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sports & spirituality

Last post 07-13-2008, 11:15 AM by fairyfaye. 61 replies.
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  •  05-05-2008, 12:01 PM 49003

    sports & spirituality


    interesting spectrum of football there .. from seventeen kids getting killed playing college football . to guys out there today in the zone


  •  05-05-2008, 2:01 PM 49044 in reply to 49003

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Fascinating... Playing sports and getting in the zone can have an effect similar to meditating - if a LR context for the experience can be provided the athletes.
  •  05-05-2008, 3:22 PM 49072 in reply to 49044

    Re: sports & spirituality

    yes! a fascinating dialogue!! partly because wilber, to my knowledge, has written very little about the spirituality of sports, and meggyesy had to be just about the ideal person to talk with about this. isn't our general ignorance about these sort of connections ripe for picking?

  •  05-06-2008, 7:43 AM 49355 in reply to 49003

    Re: sports & spirituality

    I wanted to reply to this topic before I listed to the clip . Sports has been a good thing bad thing towards my growth as a spiritual being. Yes it has contributed to my self discipline and towards feelings of wellbeing since the payoff of a good work out is the endorphins that get released by the body. The down side of it in my experience is the trying to validate oneself through statistics and standards based on the external. I remember when playing basketball { which in my younger years I was pretty good,}that in a game I shot 4 for 16, and in the world in which I was raised that was terrible, and since I equated myself as my performance that meant I was terrible. It wasn't til years later that I got that shooting 4 for 16 that all it meant was I shot 4 for 16.[ boy if I only knew about existentialism back then }lol  The " I was terrible " meaning is something I added by some agreement in society .We as a society place these standards on kids that are disempowering to who they really are as SELF. For the vast majority wont be able to reach standards set by the Michael Jordans, and the Nolan Ryans of the world.  I have caught myself doing this in my spiritual game. Trying at times to live up to stadards of a Ken Wilber and a Werner Erhard.. But I now catch myself and choose to enjoy Being Me, Being Here , Appreciating the NOW.
    Bill Kilburg,
  •  05-06-2008, 8:25 AM 49366 in reply to 49003

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Yes, ff, helmets and other equipment were really minimal - wow, thats a lot of death for a fewer number of players than now, I am guessing. My father tried playing football at the University of Washington in the early 1930s and due to inadequate equipment he immediately chipped a bone in his shoulder that was never quite right again. He did let go of football.

    Many of us have our own minor or major 'war stories'. In high school and college, wrestling was the only competitive sport that I did, and though I'm not sure about initial causes, I've had to deal with neck issues for many years. As an adult, I suspect that some of my knee problems and subsequent minor surgery resulted from unconscious, repetitive kicking training in karate. These are so minor, yet many serious athletes sacrifice their future bodies for all of the needs and strivings that Ken refers to along the different developmental roads. What are the statistics for longevity among past professional athletes and dancers? How many of them have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and moving around with physical ease?

    This David Maggyesy in this exchange sounds like a fine and conscious fellow and as Ken pointed out, from quite early on. I didn't have the inner wherewithall to resist the draft or find alternatives when I was drafted in 1966.

    This tape caught my attention immediately partly because some contemporary landmarks were mentioned. 1966 to 1969 (dates he mentioned at the outset) were when I was in the Army. I was at the University of Oregon when Prefontaine was doing his magic.

    David M mentioned football being an exclusively American sport. That's partly why it was so fun to read a little John Grisham book about professional football in Italy - it is appropoly called "Playing For Pizza".

    A book I mentioned a while ago talks about spiritual intimations in surfing. West of Jesus: Surfing, science, and the origins of belief .

    Yes, interesting topic.

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-10-2008, 2:00 PM 50203 in reply to 49003

    Re: sports & spirituality

    The team sport that I most like to watch at the local pizza joint is professional basketball. I used to like to play pick-up games, but I think that those are now in the past.

    Below is an extraordinary interview with a trainer. There is a lot of embodied life understanding in this guy's work, and you see if their isn't inadvertently some spiritual expression.

    But before I go to that, I want to mention an author interview I heard on sports radio a few days ago about the Red Sox and particularly Manny Ramirez. Several things came up and I'll only mention a few. People sometimes think that Manny is just one of those gifted freaks who can mash a ball with native talent alone; it was pointed out that he does meditation and visualization activities and is a very disciplined guy - contrary to his older reputation. Since then I read that he does subscribe to principles in "The Secret". Yet, what stood out for me was the going to the less material level of reality to improve the material - his flawless form, "his perfect swing".

    On to basketball. ambo
    Why Chris Paul Is So Good --

    an Interview with Paul’s Personal Coach, Idan Ravin

    SECAUCUS, NJ, May 9, 2008 -- If you were asked who Chris Paul's, Carmelo Anthony's and Gilbert Arenas' coaches are and said Byron Scott, George Karl and Eddie Jordan, respectively, you would only be partially correct.

    Even though they're on different NBA teams, Paul, Anthony and Arenas, as well as players such as Elton Brand, Jerry Stackhouse and Rudy Gay, all share the same coach, Idan Ravin.

    You may remember Ravin from a recent Jordan Brand commercial featuring Carmelo Anthony running a gamut of intense workout drills with a man at his side pushing him every step of the way.

