness in the weightlifting field so you can have a larger impact on a larger group of people?

Sri Chinmoy: I would like to say in all sincerity, instead of ‘recognition’, our term is ‘the manifestation of God’s Compassion’. Name and fame as such, what most of the world craves, is not what I want. Only I want the manifestation of God’s Will, to show that the spirit can be manifested in and through the body. Previously spirit and matter were separated. Matter was one thing and spirit was another. Spirit wouldn’t touch matter; matter wouldn’t touch spirit. Everything I have achieved is by virtue of my prayer, meditation and spiritual life. Now my Lord wants my prayer-life and meditation-life to work through my physical, earthly body in this way. So we use the term ’manifestation’. From my weightlifting, there will be many people who will be inspired to enter into the spiritual life. Again, spiritual people will be inspired to enter into the physical world. Otherwise, if one’s body is not fit, one cannot get up in the morning to meditate; one cannot do anything well.

The physical and the spiritual must go together. While transcending myself, if I achieve something unprecedented, then that is quite spontaneous. My goal is not to be a bodybuilder or a weight-lifter of the highest magnitude. If what I am doing is considered unprecedented, then it is well and good. But I will not aim at a world record as such. It is not that I will try to break a world record by hook or by crook — far from it! I will try to transcend myself. While transcending myself, it is up to the Will of the Supreme if I will do a little better than others have done.

Bill Pearl: I think it’s just amazing that you’re capable of doing such tremendous feats of strength. You’re going to be a great inspiration to a lot of people.

Sri Chinmoy: I am a seeker and a God-lover. God is trying to inspire humanity in a new way in and through me. The spiritual Masters of the hoary past thought the inner life and the outer life could not go together. In India some of them think this even today. Our spiritual Masters, in order to realise God, used to live in the Himalayan caves or in one solitary room for 20, 30 or 40 years. They were afraid of entering into society. They said that the outer life could never be transformed because they felt that inner inspiration or aspiration did not function in the outer life. But my Beloved Supreme — who is my Lord, who is your Lord, who is everybody’s Lord — feels that if we neglect the body, the outer life, then how are we going to be perfect in every aspect of life and how are we going to manifest Him? The body is the temple and the soul is the shrine. If we neglect the temple and do not keep it in good condition, what will happen to the shrine? If we pay attention only to the shrine, then how can the temple do something for God?

Of late I have been reading articles written about you by your real admirers in Strength and Health magazine. I also have many articles written by you. They are so inspiring, so inspiring. In 1972, when people were saying unkind things about the old champions, your friend inspired you or instigated you to enter into competition again. Then in London again you became Mr. Universe. I read those articles with such joy and got such a real thrill from them.

Bill Pearl: I really, truly appreciate that. So would you say that what you’re attempting to do is to show people what can be done and how far a person can go if he puts his mind and heart and soul into a specific endeavour?

Sri Chinmoy: That is precisely what I am doing! I am not a bodybuilder, I am not a weight-lifter; I am a God-lover. Because I am a God-lover, my Beloved Supreme is trying, in and through me, to inspire people who are trying to aspire. Among the bodybuilders and weight-lifters there are also people who love God and want to have a higher life, an inner life. So He is trying to utilise me to be of service to them.

Part II: Questions from Jim Smith

The following questions were asked by Jim Smith, the Registrar of Records for the British Amateur Weight lifters’ Association and the World Masters Weightlifting Champion in the two-handed standing press. Since winning his first title in 1959, Jim Smith has dedicated his entire adult life to amateur weightlifting. He is also an international referee and a teacher of young hopefuls. Organiser of four British national weightlifting contests and creator of the weightlifting pentathlon, Jim Smith has a depth of experience on both the competitive and official levels that makes him one of the great authorities on the sport of weightlifting.

Jim Smith: Could you please tell me your training schedule?

Sri Chinmoy: It takes me practically 50 minutes — sometimes even an hour — just to warm up by doing general stretching exercises. I was an athlete, so I know quite a few stretching exercises. Then, after the stretching, I do 200 push-ups. Then I use some of my exercise machines. All these things I do almost every day. It takes me 3 ½ hours altogether. But I practise for 2 hours, and then I take a few minutes’ rest before continuing.

Once every ten days I don’t do everything. I do four or five items fewer. Otherwise, almost every day I do all the exercises regularly, without fail. So this is my schedule. And at our tennis court I also have three or four exercise machines that I use.

Jim Smith: You must understand why I am so impressed. I have lifted weights for 35 years now. I have not normally trained more than four times a week and not more than three hours in any one session.

Sri Chinmoy: If I do not train like this, mentally I become weak. If I skip certain things, I face a kind of mental barrier the following day, as if I am starting from the very beginning. When I go out of town — during Christmas and other times — and I do not have all the facilities, there are quite a few things I cannot do. Then, when I come back and start practising again, I do not suffer. But when I am here in New York, if I do not practise regularly and do all my exercises, then I feel sad the following day.

Jim Smith: I can understand that. But I don’t know anybody, apart from the Bulgarians and people like that, who trains so much. Now, about your calf raise, I can only tell you that in England we don’t recognise the calf raise as a competition lift.

