Part 8

Around mid-morning on September 23rd, Sri Chinmoy drove from his home in Jamaica, Queens to Greenwich, Connecticut. His students had arrived several hours earlier and set up the calf raise machine together with a lifting platform in a quiet cul-de-sac. Residents of the surrounding houses peered at this strange apparition and wondered what the winds of fortune had in store.

Their curiosity was fed even more when the rumblings of a huge semi-trailer were heard, as it backed into the street. A ramp was placed against the side of the trailer, near a large sliding door. Suddenly, the little street seemed to be swarming with people and activity.

In the midst of these proceedings, Sri Chinmoy arrived and stepped out of the car in his weightlifting attire. It was the signal to begin. The sliding door of the semi-trailer was thrown open and a hush fell upon the crowd as the moment dawned when its long-awaited occupant would become visible.

Something protruded from the recesses of the trailer and began to wave around in the air. It was a trunk! Gradually, two enormous ears came into view, a head with dark shy eyes and a mouth solidly chewing straw. Finally, the most adorable baby elephant trundled down the ramp with a none-too-hurried pace and stood amongst the crowd.

Sri Chinmoy walked towards the elephant, ceremoniously greeting it with a long garland of flowers. "We have to become very good friends," he said, smilingly, as he placed the garland around its neck. Then, weightlifter and "weight" approached the machine.
The elephant, a 4-year old African, was being weighed at l,22() pounds. Sri Chinmoy's new lifting ramp —strongly reinforced - was 320 pounds. For his first lift, the elephant stood alone on the platform to give a total weight of 1,540 pounds.

Several television crews and reporters who had gathered made their way to the front of the rows of spectators as Sri Chinmoy was preparing for the lift. "Sri Chinmoy, please explain to me what you hope to show people by lifting an elephant," one of them asked.

"First of all," began Sri Chinmoy in his calm way,

"I would like to make it very clear to you that I am not a bodybuilder; I am not a weightlifter. I am a truth-seeker and a God-lover. I pray to God and meditate on God daily, and I always wait for His inner Guidance. For the past 15 months, my Inner Pilot, God, has been telling me not to neglect the body but to be of inspiration to the world of strength. That is to say, we have to accept the body as something most important in our life. The spiritual figures of the hoary past neglected the body and the world. They remained in the Himalayan caves or in the forest —in isolated places. They felt that the body is useless and that a seeker cannot derive anything good from the body. But I do not see eye-to-eye with them."

"What then do you hope to show by this display of strength?" pursued the interviewer intently.

"You can see that I do not have tremendous muscle-power," Sri Chinmoy replied, indicating his arms and legs. "I do not have a superb physique. People who lift heavy weights can show large muscles, but I don't have that kind of developed muscles. What I wish to show by these feats of strength is that prayer and meditation can definitely increase one's outer capacities. I hope that by doing this I will be able to inspire many people to pray and meditate sincerely as part of their regular daily routine."

A glimmer of understanding was beginning to penetrate the interviewer. "So in a sense your concentration and your meditation are going to help you lift this animal?" he said, more as a statement than a question.
"Yes," answered Sri Chinmoy.

"If I can lift this elephant, I will give 100 per cent credit to the Grace of my Lord Supreme."

He turned aside and folded his hands in silent prayer to God. Then, stepping up to the foot platform, he took the weight of the bars on his shoulders, breathed deeply several times, and began to push upwards. The front end of the ramp lifted several inches.

Quite heavy," he said, after he had returned the elephant to ground level, "but I feel confident that I could do a little more." He then called on five men to join the elephant on the platform. The total weight was now 2411 pounds. The strain etched itself on Sri Chinmoy's features as he fought to lift the great mass clear of the ground. Once more his efforts met with success. He lowered the platform gently and eased out of the harness. "I never expected it to be so heavy," he said as he recovered from his exertion. "It's extremely, extremely heavy."

Enthralled by what they had just witnessed, the reporters pressed closer, some even testing Sri Chinmoy's muscles and touching his skin to see whether he was sweating. The questions came thick and fast.

"When you were standing on the platform, you were, I think, meditating. What were you thinking?" said one.

"I was concentrating on the cosmic force or universal power and trying to draw it into my body," answered Sri Chinmoy.

"And how do you do that? Were you thinking thoughts? Were you saying something?"

"No, I was not thinking," explained Sri Chinmoy patiently. "I was using something that goes beyond thinking and thoughts. It is called will power. It comes from our third eye. I used the power of my third eye to collect all the inner forces that I have."

The reporters then commented on Sri Chinmoy's breathing and asked him whether there was any significance to the three deep breaths he had taken just before lifting

"The first time I offered my gratitude to God the Creator, who has created me. The second time I offered my gratitude in God the Preserver, who is preserving me on earth. The third time I offered my gratitude to God the Transformer, who is transforming my mind, my vital and my physical. I believe in these three aspects of God, so three times I offered my gratitude."

The questions continued to flow as Sri Chinmoy walked towards his car, his muscles beginning to tighten up in the cool autumn air. He leaned on the bonnet of the car, answering each one in turn. He spoke softly, taking mental theories and replacing them with spiritual certitude, taking the known world and revealing the unknown world beyond it, taking physical experience and transforming it into a journey of the soul.

One sensed that the mystery was deepening more and more.


Sri Chinmoy Calf Raises