The Ideal of Sport

sport

I love sport and especially the Olympics. I am a competitive cyclist taking part in races from 1  to 100 miles. Sport gives so much, yet when we see modern sport, we also see many aspects which could be better. These notes may seem idealistic, but sometimes it is good to dream, even if they seem unrealistic at the time. This is what sport means to me.

Sports-like Attitude.

In any sport, there are decisions which can go either way. They present an opportunity to accept decisions with either good grace or bad grace. To many, winning at all costs, justifies berating any decision which goes against you. To accept all decisions with good grace, displays great dignity. It means you can enjoy the game, even if you feel one or two decisions go against you. It means you are putting the sporting ideals above only valuing winning. When we see sportsmen like behaviour, when we see players accepting decisions and accepting defeat with good grace it gives the spectator a lot of joy.

A young General Patton competed in the 1912 Olympic games, in the modern pentathlon (then reserved for army officers). His shots were unfairly judged, but he never complained and wrote about the experience of the Olympics.

“The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success.”

General Patton

Amateur Ideal.

There was a time when the Olympics had the ideal of amateur status. The idea that we competed in sport for pure sporting ideals and not for any monetary gain. These days some sportsmen are paid so much money, the spectator feels that money is a key driving factor. When sport becomes overly commercial it lose a certain simplicity and purity. Of course, money is not necessarily bad, it depends how we use it; and some sportsman can remain unaffected by money. But, when there is big money at stake, our motives are invariably clouded. To engage in sport without monetary considerations means we give ourselves to sport and not Mammon. There are probably a hundred reasons for professional sport. But, when you partake in sport purely for its own-sake, you get something money can never give.

Respect for Opponent

A sports-like attitude is quite compatible with striving your hardest to win. But, we can seek to be the best without denigrating our opponent.

Self-Transcendence

Only one person can be best in the world. If we only get satisfaction when we are the absolute best, we will never enjoy sport. Self-transcendence is the art of competing with yourself. It is the attempt to better yourself and transcend physical barriers. It is not just about transcending previous physical feats, but also learning about the inner meaning of sport. It is learning to be content even with fluctuations in performance, but striving to transcend our previous efforts. Self-transcendence teaches us to never give up, but persist despite fluctuations in our performance.

Spirituality and Sport

At first glance sport may seem separate to spirituality. But, they can easily go together. With a spiritual approach to sport, we seek to do our best and at the same time accept whatever the result is. From sport we can learn concentration, perseverance,  self-discipline; all qualities that help the inner seeking.

Who is the Winner?

A great champion is he who wins all the races.

A great champion is he who participates in all the races.

A great champion is he who does not care for the results of the races – whether he is first or last or in between. He races just to get joy and give joy to the observers.

A great champion is he who transcends his own previous records.

A great champion is he who maintains his standard.

A great champion is he who remains happy even when he cannot maintain his standard.

A great champion is he who has established his inseparable oneness with the winner and the loser alike.

– Sri Chinmoy 1

Photo Top: Sri Chinmoy Races

Related

  1. Sri Chinmoy, ‘The Great Champion’, from The Outer Running And The Inner Running: New York, Agni Press. 1995.

How to Cope with Low Energy Levels

bird prints

Sometimes we go through periods in life when our body just doesn’t seem to be able to keep pace with all the things we want to squeeze out of life. I have been going through just such a period lately, and I thought I’d share with you some of the tips which really helped me in the last while.

1. Don’t be hard on yourself

Often we go experience a period of acute frustration and unhappiness because our level of output is failing to match our expectations. The phrase ‘beating yourself up’ is an extremely apt one here – the resulting annoyance only compounds the problem by robbing us even further of energy. The important thing here is to stop this train of thought, and start by acknowledging the conditions you find yourself in. In a game of poker, there is no point in cursing the fact that you didn’t get a royal flush – you play with the cards you are dealt. So it is with life. Being determined to deal with this trough of low energy as best and as cheerfully as you can is definitely half the battle to climbing your way clear of it.

2. Observe your surroundings

It could be that something in your environment is causing you to feel more tired than necessary. There are many things that can subtly exert a depressing influence on us – the food we eat, the continual barrage of upsetting news on Radio or TV, disharmony at work or home. Sometimes these under-the-weather stretches can even be a way of letting you know there is something you have to change. You have to become your own personal scientist and really look at everything you come across to see what little tweaks you can make to make things easier on yourself. I am often reminded of a story about Mahatma Gandhi – one day he had a headache. At this time he was living on only five pieces of fruit for nourishment. He tried adding and removing various things to his life, removing other things. Eventually he stopped taking his morning piece of fruit and the headache went away!

3 Learn to distinguish between lethargy and true need for rest.

Why is it that when we oversleep, we wake up feeling more tired than ever? Put simply, our body’s natural tendency is towards inertia and sleep, and it will often grab a mile if given an inch. It is this feeling of inertia that often stops us from getting out and doing things – sometimes we feel we are tired now, but when we get out and do something, it’s a whole different story.But – and this is is a big but – it is important to learn when the body is being lethargic and when it genuinely needs rest. If persisting with some activity makes you tired, unhappy and susceptible to negative thinking, then it is a definite signal you are pushing beyond your capacity. Many scientists reckon we sleep more than we need, but there are definitely also times when we need more rest, for example when coping with a transformative experience in our lives. With time, you learn to distinguish between lethargy and genuine need for rest and listen to what your body needs than what it wants.

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5 Reasons for Being Vegetarian

Have you ever considered switching to a vegetarian diet? There are many good reasons for becoming a vegetarian. If we adopt a vegetarian diet then we will feel lighter, healthier and also do our bit for the environment.

These are some of the best reasons to become vegetarian:
1. Vegetarian Food is easier to digest.

When we eat meat it is difficult to digest. This means that after eating a lot of meat, our stomach feels full and heavy. For a couple of hours we will feel lethargic and be more likely to fall asleep. Have you ever wondered why the whole family falls asleep after eating Christmas Turkey? It is because they are digesting the meat. A vegetarian diet is, by contrast, much easier to digest. We will be less lethargic after meals and find it is easier to digest. Try some tofu fritters for Christmas dinner, that will keep everybody awake.

2. Vegetarianism avoids cruelty to animals.

It is an unfortunate fact, that the modern livestock industry adopts many cruel practices. Animals are reared in close proximity and often die painful deaths. Many people choose a vegetarian diet to avoid contributing to this unnecessary cruelty to other living creatures.
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