Sri Chinmoy’s TV Interview
by Bob de Jong of Veronica TV, Holland
Question: Sri Chinmoy, why are you doing this weightlifting?
Sri Chinmoy: I am doing it to inspire my brothers and sisters. This world belongs to one Person, God the Creator, and we are His children, God the creation. Now I am in Holland. I have come to see my brothers and sisters here in Holland. I feel that if I can be of inspiration to them, I will be very, very happy. From weightlifting, I get inner joy, inner strength and inner peace, peace of mind. If you have peace of mind, then you do not quarrel with others, you do not fight with others, you do not declare wars. So that is why I do weightlifting.
Question: Have you done any sports before in your life?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes. I have been a sportsman all my life. When I was young, I was an athlete. According to Indian standards, I was a very good athlete. I was also a decathlon champion. I was good in sprinting, jumping, throwing and so forth. But that is all past history.
Question: There are a lot of traditional weightlifting techniques, but now you are using none of these techniques. So how can you do it?
Sri Chinmoy: In my case, it is a matter of inner inspiration. You will be surprised to learn that there was a time when I disliked weightlifting immensely. In India, I was a sprinter and I thought weightlifting would be detrimental to my running career. Here, in America, I ran for quite a few years and I inspired my students all over the world to run. My right knee became badly injured, perhaps from running, so I gave up running and then I got the inspiration from within to lift weights so that I can keep physically fit. That is how I started.
As you can see, I do not know any weightlifting techniques. I do not have the physique of a bodybuilder or weightlifter. I entirely depend on God's Grace. God's Grace acts in and through me in all that I do. Not only in my sports life, but in my literary career, in my art and in all my activities, I entirely depend on God's Grace, God's Compassion. He is the One who helps me, guides me and protects me. He does it through me and I just try to become a good recipient. I try to offer Him my own receptivity, and He performs everything in and through me according to my receptivity.
Question: You talk about God. In Holland, people will say we are Christians, so we have a Christian God. There are people in other countries who have their own God.
Sri Chinmoy: There is only one God, but we use different terms. In Dutch you use one word. In Bengali, I use the word 'Bhagavan', in English, they say 'God', and in French 'Dieu'. Each language has a word for God, but it is the same Person. An individual may be called Mr. So-and-So, his children call him Father or Daddy, and his friends will call him by his first name, but he remains the same person.
Question: Why do you think it is possible that we have wars between people and they all say they are fighting for their God? How is it that there is only one God and so many opposing sides?
Sri Chinmoy: It is our misconception of God. God is all love. Let us say God is the Father and we are two brothers. If we are quarrelling and fighting, will our Father be happy? No. The Father will be happy only if his two sons are happy and peaceful.
So each religion starts with love of God. Is there any religion that will say it hates God or hates humanity? There is no such religion. It is only our misconception of God. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism — they will all say they love God. But if you really love someone, how can you make that person unhappy? If we say that we love God and we continue to quarrel and fight with one another, is it not absurd? We want to make our beloved God happy. We want to make our Father happy. Who wants to make his Father unhappy and miserable? Nobody wants. But in our actions, unfortunately, we are making God sad and miserable. No religion will advocate war, quarrels, fighting and an unhappy life.
Question: Let us return to the topic of sport. Let us say there are two sportsmen. They may fight each other, even if it is a friendly fight. It could be boxing, it could be wrestling. If both of them pray, would that be good?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes. If they pray, then they will have protection from God and they will show their best capacities, but there will be no animosity involved. Suppose two boxers are fighting. Naturally, each one wants to win. On the one hand, they can bring to the fore their animal propensities, animal qualities, and destroy the opponent. On the other hand, each one can feel that this is an opportunity to transcend their own capacities. They can try to bring their hidden capacities to the fore. According to our philosophy, we are always trying to transcend ourselves, we are always trying to improve. So, while transcending ourselves, if we defeat someone, then it is not a mistake. But if we try to defeat someone by hook or by crook, by adopting foul means, then that will be a most deplorable mistake.
