TRANSFORMING THE VIEW OF SPORT: GUIDING PRINCIPLES
By David Meggyesy
Over the past month I’ve been thinking a lot about the guiding principles enlarging our view of sport and the athletic experience. Ken Wilber’s notion of ‘orienting generalizations’ is somewhat appropriate here. What I’m doing here is taking a larger view of the potentials and actualities of human transformation as we enter a period of human history some have called “The Great Turning”.
The Great Turning is couched in Life’s evolutionary process, a spiraling dynamic reflecting human being’s capacity and manifestation of a more comprehensive integral worldview. Many commentators have said that this enlarged worldview is essential if humanity, and the planet, is to successfully navigate this great turning given the looming environmental crisis and consequences triggered by global heating, massive poverty and mal-distribution of wealth, overpopulation, human caused degradation of the earth’s ecology and web of Life and consumption of the Earth’s resources that sustain human life.
A significant minority of individuals who are dealing with all these various aspects, dimensions and disciplines of human thought, activity, creativity and production, everything from food production to education, and yes, sport, base their work and effort on ‘waking individuals up’ that will allow individuals to truly “grow up”. Doing so they experience ‘who they really are’, the unitive, holistic, transpersonal nature of their consciousness and existence. From this stance, this more comprehensive, integral view of self and the world will flow to individual human beings who can offer much to the world.
Two core ideas flow from seeing sport in a larger context, they are:
Sport as a Transformative and Developmental Activity
This is not a new idea in fact it goes back in our Western history 2000 plus years to the Greeks and the Greek Panhellenic Games, including the Olympics. The Olympic Games were the most famous, occurring every four years for 1500 years. The four Panhellenic Games were festivals celebrating the ‘energies’ of the Greek Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses which placed the athletic experience in a larger trans-human mythic context. For the Greeks, sport was seen as reflecting and manifesting competere. Competere means “to strive together”, and is the root meaning of our word, ‘competition’. Competition or competere was seen as an essential archetypal human quality that produced excellence. As an archetype, a human quality existing beyond local personality, competere was seen as a gift from the Gods. And the Olympics were king God Zeus’s big celebration.
In our time, participating in sport has been seen as a developmental process to build character including self-sacrifice, teamwork, hard work, goal setting and accomplishment, respect for our opponent, and grit (Pete Carroll’s favorite word), a never-give-up attitude and of course, being competitive. These qualities of human existence have a transpersonal aspect to them, beyond individual personality, meaning they are deeper qualities for all of us to develop and manifest in the world. Sport and the athletic experience is seen as an excellent practice to develop these qualities of human existence.
What is new, and Evolutionary Sports Collective is bringing to the table, a view of sport and the athletic experience in an even deeper way – as an integral spiritual practice to cultivate our experience and connection with our Universal Self. We are expanding and reformulating the idea that sees sport as a developing process that not only deepens and connects us to our larger self, but also sees sport as a special arena of disclosure of our higher potentials.
Using Ken Wilber’s ideas of “waking up”, “growing up” and “showing up”, sport and the athletic experience is a powerful transformative process and practice allowing people to ‘wake up’ and to potentially ‘grow up’ and ‘show up’ to do the world’s work.
Sport as an Integral or Integrating Process
Most often given our cultural training we compartmentalize the four major dimensions of our beings, our bodies, emotions, minds, soul and spirit.
Sport is an activity that offers, and requires at the highest levels, the integration of Body, Mind, Heart and Soul. Athletes at all levels, elite athletes more so, have experienced Flow, or dropping into the Zone, and experienced a state of Timeless Unity, a state of total awareness of the NOW. There is really no language to talk about it – it must be experienced. When ‘flow’ occurs, our beings are integrated. There is little demarcation between our four categories of life energy. We become synonymous with the ever changing flowing ONE including our opponents. And equally important we have the awareness that this state of Being is happening – being aware of Awareness itself. Many athletes and indeed all humans have touched this sensibility of being fully aware, it is a matter of degree. Most athletes and most creative people plug into their sense of being fully aware, being totally present, it is called Unity consciousness. This is why this universal world-wide human activity, athlete experience or sport, is such a powerful ‘spiritual’ or Consciousness process and a force for Good.
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