    That man is Ravin. I caught up with the Washington D.C. based training guru to discuss the breakout success of one of his clients, Chris Paul, and to talk about the unique perspective on the NBA game that his job affords him.

    I want you to break down Chris Paul’s game for me. What does he possess that makes him so good?

    Idan: There’s sort of the esoteric things and then there’s sort of the substantive, basketball things. I think it’s the esoteric things that make him really special. At the end of the day, everybody in the NBA can go right, they can go left, they can shoot a jump shot, I mean everybody has a certain threshold of talent. But what makes him so special is his incredible tenacity and love for the game. It’s not like this cliché, “We work hard.” Everybody says they work hard. But it’s the efficiency and sort of the smarts in which he maximizes his time. He’s super. He’s tenacious. He doesn’t back down.

    "Melo learns fast, Gilbert Arenas learns fast, Elton Brand learns fast and Chris was learning just as fast as they were. So I’m thinking, 'This kid is interesting to me.'"
    I can give you a story, it kind of goes back because I’ve worked with Chris for a long time, it was from when I was prepping him for the Draft. Workouts are always really, really challenging and Chris wanted to workout with somebody else there with him. And I told him, “No, Chris, you have to do everything by yourself for a while.” So I remember, I got a call from a top front office person from an NBA team who was going to be in the area and they wanted to stop by our workouts. So I said, “Sure, you guys can come by.”

    This was a senior, senior head guy from a team.

    So I called Gilbert Arenas, and I was like, “Hey Gilbert, why don’t you come by and workout today with Chris.” Gilbert was like, “OK, sure.”

    So we pull up the gym and Chris is waiting outside and I see his eyes just light up, because not only is he working out with someone, he’s working out with Gilbert Arenas who is like a top seven player in the NBA. He was excited to finally get to go and battle.

    The first half an hour we just did a lot of drills and stuff, and the last half an hour we did a lot of competitive drills with a lot of 1-on-1 and spots. I probably want to say Chris won every single game. Now, 1-on-1 doesn’t mean much, but it does mean something. When you’re a 19-year old kid and you’re going up against a top six or seven player in the NBA and you don’t back down, you’re just ferocious.

    After the workout Gilbert came up to me and was like, “That kid is going to be special.” To this day, Chris and Gilbert are very good friends. But that minute kind of showed me that there’s no fear in him.

    When you step off the court, he’s a gentle, humble, kind, modest kid, but in those 90 feet, he’s a lion, man.

    You see this kid come in and you see his mental toughness and his willingness to be great, that’s got to be a challenge for you to take all that and turn it into something better. What was your approach with him, specifically?

    Idan: I think in the beginning you want to gauge where they are. Everyone going to the NBA has a great pedigree and resume, right? So everyone has a certain threshold, but it’s more about finding out, “How fast does he learn?” You can put him through a drill that works on his dribbling efficiency and how he scores and how fast he kind of captures and learns the drill makes you think, “Man, that's unbelievable.” Melo learns fast, Gilbert Arenas learns fast, Elton Brand learns fast and Chris was learning just as fast as they were. So I’m thinking, “This kid is interesting to me.” So then you make the drill so unbelievably unreasonable and rigorous every time and he wouldn’t back down. He kept on trying to master it. And then you reduce the time on a drill and he tried to beat the time. He kept on showing you things about how competitive he was. You’d say, “Gilbert does this drill in 47 seconds” and Chris would be like, “I want to do it in 45.” I was just thinking, “There’s something special here.” But after that Gilbert Arenas workout I was like, “Man this kid is going to be something tremendous.”

    Chris Paul was asked about this confidence on the day he won the Rookie of the Year trophy and he mentioned all of the workouts leading up to the draft where you pushed him to work his hardest. How rewarding is that to know that you are helping shape guys’ careers?

    Idan: It feels great. To know that you’re an integral part of their career is a great feeling. I kind of take a lot of pride in it. The fact that they trust you with their careers is also something great because there’s a million people they could choose to work with, there’s a million people in their circle and then they choose you and it becomes a great relationship over time.

    Let’s just say we know Chris Paul is going up against Tony Parker. Is that something where you’ll go up to him or he’ll go up to you to talk about certain matchups?

    Idan: On stuff like that, it’s more like he already knows what he has to do kind of thing. I think in terms of the bigger picture, it’s not like, “Chris, here’s how you’re going to beat Tony Parker off the dribble.” It’s more of the big picture like, “You need to continue to be very efficient with your moves, you need to work on your angles better, you need to stepback stronger …” It’s more things to keep the big picture rather than how are you going to compete against a particular player.

    So most of the work happens over the summers, I guess?

    Idan: No, not at all. I have a lot of work during the year. For example, when Elton Brand was coming back I was with Elton Brand for five weeks until he got cleared and then I spent a month with Gilbert Arenas after he got cleared by the doctors. So, I do a lot during the year as well. I think I have sort of a core group of guys that do above and beyond what is normally expected. Come around April I do pre-Draft with the Draft guys and after that I got to prepare Melo and Chris Paul for the World Championships and once that’s over I have all of the league guys, so it’s kind of become pretty much year round.

    You look at what having Michael Jordan’s trust did for Tim Grover, as Chris Paul establishes himself as one of the top five players in this league, that’s got to start bringing you more clients. Has that helped?

