The inner meaning of sport
Part I — World Harmony Run
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy made the following comments on 6 July 2005 after seeing a video of the progress of the World Harmony Run as it travelled through various countries.
World Harmony RunI had a dream, and the name of the dream was the Peace Run. This Peace Run, which we now call our Harmony Run, is a dream, an ever-blossoming dream of our Source. This dream of ours will be valued infinitely more in the near future, and more so in the distant future.
We sang the song of God's Peace. We are now running in the hearts, souls and lives of the runners. We are running in and through them. Each runner rightly deserves my most powerful gratitude. The presidents, mayors and other dignitaries from various states and countries are helping us enormously through their stupendous encouragements. They are all peace-loving children of God. We are trying to serve God in a special way, and these peace-loving souls who are encouraging us wholeheartedly deserve my ever-blossoming gratitude.
True, our physical bodies have not been and will not be able to cover the length and breadth of the world. But the spirit that we have deep within, and the spirit that we truly are, has covered the length and breadth of the world many, many times. During my highest meditation, many, many times I have clearly seen that our self-giving spirit in all its beauty and fragrance has covered the length and breadth of the world. Not only that, something more: there are countless souls who have not yet seen the light of day, but when they come into the world, they are bound to see and feel this self-giving spirit that is circling and circling the world. The beauty, the fragrance, the light and the delight of this spirit will kindle the flames of aspiration in the newcomers. Then they will also sing the same song of peace, universal peace.
Today's chaotic world cannot forever remain chaotic. World harmony, world peace —- these are not mere dictionary words. These are the realities, divine realities and supreme realities. For all of us who are aspiring to become good citizens of the world, our Harmony Run is a supremely important inspiration to us all.
Editor's noteThe closing ceremony of the 2005 World Harmony Run was held in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Manhattan, on 24 August 2005. After the invited guests had spoken, Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the Run, offered the following speech.
1.God the Creator has inspired us to serve God the Creation. The World Harmony Run is a prayerful and soulful journey to enter into the world of universal peace. We are praying to God to guide us, lead us and make us feel that we belong to one home, one heart and one life.
This world of ours has everything save and except peace. There are many ways to bring about world peace, but we feel our way is the way of prayers and meditations. Our prayers and meditations are helping us to arrive at the destined goal, and this goal is a universal oneness-heart-home.
May God bless us with His infinite Bounty so that we can fulfil His own Vision in and through our lives. What He expects from us is a oneness-heart-home. We feel that inwardly, and outwardly as well, our World Harmony Run is serving the world community so that it can become a oneness-heart-home. Not only the participants and well-wishers, but also those who are not yet born, will be able to feel the beauty and the fragrance of our prayerful, soulful, humble efforts.
At the beginning of our journey's start, millions and millions of years ago, we were one. And we feel that at the end of our journey's close, again we shall become one, one, one.
Part II — Himalayan-high athletes
Editor's noteOn 9 August 1984, during a cable television interview in Los Angeles, Sri Chinmoy made the following remarks concerning Sudhahota Carl Lewis.
Interviewer: Do you believe that if a few would pray and meditate regularly in a community, they could alter — through subtle changes —- the actual community itself?Sri Chinmoy: Definitely. If regularly we can pray and meditate in a soulful way in a society, the face and fate of that society is bound to change. Right now you, my students and I are in a spiritual consciousness. We are feeling love inside us, peace inside us, joy inside us. Who has created this atmosphere? We have created this atmosphere, this spiritual vibration. So if we have one common goal, peace, easily we can achieve it through meditation. While we are meditating, energy from Above —- which you can call peace or light or bliss —- is descending and percolating through our entire body and also spreading through the atmosphere.
We believe in vibration. If somebody sits at the foot of a tree praying and meditating for half an hour, then an ordinary man —- if he is sensitive —- all of a sudden may get such a good and sacred feeling when he passes by the tree, whereas in other places he will not get the same feeling. If somebody is sensitive, when he passes by that tree he will feel something because somebody has created peace and joy there.
Suppose we are with Carl Lewis, who is the fastest man on earth. Immediately we get a vibration of speed. If we stand in front of him, immediately we feel speed, speed. I am very old and cannot run 100 metres in 20 seconds even, whereas he does it in nine point something. But as soon as I go near him, speed enters into my mind. This is not my imagination. True, on the outer plane, you and I will not be able to run at his speed. But in the inner plane, just by being near him, we actually have created speed. Speed has entered into our system. Then, when we go home, we will try to do something faster than usual. This is what being around Carl Lewis has done.
Similarly, if we go to a spiritual person and see him praying and meditating, then even if we ourselves do not pray and meditate, still we get such a peaceful vibration. This is because a spiritual person lives this peace —- in the same way that Carl Lewis is living the fastest speed. Since a spiritual person is living a life of peace, joy and light, this is the kind of vibration that people will get from him. Then, when those people go home, automatically they will transmit this vibration of peace to the members of their families. This is how divine qualities such as peace, love, light and speed are always spreading.
Interviewer: So you are a friend of Carl Lewis and admire his quest?Sri Chinmoy: We are very, very good friends. He is not only super-excellent in his outer speed but also in his inner speed, which is inspiration and aspiration. His inner speed and his outer speed are both most extraordinary. Inner speed is inner hunger for God's Love and God's Compassion. Some people have outer speed and are wanting in inner speed. In his case, he has both outer speed and inner speed in unprecedented measure.
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy wrote the following tribute to Sudhahota Carl Lewis on 3 May 1997.
Carl Lewis: Spirituality's heart-homeThe champion of champions Carl Lewis is singularly spiritual precisely because every single day he prays to God the Creator and serves God the Creation. Soulfully he prays and self-givingly he serves.
King Carl of the athletics' world not only knows but also has humility in abundant measure. Our king is also hallowedly endowed with a clarity-mind, simplicity-life and purity-heart.
Thinking at each hush-gap positive thoughts is his birthright.
Upon his sympathy-winging heart-bird he goes to the southern sea and southern sky of the continent of Australia from his own America the Beautiful to unreservedly offer his soul-stirring, heart-elevating and life-fulfilling inspiration, concern and encouragement to fulfil the fondest dream of a little dying boy. His is a bleeding heart that he offers to save the lives of kidney and other vital organ failure-victims by imploring the world of compassion-flooded generosity to cure the unimaginably ill-fated sufferers.
Sleeplessly and breathlessly, Carl's lifeboat plies between God-reliance-shore and God-manifestation-shore in challenging the destructive injustice-volcanoes and fighting for the conclusive establishment of justice-light in the world of athletics —- Numero Uno and Supremo, Carl stands unsurpassable.
The Roman emperor Julius Caesar proudly declared: "Veni, vidi, vici" — "I came, I saw, I conquered." Our emperor Carl prayerfully, sweetly, softly and charmingly whispers, "I came to love, I came to serve, I came to become a humbly chosen instrument of God to love Him and serve Him in His own Way lovingly, self-givingly and unconditionally."
For a universally great individual to accept spirituality is almost an impossible task. But, to our greatest delight, our Carl's Himalayan high greatness has in genuine humility surrendered to his ocean-vast goodness.
Carl, spirituality's Divinity is in your heart's beauty. Carl, spirituality's Immortality is in your soul's fragrance.
Carl, I admire your lightning-champion-speed-legs, I adore your streaming God-tears-heart, I love your ever-blossoming God-smiles-soul.
Finally, I salute you, Sudhahota, my Sudhahota, my students' Sudhahota, unity's Sudhahota, unity in diversity's Sudhahota, Divinity's Sudhahota, the unparalleled sacrificer of Immortality.
Editor's noteOn 25 June 1998, Sri Chinmoy offered a prayerful concert at the University of Texas at Austin. During the concert, he requested Sudhahota Carl Lewis to be on the stage. Before singing a song in honour of Sudhahota, Sri Chinmoy said the following:
2.I am extremely happy and I am extremely proud to have here with us Carl Lewis, the champion of champions, the champion supreme in the world of athletics. He has won nine gold medals —- nine! —- in his outer life, in the field of athletics. Prayerfully, soulfully, gratefully and, at the same time, proudly, I wish to offer him nine million gold medals from my aspiration-heart and dedication-life for what he has done, not only for the improvement and betterment of athletics but also for his tearful heart for children and for all the suffering humanity.
Our world is making progress, fastest progress. Here is the proof: there was a time, when Carl was a little boy, when his idol supreme was the immortal Jesse Owens. And now in the world of athletics, by virtue of blessings from the immortal Jesse Owens, from Carl Lewis' father and from his mother, and from his well-wishers like me, he has far surpassed Jesse Owens in athletics.
In the inner world, I am not comparing him with gold medals. I am comparing him only with his own heart that he has given and is giving for the improvement of mankind. Many, many, many more summers he will see and I am sure Carl Lewis will do many, many good things to change the face and fate of humanity.
Editor's noteIn October 2005 Sarvottama Tatyana Lebedeva, her husband Mahavikram Nikolai Lebedeva and their little daughter Hiyakanta travelled from Russia to spend a few days with Sri Chinmoy. Sarvottama was the gold medallist in the long jump and bronze medallist in the triple jump at the 2004 Olympics. In 2005 she became the premier women's athlete in the world. On 11 October, after watching videos of Savottama's performances at several European track and field meets, Sri Chinmoy offered her the following advice about her jumping.
3.Sri Chinmoy: Before you start your run-up for the triple jump, you have to feel that you are going to win the event. Then right before you take off, just imagine that when you are about to land, your husband and your child are running towards you to embrace you. In this way, you will go forward instead of backward when you land.
This you have to imagine once or twice before you jump, not while you are jumping. At present, you are falling backward. I am seeing that you are losing so much distance when you land. Not the feet, but some other part of the body is touching the sand —- either your buttock or your shoulder or your hand. But if you fall forward, you will not lose distance.
If you can imagine your husband and your daughter running towards you to embrace you, you will be so happy that you will fall forward. In this way, you will be able to save so much distance, since the officials take the last break in the sand when they measure. That is the international rule, to take the last mark.
You are so great; in sports I am no match for you. But when I was young, I used to practise long jump as well as triple jump, which we call hop, skip and jump in India. True, your long jump is eight metres and mine was six metres, but the thing is I did not lose distance when I landed on the sand. As soon as my feet landed, I controlled the movement. I used to go forward on my knee deliberately. My best was 6m 10cm or 6m 15cm in practice, but actually 5m 83cm I used to do in competition. No matter how far I jumped, I used to go forward and be on my knee in the pit.
So whichever way is easier for you: either to think of your husband and child or to go forward on one knee. Otherwise, how much distance you are losing!
Now I wish to ask you, are you taking allround exercise or are you doing specific exercises for a few parts of the body? Do you take exercises with weights or do you do free exercise?
Sarvottama: I do free exercise and I use weights also.
Sri Chinmoy: What is the heaviest weight you use?
Sarvottama: 250 pounds.
(Then, while watching another video of a recent track meet, she explains that she became injured during the competition and did not want to continue jumping. She finally took one more jump because the crowd stood up and started clapping and she did not want to refuse them.)
Sri Chinmoy: Do you take specific, separate exercises for toes and calves and quadriceps?
Sarvottama: I used to do them, but for about a year I have not done them. The exercises for the foot have to be done at the end of the workout. By the time I get to them, I am too lazy and I finish without them. For the same reason, my stretching is not as good as before.
Sri Chinmoy: I am a third class athlete, but I would like to show you the stretches and also the leg exercises that I take. These are exercises that isolate the toes, ankles, heels, calves and quadriceps. The most important is the calf. Tomorrow I will take a video of all the exercises that I do and perhaps one of them will help you. If you add something to your workout, no harm. Then if you find that it is ruining your performance, you can give up that exercise. You will do everything that you have already been doing, but I would like you, if possible, to add two or three exercises. You will immediately be able to know whether they are helping you or not. Perhaps you already do some of the exercises, but I use machines. That is why I am telling you to try.
In your case, the most important thing is to fall properly. Now you are winning the competitions. But because of your landing, you are losing so much distance. Even when you are performing your best, you are losing considerable distance. For the landing, you do not need my exercises. Only think that your husband and child are running towards you.
