Buddhism, Mindfulness, Zen, Zen practice

Humility Hits a Homer

I stood at home plate, with a baseball bat in my hands, watching the pitcher wind up to throw the softball at me.  I heard kids from my class and other sixth graders talking and laughing as they watched me bat.  The ball rose in the air and came straight at me.  It was right there, in the middle of the strike zone.  I swung and hit the ball in the fat part of the bat. I felt the solid contact.  The ball sailed up, over the pitcher, the infielders, and the outfielders.  I ran around first base, second and third, and made it home before the ball bounced back into the infield.  My home run won the game for our team.

Everybody was cheering.  As I walked away from the field with the crowd, a couple girls came up to me and said, “Wow!  That was incredible!  You were so good!”  I looked at them, stopped, did a full bow, and said, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Yes, I was quite extraordinary.”  The girls frowned and moved away.  I knew I blew it.  I acted like a pompous and arrogant jerk.  As I made the display, I knew it wasn’t me.  I was caught up in the moment.  I was aware how silly and unnecessary my behavior was.

Being mindful, or aware, of ourselves, our actions, our thoughts and feelings, and our effect on others are part of our practice of right mindfulness.  Buddha made right (or complete) mindfulness one of the steps on the Eightfold Path.  We develop awareness by contemplating our body, feelings, mental states, and mental objects.  We practice being resolute, aware, and mindful, putting aside worldly desire and sadness.

We watch our mind and do not hold on to those things that change.  We realize that the things that we perceive through our senses are impermanent (annica), lead to dissatisfaction (dukkha), and are without a separate, abiding self (anatta).

My brief, painful experience as a baseball star helped me to develop humility as a character trait.  I discovered as I grew up that people respond better to that than to the kind of boastful fool I was during my ten minutes of stardom.


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