A mystic journey in the weightlifting world, part 1

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If we are in the heart
Of God-consciousness,
Then we are definitely
Lifting up
The burden of the world.

Part I — Interview with The Record newspaper

MJW 2-3. On 2 November 1998, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by //The Record// newspaper, Bergen, New Jersey, after he had lifted a Piper Arrow III plane plus eight men (total weight: 4,748 lbs.) at the Sparta Aviation School, Teterboro, New Jersey.

Interviewer: Why do you do this?

Sri Chinmoy: I am trying, according to my humble capacity, to be of dedicated service to the world. I have been going to the United Nations to offer meditations since 1970. In addition, I have composed many songs and poems, plus I have done thousands and thousands of paintings. All this I am doing to inspire others. Similarly, others also do many, many things to inspire me. If I am inspiring people and people are inspiring me, then we become good human beings. When we are inspired, we try to do many, many good things for mankind. When we are not inspired, we do many, many bad things. Inspiration is a divine element inside our life. When we are inspired, we try to climb up the Himalayas. When we are inspired, we try to swim the English Channel. When we are inspired, we go from one country to another country to inspire people and to be inspired by them. I feel that when we inspire humanity, we automatically become good citizens of the world. This is my philosophy. My weightlifting feats I have done solely to inspire humanity.

What humanity wants is joy, and inside joy is peace. If we are happy, we will not go and strike others; we will only go and shake hands with them or embrace them. But if we are miserable, we may go and strike others to get rid of our misery. People who are happy will never do bad things. Only unhappy people are fighting, dropping bombs and killing one another. If I am happy, will I go and find fault with my neighbours? Is there any human being who is happy who has done bad things? Only unhappy people do bad things. Here, with my weightlifting, I am inspired and you are inspired. We are only thinking of making each other happy. And when we are happy, we get peace.

Interviewer: What is the 'oneness-heart' that you talk about?

Sri Chinmoy: What ‘oneness-heart’ means is that your good qualities you are giving me and my good qualities I am giving you. Your divine qualities you are offering to me gladly and my divine qualities I am offering to you gladly. When you have oneness and good feelings, you give me what is best in you and I give you what is best in me. We exchange our good qualities. That is called a ‘oneness-heart’.

Part II — Interview with Reuters TV

MJW 4. On 4 November 1998, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by Reuters TV after lifting several elephants at the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Interviewer: Tell us the purpose of bringing out elephants and lifting them with this machine.

Sri Chinmoy: I am a man of prayer and meditation. I feel inspiration is of paramount importance. If I can inspire someone, and if that person also can inspire me, then we can do many good things for the betterment of this world. Here I am inspiring quite a few people, and they also are inspiring me. If I am inspired, you are inspired and he is inspired, then we shall be able to work together. When we are not inspired, we find fault with other human beings; we quarrel, fight and do many deplorable things. But if we are inspired, then we do many good things for the improvement of this world.

I am a student of peace. I would like the entire humanity to be in the same boat and sail towards the Golden Shore. Together we are trying to bring about world peace, and for that we need inspiration. An elephant symbolises strength, solid strength. Inspiration itself is strength. Therefore, I try to lift elephants because elephants are so heavy and so strong. If I can be of some service to mankind by lifting an elephant, then I feel my prayer-life and my meditation-life are fulfilling a special purpose in inspiring my fellow brothers and sisters to be better citizens of the world.

Part III — Interview with News 12 New Jersey TV

MJW 5. On 6 November 1998, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by News 12 New Jersey TV after lifting a 685 Aero Commander Aircraft plus six passengers (total weight: 10,527 lbs.) at Roger J. Miller Air Park, Berkeley, New Jersey.

Interviewer: Why do you lift?

Sri Chinmoy: Everybody wants to do something to make himself happy. This is one of the ways I can make myself happy, and I find there are others who are also inspired by what I am doing. From inspiration we get joy. So by doing this, I am inspiring quite a few people and from this inspiration they are deriving joy.

Interviewer: What training did you go through to do this?

Sri Chinmoy: About twelve years ago I lifted a seaplane and a helicopter. Since then I have not lifted any plane. Last month I started lifting up heavy objects once again. This will be the eighth plane I have lifted this month.

Interviewer: What next?

Sri Chinmoy: Our philosophy is the philosophy of progress. I will be trying to lift up a heavier plane weighing 13,000 lbs. This is my wish. If God permits me, I would like to try.

Interviewer: Well, it looks like the way you lifted up this one today, it will be no problem.

Sri Chinmoy: Oh, no. This one was quite heavy. Similarly, the ones that I lifted last week were no match for this one — and also I added six individuals, which increased the heavy weight considerably. By God’s Grace, I have done it. I am grateful to God and I am also grateful to those like you who came here today to inspire the occasion.

Part IV — Interview with CBS Radio

MJW 6. On 28 November 1998, Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by CBS Radio.

Interviewer: A five-time Mr. Universe called it "an amazing show of strength for any man, at any age, at any body weight." Sri Chinmoy, why do you lift such huge objects?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not want to brag, but it is an act of my self-offering, which I call inspiration. I try to inspire others. If I can inspire others, and if they in turn 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. I feel it is our inner strength that will be able to give us peace, and inner strength is oneness, a universal oneness.

Interviewer: 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, and I wanted to lose weight, so I started taking 200 calories per day, believe it or not. For two months I took 200 calories, sometimes 250 calories maximum per day. In that way I came down from 180 pounds to 144 pounds. Yesterday my body weight was 143 pounds, but I do not advise anybody to follow my diet. It applies to me, but I will never tell anybody to follow it because medical science will say it is absurd, ridiculous. I have about fifteen doctors who are my students. They are shocked that I could live on 200 or 300 calories. Even yesterday I took only 200 calories before I went out in the evening to lift up such heavy weights.

Interviewer: Are you a vegetarian?

Sri Chinmoy: I have been a strict vegetarian for over 50 years. Mother Earth is very kind and compassionate to us, and she has infinite strength. So we eat vegetables, fruit and so on. I feel that if we eat meat and fish, then an aggressive consciousness will enter into us. Animals are very, very restless. This restlessness can weaken us. 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.

Interviewer: It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much for your time.