You can also do something else. Before you jump, you can feel that you have no bodyweight. Mentally you have to think that you are like a feather, or think of yourself as an angel—whichever is easier for you. Angels, we know, are so light.
Sarvottama: We are taught to imagine that we are flying; so I do this.
Sri Chinmoy: That is absolutely the right thing —- to feel that you have no weight.
Sarvottama: My coach says that I fall backward because I put my legs way up when I jump.
Sri Chinmoy: If you do not move your legs up, you will not be able to get longer distance! It is because you are bringing your knees up that you are able to jump so far.
Sarvottama: Because my legs are going way up, I cannot resist the pull backward. My coach says that I have to find a balance so that my legs are up in front and my spine is parallel to the ground.
Sri Chinmoy: That is why I am saying to imagine your dearest ones coming towards you. Your joy will not allow you to go backward when you see them coming. You will also try to face them, to be there to embrace them. These things are in the imagination-world. Before you start, you have to collect everything in your mind: I will do this, I will do this.
There is something else you can try. If it is difficult for you to imagine that Mahavikram and Hiyakanta are coming, there is another way you can solve this problem. You have to imagine that after your jump, everything is not over. Pretend there is a new rule that in front of you there is a bar and you have to touch it. Then only the triple jump is over. In that way you will not fall backwards because you will try to complete the event. Let us say you have made the rule for yourself. For others it is all right to finish after the jump, but for you it is not complete. Your triple jump will only be over if you can touch the bar as quickly as possible. Of course, this is all in the mind. But I feel that it will help you to go forward. Then easily you will become world champion.
Sarvottama: Mentally I am ready to break the world record, but because of my injury, technically I will not be able to do it. When I was younger, it was the opposite: physically my body could have done it, but mentally I was not ready. Now I have to put everything together and do it.
Sri Chinmoy: Before you compete, you should feel that your entire body is here, in your hands. Your entire body is under your control. People will think that you are praying or meditating, but you have to feel that your whole body has become like a tiny ball in your hands.
Now you are saying that your mind is ready, but the body is not cooperating. Before, your mind was not cooperating with the body. But now your mind is ready. Mentally you know that you can do it, but the physical is not responding.
Sarvottama: I know what my mistakes are. I got some new spikes from a new sponsor and they do not fit me properly. I have to practise a lot in my new spikes. Also, I feel I was not training enough and I did not pay enough attention to proper stretching and exercising.
Sri Chinmoy: It is with your mental preparation that you will be able to do better and not lose the distance. If you do more mental preparation, then you will win. Physically, wherever you are right now, you are bound to make your performance better. Even in your present condition, with your injury, if your mental preparation is very strong, you are going to break the record. So physically your injury has to get better, but mentally you have to be prepared.
Mahavikram is a coach and I am playing his role. I was also once upon a time a coach, and I was a champion in sprinting and decathlon events. Tomorrow I will make a video and show you exercises for the feet and ankles. You should do these exercises five days a week. It is because the tendons in my toes and ankles are so strong that I can do 1,400 pounds in the seated calf raise. And when I do the standing calf raise, I can lift over 2,000 pounds. Then also you can do other exercises, like bench press, for your shoulder muscles.
Editor's noteOn 18 December 2002, in Wellington, New Zealand, Sri Chinmoy hosted a special function for Brazilian runner and 1984 Olympic gold medallist in the 800 metres, Joaquim Cruz. Joaquim was in New Zealand to conduct coaching sessions. Joaquim answered many questions from Sri Chinmoy and his students and showed videos of his major races. Excerpts from this meeting follow.
4.Joaquim: I have been telling the athletes to treat their body nicely. Your body is going to take you where you want to go. Sometimes when you cannot do things in sport, it is because your body does not know yet. So be nice to it.
The year 1983 was my first year competing in Europe in the European season. The World Championships race was really good for me because the night before I spent all night long racing! In my mind, I only raced one way: from the front. The way I visualised it, I would take the lead and race from the front from start to finish. When the English kid took the lead, somehow he broke my concentration. So going into the Olympics in 1984, I had to change my mental preparation so that I would not always be putting pressure on myself to take the lead. I thought about all this strategy.
My last workout before the Olympics, I did 600 metres in 1:14. I went 48 seconds for the first 400. That was good, but more impressive was my 400 I did two minutes after that. I was supposed to rest for four minutes, but after the 600, the more I waited, the more the lactic acid would build up in my legs. So I asked my coach, "Can I go now? I don't want to wait any longer." And I did 400 in 52. That workout gave me the indication that I was ready to go. All I had to do was to work on my mind, and rest when I was supposed to rest, and use my energy at the right time.
After the Olympics, I raced in Europe. In Cologne I tried to break the world record for 800 metres. That day I was not feeling well. Five minutes before the race, I went to my coach and asked him to get me out of the race because I was not feeling what I was supposed to be feeling. I was not nervous at all, no anxiety, nothing. That worried me. I missed the world record by 400th of a second, and I had to laugh, of course. I really don't care about the world record. I got my Olympic gold medal.
Sri Chinmoy: To me, the Olympics is infinitely more important than the World Championships. The Olympics gives us such a thrill. We do not get the same thrill when somebody breaks the world record. The very word 'Olympics' inundates us with tremendous joy and inner thrill. The way people utter the word 'Olympics', there is so much excitement in it. World records do not inspire us in the same way.
Joaquim: The world record they take from you. The Olympic gold they will never take from you.
Sri Chinmoy: I had a great desire to watch the Olympics. God has blessed me by making it possible for me to attend four Olympic Games —- Montreal, Los Angeles, Seoul and Atlanta. I thought one would be enough, but when Sudhahota [Carl Lewis] came into my life, I went to Los Angeles to offer him my prayerful support and encouragement. He meditated with me before his events. I was a little bit hesitant to go to Seoul, but Sudhahota came to New York and meditated with me. He told me I must come. So I listened to him. Then afterwards I went to Atlanta to watch his final performance. I will never forget Atlanta.
May I ask you, did you ever feel Grace, divine Grace, in your running or do you feel it was all your personal effort? Before you ran, or during your races, did you ever feel that something else was happening in and through your speed? I call it Grace, divine Grace. It is the feeling that Somebody is acting in and through you, Somebody is inspiring you to run the fastest. Or you were not aware of it?
Joaquim: I always try to perform for somebody that I love. I use my body to express myself, to communicate my best qualities, physical and mental. In 1984 I met Mary, the girl who became my wife, and I was in love. And when I went on this challenge, it was like I was a warrior, a knight, who went on these fights, and I knew everything was going to be okay, I was going to overcome the challenge.
And in Los Angeles, on odd occasions, it was like my soul would leave my body and get into somebody else's body and I would watch myself performing through somebody else's eyes. I was running, but I was watching myself through somebody else. This is very hard to explain, but when you do that, you want to look good —- right? And that was why in my race I made it look easy, effortless. Everyone said after the race, "Gosh, you make running look so easy!" But it was mainly because I was trying to show off. When you are running well, you are capable of that. Your soul leaves your own body and sits on the stand and watches your body perform. But when you are not running well, you can't do that. You request every help possible.
I have always been very spiritual. I went to church — I would not say a lot, because I used running as a way to exercise my faith, my spiritual side. Every time I went on a ten mile run, I was doing that. The other runners could not understand it. They would say to me, "How can you run ten miles on a 400-metre track? Don't you get bored?" I said, "No, when I am running there, my mind is far away. My body is doing it, but my mind goes some place else." So it was very easy for me to do, and not too many kids can do that. I was able to do it. I don't know if that answers your question.
Sri Chinmoy: You had spirituality in your background, in your heart. That is what I wanted to know, because some people do not believe in God's Grace. They believe only in their own physical prowess. They practise for their event and then they feel that the results will come because of their training.Again, others have a different opinion. They practise, and then they try to get another Friend to help them. Who is that Friend? God. In your races, you have a rabbit. He helps you and then he disappears from the track. So also we have a Friend. He is already there, inside us, but sometimes He also appears before us. While we are thinking of Him, we feel that He is right in front of us. Then when we do not think of Him, He disappears inside us. He is hiding somewhere deep inside us and we have to search for Him.
In your case, you are fully aware that there is a third Person, Somebody else. You may not be praying to Him before the race, but you are aware of His Presence. Again, there are some runners who have trained a lot before the race, but at the same time, they will pray to God, "O God, help me, help me." God alone knows what is going to happen during the race—perhaps some accident or something untoward will take place—so they pray to God for protection. Otherwise, many runners fall down right at the finish line. It is a matter of two or three metres. They could have won, but at the last moment everything changes.
So we feel that if we can pray for protection before the race, it helps immensely because we are invoking a higher Power to come to our rescue.
Then gradually, gradually, as we become more aware of God's Grace, we leave it entirely up to Him. At that time, we pray to God, "You do whatever is best. You run in and through me, and I will place the results at Your Feet." That is the highest form of prayer.
As an athlete, I was nothing according to world standard, but according to our Indian standard, I was quite good. During practice, I was able to run 100 metres in 11.2 or 11.3 seconds, but my competition time was always 11.7 seconds. We used to run in bare feet on a cinder track. Anyway, I am coming to the point. For sixteen years, I stood first in our sports competition. It was almost like a village competition. At one point, after I had won for nine or ten years in a row, I wanted to feel the sufferings of those who came in second or third or even last. It was all because of my spiritual life. I said, "Let me sympathise with those runners. For so many years uninterrupted I have stood first." I decided to lose only to have the feeling of what it was like. The other runners were my friends. Each year, when I saw how sad they were at the end of the race, I felt miserable. So I decided to lose deliberately.
This is how I did it. In those days, I had the capacity to take away fever and to give fever. So I deliberately gave myself a very high fever. Then I decided that I would not do any warm-up exercises. Usually I took between thirty and forty minutes to warm-up. I used to go around the track and also do all kinds of stretching exercises, lying down. But on that particular day, it was in 1953 or 1954, I said, "Here is the thing, I have given myself a real fever. Now I will not do any warming up. Definitely I will be at the very end of the race. It is out of the question for me to get any place."
Everything was decided and pre-planned. Alas, when the starter said, "On your marks! Set! Go!", something happened. As soon as he said, "Go!", a force worked in and through me and then I stood first.
On other days, without warming up, if I had run at that speed I would have got severe cramps. I would have fallen down on the track or something else would have happened. But, you see, the forces do not care. The Grace will never care for the outer circumstances. If, from high Above, Somebody has decided to make one individual first, then no matter how many stupid things that person does, it does not affect the result.
Again, another athlete may be killing himself, practising so much. He is sure that he is going to place first, but alas the result is completely different. So we have to surrender, surrender, surrender.
Then if you have an inner communication with the higher Forces, they may say something very ridiculous. And then, if you do not listen, you are in trouble. In 1944 I joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and that year we started our athletic competition. That year something very significant happened during the pole-vault event. According to our standard, I was by far the best. The event was at four o'clock and about three hundred spectators had gathered to watch. The starting height of the pole-vault was next to nothing. For no rhyme or reason, I had to drop the bar twice. Only one chance was left, otherwise I would have been disqualified. Everybody was so surprised. They were asking, "How could he fail at the starting height?"
There is a particular Indian Goddess who is my dearest Mother. Her name is Mother Kali. At that moment, she came to me. I saw her vividly. She said to me, "Now go home and put ink on your left heel. Make a circle. If you make a circle on your left heel, easily you will be able to succeed."
The house where I lived was only a block and a half away. My mind was telling me, "This is ridiculous! What has ink on my left heel to do with my pole-vault? Is there any connection?" That is what my mind was telling me. But another voice within me was saying, "Go! Otherwise, again you will fail. You will feel miserable."
Again, my mind had greed in it. I knew that if I failed once more it would be very painful. So I listened to my Mother Kali. I went running to my place and put ink on my left heel. Then I came back. When it was my turn, I easily crossed the bar. Then I went on, higher and higher. At least one foot higher or even more I jumped on that day.
If I had taken the path of the heart, I would have gone immediately. But my mind's doubt was so strong that I hesitated. Luckily, in the end, faith took me to my house. We have to surrender to a higher Power. I knew that this Goddess, Mother Kali, was examining me. This particular Goddess is like this.