    Idan: You know what, I hate to sound … I have a really good client base already. Fortunately I have a really good base of clients I work with – seven or eight All-Stars – so with respect to Chris helping business, I’m sure it does, but I don’t really see it that way. My concern is more like, “Let’s make sure every year that Chris is ready to go and that Chris keeps on getting better and better and better and one day he’s a Hall of Fame player and his jersey hangs from the rafters and there’s nine championship rings on his fingers.” My priority is each kid and not whether or not my business grows.

    Part of the appeal of your workouts seems to be the individual attention and sort of private bunker mentality that the players take on when they train with you. How funny was it to see one of your sessions in a national ad campaign for the Jordan Brand?

    Idan: When Melo and those guys asked me to do that commercial, I was like, “Sure,” because I think in many ways, people think that those All-Stars just were born All-Stars and I don’t think people see how much time and effort goes into what they do.

    It’s sort of the classic, “If I was 6-9, I’d be in the NBA too.”

    Idan: Exactly. And then people start throwing the word “politics” around or “favoritism” and I always think that that’s the biggest excuse you could ever give. Because I don’t think people even understand, Melo’s day is so full with so much, he has nine ba-zillion off the court responsibilities, and he has a family and he has friends and he has a life he wants to live. But he still commits himself to perform and to practice.

    Like I said before, it’s a very cliché expression to say, “work hard.” Because anybody can say, “I work hard.” But at the end of the day it’s like, “What exactly are you doing?”

    The point of that commercial was, “Man, these drills are really hard and they challenge 12 different sensories.” They challenge the way to see, the way you feel, they challenge your peripheral vision, they challenge so many different things that not only does it become a physical workout, it’s a mental challenge as well.

    That’s a good segue. I read how you try to strengthen players’ minds. Tell me about that? Is it sort of the mind over matter principle or are we talking about something else?

    Idan:I think it’s a bunch of different things. You create situations that are so rigorous that you can accomplish situations that aren’t so rigorous. I’ll give you the example that if you can take a three-hour test in one hour, then you can obviously take the test in three hours. You create situations that are so unreasonable that when all of the sudden they’re reasonable, they look like a piece of cake.

    Then you have situations where it’s not only to be able to do the drill, the drill has to become instinctive. You can work on something and they guy can think, “Oh yeah, I can do it,” but if the situation presents itself on the court, is that going to be your intuitive response? The only way for it to become that is to have done it so many times in 55 different ways at such high speeds that your body will all of the sudden be like, “OK, that’s how I have to respond to this situation.”

    Is it a fraternity among you guys or is more like competition? I know David Thorpe has parlayed his coaching into an analyst gig with ESPN.

    Idan: I don’t know any of them and I don’t know what anybody else does. It’s not that I don’t care, but what everyone else does, good for them. It if works, great. I just know what I do and I just focus on my guys. You know what I mean? I don’t come from any of those fraternities, from any of those basketball fraternities, to me this business has just grown organically. I don’t have business cards. I have a website but I did that begrudgingly just so I don’t have to talk too much, because I’m kind of shy. So that’s how it works in that respect.

    I read that you worked with the Mavericks team at one point. How did that suit you? Do you think you’d give up your private practice to become an assistant coach for a team? Dave Hopla, a personal shooting coach, recently joined the Wizards in a similar capacity.

    Idan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, teams call me in all the time and say, “Hey will you work with our guys?” I’ve gotten a ba-zillion job offers. I’ve gotten a lot of job offers but it’s just sort of a balancing of interest. I’m not saying that I’m wed to anything in particular. If something came up that I feel like, “That’s a win,” and I want to do it, I would do it. But I don’t need a job. I have great, great players. I have great freedom. I work with a ba-zillion guys. I’m my own boss. I know a lot of guys chase the jobs, but I’ve had a lot of job offers. Who knows? If the New Yorker called you tomorrow and say, “Hey, we want you to write for us,” you’d think about it. You think, “Do I want to leave? Maybe I can be like a consultant/freelancer.”

    I saw on your other business venture’s website, NicheClick Media, that you wrote “I have some good stories so remind me to tell you when we meet…” OK, so tell me one.

    Idan: With the players, you mean? Oh my God, there’s so many funny ones. I’m trying to see where I should start.

    Some of them are kind of like good-feeling stories.

    One example – God, Melo might kill me for telling this story – so Melo had a baby, a beautiful young boy, right? So, Melo never wants to miss workouts. I remember, we were at workouts and it was his fiancée’s birthday and he told her, “Hey, it’s a spa day for you, I’ll watch the baby.” So he brings the baby to workouts. In between drills, he’d finish the drill and then the baby would start crying. So Melo would take the baby carriage and walk the baby all the way around the basketball court and the baby would stop crying. And then he’ll come back and do a drill. And then if he has to burp the baby or something, he takes out the burping bag and does what he’s got to do, and then comes right back to the court. But it’s nice because I think no one sees that very good, gentle, kind, humble side of Carmelo and that’s why I’m the first to defend him all the time. People don’t see the ba-zillion nice things that he does.