Part V — Meeting with Mahasamrat Bill Pearl and Bhavatarini Judy Pearl

MJW 7. On 17 November 1999, the morning of his 14th weightlifting anniversary, Sri Chinmoy met with Mahasamrat Bill Pearl and Bhavatarini Judy Pearl for a special breakfast at Annam Brahma Restaurant in Queens, New York. Following are excerpts from their conversation.


Sri Chinmoy: I try to be integral — physically, vitally, mentally, psychically and spiritually. I feel that we should do everything together. That is why I do so many different things. God gave us the body, vital, mind and heart. Each one is part of our existence. We try to bring the best out of them for manifestation. Whatever is good inside the body should be brought forward for its manifestation, whatever is good inside the mind and so on.

Down the sweep of centuries, there have been many spiritual Masters who did not believe in physical fitness. They felt that if you devoted time to taking exercise, then you were not meant for the spiritual life. Only by living in the Himalayan caves could you practise a spiritual life. If you accepted life, then you were not spiritual because you had descended. That was our ancient Indian theory.

Now we have made progress. We try to accept both God the Creator and God the creation. If we accept only God the Creator, if we do not see God inside others, then God created us in vain. Now we have accepted God the creation and we are trying together to bring down peace, light and bliss from Above.

Unfortunately, the physical does not respond to the spiritual so easily. We are involved in the outer world twenty-four hours a day, but our inner life is the real life that brings down the divinity from Above long before the outer life. First we try to bring down the divinity from Above or bring to the fore the divinity from within and then we offer it to the physical, to the outer world.

The physical and the spiritual are of equal importance. For us, the physical is the temple and the spiritual is the shrine. If there is no shrine inside a temple, people will laugh. What kind of temple is it? Again, if there is no temple, the shrine will not exist for long. So the temple and the shrine, the body and the soul, go together.

Some spiritual Masters say, “Who cares for the temple, as long as there is a shrine?” They neglect the body. But if you neglect the temple, what will happen to the shrine? The wind will come and blow it away.

Similarly, if we pay all attention to the body-temple and do not care for the soul-shrine, then we shall always have self-doubt. We will be convinced that we cannot do something. Now we can say, “I can do it, I can do it,” because we know that God is inside us. If we have to depend on our physical body alone, then we will find that we cannot take even one step. But if we know that Somebody else, God, is doing it in and through us, then unlimited steps we can take.

Nervousness comes only when we feel that we are the doers. If Somebody else is the Doer, then we are just the witnesses. It is up to Him whether we are successful or not. We have only to be good instruments. But if we feel that we are doing it ourselves, then we are in trouble. We will have no sleep, no sleep.

In my youth, when I used to excel in sports, when I was the decathlon champion of our spiritual community, I was nervous for a few years in the beginning. But then I saw that my brothers and sisters were infinitely more nervous than I was on our sports days. They took my nervousness from me.

Yesterday the Canadian boxer Donny Lalonde asked, “Sri Chinmoy, are you nervous?” I said, “I gave my nervousness many years ago to the athletics field.” Now if I do not succeed or if I succeed, my success or my failure, because of my spiritual life, I place at the Feet of God. Only I have to be a good and pure instrument so that He can utilise me in His own Way. If I am not, then I will not be able to please Him in His own Way. So I will try to be a good person, at least for today. If I am not good, how will He act in and through me? The responsibility is His. My only responsibility is to keep my mind calm and quiet, vacant and pure. Again, some people find that extremely difficult. Because they do not have a calm mind, they are assailed by the forces of anxiety, worry and so on.

Here it is a family game in front of my brothers and sisters, my spiritual friends and my students. Do I have to worry? If I cannot succeed, they will sympathise with me. If I succeed, they will be so happy that their teacher has done it. I will not be the loser in any way because their sympathetic oneness with me is such that no matter what I do, they are one with me.

I am so lucky. Every time I get a very sympathetic audience. People come here for peace of mind. They do not come to see a weightlifter or bodybuilder. They know me only as a man of prayers for peace, love and harmony. They come to see me as their fellow compatriot in peace. They come here for a peaceful evening and not for anything else. Otherwise, they can go to Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe competitions.

Here I am only competing with myself to show progress. If I can make progress at the age of 68, what is wrong with others? People at the age of 50 or 60 give up. I have students at the age of 27 or 28 who say they are too old! Then I have to scold them and do everything to inspire them. How can they be old at the age of 27? They feel that they cannot run as well as they used to. I say, “Then do something else. Keep running, but add something else as well. Why should you only be a runner?”

I was a runner. Now I have entered into weightlifting. Then sometimes I do painting or compose songs or write poems. Like that, God has given us so many opportunities. If we cannot do one thing, we can do something else.

Now you are no longer competing, but you have a most special responsibility with your autobiography. When are you going to do it?

Mahasamrat Bill Pearl: We are working on it now, Guru. We honestly are!

Sri Chinmoy: That is your job now. You are no longer Mr. Universe, but this immortal autobiography will come from you. I am so happy to hear it. Many people are not doing that. They give up all their capacities. If we give up everything, then in this life there will be no variety. In our heart-garden there will be only roses and nothing else. How can we call it a garden if there is only one kind of flower? There should be a variety of flowers. Each human being has a heart- garden. Inside, we shall have to have many, many kinds of flowers.

Mahasamrat Bill Pearl: That is beautiful. It is so true.

Sri Chinmoy: Otherwise, life will be a stagnant pool. Instead we want to be a running river.

Part VI — Interview with CNN Radio

MJW 8. On 24 November 1999 Sri Chinmoy was interviewed by CNN Radio.

Interviewer: Sri Chinmoy, can you tell us what it is that you are trying to express through your life?

Sri Chinmoy: I am a seeker. I pray to God and meditate on God daily. From my prayer-life and from my meditation-life I get inspiration. This inspiration I try to offer to humanity in my very humble way.

Interviewer: How does that philosophy relate to weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: I feel that the physical and the spiritual must go together; they cannot be separated. When we pray and meditate, we get an extra supply of energy, which you can call strength. This strength can be utilised for a good purpose. If I can inspire anybody in this world, then I feel that my life is meaningful. With my weightlifting, I am offering my physical strength to inspire people.