One more incident I wish to share with you. It is about my 400 metres. Again, I always stood first. My best performance was 53.6 in competition. In practice, the timekeepers recorded 52.7 or 52.8, but my competition time was always slower. This incident happened when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. The race was supposed to start at six o'clock, early in the morning. The night before the race, I went to our Ashram doctor. I said to him, "I am feeling constipated. Would you help me?"
He said, "Yes, I will help you. It is nothing. I will give you a very mild dose of milk of magnesia." So he gave me a very mild dose. Alas, I had to go to the bathroom ten or eleven times during the night, and I became so weak. By taking milk of magnesia, I suffered so much. Here I had practised 400 metres, and undoubtedly I was going to be first, but at the last moment I had become so weak. I did not know what would happen.
The race started and I began running. I ran the first 300 metres faster than on other days because the body was so light. The second runner was at least 50 metres behind me. Then, during the last 100 metres, I could not see anything; everything was white. My body could barely move. The race was taking place on a Pondicherry street. Some elderly women were taking their morning walk. They were about seventy years old but they were walking faster than I was running!
Anyway, I finished. I crossed the line just two metres ahead of the second place runner. Then I collapsed. My soul left the body and it was going away. I know what actually happened because by that time, I had already had many experiences of the soul. As my soul was going away, my Mother Kali grabbed my soul and brought it back into my body. Then I was taken to my sisters' place. For three days and three nights I could not budge an inch. But I was seeing this Goddess in a particular corner of the room looking at me, twenty-four hours a day. Whenever I looked, that Goddess was there.
So I am coming back to the point. Grace was there for me on that day. I did an absolutely stupid thing, taking milk of magnesia. The doctor gave it to me and I suffered so much. But the Grace of my Mother Kali saved my life. Otherwise, I would have died. So even when we do stupid things, absurd things, there is a higher Force to help us and protect us. Why? Because throughout the year I did not do that kind of stupid thing. I prayed and meditated most sincerely.
In pole-vault, my style was horrible —- horrible is the right word! In those days, our pole-vault pit was the same as the long jump pit. You do long jump and in the same pit you will do pole-vault. Nowadays, the mattresses are so high for these athletes to land on. But we landed in the sand, without any mattress. Once my bamboo pole broke when I was in the air! My body was half this side of the bar, half that side. But I was not hurt.
My spiritual Master was Sri Aurobindo. As I said, I had a very, very bad style. My body used to twist in different directions. Where was my head, where were my legs? But each time I jumped, even in practice time, I used to see my Master at a particular tree, watching me. Then, when I fell down on the hard sand, nothing happened. While I was running towards the box with the pole-vault, I was not praying to him, "Please, please protect me."
At that time, my only goal was to vault over the bar. But he was there to protect me. The higher Force does exist, but this higher Force will help us only if we pray to Him for peace, light, bliss and protection throughout the year. Otherwise, if we do not keep any connection with our soul throughout the year and then we try to invoke the Supreme's protection during our competition, it does not work.
So many sprinters lose at the last moment. I will never forget one relay race. The American team was the fastest. Then they dropped the baton. If they had prayed together in silence before the race, they would have been protected; they would definitely have won. But they were so confident. They knew they were the best, so they did not think of invoking a higher Force. Then the higher Force made fun of them.
The higher Force is always there to help us. As a matter of fact, it is because of the higher Force that we are able to practise throughout the year. Those athletes who are spiritual realise that if it had been left to them alone, they could not have practised so regularly and punctually.
We have one disciple who has not missed a day of running for years and years. It is all because of his spiritual life. If he had not followed the spiritual life, the inner life, at least two or three months during the year he would have missed. But something inner, higher and deeper is inspiring him. He could easily have said, "Oh, I am so tired! Last night I went to bed so late. It will not matter if I miss one day." But no, the higher Force is inspiring him. It is telling him, "Go, go, do not miss, do not miss, do not miss."
So, my dearest Joaquim, I am very glad that all your life you have believed in a higher Force, in the spiritual life. The spiritual life does not mean that you have to go to church every day and spend hours and hours, no. It is only an inner feeling that there is something, some substance, something deep within us, that is watching us, protecting us. You may use the term 'soul' or 'spirit' or 'God'.
The more we pray to God and meditate on Him, the more capacity He gives us to pray and meditate. Here in the ordinary life, we may ask somebody to give us ten dollars. A few days later, if we ask him to give us another two dollars, he will be disgusted. He will simply say, "What? I just gave you ten dollars. I will not give you any more. You go and work."
But in the spiritual life, it is different. When we ask God for an iota of peace or love, God gives it to us. Then the following day, if we ask Him for more, He is so eager to grant our request. The more we ask for His Love, for His Blessings, for His Concern, the greater joy He gets.
So this is the difference. You may lose an earthly friend if you continually ask him for more and more, but in the case of the spiritual Friend, whom we call God, the more we ask Him to give us in terms of joy and love, the more He gives. He gets so much joy by giving us, because we are increasing our receptivity vessel. In the beginning, we asked Him for an iota of light. Then, there comes a time when we ask Him for abundant light. In return, He gives us infinite light. If we are asking for something good, God always gives us much more than we can ever imagine.
God is our only Friend. To maintain friendship with human beings is the most difficult thing. You have no idea at what time you are going to lose your earthly friends. One day you will have some slight altercation, some difference of opinion, and then it is all finished. Your friendship of years and years is gone. But God is not like that. He is the One who knows our present, past and future. His Friendship is eternal. So, by virtue of our prayers and meditations, if we can have an access to that Friend, we are saved.
Again, if you lose in the race, God's Consolation is of a different type than the consolation offered by our human friends. He immediately gives us the capacity to identify with the winner. Can you imagine? Here we have tried so hard to defeat the winner and become the champion and then, let us say, we come in second or third or even no place. But God immediately gives us the capacity to identify with the winner and enjoy the feeling of the winner. The joy that he is getting, we also get. Then we become the real winner.
Once upon a time, we thought that the most important thing was to get joy by winning, by defeating others. But if God gives us the capacity to identify ourselves with the winner, then we do not feel miserable when we do not stand first because the winner's joy we also get in exactly the same measure. This is not mental hallucination, far from it; it is absolutely real. And this experience we can get from our spiritual life.
Joaquim: That is so true. Let me add just a few thoughts on that. Even when I started running, my dragons were bigger than life. I never asked God to help me win a race because why would God help me win the race over His other sons? Why should I deserve that? Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that God has already given us something more special than winning itself, which was our body and our potential to make something out of the body. So throughout the years, what I asked God before each race was for the faith and the courage to face my challenges, and that is what has helped me to survive every time.
And that Supreme Power gave me protection, especially in 1983 and '84. The year 1984 was when I really pressed my body to such a challenge. This was not in the Olympics; this was prior to the Olympics because winning the Olympics took me more than one day! It was that whole season of training. When I went to the Olympic Games, I already knew I was going to win. I was so sure.
In the sports life, at first you want to be better than yourself. I wanted to be better than myself. And then I wanted to be better than my opponents. And once I was beating them, breaking records, I wanted to be bigger, better, than life itself. I was already starting to compare myself with God's Power! And when the hour arrives in the Olympics, when you go to compete, in relation to others you are this big. [He stands on a chair] You are bigger. The track becomes shorter and you are in total control of the situation. You have total control of your emotions. And in the Olympics, whoever has that much control of emotions will be the ones to finish first, second and third. One last thing: do you want to know what was the first and last thing that came to my mind when I crossed the finish line? What did I say? You want to guess? Yes! "My God, thank You, God."
Sri Chinmoy: So you started with Jesus Christ's message, "Let Thy Will be done." Whomever You want to choose will be the winner. Then when the result came and you stood first, you thanked God. And I am sure, if you had not won, just after completing the race, you would have said, "Thank You, God. I have completed it." So whichever way, you would have offered the results to God.
I am very proud of you, Joaquim, very proud of your attitude. It is absolutely divine. The most important thing in our life is the blessingful message that Jesus Christ offered over two thousand years ago, "Let Thy Will be done." We shall do everything we can, but if we leave the results to the Will of God, our Inner Pilot, then we are safe.
We had an Indian spiritual Master of the highest order. His name was Lord Krishna. He taught us something most significant. He said, "You have the right to work, but not to the fruits thereof." We have to work. Without working, nobody can live. Even the most idle person, someone who is not moving at all on the physical plane, is doing mental work. His mind is roaming everywhere faster than the fastest.
Lord Krishna says that the results of our work come only in two forms: success or failure. There is nothing else. Either we are successful or we are a failure. If we can offer the results to God equally, with the same happiness, then we get infinitely more joy than the winner himself because the higher Power is working in and through us. Even if we stand last, that higher Power can give us much more joy than the actual winner experiences in the outer life.
So this is our philosophy, and I am so glad that our philosophy perfectly rhymes with yours. You have given us boundless joy and for that we are extremely, extremely proud of you and grateful to you —- not because you are an Olympic champion, but because of something else: your heart. Your heart has blended with our hearts so beautifully and so perfectly. We see and feel your heart inside the very depths of our hearts. And I am sure it is vice versa.
Here did you have a good experience with your New Zealand students?
Joaquim: Yes, it was a great experience. My whole trip was a great experience, and being here with you and hearing so many nice things, it feels like I have been dreaming. I need to go back home and put my feet on the ground!
Sri Chinmoy: Then as soon as you place your feet on the ground, you will have higher dreams, deeper dreams.
Editor's noteOn 2 November 2006, Sri Chinmoy honoured Kenyan marathon runner Paul Tergat and his wife Monica. In 2003, at the age of 34, Paul had set a new world record of 2 hours 4 minutes 55 seconds in the marathon. Paul was in New York to compete in the New York City Marathon on 6 November. Both Paul's speech about his humble origins and Sri Chinmoy's illumining advice to him are reproduced here.
5.Paul Tergat: Ladies and gentlemen, this is really a big occasion for me. As I was travelling all the way from Africa, I was not expecting to see and meet with a great man of Sri Chinmoy's calibre. He has been an inspiration for thousands and millions of people around the world. I want to ask you if you can give me a few minutes, just maybe to go through my little speech, and to congratulate him, too.
Firstly, I have no words to express my elation at standing here before you to receive the "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award. Indeed, I already feel uplifted, as the award suggests, and privileged and honoured. Not every day do we find people around the world recognising your efforts back home. It is, indeed, surprising that the people honouring me today are not my countrymen, who have been closely following my events, but friends from thousands of miles away. This is why this award really lifts me up and will remain a landmark throughout my life. The fact that you noticed my historic achievements and humanitarian undertakings gives me the strength to soldier on and contribute to making the world a better place to live in.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am made aware that for over thirty years Sri Chinmoy has tirelessly dedicated his life to the pursuit of world peace and to the fulfilment of the unlimited potential of the human spirit. A prolific author, poet, artist and musician, an enthusiastic athlete and a respected spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy has inspired and encouraged millions of people the world over to discover the wellspring of peace and fulfilment that lies deep within each of us. Born in India, Sri Chinmoy is a modern spiritual renaissance man whose life is an example to us all of the unlimited potential present in the human spirit.
I am also glad to learn that the "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award has been presented to individuals of great inspiration around the world, including luminaries such as former South African President Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, American multi-Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, among other great people in this world. I am, indeed, very excited to be associated with this kind of an award. Let me assure you that this award will encourage me to emulate the activities of Sri Chinmoy, who has dedicated his life in the pursuit of world peace.
I would like to inform you that I am an Ambassador of the United Nations World Food Programme against hunger, and I recently started an organisation known as the Paul Tergat Foundation with the aim of helping the needy in various fields.
I am not in this field by mistake. I was a victim of poverty when I was young, and I truly understand its implications. I was a beneficiary of the World Food Programme while I was in primary school, and I am who I am today because of the same. As a child living in the Rift Valley Province in Kenya, I attended a school which was supported by WFP. Children who would otherwise have gone to school on empty stomachs were given free lunch meals; and I saw how school feeding could transform a child's life, providing a generation of children with a chance of education and the possibility of pursuing their dreams. Once again, I want to say thank you very much, and I hope to do more in terms of charity, not only for the children of Kenya, but to contribute to the generation of kids in this world.
