SPORT IN THE WEB OF HUMAN LIFE
By David Meggyesy
Evolutionary Sports Collective is grounded in the awareness that there is more than the eye can see -- shifting the View is our work.
Sports fits into a larger perspective of human activity, holding a place in human evolution and space in the world.
I view Sport as a universal human activity and we, as social animals, congregate among ourselves, as families, tribes, and various social groupings up to nation states, cultures and civilizations. As an optimist, I expect we could posit a unified world civilization in the future – as we collectively struggle to navigate the turbulent waters of the present world dynamic. Imagine with me a Brave New World.
The most basic core activities people engage in are: sex, procreating, eating, sharing, sleeping, moving, protecting, hunting, gathering, defending, fighting, killing others and dying.
At a more evolved level:
We are social human animals, and engage in a plethora of activities such as: thinking, praying, speaking, communicating, singing, dancing, writing, making art, music, planning, organizing, building, war, and yes, meditating, imagining, creating, visualizing, and competing.
And there are the basic forms of movement all humans engage in, such as: touching, holding, walking, running, lifting, throwing, shoving, pushing, grabbing, wrestling, hitting, fighting, and playing alone and together. Many of these same movement forms are demonstrated in various sport forms and athletic experiences around the world.
Playing is said to be an even deeper core human activity; more evolved animals and all humans, across all cultures, play! Playing is seen to be autotelic, the pursuit of playing, is just doing the activity itself for no other purpose. And playing is also seen as training for competition and cooperation, domination and submission, enjoyment and combat as its functional dimensions. Out of play sport forms emerge, along with an evolving learning process via competition and cooperation.
Sport is also about relationships which is the seminal idea that binds aspects (dimensions) of Reality. Our language is typically about relationships between discrete entities. Yet, in truth, the quantum physicists remind us that there are no discrete entities, no “stuff or things” as such. We still see rocks and humans; yet, Reality is merely flowing energy fields and patterns that we call Consciousness. The Quantum Theory, laid out in 1927, informs us there is no such thing as objective reality. We are literally creating Reality as we are interacting with others and consequently evolving, consonant with the universe. The latest theories physicists and cosmologists are coming to understand is that Reality is really Information. The universe is a web of evolving creative patterns of information.
Consider then, my vision, that Sport is about relationship; though it also can be seen as one dimension of activity within the cosmic Big Game. We are Players in the proverbial Game of Existence and Life. Why Sport is such an important universal human activity is that it reflects this Big Game which is totally about energy patterns of relationship and information in the universe – it is the Universe--- where Reality is rooted in patterns of relationship and Sport is organized creative play reflecting these patterns of creative human relationships.
At a Transformational Level:
Again, All human cultures and societies play at organized games and contests. The core human dynamic and driver within sporting activities is competition where competitors compare themselves with others. Consider there is a deeper, less known level, that says Competition really is about achieving, fostering, developing and creating excellence, this is what Evolution does. ‘Who is better or lesser’ is one measurement metric used and comparing is essential. Deeper than ‘comparing’ is the root word for competition which is competere, striving together and seeking excellence.
Of course, non-human animals competing and achieving excellence by being successful is the larger perspective for all species. It is really about the evolutionary success of a particular species, and not necessarily the individual of the species. Here is where the idea of cooperation comes into play and expands the definition of competition. Charles Darwin understood that the fate of a particular species is based on the dynamic of competition and cooperation in relationship, an evolving process, not the warped limited view of a lone individual’s ‘survival of the fittest’ view. So, we can ask ourselves: How can excellence be fostered and ultimately achieved, driven by the dialectic of competition/cooperation in human societies?
Concomitantly there is an articulated deeper transcendent level that includes this competing/cooperating dialectic. Buddhist author Andrew Cooper’s essay, The Transcendent Imperative discusses Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990). Csikszentmihalyi’s happiness research at the University of Chicago highlighted the merging of action and awareness, which he termed Flow, happens when a person’s experiences are possessed by a transcendent imperative, which moves us beyond our comparative ego self-identification.
Experiencing Flow is also about our dealing with synchronicities “where an inner situation is expressed through events in the outer world,” and athletes and teams are profoundly aware of and call it the Zone. Most of us have sensed the intersection of our inner situation and our external reality. Yes, our individual and collective Mind does impact and flows into our external reality and changes it, no doubt.
Consider this: Competition in sport is one thing, not two things; it is a total event. We are conditioned to separate things using language about who won, who lost, which creates the dialectic that forms in our minds and exposes dualistic beliefs.
Mike Murphy, Founder of Esalen Institute coined the phrase Sport is our Western Yoga, intending to explain sport, the athletic experience, as an activity that can trigger and make present our transcendent imperative experience. For myself as a former professional athlete, sport is a powerful vector and activity that led me into a larger, more comprehensive, transcendent human sensibility and awareness. As the saying goes, all humans do it, the bees do it, and yes, the transcendent imperative does it as well.
When athletes drop in to this realm, it is magnificent; the larger space beckons and time flows down in marvelous ways so that you can’t miss the shot or the tackle…a feeling that the universe is perfect. And performance jumps!
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