Sri Chinmoy made the following additional comments on 20 February 2000 at a function held at P.S. 117 in Queens, New York.
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.
Excerpt from A Mystic Journey In The Weightlifting World, Part One by Sri Chinmoy.