Once again, Sri Chinmoy, it is my pleasure and honour that today I met you for the first time. As somebody said, you are 74 years young, and I hope that I will truly reflect your aspiration to turn this world into a better place to live in for many generations. Thank you.
Sri Chinmoy: My dearest Brother-Friend Paul, the champion of champions in the marathon world, in my song I have expressed my inmost feelings for you:
Paul Tergat, Paul! Paul Tergat, Paul!
We all love you; indeed, we all.
Paul, we see, fast is your leg-speed;
We feel, faster is your heart-speed;
We know, fastest is your self-giving speed.
Mammoth marathon runners you lead.
Paul Tergat, Paul! Paul Tergat, Paul!
Loved and admired by big and small.
Many years ago, I made two predictions. The first prediction I made facing the Berlin Wall when it was separating East Berlin and West Berlin. My first prediction came true. I have been praying and praying for the second prediction also to come true, and I pray to the Almighty God inside you, Paul, to fulfil my prediction.
The first prediction was that within twenty-five years the Berlin Wall would be demolished. There would be only one Germany, not East and West. Within twenty-five years I said, but my prediction, my wishful thinking, took only three years to be fulfilled. Within three years, President Gorbachev —- who is a very, very close friend of mine; I bask in the sunshine of his affection and love —- was fully responsible to unite the two Germanies.
But, alas, I made a most deplorable second prediction. I said, "Within five years, somebody will run the marathon in under two hours." Five years are now buried in oblivion, but my heart always remembers. The mind tries to forget about it, but the heart cannot forget. You are running the marathon in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Now I am begging you to fulfil my prediction!
Just run and run, and while you are running the last mile, imagine that a tiger is chasing you. This kind of experience you are having, so you are running for your life. Think that a tiger is behind you or something else that inspires you.
Then, after 25 miles, when you still have to cover one more mile to reach the finish, at that time try to feel that you are not running. Somebody else is running, and that is God. At that time, He can inspire you to think of some of His earthly creations. It can be a field, it can be a forest or it can be a lake — anything that gives you utmost joy so that your tiredness and fatigue will be transformed into your firmness.
When you are at 25 miles, with one mile more to go, please try to feel that you have completed the marathon. The indomitable joy that you will get from within will carry you through the last mile. Twenty-five miles you have run; then to reach 26 miles and a little more, at that time try to feel that Somebody else, God, is going to run this mile in and through you.
At the very start of the race, you have dedicated the marathon to God, to His Will, and the results you will place at the Feet of God. That you have to do, either cheerfully or sorrowfully. But then, once you have covered 25 miles, feel that the last mile God is running. Inwardly, He has been running in and through you the entire race, but at this point try to feel that God is running outwardly as well. You are just watching Him. You become like a person in the audience. You are watching and admiring Someone who is running so fast, so fast. That Person is God, not you. You are only observing Him, appreciating Him, admiring Him, adoring Him. You are saying, "How fast He is running!" You have to forget that you are running. At that moment feel that Paul Tergat is not running. Somebody else in the Name of God is running in and through you.
In that way, your four minutes will disappear and you will be able to run under two hours. I will be so grateful to you if you can fulfil my request. As you have said, "Nothing is impossible if you try." I have said many times that the word 'impossibility' is found only in the dictionary, but not in the heart, not in the fulfilment of our dreams. The word 'impossibility' came into existence from the mind, but when we enter into the heart, the story completely changes.
Forgive me, I am not boasting, but I wish to tell you that in my own life I do not believe in impossibility. I have seen 74 summers and winters. When I was on the wrong side of 50, I started weightlifting. Now I am lifting weights that I could not lift in those days. I am lifting much heavier weights than I lifted ten or fifteen years ago. In some cases, I am holding world records at the age of 74. This is unbelievable and, at the same time, undeniable.
So our philosophy is exactly like yours. We also subscribe to the belief that there is no such thing as impossibility. From within, if we bring forward our adamantine will to do something, then nothing can prevent us from achieving our goal. It is the mind that creates problems for us.
A little child does not use his mind. He just runs and runs. He never becomes tired. Then, when we grow up, after five minutes the mind makes us feel that we have worked very hard and we deserve a rest. But for the child there is no rest. He is running from one flower to another in the garden. We enjoy and appreciate the unlimited energy of the child, but it is beyond our imagination to act in the same way.
No, no! If you can feel you are that little child of six or seven years old, that unlimited energy again will be bestowed upon you. You will be inundated with unlimited energy, specially during the last mile. Please at that time surrender to God's Will and become the observer. You will observe the One who is running so fast and You will admire that Person.
You have to fulfil your prediction to run a faster time. Now, unfortunately, my prediction is not coming true, so I also want you to fulfil my wish-prediction to run under two hours. You and I study in the same school where there is no such thing as impossibility. There are quite a few things I have done over the years. I have written considerably, and also I have painted considerably. I am saying that by God's Grace we can accomplish everything. He wants us to be like Him: unlimited. We are His chosen children. The Father will be satisfied only when His child becomes as good and as great as He is, or even goes beyond his Father.
Each person on earth has to fulfil God's Dream. You have to fulfil; I have to fulfil; your wife has to fulfil; your manager has to fulfil. Everybody has to feel that God is performing His Will in and through each individual in a unique way. Your way is "Run, run, run and be the champion of champions. Break the world record and run under 2 hours." Now you are dreaming of it and tomorrow your dream will turn into reality. This is what happens.
Thousands of years ago, our forefathers dreamt of a world where there was continuous progress, progress, progress. Success we achieve in the outer life; progress we achieve in the inner life. With success, today we are happy. Then next day we see that somebody else has broken our record and we become miserable. Success does not last. But progress is not like that. Progress is such a secret and sacred thing. How much progress we have made in our own life, nobody else knows. It is between us and God. Progress is something everlasting, whereas success is a fleeting experience; it is just for today.
Thirty years ago, the great marathon champion, Bill Rodgers, said, "My records will go." He knew that his records were not going to last. His time was, I think, 2:08 or 2:09, and yours is 2:04. His record you have smashed.
Success you have already achieved. You are the champion of champions. How many times you have won long distance races! But progress is something else. If you offer your race to the Will of the Supreme and allow God to run in and through you, then that is your progress and that progress will last forever, as long as you are on earth.
This is my speech. This is my inner feeling about you. I am echoing and re-echoing your own message: "Nothing is impossible if you try." Let today's dream be transformed into tomorrow's reality.
Editor's Postscript:Four days later, Paul Tergat won the New York City Marathon in 2:09:30. It was the closest finish in the history of the race. After a dramatic final mile, Paul won by only one second.
Editor's noteOn 20 April 2005 at Aspiration-Ground in New York, Sri Chinmoy honoured British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe who holds the women's marathon world record with a time of 2:15:25. This is an extract from Paula's comments after Sri Chinmoy had lifted her overhead and presented her with the "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart" Award and Sri Chinmoy's subsequent remarks.
6.Paula Radcliffe: I would just like to thank Sri Chinmoy very much. It is a very big honour for me to be here. I don't think I have ever before been in a place which has felt so peaceful and serene, yet at the same time so powerful. It is very moving. I run because I love to run and I want to get the best from myself and to find out just what I am capable of. I think it is very similar to life. I think we should all just go at life to enjoy it and to give the best of ourselves each day that we can. That's the only thing that we ask.
Sometimes I think we find out that the inner strength is stronger than any of us believes. And each one of us, just by trying to get the most from that strength and by always believing in it, can make the world a better place, as Sri Chinmoy is doing with his peace.
Sri Chinmoy: I wish to tell you what I call my marathon 'adventures'. I have run the marathon 22 times. Each time I suffered and suffered and suffered like anything from muscle cramps. There was not even one marathon that I escaped cramps. The worst one was in Athens. There I suffered unimaginably. Anyway, I am very proud to tell you that my best timing was 3 hours and 55 minutes. That is my best performance. The rest were all four and a half hours, or five hours, or five and a half hours. Sometimes it was even over six hours.
One thing gives poor runners like me consolation. Once Bill Rodgers said that he admires runners who stay on the course for eight or nine hours; he admires our patience. Some of my students have taken nine or ten hours to complete the New York City Marathon. So he admires people who are able to stay on the ground for ten hours to complete the race.
We use the term patience. On the one hand, it is deplorable to take such a long time, but on the other hand, we feel that patience is a great virtue. If we have patience in one field of life and we are able to apply the same patience to other fields, then we are bound to be successful. Life is full of ups and downs. So when we are not successful, we must never give up. Your last Olympic performance was quite deplorable. People who love you and admire you felt your suffering, your sadness, your agonies. We all sympathised with you. Then came the London Marathon. There you were so successful, in spite of two unavoidable experiences during the race. Otherwise, your time would have been even better.
So our philosophy, like yours, is never to give up, never to give up. After such a sad experience in the Olympics, you became supremely victorious once more. For that we are very proud of you, very proud of you, Paula.
Editor's noteOn 10 October 2005 Sri Chinmoy honoured the Danish runner Jesper Kenn Olsen who was in the final stages of his solo run around the world. Sri Chinmoy then offered Jesper the following soulful message.
7.There are two aspects of God: God the visible and God the invisible. Again, we can say that the two aspects are God the farthest and God the nearest.
The outer run takes us to God the farthest. While we are going to the farthest, God shows us the beauty of nature, the beauty of Mother Earth. And when we go to God the nearest, as soon as we breathe in and breathe out, we feel God the nearest in the very depths of our heart. Both are the same. In one aspect, God is God the visible.
In another aspect, God is God the invisible. Similarly, in one aspect, God is God the farthest. In another aspect, God is God the nearest. They are the same.
When you run outwardly to cover the length and breadth of the world, you meet with God the farthest. At that time, nature's beauty helps you. Mother Earth comes with her boundless compassion, affection, love, joy and pride to bless you. You have a very beautiful soul, Jesper, a very aspiring soul. When you pray and meditate, the way we are praying and meditating, you approach God the nearest, right inside your heart. Inside our heartbeat we feel the presence of God the nearest. What can be nearer than this?
We need both God the farthest and God the nearest. With our outer run, we want to see how vast God's world is. When we see the outer world and all its beauty, we are very pleased. Then again, we also want to see God the nearest, the dearest, the fondest. He is also fond of us. That is why we see Him right here, inside our heart. Because He has tremendous Sweetness and Fondness for us, He has chosen to be right inside our heartbeat. This is God the nearest.
God the farthest and God the nearest are one and the same Person. This moment, He is farther than the farthest; next moment, He is nearer than the nearest. When we see Him in Siberia, He is farther than the farthest. This is how we take part in God's Cosmic Game.
When we feel God in the very depths of our heart, while we are breathing in, we are so pleased, so happy. We want to see the quality and capacity of our dearest One, who is inside us. Then He shows us His infinite Capacity. He encompasses the whole world, the entire universe. When we see the One whom we love, we are curious to know how great He is. Immediately He tells us, "Do you want to see My Greatness? Look!" Then He shows us His entire world and His entire universe.
This is how God's Cosmic Game goes on. He is the nearest; He is the farthest. He is the dearest, sweetest and fondest.
Part III — Reflections
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy answered the following question in San Francisco on 4 November 1976.
Question: Could you speak of competition as a human condition?Sri Chinmoy: When competition is based on separativity, it gives us a deplorable experience. If there is a sense of separativity, I see you as one individual and myself as another. If I want to compete with you, unconsciously or consciously I may adopt foul means, and vice versa. At that time we have totally forgotten our higher inseparable oneness.
So when we try to compete with others in this way, when we feel that we are one existence and someone else is another existence, at that time competition does not help us at all. Here we are singing the song of separativity, and separativity is something that can never give us abiding joy or satisfaction. The sense of separativity is nothing short of confusion, and confusion and destruction are intimate friends.
But there is another kind of competition which is self-excellence. Here one tries to transcend one's own achievements. It is done only in one's own consciousness, in one's own reality. Yet inside one's own reality, the universal Reality is there; you, he, she, everybody is there.