Question: I know quite a lot of sports people and some of them pray. They say, "Please, Father, let me win the world championship today." Sometimes they succeed. Is that prayer good?
Sri Chinmoy: That prayer is good, but it is not the best prayer. The best prayer is to say, "Let Thy Will be done." The Saviour Christ offered the entire world this most significant message, "Let Thy Will be done." I wish to tell you about another great sportsman, one of the greatest, Muhammad Ali. Everybody knows Muhammad Ali. He is a very close friend of mine. About ten years ago, before one of his fights, he meditated with me for about fifteen minutes. He is a Muslim, so he was praying to Allah and I was praying to God, but it is the same Person. We prayed and meditated together. That night he won the fight. My prayer was only "God, let Thy Will be done." Although Muhammad Ali is my close friend, I knew that whatever God wanted to do in and through Ali will be the best thing. When we offer this prayer to God, God does the best for us.
Question: It could also mean that he would have lost. That could have been the best.
Sri Chinmoy: Absolutely. In this case, God wanted him to win. That was the best from the spiritual point of view. But if God wanted to give him the experience of failure, then he would have gained a very significant inner experience in another way. Sometimes God gives us the experience of failure when He wants us to establish our inseparable oneness with our competitors. At that time, if our prayer to God — "Let Thy Will be done" — is sincere, then we are equally happy because we love God. The Person whom we love most knows what is best for us. So we pray to God to do His Will, not our will. Otherwise, at every moment we would pray to God, "Make me the winner, make me the best." From the highest spiritual point of view, that is a mistake. We should pray to God for His Will to be executed in and through us. That is the best prayer.
Question: I have been a professional sportsman and in my life several times I have had the feeling that I could do more than what I was actually doing. Does that sound familiar to you?
Sri Chinmoy: It has happened many, many times in my case also that I could not offer my best capacity. Many times I felt that I could have done far, far better in running, but I did not do it, could not do it. Even then, I was not unhappy because at the very beginning I had offered my soulful prayer to God, "Let Thy Will be done." My mind will say that perhaps I was forced to hold something back, but my heart will say no. I prayed to God for His Will to be performed in and through me. Whatever timing I did in the race, that was the timing God wanted me to show to the world at large. So I was perfectly happy.
Question: If sports people would like to meditate, how should they do it?
Sri Chinmoy: Every morning, when they get up, before they enter into the hustle and bustle of life, they can pray to God to give them a peaceful day, a happy day. They can utter the words, "O Lord God, today do grant me a peaceful day." That is one way, the way of prayer.
The other approach is through meditation. You can try to make the mind absolutely calm and quiet. Focus your concentration right on your heart. Try to feel that only in your heart you exist and there is nothing else. Here you are envisioning your own inner existence, your own divinity. Do not have even an iota of thought. The mind must be calm, quiet and absolutely silent.
With prayer, we use words to approach God. We say, "My Lord Supreme, do make me a choice instrument of Yours so that I can please You and fulfil You in Your own Way." When we are in deep meditation, on the other hand, we feel that God is doing the things that are necessary to be performed in and through us. He will act in and through us. We just try to be a perfect instrument of His.
While I am praying, I feel that God is high in Heaven. My prayer is going up to Him. While I am meditating, the elevator is coming down. God the compassionate One is descending into my heart and He will do the needful. This is how we feel God.
Question: Is it true that by praying and meditating anybody can become a better athlete?
Sri Chinmoy: It is definitely true. It is like having another friend on your side in a tug-of-war. If the other person does not pray or meditate, then he will be all alone, whereas you will have your prayer-friend and meditation-friend on your side.
So many world-class athletes pray and meditate. Just last week, the great Olympian Carl Lewis came and meditated with me for about an hour or so. He has been my friend for several years. During the last Olympics in Los Angeles, he came and meditated with me at the hotel room because he felt the need. He knows that his prayer-life has helped him considerably. He has prayed and meditated with me many, many times.
When you pray and meditate, you increase your inner strength, inner capacities. If your capacity is increased from your prayer-life and your meditation-life, then you should do it. It is like having two extra friends to inspire you. We all want to have friends. Friends can be of great help to us in our hour of need. During sports, we desperately need friends to come to our rescue. So here, prayer and meditation are two excellent friends to help us.