There are people who feel that physical is physical and spiritual is spiritual; they are like the North Pole and the South Pole. My feeling is that they are not like that at all. To me, they are the shrine and the temple. When we pray to God, we need both a temple and a shrine. The temple is our body and the shrine is our soul. So the physical capacity and the spiritual capacity must go together.

When I lift heavy, heavy weights — elephants and so forth — I try to inspire my fellow citizens. They can also try to inspire others in a similar way, but it does not have to be with weightlifting. They can write extraordinary poems, compose songs or do something else in any walk of life. So this inspiration is not confined to weightlifting.

Interviewer: It seems to me that you are doing things which defy the normal limitations of age.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, you are absolutely right! Age surrenders. There is no age limit here. When we pray and meditate, we go far beyond the domain of the mind, the physical mind that doubts our capacities. When we pray and meditate, we identify ourselves with something vast and infinite. So there is no age limit, but we have to go far beyond the domain of the physical mind which binds us and at every moment discourages us. It says, “You cannot do this, you cannot do that, it is not possible for you.” But when we pray and meditate, when we live in the heart, there is no such thing as impossibility.

Interviewer: How did you happen to take up the sport of weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: As I said, I am a man of prayer. I got an inner message to enter into the weightlifting world. Weightlifting was not my forte. I was born as a poet and singer. Then here in the West, in America, I embarked on playing musical instruments, composing songs and so forth.

Again, when I pray and meditate, I get messages from within. I use the term ‘Inner Pilot’. My Inner Pilot has commanded me to enter into weightlifting. In my youth, I was a good athlete, according to our poor Indian standard. I never used weights. I thought that if you are musclebound, you cannot be a good athlete. But now the theory has changed. I see that world champions have excellent muscles. Now my Inner Pilot has commanded me to serve Him through weightlifting, where the barriers of the mind can be lifted.

Interviewer: Is that also why you compose music and so forth, because you get an inner command?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, for the same reason. Whenever I am asked to, I write poems or compose songs, paint and so forth. Everything I do, I do at the behest of my Inner Pilot.

Interviewer: Do you have a preference for any particular activity?

Sri Chinmoy: No, it depends only on whichever way my inner being compels me to be of service to mankind. I will not say that because of my weightlifting I am able to do more paintings, no. Only I am doing it because I am asked to do it. Somebody is commanding me and I am faithfully obeying Him. I have no idea if this is the way in which I will be able to reach more people.

Interviewer: Do you get personal satisfaction when somebody is inspired by your example?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, definitely. When I am of service, even to an individual, if somebody can accept my inspiration, I feel extremely satisfied. If I can be of service to even one individual, I feel that it is a tremendous help in improving the standard of humanity. Whatever I am doing in the field of sports or athletics — we have many, many places where we hold our long-distance running races — it is all for inspiration. Anything that our organisation does, it is with the one-pointed view that everybody should be inspired. Similarly, as we are trying to inspire others, even so, they have every right to inspire us.

Part VII — Question and answer7

MJW 9. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 25 November 1999.

Question: What gave you the most joy on your weightlifting anniversary on November 17th?

Sri Chinmoy: What gave me the most joy? Mahasamrat’s smile. I mean it! Nobody smiles like Mahasamrat. Mahasamrat’s smile gave me the utmost joy and strength. When I lifted 600 pounds and he said, “Guru, you have done it!” he gave me the strength and joy of ten elephants. When I lifted it, I looked at Mahasamrat and his smile gave me the utmost satisfaction — that smile of infinite affection, love and confidence.

Part VIII — Conversation between Sri Chinmoy and his students

MJW 10-12. These are excerpts from an informal conversation between Sri Chinmoy and his students on 20 February 2000 about his 1,000-pound double dumbbell lift.

Student: People who do not know you, Guru, are wondering why you are doing this kind of strength lift which is outside the traditional weightlifting categories. They are scrutinising your lifting technique.

Sri Chinmoy: When you invent something, there will always be people to criticise. God’s creation is full of critics, but has God given up His creation because of the critics? Again, there are many people who love God and pray to Him because He is good. For us, let us say, the moon is so beautiful. We adore the purity of the moon. But a scientist will come with a telescope and point out the dark spots on the moon. Are we going to listen to him and have a negative feeling about the moon or are we going to use our own hearts and continue to get joy and inspiration from the moon?

My philosophy is to forget about the critics. There will always be critics. Is there anybody who is free from critics? On the other hand, there are many world-famous figures in the weightlifting and bodybuilding line who are encouraging and appreciating me.

Why should we remain always with the same lifts? If there is only the dead lift and other standard lifts, then there will be no newness, no invention. Should there be only one game? No, hundreds of games have been discovered. Then shall we play only football, volleyball and basketball? There should be more games. In a garden will we keep only four types of flowers? If another type of flower appears, we will not cry, “Oh, this is not a flower because for years and years in our garden there have been only four flowers.”

Unfortunately, when one invents something, it is frequently not accepted. Then a day comes when people forget about the criticism. At first, how much Newton and Einstein suffered! Afterwards, everybody accepted them. In the beginning, newness will always be suspected. It will not be admired and adored. But then, based on that newness, people go forward.

My weightlifting is also invention. When you invent something, people criticise it because it has not been practised for fifty years. They say, “Only our grandfathers’ way is correct.” The old theory is that whatever our grandfathers discovered is real. If we do something new, it cannot be real. If we subscribe to this stupid theory, there will be no newness in the sports field or in any other field.

If others are saying that my way of lifting is something very easy, let them try. When the Canadian boxer Donny Lalonde saw my lifting, he shed tears. He is such a strong boxer, but he knew that he could not do it. So people who are inclined to criticise my way of lifting should stand under 1,000 pounds and try to lift it.

I am reminded of a story of a 90-year-old Indian widow. When she heard that Hillary and Tensing had climbed Mount Everest, she said, “I could have done it, if I had practised!” I say, who asked her not to practise?

Who can silence the mouths of the critics? They always use the word ‘if’ — if they had been… if they had also practised…. Who asked them, for God’s sake, not to do it?

