July 16, 2009

Playing Awake!

The last sport I ever thought I’d write about is golf. Actually, I can’t even believe I’m blogging about sports.  I'm not a big sports fan.  And if I play, I like to play soccer. However, every time I pass a golf course, I can’t help but wonder if golf could be considered the quintessential Buddhist sport, if there is such a thing as "a quintessential Buddhist sport.” But think about it. It’s just you & your body, wide-open space, relaxing, and then an object of concentration or meditation (the golf ball).

I began to look for other ideas that supported this thesis. And I found James Ragonnet’s book, Golf’s Three Noble Truths. In it he dissects and applies three core Buddhist teachings, which will help any golfer —or human being for that matter—grow. The three core truths to explore and master, he says, are, Awareness, Balance, and Unity. I think Tricycle should do an entire issue on how Buddhism applies to sports. What do you think? What other sport might apply? And how?

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James Ragonnet's picture

Adam,
Thanks for mentioning my book, GOLF'S THREE NOBLE TRUTHS.

The core truths of awareness, balance and unity actualized my growth. Before I adopted these truths, I didn't have a core. Without a core, I lacked inner peace.

My core truths -- derived from Buddhist teachings and practices -- fueled my growth and transformation. However, growth and transformation are gifts that you must give to yourself.

I learned that golf wasn't the issue. Golf was incidental or accidental. The issue was ME vs. ME. That's what my book is about.

with "mitta"

James Ragonnet

Shane Michael Manieri's picture

I agree Adam, it can me found in any sport. But are Awareness, Balance, and Unity the three truths for all? Here's an interesting sport (Burmese): http://www.mysticball-themovie.com/

Adam Barron's picture

I don't golf at all. So I cannot comment on the " Zen in my golf swing." However, I do like sports in general and from what I have learned from playing is that the Buddha can be found in any sporting event. All anyone has to do is look. I am sure a professional baseball player, for example, can say that when it comes to hitting a baseball, there is no higher need for quieting the mind than in the batters box. Then there is the idea of shooting a so-called " free-throw" in basketball. It looks so easy. I mean all you have to do is stand there and shoot the ball in the hoop. Yet time after time, even the best miss out on this chance to score. Think a little mindfulness might help? I think so. I could go on to tennis or bowling. Again, it comes down to the old seek and ye shall find. The Buddha is there when you are doing the dishes, paying your taxes, when you are in the grocery store, and while you sleep.

Scott Prengle's picture

I would whole-heartedly agree with your premise here. At the risk of not being taken serious, I would suggest that anyone who has seen the movie "Caddy Shack" (co-written by Harold Ramis - who was featured in a recent issue of Tricycle) knows that Chevy Chase's character, Ty Webb, is a true Zen Golfer -- "be the ball", and several other references to wit; not to mention Carl the greenskeeper's experience "looping" (caddying) for the Dali Llama. But all joking aside, yes golf is clearly a sport that is as much about taming the mind as it is about taming the course. The six inches between your ears is far more daunting a patch of real estate than the 180 yard carry over water to a postage-stamp sized green. Other sports most certainly qualify if you take the notion of mu-ga, mu-shin (no self, no mind) further. Phil Jackson's "Sacred Hoops" attests to that and features a chapter entitled, "When you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball". Athletes that can enter into that moving meditative state where they are one with the game as it unfolds and are truly present and totally consumed in the moment are those that time and time again deliver some of the most incredible performances we have ever witnessed, dare I say "other worldly"! I think it would make for an incredible issue.

Sharita Star's picture

I don't golf as often as I'd like, but in complete agreement with this post! Golfing develops patience, focus and accuracy in anyone. Golfing is an art form, like many sports truly are. Neat idea to have an entire issue devoted to sports. As one who knows how to ride horses better than I golf, undoubtedly the three core truths you speak of apply to this practice as well. How fun it would be to further discover these three core truths are needed for success in any precision oriented activity? Go for it!