Question: Do you lift these heavy weights with the help of prayer and meditation?
Sri Chinmoy: Yes. I give 100 per cent credit to my prayer-life and meditation-life. In my case, it is not 99½ per cent or 99¾ per cent, but 100 per cent. Even today, when I lifted my bodyweight with my left arm and then my right arm, I know that if my inner Guide did not protect me, I would have dropped it or I could not have lifted it at all. For everything I do, I depend on His Grace, His Compassion, His Protection.
If God grants us His Compassion, out of His infinite Bounty, then is there anything we cannot do? I am a drop, but the moment I enter into the ocean, I become the ocean. Similarly, my finite will, finite capacity, is next to nothing, but the moment I identify myself with God's infinite Will, I am able to accomplish so much. Otherwise, how could I think of lifting such heavy weights at this age? I would be the first person to doubt it. But again, I know I have not done it, I have not done it. Who has done it? God, my Inner Pilot. He is infinite, eternal and immortal. For Him to do this kind of thing is so easy. So for everything, I give Him 100 per cent credit. I know what I can do. I can do nothing. I have written thousands of poems, composed thousands of songs and created thousands of paintings. I know that it is His unconditional Grace at every moment that has enabled me to do these things. I do not deserve it. I know there are many people who are infinitely more talented than I am, but out of His infinite Compassion, He has chosen me.
In the bodybuilding and weightlifting world, look at the biceps and triceps of the champions. How huge they are! But when it comes to lifting, perhaps they are not invoking the highest Power, supreme Power.
Question: If there is a sports competition, can you see by the aura around people who will win?
Sri Chinmoy: Definitely I can see, and then, if it is the Will of God, on very rare occasions, I can tell the person. I will give you an example. One day before the 200-metre final at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Carl Lewis came to meditate with me in my hotel room. Afterwards, I asked him if he would like to know the results of the race the following day. I told him that he would stand first, second would be Kirk Baptiste and third would be Thomas Jefferson. It was God who showed me the results and God who wanted me to tell him. The next day, the race took place and the result was exactly what I had told him. If God had not shown me the result, I would not have been unhappy at all. My goal was only to pray most soulfully with Carl Lewis. Whomever God chose to be the winner, it was up to God's Will. But God wanted me to see the result and God wanted me to tell Carl Lewis.
Question: My last question is, would you kindly address the young Dutch public who watch my programme? I would like to give you some time to talk to the young people. What would you like to give them as a message?
Sri Chinmoy: My message is very simple. This is Holland. Holland is famous for flowers — tulips. If they can remain as beautiful and as pure as the flowers of Holland, then they will be able to accomplish much from life.
This is the land of flowers and flowers symbolise purity. There are many places on earth where it is not so easy to find flowers. Here, it is so easy. Just look around! The flowers that you are seeing with your outer eyes, if each child can feel the same beautiful flower — a tulip or any flower — inside their heart, it will help them tremendously.
The moment we lose purity, we lose practically everything. Each child is a dream of God. God Himself is dreaming His highest Dream in and through each child. If he sees that the child has a pure heart, then God can manifest Himself in and through that pure heart easily. So my advice to the children of Holland is to maintain their pure hearts as long as they can. Once they lose purity, everything is confusion. If the mind is full of confusion, then how are you going to accomplish anything? Always God wants a purity-heart. If we can have that purity in our heart every day, we can accomplish something very special, very meaningful and very fruitful.
So this is my soulful message to the children of Holland, the land of flowers: to maintain their purity-heart throughout their lives.
Published in Conversations with Sri Chinmoy
You are Very Close to God!
by Sri Chinmoy
on 19 March 1988
After my television interview, a man from the Dutch radio station also wanted to interview me.
We were sitting face to face, and he was asking me many spiritual questions. At one point he stood up and came over to me and said, “There are some people who are very, very close to God, and I can see you are one of those.”
Published in The World-Experience-Tree-Climber, part 6