Sports enables us to attain a higher state. Swami Vivekananda said, “In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the divine than you will ever be in prayer.”
Football, cricket and other games have always had millions of fans. During the sports season, there is a lot of talk about the frenzy that grips most parts of the world.
The fiesta sees a whole range of emotions―from exuberance to pain not just in the handful of men who play, but in millions of those who watch them. It is in this context that I wonder about the connection between spirituality and sports.
The image that games like cricket and football evoke is that of twenty-two sweaty, aggressive men, galloping around a vast field, chasing a tiny ball while thousands around them scream and hoot, clenching their fists and grinding their teeth. The roar of the audience echoes across millions of homes where eager faces sit glued to the television screen. It is a testosterone-fuelled fiercely contested game where competition is severe and pressure is enormous.
It may be difficult to see the connection between sports and spirituality at first. But it exists. Ask the man whose attention is so completely focussed on hitting that ball into the net or out into the field. The world for him is distant, the ball looms large and everything else fades away. His body and mind come together. At the peak of tremendous physical effort, he focuses on one thing, and one only. Everything around him is immaterial. He finds his white light. As each muscle strains and pushes the boundaries, and as his blood pounds in his veins, there can be a moment of quiet, when silence descends and his foot or bat makes contact with the ball.
Sports can enable us to attain a higher state. Swami Vivekananda once said, “In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the divine than you will ever be in prayer.” You might mutter your prayers without being involved but there is no way you can score a goal like that. Not all of us are footballers though, but we can still incorporate a bit of it in our lives.
We’ve all been told to ‘be a sport’, and for good reason. After all, being a sport means you are willing to play. Life is a game, with many twists and turns; we lose some and win some; it brings joy and pain. And just when we are exhausted, it asks: Do you want to play some more? Remember, in life’s game, the ultimate goal is union with the divine and it requires sadhana with constant attention.
Amar Kumar is a Reiki Grand Master based in Kolkata. For more details, visit www.reikikendra.com.