    I can give you another instance. Jerry Stackhouse is my guy. He’s a great guy. I travel a lot with the players and I remember we were down in a small town in North Carolina and we were at a restaurant – a small, little diner type of thing – and we end up seeing a childhood friend. You could tell the guy was kind of down on his luck, you know? The guy was bussing tables. So Jerry gave him a hug and he was talking to him for a little while. Then at the end of the meal, I saw Jerry take out a couple hundred dollar bills and he folded them up into little, tiny rectangles and he put a couple singles on top of these hundred dollar bills and he left them as a tip. I thought, “Wow, what a thoughtful thing to do.” He didn’t embarrass the guy by taking out a couple hundred dollar bills and throw it in his face. It was such a thoughtful way of doing a nice thing.

    I’ve seen guys do stuff like that all the time. So, when the media bashes these guys when they mess up, you know, we all do. We all mess up. I wish they could see the ba-zillion nice things that these guys do all the time that no one knows about.

    The early entry candidates were announced last week. Are any of those guys training with you?

    Idan: I expect a lot more, but so far I have Joey Dorsey, DaVon Hardin, Drew Neitzel, James Gist … I’ll have a bunch of guys. I usually have quite a bit.

    I’ll group them by position, or group them by situations, so if it’s a pick and roll day, then the bigs and smalls will go together. Or I’ll put the smalls together in the morning and do the bigs in the afternoon. It kind of depends on situations. If it’s sort of a competitive day, then they’ll all go together and do kind of competitive stuff against each other. Every day is sort of a situational day, and that’s how I’ll break it up.

    You work with Gilbert and DeShawn Stevenson and they went up against Delonte West, who you also worked with, in the First Round this year -- or the Mavericks with Stackhouse going against the Hornets with Paul. Is it funny to see these juxtapositions of your guys go against each other?

    Idan: No, because, you know what it is? They’re competitive people. They play a physical game. Just because a guy gets an elbow or gets a punch or gets a bloody nose or something, to me, it’s not a personal thing. It’s the nature of the sport. I see MMA fighters all the time that hug afterwards. It’s just the nature of being in a physical, physical game that’s very competitive that there’s a lot of stakes going on. I can assure you that LeBron and DeShawn are going out each other, but if they saw each other out during the summer, they’d sit down and have lunch together. It’s a small group of guys that got to a common place together, so they share that bond. But if you’re going to say, “Is Chris Paul going to shake Jerry’s hand during the game?” Why would he? It’s a game. It’s competition. But afterwards, I’m sure they shook hands, they laughed, they broke bread together.

    I read that you’re learning from players constantly and you don’t want to be “running in place.” What’s the next step, what’s the next level?

    Idan: How do I see my business evolving? I come from a very formal corporate world. I was a lawyer for many years and this and this and everything was about business plans and this is something I love to do and I never really had a formula for it. I just let it grow organically and so, to me, however it evolves, it evolves. I don’t have any plans for it. I enjoy it, I have great players, I’m sure I’ll have more great players. I hope that the one thing I can leave people with is, there is no easy road. No one got there just because they got there.

    “Sometimes I hear that guys are in the gym for 12 hours and I think to myself, ‘You just wasted 11 and a half of them.’”
    You didn’t get where you are because you were blessed with a pen in your hand. There was thousands and thousands of hours of effort that was put into it. I hope that that’s what people can see. This is not just dreams. You can learn a lot from NBA guys. Because, for you to become a writer or me to become what I do, it sounds kind of normal. But for a six year old kid that lives in New York that says, “You know what, I want to be a NBA player,” there’s 500 million other kids that say the same thing.

    But each one of these kids made the right decisions, went to the right schools, made the right sacrifices and put themselves on the line and now they sit in the NBA. I think we can all learn a ton from watching these guys.

    I think in many ways, it’s very empowering to be around them, because no dream sounds funny. If you tell me you want to be a juggler, I say, go for it. The funniest thing is a six year old kid going, “Mom, I want to play in the NBA,” and she says, “Well so do the 3,000 other kids in your neighborhood and the 35 million kids in the U.S. and the 25 million kids in Lithuania.”

    But think about how hard it is to be in 10th grade and decide you’re going to move 1,000 miles away to go to an all boys school in rural North Carolina, all because your dream is to play in the NBA. How many kids make that sacrifice? That’s why I have a lot of admiration for them in many ways.

    I heard a quote by you: “Sometimes I hear that guys are in the gym for 12 hours and I think to myself, ‘You just wasted 11 and a half of them.’”

    Idan: Absolutely, because I know my stuff – I’m not the bionic man – but I know if you do my stuff for 75 minutes that you can do anything else. I’m happy to put you on the phone with Jason Richardson, or Melo or Chris and they’ll tell you. And it’s not like I’m running them through quicksand, you know what I mean? It’s just real efficient game-speed type stuff.

    So when guys are like, “Yeah, I’m in the gym for nine hours,” I’m thinking, “Man, what are you doing for nine hours?”

    Which I have to believe makes you appealing to a guy like Melo or Chris Paul that has all these off the court obligations, because they can max out their time with you.

    Idan: Absolutely, because you don’t need that much. It’s like the law of diminishing returns. Do it right, do it the right way for 75-90 minutes and then, leave. It’s like sitting and studying with the TV on. I don’t think you get that much studying done. But if you put yourself in the bunker for an hour and you focus, you can probably get through all of that material.

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-10-2008, 2:46 PM 50206 in reply to 50203

    Re: sports & spirituality


    For starters, I want to thank you for your service to the country. You gave your time and risked and did your duty. My hat is off to you.

    This is a great article. Idan is functioning in a highly effective way. He identifies what needs to be done and then ensures that his pupils can do something even more difficult, such that what needs to be done is easy.