Suppose I was assailed by doubts for three hours yesterday with regard to the world in general. Today I will try to compete with my own reality not to have so much doubt. Today I will try to take the side of faith and I will try to develop more faith in my existence. Here I am competing with myself, with what I had and what I was yesterday. I am not adopting any foul means. I am not trying to conquer others or lord it over them. Far from it. As a human being, I am in ignorance; teeming ignorance has covered me. But I am trying to disperse these clouds of ignorance forever. If I compete with my own capacity and bring more illumination to the fore from within, then I can transform my nature, expand my capacity and fulfil God's Will more devotedly and unconditionally. This kind of competition is worth doing.
I am always competing with myself, with my lower self. I am trying to bring my higher self to the fore in order to illumine my lower self, so that eventually there will be no lower self at all; it will be all higher self, all a self of total illumination. This kind of competition, according to me, is good. I am not involving others and I am not adopting any foul means. Here I am competing with my own achievements in order to make progress. And progress —- transcending effort and continuous progress —- is what we need.
Progress is a relative term. What you call perfection, I may not call perfection. Perfection is satisfaction, and each individual's idea of satisfaction is different. A child throws a ball against the wall and breaks something. He gets joy and that is his perfection. You stand in front of a child with a piece of candy and beg him to take it, but he has no time. He runs some place else because his time is so precious. He does not collect the piece of candy from you. That is his satisfaction.
In the spiritual life, the seeker's perfection, which is satisfaction, comes from his constant, self-transcending achievement. We sing the song of self-transcendence. We know in the process of evolution how high we have climbed the reality-tree. If yesterday we climbed to one branch, today we will try our utmost to devotedly climb one branch higher. This eagerness, this intense cry to transcend oneself, is true satisfaction.
I always say that the goal is not static; the goal is an ever-transcending reality. Satisfaction is our goal, but we see that the goal itself is climbing high, higher, highest and running far, farther, farthest and diving deep, deeper, deepest.
A child's goal is to learn the alphabet. Then his goal becomes kindergarten, primary school, high school and college. And when he completes his university course, if he is sincere, he comes to realise that there is much more, infinitely more, for him to learn. Once a university student was boasting of his achievements. He said to Mother Earth, "I have completed my course. So look at me, look at what I have achieved." But Mother Earth said, "My son, you have just learnt the first letter of the alphabet. Now sit down and learn the rest."
The goal is constantly going high, higher, highest. Whatever we achieve can be today's goal, but it can never be tomorrow's goal. Tomorrow's goal is something infinitely higher, infinitely more illumining and infinitely more fulfilling. Perfection, which is satisfaction, is nothing short of constant self-transcendence. So here I wish to say that we do compete, but we compete with ourselves, with our own achievements, not with others.
Editor's noteOn 12 August 1986, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by Mr. Sylvester of USA Today ./
Question: In your heavy lifts, do you lift the weight from the ground?Sri Chinmoy: The weight is on a power rack, and from there I try to lift it. This is perhaps a new kind of lift. Previously, people did not try this kind of lift.
Question: Why did you take up weightlifting?
Sri Chinmoy: I had a severe injury in my right knee that prevented me from running, which I like very much. So I entered this altogether new field. That is the outer reason why I took up weightlifting. The inner reason is that my Inner Pilot asked me to enter into weightlifting and bodybuilding.
Question: What is the 'Inner Pilot'?
Sri Chinmoy: On the strength of my prayer-life and meditation-life, I feel the Presence of God, my Inner Pilot. He commanded me to come to America in 1964, and I came. Now He has asked me to enter into bodybuilding, and that also I am doing. I listen to the Dictates of God, whom I call my Inner Pilot.
Question: What do you pray for?
Sri Chinmoy: Each person has his own prayer, his own meditation. In my case, I pray to God for the fulfilment of His Will. This is my only prayer. I pray to be a conscious, devoted, cheerful and unconditional instrument of God.
Question: What is your goal in weightlifting? Do you want to become the world's strongest man?
Sri Chinmoy: I am not competing with the rest of the world. I am only competing with myself and trying to make progress. I started with 40 pounds last year, on the 26th of June. That was my capacity. Gradually I went up to 200 pounds. Then last week, on the 31st of July, I lifted 250 pounds with one arm. A few days later, I lifted 260 pounds and yesterday I lifted 300 pounds. So my progress is my victory.
Question: Do you like weightlifting?
Sri Chinmoy: If I did not have a knee injury, I do not think God would have asked me to enter into weightlifting, because personally I never liked it. Even now, I do not like it! But I am devoted to the inner life, and because my Inner Pilot has asked me to do it, I do it cheerfully. But if I have to make a choice between my running and my weightlifting, I will definitely choose running.
Question: What religion do you teach?
Sri Chinmoy: Mine is not a religion at all, nor is it a sect. Mine is a way of life. We try to become better citizens of the world by virtue of our prayer-life. For me, there is only one religion and that religion is love of God. I happened to take birth in a Hindu family and perhaps you were born in a Christian family. Let us say, I was born in one house and you were born in another house. But we go to school, the inner school, together. In this school, we pray and meditate, each in his own way, and then we dive deep within and find our path. So it is no religion; it is only a way of life that I follow. I try to be of inspiration and service to mankind. This is my philosophy and this philosophy I try to offer through my students all over the world.
Question: Are you sometimes surprised at the amount of weight you can lift?
Sri Chinmoy: Thank you for asking me this question! The human in me is genuinely surprised. It is amazed because my physique in no way can be compared with the physique of weightlifters and bodybuilders. But the divine in me is not surprised because I entirely depend on God's Grace. Since I practise the prayer-life and meditation-life, I feel God's Grace at every moment of my life. He is Infinite; I am finite. I am just an insignificant creature in His Creation. But the Infinite can do anything it wants to in and through the finite.
Bill Pearl came to my first weightlifting anniversary on June 26th. He has been Mr. Universe five times. A few other eminent bodybuilders also came. They were all real giants! Compared to them, I am a dwarf in terms of muscular development. But I have lifted 300 pounds with one arm and 1,500 pounds on the standing calf raise machine and they were kind enough to tell me that they could never do that.
My own mind cannot believe what the divine Grace is doing in and through me. When I go to lift 300 pounds and I see the heavy mass, the metal plates, they create fear and confusion in me. I wonder how I am going to lift the dumbbell. But in silence I pray and meditate before each lift. Then fear, doubt and anxiety do not come because I have implicit faith in God. If it is His Will, I shall succeed, and if it is not His Will, then I will not succeed. This is my life of surrender which I offer to Him at every moment.
Editor's noteOn 1 November 1986, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by Barbara Hoffman of The Record , a New Jersey publication.
Question: Why have you chosen weightlifting to transcend in?Sri Chinmoy: My Inner Pilot wanted me to do weightlifting to inspire my fellow citizens of the world, and I am abiding by His Command. Through my weightlifting I am trying to show the world how prayer and meditation can give us inner strength, and how this inner strength can lead to peace and a oneness-world-family.
If we pray and meditate, we get inner strength and inner confidence. When we have inner confidence, we do not quarrel with anybody, we do not fight with anybody, we do not declare war on any nation. If we feel secure in the depths of our heart, then we shall not challenge anybody. So inner confidence is nothing short of inner peace.
The other day I lifted up an elephant with my legs. It weighed over 3,000 pounds. In terms of physical strength, I was no match for the elephant. Since it knew perfectly well that it was infinitely stronger than me, it did not have to threaten me or frighten me. Similarly, if we can develop peace of mind and inner security, then we will not threaten anybody and there will be real peace in the world. And if we can have peace, then we can establish a oneness-family. So the main purpose of my weightlifting is to offer the little peace that I have to the world at large.
Question: Is there anything special that you meditate on or think of when you are about to attempt incredible lifts?
Sri Chinmoy: I do not think of anything. I only concentrate most soulfully and most powerfully on the lift itself.
Question: Why do you choose to live in America when you could live anywhere in the world?
Sri Chinmoy: Again, the same answer. I do not belong to myself. I belong to my Lord Supreme. I was in India. Then my Lord Supreme commanded me to come to America and to be of service to Him here. He knew that America would be the best place for me to offer His Peace, Love and Light to the world at large. I have not chosen anything. I have no choice of my own. His Choice is my only choice.
Question: Have you ever been hurt in the course of your weightlifting?
Sri Chinmoy: Never! My Beloved Supreme protects me.
Question: What vitamins do you take?
Sri Chinmoy: Vitamin B complex, vitamin C and a balanced multivitamin —- Arginine. This is what was recommended to me by Bill Pearl. He has been very kind to me, so I am listening to his advice.
Question: Is there something that you would like to say to our readers?
Sri Chinmoy: If you do not mind, I can share with you the prayer that I offered this morning. Every day, before I lift, I offer a prayer to my Lord Supreme, my Inner Pilot. This morning I offered a special prayer to Him. My latest goal was to lift up 700 pounds with one hand, and this morning I did it. So this was the prayer that I offered before my lift:
My Lord Supreme,
My Beloved Supreme,
Your infinite Compassion decides
The choice Hour for me.
Your infinite Compassion
My human greed into your divine Need.
The human in me wanted to lift up 700 pounds. That was my greed! My Beloved Supreme transforms my greed into His Need by using my achievement to inspire people. If I can lift up 700 pounds, then countless people will be inspired, because they see that I do not have the physique of a bodybuilder or weightlifter.
When people in the weightlifting world see a 55-year-old man who does not have giant muscles and who has had only 16 months' practice lifting 700 pounds, they will definitely be inspired to go beyond me. And even people who are not in the weightlifting world will be inspired to pray and meditate so that they can accomplish what they want to accomplish in other fields.
Question: You do so much! When do you have time to sleep?
Sri Chinmoy: I sleep two or three hours a night. Of course, some nights I cannot sleep because my students bring me lots of problems. Again, I take their problems as opportunities to become a better instrument of my Lord Supreme. If I can solve their problems soulfully and effectively, then I feel that I am becoming a better instrument of my Lord Supreme.
Question: You are always competing with yourself. What would you say is the greatest gift that you have given to the world? Is there one special thing that you want to leave for everyone?
Sri Chinmoy: Everything that I am doing is aimed at one goal — the establishment of a oneness-family founded upon peace. If I have peace and you have peace and everybody has peace, then only can we have a oneness-family. So everything that I am doing in the physical world, the vital world, the mental world and the spiritual world—all my art, my music, my writings, my weightlifting—is to inspire mankind to see and grow into a universal oneness-family. Those who are inspired by my soulful activities are sailing in the same boat with me towards the same destination.
Question: I understand you wish to perform ten special feats before you leave for Argentina in a few weeks. Why do you feel this need?
Sri Chinmoy: These are my students, my spiritual children. When we are with children, we talk children's language. They brag to their spiritual father that they are going to do this and I brag to them that I am going to do that. If I do not do it or cannot do it, they are not going to sue me and I will not be embarrassed. In a family, it is like that. When you are with the members of your sweet, little family, everybody brags; it is normal. This is how we exchange our sweetness and affection and maintain our family-oneness. So it is only a sweet family gathering. If I cannot do even one feat, I will not be sad in the least.
Question: Will you be at the New York Marathon tomorrow?
Sri Chinmoy: Definitely. Two hundred of my students will be running. These are my spiritual children. I identify myself implicitly with their activities the way they always identify themselves with my performances. I will be running inside them with my prayer and meditation, my joy and my pride. Every time my students run, I feel that I am running inside them. Again, they depend on my inner blessings. It is such a difficult thing to run 26 miles. I am extremely proud of them and they look to me for inspiration and guidance. So I will definitely be there right from the beginning to the end.
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy answered the following questions towards the close of 1986.
Question: I am sure that a lot of weightlifters will be inspired by articles about you to try concentration and meditation to improve their weightlifting, but if a weightlifter is not a spiritual seeker, will he actually be able to gain anything?Sri Chinmoy: Directly he will not gain, because he is not a spiritual seeker, but indirectly he will gain. If he is a spiritual seeker, he will try to lead a better life, a life of serenity, purity and so forth. If he prays and meditates and does all the things that we do, then he will get direct help no matter which part of the world he lives in. He does not have to think of me, no, no. But because my consciousness is universal and he is appealing to the universal consciousness, he will receive something.