There will always be critics, but we have to go our own way. Al Oerter, a four-time Olympic gold medallist in the discus, has very kindly said that I am a new pathfinder. From the very beginning of my weightlifting career, I have tried to do new things. Why should I go on always with the old system as if that is the only way? I feel that people who come to break the traditional barriers are the ones who are the real heroes. They can make their contribution in any sphere of life.

For example, at first there were only rhymed poems. Then some immortal poets came who wrote epics in iambic pentameter blank verse. How they were criticised! But why should epics follow the form of sonnets or other rhymed poems? It is a completely different style. If these same critics had tried to write an epic, it would have taken twenty incarnations!

Anything new will be criticised, true. But should we allow our newness to be thwarted by the jealousy of others? If someone feels that the thing that is new is so silly, then he should prove it by trying to do the same thing. Once, when I lifted up people in Seattle, one bodybuilder was showing off his huge muscles. Then what happened? After I lifted him overhead, he came down, tore off his T-shirt and said to me, “I could not do it.”

Of the 2,000 people that I have lifted, was there anybody to come and say, “Now I am going to lift you, Sri Chinmoy”? There were people who were much, much stronger than I am. Not even one individual said, “Now you go up the ladder. I will lift you.” Here is the proof. Out of 2,000 people that I have lifted, not even one individual challenged me. At that time I weighed 150 or 160 pounds. I lifted many people who were over 250 pounds and some even exceeded 300 pounds. But nobody, even out of sheer affection, came forward to do the same thing.

Once, in Germany, I went to a gym. I had had my breakfast and I was wearing my Indian garments. I was not wearing any kind of weightlifting belt. I wanted to try a particular kind of calf raise machine. Quite a few bodybuilders and weightlifters were there, and they were watching me curiously and laughing at my clothes. Then, when I lifted 800 pounds on the calf raise using one leg, they all went away. They could have made fun of it and said it was not conventional. They could have tried it. But not even one tried, and they were twice as large as I was. The gym did not have more than 800 pounds. Otherwise, I was willing to go higher. Who can forget that incident?

The world is for newness, not for oldness. New, new things we have to create. Then only the world will progress. If not, we will come to feel that there is nothing new under the sun. We have to create new things to keep our joy. If there is no newness, how can we have enthusiasm? And if there is no enthusiasm, do we make any progress?

There are so many musicians who are breaking the old systems. For a few years they are criticised. Then afterwards they are immortalised because they found a new road.

In my case, also, I am finding new roads. In my music-world, people criticised me. Now people in the audience are getting such joy. They say that I create a unique vibration or power. Similarly, in my art-world people criticised me in the beginning. Now in the art-world I am accepted. In everything, if you continue and continue and do the thing without caring for criticism, then you become something. If we have to depend on the critics, if we value their opinion, then there will be no newness in this world. Everything will be old, old, old.

Student: Wordsworth said that a genius has to create the taste by which he is to be enjoyed.

Sri Chinmoy: A real genius is not bound by any convention. A genius is a genius. He has to go forward like an elephant, without paying attention to the barking of the dogs. Swami Vivekananda used to say that when an elephant is on the way to the market to eat bananas, the dogs bark and bark. But the elephant does not pay any attention. He goes to the market and eats the bananas and then he comes back home. The dogs are unable to enjoy the bananas.

Student: Some weightlifters want you to play the game by their rules. Only then will they accept you.

Sri Chinmoy: They are saying, “If you eat my food, only then will you become strong.” But I do not agree. I feel I am strong by eating other food. And there are others who are on my side. As I was saying, there will always be critics who want us to remain stuck at one place. Look at the Guinness Book of Records. Each year there are so many new items. They could easily have stayed with only ten items, but they try to accept new things.

The most important message I am trying to convey is progress. I am not competing with others or challenging them to come and compete with me. I am doing this for myself. I am getting joy because it is my progress. My goal is progress. I started with 100 pounds, 50 pounds in each arm, and now I have come up to 1,300 pounds. Is it a joke? Others do not have to do the same thing. They do not have to lift in my way. They can try in their own way to go up to their maximum weight. Then they can try to increase the weight by 300 pounds in four days’ time. If people do not value my way, let them show their progress in their own way.

For me, it is not the technique but the progress that is the most important thing. Let them try to increase by the same increment. Mahasamrat says that records are usually broken by half-pound or one-pound increments. Here I am going up 100 pounds at a time or even more. So I am going my own way and others should go their own way as fast as possible. Then we will see the ratio by age, bodyweight, increment and so on. I do not think others will dare to do what I am doing at my age.

I cannot wait because of the critics. I have to go on, faithfully practising every day, doing stretching exercises and so on. In a natural and normal way I am going on. But even in this natural way, how much is God’s Compassion! To get up so early, after only two hours of rest, and to have the inspiration to do it — even this natural thing that I am doing is so difficult for ordinary people.

Then God’s Grace descends. The very first day I lifted 1,300 pounds, I said it was all Grace. On that day, I did not do even one warm-up exercise. I simply took a shower and then I started. I was depending 100 per cent on Grace. In the prayer that I offered before lifting, I said that it was a mystic journey. I said it was a very, very long way and with God’s Grace one day I would reach my destination. But God was laughing at me. The very first day He did it in and through me.

My connection with God is like that. I will proceed as far as possible in a normal way. Again, I know I am able to practise in a normal way because of His Grace. Year after year I have been getting up early in the morning, doing all kinds of exercises. Then once in a while if I do not want to take warm-up exercises, He says, “All right, let Grace operate.”

In the Ashram I stood first in the 100-metre race for 16 years. One year I said, “I want to identify with the sufferings of the ones who come second or third or even last.” So I decided to give myself a fever. It was so easy for me. I developed such a high fever that I could not even see properly. Then I said, “Today I will definitely lose. I may even become last. Let people laugh, but I want to feel the pangs of those who do not win.”

Usually, I used to warm up for 40 minutes, but on that day I did not warm up at all. I was 100 per cent sure that I would be last. I thought I would fall down, and I was only praying that I would not disturb anybody because the lanes were so narrow. That was my only fear. I could not withdraw from the race because people would have said, “Oh, this time he has not practised. He does not want to lose.” Instead of that, I decided to start in the normal way and then people would see that I did not have the capacity to stand first.

