The Mystic Heart of Sport

‘The national game’ – Arthur Streeton, 1889 (Art Gallery of New South Wales) – Wikimedia

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Brendan McNamee
is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Brendan is an independent scholar and lecturer with a PhD at the University of Ulster in Ireland. He is the author of numerous books and essays on a wide range of writers, including John Banville, Michel Houellebecq, Gerald Murnane, Elizabeth Bowen, Sean O’Casey, Flannery O’Connor, W B Yeats and others. I’d like to present here one of his essays called ‘The Mystic Heart of Sport’. My attention was one day drawn to this eloquent title, while browsing through the platform ‘Academia’.

The text speaks about sport in general, using here the example of football, and mingling its wonderful argument with quotes by William Blake, Meister Eckhart, or W. B. Yeats. Brendan McNamee shows that “the conflict” on the football pitch is “between gods and mortals”, between “time and eternity”, both “inextricably entwined”. At its best, a game of football can give birth to “moments that justify sport at its best being called ‘poetry in motion’. Moments of sheer grace” when “skill and spontaneity join hands and, momentarily, dancer and dance are one.” I hope you will enjoy Brendan’s skilful writing and exposition as much as I have…

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Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”
~ William Blake

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The Mystic Heart of Sport

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In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Arthur Dent makes the startling discovery that white mice, rather than being the objects of experiments carried out by humans, were in fact carrying out experiments on humans. I wonder if a similar principle might be applied to sport. Take any high-stakes football match. Passions run high. The passion, on the parts of both players and spectators, is primarily for victory. The players receive a huge ego (and cash) boost, and from the fans’ point of view, a win for their team is, by some mysterious process of osmosis, a win for themselves. This lust for victory is so intense that the other source of sporting joy, the quality of the game itself, is often relegated to a secondary position, rendered lip service, of course, but seen really as essentially a means to an end. This, I would contend, is topsy-turvy. I want to argue here that it is the lust for victory that should serve the game, not the other way around, and that this order of things reflects a wider truth about life itself.

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Discover Brendan McNamee’s skilful essay on the mystic of sport… (READ MORE…)

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A Disencumbered Now

Expecting anything from the next moment will make you leave the present moment. Holding on to anything that took place in a past moment is a hindrance. It will curb your ecstasy. It will dampen your freedom. It is like the surging of time in a timeless moment. It will throw a cold. Now is always timeless. Otherwise now is not now anymore. Now then mingles itself with thoughts of past events, and with expectations. It is sullied. Eternity is lost, replaced by the movement of separation. Stillness is disturbed, transformed into endless seeking. Now is being encumbered with time. And time is nothing but the main constituent of our limited, illusory, suffering self.

The present moment can never be a moment. It would make it of time. It would make it last. Nothing lasts in the field of the now — which is pristine being. Something that lasts is already stained. But presence is only shining in purity. It is an empty container, even when it is full to the brim with multiple appearances. Presence is unencumbered by anything past. It doesn’t need to accumulate. It doesn’t need to expect, hope, project, prepare. How do you accumulate in fullness? How do you prepare for the inconceivable? How do you expect the unanticipated? How do you hope for the unexpected? Presence is like a pure diamond. Any impurity, the slightest stain, will lower its intrinsic power and value. For the diamond of being needs clarity. This is how it takes ever more light. The diamond of presence has to be unadulterated. This is how it is made genuine and innocent. Disencumber the now. Unload it from anything that is coming from thought, that finds its origin in the memories of the past and the images of the future, and expresses itself as fear and lack. Your apparent self is made of such thoughts and images, with their concomitant feelings. They are like the soldiers of the separate self’s army. Take a time off from these. Stop indulging in them. Don’t be fooled and misguided by them. You are not made of the past or the future. These are only the now in disguise. Now is who you truly are. Now is all there is. So go for the now. Allow it to shine freely. Disencumbered.

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Other ‘Ways of Being‘ from the blog…

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I have Called You by My Name

‘Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs’ in Roma

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I – luminous, open, empty Awareness – 
am the truth of your Being and am 
eternally with you, in you, as you, 
shining quietly at the heart of all experience. 
Just turn towards Me, and acknowledge Me, 
and I will take you into Myself
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~ Rupert Spira

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In some of the religious texts of the world, the subtlest expressions of truth are so deeply buried in the text that they have become unintelligible. The limitations of translation, the analogies and metaphors borrowed, the time in which these texts appeared, the audience for which they were written, the veneer of poetry or story-telling, all these concur to add multiple layers of confusing elements to the original idea. And these texts have also served such inappropriate religious purposes in the course of history that they are, for all these many reasons, rejected or misunderstood by many. The Christian Bible is one such text. 

I have here attempted to find exquisite passages from the Bible, where the veneer is cracking and the hidden meanings shine more brightly. For a clearer understanding, I have selected two excerpts by Rupert Spira that will help focusing on one possible expression of truth and how it comes to be hidden behind the most innocent line in the Old Testament. They make for a necessary and beautiful introduction. They are borrowed from a video called ‘The Memory of Eternity’ in Buckland Hall, Dec. 2018. I hope you enjoy, for when we come to these texts with the right perspective or understanding, they come shining with a new glow of truth…

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Our mind is just a temporary limitation or localisation of the only mind there is, infinite consciousness or god’s infinite being. So our mind is permeated with the memory of eternity, permeated by the memory of its origin. Why? Because it is made of it, although it is a limited version of it. So in everybody’s mind, there lies this memory of its own eternity. And that memory is felt by a person as the longing for happiness, or the longing for love. When we long for happiness, or we long for love, we are desiring to be divested of everything that limits us. We are designed to go back to our wholeness, our fullness, our sense of fulfilment, or completion. That’s why everybody longs for happiness or love. What people do to find happiness or love varies. But the actual longing itself is because there lives in everybody’s heart a memory of our eternity, the knowledge of our origin, or in religious language, a trace of God’s mind.

There is this beautiful line in the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah, where Isaiah says (Isaiah speaking on behalf of God): “I have called you by my name. You are mine.” I have called you by my name. I have planted my name in your mind. The name your mind gives to itself — that is the name ‘I’ — is the name of ‘me’. So the ‘me’ (God is saying) the ‘me’ in ‘you’ is in fact the ‘me’ in ‘me’. I have called you by ‘my’ name. That makes the ‘you’ of ’you’, ‘mine’ — or ‘me’. […] Everybody’s experience is permeated by what they call ‘I’. Experience is limited and individual, but the ‘I’, the self that permeates all experience doesn’t share the limits of experience. So Isaiah is saying that ‘I’ is God’s mind in our mind. It’s not even God’s mind in our mind. All there is to our mind is God’s mind, with a limit attached to it. That’s what seems to make it ‘me-the person’. But the ‘me’ of ‘me-the person’ is infinite consciousness.”
– Rupert Spira (‘The Memory of Eternity’ – Buckland Hall, Dec. 2018)

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Read some beautiful expressions of truth from the Bible… (READ MORE…)

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