    Anyone who has ever played basketball knows that there is a certain "whole person" integration that is required, on the spot, to make a shot. A certain "something extra" that has to be operating to make a ball travel through the air, while someone is waving their arms in your face, and to come down inside an iron arc not much bigger in diameter than the ball itself, 17 feet away.

    The same thing applies to throwing a strike in baseball. It sounds trite, but you have to actually "want" the pitch to be a strike in order to throw a strike.

    Last year, I helped a little league baseball team. The smallest player on the team was of course our right fielder. This sounds too good to be true. The kid did not get a hit all year. He could barely swing the bat at the same general moment the ball was crossing the plate. So here we are, last game of the season, we are down by 2 runs, bottom of the 6th, and we have the bases loaded with 2 outs. And our right fielder is up. The kids are already kicking the dirt, their heads are lowered in the dugout, they know it is over.

    Our coach calls time, and pulls the right fielder aside and says, "OK, can you feel the ball hitting your bat? Can you feel it right now?" The kid nods, goes up, and on the first pitch slices a drive right down the right field line and then runs like hell for a grand slam home run!" You should have seen the look on his mother's face!

    I will never forget that. Something happened.


  •  05-10-2008, 7:48 PM 50230 in reply to 50206

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Oh yeah, Schalk, basketball is such a marvellous feeling sport in so many ways.

    Great story of the little guy; I can't help wondering what the particular pathways of connecting those dots were.

    I have a little story that is similar and different. I went into wrestling because I was smallish and skinny. But it turned out I was also wiry strong and pretty quick. I was a pretty mediocre wrestler. But at the U of O somehow in my freshman year I made it through to the finals of the intramural tournament and lost a decision to the number one guy on the freshman team. The next year I made it to the finals again, and was wrestling a very strong compact guy, who was also a varsity shortstop. In the third and final period, he got me good - I can no longer get the body memory about exactly how he had me pinned - almost. I also don't have the exact body memory of what I did, either, though I did for years. I do remember my older sister's voice screaming through MacArthur Court to kick his ass. He was ahead on points, as well, and I had almost given up, resigned myself to my relative immobility. Since I was not such a mentally poised, smart knowledge-based wrestler I didn't really have a move in my bag of tricks. And then some weirdish kind of fleeting thought evidently came in that I could try something that I had never tried or seen before. I somehow apparently arched up, got some space between us and then momentum and some strange sort of back somersault threw me loose from his holding, and I came down on him, pinning him. Fin. Fun. I felt very lucky.

    Though I forget some of the details, I'll probably never forget that gift from out of the ether, ambo

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-10-2008, 10:35 PM 50243 in reply to 50230

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Hey Ambo:

    Thanks for sharing that experience. I can really appreciate the circumstances and the impact of your inspiration on the mat.

    It is hard to explain why moments like this are so powerful.

    I remember our Colt League baseball team was facing the powerhouse of the league in the opening day game. Their pitcher was this big lefty, their coach's son, and he threw blistering fastballs. We knew we were in trouble, just watching him warm up.  

    Our shortstop leads off. I can still remember the bat he used, this big thick handled Nellie Fox model. He mashes a line drive over their center fielder's head! A hit like that stays with you for a life time.

    By the way, I have always found wrestlers to be really sane people. Isn't there something enormously healthy that comes from pitting yourself body to body against another, trying to sense the angles and the leverages, making a mistake and quickly adapting, just feeling the interplay of two people who are functioning on instinct? The Greeks thought it was a pretty important sport. Wonder why we don't incorporate it more into our lives.

    I'm a little concerned about linking the notion of transcendence and sports, as Dave Meggessy seems to do. Kinesthesia is one of many lines of development and top athletes certainly hit peaks of kinesthetic development, but in my experience around sports and athletes, there is no particularly notable advancement on any other line (cognitive, spiritual, aesthetic, moral, emotional) etc. What is your sense of this?

    I mentioned "wanting" to produce a result earlier. Some athletes don't succeed because they don't have the "need" to win as much as others. Ex: My son is a very generous kid and I know he is uncomfortable playing sports where his success means that another kid is sad or down. If he gets a base hit, he feels bad for the pitcher. That kind of attitude won't take you far in sports will it?

    Isn't that a prime motivator in winning though, being willing to crush the other guy in the game, even though you mean him no ill will? 

    My sense is that pro basketball players have a finely honed sense of "wanting" and "willing" the ball into the hoop. Their focus can be mind-boggling.

    But, if we take Michael Jordan as an example. Here was a man who most people will agree was driven by the emotional need to "stab the opponent in the heart", figuratively speaking. There was nothing transcendental about him. He had a very deep need or obsession to win, and to embarrass the opponent, and he honed his kinesthetic line to such a high degree that he performed what seem like miracles again and again.

    Some people are motivated by making their teammates and fans happy, but others like Michael Jordan (and I suspect Kobe) are primarily motivated by embarrassing the opponent. They do it well and are rewarded generously. It may be a more pure and effective motivator.

    And so the question becomes, if a game or activity is founded on performances that can be best optimized by wanting to crush or embarrass someone else, just how elevated is the fundamental altitude of the community that engages in this act?

    Athletic experiences in the zone or the flow may be accountable by looking at them as altered "states" rather than developmental transcendence.