When the starter said, “Get on your mark,” my whole body was shaking, not out of fear but because I was not feeling well at all. Then, when he said, “Go!” out of the blue my Beloved Supreme came and carried me all the way to the finish. I had not done any preliminary jogging, nothing, but I stood first.

My will was to become second or third or even last, but God did not listen to my sincere prayer. His Way is the only way. Here I was trying to become such a saint: I wanted to feel the sufferings of others. But God did not want to have their suffering in and through me.

Coming back to my 1,300-pound lift, if you are planning to lift such a huge weight for the first time, do you not think of your shoulders? Do you not think of your chest or knees? Usually I take stretching exercises for 45 minutes. Then I work out on seven or eight machines. Only then am I fully prepared for my lifting. But yesterday I did zero, zero. You can call it peculiar or you can call it miraculous.

So I am showing my progress report. Others can show progress in their own way, in their own field. If my way is meaningless, let others shine in their field, in their own way. I do not think that other weightlifters who lift heavy, heavy weights will weigh under 300 pounds. I am 170 or 171 pounds. Again, is there anybody who will be lifting heavy weights at the age of 68 or 69? People have to think of what they did at the age of 20, then at the age of 50 and now at this age. Did they reach their peak at the age of 68 or at the age of 32, like the immortal Carl Lewis?

Jim Smith, who is the registrar of the British Amateur Weightlifters Association, has made this point. He said that people generally give up weightlifting after school or college. If they continue, eventually they are “horribly beaten.”

In my case, I have not yet reached my peak and I am nearing 69 years of age. Thirteen is my lucky number, so I am planning to practise my 1,300-pound two-arm lift until April 13th.

It is so difficult to lift simultaneously with two hands. When you lift with one hand, all your concentration is on that hand, on that wrist. How much strength and energy you get when you use only one hand! When you use two hands, your concentration is divided. How can you give full concentration when you use the right and the left together? I have to concentrate on the right and left sides at the same time so that both sides go up. The push has to go from right and left simultaneously. Bill Pearl has said this lift is so difficult because it has to be balanced.

I am not competing with anyone else in the weightlifting world. I am doing this for my inner progress, my oneness with God. I am saying, “I am doing so well in this field. What is wrong with you in your own field?” Specially for my disciples, I am saying, “You do as well in conquering your insecurity, your jealousy. See how fast you can decrease your jealousy or increase your purity. I am studying one subject to show you. Then you have so many subjects to study. You try to do as well in those subjects.”

To some, I am a source of inspiration. When they see how hard it is for me to lift, then they also try to do something in their own life, in their own field. When they see the determination on my face, they try to have the same determination. They can also compete with themselves and show their progress report.

Part IX — Talk

MJW 13. Sri Chinmoy made the following additional comments on 20 February 2000 at a function held at P.S. 117 in Queens, New York.

"Indeed, a mystic journey."

Needless to say, there will always be critics, but I strongly believe that by seeing the negative side of humanity, we cannot make any progress. By seeing the positive side of humanity, we make progress and we see others making progress. If something is in my domain, I shall be satisfied. If something is in the domain of somebody else, I shall also be satisfied.

Unfortunately, the world does not want to come out of its boundaries. The world believes in old things, old discoveries. But there is something called invention. If we want to invent something, it has to come from a high, higher, highest source. My weightlifting does not fall into the traditional categories, true. But if one is going to do something great to inspire mankind, then he has to go far, far, far beyond the boundaries of the traditional way of thinking about human achievements.

Anybody who does something great in a new fashion is subject to criticism. Last week, the world’s greatest maestro in tabla, Ustad Alla Rakha, passed away. He broke down the traditional barriers. His technique was not the classical technique of the past. He invented his own technique, his own way of playing, but he charmed people and threw them into the world of ecstasy whenever and wherever he played. So our Indian government gave him the highest award and when he passed on, the Prime Minister and President said such nice things. The whole firmament of India blessed him with superlative feelings and superlative words. But he did not follow any tradition.

So in this world, if a genius takes birth, he is under no obligation to follow in the footsteps of the people who have gone before him — in any field. The weightlifting field is very, very limited. In other worlds there is great scope. In the weightlifting world there are only seven or eight kinds of lifts — dead lift, snatch and so on — then it is all over, while in athletics, so many items are there. If somebody discovers something new or invents something new in any field, naturally he will be subject to wild criticism. But we have to seek only one thing in our lives: inspiration-encouragement.

Many people have encouraged me, but of them all, how much Mahasamrat Bill Pearl — World’s Best Built Man of the Century, five-time Mr. Universe and so on — has helped me you will not be able to feel. Al Oerter, Frank Zane, Mike Katz, Wayne DeMilia, Jim Smith and others have really helped me, but Mahasamrat’s contribution to my weightlifting world is unparalleled.

In life, God encourages us when we do something good and great for humanity. There is always a positive world and a negative world. Some will criticise. They will say, “My way is the real way. Your way is always the wrong way.” What can you do? Again, there are many, many people who will appreciate, like Jim Smith, Al Oerter and all these people. Our international judge, Wayne DeMilia, stood right beside me, only one metre away, and he watched me lifting.

When I do something, I know that my Supreme is 100 per cent responsible. Just yesterday, in my weightlifting prayer I said, “Indeed, a mystic journey.” I know that if I can lift these heavy weights, it will be out of God’s infinite Bounty. He alone knows when I will be able to complete my journey, but with each step forward, I shall offer Him my gratitude-heart-tears.

I want to make it very clear that I am competing with myself. Let others compete with themselves. When they reach their pinnacle-heights, if they want to make progress in big increments like 100 pounds or 300 pounds, in whatever they are doing, let them try in their own way. If they are doing pole vault or long jump or something else in their own field, let them try to increase the increment. My field, you may say, is something negligible. It is not worth trying. But others can try to achieve what I am achieving in their own field.

Some people cannot identify with my weightlifting because they feel that there is no spirituality involved. They feel that spirituality is something else. No, spirituality is in everything. Spirituality encompasses and embraces everything in life. Spirituality cannot be separated from the physical. If the physical is discarded from the spiritual, then there is no spirituality. This physical has to aspire, the way the spiritual aspires in its own way.