If the weightlifter is not a seeker, however, he can be inspired by what I am doing. His inspiration will be in the ego. He will think, "If he can do this, what is wrong with me? He is 55 years old, 5'8", and he weighs only 160 pounds." Like this, mentally he will compare himself with all my weaknesses. The first weakness, of course, is my age. I am 55 years old and he is perhaps only 22 years of age. Then he will have such joy. "If an old man can do it, I can do the same!" Then he will think of his weight. "He is only 160 pounds, and I am 230 or 250 pounds." A few advantages he has and he will try to bring these advantages to the fore. Then he will try to compete with me.
So if the weightlifter is a seeker, then he will get direct help from me. If he is not a seeker, then he will get indirect help in the sense that his ego will come forward, not the destructive ego but the ego that wants him to become stronger.
But in all sincerity I have to say that many of my lifts can only be done by a seeker, by a God-lover. I do not think that with physical strength alone anybody will be able to do them. If he has to depend on sheer physical strength, no human being will be able to do them, even if he weighs 300 or 400 pounds, absolutely no. Will-power, inner power, oneness-power with God's Will, all kinds of spiritual power he has to use in order to do it. Physical strength alone is not enough.
I received help because I am a seeker. I got help from the universal Force, from Above, from my Mother Kali and all. And so much goodwill I have received from good souls here, from my disciples, from the departed ones, from my parents, from my dear ones. I have received so much from the other worlds. Goodwill is strength, power, and that strength I have received from so many disciples and champions like Mahasamrat Bill Pearl and Jim Smith and others. Definitely they have given me solid strength. Any positive will is helpful. I have received help from human beings and from souls who are not in the physical I have received considerable help. Each goodwill is solid strength.
Question: You used your will-power to make your wrist stronger. Could you also use it on your knee so that you can run again? Is there any reason why you cannot do that?Sri Chinmoy: When I use my will-power and my will is supported by the universal Force, by God's Will, then I am able to lift up very heavy weights. But the condition of my knee is something entirely different. This morning I tried to walk one mile and I suffered so much because of my knee. The thing is that if I want to cure my knee, I will be able to do it. But there are some forces that are preventing me, not my forces. There are quite a few defects I have in my body, specially in my knee, because I have not yet solved certain problems. In this knee I have taken the karmas of quite a few people. If I use will-power, I can throw these forces out, but I do not want to do that. So many times, before they are manifested on the physical plane, I take the ailments of my disciples. Some disciples would have gone to God long ago, and some are getting serious diseases like cancer. For them, it is a matter of life and death. My knee is the storehouse of all these accumulated weaknesses. In one sense, I will be the happiest person if I can have a better knee, but I cannot do that because I am not allowed. I am bound by my own law.
When it comes to my wrist, I am not affected in the same way. Here I have made no law, so I can do it. It is very complicated. Many things I cannot do because I have said I will not do these particular things under such circumstances. Then afterwards, I am the sufferer. In the inner plane, by becoming one with my near and dear ones, I am happy because they do not have to suffer. But on the outer plane, how much I suffer, how much I suffer!
Question: If we want to pray for your weightlifting, if we want to offer our encouragement, what should we pray for?Sri Chinmoy: Do not pray, do not pray! Why torture yourself ? I only want you to have goodwill for my weightlifting, that is all. Your prayer means your goodwill. Unfortunately, some people have become jealous of my achievements in the weightlifting world. Does jealousy have any sense? It is absurdity on the face of it! Luckily, their jealousy could not prevent me from lifting.
I have some critics also. They have said that I am not lifting 300 and 400 pounds as high as I lifted the 100-pound dumbbell. Fortunately, Jim Smith has defended me. He says that when it is a matter of the heaviest weights, we just have to pass a piece of paper underneath to show that I have lifted it.
Question: Because of what you are doing with these weights, is there a permanent change in the evolution of the inconscience world?Sri Chinmoy: I will not be able to say. In my case, evolution is taking place, but again this evolution can be compared to an aeroplane. The aeroplane is getting better, but the pilot has to become better also. In my case, I am seeing that I have brought a little light into inconscience, but I will not be able to say, like the science and scientists, that it is now for all. This is the difficulty. Evolution of consciousness is not like the scientists' achievements. When they do something, immediately the whole world gets the benefit. If you have a little money, you can buy all kinds of modern electronics, but here it is not like that. Some people who are aspiring can get this light, but it is very limited. I cannot say that it is in the universe now. Yes, in theory it has taken place, but when it is a practical matter, I will have to look around and see where there is a little aspiration; there my light will work. There are many places with this kind of inconscience or resistance where I will be able to offer my light. But I will not be able to say that in every nook and corner of the world I will be successful, no.
Question: Did you have any inner experiences with the Cosmic Gods and Goddesses when you lifted 1,300 pounds and 1,500 pounds with one arm?Sri Chinmoy: From 1,300 pounds on, Mother Kali, my dearest Goddess, is the only one. Today, before my assistants dismantled the dumbbell, I took Mother Kali's picture and I placed it on each metal plate. On each plate I put her blessings before we brought it down.
Each time I lift up a heavy weight, I see her standing with one foot on each side of the weight. She makes me feel that the weight is so light. Then I see occultly that it has gone up. This confidence she gives that it has already gone up. And sometimes she will say, "My child, it is already done." Then I will see a garland on her, around her. But while I am lifting, I see the garland is not there; it is on my neck. So these are my cock-and-bull stories. She is all the time with me when I am lifting.
Then there are others who come. When it was a matter of 1,300 pounds and 1,500 pounds, I saw the souls of Nivedita and my sister Lily. My sister is still on the physical plane and Nivedita is in the other world. My sister was absolutely dead against this lift. She was afraid I would have serious injuries. Even when I was successfully holding the weight, my sister was dead against it. Meanwhile, Nivedita's soul was saying, "No, my Lord can do it, my Lord can do it." Finally, when I did it, my sister was very happy.
The previous lift —- 1,300 pounds —- the soul of this Canadian lady, Nivedita, was all the time moving around telling me that I can do it. I go to this side to take preliminary exercises and I hear her telling me that I can do it. She has a most beautiful soul. Like a fairy, it was moving around me all the time saying, "My Lord, you can do it." I was uncertain, but she was going on, going on.
Since her passing, Nivedita's soul has come to me three times. These lifting experiences are most significant. On the one hand, my sister's soul was telling me not to lift because she was so worried, and there, side-by-side, Nivedita's soul was telling me that I can do it. So you can see how many things are happening in the inner world! Two persons have different opinions and Mother Kali is saying lift—how can one person handle everything? Only if you have inner poise. Otherwise, you will just drop the weight. You will say that he is bothering me, she is bothering me. But I am not bothered.
I have many, many juicy stories before the lift, during the lift and after the lift. Many, many stories. In a matter of a fleeting second, not even a second, I am seeing how many things are happening. It is not that my mind is roaming here and there, no. I am concentrating, but I am seeing that here and there it is all going on. In the sky we see that birds are flying, but we do not see any trace of the birds. The sky is not affected. It is like that; I am unaffected.
When the mind is calm and quiet and vacant, nothing will affect it. But if the mind is not calm, quiet and vacant, then at every moment it is affected. It does not have to be bad thoughts; even good thoughts can affect the mind. Sometimes, when people are upset, even good thoughts affect them. Let us say that you are upset. If someone says to you even a nice word, you hate him because you are in a very low consciousness. Afterwards, you realise, "He was so kind to me, he was greeting me in such a nice way." But at the time, you were already upset, so his good thoughts, his smile, his love, will not do anything for you.
If you are in a very high consciousness, on the other hand, at that time even if people are not polite to you, if they are unkind to you, you will not be affected.
Again, sometimes it can happen that when you have come down from your highest meditation, you have tremendous intensity. At that time, if somebody misbehaves or says something unkind to you, you become more furious. This is nothing but an attack of the hostile forces to ruin your highest height. You have to know that many times it has happened during your life, you have reached a very high consciousness during your meditation, and the next moment you see somebody whom you do not like. That person does not have to say a word to you, nothing. Just because he or she is your enemy, you direct all your intense dislike at that person. Then your high consciousness disappears. All the intensity that you had accumulated from the meditation for half an hour or an hour is ruined. So the hostile force brought that person right in front of you. One hour it took you to go to the highest Himalayas, then that person appeared before you and everything was finished!
If you had a little more wisdom, then immediately for that particular second you would have offered your love and goodwill to your so-called enemy. That is the only way to save yourself and preserve all your highest meditation that you had, your good thoughts, your elevated consciousness and so on. If you had wisdom at that time, then for that fleeting second if you had offered your goodwill to that person whom you may not like at all, then you would not have been affected. It is your own stupidity that caused you to descend. Then you lost all the inner wealth that you had accumulated. Your treasure, you lost it.
So often it happens that people lose their highest meditation. Even if the other party is a friend it can happen. You are still in your highest, let us say, and you are going out of the building. If somebody says even hello to you, or anything unimportant, you do not have the oneness-power to remain unaffected. You maintain your pride that you have gone so high, then you become mad at the person and you become the loser. You think that person has lowered your consciousness, so you are mad. I assure you, if you come down to that person's hello-consciousness, you are not going to lose anything, but when you are angry, upset, that he or she has lowered your consciousness, that means you have definitely lowered your own consciousness. This is all one hundred per cent true. Have you people experienced this or not? Or is it all my imagination? Is there anybody who thinks that I am wrong?
Student: First we have to have a high meditation, then we can experience falling!Sri Chinmoy: You have to go higher! When we have an obstacle —- on the physical, vital, mental, psychic or spiritual plane—we can either approach the obstacle as an enemy, which everybody does, an obstacle race, a hindrance, or we can say: "Here is an opportunity to strengthen my capacity. This is an obstacle; I will overcome it."
Not to take this obstacle as an enemy, but to take it as something that is unconsciously helping us to increase our capacity. If we ignore it, if we avoid it, then automatically we will increase our strength to surpass it. If we take each obstacle as an enemy, then when we use our aggression and anger, immediately we increase the power of that obstacle. But if we do not take the obstacle as an opponent, we can try to surpass that obstacle either by ignoring it or avoiding it or expanding it. In so many ways, we can go beyond that obstacle. But if we take it as an enemy, then our problem starts right from the beginning. You cross this person or that incident in your life and there is no end. Today this one is an enemy, tomorrow that one, the day after tomorrow somebody else.
It is not the person as such who is your enemy, it is the forces in them, in those people, in you, in me. Always we have to take the forces into account, not the person. Those people are as helpless as we are. Even as we are helpless, those people are also helpless. That we have to know. They are at the mercy of wrong forces as we are at the mercy of wrong forces. We are at the mercy at a certain time; they are at the mercy at a certain time. Always wrong forces are there to attack us.
There is another thing that weakens us and that is mental expectation. In our mind, we create thoughts and from those thoughts we expect something to happen. Since we created those thoughts, we think that, like children, they have to obey us. But they do not obey us; they do not listen to us. They are like unruly boys.
You have created the thoughts, true, but do not expect from them. If good thoughts do you a favour, wonderful. But just because you created them, you cannot expect anything of them. You created a plant, let us say, but then the plant dies. It does not live. So here is the thing: always do not expect, even from your own good thoughts. Your business is to create good thoughts, but those good thoughts may not come to help you at the moment you want to be helped by them. They may come at some other time to help you. Or they will help you in their own way, in their own time. But you are expecting them, here, now, at this moment and they are nowhere to be found. Then you lose your will-power, your capacities, because you are annoyed at them.
Whenever you show aggression or anger, immediately your inner strength goes away. Never think that anger is strength. Anger is absolutely weakness. As soon as you become angry, immediately your psychic strength from your heart goes away. So when the anger-attack comes, you have to say, "I will have nothing to do with you." Try to maintain your inner poise. I have a few good qualities. My soul's poise is still by far the best. It is my highest quality.
Editor's noteOn 15 June 1988 Sri Chinmoy made the following remarks about his lift of 150 pounds (his own bodyweight) in each arm simultaneously.
7.Throughout the lift, and specially at the end, I was invoking the Blessing-Light, Compassion-Light, of my Beloved Supreme. That is what we all must do when we want to achieve something momentous, something fruitful in our lives. Sleeplessly and breathlessly, inwardly and outwardly, we must invoke the Compassion-Light of our Lord Beloved Supreme if we want to achieve something divinely great and supremely good in order to manifest Him here on earth.
