10 December 2007

The Church Of Crunch

Namaste, Motherf#$%er! The Buddha of Violent Compassion drops
220 pounds of enlightenment on Cardinals kicker Mitch Berger.


I took time off from being a mold farmer to attend Sunday's Seahawks v. Cardinals NFC West Divisional Championship Extravapalooza at Qwest Field (
"Home Of The Loud Crowd"). I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to be able to go to games, especially games where a hardcore Nichiren Buddhist like Seahawks kick returner Josh Scobey delivers the full weight of karma to Cardinals punter Mitch Berger in his own end zone, resulting in a safety for the Seahawks and instant enlightenment for the entire crowd of 68,000 (see above). Ironically, (...or not. -Ed.) Qwest Field is where the Dalai Lama will be laying down the hits on happiness and compassion next April. Believe me, I'll be screaming my guts out from the 300-level on that day, too. I predict that he will sack ignorance for a loss. I can hardly wait to see his end zone dance. (Wait, the Dalai Lama plays both offense and defense? No wonder he won the Nobel. -Ed.)

Digression: I heard this great bit in a standup routine once. "Why is it that football players blame themselves when they do poorly and thank God when they win? Just for once I'd like to hear a player say, 'I was doing great until Jesus made me fumble.'"

Which brings me to the subject of sports and religion as the two things seem to be inextricable. And I'm not talking just during player interviews. I submit as evidence Exhibit A below:

Exhibit A: The Reverend Leonard Weaver, who coincidentally plays fullback for
the Seattle Seahawks, resists tacklers like he was a solid steel I-beam rooted
in The Jesus. He had four receptions for 56 yards on Sunday as the Seahawks
beat the Cardinals to clinch the NFC West...with yours truly propelling his
team to victory by screaming his guts out from section 342, row EE, seat 1.

I mean check it out, what was that crazy basketball game those Aztecs used to play? (Mayans, but who's counting? -Ed.)And weren't all those games to the greater glory of the god Chocolatl or something? And the Olympics - weren't they also for the greater glory of the Divine Residents of Mount Olympus? And now football - isn't pretty much everything that happens in football for the greater glory of The Jesus? I have no answer for that, nor do I have further musings. Although I find it interesting how at the end of each football game, a large contingency of players from both teams gather at center field to pray. One presumes that because they're praying en masse, it is a group effort of peace and compassion. Maybe it's not. Maybe they're all praying something like, "Lord, whensoever we see these muffuckers here present up in our house, may we rain Thy vengeance upon them, and tear they muffuckin' heads off fo' sho' next time. We ask this in sweet Jesus name. Amen." (It reminds me of a line from the Civil War film Glory: "May I fight with the rifle in one hand and the good book in the other." -Ed.)

Sylvia Boorstein gives a nod to football fans in her book "It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way To Happiness". She dispels the notion that we (meaning Buddhists) are all about serenity and equanimity 24/7. We don't watch sporting events hoping that just the best team will win. Buddhists get as wound up about competition as just about anyone else, and it's perfectly okay to do so. Gelugpa monks go after theological debates like they were being televised on WWF Smackdown. Besides, there's nothing in the dhammapada about not freaking right the hell out over sporting events, like when some douchebag official destroys the sanctity of the Super Bowl by making a spate of doubtful calls. (Still bitter? -Ed.)

Likewise, I think it makes a huge difference when you choose to recognize both fandom and the game itself as dharma. Then football becomes a play that has the power to reveal the deepest values of nature, just like anything else would that you choose to recognize in that way. Football, fans and all, has no inherent reality, and is purely a contrivance based on arbitrary rules. And upon close inspection, (introspection?) I could say my life is pretty much the same damn thing. (Put. The Bong. Down. -Ed.) But in either case, it doesn't keep me from screaming my head off when I feel moved to do so, either in real life or at Qwest Field. The difference is that I often forget that real life is just a play as well.

I'm glad that I didn't forget that while my basement was flooding all to hell last Monday. As we were mopping and bailing, I said to Aaron (mostly to remind myself) that we should probably nevermind the rug, the walls, and the other tangible losses for now. I said the most valuable thing we probably had at that moment was our sense of humor. (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd'ya like the play? -Ed.)

Speaking of play, I have to work now.

Cheers, -Thaddeus