In my case, God is giving me a good lesson. In my adolescent years, I disliked weightlifting. ‘Dislike’ is an understatement; I hated weightlifting. In my entire Ashram career, when I was champion supreme for 16 years, two days per year I lifted 20 pounds so that I could do well in shot put. I stood first for many, many years. Then somebody came who was twice as large as I was and, O God, I lost for the last two years.

Coming back to the point, those who want me to lift according to what others are expecting or demanding should stop feeding that kind of opinion. If you want to be a true disciple of mine, then think my way, feel in my way, do everything in life in my own way. Justify me at every moment; defend me at every moment. But do not say, “Oh, I believe you, but others do not, so I am trying to perfect you.” Here perfection is your oneness — oneness with my will, oneness with my determination, oneness with my achievement. Do not look at me with others’ eyes. Look at me with your own heart. If you want to identify yourself with me, do it not by thinking the way others think of me but by feeling the way your aspiring heart feels me. That is the only way that you will be able to make progress. Otherwise, the outer world of criticism will devour you. Even though you are in the boat, you will miss everything, you will lose everything.


The oldness
Of the 20th Century
Is staggering.

The newness
Of the 21st Century
Will be skyrocketing.

Part X — Informal conversation on weightlifting

MJW 15-29. The following are excerpts from an informal conversation between Sri Chinmoy and his students on 27 February 2000.

Student: It seems that you are able to manifest spirituality much more on the outer plane through weightlifting than through other activities such as running.

Sri Chinmoy: That is true. Millions of people can defeat me in running, but I wonder if millions of people will defeat me in weightlifting, specially among those of my age. If I invite Americans over 60 who live in this vicinity, even from Briarwood, to lift 100 pounds with each arm, I do not think there will be anybody to come forward and do it. Nobody will lift 100 pounds with each arm, and for me 100 pounds is easy. Here I am doing something which is quite extraordinary for my age. Again, there are some things I have done that are considered extraordinary irrespective of age. Last year at my weightlifting anniversary and also the year before, Mahasamrat Bill Pearl was saying to forget about my age. He was asking people of any age to come up and try to do it. He and a few others, like Jim Smith, Mike Katz and so on, have done weightlifting and bodybuilding all their lives. They know how difficult it is. In this weightlifting field I have done something unique, not only in terms of age, but also by showing my capacity in various types of lifts — the double-arm lift, the standing calf raise, the elephant lift and so on.

Student: Do you actually feel physically stronger, or are you so totally outside your body that it is meaningless?

Sri Chinmoy: I do not feel strong. I entirely depend upon the Grace of God. I am happy when I am able to walk. If I can walk nicely, I get tremendous joy. Otherwise, every second I am limping, limping.

It is my spirituality that is helping me in my weightlifting, and it is also helping others who are appreciating what I am doing. In ordinary life, people look at magazines and see bodybuilders, weightlifters and so on. As soon as people see the body development, they get joy. But when they hear about some of the activities of that person in the outer life — whether that individual uses drugs or takes bribes, this and that — their joy immediately goes away. In most cases, spirituality is not in the background of those who are competing.

In my case, when people see my muscle-power, they know that I have not taken any drugs. I do not have big, bulging muscles. Or you can say, my meditation is my drug. A number of people in this field take drugs. They have to adopt foul means in order to win. These foul means are so dangerous. After fifteen or twenty years, they may develop some disease.

Student: Which group of athletes has the better consciousness — bodybuilders or runners?

Sri Chinmoy: For me, runners in general have a better consciousness. Many, many runners do not take drugs. There are some runners who do take drugs, true, but there are so many ordinary runners who do not take anything. They know they are not going to be another Frank Shorter or Bill Rodgers, so they do not take drugs. Once they start doing well, they may start, who knows. But in the case of bodybuilders, even ordinary bodybuilders when they start want to become another Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bill Pearl. So right from the beginning they start taking drugs.

Runners deal with freshness, freshness of the mind. While they are running, nature is helping them. Every day, early in the morning or in the evening, runners go out to practise in the street or at a track. When you run, it is just you and Mother Nature. From the sky, light is flowing. Here, there, you get so much inspiration. Everything helps you to achieve your goal.

But with bodybuilding, it is a different matter. First, the bodybuilders may be depending on a drug that they are taking secretly. Then, when they go to a gym to train, they have to deal with the vibration there. When you are running, it is you and your shoes. They are your property, so it is your own vibration they are carrying. You do not have to worry. But, unfortunately, people do not realise that when they go to a gym they take on the karma of others who are using the machines. If the person using a particular machine before you is an impossible, unbearable character, where will the vibration go? Do you think that while he is touching the material object, his vibration does not enter into the metal plates, the bar and so on? It does, it does. Then that same vibration enters into you. When you came to the gym, you were filled with good thoughts, uplifting thoughts. Then, on your way back home, you wonder why all kinds of undivine thoughts are attacking you. Why, why? Where did they come from? It all came from the gym.

That is why I feel that training outside is far better than indoor training. If the weather is very bad, what can you do? But for me, indoor training is the second choice.

Student: For people who do not like running or have some kind of injury, is it better to work out with weights than not to do anything?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! It is very important to do something. Perhaps you are unable to walk or run. But what is wrong with your lungs or your arms? There are bound to be some other parts of your body that are still functioning well. So you can develop those parts. You may be limited by your injury, but in that limited world you can do something.

Look at the wheelchair athletes who do the New York City Marathon. I get such joy when I see them. I have such pride in them. In spite of their limitations, they are going on for twenty-six miles. Each metre is such hardship for them. Although their capacity is very limited, they are giving joy to themselves and to the spectators. They are challenging impossibility.

When you run, it is just you and your own body, but when you are doing lifting, it is not just a question of you and your body. You are trying to increase your body strength, plus you are fighting against inconscient metal plates. You are not inconscient, but the plates are inconscient. There is no light there. You have to inject light into them by praying to God to help you lift up this heavy weight.

So there is a great difference between running and weightlifting. In running, whatever your standard is, good or bad, you know. But in weightlifting, you have to challenge something — these iron plates. You have to keep them under control.