In the inner world miracles do take place. At every moment, there are countless miracles, but they are not called miracles in the inner world. They are mere incidents. But in the outer world, when something unusual takes place, we call it a miracle. Again, it is nothing but the inner light that comes to the fore to increase our faith in our own spiritual life, in our oneness-life with our Inner Pilot. God Himself manifests something that will help us to increase our faith in Him.
We all must increase our faith in our Inner Pilot every day, every hour, every minute, every second, if we want to make the fastest progress in our spiritual life. And our spiritual life encompasses the outer life. We have accepted the world in order to illumine it and transform it and make it a reliable, dependable, suitable and, finally, choice instrument of our Lord Supreme.
The outer capacities must blossom from the inner qualities and capacities. These inner capacities come from God's unconditional Compassion and the outer capacities represent His unconditional Satisfaction.
The inner life of aspiration and the outer life of dedication must go together, together, together. When the highest Will wants to manifest Itself in and through the physical body, the physical body must develop receptivity so that in the outer life, soulfully and devotedly, we can bring to the fore what we have within. Here I am not extolling myself to the skies. Here I am only offering my gratitude-heart sleeplessly and breathlessly to my Lord Beloved Supreme, for He chose me to be an instrument of His to manifest His divine Light in and through the physical plane.
Try to be one with the Will of our Lord Supreme and try to manifest His divine Will, supreme Will, in and through each action of your daily life.
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy answered the following questions about his weightlifting on 13 June 1988.
Question: When do you know that you have achieved all that you wished to achieve in a certain lift?Sri Chinmoy: I am now lifting 155 pounds with both arms simultaneously. But I do not want to see the future. If I want to know the future, I can know easily. But I always allow inspiration to carry me as long as God wants it to carry me. By opening up my third eye, I can know God's Will. Then if God wants to change His Will, I immediately obey Him. As long as God wants me to do something, I will continue doing it.
It is always good to be a discoverer instead of an inventor. Then we get more joy. God has kept everything inside us, only we have to discover that hidden truth, hidden light. If we start inventing, then we become the doer, whereas, if we are the discoverer, Somebody else has done it and that Person is God.
Question: Of all your lifts, which was the hardest?
Sri Chinmoy: The one that I cannot lift. Seven thousand pounds I lifted; only your third eye is needed to see the invisible! Three hundred pounds I failed so many times; God wanted the world to value patience. That is why 300 took such a long time. Then a few years ago, it took me many tries to lift 213 pounds.
The hardest thing is to lift up the human consciousness. It is like trying to straighten a dog's tail! The last time you straighten it, you have the feeling that it is going to remain straight. But again it curves to become even more curled. In the same way, we feel the consciousness of human beings is not going to drop again.
Before you lift up metal plates, you remember that they are going to fall down. But it is infinitely worse with human consciousness. Before you lift it, you know it is going to fall down. What is the use of lifting it? You know that like glass it will break. That is why you get such bitter experiences when you try to raise the consciousness of human beings.
Editor's noteOn 26 June 1988, during the afternoon prior to his weightlifting demonstration in honour of his 3rd weightlifting anniversary, Sri Chinmoy remarked:
8.Something very special I am trying to do for the Mother Earth to show that the inner life and the outer life can be fully harmonised. They can go side by side. They are like two complementary souls.
(About the tremendous thunder and lightning storm underway)
You can call it nature's excitement. Nature is participating or threatening. I take it as nature's encouragement. It is an inner outburst of nature. Nature is already excited.
Editor's noteOn 30 October 1988 Sri Chinmoy lifted up religious leaders at Aspiration-Ground. Just before lifting his dear friend Father Tom Hartman, Sri Chinmoy offered the following remarks.
9.Father, with you I am going to complete 640 individuals who have inspired and uplifted the consciousness of mankind, and I am so happy, so grateful to you for giving me an opportunity to be of dedicated service to you.
My immediate goal is to lift 700 individuals who have inspired mankind in all kinds of ways, in all walks of life. But my ultimate goal is to love God the Creator and serve God the Creation, sleeplessly and unconditionally, until I breathe my last. This is my ultimate goal.
(After the programme, Sri Chinmoy reflected:)
Tonight I will be lifting up 26 doctors and nurses. Body, vital, mind, heart and soul —- everything —- should go together. We are now in the spiritual world. And in three hours' time I will deal with the medical world.
The spiritual world and the medical world go together so we can become better instruments of our Lord Supreme in body and spirit. The medical world helps us conquer death in its own way, and then through our prayers and meditations we try to conquer death in our own way.
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy answered the following questions about his weightlifting on 11 February 1989 in Washington, D.C.
Question: I am a little curious why you do not choose some more standardised feats to demonstrate your philosophy. Would it not be easier then for a larger body of athletes to judge your performances?Sri Chinmoy: I have not come into the world to compete with anybody else, only to compete with myself. I am trying to transcend myself and I ask my students to do the same. I am not going to compete with a third person. But I know my capacity or incapacity. If I know what my capacity is, tomorrow I will try to transcend it. In our philosophy, transcendence is perfection. Transcendence is not something stagnant, like a pool. No, transcendence is like a river; it is always flowing. So I always compete with myself. If I can lift 40 pounds, then I will try to lift 50 pounds, then 60 pounds. If I can write one soulful poem, then I will try to write two poems.
I get joy from competing with myself. And I think that by competing with myself, I am making myself a better person. Others do the same perhaps. Again, who am I to talk about others? If they want to compete with the rest of the world, that is fine. In my case, I derive satisfaction from my self-transcendence. I know what I have and what I am. I feel that what I have and what I am is nothing, nothing, in comparison to the goal that I have set for myself. So if I want to reach my goal, then I have to transcend and transcend.
And then the goal itself is also transcending. There was a time when my goal was to learn the alphabet. Then it became something higher. In life also, no matter which subject we study, either an inner subject or an outer subject, there is no end to our wisdom.
Question: I see, but if there are no standards of what is typical, how do we know what is beyond typical?Sri Chinmoy: I am not an authority on others; I only want to be an authority on my own improvement. God will take care of others the way God is taking care of me. I want to be a student all my life. I want to learn everything from my Inner Pilot and the same suggestion I am offering to my students all over the world.
Editor's noteBefore the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team Ultraraces in September 1992, Sri Chinmoy offered the following remarks:
10.These long distance races remind me of our Eternity's race. Along Eternity's Shore we are running, running, running. We are running and running with our birthless and deathless hopes. We are running and running with the ever-transcending Beyond.
Editor's noteDuring October and November 1998, Sri Chinmoy lifted several aeroplanes using a modified standing calf raise machine with attached ground platform. In various interviews after the lifts, he expressed the symbolic meaning of lifting aeroplanes.
11.It is the wish of every human being to fly in the sky. If we fly in the sky, we believe that we will become as vast as the sky itself. Then we will enjoy freedom, the real freedom, divine freedom. The whole purpose of these lifts is to have inner freedom. With inner freedom we get peace of mind.
This is a tangible way for me to be associated with the flight of the aeroplanes. In an outer sense, lifting up aeroplanes is great fun. In an inner sense, there is a great symbolic meaning. An aeroplane reminds us of how we want our consciousness to fly from country to country throughout the length and breadth of the world, in the skies of Infinity. Aeroplanes bring countries closer than the closest and, at the same time, they give us the message of the unknowable Infinity. Therefore, I am so happy to be prayerfully associated with the flight of the aeroplane.
Editor's noteOn 28 November 1998 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by CBS radio about his weightlifting demonstration at York College the previous evening. Sri Chinmoy's feats included lifting the equivalent of his own bodyweight overhead in each arm simultaneously, doing a standing calf raise with 1,500 pounds and a seated calf raise with 740 pounds.
CBS: What was the purpose of last night's event?Sri Chinmoy: It was an act of my offering, self-offering, which I call inspiration. We are all citizens of the world. If I can inspire others, and if they can inspire the rest of the world, then we can have a better world. It is by virtue of inspiration that we can do good things for mankind. We are all longing for peace, peace, peace. And I feel it is our inner strength that will be able to give us peace. Inner strength is nothing other than oneness, universal oneness.
CBS: What kind of diet plan are you on in order to be able to lift all this weight?Sri Chinmoy: My diet is absurd, to tell you the truth! I was 180 pounds a few months ago and I wanted to lose weight, so I started taking only 200 calories per day, believe it or not. For two months I took 200 calories, sometimes 250 calories maximum. In that way, I came down from 180 pounds to 144. Yesterday my bodyweight was 143 pounds.
But I do not advise anybody to follow my diet. It applies to me but medical science will say that it is absurd, ridiculous. I have about fifteen students who are also medical doctors. They are shocked that I could live on 200 calories. Even yesterday, before I left in the evening to lift up such heavy weights, I took only 200 calories. So my way is absurdity.
CBS: Are you a vegetarian?
Sri Chinmoy: I am a strict vegetarian. We have an Indian restaurant in this neighbourhood. It is called Annam Brahma. My students there cook for me. I have been a strict vegetarian for over fifty years. I feel that if we eat vegetables, we will absorb the consciousness of Mother Earth. Mother Earth is so kind and compassionate to us, and she has infinite strength. But if we eat meat and fish, we absorb the aggressive and restless consciousness of the animal kingdom. We believe that this restlessness weakens us. So my students all over the world do not eat meat and fish. We are trying to get rid of this restlessness which we find in the animal world.
CBS: It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much for your time.
Editor's noteOn 29 November 1998 Sri Chinmoy reflected on his weightlifting demonstration at York College the previous evening.
12.I am so grateful that we were able to have so many eminent bodybuilders with us. Mahasamrat Bill Pearl, Frank Zane, Dan Lurie, Wayne DeMilia and Mike Katz have all contributed so much to the world at large in their own fields. We received from them so much inspiration. Their kind words I take most sincerely as real blessings.
I was a total stranger to this bodybuilding world until the last few years. This was a world I could not appreciate. But now God, my Lord Beloved Supreme, says that I must appreciate each and every thing in life and bring to the fore its inner beauty, inner fragrance, inner divinity and inner reality. So my Lord Supreme is giving me a new lesson with this weightlifting world. This was a lesson I disliked immensely and intensely, but now this weightlifting lesson is inspiring me far beyond my imagination. And now this lesson is also becoming a source of inspiration to countless human beings who believe in a oneness-world-heart.
Some people are of the opinion that I am doing this weightlifting on the strength of my mind-power. They are totally mistaken. I do not use any power. But if there is something called an inherent divinity which every human being is endowed with, then it is the oneness-heart-power. It is the oneness-heart-power in me that enables me to do these things. And perhaps there will be many more things that will be accomplished by the Supreme in me on the strength of this oneness-heart-power. Needless to say, this oneness-heart-power is God's unconditional, unconditional, unconditional Compassion that is working in and through me for the improvement, betterment and enlightenment of humanity.
Editor's noteOn 28 April 2004 Sri Chinmoy spoke about his weightlifting.
13.I wanted to serve God spiritually. God said, "No, I want you to serve Me physically as well." I never, never imagined that I would enter into the weightlifting world. Weightlifting I most sincerely hated. I thought that only brainless people do weightlifting! That was my firm conviction. So God said, "All right, then you be one of those brainless people!"
Now I have come to learn that inside weightlifting there is heart involved. That is why so many world figures, university professors and so forth, come to be lifted, because they see that what we are doing is all heart, all heart.
This weightlifting has connected the spiritual and the physical. That is why we have been so successful. Over 7,000 people I have now lifted. Our programme is called "Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart." Two simple words are most important: 'lift' and 'oneness'. We all want to be lifted. How? On the strength of oneness.
So here the physical and the spiritual can go together, of course if we get unconditional Grace from the highest Absolute Supreme. Otherwise, some individuals are only for the physical; spirituality is not involved in their life. And again, others care only for the spiritual aspect. Either they are afraid of uniting the physical and the spiritual, or it is beneath their dignity to enter into the physical. There are very few spiritual figures who try to combine the spiritual and the physical. I happen to be one of those.
