Yes, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series, the ultimate in professional baseball play off. The Cubs have not been to the WS in the past 71 years and have not won a WS Championship for the past 107 Years! That is more than four generations of Cubs deprived of the joy. They have experienced the agony of defeat far more than the thrill of victory. All of that ended last night (Oct. 22, 2016), when they earned the right to appear in the WS against Cleveland Indians.
The most remarkable thing about this journey is the role of Mr. Theo Epstein, hired as the President of baseball operations few years ago. This followed his achievement in getting another team (Boston Red Sox) that won the WS after 86 years. ***
“What does all of the above have anything to do with Spirituality in Practice?” the reader might ask. Everything! Following are a few words that explain the connection, with a few quotes from the above article inserted as required.
Learning and understanding “Who am “I” and why?” is at the core of any spiritual journey. It starts with the understanding that
(a) “I” am made of matter.
(b) “I” exist because “I am conscious”.
(c) “I” am a product of my experiences.
Each of us exists shrouded in the notion of “I” through these five layers (Sheath). ***** Understanding and unfolding these layers is achieved through a regular and sustained series of prudent steps in learning and reflection – like taking daily vitamins!
When he was the newly named president for baseball operations, fans would stop Epstein on the streets of Chicago and launch into conversations that had a recurring refrain: “My dad is 87 years old and has been waiting all his life to see the Cubs win a World Series — what should I tell him?” I would say, ‘Tell him to take his vitamins, because it’s going to be a few years.’” The Cubs’ achievements, he said, occurred in piecemeal, prudent steps — like taking a daily vitamin.
Spirituality in Practice is the result of sustained reflection and practice. It does not happen over night. It is OK to miss the daily vitamin once in a while. But if missing the vitamins becomes more frequent than taking it, the physical strength can not be retained. The same goes for Spirituality in Practice as it pertains to our spiritual strength.
Our life is a constant process of building the team within each of us. This is done by adding and subtracting – recognizing or putting in the background – one or more of the above layers as the situation warrants. Simply saying that “I am part of the universe” and living the life of a recluse while wasting away in physical health would imply strength in one part of the team while there is weakness elsewhere in the team! This team building requires a genuine understanding of the “I” the person in all five layers (sheath) – as a whole team within oneself – rather than merely “I” the isolated player – within a single layer!
Life is also a process of building the team within a family, among friends, at work place, in our community, etc. Our selection of team members should be focused on the underlying spiritual strengths of our team members rather than external, visual attributes .
—“Cubs built their team by scouting each player as a whole person more than the looking at player and his on the field performance statistics alone.”
Even the best among us fails more often than succeed in bringing out the spiritual strength within us into action in daily life. But such core values and strengths are essential if we are to witness them in action. Our frequent failure is to judge others based on the recent events and their actions rather than based on a continuum over time that reflects the person’s core strengths and values and their sustainability.
“What are their backgrounds, their psyches, their habits, and what makes them tick. We would ask our scouts to provide three detailed examples of how these young players faced adversity on the field and responded to it, and three examples of how they faced adversity off the field. Because baseball is built on failure. The old expression is that even the best hitter fails seven out of 10 times.”
Finally, life is full of opportunities and challenges. Spirituality in practice is a process where we seek out the challenges and opportunities. Then we find life full filling. Helping out a mother or relative or friend in need or picking up a crying child or playing ball with stranger, training and educating others to move up their knowledge ladder, conversing with intensity with an elder reflecting on his/her life are all opportunities that come across our life. None of these need to be done to carry out our daily life. Yet they are examples of the opportunities to do something special – again and again
When asked why he took the job with the Cubs and the challenge Theo said: “I saw it as a chance to recreate what I experienced once before. A chance to do it again for another city that really deserves it. There was something pure about that.
“It is a wonderful chance to do something meaningful.” Theo Epstein paused ever so briefly, and then added: “Again.”
***** Being covered by five different sheaths (layers) the person “I” is not evident at first. As the water covered by the moss, “I” – the person, the soul. the Athman, the doer – is covered by these five layers. —— VivekaChudamani (Crown Jewel of discrimination), Swami Sankaracharya; Verse 149.