Interviewer: I saw in a book pictures of you with Nelson Mandela and with Mikhail Gorbachev. What is the connection between your ability to lift tremendous poundages of weight and world peace?

Sri Chinmoy: There is a very close link. Let me answer this question in two parts. First of all, I meet with world luminaries. They are known as great politicians, supreme politicians. I am not a politician. Politics is not my forte. I go to them as a student of peace, and I feel that, deep within, they are also longing for world peace. I go as a student of peace, and they are so kind to receive me as a student of peace. We are aiming at peace. They have a genuine hunger for world peace, as I have, so we talk about world peace. There is no world politics involved.

I lift heavy weights, and I pray and meditate. What is the link between the two? Again, there is a very close link. The physical and the spiritual must go together. We believe in the soul. Inside the body is the soul. Inside our inner existence, we feel the Presence of God. Inside the church is the altar. In India we have temples. Inside the temple there is a shrine. If there is no temple, there can be no shrine. If there is no church, there can be no altar. If there is a church with no altar inside, it will be of no value. The altar has to be inside the church. Both are interdependent. They need each other. The church needs the altar; the altar needs the church.

Similarly, the physical and the spiritual must go together. The spiritual is inside us, so the spiritual has to come to the fore to be of inspiration and guidance to the outer life. I try to keep them together. They depend on each other. Like the church and the altar, like the temple and the shrine, the physical and the spiritual must go together. I give due importance to the physical and the spiritual at the same time.

There was a time when I was a good athlete, according to our Indian standard. In my youth, in my adolescent years, I disliked weightlifting vehemently. I was of the opinion that, because weightlifters are muscle-bound, weightlifting would decrease my speed. But now my opinion has completely changed. Here in America and elsewhere I have been seeing that sprinters are very, very strong and muscle-bound. Their muscles are extremely powerful, and they are running faster than the fastest. In the olden days there was a theory that if your muscles were developed, it would slow down your speed. At that time I was an excellent athlete, but I did not do weightlifting at all. Now I do not run, because my right knee is badly injured, but I lift heavy weights. As I said before, I depend on inspiration. I do things in accordance with the Will of my inner Guide.