My answers to these questions are purely based on my inner aspiration. In no way do I dare to claim to be an authority on bodybuilding and weightlifting.

Of late I have started lifting weights in accordance with the express Will of my Inner Pilot. If this new adventure of mine can serve as inspiration-light to bodybuilders and weightlifters, I shall be amply rewarded.

My heart's most sincere gratitude I am offering to all those who have so kindly submitted searching questions, particularly to Mr. Franco Columbu, who is himself a supreme authority on this subject, and from whose illumining books I have derived tremendous inspiration.

Sri Chinmoy

  1. SIS 1. 10 December 1985

Sri Chinmoy's progress in weightlifting

Below is a record of Sri Chinmoy's progress in weightlifting.

40 pounds — 26 June 1985

50 pounds — 7 July 1985

60 pounds — 16 July 1985

70 pounds — 30 July 1985

80 pounds — 13 August 1985

85 pounds — 6 September 1985

106 1/4 pounds — 9 October 1985

117 pounds — 1 November 1985

131 1/2 pounds — 3 November 1985

140 pounds — 12 November 1985

155 pounds — 18 November 1985

Part I1

  1. SIS 1-4. These four questions were asked by Franco Columbu, Mr. World, Mr. Universe and two-time Mr. Olympia.

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 only practises 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 questions were asked by:

Mary Roberts, 1985 International Federation of Bodybuilding Women's World Professional Champion.

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.

Terri LoCicero, Miss Eastern America, Miss Tri-State and 1985 New York Golds Classic Champion.

Nina Schoenbaum, Miss Colonial America and New York State Representative for the American Federation of Women Bodybuilders.

Jean Laguerre, Mr. New York State, Mr. Eastern America and Mr. Teenage Hercules.

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.

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 ever-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.

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 15 or 20 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.

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.

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.