Sri Chinmoy’s weightlifting defies belief. It doesn’t seem possible to lift the weights he did, especially considering that his two-decade long weightlifting career only began at age 54. He made the impossible not only possible, but Chinmoy furthermore, suggests that we can do it too!
This is the uplifting message of Challenging Impossibility, a documentary that premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.Spiritual-master-turned-strongman Sri Chinmoy, who passed away in 2007, is shown lifting not just weights but aircraft, elephants, cars and a who’s who of 20th Century luminaries including Nelson Mandela and Sting. By doing so, the Indian-born poet born again as powerlifter challenged impossibility itself.
When Sri Chinmoy lifts weights, “It’s like gravity stops” says former Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis, a personal friend of the weightlifting guru. And gravity indeed is denied when Sri Chinmoy lifts a 2000-pound car on film. How can such feats of strength be possible? The answer is “all in the mind”, according to five-time Canada’s Strongest Man and documentary cast-member Hugo Girard, who credits Sri Chinmoy with helping him to realise that powerlifting is first and foremost internal. “You get to the place where it doesn’t matter how much something weighs, it’s going to move. If you think how much it weighs, you’re going to fail.”
All in the mind, and in the heart and soul as well, for as Sri Chinmoy explained, the capacity he drew upon to literally raise the impossible is deep within us all, able to be accessed through the powers of concentration and meditation. “Many, many things I have done which my physical mind cannot believe” he explained. “But then again, when I concentrate, I am not afraid of it. When I am one with it, I act like a hero.”
“It’s been very motivational for me,” three-time Mr Olympia Frank Zane commented on the documentary, himself a pro body-builder who has merged meditation with weight-training since the age of 14. “You know, there are times in your training when you don’t feel like doing it, then you just look at what he’s doing and you’re in again.”
Challenging Impossibility co-director Sanjay Rawal, a student of the weightlifting meditation teacher for 16 years, said his ultimate wish in making the film was to share Sri Chinmoy’s personal example of challenging the impossible. “The one thing that I learned from him is to never give up. There’s no such thing as an impossible dream.”
Tribeca Interview: Challenging Impossibility Directors Sanjay Rawal and Natabara Rollosson
By Perri Nemiroff, CinemaBlend.com
It’s one thing for a man or woman in his or her prime to bulk up and take part in the sport of weightlifting, but a 54-year-old spiritual teacher? That’s Sri Chinmoy for you, a man willing to push himself to the limits in order to show the world that anyone can reach their maximum potential.
Even though Chinmoy is no longer with us, his legacy certainly lives on and filmmakers Sanjay Rawal and Natabara Rollosson are doing their part to preserve his teachings as well. Their short documentary, Challenging Impossibility, uses archival footage as well as new interviews to tell the tale of how Chinmoy did the impossible, picking up an unusual hobby, excelling at it and continuing to wow and inspire the world lifting everything from weights to celebrities to elephants well into his 70s.
In honor of the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Rawal and Rollosson sat down to tell us all about their personal experience working with Chinmoy and celebrating his accomplishments in Challenging Impossibility as well as the potential of developing their short into a longer form piece.