The day I made a useless and ridiculous weightlifting machine for Guru

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »


For many years, Guru did of a lot of weightlifting, attempting heavier weights, different kinds of weights. It was a big part of our life as guards to help Guru with the weightlifting, to help with the machines, to help transport things and to help with the Lifting Up the World With a Oneness-Heart lifting ceremonies.

I think every now and then Guru realised that some of us could not relate to the amount of weight that Guru was lifting. We had no way of understanding it. So Guru sometimes would get the guards to lift heavy weights.

One time on Aspiration-Ground in front of everybody, in front of everyone at Celebrations, I was trying to lift a weight, but I was having some serious problems.

Guru gave us two weights. We were trying to lift two weights that were both very heavy, and it was impossible for me. I did my best. It was so much fun to do it, to start to identify with what Guru was doing.

There's a great story. When I was on one Christmas trip, Guru said 'All of the guards, every single guard, has to make a weightlifting machine for me'. The thing is, at that time, it was 1992, I didn't know how to make a weightlifting machine. I'm not good with mechanical things or engineering or construction. I had no idea how to make a machine. I had no money, zero money. We were on this island, Tenerife, which is off the coast of Africa. It was a Christmas trip. I was wondering, “What am I going to do?” I was really getting worried. How am I going to make a machine? I have nothing.

Sri Chinmoy in Tenerife

One day I was walking by the beach in a bay with boats and things. There was this piece of wood that came in from the water, from the ocean onto the beach. It was a really horrible piece of wood, about one metre by two metres. It was broken. It was a piece of a boat or something. It smelled of fish because it was in the water. I dragged this piece of wood back to the hotel where we were staying.

When I got back to the hotel, I found a small piece of what we call a two-by-one piece of wood. I nailed it to the big piece of wood and I put some elastic band around the wood. This was my machine. It was a ridiculous machine. It was hopeless. I was hoping that Guru would not ask to see the machines because it was the most useless and ridiculous weightlifting machine. But it was the best I could do.

The other boys were making things out of metal with special welded parts and a really good machine for Guru to use. I had this ridiculous piece of wood, so I hid it away. I hoped Guru would not ask for it. But of course, on the last day, Guru said, "Oh Devashishu, where is your machine?"

I brought this machine, this piece of wood with another piece of wood and a piece of elastic. Guru was in the function room on the Christmas trip in a special area with a curtain around it. It was just me and Guru. I brought it in and I thought Guru would just laugh and tell me to take it away. But Guru said, "How does it work?" Then I said, "Guru you put your foot through the elastic and then you just pull." Guru said, "Let me try, let me try."

So Guru sat on a chair. He put his foot through this piece of elastic. I had to hold the piece of wood, the upright piece of wood as Guru pulled with his leg, because otherwise it would fall to pieces. I kept waiting for Guru to just laugh and say it was ridiculous. But Guru tried it. He tried it with both legs.

What I learnt from this experience was what Guru wants us to do. He doesn't want us to be brilliant and amazing and to be the best at everything. But he wants us to identify, to feel oneness, to follow Guru, to follow what he's doing, to identify with his weightlifting through his exercising. And through that we can have real joy. We can actually get tremendous joy, tremendous inspiration.

While in Tenerife, Sri Chinmoy was also trying to better his 100m record time - another project which his students would try to identify with and assist him with.

But if we just look at Guru's weightlifting and say, “Oh, I don't understand weightlifting. I don't understand any of that,” we sort of leave a distance between us and the weightlifting. Then we're never quite getting the inspiration, we're never really fully part of what Guru is doing.

Guru just taught us over and over again to have oneness, to have identification, to completely surrender and feel oneness with what he was doing. It was a really big lesson for me.

That machine, by the way, never went to New York. It disappeared.

An interview with Sri Chinmoy: 'We are all one, and it is in oneness that we can get true satisfaction.'

The aspiring heart believes in
Only one road,
And that road is

Sri Chinmoy 1