    If there is spiritual development at the highest levels of sport, you would think we would hear more about it from the athletes. In fact, what they do may be freakishly competent on a kinesthetic line, but no other development may be necessary.

    What is your sense?




  •  05-12-2008, 9:53 AM 50380 in reply to 50243

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Hi, Schalk -

    I'm not sure I'll have enough time to do your question justice this AM, but I wanted to reply here, at least.

    That's a nifty memory about the very big line drive against the daunting opposition. I like how the boy in you was very tuned in to it all, including the equipment - letting us know it was a big thick handled Nellie Fox model - I tuned in.

    Yes, I follow your question about transcendence and wondering and doubting how common it really is in professional sports. I have a few questions that come up and maybe an impression or two. I think that you are asking a very big question(s). It seems that a response could become very complex, entire books could explore your question, if someone took it on - hey, maybe you, you've some fine writing skills.

    I'm wondering if some sports would draw from certain populations that are a little more pre-disposed to elevating along certain lines, have a head start, embody some consonant values for altitude in more areas of their lives and games. I wonder how big a factor that really is - maybe less than we think - or more. I'm thinking, now, that some sports because of the population and various other factors, being team or individual being one, wouldn't have slightly more psychic room for transcendence, slightly fewer or less strong obstacles, temptations and other distractions.

    You mention kinesthetic as a for sure (in my opinion), and even that 'line' would have sub-lines of development. A football center will become kinesthetically advanced in certain areas, a Jai Lai player, others. What kinesthetic demands get responded to and developed in golf, jockeying a high-speed beast around a track or on a polo field,  pure sprinting to get to the finish line first. So there seems like quite a lot of variability kinesthetically in terms of what gets developed, but they all as competitive activities must drive one's drive, will, and wanting, as you say, to put the ball in the hoop. This drive and will line may be developed into a sweet spot for some professional sports, and yet be a hypertrophied trait for other activities, other types of work and social settings.

    I am wondering how much drive is raw libidinal, deeply constitutional bioenergetic, aggressive and how much is more cognitively arrived at, assisted and developed over time. Obviously some kids have gifts of will power or social play or leadership tendencies from the get go, and very quickly these temperamental and biological starting givens get merged and woven with social circumstances.

    I suspect that psychosocial development requiring cooperation and collaboration could develop individuals to further extents in team sports, though there are still other factors impinging on this development and there is probably some sort of bell-shaped distribution curve of each of these various and many aspects, like openness to learning and readiness for learning and malleability and so on. But really, does the individual runner, who is part of a larger tam, or not, have significantly less social skill that will allow him to excel in a more normal job than, say, a basketball center within a triangle offense who's job is to be highly attuned to the other four team mates and other five opponents on the floor. Is the social attunement so specialized that we couldn't really generalize to say that one's psychosocial altitude has changed much? In terms of leadership, it seems that one's probably prior extensive gifts are developed considerably as a Steve Nash, a Magic Johnson, maybe a Tom Brady, and so on. Again, are these tasks and driving demands generalizeable enough to suggest some high altitude has been achieved.

    What if certain skills are hypertrophied, putting them out on another margin of a bell-shaped curve of normalcy, such that they can't function so well in many other work and social settings. I don't know - this topic seems huge and complicated.

    Why couldn't a professional athlete develop quite highly along an aesthetic line? They have enough money to explore and learn.  Some professional athletes have quite artfully ensembled outfits, though their choices might not coincide with mine.

    There are many professional athletes who give money, time, and endorsement to situations and causes. There is probably a lot of variability of where those impulses come from in them that relate to ethics/morals. I'm guessing that there are a number of these athletes that in terms of their philanthropic actions and expressed thoughts who would score quite high on some related scale of a psychograph.

    I agree with you about the possibility that Jordan and Bryant and others aren't as much developing their domination powers as much or more than their respectful engagement of the adversary power. Everything is always a deeper and more interlinking question, it seems.

    As Ken points out, second tier COG's are pretty rare, statistically, in the general population. How are they in professional athletics and post-athletics? Geesh, and the further parsing and linking questions continue.

    You may be right, Schalk, about wrestlers and what they learn and embody. Again, there must be a lot of variability in what brings people to the sport and what lines get developed in the process. I like 'hearing' you say "really sane people". It may be that, like any intense demanding sport or activity, if you are too insane, or too disorganized or uncontrolled in some facet of the sport that is important, you get washed out or quit. I feel compelled to say that I am not a good example for what you are picking up of the sport - I think that I may be getting saner than I have ever been, but back then, I think, I was wound awfully tight and barely kept the disorganized impulses all together. Wrestling helped me, as did a few other circumstances along the way, but when my "good boy" repressions started to release, I was barely in control and out of control in action and mind. This is my story of the moment. Thanks, though, Schalk - I like those words.

    Going back to your, 'what really about spiritual development in sports?' Boy. Big question. I do think that a lot of very good development in "1st tier" happens, and for many of us that has been very important. Lateral development is probably important and necessary for us people, too, before we are ready to consider, to include, to integrate and transcend, yes? I think that even having to learn through blunders about great gobs of money, sexual opportunity, freedoms and social power and domination, may be precursor to readiness for greater change, yes?

