Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Shorty Method and the Lion's Roar

About a week ago I posted The First Precept of the Buddhist Order of Interbeing. This precept is also known as the Lion's Roar because, according to the Buddhists, it represents the truth spoken loudly and clearly. It basically says not to get tied to any particular doctrine.

After I posted it, I started thinking it was a bit presumptuous (as well as pretentious) to be spouting off about Buddhist precepts when I'm not a Buddhist and my blog was named after my method of bowling.

So I'm going to try to make a connection between The Shorty Method, and The Lion's Roar.

Let's look at the precept in terms of bowling. Everyone has his or her own style of bowling. Last time I went to the bowling alley I watched the other bowlers that were around me. I live in Taiwan, and from my observation, Taiwanese bowlers tend to have highly stylized approaches. One guy started in a low crouch, then as he started forward, he swung his ball back high in the air and then as he released the ball he twisted his hand in such a way as to give the ball a back spin that caused it to make a broad curve as it approached the pins. He got a lot of strikes, but whether he did or not, his face never changed expression; he was a very serious bowler.

Then I observed my friends who were bowling with me. Most of them were much more straight forward, simply walking toward the lane and launching the ball in a more or less straight line. When they knocked down a lot of pins they spun around and laughed or clapped their hands. When they got a gutter ball, they looked sheepish.

Some people I saw obviously didn't know how to bowl very well. They walked up to the line and feebly swung the ball out into the lane where it dropped heavily and then rolled slowly toward the pins, usually ending up in the gutter. These people usually turned around quickly and walked back to their seats without watching to see if they knocked down any pins. They usually looked embarrassed, making me wonder why they chose to go bowling in the first place.

A little while later I heard a loud thump and some loud squealing from a few lanes away. I looked over and saw a small child who had just dumped the ball almost directly into the gutter. He had a look of absolute glee on his face as he ran around the lane. The person in the next lane had to wait a moment until the child's father collected him and got him out of the way.

Of all the bowlers I saw that day, the little child was obviously having the best time. He didn't care about the "correct" way to bowl. He didn't even care which lane his ball went down, or even if it went down any lane at all. He was caught up in the moment of what he was doing. The rest of us were having a good time, but I am sure that each person was hoping that, whether our techniques were "correct" or not, we would knock down as many pins as possible. Not knocking down pins, or feeling self-conscious about our abilities, detracted from the level of joy we experienced. We were bound to the idea that there was a "correct" method, and a "correct" goal to achieve. The little child, not having been socialized into that way of thinking yet, was able to experience almost pure joy at just being there, playing in the moment.

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