Question: What is the significance of your accomplishments in the fields of art and sports? Your fantastic results seem to prove that in your case the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Is this true for everyone?

Sri Chinmoy: The life-tree has many branches. Art, literature, music and athletics are all branches of the life-tree. In my case, when I apply myself to art, literature, music, sports and other activities, I have only one goal: self-transcendence. I have always tried to transcend myself, and I am still trying to transcend myself, for self-transcendence is the only way to achieve self-perfection and God-satisfaction.

For all human beings the body is truly the instrument of the spirit. Westerners are fond of saying that the spirit is willing but the body is weak. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with this pronouncement. The body is always loyal to its superiors — the mind, heart and soul. Our real problem starts with the mind, not with the body.

When the mind is the boss, the mind dictates wrong things to the body, because the mind itself is spiritually weak. The limitations of the mind are so powerful that they do not allow the mind itself to surrender to the higher authorities — the heart and soul. But the body, in spite of having serious limitations, is always willing to obey the heart and soul when they are able to come to the fore in the life of an aspiring human being.

So it is not actually the limitations of the body that so often prevent us from doing the right thing or from making progress in the way we want to. Just because the mind is superior to the body in certain ways, we are inclined to defend the mind and accuse the body. But actually it is the unwillingness of the mind, cleverly disguised, which is really to blame for our lack of accomplishments or progress.

For everyone, the body is the only means by which the spirit can manifest itself. The body is the temple; the spirit is the shrine. Both are of supreme importance. The shrine is needed for inner realisation; the temple is needed for outer manifestation.