    What are you thinking about all of this, now? ambo

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-12-2008, 11:08 AM 50383 in reply to 50380

    Re: sports & spirituality


    You have voiced a lot of valuable ideas. What I really appreciate is that you have used the most appropriate words to vector in on notions that a lot of us (I might even say everyone) have barely scratched the surface of. You might think about writing more in this vein.

    I wish Ken Kesey had written a great American novel about wrestling. He was just the man to do it.

    Your intimation that it might be wise to look closer at individual sports is likely right. The term "athlete" is almost useless in trying to go down the road we are staring at.

    Just from a cognitive standpoint, let me tell you a story. My cousin is a media celebrity of sorts. He has had occasion to get to know and spend quite a bit of time with professional athletes in a number of different sports. He told me something that really struck me. He said there is a really big difference in just the level of dialogue with football, basketball, and baseball players.

    Football players generally seem to be the most intelligent. They have college degrees and must master fairly complex systems to play professional football. From just a lower right perspective, they are leagues ahead.

    Basketball players are also by and large very intelligent, most of them have college degrees, but the culture of the NBA is such that it is hard to get them to talk in a rational way about what they do. We generally hear very little that is useful from an NBA player.

    But baseball players are by and large a pretty rough bunch. A lot of them come right out of high school, from the little towns across America and the Dominican Republic, etc. (I'm a small town guy and know these guys very well), and enter the minor league systems, and they generally come across as very blue collar labor types who happen to be highly skilled in baseball. But they are no different in most ways from someone who is classic amber or red.  

    There is talk of Manny Ramirez engaging in visualization. I am wondering what that is supposed to indicate about his level of consciousness? It is entirely consistent for Manny to visualize hitting a ball hard, to then step up to the plate and do it, and to then sit down. We want so much to find evidence of higher development in sports stars, but I am seriously wondering.

    So, what do you think of Kevin Johnson, the former NBA guard, running for mayor of Sacramento? I honestly wonder how much of leadership in government depends on a finely honed balancing of wisdom and the art of government, and how much can be simply attributed to standing face to face with an opponent and sensing where s/he is weak and how to exploit it, much like KJ would do when he was getting ready to steal a ball.

    I really feel that we have failed to insist on a high constellation of attributes from our government leaders. We don't even know where to start in assessing candidates.

    Regarding levels of consciousness among athletes, I sense that we may explain more of what they report simply by looking closer at altered states of consciousness, rather than higher stages of consciousness.

    Anyone who has participated in competitive sports has wondered as you have, "how much drive is raw libidinal, deeply constitutional bioenergetic, aggressive." Is there really something lasting and significant about the quality that makes one athlete excel, or is it purely an animal function?

    My sense is that with most high profile athletes it is largely a function of raw libido and aggressive drive, but there comes a point at the top of the game where the ranks are divided between those who try to function solely on that raw libido, and those who add development in one or more non-kinesthetic lines.

    For example, how different is Tom Brady on the kinesthetic line from 100 other pro quarterbacks? He is not particularly strong or fast, but he has honed his game cognitively to a point where he makes few mistakes.

    Look at Saddharu Oh, the Japanese home run legend. He was a good player, but not great, until he began working with a sword master who taught him spiritual practices associated with Budo and Zen. This elevated spiritual line allowed him to function routinely at a higher level of refinement kinesthetically. Yet, from a values line, he would seem to be bright red.

    Look at Tiger Woods. Here is a young man who has been trained from age 3 on how to apply his emotional energy into an almost superhuman focus. Look at all the times when he has been near the end of the final round matching strokes with another golfer and when the emotional pitch was at its highest, he has entered a zone of focus and made unbelievable shots where almost any other really good golfer would have been warped by their emotional energy and made a bad or average shot. And yet, from an interpersonal line, Tiger would see bright red.

    It might be useful to say this:

    - when we hear of unusual modes of consciousness in athletes, we might begin by looking at an explanation in altered states; and,

    - when we see one athlete with roughly approximate raw physical skill routinely doing something in a highly refined way to gain the decisive edge, we might look to a particular non-kinesthetic line to see if they have had effective training there to gain elevation;

    - but we should look closely across multiple lines before we start ascribing higher levels of consciousness to athletes.

    What I find interesting is that often, in a sporting competition, when the match comes down to a decisive moment, like a shoot out in World Cup soccer, or a last second field goal in football, or a putt to win the tournament on the 18th green, it is often the least complex, most animally-attuned person who is able to focus and succeed.

    Doesn't it often seem that the winner is the personal who should not have won?

    So, I am thinking, what do we suspect about the nature of sport that causes us to be so fascinated with it? I sense that the magenta core of our being suspects that the "gods" favor the successful athlete. In a sense, we suspect that they are attuned to the principles that the gods will ultimately reward, on death, or in the hereinafter.

    I look at the Hall of Fame phenomena. In a very real sense, it is a pantheon of the gods. The idea is that those who enter are guaranteed special dispensation by whatever God or gods ultimately tip the balance. Anything less than this, and it wouldn't really matter to us, would it?

    You know, an interesting book to write would be to take the perspective of heaven or the great eternal Elysian Fields and to show all of the deceased members of a particular Hall of Fame abiding there. The discussions among the gods and the members would revolve around the qualities that got them there, and also, most provocatively, the qualities that kept certain competitors out.

    My sense is that such a book would strike so many chords of unrecognized truth!