Sri Chinmoy: I am not competing with anyone. But please forgive me for saying this. The inspiration and creativity in weightlifting, let us say, includes very few lifts — the jerk, clean and press and a few others. But the weightlifting world is a vast world. Today we are living in the world of science; we are producing so many different things — quantity as well as quality. How is it that they are not recognizing more lifts, different kinds of lifts, in the Olympics and elsewhere? Some people challenge me and say my one-arm lift is not a recognized lift because I lift it from a rack. But what is wrong with that? Are imagination and variety not appreciated in this world?

Jim Smith: You’re obviously using all your previous spiritual training.

Sri Chinmoy: Previously I used to say 99 per cent, but now I give 100 per cent credit to my Inner Pilot, who is my source of inspiration and aspiration. Before each lift I concentrate, pray and meditate for at least three or four minutes. I do one heavy lift, and then again I meditate and invoke God’s Blessings and Protection. After doing one lift, they advise you to do the next lift as soon as possible — within a few seconds. They say that for a few moments the blood in your arm is still circulating rapidly. I don’t like that theory since, in my case, I depend on Grace from Above. So I wait at least three minutes or more between each lift when I am working with heavy weights. I pray and meditate and concentrate, and when I feel that I am inwardly energised, I try to lift. Before that I do not do it because I feel I owe everything to my Source, which is inner guidance. So I have to first enter into my Source for inspiration, aspiration, guidance and protection.

Sometimes there is no logic behind my performances. But again, inner inspiration is such that it does not correspond to outer reasoning. Many, many things I have done which my physical mind cannot believe. When I look at the weight, I am frightened to death. But then again, when I concentrate, I am not afraid of it. When I am one with it, I act like a hero. When I am not one with it, when my concentration or my oneness with the weight is not there, then I am actually frightened. But when I try to go beyond the mind, then these barriers do not exist. The mind feels that you have to go from one to two. But why go from one to two if there is something called Grace? Why not go from one to ten? Fortunately, I have succeeded many times with this approach.

Part III: Questions at a press conference

The following questions were asked at a press conference held in Queens, New York, on 12 August 1986.

Question: Why, at this point, are you having this press conference?

Sri Chinmoy: My students wanted me to have this conference so that we can serve more people with our inspiration and our dedication. Our philosophy is to aspire and inspire. A few reporters are here; they too can be of great service to humanity. We are all trying to do the same thing in our own way. I am lifting weights and you are writing articles, but all of us are trying to serve and inspire humanity according to our capacity and in our own career.

Question: When did you start weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: Last year, on 26 June, I started seriously. With difficulty I lifted 40 pounds with one arm at that time. Only by practising regularly and faithfully is one able to make progress. About four years ago a few of my students and I tried to lift a 50-pound weight with one arm. Some of my students did it seven or 10 times, but I could not do it even three times properly. Fifty pounds was such a struggle for me! And yesterday when my students and I were practising informally, I lifted a 50-pound dumbbell 40 times. So this is progress.

Yesterday when I lifted 50 pounds 40 times, I offered the result to my Inner Pilot. Again, the time I lifted 50 pounds only three times with such difficulty, that result also I offered to my Inner Pilot. In no way was I less happy four years ago than I was yesterday. I got the same joy then as I did yesterday. To be able to lift the weight three times was the capacity that God gave me at that time, and this is the capacity He gave me yesterday. So yesterday’s capacity I offered to Him cheerfully, just as I offered my previous capacity to Him. We should always offer our capacity cheerfully to God. What we have, we will give. If we have one flower, we will give it, and if we have 10 flowers, we will give them with the same joy.

Question: Weightlifting seems a most appropriate athletic sport to express our concentration. Is this why you started it?

Sri Chinmoy: I did not choose to start lifting weights. If one prays and meditates sincerely, somebody within him talks to him and tells him what to do and what not to do. You use the term ’God’; I say my ’Inner Pilot’. Last year, when I was praying and meditating, that somebody within me — you can call it an inner voice or a source of inspiration — asked me to start weightlifting. That is why I am doing it.

Now, about concentration, let us say somebody can lift 60 pounds with only his muscle-power. If the same person prays and meditates for a few minutes before he lifts, then he will have the strength not only of his body but also of his mind and his vital. Now he is getting help only from his physical. He is not getting inner determination from the vital or the tremendous will-power that is inside the mind. He is not even aware of these things. But if he prays and meditates, immediately he feels that his mind has tremendous will-power, tremendous concentration-power. If he thinks of his vital, he sees that it is full of determination. And his body is full of energy. All these good qualities he can feel when he prays and meditates. He feels that his vital, mind, heart and soul are all the friends of his body, and he takes help from them. If somebody has friends, then those friends come to help him when he needs them, and naturally his weightlifting becomes easier.

I am trying to inspire people who are not praying and meditating. I am telling them that everybody has a vital, everybody has a mind, everybody has a heart, everybody has a soul. But they are not utilising these members of their inner family the way I do. Otherwise, if I had to depend entirely on the physical, I could do next to nothing. My biceps are not even 14 inches, whereas the biceps of other weightlifters are 21 or 22 inches. My calves are not even 13 ½ inches, and theirs are 20 inches. Their muscles are gigantic compared to mine. I can lift as much as I do because I am taking help from the strength within me. My friends the vital, mind, heart and soul are helping me from within. They are my inner friends. So I am telling those people who are not now aware of the inner life that inner strength is something real. They will be able to increase their capacity tremendously if they also take help from their inner friends.