Number-wise, there is a tremendous difference between those who practise running and those who practise weightlifting. If you go to a marathon, there may be 20,000 people. But if you go to any weightlifting or bodybuilding competition, there will not be 20,000 participants. So you can see people’s love for running.

Student: A lot of runners do weightlifting to enhance their running, specially elite runners.

Sri Chinmoy: True, but do they lift up 100-pound dumbbells?

Student: They probably just train with lower weights to develop a certain degree of strength.

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, this is something that athletes have done for the last fifteen years or so. It is a modern discovery. Before that, the theory was that if you had big muscles, your speed would go away. In my youth, I would not do weightlifting because I was afraid that my speed would decrease.

When I first saw one of our boys do the high jump, I was so shocked. In India I had never seen the style that he used. I first started with the scissor style, which is older than the oldest. Then I did eastern cut and western roll. But I had never before seen the flop. I could not believe that someone could go over the bar backwards.

Student: You cannot do the flop with a sand pit or sawdust pit. You need a big foam mat. So there has been progress in the equipment also.

Sri Chinmoy: In those days the pole vault sandpit, the high jump sandpit and the long jump sandpit were all of the same level, only they were at different places on the sportsground. We did not have this kind of foam mattress. When I did the pole vault, I had to drop from Heaven onto the hard sand. Now, the way high jumpers land on their backs, if they used our old-fashioned sandpits, they would have to be carried to a hospital!

To come back to the point, as soon as we think of running, we imagine someone running towards the goal. When we think of a goal, speed spontaneously comes into our mind. Whenever we say the word ‘goal’, our human mind immediately thinks of a journey, whether by boat or plane or car or even by walking. But weightlifting does not give us the feeling of a journey. True, our goal may be to increase the weight that we are lifting from 50 pounds to 100 pounds, but we are not going anywhere physically. With our mind we have created a certain goal, but the goal is inside. There is no forward movement.

When you are running, you are going forward towards your goal. You are starting at one point and your destination is somewhere else. But weightlifting does not give that image immediately. You are only increasing the weight. Your mind has created a goal, but you are at the same spot.

Life itself is a journey and that journey has a goal. We are running along Eternity’s Road towards tomorrow’s golden Sunrise.

Student: Many bodybuilders appreciate the lifts that you are doing, but weightlifters on the whole do not seem to be as receptive.

Sri Chinmoy: I feel that bodybuilders give a better vibration than weightlifters when you look at them. In the case of bodybuilders, their mind is focusing on a more subtle subject. They may be lifting heavy weights, but still they can think of delicate things, things that are very subtle.

Weightlifters by nature are not like that. They are dealing with heavy, heavy weights. You can say it is gross matter. They just grab the weight. They do not care how they look.

Bodybuilders care so much for the perfection of the body. They may take drugs or they may not take drugs, but they take their body as their temple. They are concentrating all the time to make the body look nice, symmetrical and so on. Do weightlifters do this? As long as they can lift heavy weights, it is enough. Do they care how they look? Bodybuilders can deal with subtle reality if they want to, but most weightlifters will find it difficult.

Student: Are you affected in any way by the heavy weights?

Sri Chinmoy: No, after weightlifting I can enter into my highest meditation. Even while I am weightlifting, I can do that. Once one reaches the Highest, at that time he can transform heaviness into lightness.

In the case of ordinary people, if something is heavy, it is heavy. If something is light, it is light. Their concept is fixed. In my case, it is not like that. Even when I am lifting heavy weights, my mind can deal with subtle things. In my inner world, I may be composing, I may be singing, I may be writing poems.

I am not the world’s best musician, but I have come to a certain standard. At least ten instruments I play well. In the art-world, I have drawn so many beautiful birds. Similarly, thousands of poems I have written. These are delicate things. Again, I am the same person who is lifting very heavy weights. Even when I lift heavy weights, my consciousness is dealing with very light things.

Many years ago a journalist came to our meditation session at the United Nations to interview me for a weightlifting magazine. I was playing some musical instruments. When he saw my muscles, he left the auditorium! He could not believe that this fellow could lift up 200 pounds with one arm! So I cannot be compared with other weightlifters because my life is totally different. This moment I am meditating, next moment I can deal with gross matter. Let other weightlifters try to write a few poems, a few delicate lines, or play a few instruments. They will break the instruments before they touch them!

Student: Who will ultimately appreciate your feats more — weightlifters or bodybuilders?

Sri Chinmoy: Bodybuilders know how difficult it is to lift heavy weights. Although their goal is not to lift very heavy weights, at the same time they know how much they struggle when they try to lift them.

Again, it is not a question of whether bodybuilders or weightlifters will appreciate these things more. It is only the heart of the person that matters. If a weightlifter has a good heart, he will appreciate them. We have to enter into each field with our heart. One person may be a singer, another may be a weightlifter. If the singer lives in his heart, he will appreciate the weightlifter also because he is shining in another field. Similarly, the weightlifter will appreciate the singer.

If we have a good heart, we will appreciate others. If we have a bad heart, we will criticise them or we will say, “If I had practised, I could have defeated that person. I could have become another Carl Lewis.” With ‘if’ we challenge the achievements of others. We say, “If I had had the opportunity, I could have done the same.” That is how we start blaming God right from the beginning. Why did God give the opportunity to Bill Rodgers to become the world’s fastest marathoner? Why did God allow Sir Edmund Hillary to climb up Mount Everest? Ask God. Find fault with God. But I tell you, even if God had given us the opportunity, we would not have valued it.

So many people come into the family of a great musician and yet they do not play music. So many people come into the family of a great runner, but they are not running. They do not value what their parents are doing. You see so many cases where the parents are great in a particular field, but the children do not follow in the footsteps of their parents. Opportunity came their way, but they did not value it.

Student: Instead of using aggressive qualities, if weightlifters try to use a divine approach, could weightlifting become a positive avenue for progress?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! Why only weightlifting? In any field, if divine methods, proper methods, are used, then one can make unimaginable progress.

In India many, many years ago, there was a great wrestler. He defeated all his opponents. One day he entered into the Ganges to take his bath. A sadhu happened to be swimming at that spot. The sadhu was very thin, almost emaciated, and he was wearing a loincloth. He was swimming to and fro and not bothering anybody.