    Want my theory on the steroids controversy? In essence, the players who use steroids and accumulate grossly successful statistics are cheating the gods and they are cheating other worthies. They are cheating their way into the Elysian Fields, and more importantly, they are bumping non-cheaters out of contention for entry into Heaven.

    The real victim of Barry Bonds is not Henry Aaron. It is the guy like Jim Rice or someone who just keeps getting nudged out due to the superior statistics of Barry or those like him.

    The real challenge for all the sports fans is to start finding a way to talk about and find value in sports without reference to pure statistics.

    I listened to a baseball game the other day and was astounded at home many references there were to pure statistics. At the end of the day, you knew nothing about the player as a person, or his qualities, or his discipline, or his family.

    And last night I was watching a show about the Science of Sports. Machines are set up to measure pure animal instincts - how fast someone can get off the line of scrimmage or how fast he can react to a tennis ball shot at his face. Aren't we descended to the level of ranching? Athletes are herded into the corral (combine) and poked and prodded and timed to see how valuable they are? The ranchers of course know that we will then translate these superior animal skills into special dispensations from the gods.

    In many ways, our fascination with sports provides an opportunity for us to see the bad assumptions and areas of ignorance in us, don't you think?

    Finally, I really doubt there are any genuinely 2nd Tier professional athletes. I just don't see it happening, knowing what I know about the demands of competition. The assumptions you have to make about reality and the identity of your opponent and the mind set you have to adopt to "beat" someone at anything seems wholly inconsistent with 2nd Tier awareness. But, there may be 2nd Tier sword masters, I don't know.


  •  05-12-2008, 12:22 PM 50386 in reply to 50383

    Re: sports & spirituality

    A quicky reply from work, Schalk.

    Yeah, I agree with a lot of your thoughts about sports and their value. Apparently they have been necessary for us humans to express both our needs for play and apparently survival, maybe two significantly different threads of development from pretty early on in us. Professional sports seems to lose a lot of the truer play aspect because of demands on winning and such.

    Did you ever read John Irving - he wrote The World According To Garp and Hotel New Hampshire. He had themes of wrestling weaving through several of them.

    Good day, ambo

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-19-2008, 4:49 PM 51591 in reply to 50386

    Re: sports & spirituality


    I have been thinking more about the notion of the elevated consciousness of athletes.

    Today we see that D. Wade bought his mother a church! It is being touted as quite an unusual gift.

    And then I am thinking, among all of the athletes who are making $10 or $20 million dollars a year, where exactly is the evidence that they have a living concern for all of mankind, let alone the members of their own tribe?

    Tiger Woods could start a university, fund top notch professors, and educate 20,000 people a year for free.

    Tom Brady could relieve the physical suffering of 10,000 people a year.

    Alex Rodriguez could buy a cable channel and broadcast nothing but truth to millions.

    It seems the best we can find is efforts to lift up individual communities, provided that plaques and recognition go to the donor.

    At Teal, you would think at least one person would be making an enormous impact by directing his or her massive pile of capital toward humanity's woes.

    Where is the evidence in terms of personal commitment that any athlete has evolved beyond orange?


  •  05-19-2008, 11:17 PM 51625 in reply to 51591

    Re: sports & spirituality

    Schalk, I think you are right that it is rare for professional athletes to use their wealth in the way that you are suggesting. I don't know if it is more or less rare than in the general population where there is acquisition of wealth. I suppose that you are highlighting this tendency towards more of the same attitudes towards money because of this recent talk that suggests that there is a connection between sports and spirtuality, particularly 'higher stages of development'.

    Except maybe along a line or two, I don't think that I am significantly more developed, and particularly not more philanthropic, generous, or sharing than the average star or ordinary Joe and Jill. Really. Teal - no way! 2nd tier - no way! Because of this I don't seem to expect much in the way of signs of higher development from others either.

    I'd have to read more about Wade's church purchase to know if it's as wierd as it sounds - holy moly. Unless he bought just the building, I didn't think we did things like that in this country. I have some friends and the wife is Japanese; her father owns a working church/temple/congregation, I think, in Japan - that sounded pretty strange when I first heard of it.

    yoh, ambo

    Ambo Suno
  •  05-20-2008, 11:03 AM 51707 in reply to 51625

    Re: sports & spirituality


    It is really amazing to me. Think of how many performers and athletes and even businessmen there are who make mountains of money. It is just so rare to find one of them who translates the bulk of this money toward making immediate and specific differences in the lives of people.

    Bill Gates has done a lot with his philanthropy but it seems that the percentages he is making available are kind of paltry compared to what he could do and what he really needs.

    You would think that if any of these people were really plugged into consciousness at healthy green or above, they would be convinced that the right thing to do is share their wealth in meaningful ways with the world.

    Imagine if someone like Michael Jordan started a combined high school-university with lodging and meals and medical care (the whole package of existence) that provided free tuition to students from homes with gross income under $20,000 a year. And he applied 75% of his assets toward it and challenged every top tier athlete to do the same. It could be revolutionary.

    He could even make it a sports and arts training facility combined with academics where he enters into contracts with the adult students (over 18) whereby they agree to work hard, meet standards, and then produce works of art that are owned by the institute for a number of years or share a percentage of their earnings for a number of years.

    Tiger Woods could adopt an entire country like Bangladesh and provide medical facilities and schools.

    What is the mentality or view of the world that prevents any of them from doing something like this?

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