Spirit and matter must go together. Without matter, divinity cannot be manifested. The physical is the foundation. Similarly, without spirituality, matter is useless. Matter and spirit need each other. Matter, let us say, is the temple and the spirit is the shrine. Again, inside matter, spirit is always inherent. Otherwise, spirit could not have manifested if it was not already there.
Our philosophy is that we do not have to become a world champion, but physical fitness is of paramount importance, along with our prayers and meditations. If we are wise, then let us pay most sincere attention to the physical, the way we pay attention to the spiritual. Otherwise, physical ailments will not allow us to pray and meditate. The physical and the spiritual must go side by side.
True, I am saying they must go side by side, but I will never tell you to give fifty per cent of your attention to the spiritual and fifty per cent to the physical —- never, never! Eighty per cent you can take as spiritual and twenty per cent as physical. But if you give one hundred per cent to the spiritual, then your physical existence will be totally useless, and if you give one hundred per cent to the physical, then you will be bankrupt spiritually.
I have some students who give much more importance to the physical and neglect the spiritual. I feel sorry. They are making an Himalayan blunder. Luckily there are very few of that type. And again, there are others who pay no attention either to the physical or to the spiritual. They are wallowing in the pleasures of lethargy. Luckily I am not one of those. So I beg them to at least pay attention to one of the two, either the physical or the spiritual.
There should be a balance, balance, balance.
Editor's noteOn 22 January 2005, during an afternoon function in Xi'an, China, Sri Chinmoy reminisced about his days as a champion athlete in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
14.My brother Mantu was so fond of my athletics. At the competition time, he used to get all the anxieties and worries on my behalf. And whenever I won the race, his chest used to become so much larger! When I was participating, he was so one-pointed for me to become first in everything. Then the funniest thing happened. We had quite a few harmoniums. One year somebody happened to score more than I did in the decathlon event. So Mantu gave my harmonium to him. Mantu said he deserved it because he was a good singer and he did not have a harmonium. So he gave away my harmonium. The same brother, can you imagine!
Over the years, my disciples have given me many pairs of running shoes. Ongkar has given many, Unnatishil has given many. But it was too late. They should have given me shoes while I was in India. At that time I needed shoes desperately. When I was a champion runner, I had to run barefoot, barefoot, barefoot. Poor me, I did not have shoes. Here is the proof that my hour and God's Hour do not have to be the same.
But when I became the decathlon champion for the second time, I got a gold medallion plus a pair of shoes. Alas, the shoes were too big for me. They did not fit. Bad luck!
For 16 years uninterrupted, I stood first in sprinting. Long jump I won many, many times. Shot put also I won for 14 or 15 years and 400 metres for about 14 years. In javelin I was quite good.
Of all the items, my worst was 1500 metres. I used to practise once a year from the day of the competition until the day of the next competition. Why? Because we had a wonderful theory that if you practise long distance running, your 100-metre sprint will suffer; you will not be able to run on your toes. It was such a stupid idea! Up to 400 metres I practised, but 1500 metres only once per year. In other distances —- 3,000m, 5,000m — I was worse than the worst.
The Mother could not believe how bad I was at those distances. She said, "How is it that in 100 metres he is the fastest, but in long distance he is so bad?"
Her attendant said, "Mother, these are two different things. Usually, sprinters cannot do middle distance or long distance." It is so true!
There were some other sprinters in my boat. When we completed one round in those long races, some other runners had completed three rounds! After one round, we used to get thunderous applause. We thought that the audience was clapping for us because we were running so badly. Who knows whether they were clapping for us or for those who were defeating us by so much? But we sincerely felt they were clapping for us.
In the decathlon, my worst event was the 1500 metres. But in all the other events I did very well.
Editor's noteOn 16 March 2005, while reading out running and walking stories from his book Run and Become, part 21, Sri Chinmoy read out the following paragraph several times:
This should be my mantra, your mantra: "The one that is supposed to be your best friend, your physical body, will become your worst enemy. Then you will have to live with your worst enemy." Remember, you will have to live with your worst enemy. Who wants to live with your worst enemy?
Physical fitness is of paramount importance. Do whatever exercise you want to, as long as you do something. I take daily at least two hours' exercise, sometimes two and a half, sometimes three. Usually, I do it at three different times during the day. Even at night, before I go to bed, I have some special exercises that I take.
Only my two poor knees are not my friends. Otherwise, the rest of my body is my very good friend.
Editor's noteSri Chinmoy spoke to his students about the importance of physical fitness on 24 April 2005 at Aspiration-Ground in New York.
16.Most of you, if not all, are ignoring the physical aspect of life. Once upon a time, many of you used to run, do sports, physical exercise, stretching exercises and so forth, and now you are no longer doing it. I wish to tell you that you are not doing the right thing, not doing the right thing! At least do some stretching exercises. Otherwise age will descend upon you sooner than the soonest! I am seeing some people who were once upon a time really smart, active and dynamic. Now they are behaving like octogenarians! My brother Mantu also belonged to that class. He was young in terms of age, but in his movements and everything he acted like a perfect old man. So in my family I also had that experience.
So, dear ones, you do not have to be the champion supreme. Only keep your body physically fit. Again and again I am saying, physical fitness is of paramount importance. Health is God's Wealth. All our scriptures say that when health fails, everything fails. Once the body's activities fail, you will have no inspiration, no aspiration, no dedication, no enthusiasm, no dynamism —- nothing. So always keep the physical in good order, perfect order, not for the sake of competition, but for the sake of the completeness of your physical existence. Otherwise, the hospital will invite you much sooner than otherwise.
I am also trying to be very strict with myself. Five or six days a week, I spend thirty-five minutes taking stretching exercises and then I do my weightlifting. The physical aspect is very difficult, very difficult. The spiritual aspect —- prayers and meditation —- I do it, I do it. After God-realisation, some people enjoy pension or vacation or retirement. In my case, I do meditate for hours and I am also involved in the inner world and in many other worlds. So you can be involved in two worlds: the inner world and the outer world, which is your physical body.
Some people think that as long as they are thin, they are physically fit. I do not agree with them. You can be thinner than the thinnest, but you can be attacked by many undivine forces. Thinness does not mean physical fitness, no. Many people can be thin, but they can have lots of health problems. But again, I am not the one to say that fatness is not a problem! Fatness is the worst possible problem!
So once more I am begging you, please pay utmost attention to the physical aspect of life.
Editor's noteOn 11 June 2005 Sri Chinmoy reflected on some aspects of his athletic career at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
17.The second time I became decathlon champion, I was blessed with long jump shoes. Somebody had given these shoes to the Ashram to present to the decathlon champion. Unfortunately, I could not use them; it was too difficult for me. I preferred to compete in bare feet; ours was a cinder track.
Both the first and the second time I became decathlon champion, I was also given a gold medal embossed with a tortoise. The significance of the tortoise is immortality.
One year a sprinter from Tagore's Santiniketan competed in the 100-metre event. We finished with the same time —- 11.7 seconds —- but the position of his body was better than mine when we crossed the line, so he stood first. Our timing was the same, but the upper portion of his body was more bent than mine, so they awarded him first place. My leg was ahead but there are all kinds of rules and regulations about the finish.
I defeated him afterwards in the 200 metres. At that time he finished two metres behind me. Between the events, at least three or four hours' rest we got. After the 100-metre race, at one point he came up to me. I congratulated him very sincerely. Then he said to me, "Did you ever study geometry?"
I said, "A little."
"No, you have not studied geometry," he replied.
I was most surprised. "What? I have not studied geometry?" Then he explained, "When you run, you are not running straight. Your toes are going slightly outwards. If your toes were straight and your feet were straight, you could easily have defeated me. It is all because you have not studied geometry! But you can correct it."
He was such a nice fellow! What he said is so true. Many people have told me the same thing. My feet do not go straight. They go a little towards the outside. That is why I lost to him, he said. Alas, it was too late for me to correct it. But in the 200-metre race, in spite of my toe difficulties, I defeated him.
The first time I ran 400 metres, I did it in one minute flat. Then I made improvement and my time was 55.2 seconds. Then I went to 54 seconds and I stayed there for years. My best timing was 53.6 seconds.
Unfortunately, when the races were longer then 400 metres, my performance went down. In 800 metres, I was 50 or 60 metres behind the winner. One event I used to practise only once a year and that was 1500 metres. In those days, we Indians had such stupid theories. We thought that if you did not run on your toes, if you ran on your heels, then your sprinting would suffer. Such wonderful theories! Now I laugh and laugh when I think how ignorant I was. I was good in everything except 1500 metres.
Before the 1500-metre race, we did hurdles. Nowadays, all great hurdlers take three strides between the hurdles. Poor me, my strides were so short that I used to take five strides instead of three. But I was the fastest sprinter so somehow, because of my speed, I used to get very good points. But my style was horrible! However, in the rest of the decathlon events I was very good —- long jump, shot put, discus and so forth.
Then in 1959 I had the strongest desire to become last and so I gave myself a very high fever. I wanted to experience the sufferings of those who do not do well in the races. It was all pre-planned. But it did not work. God wanted me to become first. That experience I have spoken about. [See IMS:395]
Our philosophy is to surrender to God's Will. If God wants you to be first, well and good. If He wants you to be last, then well and good. If you are very kind-hearted and self-giving, you may wish to allow somebody else to be first. From the spiritual point of view, this feeling of oneness with others is very good. But if God does not want you to have an experience of failure, then no matter how hard you try, you will not get the failure experience. And again, sometimes it may happen that you die to have the experience of success; you do absolutely everything you can to become first, and then very nicely you become last because it was not God's Will.
A few years ago, a very close friend of mine came to our Masters Games. 1 He is Russian. I was at that time 62 years of age and he was 42. He challenged me and I challenged him to a 100-metre race. It was a friendly challenge. Before we started, I was thinking of my golden days in athletics when I was seventeen or twenty years old. I was invoking those days to defeat him. And he was laughing because he is so much younger than me. I asked him, "Were you ever a sprinter in your youth?"
He said, "No, no, but it is so easy to defeat you. You are an old man!"
I said, "All right, I am an old man."
I was still thinking about my golden days which are buried in oblivion. I thought, "Since he does not have a running background, I am sure I will defeat him, although I am older than him by many years."
Alas, God smashed my pride! He finished two metres ahead of me. I really wanted to defeat him because he was bragging that he is younger than me, but God said, "Now the time has come for you to be humbled and humiliated." So very nicely he defeated me.
Once we enter into the spiritual life, we cannot make any decision for ourselves. Once we make our surrender to God complete, ambition becomes a great obstacle. Ambition has to surrender to aspiration. So we aspire; we aspire wholeheartedly to become good citizens of the world. Otherwise, desire-life and ambition-life will make our life miserable at every moment.
Aspiration-life is all up to us. It is between ourselves and God. If we sincerely aspire, He will bless us with His inner Light, Peace and Bliss. And if we remain all the time in the desire-world, although we have entered into the spiritual life, then we are bound to be miserable.
Editor's noteDuring a workout at his home in Queens on 20 October 2005, Sri Chinmoy succeeded in doing a partial dumbbell wrist curl of 203 pounds. He completed ten repetitions with each wrist. Many television stations accepted footage of this remarkable feat and Sri Chinmoy offered a formal message to the newscasters thanking them for their kind comments and explaining his philosophy in more detail.
18.My dear newscasters, you may wonder why I do such stupid things at this ripe old age of seventy-four. Well, I live in the heart and God, who is my Inner Pilot, commands me, inspires me and guides me while I am lifting such heavy weights. My Inner Pilot is my inspiration. He is my aspiration. And He is my protection. I give Him all the credit. I place at His Feet most soulfully my weightlifting achievements.
And I thank you deeply, my dear newscasters, because it is you who bring me to the public eye, and I tell the citizens of the world only one thing: Never give up, never give up. Physical fitness is of paramount importance. There is no age limit when we live in the heart and when we try to be of service, prayerful and soulful service, to God in the heart of humanity.
FootnoteThis Sri Chinmoy Masters Games took place on 16 July 1994 at Victory Field in Forest Hills, New York. Sri Chinmoy's time in the 100-metre race was 15.07 seconds.