The wrestler had a mischievous nature. He started splashing the sadhu with water and making fun of him. The sadhu had not done anything to annoy him, but the wrestler was just doing it to prove his superior physical strength.

The sadhu said to him, “Now stop!” Suddenly the wrestler could not move his hands at all, the way my cousin could not move her leg when I showed her my occult power. The wrestler’s hands were raised out of the water because he was in the process of splashing the sadhu. He was stuck in that position, with his hands up — exactly the way people put their hands up when the police ask them to surrender. He literally had to surrender to the sadhu. In terms of physical strength, with two fingers he could have grabbed the sadhu and thrown him onto the bank of the river, but he was no match for the sadhu’s occult and spiritual strength.

After a few minutes, the wrestler was able to move his arms again. He came out of the water, touched the feet of the sadhu and said, “I want to become your disciple.” The sadhu accepted him and the wrestler began to lead a spiritual life. He surrendered to this thinner than the thinnest man and he made so much spiritual progress. By that time, the wrestler had many students and they all became the sadhu’s disciples.

At the ashram where I grew up, one of my friends was the strongest wrestler. He could throw me into the air easily. One day he wanted me to show him my occult power. So I showed him five cents’ worth of occult power from my third eye. He fell down on the ground. Then he ran to the head of the physical education department and began screaming, “That rascal wanted to kill me!”

The head asked, “How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife?”

“No,” said my friend.

“Then how could he kill you?” asked the head. “You are such a strong fellow!”

“With his eyes!” replied my friend. Then everybody laughed and laughed at him.

That is how I lost a real friend and a great admirer. His name was Krishna. He was absolutely the strongest person in the Ashram. Nobody could come near him.

Student: Guru, would you prefer to watch a bodybuilding contest or an Olympic weightlifting contest? Which one gives you more real joy?

Sri Chinmoy: I definitely prefer watching the bodybuilders because there is a kind of art inside. If I see Frank Zane’s body, it is like watching a Greek god. There is so much art inside his body. When I look at him, I see a river flowing through him with so much life-energy, beauty, charm and strength. How sincerely I am admiring and admiring him! It is art. His whole body — the muscles and everything — is like artwork. He looks like an artist has made a beautiful sketch of a human being.

Bodybuilders give joy with their muscles. They may take all kinds of drugs, but they are so careful about how they look. Inside the bodybuilders you can see some charm, but inside the weightlifters I do not see any charm.

If there is a bodybuilding contest, I will stay there and watch, although I do not know which body is good. I am in no way an expert. I may like one person and the judges will give him zero. But I dislike weightlifting.

Student: But in bodybuilding the competitors all look almost identical, whereas in weightlifting at least there is a goal.

Sri Chinmoy: Do not look at the bodybuilders’ muscles. Look at their face, specially at their eyes. Immediately they will give a divine vibration. Do not look at their stomachs or quadriceps or anything. Just look from the neck up, at their eyes and face. As soon as you look at their eyes, bodybuilders will give a good vibration. But if you look at the eyes of weightlifters, immediately you will get another vibration.

Student: I am truly amazed at how people from all walks of life are valuing your lifting achievements.

Sri Chinmoy: Look at their good hearts! When I lift up heavy weights, so many people who are not in the weightlifting world appreciate it. They could have said that weightlifting is silly, but because of their good hearts they are saying such nice things. If you have a good heart, you will value everything that is good even if you do not do it yourself. Good-hearted people will appreciate everyone who is trying to offer something to the world. Unfortunately, many people feel that what they are doing is the most important thing and everything else is useless. Why should it be like that?

Student: Sometimes I think I should be stronger so that I can hand the heavy weights to you.

Sri Chinmoy: Then do it. Who is asking you not to be strong? I see that those who are bringing me weights are getting such a good workout, although they are not thinking of getting strong. People who help me are doing it lovingly and devotedly. Such patience they have! Sometimes they have to count five hundred lifts for each arm.

As a rule, I do not like it when two people lift a dumbbell together and hand it to me. It is like my famous story about pouring milk into the king’s pond. One person will think, “If I do not put milk, no harm. Somebody else will put milk. Let me just add water.” Then the next person says the same thing and so on until the pond is filled only with water. Similarly, one person is thinking, “If I am not concentrating wholeheartedly, the other fellow will do it.” But the other fellow will think the same thing. Whereas, when you are doing it alone, you are fully responsible. Nowadays, when I am lying down, I use the automatic machine. Here I am safe. If I cannot lift the weight, it will not fall down and hurt me. I have done 120 pounds with each arm on the machine. Otherwise, I like to do 110 pounds with each arm on a regular basis.

Student: Which is harder to lift — a 300-pound weight or a person who weighs 300 pounds?

Sri Chinmoy: The weight is more difficult because the person has human qualities. Most of them will be kind to me and consciously co-operate with the hope that I will be able to lift them. Out of amusement, some will say, “Poor fellow, he is trying so hard. He is killing himself. I will not stand against him.”

But the iron plates are not like that. There I am not getting any conscious help. Unconsciously they resist. I have to pour light into the plates when I lift them.

Most people are very sympathetic when I try to lift them. They offer me their goodwill. When I lifted President Mandela, for example, he was only helping me. He did not have any other feeling. The elder brother was seeing that his little brother wanted to show off, so he encouraged me to show off.

Student: What is the deeper significance of your weightlifting?

Sri Chinmoy: Anything that I do will be valued, if it has to be valued, because of my spiritual life. Otherwise, if my spiritual life goes away, then my weightlifting, my music, my art, my poetry — nothing will remain. Spirituality is the backbone, the spine, of all my outer activities. Or you can say it is the trunk of my life-tree. In my case, because of the trunk, the branches also will be valued. If there had been no trunk, then nothing would have been valued, no matter how many things I accomplished on the outer plane. Nobody would have cared for them.

People know me as a man of peace and that is why they are encouraging my weightlifting and other activities. They see that I am a man of peace who is doing something good on another plane. If others who are much stronger than I am did the same thing, they would not pay any attention because they know it is in their line. They know I am not supposed to be in the weightlifting line. They think of a man of peace on a different level. It is because of my spirituality, my inner background, that they are valuing me.

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